Another year gone – and we continue to marvel at the scientific achievements of Society. Perhaps the outstanding feat of the year was the flight of an airplane from New York to London on September 1 in just one hour and fifty-six minutes. At times the plane reached a speed of more than 2,000 miles an hour – more than thirty miles a minute – which is almost twice as fast as the speed of sound. It carried two men as operators.
A new steel has now been developed which is half as light in weight as the old steel, but is twice as strong. Also, it is generally conceded that the American farmer is the best in the world. In the year 1890 one farmer produced enough to support himself and 4.8 other people; in 1972 one farmer produced enough for 50.4 persons. Also, during the past year, a dwarf apple tree has been developed, which will not grow more than eight feet tall; and 500 such trees can be planted on one acre of ground, as against 50, 60, or 70 of the 25 to 30 ft. trees. And the smaller trees produce a more luscious fruit than the taller ones. It will be noted, too, that the smaller trees are much easier to pick; an ordinary man with a small stool can pick the fruit without a ladder, which contributes greatly to the safety and the speed of the harvest. They are now working on an eight-ft. plum tree, which they are hopeful of perfecting shortly.
A new product has now been developed which is 180 times sweeter than natural sugar, weight for weight. This phenomenon is probably more industrial than agricultural ingenuity.
The financial situation in almost all countries has become tragically moth-eaten and threadbare. The price of gold has now advanced to $167 per ounce (written Nov. 2); and there are all sorts of predictions about its future value – some extremists declaring it will be worthless in a very short time, with others predicting a price of several thousand dollars per ounce. But, as one wag has stated it, we are living in the age of the Golden Rule: Whoever has the gold makes the rules. The overall debt in the United States at present – national, state, city and private – is said to exceed one and one-half trillion dollars. This figure is beyond the comprehension of the human mind.
In 1914 the national debt of the United States was about one billion dollars; and there was much serious talk then that it must not go any higher. But, by 1918, when the war had ended, the national debt had grown to about thirty billion; however, the conservative presidents tackled this monstrosity with an admirable determination, so that the debt had been reduced by about twelve billion, to eighteen billion, by the time of the stock market crash in October 1929. This attempt at economy was probably one of the major contributors to the 1929-1932 depression.
Came then the New Deal in 1932, with the inane philosophy that we could spend our way into prosperity; and the national debt increased so much that by about 1940 it was about forty billion, and one of the sound financial analysts made this observation about it: No one in Washington with any intelligence thinks this debt will ever be paid off. It is now more than ten times what it was in 1940, so we need not elaborate about the chances of the present debt ever being paid.
The present administration in Washington is making some feeble effort to avoid further increase, but we can find no cause for enthusiasm for their mode of operation. The second largest item in the national budget is the interest on the enormous debt; yet just this last year 1974 a large offering of Government certificates was made at an interest rate of 9%. Thus, while they attempt economy in some avenues, their increased expense in other sectors may more than offset their efforts. Some good sound economists say that six per cent interest is more than the world can bear with so much printing-press money now in circulation; yet the interest charged to borrowers with a triple A rating was advanced to twelve per cent. This simply means that any one buying stock at $100 per share must see that stock go up at least twelve points in one year for him to keep even. Following is a quotation from the financial page of one of the outstanding newspapers in the United States:
“YOU’VE GOT DEBTS?” NATION’S IN HOCK $2.525 TRILLION
“There exists, and probably always will, that ancient argument over just when and at what figure debt becomes excessive.
“At the extremes, proponents of one point of view insist that credit is quest of a better life, while advocates of the other view maintain it is a sin that leads to financial hell and damnation.
“The extremes would agree on one thing, however: that public and private debt in the United States amounts to an almost incomprehensible figure. At the end of 1973 it totaled $2,525 trillion (a trillion more than we mentioned aforegoing—JJH). In numbers that’s $2,525,000,000,000.
“Translating that figure into something more understandable, such as putting it on a per capita basis, still results in something of a jolt to the consciousness – roughly $12,000 per man, woman and child.
“The net public debt, made up of the obligations of the federal government and its agencies, plus those of state and local governments, rose 6.4% last year to a total of $593 billion, but was far exceeded by private debt. In that latter category, corporations alone accounted for $1.1 trillion of the 1.93 trillion total, with the remainder divided among individuals and corporate enterprises. Corporate debt rose 13.6%, individual debt by 11.6%.
“Consumer debt, mainly of the kind that is paid back in installments, now exceeds $180 billion, compared to $157 billion in 1972 – and $138 billion in 1971. But don’t forget that inflation alone makes figures look larger. The biggest load of any individual debt category is accounted for by home mortgages, which amount to $374 billion at the close of 1973, up $35 billion in a year. But don’t forget that the population keeps rising too. Is all this too much?
“Those who most enthusiastically defend the present debt position maintain it is still within bounds, that much of it is backed by collateral and earning power, and that borrowers are more sophisticated in using credit. The ratio of corporate debt to assets is higher now than it was twenty years ago, but whether this is an indication of weakness or wiser use of money is debatable. Household assets have grown faster than debt.
“On the other side of the argument, a good many critics, many of them informed financial people, are growing more fearful that both families and corporations are borrowing too far into the future. Debt is just that – borrowing on future income. Sometimes the money itself is the source of future earning power, and in that sense repays itself. This is true especially of corporate debt. Household debt more likely is re-paid simply by cutting into future earnings which, if you believe in the American dream, will continue to grow larger right up to retirement – and who knows, even beyond. So why not borrow?
“True enough, say the critics, but with many companies carrying a heavy debt load and with individual debt repayment lagging, maybe now is the time to slow things down. That, in fact, is what the Federal Reserve is doing.”
Not only is the financial situation precarious in the United States, but it seems to be even worse in Italy. Following is some comment about conditions there:
“Doctors find it impossible to operate; hospital administrators are refusing to accept patients; contractors have stopped supplying hospitals because hospitals do not pay them. Distrust of government, which was carried over after the war, has grown rather than abated. Politicians were sucked into the vortex of political power. They enjoyed the prestige and position, but were unable to root out and heal the basic problems of the nation.
“Italy has already had 36 governments since the war, each averaging less than ten months. Yet each government is formed basically of the same men, but in different cabinet positions. Instead of being the source of bold initiative or solid action to solve some of the agonizing woes facing the nation, the government has become less and less credible to the people... too many charges of graft and corruption, of Swiss bank accounts, and huge payoffs from oil companies to government leaders.
“Meanwhile government services worsen. A letter laboriously written by a man to his cousin in the north never got there. Along with thousands of tons of mail of all classes, including registered mail, it was ‘lost,’ burned, or simply ground into pulp for recycling. Thousands of elderly people often never receive their social security checks and similar forms of payment coming by mail. Overburdened postal workers diverted the letters elsewhere, never to be recovered.
“People may soon get fed up if it continues to cut into their bread basket too long. This would be terrible because it would be the end of the country. Up to now Italy’s near bankruptcy has been eased by grants, aids and loans from its more stable Western allies – notably Germany... But these helpful neighbors have problems of their own. For the first time, the entire industrialized West is facing a perpetual deficit in balance of payments. At the same time, inflation has soared virtually out of control.
“As one observer mentioned: “We’re either headed toward (coalition) government with the Communists – which is the last straw in trying to use the parliamentary system to make it work – or we’re headed into the unknown. Wherever that unknown’ leads, the rest of Europe could be dragged along in its wake.”
A long-standing friend of ours, a financial analyst, has written this in one of his recent papers:
“Official sources have confirmed there is a possibility of Italy selling some of its monetary gold in European community markets over the next two years. Such sales could be made in connection with a $2 billion credit line granted by the Deutsche Bundesbank to the Banca d’ Italia. The credit line is guaranteed by the equivalent amount of Italian monetary gold valued at $120 per ounce. If Italy should not be able to repay its debt, it has the option of surrendering the gold or selling it in the commodity markets, and using the proceeds to repay its debt.
“I believe the leaders of the world have a definite desire to keep bullion prices up in these troubled economic times. A possible decline to $120 as projected by some analysts would be unlikely in my opinion. At this level panic could develop, and Italy would likely be forced into a complete bankruptcy. Britain would likely be forced even earlier than Italy. I believe that the economic leaders of the world, although naive, would be alert enough to see what a reduction in gold collateral value on Italy’s accounts could do to their credibility in the world money markets. (I have wrongly credited economic leaders with intelligence before. I hope this is not another error in my judgment.)”
This same writer then offers some more: “Though pension liability promises to be a hot topic in investment circles, investors so far have little hard information to go on. For many companies, it has become larger than balance sheet debt. one company has no balance sheet debt at all, but has a pension liability of $38 million, with at least ten other companies in the same category. In some cases, pension liability is greater than the market value of the company. One company has a liability of $186 million, while the market value of its stock is $72.1 million.
“According to the Wall Street Journal, the present unfunded liability of the US Social Security System is $2.1 trillion. The first thing that the public has to be told by the politicians is that it is not possible to maintain the current rate schedule and benefit level. Cumulative inflation seems to have produced a feeling that there is no way out – that the collapse of the political order is something to be expected.”
Another writer says: “The Western democracies, the United States included, are facing a stark political problem in the decline of living standards caused by inflation and shortages. Only an optimist will view the problem as a temporary one. The strike and disorder among the national truckers when the fuel shortage hit last winter was one of the first ugly manifestations in this country of what happens when the income of a particular group is threatened by the spreading worldwide economic dislocation....
“The situation in Great Britain is far more serious, and may even be threatening British democracy. Striking miners have overwhelmed police and closed power stations. Construction workers and dockers have got their way by use of force. The Economist observed that ‘private armies, were relying on force to achieve their ends...... British thinkers in London believe an ugly conflict has developed between what they call the myth of expectation of affluence and the fact of increasing scarcity. The revolution of rising expectations that has swept the advanced nations since the end of World War Two may be going on the rocks... What the British and the rest of us may now have to adjust to is a revolution of falling expectations.”
A quote from another authority: “Inflation is very much of an explosive force in society. In fact, it is social dynamite. Inflation violently intensifies class conflict, and this is not a pleasant thing to contemplate in a country already bitterly divided along class, ethnic, racial lines. When the economy is growing, there is a way to ease tensions by giving each group relatively more. In the last generation, this has been going on at a rapid rate, except at the lowest level. When the economy declines, these tensions increase...
“In the great depression the unemployed were loyal to the country. They were not a revolutionary force. So many people were in the same boat then that they didn’t feel ashamed... The danger of social upheaval now may well be universal... in the United States we may fear the anarchic tendencies of Americans... Americans are hostile to central authority, to discipline. I feel building up in this country enormous resentment, mostly political, waiting to be captured.”
Follows now a news item from Bonn, Germany: “West Germany’s finance minister says the United States and Japan should join in a concerted effort to guarantee that Italy does not ‘fall to pieces, under the impact of quadrupled oil prices and its other economic woes. The United States and Japan and the Western world should see that there is an Italian problem and that they have to guarantee via the International Monetary Fund that Italy remains intact and will not fall to pieces.
“West Germany recently loaned Italy $2 billion to stave off bankruptcy, but it is doubted that this kind of bilateral aid would be repeated... We certainly cannot create an instrument via these community loans to fully finance the oil deficits of Italy, France and Denmark... The industrialized countries must form a solid bloc and reduce oil consumption to stabilize oil prices. The United States should take the lead.”
More on the Italian finances: “If some headway isn’t made soon in dealing with these immense economic dislocations, a major political upheaval could lie ahead. Italy’s Giolitti last week painted a grim picture of what a bankrupt nation might be like: massive unemployment, food shortages and economic paralysis. If his scenario should come true, food riots and political anarchy might well ensue – and the Italian chaos could even spread to other European countries. The Governor of the Bank of Italy, Guido Carli, painted an almost equally bleak picture of the outlook unless the Western industrial nations manage to unite to deal with their economic problem. In the absence of coordinated action, the richest countries are moving toward a recession. And the poorest countries will be making an adjustment to... starvation.”
Of course, all of this financial tangle has come about through the enormous amount of printing-press money that has been foisted upon the world – much of it hardly worth the paper on which it is written. A hundred years ago the radicals (the antitypical Assyrians – “The rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is Mine indignation”—Isa. lO:5) attacked capitalism head on; but defeat after defeat eventually taught them they would never prevail with the methods they were then using. Consequently, they came to the conclusion that they should allow the “giant” to destroy himself – by printing so much money that the interest load would produce collapse. We are faced with just that kind of a situation now; the damage has been done; and a dozen Solomons could not decipher a solution. We offer another quotation regarding the situation:
“The conflict between monetarists and Keynesians (the advocates of printing-press inflation—JJH) starts with the very reasons for which there is a great inflation...... This conflict became a public debate in last week’s (Sept. 10, 1974) televised ‘summit, meeting. It leads to widely different prescriptions for anti-inflationary action. The net result is confusion both for the literate public and for congressional policy makers, whom the arguing economists advise. One Congressman was driven by such conflicting advice to quote Casey Stengel (one of the very prominent men in baseball—JJH): ‘Doesn’t any one here know how this game is played?’ If the doctors disagree, what can the patient believe? Public confusion has opened the way for an army of quacks –scamps peddling schemes – and reduced the credibility of economists... The task for economists today, as for Keynes in 1940, is to diagnose economic events correctly as a guide to policy choices. Political preferences should be separated clearly to avoid mixing ideology and science. The profession’s reputation and the common weal both require it.”
Much of the foregoing prompts us to quote one multi-millionaire’s definition: “An economist is a fellow who thinks he knows more about money than us that’s got it.”
The political upheavals in the United States during the past year are common knowledge, so we do not elaborate. However, we find a sad analogy between the fate of President Nixon and that of King Saul in Israel. The President came from an isolated and unknown Quaker family; and from this background he rose to leadership of the greatest nation in history – only to be toppled from his exalted position to one where he is now less esteemed by the majority than he was before he was elected to his high office.
And for Saul of Israel we quote his own words: “Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin?” (1 Sam. 9:21) But the people put him upon the throne with the shout (after “he had hid himself among the stuff”—l Sam. 10:22), “God save the king!” (1 Sam. 10:24) But he eventually came to ignominious defeat and death at the hands of the Philistines, so that he left the throne of Israel with a lower rating than he gave himself when he was installed as king.
Such occurrences as these are among the outstanding tragedies of all history, and they always tend to pit one faction of a nation against the other. This has been true in America this past year, and will probably be carried on heatedly – to the detriment of all sections of the populace.
Mexico divided by social unrest: “A huge limousine with darkened rear windows swept through downtown Monterey, Mexico. Behind it sped two other large cars, each sprouting radio antennae and carrying numerous bulky men who impatiently waved cars and pedestrians out of the way. Every morning the scene is repeated – not once, but several times – as Monterey’s wealthy industrialists and bankers travel from their heavily guarded homes in the plush suburbs to their offices in the city.
“For the wealthy, blatant and often-cumbersome security measures have become a daily feature of life in Mexico. The traditional tranquillity has been shattered by a series of urban Guerrilla actions, and a siege mentality now pervades the millionaire families that dominate Mexican society. They have fortified their homes, strengthened their cars against bullets, hired dozens of body-guards and equipped them with the latest automatic weapons smuggled in from the United States. Wealthy families have also dropped from the social circuit and withdrawn behind the high walls of their compounds. Newspapers have even been encouraged to keep their names and photographs off the social pages.”
In Spain a terrorist bomb wrecked a restaurant in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square at the lunch hour, killing nine, injuring forty.
Argentina faces chaos. Some 6,000 heavily armed followers of the late Juan Peron went underground. Like other terrorists, they want to wreck the army-backed government headed by Peron’s widow. In one day there were forty bomb blasts. Gunmen shot down political leaders. Strikes gripped the nation.
Ethiopia: “They are crowded into three long barracks, sleeping on simple army cots, their heads shaven like those of condemned men, their food brought to them three times daily by wives already dressed in black. These were once the high and mighty of Ethiopia – princes, imperial courtiers, provincial nobility, aristocratic landlords, blue-blooded ministers and much decorated generals. They could boast of ruling entire provinces, of owning enormous estates and commanding private armies and of belonging to royal families tracing their ancestry back 2,000 years to the founding of the Ethiopian monarchy....
“The constitutional crisis in Ethiopia has now entered a new and terrifying stage. A peasant revolt has erupted in the southern provinces of the country, with farms being burned down all along a 250-mile stretch of the country’s most fertile area of the Rift Valley. In the town of Arba Minch, only established in the last fifteen years as a farming and tourist center, fifteen people were shot on Friday, at least three by the police. Local administration is in complete chaos. The governor of the region fled to Addis Ababa ten days ago – with his house burning down behind him.”
It is worthy of note that Ethiopia is the last of the absolute monarchies to capitulate – the first one of any prominence being Russia in 1917. This situation had been prophetically stated about 3,000 years ago by King David of Israel: “We will not fear, though the earth (the present social order) be removed, and though the mountains (strong autocratic governments) be carried into the midst of the sea (the lawless elements of society).” (Psa. 46:2) And to demonstrate the irresponsible lack of executive ability, be it noted that the plunderers destroy food supplies and other fixed assets, not realizing that those things that have been seized by them now belong to them.
This same situation prevailed in the Fall of 1917, when the Bolsheviks overthrew the Czarist regime in Russia: They also burned many large granaries filled with precious grain, not realizing that they were pillaging assets that then belonged to them. In the 1967 riot in Detroit, Mich., much the same attitude prevailed there, as enormous quantities of foodstuff, wearing apparel, and the like were burned in a few days’ time; and the City has not yet recovered from that debacle. Such actions are concrete evidence that we have come into “the time of the end.” “Violence is risen up into a rod of wickedness... The time come.... let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn: for wrath is upon all the multitude thereof... The land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence.” (Eze. 7:11,12,23) A former US Agriculture Department official has this to say about the situation: “We are seeing food riots in a number of countries now: Bolivia, Ethiopia, India. We may well see 10 or 15 governments toppled around the world in the text year as a result of smaller food crops.”
Follows now a comment from another publication regarding the political cauldron: “Three reliable observers point to a general increase in the scope of organized terrorism and domestic guerrilla warfare. Candidates from 19 nations, including the U.S., Britain, West Germany, France, Israel (Muslim Arabs), Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, have been reported as in training. Estimates now total more than 500 trainees........ Major efforts to damage or destroy key public service installations, such as power plants, refineries, pipelines, transit and transportation and military installations are also on the program.”
France – “totters between outright Communism and self-respecting government all the time. It could go either way because it does not have a strong man to head its government and to stand in the breach with courage the way General De Gaulle did.”
Beautiful Ireland - “is chaotic. Case-hardened revolutionists who pose as Protestants and who pose as Catholics are pitted against each other in a feud surpassing the mountain feuds of Kentucky. Nothing can satisfy either side except the deaths of their contemporaries. The chaos can scarcely be estimated... They would rather see their neighbors and themselves shot to death by their domestic enemies than to have the protection of a military state.”
The religious outlook is well akin to the foregoing political deflections. A prominent Evangelist, who preaches Eternal Torment for the unsaved, says that the Devil is to be destroyed; while another section of Christians say that the Devil will never be destroyed – that he is immortal the same as all human beings, and, therefore indestructible.
Presbyterian – A new denomination is being organized in America because of the highly modernistic and pro-Marxist conduct of leaders in the so-called United Presbyterian church. Recently 23 churches met in Petersburg, Va., for the purpose of reorganizing a denomination committed to the traditions of the church, the authenticity of the Bible and the complete deity of Jesus Christ.
Lutheran – The great Missouri Synod is split right down the middle because the officers of the church have removed the President of Concordia Theological Seminary because of his refusal to accept the doctrine of complete belief in the Holy Bible. Professors are striking; students are striking; but the highest officers of the denomination seem to be standing strong for the believing traditions of the church.
Methodist – “If the Methodist Church wants to enter politics,” says one commentator, “why doesn’t it disorganize as a church and become a political party. But to take up collections on Sunday and use the money to impeach our President is a violation of decency and a violation of the law. Don’t think I’m anti-Methodist... but I’m afraid if John Wesley were to return, he would have a hard time getting invited to address a General Conference because he believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and he believed in the blood of Christ. But now a recent poll reveals that 51% of the Methodist clergy do not believe in the resurrection, and the rules of the church now decree that no hymn with the word ‘blood’ can be added to the new hymnal.”
Roman Catholic – It is estimated that 10% of the Roman Catholic priests in America are alcoholics. With this situation in mind, the congregation authorizes the ordinaries of the United States of America to grant to those priests who have made this request the permission either to co-celebrate with one or more priests a normal mass, but without receiving communion under the species of wine, or, when this isn’t possible, to celebrate mass using unfermented grape juice.
In an election in Italy this past year the Catholic Church made an all-out effort to defeat the Communists; but instead, the Communists made such substantial gains that one publication had this to say about it: “Pope is defeated in the election in the worst setback for the Roman Catholic Church in Italian political affairs since Italian troops chased Pope Pius the IX to the Vatican, ending the Church’s temporal power in 1870.”
Here is something from E-13:57 along the same line: “Rome and what it is pleased to call the Reds – i.e., practically everything anti-Romanist – are waging a worldwide wordy and physical violence battle... with Rome getting by far the worst of it.” This observation was published in 1949; and things have become much worse since then. In another secular publication we are told that “Front personalities who appear as prominent citizens, such as clergymen, educators, journalists, businessmen and public officials, who would not attend a conference or an open convention of revolutionary killers, are always happy to give these people praise, defense and favorable publicity.” And we add here that some of them made substantial financial contributions to Angela Davis, which has caused a deep resentment among many of the members.
General – For lack of space, we shall not elaborate on the following brief excerpts from various publications: Crime has become so rampant in Detroit that valuable homes are being deserted because people are afraid to live in certain communities. Never before in the history of man have we seen the types of violence, the animalistic acts that we are going to see soon in our society.
American industry is being burdened with a new expense that is running into the millions annually, and threatens to go even higher: the money the firms and their top executives are having to spend to protect themselves from kidnappers, extortionists, bombers and terrorists. Never have revolutionary techniques invaded the areas of so-called respectability, including clerical power, educational power, journalistic prostitution and news media conspiracies surpassing what is going on right now. All families of wealth and abundance, or even who seem to have abundance, are in danger. Kidnapping is now an epidemic, and people are being held for ransom and their entire estates are demanded in payment. And frequently, even when payment is made, the victim is killed. We must develop a secret police in this country as large as an army in time of war; otherwise, our nation will be sucked down into the valley of complete savagery.
Robert Gold, a captain in the Cleveland Fire Department, says arson is the fastest growing business in America – burning down property to get insurance. There are special arson gangs that can be hired like bootleggers to do a job for a price. They know how to do it without detection.
Suicide prevention centers across the nation report an alarming rise in the number of people threatening to end their lives – many of them worried by inflation and crime.
Meningitis epidemic in Brazil – a dozen a day die. (Aug. 3, 1974) In India 25,000 were reported to have died from smallpox. Also, there are two billion four hundred million rats in India – five for every man, woman and child. It is stated that these rats either eat or ruin eight million tons of feed grain every year. As most of our readers know, the State religion of India forbids destruction of this scourge, because, believing as they do in the transmigration of souls, their ancestors are now some lower form of animal; and certainly none of them would want to kill their mother or father, which might occur if they destroy some lower animal.
In Detroit a hitchhiker shot the man who had befriended him because the owner of the car did not let him off at the right street.
The prophetic words of Jesus most fittingly apply to some of the foregoing: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and in various places there will be great earthquakes, and famines, and pestilences; there will also be fearful sights.” (Luke 21:10,11, Dia.) However, our Lord offers some very pointed palliative for those who have the faith to receive it: “Let not your heart be troubled; neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) Another antidote for the troubled condition of the world is found in the words of Isa. 61:11: “For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.”
Due to extra heavy work at the Bible House, and troubled by some illness, we have not been able to send the usual personal Holiday greetings to all our friends but we acknowledge with thanks and much appreciation the many gracious Holiday greetings we have received. To all our readers we send our cordial good wishes for physical and spiritual health throughout 1975; and may the blessing that maketh rich from Him who “giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not” be your portion.(Jas. 1:5)
Sincerely your brother,
John J. Hoefle, Pilgrim