Friday, January 11, 2013

Platinum handcuffs

The chatter on the internet is that in order to forestall another debt ceiling crisis, the President is considering minting some platinum coins, worth $1 trillion each. The idea, heartily endorsed over at Slate magazine, comes from a "loophole" in the law that allows the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue platinum bullion coins at his discretion. For the nerdiest among us, the relevant statute is 31 U.S.C. § 5112(k).

Basically, these coins (with an arbitrarily assigned value) would let the government "cover" its obligations without having to ask for authority to borrow more money (the government's borrowing authority runs out soon). We make the coins, and "poof!" a couple trillion in the bank. Man, that was easy.

Now, the very real possibility of the President printing these coins is cause for massive concern on a policy-making level, but the real problem lies much deeper than that. But before we go there, I just have to ask: Does anyone in charge realize the absurdity of this proposition? I would be interested to know how the President will keep a straight face while telling the nation that he just ordered the printing of a couple platinum coins, with their value arbitrarily set at $1 Trillion. "Oh, that amount averts a debt ceiling crisis (again!) and allows the government pay its bills? How convenient!" 

Back to the root issue of the thing. The back-and-forth of the politicos has centered mostly on whether this is a big power-grab by the Obama Administration. It probably is, but the thing about power is that it  is a zero-sum game. Power taken by one side is power lost by the other side. But in my estimation, neither side knows what is really going on here. What we are dealing with is self-worship to the core. Only this time, the promised utopia and equality of man's progress isn't working out like some people thought it would. This sort of thing has happened before... 

When you worship the god of self, the possibility of real failure is the humanist equivalent to blasphemy. "Yes we can!" Even more, when you exalt the deity of self, only you can offer salvation. And when it looks like you will not be able to save yourself, things get really interesting. We start doing things like minting $ 1 Trillion coins to cover our decades of idolatry. All this to say that we are seeing the failure of the self-made idols that we have erected over the past few decades. There needs to be some real repentance going on, but not before we see the utter idiocy of our ways. 

We have squandered our wealth, have been poor stewards of our resources, and now we think the same kind of behavior will get us all out of this mess. I don't think so. The real problem is that the gods of our society will not admit their falsehood; they are not amiable to the idea that they must submit themselves completely to Jesus Christ as Lord. And so they mint away, storing up judgment for themselves. 

A similar story happened in Jeremiah 9. The Israelites wondered why Jeremiah prophesied impending judgment. Didn't he know that they had wisdomwealth, and might? Surely the wise would provide political advice, the mighty would fight the battles, and the wealth would finance them forever.  So they responded to the prophet with indignation, and while they mourned their circumstances, they looked to themselves for salvation. The wise man boasted in his wisdom, the strong man boasted in his strength, the rich man boasted in his strength, and the politicians boasted in their bipartisan deal-making. None would repent, and so their wisdom, strength, and wealth became to them as shackles.

This is the true test of an impenitent heart: Do you mourn your adversity but not your sin? The sin is the root of it all. And turning to anywhere but the cross of Jesus Christ for salvation is futile. It happened to Jeremiah's nation, and it's happening to ours now. These stories aren't new.


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