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Why the Redistribution of Wealth?

Because it is the right thing to do.

3 Nephi Chapter 6:

  4 And they began again to prosper and to wax great; and the twenty and sixth and seventh years passed away, and there was great order in the land; and they had formed their laws according to equity and justice.

  5 And now there was nothing in all the land to hinder the people from prospering continually, except they should fall into transgression.

  7 And it came to pass that there were many cities built anew, and there were many old cities repaired.

  8 And there were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place.

  9 And thus passed away the twenty and eighth year, and the people had continual peace.

Sounds much like the United States since World War II.

  10 But it came to pass in the twenty and ninth year there began to be some disputings among the people; and some were lifted up unto pride and boastings because of their exceedingly great riches, yea, even unto great persecutions;

  11 For there were many merchants in the land, and also many lawyers, and many officers.

  12 And the people began to be distinguished by ranks, according to their riches and their chances for learning; yea, some were ignorant because of their poverty, and others did receive great learning because of their riches.

Great inequality resulted as wealth and the privileges of wealth became limited to a small few.

  13 Some were lifted up in pride, and others were exceedingly humble; some did return railing for railing, while others would receive railing and persecution and all manner of afflictions, and would not turn and revile again, but were humble and penitent before God.

14 And thus there became a great inequality in all the land, insomuch that the church began to be broken up; yea, insomuch that in the thirtieth year the church was broken up in all the land save it were among a few of the Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord.

Extreme inequality, the hallmark of the current American economy, cannot sustain any cooperative existence, whether it be the church in Nephite times, or the contemporary democratic nation-state (also known as a Republic).

  15 Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world.

In my reading, the great inequality preceded the pride (which of course, preceded the fall.) There seems to be something very American about being blind to the problems of inequality. Maybe it is because of our belief that we all benefit from this inequality. While we might benefit from the limited types of inequality which allow for innovation and inequality, extreme inequality and extreme gaps between the very wealthy and the rest of us result in financial arrangements which not only hurt the poor but also the middle class. It was not the CEO’s of these companies that are suffering because of the recent financial and economic troubles but the middle class person who placed their trust in their 401k and their home value.

How do we address this problem? The redistribution of wealth. Do not allow those who use greed to their benefit to be the sole benefactors of that greed, particularly given the extent to which the social structure makes it possible for this very wealth. Some speak as if redistribution is immoral, when it is actually immoral not to look out for the good of all. This is the meaning of a republic: a nation-state which looks out for the good of all and not just the few. Those who condemn the redistribution of wealth as somehow being un-Constitutional are unwittingly rejecting the idea of a republic in favor of oligarchy.

What about private efforts of charities and churches? These are great. However, they only can address the symptoms of inequality (poverty, hunger, want, unemployment, and underemployment), they cannot solve the problem because they have little impact on the larger institutions of our society which buttress inequality. The only solution is public efforts on the part of our representative institutions (Congress).

What about markets? Of course, markets have an important role in any good economic scheme. But we must remember that people (all people), are more important than markets. Markets are useful mechanisms, but they have little intrinsic value in and of themselves.

Do not fear the redistribution of wealth brothers and sisters. Hope for it. It is the only possible means by which this nation (and all just constitutional regimes) can be saved and maintained.

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Comments

  1. This must be the BoM version of my recent post.

  2. You forgot one thing, Christ.
    The government described in 3 Nephi was not funding abortions, wasn’t taking away by force, and was caused by God. Not the false god of human equality.

  3. You forgot one thing, Chris.
    The government described in 3 Nephi was not funding abortions, wasn’t taking away by force, and was caused by God. Not the false god of human equality.

  4. Geoff,
    I do not know how I missed your post. I must have been more productive at work that week. Just trying to get all of the standard works covered.

    Chris G,
    The Book of Mormon account above describes the fall of that government. I am not sure about their reproductive medical practices.

  5. Chris H,

    See also my follow-up post where I address the moronic knee-jerk response about any coercive laws (like tax policies that fund social programs) being “Satan’s plan”. Either our ranks are full of anarchists or people aren’t thinking clearly about their arguments when it come to this subject.

  6. Geoff,

    I do love how “forced charity” is evil, but nothing is more American than allowing others (including those in other countries) to rot in poverty and suffer under the wretched conditions of inequality. I am now tempted to sing Lee Greenwood, but I will hold myself back.

    Americans need to read more Rousseau.

  7. When we have a theocratic government, I will be as happy to redistribute as I am to pay my tithing. Until that point, I want to buy safety and security for my family, as well as food that won’t give them cancer. Capitalism is a great system because the lazy aren’t rewarded for their lack of effort. I’m completely for helping those in need, but it leaves a poor taste in my mouth to support welfare queens and kings.

    You ought to look at the labor-leisure models of economics. Fascinating stuff.

  8. “Capitalism is a great system because the lazy aren’t rewarded for their lack of effort.”

    Unless the lazy are born rich. Of course, the hard working are not always rewarded for there effort either.

    “I’m completely for helping those in need, but it leaves a poor taste in my mouth to support welfare queens and kings.”

    Ahh yes, the myth of the welfare queen. Let us all shed a tear in memory of Ronald Reagan and his skillful ability to demonize the poor. Poverty is not the problem…poor people are the problem.

  9. Way to marginalize my thoughts with good soundbites Chris. Now, my wealthy booty will be taking over your company to leave a healthy investment for my trust-fund babies.

    The lazy tend to self-weed after a few generations. Do your reading.

  10. Do you have any reading proposals?

    Are you taking over BYU?

  11. Does this mean we need to redistribute the wealth of the families in the big houses on the hills and along the Snake in S.E. Idaho with the families in small houses in the towns. Do we need a shakeup in Zion?

    Would Chris be encouraging me to long for some land and wealth from the higher up? Can I exchange my two over-ten-year cars that squeak, and drip, and clunk for newer models? Is this the duty of government?

    Or maybe I am the rich man, and the government needs to take from me?

    We should all live in trailers?

    Chris, I can’t seem seem to mesh your interpretation in 3 Nephi with what I see in Acts. But I will say this. The O.T. prophets did scour and scathe the greed and corruption in Judah and Israel with their needful, blistering words. But I hardly see the Prophet of the I-15 Corridor doing this in 2008.

  12. Agreed Todd.

  13. Todd,

    Not sure if I follow. I do live near IF though and can relate to the scenery.

    I am not saying that we should covet the riches of the rich, for we should reject the desire for such riches.

    The duty of government (one of many) is to ensure a fair shake.

    I am not sure if we should all live in trailers (though that may be sufficient), but we should not be content with a society where so many have no choice but to live in trailers.

  14. Todd,

    Please expand on the Acts referrence. What are you referring to? I am the politics guy around here.

  15. There’s plenty of choices for living arrangements:
    * tents
    * cabins
    * squatting
    * home invasion
    * moving to another country
    * apartments
    * shacks
    * servant’s quarters
    * foreclosed homes
    * communal living with other families, collectively buying home

    It really is a matter of choice–no one forces anyone to live anywhere except convicts and minors.

  16. clarkgoble says:

    I am not sure if we should all live in trailers (though that may be sufficient), but we should not be content with a society where so many have no choice but to live in trailers.

    I think the big question some of us have is whether there is no other choice.

    I’d be all for more income distribution if there were responsibilities that went along with it.

  17. Ones ability to pay the rent (which I am guessing according to you is based soley on how lazy we are or not) might impact those choices. That ability might be impacted by educational opportunities. Those opportunities might be impacted by wealth and geography.

    Those people on the hill Todd just chose to live in the nicer part of SE Idaho. It has nothing to do with inequality of wealth. Glad Tom cleared that up for us.

  18. Government should not be responsible for wealth redistribution–the market does a fine job of that. What government’s primary responsibility should be are defense, civil order, and education. Stay out of markets, stay out of income, stay out of all that. Minimalist government gives the most freedom to it’s people.

    There would be no complaint of homosexual marriage, no complaint of taxes, etc., if we could just get this right. Seriously now.

  19. Anytime Chris.

  20. “the market does a fine job of that.”

    Have you read a newspaper recently?

    Minimalist government maximizes the liberty of a very small few. I think that is one of my main points. I do not think that we have much common ground. Thanks though.

  21. Look, I’m all for making the poor richer and sticking it to the greedy, but who gets to do that? Obama? What makes Obama wise enough to divide the spoils? Who decides who gets what when there’s not enough to go around?

    Just like Robin Hoods are fantasy characters, redistribution of wealth is a nice idea in theory, but it has a very poor track record in practice. Sure, the free market can be hell, but it’s still better in my opinion than arbitrary economics.

    Americans need to read more Burke.

  22. The latter bit of Acts 2, Chris.

  23. jondh

    I did not mention Obama. Legislative bodies government governed by a Constitutional process decide (I stated that in the original post).

    I have read and rejected Burke. I will side with reason over tradition any day. Thomas Paine was right.

  24. Please explain in another post how minimalist government maximizes the liberty of the few. I don’t want to totally threadjack this discussion.

  25. Tom,

    Will do, though likely not until next semester some time.

    Chris

  26. Also, I’m sure we have common ground on many issues and on motivation for this topic. I just disagree with the principle that the most Robin Hood way to do with gives many who are lazy something for nothing. If my income is less than what the distributed wealth is, I have no incentive or imperative to continue working. If my income is greater than the distributed income, I have less incentive to work is I could play all day long instead. Continue this inductively ad infinitum, ad nauseaum.

  27. How does one guest-post to this blog?

  28. Ben Pratt says:

    “…tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world.”

    Am I the only one who reads this and thinks first not of “the wealthy” (possibly including you and me) but of those inside the beltway?

    Come to think of it, those in Washington often seem to come out far, far ahead of us regular folks, financially speaking.

    Those you would have act in the Robin Hood role seem to prefer the King John role instead.

  29. Tom,

    I think that you are oversimplifying both what is involved in the redistribution of wealth (something that I will address at a future point, for now I am just arguing that it is needing) and human nature. I have address the work ethics aspect above.

  30. Chris, before I respond, I wonder what exactly you’re advocating here.

    Are you saying that every individual in the US should have exactly the same standard of living (or as near thereto as government is able to achieve)?

    Or are you just suggesting that the salaries of the very rich be trimmed, and the excess used for charitable purposes?

  31. Ben,

    I tend to think that there is little distinction between the political power brokers and the wealthy. Both parties are heavily slanted towards the interests of the well off. This is why I do not think that Obama will be a socialist because he is too indebted to his donors and my $50 will not got too far. Of course,I would be tickled if he was. But that is my utopia.

  32. I make a clay figurine in art class. I could sell it on the open market for $5. How much of that should I give for income redistribution?

  33. JimD,

    I have never read a socialist (and I have read many of them) that argues that every individual should have the exact standard of living. So, I also am not arguing for that.

    I am arguing (I do not above but have elsewhere) for socialized medicine and more generous education funding (as examples). To have these things the salaries of the very rich will be trimmed. I do not view this as charitable purposes, though it could be view that way.

    I guess I envision not an equal society, but a less unequal society.

  34. Cory Hoar says:

    Chris H.,

    I just wanted to say that I agree with Tom Rod here. Everybody knows that in this world we all prosper according to how we manage our affairs. Anyone who argues differently is showing the effects of a frenzied mind.

  35. I guess I envision not an equal society, but a less unequal society.

    Amen. Preach on brother.

  36. Tom,

    How many do you make? How many people do you employ in the process? You might be the one benefiting from a more egalitarian arrangement. You are looking to micro.

  37. Cory (nice full name BTW),

    If everybody knows that, and I do not know that….then not everybody knows that. Yes, frenzied as the result of living in an unjust society.

  38. Geoff,

    Thanks Bro, I am feeling lonely here. I will be away for a couple hours feel free to pitch in.

  39. Cory Hoar,

    I thought your saying was “according to the management of the creature”… Either way — your philosophy fits very well with lots of modern Americans.

  40. Now, suppose I create the same clay figurine as in #32, but give it to my mother instead of selling it. How much now do I pay into the system? My mother has $5 worth of clay figurine, does she now have to pay a proportional amount in?

  41. Chris, thanks for clarifying.

    In principle, I’d be okay with something like that as long as I believed that the funds would be well-spent and would yield the desired results.

    There’s no scriptural mandate to be a schmuck, or to throw money into a failing government program.

  42. Ben Pratt says:

    RE #31

    Agreed. In that sense, Obama will not be a full Socialist. What I expect instead is the he (or McCain, for that matter, should he win) will continue the current model, which appears to be taking money from you and me and giving it to the well-connected.

    LOL JimD. It’s true. There is no scriptural mandate to be a schmuck.

  43. “I will side with reason over tradition any day.”

    Two words: French. Revolution.

  44. #43

    Don’t forget–Third Reich, Iron Curtain, and Khmer Rouge.

  45. #44

    Indeed. All heroes of reason.

  46. Khmer Rouge killed their intellectuals–not heroes of reason. Marxists and facists rejected reason outright. Nationalism clearly defies reason. What the hell are you talking about?

    Given that Burke’s book was about the French Revolution, I am not sure if you are as clever as you might think. The American revolution was also about reason. The enlightenment was about reason. I knew there was a reason that Burke seemed so unconvincing to me.

    Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail is essentially a passionate rejection of the Burkean tendency.

    JimD,
    I, even as a leftist, have been very critical of the tendency to protect bureaucratic structures rather promote justice. I am not defending any and all distributive efforts, surely some are effective and other are poorly run.

    As for the schmuck/scriptural mandate connection, I defer to the experts on biblical language.

  47. Chris, I was trying to give up blogging (at least reading them), but now you are sucking me in. Anyway, good post. It it interesting to finally get a better idea of where you are in the political spectrum. Turns out you aren’t as radical as I thought! You must just seem that way next to Dan R.

    FWIW, I like the idea greater redistrubution as proposed in Obamas tax reform, but my concern is with government inefficiency and bloated bureauocracies. Hence, I’d like
    to see redistribution with some kind of voucher systems in which private companies compete to provide the government funded services. It wouldn’t eliminate corruption, but it would seem to mitigate it.

  48. http://www.templestudy.com/2008/10/28/a-prophet-declares-redistribution-of-wealth-is-socialism/

    How about the modern prophet’s word? I dunno, this definitely “demonizes” redistribution of wealth.

  49. Dan,

    I commented on that post on Bryce’s blog and do not want to bring it over here. Feel free to draw from that discussion here if you want. I think that Brad, Steve, and I stated our points quite clearly. Of course, it looks like it overwhelmed that site.

  50. Sheldon, I am that radical. But being radical in principle is not bad. Defending government bureaucracy for the sake of government bureaucracy is not radical or wise. I like your idea. We should work on that. Heck, we could use some publications.

  51. Chris H, there was a post on T&S about a year ago when Harry Reid visited BYU asking readers to name any examples in the scriptures that justified the government taking money from people and giving it to others. I seem to recall there were nearly 100 responses, and they could only come up with one example: Joseph and the Pharaoh and the seven fat years and seven lean years. Every other mention of taxation and government taking money from people was negative. Do yourself a favor and go to the scriptures on lds.org and put in the word “tax” or “taxes” and look up the scriptural references. ALL of them are negative, meaning taxation is seen as evil in the scriptures.

    Now, this does not mean that all taxation is evil. Personally, I believe as the Founding Fathers did that some form of taxation is necessary to maintain basic government services, such as police, defense, the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, etc. We have learned through history that the federal government should intervene in the economy in some ways (7-year-olds should not work in factories, the FDIC is a very good thing, Social Security has been mostly successful, etc).

    But to argue, as you have here, that the scriptures somehow justify redistribution of wealth rather than that people should voluntarily give their wealth to others through one-on-one charity is simply silly and unserious. It is a selective reading of the scriptures that does not take into account all of the other references that somehow don’t agree with your world view.

  52. For the benefit of your readers, here are the results of a search for the word “tax” in the scriptures:

    All forms of the word TAX in the Text of the Scriptures, sorted by relevance.

    1.
    Ether 10: 5-6
    5 And it came to pass that Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and aconcubines, and did lay that upon men’s shoulders which was grievous to be borne; yea, he did btax them with heavy taxes; and with the taxes he did build many spacious buildings.
    6 And he did erect him an exceedingly beautiful throne; and he did build many prisons, and whoso would not be subject unto taxes he did acast into prison; and whoso was not able to pay taxes he did cast into prison; and he did cause that they should labor continually for their support; and whoso refused to labor he did cause to be put to death.
    2.
    Luke 2: 1-3, 5
    1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all athe world should be btaxed.
    2 (And this ataxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
    3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
    • • •
    5 To be taxed with Mary his aespoused wife, being great with child.
    3.
    Mosiah 7: 15
    15 For behold, we are in bondage to the Lamanites, and are ataxed with a tax which is grievous to be borne. And now, behold, our brethren will deliver us out of our bbondage, or out of the hands of the Lamanites, and we will be their cslaves; for it is better that we be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites.
    4.
    Mosiah 11: 3, 6
    3 And he laid a atax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their bziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain.
    • • •
    6 Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity.
    5.
    2 Kgs. 23: 35
    35 And Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give it unto Pharaoh-nechoh.
    6.
    Dan. 11: 20
    20 Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.
    7.
    Acts 5: 37
    37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
    8.
    Mosiah 2: 14
    14 And even I, myself, have alabored with mine own bhands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be claden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day.

  53. Geoff B,

    The scriptures not only justify a more economically egalitarian society, they command it. The question is how do we best accomplish that end. Some of us argue that voting in policies that better redistribute the wealth is a very viable means to that end. Others claim it is not.

    This conversation among Mormons often degenerates with one side screaming “socialism=satanism!” and the other side screaming “whatever you say Kohihor!”

    I am interested in hearing from the libertarian side how more libertarian approaches will be more effective at creating a more economically egalitarian society. I mostly here arguments that say basically “when the economy grows everyone does better so it is ok if the rich get richer exponentially faster than the poor do”. The problem is that doesn’t really match the injunctions we get from scriptures. (See my comment #5 for more of those injunctions)

  54. And of course remember that Matthew was a tax collector, the single most evil profession you could have around 30 AD. :)

  55. Geoff J, I simply couldn’t disagree more with your interpretation of the scriptures. The scriptures command righteous people to give of themselves, to give to the poor, to be charitable, etc, and clearly modern-day prophets have commanded us to pay tithing at the same time that we obey the laws of the land (meaning, among other things, paying taxes).

    Can you come up with one example in the scriptures where taxes are seen positively or where a government forceably redistributing wealth is seen as necessary for righteous people? There is one example, which is temporary, and involves an emergency (Joseph, mentioned above). I have provided several examples where taxes are seen as evil.

    Look, I personally believe many people in favor of government redistribution of wealth are well-intentioned. I don’t think they’re deliberately trying to hurt anybody. I also believe that some basic govt services are necessary and good, and I would happily pay taxes if they were about half of their current level. But government does most things very poorly (have you been to the DMV lately?). And to argue that the scriptures insist that government must redistribute wealth — rather than individuals voluntarily giving — is simply untrue.

    The scriptures, and especially the Book of Mormon, speak again and again about wealth leading to unrighteousness but NEVER say the government should step in and stop it. Instead, they say individuals should choose different paths. There is no evidence of Alma the prophet or King Benjamin forcibly taking money from rich people and giving it to poor people. In fact, King Benjamin points out that he doesn’t do this — he doesn’t tax people. Instead, he appeals to them to VOLUNTARILY give to the poor because we are all beggars. Please go re-read King Benjamin’s speech and tell me where he justifies government redistribution of wealth. It simply isn’t there.

  56. Reading Edmund Burke as a defense of tradition over reason is a gross simplification. Burke loved reform. He defended the American revolution. What he didn’t like was radical reform based on intellectual fads. Like the “redistribution of wealth,” for instance.

    Reason is all well and good rhetorically speaking, but to presume to assign the responsibility of redistrobution to the most “reasonable” is a pipedream. No one, especially not a legislature, could ever shoulder the responsibility well. Those who have tried have failed.

    The French Revolution, the Third Reich, Soviet Union, and Khmer Rouge all started with the notion that a certain set of ideals could fix everything, bring equality, etc. etc. Reality showed them rejecting some of the very principles they espoused, and so I suspect would a legislative redistibution. The poor would become even poorer, and the rich would dodge or manipulate the system to become even more powerful than before. The gulph of inequality would widen and the irony of the ideology compared to its implementation would be tragic.

    If I’m wrong, show me a historical case study that would indicate otherwise.

  57. One last point, and then I’ll leave you all alone (my views are definitely not welcome on this site).

    I personally believe forced charity is exactly the opposite of what Christ asks us to do. Christ asks us to help “the least of these” because we are helping Him every time we do. This clearly is asking us to voluntarily to help him carry that cross and be more like Him. It should involve a conscious effort on our part. We have to make a decision, based on agency, to do charitable work because it helps us progress and evolve into more God-like beings.

    Taxation FORCES us to do charitable work that we usually do not want to do. This is the exact opposite of Christ’s admonition to follow Him voluntarily. And not only that: if you are giving to the government you are less likely to give to charity. Most of the highest tax states are also the states with the least amount of charitable contributions as percentage of income. The reason is obvious: people “gave at the office,” meaning they paid their taxes so that government workers would take care of poor people — they don’t have to do any of the work themselves.

    I am not saying that all government programs are bad or that all taxation is Satanic — please don’t come at me with straw men argument. I am simply saying that the original premise of this post — that the scriptures justify the redistribution of wealth — is simply and clearly not true by any standard, based on what they say and based on how Christ himself wants us to live.

  58. Chris, I don’t think it’s a redistribution of wealth you’re really after.

    If all you want is some better funded schools and maybe some more equal taxation, perhaps better equpipped welfare systems, then huzzah! I’m right behind you!

    That’s not the same as redistibution of wealth.

  59. Peter LLC says:

    I would happily pay taxes if they were about half of their current level.

    Wouldn’t we all. But just imagine how long the lines at the DMV will be when they have half the employees with half the education and experience–yikes!

  60. Friends, Mormons Countrymen! to arms! We must defend the wealthiest portion of our population! There is no time to lose. If the poor don’t like being poor they should work harder and do it on their own. That is how the rich did it!

    We can’t trust government to help people with social programs, because we know that no man can tell of things to come!

  61. If I could draw cartoons, I’d make one that had a poor, skinny family in tattered clothing holding out a beggar’s cup. A bright-eyed BYU College Republican would be lecturing them: “You can at least take comfort in the knowledge that the government has preserved the agency of the rich.”

  62. Chris, sorry to question your radicalism. I’ll never do it again ;)

  63. “You can at least take comfort in the knowledge that the government has preserved the agency of the rich.”

    Sheldon, this is brilliant. Kudos.

    Our idea of what kind of “redistribution” constitutes socialism has changed drastically over the years, and even over the last couple of months. 50 years ago the tax rate on the richest Americans was 52% Was Eisenhower a socialist? Today, Obama proposes raising the taxes on the richest Americans from 36% to 39%, apparently triggering the invisible tripwire somewhere around 37.5, and conservatives call him a socialist.

    The other thing that bugs me about these discussions is that “redistribution” assumes without question the initial ownership of wealth by the rich–something being taken away from them. But I see wealth redistribution happening in the other direction. Over the last thirty years or so, American workers have gotten smarter, worked harder, and gotten more efficient. In other words, each hour of their work created more wealth. They didn’t get any of it though — wages have remained stagnant. Where did all that newly created wealth go? It was redistributed to the wealthiest Americans, created the widest gap between rich and poor in our country’s history.

  64. Geoff B,

    The arguments you are making are popular ones to make but they are also ludicrous and in many cases hypocritical. Let’s take this argument of yours:

    “Taxation FORCES us to do charitable work that we usually do not want to do. This is the exact opposite of Christ’s admonition to follow Him voluntarily.”

    Great. So now let’s apply that principle to the abortion issue:

    “Banning abortion FORCES pregant women to carry pregnancies to full term even when they do not want to. This is the exact opposite of Christ’s admonition to follow Him voluntarily.”

    So are you now ardently pro-choice on the abortion issue? I doubt it.

    See the discussions I linked to in comments #1 and #5 for more on this. I am amazed at how many people think that ridiculous argument works.

    But government does most things very poorly (have you been to the DMV lately?).

    This is a decent argument but not compelling. If the end desired by God is to have a more egalitarian society then there is a lot right with a democracy voting for at least moving toward such a thing in my opinion.

    I have said it before but I’ll say it again, based on the scriptures I think we Mormons ought to be socially conservative and economically liberal.

  65. One of my favorite political commentaries on this topic is “Supply Side Jesus” for some reason it brings much animosity.

    I also might add, that when I was in high school, my family were the recipients of welfare. I’m thankful for the sinners who supplied us with food and shelter. We did go to the church first, but the Bishop did a pretty good job of making my mom feel like crap, so that didn’t last long.

  66. I am happy to pay taxes and share with others. This is such a sad time of year for us, because they won’t let us continue to pay social security. There is a cap and we stop paying it after salary reaches a certain amount. It’s so regressive and unfair.

    Hopefully Obama will get rid of that loophole.

    In the meantime, we try to give money to good causes. I just donated a day’s salary to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston to help with the good work they are doing in the wake of the hurricane…

    Oh, I realize some folks will think I am being sarcastic about not being able to continue paying social security the rest of the year, but we are serious. I don’t think a janitor should have to pay a higher percentage of income in social security than us well-educated folks.

  67. Chris: I guess I envision not an equal society, but a less unequal society.

    Geoff J: Amen. Preach on brother.

    Why don’t you guys support a fully equal society? Isn’t that what the scriptures hold up as the ideal?

  68. Don’t read too much into that comment of mine Tom. I was mostly chipping to show some support to Chris H and to say I also hope for a less unequal society.

  69. Tom,

    It is complicated. Full political equality is surely needed. Full economic equality is not needed, but I do not have much time to get into that. I am largely following John Rawls’ difference principle for my ideal of distribution.

  70. Geoff B.,
    I’ll concede that the scriptures, while persistently decrying social and economic inequality as evil, have not, by and large, endorsed policies like the modern tax-for-social-safety-net regimes or the welfare state. But the fact is, they have not endorsed political regimes of any kind that easily translate onto the modern nation state. Which is to say, the scriptures are more or less silent on the question of whether (and to what extent) taxation as a means for resource redistribution by a democratically elected representative government in a society with strong property rights, a credit-based trade system, and atomistic political culture founded on the notion of the rational, rights-bearing, utility-maximizing individual.

    That said, Joseph Smith redistributed wealth, within a context where the Church acted as a de-facto civil government (Kirtland), calling on the saints through revelation to consecrate their properties to the support of the poor.

    Furthermore, in Utah territory, communally held property and resource redistribution figured to varying degrees in the implementation of various local governments and united orders. In fact, right after the saints’ arrival in the territory, Albert Carrington was appointed assessor and tax collector for the new government, vested with the power to “pin down upon the rich & penurious, and when he comes to a poor man or a widow that is honest, instead of taxing them, give them a few dollars.”

    Governments redistribute wealth and resources in a wide variety of ways. There’s even an argument to be made, in the case of the very contemporary politics of 2008 US elections, that Palin and McCain represent a more overtly redistributive approach. Palin is the chief exec in a state that appropriates the profits of certain industries and redistributes the wealth statewide in the form of checks to individuals. McCain has also advocated substantially increasing family tax credits and the EIC, which is one of the most blatant form of income redistribution, since it places the tax revenues of taxpaying citizens directly into the hands of non-taxpayers. Obama, on the other hand, favors a (slightly) more steeply progressive income tax gradient, which also smacks of a certain redistributive impulse. Further, he proposes spending programs, most notable on expanding health insurance to the un- or under-insured — itself a form (albeit a less direct form) of wealth redistribution, since it will primarily benefit those in low tax brackets or non-taxpayers. Even if one’s reading of the scriptures moves one in the direction of suspicion toward redistributive tax regimes, it’s entirely unclear whose approach in this election more objectively violates that ideal. The same goes for public education. Is pouring more money into public education as currently configured more or less redistributive than a voucher system? What about tax monies that are funneled into the coffers of major corporations that secure contracts from the federal government — military contractors, for example? Complicated stuff…

  71. Cher M,

    “If the poor don’t like being poor they should work harder and do it on their own. That is how the rich did it!”

    If you can believe that good for you. The American Dream is a dream for a reason: It is not real.

    Geoff B,

    Your views are welcome. Some just disagree.

  72. Brad and Geoff J,

    Thanks for helping out.

    Geoff B,

    The scripture that I used points out the problem of extreme wealth inequality. The call for the redistribution of wealth is mine. I do not claim that the scriptures or any Church figure support my view and my view alone. That is for other (not you, but you can likely guess who I am referencing).

  73. jondh,

    Were you a guest blogger here once? Anyways, conservative (even in the Burkean sense) are hard for me to communicate with (postmoderns as well) because we have not common ground or common vocabularly to work with. If those are the only thing the idea of equality has brought us then we have nothing to talk about.

    I already mention the American Revolution. How about the Civil Rights movement. How about the socialism of Europe today. I have been very effective at decreasing inequality and increasing the overall quality of life.

    Yes, the redistribution of wealth is what I am after. Universal health care and better education funding require it. As a political philosopher, I think that I can speak accurately about my own philosophy. It might not be eloquent and I may not be articulate, but I know what I believe. Thanks for trying to clarify it for me.

  74. I think a lot of us have a hard time caring about economic inequality per se because it’s not intuitively obvious why it’s bad. It really doesn’t bother me if others are super rich as long as I have an opportunity to provide for my family and have a decent quality of life. I do care about poverty but it’s not the inequality of poverty that bothers me so much as the suffering of poverty itself.

    Plus, as Chris mentions in his post, if I understand him right, it is important to allow some amount of economic inequality in society for the overall well-being of the people. Most of us see the benefit of inequality and the horrible failures of societies that experimented with enforced equality. So it becomes hard to make a clear case that the particular level of inequality that we experience right now is not optimal and any attempts to make that case sound like the kind of enforced equality that hasn’t worked before.

    I’m skeptical that we need fundamental change in the way our society works. I think we need tweaks but I think the American system has done a pretty good job of creating a well-fed, well-employed, productive, healthy, and generally contented population. Sure, we could be better, but I’m not sure we can expect much better than we’ve got and I hesitate to mess too much with what got us here.

  75. “I think a lot of us have a hard time caring about economic inequality per se because it’s not intuitively obvious why it’s bad. ”

    I think that this is inherent in the American political economic ideology. It is also why I feel little connection to that ideology, one which I consider shallow.

    I am not arguing for pure or absolute eguality. But I am not aware of anyone who is. I am arguing for an egalitarian society that is very foreign to the United State, but not the rest of the industrialized and democratic world.

    I address in the post that if we are concerned about poverty, then we should be concerned about inequality. I appreciate your concern for the suffering that results from poverty. We need to then address the inequality that creates and perpetuates that inequality.

  76. I’m aware that you’re not arguing for absolute equality. I think that’s part of why it’s difficult for you to make your case against the current level of inequality. You’re trying to draw a line between acceptable inequality and unacceptable inequality and where that line should lie isn’t obvious to most of us.

  77. Agreed

  78. I think Cher M. was being sarcastic.

  79. Joe wants stuff; so works hard to get stuff; enjoys stuff.
    Bob wants knowledge; studies hard; becomes ‘learned’.

    You want the government to some of Joe’s stuff and give it to Bob?

  80. I don’t normally get involved in these kinds of discussions, but here are a few random thoughts:

    Let’s maintain the hope that we can create a society that will voluntarily solve some of the major problems of our time; but also realize that we don’t live in that society now. Forced charity is not charity, but I imagine that we agree that 1) all people deserve certain things such as access to health care and education and 2) people will not voluntarily contribute enough to bring this about (even if we define health care and education very minimally and/or see the current gov’t already doing this). Without the intervention of the state and the redistribution of wealth, this wouldn’t happen. So let’s not claim that the redistribution of wealth is satanic, socialist, or anything other term that you wouldn’t claim for the way we’re currently doing things.

    I also don’t see why we’d expect the scriptures to support this kind of situation given that 1) the context we are in is radically different, and 2) they are not persuasive to those who will not voluntarily give.

    BTW, Supply Side Jesus was hilarious.

  81. Joe wants stuff; so works hard to get stuff; enjoys stuff.
    Bob wants knowledge; studies hard; becomes ‘learned’.

    You want the government to some of Joe’s stuff and give it to Bob?

    Higher education usually leads to a higher income. In most cases Joe would not need to give to Bob.

  82. I notice no one responded to my comment about responsibility. While I’m all for more equality it’s not just about redistribution but also the responsibilities those receiving have for it. Consider our own efforts at the United Order which were very redistributionist. Yet there were also strong demands placed on those who receive.

    I’m not saying this to simply make some political point. I’m honestly curious if those arguing for redistribution see there being a demand entailed on those receiving such service.

    For the record I think everyone but the staunchest Libertarian accepts redistribution in some sense. When taxes go to schools, for instance, that is redistributing wealth to aid those with children. When taxes go to roads it is spread out unequally to those who don’t drive much. When tax breaks go to help encourage a business to come into an area it’s a kind of redistribution of wealth. So some of the rhetoric is just plain silly.

    That said, I think many (myself included) are uncomfortable with how leaders of both parties redistribute wealth. I’m certainly not a fan of many of McCain’s or Bush’s proposals over the years. (Although I favored the recent bailout due to pragmatic necessity – although I suspect a better bill could have been written although not necessarily passed)

    And Obama’s announced efforts at redistribution seem pretty mild. (Roughly 2 – 5% of people who pay no income tax getting a tax refund cheque to offset payroll taxes). Certainly I can handle that much better than some of the ridiculous corporate subsidies Bush has engaged in or the egregious farm subsidies that have been with us for decades.

  83. To add I’m cynical enough to fear Obama may attempt more. But I suspect the Democratic House would be far more activist with poorly thought out attempts to solve inequality. I shudder since I remember what well meaning attempts to get everyone their own home despite poor credit did. (Yes Barney Frank I’m looking at you)

    So while mild redistribution in theory doesn’t seem bad – in practice it often makes me a tad scared.

  84. Tom I don’t think we need specify where the line of equality should be to be able to recognize we’re far from it. Philosophically this is called the sorites problem. Put in an other form it’s more obvious. At what point of removing hair from a person’s head are they bald? You probably can’t say. Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t identify people who clearly aren’t bald from people who clearly are.

  85. Clark, due to the non-renewal of the Bush tax cuts in the higher brackets, the effect of phasing out tax credits, and the proposed Social Security surtax, the Obama plan will increase the effective marginal tax rate paid by high income taxpayers by about 12%, to the 48-50% territory, not counting state and local income taxes. That is well into the range of probable diminishing returns, capital flight, and counterproductive tax avoidance strategies.

  86. Loved your post Chris!

  87. Ann,

    I realized that Cher was being sarcastic after responding. The dangers of doing these things while rushing around.

    Tom,

    There is a long philosophical and economic discussion about the difference between extreme inequality and absolute equality. I am not arguing where that line is, for now I am arguing that there is such a line (as Clark said) that lies between absolute inequality and the extreme inequality today. Different egalitarians have differing views of where that line is (though a line might be too simple of a way to think of it). Thanks for you comments.

    Clark,
    Thanks for your insights. Most likely, a Keysian response to the economic crisis, not any redistributive plan, will drive taxes up to a degree. Our impulse against taxes and redistribution has also led to crappy fiscal policy. Oh, and thanks for bringing Barney Frank into to thread. :)

  88. I’m not saying this to simply make some political point. I’m honestly curious if those arguing for redistribution see there being a demand entailed on those receiving such service.

    I know this may take us beyond the bounds of this particular discussion, but since the 90s some (in UNESCO) have argued, and I agree, that the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html) should be accompanied by a Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities (http://astro.temple.edu/~dialogue/Antho/unesco.htm). I’m not sure what the status of the latter is, but in principle I would agree; and I would further express my disappointment that both presidential candidates have not explained what responsibilities they expect from Americans beyond military service and taxes.

  89. Still a bad idea. Since we are speaking of eternal principles, let us extend it to the eternal sphere. Doctrine and Covenants 130 speaks of whatsoever principle of intelligence, the better it is with us. Further, the same sociality (society, by my reading) that we enjoy here will continue, but couples with eternal glory.

    Analyzing these two principles lead to a contradiction with the egalitarianism promoted above. Work is the enshrining principle of eternity. The rewards, or intelligence, if you will, I receive for my work should not be garnished or withheld to feed or reward another. I should be able to give of my own choice. This is the principle behind fast offerings, the principle means by which the Church serves other. Only when choice is enspoused does the principles of egalitarianism have efficacy.

    The denouncing of this idea shows to me that a person has not truly analyzed the consequences of this type of action, which is why I debated tooth and nail yesterday concerning this discussion. Chris, I understand that you desire this post to be a philosophical foundation from which to work future posts. Please understand the cracks in the foundation prevent any meaningful political or philosophical structure to be built atop.

  90. The rewards, or intelligence, if you will, I receive for my work should not be garnished or withheld to feed or reward another. I should be able to give of my own choice. This is the principle behind fast offerings, the principle means by which the Church serves other. Only when choice is enspoused does the principles of egalitarianism have efficacy.

    How do you respond to the points:

    1) We do not live in a society where enough people will choose of their own free will to give enough to run the society.

    2) The reallocation of wealth is already occurring.

    3) It’s ridiculous not to do something purely on the basis of not performing it in the next life. There won’t be animal sacrifices in the next life, should the children of Israel not have performed them in OT times? Or better yet, we won’t eat meat in the next life, or perhaps eat at all, should we become vegetarians or work at refraining from food altogether.

    4) Why should someone who puts in a 40hour work week not be able to afford health insurance for his/her family, but the person/people he works for can own 3 houses, 2 timeshares, and a really fancy car?

  91. Tom,

    “The rewards, or intelligence, if you will, I receive for my work should not be garnished or withheld to feed or reward another. I should be able to give of my own choice. This is the principle behind fast offerings, the principle means by which the Church serves other.”

    Oh, so capitalism in a social darwinistic form is the basis of fast offerings? I have nothing nice to say about that and I will continue giving fast offerings on the my personal assumption that it is false.

    I tend to agree with Nibley: the problem with your argument is that you give yourself too much credit (glory) for the money that you make. See his “work we must” article in Approaching Zion. I can get a link later.

    Is every Mormon principle based in American economic ideology? Or do American Mormons only accept gospel principles to the extent that they align to their ideology? No wonder the united order failed.

    I do not need to be told by a libertarian that my philosophical structure has cracks. I barely touched upon the philosophical argument that is the basis of my argument, one which I am not sure if you are aware of.

  92. The questionable merits of state socialism aside, the United Order wasn’t state socialism. People had to be persuaded to participate.

    “we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship” (D&C 134:10)

  93. Mark D.,

    State socialism in a democratic society is different from socialism in a totalitarian society (feel free to read closer). Persuasion would be needed to get something passed and to get those favorable to redistribution elected. That is the basis of social democracy.

    In United Order communities, you were asked (strongly) to leave if you did not leave according to the social-economic order. You could not exactly just opt out.

  94. mondo cool says:

    Chris H.
    I’m pretty sure that the fall of the Nephite nation mentioned in 3 & 4 Nephi is tied back to the phenomenom of the rise of the King-men as found in the latter chapters of Alma. Improper concern about riches AND power were common elements.
    I’d like to see your next post about what the King-men wanted and the tactics they used vs. what the freemen wanted and the tactics they used.
    And, while your at it, you might want to draw a comparison with the contemporary political climate in the US today. There is surely plenty of evidence that both of the major political parties are off target from Moroni. Unfortunate for us.

  95. Smallaxe, thanks for the comments. While I don’t like what the UN considers human rights (although obviously the majority I agree with) I do appreciate that they at least talk about responsibilities. I think one big problem all politicians have had is in talking about responsibility. Anyone remember JFK. For all his flaws at least he talked about it. One of Bush’s many, many big mistakes after 9/11 was in not getting the country involved by talking about responsibility.

    Mark D, I think that is the way choice was discussed but I’m not sure it really fits. It’s sort of like the social contract theory of America. Nice theory but it can’t really explain how people born in a community can realistically accept or reject the contract. Likewise if you were born in Orderville in the 19th century I think the sense in which you “had to be persuaded to participate” was weak. Basically you could leave penniless or stay in the society. And when it was all you knew and you were taught it was the ideal from an early age. Well is that really persuasion?

    Don’t get me wrong, while I’m anything but convinced Orderville was an ideal implementation of the United Order, it also clearly doesn’t quite live up to the rhetoric that anti-socialists put forth.

  96. Why should someone who puts in a 40hour work week not be able to afford health insurance for his/her family, but the person/people he works for can own 3 houses, 2 timeshares, and a really fancy car?

    Typically due to risk and the allocation of resources earlier on as well as the ability to produce. Is it really fair for someone bagging groceries to be given $12,000 extra in cost to the company just to ensure health care? And is it unfair for the manager who spent 4 – 6 years in college and was able to increase profits to not earn substantially more?

    This isn’t an argument about health care for all. Just the way you’ve framed the argument. The one problem I have with how redistribution is framed by many is that it looks only at inequities in results without looking at inequities in performance or preparation.

  97. Why should someone who puts in a 40hour work week not be able to afford health insurance for his/her family, but the person/people he works for can own 3 houses, 2 timeshares, and a really fancy car?

    Typically due to risk and the allocation of resources earlier on as well as the ability to produce. Is it really fair for someone bagging groceries to be given $12,000 extra in cost to the company just to ensure health care? And is it unfair for the manager who spent 4 – 6 years in college and was able to increase profits to not earn substantially more?

    There’s no doubt that there are good reasons for one person to make more money than another. In this case, as you allude to, those include: risk to get the business started and keep it running, specialized skill, and sacrifice in time and expenses to gain the education to enable the above. No doubt those should be rewarded. I’m not making an argument for extreme equality. One the other hand, those that put in their time do deserve to subsist; and by ‘subsist’ I’m talking about opportunity to provide for a family, live a healthy life, and gain access to the education that would enable one to do the things listed above. Since people will not voluntarily give up their money for these things for other people, I think the state should take the money in the form of taxes to facilitate this process. I think those at the top (5% or so of the wealthiest) should pay more because I don’t see the reasons listed above (skill, risk, etc.) bringing about such a difference as to justify the difference in lifestyles.

  98. Mondo cool,

    I think these passages point to their being economic, political and spiritual reasons (all of which are connected) for that fall. I am somewhat hesistant to made too much of a connection to actual political event today, particularly given the relative lack of info about the political system of the Nephites. Of, course I am not the scripture scholar around here.

    Clark,
    I cannot express how much more fun it is to have you helping me out (even if we do not agree fully), rather than me trying to argue against you. I am very much interested in the social causes of those inequalities in preparation and performance.

  99. clarkgoble says:

    Smallaxe, it is not at all clear to me why all jobs should entail “subsisting” in the robust sense of subsisting you give. Certainly people with families should be able to find a job to take care of their family. It’s not at all clear to me that all jobs should be like that. This gets into the area of responsibility of course.

    Back home in Canada they basically made it such that baggers at a grocery store ought be paid enough to subsist. The problem is that this raised the cost for everyone else, made it less likely that teenagers could get entry jobs (since they were competing with adults), and provided less incentive for people to take the bull by the horns and get a good job. (Responsibility again)

    I think it important for there to be entry level jobs. I don’t think those jobs are appropriate for people with families.

  100. clarkgoble says:

    To add to the above, my argument is that governments ought be making resources available for people to be qualified for good jobs, provide incentives for moving to where the good jobs are, and help people create the kind of jobs that can support a family. One problem of the last decade or so is the rise of service level jobs that really aren’t designed to support a family and the decrease in good jobs. Part of that is the inevitable effect of globalization but part has to do with government action.

    The reason I bring up responsibility again and again is that some people think they ought be able to live where they want and have their needs taken care of. Reality check. If there aren’t good jobs in Burley Idaho I’m not going to feel sorry if you have a hard time supporting your family while living there. Get up and move to where there are better jobs. Get educated. Take some initiative to look for work. It’s not the government’s job to take care of you without you doing something yourself.

  101. smallaxe, it is not at all clear to me why all jobs should entail “subsisting” in the robust sense of subsisting you give. Certainly people with families should be able to find a job to take care of their family. It’s not at all clear to me that all jobs should be like that. This gets into the area of responsibility of course.

    I’m not sure where the conflict is, and I’m not so sure I gave such a robust definition of “subsist”. Most teenagers don’t require the same level of money to subsist given that most teenagers: are covered by their parents health insurance, don’t need to provide for a family, and don’t need to pay for education. Furthermore, I’m not advocating that everyone pay more so that those who need it can subsist. Rather I’m saying that the discrepancies in training, education, risk, etc. do not measure up to the discrepancies in lifestyles between the high school graduate with a family working 40 hours per week and the wealthy. In principle I believe that everyone should shoulder some of the burden (which is more or less already being done), but these people should shoulder more of it. How to get these people to pay without passing the costs onto everyone is a much more difficult question; one that I’m not prepared to answer.

  102. I think a sensible defense of modest income redistribution through progressive taxation can be found here:

    I know, I know — the guy does sound a bit like he’s a surrogate for the Obama campaign, but he deserves hearing out.

  103. Chris H.,

    Children never have much of a choice. Adults can leave if a community is hostile enough. Such hostility however is against the tenets of the LDS faith. Either way, a church cannot tax / confiscate property the way the government can, and any religious community would be in big trouble if they tried.

    So sure there is a superficial similarity between libertarian socialism of the sort Orderville represented and state socialism of the sort that North Korea represents. The big difference with the former is that no one went around with guns confiscating the property of unwilling participants and throwing them in prison.

    Voluntary socialism, even voluntary totalitarianism is different creature entirely from state socialism and state totalitarianism whether the latter is democratic or not. There is nothing instrinsically legitimate – let alone “liberal” – about the will of the majority.

  104. Just for the record, Chris H. does not represent the views of all the permabloggers here, at least, he does not represent mine. FPR is not a monolith.

    Geoff B. (and others) dissenting opinions are always welcome as long as they’re respectful and non-trollish, as they have been.

  105. Hehe. That link is classic Brad.

  106. Thanks Nitsav.

    I always appreciate being thrown under the bus.

    I never claimed to speak for anyone other than myself. Not the church, not this blog.

    Just for the record: Nothing Nitsav says represents anything I think.

  107. clarkgoble says:

    I claim to speak for all of you. So get your opinions in line, darn it!

    Smallaxe, “subsist” usually entails just surviving. Once you add in that a job has to provide enough to take care of a family it’s really going beyond the normal sense of the term.

    My point is that some jobs should not be subsistent for families. For someone to take that job and expect society to make up the rest is simply that person being irresponsible. And if we demand responsibility as the duty to get such wealth transferrence then they simply don’t deserve the money.

    Put an other way I’d be all for scholarships to colleges or job training or even something to help them move. But simply giving them money because they have a crappy job is illegitimate in my view.

  108. “Socialism takes: United Order gives. That is the spirit of socialism: We’re going to take. The spirit of the United Order is: We’re going to give.”
    – Marion G. Romney, April Conference 1966

    “When Zion is redeemed, as it most certainly shall be, it will be redeemed under a government and by a people strictly observing those “just and holy principles” of the Constitution that accord men their God-given right to private property. If, in the meantime, socialism takes over in America, it will have to be displaced, if need by, by the power of God, because the United Order can never function under socialism or “the welfare state,” for the good and sufficient reason that the principles upon which socialism and the United Order are conceived and operated are inimical.”
    – Marion G. Romney, ibid.

    Full talk “Is Socialism the United Order” here:

    http://members.tripod.com/~runwin/socialism.html

  109. Elder Romney is not using socialism the same way I am.

    This is 1960’s paranoia about communism, not a thoughtful or analytical critique of socialism in the 21st century. The first quote shows his complete ignorance of any socialist writings.

    Taking Romney or Benson serious on the welfare state, is like taking Brigham Young or McConkie serious on race.

    You should check out the link in comment #48. That blog promotes anti-intellectual approaches to these issues.

  110. Seriously Mark, has the well for attacking social programs run so dry that you have to dredge up paranoid (not to mention ill-informed) 60’s rhetoric to defend your position? It’s starting to look pathetic bro.

  111. Geoff J, If you think President Romney’s argument is “paranoid” and “ill-informed”, perhaps you might make an actual argument yourself to that effect instead of engaging in name calling about an article you have apparently never read.

    Chris H,

    President Romney is using “socialism” as a synonym for “state socialism”. Unless you are proposing a form of socialism that doesn’t involve using the state’s taxation power, the difference he describes is fundamental. The United Order is all about giving. State socialism is all about taking.

  112. Amazing how the side for a forced redistribution of wealth seems to ignore any solid arguments.

  113. Tom Rod and Mark D,

    You are both done. There is a post and 112 comments of argument (Romney does not even make an argument in those quotes). You do not need to agree with me, I do not need to agree with you. Is not life grand that way? I have refuted all of your arguments… at least those that were coherent. You have made your point over and over, if you have nothing thoughtful to add, please, go away.

  114. Tom Rod,

    Are you kidding me? Did you read any of my comments (esp. #90)?

  115. Chris H,

    I am sorry, I joined the discussion late. I read all 112 comments and I don’t see any substantive critique of the classical LDS distinction between the United Order and state socialism, which of course is the voluntary participative religious order vs. state coercive economic system issue. No small matter.

    But if you don’t want to talk about it anymore, that is fine with me. I won’t comment if I am not welcome here.

  116. Mark D.,
    No one’s arguing that they’re the same thing. You’re tilting at windmills. No one is arguing against the distinction between the united order and state socialism because no one is arguing in favor of something that that depends on effacing that distinction. The fact that an economic system is distinct from the united order is not in itself an argument against said system. No matter how much you want it to be. “Free market capitalism is different from the law of consecration; therefore, free market capitalism is wrong.” Gimme a break…

  117. Matt Rasmussen says:

    You can’t take Obama’s redistribution of wealth plans and think it’s a governmental extension of the law of paying fast offerings. Neither should you look at the commandment to be charitable and think that redistribution of wealth is the natural solution. There are major differences! The purposes of Church’s inspired welfare program are to:
    • Help people become self-reliant.
    • Provide commodities and services that bishops can use to help the poor.
    • Provide opportunities for people to work for assistance they receive.
    • Provide opportunities for people to serve others.
    • Provide production capacity and inventories for Church preparedness.
    (Instructional Resources for Welfare Trainers, 25)

    Government assistance does *nothing* toward a single one of the above Church objectives. The scriptures teach that people are responsible for their own welfare. “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden” (Galatians 6:4–5). “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8). Quoting the Church Handbook of Instructions, the Instructional Resources for Welfare Trainers (37058) manual states:

    “The Savior has commanded the Church and its members to be self-reliant and independent. . . .
    “To become self-reliant, a person must work. Work is physical, mental, or spiritual effort. It is a basic source of happiness, self-worth, and prosperity. Through work, people accomplish many good things in their lives. . . .
    “As people become self-reliant, they are better prepared to endure adversities [and are] better able to care for others in need. . . .
    “Heavenly Father has given all of His children everything they have—their talents, abilities, and material goods—and has made them stewards over these blessings (see D&C 104:11–13). To fulfill this stewardship honorably, Church members should become self-reliant, using these blessings to take care of themselves and their families” (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders [1998], 257).

    Consider also:
    “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 to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership” (First Presidency, in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, 3).

    “The bishop should give members opportunities to work to the extent of their ability for the assistance they receive.” (Caring for the Needy, 5–6, 9)

    “Relief is not to be normally given as charity; it is to be distributed for work or service rendered. . . . The spiritual welfare of those on relief must receive especial care and be earnestly and prayerfully fostered. A system which gives relief for work or service will go far to reaching these ends” (in Messages of the First Presidency, 6:11–12).

    Church Welfare has people work for their assistance. It’s not minimum wage, either, it’s always above market rates they are receiving. For example, they may be asked to help clean the chapel once a week for a month when they receive food. Say they work six hours that month for $100 worth of grocieries – that’s $16.67 an hour. Extremely fair labor wage in any U.S. city.

    The Church’s program has the goal of helping the recipient improve their circumstances; they should be “earnestly and prayerfully fostered” instead of being a case number just getting a check in the mail. DSS workers don’t have a vested interest in helping recipients improve themselves. They just shuffle paperwork while they’re on the clock. The Church’s inspired welfare program is to provide temporary assistance until the individual can provide for themself; government assistance is long term.

    Working to be self-reliant is such an important part of our mortal agency. Redistribution of wealth in the form of taxing income and giving it to those who did not work for it is the complete opposite. I think it’s unfair and completely wrong. It’s enough of a perverse incentive that I will not vote for Obama. Now, if you want to talk about limiting compensation of CEO’s, limiting golden parachutes, or redressing securities fraud, I’m right there with you. But that’s not “redistribution of wealth” – I’d call it fiscal sanity.

  118. Mark Brown says:

    Matt,

    Is there a reason you didn’t quote the part of the manual that instructs bishops to encourage the poor in their wards to make use of any and all public assistance programs that are available?

    Given that a majority of the people in this country who are indigent are minors below the age of 16, I am dumbfounded at the number of commenters who advocate a system where people get only what they earn. What do we do with the children of a man who has a hard time holding a job? I guess it just sucks to be them. Well, at least we aren’t corrupting their character by giving them something for nothing, that would be against God’s plan. Holy hell, people.

  119. Matt,
    Thanks for reading the post and comments so carefully and not just spamming the thread with block quotes. What, by the way, are the “Obama’s redistribution of wealth plans” to which you refer? Seriously, read the comments before dropping blanket statements like that.

  120. “You can’t take Obama’s redistribution of wealth plans and think it’s a governmental extension of the law of paying fast offerings.”

    That is good, since I and nobody else here made such a connection.

    I hate the government assistance (welfare office) approach more than any conservative because it makes the poor like crap. Not the assistance by the process of getting it. It is not so much that the worker does not care but that lawmakers do not.

    I am glad that we can agree on CEO’s

    I personally think that extreme inequality undermines the possibility for sustainable self reliance.

    I have never seen the handbook of instructions for political purposes, maybe I have been to busy using it for other reasons.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  121. I am thinking that I need to move to Europe where the ideological landscape would be more tolerable for me. Though the likes of Smallaxe, Geoff J, and Brad (and now Mark Brown)are giving me hope.

  122. Brad K. (#116),

    Well said. My point is not to criticize state socialism. My point is simply that state socialism is not a logical adjunct to the United Order. Arguments to that effect fatally confuse politics and religion.

  123. I believe letting the king run around without any clothes on is a serious breach of public trust. Similarly I believe conceding that every valid argument yet made has been refuted. There are many flaws with the philosophy of the post, and the majority of the “refutations” have made excellent sound bites but poor logic. When I have a little more time I’ll explain why.

  124. Please do so somewhere else.

  125. Why’s that?

  126. Because you will not be satisfied until everyone admits that you are correct, and that will not happen here. I have made my case, you have made yours. Enough.

  127. Ghost of John Rawls says:

    To Chris H.:

    Well done, thou good and faithful blogger.

  128. Thank you, oh great one.

  129. Though that does border on “name in vain” territory. :)

  130. That gives me a lot of credit, considering how incoherent my previous posts have been. I didn’t see enough counter debate occurring, so I figured I’d get the ball rolling. Sorry to have made a pariah of myself on our first encounter, Chris H.–you have responded nobly to all arguments thrown down.

    Now that I’m all out of the mock-arguments I could come up with on the fly (and not a moment too soon, now that I had the chance to read the passion of the past 125 quotes, less those I posted), let me add my support to a redistribution of wealth, my initial position from the beginning.

    Societies from the beginning that had egalitarianism as a goal, not merely a economic consequence of incentive, flourished. Think Zion, Salem, early Israel within the gospel, Ancient Greece, and Rome outside of the holy writ. Yes, there were slaves, who performed the mundane tasks we now eagerly assign automated machinery, but consider the citizens of these countries. They lived an unequaled standard of living.

    The government in these cases were often the agent of redistribution. So can we, in our day and in our society, perform this task?

    Education. Say for every person laid off, the company has to be able to pay for some retraining program. Whether blue, white, or gold-collared job before, the person should have the option to be retrained or educated to compensate for a lack in depth of skill. Often the most exquisite and specialized of skills cannot be transferred to another company–ergo the need for retraining.

    Security. A person should not fear walking along a sidewalk, going to recreation, or living within their home. It is the duty of the government to promote security. This doesn’t mean put a security system at every home and a police officer at every corner. But perhaps people could be taught how to shoot at gun-ranges on the government dime, or taught martial-arts, or some other form of education.

    I postulate that the ideal place of government is to train in every way needed. This does not mean that the government should choose the exact curriculum in our schools, or that every dollar of every person should be paid into some system with a equal output to all. Simply put–scratch your neighbors backs, spread around the wealth, and we really will all be a little better off. Thoughts?

    Chris, I apologize if I offended you. I skipped over a few too many important comments.

  131. Matt Rasmussen says:

    The reason for my many quotes is to show people how Church Welfare should be run. You’d be surprised how many don’t know beyond that it exists. Plus, the manual says it better than me.

    Mark Brown, I didn’t quote the instructions to use public assistance first because it’s procedureal (a how-to step) rather than a philosophical point like the rest of the quotes. Can you point out where I advocate a Bishop witholding assistance to a family when the father can’t hold a job? That would be wrong. Don’t make me out to be the bully.

    Chris H, you’re right that nobody on this thread made a connection between Obama’s plan and fast offerings. However, I’ve talked with and heard from many members of the Church who believe that. I’m just putting my opinion out that I disagree there’s a commonality.

    You think “extreme inequality undermines the possibility for sustainable self reliance.” This is your post so I’m not arguing with you, just sayin’ I haven’t observed that. Take the extreme inequality between me, a state worker, and a pro athlete who makes 5 million a year. That doesn’t stop me from self reliance. I knew an 80+ year old sister who lived off her Social Security checks and sill managed to be self sufficient. What an example of “make it do.” And, no, she didn’t live off cat food and dumpster diving; she drove a nice vehicle and kept up a nice house.

    Finally, don’t think I’m against assisting those in need. I’m far from saying nobody should be helped ever. I love to help.

  132. I take issue when the scriptures say “every man” as in Galatians cited above.

    Also, members ought to practice what they preach.

    My adult daughter has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. She works in a sheltered workshop. She loves to be awarded the employee of the month certificate for her diligent work about every other month. Her pay is not even enough to cover the cost of her handitrans transportation to and from the workplace.

    Where is this place she works? you ask. Utah. Who controls the purse strings that permits this to happen? The predominantly-Mormon legislature.

    What does her bishop and the Church do about it? Nothing. They don’t even bother to make an inquiry about it or her.

    Query? What does DI pay its workers, anyway? Anybody know?

  133. Tom, I am now confused.

    Matt, thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    My argument about self-reliance and inequality is not so much about you or the state worker, but those on the far bottom of the inequality spectrum. They have a much more difficult time recovering from the negative aspects of a market society. I think that a more fair society can help people become self-reliant by taking such things as health care and educational opportunity and making them part of the shared benefits of society. Then I am willing to talk about self-reliance.

    The irony of the rhetoric of self reliance is that we are never truly self reliant. I am where I am because of generous parents and in-laws. My wife makes it possible for me to teach and continue my schooling by being the primary care giver of my children during the day (her love goes a long ways as well). My first two children were born on Medicaid and my daughter has nasal passages thanks to chip. I live is society made great by earlier generations.

    While I think that self reliance should be the goal, I think that we might have to differ (though maybe not that much) on how that is achieved. We also have to be careful, because we start to think that we ourselves are truly self reliant, we have entered into the dangerous territory of pride.

  134. we,

    sorry the hear about the situation of your daughter. Such programs are often horribly underfunded. I think that the root of this is that we view them (both the programs and individuals like your daughter) from the perspective of pity rather than from one of dignity and justice.

    Unfortunately for many, the Utah legislature is not full of the brightest bulbs.

    As for her bishop, I cannot really comment on that. My bishop is a powerful advocate for the disadvantage, but I am lucky to be in his ward.

    I am not sure about DI, anyone?

  135. Tom Rod,

    Are you purposely ignoring me?

  136. No Smallaxe, this is actually the first comment of yours I’ve read. Whatsup?

  137. #89-90? 114?

  138. 1) We do not live in a society where enough people will choose of their own free will to give enough to run the society.

    2) The reallocation of wealth is already occurring.

    3) It’s ridiculous not to do something purely on the basis of not performing it in the next life. There won’t be animal sacrifices in the next life, should the children of Israel not have performed them in OT times? Or better yet, we won’t eat meat in the next life, or perhaps eat at all, should we become vegetarians or work at refraining from food altogether.

    4) Why should someone who puts in a 40hour work week not be able to afford health insurance for his/her family, but the person/people he works for can own 3 houses, 2 timeshares, and a really fancy car?

    1) Sure we do. Public education is available for all. Lack of motivation (laziness) prevents people from utilizing that free resource, often because they are ignorant of where it will lead. Sounds like the perfect opportunity for positive propaganda.

    2) Not really. Just creating a kink in the labor-leisure constraint.

    3) You have the idea backwards. Things we do in this life continue on into the next, not the other way around.

    4) Health insurance should not associated with employment. Economists have proclaimed this for decades. Since it is what it is, sounds like the person in #4 should ask for a promotion or find a better job. Further, health insurance is not a God-given right. It sure is a nicety. But go over to some other countries where people live in $2.00 a day and are happier than those living on $2,000.00, and you’ll see that stressing over health insurance is less than optimal. Pain sucks, death can suck, but it’s not the end, and health insurance can’t prevent it from happening. It’s kind of like the snap bracelets from the early 90’s–you’re not really cool unless you have health insurance. Yet life seems fine without those oddities. Mankind lived for millennia without it–why the huge rush to have it now? Better to put our resources into cleaning up the environment to prevent a lot of the nasty diseases running around, and to promote exercise as preventative medicine.

  139. “We do not live in a society where enough people will choose of their own free will to give enough to run the society.”

    1) Sure we do. Public education is available for all. Lack of motivation (laziness) prevents people from utilizing that free resource, often because they are ignorant of where it will lead. Sounds like the perfect opportunity for positive propaganda.

    Huh? Public education is based on the forced reallocation of wealth (i.e., taxes). What kind of propaganda would cause people to voluntarily give enough to provide for it (or for other things we would agree are necessary)?

    2) Not really. Just creating a kink in the labor-leisure constraint.

    I have no idea how this realates.

    3) You have the idea backwards. Things we do in this life continue on into the next, not the other way around.

    So the laws of heaven conform to us, and it’s not us who have to conform to the laws of heaven? Wasn’t there a law irrevocably decreed somewhere? I must be misunderstanding your argument somewhere because it’s nonsensical.

    4) Health insurance should not associated with employment…. Pain sucks, death can suck, but it’s not the end, and health insurance can’t prevent it from happening.

    I’m not stuck on the idea of health insurance here, although I disagree with you as to its necessity (I can see that you–or a loved one–have never been sick, ended up in the hospital, and stuck with a $50K bill you’ll be paying off for the next 15 years). The bottom line is why should two lives be so disparate? Is it because each chose it to be so?

  140. clarkgoble says:

    Wow. Tons of comments since I last came here. There’s no way I can keep up with all of them.

    Mark D. (108 etc.) Are we equivocating over the term “socialism” again? Socialism means the government controls production. While I’m not super up on US history prior to Reagan I’m positive the only socialist program since 1980 has been George W. Bush’s nationalization of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and the government buying significant portions of banks. I don’t know anyone else even remotely advocating socialism.

    Now there are socialist companies. My family’s company was nationalized by the government up in Canada back in the early 80’s. But income redistribution isn’t socialism. And if people are saying it is and that socialism is wrong then logically they are led to an extreme Libertarian position where the government should not fund almost any government service. Including roads, scholarships, pell grants, levies, etc. Yet no one but the most rabid Libertarian remotely advocates such a position. Therefore what is in dispute isn’t government redistribution but what kinds of redistribution are appropriate.

    Matt (117) I think it incorrect to say government aid doesn’t help self-reliance. I think people are tilting at windmills here. I don’t think anyone is advocating the kind of welfare that occurred in the 60’s and that was repealed under Clinton. There are other choices such as job training, financial aid for education, day care, etc. There are just too many false dichotomies in this thread.

    Tom (138) As Smallaxe pointed out public education is one of the most successful examples of income redistribution. The poor family with 4 kids gets “paid” in educational resources much more than the rich family with 1 kid. It’s odd you’d pick this as an example. Even few Libertarians would advocate getting rid of public education. It’s the most successful example there is.

    Likewise even people who don’t like redistribution to adults often favor it for children since children shouldn’t be responsible for the sins of their parents. One great travesty in our country is that many don’t actually make this distinction except as an intellectual effort. (i.e. funding levels for school lunches, scholarships, head start, etc.)

  141. clarkgoble,

    Thanks you for the very insightful comments.

    Clearly the type of socialism where government controls that means of production is not the type of socialism in play here in the US or even in Europe. Yet, for many conservatives and libertarians, everything to the left of Milton Friedman (which in economics is everyone else)is a socialist.

    The type of income redistribution that I favor is viewed as liberal rather than socialist within the philosophical literature. However, I am not too bothered by those who label it as socialist, except that they usually do this to make it a strawman rather than as an empirical description of my argument.

    Liberal Socialism (often know as market socialism), the dominant form of intellectual socialism since the 1980s has largely abandoned the Marxist solution (public ownership of the means of production) and have moved towards a system of markets which also ensures the basics (health, housing, transportation) and redistributes to those that as harmed by the markets. Marxists hate this approach for being too liberal. I love it for being so liberal.

    As for the children, I think that it is interesting that we are willing to help children as generously as we do (and that is a good thing), but we balk at helping their parents. I do not see how we can help the children without also helping the parents, particularly is we take that “family as the basic unit of society” stuff seriously. I am assuming that you do not really think that the parent are poor because of their “sins,” but are instead referring to the common ideology.

    Just some thoughts.

  142. Purposeful positive propaganda for public education would be to show the rewards of taking full benefit of the system. I am not saying get rid of it–not sure how that was construed. Clark, I think you have summed my point exactly.

    As for health insurance–health bills are high because medical malpractice suits are overly common. Rather than spending billions on this, lets take the resources and make more effective litigation for malpractice issues, as well as better educating doctors to ideally prevent the malpractice mistakes made.

  143. As for the children, I think that it is interesting that we are willing to help children as generously as we do (and that is a good thing), but we balk at helping their parents. I do not see how we can help the children without also helping the parents, particularly is we take that “family as the basic unit of society” stuff seriously. I am assuming that you do not really think that the parent are poor because of their “sins,” but are instead referring to the common ideology.

    Can you elaborate?

  144. (#143) Can you elaborate? Anecdotes and evidence–the topic is interesting.

  145. Chris: Clearly the type of socialism where government controls that means of production is not the type of socialism in play here in the US or even in Europe. Yet, for many conservatives and libertarians, everything to the left of Milton Friedman (which in economics is everyone else)is a socialist.

    Amen! The most frustrating thing about these conversations is that otherwise intelligent people make the stupidest accusations and arguments because of a refusal to acknowledge the different degrees and types of socialistic actions a government can take. For instance, only nutjobs are advocating abolishing public schools in the US and yet there is so much equivocation on the word socialism one would think that our only choices were extreme libertarianism or living behind the iron curtail. That is poppycock.

  146. Tom,

    Real quick: you can not care for the temporal well-being of children if you do not care for the family. You can not care for the family if you do not care for the parents. Their economic well-being has a direct impact on the health, shelter, and education of the children. We can blame the parents and wash our hand of the any responsibility, but there would not be any moral justification for that. This is likely not evident to you, but that would explain why we have now been talking past each other for two days.

    Geoff J,

    Thanks for being there.

  147. clarkgoble says:

    Chris: I think that it is interesting that we are willing to help children as generously as we do (and that is a good thing), but we balk at helping their parents.

    It gets back to the question of responsibility. Often if not usually the problem with adults is do to poor choices on their part. Children simply haven’t made those choices nor are they really able to be responsible in the same way an adult is.

    I don’t think all poor are poor because of “sins” (by which I assume you are speaking allegorically). However I think the government has a responsibility to provide the resources where the poor can take hold of opportunity. If they aren’t willing to become responsible in that fashion then yes, it’s their fault.

    Where I fault the government is in not providing sufficient resources.

  148. clarkgoble,

    I think we can agree to a large extent. Since the government does not seriously provide those opportunities, can we talk about responsibility yet? Of course we can, but I think that I am in a way arguing for those resources.

  149. clarkgoble says:

    Tom: As for health insurance–health bills are high because medical malpractice suits are overly common.

    While that’s part of it to say that’s the main problem is simply wrong. There’s huge inefficiencies in the system do to the way the bureaucratic handling of health care is done in the US. Conservative estimates suggest that we could get a 20% savings simply by avoiding redundancies and inefficiencies there.

    Malpractice has some effect but one should realize that malpractice suits are partially driven by the way health care is provided in the US. You simply don’t find malpractice lawsuits in the same fashion in nations with robust universal health care. If you have side effects from a surgery that will cost you millions of dollars in extra expenses ignoring lost ability to work and then the problem of finding future insurance what exactly do you advocate people do? The problem is that once this became the mechanism in our country it structurally provided a honey pot for misuse. But the fundamental problem is the underlying structure.

    The final problem in health care costs is simply the technical realities. We can do more due to increasing technology. However the increasing technology costs more money. Now the way to deal with this is to ration the health care in some fashion. Everyone has to do this. But to imagine that there’s a way to avoid the technological costs is simply naive. You can reduce the increase somewhat. But that is the best one could really do (short of ceasing technological improvement)

  150. clarkgoble says:

    Chris, as I said I think the real debate isn’t and has never been about redistribution. Rather it is about the kinds of redistribution. What I think many (rightfully) object to is just a raw redistribution of funds regardless of merit or responsibility. However I’m not aware of any major US leader seriously advocating such things. Even Obama, who has been getting all the press, is really talking about tax cuts. i.e. change how money is collected. But that’s hardly a British style dole.

    I think that’s a somewhat positive step although I also think the practical effects are going to slight and I disagree in the details somewhat. But what we really have to do is figure a way to get many Americans into become productive workers. Robotics and offshore manufacturing simply have destroyed many of the high pay jobs that people could take in the 40’s through 80’s. They’re gone and they are never coming back.

    The dirty little secret Obama doesn’t like to talk about is that the income inequalities are largely driven by world wide structural issues that he simply will have very minor abilities to change. Simply suggest we can salvage the issue with income transfers seems highly unlikely and is a way of covering up the central problems. We have to figure out how to get more people capable of dealing with our new economy.

  151. clarkgoble,

    Global inequality is clearly the problem. That is actually more my area of research.

    I do not think that it is possible for political economy to actually take into account merit. I personally do not really believe that there is such a thing. We will have to leave it at that. Thanks for you comments on health care as well.

  152. clarkgoble says:

    Well I won’t belabor the point Chris. I’d just say that it seems undeniable that governments are functionally able to do income redistribution based on merit. If someone gets a scholarship for a 3.7 or higher GPA that is merit based income distribution.

    Figuring out certain kinds of merit is far more difficult. In which case I don’t think we should use such nebulous categories. You have to only limit in terms of what you can objectively measure.

  153. Well I won’t belabor the point Chris. I’d just say that it seems undeniable that governments are functionally able to do income redistribution based on merit. If someone gets a scholarship for a 3.7 or higher GPA that is merit based income distribution.

    From my personal observation, most of the truly intelligent students don’t achieve a 3.7. They instead spend the time taking classes and subjects they may not necessarily be academically prepared for since they are invigorated by intellectual challenge. Thus, some of the most needing students aren’t receiving the scholarships they need.

  154. clarkgoble says:

    Tom, that’s partially why I talked about responsibility. Having intelligence and making use of it in a responsible fashion aren’t the same thing. So some intelligent students won’t get scholarships precisely because they refuse responsibility.

  155. Clark

    I think we disagree on whose responsibility GPA is. I say it’s not wholly the student’s fault if the GPA is lower or higher. Part of it is the difficulty of the classwork and the feasibility of giving 80 hours a week to one class. Work responsibilities, family responsibilities, Church responsibilities, etc. can interfere with the ability to achieve high grades. Some students getting the high grades get them from natural talent alone, independent of their attitude towards responsibility.

  156. I didn’t see this post until recently, but had I been aware of it, I would have linked to it. I thought some may want to review Nibley on the Redistribution of Wealth for additional commentary on this subject.

  157. Thanks Greg. This post is also at my current blog. We surely do not share the same interpretation of Nibley, but maybe we just come from way too different perspectives. I also do not think that you and I have a shared understanding of what socialism is. This make this discussion difficult. In general this is the problem with trying to discuss anything related to equality in the United States.

  158. “the market does a fine job of that.”

    Have you read a newspaper recently?

    Seems like a recently published book by a French author — from what I read about the book, and not that I have read the book myself — does a fine job of shredding the “the market does a fine job” of insuring wealth distribution.

    Now that we’re 5 years down the road from this thread, it might be time to revisit.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] socialism and the redistribution of wealth have championed the authenticity of the SBoM text, and some have used it to scold those hesitant to embrace government-enacted economic [...]

  2. [...] I am excited about this. Issues related to poverty and inequality are central to my philosophical work and also drive my religious-interests. [...]

  3. [...] have looked at the economic and social implications both here at FPR and at this post on BCC. These are both central to what I view as social justice. I also introduce [...]

  4. [...] My favorite “Why the Redistribution of Wealth?” [...]

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