Money For Nothing
The economic stimulus plan advanced by President Obama easily passed in the House, despite billions in ear marks and pork spending tacked on by House Democrats at each stage of the process. The reason it passed so easily wasn't because it was a good bill.
It's because the House is now so lopsided in favor of the Democrats. Even though eleven Democrats voted against it -- and House Republicans rejected it unanimously, it still passed 244-188.
The stimulus bill that finally passed the House was an orgy of self-service. Type "stimulus bill" into Google's news aggregator and look at all the states lining up with their hands out. Democratic states, for the most part.
Then look at what the so-called stimulus money will be used for. Newly-turned blue state North Carolina is expecting to get about $16 billion of the bailout money to stimulate its economy.
Here's how the stimulus bill will be used to create jobs in the Tarheel State.
The bill allots $802 million for transportation and infrastructure, $2.6 billion to help the state cover Medicare costs and $551 for 'education needs.' The bill also extends unemployment benefits, increases food stamps and -- get this -- includes an allotment 'for the arts'.
(Apparently, the only one who will be hiring in North Carolina will be the government)
But let's not pick on just my adopted home state. Massachusetts is expecting an $11 billion 'recovery package'. Of that $6.5 billion is earmarked to help the state pay its existing bills;
$2.1 billion for Medicaid, $1.3 billion for a "fiscal stabilization fund" that would help reduce the state's deficit, and more than $500 million in extra funding for education.
The state plans to plug a $2.5 billion hole in the current fiscal year, and a deficit projected at $3.5 billion the following year. John Kerry's Senate version includes $2 billion to build Massachusetts a high speed train.
I mean, I don't doubt that the citizens of Massachusetts would benefit from high speed rail. But this is an economic stimulus bill aimed at revitalizing a failing economy, or so it has been presented.
But it is like a desperate parent working out a plan to save money by extending the lifespan of the kid's shoes. If the parent were John Kerry, the solution would be to buy each kid a brand-new car.
Multiply that by every self-serving Democratic lawmaker with a suffering constituency and the next thing you know, to quote the late, great Senator Everett Dirkson, "Pretty soon you're talking about real money."
Except we're not. We're talking about pretend money being created out of thin air. Since the beginning of the crisis, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve have almost doubled the amount of money in circulation.
As Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said recently, "We own the printing presses. We can print all the money we need." In a sense, that is true.
Of course I could say the same thing about me. I own a printer. I can print all the money I need.
Except the 'money' I print on my printer would be counterfeit. And each bill I printed would devalue all the rest of the currency in circulation that that amount.
That is why counterfeiting is illegal. It steals from the system, thereby defrauding everybody.
Doubling the amount of US cash in circulation accomplishes almost the same thing. Since the government can legally issue currency, that currency is backed by government debt. As the debt grows, the dollar shrinks.
Analysts make much of the Republican rejection of the bill as 'partisanship' -- but eleven Democrats also voted against it. Since it is a stimulus bill in name only, it was Democratic support that was partisan.
Voting for it was an exercise in blind political partisanship. Voting against the bill was an act of moral responsibility.
As I watch the coverage and listen to the politicians and read the opinion polls, I have an increasing sense that I somehow ended up in an alternate universe.
We've already pumped more money into the economy since October than was spent during the first five years of the Great Depression. CEOs and corporate executives all went on retreat to count their bonus money on the first round of TARP spending.
Literally billions of dollars were stolen -- openly -- by corporate raiders and Wall Street big shots from the public treasury. Instead of being prosecuted, they are being rewarded with a second round of public money.
That money isn't earmarked for industry or research and development. It is earmarked to pay overdue bills, expand existing welfare programs and, inexplicably, to expand the arts.
And the lawmakers who voted against the bill are the ones wearing the 'partisan' label?
Over the years we've regularly examined the question, "Where is America in Bible prophecy?"
The prophets divide the world into four distinct spheres of power; revived Rome, the Kings of the South, Gog-Magog and the Kings of the East.
That roughly corresponds with the EU, the Islamic Middle East/North Africa, Russia/Iran and India/Pakistan/China. There is no fifth global superpower resembling the United States relevant to Bible prophecy in the last days.
So is this the beginning of the end? It certainly seems like it could be. We've published many columns noting the historical parallels between our current world situation and the 1930's.
Historically, the stock market crashed in 1929. The resulting Great Depression didn't set in until about 1933 and lasted for seven years. It culminated in world war.
There is a parallel between history and prophecy as well. The Tribulation opens with the breaking of the first of the Seven Seal Judgments represented by the Rider on the White Horse [antichrist].
He is followed by the Rider on the Red Horse [War] who is followed by the Rider on the Black Horse [Famine].
The Tribulation Period to follow lasts seven years and concludes at the final Battle of Armageddon.
The stock market crashed in 2008. Applying the 1930's as a template, that would put the revelation of the antichrist and the onset of the Tribulation around 2012 with the Battle of Armageddon seven years later in 2020.
Did I just predict the date of the Rapture? Not exactly. I could be wrong. This is 2009, not 1929 and the parallels could all be in my head.
But between you and me, I believe with all my heart that the Rapture is near. Very near. The Bible tells me so.
"So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." (Matthew 24:33-34)