7 Reasons This Election Doesn’t Matter

7 Reasons This Election Doesn’t Matter

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages

Regardless of who wins the election, America faces some tough decisions.

Mitt Romney, on Saturday, officially chose Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate. Some analysts called it a “bold move” that energized conservatives.

How important is this decision to America’s future? It suggests Mr. Romney is putting a high priority on correcting the nation’s debt-burdened economy.

Here’s a more fundamental question: How much difference will it make who America elects in November? Many people believe it is a choice between fiscal sustainability and economic collapse. But regardless of what Democrats or Republicans say, let’s look at some realities about America’s economy that the next president, whoever he may be, is going to have to face.

Challenge 1: Can you conceptualize $1 trillion?

One million seconds is 12 days. One billion seconds is almost 32 years. One trillion seconds is about 31,688 years! (hat tip Mike Shedlock).

Think about how much a trillion is, and realize that America is going further into debt by more than $1 trillion per year. America’s total yearly budget is only $3.7 trillion. So more than a quarter of our total spending per year is borrowed—which means if we are to balance our budget, almost a quarter of America’s budget will need to be cut.

And most of the budget balancing will probably need to be done by cutting because there simply is not enough left to tax. According to Global Economic Trend Analysis’s Mike Shedlock, even if America took 100 percent of every corporation in America, plus confiscated every single asset of the super-wealthy (like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates), we still wouldn’t even get close to balancing the budget. We would still have to “take the combined salaries of all players in the nfl, Major League Baseball, the nba and the nhl, cut military spending by $254 billion, and tax everything people make above $250,000 at a 100 percent tax rate,” Shedlock says.

But America’s days of borrowing and spending are coming to an end.

Of the $1 trillion America borrowed last year, around half of it was money that was created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve. The Fed was forced to create the money because foreigners would not lend it to America at interest rates we want.

Federal Reserve money printing is a clear sign that America’s deficit is dangerously unsustainable.

Whether America’s next president decides to cut spending or increase taxes, both are virtual death sentences for an economy that is probably in recession again.

Challenge 2: America’s massive debt

As huge as America’s deficit is, the bigger threat may be America’s practically unfathomable debt. America’s official federal debt is almost $16 trillion—but that is only the tip of the iceberg. America has promised its citizens tens of trillions more in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. Total it all up and Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff puts America’s total liabilities at a mind-boggling $222 trillion. Go back and reconceptualize a trillion.

Not all of this money is due at once, but increasing portions will be as America’s 80 million baby boomers retire. There is not a chance that America can pay this bill.

But perhaps the most imminently dangerous part about America’s debt is refinancing risk. America is constantly borrowing money to pay back money that is coming due. Right now it is not having too much trouble borrowing because Europe appears to be in worse shape. When Europe eventually gets its act together, America may not find as many willing lenders—it may face its own Greece moment!

Challenge 3: America’s uncontrollable welfare dependency

The U.S. federal government now runs 79 welfare programs. Eleven separate programs provide housing assistance. Twelve other programs fund social services, and three more provide energy and utility assistance. There are 12 programs that provide various education assistance programs on top of nine government programs to provide vocational training. Ten programs provide people with cash assistance. There are three child-care and child development programs. And seven programs provide medical assistance.

And then there are all the welfare-type programs supplied at the local city and county levels.

The total price tag for just federal and state welfare came to almost $1 trillion in 2011, according to the conservative Heritage Foundation. So almost a third of America’s yearly budget now goes to welfare programs.

And if nothing is done, the share of welfare spending in the federal budget is set to dramatically increase. Under the current 10-year budget, federal welfare spending alone will total $1.57 trillion by 2022.

There is no easy fix. Politicians can cut spending—but not without massively damaging the economy. About one in three Americans get some sort of government handout. The economy is addicted to government spending. There are whole industries that cater to welfare dependence. Go cold turkey, and expect massive economic, if not social, upheaval.

Challenge 4: America’s banking system is shot.

On Friday, Reuters revealed that U.S. regulators had told U.S. banks to make plans for preventing collapse. The directions were given to America’s five biggest banks, including Bank of America and Citigroup, and emphasized that the banks could no longer count on government support. Regulators said the banks needed to consider radical measures to prevent failure in times of distress, and that they had to be executable within three to six months. Five years following the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, the banking system is still no more secure.

If anything, the recent money-laundering scandals, rogue trading, MF Global implosion, the unfolding libor scandal, and record low interest rate environment have made the global banking system more prone to economic disasters.

Yet, because America’s economy is debt-based and consumption-driven, if regulators try to reign in the big banks, the economy is sure to slow even further and jobs will be lost.

Challenge 5: The jobs are gone forever.

Percent Job Losses During Recessions (http://www.calculatedriskblog.com)

America is experiencing the worst-ever post-recession job recovery. At the current pace of job growth, America is still around two and a half to three years away from just getting the jobs back that we lost in the 2007 recession. And then we still have to find more jobs for all the people who have entered the workforce over the ensuing eight years.

The truth is that regardless of what either presidential candidate would do, the jobs are not coming back—because they were fake jobs in the first place. The housing bubble was a product of politicians forcing big banks to give loans to unqualified buyers and the Federal Reserve trying to goose the economy by artificially lowering interest rates. The result was a ballooning money supply that flowed into real estate—and all those builder, agent, appraiser and banker jobs.

Meanwhile, the effects of the housing bubble masked the greatest period of industrial and manufacturing outsourcing in U.S. history. Due to a combination of high labor costs, high taxation, high regulatory burden, high environmental compliance costs, advancing technology, and the new global economy, many U.S. jobs are now filled overseas and the associated products and services imported.

As President Obama’s green energy/solar power initiative proved, attracting manufacturing to America is virtually impossible, even with massive government subsidies.

Challenge 6: America’s education system is failing.

For the first time in history, American students owe more in student loans than the country owes in credit card debt. Yet what do students get for that? Increasingly, it is a lifetime of indentured servitude at a job that barely pays the interest on their loans.

This is a huge problem, because many of these students will become economically nonfunctional—trapped in jobs paying the bills, instead of out creating jobs and building the economy.

Government policy that encourages everyone to go to college, and borrow money to do it, has driven up tuition so high that in many cases it no longer pays to even get a degree. To top it off, due to schools trying to increase enrollment, course work is dumbed down and grades are inflated.

Without a functioning education system, how can America expect to have a skilled workforce, and thus economically prosper? You can read about America’s malfunctioning education system here.

Challenge 7: The economic cost of America’s moral slide.

Fifty years ago, the majority of Americans went to bed with their doors unlocked. They left their keys in the car in case someone needed to borrow it. They never thought twice about letting their children walk to school.

We don’t live in that America anymore.

There is a huge economic cost to America’s moral slide. Think of all the costs due to crime. Think about the costs due to frivolous lawsuits. Think about the costs associated with corporate compliance. How much could America save if every single taxpayer didn’t have to spend $80 to buy tax software each year to calculate their taxes and prove that they are not cheating the government?

Think about how much more wealthy America would be if people just practiced the principles as outlined by the Ten Commandments. If there was no more lying, stealing, coveting and murdering.

Regardless of who America chooses at the ballot box, its moral slide will not be turned. At best, it can be slowed. There are 230-plus years of U.S. history that prove it.

America’s debt, its welfare mentality, its crumbling education system and morals are all the product of America’s collective choices. We are now eating the fruit of those choices. Economic indicators suggest another economic downturn has already started. A greater economic depression is on the way, and there is little that can be done to mitigate it.

America is past the point of no return. America’s past prosperity will not return until the whole economic system has been wiped out. Tough times are coming on America, but once through, the country will be able to start anew.

The Day Japan’s Emperor Hirohito Greeted Herbert W. Armstrong

The Day Japan’s Emperor Hirohito Greeted Herbert W. Armstrong

JUNJI KUROKAWA/AFP/Getty Images

Emperor asks brother Prince Mikasa for private audience with international ambassador for world peace.

Why would the 124th emperor of Japan ask to meet an “unofficial” ambassador for world peace?

Hirohito’s long reign lasted from Dec. 25, 1926, until his death in 1989. During this shōwa, or era, he oversaw a nation reach the pinnacle of global influence, prosperity and power, then plummet to postwar devastation, only to retool, rebuild and reemerge once more as an economic, cultural, restrained military and political powerhouse.

Ironically, his reign spanned the length of Herbert W. Armstrong’s long and event-filled life of service contributing to the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical needs of mankind.

The open door that enabled this venerable proclaimer of peace to reach Japan came via a requested meeting by the emperor’s eldest brother, Crown Prince Mikasa, who today remains the oldest surviving member of the nation’s Imperial House.

The chairman of the department of Asian studies at Ambassador College, Osamu Gotoh, had strong connections in Japan, was acquainted with the prince and, unbeknown to Mr. Armstrong, showed him a copy of the 1966 Ambassador College annual pictorial known as the Envoy. Following his viewing of the Envoy, the prince asked to meet the founder and chancellor of the college.

The year was 1968. Mr. Armstrong’s wife of 50 happy years, Loma, had unexpectedly died the year before. Mr. Armstrong had kept himself busy and occupied with sponsoring a major archaeological excavation in the Holy Land. In the singular year of 1968, doors opened for him to meet King Leopold of Belgium, President Zalman Shazar of Israel and Japan’s Prince Mikasa.

After a mid-October visit to Jerusalem, Mr. Armstrong flew to Tokyo for meetings with Reader’s Digest advertising officials. At Tokyo airport he reminded co-workers in a letter dated May 28, 1971, “Mr. Gotoh told me the prince had asked me to be his guest at a luncheon the following day.”

At the event’s conclusion, Mr. Armstrong drove with the prince “through the immense and magnificent Imperial Palace grounds,” as he later recalled, recounting how they “also were introduced at the time by the prince to his very charming and lovely wife” (ibid).

Two years later, Mr. Armstrong would once again be the guest of honor at a dinner in Tokyo organized by the prince. In attendance were 300 university and college professors who were witness to this unofficial ambassador’s delivery of Christ’s own good news of the coming Kingdom of God (Matthew 24:14).

Thereafter, Mr. Armstrong oversaw the translation of a variety of his booklets into Japanese and directed that various Ambassador College students be trained in the country’s language in advance of the prince later visiting the campus and giving a lecture.

Plans were also laid for the World Tomorrow program to go on air translated in Japanese, supported by the Japanese-language version of the mass-circulation international newsmagazine the Plain Truth.

By 1973 in the land of the rising sun, Mr. Armstrong was well known to not only the Imperial House, but also to its educational and political elite.

During these years a strong bond developed between Mr. Armstrong, Prince Mikasa and noted archeologist of Hebrew University Dr. Benjamin Mazar, director over the archaeological dig in Jerusalem in which Ambassador College was directly involved. The prince was also a noted scholar and lecturer in Semitic languages and Middle Eastern studies and was aided by the college archeological project, adding artifacts to Tokyo’s Middle Eastern Culture Center.

So respected in Japan was this unofficial ambassador for world peace that by July-August 1973 the Plain Truth reported, “In a special ceremony at the Foreign Office in Tokyo on the behalf of the Emperor Hirohito, the chief of protocol, Ambassador Chikaraishi, confers on Herbert W. Armstrong the Order of the Sacred Treasure—the highest honor the Japanese government can bestow on a private citizen of another country.”

Three months later Mr. Armstrong shared with his supporters the spectacular news: “[A]t the end of November, I was invited by Emperor Hirohito himself for a private audience. This is regarded as a most rare and high honor in Japan. I know many Japanese congressmen who have not had the honor of a private meeting with their emperor” (member and co-worker letter, Jan. 27, 1974).

In addition to the kings, presidents and prime ministers he met with during 1973, five months previous to this meeting in Japan Mr. Armstrong, accompanied by his general consul, had already met with the only other ruling emperor at the time, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.

However, in this rare instance at Japan’s Royal House, he noted that “No one was permitted to go with me but the United States ambassador” (ibid).

U.S. President Nixon had appointed experienced international businessman Robert S. Ingersoll as U.S. ambassador to Japan. He would additionally serve in posts as secretary of state for East Asian and Public Affairs, and later as U.S. deputy secretary of state under President Gerald Ford.

As both the unofficial and official ambassadors entered the room to meet Emperor Hirohito, Mr. Armstrong recalled in that same letter, Mr. Ingersoll “said not a word, except the opening greeting, and on leaving, except to speak softly into my ear a couple of times when, because I am a little hard of hearing, I did not understand the emperor.”

Today that legacy of humanitarianism—building bridges servicing the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical needs of mankind—continues through the efforts of our editor in chief, especially via the Armstrong International Cultural Foundation.

Additionally, editor in chief Gerald Flurry, in the tradition of Mr. Armstrong and Prince Mikasa, has worked to establish strong ties with the late Dr. Benjamin Mazar’s granddaughter, noted Israeli archeologist Eilat Mazar, resulting in the current exclusive exhibit showcased at Herbert W. Armstrong College’s jewel of the Midwest U.S., Armstrong Auditorium.

Could the Media Have Been More Wrong About Egypt?

Remember when Mohammed Morsi was voted into power in Egypt and we were told not to worry because the military had all the power? Sunday, Morsi fired Egypt’s top military leaders, including the defense minister Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

Not long ago, Tantawi himself vowed now to let the Muslim Brotherhood dominate Egypt. “It was an authoritative signal that the military has no intention of giving the Brotherhood free rein,” the Washington Post said on July 16.

That was less than a month ago! That was around the same time the New York Times told us how revealing it was that the Egyptian media stood behind the military. “[A]s Mr. Morsi moved this week to challenge the generals,” the Times wrote July 13, “the state media have quickly allied with the generals, persistently undercutting the new president while still ostensibly honoring his position. That apparently contradictory result has made it clear who still holds the real power over the Egyptian bureaucracy.”

On July 4, a columnist at the Toronto Star explained that the Egyptian army controlled the defense, interior and foreign ministries and the purse strings of Egypt. He wrote, “Morsi has been reduced to being mayor of Egypt.”

Sunday, the so-called mayor sacked the Egyptian military hierarchy. Morsi’s grip on power tightened last week after he fired the head of General Intelligence following a terrorist attack in northern Sinai that killed 16 Egyptian policemen. Sunday, he followed that act by firing the defense minister the army chief of staff, and the commanders of the navy, air defense and air force.

These maneuvers, the New York Times now tells us, cemented a major shift in power in Egypt.

A Washington Post columnist says it’s now indisputable that the Muslim Brotherhood has “tightened its grip on Egypt, controlling the military as well as the presidency and the parliament” (August 12).

In reading all of the coverage from the last 24 hours, you would never know that it was the major media that told us at the beginning that the Arab Spring in Egypt was a victory for freedom and democracy. They told us the Muslim Brotherhood would not gain the majority that they wanted in Parliament, that the Brotherhood would never have a candidate for the presidency or that a Brotherhood member would never be president in Egypt. And they told us when Morsi was elected that the military council would retain full control.

Today, the Washington Post acknowledges the “indisputable” truth that the Muslim Brotherhood controls the presidency, the parliament and the military.

Islamist Victory in Egypt: Morsi Fires Military Chiefs

Islamist Victory in Egypt: Morsi Fires Military Chiefs

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images

Egypt’s new Islamist president has sacked all the country’s top military leaders and taken additional powers away from the military.

In a move by the Muslim Brotherhood to consolidate power, President Mohammed Morsi on Sunday forced the retirement of the influential defense minister, the army chief of staff, and the commanders of the navy, air defense and air force.

Morsi also nullified the constitutional declaration made by the military shortly before he took power that gave it additional powers and severely limited presidential authority. He replaced it with a declaration of his own giving himself wide-ranging legislative and executive powers and a leading role in drafting the new constitution.

Egyptians rallied in Cairo Sunday evening in support of Morsi’s actions.

The sweeping leadership changes in the military came after Morsi fired the head of General Intelligence last week following an attack in northern Sinai that killed 16 policemen.

The ousted defense minister, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, in particular was a crucial ally of former President Hosni Mubarak. As head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (scaf), he was interim leader of Egypt between Mubarak’s fall and the election of Morsi. “More than any other military leader, Field Marshal Tantawi was seen as the symbol, if not the architect, of the military’s bid for increasing power after the 2011 uprising,” writes the New York Times.

Morsi appointed his own defense minister and army chief of staff, along with a vice president.

“The maneuvers by Mr. Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, cemented a major shift in power that began with his election in the face of intense opposition from the military,” the Times writes.

The Times reports there was no sign of any initial backlash from the military. This raises the possibility that that military is either in collusion with Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood on some level, letting them have their way—or else simply too weak to protest.

Islamist takeover complete,” headlines Arutz Sheva, writing, “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi appears to be wasting no time in consolidating his hold over power at the expense of the military, which many hoped would be a moderating power over him.”

While moves were being made to curtail the powers of the Islamist president, theTrumpet.com pointed out that they would be to no avail. Based on Bible prophecy, we wrote, Islamists would take over Egypt. Egypt’s military council is “losing its grip on power!” columnist Stephen Flurry wrote. “[T]he Brotherhood will win in the end.” For more, read “Egypt in Chaos.”

Out of the Abundance of the Heart …

Out of the Abundance of the Heart …

Jacek Chabraszewski/Fotolia

The debasing of language is a sure sign of a civilization in decline.

Once, education was built on a foundation of words. Now it’s more likely to be foisted off on the student through electronically driven video imagery. The results do not auger well for our national survival.

When our education system was underpinned by the study of language and the reading of great books espousing great ideas, the learning of a broad, colorful and precise vocabulary seemed automatic. The results were reflected in our ability to communicate clearly in speech and writing. Conversation was stimulating.

I have never regretted being educated within a British Commonwealth country whose education system during the immediate postwar years was still based substantially on the development of a rich vocabulary through reading great books and studying language.

Sir Winston Churchill’s speeches and manner of writing offer an excellent study in the use of the English language. He knew how to parse a paragraph—keeping the thread of thought flowing with a rise and fall of cadence that was psalm-like.

British historian Paul Johnson is another. His choice of descriptive words is impeccable, and, being a real wit, he usually slips one or two words into his brilliant essays that move you to reach for the dictionary and add to your own vocabulary.

The best of the books on effective management confirm that a good command of language with an extensive vocabulary is something that successful corporate executives inevitably possess.

Have you noticed that really good communicators—the most effective conversationalists and orators within society—seldom if ever stoop to using base language?

Base or bad language is used by some people in an attempt to either shock, provoke or otherwise “impress” another individual. That such language should never be resorted to by a true servant of God ought to be taken for granted.

As Jesus Christ declared, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Thus a tongue that mouths base or bad language simply reveals a mind that is not in true synchronization with that of Christ (Philippians 2:5).

The Proverbs tell us that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

The Apostle Paul gave us a wonderful admonition on how to engender clean, uplifting speech: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

The King James Bible is an excellent example of beautifully rendered language. It is an exemplar of proper syntax and parsing, coming from an age four centuries before the fashion for minimalist communication in short staccato sentences that possess few descriptive adjectives and adverbs, such as the genre of today.

The rhythmic sound and rise and fall of the cadence of beautifully constructed communication is missing from most of today’s orators and public speakers.

Churchill, perhaps the greatest orator of the 20th century, was so often able to turn a hostile parliament around to his way of thinking by the presentation of a masterful speech. He was an avid reader of the classics and great books.

Reading wide, developing a good understanding of language, is a great source of continuing education. This aspect of education is sadly lacking in many national curricula today. The result is a massive loss in ability to communicate clearly and effectively in our native tongue.

My earliest critics when I began to take a higher profile in speaking and writing were Americans. A number claimed that I used words they did not know the meaning of. Yet all I was doing was using the vocabulary that was part of a good education in my home country and most of the rest of the British Commonwealth! It soon became obvious that the quality of language generally in use in the U.S. was quite below par compared to the rest of the English-speaking world.

It is clearly demonstrated that children to whom parents read regularly during infancy, and who are encouraged to read widely throughout their years of schooling, are far better conversationalists, readers and writers by the time they reach adulthood. They thus emerge from their years of education far better prepared to obtain work in a highly competitive marketplace than those who are not so encouraged.

The other thing that reading widely imparts is a lucid, vibrant, stimulated imagination!

Imagination is one of the most underrated of gifts that God has given us. It’s by no mere accident that the great age of discovery that occurred at the time of the rise of the British peoples to their peak of greatness coincided with the rapid expansion of the availability and the distribution of books.

Reading was a prime pastime of the British folk during the time of empire. They were granted access not only to the classics during their rise to prominence, commencing in the 18th century, but increasingly to the great works of contemporary British authors. The sheer expansion of British inventiveness during the time of the British Empire was phenomenal. That this flowed from greatly stimulated imaginations is a given. It was a time of great ideas, and great ideas are gestated in our God-given power to imagine them first.

We can draw a real contrast between that time of British greatness when reading flourished, imagination was vivid, communication both graceful and truly effective, and its diminishing during the time of the decline of Britain, and the ongoing subsequent decline in quality generally of what Churchill called “the Anglo-Saxon race.”

When electronic gadgetry does our thinking, and worse, our visualization for us via video to the point of stifling the power of mental visualization, we either greatly limit or lose a powerful component of our human mind—the power to IMAGINE!

When we add to this a dumbed-down form of “communication” in abbreviated forms via texting, we compound the problem that we find increasingly extant in a non-reading population: the reduced capacity to effectively communicate with each other in a truly mature and civilized way. That is a great sign of a society in decay.

One of the greatest of tools that we can possess in our armory to fight against the dumbing down of Anglo-Saxon society is the ability to ensure that each and every word that leaves our lips becomes as “apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Mexico Slaughters 8 Million H7N3 Influenza-Infected Chickens

Mexico Slaughters 8 Million H7N3 Influenza-Infected Chickens

AARON TAM/AFP/Getty Images

Mexico is embroiled in an effort to contain an outbreak of a strain of bird flu in the west of the country.

Agriculture Ministry officials announced last Tuesday that they have already vaccinated 66 million chickens and killed 8 million infected chickens in the egg-producing Los Altos region. Mexico plans a two-phase vaccination program that would vaccinate 80 million more chickens in the first phase. The second phase would be conducted after an evaluation of the first.

The outbreak of the H7N3 bird flu strain was first detected in Los Altos on June 20. At the beginning of July, Mexico declared an animal health emergency. Subsequently, prices of eggs and chickens increased sharply. The Mexican poultry industry has already lost $50 million since June.

Even though the disease is so far confined to the Los Altos region, the ramifications of this outbreak reach beyond Mexico’s borders. Authorities in neighboring Guatemala have beefed up checks on its border to prevent the spreading of the virus strain.

According to the United Nations, the H7N3 virus rarely infects humans and is not known to be easily transmittable between humans. However, viruses are prone to mutations, and other strains like H5N1 and H1N1 have already been fatal to humans. Former World Health Organization Director-General Dr. LEE Jong-wook, warned back in 2005: “It is only a matter of time before an avian flu virus—most likely H5N1—acquires the ability to be transmitted from human to human, sparking the outbreak of human pandemic influenza.” He added:

We don’t know when this will happen. But we do know that it will happen.This is the time to build global consensus. This is the time for every country to prepare their national action plan—and act on it.In the pandemics of 1958 and 1968, a combined total of 3 million people died. Those were considered to be mild pandemics.In 2003, in the sars epidemic, fewer than 800 people died. Yet the economic consequences have been assessed at more than $30 billion worldwide. It was a major social, political, economic and health event.If we are unprepared, the next pandemic will cause incalculable human misery. Both directly from the loss of human life, and indirectly through its widespread impact on security. No society would be exempt. No economy would be left unscathed.

An avian flu pandemic is potentially disastrous to birds, humans, societies and economies. In a world cursed with divisions and economic turmoil, building global consensus and action plans would be moving in the right direction. But more important would be gaining an understanding of the real reason behind these coming disease pandemics.