Friday, April 10, 2009

The Four Most Caring Words (Part I)

by David G. Woolley

Editor's Note: We promised part III of the Language of Nephi and we still plan to deliver. We're just building suspense and maybe some bad will. Sorry. Check back in a couple of days for what we think will be a very interesting post. Until then, please indulge us our economic view from the fiscal desk.

In this initial The Four Most Caring Words post we examine our current economic crisis by looking at some spending numbers. Then in Part II and Part III we'll have a look at similar economic booms and busts from the Book of Mormon. There really is some hard economic data in the Book of Mormon on nearly all the economic principles driving the current crisis. In the final post of The Four Most Caring Words series we'll detail the recommendations in the Book of Mormon for getting out of this kind of economic mess and how to avoid it in the future by adopting the heaven-ordained economic mind-set. Hope you enjoy our newest series The Four Most Caring Words. And don't forget to check back for our continuing series on the Language of Nephi. So many series, so little time.

According to Elder Robert D. Hales in a discourse given during last weekend's LDS General Conference we can't afford it are the four most caring words you can speak. Here at Top of the Morning we agree. Have a look at our video clip above which graphically illustrates our point. Debt has far too much power to trash free agency and when you get into the subtle and nuanced business of depriving your brothers and sisters of their free agency you're planting your feet solidly on evil territory. It’s no wonder the prophetic council for our day is to get out of debt and stay out of debt. Sadly, during the past fifteen or twenty years of economic plenty, households spent far too much on wants, over-extended their credit, and saved less than any other generation in the history of financial record keeping. It was a collective miscalculation that the good times were gonna keep rolling. We ignored the most caring words and told ourselves not to worry, we could afford it.

If debt is bad for households, can it still be a good idea for, say, the people who print the money? We don't think so. In fact we think that the only difference between micro household debt and macro national debt is the number of people it enslaves by removing their freedom to choose, essentially limiting their free agency, removing the path to self reliance and making large segments of the population dependent upon government dole. We're of the opinion that this massive spending is potentially satanic in the sense that it has the potential to enslave an entire country and possibly the entire globe by threatening the freedom to be self reliant, self determining and free. Permit us an adjusted-for-inflation dollar chat in support of our opinion.

The Bear Sterns bailout last October 2008 came in at around 29.5 billion dollars, give or take a few bonus compensation packages. Compared to the cost of building the Panama Canal at $790 million dollars or the Hoover Dam at $78 million dollars, that one bailout alone could buy Americans a Panama Canal for every state in the union with water to spare. That's a lot of waterway transportation infrastructure. Likely too much. If you add the $97.2 billion to bail out Bank of America and another $97.4 billion for the Chrysler and General Motors bailouts you've got the equivalent of about 350 Panama Canals. That's enough canalary for every river, stream and donnybrook on the planet. And that doesn't even include the $112 billion dollars for AIG. The AIG mess alone is almost as much as we spent on the entire Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after WWII which cost us $115 billion inflation adjusted dollars.

Most of you may not have noticed the day the US government handed over $139 billion to General Electric. The CEO, Mr. Immelt, is on the President's economic advisory team which makes that bailout just a little questionable. It’s the sort of economic back scratching that has been the foundation for strong, healthy secret combinations since the day Cain slew Able. If you include the $235 billion dollars for Citigroup the running total reaches $710 billion dollars for big banks and corporations and we're just getting started.

The $300 billion for home owners who can't pay their mortgages is just slightly below the entire cost for World War I which came in at a whopping $324 billion. That's the entire cost. Them. Us. And every warring nation in between. Thankfully it’s not as much as the $400 billion handed to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac last month. Those are the two government owned and operated lending firms that pretty much precipitated this entire mess and no one blinked an eye when congress last week passed out $220 million dollars in bonuses to the Fannie and Freddie people who recklessly approved loans to borrowers they knew could never pay them back. We were likely too busy being angry about the $218 million dollars in bonuses that went to AIG people to get mad at congress for slipping $220 million dollars of bonuses under the table to their friends at Freddie and Fannie. Or maybe we were just so inundated with bailout burnout to keep track any longer. But I can't help keeping track. The secret combinations just keep piling up.

These government spending numbers are ginormous. Anyone of these programs or packages would rank among the largest spending programs in US history. In fact, each one, separately, qualifies as record breaking for any spending program since the beginning of time. Nothing compares to this. Ever. Each spending program approved by congress and signed into law by our president, by itself, is right up there with the entire New Deal that totaled $500 billion in spending. Yes. The entire fifteen years of New Deal dole.

Now add to these spending programs the TARP money (Troubled Asset Relief Program) at $700 billion dollars and don't forget the $787 billion dollar stimulus spending package--that thousand page bill congress never read, and you end up with a grand total of codified into law, already spent 4.3 trillion mind-boggling dollars to date and that's only four months into this mess. That's eight times the cost of the New Deal and it even beats the all time record holder, World War II at 3.4 trillion inflation-adjusted dollars.

Unfortunately that isn't the end. Our president and congress have committed to spend up to 7.8 trillion more dollars in new programs over the next 8 years. That's new dollars, above and beyond what it would take to operate the government each year had we kept with our previous budget projections. Add it all up and you get a whopping 12.2 trillion dollars. That's twenty-four times the cost of the New Deal and we managed to spend it in four months not fourteen years.

With a budget like this we could Panama Canal across every land mass on every planet, orbiting moon, and asteroid in the solar system. Water or no water. There's simply no way to raise this kind of money. We don't produce enough goods and services in America to tax our way out of this spending predicament so our government has made the precarious decision to borrow from our increasingly wary creditor. China.

When all these Chinese debts come due, the US will likely be forced into some kind of bankruptcy. But since there is no such thing as a federal bankruptcy, and there’s no way on earth we can work our way out of this kind of spending morass, our money becomes worthless. We can't buy anything. We can't sell anything. We can't convince anyone in the world to loan us money or ship us goods, or food, or oil. It is a perfect economic storm of our own making. For years our government muted the four most caring words, and now those excesses of spending on too many things we wanted but didn't really need has precipitated a crisis, we are beginning to regret our collective political silence.

Or are we?

We know we can't afford all this spending. The government knows we can't afford it. And the government knows that we know we can't afford it. But still we passively persist in the engorgement of government through unprecedented debt on the fear that our propserity will collapse when we really should be tightening our collective spending belt. Really tight. Painfully tight. Budget-reducing, program-reducing, benefit-reducing, entitlement-reducing, lean-on-your-family, your-food-storage, and your-faith-in-God tight.

In our Top of the Morning opinion, the only solution, and it is a solution available to us through a narrow time-window of likely ten or twelve precious-short months before we pass the spending point of no return, is for government to stop spending now and repeal much of the obligations signed into law over the past four months. That or we may end up paying what I can only articulate as the dreaded double tax.

The government can't tax dollars we've earned, paid taxes on and put securely away in savings. At least not by the current tax code. So what do they do with those trillions of dollars Americans have earned and placed in savings accounts or taken out of the stock market and placed in safe haven financial instruments during the past six months of financial panic? They make your money worthless. That's right. The government does it by printing new dollars. Lots of new dollars without borrowing the value of those dollars from a creditor through the sale of US Treasury Bonds.

The government took the first step toward the double tax a few weeks ago when the FED announced they were monetizing the debt, essentially cutting the tie between the printing of money and the borrowing of the value of that printed money in the form of a government IOU, what money people call the purchase of government debt by the FED without tying that purchase to any debt instrument like selling bonds to foreign governments. Mainly to China. The initial result of monetizing the debt to fund the printing of money rather than funding debt through taxation sent gold prices soaring nearly $80.00 an ounce in less than ten minutes of trading. The second knell in this death march was more subtle than the intial monetization. Over the past three weeks the government has had a rather difficult time selling bonds. No one wants to buy them unless we twist their arm. American debt has become a rather high risk venture so the interest rates we pay to China have soared along with the price of gold. You can't blame China. Can a government that borrows from itself, essentially writing itself an IOMe, still be taken fiscally serious by any intelligent creditor for very long?

Likely not.

The more deadly result of all this printing of money and monetizing of debt kicks in when all those dollars are passed out and begin flooding the economy at the mall, the gas pump, and the grocery store. Inflation. Too many dollars chasing too few goods and services. This is not your normal annually adjusted, warm fuzzy, when-I-was-a-kid-a-candy-bar-cost-ten-cents inflation. Which is followed immediately by loss of faith in the dollar. An inflation induced panic. At the current rate of government spending, inflation could reduce the buying power of your savings in half, or a third or an eighth of its current value. Or worse. That’s what economists mean when they say the current level of government spending has the potential to wipe out family savings and make large segments of the population dependent on government dole. What no one is talking about is that may be precisely the aim of all this spending: to make you dependent on government programs rather than providing you with the tools and the freedom to become self reliant. And you thought the government couldn’t tax the money you stuffed under your mattress. Wrong.

We can't afford it. These are the four most caring words you can utter and you may want to make sure your government leaders hear them from you again and again until they begin to understand the terrible consequences of debt powerful enough to enslave all of us in a free-fall from economic free agency into an the abyss of economic dependency. For the remainder of our lives.

Join us for our next post in the Four Most Caring Words series when we examine similar boom and bust dilemmas in the Book of Mormon, beginning with the ancient economic principal that has been at the root of all heaven-ordained economies. Thou shalt not covet. That command, or the lack of abiding by that edict, reiterated by Elder Boyd K. Packer in last week's LDS General Conference Priesthood session, is at the root of all the ancient economic data coming out of the Book of Mormon. The hard numbers are in that restoration scripture if you know where to look. And we plan on taking a very hard look.

Until the next post, Top of the Morning to you.

Join author David G. Woolley at his Promised Land Website.


Sandra said...

Never bad will, and apology accepted.

I want to write some witty comment but there is nothing witty about this mess. Those numbers are mind boggling to me. Enough that I am having a hard time coming up with an articulate response. I have heard them all before, but never together and never in this graphic of an illustration.

I believe that you cannot cure money problems with money because money is not the problem. Selfish behavior is the problem. And I am reminded of the
2nd chapter of Jacob.

Cami said...

I'm speechless. Thanks for keeping us informed. I knew things were bad, I just never stopped to consider the numbers. A little scary to see them rolling across my computer screen like that. Yikes.

KUguy said...

I can certainly agree with the premise. We have become a nation and people who didn't show economic restraint. It has been encouraging to see that savings rates are now rising among individuals and families. I also share the concern about spending and would like us to pause and have more dialogue about this intervention before we continue our addiction to spending our way out of problems. It make little sense to me that we go into great debt so that we can get ourselves out of this economic morass. It presupposes that later, some time later, when things are better again, we will show the economic restraint to hold spending down, cut programs, and begin to pay this debt down. I question the will to do that. I fear we will just accumulate debt until it tumbles and humbles. But, here is my concern with the tone of the article. I have a hard time with conspiracy theory thinking. Why would "the government" want us to become dependent on us? Is there some back room where all the decision makers are sitting back and making grand schemes to subdue us? I realize there have been secret combinations in the past, but if this were of great concern, wouldn't I have heard more about this through a prophet? Secret combinations only work when we turn from God. What I hear is to be individually responsible, teach our families to circumscribe wants and truly distinguish between wants and needs. I hear them teaching us to live the gospel, meaning treat each other with kindness, share what we have, be good stewards over what we have. I also hear them encouraging us to get involved. I worry when the tone is apocolyptic, without a solution. Perhaps you intended this to set up what is to come. But for me when things sound a bit over the top or a bit simplistic I begin to wonder about the credibility of the message. Great points, but...

Anita said...

Is it within the power of others to take our agency from us? I believe not. We give it away. We may do so ever so slowly and thoughtlessly, but make no mistake, we give it freely. When we find ourselves the victims of addiction (spending included)we cry that we have been robbed of our agency. We have no control. That is true only because we chose earlier to relinquish that control. We continued making
that choice until we were bound in chains. Democracy is governed by the people. That government responds to the desires of the people. If the people clamor for selfishness and greed, the government responds to please them. If the desires of the people are isatiable, the response of government is proportionate. We have chosen denial over reality, pretense over pain, entitlement over responsibility. And here we are...
Please Dave, share with us the way out.

David G. Woolley said...


All your comments are witty.


It is astounding when its all stacked up, or in this case, falling off a cliff, in one big heap.


Great points. I'm going to read them again. And again.

UK Guy:

You get the longest comment because you wrote the longest comment. An eye for an eye. Right?

This post has some apocalyptic ideas. That was by design. There's no question that the increase of government spending with its attendant increase in taxation and debt has the effect of limiting freedom. The freedom to be self reliant. The freedom to be self determining. The freedom to decide how the sweat of your brow will be used to bless yourself, your family, your
neighbors and those in need.

There's also no question that secret combinations, in the final apocalyptic sense of the last days, will ultimately be present and generally responsible for the end of the world as revealed to the apostle John and to Moroni. The Book of Mormon is a fairly good authority on the process. In Ether 8 Moroni wrote:

23 Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to
get power and gain-and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be.

24 Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of
this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up.

25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the
prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning.

The motivation to build up a secret combination is to get gain as Moroni points out in verse 23. Gain in power. Gain in money. Gain in popularity. These three are essentially the currency the Book of Mormon identifies over and over again. And, like currency, they're all interchangeable. If you have
money you can buy power. If you have power you can become popular. If you're popular you can exchange it for money or power.

A secret combination works by denying freedom or free agency,the ability to be self determining, and in an economically free agent sense, self reliant. Secret combinations did not begin with Cane and Able. They are a
continuation of the battle that began in the pre-existence and continues to rage on this earth, essentially Lucifer denying free agency and forcing each of us individually and all of us collectively, to accept his will for us as opposed to Christ's firm assertion that we be allowed our freedom to be self reliant and self determining. Every idea enshrined in our constitutional
government opposes secret combinations.

Our founding fathers rejected the notion popular in Europe that democracy is a collection of ideologies in the political spectrum from left to right,
communist to fascist, democrat to republican, and everything in between. The founders never envisioned political ideologies or political parties as part of American government. They wrote a constitution that limited government power rather than balancing ideologies. It was an entirely different model than what the French or English proposed. Power was to be limited. Power was to be maintained with each individual citizen. The role of Government was as a subservient guardian, safe-guarding our individual powers in the form of unalienable rights.

It's a simple matter to identify a secret combination on a micro level where an individual or an identifiable group plans and carries out their generally
evil purposes. On the other hand, it's nearly impossible to attribute the same planning to any specific person in a macro secret combination, essentially where large scale, generational political, social and economic
factors combine to a disastrous and evil end.

Macro secret combinations are not planned in a back room among willing cohorts. Instead, independently working individuals and groups, over longer periods of times, sometimes
generations, working for their specific cause, assemble separate pieces of the secret combination puzzle.

A group of intellectuals at Princeton in 1910 seeks to promote the progressive ideas developed in Germany that a constitution is an evolving document subject to new interpretations rather than the strict, never-changing interpretation similar to what was intended by our founding fathers. To do it they mounted an educational campaign to discredit the founders as drunkards, immoral, slave holders, men of questionable character, ungodly. Seventy years later not a single high school graduate has any depth of understanding about George Washington. Ben Franklin. Thomas
Jefferson. Except the incorrect notion that they and their ideas are irrelevant to our modern world.

These Princeton intellectuals likely had no idea that their progressive interpretation of the constitution would be used before the California Supreme Court last February as the basic argument for overturning proposition 8. And since marriage is central to the creator's plan and because it is central to the Mormon church, the great men of Princeton in 1910 likely had no idea that the campaign they initiated almost a century ago would likely threaten the freedom of the LDS church to limit temple weddings to between one man and one woman. The final step hasn't been reached, but if you read any of the liberal writings, it is on their agenda.
Hence the hatred of that movement toward religion in general and Mormonism specifically.

I submit to you that part of what Moroni saw in vision and recorded in verse 25 of Ether 8, is that in large scale secret combinations in the last days, men acting independently of one another can and do assemble the different
parts of a national or global secret combination, or at least prepare the ground for its assembly. In a future post in this series I hope to lay out all the different pieces of an economic secret combination that is essentially enslaving people by limiting or removing their ability to become or operate as self reliant individuals and thereby limiting their free agency.

All of the actors in macro secret combination typically act unwittingly and independently of
the other, but each of them act under the influence of Satan, the great symphonic conductor of secret combinations.

If Moroni wrote apocalyptically then I can only restate his vision:

25 For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies.

Sandra said...

I'm going to interupt for a second to say,
Happy Easter, David.

Cami said...

Me too. :) Happy Easter! And your last comment was a great extension to your post! I wish I had your insight.....thanks for sharing it with us! :)

Anonymous said...

Dave, there is much to admire in your response. You have given this much thought and research. I agree with much of what you say. I am convinced that an accumulation of many "little" things can lead to larger things - "A New World Order" or some other form of secret combination. No doubt that is one of the reasons we are told that we would gather to the top of the mountains and that there would be strength as we remained united. Here are some questions for you?

So the world's way is to seek money, power, and popularity. What should be our response?

Satan has a deception, that you can buy anything if you just have enough money...but our response should be...We have sufficient?

Is there a distinction between freedom and agency? (I believe some of our freedoms can be taken from us, but we can only surrender our agency - it cannot be taken from us).

You use the term "liberal" as a derogatory term. I worry about using labels like that so casually. Is it a false dichotomy to label "liberal" as bad? What is the opposite "conservative"? Righteous?

I'm not sure there is a very clear causal link between 1910 intellectuals and what has occured since. Was there anything good that came from liberals/intellectuals? Is the internet a bad thing or a good thing? It depends on use. Could that be the same with ideas in some cases.

Our positions are probably more alike than different. You obviously are concerned about the direction we are headed. Me too. You want to open our eyes to some of the current dangers. I am interested in what you will say. You are an avid student of the scriptures. I respect that deeply. I know something of your life and admire and respect you very much. If I have any concern is the polarizing tone that may come. I have the same feeling at times when I hear how wicked a world we live in, but my own personal experience is how the people I generally know, neighbors, friends, coworkers are actually mostly good and kind. I know the world is getting wicked, but if we overly focus on what is wrong (maybe that is not what you are doing) we could begin to fear, and distrust, and not bring out the best in us or others. I guess my concern is not your ideas, but the fact that they sound at times a little too polarized. It seems like most the real work that God does on this earth is through the weak and simple, the unlearned, the meek, and Satan chooses his minions from among the apparently strong and powerful. He does want to rule - and do it with violence and force. Is our response to fight back? Is it too let God fight our battles? Is it to bury our weapons deep in the ground? Probably some of each. Well enough for now. Thank you for being committed to seeing eyes opened and good being done.


Jennie said...

Very well said!

Sandra said...

tap, tap, tap. Anybody out there? or is my computer not working right? hello??

We miss you Dave. But we do understand that you are busy. How's the book coming?

bon said...

You know, even though I'm *staff* at TOTM, I *NEVER* get to see you, Dave! You must not be doing any of your writing at the office. ;>

I had another co-worker ask me if I knew you as the author of "Promised Land," and when was the next book coming out? She sure enjoys them! :)

Hurry back! You're missed!