Niall Ferguson, a recognized economic historian and bestselling author, has identified a crisis in Western societies which he names in his book title The Great Degeneration.
The symptoms of social decay are all around us. The economies of the U.S., the U.K., and the Western European countries have become stagnant, with little or no growth. Unemployment rises higher and higher, with many leaving the workforce and “Disability” doubling from 3% to 6% of the U.S. population in just 3 years. Total unfunded U.S. government debt is over 15 times Gross National Product and 3 times total U.S. net worth. The impending collapse of the once vibrant Western Economies is the “Great Degeneration.”
While the symptoms are economic, Ferguson identifies four root causes which go far beyond economics:
- Western democracies have pandered to their voters by creating the huge unfunded welfare programs which are beginning to depress economic growth and opportunity. Essentially, we have committed massive theft of the resources of future generations.
- Governments have instituted even more complex regulations which have the effect of choking off economic growth and prosperity. The cost to the U.S. economy alone is almost 2 trillion annually. In their pride, governments fail to see the consequences of their regulations, such as the 2008 housing meltdown being caused by mandated expansion of home ownership, and then pile even more regulations to “fix” the problem they created.
- The rule of law, which is foundational for the protection of our property, prosperity, and freedom, is under attack. Governments have whittled away at our rights in the guise of national security or crime fighting (See our Blog of 7/16/14, “Society’s Immune System disaster”). The truth is, we live in an emerging police state where government power is turned against political opponents, entrepreneurs, and politically incorrect groups including the Church.
- The fourth symptom of degeneration is the decline in voluntary civic organizations such as charitable organizations, private schools, and Churches. These organizations are increasingly being supplanted by government programs, as people are abandoning their responsibilities to care for their cities, schools, and neighbors. The result is a loveless dependency on government which alienates both the giver and recipient.
From a Christian perspective, these signs of degeneration illuminate the sins of our age. We have not only stolen from our children, we have also murdered many of them and sacrificed their educations and futures for political gain. Thinking ourselves wise, we have become fools by crippling our society with a vast web of destructive regulations and laws. We have sold our freedom for empty promises of safety and government benefits. And even the Church has abandoned many of its functions to the god of government.
As we see our sins and see the “Great Degeneration” all around us, the question is what to do about it. Ferguson pins his hope on a revival of voluntary civic organizations, focusing on education outside of the Government schools. Yet he overlooks the largest voluntary organization of them all, the Church, which still has 2 of 3 Americans as memebers. Our only chance to save our societies is through a revival in the Church.
We must start with repentance of our generational thefts and murders, and our idolatry of the government. We must defend the freedom of religion and speech, and the foundational Biblical principles of private property and free enterprise. At the same time the Church must take up its mantle of ministry to the poor and the marginalized, bringing social justice not through the false promises of police state coercion, but through the love of God. And Christians must join together in unity to speak with one voice, Christ’s voice, as He intended.
As intercessors, we must join together to pray for a revival in our Churches, so that God’s people will seek His face and heal our land.
Only God can turn around The Great Degeneration.