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pam

How would you answer this?

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Pretend you are Gramps from Ask Gramps and you got this question.  How would you answer it?  Please provide any scripture reference or talk or quote to substantiate your answer.

LDS family members keep saying: "The church teaches that socialism is evil"; but a quick search on lds.org only has talks from the 1980's and earlier. If socialism is as "evil" as my family members think it is, then why aren't the current apostles and prophets currently warning us against it?
 

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So back in the ~'50's through '80's, we saw the cold war between the US and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.  The entire world was caught in the conflict of different ideologies coming from differing world powers.  Our church was engaged in actively fighting the war of ideas through it's prophetic declarations.

Why aren't we currently being warned against socialism?  Well, we have plenty of pretty strong declarations against it on file, easily readable by anyone.   There are also very pressing dangers to the Lord's covenant people, which our current prophets are speaking quite loudly about.  Erosions to our religious freedoms and liberties, the re-definition of the family unit, cultural acceptance of re-defined words about gender and marriage, etc.  If you think about it, many of these current issues were wrapped up in the socialist ideologies of the USSR, although currently, they're standing on their own, not necessarily tied to a political philosophy.

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1 hour ago, pam said:

Pretend you are Gramps from Ask Gramps and you got this question.  How would you answer it?  Please provide any scripture reference or talk or quote to substantiate your answer.

LDS family members keep saying: "The church teaches that socialism is evil"; but a quick search on lds.org only has talks from the 1980's and earlier. If socialism is as "evil" as my family members think it is, then why aren't the current apostles and prophets currently warning us against it?
 

Before getting into quotes, we need to first define what is meant by "socialism" in the questioner's context.  The USSR's version of socialism is not the same as Barnie Sander's version, and the questioner likely has a different version as well.

Rather than talking about an entire nebulous package, I find it's best to talk about individual principles.   Let's take the importance of work for example.    There are plenty of quotes out there along the lines of "by the sweat of your brow, thou shall eat bread."   There's also lots of quotes about caring for the needy.  And a HUGE thing that's been stressed lately by the Brothern is financial responsibility and self-reliance.   

Etc.

 

 

<Sorry Pam, I know you were looking for a Ask Gramps style answer, and not the discussion-based one I gave>

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The root problem is that the term "socialism" is, well, not so much loaded as imaginary. It's like saying, "Why don't our leaders address the issues of yoking unicorns for use as draft animals?  Our leaders used to tell us not to depend on such things as unicorn-yoking, and even told us to avoid the whole idea and just use horses and oxen like we always have. But I haven't seen anything about unicorn-yoking in a generation. Do today's leaders now condone using unicorns as draft animals?"

Socialism is a lie. For some reason, it's a very popular lie, one that seduces many. I watched a Campus Reform-type video a week or two ago where a grad student was arguing, in all seriousness and sincerity, that the mere fact that socialism has never actually worked is no good reason not to try again, using the United States as a whole to try the experiment. According to him, we should eagerly risk the economic well-being of our generation and future generations to see if we can make the shiny promise of socialism a reality. Such unbridled stupidity coming from the most educated segment of society leaves me breathless.

Socialism, as defined by economists, does not exist as any sort of pure, independent system. Why not? Because it does not work. It is literally not possible to construct a robust, self-perpetuating society based on so-called socialist principles. It will always, 100% of the time, fail.

Maybe the current prophets and apostles have decided that the Church membership has been given four generations of warnings against communism and socialism, and if they're going to embrace it, then they have chosen their prison. Or maybe something else is at play here. But saying, "Oh, the prophets aren't talking about how evil socialism is, so I guess that means it's not evil any more, right?", as I have heard many do, is nonsense.

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2 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

<Sorry Pam, I know you were looking for a Ask Gramps style answer, and not the discussion-based one I gave>

It's okay because sometimes even some comments can be made into an article.  :)   

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Anyone that follows current events would see that socialism is evil.  Look at some of the countries around the world that have adopted it.  Venezuela comes to mind.  But Venezuela hasn't failed just because of socialism.  They at one time had a thriving economy based on oil.  But they put it all in one basket and focused more on oil and less on agriculture and other commodities that the country would need to survive.  When oil there fell, so did the country and their economy.

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I haven't heard any sermons on murder in a long time.  It must not be evil anymore.

...

Sometimes the prophets stop preaching because they have said all that ever needs saying on a topic.  Then it's the Lord's turn to preach a sermon.  And if people can't take a look around today and see what is being shoved onto faithful Saints of God by those who "only want people to take care of each other" then they never would have heard it in 100 general conferences entirely devoted to the topic of the evils of socialism.

Edited by Carborendum

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Culture and the church goes through phases.

In the 1800's to the early 1940's, Church leaders warned against capitalism and supported what many would condider to be socialism.

For example, take this quote from Priesthood and Church Welfare endorsed by President Grant and the Quorum of the Apostles

 Since all capitalistic systems are founded upon the institution of private property, inheritance and the profit motive, great inequalities of ownership and income inevitably result. ...Among the more plausible suggestions offered to correct existing abuses without adversely affecting the productive system, is to continue the socialization of our service institutions through a system of progressive taxation based upon ability to pay...taking the bulk of their profits to finance free education, free libraries, free public parks and recreation centers, unemployment insurance, old age benefits, sickness and accident insurance, and perhaps eventually free medical and hospital service.

Utah even had a Socialist Party in the early 1900's of which many members of the Church were members of.

In the 1960's, things took a huge turn with the red scare and the Church shifted against it.  (The Church has always been against communsim though).  

Things took a big turn in the 1960's.  Compare the above statement with President Benson's statement in 1977:

These payments are made in the form of social security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid, and food stamps, to name a few. Today the cost of such programs has been going in the hole at the rate of 12 billion dollars a year; and, with increased benefits and greater numbers of recipients, even though the tax base has been increased we will have larger deficits in the future.

Today the party now in power is advocating and has support, apparently in both major parties, for a comprehensive national health insurance program—a euphemism for socialized medicine.  

It is almost exactly opposite to the previous statement.

This way of thinking existed from the 1950's or 1960's until the early 1990's. 

Of course you can find all kinds of opinions from Church members who use cherry picked talks, quotes, and publications to support their positions.  

Since then the Church has taken a more moderate position, or at least a more neutral position.  

The Law of Concecration and United Order are the only true economic systems approved by God.  Apparently we're not ready to live them at this time.  Everything else is merely a counterfeit or corruption of the true way of things, including capitalism, socialism, and (especially) communism.  

Edited by Scott

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27 minutes ago, Scott said:

Culture and the church goes through phases.

 

Are you sure it's Cultural and not a learning curve?

As a general rule God does not crack open skulls and pour in random information.  Usually information we gain comes from experience..  So lets break down that first quote.

31 minutes ago, Scott said:


 Since all capitalistic systems are founded upon the institution of private property, inheritance and the profit motive, great inequalities of ownership and income inevitably result.

 

Since capitalism had been going for a long while by this point the weakness of it are well known and summarized.  This part of the quote is clear experience and knowledge talking, and it is not wrong.

 

34 minutes ago, Scott said:

 ...Among the more plausible suggestions offered to correct existing abuses without adversely affecting the productive system, is to continue the socialization of our service institutions through a system of progressive taxation based upon ability to pay...taking the bulk of their profits to finance free education, free libraries, free public parks and recreation centers, unemployment insurance, old age benefits, sickness and accident insurance, and perhaps eventually free medical and hospital service.

 

Note the word plausible... That is not what you say when you have knowledge or experience of how things work.  That is what one said when does not see any glaring flaws to an idea.  That is the word one uses when one is willing to Test out an idea and see if it matches up.

Then the church starts seeing the results of Socialism and Communism.   Taxes that were asked for to solve problems where given and the problems did not go away.  Socialism did not work as advertised. Great inequalities remained and the systems were just as prone (if not more so) to corruption as any capitalist system.  It showed itself to be more of a Power Grab then something that helps the poor and needy.  Knowing this, seeing this, experiencing this, naturally changes the churches response.

 

 

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12 hours ago, pam said:

Anyone that follows current events would see that socialism is evil.  Look at some of the countries around the world that have adopted it.  Venezuela comes to mind.  But Venezuela hasn't failed just because of socialism.  They at one time had a thriving economy based on oil.  But they put it all in one basket and focused more on oil and less on agriculture and other commodities that the country would need to survive.  When oil there fell, so did the country and their economy.

U.S.A, U.K, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and many other nations have adopted Socialism in one way or another...some more than others. 

I'm not seeing their implementations as much evil or not.

The USA today has it's military on an almost pure socialistic program...which is more socialistic than most other nations that have some socialist tendencies.

Of course, many today also mistake that the US is a purely Capitalistic nation as well...which it is not.  Corporatism is perhaps a greater threat to capitalism in the US today than it's socialist policies, which has led more to Corporate Socialism (which some WOULD say is pretty evil...where things are considered to big to let fail) than letting capitalism do it's thing.

When people refer to pure socialism, that has never existed in any nation in the world thus far, though there have been several societies that have tried it.  Ironically, one of the societies that came closest to complete success was the early Mormon branches that were in the Utah Territory.  Roosevelt and others actually turned to the Church (some good people like Roosevelt, others not so good like the Nazi's) for inspiration and instruction on how to construct programs that were similar to ones the Church ran in prior times, as well as the descendants of those programs that were run by the Church at that time.  (And it should be noted, early welfare under Roosevelt was VASTLY different than what we have today...and was more similar to what some think a program like that should be where they had people work for the assistance they were given).

9 hours ago, Scott said:

In the 1960's, things took a huge turn with the red scare and the Church shifted against it.  (The Church has always been against communsim though). 

This is where I see a LOT of people today (Especially in the Church) get confused.  The church has always been against a specific form of socialism or a specific form of Communism.  It was very much PRO-Socialism...especially in the late 19th and early 20th century, and many of the socialistic programs that were formed at the time were actually directly inspired or created by the Church itself. 

HOWEVER, Marxism, or Marxist Communism was abhorred for multiple reasons.  It is almost always the quotes that are warning against this great evil that people take out of context (though I think it is that they simply did not understand what was going on at the time, nor why it was specifically this type of government that was so evil and was being warned against) today in arguing against socialistic policies or what they call socialism.
 

There were several bad things that were going on with this type of Communism, which normally was simply called Communism. 

First...it was understood at the time when they talked about Communism they were directly referring to the type of Governments that were set up in the USSR and then China and their influence to spread that type of government throughout the world.  We all knew who they were talking about and referring to.  They weren't talking about the government in Japan and how they had socialistic policies, nor were they talking about our friends up North in Canada.  It was talking about the Communist societies in the USSR and how their influence was changing programs in the US (for example how the above mentioned welfare established under Roosevelt was transformed into the welfare system that we have today).

Second, the big and great evil of these Communists were that they enforced atheism.  They were avowed to destroy the gospel and the things of God.  If there were things of good and religious value, they were set to try to destroy them.  If the Reds (as Communists could be called) took over the world as they intended, it would destroy the work of the Lord.  In fact, if any threat in the 20th century could be considered the greatest threat to the Church and the work of the Church...it would have been that type of Communism.  It literally was a war (though cold) between the forces that would support the work of the lord and those that sought to destroy it.

Third, they did not use inspiration from the Lord, or values of hard work and charity and love to give necessities of life to those in need.  Instead it was a more mechanical system governed by an Oligarchy (which is not really a socialism or socialistic ideal) of men...normally evil men...grinding away those who worked hard to help society while uplifting at times those who did not care about society.  At the same time, because it was an oligarchy it rewarded corruption and wickedness more than virtue and love.

Everything about Marxist Communism was evil and the Church and Church leaders stood against it.  It was clear when they talked about the evils of Communism WHO and WHAT they were talking about.  We, who were alive, knew who they were referring to.  It wasn't our friends in NATO, or the governments were created overseas, or our friends up North...it was specifically the Reds...and the threat of them was VERY real in our lives (from Nuclear war, to the threat of them taking over our government in secret).

It was NOT in reference to the idea of socialism of which one could point directly at the church at times as having been the actual inspiration behind some of the programs (and thinking the church would call the things it created itself as evil...I find rather ridiculous...but seems to be popular among some in the Church today for whatever reasons).  It's not some of the ideas behind socialistic policies (or socialism...though not really pure socialism, but the idea that we can help those that are in need as a society by providing them the necessities of life, as long as they are willing to also help society in working to further and help that society) that the Church was against, but against specific evils that some forms of socialism, or more specifically, Red Communists, were advocating at the time.

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On 9/8/2020 at 7:10 PM, Scott said:

For example, take this quote from Priesthood and Church Welfare endorsed by President Grant and the Quorum of the Apostles

 Since all capitalistic systems are founded upon the institution of private property, inheritance and the profit motive, great inequalities of ownership and income inevitably result. ...Among the more plausible suggestions offered to correct existing abuses without adversely affecting the productive system, is to continue the socialization of our service institutions through a system of progressive taxation based upon ability to pay...taking the bulk of their profits to finance free education, free libraries, free public parks and recreation centers, unemployment insurance, old age benefits, sickness and accident insurance, and perhaps eventually free medical and hospital service.

Nope.  Completely out of context.  

That quote was a repetition of the socialist rhetoric of the era.  And it was presented as a discussion item for one lesson (in line with what @estradling75 said.  It was never intended as an endorsement of modern socialism.  But people who believe in socialism will keep taking that out of context quote and keep screaming how much the Church LOVED socialism in the past.  WRONG!

Quote

Many people have said….’Well, others are getting some (government relief), why should not I get some of it?’ I believe there is a growing disposition among the people to try to get something from the government of the United States with little hope of every paying it back. I think this is all wrong.”

(Source: Conference report, Oct. 1933, p. 5).

******

Our primary purpose was to set up, in so far as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people help themselves.

(Source, Conference report, Oct. 1936, p. 3)

Do you really think that Pres Grant would speak so openly against socialism in G.C. only to turn right around and publish a book that said otherwise a few years later?  What "evils of a dole" was he talking about?

Definitions certainly are part of the problem.  Socialism can be based on Christianity.  So can capitalism.  But when either is based on government, both are wrong.

Quote

…Among the Latter-day Saints they speak of their philosophy and their plans under it, as an ushering in of the United Order. Communism and all other similar “isms” bear no relationship whatever to the United Order. They are merely the clumsy counterfeits which Satan always devises of the gospel plan. Communism debases the individual and makes him the enslaved tool of the state to whom he must look for sustenance and religion; the United Order exalts the individual, leaves him his property, “according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs,” (D&C 51:3) and provides a system by which he helps care for his less fortunate brethren; the United Order leaves every man free to choose his own religion as his conscience directs. Communism destroys man’s God-given free agency; the United Order glorifies it. Latter-day Saints cannot be true to their faith and lend aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of these false philosophies. They will prove snares to their feet.

-- (Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark Jr., David O. McKay, The First Presidency, CR, April, 1942, p. 90)

The Law of Consecration starts with the principle that all things belong to the Lord, and all things are in the Lord's hands.  Having an economy that is based on this principle (and a people who believe it) will create a prosperous society.

Socialism as we know it today starts with the principle that all things belong to the government to be given to anyone else at a whim.  Having an economy that is base on this principle will take us to ruin.

Most people who try to find some middle road to embrace modern socialism only do so out of ignorance of the definition of public goods (which is an important part of the definition of socialism).  But that is another story.

Quote

However, we must also become more conscious of the fact that each new governmental service will require additional funds, which means heavier taxation. Consequently, if we are getting concerned over the amount of our tax ‘burden,’ we shall have to curtail our demands for increased governmental service. We simply cannot continue to add new forms of education, public health service, unemployment insurance, old age pensions and work relief projects, without taxation to pay the bills. if they are necessary, and if we can afford such services, if that is the wisest way to use our surplus income, then the new program is justified – and we should not complain at high taxes, if we are paying no more than our just share.

But if the tax load is really becoming a burden, perhaps we are becoming a little governmentally extravagant, just as any other luxury expenditure, beyond our financial ability, would be considered extravagant. The problem is one for each citizen to ponder over, to study carefully, and to vote on intelligently when the opportunity presents itself.

 -- Priesthood and Church Welfare pp 109-110

Edited by Carborendum

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On 9/8/2020 at 6:10 PM, Scott said:


[1] For example, take this quote from Priesthood and Church Welfare endorsed by President Grant and the Quorum of the Apostles

 Since all capitalistic systems are founded upon the institution of private property, inheritance and the profit motive, great inequalities of ownership and income inevitably result. ...Among the more plausible suggestions offered to correct existing abuses without adversely affecting the productive system, is to continue the socialization of our service institutions through a system of progressive taxation based upon ability to pay...taking the bulk of their profits to finance free education, free libraries, free public parks and recreation centers, unemployment insurance, old age benefits, sickness and accident insurance, and perhaps eventually free medical and hospital service.

. . . . 

[2]In the 1960's, things took a huge turn with the red scare and the Church shifted against it.  (The Church has always been against communsim though).  

Things took a big turn in the 1960's.  Compare the above statement with President Benson's statement in 1977:

These payments are made in the form of social security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid, and food stamps, to name a few. Today the cost of such programs has been going in the hole at the rate of 12 billion dollars a year; and, with increased benefits and greater numbers of recipients, even though the tax base has been increased we will have larger deficits in the future.

Today the party now in power is advocating and has support, apparently in both major parties, for a comprehensive national health insurance program—a euphemism for socialized medicine.  

It is almost exactly opposite to the previous statement. 

. . .

[3]  Of course you can find all kinds of opinions from Church members who use cherry picked talks, quotes, and publications to support their positions.  

. . . .

[4] The Law of Concecration and United Order are the only true economic systems approved by God.  Apparently we're not ready to live them at this time.  Everything else is merely a counterfeit or corruption of the true way of things, including capitalism, socialism, and (especially) communism.  

1.  I think I’ve provided this link before when that quotation was offered.  It’s worth a read.

2.  It’s easy to speak dismissively of the “red scare”, but Benson saw it up close and personal through his postwar humanitarian assignment.  He saw the iron curtain descend.  He saw free governments deliberately destabilized, families torn apart, people imprisoned and tortured and sent to slave camps, livelihoods and economies destroyed, churches involuntarily shuttered or spied upon, LDS congregations taking sacraments of potato peels because there was no bread to be had, and (though I’m not aware he ever spoke of this, it’s a statistical certainty given what we know of how Soviet troops behaved as they rampaged through Germany and Poland) women who had been raped, often repeatedly, by their socialist occupiers.  The “red scare” is not some quaint quirk of 1950s Americana.  Socialism, both in its “national socialist” guise and in its “communist” guise, had done more to create hell on earth than any other ideology of the 20th century—and we had a media who wasn’t afraid to come right out and say that.

Moreover, if we look at the link I provided, we’ll see that even Priesthood and Church Government contained sentiments about taxation very like those that Benson expressed thirty years later.

3.  Yup.  This is why we can’t have nice things in the Church.

4.  Agreed.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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I apologize for the length of the following post.  But it was necessary since my primary purpose was to avoid the "cherry-picking" in which the previously proffered quote indulged.

And as an out-of-print book, I felt it no crime to quote large sections of it as necessary to provide proper context.

On 9/8/2020 at 7:10 PM, Scott said:

 Since all capitalistic systems are founded upon the institution of private property, inheritance and the profit motive, great inequalities of ownership and income inevitably result. ...Among the more plausible suggestions offered to correct existing abuses without adversely affecting the productive system, is to continue the socialization of our service institutions through a system of progressive taxation based upon ability to pay...taking the bulk of their profits to finance free education, free libraries, free public parks and recreation centers, unemployment insurance, old age benefits, sickness and accident insurance, and perhaps eventually free medical and hospital service.

Of course you can find all kinds of opinions from Church members who use cherry picked talks, quotes, and publications to support their positions.  

Speaking of cherry-picking, here is a more complete quote:

Quote

Connection of Wealth and Income Inequalities. (sic) In Chapter 8, the inequalities of wealth and income among the people of the world were briefly discussed.  We found that the so-called capitalistic system as it works today in America and most European countries has been unusually efficient in the creation of wealth.  It has encouraged a high degree of specialization, extreme division of labor, and has fostered private initiative.

But since all capitalistic systems are founded upon the institution of private property,inheritance and the profit motive, great inequalities of ownership and income inevitably result.

Since no solution to the problems arising out of such a system were included in the discussion in Chapter 8, perhaps it might be well for us to consider next,(emphasis mine) how we might preserve the desirable features of this very efficient super-economic organization and yet bring about a more equitable distribution of the products of the system.

 -- Priesthood and Church Welfare;  Opening paragraphs of Chapter 10 (p 88).

The second bolded line clearly says that the chapter (chapter 10) is about proposing points of discussion, not an endorsement of any of them.  It then goes on to say...

Quote

In other words, how can we reduce unemployment, eliminate extreme poverty among the lower classes and secure greater economic welfare for the less fortunate members of society, without destroying the moral fibre (sic) of those who receive aid, or the individual initiative of those who create the wealth?

Would it be advisable to divide the wealth equally among all the people, even if it were legally possible?  Could the economic machinery continue to operate as effectively, divided up into so many units or even into so many ownerships?  In the United States the amount of wealth per capita would be worth approximately $3,000.00 and much less in other countries.

Assuming that such a division of wealth would greatly impair the productive efficiency of our economic organization, then what alternatives are there that might improve the situation?

 -- IBID; pp 88-89

Notice how many questions it is asking.  It does not indicate any solutions at all.  It doesn't endorse anything.  It asks question.  But sprinkled throughout it all are the conditions under which we are to accept any solution. 

  • Will it destroy the moral fiber of those who receive aid? 
  • Will it destroy the individual initiative of those who create wealth?
  • Would it be legally possible? (consider the powers the Constitution actually gives the federal government).
  • Could economic machinery operate as effectively?

Notice how misleading the quote given on the internet is.  A more complete reading shows that there was much more to the text than what seemed to be an endorsement of socialism.

And some questions from chapter 8 (a chapter on Thrift):

Quote
  • Will the government's old age assistance program or the old age pension system make thrift unnecessary in the future?
  • What effect does good government have on the encouragement of thrift?

 -- IBID; p 80

Again, no answers are given.  These are merely points of discussion for us to get our mind working, while considering very important spiritual points.

More background: 

Chapter 6: How to Create Wealth
Chapter 7: Labor is Life
Chapter 8: Thrift
Chapter 9: The Bondage of Debt
Chapter 10: Distribution of Wealth and Income
Chapter 11: The Power of Self-Help (which does at least mention that we need to do something about the issues in Chapter 10, not rely on government to do it for us.  It talks a lot about staying away from govt handouts).
Chapter 12: The Need of Opportunity
Chapter 13: The Role of Government  This chapter was very informative for both the conservative and the liberal, both the capitalist and the socialist.  Worth reading.
Chapter 14: The Strength of Cooperation 

Quote

Meaning of Cooperation. The term "cooperation" means, of course, "working together."  But in recent years the term has taken on a new significance to many people in the United States.  It means more than just working together.  It carries the inference of an institution which may be used to lighten the burden of high prices and low wages through the elimination of the middleman and his profit, and through the management of the affairs of business enterprise by the individuals to whom the services are rendered.  hten, it eliminates not only unnecessary costs, but also profits.  Its distinguishing feature is that it exists for the common good of all its members.  All property acquired becomes common to all members.

 -- IBID, CH 14, p 112

This sounds an awful lot like a corporation which shares stock with all its employees.  This is exactly what Elon Musk did and was criticized for making too much money.

Quote

The Law of Concecration and United Order are the only true economic systems approved by God.  Apparently we're not ready to live them at this time.  Everything else is merely a counterfeit or corruption of the true way of things, including capitalism, socialism, and (especially) communism.  

Agreed.  But Chapter 14 also talks of this as well.  There is a particular section that is most informative on a differentiation that we've discussed on this forum before between "the Law of Consecration" and "The United Order".  (more on that at another time).

Quote

Differences in the Law of Consecration Plan and the United Order. 

 -- IBID; p126

For now, the description of the United Order had some interesting passages:

Quote

Of course there was considerable variation in the operation of the plan in the different communities.  There were varying degrees of individualistic operation and of the "Untied Order" operation.  In the larger cities, a considerable amount of property was consecrated to the Church by actual deeds, legally executed.  But, generally, the transfer was only nominal, the individual actually retaining complete control and management of the property so consecrated.  

 -- IBID: p128

The description of why it failed was rather informative:

Quote

We are told that the first attempts... failed because there were too many new arrivals who were very poor and not enough well-to-do members; too much selfishness among the participants; and too short a period of operation to be given a fiar chance. (4) The attempt to establish the United Order in Utah also failed because the Saints were unable to produce enough to care for the great influx of poor, just as in Jackson County.  Besides, the more well-to-do of the Church were reluctant to enter into an association that limited their operations, curbed their initiative and regulated consumption.  Even President Young did not enter into it as completely as the Orderville group did... At the last conference he attended before his death he said also that,

Quote

I do not wish for one moment to recognize the idea that in order to establish the United Order our property has to be divided equally among the people, to let them do what they please with it.  But the idea is to get the people into the same state of unity in all things temporal that we find ourselves in with regard to things spiritual.  Then let those who possess ability and wisdom direct the labors of those not so endowed, until they, too, develop the talents within them and in time acquire the same degree of ability. (6)

The United Order was officially brought to an end in 1882 by President Taylor, when he said in part:

Quote

Our relations with the world and our own imperfections prevent establishment of this system at the present time, and therefore, as Joseph stated in an early day, it cannot yet be carried out.

 -- IBID: p129

Questions posed regarding the Law of Consecration:

Quote
  • Would the contributions to the Church be greater under the Law of Consecration than they are under the Law of Tithing?
  • How would the amount of the surplus be determined under the Stewardship plan?  How would the needs of the family be fixed?
  • Did Joseph Smith advocate an equal division of the property or equal participation in products of wealth?  What did Brigham Young advocate?
  • What effect did the influx of the poor have on the success of the new social orders of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young?  Is ti an inherent weakness of all idealistic schemes to equalize wealth?
  • How is the Church Welfare Program of today similar or different from the earlier plans of Consecration and United Order?

 -- IBID; p 131

Edited by Carborendum

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On 9/12/2020 at 9:10 PM, Carborendum said:

Do you really think that Pres Grant would speak so openly against socialism in G.C. only to turn right around and publish a book that said otherwise a few years later? 

No, I do not.
 

Quote

What "evils of a dole" was he talking about?

All church leaders have always been against any welfare system that promotes idleness.  That is what he is talking about.

The only types of things that he said was justified, but which might still be considered socialism to some are in the paragraph that you quoted in its entirety:

However, we must also become more conscious of the fact that each new governmental service will require additional funds, which means heavier taxation. Consequently, if we are getting concerned over the amount of our tax ‘burden,’ we shall have to curtail our demands for increased governmental service. We simply cannot continue to add new forms of education, public health service, unemployment insurance, old age pensions and work relief projects, without taxation to pay the bills. if they are necessary, and if we can afford such services, if that is the wisest way to use our surplus income, then the new program is justified – and we should not complain at high taxes, if we are paying no more than our just share.

Only programs that are necessary, we can afford, and are wise are justified and could be supported by President Grant.  He also made it clear that they can't exist without more taxes.

He specifically list the following as being able to justify if they meet the criteria (can be afforded, wisest way to use surplus income):


education
public health service
unemployment insurance 

old age pensions
work relief projects


Another section of the article mentions things like public parks, libraries, and recreation centers as well.  

Only those programs are mentioned as being justified (if they meet the criteria) an none else.

It must also be pointed out that the work relief mentioned in the publication were not programs that promoted idleness.   They were programs such as the CCCs or ones that were similar to that and practiced by the Church.

In those programs you would get a form of welfare, but you would have to work for it (things such as working in public parks, public roads/trails, etc.).   The pay was enough that the recipients' families wouldn't go hungry, but intentionally lower than the wages that could be paid by the private industry, therefore there was a big incentive to get off the program as soon as possible.  

If a welfare system has no incentive to get off of it and instead creates a dependency, that is what is referred to by President Grant as being "evils of the dole" and all church leaders have always been against such as dependency.  

Edited by Scott

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On 9/14/2020 at 1:13 PM, Scott said:

All church leaders have always been against any welfare system that promotes idleness.  That is what he is talking about.

Show me any government run socialist system in the world today that does NOT promote idleness.

Edited by Carborendum

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1 hour ago, Carborendum said:

Show me any government run socialist system in the world today that does NOT promote idleness.

As far as programs go, there are plenty of "socialist programs" that don't promote idleness, even in the United States.

Here's one for Colorado:

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs/child-care-assistance

Education assistance, helping children with medical needs, etc. are programs that don't promote idleness, at least in my opinion.

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48 minutes ago, Scott said:

As far as programs go, there are plenty of "socialist programs" that don't promote idleness, even in the United States.

Here's one for Colorado:

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs/child-care-assistance

Education assistance, helping children with medical needs, etc. are programs that don't promote idleness, at least in my opinion.

OK, sounds good.  Assuming it is what you purport it to be (and I'll take your word for it) that sounds reasonable.  But let's take a look at the criteria enumerated above.

  • Will it destroy the moral fiber of those who receive aid? It appears to have conditions that people have to be doing something to improve their situation to be eligible (this is good).  But do the children know that?  The devil's in the details.  Long term aid will always "educate" the children, and sometimes adults, to believing that there is a free lunch.  That would be a sticking point.
  • Will it destroy the individual initiative of those who create wealth? I cannot see anyway off the top of my head why this program would have an immediate negative effect on the market forces or individual interaction with the market.
  • Would it be legally possible? (consider the powers the Constitution actually gives the federal government). Since it is a state run system, I'm more inclined to believe this does not violate any Constitutional restrictions (personal interpretation).
  • Could economic machinery operate as effectively? I believe there will be both positives and negatives on the overall process.  Again, the devils in the details.  And in the end, we would have to analyze whether it's a net positive or not. 

The final question to ask would be: Could private charity do it better?

Edited by Carborendum

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30 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

OK, sounds good. 

Although it no longer exist, what are your thoughts on the CCC?

It is one of the programs I was referring to above:

In those programs you would get a form of welfare, but you would have to work for it (things such as working in public parks, public roads/trails, etc.).   The pay was enough that the recipients' families wouldn't go hungry, but intentionally lower than the wages that could be paid by the private industry, therefore there was a big incentive to get off the program as soon as possible.  

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_Conservation_Corps

Personally I think we should bring them back, or at least something similar.  

To me, this is definitely a welfare program that doesn't support idleness.

Edited by Scott

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16 minutes ago, Scott said:

Although it no longer exist, what are your thoughts on the CCC?

...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_Conservation_Corps

I only heard about this a couple months ago.  I was actually shocked that something like that was proposed by FDR, no less.  I've now had some time to think about it.  And yes, it certainly has some positives about it.

You're right, it does not support idleness.  However, it does interfere with market forces.  As such, it may interfere with private initiative.  And any government run employment (which is what this was) will always be less efficient than private enterprise.  I've never seen any exceptions to this.  Perhaps you can educate me on one that has.

Although... I understand that several programs under Nazi Germany were highly efficient.  But I'm not educated on the details.

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15 minutes ago, Scott said:

Although it no longer exist, what are your thoughts on the CCC?

It is one of the programs I was referring to above:

In those programs you would get a form of welfare, but you would have to work for it (things such as working in public parks, public roads/trails, etc.).   The pay was enough that the recipients' families wouldn't go hungry, but intentionally lower than the wages that could be paid by the private industry, therefore there was a big incentive to get off the program as soon as possible.  

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_Conservation_Corps

Personally I think we should bring them back, or at least something similar.  

To me, this is definitely a welfare program that doesn't support idleness.

My two cents, FWIW:

I don’t think it’s a terrible idea in the abstract.  But we have to look at how such a program would fit in the real world where a) the program would be operating in tandem with TANF and other welfare cash-assistance programs, and b) the current widespread belief that *everyone* is due a “living wage”, and the growing popularity of ideas like “universal basic income” that are not related to work at all.

Current government programs, if properly used, are enough to endure that people won’t go hungry (they will certainly have other needs, but hunger isn’t one of them).  And frankly, progressives over the past thirty or forty years have developed a nasty habit of lying about what they *really* want.  Implementation of a modern CCC-type program that supplemented, rather than replaced, existing welfare programs, would lead me to conclude that what progressives probably really want is to lock up labor in order to muscle out management and ultimately nationalize certain key industries.

Incidentally, my grandfather worked in a CCC camp in the 1930s.  It was great for him, until he got into a personal dispute with his camp supervisor and became the target of some false accusations—and because it was a federal program, after getting booted from the CCC locally he was pretty much unemployable by the CCC anywhere in the country (he moved around a lot).  The camp super who fired him, meanwhile, was accountable to no one.  

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15 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

I don’t think it’s a terrible idea in the abstract.  But we have to look at how such a program would fit in the real world where a) the program would be operating in tandem with TANF and other welfare cash-assistance programs, and b) the current widespread belief that *everyone* is due a “living wage”, and the growing popularity of ideas like “universal basic income” that are not related to work at all.

Good point.

15 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Current government programs,...would lead me to conclude that what progressives probably really want is to lock up labor in order to muscle out management and ultimately nationalize certain key industries.

And here is where interference with private industry (and therefore, private initiative) comes in as an important criterion.

15 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Incidentally, my grandfather worked in a CCC camp in the 1930s.  It was great for him, until he got into a personal dispute with his camp supervisor and became the target of some false accusations—and because it was a federal program, after getting booted from the CCC locally he was pretty much unemployable by the CCC anywhere in the country (he moved around a lot).  The camp super who fired him, meanwhile, was accountable to no one.  

And economic machinery (competition) would address this issue, while government records are all-powerful.  No, the machinery would not operate as efficiently.  And it also kills some personal initiative.

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On 9/8/2020 at 10:51 AM, pam said:

Pretend you are Gramps from Ask Gramps and you got this question.  How would you answer it?  Please provide any scripture reference or talk or quote to substantiate your answer.

LDS family members keep saying: "The church teaches that socialism is evil"; but a quick search on lds.org only has talks from the 1980's and earlier. If socialism is as "evil" as my family members think it is, then why aren't the current apostles and prophets currently warning us against it?
 

The short answer is because we have members in socialist countries and we do not want them tried for treason.

 

The Traveler 

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3 minutes ago, Traveler said:

The short answer is because we have members in socialist countries and we do not want them tried for treason.

 

The Traveler 

A very good point. I have never thought of that before.

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21 hours ago, Carborendum said:

Show me any government run socialist system in the world today that does NOT promote idleness.

Looking just at the US...

Well, the US and many other nations have public education.  You could argue that it promotes idleness, but an uneducated population generally is less productive than one that is educated. 

I suppose they all could be farmers and miners and have an economy where no one has anything no matter how hard they work, but education seems to promote productivity.

The US military is almost entirely socialist in it's approach (Basic Food and Shelter are provided, uniform allowance, healthcare for all, etc), and though one could argue it promotes idleness, it is FAR more productive than most of the rest of the world in what it does, and probably more successful (90% of businesses fail afterall) in it's mission than most businesses.

The US transportation builds roads and provides one of the biggest roadway networks in the world (socialism in it's very usage), and I would say that the ability to travel to work actually promotes the opposite of idleness, but one's opinion can vary.

Looking at the LDS Church...

The Missionary program is a very socialistic program (for the younger elders and sisters, not older couples).  I guess it is in the eye of the beholder whether that promotes idleness or not.

General Authorities also operate under what would be classified as a socialistic program today (each has equal benefits, not pay, to provide for the necessities of life).  Do you consider it promoting them to be idle?  Or do you think it allows them to be more productive than they would be without it?

Edited by JohnsonJones

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