Mane, Thecel . . .

Mane, Thecel . . . posted in Eleison Comments on February 13, 2010

Should a Catholic bishop leave to one side matters of economics on the grounds that he should keep to matters of religion? By no means! What a narrow view of religion one must take in order not to see that economics, or the art of managing the material goods necessary for life, is entirely governed by the view one takes of life, and the view one takes of life depends on religion. For how can religion (or its lack) be adequately understood except as the total view of life by which a man binds himself (or refuses to be bound) to the God who gave and gives him his life?

If multitudes of men today think that economics have nothing to do with God, it is only because beforehand they think that he is either non-existent or insignificant. And supposing that there is an after-life, think they, then Hell is either non-existent (“We all go to Heaven”) or unimportant (“At least all my friends will be there,” they joke). Upon which presuppositions follow the shift from the economics of yesterday, economics of thrift, to those of today, spendthrift economics.

Yesterday, do not spend more than you earn. Save, and do not borrow, to invest. Do not solve debt with more debt. Today, it is patriotic to spend. Everybody will be prosperous if you spend regardless of what you earn. Do not save, because idle money benefits nobody. By all means borrow to make profitable investments. And if your debts turn sour, borrow more to get out of them.

These eat-drink-and-be-merry economics were intellectualised in particular by the highly influential British economist, John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946), who once famously said, “In the end we all die.” By the 1970’s President Nixon (1913–1994) was saying, “We are all Keynesians now.” And since the 1970’s the Keynesian build-up has been continuous all the way to the 2000’s orgy of lending, borrowing and spending, made possible only by the people’s having given up on the old common sense of not spending more than you earn, and of shunning debt – “Owe no man anything but to love one another,” says the Word of God (Rom. XIII, 8), and “The borrower is servant to him that lendeth” (Prov. XXII, 7).

Right now the world is enslaving itself to the money-men, the orgy is collapsing, and the collapse is by no means over. Unemployment is far higher than the politicians can afford to admit, yet still they garner votes by promising jobs and free lunches for the people. The politicians have encouraged these unreal expectations by which they rise to power but on which they will not be able to deliver. The people are about to rise up, are rising up, in anger. The politicians will have to start foreign wars to take the people’s mind off domestic troubles. War is around the corner, to be followed, if God permits, by the usurers’ World Government. All because the people thought that God had nothing to do with life, and life nothing to do with God.

But see Daniel V, 5–6 and 24–28! The Lord God has our number (“Mane”), we have been weighed in his balance and found wanting (“Thecel”), our fun-land is over (“Phares”). It remains for us to take our medicine.

Kyrie eleison.

Thrift Matters

Thrift Matters posted in Eleison Comments on January 3, 2009

Another brief visit to the United States gives me to think that a large part of the population, while concerned about the financial and economic state of their nation, are going about their business as though there is nothing too much to worry about. Perhaps there is not much else they can do. Perhaps it is only human to go on “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,” until the catastrophe hits (cf. Mt. XXIV, 38).

However, my own best understanding, from the commentators who make the most sense to me, is that a major catastrophe is on its way, which will go way beyond mere finance and economics. The best commentators see what stands to reason, namely that if the problem is deep and human, its roots are moral and, ultimately, religious. Let us back up with one commentator from today’s effects to yesterday’s causes (within the USA):—

Regulators and financial institutions “woke up too late” to the collapse of a pyramid of debt, partly because in its last stage it had been too profitable to them. In this last stage “liar loans” in the form of SIVs (Structured Investment Vehicles) had been invented to deal with borrowers on housing not repaying their debts. SIVs did this by packaging good mortgages with bad, and selling the packages as “investments” to gullible investors who did not do their homework. Everything seemed good until housing values fell, as they were bound inevitably to do. Then borrowers repudiated their debts, confidence cratered, investors and huge financial institutions were bankrupted, from the USA outwards to much of the rest of the world.

And why had housing in particular brought down the house of cards? Because housing, second most important part of the whole US economy, had become an investment as well as a home, and collateral for house “owners” to take out still further loans. Moreover since the 1970s, the US government had been subsidizing mortgages for people normally unfit to borrow (but who vote!), and it had been bullying lenders to make loans according to “equality” and not according to their better judgment.

Further back still, the government had set households the example (taught by the Englander John Maynard Keynes – “Tomorrow we are all dead anyway”) of living beyond one’s means, as though endless borrowing could ensure an endless increase of prosperity. Financial responsibility was made to seem a thing of the past. Such reckless behaviour on the part of the government had been greatly facilitated by the disastrous founding in 1913 of the private bankers’ Federal Reserve, enabling the government, amongst other things, to rob the mass of citizens without their realizing it, by means of inflation – five cents then bought what only a dollar can buy now.

But let us make no mistake – broadly speaking, citizens have from God the governments they deserve, especially when they are convinced that their government is “democratic.”

Kyrie eleison.

Storm Advice

Storm Advice posted in Eleison Comments on December 22, 2007

The Christmas present for readers of “Eleison Comments” will be some practical advice for what looks like a very ugly financial situation advancing upon all of us. The advice comes from a man who worked on Wall Street for a number of years, now retired. Nobody is obliged to take seriously what he says:

1. Maintain at least 1,000 dollars in cash in a safe place inside your home.

2. Consider carefully whether any investments you may have are easily redeemable.

3. If you own securities, make sure you obtain stock certificates documenting your ownership.

4. Do not maintain any bank account in excess of 100,000, and consider carefully just how much faith you have in the government’s willingness or capacity to truly insure your “FDIC-insured” bank account.

5. Consider carefully keeping some funds in a currency such as Swiss francs, or purchase gold or silver coins if you believe these will not be confiscated in the event of a financial crisis.

6. Consider withdrawing from any debt instruments currently yielding less than the present true rate of inflation.

7. Consider withdrawing funds from tax-deferred investment plans, despite any penalty that will be incurred, because a crisis may make such funds in effect inaccessible.

8. Consider just how liquid your stock holdings may be in a crisis, because markets can and have been closed, and your assets can be frozen while they lose their value.

9. Develop a master plan for riding out the storm should there be a disruption of essential goods and services.

10. Do not take out loans under any circumstances.

11. Cut back on consumption. Buy necessities and eliminate purchases of “extras.”

12. Increase cash savings. Save no less than 10% of net monthly income.

13. If a major bank fails, seriously consider withdrawing all funds held in savings accounts and all but the bare minimum necessary for current expenses in checking accounts.

Forgive me, dear readers, for adding a 14 – do not ask “Eleison Comments” for financial advice, because “Eleison Comments” is incapable of giving any such advice. It is only capable of recognizing that we have made idols out of our money and our governments, and we are all going to be punished through our money and our governments. God is merciful, but he is also just. The Divine Baby came to Bethlehem to save our souls, not to save our money. Happy Christmas.

Kyrie eleison.