Here are the facts: The U.S. is the world's third largest exporter, after China and the European Union (Source: CIA World Factbook). Two-thirds of our exports are material goods; computer equipment, semiconductors, industrial machinery (including plastics, chemicals and petroleum products); a small portion is automotive; an equally small portion is food. One-third of our exports are services, such as intellectual property including royalties, license fees, travel and financial services.
So how do these facts affect our economy? It's this simple: when the U.S. imports more goods and services than it exports, this results in a trade deficit. And here's the number: In 2011, the total U.S trade deficit was $559,956,000,000.00 (that's BILLION - I think it makes more of an impact to see all the zeroes, rather than $559.9565 Billion, don't you?) And an ongoing trade deficit hurts our economy because it is financed with debt.
How does that work? The U.S. is able to buy more than it makes because the countries it buys from (China, Mexico, Japan) are lending it the money. About.com explains it this way: It's like a party where you’ve run out of money, but the pizza place is willing to keep sending you pizzas and put it on your tab. Of course, this can only go on as long as there are no other customers for the pizza, and the pizza place can afford to loan you the money. One day the lending countries may decide to ask the U.S. to repay the debt. On that day, the party is over.
So how did we get ourselves into this mess? The way I see it, we no longer find worth or value in manufacturing our own products. Innovation is nearly a thing of the past. There was a time we Americans took pride in our skilled trades, and the quality of our manufactured products, made by hand. Today there is a profound and genuine lack of creation, invention and original wares with the "Made in America" stamp engraved on them.
After WWII, we celebrated what we had to offer the world: the Hubble Space Telescope, the Defibrillator, the Artificial Heart, WD-40, the Zipper storage bag, Air bubble packing, hand-held calculator, string trimmer, polar fleece, Post-It notes, Gore-Tex and the Heimlich maneuver.
Today, what we have to offer the world is an excessive supply of bling, Lady Gaga, TV shows like Glee, and video games like World of Warcraft. It all means nothing. Because you see, not only are we financially bankrupt, but we are spiritually bankrupt. We are storing up "things" that offer nothing to the world, instead of storing up godly principles in our hearts. We have become empty vessels, with nothing to give back to the world.
Elementary School principal pulling the song "God Bless The USA" from her students' graduation ceremony in favor of a Justin Bieber song with strong sexual undertones, I shudder at what we've become. Or the news report of the Principal who felt it was necessary to explain oral and anal sex to her 5th grade students in a sex education class. These are 11-year-olds, for God's sake! What in the world has gotten into us?!
We've robbed our children of their innocence and turned them into consumers of empty, meaningless, worldly garbage. Our educators don't want them glorifying their country or their God. And we are paying the price. We no longer make things with our hands, grow our own food, write a hand-written "thank you" note, or walk to the corner store for a soda pop. Our kids are perpetually glued to a computer screen, and their communication is oftentimes limited to how fast they can text. I've actually seen members of a visiting family sit in my living room and text each other on their laptops, rather than speak to one another!
So is it any wonder that we are bankrupt in so many ways? It is time we got back to living meaningful lives, filled with good, hard, honest labor - and making that labor result in something tangible and real. We need to make our lives about something more than how much money we make, or our latest Facebook post. If we don't reclaim the resourcefulness and the beliefs of our ancestors, our future lies in certain ruin. And that will be truly shameful!
1 Timothy 6:9 "Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction."