When the Trust Fund Runs Out

Financially, a trust fund is a an asset given by one person/party (grantor) to another person/party (beneficiary) that is managed by a neutral third party (trustee). Often these funds are set up for children who are too young to manage their own money, and so the money is left “in trust” until the child comes of age. Ironically, sometimes the trust fund is set up because a parent does not trust his heir to manage the asset. Today, I’m writing about a difference kind of trust fund: relational.

Social Security: What Happens If the Trust Fund Runs Out in 2034? | Money

Every relationship involves some measure of trust. Deep, meaningful relationships have built up a treasury of trust that yields intimacy, confidence, and joy. One reason I decided to marry my wife is because I instinctively trusted her. To some extent, that trust was earned over the course of two years of dating and engagement. But to some extent, marrying her was an act of faith; an act that has been rewarded with interest. Over ten years of marriage we have kept our vows, prioritized our relationship, and endured job, financial, and medical challenges. So when I got a text today saying that she needed my social security number, I was less concerned with why she might need it than I was in ensuring that it was really my wife and not some rando who had pinched her phone.

The connection between the financial trust fund and the relational trust fund has more in common than a fleeting rhetorical connection: what happens when a trust fund runs out? In popular conception, a trust fund baby melts down in the face of this loss because she is unable to face the weight of the world on her own. When a relationship runs out of trust, it crashes in upon itself – unable to bear the weight of its own framework. Friendships without trust become cold acquaintances. Lovers without trust become hot enemies. Spouses without trust become roommates wanting to split but with that pesky problem of both their names being affixed to the lease.

What happens when society loses trust in its institutions? You have America. The Great Divided States of America. Long-standing institutions like journalism are not trusted. Local, State, and Federal government are not trusted. Elections are not trusted – and this is not simply true of 2020 (see below). Big Tech is not trusted because…see below. The glaring double standard before us is as subtle as a Buddy the Elf. As obvious as Waldo at the North Pole. As out of place as a flamingo in the frozen tundra. Apparently my metaphors are heavily influenced by the weather.

It’s worth considering how trust has broken down and whether or not it can be rebuilt. Trust breaks down when commitments are not honored, when promises are not kept, and when incompetence becomes common place. And for this reason, the only kind of government that will ever keep trust with its citizens is a limited government. The government of Progressive Idealism is bound to break trust because it cannot deliver what it promises. Utopian ideals in a sin cursed world are doomed to failure. The government cannot save you, which is why it is a terrible substitute for a real Savior. Thomas Sowell puts it pretty succinctly, “There are no solutions, only trade-offs.”

Consider the stark difference between the billboard a few miles down the highway from me that simply reads “Stop Hunger Now” with the words of Jesus Christ, “The poor you will always have with you” (Matthew 26:11). I love the idea of feeding people, but it isn’t that simple. A friend of mine who lives in a very poor county started a program to send backpacks of food home with kids from school over the weekend. They found that the kids were still coming back to school hungry on Monday because parents had taken the food from the kids for themselves, or even to swap out for drugs and alcohol. Another example would be the massive failure of cities like San Francisco or Seattle that have become uninhabitable for locals because of their policies to help the homeless.

Contrast this with a local bond issue to improve some roadways and bridges in our county. Upon completion, the county puts up a sign stating “Completed On Time as Promised.” Or consider the conversation I had with a local public employee who is largely responsible for the use of a massive bond program. For the last two years careful stewardship has yielded projects finished within budgets despite massive price increases over the last twelve months. These are the types of promises that a government can make and keep, thus building trust with its citizens.

But the Brave New World sort of folks are constantly dropping the ball. And because they need the populace to believe in their vision and in the myth of inevitability, they can never come out and own their mistakes. Which leads to blaming someone else or simply lying. “If you like your doctor, you can keep him.” Right.

Jesus, on the other hand, you can trust, because the foundational reality of the mission of Jesus Christ is that people are sinners. Jesus knows that a perfect system will always be ruined by sinful people, because that’s what happened in Eden. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) The plan of Jesus is to save the sinners from their sin, thus making them fit for His kingdom. Where there will be no sickness. No tears. No hunger.

Until then, we want our government trim and focused, not bloated and ubiquitous. We want a government that fixes bridges and balances budgets. Until we get that, the trust fund will always be running on fumes.

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