Raising the Roof
Vol: 115 Issue: 21 Thursday, April 21, 2011
In February, 2010 the 111th Congress passed – and President Obama signed – a bill that reset the legal limit on how much money the United States could borrow. Since that date, the legal limit on the national debt was $14.3 trillion dollars.
By next week, the Congress and the White House will have run smack into the debt limit, after which, it cannot borrow any more without passing a new debt limit. The legal debt limit as it stands at the moment doesn’t really sound like that much.
$14.4 trillion sounds a lot like $14.4 billion – indeed, I read where the US spent $535 million on some project and to my mind, it actually sounded like more. That’s because I can sort of get a handle on how much $535 million is.
Lots of individuals are way richer than $535 million, I suppose, but $535 million sounds like real money and 14.4 trillion doesn’t —the way that a thirty-year-old can sort of imagine turning fifty — but cannot picture what it would be like to be ninety.
The best way for me to understand million, billion and trillion is still to convert it into units of time. A second is a second. Everybody can get their head around a second, an hour, or a day. So a million seconds is about twelve days.
Today is Thursday, April 21. In roughly a million seconds from right now, it will be Sunday, May 1. So for you to become a millionaire, you’d have to earn a dollar a second for every second until a week from Sunday.
At the same earnings rate — $1 per second — or $1,000,000.00 every twelve days – you would earn your first billion dollars sometime in April, 2043. Assuming you are sixty today, you’d crack a billion at age 92 – in about thirty years.
If you started earning a dollar per second today, you would have earned a trillion dollars sometime around April, 34,043. By the time you were able to pay off the national debt at that rate, it would be sometime around February of the Year 490,219.
(That’s the Year Four Hundred and Ninety Thousand, Two Hundred Nine.)
And that isn’t enough money, so we need to borrow more. The Treasury Department has not said how much we need to raise the debt limit by, but analysts say the government needs at least ANOTHER trillion dollars to keep the government running until September 30th.
Analysts also say the governemnt needs to borrow an additional TWO trillion to keep the government solvent until November 2012. Using time as our frame of reference, this means tacking on an extra 64 THOUSAND YEARS at one dollar per second.
At a dollar a second, the elevated debt ceiling means we won’t break even until February of the Year 554,219.
And you thought it took a long time to pay off a MasterCard balance.
President Obama’s solution to the debt crisis is to use the tax code to buy votes from the 47% of Americans who pay no taxes at all by raising the top income tax rate on people whose income (at a dollar a second) would only last about three days.
At one point in pitching his plan, Obama scoffed that “Warren Buffet doesn’t need another tax cut. I don’t need another tax cut.”
Surprisingly, I agree with the President. Buffet doesn’t. Obama doesn’t. But nobody is talking about a tax cut. Obama is talking about raising taxes to the level they were ten years ago. That’s when the tax cut took place – ten years ago.
Today’s plan is to raise taxes – not just on billionaires and millionaires, but also on New York City cab drivers, Chicago roofing contractors and Los Angeles business owners and anybody else who lives in areas where $250,000 gross annual income barely covers expenses.
(I recall living in Venice Beach, CA in 1997 and looking at a kind-of-dumpy one-bedroom clapboard house that rented for $2200/month. Here, it would rent today for maybe $650/mo. In 1997, maybe $400.00. And a one bedroom apartment in New York City can cost up to a million dollars.)
By the time a big-city entrepreneur pays all the salaries, fees, taxes, withholding, union dues, etc., $250,000 isn’t even ‘rich’ if he lives in Buffalo. The tax hike would mean either the employer would have to cut back his own expenses or reduce his staff.
Meanwhile, the “super-rich” like Warren Buffet (or President Obama) don’t pay anything close to the top tax rate now. The IRS reported that the 400 richest Americans paid only 17 percent in federal income tax, on average.
General Electric, run by super-rich Obama pal Jeffery Immelt, earned $14.2 billion in global profits and paid NOTHING is US federal income taxes.
For the nearly half of all US households that pay no taxes at all (thanks to the small employers (ie ‘the rich’) that pay it for them, Tax Day is like Christmas. Noted the brilliant Victor Davis Hanson:
“Nearly half of American households pay absolutely nothing in federal income tax. For them, the once-dreaded April 15 tax day is more a welcome time of tax credits, rebates and refunds. In February 2011, American households received more than $2.3 trillion in direct government support, more than was collected during those 28 days by the Treasury in personal taxes. In contrast, the now-demonized top 5 percent account for almost 60 percent of all federal income tax revenue — a higher percentage than anywhere else in the Western world.”
If the Treasury took 100% of the income of everyone making $250K and higher, it STILL wouldn’t eliminate the deficit, let alone make a dent in the national debt. That is what economists mean when they say the debt is “unsustainable.”
What should the government do? I dunno. That’s not my job. I am not an advocate – I am an observer. My job is to examine current events and trends and see if and how they line up with Bible prophecy.
I wouldn’t advocate against the current debt crisis because I am a fatalist. I admit it. I believe that we are headed down a pre-ordained course. For this reason, I am often mystified at the Christian reaction to the concept of predestination as somehow interfering with man’s free will.
Man’s free will is unencumbered – and yet we find ourselves in exactly the pickle prophesied, particularly if we are as far along the Bible’s timeline as I believe the signs say we are.
We aren’t yet bankrupt, but we can see where bankruptcy may well be in the cards for America’s near future. But the Bible says that shortly after the antichrist comes to power the world will experience a devastating economic collapse.
The third judgment of the Tribulation is the Rider on the Black Horse:
“And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”
That’s what Bible prophecy predicts will be the situation as we enter the Tribulation Period – and that is pretty much what secular analysts predict will be the situation by the time we roll around to Election 2012.
Like I said, I don’t know if we’ll be bankrupt by 2012 – I don’t know when the Tribulation will start. Even though we can see the shadows of what is to come, nobody can say precisely when – but there is little doubt that it is near.
Here’s what I do know. I know that the Tribulation Period is a time of judgment against a Christ-rejecting world and a time of purification and redemption for national Israel.
And I know that as bad as things look right now, this isn’t the Tribulation yet –even though it looks like it could be — because the Rapture happens first. And that is what is so significant about all this, insofar as the Church is concerned.
Because when we see all these things begin to come to pass, we are to look up and lift up our heads for our redemption draws nigh, the Lord says.
He doesn’t say to flee to Petra. He doesn’t say to flee from Judea to the mountains. That is what He told the Jews living around Jerusalem to do. But He tells the Church to look up, and lift up our heads and wait for our redemption (Gk: apolutrosis=deliverance)
“So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:31-32)