The Rider on the Black Horse
Vol: 79 Issue: 23 Wednesday, April 23, 2008
“And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:6)
More than a billion people living on this earth today do so on a dollar a day or less, according to the latest UN poverty statistics. They qualify as ‘poor’ whereas those persons living on $2 a day are classed as ‘middling’ poor.
To those of us living in the ‘First World’ of developing nations, (the “West”, Australia, NZ, Japan, etc) it is unthinkable. The poorest person in the developed world couldn’t imagine living on a dollar a day — even two dollars a day.
In America, the official ‘poverty threshold’ for a single American, on average, is $10,400 per year, or $28.00 per day. As to the wealthy in America, well . . . it is estimated that 28% of the total net wealth is held by the richest 2% of families in the U.S. The top 10% holds 57% of the net wealth.
If homes and other real estate are excluded, the concentration of ownership of financial wealth is even more glaring. As far back as 1983, 54% of the total net financial assets were held by 2% of all families, those whose annual income is over $125,000.
Eighty-six percent of these assets were held by the top 10% of all families (US Bishops Economic Justice 183, quoting 1983 Federal Reserve Board figures).
As to the American “middle class” — the American version of the ‘middling poor’ are those with incomes ranging from $25,000 to $70,000 per year.
Pulling it all together, here is the overall Big Picture as it stands today. The population of the earth is roughly 6.6 billion people. To be poor among the billion richest is to be at least 28 times richer than the standard for poverty among the billion poorest.
To be rich among the top billion is a status of unimaginable wealth. Bill Gates’ personal fortune alone, divided among the world’s billion poorest, would elevate their status to that of the American poverty level.
At last check, based on Microsoft’s current stock price, Bill Gates was worth $26 billion — a figure that can fluctuate from day to day by billions either way. And that is ONLY his Microsoft stock holdings, not the rest of his vast empire.
If Bill Gates were a country, instead of an individual, he would rank between Syria and Lithuania, between the 74th and 75th wealthiest nations in the world.
If every American had the same share of America’s Gross Domestic Product as Bill Gates has, America could only have a population of 480 people.
If Bill Gates wealth were converted to one dollar bills laid end to end, they would stretch from New York to Seattle — and BACK — 431 times! If you could stack them together in a single stack, Bill Gates’ personal wealth would reach 1,757 MILES high and would weigh almost twenty-seven TONS!
New York’s Empire State Building has a listed volume of 37 million cubic feet. Bill’s cash would only fill 2.84% of that space!
In the Apostle John’s vision of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (with which we opened today’s briefing”, the third horseman on the black horse holds in his hand a pair of balances.
He represents famine, but he also represents income distribution as it will exist in the last days. A measure of wheat or three measures of barley represent a day’s rations. A penny represents a days wages.
The ‘oil and wine’ were items of luxury, representing great wealth.
So the economic dynamics necessary for the Rider on the Black Horse to mount up and begin his ride are already well entrenched.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
Over the past year, some 30 nations have experienced food rioting. That threatens political regimes in the Middle East, where food prices have doubled in the past two months; Indonesia, home of the world’s largest population of Muslims; and Malaysia, whose export of cheap manufactured goods contributes to lower living costs in the West.
Food riots erupted recently in Haiti, while in El Salvador, food inflation is running as high as 45% per year. Already this year the price of rice, one of the world’s most critically important food staples, has increased a staggering 141 per cent.
And one particular variety of wheat jumped 25 per cent in a single day during that period. Granted, the population of the earth is increasing, but so are new agricultural techniques that can double or triple crop yields.
So, where’s it all going? Into your gas tank. Crops produced for bio-fuel are more profitable, since nobody is going to eat it. And so farmers are increasingly switching over to bio-fuel crop production.
Bio-fuel is one of the Al Gore solutions to global warming. It allegedly burns cleaner, is cheaper to refine and produce than fossil fuels, and the supply, in theory, is endless.
The environmentalist lobby claims that the production of alternative biofuel supplies is high on the list of necessary solutions to the global warming ‘crisis’.
It seems like the right thing to do, assuming that man-made emissions from fossil fuels contribute to global warming. But that is a broad assumption, considering that global warming is neither ‘global’ nor demonstrably warmer.
But it IS profitable.
Al Gore’s Global Management Fund sells ‘carbon credits’ — you invest with them, and they invest in alternative fuels, and issue you a ‘carbon credit’ that minimizes your ‘carbon footprint ‘on the planet.
Al erased his own ‘carbon footprint’ (20 times that of an average American family) by buying ‘carbon credits’ (which, for Al Gore, amounts to buying stock in his own company).
It seems like the right thing to do, even if it DOES impose additional cost of living expenses across-the-board. Al Gore is an ‘oil and wine’ guy and his oil and wine is being squeezed from the existing global food supply.
If a farmer can make more money producing corn for biofuel than he can for producing wheat for food, then where is the incentive to grow wheat? So he grows corn, creating a wheat shortage.
Of course, as supply shrinks, demand grows, which raises the price of wheat, which then spurs wheat production, but now all the poor can afford is barley because wheat is too expensive.
The production of crops for fuel, or energy farming, competes with food production for land, for water and for fertilizer. One-sixth of all the grain grown in the United States this year will be “industrial corn” destined to be converted into ethanol and burned in cars.
The choices are stark. The amount of food necessary to create the biofuel to run ONE SUV for a year is enough to feed twenty-six people.
Although the UN has been at the forefront of pushing for “bio-diversity” and alternative fuels to combat global warming, one UN official told a German interviewer that biofuel production constitutes a ‘crime against humanity.’
UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food Jean Ziegler warned that the world was heading “towards a very long period of riots” and other types of conflicts stemming from food shortages and price increases.
Ziegler blamed rising food costs for sparking food riots in Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mauritania, the Philippines and other countries, like Pakistan and Thailand, where army troops have been deployed to avoid the seizure of food from fields and warehouses.
The Bible’s scenario calls for “a measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.”
The UN’s scenario makes the identical prediction, but it blames the coming famine on what seemed like a really good idea.
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.”
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)
And I STILL get emails from critics telling me that the Bible isn’t relevant to the modern world.