Scandals in American government are nothing new. As King Solomon noted, “There is nothing new under the sun.” In fact, most of us can recall a number of major government failures that have come and gone.
Forty years to the week (May 1973) of the Senate hearings of the Nixon administration’s Watergate scandal, we have Benghazi Gate, IRS Gate and theAssociated Press Gate all converging in the second term of President Obama.
- Benghazi Gate. The government is accused of spinning the truth about what actually caused the tragic events at the American Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Hearings will reveal more details in the days to come.
- IRS Gate. The government acknowledges that hundreds of conservative groups were singled out for additional IRS screening in an effort to identify those that were politically active and therefore not eligible for tax exemptions. Some of that private information was reportedly leaked to political operatives favorable to the White House.
- Associated Press Gate. The government acknowledges that it tapped the private and business phone conversations of Associated Press reporters and one AP editor as part of a Justice Department leak investigation, placing a higher value on uncovering the source of the leak than the First Amendment rights to a free press.
The problems facing our President and his administration are formidable and troubling to all Americans. We need to sincerely pray for all of our leaders and our nation.
Do I believe that this convergence of actual and suspected scandals will lead to the downfall of President Obama or any of his loyal staff and operatives? Not for a minute.
America is a different nation than it was 40 years ago.
All the scandals receiving intense media, legal and political scrutiny today are ethical in nature. While some will cry they are a violation of the sacred trust we place in those elected to provide good governance to our nation, moral relativism rules the day.
Without a moral compass, an absolute standard to determine right from wrong, one man’s ethics are quickly dismissed by another man’s counter argument.
“Spin” and outright propaganda are so prevalent that they are no longer considered a serious breech of trust. They are standard operating procedure in American political machinery. Ethical deviations are dismissed as nuances, part and parcel of the political gamesmanship conducted by both sides.
Today, we also have an unprecedented level of government dependence. A record number of the American population receives some form of income from a government program, estimated to be as high as one-half. Many are unwilling “to bite the hand that feeds it.”
But in the midst of the present-day drama with both sides entrenched in a battle to discredit the other party, a bigger scandal is underway right under our noses: perpetual runaway federal spending. We are now a people governed by profligate spenders.
Profligate means . Our tax dollars fall short of the annual expenses of the federal government by almost one third or more, year after year. Since World War II, we have overspent our national income in all but eight years. Worse, the money that is borrowed is consumed on inefficient, bureaucratic programs that accomplish little, but pile up debt seemingly impossible to be repaid.
This scandal shows no favoritism. It holds the potential to deliver the most devastating consequences to all Americans – those that receive government income and those that do not. This scandal is not a judgment call based upon personal ethics. It is a mathematical fact measured by the gap between our nation’s income and expenses. It is measured in trillions of dollars and growing.
By attempting to borrow our way out of a debt problem, we are attempting to put out a fire with gasoline.
Forty years ago, we were the largest lending nation on Earth, today we are the largest debtor nation on Earth. We lost our basis for common ethics and our prosperity will surely follow. Proverbs 22:7 warns: “The borrower is servant to the lender.”
God’s Word is the only source of absolute ethics. He told the Israelites that their collective prosperity would be conditional upon their personal obedience to His commands. Deuteronomy 28 lays out His conditions in vivid terms:
“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all His commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on Earth.” (v.1)
“However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all His commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and over take you:” (v.15)
Regardless of the outcome of this latest round of government misdeeds, theProfligate Scandal marches on. Neither Republicans nor Democrats nor the American voters have yet to muster the courage to call for it to end. We can’t even agree that it needs to end.
Americans somehow are blinded by the myth that it will magically disappear through economic growth, more federal debt, minuscule reductions in annual budget deficits or through the next promising politician.
Like a high stakes game of musical chairs, the music will stop and the charade will one day become painfully apparent. Profligate will be revealed as the greatest scandal ever perpetuated on the American people. The good faith and credit of America, once trusted the world over, will be gone.
Can it be averted? Only if we return our hearts to God and carefully obey His ethics.
That will come through a revival at the grassroots level, in the homes and churches across our land, not through the political process. But to end this cycle of scandal, even in Washington, D.C., personal character must be revived in all.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown, a nonprofit business and personal finance policy and educational organization and author of “The S.A.L.T. Plan: How to Prepare for an Economic Crisis of Biblical Proportions.” He is the host of the nationally syndicated radio feature, My MoneyLife™. Follow Bentley on Twitter @chuckbentley.