Nice to See It Published, But How Does It Affect Growth?

This guest post comes from frequent BCC reader Erich S.

An article about the LDS Church and its members appeared in the Financial Times last week. I have now received it from 5 independent sources, all LDS, and I can only assume you have either already read it or will receive it soon. While it is nice to see these kinds of articles giving us largely positive press, I believe they may also be problematic.

While members of the LDS Church should–like anyone else–try to perform and achieve with excellence, Latter-day Saints could advance our Kingdom-building objective more humbly and effectively by allowing our achievements (the facts) to speak for themselves rather than publicizing them. The following hopefully explains what made me think of this after reading the FT article.

I am already familiar with the events and people in the FT article because I’m part of the LDS culture. So I, like you, just learn about this stuff in the hallways at church and through friends. These events sound exciting to me, and I appreciate them, because it makes us more relevant when recognized. Still, I sort of cringe when I see these events and people summarized so admirably and laudably in major publications like this. Why? Because fear motivates people in ways that harm Kingdom building.

If we look at LDS history (Restoration forward) we might observe that one of the biggest challenges that Mormons have had as a people, and which has led to set backs in growth and even bloodshed, is the fear that LDS prosperity and/or influence has engendered in the non-LDS that are nearby and close to them. In a word, integration. From the perspective of those near us (e.g., Missouri, Illinois, Christian Right, LGBT), our prosperity and growth have translated into an influence with the potential to interfere with their normal way of life and “the way things are and should be.” Mormons think differently. We worship differently. We look different (the “squeeky clean” image). We sound different (“stake”, “ward”, “sealing”, etc.). We behave differently. We are socialized differently. We have buildings that non-LDS cannot go into. We interpret things differently. We are, as President Hinckley said, a “peculiar” people (this statement has always fascinated me because non-LDS agree that we are indeed a strangely “peculiar people” based on the same behaviors and practices that we highly esteem to make ourselves a “peculiar people”). Differences are easy to rally around and to define “whose side” you are on. If differences and “the unknown” were not so innately intriguing to people, this article below would not be printed in the Financial Times.

While our achievements and prosperity are things that we–inside–may view as exciting and positive, how are they perceived from outside of our culture (to those we call “non-members”)? Non-LDS who feel they are affected or threatened by Mormon influence (e.g., Huckabee, non-LDS Missouri settlers and politicians, etc.) watch us closely. I have personally observed this in business and law environments. Fear is a powerful motivator, especially fear of the unknown or of “different” people. It is a fear that stems from a primitive desire to retain control of circumstance, which is the ability to survive. It is perhaps part of the reason why we are prone to initially look for differences and critical distinctions when we encounter others that behave differently than we do (instead of initially asking ourselves what good we can learn from these differences). This survival mechanism, unfortunately, helps people maintain a feeling of safety. For example, to control the politics of Jackson County Missouri and its land holdings was to control the stability of life and the status quo. From the outside, the Mormons disrupted the Missourians’ status quo by creating an influx of population that would (ostensibly) only vote for other Mormons and acquire land.

This fear has led to tragic and growth-inhibiting results against the LDS Church (e.g., Boggs’ Extermination Order, the perpetual reference to practices that LDS ceased long ago, or just simply making up never-observed practices as hit pieces). Fear motivates people to do terrible things. Sadly, the Saints are not immune to the movings of this primitive fear either; for example, some Saints tragically gave into this fear as a motivator in Missouri, at Mountain Meadows (i.e., fear of reprisal leading to preemptive actions). Thus, while it is always nice to see the Church praised in popular print, I think it worth considering how such reporting is likely to be received by anyone who feels they may be affected by the Mormon influence. Whether you supported him or not, I think this type of fear partly explains Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination (I heard distinctions from non-LDS Repubs like, “there’s just something ‘too perfect’ about him,” “he’s too clean,” “I’m not sure America is ready for a Mormon candidate yet.” etc…).

Am I suggesting that we should not continue to strive to achieve excellence? Of course not. I’m simply saying that as an American religious sub-culture we may want to use caution in how we wield our achievements, because–if done too aggressively–it can ultimately affect the progression of the Kingdom.

What is your take on this type of coverage? Remember the Time magazine article, “Mormons, Inc.”? What, if any, comments do you recall hearing about it in speaking with your non-LDS friends? I would describe the reactions that I observed as cautious and skeptical appreciation.

———————

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Comments

  1. By The Rules says:

    Press will happen. Better good than bad, at least to balance the negative.

  2. Jack Mormon says:

    I got a completely different impression of the FT article. I perceived it as being strictly informational; nothing self-congratulatory about it at all. BTW, the link I posted leads directly to the article; the link you posted leads to a registration portal.

    The FT article was intended to inform rather than analyze.

  3. By The Rules says:

    Both links are intercepted with the message:
    ” FT.com articles are only available to registered users and subscribers.”

    Is there full text available for us non FT registered users?

  4. Yes, there is–hold on a sec, and I’ll put it up.

  5. The link in the OP now goes to a .pdf file of the article.

  6. I don’t know how productive comparisons to Missouri in the mid-19th century really are. Both the Church and the society it is surrounded by are different, at least in the U.S. and other developed nations. Whether or not people view us with suspicion (and I would submit that most don’t really), the Church and many members of the Church have institutional power that nobody in the Church had in the 19th century, and the U.S. has better-developed protections for minorities (that is, we’re not living in a frontier world anymore).

    But conversely, we also don’t have any control over the content of the Financial Times. It’s a legitimate, and a hard-hitting, newspaper; to the extent it decides that Mormons are news, it’s going to run the story. I’m just thrilled they chose to frame it around Ben McAdams, since there really isn’t anyone I’d prefer to represent our Church in the public eye.

  7. philomytha says:

    I think it’s interesting you twice mentioned the building/progression of the Kingdom. The fact that we talk about our influence as a Kingdom might be one aspect of why folks distrust us.

  8. I get what you are saying. The article mentioned that Mormons like to keep our heads down. I think that’s true. I am glad that Mormons are represented in politics, business, etc. but I don’t necessarily like that they are called out as Mormons. I think it could potentially have drawbacks.

  9. Eric S. says:

    Sam Philomytha- good point, I get stuck in “our” language too sometimes. But yes, that goes right to the perpetuation of the us/them psychology of the unknown and how I think LDS (self included) need to be more conscientious of the words we choose.

    Scott B. Sam B.- The civil rights statutes that protect minorities and suspect classes are, I agree, a step in the right direction away from the frontier. But they have only worked well in practice–for the most part–when the minority at issue has become a “popular” one after social processes and events. And this, in turn, leads to social behavior that is consciencious of those “popular” minorities. For instance, I’ve witnessed publicly held business organizations take pains to not serve Muslims pork at corporate functions. That conscientiousness has diffused into our society. I have never seen the same level of conscientiousness (not that it is needed, necessarily) with serving known LDS employees alcoholic beverage, holding events that are designed around drinking, making polygamy cracks, tithing jokes, etc. Our society is not “there” yet, but it is clearly socially and legally unacceptable to make such jokes/decisions along racial lines, orientation lines, gender lines, at such organizations. In fact, at my HR training “Religious Guy” was portraited in the vidoe as only a harasser.

    Or take, for example, the raid on the TX polygamy compound a few years back on a warrant that was “supported” only by an unverified out of state pay phone caller (who turned out to be a woman who had zero connection with the compound). It was a turd on the 4th amendment rights of the families. I suspect the judge that granted the warrant and the sherrif who got it thought the people were strange and didn’t look closer than that at their 4th amendment obgligations. I would venture to say that these are manifestations of how not all religions and religious minorities are treated–legally and socially–“equal” yet.

  10. Eric S. says:

    I just made a rookie mistake because I was on Blackberry format. I addressed Scott B. and Sam B. instead of philomytha and Sam B. (in that order). My apologies.

  11. Erich,
    I understand what you’re saying. I’ve said a few times around BCC that prop 8 in California was a traumatic experience for me personally, and it (at least so far) has permanently changed the lens through which I view the media’s portrayal of the Church and the possible reactions in society to such portrayals.

    Every time I see an article like this, my reaction is almost identical to that expressed in the OP: “That’s great!…Now please shut up and stop drawing attention to us!” It may be cowardice, it may be a lack of faith, it may be many other bad things–I don’t know; but for my part, I wish we could just disappear as a part of society for a year or two and just go about doing good quietly without fanfare or attention.

  12. The point concerning integration is a stunning one. I recently began Nial Ferguson’s The War of the World – his 600 page behemoth that attempts to explain the first 50 years of the 20th century. One of his central tenets is that the great wars of this era can find their roots in ethnic tinderboxes (Banlkans, Prussia, the Jewish Pale, Manchuria, etc.) where prosperous and sizeable minorities stood as a living testament to the futility of the industrial nation-state. What makes Ferguson’s argument most interesting is the data he has collected on the integration of these minorities into the mainstream of the societies of which they live. What he has found is surprising: the more integrated these minorities became the more violence and hate was directed against them. The cities that suffered the worst programs had the highest percentages of Jews inside them; Jew-German marriage rates soared just before the Holocaust. The greater the influence a minority had on a people or state the more fear they generated. Integration was a deadly curse.

    I doubt the cost of mainstream Mormonism will be so dire. True persecution, by and large, is something America doesn’t have any longer. But I see no reason for the general pattern to have changed. The more integrated LDS become the more hostility they will provoke. I don’t see a way to get around this.

  13. But T. Greer, there are plenty of counter examples of minorities in this country that are so fully integrated now they hardly count (Italians, Germans, the Irish). Asians are a minority group that even looks different from the majority group and manages to be highly influential without raising fear (or so says my experience). I suspect (or maybe just hope) the multinational nature of the US would make turning the majority against a minority harder, simply because the majority is too loose in our affiliations with one another.

    Honestly, I’m not so happy with press that points out how common Mormons are in finance. We’re supposed to be better, yet given the probable involvement of so many in the financial crisis, it seems like we’re just as money grubbing and shortsighted as anybody else. I also heard an interview the other day with someone warning of scams who highlighted the security company that hires RMs who then use the same techniques learned on their missions to sell people on 60 month contracts. I’d rather we were only known for polygamy and weird underwear than for our business accomplishments.

  14. Latter-day Guy says:

    Honestly, I’m not so happy with press that points out how common Mormons are in finance…. I’d rather we were only known for polygamy and weird underwear than for our business accomplishments.

    Yeah, especially when you consider another religio-ethnic group commonly associated with business and money. I seem to remember they’ve had a rather tough time over the years.

  15. The thing that slightly bugs about this article is that it offers a certain type of Mormon — white, male, MBA/lawyer — as the paragon of the religion, and continues to peddle the notion that good Mormons are rich Mormons.

  16. Aaron R. says:

    Ronan, I agree. Although this might be the experience of some, the type of Mormon described here fits (maybe) one or two people in my stake (and I live close to London). For the most part, I think this type of Mormon is actually unpopular in my area. I remember moving into a ward and being called quickly to a position of responsibility. Shortly after I was called, a member of the Bishopric introduced himself and said ‘I guess your one of these high-flying business types’.

    Its great to see good and successful members of the Church get good publicity but I just think this is alien to many British members even.

  17. Very recently there was an msnbc clip that spoke to the advantages returned missionaries have in corporate America. Both stories I found to be dead on.

    I often thought BYU, though predominately white was never given the credit due for having a student body that is roughly 50% comprised of individuals that had dedicated 1.5-2 years of their life in service, enveloped in a different culture and country. There may not be any ethinic diversity, but the diversity of cultural experiences and knowlege you’d be challenged to find elsewhere in such volumes.

    As someone that is in corporate America, married to a banker with a brother at Harvard getting his PHD in business- I didn’t find this article negative in the slightest- it doesn’t show those it highlights as money grubbing, but hardworking, trustworthy, undervalued commodities in today’s market. Heaven forbid those that work hard and are trustworthy make money.

    To the notion that ‘good Mormons are rich Mormons’ there’s a very interesting talk by Ed J. Pinegar about how money is a spiritual commodity, that by having it, you are free to do the Lord’s work. If you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to feed your family, you can more readily dedicate your life to the Lord.

    For those that don’t like the article because it only highlights Mormons in finance- the article was in THE FINANCIAL Times.

  18. To address those that do not like articles like this because they draw attention to us:

    ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in Heaven.’

    We may not want attention drawn to ourselves, but if we are doing the right things, it’s going to happen, that’s the way the Lord intended it.

  19. re # 15, Ronan, I agree that is irksome in a general sense but I think it is probably true that this is what is relevant for FT readers when thinking about Mormons in their world.

  20. Aaron R. says:

    Though this might be relevant to FT readers it is not a reflection of the Mormon experience in a wide number of cases. Therefore his conclusions about their influence in certain professional spheres is over-extended because this speaks to a type of Mormon that is not a readily available exemplar for many people, esp. outside of America.

    Moreover, there is also another side to this which is not explored in the article, though he alludes it. Some of the professionals (i.e. Banking) I know have scored low on equality and diversity assessments in their workplace. It is possible that although they are hired for the reasons cited in the article, I wonder whether perceived bigotry might stunt the type of growth mentioned in article.

  21. JF,

    True, but the FT article is simply another example of a Mormon trope that is at least as old as “Mormons, Inc.” The MBA-Mormon is all that seems to appeal to the outside world.

    Perhaps I am missing something, but I look forward to seeing an article in Farmers’ Weekly on the Farmer Mormon.

  22. The article starts by including the following statement:

    “His is the most conservative state in the US, and yet he’s a moderate Democrat who won his district – and his
    reputation – by helping to broker a deal over gay rights.”

    I’m not sure the article highlights the standard Mormon stereotype.

  23. A lot of LDS people tend to be pretty good at business in my exp. I wonder how many of the folks up thread who are critical of LDS business people have exp in the business world.

    In my middle class stake almost everybody works in the private sector in some type of business. Some even in Finance….. the shame:)

  24. Aaron R. says:

    bbell, no one in this thread was critical of LDS business people. The criticisms are of the article and what it means. I suggested that some people in the area where I live have been critical of this ‘type’ of Mormon, but that does not mean I support their views.

  25. bbell, I’m critical of business people in general. Yes, I realize most business and financial people are hard-working, ethical people. But as a “main street” American who has watched the financial sector of the economy do its utmost to take down the rest of the economy I pretty much have the attitude that people who work in finance really screwed things up. The fact that there are so many Mormons associated with the financial sector–and particularly the companies at the center of the financial meltdown like Goldman-Sachs–makes me uncomfortable.

  26. Eric S. says:

    There is no shame in the achievements referenced in the article. There is no suggestion that these achievements should be “hidden under a bushel” either. My concern is “how” information is presented, particularly in an environment where the audience may fear that they could be negatively effected by such achievements. The method (rhetoric, words chosen, etc.) of delivering information can either help the LDS image, present a neutral image, or can present a threatening image. The facts will be what they are, but the presentation of fact has an effect on the listener. Journalists will chose the words they choose, depending on their biases and motives. But presentation goes beyond journalists to the way LDS convey information about achievements in everyday conversations at work and elsewhere. As LDS integrate more into the global mainstream, is each LDS individually equipped to present ourselves in a way that is non-threating at a social level and that does not appeal to or elicit innate fears?

    This has been a challenge as an organization I think. We are lay people when it comes to our public relations skills.

  27. I really do not see any downside to this article. FT is only read by a small subset of business people. If they read a positive article on LDS people I cannot really see the harm. The article reads like somebody in the church office buildings had a serious hand in writing it its so positive.

  28. salt h20 #18, that is a good point. I think my desire to keep my head down likely comes from a point of cowardice.

  29. Steve Evans says:

    “FT is only read by a small subset of business people.”

    Yes, a mere 450,000 people reading the print edition PER DAY, on average, and roughly double that for the online edition. And who listens to business people, anyways?

  30. Steve,

    The nation has 300MM people. So .3-.5 of 1% of the population of the US read the FT? More people then that read the Ensign. That will make a difference if this article somehow is seen as a negative? Its highly unlikely that a puff piece like this can be spun as a net negative.

  31. #24 what I’ve read in the thread is that those commenting would prefer that the LDS church not be associated with those that are excelling in business and certainly would prefer for it to go unnoticed by publications, regardless of how remote the publication may be. Maginify your talents, just as long as they don’t make you profitable.

    #26 You’re giving too much credit to Goldman and not enough credit to Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. What makes me uncomfortable is the number of MLM’s…oops I mean network marketing companies, started by Mormons.

  32. I wonder how many of the folks up thread who are critical of LDS business people have exp in the business world.

    bbell,
    I’m in the business world as an economist, and I don’t like it. Eric S, the OP’s author, is in the business world as a litigator. So, there’s that.

  33. salt h2o,

    #26 You’re giving too much credit to Goldman and not enough credit to Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. What makes me uncomfortable is the number of MLM’s…oops I mean network marketing companies, started by Mormons.

    I think you’re not considering that these are related to each other. Many of my friends worked for the standard pest control/security system MLMs for several years in college, and they almost all went into undergraduate business programs, and are currently working their way into MBA programs and firm management.

  34. Steve Evans says:

    bbell, I think you just don’t know what you’re talking about. FT is widely read by key decision makers and influencers around the globe. So what if more people read the Ensign?

  35. Steve, I’m guessing it’s because bbell himself doesn’t read the FT that he might have the impression that it’s not an influential publication. In any event, it is probably more influential outside the US so it really is very good PR for the Church to have this article printed there considering its audience in countries where people have an even lower view of Mormons than in the US.

  36. Actually I do read the FT. I stand by my comments. 1MM people is not that many out of a pop of 300MM esp since the FT is widely read internationally. Plus you guys are assuming that the 1MM will somehow take a pro LDS article and spin it badly and use it to hurt the church somehow. I know sometimes here in the bloggernaccle we see larger implications for small events :) This is one of those times

  37. I think rather since most (all) of us have become sensitive pansies (or is it petunias?) when it comes to boldly proclaiming the amazing truth of the restoration of the gospel, we’re happy to point to people who are doing well and even wimp out to the point of wordlessly inferring there is some mystical spirtual reason for it — or just to say, “See we’re not a bunch of oddballs”. (yes, we are)

  38. Typecast Modulator says:

    @31 salt–I’m with you. I would much rather see focus on LDS businesspeople succeeding in a bank than starting another Tahitian Noni or NuSkin.

    AND, when I see statistics about how much fraud is committed in Utah related to use of church networks to spread involvement, I want to scream. Not that wanting to get rich quickly is unique to the area, I just tend to feel like an LDS population thinks they “deserve” riches b/c of their being one of the chosen.

  39. Scott B- Kristine has said she was uncomfortable with LDS people working at Goldman for which she thinks is responsible for this financial collapse. If we’re going to start talking about professions which our LDS brothers and sisters choose that make us uncomforatable- I’ve got a bone to pick with the LDS population that is constantly trying to get me to join their downline.

    As to MLM’s in Provo- agreed, many successful business people that attended BYU sold pest control at one point or another in their lives.

  40. Steve Evans says:

    FT is not only more influential abroad, it is more influential in the United States than the Ensign. To characterize the Ensign as influential is akin to deeming the Penny Saver as such. It has broad reach, yes. But no influence.

  41. Typecast Modulator says:

    @33 Scott B. I know this type and I have a major problem with them: for the most part, too much focus on Utah. I thought we were supposed to “preach the Gospel unto all the world.”

    For me, the last person on earth I would want to see talked about in the FT as a “Modern successful Mormon” is a Y/U/Weber/USU/whatever undergrad, pest-control selling alum, living in South Jordan, getting an evening MBA at the U/Westminster.

  42. Typecast Modulator,
    My friends who went this route are not living in South Jordan and attending Westminster for their MBAs–try Harvard, Kellogg (Northwestern), Thunderbird, Wharton (Penn), and Tuck (Darmouth). These are quality folks, by any measure, really.

  43. John Mansfield says:

    So, was there an uptick this week in influential world leaders calling in their chiefs of staff and telling them to find a few of these “Mormons”?

    There is something a bit odd about worrying that Mormons work at Goldman-Sachs. It seems like any negative line of thought in that direction has to include some muttering about them being “worse than the Jews,” so I don’t think there is anything to worry about.

    The article made me wonder if its Mormons or Wall Street that has changed. Mark Steyn mentioned Mormons as an example of a progenitive minority that has “spilled its banks,” so that Mitt Romney, for example, was governor of Massachussetts. Or is Wall Street drawing more from the entire nation than in past decades? Are there more Texans working for Wall Street firms now than thirty years ago, and is it a surprise to those coming from the older channels that there are so many Texans in the nation?

  44. I’m critical of business people in general. Yes, I realize most business and financial people are hard-working, ethical people. But as a “main street” American who has watched the financial sector of the economy do its utmost to take down the rest of the economy I pretty much have the attitude that people who work in finance really screwed things up. The fact that there are so many Mormons associated with the financial sector–and particularly the companies at the center of the financial meltdown like Goldman-Sachs–makes me uncomfortable.

    Not to be rude, yours is a very common viewpoint, but the financial meltdown is MUCH more complicated than just the banks. Your view ignores the responsibility of:
    1) homeowners who overextended themselves
    2) politicians who pushed for homeownership incentives, creating a situation where many people who were not financially ready for home-ownership bought homes
    3) The majority of Americans who over-extended themselves on consumer credit creating the first ever negative savings rate in the history of our nation
    4) Those darn Chinese/Germans/etc. who lent the US money at ridiculously low rates creating a borrowing environment of low-interest.
    5) The Fed who in tight-credit times increased this low-interest borrowing environment to “stimulate” the economy.
    6) Standard and Poors, Moody’s, and Fitch who gave AAA ratings to CMOs derivated from subprime mortgages.

    And the list goes on and on and on.

    I’m not saying there weren’t a number of overly greedy investment bankers and hedge fund managers who profitted from irresponsible decisions which were catalyst to our collective financial downfall, but this idea so many people have of bankers = bad is a way of shirking their own responsibility in this mess, and will most surely lead to another financial meltdown until we as a people learn the simple rule: When I spend more than I make, I go bankrupt. When we as a people spend more than we make, we will go bankrupt.

    I know thats not what this thread was about, but my hell this is a hot-button for me.

  45. Typecast Modulator says:

    Scott B.

    While I’m impressed by most of the list, I implore you to take Thunderbird out of that group. If you’re talking top B-schools, that is.

    Here is my mea culpa: I did jump to a quick stereotype in my response, which wasn’t 100% fair. I still stand by it, though; I’d rather read about Mormons making a difference in Vietnam than in Utah. Kudos to your friends, assuming they don’t want to head back to be a big fish in a little SLC pond.

  46. Typecast Modulator,
    I implore you to get your facts straight.

    Thunderbird has been ranked by US News & World Report as the #1 school in International Management for 15 consecutive years… In 2008, 2009, and 2010, Thunderbird was ranked #1 by The Financial Times Global MBA Rankings – “A League of Their Own/Top Schools by Subject” for “Best in International Business”, #10 for “Top for Corporate Social Responsibility” in 2010 and #10 in “Top for Aims Achieved” in 2009 In the Financial Times 2009 “Top 10’s in Selected Open Enrollment Categories” – #7 in US Schools, #5 in European Schools and #9 in Quality of Participants.[22]

    More here.

  47. Amen to #44

    Scott, I think typecast may have gotten Thunderbird confused with University of Pheonix. Thunderbird IS located in Arizona, and the Pheonix is a bird….

  48. Typecast Modulator says:

    @46/47

    Apologies in advance if I’m taking an argumentative tone. “Rankings” DNE quality. Besides, checking the current FT Rankings, as you seem to have done:

    http://rankings.ft.com/businessschoolrankings/global-mba-rankings

    T-bird’s “ranking” is #67 in 2010. In 2009, it was #67, and in 2008 it was #61.

    And confusing Thunderbird with U of Phoenix would be incredibly stupid.

  49. Yeah, 67th internationally (as the lowest rank of many) really sucks.

  50. 1) homeowners who overextended themselves

    Home owners got taken for a ride.

    2) politicians who pushed for homeownership incentives, creating a situation where many people who were not financially ready for home-ownership bought homes

    Which essentially manufactured the money that kept the economy going. Wonder who convinced them that was a good idea…

    3) The majority of Americans who over-extended themselves on consumer credit creating the first ever negative savings rate in the history of our nation

    I remember people complaining about Americans not saving enough since the 80’s. Again, not to say that isn’t true, but it’s a complaint that’s been around for a while. Part of this, I’d bet, could also be pinned on the bursting of the housing bubble. Before then, many people (unwisely) used their home equity as their savings, expecting it would keep going up.

    4) Those darn Chinese/Germans/etc. who lent the US money at ridiculously low rates creating a borrowing environment of low-interest.

    You’re really stretching there.

    5) The Fed who in tight-credit times increased this low-interest borrowing environment to “stimulate” the economy.

    And most of them are…businessmen and financiers.

    6) Standard and Poors, Moody’s, and Fitch who gave AAA ratings to CMOs derivated from subprime mortgages.

    Again, mostly businessmen and financiers. Not really disproving my opinions.

    Are regular home owners to blame? In part, yes. Each person should have more accurately assessed finances and thought ahead to what their balloon payments would be, or what their payments would be when the ARM adjusted. People should be better at math. But there at least used to be rules that determined how much someone could be lent based on their proven income and savings. Banks threw those rules out the window, made money hand over fist selling loans to people who probably for the most part thought they could afford those loans. Yeah, consumers should have known better, but banks *did* know better and broke the rules anyway.

    And salt h2o, I’m uncomfortable with their employment being publicized as if there’s a connection between their religion and their choice of career. Nice try at putting words in my mouth, though.

  51. Typecast Modulator,
    You’re not comparing apples to apples. Thunderbird focuses almost entirely on International Business; in that realm it is top notch. Comparing it in general rankings to schools with general MBA programs is not a fair fight. Look, I really can’t believe I’m having this debate with someone–Thunderbird is a top-notch program; it just has a very specialized focus.

  52. Typecast Modulator says:

    @51 Scott – Ok, I’ll drop it if you will. As an alum of one of the Top 5 in any category of MBA programs, I have an elitist bent, and that’s my sin. Forgive me.

  53. #17 “To the notion that ‘good Mormons are rich Mormons’ there’s a very interesting talk by Ed J. Pinegar about how money is a spiritual commodity, that by having it, you are free to do the Lord’s work. If you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to feed your family, you can more readily dedicate your life to the Lord.”

    Here here! I furthermore propose the following insertion into D&C 4:5 — “And faith, hope, charity, and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, and financial independence, qualify him for the work.

    So you are implying that the “good Mormons and rich Mormons” notion does have an element of truth? Last time I checked, worrying about how to feed your family WAS the Lord’s work and a sign of dedicating your life to the Lord, so I really do not get your point (to put it kindly). The idea that the leisure class has more time and means and thus can better contribute to the Kingdom strikes me as the straightest path away from Zion. Shudder.

  54. People should be better at math. But there at least used to be rules that determined how much someone could be lent based on their proven income and savings. Banks threw those rules out the window, made money hand over fist selling loans to people who probably for the most part thought they could afford those loans. Yeah, consumers should have known better, but banks *did* know better and broke the rules anyway.

    So what you’re saying is, people shouldn’t have gotten big loans, but they’re only human, so we should completely forgive them.
    However, these evil businessmen knew better, and since they’re not human, they should be held fully accountable.
    The greed that led to homes that were too big, cars that were too nice, and TVs that were too HighDef is absolutely no different than the greed that led to reserve rates that were too low, banks and funds that were too leveraged, and CDOs that were too highly rated.
    I remember people complaining about Americans not saving enough since the 80′s. Again, not to say that isn’t true, but it’s a complaint that’s been around for a while.
    Americans used to save around 10% of their income, which just happens to be what most financial advisors would tell you is a good place to start. Then in the 80s that trend started to move very quickly down. I don’t know many people who have gone bankrupt in a year. If it usually takes, say, 5 years of bad decisions to make the average person go bankrupt, how long do you think it takes for a nation?
    4) Those darn Chinese/Germans/etc. who lent the US money at ridiculously low rates creating a borrowing environment of low-interest.

    You’re really stretching there.

    I’m not sure why this is stretching. Our trade deficit, according to BusinessWeek Chief Economist Michael Mandel, was an integral part of the economic meltdown and the primary reason for a $700billion bailout that didn’t really help homeowners much at all. If you’re blaming Wall Street for “taking homeowners for a ride” you need to blame Frankfurt, Zurich, Hong Kong, and Shanghai too. Just sayin’.

    But there at least used to be rules that determined how much someone could be lent based on their proven income and savings. Banks threw those rules out the window

    I agree. However it was also politicians, FDIC, and the SEC that threw a number of these rules out the window.

    Look, you and I are probably not that far off in all honesty. I just don’t see how businesspeople are any more greedy than the politicians (lawyers mostly) who allowed the mess, and the regulators (As often lawyers as businesspeople) who ignored the mess, and the consumers (everyone else) who fueled the mess. I think its really hard to come out of this recession and say “Well, its those darn businesspeople”, yes, they were largely to blame, but so was everyone else.

  55. Very late to the comments, but to return to the theme of the OP, I think we have to look at where the story appeared to gauge it’s possible impact. It’s probably not being read by people suspicious of Wall Street. The FT readership is well educated, well employed, and values all the characteristics for which mormons were praised in the article: work ethic, business acumen, tenacity, intelligence, people skills.

    I’m guessing Financial Times readers would be more likely to self identify with the mormons in the article than to respond with fear. This is not the same demographic that would have been afraid of Jewish bankers in the 1930s, or forming lynch mobs in Missouri in the 1830s. That audience gets its news from a very different source.

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