Is back-breaking debt what’s going to bring the world to its knees in the End Times?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #65 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
During WWII, some of our forebears thought Hitler was the Antichrist and that he’d bring about the end of the world as we knew it. Given the level of evil he and the Nazis instituted in a roughly twenty-year reign of terror, I can’t say that I blame anyone for thinking this way.
During the Cold War with the USSR in the 1950s and 60s, we thought the end of the world might someday come from what we then called “thermo-nuclear war.”
I remember the same concerns when I was in graduate school during the late 70s, early 80s, studying for degrees in political science. We talked about nuclear arms, MAD or Mutually Assured Destruction, ICBMs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and a few other scenarios involving “nukes.”
Interestingly, whether intellectuals speculated end of the world scenarios sourced in international geo-politics, vast armies, space age weaponry like “Star Wars,” or whether theologians drew them from biblical prophecy, most of us, as I recall, didn’t think about debt.
Yet national debt, deficit spending, and unbalanced budgets are now among the greatest threats to future wellbeing in the West, if not the world.
Today, the United States is $31.5 Trillion in debt. I cannot comprehend this, and no offense, I’m guessing you can’t either.
In 2011, I wrote a similar piece like this on debt. The total national debt figure I used just twelve years ago was $15T, less than one-half what it is now. If you want to scare yourself, go to usdebtclock.org and look at the digital displays moving faster than you can count the dollars aloud.
America has the largest national debt in the world. With a population of over 333 million, that means a debt burden of $94,219 per citizen and equates to a US federal debt to gross domestic product or GDP ratio of 121.5%, according to USdebtclock.org. Think of the GDP as sort of the asset or positive side of the ledger, whereas debt, what’s owed, is the negative side. Clearly, at 121.5% we’re upside down. We owe more than we could presently pay.
Using 2022 statistics, other nations in the world are in a similar quandary. Japan has the highest public debt to GDP ratio of 288.31% and a national debt of $15.2T.
Italy carries $3.8T in national debt, against its GDP of 176.81%, followed by France's 130.64% ratio and debt of $3.7T. The United Kingdom debt load is $3.4T, giving it a ratio of 103.61%. Germany is similar with $3.4 trillion in debt, but the country's ratio is much lower at 76.46%. Canada and Russia also are all in debt with poor GDP ratios.
Now that’s a lot of statistics, but the bottom line, pun intended, is that
“the world is in debt. A record amount of debt. Three hundred trillion dollars, to be exact…That number is about 349% of global gross domestic product, and the equivalent of $37,500 of debt for every single person in the world.”
“There is no easy way out of a global debt crisis…Avoiding a crisis will require unpopular actions and a “great reset” of policymaker mindset. That may mean more cautious lending, curbing overconsumption and restructuring projects or entities that don’t make a profit.”
For the US, “the possibility of reaching the self-imposed cap on how much money the US government can borrow currently looms large…Congress can avoid the partial government shutdowns, potential cash flow shortfalls and even the possibility of default by simply raising the ceiling as it has in the past.”
But should the ceiling be raised, as it has so many times before?
Even the economic powerhouse China is looking at major trouble on the horizon. China “carries roughly a third of the debt load as the U.S. at $10.8T, with a public debt to GDP ratio of 61.94%.”However, because China’s government attempted to play God and control birthrates, forcing a one-child policy on Chinese families for the past sixty years, China now faces a huge demographic crisis with more people dying than are born.
In 2015, the Chinese Communist leadership admitted their mistake in the one-child policy and has since been allowing all married couples to have two children. “Total births in China have now fallen for six straight years, and the United Nations’ middle-of-the-road projections find that by the end of the century, the country’s total population will have fallen below 800 million people, a level it hasn’t been since the late 1960s. Unlike then, when the median Chinese was in their highly productive early 20s, that smaller China will be far older.”
This nation of 1.4 billion people shrinking to 800 million represents a drop in economic power that is unimaginable.
Finally, we’re coming to understand that demographics and economics go hand in hand, that government sterilization policies in China, that abortion on demand in the West, not only reduces population growth but reduces economic potential and prosperity.
Interesting isn’t it, that in the book of Genesis 1:27-28, it is recorded, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”
God’s will is for parents to procreate and produce children, and he blessed population growth.
In 1798, an English cleric, Robert Malthus, “saw population growth as inevitable whenever conditions improved, thereby precluding real progress towards a utopian society…His philosophy gave birth to Malthusianism, the idea “that population growth is potentially exponential while the growth of the food supply or other resources is linear, which eventually reduces living standards to the point of triggering a population die off. This event (is) called a Malthusian catastrophe.”
Some birth control advocates and radical environmentalists have drawn from Malthus, considering humanity the problem that needs reduced or, oddly, eliminated.
Yet we see now that population growth and economic well-being go together, as God said, “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth.”
And then there’s debt.
It could be that in God’s providence what finally gets the world’s attention is the need to pay the piper.
Debt can only so long be ignored. Look now at what’s happening in Iran. It may be rampant inflation and a broken economy, not simply political protests, that produces regime change.
The root of the debt problem worldwide, though, is not lack of resources or ingenuity. It is a problem of moral philosophy. The root of the debt problem is humanity’s unwillingness to live within our means, to not mortgage our children’s or our country’s future.
The Scripture tells us we are accountable to God for how we manage our assets, the time, talent, and treasure God gives us. Irresponsible debt is not part of this picture. The Bible says, "The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously," (Ps 37:21). Repaying our debts honors God and is the morally right thing to do.
Debt enslaves us. “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender,” (Prov 22:7). Given our rapidly expanding national debt, the U.S. is in bad shape.
But Doomsday Debt is not a given, and we should not give up hope. The problem can be fixed. We are blessed with resources, opportunity, ingenuity, and as long as Jesus’ tarries his coming, time.
Question is, can we redevelop the moral vision to do right and do well?
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023
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