I think the biggest problem with a full disclosure package (and I am unsure anything less would be sufficient for the majority of people interested in this) is that most people would take just a superficial look at the very complicated financial picture and come away with an incorrect idea of what is going on, thus it would not be more informative, but less. For one thing, there are international holdings, incomes and expenses all operating under different laws depending on the country. How many people are going to be able to get whether or not the Church is actually meeting all the codes as well as the needs in the most efficient manner possible? Then there is all the property and employees involved. Isn't the Church the biggest employer in Utah? And that's just one state in one country.
I am all for the church giving lots and lot of money and resources. But I also believe it prudent to have a very solid asset base with little debt to provide means not only for the current generation but for those to come. I guess for this reason mainly the leaders really don't want the balance sheet public knowledge. And in a way I can understand this.
There is also the PR aspect to take into account when it comes to measuring cost and benefits. IIRC, someone familiar with the Church motor pool gave the information that while it would be more cost effective over the long term for the Church to use BMWs, that the choice was made to use a less expensive initially, but more expensive long term because of the suspicions and grumbling that BMWs would draw. We're not just talking about the PR cost, but also the cost of resources and employees' time required to answer these types of complaints. Yet how does one justify this type of choice on paper without including so many details that the whole thing gets bogged down?
The Church has also taken the course to keep overhead costs down by covering insurance (vehicle, building, personal, etc) and some other stuff (so the money is there working for us, not someone else), but to do so they must have a rather large 'nest egg' if legal requirements for organizations are anything like individuals.
I'm assuming that in order to remove the threat of the 'red', that they have a substantial cushion where they draw off of the interest much like universities do for endowed chairs, etc. When a university is given an endowment in the millions it looks like a lot more until one realizes that all they really get is the yearly interest which may only amount to the salary for one professor--less than a tenth of the endowment.
I'd like to see if those who think short term (like Blink) over long term (like yourself, Teancum) would be satisfied with just knowing how the money was divided up and what the percentage of those that are curious belong in each group (or hold another opinion). Personally I'm very grateful that the Church doesn't run their business anything like the Government does. Anyone know how much of our income tax goes toward just paying interest these days? I've lost track.
There will most likely be a huge difference for the Church between available assets and the full assets that would be reported on the paper when one considers the reserves (insurance, principle to draw interest off of) and the actual income from property, etc.
Finally, I would like to see some data on how much having the information available to the general public cuts down on actual fraud in large corporations with multiple holdings compared to private companies. I am curious as to whether or not this really does cut down fraud, which usually involves cooking the books in some rather complicated, 'takes a huge amount of work to uncover' way according to what I've seen in the past, and if it actually has a signficant effect on PR (in that those who are really suspicious aren't likely to be mollified by disclosure unless they are willing to put those hours into it). Who are the whistleblowers generally--the public or some insider or government person whose job it is to find this stuff?