Recent estimates have pegged our National Debt at $11 trillion (that’s the number 11 followed by 12 zeros!). Our interest payment to service this enormous debt now stands at $26 billion…per month. That’s over $300 billion a year that will be sent (mostly overseas) to our creditors instead of being used to upgrade our schools, roads, or national defense. If this were happening in your house, you’d put a stop to it, right? Rational thinking dictates that if it doesn’t work in your house, it won’t work in the White House.
Recently, the Wall Street Journal reported the following:
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary estimate for job losses for June is 467,000, which means 7.2 million people have lost their jobs since the start of the recession. The cumulative job losses over the last six months have been greater than for any other half year period since World War II, including the military demobilization after the war. The job losses are also now equal to the net job gains over the previous nine years, making this the only recession since the Great Depression to wipe out all job growth from the previous expansion.” (emphasis added)
Now, our current administration is contemplating yet another trillion dollar stimulus package and the largest tax ever levied upon the American people in the form of Cap and Trade legislation. What is more, we are apparently rushing forward to pass a universal health care plan that will undoubtedly bankrupt our system. Thomas Jefferson once said that “[t]he principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” If that weren’t clear enough, he also said that politicians should consider themselves “unauthorized to saddle posterity with our debts, and morally bound to pay them ourselves…”
What is going on here? The recent and ongoing economic turmoil is taking a visible toll on most everyone. I believe each of us know someone, if not yourself, who has been directly affected by it.
So, were you prepared?
In the October, 1998 General Conference President Hinckley warned us about todays events by admonishing the “older men” concerning “temporal matters.” His talk, entitled “To the Boys and to the Men,” can be found here. As you may recall, a good portion of Genesis 41 was quoted, which treats Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s iconic dream of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Under the direction of Pharaoh, during the seven years of plenty Joseph gathered up food “as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number” (Gen. 41:49).
Thus, heeding the wisdom of an inspired man, Pharaoh undertook an immense preparation for the oncoming storm – in fact, they stored so much food and provisions that they lost count. That same food eventually fed Jacob’s family when they were forced to flee the famine that “was over all the face of the earth” (Gen. 41:56).
Upon concluding Joseph’s story, Pres. Hinckley then uttered these prophetic words:
“Now, brethren, I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying, that I am not predicting years of famine in the future. But I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order.
“So many of our people are living on the very edge of their incomes. In fact, some are living on borrowings. . . . The economy is a fragile thing. . . . There is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed” (emphasis added).
I remember hearing those words. I recently returned from my mission and I was sitting in a chapel in Pleasant Grove, UT, with my father. At the time I had no debt, I was living at home in my parent’s basement, and couldn’t fathom that his counsel would ever affect me.
In my opinion, we eventually saw our symbolic “seven years of plenty” as the U.S. experienced record highs in both the stock and housing markets. Things were looking good up until around the end of 2007, almost 9 years after the prophet counseled us to prepare for this “portent of stormy weather” of which we are currently undergoing.
Our beloved prophet concluded his talk by saying:
“I urge you, brethren, to look to the condition of your finances. I urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from bondage.
“This is a part of the temporal gospel in which we believe. May the Lord bless you, my beloved brethren, to set your houses in order. If you have paid your debts, if you have a reserve, even though it be small, then should storms howl about your head, you will have shelter for your wives and children and peace in your hearts. That’s all I have to say about it, but I wish to say it with all the emphasis of which I am capable” (emphasis added).
Clearly, storms are howling about our heads today, and there does not seem to be an end in sight. You may have your job and some sense of security now, but where will you turn if your situation changes and you are left in an unprepared state? Will the government step in? In light of its present actions, one wonders whether the government will have the means to. And if so, at what cost? The uncertainty of how that would work alone is enough of a motivator for me to change my habits. Unfortunately, getting out of debt takes time and discipline.
Are our houses in order? Is it too late to change our current situation, or can we start now and heed an inspired man’s advice and fortify ourselves against this raging storm?