Ron Paul and Korihor: a comparison

Recently, I engaged in a brief facebook tiff regarding Representative Ron Paul (R*-Texas). I said that he was a demagogue (even though I didn’t know how to spell it). A couple of folks came to his defense arguing that he couldn’t be a demagogue, because a) the issues he cares about are issues that nobody knows about and b) he doesn’t have sufficient influence to be truly demagogic. Of course, both of these dudes (along with 80% of the online conservatives I know) promote Ron Paul endlessly, so perhaps they want him to become a demagogue? I’m uncertain.

What I can tell you is that their criticism inspired me to go out and read a Ron Paul book. I had a vague understanding of Ron Paul’s positions prior to reading his latest (Liberty Defined: 50 essential issues that affect our freedom). Unfortunately, after having read the book, my understanding continues to be vague. This isn’t entirely my fault, as the book is both incredibly repetitive and self-contradictory. One would think those qualities would be mutually exclusive (especially after editing), but Rep. Paul manages to pull it off. I assume that the primary audience for his writings are people who enjoy his prose sufficiently that they don’t care about content. There must be some. Unfortunately, I was interested in the content, which made the whole experience a disappointment.

In defense of the book, I think that it is meant to be a reference work, which explains, to a degree, both the repetition and the self-contradiction. Rep. Paul lays out his position, insofar as it is possible, on fifty different issues that he feels are important to the maintenance of liberty (which is defined, almost as an afterthought, in one sentence in the introduction, which doesn’t quite make the title false advertising, but only just barely). I believe that he doesn’t expect people to read it through and, therefore, he must push the same ideas over and over again in several entries, because otherwise people might not encounter them (take, for instance, the chapter on abortion, which also includes Rep. Paul’s opinions on euthanasia, military action, capital punishment, government health care, and secret government human experimentation). What leads him to rail against the influential few in a chapter on demagoguery (of all things), while decrying the influence of the influential majority in a chapter on democracy that comes immediately afterword, remains mysterious. It is clear from this that Rep. Paul dislikes the influence of both the majority and the minority (at least, when they disagree with him). As I said before, it makes his own opinion hard to discern.

Actually, it isn’t that hard to discern. In the chapter on Campaign Finance Reform, Rep. Paul argues that the way to get business money out of the government is not to limit it (because corporations should have free speech), but to make the federal government so powerless as to render it too unimportant to influence. This continues to lead me to believe that Rep. Paul and his supporters do not actually want a return to Constitutional principles, but rather a return to the principles of the Articles of Confederation (the governing principles that the Constitution was created to replace). Rep. Paul wants to weaken the Union, presumably because he believes that our existence prior to the Civil War was superior to our existence after it. Not that he is for slavery, of course (he makes a special point of noting that he isn’t).

But I haven’t come here to review his book (wherein, really, you know what you are getting when you pick it up). Rather, I have come today to make a comparison. When Rep. Paul is arguing about the stakes that motivated his writing this book, he says:

What is at stake is the American dream itself, which in turn is wrapped up with our standard of living. Too often, we underestimate what the phrase “standard of living” really means. In my mind, it deals with all the issues that affect our material well-being, and therefore affects our outlook on life itself: whether we are hopeful or despairing, whether we expect progression or regression, whether we think our children will be better off or worse off than we are. All of these considerations go to the heart of the idea of happiness. The phrase “standard of living” comprises nearly all we expect out of life on this earth. It is, simply, how we are able to define our lives.(p. xiii)

Rep. Paul here is trying to make standard of living mean more than its commonly used definition (which, as I understand it, refers to the material wealth and support one has in life). However, he doesn’t entirely succeed. In fact, he places our material well-being at the heart of our happiness, arguing that how well we are doing materially is what determines our outlook in all other aspects of our life (also, based on this book, Rep. Paul must not be doing too well). It is not necessarily an incorrect outlook, although it is surprisingly economically determined. Perhaps Rep. Paul is a closet Marxist.

In Alma, chapter 30, Korihor, an infamous Anti-Christ, states the following:

Every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime. (vs. 17)

In its context, Korihor states this as an argument against belief in God and against belief in the need for an atonement. There is no such thing as sin, he says, so no need for a Christ. But let’s consider this passage in isolation. The argument here is that people prosper in accordance with their ability. Is it too much of a stretch to consider prosperity (or lack thereof) to be an analogue of “standard of living”? Is Korihor here arguing that one’s standard of living is the characteristic that determines a person’s quality? If I’m right in this, then Korihor appears to have been as interested in the standard of living as Rep. Paul.

Also, take a look at the last clause in the quote. We tend to see it as a parallel to sin (which is used in the unquoted portion of the verse), but there is no parallel usage elsewhere in scripture. Is it possible Alma meant crime, which is temporal and social, rather than sin, which is spiritual, eternal, and personal? Perhaps Korihor was arguing that many of the things that we humans consider crimes are not actually crimes. Rather they are obstacles that our placed in our way by people who wish to keep us from realizing our true potential. Or, as Rep. Paul says:

The same type of fear propaganda has been raised to the extreme by the environmental movement determined to socialize our nation and deindustrialize it, seemingly on purpose.
Radical environmentalism has systematically undermined the defense of free markets for decades (p.134)

or

the envious will stop at nothing in order to achieve their goals of harming those who succeed, even when achieving their goal is itself personally harmful. Policies driven by envy, such as the progressive income tax and the inheritance tax, do not help society…but such policies do accomplish the goal of harming people who are rich and successful. (p.102)

Or (echoing that renowned touchstone, Ayn Rand)

The planners [government bureaucrats] are not bashful in saying that average people aren’t smart enough to take care of themselves. They deny they seek power over others just for the sake of power – heaven forbid. Whether they seek power for their own sake or they are truly motivated to make a better world, most authoritarians pursue government and domination over others by espousing humanitarian causes passed off as virtues…The recipients of the humanitarian efforts never see themselves as participating in an immoral process (p. 163)

Now setting aside the fact that Rep. Paul called people too stupid to govern themselves in his chapter on Democracy, he really seems to be parroting Korihor’s argument, given to the high priest Giddonah:

thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges. Yea, they durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God — a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be. (vs. 27-28)

People who claim that they are counseling you or trying to limit you for your own good are only doing it to give themselves power over you. There is no true altruism in government.

Now, I realize that this isn’t the best comparison, but I hope it illuminates what I find dangerous and demagogic in Tea Party libertarianism. Or failing that, what I find self-contradictory and silly. Rep. Paul (R*-Texas) is trying to argue that any limit on liberty is a limit on all liberty (sorta kinda paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.). But he fails to acknowledge that limits on liberty are what allow us to live together, to establish trust, to create a community. Certainly some limits are uncalled for and despotic, but not all are. Some limits on even our inherent rights are necessary for a society to function. Of course, if your ideal society is a well-armed cabin neighbored by another well armed cabin off your property, then this may work for you. But that isn’t the sort of world I want to live in. And when some people argue that Rep. Paul might be a better Mormon than Mitt Romney (someone I also don’t intend to vote for), well, I feel the need to point out that he makes a better Anti-Christ than Mitt, too.

Comments

  1. i dont think ron paul considers himself a tea partier.

    i don’t think ron paul actually wants to return to the articles of confederation, but it looks like you put a lot of time into this post.

  2. Interesting post which I believe illustrtates the ways that political poles actually arc and touch at the dark side of the elliptic. Speaking of the buzz-words “standard of living,” my sense of Am history tells me that Paul may not be so thoroughly out of the mainstream of our economic tradition as it relates to our spiritual values. My Googling skills confirm this: “Puritans observed contemplation as mere laziness, and poverty either as punishment for sin or evidence that one did not have God’s grace.”

  3. hm,
    I know of nobody who argues that a return to the actual Articles would be a good thing (perhaps if I hung out on Lew Rockwell). However, that continues to be the thrust of much Tea Party libertarianism in my opinion, whether acknowledged or not.

    Also, the book makes it clear that, while Rep. Paul might consider himself something else, he is clearly on board with the majority of Tea Party approaches.

    Brent,
    You ain’t telling me nothing I don’t know. There is a whole Prosperity Gospel out there (even, one can argue, within the Church).

  4. Brent, are you really quoting an unsigned hack essay for sale on a site that enables student plagiarism as evidence for American economic traditions and spiritual values? This is how you support your sense of the American mainstream??

  5. M. Bowen says:

    Anyone who names their child “Rand” (i.e., after Ayn the atheist mother of objectivism) is very much taking his or her stand with Korihor.

    Not insignificantly, you see Mormon’s admiration for Moroni (the General) reflected in the naming of his own son. So too Mr. Paul’s admiration and philosophical loyalty is reflected in the naming of his son.

  6. So, according to the OP, Ron Paul is a demagogue akin to Korihor. What does that make the socialists and progressives who push a strong and expensive central government? King Noah?
    Seems there are plenty of bad scenarios to go around, IMO.

    So, what is worse? Pushing freedom and very limited government, or pushing for a large and expansive government that may give some security, but at the expense of most liberties?

  7. Ram,
    I think finding a balance between the two is possible and desirable. Far more desirable than pretending that there isn’t a third way (as Rep. Paul does). Also, I’m on record as saying that all scriptural comparisoning is short sighted, so feel free to call me on it.

  8. One of Mike's Former Bishops says:

    John, I find your comparison of Ron Paul to Korihor a bit of a stretch. Korihor was much more compelling.

  9. Mark D. says:

    I seriously doubt Korihor was pro-life.

  10. Mark D,
    I’m not sure that Korihor had many options.

  11. Ardis–I apologize for being too glib. Perhaps I thought my outright owning of “Googling skills” signalled the tongue in cheek when it apparently had not. I should have quoted Wikipedia.

  12. @#5 – Ron Paul did not name his son after Ayn Rand. His son’s name is Randy – he started going with Rand later in life. That is not to say though that Ron Paul does not appreciate some of what Ayn Rand wrote about.

  13. I don’t think it is too hard to understand Ron Paul’s views when it comes to the Federal Government – look to the Constitution as originially understoody by the Founding Fathers. Seems like that is what the modern-day prophets have also taught us regarding the proper role of government.

  14. Pedro A. Olavarria says:

    If Ron Paul is analogous to Korihor and Korihor fought against the Nephite theocracy and revealed religion, then the US government is analogous to the priesthood and “liberal” ideology is analogous to revealed religion.

    This equation will work for some people. There are Mormon liberals and Mormon conservatives, who want to claim that they are so because of their faith and not in spite of it. I suppose The Book of Mormon can be used to justify the harmfully ineffective policies of welfare and warfare espoused by both the left and the right. But such justifications say more about us than it does about the text.

    If you’re looking for a modern-day Korihor, look up Anton Szandor Lavey. He founded the Church of Satan and his views parallel Korihor’s perfectly.

  15. ldsliberty, not to be too glib, but the constitutional understanding of the founding fathers would seem indicate that freedom was restricted to white, property owning males. Is that what we wish to return to?

  16. Come on, people. Can we not at least pretend that we understand that the founding fathers had different ideas on how the government would work? Ron Paul’s ideas might be in some ways similar to what some of the founding fathers believed, but the founding fathers were a pretty diverse group. As, for that matter, are modern-day prophets. President Monson’s ideas are certainly different from President Benson’s, which were quite different from Joseph Smith’s.

  17. I don’t think it is too hard to understand Ron Paul’s views when it comes to the Federal Government – look to the Constitution as originially understoody by the Founding Fathers. Seems like that is what the modern-day prophets have also taught us regarding the proper role of government.

    …and so it begins…

  18. observer fka eric s says:

    Korihor was an anarchist: so by “crime” he meant all social constructs of any kind. He advocated total absence of law and any central authority–secular and religious alike. Ron Paul is not an anarchist. He doesn’t advocate the absence of the rule of law or government. Rather, for him it is a question of sufficient government given innate human liberties and natural processes. So while “radical environmentalists” may suggest that only and anarchist would oppose the affirmative creation of a social construct like the EPA and further regulation, Paul says we don’t need *that* additional expansion of gov to have a civil and stable society and enhanced quality of life.

    Also, you suggest, “Paul called people too stupid to govern themselves in his chapter on Democracy.” But the excerpt you provide says that government bureaucrats (not Paul) believe people are too stupid to govern themselves.

    I like the idea of the OP, but I think we’re comparing an anarchist to an ideal that believes in a limited central government and one that is willling to create only the necessary and sufficient level of social constructs that will preserve freedom. But the question of what is necessary and sufficient to preserve freedom is the rub, even among those of Paul’s persuasion.

  19. Mark D. says:

    I doubt Korihor felt this way, either:

    I have never been one who is comfortable talking about my faith in the political arena. In fact, the pandering that typically occurs in the election season I find to be distasteful. But for those who have asked, I freely confess that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior, and that I seek His guidance in all that I do. I know, as you do, that our freedoms come not from man, but from God. My record of public service reflects my reverence for the Natural Rights with which we have been endowed by a loving Creator.

  20. I think, had Korihor been a politician running for office in an area where he had to profess some kind of Judeo/Christian belief to be electable, and he cared about being elected, he would have indeed stated something like that.

  21. ldsliberty:

    “I don’t think it is too hard to understand Ron Paul’s views when it comes to the Federal Government – look to the Constitution as originially understoody by the Founding Fathers.”

    1) As noted above, the Founding Fathers were a diverse group with many different points of view on how government should work. There is no “original intent.”

    2) The FF could not possibly have envisioned the world we live in today, much less had clear ideas about the proper role of government in a world they could not possibly have envisioned.

    Why can’t we, who live in this society, take the Constitution and interpret to fix our problems how we choose instead of trying to guess what someone more than 200 years ago might have done? That makes more sense to me.

  22. re # 20, it was a hereditary judgeship.

  23. observer fks eric s,
    Paul is hard pressed to find any aspect of government that he speaks positively regarding. At least, he was in that book. If the only good thing he can say about governance is that sometimes it fails to interfere in human endeavor, then he actually is an anarchist. Which he is. But there you are.

    As to Paul’s assumptions of majority stupidity (an attitude he decries in the quote you mention, making him either a hypocrite or a victim of cognitive dissonance), you’ll just have to read the section of democracy. He argues that our nation is a republic in order to protect us from the majority, because the self-serving majority will ruin everything for the rest of us. Presumably because they are stirred up by demagogues.

    Pedro,
    I didn’t do too poorly or too well on the SAT, but the meaning of your analogy entirely escapes me. Hopefully, the end of the post makes clear that I don’t think Rep. Paul is an Anti-Christ, just that he can act like one (as do we all on occasion, no doubt).

  24. Eric Russell says:

    Well, Korihor is better than Hitler. So there’s that.

  25. re #22–I know. I was saying that if Korihor lived today, and wanted to win office, he’d hardly be telling people he was an atheist or an agnostic.

  26. observer fka eric s says:

    I think Paul and Rand hooked up. Putting that aside . . .

    #23 – Paul believes in God (a central authority). So he cannot be an anarchist from a religious or naturalist standpoint. He also supports a standing domestic military and local law enforcement, as well as the existence of the executive, legislative, and judiciary branches. Don’t we sort of have to take people at their word when they say this stuff? Or else we are telling ourself–with no real foundation–that for decades Paul has been lying about God and his support of limited government and he secretly is an aetheist and does not believe in any government. I could be wrong, but I’m just not getting that level of insincerity from him.

  27. Jacob M says:

    John C – Paul is not an anarchist, he just feels that the government has intruded far too much into the private sector and is far too involved miltaristically around the world. One thing to note, you picked up the wrong Paul book. The one that came out a few years ago, “The Revolution” I think, was far superior in advancing his ideas of correct government.

    Also, claiming that majority rule has dangers attached to it does not mean that someone assumes the majority is stupid, only that it can act rather stupid. In that section I read Paul as parroting what many of the founding fathers feared about direct democracy, to which they (the founding fathers) found to be justified during the French Revolution. That places him more in a 18th century mind-set than anti-Christ.

  28. Why do we believe the Founding Fathers, who generally agreed on certain Constitutional Principles (note the Federalist Papers which explain in detail its concepts, by both Democrat and Federalist writers of the day), are dumber than we are today?
    Are we smarter than Isaiah or Nephi, regarding founding principles of the gospel? Yet, we believe the Constitution to be inspired of God, according to the D&C. That statement was made prior to the Civil War and most efforts to increase federal powers. So the concept of small government must have been a part of that which was inspired.
    For those so narrow minded as to bring up the fact that slavery is allowed in the Constitution, you obviously do not understand the history. Without such a concession, there would be no Constitution for anyone. John Adams and others looked forward to the day when Amendments to the Constitution would correct it, and it did.
    No one has said the Constitution is perfect. However, we can see time and again the problems of centralized government. Even the concept of judges among the Nephites decentralized power, encouraged by King Mosiah who reminded the people what an evil king like Noah could accomplish.
    Ron Paul is not an anarchist. Neither was Thomas Jefferson. To paint one in such broad strokes would be like labeling all liberals as communists or totalitarians. It is simply not true, and does not lend to any true discussion beyond shouting ad hominem epithets at one another.

  29. If we should go back to the Founding Fathers, we would probably have a country in which only well-off white men who owned property could vote, women would have no votes and few rights, and Africans brought here against their will would not even be considered persons. We also would be a weak collection of states with no Interstate Highway System and no armed forces worthy of the name.

  30. ob,
    Religion is no actual barrier to belief in anarchy. Really. But whatever helps you make the distinction, I guess.

    Jacob M,
    I don’t doubt that other books by Rep. Paul do a better job of explaining his tactics. Also, if you think the founding fathers had a lot of respect for the common man, you haven’t read enough Alexander Hamilton. Believing that the majority acts stupidly and that the majority is stupid is not sufficiently different enough for me to think the difference does anything but give folks a rhetorical escape hatch.

    “Why do we believe the Founding Fathers, who generally agreed on certain Constitutional Principles (note the Federalist Papers which explain in detail its concepts, by both Democrat and Federalist writers of the day), are dumber than we are today?”
    I don’t think anyone here has argued this.

    “Are we smarter than Isaiah or Nephi, regarding founding principles of the gospel?”
    This is essentially irrelevant.

    Ram, you really need to stop parroting my brother.

  31. Dan, that’s a ridiculous proposition. The Founding Fathers included the Amendment process for exactly this purpose. They did not say the Constitution could never be changed, but that there is a specific process for that change. That change has brought forth Amendments giving blacks, women and others rights that were not provided for in the original Constitution.
    So, to cherry pick concepts out of the Constitution in order to demean the Founding Fathers and the document itself, is more of a diatribe than a thinking man’s discussion.

  32. Researcher says:

    This should all be a rather theoretical discussion, but Ron Paul supporters are actually a sore spot for me right now. I live next to one and he is in the unfortunate habit of leaving his gate open and an above-ground pool full of interesting toys easily accessible to any child who happens to wander into his yard. He knows perfectly well that there are lots of small children in the neighborhood.

    Can I draw a straight line between the fact that someone supports Ron Paul and openly expresses anti-government and anti-administration views and the fact that he won’t go to the bother of closing his gate to provide a basic safeguard for the small children in the neighborhood?

    If so, I’ll happily draw comparisons between Ron Paul and Korihor or any other jerk in history.

  33. observer fka eric s says:

    #30 – I understand that religion is no barrier. Even the concept of theism (distinct from religion) may not barrier, depending on your conception of what God is. So this why I also referred to Paul’s secular statements of belief/support in a central government: he has, for decades, reiterated his support of our system of federal government. So again, it becomes a question of sincerity and credibility: is Paul lying about his support for central authorities? We take Korihor at his word regarding the absence of authority, so shouldn’t we take Paul at his word as well re a God/secular government?

  34. Researcher, I’d like to see a comparison between Ron Paul and this guy. Make it so.

    Rameumptom, I think you’re probably right that the authors of the Constitution showed a great deal of foresight, but I don’t think hero worship of them and their document really gets us very far, either…

  35. There is nothing in the work that I read that indicates that Rep. Paul supports or believes in our system of Federal Government. There may be an indication that he supports pre-Civil War notions of Federal Government, but that, based on his other notions, seems unlikely. He is much more Sam Hale than Alexander Hamilton.

  36. Sam Adams, Sam Adams. Sam Hale, a former member of a former ward, has no strong feelings on the Constitution or the Federal Government as far as I am aware.

  37. Jacob M says:

    30 – I didn’t claim that the founding fathers had a lot of respect for the common man. In fact, what I was pointing out was that Rep. Paul is echoing their concerns with pure democracy. And while Alexander Hamilton sure thought the majority was stupid, to say that he represents what all of the founding fathers thought is silly. When reading McCullough’s “John Adams” I was struck by how many of the founding fathers hated Hamilton. But that’s a different story. I do see a difference between saying the majority CAN act stupidly versus the majority BEING stupid, but I can understand how that is not exactly a huge difference. I don’t want to get into a huge discussion here about seeing constitutional law being a bulwark against the tyrrany of the majority as well as the tyrrany of the minority. That would take waaayyy too much time.

    Also, there were very few principles that the founding fathers actually agreed on. The more you read about the founding of this nation the more that becomes apparent. This part of the comment is also for those who keep insisting that the founding fathers wanted slavery and to keep anyone but white men from voting. Sure, plenty of them did, but there was a sizable amount who didn’t either.

  38. Steve E #34,
    I agree they shouldn’t be worshiped as heroes. They had flaws, including some very bad flaws. Some were slave owners. Others were ladies’ men, etc.

    Still, the document they created was astounding for the period in which it was created. Not perfect, but able to be amended into a more perfect document.

    That it was based on freedom, rather than equality, as the French Revolution sought, is what has made it last so many years. Equality, as we find in the history of the French, only led to dictatorship and tyranny of Napoleon.

    Meanwhile, our Constitution, due to the Amendment process, has become better and better. I would say with the possible exception of the income tax amendment, it has made the country a better place. Does it need additional amending? Possibly. But that’s what the process is all about.

    However, pretending it is a lively and living document that can be ignored or interpreted at the drop of an election means we may as well just toss it aside and decide once and for all that we really do like big government trouncing on our rights. Or do you approve of the Patriot Act and the TSA searches?

  39. I approve of the Patriot Act. The TSA is an administrative agency run amok, and I think most people know it, but good luck to the politician who wants to appear soft on domestic security.

    BTW, equality didn’t lead to Napoleon — the threat of invasion from the rest of Europe did.

  40. How does Ron Paul envision the US running in the post-industrial age without the Administrative State? Is he basically advocating a return to a mid-twentieth century industrial economy but with governmental forms tailored to an agrarian aristocracy?

  41. John F., watch reruns of the show Jericho and you’ll get the idea.

  42. Researcher,

    Has your neighbor been made aware of the Attractive Nuisance doctrine? If not, you may want to make him aware of it.

  43. Jacob M,
    Let me ask you this, why do you extend that benefit of the doubt to Rep. Paul (that he isn’t calling the common folk stupid), but you aren’t extending it to the nameless gov’t bureaucrats he namelessly cites?

    Also, you can either have some kind of original intent which is clear and unambiguous or you can’t. I’ve never argued that the founders agreed on everything (and I personally dislike Hamilton, even though I’m on his side of this argument). But to argue for unambiguous original intent only when it suits your current politics seems churlish.

    Ram,
    “pretending it is a lively and living document that can be ignored or interpreted at the drop of an election means we may as well just toss it aside and decide once and for all that we really do like big government trouncing on our rights”
    I honestly don’t see how you get from point a to point b here. By which I mean, sure, point b is possible. But it is a very unlikely outcome. Not that we shouldn’t watch out for it, but Rep. Paul and others always speak as if we are already at point b. It seems like fear for its own sake (a tactic which Rep. Paul decries, but also uses all the time). And I say that as someone who is deeply skeptical of the Patriot Act, rendition, torture, and many other recent governmental oversteps.

  44. Steve, good call. I thought Jericho was alright but it definitely had some quirks. Alas Babylon would make a good TV show too.

    Re # 42, hopefully Ron Paul at least endorses the common law as part of his post-apocalyptic dystopic vision. If so, then the attractive nuisance doctrine, as well as other public nuisance doctrines, will still intervene with people’s use of their property even absent the federal government hovering overhead.

  45. Raymond says:

    #21 I don’t disagree with your 2 observations and I have no clue whether Ron Paul and the FF would view the Constitution the same way, but your rhetorical question has a faulty premise. The “we” to which you refer is actually a select group of elite, unelected judge. The relevant question is how much power to give those judges, not whether we should address our problems. Granted, a judge’s function is to interpret and apply the laws that we have established. But, the more leeway a judge has to deviate from what WE agreed to, the more a judge relies not on the law, but on her own predilections.

    Why can’t we, who live in this society, enact laws to address our problems how we choose instead of empowering judges to alter our laws according to their personal views of changing societal mores?

  46. I agree, Raymond, that it is a crying shame that the people we appoint and hire to interpret law then go out and interpret that law. Why don’t they do their job instead ?!?

  47. Jacob M says:

    That’s a fair question, and one that is not answered easily. I’m not one who particularly subscribes to the “government thinks your too stupid” line of thinking. My thoughts are more along the lines of “bureaucracies out of do-goodism mentality tends to do more harm than good, particularly since they also tend to become unresponsive to the needs of the people which they are supposed to serve” type sort of thing. Therefore, I’m more inclined to agree with much of what Rep Paul says, even if some of his rhetoric is over the top. But then again, when has any politician not been over the top in their rhetoric.

  48. “bureaucracies out of do-goodism mentality tends to do more harm than good”

    See, I don’t understand this. Certainly, bureaucracy can be a bad thing and it certainly can be harmful. But it is far from the greatest evil in the world and, naively no doubt, I think it can be fixed. Listening to some people talk (Tea Party people), you’d think that Hitler’s greatest crime was creating an relatively efficient bureaucracy. It’s just so strange to me.

  49. Mark D. says:

    John C,

    This entire post is specious in the extreme. You have yet to demonstrate even one significant point of similiarity between the teachings of Korihor and the political philosophy of Ron Paul.

  50. Researcher says:

    But then again, when has any politician not been over the top in their rhetoric. (47)

    Funny you would ask. I’m currently reading a book called The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words. Would anyone call Lincoln “over the top”?

    Thanks for the responses about the fence thing. (Except from Steve. I don’t know who that is. But strangely enough that does look somewhat like my neighbor.)

  51. Raymond says:

    John C.
    Despite the tone of my post, I fully agree judges are to interpret, apply, and even establish the law (not that one could reasonably disagree with that statement). But I believe they are not to change the law. I understand the issue is much more complicated than the definitions of the words “change” and “interpret.” My purpose in criticizing Jacob S’s wording was not to convert you to Originalism in a few short sentences, but rather to help focus and clarify the debate.

    Maybe we can’t effectively address our problems without empowering judges to alter our laws according to their personal views of changing societal mores. But, if that is the case, let us not fool ourselves into thinking that “we” are the ones deciding how the Constitution has changed.

  52. Steve #39,

    No, the Great Terror led to Napoleon. The initial desires for liberty, as promoted by Lafayette and others was pushed to the side by the Jacobins, who sought equality. They, along with the media of the day (newspapers) created a mobocracy to first kill the royalists and later the moderates. Lafayette fled back to America. The Great Terror turned liberty into anarchy, as it sought equality through a democracy.
    Only when France’s anarchy seemed ready to spill over into the rest of Europe, did others consider invading. At the point of total collapse, the government was turned over to Napoleon, who later crowned himself emperor. Egalitarianism/democracy leads to anarchy leads to totalitarianism.

  53. Mark D. says:

    Evaluating Ron Paul by the Korihor standard we have:

    Anti-Christ? No
    Preaches against the prophecies of the coming of Christ? No
    Christ is foolish and vain hope? No
    No man can know that which is to come? No
    Prophecies are foolish traditions? No
    Ye cannot know of things which you do not see? No
    Remission of sins is the effect of a frenzied mind? No
    No atonement for sins? No
    Every man fared according to the management of the creature alone? No
    Every man conquered according to his natural strength? No
    Whatsoever a man doeth is no crime? No
    Leads people to commit whoredoms? No
    When a man is dead that is the end? No
    Ordinances are foolish? No
    Religious leaders usurp power and authority? No
    Religious leaders teach whims and pretended mysteries? No
    There is no God? No

    If you want to make a comparison between Korihor and some contemporary figure, you might choose someone whose philosophy bears a passing similarily with his, like Daniel Dennett or Richard Dawkins.

  54. Raymond,

    I don’t see how we could change the judiciary to do what you want it to do. Do we not allow them to interpret the Constitutionality of legislative acts? If they can’t, then who will? Are you willing to give final say about Constitutionality to Congress or the president?

    But anyway, I think our judges do more or less represent our views of the Constitution. Judges are appointed by the president with the advice and consent of Congress, all of whom are elected by us, the people. We have an indirect voice in their appointments like we have an indirect voice in the entire government through the process of representative democracy.

    The other alternative is the direct election of judges. The system specifically avoids that because it is thought that keeping judges above the political fray is the best choice. I agree, the drawbacks to having life-time appointments are fewer than direct elections. Just my opinion, though.

  55. Mark D.,
    I stated that Rep. Paul’s discussion of standard of living being central to human happiness was equivalent to Korihor’s teachings regarding the purposes of human endeavor. I additionally argued that Korihor and Rep. Paul would have agreed regarding the nature and effect of government regulation. I finally argued that Rep. Paul agreed with Korihor that humanitarian intent or altruism on the part of those in authority is inherently a sham. People in power are only motivated by the desire for more power.

    You are free, of course, to disagree with my interpretation. You are free to argue that some of what I am doing is stretching (I even foresaw that argument and agreed with it in the OP). You may not, however, say that I am not arguing something regarding perceived similarities between Rep. Paul and Korihor. Of course, the whole thing can still be specious. It is, I admit, at least as specious as arguing that the story of King Noah indicates that God hates taxes or that Ron Paul has a better understanding of Mormon tenets than Mitt Romney. None of that may significant, of course, but so little on the internet is.

    Raymond,
    If the judges are altering interpretation and implementation due to societal mores, then we are indeed deciding how the Constitution is changing. Unless we aren’t a part of society.

  56. Jacob M says:

    Lincoln is a good example of not being over the top, but then again, that was about 150 years ago.

  57. Based on my reading of his book:

    Anti-Christ? No opinion given
    Preaches against the prophecies of the coming of Christ? No opinion given
    Christ is foolish and vain hope? No opinion given
    No man can know that which is to come? Yes
    Prophecies are foolish traditions? No opinion given
    Ye cannot know of things which you do not see? Yes
    Remission of sins is the effect of a frenzied mind? No opinion given
    No atonement for sins? No opinion given
    Every man fared according to the management of the creature alone? Yes
    Every man conquered according to his natural strength? Yes
    Whatsoever a man doeth is no crime? Yes
    Leads people to commit whoredoms? No idea. I’ve heard his parties are exciting.
    When a man is dead that is the end? No opinion given
    Ordinances are foolish? No opinion given
    Religious leaders usurp power and authority? Yes
    Religious leaders teach whims and pretended mysteries? No opinion given
    There is no God? No opinion given

    In the book, there are no certain nos and a few yeses. For the record and all that.

  58. “Egalitarianism/democracy leads to anarchy leads to totalitarianism.”

    If only there was a small group of clear minded men to save us from ourselves. Of course, they couldn’t be gov’t bureaucrats…

  59. Mark D. says:

    John, you can’t just read a book on political issues to determine his position on questions that the book doesn’t even touch on. He is a real person, a devout, church attending Christian who has two brothers who are Lutheran ministers, and who confesses Jesus Christ as his personal savior.

    That fact alone immediately refutes all five of the questions you claim he answers yes on.

  60. Mark,
    Having read an actual book by the man, wherein I discovered his position on some issues, I disagree. So, in spite of his relationship to ministers and professed Christian belief, I still think, in this book at least, he answers those questions in the affirmative.

  61. observer fka eric s says:

    57 – The absence of information–whether conscienciously omitted or not–may or may not be telling depending on the scope and intent of the book. I have not read it, so I can’t really say other than what is on here. But it sounds like the focus of the book was not really faith-oriented or intended. Those of us who have made representations about Paul here cheated and went outside the book in question.

  62. Mark D. says:

    In addition, Korihor was addressing religious authority. According to the account, religious leaders in Nephite society did not have power to prosecute non-believers, or to compel them to serve God. Sounds like libertarianism to me. Freedom of speech, religion and association.

    If you make the substitution that changes Korihor’s criticism of religion for criticism of government, now you are dealing with criticism of an entirely different kind. Libertarians are not anarchists. They believe that government has an essential role in protecting individuals against force and fraud.

    Where Korihor did not see any legitimate reason for religious activity at all. He wasn’t in favor of a crucial role for religion. He was a “no religion” type. The comparison fails almost completely, even with the questionable substitution of government for religion.

  63. Raymond says:

    Jacob S.
    Thank you for asking these questions. After reading several recent comments apparently aimed at tea-party-style Constitutional interpretation, I fear that many people do not realize what actual Originalism is.
    Originalists and Living Constitutionalists agree that judges interpret the Constitution. Originalists and Living Constitutionalists agree that judges cannot enforce laws that violate the Constitution. Originalists and Living Constitutionalists agree that Federal Judges are not elected in order to insulate them from political pressures.

    The difference between the two theories is with respect to how they interpret laws. Orginalists advocates judicial interpretation based on what the people have agreed to be bound by. Judges should seek out what the text of a law meant at the time it was written or ratified. This approach is intended to leave to Congress and the majority of citizens the duty of enacting laws and amending the Constitution. Living Constitutionalists, on the other hand, would give judges the power to essentially update a law according to “evolving standards of decency.” An easy example is abortion. Living Constitutionalists find a woman’s right to have an abortion in the Bill of Rights. Originalists see no such right. Originalists would have the people amend the Constitution if their standards have evolved to include the right to an abortion.
    It is fair to say that Originalists favor a relatively weaker Judiciary branch than Living Constitutionalists want. But Originalists certainly believe that the judiciary plays a vital role.
    Originalist interpretation is admittedly difficult. Laws are often ambiguous, and a judge has to resolve the ambiguities and say what the law is. But, in my law practice, I find Originalism to be the more consistent and defined approach.
    By the way, I appreciate your second paragraph of #54. I find it considerably more persuasive than your first post.

  64. Steve Evans says:

    #52, that’s a pretty bad retelling of French Napoleonic history, really. As a long time student of that line of history I can tell you that the Great Terror did not lead to Napoleonic rule, except chronologically one did precede the other.

  65. Mark D. says:

    John, the problem is that “just so” statements aren’t very persuasive. If you really believe that Ron Paul believes that “whatsoever a man doeth is no crime”, when I can trivially come up with hundreds of documented statements to the contrary, go for it.

  66. Jacob M says:

    I think the main problem that Mark D is having is that John C is comparing Ron Paul to an anti-Christ, while it’s clear in Mark D’s point of view (which he is probably right on) that Paul is a believing Christian, therefore, he can’t be anti-Christ. In other words, they are talking past each other.

  67. Raymond says:

    #55 John C.
    Judges themselves cannot agree on what our mores are. This is why I believe Living Constitutionalism leads to more inconsistencies.

  68. Judges I agree with are interpreting the law.
    Judges I disagree with are changing the law.

  69. Mark D. says:

    Here is Ron Paul speaking in 2003 on the role of religion in a civil society:

    The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance. Throughout our nation’s history, churches have done what no government can ever do, namely teach morality and civility.

    The resemblance with Korihor here escapes my notice, I am afraid to say.

  70. Jeremiah says:

    Something just occurred to me after reading this review…and many others that all point out a common misconception claiming that Ron Paul is this or that…

    What occurred is that whether a liberal or conservative, a Republican or Democrat is writing the article, anyone claiming something durogatory of Ron Paul is doing so not out of a call for better ideas, rather, they do it out of ignorance.

    They know no better. They have only the influences of the establishment and have no idea what the real values of America are. They do not know what real leadership is…because they have never seen it. This is why they cannot grasp the power of liberty…and this is why they fear Ron Paul and unfoundedly defame him.

    For all of you who choose to follow these unfounded statements…educate yourselves in Liberty, embrace it for yourself and others, and you will not have to pander to the establishment’s false leadership.

  71. Mark D.,
    Yet, when Korihor is making that second speech, he has just been trussed up by the locals and brought to the religious authority. Further, he is then trussed up again and brought before Alma and the chief judge. I think that when Mormon brings up freedom of belief earlier in the chapter, it is meant ironically. Certainly Captain Moroni, one of Mormon’s heroes, has no time for freedom of belief as he executes people for conscientiously objecting to a war. The religious and the civic authorities in the Book of Mormon are the same group (at least, that is how they are portrayed when the people are portrayed as righteous). I’m not certain that the Book of Mormon ever really endorses freedom of belief or a separation of church and state. To argue that there is a separation of church and state in the Nephite era is to misunderstand the Nephite mindset entirely. The only people who ever argue for it in the Book of Mormon are Anti-Christs.

    Seriously, Paul’s opinions about religion are irrelevant to my point (which is why I never brought them up in the OP). Paul argues that people are only as good as their ability to earn money in the book. That is where I see a connection to Korihor.

    Regarding Rep. Paul’s stance on crime, it is also irrelevant. I am saying that Rep. Paul and Korihor both understand laws as attempts to limit natural rights. Also, both see most of those limits as unnecessary. What crimes in particular Korihor was referencing aren’t clear (I doubt it was all crime, but I can’t say). What is clear is that Korihor understood law as essentially human-generated and irrelevant as a result. Rep. Paul sees most gov’t regulation as irrelevant for the same reason. In fact, Rep. Paul sees most gov’t regulation as criminal (or, at least, unconstitutional and, therefore, extra-legal). So both are arguing for a restructuring of what constitutes crime and both are basing it on ideas about the human origin of law. Those strike me as significant similarities. YMMV

    Jacob M,
    If Mark and I ever do anything but talk past each other, I shall be shocked. ;)

  72. Jeremiah,
    While it is incredibly presumptuous of you to tell me what I do and don’t understand, I am willing to learn. What about liberty am I failing to grasp? Can you define it in one sentence as Rep. Paul does?

  73. Kristine says:

    Maybe you need to understand the word “durogatory”–I think it’s from the Latin “dura” for hard/lasting combined with “gator”. Maybe some rare species that only Ron Paul can wrastle?

  74. Mark D. says:

    Paul argues that people are only as good as their ability to earn money in the book

    That is an entirely unwarranted conclusion. You have only provided a quote to the effect that material standard of living has a substantial affect on happiness. While there are those who maintain an admirable ability to remain happy while wasting away at the bottom of a dungeon with festering sores, for most people the assertion seems rather uncontroversial – especially in a book where the writer, as a matter of course, goes out of his way to avoid specifically religious and spiritual commentary.

  75. Jeremiah says:

    The individual John. That is the concept that elitist groups fail to grasp. You and all other Americans do not have your rights because you belong to some group (i.e. Black Rights, Gay Rights, Women’s Rights…or the next set of rights deemed by the establishment to increase their chances for stability among voters). There would be no need for any of these if Individual Rights were embraced. The establishment is incapable of making things better for you without making it worse for others. Yet, every new piece of legislation that comes forward takes more of your individual liberties. If all the time and energy of these defamatory posts were aimed at embracing “your” and “my” and every other American’s individual rights…we would all make a lot more progress…and improve our views as well.

  76. Peter LLC says:

    we would all make a lot more progress…and improve our views as well.

    What does this even mean?

  77. Mark,
    You are correct that I am misstating Rep. Paul’s argument. His argument seems to be that the creation of a certain standard of living is the most important thing in life. Government, however, should not be involved in creating this standard of living. Without government interference, presumably people would rise or fall based on their own merit or lack thereof. With government interference, this is, according to Rep. Paul, impossible. An implicit assumption of this is that, in this perfect government free world, the cream will rise and the dross will separate. So, in Rep. Paul’s dream world, people’s worth will be demonstrable by their ability to earn money. In this world, nobody ever earns any money. Or, at least, the right people don’t. And that is of course entirely government’s fault.

    To be honest, he still sounds like Korihor to me.

    Jeremiah,
    Generally speaking, recourse to group rights occurs because individual rights are not being honored. The notion of “black rights” exists precisely black folk weren’t getting individual rights. That folks still argue for “black rights” is more an issue of continued denial of individual rights. Groups wield more power than individuals and they tend to have an easier time asserting their rights.

    I also don’t understand “The establishment is incapable of making things better for you without making it worse for others.” Can you offer proof of this assertion?

    Finally, I’m not certain that I’m even defaming Rep. Paul.

  78. #64,
    Actually, having a Master’s in History, where one of my areas of study was the French Revolution, I’m guessing that I read it correctly. The economy and government was on its way to collapse, and the only way to rescue it was to restore power to a singular person/group, hence Napoleon, who was a national hero.
    Robespierre insulated himself via the Terror against other Jacobins and the Committee of Public Safety. The Constitution basically died with Robespierre on 10 Thermidor. The Directory that followed failed, and only Napoleon the hero was able to “save” the Republic.

  79. #52, that’s a pretty bad retelling of French Napoleonic history, really. As a long time student of that line of history I can tell you that the Great Terror did not lead to Napoleonic rule, except chronologically one did precede the other.

    Actually, having a Master’s in History, where one of my areas of study was the French Revolution, I’m guessing that I read it correctly. The economy and government was on its way to collapse, and the only way to rescue it was to restore power to a singular person/group, hence Napoleon, who was a national hero.

    Does anyone have a tape-measure?

  80. John C,

    Amen!

    I am too tired for this battle, but Ron Paul puts the sh@t in bat-sh@t-crazy.

    Most of the founders rejected Paul’s ideology during there lifetimes. It is time the nation did the same.

  81. Jacob M says:

    John C – Sure, it might not be defamation, but consider if we took a politician whose views you agreed with and then said that their views are similar to an anti-Christ’s. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if that has happened before, and I bet you were just as offended as Mark is.

    Chris H – funny, that’s how I feel about most liberal politicians! How does that help the discussion? It doesn’t.

  82. Jacob,
    I think Obama has actually been compared to an Anti-Christ somewhere. J Max maybe? Anyhoo, I think I showed up and called the exercise stupid. Since I’ve already called this exercise stupid, I’m okay with that. Mark is doing the same, but also ignoring or misrepresenting my points. Besides, what is the internet for if not for stupid arguments.

  83. Eric Russell says:

    Scott, I have one of those mini plastic rulers from a My Little Kitty school supply set. Good enough?

  84. Jacob M says:

    Mini????

  85. Jacob M says:

    John C – Yes, this exercise is stupid, but kinda fun until either Jeremiah or Chris H shows up and says something even dumber than the original post. What I was trying to point out was that you’re being a little disingenuous when you say that your not defaming Rep. Paul and and the same time comparing him to an anti-Christ. For the record, while I disagree with Pres. Obama about many things, I would never compare him to an anti-Christ because it is the easy way out of an argument. It’s almost like playing the Hitler card, only slighty more subtle (if subtle can be used in this context).

  86. Mike Parker says:

    John C.’s BCC post fairly screams “GODWIN’S LAW!” When you have to go so far as to compare a (Methodist Christian, BTW) political figure to the Book of Mormon’s most notorious anti-Christ, you’ve jumped the shark.

    Add to that John C.’s condescension and disdain for Paul and anyone who actually is stupid enough to support him. “I assume that the primary audience for his writings are people who enjoy his prose sufficiently that they don’t care about content.” “I believe that [Ron Paul] doesn’t expect people to read [his book] through….” Etc. Yes, John, contrary to what you may think, there are people who actually believe in the same principles as Ron Paul and listen to the content of his message. In fact, far from being the charismatic, all-things-to-all people presidential candidate (like the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue), Paul’s lack of charisma is part of his appeal — it’s his ideas that his supporters are interested in. (I, for one, read his book to understand his positions. Even though I disagree with him on abortion policy, his book made me think a second time about my views on it.)

    Finally, John C.’s argument falls apart when he quotes Alma 30:17, gives lip service to the importance of context, and then proceeds to “consider this passage in isolation.” One can make any argument one wishes from quoting scripture (even IN context). John C. hates Ron Paul and his ideas, and so Kohihor becomes the perfect comparison for John. Let’s disregard the staggering differences between the two individuals and focus on one out-of-context passage that could mean anything one wants it to mean.

    This was a mean-spirited, condescending post, unworthy of BCC.

  87. Jacob,
    The thing is I never actually call Rep. Paul an anti-Christ nor do I think he is one. I made the comparison, in part, to demonstrate how easy it is to wrest scripture in this manner. The bulk of my argument with Rep. Paul takes place in the earlier part of the post, where I point out that his approach is inherently self-contradictory and (although I never say it) incredibly thoughtless. The comparing to Korihor gives me a pass to put it up on a Mormon blog, but I don’t really take it that seriously. Do I think he says some offensive and short-sighted things? Yes, I do. But I’ve called out other folks of other political persuasions for that before, too (including President Obama).

    Now, I am serious about finding a lot in common with Tea Party libertarianism and Korihor, but that has as much to do with Ayn Rand as it does Rep. Paul (who seems to attempt to be a Christian version of the same philosophy). But I’ve been making that argument for a while now and it isn’t inherently all that interesting anymore. I am picking on Rep. Paul here because of those commonalities and because people seem to think he is some sorta quasi-Mormon (like C. S. Lewis, whom I’m sure would be shocked at all the use we put his work to).

    Finally, for me, the fun really starts when the Jeremiahs of the world show up. If only he would continue to enlighten me on the meaning of this “lib-ur-tee” of which he speaks…

  88. Jacob M says:

    I am picking on Rep. Paul here because of those commonalities and because people seem to think he is some sorta quasi-Mormon (like C. S. Lewis, whom I’m sure would be shocked at all the use we put his work to).

    Now that’s something I can agree with. I had no idea a lot of Mormon’s thought of Paul as a quasi-Mormon. (I live in So Cal, so while I’m around plenty of members, we’re usually not in the loop on things like this.) That is hilarious. For my own personal views, I look at Rep. Paul’s views as a counter-balance to the Nanny State philosophy that feels everything needs to be regulated, even the amount of soda that is in a high school, or the amount of trans-fat that a restaraunt decides to use.

    And while there are definite connections between Ayn Rand and libertarianism, doesn’t mean that either of them are 100% wrong.

    Lastly, Liberty is Freedom, which Freedom is Liberty, which isn’t free, but keeps us free, as long as you think like I do, and if you believe otherwise, you must hate this Freedom and Liberty, and are really a terrorist in sheep’s clothing. :)

  89. John C.’s BCC post fairly screams “GODWIN’S LAW!”

    Indeed it does. Pretty sure John C knew that when he wrote it, and was being cute to make a different point. (see his #87)

    When you have to go so far as to compare a (Methodist Christian, BTW) political figure to the Book of Mormon’s most notorious anti-Christ, you’ve jumped the shark.

    When you can’t see that a post like this isn’t entirely serious, you’ve jumped the shark.

  90. Mike,
    First of all, I assure mean-spirited and condescending are de rigueur here. My post is entirely worthy of BCC.

    With that out of the way, I’m glad somebody finally pointed out the petty shots I was taking at Rep. Paul (R*-Texas) throughout the post. I was starting to think I was off my game.

    Regarding the book, if it was meant to make clear his positions (as one might assume is the purpose of a book entitled Liberty Defined), it failed. It is exactly as contradictory as the OP described. Unless I’m missing some through thread, which is always possible.

    It is possible that I am engaging in the LDS version of Godwin’s Law. However, since there have been recent posts at other LDS posts comparing various modern political movements and ideas to scriptural antecedents (without much success, I admit), I thought that it was okay to do that now. Please send me a copy of the blogger’s handbook so that I will know which comparisons are “beyond the pale” from now on. Hitler and Korihor are there. Howsabout Satan himself?

    As to the book, it doesn’t have a clear narrative thread and it is divided by topics. That structurally isn’t a book that is meant to be read all the way through in one sitting. It is a book that is meant to be reference when you are interested in a particular topic. I admit that I take unfair advantage of the format to take pot shots of Rep. Paul, but I think he is taking advantage of the format to throw consistency to the wind. YMMV

    I’m happy to consider the passage in context, too. In context, he is explaining why he thinks we don’t need a Savior (because there is no sin). In context, he then says that people succeed or fail based on their own abilities and efforts and that this is the way things should be. Also, many things (possibly all things) that society says are crimes are not criminal, just society’s preferences. We are people who should not be tied down by what society (especially, it later turns out, societal authorities) tell us to do, because that keeps us from our potential. In context, it really means the same thing it meant out of context. It’s just easier to consider those meanings without the context.

    Thank you, again, for commenting.

  91. observer fka eric s says:

    “I am picking on Rep. Paul here because of those commonalities and because people seem to think he is some sorta quasi-Mormon.” This turns the corner to a discussion that is typcially bothersome to some Mormons–particularly those of the Republican persuassion. Paul/Rand and like view things in a way that promotes individual freedom by reducing the size of authority. And that resonates with one of the principle virtues of Mormonism: agency.

  92. Mike Parker says:

    John,

    I don’t expect you to be an expert on all things Ron Paul, but he has stated in recent interviews, when asked about the order of topics in his recent book, that it was the publisher’s idea to make it alphabetical. Personally I would have preferred if it were organized with a topical flow, with his thoughts on Austrian economics and Keynesian theory adjacent to each other, and so forth.

    Your “see, I was trying to make a point” backpedalling is disappointing. A really good post on Paul’s thoughts compared and contrasted with LDS scripture would have been an interesting read. Instead all we got was cheap sensationalism. Pity, that.

  93. Jacob M.,

    Did you used to go by Jacob J.?

  94. Mike,
    I’m not backpedaling. I’ve that the post was written in order to demonstrate the futility of drawing comparisons between scripture and modern political movements and I’ve said that I wrote the post to take cheap shots at Rep. Paul. I’ve done both, I think.

    I also said that I wrote the post because I see commonalities between Korihor’s thought and Rep. Paul’s thought (and by extension Tea Party Libertarianism’s thought). I definitely haven’t backed down from that. I’m happy to keep referring to those commonalities (an idea that laws that derive from people are not binding, that people’s worth is determined by their ability to establish a proper standard of living, that establishing that standard is the most important activity in which individuals engage, that government governs best when it governs not at all and doesn’t exist). I’m happy to be corrected on those assumptions, but I need proof. My assumptions come from my observations.

  95. I think Jacob J and Jacob M are two different people, Chris.

  96. Bruce Nielson says:

    John,

    While I think calling Ron Paul a “demagogue” is mere fighting words, I do actually have something to add to this comment of yours:

    “Rep. Paul and his supporters do not actually want a return to Constitutional principles, but rather a return to the principles of the Articles of Confederation”

    I don’t know much about Rep Paul nor do I care to explore it even as much as you have. But it is my understanding that he is a hard care libertarian.

    There are actually two types of libertarians and they are not the same or — frankly — even related except by the concept of ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend.’

    The first type of libertarian is actually a conservative that is so staunch that they want to go back to the constitution as it was originaly intended. So they favor states rights, small federal government, etc, etc.

    The second type is the true ideological libertarian. This person has no interest in the constitution at all except in the sense that it just so happens that the original intent of the constitution happens to aim us in the general direction they are interested in.

    And what are they interested in? A government that has no power at all except in some very very limited ways, namely:

    1. Military defense. (And here I mean literally ‘defense’ in the original sense. No offense.)
    2. Enforcement of personal contracts
    3. Enforcement of laws against “initial use of force” (a concept these libertarians assume is obvious, though in fact it’s maddenly hard to actually legally define.)
    4. Maybe… just maybe… some really limited public goods

    So Ron Paul’s rhetoric seems consistent with ideological libertarianism rather than the “conservative” variety. Therefore, you are probably right that if he had his way he’d not choose to go back to the constitution’s original intent except as a way point to something better. However, you are probably dead wrong about him wanting to go to the articles of confederation as that isn’t even close to what ideological libertarians really want either. (For one thing, no real defense.)

    I confess, after many hours of debates with an ideological libertarian friend, I think they do have one point worth mentioning: no one has ever tried their approach ever in the history of the world. So we don’t really know if it would work or not.

    But of course that also happens to be my main criticism of it too.

  97. Bruce Nielson says:

    “I assure mean-spirited and condescending are de rigueur here”

    Yup.

  98. Mean-spirited is better than rabid ignorance.

  99. Ah, Bruce. If only we could find some utopian internet hub, wherein we were only ever nice to one another. C’est la guerre.

  100. “no one has ever tried their approach ever in the history of the world. So we don’t really know if it would work or not.”

    Our Constitution prevents any particular ideological approach from being tried in a pure sense. Thank goodness.

  101. Bruce Nielson says:

    Oh, I forgot to explain the most important part.

    “Conservative” Libertarians see that list above as applying at the Federal level only.

    Ideological Libertarians believe it would be best to apply it to all levels of government including local government. Obviously this would be directly at odds with the original intrepretation of the consitution’s idea of state’s rights. It would require a new constitution that limited state and local governement’s ability to make certain kinds of laws.

  102. Bruce Nielson says:

    “Ah, Bruce. If only we could find some utopian internet hub, wherein we were only ever nice to one another. C’est la guerre.”

    It also helps to actually try.

  103. You’ve cut me to the quick, sir. Pistols at dawn!

  104. Jacob M says:

    I am Jacob M only. No relation to Jacob S. But maybe now that you are asking me direct questions I will refrain from saying your comment was dumb. I take it back, since I know that you really are a smart person from your other blog. I still disagree with your comment, but it wasn’t as dumb as I made it out to be.

  105. Jacob M says:

    I meant Jacob J. Where the h##l did I get S? Anyway, I have not ever been Jacob J.

  106. As a BCC wannabe, I was going for mean. I guess I failed. I wrote a post about Patrick Henry that sums up my feelings about this type of conservatism. If I were not at a baseball game, I would find a link.

  107. I kind of (sort of) resent the implication that BCC is always mean and condescending, or that there is no actual effort put forth to be nice. While I can’t argue with a straight face that there isn’t a some snark and snot and spit on a daily basis, I don’t think that such represents a meaningful fraction of a fraction of BCC’s total output–either in the OPs or the comments. I personally try to be nice a vasty majority of the time, and I know that my cobloggers do likewise. If there are moments when I’m intentionally rude, then I hope I get called on it, and I try to call my cobloggers out on it. Unintentional rudeness, on the other hand…

  108. Scott, I was just mocking the whining.

  109. Chris,
    I was replying to Bruce.

  110. Oh, got it. Just making sure.

  111. did you seriously just waste time writing this nonsense? it was so dull and drab and such an egregious stretch of the imagination that I ended up skimming thru it rolling my eyes. but what should one expect from a site with overwhelmingly liberal lds authors. *yawn*

  112. observer,

    #18,

    Korihor was an anarchist: so by “crime” he meant all social constructs of any kind. He advocated total absence of law and any central authority–secular and religious alike. Ron Paul is not an anarchist.

    I think anarchy has evolved into something rather structured today, and today’s anarchists tend to like Ron Paul, a lot. That may be a bit guilt by association, but today’s anarchists really like what Ron Paul has to say. Certainly Lew Rockwell and the Mises guys.

  113. Thomas Parkin says:

    “overwhelmingly liberal lds authors”

    You mean your liberal brothers in Christ?

  114. Mark D. says:

    The philosophy of Ludwig von Mises does not bear even a passing resemblance to anarchism. Here is Mises on the subject:

    Government as such is not only not an evil, but the most necessary and beneficial institution, as without it no lasting social cooperation and no civilization would be possible

    A shallow-minded school of social philosophers, the anarchists, chose to ignore the matter by suggesting a stateless organization of mankind. They simply passed over the fact that men are not angels. They were too dull to realize that in the short run an individual or a group of individuals can certainly further their own interests at the expense of their own and all other peoples’ long-run interests. A society that is not prepared to thwart the attacks of such asocial and short-sighted aggressors is helpless and at the mercy of its least intelligent and most brutal members.

    More here. Like Friedrich A. Hayek, Mises considered himself a (classical) liberal.

  115. Mark D. says:

    The problem with the criticism of Ron Paul here is that it is so unfounded that no actual libertarian or acquaintance of the man could believe that it bears a relationship with any sort of fact. It is all rumor and superstition.

    Nothing has been said here by way of criticism that anyone familiar with the man or his philosophy could count even one iota in the direction of a fair argument. Its a hatchet job, a hit piece, followed by a series of caricatures and distortions.

    If you really want to critique classical liberalism, it might help if you learned a little bit about the subject first.

  116. It’s posts like this that remind me that there are times when one shouldn’t click “post” every time after writing something.

    It’s like an IQ black hole forming.

  117. My own view is that Ron Paul’s views are very close to the Founders as a whole. He has consistently upheld the Constitution in his votes, and his views seem the most compatible with everything I have read on political matters from Church leaders (and I’ve read quite a bit). I believe he is an honest, intelligent, humble man who believes in Christ, believes in the Constitution, loves liberty, and wants to do what’s right. Everything I have heard from him has supported this view.

    Those who want more government need to understand the importance of rights and agency a little more, and those who want government to direct the higher laws of morality need to understand we are not here to impose values on others safe in defence of life, liberty and property. Something that helped me move toward the libertarian (classical liberal) stance which I believe the prophets and Founders have and do espouse was Mark Skousen’s excellent short essay “Persuasion vs Force”. It was praised by Gordon B. Hinckley and I’d recommend everyone read it. There’s a link to it on my site ( http://www.ldsfreedomportal.net ) , as well as to a whole host of sources I have put together over the years of speeches etc. from Church leaders (and works they have recommended) on matters to do with government.

  118. Tim,
    “did you seriously just waste time writing this nonsense?”
    Something I ask myself after every post.

    *yawn*
    Back atcha, babe.

    Mark,
    I believe Daniel is referring to the Mises group and the folks who comment there, who may not reflect Mises actual outlook.

    “the criticism of Ron Paul here is that it is so unfounded”
    What exactly do you think the criticism of Ron Paul here is? I’ve tried to be clear, but I have a persistent sense you are countering things I’m not arguing.

    N,
    “It’s like an IQ black hole forming”
    And yet we somehow sucked you in.

    Darren,
    “who want more government need to understand the importance of rights and agency”
    What leads you to believe that I don’t understand the importance of rights and agency? Maybe I just disagree with you. It isn’t necessarily a matter of ignorance or ill will. It is possible that I think rights talk, while important, is less important than other matters. Perhaps that demonstrates my ignorance, but you should be able to explain why your view is superior, rather than different.

    “those who want government to direct the higher laws of morality need to understand we are not here to impose values on others safe in defence of life, liberty and property”
    There has never ever been, nor ever will be, a government or a movement concerning government (including libertarianism, classical liberalism, the Austrian school, Keynesianism, and the KISS army) that has not done (and sought to do) this.

  119. britt k says:

    I get the mild satire of manipulating scripture to make a unique individual analagous to an evil guy God would punish with death.

    I’m with Mark D. You set up a mythical Ron Paul to knock down. There are things to dislike about Ron Paul..and relaly any person. I just didn’t get the connection of the person you were discribing to Ron Paul…so the leap to Korihor was just lost satire.

    You can point at a yellow balloon and say it’s like the sun, but if you are color blind and the balloon is really blue…it just doesn’t work. (spoken as one who has argued with her loving brother about whether grass was green or not. HI NORM…IT’S GREEN-but I’m guessing you figured that out by now!)

  120. John C, it is late to the game, but I will add my two cents.

    Four years ago I would have cheered a post like this. I believe I used the work “wacko” in a debate with Mike Parker to describe Ron Paul back then.

    The interesting thing is that since then we had the 2007-2008 financial crisis, which Ron Paul predicted with eerie accuracy. We had the predictable Keynesian response, which has failed miserably (again, Ron Paul predicted this). And we have seen President Obama campaign to 1)end Guantanamo 2)end foreign wars in the Middle East and 3)end the Patriot Act. As most people know, President Obama has done none of these things, which also is something Ron Paul predicted.

    I began to take him more seriously in 2009. After listening to him (I subscribe to his podcasts) and reading the same book you despise so much I came to the conclusion that I had made some serious mistakes in my judgement of the man. At the very least, I had to give him credit for being right on some of the most important issues. And if he was right on these issues (where so many of us were wrong), why not find out what else he has to say?

    In any case, you get some credit for reading his book. I am not surprised at your reaction. Perhaps as time passes you will have some of the same epiphanies I did. Or not. But I can hope.

  121. britt,
    Who was I describing? Tell me what my straw man was and I’ll do my best to fix it.

  122. John, wasn’t really aiming anything at you but rather at general political views and positions that exist both in and out of the Church.

    Libertarianism seeks to only impose force under minimum conditions where the rights to the exercise of life, liberty, and to control and own property, are explicity violated (or an attempt being made to do so). As a lowest common denominator, most (if not all) people would agree that they don’t want these things violated. From a gospel point of view, these rights allow us to fufil the measure of our creation – they allow us to manifest our agency physically in the world. When they are violated that manifestation is limited and so our potential for helping others. As for the “higher laws” I believe these should be contracted into (covenant) and not imposed. Imposition should only exist in defence of those natural rights.

  123. britt k says:

    I just agree with Mark D that the Ron Paul you discribe and the actual Ron Paul are not the same. Maybe your’s needs a trademark * or something.

  124. Darren,
    If told you that I thought that I don’t think that the right to control and own property is as important as the rights to life and liberty, even though I do think it is very important, what would be your response? Could a morally uplifting system be created under those circumstances?

    Also, I’m not sure what you are referring to by “higher laws.” And I’m not sure how a Constitution isn’t a contract or a covenant. Could you explain those points?

    britt,
    How are they different? That was my question.

  125. Perhaps another similarity between the anti-Christs in the Book of Mormon and Ron Paul is the ability to attract fanatical followers. Many of the comments on this thread are excellent evidence of this.

    To those with reading comprehension difficulties, no one on this thread has said that your favorite politician is the anti-Christ (although plenty of people I know believe that a certain politician is the anti-Christ, and it’s not Ron Paul). Korihor wasn’t just an anti-Christ–he also had very specific ideas about the rights of man, ideas that are shared by the likes of Ayn Rand and yes, Ron Paul.

  126. My feeling is that you cannot separate life, liberty and property. Essentially they all boil down to property (of body and possessions). Without property, to give a small example, there would be no free speech (as you would have to ask permission of whoever owned the platform from which you spoke). This, I believe, is why the Adversary assaults the right to the ownership and control of property because it effectively erodes every right upon which it is based – which is just about all rights. Indeed, the more I have looked into this aspect the more I have become convinced that the more righteous a society is, the more it respects the property of others. I would highly recommend the late Clarence B. Carson’s “The Property Basis of Rights” at http://www.thefreemanonline.org/columns/the-property-basis-of-rights/ in this regard.

    Yes, the Constitution was seen as a covenant. The concept behind compacts is that people choose to live in such a way, and in such a place, as fits their own values. It facilitates a natural congregation of like-minded people. By entering a compact (just as a religious covenant) you rob no one of their right to live in the moral environment of their own choosing whilst preserving everyone’s liberty (force of law protecting natural rights). Joel Skousen goes into quite some detail as to how this might work at http://www.joelskousen.com/Philosophy/philosophy.html

  127. I’m not sure how Ron Paul (or even Ayn Rand if understood well – and I think Ron Paul (and myself) do not agree with all she said) can be said to have similar ideas to Korihor. In fact, reading Lund’s Ensign article on “Countering Korihor’s Philosophy” (from 1992 I think?) it seems that quite the opposite is true. The Adversary makes popular his ideas in the mainstream, the “Establishment” – and he’s had a long time to do it…

    Ron Paul is the polar opposite of a Korihor in what he believes, in my view.

  128. britt k says:

    “Actually, it isn’t that hard to discern. In the chapter on Campaign Finance Reform, Rep. Paul argues that the way to get business money out of the government is not to limit it (because corporations should have free speech), but to make the federal government so powerless as to render it too unimportant to influence. ”

    if you read this: A business that achieves regulatory capture is also able to write and implement laws and regulations that they can deal with but its competitors cannot. The eventual outcome is that companies use regulation to drive everyone else out of business until a monopoly is achieved, putting consumers at its mercy. Meanwhile, the people develop a false sense of security, assuming that the many regulatory bodies in place are protecting them. Without respect for the rule of law, however, those bodies and their regulations are more likely protecting and enabling big business at the expense of small business and the consumer. We see this not only with big oil, but big banking, big defense contractors, you name it. That is why especially in a crisis we should uphold the Constitution. It is the ultimate consumer protection from crony corporatism. from here.. http://www.ronpaul.com/2010-07-18/dangerous-allies-big-business-and-big-government/

    I have seen that in action-a business legislating something they could do that took a small mom and pop company out of business with no safety benefits to the comstumer, no improvement in the quality of the product…but definitely les competititon

    “Rep. Paul wants to weaken the Union, presumably because he believes that our existence prior to the Civil War was superior to our existence after it. Not that he is for slavery, of course (he makes a special point of noting that he isn’t).”

    Throughout you use these great words like presumably, I assume, I believe…those are nice words but they don’t lend any weight to your argument when what you assume believe and presume is at best a biased opinion. Your biased opinion of Ron Paul may or may not resemble korihor.

    you presume he wants to return us to precivil war days…none of the good of that time, only the bad.Surely the consititution wasn’t viewed differently when states had the option to leave the union, senators were nominated and state’s rights were more balanced with the federal. What a crazy notion. Are those good or bad changes? some of both? debate at will…but there is a marked difference.

    Surely pre civil war there is slavery-and that is the only difference…with of course the lovely implication of racism which you toss out there as implied by his statement that he is against slavery. What did you want him to do? Mention precivil war days and NOT denounce slavery?

  129. Darren,
    I don’t see self-ownership as the basis of human dignity or freedom. I don’t believe that everything should be commodified, so it doesn’t make sense to me as an explanation. To use your example, we already have to seek permission from whoever’s platform we use (assuming we don’t use our own). To me, freedom of speech derives from the notion that we require criticism to improve our ideas (people are, generally speaking, very complacent and require challenges (opposition in all things)). Unless you conceive of all of the US being the Government’s property, which I don’t. So, I’m really unclear regarding how that demonstrates your point.

    As I said, I think that life and liberty rights can be maintained without recourse to some notion of property or self-ownership. For instance, Kant made the claim based on the human ability to reason, which should be respected inherently. I might say that the human ability to consciously create something new separates us from other entities on earth and that we should treat creatures with that ability differently than we would furniture or cattle. Self-ownership is only a necessary approach if you believe that everything must be owned by something (that everything is property). But it is hardly a necessary approach.

    That said, I do think that righteous societies (and people) respect the property rights of others. However, I don’t think they make them paramount. That strikes me as too much like the social contract that Thomas Hobbes imagines deriving from the State of Nature. I tend to think that people and societies are better than the savages he describes (or, rather, they can be).

    Regarding the Constitution and covenants, I’m not sure how your answer relates to my question regarding “higher laws.” What are you referring to with that and how does it relate to the overall discussion?

  130. Darren,
    Of course, you don’t believe everything Rand said. She thought Christians were dupes, saps, and parasites. You are Mormon and therefore disagree. I’m curious as to how you see her differing from Korihor, though. Please elaborate.

    britt,
    Did I argue that big business should have more influence in government? Or that regulatory reform is bad? Certainly there are abuses. There are abuses in any system (as we know from the many works, like the Jungle, that describe the life of American business prior to widespread regulation). The argument here seems to be “bad business behavior should not be criminalized, because a certain percentage will try and succeed in working the system.” Why attempt to create and enforce law to begin with then? This is, to a great degree, why I’m arguing that Paul and Korihor agree that crime is a useless category.

    Have people used to system to their own gain? Of course and it is incredibly unfair. However, not all attempts to regulate result in unfairness and attempts to throw out the baby with the bathwater (as Rep. Paul endorses) strike me as unnecessary.

    Note: this is a place where your characterization of Rep. Paul and mine seem to be in sync. We just disagree as to the meaning.

    Actually, you are correct. As far as I can tell, Rep. Paul believes that our existence prior to the Civil War was superior to our current situation (and presumably all our history after since we have had a much stronger executive, judicial, and federal government since then). Does he specifically point out (over and over) that he doesn’t mean slavery by this? Yes. Is it a cheap shot to point that out? Yes, but it was also funny (to me). Was I being a jerk to do it? Definitely.

    Now, as to whether life in the US would be better if the states were constantly threatening to blow up the Union, nullify federal law, and direct representation didn’t take place in the Senate? The jury is obviously out. I don’t think any of these things would make the US better. I think they all would make it much worse. I’ve no desire to live in a world were people think of themselves as Floridians, Utahns, and Californians first and Americans second. I do feel like that would be a gigantic step backwards into the era of the Articles (even if it existed during the Constitutional era).

    Note: we still don’t disagree on the facts about Rep. Paul. We still disagree on their meaning. I’m not being disingenuous or deceitful. I’m disagreeing and explaining why.

    Second note: Korihor was not universally trussed up and taken before civic and ecclesiastical authorities. I’m not sure if that means that he would be pro or anti states’ rights. Discuss.

  131. A “higher law”, for example, might be a law against the public display of pornography. Some people do not think such displays are wrong, others do. The only way for one side not to impose their values on the other is for local laws to be enforced based upon mutual consent of the governed. In a free society people would naturally congregate into local communities that most closely match their values. The government thus essentially has 2 roles: to protect the rights of all the people and to ensure people honour their legally-binding compacts.

    My feeling on property rights is much the same as what David O. McKay said in Conference some years ago:

    “We must recognize that property rights are essential to human liberty…”

    He went on to quote George Sutherland thus:

    ” ‘it is not the right of property which is protected, but the right to property. Property, per se, has no rights; but the individual – the man – has three great rights, equally sacred from arbitrary interference: the right to his life, the right to his liberty, and the right to his property. The three rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life, but deny him his liberty, is to take from him all that makes life worth living. To give him liberty, but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.’ ” (David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1962; quoting George Sutherland’s speech before the New York State Bar Association, Jan. 21 1921)

  132. Darren,
    Do you think that the gradual movement of peoples to their ideological matches is a good thing? That’s probably neither here nor there, but it strikes me as a bad outcome. Not that I would inhibit or promote inhibiting freedom of association or movement, but I think that the more we tend to surround ourselves with like-minded thinkers, the more we tend to develop “us vs. them”ism, with an emphasis on how “insert bad trait” those other people are. That does little to create a community, I think.

    I think that President McKay is arguing in opposition to the Communist regimes and nationalizing tendencies of the Soviet Union and 50s era China. And I am not suggesting that we do away with property rights. But I also think that President McKay (and Mr. Sutherland) are overstating the importance of property rights. If one’s use of one’s property harms others (through, for instance, environmental degradation), it makes sense to require change in use. But that is intra-3rights competition.

    How about this? Let’s say we’ve created a community that is, amongst other things, dedicated to the general welfare by explicit social contract. As a part of that contact, participants in the community pool their money, allowing elected officials to spend this pool as they see fit because the participants don’t have time to make all these decisions theirselves. If the representatives, in the interest of the general welfare, provide a minimal social safety net (food, shelter, HMO healthcare) for participants, then is there a violation of anyone’s property rights? The money is given in order to participate in the community. The safety net is offered to all who fall below an arbitrary level of income, so there is no discrimination. Failure to pay into the community results in expulsion from the community (via incarceration (because you’ve been freeloading) or exile). Are property rights being lost?

  133. I should say that they pool some portion of their money, not all of it. Payment is dependent on ability to pay.

  134. Wraith of Blake says:

    M. Bowen (#5): The NYTimes said in aught-six that Paul’s son named himself after Ayn Rand–whereas Rand Paul’s “birth certificate” name was, indeed–Randall.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/us/politics/06paul.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

  135. Wraith of Blake says:

    Randal (one l).

  136. I think you need to understand that there is no middle ground, John. Either a person has inalienable, inherent rights to the ownership and control of their property or they do not. By their very nature, rights are absolute.

    I’d also disagree that elected officials (or any other group) could have the time or wisdom to control the economy. Nothing can compare to the prosperity and equilibrium naturally brought about by each individuals choosing how he controls his finances and contracts freely with others – the free market. Socialism has failed in every situation over generations and in many countries. The free market, on the other hand, has always created prosperity. America had a virtually free market up until the early 1900s and it was successful beyond any other nation of which we have record.

    Of course people may freely enter into agreements to pool their wealth and have others administer it. This is organized charity. However, I think your term “general welfare” is wrongly used. You are talking about specific welfare. General welfare refers to, for example, the safety everyone equally enjoys from national defence.

    I don’t believe in political safety nets. There are no safety nets in the gospel. We should not have our right to fail violated.

    From what I have read of your views, you seem to favour practices and philosophies that I do not believe are in harmony with what the gospel and Church leaders have tried to teach us. That’s my view of course. You are welcome to your own. I hold property to be as sacred as the laws of God. When we stop believing that we really don’t care for the life or liberty of anyone.

  137. Kristine says:

    “I hold property to be as sacred as the laws of God.”

    Well, as long as we’re tossing out accusations of being out of harmony with the gospel, we could compare this with the words of, y’know, Jesus:

    “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:”

  138. Darren,

    I hold property to be as sacred as the laws of God. When we stop believing that we really don’t care for the life or liberty of anyone.

    As BCC’s resident libertarian and (alleged) Ron Paul supporter, I feel the need to tap you on the shoulder and tell you that those are the words of a crazy person with no sense of perspective.

  139. It’s interesting to read a thread that largely is about things the post never said. Of course, that’s not unique to this post and thread.

  140. Darren,
    While that may be your assumption, I certainly do care about the life, liberty, and property of others. I don’t know if your last statement was an attempt to end the discussion by suddenly becoming unreasonable (no middle ground, either it is how I understand it or its not (I suspect its not), overly broad statements about socialism and late 1800s American capitalism that are not objectively verifiable), but you could just say that your not interested in debating me. As it is, you’ve undermined yourself.

  141. Scott, that was my point in #80.

  142. britt k says:

    Now, as to whether life in the US would be better if the states were constantly threatening to blow up the Union, nullify federal law, and direct representation didn’t take place in the Senate? The jury is obviously out.

    So pre civil war..this is it? this and slavery? There are NO differences in the constitution? None? No difference in tax code for example?

    If you like precivil war America you want states to blow up the federal government. gotcha.

    Carry on than..I have no clue how to talk with you.

  143. I have to agree with Scott B. The principle of private property rights is important, but not as important as life and liberty (although usually intertwined).

    Frederic Bastiat found that no matter how the kings of France tried to engineer the food system of Paris, they always had either too much of something, or not enough of another. Once freed from the regulation of Paris government, people began making the foods available that the people wanted, and in the quantities they desired.

    This is not an isolated event. Hong Kong, with no natural resources, has succeeded with a free enterprise/property rights model for decades. Meanwhile, India, with many natural resources, suffered in extreme poverty under the high regulations of its government officials until the last decade, when their economy “suddenly” shot up. China experienced the same thing occur with them.

    When government, in its paternal caring pattern, gets overtly involved in our daily pursuits, they end up stifling development and growth. People become used to the dole, and do not excel. We’ve seen it in Greece, and now we see it here in America. After trillions have been spent on stimulus, QE1/2, etc., we see that once the money ends, the economy returns to its foundering state (only worse, as there is less money and capability available to bail anything out). GM and Chrysler are still struggling, simply because they are doing what DC mandates, and not what the customer wants.

    Some say that the poor will starve in a competitive market. I believe there are risks in such a market. I also believe that there are natural safety nets that do not require tons of government aid, with perhaps a few exceptions. I believe we are leading more people into starvation as government’s Nero fiddles while America/Rome burns. Keynesian economics are not working. Nor is government meddling in all our affairs. Medicare, with or without an economic crisis, is going bankrupt to the tune of tens of trillions in unfunded mandates. These are realities, folks. These are realities created by a federal government that has been run by people interested in buying votes and regulating everything that moves. Gas/oil is high solely because for 3 decades+ the feds blocked development and supported extreme environmental policies. The economy crashed in large part because Congressional leaders recklessly over regulated portions of the banking/lending world, and deregulated other areas. Promise me that you’ll bail me out regardless of how reckless I am with money, and I promise you that I’ll risk millions, if not billions.

    We insist on helping the poor. Yet this federal government’s energies have focused on helping out global banks, huge corporations, unions, and others that have little to do with the poor. Meanwhile, many still face foreclosure, because the banks are being left to deal with it as they will. Wouldn’t leaving such to local government and free markets be a better solution? I know it would be.

  144. Geoff,

    The interesting thing is that since then we had the 2007-2008 financial crisis, which Ron Paul predicted with eerie accuracy. We had the predictable Keynesian response, which has failed miserably (again, Ron Paul predicted this). And we have seen President Obama campaign to 1)end Guantanamo 2)end foreign wars in the Middle East and 3)end the Patriot Act. As most people know, President Obama has done none of these things, which also is something Ron Paul predicted.

    Could you point us to where Ron Paul predicted the financial crisis. Also, could you point to where Ron Paul predicted that President Obama would not keep his promise to end Guantanamo. Could you also point to where Obama has promised to “end the Patriot Act” and end foreign wars in the Middle East. Aside from Iraq (which he has ended), which other war did Obama campaign on promising to end? Could you also point to how Ron Paul attempted to assist President Obama in closing Guantanamo. Did Ron Paul vote yes in favor of anything Obama asked for in relation to closing Guantanamo, or did he go along with his fellow Republicans to thwart any attempt by Obama to close Guantanamo? Did Ron Paul offer up a portion of the Texas desert where he resides as a better locale for the Guantanamo detainees? Surely it would have been a boon for employment in his district.

  145. Daniel, not sure of all Geoff mentioned, but I do know Ron Paul has consistently been against Guantanamo.

  146. Ram,

    Problem is that Ron Paul voted against funding the removal of Guantanamo Bay prisoners from Gitmo to somewhere in the US. How can one be against having prisoners in Guantanamo and also thwart attempts to remove prisoners from Guantanamo?

  147. Jumping in without reading all the comments –

    The formula “let’s consider this passage in isolation” is not a good start to understanding anyone’s writings.

  148. Wraith of Blake says:

    This would seem more likely than not to fit in Dr. Paul’s wheelhouse: Nick Gillespie–according to The Daily Beast, number 18 on Beast’s 2010 list of “The Right’s Top 25 Journalists” and the editor of Reason magazine–publicizes his new tome The Declaration of Independents (ahem, in Bro. Beck’s offices…but the publisher is the same boutique/cutting-edge political thought publishing house or cottage that also publishes…George Soros…that’s right).

    http://reason.com/blog/2011/05/26/nick-gillespie-on-se-cupps-web

  149. How can one be against having prisoners in Guantanamo and also thwart attempts to remove prisoners from Guantanamo?

    Perhaps by not being convinced that the proposed legislative solution to closing Guantanamo was the right one, and so preferring the status quo while waiting for a better solution.

    I’m not defending Paul — I think he’s dead wrong with his demands that Americans forget the rule of law in dealing with the detainees on Guantanamo — but this assumption that opposing a specific bill means you oppose the presumed purpose of the bill is what turns me off to political debate more than any other single flaw. (“You don’t support my Right to Life bill? That must mean that you want to kill babies and grandmas and puppy dogs!” “You don’t support the Patriot Act? That must mean you’re a traitor!” “You don’t support my bill legalizing torture? That must mean you want terrorists to fly more planes into American buildings!” Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.)

  150. Ardis,

    True enough, which is why I asked if he was actively helping Obama find a way to close Guantanamo instead of just saying we should close it. In any case, I won’t belabor this tangent further.

  151. Oh, it’s much easier and more fun to rant about what’s wrong with your opponent’s ideas than to have a creative and workable idea of your own! :-)

  152. “Surely the consititution wasn’t viewed differently when states had the option to leave the union, senators were nominated and state’s rights were more balanced with the federal.”

    britt, those were your examples. Please don’t get angry with me for using your examples.

    Geoff,
    I’m sorry that I didn’t see your comment earlier. I think you mean a different book, as the one I read came out just a few weeks ago. That said, I saw the financial crisis coming (ie. I knew there was a housing bubble). I didn’t see how big it was, but still.

    I am (very) disappointed in Obama’s handling of detainees, Wikileaks, Guantanomo, and so forth. This hasn’t lead me to believe that Ron Paul and his politics are the answer. But everybody’s reaction is different, I suppose. Odds are pretty good that I won’t vote for him next time as a result.

    Ram,
    Neither India nor China are particularly good examples of blessed free markets because 1. both are still very, very socialist and 2. both still have large populations dealing with crushing poverty the likes of which the West hasn’t considered seriously in well over 100 years.

    “now we see it here in America”
    Good gravy, why now? We’ve had the dole for well over 70 years now.

    GM and Chrysler are both doing very well right now. But that may have more to do with a weak dollar and a weak Toyota than anything DC has done. Their strength is still not clear. As is the strength of the economy. I don’t suppose we’ll have a real sense of what Obama did or didn’t do right until a few years have passed.

    Conflating the bailout and welfare just muddies the argument. Those are two different things.

  153. Mark D. says:

    GM and Chrysler are both doing very well right now. But that may have more to do with a weak dollar and a weak Toyota than anything DC has done.

    A weak dollar created by printing excessive sums of money, perhaps? GM doesn’t appear to be doing that well lately either way.

  154. Also, this national review article notes how bad it is that we bailed GM, and that they are only doing well because they’re selling off key assets:


    The Inherently Ideological Evaluation of the GM Bailout

  155. britt k says:

    “Surely the consititution wasn’t viewed differently when states had the option to leave the union, senators were nominated and state’s rights were more balanced with the federal.”

    is not the same as ….” Now, as to whether life in the US would be better if the states were constantly threatening to blow up the Union, nullify federal law, and direct representation didn’t take place in the Senate? The jury is obviously out. ”

    yet it is a good example of how you take what Paul says and extrapolate it into something even more extreme…a fun game to be sure.

  156. I’m sorry, britt. My intention really wasn’t to twist your words. I misunderstood what you were trying to say.

    Actually, the constitution was viewed differently during that period. So now I don’t even know what the point you were making was. sigh

  157. britt k says:

    part of the point is that it feels you twist Paul’s words . a lot.

    My only point was that the constitutino was different. He liked that better. We can discuss and debate the differences or we can assume he didn’t even want the constitution and actually protested too much against slavery. The former could result in a discussion, the latter ends in confusion..because Paul isn’t that-never has said that, so I wonder who you are debating with.

    A similar process continued through out the post. You twist and exagerate and take out of context…presume, assume, believe..than knock those presumptions, assumptions and beliefs down. There is so tenuous a connection with Paul at that point it feels moot.

  158. britt k says:

    you know…the constitutino. Back then it was Italian. sigh

  159. Ram #143,

    In reference to your Keynsian comment:

    http://www.rileyyates.com/2011/05/autosarcophagy.html

    Ardis #151,

    Haha I love it!

  160. Jeremiah F says:

    I have a hard time believing that this article was posted by someone who has read and understood the Book of Mormon. Ron Paul is the only member of the U.S. congress who I believe would support Moroni’s Title of Liberty unamended; yet the ‘Mormon’ author of this article is calling him and antichrist?

    Beware those who say all is well in Zion.

  161. Nothing like one extreme to knock down an imaginary strawman at the other extreme.

  162. britt,
    I still don’t understand your point. Are you saying that I am not understand how Paul feels about the Constitution? Or that I am not understanding why he would want to return to a pre-Civil War understanding of the Constitution?

    I know that you feel like I am taking those phrases out of context in the post. But I’m not. In context, they mean the same thing that they appear to mean in isolation. Was I cherry-picking? Of course. I was looking for things he said that I thought were similar to things Korihor said (or that I thought Korihor would have said). But their meaning isn’t twisted. In context, he is still saying that all regulation is motivated by envy, desire for power, and greed. He is still saying that altruistic motivations don’t exist in government.

    Now the book I read was clearly meant to be propaganda. Perhaps if I was reading a more scholarly approach from him, he’d avoid the strong language that he used in the book. But that’s what I had to work with (I didn’t have the time or desire to read the man’s entire body of work). If he failed to convey his actual opinions in a book where he explicitly stated he was going to define them, it isn’t my fault that I didn’t find them.

    Honestly, I don’t feel like I was twisting Paul’s words (or yours). But I may be intuiting things in them that you don’t see (or I may even be misintuiting). Can you give alternate explanations for the quotes I quote? What reasons does Paul have for wishing for a pre-Civil War Constitutional understanding, aside from the possibility of a much weaker executive, judicial, and federal government and a much more robust version of states’ rights? There was a central bank for quite a bit of that period. There was one year when we weren’t in debt, but that immediately caused a financial crisis. All of society was much more agrarian. What do you think Rep. Paul is wishing for?

    Jeremiah F,
    Really? You don’t believe any member of congress would get behind “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children”? Why? (also, I doubt Paul considers Mormons Christians (though I’ve no proof, he is a southern Protestant, so I assume)).

  163. daveonline says:

    I may to too late to enter the dicussion, but I do find the sidebars on property rights intriguing since essentially, the access to “new” property/wealth in the US is defined by accounting standards that define which “earnings” are eligible for shareholders and which must be maintained as reserves or expenses. It is the FASB, not Congress that has put our liberties in peril. In addition to how to charge for the externalities that pollution imposes on others right to have a property not contaminated by industrial runoff, etc., there is a whole nother blog worthy of attention here on whose property rights are being violated with oil depletion allowances, bank off balance sheet assets, capital gains tax breaks and so forth. Also interesting to raise the question of how “property rights” compares to the D&C statement that the world groans and lieth in sin because one man possesses that which is above another.

  164. This was not written with the spirit. And every foul fallacy written for this delusional man’s worldly pride and gain will be paid for. How sad it will be when it is found, and it will be, that Captain Moroni, Jesus Christ, and every other freedom fighter would vote, and will vote if they are able, for Ron Paul. All the sound principles, not a single one contradictory, that God himself upholds and defends, Ron Paul is representing. Ron Paul will be a testimony against the wicked, and already he is making more evident who is a wheat, and who is a tare.

  165. Will someone please mark #164 #166 for a Niblet? There has to be an appropriate category that can be created for such an epic comment.

  166. Oh please. Is this guy on the Romney Campaign payroll, or he is one of those who would condemn us in “throwing away our vote” on Ron Paul who “doesn’t even hold the priesthood” as some have said in years past compared to “Mitt Rommey who has been a valiant Stake President.”

    Do you guys want to know what a brother and I sincerely believe? We believe Gordon B. Hinckley voted for Ron Paul in 2007 in the Primaries. We shall perhaps not know that vote until the great millennial screening of all of earths history is presented accurately, and it is speculation on our part, but it it Ron Paul who matches the “Empire of Christ” mode that President Hinckley spoke of, and it was Gordon B. Hinckley who spoke of the “darker side of Empire;” of “scheming leaders” to whom the people succumb who lead them into costly wars and burden them with heavy taxation. Romney upholds just such Welfare/Warfare statism, not Ron Paul. Ron Paul speaks of the foreign policy of the US Founders, which is endorsed by Prophets of God, notably the First Presidency as outlined beautifully in H. Verlan Anderson’s “The Great and Abominable Church of the Devil” where even speaking of the championed WWII, these three Prophets of God, Heber J. Grant, David O. McKay, and J. Reuben Clark Jr., all the declared that they opposed the outcome of the war. They opposed US Involvement in the war. They knew the sham. Two years before Hitler even invaded Poland, J. Reuben Clark was making the warning, and was despised by LDS state worshipping dupes, such as the author of this blog would seem to be. They would rather worship at the feet of wolves in sheep’s clothing in phony fireside chats than abide the prophetic utterance of J. Reuben Clark in 1937:

    “The power people are now planning another war for you. They have made this depression last many more years than it would have ordinarily lasted. They got stock down to 14 cents on a dollar. They just bought up everything at 14 cents on a dollar, and they’re now ready to make additional billions as they put you through another world war.

    “They’re going to have you pay for it. You’re going to be involved in it. You don’t think you’ll get involved, but they’ll say that for the peace of the world, you must come in, and you’ll feel so soft-hearted about it, you’ll come in. It will be just as big a mistake as World War I.” (The Life of J. Reuben Clark, Jr. September 1, 1992 Delivered at the Grantsville High School, Grantsville, Utah; The works of W. Cleon Skousen. (a Folio Infobase) published by Verity Software)

    Romney speaks in favor of the fake and false war on terror with all of its evil destruction of liberty at home and massive expansion of empire abroad. Romney would put a government gun to your head and force you to purchase health insurance, Ron Paul condemns such wickedness. Romney, as the author of this blog would by his sophistry, even asserts that such compulsory purchasing of health insurance is “free market” based. Hmmm, black becomes white, light becomes dark, and more words of Isaiah are fulfilled.

    Romney, I don’t believe, is one of those who is part of the “vicious, oath bound, and secret organization bent on evil and destruction” that orchestrated 9/11 from inside. But he might as well be. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett might as well be, for they voted for all the wicked measures that have come about by this wicked group whose stated object, according to President Hinckley is to “bring down the church.” They “woo the people with sophistry as they take control of the society.” It wasn’t Saddam nor Osama who unshelved and passed the Patriot Act without debate or even reading this damned Bill of Rights slashing legislation. Ron Paul, standing alone as always in Congress, voted against it. He declared that he would not vote for something he was not even permitted access to for reading, let alone something that destroys the liberties of the people, setting up a domestic police state tyranny, which will yet cost us blood if we do not soon shut it down and put government back into its constitutional shackles before it begins to murder the citizenry. Ron Paul knows the danger, as have Prophets of God, not Mitt Romney. Ancient and modern prophets speak to it, such as Ezra Taft Benson:

    “To all who have discerning eyes, it is apparent that the republican form of government established by our noble forefathers cannot long endure once fundamental principles are abandoned. Momentum is gathering for another conflict—a repetition of the crisis of two hundred years ago. This collision of ideas is worldwide. The issue is the same that precipitated the great pre mortal conflict—will men be free to determine their own course of action or must they be coerced?” (The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner, p. 27; as quoted in The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 623.) [He stated this while Church President.]

    “Moroni seemed greatly exercised lest in our day we might not be able to recognize the startling fact that the same secret societies which destroyed the Jaredites and decimated numerous kingdoms of both Nephites and Lamanites would be precisely the same form of criminal conspiracy which would rise up among the gentile nations in this day. . . .

    “Moroni described how the secret combination would take over a country and then fight the work of God, persecute the righteous, and murder those who resisted. Moroni therefore proceeded to describe the workings of the ancient secret combinations so that modern man could recognize this great political conspiracy in the last days. (See Ether 8:23-25.) (Conference Report, Oct.. 1961, Improvement Era, Dec. 1961, p. 954; as quoted in God, Family, Country, p. 349.)

    “Today the Christian constitutionalist mourns for his country. He sees the spiritual and political faith of his fathers betrayed by wolves in sheep’s clothing. He sees the forces of evil increasing in strength and momentum under the leadership of Satan, the arch-enemy of freedom. He sees the wicked honored and the valiant abused. He senses that his own generation faces Gethsemanes and Valley Forges that may yet rival or surpass the trials of the early Apostles and the men of ‘76. And this gives him cause to reflect on the most basic of fundamentals—the reason for our existence. Once we understand that fundamental, the purpose for mortality, we may more easily chart a correct course in the perilous seas that are engulfing our nation.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 397.)

    Ron Paul does not support taking control of the society, but destroying government control over our lives. It was government itself that put the underwear bomber on the plane that was used as pretense to roll out the TSA immediately afterward with naked body scanning machines and the invasive and perverse, sexual assault “grope downs.”

    Ron Paul adheres to Mormonism and the Doctrines of Christ a hundred fold more than does Mitt Romney, in my view. Mormonism, fundamentally is in favor of the United States Constitution, as it was in the 1830’s when the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith that the Latter-day saints were to befriend the constitutional law of the land, and that whatsoever “more or less than this” (The Constitution) “cometh of evil.” Evil amendments were put on in subsequent decades from that time, including planks of the Communist manifesto in 1913, creating the Marxist Graduated Income Tax and the Privately Held Central Reserve Bank of Monopoly, the greatest mainspring of secret combination power unleashed on the earth in modern times.

    Ron Paul is a Constitutionalist, therefore a friend of the word of the Lord. Mitt Romney is a panderer and chameleon, as some enlightened—even LDS—bloggers point out, changing his stance to whatever audience he addresses, and does not base himself in the Constitution. He seems to have little regard or understanding of that document which is a restriction on state power, not on the people’s power.

    I’m glad there are many folks left outside of the LDS church, such as Ron Paul. Ezra Taft Benson taught us doctrine, reminding us that this is important, for the Lord blinds or hides the gospel to their view for the time. They are much more effective outside of the church than inside the church.

    Ezra Taft Benson quoting Orson F. Whitney making this amazing and most interesting declaration in his “Civic Standards for the Faithful Saints”:

    “Perhaps the Lord needs such men on the outside of His Church to help it along,” said the late Elder Orson F. Whitney of the Quorum of the Twelve. “They are among its auxiliaries, and can do more good for the cause where the Lord has placed them, than anywhere else. … Hence, some are drawn into the fold and receive a testimony of the truth; while others remain unconverted … the beauties and glories of the gospel being veiled temporarily from their view, for a wise purpose. The Lord will open their eyes in His own due time. God is using more than one people for the accomplishment of His great and marvelous work. The Latter-day Saints cannot do it all. It is too vast, too arduous for any one people. … We have no quarrel with the Gentiles. They are our partners in a certain sense.” (Conference Report, April 1928, p. 59.)

    The blog here attempting to make a case for Ron Paul as Korihor is laughable.

    And so we have the Latter days saints, many of them foolishly yet asleep, as prophesied and who will pay a very bitter price ahead. Ezra Taft Benson speaks of this deception and the sleeping Elders of Israel:

    “It is the devil’s desire that the Lord’s priesthood stay asleep while the strings of tyranny gradually and quietly entangle us until, like Gulliver, we awake too late and find that while we could have broken each string separately as it was put upon us, our sleepiness permitted enough strings to bind us to make a rope that enslaves us.

    “For years we have heard of the role the elders could play in saving the Constitution from total destruction. But how can the elders be expected to save it if they have not studied it and are not sure if it is being destroyed or what is destroying it?” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson p. 619-620. also (An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 313.)

    Additionally he stated:

    “The devil knows that if the elders of Israel should ever wake up, they could step forth and help preserve freedom and extend the gospel. Therefore the devil has concentrated, and to a large extent successfully, in neutralizing much of the priesthood. He has reduced them to sleeping giants. (An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 275., also Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson p. 619.)

    This is disturbing, and we are certainly now seeing the “strings of Tyranny” being put upon the Latter-day Saints. Most are happy to support this, thinking that the Patriot Act is acceptable, the National ID card, along with the legion of other legislation which most are not even aware of. This post 911 landslide of legislation has compromised in extreme the Bill of Rights. In a coming day, we will witness, chillingly, just what butchery has occurred to that wonderful Constitution when the “great whore” turns the multitudes of the nations against the covenant people of the Lamb. (1 Ne. 14.) When this happens we shall see yet more prophecy fulfilled, such as declared by LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie:

    “There will yet be martyrs; the doors of Carthage will again enclose the innocent…” (Bruce R. McConkie “The Coming Tests, Trials, and Glory” May Ensign, 1980. p.73.)

    And speaking of murder by government, do we not know of secret CIA prisons, secret arrests, domestic wiretapping, torture, sexual assault at airports having nothing to do with security but to train American’s to be dogs, the Patriot Act abolishing Habeus Corpus, huge wars abroad that are wicked and evil, despite heavy propaganda offering a hells pretense they are made preemptively for “freedoms” sake. On and on and on go the crimes of unconstitutional government. Fools like Romney speak of “jihad” and the terror that the CIA orchestrates in order to justify their destroying liberty at home. Romney and other dupes are bringing about the removal of protections for the bloodbath that will ensue if Statesmen such as Ron Paul who stands with noble prophets and wise men and statesmen and the US Founders is ignored.

    President Benson cites President J. Reuben Clark’s warning that, “’we stand in danger of losing our liberties, and that once lost, only blood will bring them back; and once lost, we of this church will, in order to keep the Church going forward, have more sacrifices to make and more persecutions to endure than we have yet known. . . .’ (CR, April 1944, p. 116.) He also stated that if the conspiracy ‘comes here it will probably come in its full vigor and there will be a lot of vacant places among those who guide and direct, not only this government, but also this Church of ours.’ (CR, April 1952, p. 80.) (Conference Report, April 1972, Ensign, July 1972, p. 61; as quoted in God, Family, Country, p. 323; quoted also in The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 107; again on pp. 658-659.)

    In 1959, President David O. McKay asked church members in General Conference to read W. Cleon Skousen’s Book The Naked Communist. How many complied? Enough to put it in the rankings of a national bestseller, but perhaps few internalized the message and took action, as we find in our study of the apathy if not outright opposition to this LDS Church president in deed. Here is a sampling of some of his counsel at the time:

    “Efforts are being made to deprive man of his free agency, to steal from the individual his liberty. . . . There has been an alarming increase in the abandoning of the ideals that constitute the foundation of the Constitution of the United States. . . .”

    Additionally he stated,

    “No greater immediate responsibility rests upon members of the Church, upon all citizens of this Republic and of neighboring Republics than to protect the freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States.”

    There are many, many additional statements by David O. McKay on this them and subject, and it seemed Church members did not have ears to hear.

    Elders Unprepared to Step Forward and help save the nation

    David O. McKay was not well heeded, as we learn from Ezra Taft Benson in a priesthood session of General Conference in 1965. Here is the frightening warning given:

    “Brethren, if we had done our homework and were faithful, we could step forward at this time and help save this country. The fact that most of us are unprepared to do it is an indictment we will have to bear. The longer we wait, the heavier the chains, the deeper the blood, the more the persecution, and the less we can carry out our God-given mandate and world-wide mission. The war in heaven is raging on earth today. Are you being neutralized in the battle?” (Conference Report, April 1965, Era, p. 539; as quoted in An Enemy Hath Done This, pp. 278-279.)

    Some won’t do their homework. Mitt Romney certainly hasn’t done so, and neither has the author of this blog who I don’t believe to be truly sincere, for the case he attempts to make is not something meriting rebuttal to on the specifics because of the absurdity of his non-case.

  167. Just wondering says:

    #14-
    “If you’re looking for a modern-day Korihor,”
    No thanks, I’m not in the market for one of those right now.

  168. Ray, that should be a Niblet nomination in a new McNaughton McNutty category — can’t you just feel a new painting comin’ on, with Ron Paul at the focal point and Captain Moroni, Jesus Christ, and Colin kneeling at his feet?

  169. Peter LLC says:

    How sad it will be when it is found, and it will be, that Captain Moroni, Jesus Christ, and every other freedom fighter would vote, and will vote if they are able, for Ron Paul.

    Ironically, the “two layers of reinforced fencing, installation of additional physical barriers, roads, lighting, cameras, and sensors” approved by Ron Paul in H.R. 6061 would prevent that motley crew of illegal immigrants from doing just that.

  170. Colin,
    Let me assure you that, whatever else his political leanings might have been, Captain Moroni was no civil libertarian. One can not execute political prisoners (even one’s who had it coming) and be a civil libertarian (I’m rather skeptical that Mormon was either, as I discussed above). So, whatever else their points of agreement, Rep. Paul and Capt. Moroni would have disagreed greatly regarding Guantanamo.

    Other than that, I’m sure you are probably right.

  171. Geoff-Many people predicted the financial crisis of 2007-2008. That does not make Ron Paul a prophet or sorcerer. I did just smile though thinking of Ron Paul at a Wizards game with a sorcerer’s hat on.

    John C-Thank you for this post.

    Random thought: I love that there’s a user on this board named “Rameumptom.” I can only imagine that someone not familiar with the Book of Mormon would think that’s either the name of Rapunzel’s tower or Rapunzel’s evil step mother.

  172. Riley #159, great comic link to how Keynesian economics devours itself.

    Dave #163, The FASB only has power because the SEC has officially recognized its standards and legitimized it. FASB may be a private organization, but there is still government oversight.

    Colin #164, do you REALLY think that Jesus and Moroni would vote for Ron Paul? Can you back that up with evidence?

  173. Sherpa #171, all I ask is that people spell my name right. As for Rapunzel’s evil stepmother, she’s gotten a bad rap, just like the wolf and Ron Paul….

  174. Peter LLC says:

    Darren (#136): There are no safety nets in the gospel. We should not have our right to fail violated.

    Given your clear opposition to prophetic counsel*, I can’t help but wonder–are you an anti-Christ?

    *”In real life, the anchors are the laws of God that provide protection under all of the challenges that you will face. The rope and carabiners that secure the rope to the anchors represent obedience to those commandments. When you learn those commandments, continue to practice them, and have a plan to avoid danger, you will have a secure means of obtaining protection against Satan’s temptations. You will develop strength of character that will fortify you against transgression. Should you make a wrong move, there need be no enduring problem because of the belaying or help that is available through your repentance.”
    –Richard G. Scott
    “The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness”
    October 2006

  175. There ARE safety nets in the gospel. But they are voluntary for each of us to choose to follow or not follow. And there is voluntary assistance via the Church Welfare program for those who economically slip through the other safety nets.

    That said, I feel that the Church program is more efficient and effective than the federal program. There are hundreds of billions wasted in the Welfare program of the Fed. I doubt there is as much waste per person served in the Church. And don’t get me started on the unfunded mandates….

  176. Mark Brown says:

    And yet the church recognizes that its welfare program recognizes that it cannot possibly meet all the needs of its members, and instructs bishops to allow members to explore government welfare options, wasteful or not.

  177. There ARE safety nets in the gospel.

    I had always kind of understood the gospel to actually be a safety net…while also being a ladder.

  178. My experience has been that bishops and other church leaders not only allow members to explore government welfare options, but sometimes encourage them to do so, and even assists them in the process if needed.

  179. Chris H. says:

    Romney…WTF?

    Obama 2012!

  180. I would like to apologize to everyone in the known universe for the delayed posting of comment #166 (it was stuck in our spambox due to the length), because it is quite simply the greatest thing ever.

    Thanks be to Shaun, for sealing this thread with the holy mole of crazy.

  181. Peter LLC says:

    the holy mole of crazy

    Whoah, you aren’t kidding.

  182. Fletcher says:

    Now, all we need is for GST to shut this thing down, and the world will be complete.

  183. Shaun almost convinced me to vote for Pres Obama in 2012. Not quite, but almost!

    That Shaun invoked the USA involved in the 9/11 bombing is all that is needed for me to ignore his future posts.

    I like Ron Paul. I do not necessarily like all the radicals that throw themselves upon his altar. I also like Mitt Romney. While I’m a Libertarian, I understand that I’m probably not going to get 100% of what I’d like, especially when that can change. But I can look for good and honest people. If Mitt or Paul can help push states’ rights and a smaller fed, then I would be willing to vote for either one. As I noted before, this Keynesian model isn’t working for me.

  184. Prudence McPrude says:

    Shaun,

    Verily, verily, you speak the Hard Truth, my dear brother in the Lord. You’ve left this Daughter of Zion so hot and bothered, I may need to repent for my oodles of nasty thoughts. Still, the TRUTH needs to be told, no matter what the rest of the backsliding, fence-sitting, Satan-worshipping vermin infesting this blog might say. If I weren’t happily married to my own righteous Priesthood holder — and if it didn’t count as an unfeminine act unbecoming one who embraces God’s eternal truths about women’s place — I would ask you to marry me this instant! As things stand, I will have to settle for second best and just hope and pray that you will scoop me up as your polygamous kitchen wench in the hereafter.

    Please don’t break my heart,

    Prudence

  185. I would like to print #166 and put in on my fridge, but I would have to remove my wife’s quotes and magnets – and I don’t have the courage to do that. Otoh, it might not fit on the fridge, even if I wrapped it around the entire thing, so my life is safe. Thanks, Shaun. I appreciate that.

    Please modify my comment in #165 to replace #164 with #166. Sorry, Colin.

  186. Shaun,
    Your comment reminded me of the ship at the beginning of Spaceballs. I kept expecting it to be over, but it never was.

    I assure you that I got as much money from the Romney campaign as the Romney campaign thinks someone who says they are not planning on voting for Romney should get.

  187. observer fka eric s says:

    ian mcklellan is *really* ron paul

  188. Chris H. says:

    The most impressive part of GBH voting in the 2007 primaries…is that there were no primaries in 2007 and Pres. Hinckley died before the 2008 Utah primary.

  189. Chris H.,
    Hello! Mormon! Proxy voting for the dead?!?

  190. I was having a conversation with a friend the other day, and coincidentally we both vehemently agreed that Gordon B. Hinkley voted for Katherine McPhee on American Idol. We knew he would never vote for a fraud like Taylor Hicks. Granted we shall never know for certain until the veil parts and we see the history of man laid before us like a scroll, but we know the true voice of an angel when we hear it and will not be distracted by the baa-ing of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  191. daveonline says:

    172. You are correct about the government oversight of FASB. I was writing in haste. But the major point is that most of the discourse on property rights tends to happen in the context of the agrarian or small business owner context. But the major uncertainty is what is the “private property” of a business and of shareholders. Several Trillion of accounting wealth/property was created through the housing bubble and then some mysterious evil power came and “took” the property/wealth of 401K’s and real estate. Meanwhile all those bonused for creating the trillions in wealth have no need to pay back their property as it is fiercely guarded as divinely inspired by our Constitutional rights. We have let FASB and/or the IRS define property rights to what are largely “illusions”.
    And, I have really enjoyed the “joy” of this blog.

  192. it's a series of tubes says:

    #166 is the best thing ever posted in the bloggernacle. I bask in its glory radiating from my screen. Words cannot express the awesomeness. And there was no charge.

  193. Number of times I have to hit the down arrow button to scroll down and read #166: 57
    Number of times I have heard Romney implicated in 9/11 inside-job sabotage before today: 0
    “Shaun”: priceless

    There are some things money can’t buy.*

    * John C’s political support of Romney, reportedly not one of those things.

  194. Stephanie says:

    daveonline, really sharp comments.

  195. observer fka eric s says:

    “Do you guys want to know what a brother and I sincerely believe?”

  196. It’s concerning to read some of the views on this list, both about the gospel and the concept of liberty. Mainstream ideas have become so much a part of what LDS believe, even in America. I became interested in politics back in 1992 after reading an LDS book on the matter. This led me to go back to the writings of the prophets, starting with Joseph Smith, and read all thet they had written or spoken on the matter. I would recommend such a course for all. I’ve even listed all these sources on my site at ldsfreedomportal.net – there’s no personal opinion there, just links to or titles of said talks/books/articles etc.

    As to the two points I made above (which have been somewhat traduced by some I might say)…

    Safety net – no, there is no safety net in the gospel. By this I mean that we will not gain some reward unless we qualify for it. And we will gain everything we do qualify for. We have been taught quite clearly that when we make a mistake there are consequences. There’s no way around it. Either we suffer punishment or we go through the process of repentance. The “safety net” of welfarism robs people of their rewards and gives it to others who have not qualified for it. This is surely the very opposite of the gospel (and violates our agency). I don’t think this is hard to understand. We are agents unto ourselves and are saved or damned by ultimately our own efforts within the context of the qualifications the Lord has set for the same in the application of grace. Yet even the things we consider “free” in the gospel we qualified for before this life began.

    Property rights – My phrase about them need to be held as sacred as the laws of God is based of course on this quotation from John Adams: “The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet,’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.”

    Again, you cannot divorce property rights from the person. It is disingenuous to say that life and liberty are important and then lessen the role of the rights to the ownership and control of property. They are all bound in one. Inseparable. Our life and liberty come under the dominion of others when we have no right to property.

  197. Darren, my theological and moral concept of merit is very different than yours. It explains a lot.,

  198. “Our life and liberty come under the dominion of others when we have no right to property.”

    Perhaps you are right about liberty if you define it as the ability to do whatever we want to do regardless of how it affects others and/or if we have no property rights and others do – but life and liberty don’t have to include “property rights”. If all co-exist without individual property rights (which actually has occurred in some societies that survivied for a long time), you are wrong. A difference of opinion than yours is not disingenuous, and you’re not right just because you call everybody who disagree with you liars.

  199. Oh, and Darren, I really loathe the idea and historical, practical methods of civilizing the savages who don’t live and believe like we do.

  200. daveonline says:

    Darren,
    Two questions for you that I think reveal some deeper complexities behind your comments on safety nets. One, do you believe that it is okay to take property in order to have the “safety net” of an army, governement inspections for food safety, for teaching the rising generation via education and to care for the elderly? I recognize that some would say no to all of these values, and some may be of higher priority than the others. But it sounds from your short note that property rights should always triumph over safety nets.
    Second, what is property? the reason I raised the issue of corporations earlier is that it is not clear to me how we determine whose “property rights” are being abused in the issue of setting salaries and bonuses for management versus what is owed to shareholders versus what may be costs imposed by the corporation that are born by other members of society. In fact, to even try to address these very complicated questions led to the safety net of the SEC in the 1930’s and has led to a vast increase in the use of class action law suits in the US. Interestingly enough, much of the property redistributed in the aftermath of the law setting aright previously ignored property rights ends up with the lawyers, not the injured parties. While the ideal of property rights is great, property can only “maintain” its value in the context of a community where the issues of things like “water rights”, right to dividends and inheriitances all depend on an agreed to “safety net” of societal expecations and agreements. Those agreements can then be, and always will be subject to renegotiation. It is the great seduction of community that by agreeing to specialize and cooperate we create a rising tide that lifts all boats. But who “owns’ how much of the rising tide cannot be attributed back to a single individual’s efforts. And then when we see the tide receding, who has to fork up for it? Recent history seems to indicate that some with much property that led to the lower tide are not needing to pay, yet those who benefited little may pay via no employment or higher taxes or less benefits than before.

  201. No right, including the right to life and liberty, is inviolable (i.e. not subject to potential forfeiture or abridgment according to certain conditions of the social contract) under the Constitution. Certainly not property rights (given the fact that one of the major issues driving the constituting of a new, more powerful federal government and replacing the AOC was the inability of the fed government to levy taxes under the Articles).

  202. “Oh, and Darren, I really loathe the idea and historical, practical methods of civilizing the savages who don’t live and believe like we do.”

    Me too. I’m a non-interventionist.

    As for my definition of liberty, well it really is that part of freedom that you can exercise without violating the rights of others.

    Property at its most fundamental level is what we possess in having our own body and in the fruits of the labour of the same. When we mix our labour with the raw material of the earth it creates ownership and thus control. If this legally protected exclusiveness didn’t exist then everything we built or created could be taken by someone else with no recourse for regaining it. There’d be no progress. If God or Nature gave us such rights, it is not for others to take (or try to take) them from us. They have no authority beyond defending their own rights (self-defence, compensation, punishment).

    Many political problems today can be solved by simply identifying who the owner is and letting them control their own property, or of returning state-controlled property/institutions (such as welfare and education) back into private hands.

    As long as we believe that “property is not as sacred as the laws of God” then our society will fail.

  203. Darren, that certainly is one way to view it – but viewing it that way hasn’t kept societies from failing and not viewing it that way hasn’t caused other societies to fail. In fact, extensions of that view actually have led some people who hold them to destroy the socieities of some people who don’t hold it – and there are too many examples to bother trying to list here.

    Iow, I think history proves your conclusion wrong.

  204. My favorite example of people who treat private property as being as sacred as the laws of God? 4th Nephi.

  205. Though, their society did fail eventually, so maybe Darren is right.

  206. Skyler H says:

    I think that this is a pretty atrocious blog. The philosophy of freedom that has been encouraged by Ron Paul his entire time in Washington and throughout his life is absolutely admirable. The principles of liberty are enshrined throughout the scriptures and the words of the modern-day prophets. I support Ron Paul for president 2012! I would encourage you to watch this clip from last week…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_z0vC6rQv4&feature=player_embedded#at=344.

    P.S. The supposed “contradictions” you pointed out are only flawed when looked at through flawed principles. For example, It is not about power to a majority OR power to the minority. It is about government’s sole function being to secure the god-given rights for ALL people. It is about the rule of a Just Law which the Founding of this Nation enshrined in it with the support of Jesus Christ as shown in the Doctrine and Covenants.

  207. Chris H. says:

    Just imagine all the folks that are being directed here by Mormon Bircher forums. I am so jealous.

  208. For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment. D&C 104:17–18

  209. Lack of respect for the property of others leads to increasingly socialistic societies, a system founded on envy and the violation of the commandment not to steal. A free-market system, however, leaves the rights of all intact. Our attitude toward the property of others should be one of profound respect, because it is the fruit of the exercise of a sacred right. Our rights are sacred and divine.

    There seems to be a misunderstanding in some that this respect, and the observance of the right to the ownership and control of property (and thus to a free market and not to a collectivist society) equates to greed. But greed exists separate from property. A poor man can be greedy, and the scriptures condemn the poor who envy the wealth of the rich just as it condemns the rich who do not give of their substance. There are some who have a poor understanding of agency and seem to think the rich should be forced to impart of their wealth. But this flies in the face of both the commandments and the laws of human nature. No man can become good by being forced into it, nor will those who force him grow by violating the commandments. Nor will the incentive to produce increase when a producer has the product of his labours taken from him, or the non-producer motivated to produce when given something for nothing as an entitlement. The Law of Consecration itself preserved in every man the right to private ownership and management of his property.

    This is not the worship of property, it is the acknowledgment that property plays a key role in our stewardships here on this earth and that the right to own and control property is inseparable to the rights to life and liberty.

  210. I believe in a free market economy one with a level playing field for all which is commonly missing from most so called free market economies I also believe our attitude toward the health and welfare of the needy should be one of profound respect because it is commanded of us for our own good (see 209) these are not mutually exclusive.

  211. Howard, I also believe our attitude toward the health and welfare of the needy should be a matter of grave importance as indeed their spiritual welfare also. It helps them and, as you say, it is for our own good too. The more my property is left intact, the more I am able to help. As for free-market economies, I am not sure there are many examples of them in a pure (or near pure) form. America had one up until the early 1900s. Today, however, collectivist inroads into the economy have made nearly everyone the poorer for it, especially the poor and needy…

    The earth is full and there is enough to spare, and that fulness is more justly distributed, and more fiully enjoyed, when property is not violated and where charity is left free to flourish.

  212. Is there another economy you would rather participate in?

  213. I’d like to see a return to the free market which flourished in America up until the early 1900s…

  214. Steve Evans says:

    Darren, then invent a time machine, because it’s not coming back.

  215. Chris H. says:

    Ccme on, Steve. Imagine how great things would be. 80 hour work weeks. No public education. Child labor. Union busting with real bullets. Oligarchy at it’s finest.

    Oh, and my favorite…the beautiful aroma of charred dead garment district workers.

    I am ready to join the revolution…just kidding…I stand by my earlier bat-related comments.

  216. Ron Madson says:

    very late to this fun. In my high school years I read all of ETB, Skousen, and just knew that socialism was destroying our nation and that unbridled free markets was god’s plan. Now 40 years later, I now feel it my duty to take literally ETB and other’s mandate to stamp out every socialistic “cancer cell” in our nation. So, I beg of you (Shaun, Darren and those who know that ETB’s Proper Role of Government is essentially divine scripture) to consider my “Modest Proposal to End Socialism” linked here: http://themormonworker.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/a-modest-proposal-to-end-socialism/

  217. Darren,
    Re: the lack of safety net as an eternal principle, I just don’t buy it. I don’t believe that we earn our salvation. I believe that we must repent in order to be exalted, return to live with Heavenly Father, etc, but the reward is certainly not one that we deserve. And God does bless us when we are undeserving (otherwise, we’d never get any blessings at all). The entire Atonement can be reasonably viewed as a kind of Spiritual redistribution, where God and Christ’s good grace is given to us, who don’t have near enough (see the bicycle metaphor). I think that there are plenty of things that we have to do to come to ourselves in this life, but I think God is doing everything in his power to get us there all the time. So, I just disagree with you.

    Re: right of property, I disagree with you that it is an all or nothing situation, so I disagree with your take. That seems to be the crux of it. You are making a slippery slope argument, which I don’t think is necessary. Also, I thought coveting was necessary to motivate behavior in a capitalistic economy. Seeing your wealthier peers motivates you to seek wealth yourself, because you want that stuff. Am I misunderstanding?

    ” But this flies in the face of both the commandments and the laws of human nature. No man can become good by being forced into it, nor will those who force him grow by violating the commandments..”
    This objection comes from a poor understanding of welfare programs. Governments engaged in welfare don’t care so much about the spiritual results of welfare (for better or worse), nor do they care about the spiritual effects on those whose money is given. They care about feeding, clothing, and housing the destitute and the wretched, because they are members of society who should benefit from that membership. There is some evidence that some people are helped by the application of free market principles to this problem (I’m thinking of microcredit type things) and more power to them. Whatever helps.

    “The Law of Consecration itself preserved in every man the right to private ownership and management of his property.”
    Could you explain what you mean by this, because it doesn’t square with my understanding at all?

    Also, I, like others here, am very skeptical that a return to a pre-Teddy Roosevelt economy is desirable. Nor do I think evidence indicates that the government interventions since that time have, generally, stifled innovation or resulted in a loss of overall wealth. I think that the loss of wealth in the lowest quartile and the gain of wealth in the upper echelons has at least as much to do with our shift away from an agricultural society to an urbanized one as it does with wealthy people hiring lawyers and accountants in order to maximize their resources.

    Skyler H,
    So your basic argument is that people who agree with you are right and people who don’t are wrong? Welcome to the club, baby.

  218. daveonline says:

    Well the last few posts have helped me understand that Darren, and I assume Ron Paul, would be strong supporters of a 100% inheritance tax since those recieving it did nothing to “deserve” it and it is a dole that corrupts the recievers. It would also then reorient the rich to realizing that since they can’t take it with them and they cant’ give it to their heirs, they better start finding causes worthy of their funds as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have been preaching for the last few years.

  219. Ron, Benson and Skousen were not the only ones to reject socialism – you must add Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, David O. McKay, J Reuben Clark, Marion G. Romney and others to the list. In fact I have never heard of a prophet, seer and revelator advocating socialism as something good.

    John, I am sorry my explanation of the safety net is not getting through. I didn’t say we earned our salvation, I said we qualified for it. There is a difference. I thought this was clearly understood in LDS theology?

    Private capitalism does allow for greed/covetousness, but it also may be motivated by a desire to better’s oneself and help others. The point is that there is a choice. With socialism, however, it is founded in covetousness rather than self-betterment, and is enforced. Saying capitalism is bad because some people may misuse it, is like saying free speech is bad because some people may say unkind things. We’re on this earth to be free to choose and not inhibited in that choice by force unless we seek to remove the same freedom is another.

    If governments were interested in helping people they would get out of wealth redistribution. Those who have such a fundamental misunderstanding of right and wrong, of human nature, and of the lessons of history, should not be people we are voting for.

    The Law of Consecration, a sort of religiously-motivated form of private capitalism (as one author described it), preserves the individual right to private property. I was paraphrasing Elder Romney, “This procedure [the Law of Consecration and Stewardship] preserved in every man the right to private ownership and management of his property. At his own option he could alienate it or keep and operate it and pass it on to his heirs…the United Order is operated upon the principle of private ownership and individual management. Socialism is operated on the principle of collective or governmental ownership and management. Thus in both implementation and ownership and management of property, the United Order preserves to men their God-given agency, while socialism deprives them of it…” (Marion G. Romney, Socialism and the United Order Compared, BYU, March 1966)

    Of course I am not in favour of an inheritance tax. Where would government gain any just authority to have such a power? Every man should dispose of his worldly wealth as he sees fit. I believe rich men who are wise will exercise a great deal of thought as to how their children inherit wealth, because it can spoil them if they do not learn the value of earning their fruits by the sweat of their brow.

  220. Ron Madson says:

    darren,
    BY was anti-sociaism and pro-capitalism? Wow, how did they get him to sign off when the first presidency issued a Proclamation on the Economy in 1875–key excerpts I am pasting here for fun. Yes, we can all proof text statements to support our “isms” . Like “creationISM” and church institutionalized “racISM” or polandryISM” or other such nonsense, we can find bucket loads of quotes/statements even made in general conference that are now seen just decades later as pure nonsense from our church leaders. But to be a “true and LIVING” church we have to continue to grow up and mature discarding such things. No one is advocating force but all governance involves compromise and cooperation–it is all a matter of degrees. The question for me is what aligns most closely with the words of Jesus and not through the cultural filter of our church leaders of any one generation? I would vote Democratic socialism as it pertains to holding/controlling key fundamental resources and needs (including health care) like a utility to be held in common. The ideology of “free’ unbridled markets and capitalism seems more akin to Korihor then Jesus.

    Proclamation on the Economy by the First Presidency in 1875:
    THE EXPERIENCE OF MANKIND has shown that the people of communities and nations among whom wealth is the most equally distributed, enjoy the largest degree of liberty, are the least exposed to tyranny and oppression and suffer the least from luxurious habits which beget vice. Under such a system, carefully maintained there could be no great aggregations of either real or personal property in the hands of a few; especially so while the laws, forbidding the taking of usury or interest for money or property loaned, continued in force.

    ONE OF THE GREAT EVILS with which our own nation is menaced at the present time is the wonderful growth of wealth in the hands of a comparatively few individuals. The very liberties for which our fathers contended so steadfastly and courageously, and which they bequeathed to us as a priceless legacy, are endangered by the monstrous power which this accumulation of wealth gives to a few individuals and a few powerful corporations. By its seductive influence results are accomplished which, were it more equally distributed, would be impossible under our form of government. It threatens to give shape to the legislation, both State, and National, of the entire country. If this evil should not be checked, and measures not taken to prevent the continued enormous growth of riches among the class already rich, and the painful increase of destitution and want among the poor, the nation is likely to be overtaken by disaster; for, according to history, such a tendency among nations once powerful was the sure precursor of ruin.

    YEARS AGO IT WAS PERCEIVED that we Latter-day Saints were open to the same dangers as those which beset the rest of the world. A condition of affairs existed among us which was favorable to the growth of riches in the hands of a few at the expense of many. A wealthy class was being rapidly formed in our midst whose interests in the course of time, were likely to be diverse from those of the rest of the community. The growth of such a class was dangerous to our union; and, of all people, we stand most in need of union and to have our interests identical. Then it was that the Saints were counseled to enter into co-operation. In the absence of the necessary faith to enter upon a more perfect order revealed by the Lord unto the Church, this was felt to be the best means of drawing us together and making us one.

    A UNION OF INTERESTS was sought to be attained. At the time co-operation was entered upon the Latter-day Saints were acting in utter disregard of the principles of self-preservation. They were encouraging the growth of evils in their own midst which they condemned as the worst features of the systems from which they had been gathered. Large profits were being consecrated in comparatively few hands, instead of being generally distributed among the people. As a consequence, the community was being rapidly divided into classes, and the hateful and unhappy distinctions which the possession and lack of wealth give rise to, were becoming painfully apparent. When the proposition to organize Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile Institution was broached, it was hoped that the community at large would become stockholders; for if a few individuals only were to own its stock, the advantages to the community would be limited. The people, therefore, were urged to take shares, and large numbers responded to the appeal. As we have shown, the business proved to be as successful as its most sanguine friends anticipated. But the distribution of profits among the community was not the only benefit conferred by the organization of co-operation among us.

    CO-OPERATION has submitted in silence to a great many attacks. Its friends have been content to let it endure the ordeal. But it is now time to speak. The Latter-day Saints should understand that it is our duty to sustain co-operation and to do all in our power to make it a success. The local co-operative stores should have the cordial support of the Latter-day Saints. Does not all our history impress upon us the great truth that in union is strength? Without it, what power would the Latter-day Saints have? But it is not our doctrines alone that we should be united, but in practice and especially in our business affairs.

    Your Brethren:

    Brigham Young, Daniel H. Wells, Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt, Lorenzo Snow, Franklin D. Richards, Brigham Young Jr., George A. Smith, John taylor, Orson Hyde, Charles C,. Rich, Erastus Snow, George Q. Cannon, Albert Carrington

  221. Joseph Smith and Ezra Taft Benson hardly lived in the same generation. We do not discard old counsel (and yes much of it was in official speeches), or else we would be discarding the standard works too. Truths don’t change and those underlying politics and economics no more change than those underlying human nature.

    I’ve read the above-posted text before. It actually shows a lot of insight. Even back then Brigham Young was aware of the forces at work among the super-rich. You might be interested to know that the technique by which these moneyed elite took extrordinary wealth unto themselves was by eliminating competition. This they did by promoting socialism. The large corporations practised, as they still do, what is sometimes called crony capitalism – it’s actually not based on the free-market at all but upon using the force of government to create monopolies and special deals for these cartels. The solution to these problems was, and is, thus the free market and not more use of governmental force.

    The Proclamation, of course, references a voluntary effort and not one of complusion. This is a document you have to be careful with because it has been deliberately (it would seem) misinterpreted by left-leaning individuals to promote the ridiculous idea that the Church, or Brigham Young*, promoted socialism. You can read a good background expanation here by Orson Scott Card: http://www.mormontimes.com/article/10532/Document-does-fine-on-its-own

    I’d strongly recommend everyone take a good study of what Church leaders have said over the years about these issues, the we will see why their has always been a consistent support for economic liberty and consistent rejection of collectvism in all its forms. If we just grab certain excerpts and interpret them by the light of our own understanding, the misinterpretation inevitably follows. Ensign articles, conference addresses, public speeches and books exist in some volume on these matters. Undertake to read them and our understanding of the big picture increases.

    * “I am opposed to free education as much as I am opposed to taking property from one man and giving it to another….Would I encourage free schools by taxation? No!” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 18:357)

  222. Regarding The Law of Consecration see D&C 42 beginning with 29 If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments. And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken….every man shall be made accountable unto me, a steward over his own property, or that which he has received by consecration, as much as is sufficient for himself and family…And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands;

  223. Ron Madson says:

    “we don’t discard old counsel”?? Really? Polygamy/polyandry which is now “It is not doctrinal” per Pres. Hinckley. Adam-God doctrine even institutionalized in the temple to “It is false doctrine” per Pres. Kimball. Curse of Cain on blacks (dozens of quotes/doctrinal statements) to “we were clueless”….Creationism? Principal ancestors of native Americans are the Lamanites? What makes us “true”, imo, is that we mature and grow up and get further light and knowledge–that is what also makes us “living.” I primarily point out quotes from the past to show inconsistencies. Those inconsistencies demonstrate evolution. “Truth” is eternal and unchanging you say. But does it follow that my/your/our/even church leaders’ perception of “truth” is unchanging? I hope not.
    One aside. I find that many “capitalists”/ free marketeers squeal with pain at the thought of a few percentages higher of taxes for social benefits (health care, etc) but shriek with horror at the thought of cutting the military industrial complex’s budget and funding all kinds of wars of intervention. Ron Paul is at least consistent on this point, but from what I could tell of the last presidential debate he stood alone in cutting the military. For that I applaud him. There is no greater and more worthless (I would say even evil) socialistic program then the military industrial complex, imo. They take our $ to fund wars of aggression (murder of millions of civilians from Viet Nam to the present) and call it patriotism and then take a lesser amount to fund health care and call it “satan’s plan” Truly a “peculiar” people.

  224. The military industrial complex and drumming up the necessary wars to feed it amount to corporate welfare.

  225. Darren, if you believe that Joseph Smith’s political thought remotely resembles ETB, you are woefully ignorant of Joseph Smith’s actual thoughts and writings on the subject (you might, for example, start with the platform for his presidential campaign). BY hated public education because he viewed it as a gentile institution and he was still working to keep Deseret an economically and politically isolated theocratic kingdom. He was not remotely opposed to taxation, though, including taxation for redistributive purposes. And as an opponent to publicly funded, free education, he is in the clear minority among men we historically have called prophets, seers, and revelators. You are free to arrive at and promote whatever principles of good government you choose, but you have to engage in serious intellectual gymnastics to believe that you are compelled by God through the unwavering words of His prophets to the positions you advocate. You’re not wrong for being a utopian libertarian anarchist who worships at the altar of divinely ordained inviolable individual property rights (foolish, but not wrong). You are manifestly wrong for claiming that the Restored Gospel compels you or anyone else to that political outlook.

  226. Howard, not sure why you’ve posted that scripture. I agree with it of course ;) I think one of the big myths that circulates among some in the Church is that the Law of Consecration is communal in nature, and that it somehow does away with private property. Many people who lived under the United Order received back exactly what they had given. The chief spiritual principle of the Law of Consecration is that we have recognized we are stewards in terms of our relationship with God.

    Ron, I think a lot of what has been said in the past has often been misinterpreted or even rejected. Also, some things are based on writings that never received an official confirmation as being actually quoted accurately from the one quoted. Although I agree that we receive light line upon line, we sometimes also lose it line upon line. And the membership as a whole is not beyond that backward process. We reject certain things and the Lord no longer keeps warning us, much as when the ancient Israelites rejected the Lord’s form of earthly government (the reign of judges) and turned to the idea of kings. There has, for example, been no rejection to my knowledge of creationism or any espousal of evolution.

    Generally it is conservatives or neo-conservatives who support the “military industrial complex”. I’m from the libertarian school of thought and am a non-interventionist. The test is usually quite simple as regards “Satan’s Plan”. It is when force is used for any other purpose than self-defence or the punishment of genuine crimes.

    Those on what is termed “the Left” tend to believe that if people are not responsible or moral then they should be forced to be so. Crimes aside, I think this a position of a person who has not thought things through.

  227. “I think one of the big myths that circulates among some in the Church is that the Law of Consecration is communal in nature, and that it somehow does away with private property.”

    What of 4 Nephi then? Acts? What of all the thousands of incidents of latter day saints consecrating their property under one of the many and varied implementations of some form of consecration and not receiving back exactly what they had given? Taxation for social safety nets in a republic with democratically elected representatives is not theft, it is not forced charity, it is not a violation of anyone’s free agency or free will. The right to individual self defense and defense of property is considered a natural right by virtually all political theorists who had influence on the Anglo-American enlightment and the American founding. It also has fairly strong scriptural precedence. Yet taxation to provide for law enforcement and national defense is not an abrogation of this natural right, even though it is in fact surrendered to the state in exchange for full participation and due process within a uniformly and fairly applied judicial apparatus for conflict resolution and dealing with crimes against persons, property, or the public welfare. Nowhere in scripture does it state that national defense or law enforcement are the only legitimate functions of national government, and the divinely inspired constitution expressly empowers the national government to tax the citizenry, to regulate certain forms of commerce (the scope and range of which has grown almost exponentially as markets have nationalized and globalized), and to promote the general welfare of the populace.

    Your radically anti-state, libertarian approach would have certainly had a home at the nation’s founding, but it would have been squarely on the side of opposing ratification of the Constitution.

  228. “Those on what is termed “the Left” tend to believe that if people are not responsible or moral then they should be forced to be so.”

    I’ve known and corresponded with literally hundreds of people on “the Left” and never once encountered this attitude held, promoted, or defended by a single one.

    Bit of advice: generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to hold very strong opinions about things you don’t understand.

  229. Darren the chief spiritual principles are remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support AND every man shall be made accountable unto me, a steward over his own property. Is that what you meant to say?

  230. Brad, I don’t need to enter into mental gymnastics because I generally take the scriptures and the words of Church leaders at face value rather than trying to fit them into a preconceived view of the world based on ideas formulated from worldly sources. I have read Joseph Smith’s pamplet – I have a copy printed out. I have a read a lot of what Church leaders have written and said, as well as great men like Mosiah and the Founding Fathers, and I am quite convinced that if they were all put in a room that they would agree on the fundamental basis of things politically. Would they agree on how to go about things or on every point? Perhaps not, but on the basic principles I believe they would.

    I am not an anarchist (if you use that word how it is normally intended) and neither do I worship at any altar besides that of my God. Our rights come down to our bodies and they are temples of God and a great blessing. You mis-use the word utopianism. It refers to something can never be (such as socialism leading to prosperity and justice), not something that works but that, because of wickedness, has been rejected.

    I have every right to believe the Restored Gospel upholds the concept of natural rights, of popular sovereignty, of an inspired Constitution, of a free market, et. al. As does someone who believes the opposite, though they’ll find no evidence for it.

  231. Nice evasion, Darren.

  232. I don’t know if that was an evasion or a testimony but i like what he said.

  233. If you think the Law of Consecration is communal then you need to look at it again. “The Church never was, and under existing commandments never will be, a communal society, under the directions thus far given by the Lord. The United Order was not communal nor communistic. It was completely and intensely individualistic, with a consecration of unneeded surpluses for the support of the Church and the poor.” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., “The United Order and Law of Consecration As Set Out in the Revelations of the Lord” from a pamphlet of articles reprinted from the Church Section of the Deseret News, 1942, pp. 26-27. As quoted by Marion G. Romney, Conference, April 1977). There are whole essays about this on the Internet. Some, however, have traduced these words and misled people into believing otherwise.

    Well, I’m not perfect – I’ve had an interest in trying to understand the Lord’s views on earthly government since 1992 and have read much of what prominent members of the Church have written, especially those in authority such as the Presidents of the Church. I have no hidden agenda other than to know what is sound, just and true. I want people to make decisions based on that. I’m confused, Brad, by your response. Let me explain. Someone on “the left” tends to support government welfare programmes because they feel that, left to their own devices, people would not responsibly exercise their agency to look after the poor and needy to the degree necessary to prevent starvarion etc. So statists (I will use that term over left-wingers) support the idea of government forcing people to “help” others. However, this seems to break many commandments and principles. Firstly, it has no basis in authority: I cannot force someone to give me food so how can I delegate any such power to government? Popular sovereignty – the idea that sovereignty lies in the people and that governments derive their just powers from the governed – has been consistently highlighted as sound truth by Church leaders. Second: stealing is against the commandments. This is pretty obvious. Third: it violates the laws of human nature in that it removes the incentive for the producer to produce and for the non-producer to work; therefore it can never create prosperity. The whole statist king-men mentality is based on control rather than leaving people alone. It is using government to not just protect people and leave them free to choose this day whom they will serve, but rather to compel people to provide for others and, in so doing, violate the very rights the government was set up to protect in the first place.

    These principles are not hard to understand. If we read the whole context of what Church leaders have said over the years, if we exercise a little ability to logically deconstruct, if we get informed on the principles and remain humble, then I feel these things will become clear and, like Joseph Smith, our souls will love liberty and not unrighteous dominion.

  234. Sigh…

  235. I don’t think the Law of Consecration is communal I think it’s purpose is to smooth scarcity while teaching us to share and care for humankind.

  236. I’m still waiting for the mental gymnastics required to describe either 4 Nephi or Acts—two social structures resulting directly from the personal ministries of the Savior—as anything other than communal. Again, I’m not saying that scripture compels one to accept a communal/communitarian perspective. I’ve read enough scripture and studied enough Mormon history and teachings of Mormon leaders to know that one could carefully and selectively use examples from them to defend or contradict virtually any imaginable sociopolitical arrangement. I am arguing that the scriptures do not compel acceptance of Darren’s political philosophy any more than they compel one to accept mine.

    Take responsibility for your own political ideals and opinions rather than trying to claim divine approbation for them. It’s cheap, self-serving, and intellectually lazy.

  237. I love it when it is proved that my straw men are not actually straw men at all.

  238. Brad I’m puzzled by your comment are you referring to 4 Nephi verse3? they had all things common among them Couldn’t this simply mean they had all common things? And since there were no contentions apparently little scarcity. Or are you referring to something else?

  239. > Take responsibility for your own political ideals and opinions rather than trying to claim divine approbation for them.

    WORD. 10000x times amen.

  240. daveonline says:

    Darren,
    Why should the state defend the right of a rich person to corrupt people by giving them money they did not deserve? I find it disingenuous to claim that it is wrong for the government to give money to people that have not earned it by combining their body sweat with producing value from the land. It can be no more or less corrupting whether the “gift” comes from the government or from a rich uncle. As a second note, let me ask about taxes used for education. Should state schools be done away with? Some states have each community raise their own taxes (Side note – Wash. is the most regressive – with no income tax, they actually impose their taxes from the poorest via fees and levys, so still not sure if you are saying all taxes are wrong, even if the Constitution allows it, or only taxes that take more from the rich. Other states say that the state must pool their collections as a whole and then share so that poorer areas are not disadvantaged into the next generation).
    So now that the moral issue has been addressed on the receiving end. What about on the taxing end? The old Testemant tradition of gleaning mandated that even though some grain was raised by the owner by the sweat of his brow, it was “illegal” for him to make claim to it, but it must be left for those who had no land to take for their needs. My prior comments on corporations are really a reflection that it would seem that even for a libertarian there should be room for a valid grey area for society to set rules on the amount of “gleaning” that should occur out of the economic miracle that occurs from specialization. Specialization via a free market has resulted in an economic outcome far in excess of what could be acheived as an individual working by the sweat of their brow. I would argue that it is an important and moral societal discourse to discern how to use that excess to better bless the community at large that produced it and to bless the rising generations. Is this current power to tax and spend ill used? Certainly, but it is not due to a corrupt political system of socialism, it is due to a public that does not care to press and hold their representatives accountable for how they are blessing the community via the stewardship entrusted to them.
    Lastly, I appreicate your patience in participating here on this forum. My questions are meant to understand your position, since I have not previously had the opportunity to dialogue on this topic. I am trying to understand where and how the ideals you have stated get applied to the practical questions of education, taxes, and most especially are applied to the 20th century evolution of the corporation

  241. Darren,

    Here is a bit of unsolicited advice.

    It might be a good idea to learn something Sarah Palin hasn’t learned:

    If you are going to mangle history, it’s best to do it privately.

  242. Darren,
    “I didn’t say we earned our salvation, I said we qualified for it. There is a difference.”
    Then what did your statements have to do with disproving a Gospel safety net? I don’t get welfare if I don’t qualify for it, either.

    “With socialism, however, it is founded in covetousness rather than self-betterment, and is enforced”
    This is definitely true of strawman socialism, which appears to be the type with which you are most familiar. You do realize that there isn’t a single thing that you say about capitalism that couldn’t be equally applied to socialism (and vice versa), right?

    I can’t speak for Elder Romney or his sources, but what he is describing isn’t how it worked in Orderville (to my admittedly limited knowledge), nor does that seem to fit the temple covenant or the circumstances in the New Testament or 4th Nephi were the law of consecration takes place. Not to say that those things were socialism either, because they weren’t, but I don’t believe that they operated out of some notion of great respect for property rights. It is worth noting the historical context in which Elders Romney, Benson, et al were speaking, when they would go to great lengths to distinguish themselves from the “Communists” in the Soviet Union and Asia. There are clear differences. Participation in the United Order (in whatever limited way it was achieved in our era) was never enforced through arms (there is a question of social pressure, but that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax). As I understand it, someone turned what they had over to the church, and then the church made them a steward over what they had (usually). But the ownership, as I understand it, was the church’s. That’s definitely not private property.

    “We do not discard old counsel (and yes much of it was in official speeches), or else we would be discarding the standard works too. Truths don’t change and those underlying politics and economics no more change than those underlying human nature”
    Both of these statements are obviously false. There is no reason to say that if we turn away from some counsel we turn away from all of it. Politics and Economics are always culturally bound. Arguments otherwise aren’t based in reality, but rather in fanaticism. Darren, I, like Dave, am primarily interested in understanding your position and I am glad of your patience with us sinners, but I wonder what leads you to such conclusions. It seems to me, at least, that you are discarding a lot of the scriptures in order to maintain your ideals. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that (as Brad notes, we all do it), but you shouldn’t kid yourself about your position.

  243. communal: Shared by all members of a community; for common use.

    law of consecration: Saints voluntarily deed (consecrate) their property to the church the church then assigns a “stewardship” of property sufficient for himself and family.

  244. Howard,
    I think that having one’s property deeded back to oneself (or a portion thereof) for use falls within acceptable usage of communal. The idea has as much to do with ownership and distribution as it does with use.

  245. John C. I dunno I find definitions like collective ownership AND use of property but not just ownership can you provide a link? What is ownership in this contest anyway isn’t it form over substance?

  246. The Kingston United Order, the one I am most familiar with, worked very much as John C says: To enter the order you deeded your property and your labor, and that of your family, and your future legacies, and everything else, to the Order. If you withdrew — and you were free to withdraw — you could take property with you, sort of. You couldn’t withdraw any real property at all, and you could withdraw personal property, sort of, if the Order had something similar to what you had deeded, but not necessarily the identical items that you had deeded.

    When one entire class of property (real estate) was under no circumstances available for your withdrawal, and when the uniqueness of personal property was not recognized (if you deeded a horse, you might get a horse back — probably not the same one — but you might have to settle for a mule if that’s all the Order could spare, or even a couple of sheep), it’s very clear to me that participants in the United Order did not maintain ownership in any meaningful sense to the property they deeded.

    The relevant articles:

    Art 7th It is mutually agreed and understood by the parties whose names are attached to these articles that they bequeath transfer and convey unto the company all their right title and interest to whatever property whether personal or real estate that they are now possessed of or may hereafter become possessed of by legacy will or otherwise for the purposes herein mentioned and furthermore that they will labour faithfully and honestly themselves and cause their children who are under age to labour under the direction of the Board of directors or their Agents or Superintendents the remuneration for which Shall be as fixed by the Board both as to price and kind of pay he or she shall receive provided any are dissatisfied with the price or kind of pay a hearing shall be had before the company and their decision shall be final

    Art 8th It is furthermore understood and agreed that a Schedule or inventory of all property Bequeathed or transferred to the company Shall be kept in a book provided for that purpose together with the price of each article that in case any party becomes dissatisfied or is called away and wishes to draw out he can have as near as may be the same kind of property but in no case can he have real estate only at the option of the board nor shall Interest or a dividend be paid on such property and all property received by the company Shall be receipted for by the Sec[r]etary

    Stupidly long comment, but it supports John C’s understanding and refutes Darren’s contextless sound bite from Pres. Romney.

  247. Thanks Ardis I think we should be calling it communalism which has a different more specific meaning that fits.

  248. I agree with Howard. To prevent confusion of terminology between what the United Order did and what socialism in the 20th century is/was about, we should use differing terms. I think a key difference between the two is the ability to freely enter/leave the program (or pogrom, in the case of the Soviets).

    I don’t think the Lord cares either way on how we deal with a political system, as long as it is voluntary. But when government turns to tyranny to advance a cause opposed to basic liberties, then there is a problem. I don’t think anyone is arguing on whether the Soviet Union was a good form of government: economically, politically or otherwise.

    That said, there will always be a struggle between too much government power versus too much corporate power (robber barons, etc). Today, I fear we have a new problem. Government and Big Corporation are in bed together, each helping the other to obtain more and more power.

    We have had, and do have, prophets and apostles on different political spectrum. Ezra Taft Benson and Hugh B. Brown did not agree politically. President Faust was once the head of the Utah Democrats. It is just too easy to pick and choose one’s favorite prophets and then pick and choose specific quotes from each to support such concepts.

    Personally, I am a Libertarian. I’ve wandered between Independent, Republican and Democrat for many years and have a bad taste in my mouth over most of the politicians I’ve supported over the years. I don’t look for a perfect candidate. But I do look for one who will try and support individual freedoms. That our federal government has been fiscally irresponsible for at least the last 20 years is a no-brainer.

    When federal government supports corporations, unions or other organizations above the individual, then we have forgotten what America was originally based on.

    Safety nets? I have no problem with them. However, they should be implemented on the state level, not the federal. The only time the feds should be involved in anything of the sort, is when there is a national disaster or depression. As it is, Keynesian economics did not work in FDR’s day, and they aren’t working in our day, either. LBJ’s war on poverty also is not working, but is destroying families and creating a society of poor people who are addicted to the dole. Federal programs often do not work, and are extremely expensive. Medicare and Medicaid now have $60 Trillion in unfunded mandates. Congress is ignoring that problem, just as they are ignoring all other real problems.

    The destruction of socialist societies tends to show they have a decade of hardship. Russia went through 6 years of severe economic struggle after the USSR collapse. But things get better under freedom. India struggled with massive poverty for decades under a strong socialist central government, but now there is an emerging middle class because of new reforms that push freedom.

    While I believe that there is a purpose for a federal government: defense, treaties, ensuring commerce functions well, preventing monopolies; I am certain that too much federal government gets in the way of personal freedoms. It eliminates the individual’s desire for progression and purpose in life. Imagine a parent not allowing the infant to fall occasionally while learning to walk. Without a few falls, the child will not learn nor grow, nor become an adult. Our nanny state has left many in that situation, where they cannot take care of themselves, or WON’T take care of themselves.

    Better to move most government back to the states and local levels, and ensure greater freedom for all. As James Madison noted, except in times of war, the federal government should be no more than 10% of government.

  249. “I don’t think the Lord cares either way on how we deal with a political system, as long as it is voluntary”
    Which is why all right thinking Mormons hate Captain Moroni!

  250. “Russia went through 6 years of severe economic struggle after the USSR collapse. But things get better under freedom.”
    When I was in Russia, fairly close to the collapse, the big problems were crazy amounts of fraud, the practical return of a barter economy, and insane inflation. All three problems were solved (more or less) by a return of government intervention in the national economic system after abandoning such during the era of Yeltsin in order to create a free market. You have a very idiosyncratic reading of recent Russian economic history.

  251. All three problems were solved (more or less) by a return of government intervention in the national economic system after abandoning such during the era of Yeltsin in order to create a free market. You have a very idiosyncratic reading of recent Russian economic history.

    But…but…that goes against The Narrative…

  252. Yes, Russia did not work in the free market system Yeltsin set up, BECAUSE he opened it up to corporate crime. So you are right on that. Still, Putin’s placing more restrictions was in response to the anarchy and crime going on, and still provides greater economic freedom than Russians had in Brezhnev, Lenin or Stalin’s time.

  253. “falls within acceptable usage of communal. ”

    All this talk of communal is really missing the forest for all those trees in the way. Consecration and the United Order, as clearly understood by Pres. Romney and the rest of the prophets and apostles was and is to this day clearly misunderstood by many members from time to time (myself included). I think we spend so much time working after the order of babylon (whether it be capitalism or socialism) we forget the higher order of God. Capitalism is not the order of God. Socialism is not the order of God. And only one of these can lead to kingdom of God according to the prophets (not according to me) — and that is free enterprise under capitalist systems, but certainly not as practiced today (that part is my opinion).

    In the sense that we are a community, the united order could said to be communal. But this gets the wrong sense, as then a town where people are capitalists would be communal as would a socialist town. No, what Pres. Romney meant when he said the United Order was not communal was in the plainest sense consecration acknolwedges and carrys out in practice the principle that all things belong to God. All things do **not** belong to the community. All things are **not** given to the community. In this sense the united order and the law of consecration is most assuredly **not** communal.

    If you want to pretend that by allowing the people through their representatives to tax and distribute property that you are following some pattern of the United Order you are being deceived. Nothign could be further from the truth. When the government represents the Kingdom of God on the earth and you have made a coveant to acknowledge all you have belongs to God and came from God and you are giving it back to him, then we will have a point.

    I sincerely hope this does not twist my remarks as a capitalism or socialism debate, as both systems when carried out in practice will lead one away from and not to God. But it becomes very difficult, if not impossible for you to deed all you have and acknowledge all you have belongs to God if your neighbors are laying claim to it and says it really belongs to the community. This was why socialism was an anathema to the prophets and apostles who understood what consecration truly means. And again, self-interest pursued capitalism is also in opposition to the gospel in my book. We are only to pursue the glory of God and the betterment of ourselves and our brothers — letting every man esteem his brother as himself, practicing virtue and holiness before the Lord.

  254. all things belong to God. All things do **not** belong to the community. All things are **not** given to the community. In this sense the united order and the law of consecration is most assuredly **not** communal. I think there is value to this concept as a stepping stone a transitional concept leading to the understanding of the question what is ownership? Humankind has not advanced much emotionally or psychologically beyond a toddler’s early word “mine” we draw up land deeds and buy and sell them and fence the ground that Adam and his decedents walked freely and pretend it makes sense as we employ professionals to assist in this charade but really we are just appeasing the “mine” emotion of toddlers now in adult bodies. The truth is the earth is full no one “owns” it without the enforcement of a gun and there is more than enough for everyone’s needs plus an abundance to serve as incentive to motivate even the most entrepreneurial toddlers but there isn’t enough to satisfy the insatiable opulent appetites of the powerful because they will never have enough and their sense of entitlement overshadows the weak.

  255. You all really need to read Rousseau.

  256. nobody special says:

    256 – Rousseau is certainly interesting and has thought deeply about the issue, but if you could point me to his writing that points people to God rather than some other source I’d really like to read it as I haven’t read too much. But when I saw this by him, “you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all” I thought that was a rather worldly (in the literal sense) philosophy that stated what the prophets refute (at least according to me in 254).

    The fruits of this earth which we receive are blessings which God gives us stewardship over, but ultimately belong to him, and as we acknowledge that we are blessed further and can progress in his gospel to become like him and ultimately inherit all he has.

    On a variety of levels, I think it’s a subtle, but very serious mistake to insert by philosophy or policy “belong to us all” in place of “belongs to God”.

  257. I strongly doubt gospel teachings mean a continuum of material wealth to be provided in exchange for obedience or righteousness…or he who dies with the most toys wins! If the material world actually “belongs” to God to what end? Isn’t it for our training ground? Or does He want your beemer? And what does “belong” mean? All he has is spiritual unless you are referring to being assigned stewardship of your own world in which case does it “belong” to you if so to what end? Now repeat. I believe the concept of God owning material stuff is aimed at our getting over ourselves with regard to ownership in other words YOU don’t own it I do, now share!

  258. chris, nobody special says:

    “I strongly doubt gospel teachings mean a continuum of material wealth to be provided in exchange for obedience or righteousness…”

    Really only an uncharitable reading of what was written could come to that conclusion. And it was never suggested that we should not share nor that we have an obligation, nay are commanded to “share” as you put it. I understand what you are saying, but I think your reply indicates I am either explaining poorly or you aren’t understanding me. So it’s not much use to continue trying. Now go and share :)

  259. “but if you could point me to his writing that points people to God rather than some other source I’d really like to read it as I haven’t read too much.”

    I sometime think aloud to myself “What would Steve Evans do in the situation?” I many way this is a variety on the categorical imperative. However, in this case, I think the proper question would be “What would Steve Evans WANT me to do in this situation?”

    Steve would want me to get cracking on my dissertation.

    I know that Steve is true.

    *Shakes head*

    *Walks away*

  260. Uncharitable reading? No, I simply offered that as an example to contrast and compare sorry if I offended.

  261. chris,
    I agree that the Law of Consecration is founded on the principle that all this stuff is God’s anyway (reducing the importance of notions of private property to nil, in my opinion). I, like you, am skeptical that communism (socialism in its purist form) or complete laissez-faire capitalism is likely to get us directly to God. Certainly, however, we do owe some to each other, in addition to God. Render unto Caesar and all that.

    I hesitate to speak for Chris, but I’d suggest that you explore Rousseau a bit more and see if you find things that lead you closer to God. I’m sure you will. Of course, you’ll also find things leading to God in Nietzsche. God can be found in just about all things, if you are the right kind of seeker.

  262. Chris H. says:

    John, speak for me all you want.

  263. Yossarian says:

    I guess it’s inevitable to see anarchism made an epithet, but Ron Paul is not an anarchist by any stretch. Many libertarian socialists or anarchists may agree with his antiwar rhetoric in part but certainly do not worship at the altar of property rights and believe everything must be reified or commodified. Many are for instituting forms of social safety nets and trying to alleviate poverty and other ills through collective and socialist programs for the least.

    And what’s with the constant appeals to authority by the anti socialism crowd? Just because ETB said some asinine thing about communism and property rights doesn’t make it true. He said a lot of asinine things. As do many church leaders, as do all of us. The truth of their statements should not be measured bu authority. And since when do people and their suffering matter less than property?

  264. This thread is the gift that just keeps on giving.

  265. Thomas Parkin says:

    My Top Ten Folks I’d Like to See Compared to Korihor:

    10. Oprah. Similarities: Korihor claimed that he didn’t bind people down to foolish ordinances; Oprah had several shows about not being bound down to foolish ordinances. Differences: Oprah’s weight has been really up and down over the years. Korihor stayed thin on a diet of mango and garlic fries, with regular exercise – at least twenty minutes, five times a week.

    9. Lady Gaga. Similarities: Both created eye-popping videos that dulled people’s senses to their evil intent. Differences: Korihor lead many women into whoredoms. Lady Gaga makes many people never want to have sex again.

    8. Ben Franklin. Similarities: Korihor claimed that because people fared according to their genius, nothing they did was a sin. Ben Franklin was a genius who claimed that nothing he might do would be a sin, as long as he did it in France. Differences: Ben Franklin wrote the Poor Richard’s Almanac; Korihor wrote the Richie Richard’s Almanac.

    7. Yul Brenner. Similarities: Both Yul Brenner and Korihor looked great with a shaved head. Differences: Yul Brenner worshiped idols even after many different kinds of plagues were brought down on his kingdom. Korihor went squealing like a baby the first time someone threatened to put him in the slammer.

    6. King Tut (another Egyptian!). Similarities: Both their names start with a K. Both lived in a condo made of stone-uh. Differences: Both were born in Babylonia, but King Tut moved to Arizona, while Korihor moved to Zarahemla.

    5. J.K. Rowling. Similarities: Both told bewitching stories that lead good Christian children to join covens and practice wicked sorcery. Differences: Actually, this is another similarity: we see in both cases that the devil will not support his own in the end, but carefully leadeth their souls down to hell.

    4. George W. Bush. Similarities: Both were struck dumb. Differences: Korihor was struck dumb as a sign to him of the existence of God. Bush was struck dumb as a sign to us that someone unseen is definitely in charge.

    3. Neal Armstrong. Similarities: Both came to see that the regular motions of the planets were evidence of a supreme creator. Differences: Neal Armstrong walked on the moon. Korihor believed that the moon landings were faked in order to distract us from the nuclear arms race and urban poverty. This lack of credulity didn’t keep him from discovering the Three Laws of Planetary Motion.

    2. Bill Cosby. Similarities: Both were pretty funny, though neither has ever made me lol. Bill Cosby was on President Nixon’s enemy list. Korihor was on President Jesus’ enemy list. Differences: Cosby was known for his promotion of Jello brand gelatin. Korihor was known for his promotion of hell bound Mayan men.

    1. William Jefferson Clinton. Similarities: Both benefited from a period of prosperity that probably had little to do with their own policies. Differences: Clinton was a Democrat. Korihor was a Republican.

  266. That this post has resulted in comment #266 makes the entire thing worth it. I declare Thomas Parkin the winner. Root beer floats for everyone!

    Also, Yossarian, stop being so hard on President Benson. The man is entitled to his opinion, even if it is one I don’t personally agree with. I can revere his office and his leadership nonetheless. Watch it or you won’t get your root beer float.

  267. bookbeier says:

    Where do we pick up the floats? What’s the difference between between Korihor and an elephant? Usually we would see Korihor riding on the elephant… but we wished it were the other way around. (Actually Korihor ended up about the same anyway…)

  268. #266 is brilliant.

  269. #266 – Wow, Thomas. That might just be the best comment in the history of the Bloggernacle. Un-freaking-believable!

  270. it's a series of tubes says:

    This. Thread. Delivers.

    #166 and #266 in the same thread? Such a concentration of quality content is unheard of. Incredible!

  271. Fletcher says:

    Where is gst? This should be closed down now.

  272. who knows, maybe at #366, there might be the trifecta…

  273. Where is gst? This should be closed down now.

    Never. I’m thinking about pinning this post to the top of BCC permanently and leaving comments open for all time and eternity.

  274. Thomas Parkin says:

    I don’t want to draw more attention to myself by expressing appreciation to those who drew attention to my silly comment. Thanks for appreciating it. I’m never sure people are going to have any idea what to do with me. I’m a bundle of anxieties.

    I thought I wanted to add one more important thing on the subject of Ben Franklin. We over-sexed fiends can take a lot of hope if it is true that Woodrow Wilson saw Ben Franklin in the St. George Temple. The man was, apparently, lecherous. That wasn’t all he was.

  275. I wasn’t aware that Woodrow Wilson held a temple recommend, being a Presbyterian President of the United States.

    Now, it may be that WILFORD WOODRUFF saw Ben Franklin in the St George temple. As for him being lecherous, there are historians that differ on both sides. Ladies man? Yes. Lecherer? That is less certain. For example, the concept that he was sleeping around during the Constitutional Convention is laughable, as he was unable to walk far distances and had to be carried into the convention by prisoners.

  276. Thomas Parkin says:

    You say Woodruff I say Woodrow, you say Keppler I say Korihor. Let’s call the whole thing off. *wink*

  277. jennique adams says:

    you’re a genius. Keep up the crazy good work!!!!

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