In the last post we discussed Isaiah’s counsel that the fasting the Lord is looking for involves abolishing all forms of subjection. (see Isaiah 58:6) It’s interesting that the financial system of the United States is based on debt. The only way a new dollar is created is through the creation of new debt. This occurs at both federal and local levels. There are two basic types of capital in our economic system; equity and debt. Equity is ownership and implies partnership; equity owners’ interests are aligned in the same direction. They all win together when a venture does well. Debt is different. The relationship between lender and borrower is considered inherently adversarial. If a borrower doesn’t meet the terms of a loan, the lender can seize assets from the business (if not the whole business), even if the loss of those assets causes the business to fail. That’s why collateral is often a prerequisite for a loan–so the lender will have specific assets he can seize if the lender defaults. In bankruptcy, when a business’ assets are liquidated, debt holders stand in line first, and equity holders get to divide up anything left after the debt holders are satisfied in full. This is why debt investments are considered less risky than equity investments (in the same company). That is also why they expected return on an equity investment is higher than the expected return on a debt investment (in the same company). The expected return on equity is effectively theoretical (i.e. not fixed) while the expected return on debt is fixed beforehand and defined contractually. In a very real sense, the borrower (i.e. the business or equity owner) finds himself in complete subjection to the lender. If structured shrewdly, loan default can be very beneficial to debt holders. As evidence of this, I have a brokerage account with tens of thousands of shares in a company that are now worth absolutely nothing because the debt holders took control (ownership) of the company in which I used to be an owner. The fundamental structure of the U.S. economic system in based upon debt, which is based upon subjection, which requires one man to be above another (i.e. lender over borrower). This is not a system the Lord approves of: “But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.” (D&C 49:20)
An often overlooked nuance of money creation in our debt-based system is the fact that there is not enough money in the system for all borrowers to repay all outstanding debts. When new debt, and thus new money, is created, no incremental funds are generated to cover the required interest payments. What that means is that all debt holders are forced to compete financially against each other to secure enough of the inherently insufficient funds to pay back both the principle and interest due on their loans. That means there will always be some borrowers forced to default. Always. Thus, not only does lending create an inherently adversarial relationship between lender and borrower, it creates an inherently adversarial relationship between all borrowers in a debt-based society (survival of the fittest indeed!). It is in debt-based societies that Korihor’s dictum rings most true. (see Alma 30:17) This may explain why the Lord prohibited the charging of interest (usury) amongst the Israelites, and instructed them to formally dissolve all outstanding (non-interest bearing) loans every seven years. If the system is structured in such a way as to force default by those least capable financially (the poor and meek), how could loan default reasonably be considered immoral? Or is the system itself that is immoral because it requires failure of the least competent?
When you do something God doesn’t want you to do (putting one in subjection to another), it’s immoral. That’s why our current economic system is immoral in a religious sense. When you force failure on the least capable, then the system is immoral from a humanitarian point of view. Regardless of one’s orientation, our current economic system is inherently immoral.
So it shouldn’t surprise us if God dismantles our economic system sometime between now and the establishment of Zion. What better way to remove an inherently immoral system that to completely destroy the value of money. In such a scenario everybody is instantly made equal again. Imagine that! There are a lot of ways it could happen. The rest of the world could stop buying and selling oil in U.S. dollars and all of a sudden our pictures of George Washington would start buying less–a whole lot less. Dollar stores would have to change their names to be the $3 stores. Or the financial community could realize that our government has been forced to “purchase” over 60% of its own debt with money created solely for that purpose (in the olden days they called this printing money, now they just create it digitally out of nothing), and the dollar’s value would start to fall relative to other currencies (unless they raised interest rates, at which point real estate values would be expected to decrease…). Or the rest of the world might realize that we don’t really make stuff the rest of the world wants to buy, so there’s really not much need for the dollar (which would be needed to buy U.S. goods if anybody wanted to buy them), and stuff (particularly stuff made in other countries) would get really expensive really quickly. There are many scenarios that could lead to significant devaluation and eventually the complete destruction of our monetary system in addition to the destruction of our nation’s productive capacity due to the earthquakes, storms, tsunamis, disasters in general, disease, and pestilence already prophesied for the future.
Let’s assume for a second it’s going to happen at some point. The real question is, when such a thing does happen, what will society look like? How will all the participants of our economy, trained over many years to scrap and fight for the insufficient pool of funds to stay afloat financially, react to an environment where money no longer has any value? Here’s one possibility from a vision a member of the Church had back in the 1890s. This may be completely bogus. But I tend to think it might just fit the Lord’s style to declare some fascinating secrets about the future to a non-general authority just to test the faith and ability of His people to follow the Spirit’s direction in matters of spiritual revelation. In the vision, note the juxtaposition of wealth or capital against labor. In a debt-based society, those closest to the banking institutions allowed to create money from nothing will, over time, amass a disproportionate portion of the system’s resources, leading to an incredibly wealthy few (the wealthy with capital to lend), who lord resources over the overwhelmingly poor masses:
“While I lay pondering in deep solitude on the events of the present, my mind was drawn into a reverie such as I had never felt before,–a strong solicitude for my imperiled country utterly excluded every other thought, and raised my feelings to a point of intensity which I did not think it possible to endure.
While in this solemn, profound, and painful reverie of mind, to my infinite surprise, a light appeared in my room, which seemed to be soft and silvery as that diffused from a northern star. At the moment of its appearance, the acute feeling I had experienced instantly yielded to one of calm tranquility.
Although it may have been at the hour of midnight, and the side of the globe whereon I was situated, was excluded from the sunlight, yet all was light and bright and warm as an Italian landscape at noon, but the heat was softer or more subdued.
As I gazed upward, I saw descending through my bedroom roof, with a gently gliding movement, a personage clothed in white apparel, whose countenance was smoothly serene, his features regular, and the flashes of his eye seemed to shoot forth scintillations, to use an earthly comparison, strongly resembling those reflected from a diamond under an intensely illumined electric light, which dazzled but did not bewilder.
Those large, deep, inscrutable eyes were presently fixed upon mine, when instantly placing his hands up on my forehead his touch produced an indescribable serenity and calmness, a calmness not born of earth, but at once peaceful, delightful and heavenly. My whole being was imbued with a joy unspeakable. All feelings of sorrow instantly vanished. Those lines and shadows which care and sorrow impress upon us were dispelled as a deep fog before a blazing sun.
In the eyes of my heavenly visitor, for such he appeared to me, there was a sort of lofty pity and tenderness, infinitely stronger than any such feeling I ever saw manifested in ordinary mortals. His very calm appeared like a vast ocean stillness, at once overpowering to every agitated emotion.
By some intuition, or instinct, I felt he had something to communicate to sooth my sorrows and allay my apprehensions. Thereupon addressing me, he said:
‘Son, I perceive thou hast grave anxieties over the perilous state of thy country, that thy soul has felt deep sorrow for its future. I have therefore come to thy relief and to tell thee of the causes that have led to this peril. Hear me attentively.
‘Seventy-one years ago , after an awful apostasy of centuries, in which all nations were enshrouded in spiritual darkness, when the angels had withdrawn themselves, the voice of prophets hushed, and the light of Urim and Thummim shown not, and the vision of the seers closed, while heaven itself shed not a ray of gladness to lighten a dark world, when Babel ruled and Satan laughed, and Church and Priesthood had taken their upward flight, and the voice of nations, possessing the books of the Jewish prophets, had ruled against vision and against Urim, against the further visits of angels, and against the doctrine of a church of apostles and prophets, thou knowest that then appeared a mighty angel with the solemn announcement of the hour of judgment, the burden of whose instructions pointed to dire calamities upon the present generation. This, therefore, is the cause of what thou seest and the end of the wicked hasteneth.’
My vision now became extended in a marvelous manner, and the import of the past labors of the Elders was made plain to me. I saw multitudes fleeing to the place of safety in our mountain heights. The church was established in the wilderness. Simultaneously the nation had reached an unparalleled prosperity, wealth abounded, new territory was acquired, commerce extended, finance strengthened, confidence was maintained, and peoples abroad pointed to her as the model nation–the ideal of the past realized and perfected–the embodiment of the liberty sung by poets and sought for by sages.
‘But,’ continued the Messenger, ‘thou beholdest a change. Confidence is lost, wealth is arrayed against labor, labor against wealth, yet the land abounds with plenty of food and raiment, and silver and gold are in abundance. Thou seest also the letters written by a Jew have wrought great confusion in the finances of the nation which, together with the policy of many wealthy ones, has produced distress and do produce further sorrow.’
Factions now sprang up as if by magic; capital had entrenched itself against labor throughout the land; labor was organized against capital. The voice of the wise sought to tranquilize these two powerful factors in vain. Excited multitudes ran wildly about; strikes increased; lawlessness sought the place of regular government.
At this juncture I saw a banner floating in air whereupon was written the words, ‘BANKRUPTCY, FAMINE, FLOODS, FIRE, CYCLONES, BLOOD, PLAGUE.’ Mad with rage, men and women rushed upon each other. Blood flowed down the streets of cities like water. The demon of bloody hate had enthroned itself on the citadel of reason; the thirst for blood was more intense than that of the parched tongue for water. Thousands of bodies lay untombed in the streets. Men and women fell dead from the terror inspired by fear. Rest was but the precursor of the bloody work of the morrow. All around lay the mournfulness of a past in ruins. Monuments erected to perpetuate the names of the noble and brave were ruthlessly destroyed by combustibles.
A voice now sounded aloud these words, ‘Yet once again I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word yet once again signifies the removing of things that are shaken, as of things that are made; that those things that cannot be shaken may remain.’
Earthquakes rent the earth in vast chasms, which engulfed multitudes; terrible groanings and wailings filled the air; the shrieks of the suffering were indescribably awful. Water wildly rushed in from the tumultuous ocean, whose very roaring under the mad rage of the fierce cyclone, was unendurable to the ear. Cities were swept away in an instant, missiles were hurled through the atmosphere at a terrible velocity, and people were carried upward only to descend an unrecognizable mass. Islands appeared where ocean waves once tossed the gigantic steamer. In other parts, voluminous flames emanating from vast fires, rolled with fearful velocity, destroying life and property in their destructive course.
The seal of the dread menace of despair was stamped on every human visage; men fell exhausted, appalled and trembling. Every element of agitated nature seemed a demon of wrathful fury. Dense clouds, blacker than midnight darkness, whose thunders reverberated with intonations which shook the earth, obscured the sunlight. Darkness reigned unrivaled and supreme.
Again the light shone, revealing an atmosphere tinged with a leaden hue, which was the precursor of an unparalleled plague, whose first symptoms were recognized by a purple spot which appeared on the cheek or on the back of the hand, and which, invariably, enlarged until it spread over the entire surface of the body, producing certain death. Mothers, on sight of it, cast away their children as if they were poisonous reptiles. This plague, in grown persons, rotted the eyes in their sockets and consumed the tongue as would a powerful acid or an intense heat. Wicked men, suffering under its writhing agonies, cursed God and died, as they stood on their feet, and the birds of prey feasted on their carcasses.
I saw in my dream the Messenger again appear with a vial in his right hand, who addressing me, said: ‘Thou knowest somewhat of the chemistry taught in the schools of human learning, behold now a chemical sufficiently powerful to change the waters of the sea.’
He then poured out his vial upon the sea and it became putrid as the blood of a dead man, and every living soul therein died. Other plagues followed which I forbear to record.
A foreign power had inroaded the nation, which, from every human indication, it appeared would seize the government and supplant it with monarchy. I stood trembling at the aspect, when, lo, a power arose in the west which declared itself in favor of the Constitution in its original form; to this suddenly rising power, every lover of constitutional rights and liberties throughout the nation gave hearty support. The struggle was fiercely contested, but the Stars and Stripes floated in the breeze, and bidding defiance to all opposition, waved proudly over the land.
Among the many banners I saw, was one inscribed thus: ‘The government based on the Constitution, now and forever’; on another, ‘Liberty of Conscience, Social, Religious, and Political.’
The light of the Gospel which had but dimly shone because of abomination, now burst forth with a lustre that filled the earth. Cities appeared in every direction, one of which, in the center of the continent, was an embodiment of architectural science after the pattern of eternal perfections, whose towers glittered with a radiance emanating from the sparkling of emeralds, rubies, diamonds, and other precious stones set in a canopy of gold, and so elaborately and skillfully arranged as to shed forth a brilliancy which dazzled and enchanted the eye, excited admiration and developed a taste for the beautiful, beyond anything man had ever conceived.
Fountains of crystal water shot upwards their transparent jets, which, in the brilliant sunshine, formed ten thousand rainbow tints at once delightful to the eye. Gardens, the perfection of whose arrangement confound all our present attempts at genius, were bedecked with flowers of varied hue to develop and refine the taste and strengthen a love for these nature’s chastest adornments.
Schools and universities were erected, to which all had access; in the latter, Urims were placed for the study of the past, present, and future, and for obtaining a knowledge of the heavenly bodies, and of the construction of worlds and universes. The inherent properties of matter, its arrangements, laws, and mutual relations were revealed and taught and made plain as the primer lesson of a child. The conflicting theories of geologists regarding the foundation and age of the earth were settled forever. All learning was based on eternal certainty. Angels brought forth the treasures of knowledge which had laid hid in the womb of the dumb and distant past.
The appliances for making learning easy surpass all conjecture. Chemistry was rendered extremely simple, by the power which the Urims conferred on man of looking into and through the very elements of every kind; a stone furnished no more obstruction to human vision than the air itself. Not only were the elements and all their changes and transformations plainly understood, but the construction, operations and laws of mind were thus rendered equally plain as those which governed the coarser elements.
While looking through the Urim and Thummim, I was amazed at a transformation, which even now is to me marvelous beyond description, clearly showing the manner in which particles composing the inorganic kingdom of nature are conducted upward to become a part of organic forms; another astounding revelation was a view clearly shown me of the entire circulation of the blood, both in man and animals.
After seeing these things and gazing once more upon the beautiful city, the following passage of scripture sounded in my ears: ‘OUT OF ZION, THE PERFECTION OF BEAUTY, GOD SHINETH.’
On this I awoke to find all a dream. I have written the foregoing, which is founded on true principle, under the caption of a dream, partly to instruct and partly to check the folly of reading silly novels now so prevalent.”
CHARLES D. EVANS, Patriarch
(Contributor, Vol. 15, 1893; TRUTH 1:12, pp. 161-163)
Before you jump back to your novels, I have two more juicy pieces of revelatory gossip on the topic:
This was a letter from Nephi Packard to A. Milton Musser on July 24, 1896:
“… My brother, Noah Packard, says that he heard the Prophet Joseph say that the next great (U.S. civil) war after the war of the rebellion (the Civil War of the 1860’s between the North and the South) would commence in a little town now called Chicago but at that time it would have grown to be a very large city. And another brother told me that the Prophet said that the cause of the next great trouble of the United States would be the depreciation of the currency of the United States. I believe I have given you all the facts in as short and concise manner as possible.” (Second Great Rebellion or Chicago Quote – A. Milton Musser papers, LDS Church Archives.)
Another quote regarding the Civil War itself comes from an interview by Dr. Poulson with David Whitmer, printed in the Deseret News on Friday, August 16, 1878:
“Question: When will the temple be built in Independence?
Answer: Right after the great tribulation is over
Question: What do you mean by that?
Answer: A civil war more bloody and cruel than the rebellion. It will be the smashing up of this nation, about which time the second great work has to be done, a work like Joseph did, and the translation of the sealed plates and peace all over.”
In God we trust, right?