“There are No Air Conditioners in Hell” by Todd Strandberg

I’ve never been able to find a service that provides the current ranking of top news stories. If there is such a list, the debt crisis would have to be at or near the top. In the past few weeks, I’ve read dozens of headlines about the debt problems of both Europe and the U.S.

I’ve had many discussions with friends about the social impact of an economy collapse. Some of my friends see us headed for a Mad Max world of total lawlessness, while others see a global government resulting from the turmoil.

Economists like to reference some point in the past to see what will happen in the future. I don’t think history will be much help in this case. During the Great Depression, despite massive unemployment, we had very little unrest. People banded together and did their best to survive the hardship.

Today we are facing a great unknown. America has lost much of its moral base, and I fear even a mild depression could trigger a dog-eat-dog condition. I feel safe here in the Bible belt, but I wouldn’t want to live in an inner city when welfare checks start bouncing.

If you want to see what the future might look like, just look at copper. The shiny orange metal is the target of thieves who sell it to scrap dealers for cash. The most shocking part is the measures they go to in order to obtain it.

The problem started out with abandoned houses. Crooks would go into homes that are vacant and strip all the copper piping and utilities that contained the metal. The situation quickly escalated to the point that any form of copper was fair game.

Georgia Power lost nearly a half a million dollars worth of copper wire last year. The utility is taking extra steps to stop copper thieves who have broken into several substations to clean them out. In many cases, the thefts were conducted on live power cables. Crews would respond to reports of outages and find that wires carrying 10,000 volts had been cut from the poles.

The theft has forced power companies to create a new product called proof-positive copper. It works by embedding a code in the conductor, the copper itself that can identify the owner or the purchaser of the conductor. This system can be defeated by melting the copper before selling it.

In Jackson, Mississippi, five tornado warning sirens failed to warn residents of an approaching tornado because thieves had stripped the sirens of copper wiring, rendering them inoperable. In New Mexico, thieves stole a crucial piece of copper bonding from a train track, which could have caused a derailment.

The most despicable examples would have to be all the churches that have been hit in the last few months. In Parker County, Texas, thieves have stolen or damaged air conditioning units at seven different churches. Faith Presbyterian Church in Aledo was vandalized when a unit was pulled from the side of the building. The damage will cost the church at least $10,000. Members of a church in Mesa, Arizona, had to sweat through a service after thieves stole two of the church’s three air conditioners. Authorities say the units weighed 5 tons each.

The price of copper has risen sharply in the past year, but it’s only $4 a pound. The value of copper in an AC unit is around $25. Copper had a similar spike in the 1970s, and, adjusted for inflation, its value would be around $6 per pound. We didn’t have a problem with people stealing copper back then.

Homeowners wouldn’t have to cage up their air conditioners if everyone understood the meaning of true treasure. Thieves steal copper from churches because money is the only thing they prize. The day will come when many of these foolish souls will find themselves in a place where they could use one of those 5 ton units. I would ask any thief, “Why would you trade away eternity for a few pounds of copper, when you have the opportunity to walk on streets paved in gold?”

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where mothsand rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:19-24).

— Todd

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