Two weeks ago, the 20th Sunday in ordinary time for the Catholic liturgical year, the first half of the first reading was taken from Jeremiah 38:4-6 as follows:
In those days, the princes said to the king:
“Jeremiah ought to be put to death;
he is demoralizing the soldiers who are left in this city,
and all the people, by speaking such things to them;
he is not interested in the welfare of our people,
but in their ruin.”
King Zedekiah answered: “He is in your power”;
for the king could do nothing with them.
And so they took Jeremiah
and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah,
which was in the quarters of the guard,
letting him down with ropes.
There was no water in the cistern, only mud,
and Jeremiah sank into the mud.1
The rest of the reading included the part of how the king was approached and he relented to having Jeremiah pulled from the cistern. The reason Jeremiah acquired so many enemies was what he said:
“Thus says the LORD: He who remains in this city shall die by sword, or famine, or pestilence; but he who goes out to the Chaldeans shall live; his life shall be spared him as booty, and he shall live. Thus says the LORD: This city shall certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon; he shall capture it.”2
CLAIMS of TRUMP’S DETRACTORS
Jeremiah’s was not being sentenced for lying, but for telling the truth of their dire situation which many did not want to hear. This is the same response Donald trump is receiving, with examples such as:
- Tony Fratto, a former top Republican official in the administration of George W Bush, said the speech was the “darkest, most negative acceptance speech of a major party” that he had heard in his lifetime.3
- Bloombergwent even further: “Donald Trump completed his hostile takeover of the Republican Party on Thursday with one of the most ominous speeches of his campaign, showing his already dystopian view of America has darkened considerably since he first announced his campaign.“3
- “Tonight, Donald Trump painted a dark picture of an America in decline. And his answer – more fear, more division, more anger, more hate — was yet another reminder that he is temperamentally unfit and totally unqualified to be President of the United States,” campaign chairman John Podesta said in a statement shortly after Trump wrapped his lengthy address.3
- “Donald Trump gambled that Americans share his vision of a nation teetering on oblivion, casting himself as a renegade outsider who is the last, best hope to stand up to a discredited and depleted establishment.”4
But the Facts ARE Dismal
Let’s examine some of our nation’s problems to see if Trump is exaggerating that if we don’t change our ways, dire consequences will be ours.
A) FEDERAL DEBT: At the end of the fiscal year 2000-2001 (9/30/2000), the federal debt was not quite $5.7 trillion dollars. As George W. Bush took office four months later, we’ll consider this to be his starting point. By 9/30/2008, or four months before he left office, the debt had grown to $10.0 trillion.5 Senator Obama, running for President, said this increase was “unpatriotic.”6
Interesting, as of 9/30/2015, the debt was $18.1 trillion4 and as has passed $19 trillion this year – even with some of the lowest interest rates ever. As a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, it’s even scarier:
Political battles aside, here is the true outlook: “Assuming that the economy was operating at its full potential, the researchers estimated the sustainable upper limit of the debt-to-GDP ratio is around 93 percent. ‘A higher debt to GDP ratio is unsustainable and will drive the economy into a succession of lower growth periods accompanied by increased unemployment,’ they concluded.”8
So, Trump isn’t exaggerating here.
B) WORKER PARTICIPATION RATE: Although the unemployment rate has been cut in half since Obama took office, it has been known for a long time that this statistic means little as the demographics of our nation have changed since this number started being calculated. When originally instituted, the unemployment rate was fairly accurate as the unemployed generally continued looking for jobs. As the decades passed, this is no longer the case.
The U.S. had a worker participation rate reached a low of 62.4% last September before rebounding slightly, and that was the lowest since 1977. Retirements cannot account for a significant part of this.9
Looks like Trump is painting an accurate picture here.
C) HOME OWNERSHIP: “High levels of student loan debt, tight mortgage underwriting standards and overheating home prices are all contributing to very low homeownership rates among the nation’s youngest workers. Homeownership among those aged 25-34 today is nearly 10 percentage points lower than it was a decade ago… Some of this is a long-term shift toward marrying and having children later in life. Some of this is that the recovery has been slow among young adults.”10
Undue pessimism by Trump? No.
D) CHILDREN in SINGLE-PARENT FAMILIES: Crucial point to be made first. The initial reaction to “children born out of wedlock” should be one of thanks for the parent(s) having chosen life. Then the second thought is that the breakdown of the family, the basic unit of a civilized society, is accelerating. As the data shows:
“Since 1970, out-of-wedlock birth rates have soared. In 1965, 24 percent of black infants and 3.1 percent of white infants were born to single mothers. By 1990 the rates had risen to 64 percent for black infants, 18 percent for whites.”11
Here is more recent data:
But, why should this be a concern?
“The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society… The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family.13
BUT MUCH FEDERAL ASSISTANCE DISCOURAGES FORMING of FAMILIES
“The marriage penalties that are embedded in welfare programs can be particularly severe if a woman on public assistance weds a man who is employed in a low-paying job. As a FamilyScholars.org report puts it: ‘When a couple’s income nears the limits prescribed by Medicaid, a few extra dollars in income cause thousands of dollars in benefits to be lost. What all of this means is that the two most important routes out of poverty—marriage and work—are heavily taxed under the current U.S. system.’”
“William Galston, who served in the ’90s as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, estimated that the welfare system, with its economic disincentives to marriage, was responsible for at least 15% to 20% of the family disintegration in the United States. Libertarian scholar Charles Murray has placed the figure at somewhere around 50%.”14
Has Trump been unnecessarily negative here? No way.
E) MILITARY PREPAREDNESS:
“Top Army and Marine Corps generals warned lawmakers their combat readiness is ebbing and expressed concern they would be unable to fight and win another war in the midst of budget cuts, two wars and heightened global threats…”
“Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said the Army can meet regional combatant command requirements and do counterterrorism and counterinsurgency missions. But the four-star had “grave concerns” that fighting a “higher-end” foe, such as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, risks failure…”
“When we talk about risk, we’re talking about great-power war with one or two countries: China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.”“We can collectively roll the dice and say those days will never come and that’s a course of action; that is not a course of action I would advise,” Milley said. “There is a high level of risk associated with those contingencies right now…”
“According to a committee aide, [Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas] Thornberry is mulling further action on the issue and sees it as linked to maintenance and training shortfalls. ‘The combination of war fighters who aren’t trained and equipment that doesn’t work is a perfect storm,’ the aide said.”15
No, Donald Trump is not being overly negative, just reminding us of things those accountable don’t want the voters to believe.
2 – Jeremiah 38:2-3. From The New Catholic Answer Bible, Fireside Catholic Publishing; Wichita, Kansas, 2005.
3 – “Trump Accused Of “Apocalyptic” Fearmongering In Speech Promising “Security And Prosperity,” by Tyler Durden, http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-07-22/trump-accused-apocalyptic-fearmongering-speech-promising-security-and-prosperity, 7/22/2016.
4 – “Trump Paints Dark Portrait of Fading Nation Only He Can Save,” by Justin Sink, John McCormick and Mark Niquette, http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-07-21/trump-goes-on-cruz-control-with-speech-that-could-transform-race, 7/21/2016.
6 – “The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents – #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.” From “Flashback: Obama Talks ‘Unpatriotic’ Debt In 2008, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/03/13/flashback_obama_talks_unpatriotic_debt_in_2008.html
7 – ”Only Yesterday – How the Federal Debt Went From $1 Trillion To $18 Trillion In 33 Years,” by David Stockman, http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/only-yesterday-how-the-federal-debt-went-from-1-trillion-to-18-trillion-in-33-years/, 12/5/2014.
8 – From “The Morning After America’s Debt Binge,” by Ronald Bailey, http://reason.com/archives/2013/10/11/the-morning-after-americas-debt-binge, 10/11/2013.
9 – “Record 94,708,000 Americans Not in Labor Force; Participation Rate Drops in May,” by Susan Jones, http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/record-94708000-americans-not-labor-force-participation-rate-drops, 6/3/2016.
10 – Homeownership near its lowest in history,” by Diana Olick, , http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/28/homeownership-near-its-lowest-in-history.html, 4/28/2016.
11 – “An Analysis of Out-Of-Wedlock Births in the United States,” by George A. Akerlof and Janet L. Yellen, https://www.brookings.edu/research/an-analysis-of-out-of-wedlock-births-in-the-united-states/, 8/1/1996.
13 – Parts of paragraphs 2207 and 2210 from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 25th printing; November 2013.
14 – “How the Liberal Welfare State Destroyed Black America,” by John Perazzo, http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/262726/how-liberal-welfare-state-destroyed-black-america-john-perazzo, 5/6/2016.
15 – “Generals Worry Army, Marines Unready For A New War,” by Joe Gould, http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/2016/03/16/army-marines-readiness-war-congress/81876210/, 3/16/2016.