Volume 40 Issue Eleven November 2021
Last Trumpet Ministries · PO Box 806 · Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Phone: 920-887-2626 Internet: http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org
“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” I Cor. 14:8
A World Changing In Profound Ways
“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
I Peter 5:6-7
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
My father was an exceptional storyteller. I can recall times when he would regale my siblings and me with tales of his childhood on many occasions. He would tell us how he could go out on the town on Friday nights with twenty-five cents in hand, catch a movie at the theater, buy snacks, and then stop at a local eatery for french fries and a Coca-Cola afterward. He seemed to relish that he used to purchase candy bars for a nickel each, a simple fact that evoked a tinge of jealousy from my younger self.
When my father was born in 1950, the United States dollar was worth quite a lot more than it is today. What would have cost one dollar in 1950 now costs more than eleven dollars in 2021. What is the reason for this meteoric rise in cost? The culprit is an economic process known as inflation.
A review of historical records demonstrates that inflation has been happening in this country for quite some time. However, it is typically a gradual process, and as such, it often goes unnoticed. These days are different. The Covid-19 pandemic has ushered in a time of significant volatility, and inflation is rising far more rapidly than it typically does. When economies around the world shut down last year in an effort to contain the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, it set the stage for a global imbalance of supply and demand. With factories shuttered for long periods of time, it resulted in shortages of goods and the materials used during the manufacturing process. Further complicating matters, the United States government pumped trillions of dollars into the American economy, which resulted in a desire for people to spend money. This reduced stockpiles and inventories, thus causing even more shortages. Gita Gopinath, who is the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, explained the problem in a recent television appearance on the CBS News program known as “Face the Nation.” “We’ve had a rebound in global demand. We’ve seen commodity prices come back up after crashing last year, but we’re also now seeing the frictions between supply and demand not matching up. We’re seeing supply chain disruptions around the world because the fact is the grip of the pandemic remains, even though maybe it’s somewhat lighter,” she said. Gopinath expects elevated inflation to remain at least through midway 2022. (1)
In response to mounting concern over rising inflation, United States Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has attempted to reassure the American people, insisting the government is not going to lose control of inflation in the United States. “I don’t think we’re about to lose control of inflation,” Yellen insisted. Nevertheless, she, too, expects inflation to remain elevated throughout much of 2022. “On a 12-month basis, the inflation rate will remain high into next year because of what already happened. But I expect improvement by the middle to end of next year… second half of next year,” she said. (2)
Even if the predictions that inflation will return to normal levels by the second half of 2022, that is still a long time for prices at the grocery store to continue their rise. According to a report by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics published in mid-October 2021, food prices rose 4.6 percent from September 2020 to September 2021. (3) It was further reported that wholesale prices increased by 8.6 percent over the last twelve months. (4) Kraft Heinz, the food conglomerate behind such famous brands as Heinz Ketchup and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, has warned consumers to expect higher prices at the grocery store. “We are raising prices, where necessary, around the world,” said Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio after warning that there was inflation “across the board.” (5) Other companies such as PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, (6) Nestle, and the company behind Dannon yogurt have also announced plans to raise prices on their products. (7) The rising cost of food prompted The Wall Street Journal to publish a story on October 20, 2021, with the headline, “Inflation is Approaching a Tipping Point at the Grocery Store.” (8) In other words, prices are close to reaching a point where the increases in cost could dramatically alter consumer behavior, resulting in customers buying less food overall or searching for cheaper alternatives to name brand items. Meanwhile, the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, which takes place on November 25, 2021, in the United States, will be far more expensive than it was before. A piece by the New York Times put it bluntly, stating: “Thanksgiving 2021 could be the most expensive meal in the history of the holiday.” (9)
Just how bad is inflation? Since 1986, shoppers have enjoyed low prices at the budget retailer known as Dollar Tree. The store chain, which is well-known for selling nearly all of its products for one dollar each, is raising its prices for the first time in its history. “We recognize the need to make adjustments in the current economic environment. The pressure all of us are seeing on wages, freight, and on our suppliers and cost increases,” said Dollar Tree’s chief executive officer Michael Witynski. (10)
It is not just prices at the supermarket or dollar stores that are going up. The cost of fuel in the United States has risen exponentially in recent months. On October 26, 2021, the national average price was $3.39 for a gallon of gasoline. Gas prices, however, were much worse in the state of California. Residents of the Golden State were paying $4.54 per gallon on average at the pumps. (11) Amazingly enough, gas prices in the remote town of Gorda, California, reached $7.59 per gallon on October 21, 2021! (12) To make matters worse, the American people will likely be paying more to heat their homes this winter. The cost of heating oil has risen 43 percent over the last year. (13) The cost of natural gas is surging, too. The U.S. Energy Information Administration issued a forecast on October 25, 2021, predicting that homes heated with natural gas will have to pay 30 percent more this winter. (14) The energy crisis, which is now being felt around the world, is yet another cause of the mounting inflation problem.
With inflation rising to its highest levels in thirteen years, (15) the American people are feeling the pinch financially. In response to these pressures, employees are demanding higher wages. Many employers are paying more now, but as would be expected, they are also raising their prices for goods and services. Thus, even though people are taking home bigger paychecks, the gains they have made are being consumed by the higher costs they have to pay for everything that they buy. Economists call this phenomenon a “wage-price spiral.” A piece published by The Washington Post on October 15, 2021, details this problem in depth. As an example, it cites a restaurant owner in Wichita, Kansas. The owner of Fuzzy’s Taco Shop used to pay employees eight to ten dollars an hour. The starting pay at her establishment is now as high as twelve dollars an hour, but she is preparing to raise her menu prices for the third time since June 2020. “We’re working to finalize a third round of price increases since June 2020. A local restaurant just posted: ‘Now hiring! Starting hostess at $20 an hour. Just seeing that in writing put a little fear in me,” she said. (16)
Although Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen insists the United States is not losing control of inflation, others are not as confident. Paul Tudor Jones, who is the chairman of the nonprofit group known as Just Capital, was quoted in a CNBC report as saying, “I think to me, the number one issue facing Main Street investors is inflation, and it’s pretty clear to me that inflation is not transitory. It’s probably the single biggest threat to certainly financial markets, and I think to society just in general,” he cautioned. (17)
It is painful to watch the value of the dollar shrink as inflation inflicts its pain. The American people have already suffered much hardship in recent years and all indicators suggest there is more trouble ahead. Yet we serve a God who is able to help His people. Our God is the same God who rained down manna from heaven to sustain His people in the wilderness. (Exodus 16) He’s the same God who was able to feed five thousand men, plus women and children, with five loaves of bread and two fishes. (Matthew 14:15-21) He’s the same God who helped the Apostle Peter catch more fish than he could carry after he had been out fishing all night without catching anything. (John 21:3-6) He’s the same God whom the Apostle Paul wrote of in Philippians 4:19, which declares, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Where Have All The Workers Gone?
It has become an increasingly common sight in my hometown of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, for local residents expecting to dine out at a restaurant or visit a local retailer to sometimes find the doors to these establishments locked during regular business hours. Instead of an open door, patrons find signs declaring that the place of business is closed due to a lack of workers. What is happening in my small city is part of a larger trend afflicting the United States. A record number of Americans quit their jobs in August 2021. Of those who left their positions, 892,000 of them had worked in the foodservice or hospitality industry. Additionally, 721,000 retail workers decided to move on to greener pastures. Even more alarming, at a time when there are already shortages of medical workers, 534,000 of them called it quits in August. (18)
The lack of workers in this country is wreaking havoc in multiple sectors simultaneously. For example, farmers are struggling to procure heavy farm equipment that enables them to harvest their crops because major equipment manufacturers such as John Deere do not have enough employees. Not only is it a battle to obtain new tractors, but farmers have great difficulty finding parts to repair their broken-down equipment. To make matters worse, ten thousand John Deere employees went on strike in October 2021 to protest low wages and poor working conditions. This development has caused anxiety levels to rise even more amongst farmers. “It’s got us worried for sure. They’re already low on inventory and parts right now. A strike is only going to exacerbate things, make it worse. If it lasts for a while, not only will they not have new tractors, but when you have a breakdown and there’s no parts, your tractor is just going to sit there not being able to harvest or plant a crop,” lamented Eric Hopkins, the senior vice president of Hundley Farms in Florida. (19) If this problem worsens, it could negatively impact the American food supply.
Meanwhile, the shortage of truck drivers in the United States continues to snarl the supply chain of almost everything that is shipped or transported in this country. Truck drivers transport 71 percent of all goods, but there is a shortage of about 80,000 drivers at this present time. (20) The situation has become so desperate that the administration of American President Joe Biden has been actively discussing the possibility of assigning National Guard troops to drive trucks in the United States. (21)
As the holiday season rapidly approaches, the famous shipping company known as UPS is frantically trying to find enough workers to process and deliver the millions of parcels shipped through its service. “I’ve never seen a market like this. Normally when you’re talking about people coming off unemployment benefits, you see surges in candidates. We’re not seeing those,” marveled Matt Lavery, the global director of sourcing and recruiting at UPS. In an effort to make it easier to sign up new employees, the shipping giant has enacted a policy where new recruits are hired in thirty minutes or less. (22) Another famous shipping company, FedEx, is also struggling to find enough recruits. The company needs 90,000 workers, and right now, more than 600,000 packages a day are being rerouted due to staff shortages. (23)
Even as businesses around the country struggle to remain fully staffed, the foolhardy policies of President Joe Biden threaten to make matters even worse. In recent months Biden has mandated that all medical workers receive the Covid-19 vaccinations, and he has ordered a similar mandate for all military personnel. He even had the gumption to demand that businesses with one hundred or more employees must also require their workers to provide proof of vaccination or submit to a weekly Covid-19 test. However, there are many doctors, nurses, soldiers, municipal workers, and workers in general who would rather quit their jobs than receive the Covid shots.
In October 2021, it was revealed that United States Navy would automatically discharge all soldiers who remain unvaccinated against Covid-19 on November 28, 2021. “Sailors must be prepared to execute their mission at all times, in places throughout the world, including where vaccination rates are low and disease transmission is high. Immunizations are of paramount importance to protecting the health of the force and the warfighting readiness of the fleet,” the Navy said in a statement. (24) Similar policies are in place for the other branches of the military as well. This includes the United States Air Force where up to twelve thousand members of this military branch are facing dismissal after flatly refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19. (25)
Police officers in the city of Chicago, Illinois, are now required to be vaccinated against Covid, and they must report their vaccination status to the city. However, John Catanzara urged police officers in Chicago to “hold the line.” He instructed officers not to submit their vaccination status to the city but rather submit vaccination exemption requests instead. (26) An even bigger controversy is brewing in New York City where Mayor Bill de Blasio has closed off much of the city to the unvaccinated. As a large number of city workers continue to refuse the vaccinations, a report dated October 27, 2021, indicates that the New York City Fire Department might have to close 20 percent of its fire stations. To make matters worse, only 63 percent of New York City police officers have received the Covid vaccinations, which means about 6,000 officers will be given unpaid leave until they receive the shots. (27) The absence of so many officers will likely lead to a significant uptick in crime. Even sanitation workers who refuse to be vaccinated will be forced to take unpaid leave, meaning that trash could start to pile up in New York City. To combat this problem, Mayor de Blasio has ordered mandatory overtime for those who are vaccinated and will require trash collectors to work twelve hour shifts, including on Sundays. (28) The mayor of America’s largest city has proven to be a callous taskmaster reminiscent of Pharaoh in ancient Egypt who forced the enslaved Israelites to perform hard labor.
Business groups are pleading with President Joe Biden to delay his vaccination mandate for workers at large companies until after the holiday season. According to the American Trucking Association, or ATA, as many as 37 percent of truck drivers could either take early retirement or simply quit their jobs if they face mandatory vaccination. “Now placing vaccination mandates on employers, which in turn force employees to be vaccinated, will create a workforce crisis for our industry and the communities, families, and businesses we serve,” wrote chief executive officer of the ATA, Chris Spear. (29) Evan Armstrong, a lobbyist at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, also chimed in and suggested that the mandate could have a detrimental effect on retailers across the country. “It has been a hectic holiday season already, as you know, with supply chain struggles. This is a difficult policy to implement. It would be even more difficult during the holiday season,” Armstrong warned. (30) Ed Egee from the National Retail Federation shares a similar perspective. “We’re already having supply chain issues; we’re already having workforce shortage issues. This mandate cannot be implemented in 2021 without having serious repercussions on the American economy,” Egee declared. (31) About thirty percent of unvaccinated workers have said they would quit their jobs rather than receive the shots according to a recent survey performed by the Kaiser Family Foundation. (32)
What will happen if the current labor shortage persists for an extended period of time? Will employers continue to pay their employees higher and higher wages as inflation keeps cutting into profits? Some restaurants are already taking a different albeit innovative approach to the worker shortage. They are outfitting robots to work in their establishments. Some of these robots have been around for years. This includes Flippy, a robot designed to flip burgers. In recent days Flippy has been modified and now has the ability to fry chicken wings. The robot is undergoing testing by the famous restaurant chain known as Buffalo Wild Wings, which hopes to start rolling out the bots more broadly in 2022. “The fry station is one of those jobs; it’s tough to do. It’s monotonous, sometimes it’s dangerous, and it’s pretty repetitive. So it was a perfect opportunity for automation robotics to step in and help brands like Buffalo Wild Wings,” boasted Mike Bell, who is chief executive officer at Miso Robotics. (33) Another robot called Matradee can wait on tables and even clear them after diners leave. The robot, which sells for 20,000 dollars has been tested by California Pizza Kitchen. (34) To be sure, these robots were in development before the Covid-19 crisis and the ensuing labor shortage which followed. However, the lack of available workers could certainly hasten the adoption of these robots in the real world and thus change the way restaurants do business forever. Where else might robots appear? It is likely that they will be deployed at grocery stores, factories, and many other types of businesses in the days ahead. In an article published about one year ago, Forbes Magazine reported that robots and artificial intelligence could supplant 85 million jobs by the year 2025. (35) If people refuse to work, this transition could happen even sooner.
The Currency Of The Future
As we move through time, we slowly gain more clarity regarding the future of the world and what it might look like. Looking back over the course of the last two years, it is evident that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world in many ways and ushered in a dramatic and sweeping global transition. Much of what we see happening now, including the massive labor shortage, the adoption of robotics and artificial intelligence, and the growing acceptance of a cashless society have all been hastened by the coronavirus crisis.
What happens, though, if there are too many robots and not enough jobs for humans in the future? It turns out that the billionaires of the world are waiting in the wings with purported solutions to this potential problem. Elon Musk recently revealed that one of his companies, Tesla Motors, is developing a “friendly” new robot he calls Tesla Bot. He claims this bot will be capable of completing most repetitive and mundane tasks. “Essentially, in the future, physical work will be a choice,” boasted Musk. If people do not need to work, and indeed may be unable to work because robots have taken the majority of the jobs away, how will people get by financially? Musk has a solution. “This is why I think long term there will be a need to be universal basic income,” he opined. (36) Given the appetite of the American people for “free money” in the form of stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment benefits, most citizens would no doubt love universal basic income, or UBI, in which they get paid every month for doing absolutely nothing. This leads to another question: How would this UBI be disbursed?
Sam Altman, who is the billionaire founder of an artificial intelligence company known as OpenAI, has started a brand new company along with two men named Alex Blania and Max Novendstern. The company’s name is WorldCoin and their product is a brand new cryptocurrency that they hope will one day lead to a global universal basic income. In fact, Blania has called WorldCoin the “infrastructure to carry out UBI at some point in the future.” He further went on to say, “We see ourselves as building this huge network of people where entrepreneurs can jump in and build applications like this. UBI is one of those, but building big financial, global companies is another big one.”
The new digital currency already has more than 100,000 users, but the way people become eligible to receive WorldCoin is truly unique. The system requires each user to provide “proof of person” to prevent fraud. In order for this to happen, WorldCoin ships a special orb, which is then used to scan the iris of the eye of each user. The iris scan is then converted to a numeric code which becomes your WorldCoin identifier. (37) Will people accept such a creepy system? With the promise of free money, they just might. WorldCoin is hoping to have a billion users by the year 2023. (38)
Of course, bitcoin is the most famous of all cryptocurrencies. Right now, the digital currency is more popular than ever because a growing number of people feel that the American dollar might be on the verge of failing. With high inflation and an American national debt exceeding twenty-eight trillion dollars, it is not surprising that many people feel this way. Interestingly enough, Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from the state of Kentucky, recently stated in an interview with Axios that cryptocurrency could someday replace the dollar as “the reserve currency of the world.” (39) Thus, many signs are pointing toward a future with a global cashless society featuring a universal basic income system. However, you cannot get paid unless you are plugged into the system, and that just might require a special number or mark.
In closing, the current events of our day clearly demonstrate that our world is changing in profound ways. If this concerns you, I urge you, as always, to put your hope and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. God has promised to sustain His people even in the face of great adversity. Psalm 55:22 tells us, “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” In like manner we read in I Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” If you have not yet repented of your sins and dedicated your life to God, I urge you to do so now.
It is truly remarkable how quickly we are moving through time. I thank you all for being with us on this journey so far, and as always, we are grateful for your continued support which makes this ministry possible. If you are in need of prayer, please do not hesitate to send us your prayer requests. We always give each prayer request individual attention. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Samuel David Meyer
01. Newsmax, October 24, 2021, By Sandy Fitzgerald, http://newsmax.com.
02. NTD News, October 24, 2021, By Jack Phillips, http://ntd.com.
03. USA Today, October 13, 2021, By Kelly Tyko, http://usatoday.com.
04. Associated Press, October 14, 2021, By Martin Crutsinger, http://apnews.com.
05. BBC News, October 10, 2021, By Jonathan Josephs, http://bbc.com.
06. CNBC, October 5, 2021, By Amelia Lucas, http://cnbc.com.
07. The Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2021, By Carol Ryan, http://wsj.com.
09. The New York Times, October 25, 2021, By Kim Severson, http://nytimes.com.
10. The Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2021, By Sarah Nassauer, http://wsj.com.
11. ABC 10 News, October 26, 2021, By CBS News 8 Team, http://abc10.com.
12. ABC7 News, October 21, 2021, By ABC 7 News, http://abc7.com.
13. CBS Local News Boston, October 14, 2021, By Kristina Rex, http://boston.cbslocal.com.
14. U.S. Energy Information Administration, October 25, 2021, http://eia.gov.
15. The Washington Post, October 15, 2021, By Heather Long, http://washingtonpost.com.
17. CNBC, October 20, 2021, By Yun Li, http://cnbc.com.
18. The Motley Fool, October 24, 2021, By Dana George, http://fool.com.
19. NBC News, October 19, 2021, By Phil McCausland, http://nbcnews.com.
20. CNN, October 19, 2021, By Vanessa Yurkevich, http://cnn.com.
21. The Washington Post, October 19, 2021, By Jeff Stein, http://washingtonpost.com.
22. Associated Press, October 12, 2021, By Joseph Pisani, http://apnews.com.
24. US Navy Institute, October 14, 2021, By Heather Mongilio, http://news.usni.org.
25. The Washington Post, October 29, 2021, By Alex Horton, http://washingtonpost.com.
26. The Washington Post, October 14, 2021, By Bryan Pietsch, http://washingtonpost.com.
27. New York Post, October 27, 2021, By Craig McCarthy, Kevin Sheehan, Larry Celona, and Bruce Golding, http://nypost.com.
28. Associated Press, October 29, 2021, By Michael R. Sisak, Michelle L. Price, and Karen Matthews, http://apnews.com.
29. CNBC, October 25, 2021, By Spencer Kimball, http://cnbc.com.
33. CNBC, October 22, 2021, By Kate Rogers, http://cnbc.com.
35. Forbes Magazine, October 27, 2020, By Jack Kelly, http://forbes.com.
36. Business Insider, August 20, 2021, By Ayelet Sheffey, http://businessinsider.com.
37. CNBC, October 21, 2021, By Ryan Browne, http://cnbc.com.
39. Axios, October 22, 2021, By Mike Allen, http://axios.com.
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