The Sky Is Not Falling
It’s the fall of 2008 here and it’s also the Fall of
2008. The stock market has crashed. Seems a lot of people
think “it’s all over.” In the last two weeks, I’ve had no
less than four people tell me, “Plant a garden. Stock up on
ammunition. You’re gonna’ need it. It’s all over.” Is
that true? I think not. Prophets of doom have been around
for a long time.
In the late 1700’s a British economist named Thomas
Malthus informed us that food tends to increase
arithmetically while population increases geometrically.
That means no matter how much food you grow, the supply
cannot keep up with demand…so Malthus – world famous
economics expert - predicted we were all going to starve to
death. Didn’t happen.
In the late 1800’s a renowned group of scientists
studied the “horse waste problem” in New York City. They
determined that “if horse droppings continue at the current
rate, by the year 1950, 100,000 men will not be able to keep
the streets of New York City clean.” Thousands of people
wrote letters to newspaper offices demanding politicians do
something immediately. ‘Course they didn’t. The solution
to the problem came from an unexpected source. Cars
replaced horses. (Ain’t that a shame?) The disaster didn’t
In 1980, an economics professor at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology named Lester Thurow won the Nobel
Prize for his book called “The Zero Sum Society.” In 1989,
Thurow said, “If you don’t think the Soviet system is doing
something right, just go take a look for yourself.”
Forty-eight hours later, the Soviets threw in the towel.
Seventy years of killing people, seventy years of claiming
communism was better than capitalism, and then poof -
“Okay, we were wrong.” I’ve been looking for Lester Thurow
ever since the Berlin Wall fell.
When Hussein lit up all the oil wells a few years back,
a panel of environmental experts quickly assembled on
television telling frightened viewers, “We will never –
never – be able to extinguish these massive fires!”
Then they proceeded to make all sorts of catastrophic
predictions about how the smoke would block out the sun, and
how all life on earth might perish because of the resulting
drop in temperature. One said, “It may well be all over.”
Red Adair put all the fires out in less than four months.
“We coulda’ done it sooner ‘cept for that last one,” he
said. “That one took a whole week.”
I remember a 1975 cover of Time or Newsweek showing a
frozen earth hanging in space with the headline, “The Coming
Ice Age.” Now it’s global warming. Seems we just can’t get
away from disasters– or maybe we can’t get away from
predictions of disaster.
Even the Weather Channel is getting in on the act.
“Will we survive the coming storm tomorrow? Tune in at
11:00 to find out!” During one particularly hot summer, the
weather man leaned forward into the camera and said, “Listen
folks, if we don’t get these old people some fans, they
are going to die!” I thought about my grandmother. The
only fan she ever had came from the funeral parlor, and it
was hand-held. She lived to be eighty-eight.
We constantly hear, “If only things were like
they once were.” Problem is I can’t remember a time in my
life when we ever were free from alcoholism, child abuse,
divorce, war, or bad economic conditions. Growing up in the
fifties and sixties – now called the “golden economic age”
by economists – I can never remember a single time when my
dad came home and said, “Man, we really have it good, don’t
Am I suggesting we ignore problems and view the world
through rose-colored glasses? Uh, well…yes. At least
that’s better than whining about all the evils tomorrow may
bring. I always want to ask those prophets of gloom and
doom – those who are predicting the terrible things bound to
happen in the next year or in the next ten – “Who will win
the fifth race at Louisiana Downs tomorrow? If you can tell
us what is going to happen in the year 2020, then surely you
can predict which horse will win tomorrow.”
At a recent conference a woman asked me, “Do you like
Christian writing and Christian authors?” I replied that I
“And don’t you like books about the end times?” she
asked. “Don’t you believe the end will come in our
lifetime? Don’t you believe the end is near?”
I replied that I did not.
“Why?” she asked. “With all the terrible things
happening in the world, the awful weather, storms,
hurricanes, wars, the energy crisis…don’t you think they can
predict when the end will come?”
“No,” I said.
“How can you be so sure?” she asked.
“Because,” I said. “I have a good source.”
man knows the day or the hour.”
-- Michael Johnson
Michael's latest release,
Reflections Of A Cowboy, is currently available in audio
book form. The two volume set consists of articles, essays
and excerpts from radio performances about good people and
good horses in the life of an Oklahoma cowboy. Approximately
8 hours in length. Reflections Of A Cowboy in printed form
is scheduled for release in the summer of 2005. Order from