Will the tables turn?

Have any of you seen this video ad from a group called Citizens Against Government Waste?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Lisa Graas says:

    Father, I wrote this morning about this video. China’s draconian population control policy, as well as America’s affinity with abortion and contraception, are not taken into account in the ad. You can read my take, with the data at this link.

  2. traditionalorganist says:


    I think the point of the ad is still well-transmitted. We can only hope that countries like China will fall BECAUSE of their evil principles, not because they cast them aside, as we are doing. That being said, I pray that peaceful solutions can be found to the economic issues we face.

  3. Philippus says:

    Very well done video. I do think we are in slavery–in a servile state of being that we have not yet realized. In other words, we are owned by the Chinese, and sooner rather than later, the debt shall be called in.

    Things will only change once we acknowledge that this matrix society we live in is only cosmetics. The real world is what we try to ignore–or what society and the government try to shield us from from finding out about.

    It is also really frustrating to be known as a “social security number”. It feels like I’m an employee of the Chinese and am working to pay off the debt I owe to them.

  4. wmeyer says:


    I doubt that any of the people responsible for creating the ad believed they were presenting a complete picture of our economic position, or that of China. Your analysis, while good, is a diversion from the point of the ad, which remains pertinent.

  5. Dauphin says:

    The comparison to ancient Rome is more apt than they know…

  6. Jacob says:

    I’ve read in response to that video that PRChina holds only seven percent of all outstanding federal debt. Can anyone link me to some actual numbers?

    The video is very well done, I agree. But:
    1. I can’t help feeling that the ChiComs are not disciplined enough to make the transition they’re in right now turn out successfully.
    Foreign Policy: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/09/30/the_japan_syndrome?page=full

    The Foreign Policy piece leads into:
    2. The ChiComs have their own population crisis looming in the next half century and they’re in a far worse position to handle it than the Developed World.
    Brookings Institute:

  7. The Cobbler says:

    Clever. But why do great nations turn their backs on the principles that made them great?

    As one history professor I know said, “There are a thousand theories as to why [or how] Rome fell, and they’re all wrong.” What he really meant is that they’re all somewhat right, but wrong inasmuch as 1) the other theories are also a factor, and 2) it’s virtually impossible to prove beyond a doubt which of various political categories best describe(s) what happened.

    There are only two real, ultimate and universal answers I know of. The first is that worldly success corrupts. The second is that no human principle, which all political principles are even if they acknowledge God as did the Kings of Christian Europe and the American founding fathers (they might not have believed the Kings took God seriously or kept themselves under God, but at least in theory they had something in common with their enemies the monarchists), can be fully self-contained, self-sustaining and effectively immortal. I don’t mean that you can’t make a case for, say, Thomistic ethics from the ground up, such that there is no excuse to remain agnostic on the matter save that one simply doesn’t want to assent to the philosophy; I mean that no philosophy, even built correctly from the ground up, can guarantee its perfect passage from teachers to a sufficient number of its students to prevent confusion at some point in the future. It is virtually impossible for a civilization to guarantee that a generation shall never come in which its members or leaders are willing to rethink its principles and attempt to do their own thing. This is because of free will, and because humans, who transmit the knowledge of these principles, make mistakes.

    This should be kept in mind when we consider the prosperity of a great nation: if it is to last longer (not forever, since that’s impossible), its principles must take into account the transmission of themselves to future generations including this awareness itself, and furthermore take into account the possible/probable effects of future worldly success. It is not enough to be based on good principles and say we will be secure till we forget them, nor is it enough to say that as long as the right understanding is remembered certain errors will never occur; we must strive even to push back the forgetfulness and errors of our remote descendants.

    Of course, all this also leaves me, for one, with another question: what do we leave to those who come after our mistakes and/or sins have finally undone our society? Are we evangelizing the Chinese? Will Russians or Latin Americans be able to dig through the wild debates of internet comboxes and really find where we went wrong, or will they get stuck on lesser factors such as healthcare, or see that we could have continued with our founding principles but not see any early flaws that helped their later abandonment?

    Speaking of Russia: I don’t know if it will happen, but I have heard speculation that China will be unable to collect on our debt, and will go down with us… so we could, conceivably, see instead a world torn between those who face Mecca and those who speak of Mother Russia.

    Sts. Nunilo and Alodia, pray for us and for our children. St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine of Hippo, pray for us and for our children. St. Francis Xavier, pray for us and for our children. (Anyone know the best Russian Saints [or Saints sent to Russia, either] to throw in?)

  8. wmeyer says:

    The Cobbler,
    I have heard speculation that the current insane spending is intended to drive the dollar into devaluation, thereby making the debts all but worthless to our creditors. An exceedingly immoral approach, if it’s true. And one which may well put us into a global depression.
    China’s situation is unique: we are the largest market they have (in dollars), and they need that to continue their growth. But if we devalue the dollar heavily, then they lose that, too. So as you said:
    “Sts. Nunilo and Alodia, pray for us and for our children. St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine of Hippo, pray for us and for our children. St. Francis Xavier, pray for us and for our children.”

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    “I have heard speculation that the current insane spending is intended to drive the dollar into devaluation, thereby making the debts all but worthless to our creditors.”

    And making our individual savings and wages worthless to us. Like in the runaway German inflation of the 1920s when a worker took his morning pay in a wheelbarrow to buy a loaf of bread at lunch time, because after the afternoon’s further inflation, he would no longer be able to buy a whole loaf. I believe this is what the people inside the Beltway call “monetization of our debt”.

  10. wmeyer says:

    “And making our individual savings and wages worthless to us.” Yes and no. But I’m sure glad I am not holding an adjustable rate mortgage!
    The inflation will be bad, but worse still is the risk of a period of deflation, which would wipe out many of us.

  11. Daniel Latinus says:

    The only thing is, I’ve heard the Chinese banking system is riddled with corruption, and much more shaky than ours. There is also the looming demographic problem of the lopsided ratio of men to women, thanks to China’s barbarous “one child” policy.

    I suppose the question is, which of us will collapse first, how, and who else will be dragged along? I suppose we can also ask, and who will benefit?

  12. Dr. Eric says:

    Let’s practice now.

    “How are you?” – “Ni hao ma?” (nee how maw)
    “My name is ___.” – “Wode mingzi jiao ___.” (Whoa duh ming dzuh jee-ow ___)

    More to come…

  13. Microtouch says:

    Kind of makes you sit up and take notice, doesn’t it? At least those of us who don’t have our heads buried in the sand.

  14. ipadre says:

    @ The Cobbler – same as sin. It’s like the dog that eats it vomit.

  15. catholicmidwest says:

    This should be played in every classroom, 50 times a night on every tv, in every airport and in every boardroom. This IS what is going to happen if people don’t wake up and THINK.

  16. mwa says:

    @the cobbler
    St. Andrew is the patron of Russia, as well as St. Basil the Great. For a more native patron, there is Vladimir I of Kiev, whose envoys reported of the Byzantine liturgy, “We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth, nor such beauty, and we know not how to tell of it.” There are also Fyodor and his son Ioann, regarded as the first Christian martyrs in Russia (Orthodox commemoration July 25).

  17. J Kusske says:

    Ironically I can’t get ready access to the ad since it’s on Youtube and that’s blocked by the “Great Firewall” here in China, but I did manage to see half of it, and from what I see it is spot on. No nation lasts forever and the US is no exception. What does endure though is the civilization that gave birth to it. Western Civilization stretches back far longer than any particular nation, and as one of the great world civilizations will endure whatever cataclysms may come in the future. Those who lived through the collapse of the Western Roman world in the 5th century could hardly have envisioned what would come about a few centuries later with the Mediaeval world. By the same token, whenever the nations in the Western world do live out their lifespans and go the way of all flesh, their successor(s) will arise from their ashes in a new form, but true to the same tradition. The Church is not beholden to any one nation nor yet any one civilization, but to the entire world, and calls all to baptise themselves into Christ’s body. And the (by no means certain, but possible) rise of China is not by any means necessarily to be feared. I love how in American and Western quarters these days China has become the bogeyman du jour, with scary music cued up and almost 1984-like images of endless lines of faceless soldiers marching. I can relate from personal experience that Chinese people are just as human as anyone else and it won’t be much longer before things change over here in a quite positive direction. The increasing Christian minority here is having a good effect, and Christianity is viewed very favorably by most people, ironically vastly more so than in the West these days it seems. I don’t think that the current regime can hold on to its grip much longer, and even now things are much better than they were even in pretty recent times.

    I heartily second Dr. Eric’s Chinese lessons–I can’t understand why Westerners find it so hard to learn such a simple (spoken!) language as Chinese, and think we all need to know some of such a majorly important world language whatever betides (I’d like to learn a bit of Spanish for the same reason…) The pioneer of the Jesuits’ China mission Matteo Ricci managed to learn it as well as any Chinese scholar, and may he be an example and intercede for us. Tianzhu baoyou quan shijie, amen! (Tee-en jew bow-yo choo-en shir-jee-eh, a-men: “God bless the whole world, amen.”)

  18. catholicmidwest says:

    So….J Kusske,
    You’re telling me that China is going to pick up the mantle of Western Civ and become Christian? I’ll believe it when I see it. Not going to happen.

  19. Iconophilios says:

    @The Cobbler
    Russia was consecrated to Mary, but also there are Sts Vladimir, Boris and Gleb who are patron saints of Russia.

  20. J Kusske says:

    Will China be a Christian nation one day? God only knows, but I can say that the trend is moving in the right direction. The Roman Empire started out pagan with a small Christian minority that grew slowly over time until it reached critical mass, whereupon it grew rapidly and overtook the old pagan culture. It probably won’t happen in our lifetimes, but I am hopeful, with God’s grace. But I certainly do expect further travails on the way, and possibly a large persecution a la Diocletian.

    As for picking up the mantle of Western Civilization, surely the West herself will retain it–each people and civilization has her own mantle. Let the West be the West, and let India be India, etc. At the end of C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy there’s an interesting snippet. I’ll quote verbatim at some length to give it context:

    “You’re right, sir,” he said with a smile. “I was forgetting what you have warned me always to remember. This haunting is no peculiarity of ours. Every people has its own haunter. There’s no special privilege for England–no nonsense about a chosen nation. We speak about Logres because it is our haunting, the one we know about.”
    “All this,” said MacPhee, “seems a very roundabout way of saying that there’s good and bad men everywhere.”
    “It’s not a way of saying that at all,” answered Dimble.
    “You see, MacPhee, if one is thinking simply of goodness in the abstract, one soon reaches the fatal idea of something standardised–same common kind of life to which all nations ought to progress. Of course there are universal rules to which all goodness must conform. But that’s only the grammar of virtue. It’s not there that the sap is. He doesn’t make two blades of grass the same: how much less two saints, two nations, two angels. The whole work of healing Tellus depends on nursing that little spark, on incarnating that ghost, which is still alive in every real people, and different in each. When Logres really dominates Britain, when the goddess Reason, the divine clearness, is really enthroned in France, when the order of Heaven is really followed in China–why, then it will be spring. But meantime, our concern is with Logres. We’ve got Britain down but who knows how long we can hold her down? Edgestow will not recover from what is happening to her to-night. But there will be other Edgestows.”

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