Socialism and Church Welfare

By: Nate
October 30, 2013

Today’s guest post is from Nate.

Mormon Heretic’s recent post on Senator Mike Lee and the government shutdown prompted many comments discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the welfare state.   Members who disparage the government often point out the superiority of the Church’s welfare program, which is “teaching people to fish” rather than giving them fish.   I agree that the Church welfare program is superior to the government’s.

However, this quote from the church’s newsroom awhile back seems to suggest that Church welfare is perhaps not so different from government welfare programs:

“At Welfare Square in Salt Lake City, where the Church cans goods for its distribution warehouses, some procedures would be more efficient if automated. Instead, the Church has opted for more labor-intensive production lines that provide opportunities for people to give service and for welfare recipients to work for what they get. This is not the pattern of a commercial business, but it is the pattern for helping people to help themselves.”

Here we have the church admitting that the welfare program engages in unprofitable commercial endeavors simply to provide jobs for welfare recipients.  It manipulates the capitalist system by creating inefficient and unprofitable businesses in order to artificially employ people who would otherwise be unable to find employment in the broader capitalist market.  That is pure socialism.  Because these people are must likely unemployable in the real world, it creates an artificial environment, subsidized by tithing, for them to be able to work.  The idea that Church welfare is “teaching people to fish” so they can go out and succeed out in the real world is simply not true in many cases.  Like all good socialists, the Church knows that work is the supreme virtue, even if it has to be divorced from the profit motive.

Whenever the government engages in these kinds of practices Republicans wring their hands, and LDS Conservatives cry out that the US government should learn a lesson from Church welfare which always touts the supremacy of the capitalist freedom as the ultimate answer for all society’s ills.  But actually it turns out that government welfare principles are not that much different from Church welfare principles after all.  Governments use subsidies, tax incentives, unions, and strangling regulations to manipulate the market in ways which maximize employment at the expense of profit.  Work is the goal, not profit.  Every man and woman with a job, a contribution to make to the whole.   LDS welfare is also about the supremacy of work just as Communism and Socialism are.  But work is not always available for all when profit is the only consideration.

Discuss.

 

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54 Responses to Socialism and Church Welfare

  1. Jeff Spector on October 30, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    Good post and so ironic! While my experience is both of those who require very short term assistance from the Church until they get back on their feet and generally are among those who are also generous with both time and donations at other times of plenty, there are also those who only seem to learn to regularly fish into the pockets of the Church. That they cannot hold a job, make no contingency plans for themselves when things are going well and, when out of work, refuse to accept work below their perceived station in life. They, in fact, prefer to remain on the Church dole rather than do anything to support their family.

    I’ve always found it strange that while the Savior and Joseph Smith was always willing to assist those in need and preach that there will always be poor among you, a large portion of the Church membership politically preach against it, even while giving a generous Fast Offering. So they act one way religiously and vote another way politically.

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  2. meekmildmagnificent on October 30, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    If you cannot detect the distinction between a government program that enforces its mandates through coercive actions the totally voluntary actions related to Church Welfare, then you are missing a lot. Socialism is a government initiative that coerces those who disagree to cooperate in “spreading the wealth” as one famous president put it. The Church Welfare system invites participation and never uses coercion.

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  3. brycercook on October 30, 2013 at 5:26 PM

    MMM, you are missing the point that we the people are the boss. If we agree that we want such a system and elect leaders who enact it, then it is our choice. We agree to be bound by traffic laws and numerous other laws because they are for the public good. Welfare and other social programs are no different. It can be our choice.

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  4. The Other Clark on October 30, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    I strenuously disagree with the OP that Church welfare (hereafter CW) is “pure socialism.” Evidently, the writer has a poor understanding of socialism, church assistance, or both. Here are a few differences:

    1) Socialism takes wealth by force for redistribution, while CW is funded by voluntary contributions from individuals motivated by love. It’s the difference between a donation and being mugged.

    2) Socialism encourages idleness and “the dole,” while CW encourages recipients to work to the ability they are able. (Admittedly, their best efforts are often far short of economical, but as Benjamin says, “are we not all unprofitable servants?”)

    3) Socialism depresses and discourages motivation and free enterprise. CW encourages goodness, thrift, charity, and other Christ-like virtues.

    4) Socialism promotes compulsion; CW promotes agency.

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  5. The Other Clark on October 30, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    Marion G. Romney answered this exact question in the April 1966 Gen Conf. available among other places on the web, here: http://www.latterdayconservative.com/articles/is-socialism-the-united-order/

    Sadly, both conservatives and liberals are to blame for the current state of affairs. Liberals for pushing socialism/communism, and conservatives for their unwillingness to share volutarily. As President Hunter foretold:
    “If man will not recognize the inequalities around him and voluntarily, through the gospel plan, come to the aid of his brother, he will find that through “a democratic process” he will be forced to come to the aid of his brother. The government will take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots.” Both have last their freedom. Those who “have,” lost their freedom to give voluntarily of their own free will and in the way they desire. Those who “have not,” lost their freedom because they did not earn what they received… Under this climate, people gradually become blind to what has happened and to the vital freedoms which they have lost.”

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  6. Jack Hughes on October 30, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    I don’t have a problem calling it socialism. A lot of people in my ward probably would, though.

    My wife’s extended family is from southern Utah, and at family gatherings they take every opportunity to disparage welfare, Medicare, social programs and the Democratic party in general. They seem to forget that less than a century ago, their grandparents were saved from starving to death by WPA/New Deal programs.

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  7. max on October 30, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    I worked at the Humanitarian Center as a service missionary for 5+ years. Welfare recipients worked there and were regularly excused from their duties for classes that improved their skills. One woman that I know became a phlebotomist.

    Those who failed to progress were strongly encouraged to improve their skills, not just work for the Humanitarian Center. A few did not progress, and they were fired.

    In my service as an acting bishop (long story) and in my brother’s experience as a bishop, members were helped, but not allowed to game the system.

    My brother noted a pattern in which a member family too regularly relied on the church for rent. He strongly encouraged them to find work, offering to help appropriately with the search. The family moved out of the ward that month.

    That isn’t socialism.

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  8. Will on October 30, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    The Othet Clark

    You are too kind — as the old saying goes “sometimes it is cruel to be kind, and kind to be cruel”

    Let me respond properly to this post.

    It is evident, Nate has no clue what Communism, Socialism or the Church Welfare system entail. The first two are counterfeit plans to Gods communal, Celestial Law; and the latter is a safety net in a fallen world.

    A very poorly written post with no logical connection to reality.

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  9. Nate on October 30, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    Max, thank you for sharing your experience at the Humanitarian Center. You are saying that those who did not progress were fired, which seems to indicate that church welfare policy is ultimately to get people off dependence upon church employment opportunities, which are there as a temporary measure to give them something to do in exchange for the charity they are given.

    I’m not an expert on church welfare, and my impressions have always been exactly what you are saying: that welfare is meant to be a temporary hand-up. However, this quote from the Newsroom was so evocative of socialist ideology, that I felt compelled to point it out.

    The refrain I usually hear from those disparaging government socialism, is that they should learn a lesson from church welfare. But if the government adopted church welfare principles, it would still be socialist: creating less-profitable, subsidized work environments that provide work opportunities for those who struggle, like those mentioned in the Newsroom. Church welfare does not work on capitalist principles, and government welfare (patterned after the church) would not work on capitalist principles either.

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  10. Nate on October 30, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    The Other Clark, I wanted to respond to your points in no. 4. The processes described by the Newsroom are pure socialism, in the sense that they are anti-capitalist (capitalism being defined by the “profit motive”). Obviously, both socialism and capitalism encompass much more than this, but that particular practice is a principle ingredient of Socialist policy.

    1. In your first point you say Socialism enforces redistribution, while welfare does it voluntarily. This is true. However, it cannot be described as “being mugged” as you say, because Socialism in the US, unlike Communism, was implemented by democratically elected representatives.

    2. You say Socialism encourages idleness, and Church Welfare encourages work. This may be an unfortunate side-effect of some Socialist policy, but it must be remembered that idleness is not in any way a goal of Socialism. On the contrary, Socialists celebrate work, honorable work for all. And for all the idleness that Socialism has inadvertently encouraged, we must also take into account the many jobs Socialism has protected through unions, subsidies, and regulations.

    3. Socialism discourages free enterprise. This is correct, and this is why pure socialism is a failure. Socialism only works effectively as a moderator of capitalism. I am not purely a socialist. I value our mixed economy of socialism, bridling the powerful forces of market capitalism. One cannot succeed without the other.

    4. Socialism promotes compulsion, CW promotes agency. (see no. 1)

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  11. hawkgrrrl on October 30, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    I always think it is interesting the strawman arguments conservative Americans throw up about socialism. There are many varieties of socialism, but they are all forms of government to use social programs to benefit society and manage the economy. That’s not inherently controversial. The idea that socialism is coercion just means that a subset of the population of the governed don’t like it or agree with it. Are we forced to pay taxes? In that we will go to prison if we don’t and get caught, sure. What about paying tithing? Well, is missing out on exaltation not a punishment? Is that not coercion? Do we not have any obligation to pay?

    The two are closer than many conservatives will admit, and even within our existing system, there are elements of socialism. We pool our tax dollars for social programs already: defense, education, space exploration, national parks, etc. Those are also social programs for the betterment of society.

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  12. brjones on October 30, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    Nate, you are too kind.

    Let me respond properly to Will’s comment.

    You are an asshole, Will, and you use your smug and absolute certainty that the gospel is factually true to justify your simplistic positions without having to resort to utilization of the inconvenient elements of facts and logic. Your bald, declarative assertions are an embarrassment to anyone with anything approaching an intellect. Please don’t accuse anyone else of lacking logic, when your definition of the word is anything that jibes with the LDS standard works.

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  13. Will on October 30, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    Nate,

    “capitalism being defined by the “profit motive”

    What a twisted, bizarre and complete misrepresentation of what capitalism means. Unfortunately, this distortion is prevalent in our society and a view held by the electorate. With this, and your even more non-descript definition of socialism as ‘anti-capitalist’. I really question your understanding in this discussion, let alone your ability to lead such a discussion.

    “was implemented by democratically (democratic republic) elected representatives.”

    So was pornography, abortion, marijuana and gay marriage. Please see Helaman 5:2

    “On the contrary, Socialists celebrate work, honorable work for all”

    WTH? Ye shall know them by their fruits

    “we must also take into account the many jobs Socialism has protected through unions, subsidies, and regulations”

    Really? Yea, things are just thriving in Europe. Let’s see the unemployment rate in the following countries:

    The most Cradle to Grave Socialist Countries in Europe

    Albania 13.23% ; Armenia 17.3%; Belgium 8.9%; Bulgaria 12.7%; Croatia 19.1 %; Cyprus 17.3; Estonia 10.8 %; France 10%; Greece 27.3%; Hungry 9.8%; Ireland 13.4%; Italy 12% ; Latvia 9.7; Lithuania 12.1% ; Moldova 9.1%; Poland 10.6; Portugal 17.7; Serbia 22.4; Slovakia 14.35; Slovenia 11.2; Spain 27.2No

    Now the Tax Havens, Most Capitalist European Countries:

    Andorra 2.9% (NO income tax 2% sales tax); Austria 4.8% (As the country moved more towards privatization unemployment dropped); Czech Republic 6.8% (Serbia and Slovenia stayed socialist and the Czech moved to Capitalism); Germany 5.2 (the mainstay of the EU economy); Liechtenstein 1.5% (10% flat business tax NO capital GAIN); Luxembourg 5.7 % (major tax haven)

    Seriously dude do your homework.

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  14. Douglas on October 30, 2013 at 10:58 PM

    The premise of this post missed the mark.

    As others pointed out, the difference between socialism as part of the political process, be it “God-less” Communism or the Democratic party in the US of A, and Church welfare is voluntarism versus the Government’s supremacy of force, exercised (hopefully) in a legal fashion. And it’s interesting how those that think that Government exists to ‘provide’ label the US political system as a “Democracy” when in fact it’s (supposedly) a Constitutional republic. The difference? In a democracy, two wolves and a sheep vote on what to have for dinner. In a constitutional republic, the wolves are legally restrained from devouring the sheep, and if they decide to dispense with legalities and behave according to their predatory nature, the sheep is armed and well able to convince them to find their next meal elsewhere.

    I reject the premise that conservatives are motivated by selfishness and less generous. Numerous studies have shown charitable giving to be higher in red states than blue; whether this is overall societal values or simply lesser taxes providing more disposable income, who can say. My personal experience having delivered pizza on the side is that if you saw a “Boxer for Senate” sticker or other evidence of a liberal Democrat, you got ‘stiffed’ (no tip). Though I couldn’t necessarily infer their specific political leanings, the proverbial “good ol’ boys” were always generous tippers. My own insight as to WHO are the truly ‘selfish’ ones.

    True, at times the Church’s welfare system, from a purely business standpoint, may seem inefficient. I recall the story of a fellow that acquired a small cattle ranching operation. He and his football team of sons worked it, though none of the lads were anywhere near the cow-puncher that dear ol’ Dad was. A neighbor, seeing the spectacle of ineptitude in animal husbandry the lads displayed, asked the man if he really thought he’d make a go of this ranch. The man retorted, “sure, I’d like to turn a profit, but I bought this ranch to raise boys, not cattle.” Again, participation is VOLUNTARY. I suspect that there’s a character-building aspect as to why personal participation is required of rich as well as “poor”. It also humbles us in our supposed abundance. The messages from prophets of old and today are the same: don’t forget the poor. Not only out of a sense of Christ-like compassion (which ought to suffice of itself), but a practical consideration that if we don’t take matters into our hands on a voluntary basis and control it according to free market principles, those willing can and have manipulated the envy of the ‘poor’ and the misplaced compassion of those that measure same by their generosity with other peoples money to build a politically-based spoils system, coincidentally enriching themselves greatly.

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  15. Will on October 30, 2013 at 11:18 PM

    brjones

    “You are an asshole, Will,”

    So I’ve been told

    “and you…blah…blah…blah.. Your Bald (no I’m not)….blah. blah..

    Whatever…

    Look, this post so misrepresents fundamental political ideologies it is impossible to have a meaningful discussion. You are damn right I’m frustrated because my family and I have to live with the consequences of low information voters. Because they do not do their homework and do not understand how economies work, we have made fatal economic decisions that has put our future in peril. NOT our kids or grand kids. US. And when I say US, I mean the entire world because the United States is the economic nucleus of the world and WHEN it collapses under the weight of its debt the entire world will feel it’s impact. Call me whatever you want, but I am right. What I have been saying on this site since it’s inception will come to pass in the very near future. The people that are the least prepared and believe the nonsense in the post will be impacted the most.

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  16. meekmildmagnificent on October 30, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    brycercook: It appears that you are also incapable of grasping the essential distinction. If the government is “just us” and that somehow makes it like Church welfare, then those who disagree and do not want to participate should be able to do as they wish just like with Church welfare. Of course, that is not the case. The government is not “just us.” It acts only by coercion if somehow disagrees. Once again read carefully: CHURCH WELFARE DOES NOT COERCE OTHERS TO PARTICIPATE IF THEY DESIRE NOT TO DO SO. Try disagreeing with the tax system or the way the government spends your money sometime and you will learn about this distinction very quickly. There is no tyranny of the majority in the Church. If all of the poor get together and decide to take the money from the rich, that is not “just us,” it is still taking what they did not earn. Really, are you incapable of grasping this very basic and essential difference?

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  17. meekmildmagnificent on October 30, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    brjones: While you are calling will and asshole, I suggest you get out a mirror and take a good look at your naked rear end and then try to pull your head out of it.

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  18. meekmildmagnificent on October 30, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    Hawkgrrrl: If you think that the risk of missing out on exaltation is like the risk of being audited and put in jail for failure to pay taxes, then I suggest that you don’t really grasp what coercion is.

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  19. Mormon Heretic on October 30, 2013 at 11:49 PM

    Brjones, while I agree with your sentiments, we must do a better job and quit calling names. Will wears denigrating titles proudly, along with corrupt businessman (which is probably more descriptive and less hostile. How anyone can defend taxpayer bonuses to bank executives is beyone me. Will is definitely a fan of crony capitalism and kleptocracy.)

    Nate, I enjoyed your post. “Conservativism” and capitalism are so ingrained in Mormon culture, that people refuse to see the obvious.

    In my post discussing the differences between United Order and Consecration, it sounds an awful lot like socialism. A few excerpts:

    The resources of ward members were pooled, and an attempt was made under the aura of religious sanction, to root out individualistic profit-seeking and trade and achieve the blessed state of opulent self-sufficiency and equality. This new order, recognized to be somewhat different from the law of consecration and stewardship, was called “The United Order of Enoch.” [This idea is taken from the city of Zion in the Pearl of Great Price.]

    in most of these communities a few residents failed to join, and this caused some practical problems which were not always satisfactorily resolved…

    All ward members were asked to participate in financing it. The theory seems to have been that, if economic reorganization was impossible because of a considerable number of Gentile residents, the wards could still contribute toward territorial self-sufficiency by initiating an industry whose products had been imported previously. Thus, while there would be little to create employment and develop the territory.

    Settlers contributed all their property to the community United Order, had no private property, shared more of less equally in the common products, and lived and ate as a well-established family. The best known of these was established at Orderville, Utah, but others functioned in Price City, Springdale, and Kingston, Utah; Bunkerville, Nevada; and in a number of newly founded Arizona settlements.

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  20. Mormon Heretic on October 30, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    My favorite story from Great Basin Kingdom dealth with a man from Orderville that wanted some pants.

    A young man wanted a new set of pants, but the rules of Orderville said that all clothing must come from the same bolt of cloth. (All were equal, and there was no inequality among them.) His pants had no holes, and his request for new pants was denied. His community raised sheep. From page 336,

    When the lambs’ tails were docked, the young brother surreptitiously gathered them and

    sheared off the wool which he stored in sacks. When he was assigned to take a load of wool to Nephi, he secretly took the lambs’ tail wool with his load and exchanged it for a pair of store paints. On his return, he wore his new pants to the next dance. His entrance caused a sensation. The story is that one young lady rushed to him, embraced and kissed him. The president of the Order demanded an explanation, and when it was truthfully given, he said: “According to your own story these pants belong to the Order. You are requested to appear before the Board of Management tomorrow evening at half past eight, and to bring the store pants with you.”

    At the meeting, the young brother was commended for his enterprise, but was reminded that all pants must be made of cloth from the same bolt. However, to prove its good will, the Board of Management agree to have the store pants unseamed and used as a pattern for all pants made in the future, and further, the young man in question would get the first pair.

    This has much more in common with socialist principles than capitalism. Utah was granted statehood in 1896. In 1900, more people voted for the Socialist Party in Utah than Republicans or Democrats, because Mormons hated both parties with equal disdain (though it was the Democrats that were more inclined to support the cause of polygamy.)

    God is not a capitalist, and if we use Brigham Young and Joseph Smith’s example of consecration and United Order, it seems God like socialism more than capitalism. The polygamy prosecutions were designed almost as much to rid Mormons of consecration as it was to rid polygamy.

    Finally,

    With the disintegration of their collective institutions, after ten years of “cooperative living,” the older members began to reflect on the advantages of their previously enjoyed communal experience over the encroaching spirit of competitive individualism. The chafing under restrictive regulation, the disagreements, the yearning for privacy were all forgotten, and their memories were sweet. Almost every published reminiscence of life under the Order mentions it as the closes approximation to a well-ordered, supremely happy Christian life that was possible of achievement in human society.

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  21. jpv on October 30, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    Not coercive because of a democratic election?

    I guess Jews and gays all committed suicide in the holocaust because the leaders were legitimately democratically elected. I guess those that suffer gang rape actually consent, majority rules after all.

    How hard is it to understand that ultimately if you want the government to do it instead if private organizations, it means you believe it’s morally acceptable to use lethal violence against someone to get your way. It’s impossible to defend it any other way. As for me the proper role of legitimized violence it’s restricted to defense against those who initiate violence against others. Google voluntaryism.

    The burden for arguing for voluntary “socialism” is to demonstrate its utility out morality towards our human kind, there’s a much higher burden of proof that you can’t equivocate with arguing for socialism through government force.

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  22. Mormon Heretic on October 31, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    This whole idea of tying socialism to communism is such a strawman. Name one country that has converted from socialism to communism.

    On the other hand, I can name a lot of countries that have converted from communism to democracy. We only have China, Cuba, and North Korea left. The tide is turning away from Communists, so the fear-mongering is such a joke.

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  23. Hedgehog on October 31, 2013 at 3:03 AM

    http://preservingfreedom.org/texts/Brigham-Young-on-Cooperation.pdf

    makes interesting reading. Capitalism doesn’t bring freedoms either. As I said on the other post, the best we seem to be able to manage in this world is a combination of capitalist and socialist policies.

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  24. Will on October 31, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    “How anyone can defend taxpayer bonuses..”

    After the schooling I gave you in the last post, I can’t believe you brought that back up again. Seriously, take your lumps like a man.

    “This whole idea of tying socialism to communism is such a strawman….”

    Thank You.

    You are proving my point that the person presenting this post has absolutely no clue what they are talking about. It was NATE that brought this up in the POST “LDS welfare is also about the supremacy of work just as Communism and Socialism are..”

    Comparing the Church Welfare system to Communism is absolute incompetence and a total disregard for the hundreds of millions of people that were slaughtered under Communism. Not hundreds or millions, but hundreds of millions. It made by blood boil.

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  25. Will on October 31, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    Hawkgirl & Hedgehog

    Hawkgirl: “I always think it is interesting the strawman arguments conservative Americans throw up about socialism..” Hedgehog: “…the best we seem to be able to manage in this world is a combination of capitalist and socialist policies”

    Come on you two, especially you Hawkgirl as a business executive, look at the empirical data presented about the European Countries in comment 13. Hedgehog you live in this area, how can you not see this – seriously the infamous welfare states of Greece and Spain have unemployment rates of almost 30%; whereas, the countries that have adopted the most free market principles in this area have almost NO unemployment – Andorra, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg thrive with LOW taxes and other free market principles.

    This is not only true in Europe, but the world over.

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  26. MH on October 31, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    Will, you wouldn’t know a school if it fell on you. Seriously, you’re the most corrupt, self-righteous person I’ve ever met without a clue about real morals.

    Nate is not comparing Soviet Communism to United Order Communism. You really aren’t very smart, and love to twist stuff out of context. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand what Nate is talking about, just a person with a real sense of understanding, which you obviously lack. Seriously Will, you are a blind man when it comes to this stuff, and it is obvious you are here to fight, not even attempt understand.

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  27. Will on October 31, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    MH,

    Ok where then. China? Korea? Vietnam? Cuba?

    Because hundreds of millions died there as well. And for you to compare the United Order to Communism is revolting

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  28. Hedgehog on October 31, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    Will, I’ve answered you on Greece and Spain before, both on MHs post, and on an earlier post. It’s getting tedious. The problem is not their social policies, but corruption on the one hand and having to mop up the banking mess created by capitalism on the other.

    It is only because Europe enacted social policies in the past that capitalism has been able to continue here. Rampant, unconstrained capitalism is a much a threat to personal liberty as communism.

    Did you read the link I posted? A letter from Brigham and other church leaders July 1875.
    Opening paragraph:
    “The experience of mankind has shown that the people of communities and nations among whom wealth is the most equally distributed, enjoy the largest degree of liberty, are the least exposed to tyranny and oppression and suffer the least from luxurious habits which beget vice…
    “…One of the great evils with which our own nation is menaced at the present time is the wonderful growth of wealth in the hands of a comparatively few individuals. The very liberties for which our fathers contended so steadfastly and courageously, and which they bequeathed to us as a priceless legacy, are endangered by the monstrous power which this accumulation of wealth gives to a few individuals and a few powerful corporations. By its seductive influence results are accomplished which, were it more equally distributed, would be impossible under our form of government. It threatens to give shape to the legislation, both State and National, of the entire country. If this evil should not be checked, and measures not be taken to prevent the continued enormous growth of riches among the class already rich, and the painful increase of destitution and want among the poor, the nation is liable to be overtaken by disaster; for, according to history, such a tendency among nations once powerful was the sure precursor of ruin.”
    on page 2:
    “…the Latter-day Saints were acting in utter disregard of the principles of self-preservation. They were encouraging the growth of evils in their own midst which they condemned as the worst features of the systems from which they had been gathered. Large profits were being concentrated in comparatively few hands, instead of being generally distributed among the people. As a consequence, the community was being rapidly divided into classes, and the hateful and unhappy distinctions which the possession and lack of wealth give rise to, were becoming painfully apparent.”
    etc etc.
    A number of cooperative institutions, such a the one described by Brigham Young were established in Britain. Unfortunately, the cooperative element is now rather less than it used to be. We need to be better at cooperative living.

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  29. Nate on October 31, 2013 at 8:13 AM

    Will, I welcome the information you posted regarding current employment numbers in various countries, and I’m willing to keep an open mind regarding the relative economic success of each, which vary depending on many factors. I’m not willing to concede your point that Socialism is entirely to blame for the high numbers hand picked by you, because all the countries you mentioned, both successful and unsuccessful contain a mixture of Socialist/Capitalist economic systems, and factors relating to the current recession are multi-faceted.

    Socialism is by definition, an economic depressant. It only works in concert with capitalism. Capitalism is the wild horse, Socialism is the bridle. Socialism can easily smoother Capitalism, which is why I value advocates of Capitalism like yourself. I advocate for Socialism only because I know that my views will be counterbalanced by others. My ultimate opinion is that there must be a very careful balance between the two.

    However, I believe that your refusal to acknowledge any value at all in the Socialist element of a mixed economy, undermines your ability to advocate on behalf of stronger Capitalism. I don’t know how you feel about the Tea Party, but clearly, their fundamentalist views on the free market and many other issues have created divisions that undermine Republican influence in negotiations with Democrats. I would encourage you to beware of falling into the trap of becoming overly idealogical and fanatical. The fact is that we live in a mixed economy, and that will never change. We can only change the ratio of various Capitalist/Socialist policies through tedious, slow negotiation. But Socialist elements in our economy (like Social Security) are popular with the American people, because they are seen as having helped create a better living situation for millions. We can argue about their relative effectiveness, and whether there are better options, but completely demonizing popular and somewhat effective policies is not going to work.

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  30. Jeff Spector on October 31, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    The idea that anyone can defend the current system in America as anything but among the most corrupt on earth today, to me is a laugh.

    I hardily agree with Nate that a combination of capitalism and socialism are the formulas of the more successful countries today.

    The US is not one of them. The corruption within our political system has all by taken the power from the people and handed it to a small group of politicians and corporations. (Corporations are people, too!)

    The on-going re-distribution to the top 1% in the country on the backs of the middle class and poor goes on unabated. The continual granting of large bonuses to financial executives in spite of their having driven the world economy into the ground is evident.

    The political system is broken, the economic system is broken and we all sit fat dumb and happy watching the big screen and eating chips.

    The Bible and book of Mormon have warned us and forewarned us and here we are arguing and calling each other names. We should know better.

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  31. MH on October 31, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    Hedgehog, Nate, and others. Will is a blow-hard. We’ve had these battles countless times here at W&T. We really need to start ignoring him, because he is an absolute corrupt ideologue on this topic, and it makes no sense to apply reason to him since he is so unreasonable. I agree it is absolutely tedious. Once in a while, he has a good point, but it is far and few between, and then he shows his true colors of business corruption.

    Nate, Will is a founding member of the Tea Party, FYI.

    Jeff, Awesome comment!

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  32. nate on October 31, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    MH, I personally value Will’s opinion, as it is representative of the majority of LDS culture. His outrage at socialism is indicative of the common LDS belief that it is Satan’s plan, and as such, it is certainly worthy of the fullness of his ire.

    The onus is on us to demonstrate that it is not in fact evil. No small task, given the atrocities of Communism, and the successes of Capitalism. Hedgehog’s link from Brigham Young is a great start! Quite an amazing speech.

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  33. mh on October 31, 2013 at 11:01 AM

    Nate, will is representative of a small but vocal band of wacko tea party Mormons. He does not represent the majority. After you get to know him, I predict that you will tire of him.

    Even Mike Lee is starting top act more conciliatory.

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  34. kd on October 31, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    I think the problem is that the op is making a mistake in trying to relate consecrationism with socialism. Of course trying to relate consecrationism to capitalism, or any other ism I think is a mistake. Doing so conflates the two, as if we could fulfill the requirements of consecrationism through a worldly ideology. Consecration stands on its own and should inspire its own requirements rather than borrow from other systems

    Socialism is not simply a policy or government type it has deep philosophical roots. Its inaccurate to say that it has nothing to do with Communism, since they have the same philosophic heritage. Its materialistic in that progress is measured primarily through economic means. Furthermore, it puts emphasis on government action rather than individual action.

    Consecrationism is different because its philosophic roots are pre-modern and therefore operate on a whole other plane of thinking. It measures progress morally, not based on materiality alone. Thus, individual action is emphasized more than government action, and collective action is concentrated to the local level. Finally, it emphasizes unity rather than equality. This is an important distinction, as equality ignores individual differences in ability and usefulness to the community. In the end the collective trumps individuality. Unity requires strong and moral individuals, rather than strong centralized institutions.

    While both consecrationalism and socialism have anti-capitalist themes, they are not the same thing. While they can be compared, they should not be conflated.

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  35. Will on October 31, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Nate,

    You have demonstrated a Kind word turns away wrath. My apologies for venting on what you stated.

    I am not opposed to social or welfare programs. After all, welfare means: well-being. We our commanded by our Savior to look out for the well-being of other – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually – it really is the threefold mission of the church.

    The government should not have any part of proving social welfare for two main reasons. 1) The first was communicated by one of the greatest leaders of all time Margaret Thatcher, who said:

    “The problem with Socialism is that you will eventually run out of other people’s money”
    This is so true of what is happening in the UK, France, Greece, Spain, Italy and other countries with massive social spending. It is human nature that we are much more careful with our money than we are with someone else’s money. Kids with a parents credit card; employee’s with the corporate card; and, the worst offender the Government. Case and point the Obama Care web-site. Some estimates have put the total cost of this at over 300 million (for a program that does not work). I have personal friends in the industry who have stated they would feel guilty charging more that ONE million.

    2) Is a great quote from Alexander Tyler, who basically described the cycle of pride when he said.

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over lousy fiscal policy”

    Just try and get elected as President in the US eliminating ANY entitlements. You could be running against a pedophile, wife beating, cocaine sniffing (during the debate), homophobe bigot and you would still lose.

    The paradox is the ONLY way you can fix the budget is to make dramatic budget cuts to entitlement (socialist) programs.

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  36. Jeff Spector on October 31, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    kd,

    I’ll grant your take on socialism to a point. Just as communism may be a perverted form of socialism, the greedism now practiced in the US is, likewise, a perverted form of capitalism.

    I don’t think anyone would ever point to France or Greece as a good example of the practice of socialism or would we point to China as a good example of capitalism. Sweden, Denmark are good examples where the mix of capitalism and socialism seem to be working well.

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  37. Nate on October 31, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    I also thought that was an interesting and good point from kd.

    Will, thank you for your email. Good points as well. It’s nice to hear that you recognize the necessity of welfare. You just don’t think it should be the domain of the government. Fair enough. I suppose the counter argument would be that Socialists don’t trust the private sector to come through to provide adequate welfare needs for society. Will they come through? There is evidence that conservatives are more generous in their private giving than liberals. But is it enough?

    Your quote from Margaret Thatcher is certainly prophetic. However, I believe a modest social welfare state can be supported by a careful balance of adequate, but not suffocating taxation. The fact that you point to countries like Germany as role models demonstrates that you too believe this up to a certain point. Germany is not a beacon of unbridled capitalism.

    However, you are pessimistic about the ability of citizens within a Democracy to moderate their social welfare spending habits. I agree that there are limitations to Democracy. But these are limitations that we must live with. What’s the solution to these limitations? Monarchy?

    I’m not as pessimistic as you about the ability of voters to eventually become reasonable about cutting spending and raising taxes enough to make the social welfare state affordable. Having routine recessions is probably a good thing and an important wake up call. During Obama’s tenure, spending has already been subject to much deeper cuts than it has in years. This is thanks to pressure from Republicans, in spite of efforts by the Tea Party to sabotage all negotiations. If the Tea Party had cooperated with the Republican Party, they may have been able to demand even more spending cuts. But as it is, I believe Washington will eventually work out it’s problems and find a workable balance.

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  38. hawkgrrrl on October 31, 2013 at 11:09 PM

    I think something Nate says bears repeating: “Socialism is by definition, an economic depressant. It only works in concert with capitalism. Capitalism is the wild horse, Socialism is the bridle. Socialism can easily smoother Capitalism, which is why I value advocates of Capitalism like yourself.” Truly, though, we do operate under some balance of capitalism and socialism already. It’s just determining how much regulation capitalism requires and what programs we want to pool our money toward through taxation. Socialism doesn’t create money or products. When it does, that’s communism. My only point about the conservative strawman argument is that we already pool our tax money for social programs. Now we are just negotiating on where we will spend our socialism, not whether we have any.

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  39. Hedgehog on November 1, 2013 at 2:29 AM

    My observation of the way church welfare works in this country is that it is no different to social programmes. I’m not aware of anyone receiving church welfare over the last 30 years being given work to do as a requirement of receipt of church welfare. Perhaps fulfilling their callings is considered sufficient?

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  40. Hedgehog on November 1, 2013 at 2:46 AM

    For more information on the cooperative movement in Britain:
    chapter 1: http://www.ashgate.com/pdf/SamplePages/Co_operative_Movement_and_Communities_in_Britain_1914_1960_Ch1.pdf
    of this book: http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9780754660576

    A rough guide here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_co-operative_movement
    And a history (inclusive of parts of europe) here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_cooperative_movement

    And one of our most prestigious cooperative-type businesses: http://www.johnlewispartnership.co.uk/about.html

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  41. jpv on November 1, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    @Hedge–The difference between state socialism vs co-ops and church welfare is the presence of the the threat of force.

    A lot of discussion about the periphery, but nobody wants to engage the morality of the core of state socialism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGMQZEIXBMs

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  42. Mormon Heretic on November 1, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    When Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated in Missouri because he didn’t want to participate in Consecration, wasn’t that force?

    When Mormons in Utah were excommunicated because they didn’t want to participate in the United Order, and Mormons refused to trade with them or gentiles, leaving them to die in Pioneer era Utah, was that force?

    This whole Idea that consecration was completely voluntary is a huge, false myth. If your salvation is at stake for participating, that’s a tremendous amount of coercion and force. Some of you really need to get a clue. Consecration is difficult, and it doesn’t work unless everyone participates. It stifles individuality. It is not as efficient as capitalism. It is more selfless than selfish. It falls apart when people refuse to participate.

    If you think that Brigham Young excommunicating people for not participating is not force, then you’re just flat wrong. At a minimum, it is coercion (not persuasion). Consecration fell apart in large part because the federal government forced it’s removal as a religious principle. This was largely the reason for the demise of socialist consecration principles. It is popular to say that the Mormons weren’t righteous enough, but that is just not accurate. Early Mormons in Utah should be lauded for their ingenuity for making United Orders work. Even the FLDS seems to make it work until the government starts confiscating property.

    I think the FLDS Church is a good case study for the modern day. When Church leaders excommunicate men and give their wives and children to other men, we say that Jeffs is forcing the men out of the church. It’s the same way that Brigham Young acted. For anyone to say that Jeffs is acting differently than Brigham Young in terms of consecration is just mis-informed. It’s the ugly, practical side of consecration that modern members have no understanding of. Consecration doesn’t work unless everyone participates. Coercion is often used as “The ends justify the means.”

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  43. hawkgrrrl on November 1, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    jpv – The threat of force exists in both cases. If you don’t want to participate in the church’s welfare program, don’t pay tithing. But then you can’t have the blessings of exaltation or full participation in the church. If you don’t want to pay taxes because you don’t like how the government spends your money, you can move to another country. If you don’t like church welfare, you can leave the church. In either case, the benefits of membership are gone for you. Neither group will put a hit on you. Both may discipline you and or withhold privileges if you wish to remain in their ranks.

    I would say that the biggest difference between the two is that government is so much more prone to misappropriating tax dollars to pet projects, but clearly there are those who feel the church does likewise in some of its investments (City Creek Mall). Whether they are right or wrong, once you pay your tithing, as with your taxes, you no longer have a say how it is spent or invested. But unlike the church, we do get a vote in government, and we all get a host of goods and services including fire fighters and police officers at our beck and call, legal protection, safe roads and bridges (for the most part), free education for all our kids (of varying levels of quality), and so forth.

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  44. Will on November 1, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Nate/Hedgehog/Hawk/MH

    The Law of Consecration is a Celestial Law and only a Celestial Law. Along these lines, God has NO dominion or compulsion. None – he will not force his will on anyone. He cannot, or he would cease to be God. Like any other Celestial Law, some will not be able to live the law and will not receive Celestial glory (D&C 88:22-26)

    With this in mind, the Law of Consecration is completely voluntary. Those that live it do it by choice. Any communal government requires dominion or compulsion in order to properly function – socialism, communism or any other form of collectivism. Thus, it is counterfeit to God’s plan.

    A free market economy is the best overall economy in this fallen world as it best achieves the objectives of God to teach his children by precept the law of the harvest. After all, the overall objective of the plan of salvation is to distribute souls of men in the afterlife. Like the free market economy, the plan of salvation is a merit based system.

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  45. Will on November 1, 2013 at 2:09 PM

    HM,

    As for your comments about Brigham Young, i’ll refer you to the discussion in the 121st section. A priesthood leader should have no dominion or compulsion. As communicated further, ‘many are called, but few are chosen’ and as they ‘get a little authority AS THEY SUPPOSE’ (my favorite line in all of the scriptures). In other words, Brigham Young was a human.

    With this said, if I were looking to get the saints 1,300 miles across the plains in grueling conditions; establish Zion; and settle over 400 communities in the west I cannot think of a better candidate than Brigham Young. That guy was amazing and the perfect Prophet for the time.

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  46. The Other Clark on November 1, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Will, I think your premise “God has NO dominion or compulsion” is provably false. In D&C 121–which is where I think you base your argument–it clearly states that as glorified beings our dominion will be an everlasting dominion that will flow unto us forever.

    Ezra Taft Benson has said we can choose to be humble or else we will be compelled to be humble. (Were the 1/3 host of heaven cast out in the war of heaven merely invited to leave? I think not.) If God can’t make us do something, He can sure make us wish we had. I have firsthand experience with that.

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  47. Will on November 1, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    The Other Clark

    Dominion – meaning “authority over” in the context you used it; or the blessing for using our dominion (authority) correctly. In contrast to the context that I meant – force.

    I disagree with your interpretation of what President Benson was saying; God does use and asks us to use: ‘gentleness, kindness, meekness, “PERSUASION’

    Persuasion is different than compulsion. I can persuade my daughter to stop sending 12,867 texts in one month by taking her phone away (compelling her to be humble so to speak) for a period of time.

    This will not stop her behavior; only encourage her to stop the behavior. When she turns 21 and has her own phone it will be her choice. At that point, if she chooses to send 12,867 texts in one month that is her choice and I cannot stop her.

    Likewise God can ‘encourage us to remember him’ by sending trials and troubles; but, ultimately he cannot force us. Just like he did not force Lucifer, Cain, Hitler or any other deviant. If he FORCED them to change, then he would be making the decision for them.

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  48. Mormon Heretic on November 1, 2013 at 4:13 PM

    Will,

    If we are to be a Zion society, it is our obligation to seek equality, rather than corruption. It is our duty to recognize a kleptocracy and move to a more celestial-like form of economy. Brigham Young probably did fail at using compulsion. You’ve stated before that you would have a hard time in a United Order society. However, even if Young did use compulsion, he far exceeded the equality of the kleptocracy we have now. It would behoove you to at least try to work for a Zion society of equality, rather than justify the kleptocracy so rampant in our capitalist society.

    The devil is in the details, whether it is Obamacare, welfare, or United Order. All leaders, no matter how good intentioned, often seek compulsion to ensure compliance. I doubt seriously that you are taking Christ’s advice to give away all your possessions and follow him. You complain about the compulsion of Obamacare, and even the compulsion of Brigham Young, but how is God going to enforce the economy of God (which won’t be the kleptocracy we have now)? We’ve got to change from within, recognize gross inequality that we have in our capitalism, and quit comparing socialism to North Korea. When we do such ridiculous distortions, we lose credibility.

    Nate, I do think that capitalism and socialism can function together in the form of checks and balances. It’s a shame that some kleptocrats can’t seem to understand that moderation is what we need, not extremists in the Tea Party continuing to justify the kleptocracy in the name of free agency. the profit motive at the expense of equality is immoral, despite the pretended God-fearing, fake religionists that people like Will represent.

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  49. Will on November 1, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    “….comparing socialism to North Korea”

    Who has? I mean, they would be right communicating the pitfalls of the extreme left. I have only advocated the pitfalls of socialism, which is a lesser form of redistribution.

    Let’s take an extreme, but recent example of redistribution. Look at Zimbabwe and what redistribution did to that nation. At the time the British handed over the reins to this country in 1980, it was relatively stable for an African country. Inflation was at about 5%, unemployment was in check and the real GDP was between 4 to 5% — again, pretty good for an African country. The distribution of income had the bottom 50 % receiving less than 15%; and, the top 3% receiving about 30% of the total income.

    Democratic elections were held that the majority elected a very progressive government that decided it was time to redistribute the wealth. This is where it gets ugly, because a lot of these top 3 percent were killed; while the remaining were either driven out or left voluntarily. A lot of this racially motivated with the top 3% being white in a predominately black country.

    This is the biggest economic disaster of all time. Since then, unemployment has been from 85 to 95%. The worst problem has been hyper-inflation – at it’s peak you could by 238 MILLION Zimbabwe dollars with one US penny. I have a friend that has a 50 Trillion Zimbabwe dollar. What a mess.

    These executives you call crooks and thieves actually earn their keep. A lot of them do anyway. I wouldn’t be so judgmental of them if I were you, because a good share of them to a lot of good. I can’t speak for all of them, but the ones I know do tremendous good.

    In my business, I deal with very wealthy people. I knew Larry Miller quite will before he passed away. We was a good man; a very good man and a very good member of the church. He created value. He created wealth. He lived a relatively modest life. Honestly, I had lunch with him one day at Taco Bell. Taco Bell. He drove a nice car and lived in a nice house, but was absolutely one of the most generous people I have ever known. He paid a full tithe; donated millions to the church and other charities. But, above all he created jobs for thousands of people.

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  50. Mormon Heretic on November 1, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Will, I’m not going to waste time or energy talking to you, other that to point out your comment 27. I’m sure there are plenty of good, moral rich people. You, however, are a kleptocrat.

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  51. Will on November 1, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    MH,

    So you will pick a fight and resort to name calling (22), which I thought violated the terms of the blog (especially for one of the perma-bloggers), but when you are challenged by sound responses you again resort to personal insults.

    Whatever

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  52. Mormon Heretic on November 1, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    Wow, I think I finally found a term you don’t embrace. I didn’t think that was possible. It has always seemed like you proudly embraced the titles racist, a-hole, sexist, homophobe, etc. I thought kleptocrat was just part of your schtick. (Does that sound too much like democrat? Would your prefer kleptican which sounds more like republican? Is that what you object to?)

    Will, are you still not OUTRAGED that the bank exec’s get TAXPAYER bonuses for crashing the business? If not, then kleptocrat is a pretty descriptive term (to paraphrase J from the previous post.) It’s not the same as a-hole, which I agreed we shouldn’t use here.

    There is not much sound about most of your arguments. You support crony capitalism, which is by definition a kleptocracy. You don’t want to be called a kleptocrat? Then quit defending corruption of our economic system. It’s pretty simple really. But those bank execs “earned” those bonuses because it was in their contract…..that’s a sound argument?

    Seriously Will, it would be refreshing if you devoted some time pontificating about financial corruption in addition to all the other sins you enjoy pontificating about. Actually, it would be nicer if you quit pontificating altogether.

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  53. Will on November 1, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    MH,

    The term doesn’t bother me, I just consider the source. The fact is you have been name calling (ironically and hypocritically calling someone else out for doing it in 25) for some time. Too me it is just a sign you can’t defend your stance on substance.

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  54. Hedgehog on November 3, 2013 at 4:13 AM

    jpv. Most citizens of most Europen countries do not feel under threat, forced or coerced into anything.
    My point is that the monolithic “socialism” that Will et al like to point to in Europe, regard as akin to communism, and like to blame for all sorts of European ills, is nothing of the sort. My direct experience is Britain, but I have visited France, Germany and Italy in the past. The countries all operate differently. I can say for Britain, that the history of socialism in this country has a very strong cooperative element.

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