The Depression Mindset

The recent and current economic upheavals may have a much bigger impact than people currently realise. It may be that the Crash of 2008 will have something of the impact of the Great Depression. And that leads me to reflect on some of the carryover of that era and its impact on the mindset of those who went through it.

Aftermath of the Depression Years

I was born in the 1950’s, twenty years after the Great Depression was having its awful impact. Yet, despite the passing of two decades there were many vestiges of the Depression mindset still evident among the older generation.

I use the word mindset because the Great Depression changed the way people think. It so shook them that they carried their thinking through the rest of their life. If what we are experiencing now is akin to the early 1930’s then there will be a dramatic change of thinking forced upon today’s carefree and irresponsible youth.

Austerity and Caution

The two main legacies of the Great Depression, as I observed them, were austerity and caution. Frugality, making do and stretching meagre resources was a lifestyle for those impacted by the depression years. At the same time there was an allergy to daring, jeopardising a good job or a secure situation. So, caution ruled the thinking of those who remembered the long years of unemployment.

Austerity was seen in such things as the simplification of life. People made do with the simple option, rather than demanding the exotic and extravagant alternatives. People made their own fun, rather than paying money for someone to amuse them. People made cautious choices, looking for quality and durability, instead of the throw-away options popular in more affluent times.

People grew their own veges, picked fruit from road-side trees and recycled things that could be put to use a second time. Old things were often stored, for scavenging spare parts or as a back-up if something went wrong.

Generosity Was Common

I can’t qualify this observation and it may not have been a product of the depression years, but just evidence of the more caring community overall, but I have the recollection of good doses of generosity. People shared what they had. The person with a good crop of fruit took it along to share with others. People would fossick out something from their shed that might help someone else in need. A sense of willingness to bale someone out and feel sorry for the less fortunate was not uncommon.

Men walking the streets looking for odd jobs would call at a home and be given a job, so they could then be given a feed. The situation was pitiful, but the level of care was also impressive at times.

The hand-me-down culture was also generous and prevalent. Clothing which children had grown out of was offered to others whose children might fit it. Some things would have to be mended or patched, but if there was life in the garment it was likely to be worn again by someone else.

Security

Secure employment became a high priority for people after the depression. Many of my friends were steered toward government jobs, or stable careers, by parents who remembered the austerity and deprivation of the depression.

When someone talked of wasting some years before settling down, or of quitting their job to do something more interesting there was a strong cautioning response from the older folk. Getting and keeping a good job, building a solid career, buying a block of land and avoiding frivolous and wasteful activities were the visions most parents had for their children.

Productivity

Another legacy of those years was a high level of personal productivity and proactive behaviour. People had to make do or find a way to get what they wanted. They could not afford the luxury of doing things the easy way, so they had to toughen up their resolve and lift their energy and activity levels until they could get things done.

This heightened capacity for getting things done was taken for granted in the middle of last century. People were hardened for work, willing to get their hands dirty, able to bend their back, walk the miles and get the job done. It’s a far cry from the grandchildren of that generation, who have had it soft and easy for so long that they resent having to put themselves into anything at all.

Making Do

People in the depression could not be choosy about what they ate, so they learned to eat what was good for them. Children had to eat their veges, which may have been all they had for dinner, and they learned to eat everything on their plate.

They couldn’t demand the latest fashion, or the brand-name product. They were lucky to have anything at all. People went barefoot, wore odd-fitting clothes, put cardboard in their shoes because the sole was worn through, pasted newspaper on the wall to cover cracks and holes, and walked many miles because they couldn’t afford bus fare.

People made presents to give away at Christmas. They learned how to repair things that were broken, because they could not afford to replace them. They learned to preserve what they had, rather than be irresponsible with it.

With that came the ability to be happy with what they had, because there was no alternative. Making do became a lifestyle, so that it became the thing to do.

Real Pleasures

People had tons of fun. They did not have many “things” but they had energy, friends, family, music, talent, and much more. Fun could be made by singing together or playing instruments, if they had them. Talking, walking, reading to yourself and others, making things, sport, being with friends and family and many other real pleasures filled people’s lives.

Instead of being distracted by things, people created fun and amused themselves in a host of ways that did not need money or commercial suppliers. The survivors of the depression continued to enjoy simple things, even when their children or grandchildren were addicted to electronic thrills, or commercial distractions.

Think About the Impact

The reason I share all this with you is not to be nostalgic, but to capture something of the shock that is about to hit today’s younger generation. If the current economic upheavals continue on their downward path we may well find ourselves facing five years of increasing recession, depression, unemployment, deprivation and austerity.

Have you prepared yourself and your family for such an outcome? How well will today’s self-indulgent youth cope with such a turn-around? They won’t be able to afford a psychologist. So how will they come to terms with their hopes being dashed and their lifestyle being taken from them?

The Austerity of the Depression years has evaporated in our society. It is a mere memory. But it may soon become a lifestyle. I pray that you and your family have wisdom for facing such events with faith and contentment, finding God’s best, when the commercial and material trappings are taken from you.

The Crash of 2008 part three

I have described in the two earlier posts on this topic that we are living in historic time as we undergo what could be one of the most dramatic crashes of history. Crashes aren’t new, but that doesn’t make them easy to endure.

I have also pointed out that human greed, Mammon worship, sin and the actions of high power players will bring problems to our lives and nations. God has His way, despite the activities of men. And that is what brings us to this posting. Here I want to discuss what God is doing.

What is God Doing?

Since God has claim upon our lives and the right to direct and interfere with the affairs of human existence it is to be expected that He will step in and deal with nations as He has done in the past.

The global flood of Noah’s day and the destruction of the lush and sought after region of Sodom and Gomorrah are two of the more striking examples of God dealing with mankind on a large scale. Add to that the total destruction of various nations, such as Moab or prosperous cities, such a Nineveh and Babylon, and you get the idea that God has a track record of dealing with mankind.

Prophetic Messages

There have been prophetic messages which have been passed around. Some well known and many unknown people have sensed that God is at work and has a plan in all that is going on.

Various prophecies indicate that God knew all about this financial upheaval before it happened and that He is willing to care for and protect His people in through it.

Sharon Stone Prophecy of Mid 2008

I cannot vouch for the quality of some information passed to me. I pass on the prophecy from Sharon Stone because it seems to come with solid endorsement.

Dr. Sharon Stone gave a prophecy in Glasgow, Scotland in the summer of 2008. In it she said, “September is a turning point and a sign of the times. A USA world bank’s shares are in trouble.” Note that Lehman Brothers filed bankruptcy, September 15, 2008. “I see government in the USA bailing out mortgage giants.” There was a Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, September 7, 2008.

“I see a European airline failing with no notice.” British owned XL Airlines filed bankruptcy, September 12, 2008.

“I see the eyes of the world looking to see, ‘Who is this coming out of Alaska?’” Sarah Palin was announced as McCain’s running mate, August 29, 2008, and she had centre stage during September 2008.

“And I see smoke coming from the Chunnel.” (the tunnel under the English Channel) Fire in a freight train started on September 11, 2008.

So far so good. After an impressive start like that one tends to pay attention. She goes on, “As I see these things, I hear the encouragement of God to His Isaacs in the earth who sow in the times of famine and reap 100 fold in the year. September will convince you that you must connect to His economic system.”

“Your storehouse is not an earthly bank. Hold on and I will bail you out of your mortgage issues. Am I not better to you than any government? I will not leave you stranded on foreign soil, and I will carry you above the circumstances better than any plane or jet. And your hope is not an Alaskan saviour, but Me.”

Cindy Jacobs

Cindy Jacobs is relied upon as someone who hears from God. She had her own sense of financial issues needing to be dealt with. She explains, “During a January (2008) worship service, the Lord spoke to me, ‘Cindy, the strongman over America doesn’t live in Washington D.C.—the strongman lives in New York City! Call together my people to pray for the economy.’

This emphasis on New York points to Wall Street as having more authority in the nation than the elected governments.

Australian Perspective

I have spoken to several people who have received dreams or impressions about what is happening. Two different people have now told me of seeing dreams of a terrible storm or whirlwind devastating Australia while they were perfectly safe in the eye of the storm.

Back in August 2007 I was told of a prophetic word that “A Storm is Coming”. Since then I have heard of multiple extensions on that theme.

What is important in the things being heard by Australians is the emphasis being put on God’s jealousy for the nation and His wish that Australia would acknowledge Him. It seems that God is allowing devastation to humble the Australians who are living as if they can make their own rules.

The warnings go to the effect that if the leaders and people of Australia try to find a solution that ignores God then God will hit them with yet another wave, overturning the plans. If they continue to resist Him then He will continue to humble the nation until there is nothing left.

What to Do

I have some suggestions about what people can do to brace themselves for what might be a protracted and difficult season. There is plenty of hope for God’s people, so I am not recommending dire steps. In the next and probably final post on this topic I’ll pass on my recommendations to you.

The Crash of 2008 part 2

We are experiencing an historic time which will be referred to in future years. What we don’t know yet is just how deep this crash is and the extent of the fallout which will come from it. What we do know is that markets are reeling and multiplied millions of people have already been affected.

Banks have been nationalised. Millions of people have lost their homes. Billions of dollars of stock value has disappeared in days. Fortunes have been lost and won. International summits have been called. Moments of hope have been established, only to be demolished by the next wave of bad news.

You’ll be able to tell your grandchildren you went through the Crash of 2008!

The Big Question

The big question that people want answered is, “What is really going on?” Is this the end of the world or just a bump along the road to progress? Will everything right itself or will the carnage continue?

To help you understand what is going on I have pulled together a list of factors that have contributed to our current situation.

Greed

Greed or the Love of Money gives people a willingness to put all at risk in order to get a profit. And greed is a big part of the operation of modern markets, whatever people are dealing with.

Back in the days of the South Sea Bubble the Poet Alexander Pope pointed to greed as a key factor in the huge losses of his day. He said of the South Sea debacle – “See Britain sunk in Lucre’s sordid charms”. By this he saw that it was the lust for “lucre” (money) that had dragged Britain into the quagmire of terrible losses.

The Apostle Paul taught that the “love of money” is the root of all evil – 1Timothy 6:10. Christians must be free from the desire for “greedy gain” (filthy lucre) 1Timothy 3:3,8, Titus 1:7,11, 1Peter 5:2.

I have often heard it noted that our present financial systems are dominated by Greed and Fear. These emotions dominate our markets and most financial decisions.

So greed is clearly one of the culprits in our present situation. If the world’s finances were to move to a better footing they would be based on the use of money for noble purposes, not to indulge people’s greedy ambitions.

International Power Brokers

There are people with sufficient financial power to control what happens to the rest of us. A number of the financial busts that have happened over the centuries have been created by financial manipulators.

It is claimed that one crash in the USA was planned four years in advance, so the bankers could buy farming land from bankrupted farmers. For those who want to get some idea of the history of international financiers acting as power brokers check out the Money Masters videos on YouTube.

Orchestrated Financial Machinations can enable those in control to gain the wealth and assets of others. For example, one strategy could be to allow people to make money and start new industries, then create a bust so you can buy the proven winners cheaply, then allow another boom, so you get the profit from other people’s innovation and hard work.

If people have borrowed money then they can be trapped into having to sell their asset to pay their debts. Thus their assets get taken off them.

In the present situation we will probably never know the extent to which the problems have been orchestrated by high-level power players. It is safe to say, however, that it is likely that people of power and influence have been active in the markets, steering things to their advantage when they can.

Divine Intervention

God is bigger than all the banks and governments in the world. When God brings judgement on a people or nation those being judged will suffer all kinds of negative things.

The Bible reveals how God brought enemies, famine, diseases and trouble upon the nation of Israel and other nations. God even prophesied in advance that those things were going to happen.

God also promises that if His people humble themselves and pray He will “heal their land”. “If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14

I am confident that God is at work in this present situation. I also believe that if God’s people will humble themselves and get right with God then further upheaval can be averted. I rather suspect, however, that we are heading down a rough road and people will persist in their rebellion for a while longer.

Sin has a Part to Play

The Bible says that sin is a reproach to a nation.

“Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34

God promises to curse people who reject Him, with famine and financial loss. See Deuteronomy 28 for the extensive discussion of blessings and curses on those who respond differently to God’s Word.

When nations give themselves over to selfishness and sin they bring problems and calamity onto themselves. The selfish determination to live as we please is sin, and God has every right to judge us for such defiance of His claim upon our lives.

Mammon is Ruling the Nations

Jesus said we either worship God or Mammon. Mammon is the desire for gain and the elevation of material wellbeing and self-interest over our willingness to worship God.

I have pointed out in other places that western culture is given over to the worship of Mammon. Instead of living for God and glorifying Him whole nations are living for self and glorifying themselves.

God says “Love Your Neighbour”, and Mammon says “Exploit Your Neighbour”. God says “Trust Me and I Will Bless You”, but Mammon says “Serve Me and I Will Bless You”.

Western Culture and much of the world are ruled by the desire for gain, not the willingness to bless others.

What is Going On?

What is going on is that we are reaping what we have sown. Greed, Power Games, Sin and Mammon worship have set us up for God’s response. God is intent on having us worship Him, as is our responsibility, since He gave us life and everything in it.

So the next concern we have to think about is, “What is God doing in all of this?” That is what I will take up with you when we come to the third instalment in this discussion.

The Crash of 2008

We are living through the Crash of 2008. This time will be long remembered and it will be used as a reference point, just as the 1987 Crash and the Great Depression are. So we should take stock of what is going on and what we are going through.

This Is Your Crash!

Just last month, in September 2008 world markets crashed and entered a time of great volatility. In the weeks since then governments have taken drastic action to save their banks. Panic has hit the markets. Uncertainty and fear grips most economies. And in the lead up to this crisis millions of Americans have lost their homes. And to top it off the nation of Iceland is on the verge of bankruptcy.

People want to know how far this is going. Where will it end? Is this a recession or a depression? Is this survivable or is society going to change from this year on?

History of the Crisis

Firstly let’s review the history of the current crisis. It springs in large part from the Sub-Prime Lending problem. Following deregulation of the banking and financing sectors in many countries during the 1980’s money was made available to people whose ability to pay was not as reliable as was previously required to borrow money.

Prime Lending is for those who have good credit rating and strong asset backing. Sub-prime means they do not meet that standard. Loans were also treated as an asset by the banks and having a large number of loans meant lenders could sell those off.

In the 1990’s many new lenders paid good commissions to sales agents for selling their loans to people. Consequently millions of people who were not good credit risks ended up taking loans.

The large volume of business made the lending companies appear successful. International banks were keen to invest their money into the USA home market because of the high return they could get. Everyone knew it was risky, but no-one expected to get burned.

Problems with the subprime lending game were evident in the early 2000’s as many loans began to go bad. In Sept 2002 USA Home Foreclosures were at a 30 year high.

Yet the subprime lending boom continued and more billions were poured into this risky business from people around the world who wanted part of the profit.

By early 2007 the problem had escalated. In the first two months of 2007 22 American lending companies went bankrupt. There were 1.7 million foreclosures in America in the first 8 months of 2007.

By August 2007 international fall-out from the Sub-Prime Lending problem became a house-hold topic in Australia as we realised that many Australian and international banks were going to be hurt from their lending to the USA Subprime players.

Over the following year the shock-waves of the problem continued to reverberate, until last month, September 2008, when two major home lenders in the USA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were taken over by the USA Govt.

The repercussions on many international banks who were players in the USA home lending market, either directly or through various indirect connections, means that some banks have bone bust while others have had to be bailed out by their governments.

The recent $700 billion USA commitment and $1,370 billion Eurozone plans are just part of the scramble to stabilise the world economies.

The Bigger Historical Picture

This is not the first great crash and it may not be the last. What is happening here is part of a long history of people getting caught out while trying to make a profit. Prognosticators have warned for decades that balance of payment issues, high levels of personal and national debt, and other pressures spelt doom for our economies. Yet corrections, collapsing markets, booms and busts have been part of history for a very long time.

Speculation, Boom, Bust and Bubbles

What tends to happen over and over again is that people who are keen to make a profit and get rich quick will catch on to something that seems popular. They are all hoping to strike it rich and make their fortune. This feeds speculation, inflates bubbles and leads to some of the booms and busts.

Millions of people have crossed oceans and faced all kinds of hardship because someone found gold in some place or other. These Gold Rush enthusiasts left whatever they had in the hope of finding much more.

In the same vein investors and dreamers have all jumped on the bandwagon when various things looked profitable, often losing all they had in the hope of gain.

Bubbles in the Bubbling Economy

A “Bubble” is created when false expectations are set up and a venture is made successful only because people invest in it. There have been many famous Bubbles down the centuries.

Holland had tulip mania in the 1630’s.

In 1720 just about everyone who had money in England was drawn into investing in what is known as the South Sea Bubble. English and American investors lost huge amounts of money in the hope of profits from ships going to South America. Isaac Newton and Mark Twain are said to be among those who lost money in that bubble.

There was the British Railways Bubble of the 1840’s.

The US Bull Market of the 1920’s created what we know of as the Roaring Twenties.

Florida had a Property Bubble from 1920-1925.

More recently we have seen the Junk Bonds in the USA, the Japanese Bubble economy of the 1980’s, the Dot.com boom of the 1990’s, Hedge-Fund Mania and even Enron Mania.

What is Really Going On?

So much for the background. That is cold comfort when we still don’t know where we are going and how bad it’s going to get. To take this discussion further I need to discuss what is really going on. That is the topic of a follow-on article which I’ll be posting in the next week.

Blood is Thicker Than Water

People are bound together by many things. Family ties are an important and valuable link between people. The saying goes that ‘blood is thicker than water’. This is often quoted when someone acts in a nepotistic fashion, giving advantage and favour to a family member at the expense of others who should have been considered.

But the blood bond is not the only bond, and at times it is not a good bond. King Solomon advised that a near neighbour is better help than a brother who lives a long way off.

Neighbourly support is a sweet benefit for those who enjoy it. My 99 year old neighbour, Howard Perkins, at home caring for his 92 year old wife, Marion, gets plenty of support from others in the street. Patricia drives him to the local market so he can do his shopping. Kalliope calls around regularly to cut Marion’s hair. And so it goes. Up until just a few years ago Howard was cutting the lawn of an elderly lady who is just a little older than he. She is now in a nursing home and will beat him to the ‘century’.

Then there are the networks of church and social groups. These provide long-term friendships and support bases for people. Social research during the great depression found that those who survived unemployment and loss the best were those who had a strong family network and who were well connected into a church.

Then again, there are the less obvious connections of such things as secret societies. In these, people make vows to others and are bound to fulfill them. The connection may be ideological, such as we see with religious fanaticism, or it may be entered into from some lure of privilege, such as may attract some to the Masonic societies.

Where these secret connections exist they are often called upon by covert signals, such as handshakes, stance postures, and so on. A man in the docks can signal to the jury by assuming a prescribed posture. Anyone in the jury who is a fellow Mason is thus obligated to rescue the defendant, even if he is obviously guilty.

Now, having given than elaborate introduction, here is my point.

Blood is thicker than water and secret alliances may hold greater sway, but the Fear of God is thicker yet again!

When a person acts in the fear of God they are willing to uphold justice and righteous standards for all. They will not give leniency to their family, as that would mock God. They will not give special consideration to their neighbours, as that will rob someone else of justice. They will not let off an offender because of secret vows made to the secret society.

The answer to any request for such treatment should be “No, you have violated a higher moral ethic than my secret commitments with invocations and vows. My responsibility to the living God is of a higher rank than the promises of my lips, my subscriptions to secret collusions and vows, my care for my family or the members of my society.

Whenever the fear of God is not the ‘thickest’ thing in our life, we end up compromised and morally damaged. I challenge you to be in thick with God. Let the cord that binds you to Him be the thickest of them all.