I have some time to share a few quick thoughts:
Though redistribution is the highest economic order in Mormon scripture, Sen. Chris Buttars vehemently denounced Alpine School District for allegedly advocating “democratic socialism.” He, Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck and others seem to believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a de facto 14th Article of Faith: We believe in the unquestioned virtue of unregulated capitalism.
This is a straw man. Every person Mr. Williams mentioned believes there should be at least minor regulation in the market. None of them are anarcho-capitalist.
But Mormon scripture makes such a belief indefensible. The notorious villains of Nephite civilization were the Gadianton Robbers, who perpetuated policies that exacerbated class inequality. They eventually “did obtain the sole management of the government, insomuch that they did trample under their feet and smite and rend and turn their backs upon the poor and the meek, and the humble followers of God” (Helaman 6:39).
The Gadianton robbers did not create class warfare between those who have more or less. They wanted power more than anything, but yes, they also wanted wealth. And they wanted it all to themselves. This is not surprising, as those who seek only power tend to do so for the supposed perks. They wanted a system where those in power would gain those things. However, they achieved it through organized crime, murder, outright theft, etc. They were also quite fond of opposing anyone who believed in Christ. Mr. Wilson again errors by simply saying it was about class inequality.
Many politically powerful Latter-day Saints have also turned their back on the poor and working class in this country. The Patrick Henry Caucus, Eagle Forum and Romney are determined to eliminate the very social programs that have traditionally protected vulnerable populations. Conversely, they are equally invested in protecting the wealthy.
Another straw-man. To turn on's back on the poor literally means to look the other way, to pretend they don't exist. There is a very legitimate conversation in this country on whether the government or individuals are better able to help the poor and down-trodden. There is also a legitimate discussion about whether it matters who is better, as the government is required to take by force, whereas God expects us to be engaged in many goof things of our own free will. None of the groups or Mitt Romney mentioned in the article have ever "turned their backs on the poor". However, they do believe in agency, and people like Mitt Romney has invested great amounts of his own money into helping the less fortunate. Could he do more, yes, many can. But that does not equate to turning his back on the poor.
They demand fiscal austerity but are unwilling to fairly tax the super rich. They demand the poor make sacrifices, but are unwilling to end corporate welfare and tax loopholes that keep big business from sharing the burden. They want to cut public funding for education, arts and health care but remain unwilling to defund our military occupations abroad.
Another loaded statement. What does it mean to "fairly tax"? The top 5% percentage of the wealthy already pay about 50% of all income tax. There have been times where the wealthiest were charged income tax at a rate of 87% of all money over a certain level. So what is fair? In a socialist system, it is not fair until their is no real personal income, only income distributed by the government. Perhaps Mr. Wilson feels that is right, but it is not the system, under which some like King Benjamin operated. It seems he had the ability to take for himself, but did not. So in the mindset of those such as Mr Wilson, no tax cut on the wealthy will ever be fair because they view the wealthy as inherently hateful of the poor and that all such income should be 100% controlled by the government.
Further, study after study has shown that pouring gobs of more money into poor schools did not change results. People such as the previously mentioned groups of Mr. Wilson's do like school funding on a state level but view the DoA, which came into existence in the 1970's, as a failed experiment. Also, people like Beck have called for large cuts to the military, which they and others view as bloated, inefficient, etc.
They denounce socialism but have no problem when the redistribution of public wealth goes upward into private hands. Gadianton himself would feel right at home amidst Utah’s GOP.
The implication of course is that the Utah GoP is full of hateful, greedy individuals who desire to trample on the poor and anyone who is not part of an exclusive private cabal, and are indeed willing to steal and murder, then cover up for each other. I think we can see how ridiculous and offensive such a statement is. Further, the Utah GoP is full of people who donate large amounts of time and money to helping the poor. Seems rather un-Gadianton to me. Of course there are a few who are greedy, but that does not equal condemnation of the whole. There are greedy, power-hungry socialists also who distort the basics of socialism also. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, etc are extreme examples. They do not represent the better people in Socialism, but they were part of that political system. Should we then label all socialists as genocidal nut-cases?
They actually believe the admonition of Jesus, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40.
Once again, this is a most egregious straw-man. The implication is that if you are not a socialist, you don't "actually believe" in Christ's admonition. This of course false. See Who Gives and Who Doesn't?
. Here's a good excerpt:
Arthur Brooks, the author of "Who Really Cares," says that "when you look at the data, it turns out the conservatives give about 30 percent more." He adds, "And incidentally, conservative-headed families make slightly less money."
And he says the differences in giving goes beyond money, pointing out that conservatives are 18 percent more likely to donate blood. He says this difference is not about politics, but about the different way conservatives and liberals view government.
"You find that people who believe it's the government's job to make incomes more equal, are far less likely to give their money away," Brooks says. In fact, people who disagree with the statement, "The government has a basic responsibility to take care of the people who can't take care of themselves," are 27 percent more likely to give to charity.
So it seems that those who are both more capitalist leaning AND conservative tend to give more than those who feel the government should handle it. Note that 30%, while significant, is by no means a majority. There are plenty of bad apples and good apples when it comes to giving in both groups. However, Mr. Wilson's argument is that Utah GoP and others of their economic philosphy don't actually believe and follow Christ's admonition, which is clearly false. They just don't believe Christ referred to government based welfare.
Fair-minded Latter-day Saints must reclaim their sacred texts from free-market fundamentalists. Don’t be taken in by the right-wing performance art...
This is what really bothered me the most about the article. Not the character assassinations and distortion of scripture, but that it includes a rallying cry to "reclaim" the scriptures from those un-fair minded (and majority in the US) free-market members. He is essentially saying that if you are LDS and not socialist, you are either not fair-minded (Gadianton references would apply) or you have been deceived by propaganda. Either way, the result is the same, he is calling for reclaiming the scriptures from the majority of faithful US latter-day saints. Nice.
The Book of Mormon narrative, regardless of its historicity, admonishes contemporary Latter-day Saints to reject riches and to care for the poor and needy.
Close, but no cigar. The Book of Mormon does NOT call for contemporary Latter-day Saints to reject riches (in fact, I don't think it ever specifically addresses the topic of riches to a future audience directly, though we can of course learn from the mistakes of the past). Instead it encourages the use of wealth to aid the poor, the fatherless, the widow, etc. It encourages benevolent individual giving.
Democratic socialism is the very essence of Mormon theology and scripture. It is our common quest for Zion.
And that is a major leap in logic from his previous statement. More than that, it is heresy. The Atonement stands as the essence of Mormon theology and scripture. The next issues tied to this are the Fall, Creation, etc. High up there is personal worthiness and how it affects national righteousness. There is much talk on the personal worthiness side about those who don't give to the Lord and to the poor. I see no talk about those who don't give all that they have to the government. The closest is Christ saying to render to Caesar what is is Caesar's, but that's a whole different issue and scenario. I do see lots of condemnation about governments who took great amounts from the people under the auspices of national improvement but instead used the funds unwisely.
In short, while there may perhaps be outstanding scriptural arguments in support of socialism, Mr. Wilson's argument is not one of them. It is filled with bad logic, straw-men, hateful views of others to the point of demonization, and poor scripture use.
One final thing:
LeSellers, I appreciate your participation. However, please refrain from referring to large amounts of socialists as being about Satanic power, etc. It has no place in this discussion, and is in fact the same thing Mr. Wilson is implying from the other side. It's just mud-slinging and can't be proven either way. Let's stick to the arguments at hand.
"There are those who mock our beliefs in the most uncharitable ways. And we will bear what they do with long-suffering, for it does not change truth. And in their own way they move our work along a little faster."
Ã¢??Boyd K. Packer