The “British Election Rule”

Another of Ronan’s Rules:

If it’s not experienced by international Mormons, then it’s not essential to Mormonism.

I’m at home today, cleaning the kitchen and listening to the BBC’s coverage of the British general election, the date for which was just set by the Prime Minister.

I shall be voting for the Conservatives. I am a Tory at heart, probably a red Tory if such a thing exists beyond the confines of academic think tanks and Prospect opinion pages. I do not like Gordon Brown nor the Britain created by New Labour. My hope is that David Cameron et al. will do better, although I’m not so naive to have too much Hope. Still, change is needed.

Missing from my view of politics is any sense that my vote is a religious one. I do not presume to know how Jesus would vote and I would count anyone as absurd who would suggest that the Conservatives are God’s Own Party. Moral issues interest me, of course, but they are not focussed solely on sexual ethics though they are important to me. I am also interested in helping the poor (in conservative ways) and figuring out how best to project a positive British influence abroad. But mostly I’m a pragmatist: I don’t see the election as about cosmic values of Right or Wrong, it’s about choosing the party I find to be the most competent to get on with the banalities of government and who will best create the conditions in which I and my compatriots can happily get on with our mundane lives.

My experience of most Mormons in Europe is that their politics is similarly areligious. British Mormons are likely to vote Conservative, Labour, Liberal, Green, etc. and are very unlikely to claim that their vote is a Mormon vote. I think this is true across Europe and I imagine it’s similar elsewhere in the world.

The political nonsense one sees in US Mormonism is alien to the rest of us. If Correlation has had as its mission to inculcate a core of Mormon thought to members across the world, it is striking that it has also produced an utterly apolitical body of Saints out here. Thus I would conclude that the political flavour of American (Intermountain?) Mormonism is not Mormon, hence the “British Election Rule”:

If it’s not experienced by international Mormons, then it’s not essential to Mormonism.


  1. Aaron R. says:

    You have articulated something which has bothered me about some of the events I have read about recently in the US.

    I think I am voting Lib Dem. I believe that they will facilitate greater mundane-ness than any other party. They personify ‘meh!’

  2. I wouldn’t mind a Con-Lib coalition.

  3. I’ll probably vote Lib-dem or Labour, I’m looking for a hung parliament, It won’t be immediately beneficial for the country but it might just sort out the chaff within the political system at the minute.

    I too struggle with the seemingly volatile nature of those within the US that seem to have the same absolute definitive opinion of both Church and State.

    However I do understand it, those within Utah are from a Theocratic background that type of learned dependency does not evaporate over night, whilst I don’t feel that it has been caused by recent leadership, more could be done to defuse the situation, This GC was a huge step forward IMO.

  4. Thanks for this, Ronan. While I’ve been out here in the UK, the only time religion has been brought up in politics is when we talk about American partisanship.

    I wonder if a main component to the American political discourse within Mormonism is the ‘chosen nation’ meme many point to in the Book of Mormon.

  5. Aaron R. says:

    If what you say about Britain is correct Ben (‘american partisanship’), then it might be a hang-over from the old British bias toward Americans being crude or crass, esp. as speaking about politics can be considered impolite. Perhaps we British saints need to be more careful about judging another nations political discourse (though I think Ronan’s comments are fair).

  6. Mark Brown says:


    No, no, your comment # 2 is all wrong.

    Instead of finding a way to be agreeable, you’re supposed to ask Aaron in incredulous tones how he can even possibly still consider himself LDS while voting Lib-Dem. Then explain how an election is just an extension of the war in heaven. Then pull some quotes from None Dare Call It Conspiracy.

  7. “Ronan’s Rules” – sounds like a book title.

    When is it coming out?

  8. Aaron R. says:

    Mark Brown, I too was a little shocked at the conciliatory tone of his response. Perhaps that is something to be wary of. It sounds almost like Chamberlain appeasing Hitler.

  9. Chris Henrichsen says:

    I think we could learn a lot from the British. Thanks for the post.

    My mom, who is a native of the Netherlands, just returned to the states from a trip home. Her relative were quite baffled by the nature of American politics.

    I want to move.

  10. Chris Henrichsen says:

    Chamberlain…LOL. I cannot tell you how often that is used in American politics. Love it.

    Mark, it is too bad that you are no longer a good conservative. When did you decide to hate agency?

  11. John Mansfield says:

    Some of the National Review writers claim that there isn’t such a thing as social conservative politics outside the United States. The issues that animate such people in the U.S. have all been decided and taken off the table, out of politics. All that is left is for the voters to choose who they think will manage the government a little better, carrying out the same policies either way.

    Any truth to this?

  12. Religious bias of political parties: The lasting effects of the powerhouse marketing machines that are our political parties.

    You can call it a weakness. I just say we understand brand imaging to a greater (dangerous) degree.

    I’ve similarly seen people get into heated fights over Ford v. Chevy.

  13. Peter LLC says:

    I’m at home today, cleaning the kitchen

    A layabout European oblivious to properly ordained gender roles telling me how to vote? BCC has sunk to new lows.

  14. Peter LLC says:

    Any truth to this?

    Not in the sense that people don’t get worked up over political issues, but it is true in the sense that there is general agreement on some issues that are very divisive in the US.

    Take health care, for example. Just this morning I read an article about a guy with Fabry disease whose treatment costs around $200,000 annually. The doctor was quoted as saying: “Every patient has the right to treatment, whether the suffering is due to high blood pressure, cancer or a rare genetic disease.” There’s plenty of debate about how to fund health care and what’s covered and who is paid what, but the notion of universal health care seems to be largely settled.

  15. Red Emma says:

    If it’s not experienced by international Mormons, then it’s not essential to Mormonism.

    Or, all Mormonism is experienced locally. There is no international Mormonism. Your British Mormonism is simply not part of my lifeworld, as my Midatlantic (United States) Mormonism is simply not part of your lifeworld.

  16. I love it. I really should move to Europe!

  17. Mansfield,

    Social conservatism is alive and well, I think, at least in the UK, but it’s less overt. For example, Iain Duncan Smith (Conservative) has been leading an initiative to consider the problems of poverty in the UK. Part of the cause is held to be the breakdown of “traditional morality”, but it is a concern in terms of its consequences (teen pregnancy) rather than as an evil in se.

    Anyway, recent events in the US have showed that Mormon antipathy for the Democrats is not solely bound up in social conservatism: cf. pro-life Harry Reid.

    Peter LLC,
    Part of my 18-week holiday entitlement!

  18. I see so many people justify their own political opinions by saying that those opinions are the church’s. Yet, worldwide, there is a vast diversity of political situation.

  19. Red Emma,
    I disagree. Modern British Mormonism is almost wholly led by the curriculum and culture of Salt Lake City. We teach (and consequently learn) what Correlation wants us to teach (and learn). If right wing politics were essential to Mormonism, the Brethren could easily make that happen. Thus I conclude that conservative-idolatery in American Mormonism has another source than the Church.

  20. Emily U,
    If Labour somehow win, I’m moving to Canada, so you can have my place.

  21. I have serious reservations about David ‘call me Dave’ Cameron but I will be voting Conservative. Partly because Gordon Brown appears utterly incapable as PM, partly because Peter Mandelson and Ed Balls genuinely scare me, and partly because history shows that when you are in a financial hole Conservative fiscal policies are more likely to work than are Labour’s. I wouldn’t mind Vince Cable as chancellor though.

  22. As an American living in the UK, I’m envious about the British candidates’ ability to be multi-dimensional people. In the USA candidates are reduced to caricatures of themselves. So even though my US politics lean very firmly to the left, I find David Cameron to be an attractive option because he’s a real, nuanced person. I also don’t think the critiques of Gordon Brown are as hate-filled as they get in the US. Even though I won’t vote in the May election, it’s a breath of fresh air to be living here for their election season.

  23. Ronan — great post. If the Labour party wins, I think you should come join my ward.

  24. Kris,
    Is there a posh prep school near you?

  25. “If it’s not experienced by international Mormons, then it’s not essential to Mormonism.”

    I absolutely love this rule, and think it would eliminate many problems in the Church. Besides the problems with politics mentioned above, think what else it could do:

    – Problem of non-LDS family excluded from a wedding – gone. Have a wedding ceremony with ALL family, and a sealing for those who can participate
    – Thinking that you must look like a 1960’s IBM businessmen to serve in an “official” capacity. Gone.
    – Thinking that a lesson requires a doily, 3 pictures, a basket of some sort, and some little handcrafted thing to give each person. Nope.
    – Green jello as an essential element of any gathering with food. Hello tamales.

  26. Mark Brown says:

    Yes, that is one of the very good points about this post. If correlated Mormonism intends to be the distilled essence of the gospel, and I think it does, then we have some thinking to do about any number of things U.S. LDS consider essential. /cough/scouts/cough.

    RJH, here is something else I find curious. It wasn’t that long ago in U.S. politics when conservatism meant recognizing that politics is only a small part of life, and that our happiness doesn’t depend on what happens in the legislature. Most conservative people thought that a fascination, not to say obsession, with politics was unbecoming and irrational and something only done by Godless liberals. But take a look around the LDS blogosphere, especially at the sites and aggregators which purport to be orthodox or conservative. It’s all politics, all the time.

    It will be a great day when the news that a fellow member is support a leftist candidate is greeted with a yawn instead of rabid insanity.

  27. Kevin Barney says:

    Ronan, I second the idea of you compiling all of your rules for easy reference. We can call it the Code of Ronan, which will of course include your Scientology Rule and the TK Smoothie dictum.

  28. Mark Brown says:

    We would then combine it with the code of Hamerabi, and the two sticks would become one in my hand.

  29. Ronan, it’s New World posh – not quite the same pedigree as British schools, but it might work!! :)

  30. My family are ex-pats living in the UK, I’m in America now. And OH. MY. GOSH. American politics has become pathologically ridiculous. I can’t wrap my head around the idea that politics is a war between good and evil. Worse, I live in Utah where Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, and Sean Hannity (apparently) speak to God and any form of disagreement makes you a heathen dissident. I can’t wait to get back to Europe…

  31. #4 Ben wrote:

    I wonder if a main component to the American political discourse within Mormonism is the ‘chosen nation’ meme many point to in the Book of Mormon.

    #19 Ronan wrote:

    Thus I conclude that conservative-idolatery in American Mormonism has another source than the Church.

    I’m not so sure, Ronan. Perhaps as to the correlated Church, you are correct. But, as Ben notes above, I think there’s a great deal to that notion. I believe many U.S. LDS have interpreted that Book of Mormon passage to mean God has his hand in every day American politics and foreign policy. Couple that with some quotes of high ranking Church leaders of the 50’s and 60’s, and you have the recipe for official LDS Wastach front political theory.

    Of course, what these folks forget is that many prior inhabitants of this land were also likewise “chosen” and were swept off the land for their failure to keep the commandments and worship Jesus Christ. We are as far along that particular path as any other previous inhabitants. The ultimate ending is not really in doubt . . .

    Nice post.

  32. RJH 18 week holiday ??? You live in Germany not the UK – However I think the clue is in number 24 :)

  33. StillConfused says:

    What I find interesting is that I usually end up reading British news articles about US politics. But never the other way around.

  34. “The ultimate ending is not really in doubt . . . ”

    Guy, I doubt it.

  35. Steve Evans says:

    Three cheers for the new rule. Ronan, I couldn’t agree more.

  36. As an American Mormon living in America, I struggle to understand why so many of my fellow Americans feel that their political swayings are tied to their religious beliefs. I think about this fact often when hanging out with two of my best friends (both Mormons) and we discuss politics. One of them generally votes Democratic (he considers himself a left-leaning moderate, though, and does not always vote Democratic). I generally vote Republican (I consider myself a right-leaning moderate, though, and do not always vote Republican). Our third friend is fairly apathetic towards politics, and votes somewhat at random (he considers himself uninformed except when my other friend and I share with him our insights). The interesting thing is that we all seem to have the same goals. We just approach them from different directions.

    I would be so happy if American Mormons would drop this silly idea that their politics are tied to their religion, or that their religion is tied to their politics. I am going to start invoking the British Election Rule when my more partisan Mormon friends get into fisticuffs over politics via religion.

  37. Mark D. says:

    Most conservative people thought that a fascination, not to say obsession, with politics was unbecoming and irrational and something only done by Godless liberals.

    That, like peace, is an ideal. If the left-liberals bring the battle to the doorstep (for about a century now), most conservatives are going to fight back, in the very name of keeping politics from further dominating virtually every field of human activity.

  38. Mark D. says:

    Some of the National Review writers claim that there isn’t such a thing as social conservative politics outside the United States

    I don’t think the claim included the word “social”. And it should be mentioned that what goes by the name of “economic conservatism” in the United States is usually referred to as “economic liberalism” in the rest of the world.

    The claim seems to have merit in any long established welfare states, Europe, Canada in particular. Hence the mention in the context of creating a major new health care entitlement.

  39. Mark Brown says:

    Mark D., no, I think you are misunderstanding me. Conservative people used to think that politics was an ineffective tool, and something people used only when then had nothing else to offer.

    Also, your choice of words (“bring the battle to the doorstep”, “fight back”) to describe political differences exemplifies precisely what I think RJH is getting at here.

  40. Mark Brown says:

    NR editorial writers ain’t what they used to be, either.

  41. Mark D. says:

    Also, your choice of words to describe political differences exemplifies precisely what I think RJH is getting at here.

    If you think that voters should just roll over and die, then sure. Unfortunately, the magnitude of the political differences in the United States are far greater than those in the U.K., and as such it makes a much bigger difference to the parties concerned.

  42. Mark Brown says:


    The magnitude of differences is big because we want it to be big. “roll over a die” is yet another example of the kind of overblown rhetoric that transforms a local election for dogcatcher into an apocalyptic struggle between Good and Evil.

    Whittaker Chambers (a man of the Right) spoke of the way we like to give our neuroses some daily stimulation. That is the main function of political discourse in the U.S. right now, from the left and the right.

  43. Mark D. says:

    In the United States, the share of the economy consumed by the government has risen from ~28% to ~42% in the past three years. That is enough to change the U.S. into a European style welfare state overnight, a matter of slightly more significance than the policy of the local dog catcher.

    Or to put it another way, the war for American independence was fought over issues that were miniscule by comparison. That is certainly a major cultural difference between the U.S. and Britain – the former was founded in a revolution a little more than a couple of centuries ago, and political issues have always occupied a larger degree of the public mindshare as a consequence.

  44. Peter LLC says:

    That is enough to change the U.S. into a European style welfare state overnight,

    Just without most of the welfare, oddly enough.

  45. Mansfield, Some of the National Review writers claim that there isn’t such a thing as social conservative politics outside the United States.

    I don’t think this is the case at all — there are plenty of countries that are successfully implementing very socially conservative policies with regards to gender, sexuality and social justice.

    it should be mentioned that what goes by the name of “economic conservatism” in the United States is usually referred to as “economic liberalism” in the rest of the world.

    Very true — do our Mormon aunts and uncles who forward emails know this?

    But Mark D., I don’t think it’s correct to say there’s a huge difference between the American Right and the American Left. From the perspective of people abroad, both are nearly identical with only the slightest variation focused solely on only a few single “social” issues including abortion and homosexuality. It’s a mystery to informed people abroad that single-issue voters focused on these particular social issues can hold entire domestic policy programs that could genuinely improve the quality of life for all American citizens, even the super rich, in abeyance.

    Great post Ronan. If they let me vote this time around, then I’ll get a taste of the genuine moderation you are describing. I anticipate that people will have their passions and preferences but I don’t imagine that they will call those with different policy preferences on these mundane governmenal policy issues Satanic or evil.

  46. “That is enough to change the U.S. into a European style welfare state overnight”

    Oh, I sure hope so.

  47. Anne (U.K.) says:

    Excellent post, Ronan. In my 30+ years of membership, the only time I have known what another member’s political affiliation is, is when they have stood as a candidate for a particular party.Never heard politics discussed in Church, nor by members.

    As for me- I shall continue to vote Labour.I don’t trust Call me Dave or his buddy George Osborne and their Bullingdon Club mentality as far as I could throw them. Labour has handled the economic crisis well, and has improved the NHS beyond recognition. I’m currently based in Scotland where the Tories are a dead breed anyway; SNP are the biggest challengers here. And I thought this quote from Alastair Campbell’s blog this morning rings very true:

    “When [Cameron] talked about speaking for the ‘great ignored’, quite a few of the most ignored people in the country are in the shadow cabinet, and he is the one ignoring them because the less they are on TV the happier he is”.

    As for differences with the US- our saving grace is, it will all be done and dusted from start to finish within 4 weeks, by which time we will all be heartily sick of it!

  48. Mark Brown says:

    Mark D.,

    I’m simply not convinced that many elections are high-stakes contests.

  49. American politics are always very different than the rest of the democratic world. Partially because we do not have a parliamentary system. We do not vote and then build a majority constituency as they do in Britain and elsewhere. We cannot dismiss Congress and ask the queen for new elections.

    Our system in America has become extremely corrupt on both sides. And it has come to the point that it encourages the extremists on both edges, rather than the mundane in the center.

    Of course, as the great Voltaire once noted: “common sense is not so common.” American politics have “not so common” sense in spades. Both sides claim to have God on their side and the other to be with the devil or the Nazis. Both are riddled with scandals and stupid decisions that have brought down the economic health of the entire world. While we no longer have Pres Bush spending hundreds of billions, we now have a president who is spending trillions. And we kept Barney Frank and others in power, who were in deep in dragging down the economy.

    So, stupid is as stupid does. And American politicians and their electorate are rather stupid.

  50. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 49
    I agree with you on many points. It’s a very serious problem, and kind of scary. If the American political system is fundamentally broken at the structural level, the whole world is in trouble. Talk about too big to fail.

    I’m increasingly convinced that the U.S. would be much better governed under a parliamentary democracy.

  51. Anne,
    You have been deceived, I’m afraid, and you know who the Great Deceiver is, don’t you?

  52. I love you guys. I wish everyone here was my ward. It would be so much more interesting and welcoming on Sundays.

  53. Anne (U.K.) says:

    nice attempt at Mark’s (post #6) advice, but face it, you know it doesn’t feel right; pick up the Chamberlinesque mantle and join me in a choccy digestive instead.

  54. Well said, Borther Ronan.

    In our ward, a recent SS class about sexuality started with the statement, ‘Well, this is all about homosexuality and abortion, which gets Americans pretty excited.’ And then a perfectly rational discussion about personal morality ensued. I never hear references to politics over the pulpit, and rarely to social issues either. People want to leave that behind them, in our ward at least.

  55. Mike (50) In order to have a parliamentary system, would we need more strong parties? Despite the presence of the Libertarian, Green, and Independent parties, the United States continues to have, for all practical purposes, a two-party system. So a parliamentary majority based on consensus wouldn’t really be that different.

    That being said, I agree that we need more political parties, and I would be thrilled if we had so many that no one party had a majority. It would force compromise to actually happen, or nothing would get done. (Which many suggest might not be such a bad thing!)

  56. I’m just so jealous of all you British people. And the Scandinavians too. Everyone just seems so sensible.

  57. Former UK Resident says:

    meems, try living there for a while and you may rethink your position. The UK is a country where a pet store owner can get hit with criminal charges for selling a goldfish to a 14 year old, and a child stuck in a tree at school must be left alone as the teachers retreat inside the building. It’s a place where a lack of sense has been carried to the extreme.

    -former UK resident

  58. To Ronan and the other Brits,
    Would you say that the political leanings of any given LDS congregation in Britain more or less correspond to those of that geographic vicinity? Or do British Mormons tilt Conservative, politically?

  59. Peter LLC says:

    the United States continues to have, for all practical purposes, a two-party system.

    And as long as it has single-member districts in a plurality voting system, that will remain the case.

  60. 55
    I think you might be confusing the cause with the effect. The reason we have a two-party system is that we don’t have a parliamentary system. If other parties had a chance for representation then more people would be encouraged to join those parties. As it is people feel that a third-party vote is a wasted vote, so they feel compelled to either vote R or D.

  61. Anne (U.K.) says:

    57 Zefram:

    In my experience that is a difficult question to answer as I really don’t know the politics of members of any ward I have lived in (and there have been a few in England and Scotland!)- it honestly isn’t something we discuss in a Church setting, or otherwise, really. The only discussion of politics I have engaged in with other British members has been online.

    I have known members who have stood in Parliamentary elections on behalf of the Conservatives, Labour and the Scottish Nationalists – some have been elected, some haven’t. None appear to have been castigated or criticised for their choice of party, to my knowledge.

    The only political mutterings I have seen here date back to 1987 when the Church was commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Gospel being brought to the British Isles.Margaret Thatcher (the then Prime Minister)was invited to a dinner in London with Church leaders, who then gave conferences here quoting her quite a lot. This caused a lot of discontent in Scotland as her policies were far from popular in this neck of the woods. However, it could be argued, that was a blip not of our own making.

  62. Typical pinko nonsense from those who overlook the secret combinations of the last days…

    …or aid and abet them!!!!

  63. Daniel Hannan has been predicting a Conservative win for quite some time, though I do find it odd that his blog posts seem to carefully avoid any criticism of Cameron, even when the latter takes positions to which Hannan is publicly opposed.

    I’ll also be curious to see how UKIP fares. I must admit that Nigel Farage’s animated statement against Herman Van Rompuy was pretty entertaining.

  64. Oh yes, and Ronan, I like your newest rule.

  65. “It’s a place where a lack of sense has been carried to the extreme.” (#57)

    That would never happen anywhere else.

  66. #57 – I think it is a ‘lack of sense’ to take extreme examples and then imply that is common experience.

  67. gomez,
    We’re lucky we didn’t get an NHS horror story.

    Cameron has to get 116 extra seats. Impossible, no?

  68. Mark D. says:

    Chris H: Oh, I sure hope so.

    After the public swallows the coming 50% tax increases, the transformation will be complete.

  69. Anne (U.K.) says:

    57: former UK resident:
    well, I’m happy you ‘escaped’ and left more for the rest of us to enjoy!

    63: Ben:
    Daniel Hannan? He must be a liability, surely? He single handedly managed to turn the NHS into the Best British Invention Ever. Which, of course, it is :-)

    As for Mr Farage: personally I thought his comments about our EuroLeader were downright rude, not at all funny. Then I saw his farcical appearance on Have I Got News For You and realised he doesn’t have a funny bone in his body. he came across as the nerdy socially inept Billy no mates in the school playground, who secretly wants to be Fotherington Thomas chiz chiz. or a dandy Regency fop. Can’t decide which.

    I do know some LDS men voting BNP. (not in Scotland, we don’t seem to get much of either up here) Voting BNP could well be pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable for members and what isn’t, but then I doubt those so voting would proclaim so in a Church setting. ‘Twixt them and their consciences anyway.

    Am interested to know if any of my fellow Brits commenting here who intend to vote Conservative are actually of an age to have been through the Thatcher years, including the mass unemployment and public service cuts? Everyone I know who was, will never vote Tory again. Ever. Truly an ugly time in our country’s history.

  70. Anne (U.K.) says:

    68: Mark D: After the public swallows the coming 50% tax increases, the transformation will be complete.

    This tax rate will affect those earning over £150,000 a year. They already pay 40% tax, so it’s actually a 10% tax increase.

    It will apply to just 1% of UK earners. And imho, if one earns £150,000 a year, one can afford to contribute proportionately more than those trying to raise families on the minimum wage.

    The average wage is less than £30,000. Why would anyone need more than that?

  71. Ronan, on the 116 seats, I think this election will be fascinating because nobody really knows what will happen. Low voter turnout because people are so disillusioned with politics or high turnout so they can protest. The poles seem to fluctuate every day. My sense is much of the country are still undecided therefore 116 seats is possible. However, I think a repeat of 1992 is also possible – unpopular government, massive mid-term lead for the opposition, unpopular governement stays in power.

  72. Anne, I grew up under Thatcher in a lower middle class home. Industrial working class heartlands were devastated then but the economic and social structure of the country is a lot different today.

    Also, I earn no where near 150K a year but think it’s daylight robbery to take >60% of someone’s income (incl. NI contributions), whatever you earn. It’s a tax on aspiration.

  73. Anne (U.K.) says:

    Gomez, our economic and social structure may have changed but the one constant would appear to be greed. No-one needs £150,000 a year to live on, particularly when the Government considers £5.93 to be an acceptable hourly minimum wage. But then when I was at secondary school the top tax rate was 98%, which you will be glad to know, I do consider excessive.

  74. I agree but it’s not about what you need to live on. It’s the idea that a collective of faceless individuals in Whitehall get to choose how to spend more of my (if I was on +150K) money than I do. Also, the 40% bracket is ridiculously low. As soon as I hit the low 40Ks the government is taking more than half of my income.

  75. I assume that income tax in the UK works the same way it does here, i.e. that money is actually taxed, not overall income. The way it works here is that, say, for the sake of simplicity:

    earnings below $20,000 aren’t taxed

    earnings above $20,000 but below $40,000 are taxed at 20%

    earnings above $40,000 but below $80,000 are taxed at 30%

    earnings above $80,000 but below $150,000 are taxed at 40%

    earnings above $150,000 are taxed at 50%

    [note that I am aware that these are not the real rates or bracket cut-offs]

    All persons are still taxed equally in this scenario. No matter what your overall income, the first $20,000 you make aren’t taxed, the dollars you earn from 20k to 40k are taxed at a certain percentage, and so on. Even if you earn 200k, the first 20k aren’t taxed, 20k-40k are taxed at the lowest percentage, 40k to 80k at the next higher percentage, etc. At 200k/year only 50k are taxed at the top rate. Hitting the threshold of the next highest bracket does not reach back, as it were, and take more money from the lower earnings. Hitting the 50% threshold does not automatically take away half your income. At least in the tax system over here.

  76. Brad, that is how the tax system works here as well.

  77. Great rule, Ronan. I remember attending a PH Ldrship meeting with Elder Packer in Michigan several years ago, and he said essentially the same thing — we need to focus in the church on what really pertains to the gospel, and not other stuff. And a clue for that is what is happening in the ‘international’ church.

    Though there were public statements from church leaders in years gone by, I don’t hear any these days from general authorities that recommend party affiliation.

    As for the “America as promised land” argument — it seems some make that the argument for a conservative viewpoint and others for a liberal one.

    I’ve lived about half of the last 20 years out of the US (in Asia and Latin America), and each time I return, I’m surprised by the lack of rational discourse and the level of political theatre that has taken its place.

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