Vol: 129 Issue: 28 Thursday, June 28, 2012
When I was a young man, a guy with a decent job could expect to be able to afford to buy a decent house, own at least one car and support a family. He could also expect to be able to take at least one vacation every year and afford a few other luxuries.
I was born into what was arguably America’s actual “Golden Age” of peace and prosperity. At that time, America had the largest and most prosperous middle class in human history.
A second income was a luxury, not a necessity. Most families were single-income earners, and a typical American family unit had Dad holding down a job, a stay-at-home Mom holding down the home front, and a couple of kids.
In the mid-1950’s, Leave it to Beaver was a more-or-less accurate reflection of Americana as it actually was at that time. Ward and June Cleaver may have been a bit too perfect, and Wally and Beaver a bit too innocent, but they were a reflection of the world as I knew it as a kid.
When I entered the workforce after completing my military service, it was not unrealistic of me to expect to be able to retire in forty-odd years on a Social Security pension that would be enough to maintain a comfortable, but scaled-back lifestyle for the rest of my life.
It sounds almost dreamy compared to reality as America passed from the Golden Age and entered into the “Decade of Greed” (and even before Bill Clinton taught us that lying about sex was honorable and that “all the best people do it.”)
By the mid 1980’s, a single income earner made just about enough money for a single person. It took two incomes to afford a decent home, a car and to cover all the bills.
I am not quite sixty, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I cannot afford to retire. I cannot foresee how I ever will be. Most of my friends have either postponed retirement or gone back into the workforce.
Today, if somebody can find a job, odds are that it won’t pay much more than ten dollars an hour or it will be part-time.
The cost of living continues to rise, and despite government efforts to disguise it by cooking the books, they can’t hide the fact that half of all Americans need food stamps or other government programs to make ends meet.
The middle class has been shredded. For millions, the American Dream is becoming an American nightmare. Consider the following ten statistics and what they reveal.
- As the economy has declined, the number of Americans living month to month has soared. At this point, millions upon millions of Americans are living without any financial cushion. Not only do they not have enough for a rainy day, they keep running out of money before they run out of month. One recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies. Another survey found that 42 percent of all American workers are currently living paycheck to paycheck. Meanwhile, the wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans own more wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.
- According to the Christian Science Monitor, more than half of all small business owners in America cannot even afford to put food on the table from their small business earnings. Some 23 percent of all small business owners have gone an entire year without pay.
- According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of families in the United States declined “from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010“.
- The United States was once ranked #1 in the world in GDP per capita. Today we have slipped to #12.
- According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 declined by 27 percent after accounting for inflation.
- In 1983, the bottom 95% had 62 cents of debt for every dollar they earned, according to research by two International Monetary Fund economists. But by 2007, the ratio had soared to $1.48 of debt for every $1 in earnings.
- Approximately 53 percent of all U.S. college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.
- The federal government spent about 80 billion dollars on the food stamp program last year, but they can’t even tell us how that money is being spent.
- While Barack Obama has been president, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased from 32 million to 46 million. But the Obama administration is spending taxpayer money on ads to encourage even more Americans to go on food stamps!
- According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, 49.1 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial benefits from the government as 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.
Those are some pretty dismal statistics.
“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.” (Revelation 6:6)
When I first did a study on that verse many years ago, I had difficulty envisioning what it prophesied. A measure of wheat or three measures of barley is the Biblical equivalent to a day’s food for one man. A penny is symbolic of a day’s wages.
So what is being prophesied here is a time when a day’s wages will be barely enough to support one person for one day. It is not so hard to envision anymore. As evidenced in point #1 above, it is now a hard statistic.
The oil and the wine are symbolic of great wealth. So the entire prophecy says that while the average worker will barely be able to feed himself in the economy of the last days, the super rich barely even take notice of it.
Again, point #1 above turns that prophecy into a statistic.
Back when I first did a study on Revelation 6:6, I interpreted the oil and the wine as representative of America, and those working to just to eat as representative of the Third World. It didn’t occur to me that it could be describing the economic conditions inside the wealthiest nation the world has ever known.
(That is the thing about prophecy — it is always much clearer after it becomes history.)
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” (2 Timothy 3:1)
The first time I did a study on Second Timothy 3:1-5 I assumed, again wrongly, that it was referring to the rest of the world, since I could not imagine the kinds of perils forecast by the Apostle Paul in an American context.
That was then. This is now.
- Remember the cannibal/zombie that ate a guy’s face down in Miami a couple weeks back? When the cop shot him after he refused to stop eating, he turned and growled at the cop, who then rightly emptied his weapon into the guy to make him stop.
Judge: “So why DID you shoot him six times?”
Officer: “Well, Judge, that was all the bullets I had.”
Cops speculated he was on some exotic zombie drug called “bath salts.” Nope. Turns out he just felt like taking off all his clothes and eating someone’s face.
- A group of six in Utah were arrested after they became suspicious of their new roommate. They tortured him with a Dremel power tool and a staple gun for hours before releasing him. They suspected him of anonymously threatening one of the roommates.
- According to WGN, a total of 25 people were shot in a single night in Chicago recently, making Chicago a more dangerous place than Kabul, Afghanistan.
- In Seattle, police tasered a pregnant woman three times after she refused to sign a ticket for a traffic violation.
- In Georgia, a police officer recently kicked a woman who was nine months pregnant directly in the stomach. His superiors in the local police department defended his actions.
- One recent study found that 5.3 percent of all inmates in state prisons have had a sexual encounter with prison staff.
- Flash mobs continue to rob convenience stores all over the country.
- Americans take 80 percent of all the pain pills that are sold world-wide each year.
- A 33-year-old art teacher in Arizona was recently charged with having sex with four of her male students.
- In 2008, a majority of American voters chose to send a radical Marxist con man and youthful cocaine and pothead gang leader to the White House.
The rest of 2 Timothy seemed just as unlikely back when I first began to study it. At the time, I thought it was describing society as it will be at some point during the Tribulation.
It never occurred to me until much later that it was describing the kind of government that would rule America during the final days of the Church Age.
“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. . .” (2 Timothy 3:2-5)
Here are a few headlines from this morning’s Drudge Report while we wait for the Supremes to rule on Obamacare:
Dems Raise Money of Pending Defeat?; Obama: “I Hope You Still Believe in Me”; Leahy: “Nobody Questions Our Authority”; Conyers: “It’s In the Good and Welfare Clause”; Contempt Vote on Holder Will Proceed; and, last but not least, “Black Lawmakers Plan Walkout Strategy During Vote.”
As I said earlier, prophecy gets a lot easier to interpret once it has become history.
Tick . . . tick . . . tick. . .