As believers we must force ourselves to understand a few things about what is going on in the world. The Bible urges us to NOT be ignorant of the enemy's devises. Please read the following from the perspective of being a smart believer able to avoid pitfalls and capable of helping others also.
As if there are not enough things to be very concerned about when looking at the current and future state of the economy; new data indicates trouble brewing in places no one thinks about. There is, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a very real and present danger that 46 of 50 states in this union may have to declare bankruptcy within the next 18 months.
I beseech anyone genuinely interested in the scope of the current crisis to spend a little time and look at the data presented on this site. There is a lot of numbers, but in this case the numbers don't lie.
There are many states facing huge budget shortfalls this current fiscal year, but near the bottom of the above linked article, one sees where the real problems lie and that is next year with the 2010 state budgets. One of the more sobering lines in this article was:
"Unlike the federal government, states cannot run deficits when the economy turns down; they must cut expenditures, raise taxes, or draw down reserve funds to balance their budgets. As a new fiscal year begins in most states, budget difficulties are leading some 39 states to reduce services to their residents, including some of their most vulnerable families and individuals."
Just a few days ago, the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg announced cuts in services, job cuts and raises in fees to try and close the current 4 billion dollar gap in the budget. While many of these things may seem trivial to those living outside of New York, for residents of our country's biggest city and especially its employees-this is a HUGE deal.
When one considers the current expected budget gap in California is nearly 15 billion dollars, and that it is well documented that the state will be totally out of money and the means to borrow money by the end of this month; it doesn't take a genius to figure out what is in the cards. The United States Government has to ride in on its white horse and bail out the states to keep them from all declaring chapter nine bankruptcy. Look for gigantic outlays of Federal dollars to keep the states afloat.
The truly scary part of this whole thing is trying to figure out where it will ever end. I was speaking the other day with a local attorney who is "taking care" of my ticket for supposedly running the red light awhile back. He said in our little town of just under 5,000 the revenue has dropped so dramatically that the police department has standing orders to ticket everyone for every possible infraction. He said the city police managed to issue over 2,500 citations for running red lights or stop signs last year. They are truly desperate for revenue.
Rumor has it that the county is going to RAISE property taxes this fall to make up the shortage in revenue. My insurance agent says all the major insurance companies are broke and either must dramatically raise rates or demand deductibles go up to around $2,500 for the average homeowner's policy. Everywhere we are seeing places RAISING PRICES, FEES and TAXES trying to get back the revenue lost in the current depression.
What is the worst thing to do during an economic downturn? It is to raise prices and taxes, yet that is what everyone is doing. The banks are losing money so they raise interest rates and fees to bring money back into their business. The more places raise fees, prices and taxes; the more people will collapse under the burden of being unable to afford them.
Perhaps the most troublesome part of this whole thing is where the states are looking to cut expenses. The biggest part of most state government's budgets is education. The number one place most states are cutting expenditures is-education. Up next are various services for the elderly, disabled and chronically poor. To read more, please look at the following articles:
Logically if the states are in the kind of trouble mentioned by these articles, then the counties and cities must be in even worse shape. I know that locally we hear every day of more and more cuts being proposed in basic services such as law enforcement and the like. It is truly very dangerous ground to be on when advocating cutting back on police officers in a city such as St. Louis which already has one of the highest crime rates in the nation.
If the unemployment rate does hit 10% in the next few months (and I think it will go much higher), the resulting lack of money flowing into the economy along with the need for government to provide unemployment, Medicaid, food stamps and other programs will result in ever growing deficits at all levels of government. The problem is truly startling in its scope and dimension.
I have no clue what a state such as California is going to do. Already they have halted tax refund checks and dramatically cut back on many services. Even with these moves, their deficit grows greater day by day. I have no idea what cities such as New York are going to do with the dramatic loss of revenue and the need to fund the potpourri of various programs the citizens have grown accustomed to and dependent upon.
I don't have a clue how a household such as mine will survive the next few months. I looked at my wife's 401k and it lost another 30% of its value since September. It is now worth less than half of what it was worth just last summer. Our Roth IRA's have lost close to 60% of their value and our home is now only worth 70% of what it was worth a year ago. These are steep drops in a household's net worth. Meanwhile, it seems that everyone wants to raise prices, fees and taxes to bridge their budget gaps.
These are times not to be afraid but to we aware of just how deep the problems are which afflict us. Of course we believe and trust God will take care of us, but He only can if we are not ignorant of the ways and means by which the enemy is attacking. Ignorance breeds either false confidence or fear, neither of which is good. A little knowledge will go a long way in allowing us to be prepared for what is coming and confident in our Lord's promises to provide.
It is time for all of us, regardless of our denominational beliefs, to understand just how dire the current economic situation is in this world, country, state and city where we live. Soon, and I mean very soon, the cries of millions of people will be heard as one by one people lose their jobs, then their health insurance, then their homes and finally their dignity. Soon, I truly fear that the majority of Americans who currently still think all is well with their finances will receive a jolt that forces them to realize how close we are the end of this country as it has been known for centuries.
Barring an unexpected acceptance of Rush Limbaugh's stimulus package (dramatically cutting Corporate taxes and eliminating the capital gains tax for one year), all the pork laden legislation currently working its way through Congress is going to do is make things worse. Please, pray as you never have before that reason rules somewhere in government and that God provides a way for His people to endure regardless of what transpires in the days and weeks ahead.
I know my own state is fighting to protect k-12 funding as we have already been cut to the bone for the past eight years. There are very few teachers under 35 remaining in my school district. All of this comes on top of increasing enrollments due in part to parents pulling their children out of private education and the charter school fiasco (constant problems with misappropriation and mismanagement of funds)
I wish we could say, like alight, that we owe nothing to no man. However, we are actively seeking God's help in getting out of debt completely and I praise God that He is making provision for us day by day. We need to pray...
Many of us have heavy hearts as we witness the present state of the once great nation of U.S.A. Christians in the U.S. must rise up to help one another in this hour of need. As far as it be possible, it would be good to let losses remain unrealized for as long as the owners can stand as it is expected that there will be a bottom(no matter how long it takes) after which things will get better for realizable assets with much diminished present worth. Cut costs and do not spend more than beyond your means is a simple concept but not when costs have already been cut to the barest minimum and to the bone. The burden is much heavier for those who are in ill health so treasure the health you have with priority of nutritious rather than fancy diets and do exercise even without employment for it will reduce depression when the body is rejuvenated by exercise. Sleep but do not oversleep. Take this opportunity to increase family bonding (rather than be overcome with the stress of unemployment) when there used not to be time to do so. Take the opportunity to do your own repairs and maintenance (rather than outsource) with the extra time available from lower employment. Take this opportunity to catch up and develop new skills and anticipate and look-out for personal, family and friends by networking(rather than thinking that you can continue to face the situation on your own). Together with God and one another you can stand in the face of adversity. Draw strength from each other and from God and His Word. There has never been such a time as this when family (natural and spiritual)support will prove the best balm for a world in despair. May the Lord develop within each one the fruits of the Holy Spirit - love, joy, peace,patience,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, genetleness and self-control.(Galatians 5:22-26) Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with His Spirit.let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other but provoke one another to good works. Be assured that there are many who live on the shores outside of the U.S.A. and who have benefited from the generosity and goodness of the U.S.A in the past, who are daily upholding all U.S. Christians and the U..S. President and his aides in prayer. The Lord signals that we should hold the fort for He is coming soon. Be brave in the power of His might and be a Daniel.
Thanks dear brother, truly the squeeze is on from an international level and down. It may be that after the consolidation of wealth and power some semblance of 'normal' will return when that is accomplished? That will be a window of opportunity for the gospel. Because of my age, i have a clear remembrance of the 70's when i first stated a family and entered into the work force. For years now i have referred to the world i knew then as 'The Late Great United States' and began to try and understand the history,dynamics, and powers that be. Please stay on line and write to us as long as possible. Thank you for backing up your information. Is is not marvelous to have Jesus and to experience hope in the face of this looming cloud? God, be merciful to our children, families, State, and Nation.
Thank you for your insightful comments. I am especially thankful to read ptl2008's comments from someone far removed from this country and its turmoil. Very wise words you spoke for any and all no matter where they live.
I too remember the 70's and even during the tough economic times then, the country was still on solid footing due to adherence to sound principle. I truly do pray that we are given a window of opportunity to speak the Gospel before the depths of the tribulation period arrive.
Some of us were wise enough to never get into debt, some of us got brought down by situations which necessitated debt, some of us incurred debt due to business endeavors and some got into debt because of the deception of easy credit. Regardless of where any of us are at, there are a couple of things for certain. Number one is that we desperately NEED EACH OTHER--each other's prayers, forgiveness and support. And number two is that we must not be caught off guard due to ignorance and/or being naive regarding what is going on. Jesus spoke many parables concerning the need to prepare, be wise and not become complacent or lazy in our thoughts and actions.
These are truly very troubling times, and especially for anyone fighting battles in the financial, physical or employment arenas. I pray we all take heed to the wonderful advice given here by ptl2008 in regards to handling these battles.
Blessings 2 You