Tuesday, October 21, 2008

equality

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

~King Benjamin, a prophet in the Book of Mormon

It was so interesting and enlightening to read all those comments on my "socialist" post! Thanks, guys! I really appreciate you taking time to share your insights.

Here are some additional thoughts:

I don't see extreme forms of capitalism or socialism (as in, one without the other) as desirable in any way. As far as Satan goes, I'm sure he's totally stoked (literally, in his case) when either of those systems cause people to suffer.

I am obviously no expert on this, but it appears to me that most(?) countries are honestly trying to find a balance between the two. A healthy economy should provide meaningful employment for those who want it. It seems that some countries who have many social programs and an immense tax burden on the citizenry struggle to provide jobs. It's great that college is so affordable there, but when you graduate, where do you work? People who work hard should have access to affordable health care. Obviously, that is not the case in our country.

I've been thinking a lot about this since I became a gospel doctrine teacher in February. In the Book of Mormon, time after time it happens that the people prosper and then there is an ever growing divide between rich and poor. These communities eventually become divided, weak, and easy prey for their enemies. They are conquered, put into subjugation, they humble themselves, they turn to God, they repent, they overcome their enemies and begin to prosper... and then it happens all over again.

I would much prefer to live in a place where there are no rich and no poor. I would give up a lot to live in such a place. I would live in a smaller house, drive cheaper cars, take fewer expensive vacations, eat out less, own fewer things, etc. I would pay a lot in taxes if it meant that those around me could also have the opportunity to be healthy and well-educated. I would certainly give up precious things in my home (ok, I don't have many--maybe my new flooring?) if it meant that we could have more beautiful public spaces.

Maybe that's just dream. But I see no reason why we can't get people decent health care and affordable college tuition.

20 comments:

Dina said...

My worry about such a society as many have pointed out is motivation. My DH (R) has a PhD and went to school until he was 30. Motivation? Extreme interest in the field AND higher compensation. I think that is the case for many professions that are on the higher end of the pay scale. I would like to think a physician would go through residency and difficult schooling just to help people with their health care, but would they really? Isn't a better lifestyle for their family, after all of that, a motivator as well? I feel people would become complacent and we wouldn't have the advances in research and technology that we do now.

Also, R works with mostly foreign born coworkers. Many from Europe who came here because of the tax/income situation.

Calandria said...

It's true that you can't get something for nothing. There are trade-offs. I think we would still have plenty of doctors even if they were not quite so highly compensated. What if their education didn't cost so much? Then they wouldn't have to worry about paying off all those years of school. And there are other issues too, like the astronomical cost of insurance for ob-gyns. I think I would be ok with slightly less research and medical advance if more people could get affordable care. I mean, what are those advances going to mean to people who can't afford to get care in the first place?

J is like me in that he would much prefer to pay higher taxes if it meant more opportunities for more people. However, he does wonder if he would have been able to start his business if taxes were much higher than they are now. So that's something to think about. J has his own company not because he cares about building wealth, but because he prefers working for himself.

Athena Danoy said...

i think montse stated it well in her response to your previous post (which seemed to have offended some of the comments that followed it) about these verses you post in that what is needed is a change of heart not a change of government (well maybe that too).

but what makes me chuckle is that mccain will most likely or eventually raise taxes too (how else is this country going to pay its huge debt?). and what many don't realise (or maybe many do) is that this country is already practicing some form of socialism.

it's just too bad obama didn't have his script on hand when he met joe the plumber. that "spread the wealth" comment is going to haunt him like the "moral" debate did the democrats last election.

Anonymous said...

The current economic down turn as a result of the mortgage implosion, is a result of socialism. It was forcing banks to give people loans that they would never be able to pay back that is the root of the problem. In this some people have been taken advantage of and some people took advantage of the banks. I believe most people knew what they purchased. We don’t need socialism to spread the extra we have around. It is about choosing what is important. If we give to those that are in need of help with our extra time and money if we have it, then we are on the road to a better place. Christ told to the rich man to sell all he had and give it to the poor. He did not say sell all you have and give it to the government and they will do what is right with it. The socialist programs just line the pockets of dirty people in and out of the government. The more we push for programs to help everyone the more money we pay in taxes to help these people the less they will get. Look at Social Security, it was fine and would be a lot better off if we did not have untrustworthy people in Washington. They took money from Social Security and spent it, it will be bankrupt and we the younger generation are putting in money we will never see. So if you are voting for Senator Obama so he can give everyone health care think about what will happen. It will ruin a system that is already hurting. The government does not have a track record for making things work. So lets not elect Senator Obama Take the extra money and or time that we would have spent on things that we don’t need and help the Samaritan down the road.

yesweareonmars said...

Forcing the banks to give bad loans?? Since when did anyone force a bank to do anything? Did they also force banks to make bad investments and lie to people to take mortgages they didn't need or could afford? Socialism? Try corruption arrogance and pride.

Meg said...

Loose thoughts from both posts-

It's not the prosperity of the people that brings their downfall in the Book of Mormon. It's their failure to remember the Lord in all things. The condition of the heart is the measure of a society. Those who choose good must outnumber those who choose evil or they will "be ripe for destruction".

Teachings of the Presidents, SWK, Chapter 11 teaches of our responsibility to be a self-sufficient people. He helps us understand that this has a direct coordination to our agency.

Scripture chain Doctrine and Covenants 42:42, 75:29,68:30-32,56:17 answers questions regarding those who won't work for their own support.

"Because I have been given much I too, must give" isn't to be taken lightly. I believe the Lord will hold us accountable for how we cared for the poor among us regardless of how much we paid in taxes. However, I HATE paying more taxes so the government can supposedly solve all social ills.

I would LOVE to have more in my pocket that I could donate to the church, knowing that it would be spent wisely and prudently- something the government is completely incapable of. FAR more good would be accomplished through philanthropic means. However, the more I am required to pay the government, the less I am able to give to truly help those who need it. Many churches have community outreach programs that I'm sure could use money more wisely than the bureaucracy does. I don't think anyone could argue that the government is a wise steward.

I do fight my own private battle regarding taxes for community projects. I have lived in a community of very high taxes and I LOVED the children's programs, nice roads, underground power lines, fine libraries etc...These are things that enhance the community, therefore my family's well being. How much of that should be covered in my tax bill...that's the battle I fight.

My parents just spent a couple years in Norway. Their experiences (with a more socialist government and government sponsored church), and the experiences with those peple they came to know, isn't as rosy as the writer here has experienced. I'm sure there are good and bad situations to be had.

Athena Danoy said...

anonymous is absolutely right. the banking situation with fannie mae and freddie mac is an example of socialism which the democrats like to blame on the failure of capitalism. a BIG lie. a taste of what's to come if you vote obama. because obama and biden are all about "fairness" and in continuing the idea that the poor too can live the american dream of having all things in common with those who are rich, even when they cannot afford it. the federal mortgage banking system has always been favoured by the democrats which bush has worked hard on regulating; making those institutions accountable and their actions transparent. but of course we never like listening to bush because he looks funny when he talks so anything he says looks and sounds funny-ha-ha. during clinton's administration greenspan and others deregulated the markets and by doing so made money cheap and home loans more affordable. this was highly favoured by the democratic party because it supported their ideas of more government control. fannie and freddie are privately owned but have financial support and protection of federal government, aka your tax dollars. not forced? think again.

there is corruption within government just as there is out. what is disgusting to me is how democrat house speaker pelosi is able to smile about the success of the bailout. here we are placing blame on CEOs (see CNN's coverage on anderson cooper 360) for making bad investments and on folks for taking out mortgages they couldn't afford in the first place when those in her own party are just to blame. they too should be held accountable for their foolish policies.

Calandria said...

I didn't mean that it was the prosperity itself that caused the Nephite's social problems. The problem was that they became "lifted up in pride" and began to care more about their riches than their fellow men. The division between rich and poor was evidence of their hearts not being in the right place. When the Nephites prospered spiritually, there were "no poor among them."

Gabriela said...

wow. quite the discussion over here!

Just my thoughts-I tend to agree with anonymous 1 after living in the different coutries I've lived in. If politicians and governments were all decent and honest, more socialistic programs might work, but in the places I've lived coruption is rampant and there ends up being an even greater divide between rich and poor. Brazil has big time socialistic programs and things aren't great here if you happen to be born into poverty.

Mallory said...

Dina makes some good points. another is that the question is, of course, WILL all those wonderful socialistic dreams come true? The answer is no. Some will, but there will always be rich and poor. That's just the way things are, unfortunately. Changing that would work, perhaps, in a small community, but when you have more than a certain number of people, you're bound to get the good and the bad, and that's never going to change.

I do agree that there certainly needs to be a balance between socialism and capitalism.

Meg said...

I guess I am wondering what you mean by your title "equality", referencing the scriptures you quoted.

"No poor among them" does not say, to me, that there was necessarily an equal standard of living. But rather those who had more to share gave willingly to help those who had less.

yesweareonmars said...

I find it interesting how many people reacting to this blog consider the idea of banks giving bad loans a Democratic or Socialist thing. It was all in Bushes, Home Ownership Challenge of 2002. Here he outlines to mortgage lenders to allow more people to have homes. These lenders include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae. If anyone pushed anyone, this plan of Bush did. Read it yourself from the White House site....
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020617.html

That is why many Europeans are blaming the Americans. I see on TV quotes from this page all the time.

Mallory said...

Wait, why again are Europeans blaming Americans?

Calandria said...

ok, yeah, "equality" was not the best title. and I would never want (nor, i think, would anyone want) everyone to be the same. like everyone gets the same salary or something.

These posts have generated a lot of discussion about things I was never thinking about, and that's certainly ok.

Maybe my post was confusing because I see now that I mixed my ideal society (no poor or rich) with thoughts about what could practically and efficiently be done by our government to address problems like the uninsured and stratosperic college tuition. I have to further develop my thoughts and write more clearly.

I started thinking about all this with my Book of Mormon study and my growing awareness that some countries have a much more socialist government than we do and many of the people seem happy with it. (I didn't say all!) Friends who have lived in such countries have told me so. Sure, people in those countries will have different perspectives based on their experiences and also their priorities.

It appears to me that in many countries, people value the good of the society more than the good of the individual to a greater extent than we do here. Here we care very much about our right to hold on to our stuff. In other cultures, that may not be such a high priority. I know that is terribly simplistic--just a somewhat unformed thought. But it leads to a question that never ceases to fascinate me: What makes people happy?

Anonymous said...

I think we dismiss Equality too-easily because we envision extreme concepts of everyone being the same and doing the same and having the same. But I think it is possible to have Equality without being the same. For the Mormons here, the Lord said in D&C 49:19-20:
For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance. But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.

Another thing that we dismiss too instinctively is the concept of getting something for nothing. Of course we can get something for nothing. We do every day. The sun that shines makes my life and pretty much everything around me possible. What about the atonement? Talk about getting something for nothing.

~J

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Did you get the speech link to Ezra Taft Benson's talk I put in the comments in your socialism post?

He states in plain terms that communism AND socialism are Satan's counterfeit for the Law of Consecration. He also says what J is saying about people being equal without being the same or even having the same. I'd encourage all LDS members interested in this topic to read it.

A Vision and a Hope for the Youth of Zion

Meg said...

I agree that equality, in this sense, does not mean same.

I am just not sure we want the government deciding how to make things "equal". It's kind of a vicious circle. We recognize the ideal but live in a fallen world. Trying to live the ideal, by command of a government, can't work. So do we accept a counterfeit, as a temporary fix, hoping it will bless more people until the real thing comes along? Or do we allow people to hold onto more of their money, hoping they will make good choices regarding their fellow men, knowing that they eventually they will answer to a higher and more just judge than the government?

I like what J said about something for nothing. It reminds me of more King Benjamin-"are we not all beggars"?

Thanks again for letting us discuss this on your blog. I have appreciated all the thoughts.

Athena Danoy said...

> I find it interesting how many people reacting to this blog consider the
> idea of banks giving bad loans a Democratic or Socialist thing. It was
> all in Bushes, Home Ownership Challenge of 2002. Here he outlines to
> mortgage lenders to allow more people to have homes. These lenders
> include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae. If anyone pushed anyone, this plan
> of Bush did. Read it yourself from the White House site....
> http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020617.html

reacting? i thought it was responding. but either way the idea of bush's goal of expanding more opportunities to homeownership in 2002 seemed a great idea at the time (don't all politicians do that? espouse great ideas that are not?) but the part that gets left out in this equation is that he also proposed for the federal mortgage banking system to be monitored so that their actions would be made more transparent; which the democratic party in congress opposed. now why would they want to do that for? bush has had his fair share of blame and he has taken it. however one can hardly say the same for the opposing side. but then journalists these days have far better things to do with their time.

but what i'm curious about is the idea of balancing socialism and capitalism. to me those two just don't go together. another word for capitalism is "free market system" or "prosperity economics." this entails the freedom to do four things: to try, to buy, to sell, to fail. the important word in this formula is "to fail" which under the guise of socialism will make sure that you don't. in fact socialism controls how one tries, buys and sells so that none fails.

calandria, in response to your comment on the previous post about what makes one happy let me paraphrase w. cleon skousen quoting adam smith (author who penned the principles of capitalism in his book "the wealth of nations"); he states that it is not the accumulation of money or things that comprises true wealth but the "development of farms, factories, homes, plentiful clothes, cheap fuel, good streets, good schools, hospitals, efficient transportation. . . "

Athena Danoy said...

the idea of getting something for nothing? i like to see it as "nothing worth having is ever free." because you still have to work for it. air is a necessity. but what happens if your lungs fail to work? you either die or you have to work hard at making it function again in order to breathe again.

Athena Danoy said...

> entails the freedom to do four things: to try, to buy, to sell, to fail.
> the important word in this formula is "to fail" which under the guise of
> socialism will make sure that you don't. in fact socialism controls how
> one tries, buys and sells so that none fails.

not to say that "to fail" is the purpose here, but that there are opportunities given as well choice.