Friday, November 27, 2009
Today is Freedom Friday. Are you wearing blue today to show support for our troops? In the New Testament we read, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). A modern-day prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, the late President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught: "We must be wise and frugal and careful and live within our means. Let us live within our means and get rid of debt. Some of it may be necessary. For education, for homes, yes. But for a fancy new car or a boat, no. The way to happiness is to be free, and one of the great freedoms is freedom from debt" (Stand A Little Taller, p 300). This is good counsel for individuals and families. I know that there is great freedom with no debt. I have experienced it and hope to be able to continue to experience it. I wish that our governmental leaders were following this counsel. On the front page of the Anchorage Daily News on Tuesday, November 24, 2009, there was an article by Edmund L. Andrews of the New York Times, entitled "US Government faces a daunting wave of debt payments." The article continued: "With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government's tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year…. In concrete terms, an additional $500 billion a year in interest expense would total more than the combined federal budgets this year for education, energy, homeland security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan….. Americans now have to climb out of two deep holes: as debt-loaded consumers, whose personal wealth sank along with housing and stock prices; and as taxpayers, whose government debt has almost doubled in the last two years alone, just as costs tied to benefits for retiring baby boomers are set to explode…. The competing demands could deepen political battle over the size and role of government, the tradeoffs between taxes and spending, the choices between helping older generations and aiding younger ones [death panels?], and the bottom-line questions about who should ultimately shoulder the burden." Andrews quoted William H Gross, managing director of the Pimco Group, the grant bond-management firm: "What a good country or a good squirrel should be doing is stashing away nuts for the winter. The United States is not only not saving nuts, it's eating the ones left over from the last winter." The scriptures, a prophet, a financial manager and the New York Times are all telling us that it is wise to live within our means and to save for bad times. I suggest that we all start "tightening our belts" a little more and learning to live on less money. You may think that you don't have enough money to save any. Start where you can even if it is only a dime here and a quarter there. By saving whatever you can, you will at least have started a good habit. I again encourage you to be storing food and other necessities. I don't want you to panic, but I know from experience that a can of peaches here and a can of corn there can soon become quite a bit of food. Our nation is in big trouble and our leaders are taking us in the wrong direction. It is time that we - the people of the United States - stand a little taller and become leaders going in the correct direction. That direction is less debt and more financial responsibility.