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Op-Ed: Perspective: What’s behind American media’s unhealthy fixation on ‘Mormons, Inc.’?


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6 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Ugh, I hate it when people compare business or charity or household budgeting and compare it favorably to government spending.  A government is nothing like either. It would actually be a bad idea for most governments to stockpile financial reserves, run huge surpluses, and the like.

But it would be a good idea for governments to avoid and/or get out of debt (or keep it as low as is economically advisable), within their means, be fiscally responsible, etc.  That is, after all, the comparison being drawn here: "And at a time when the U.S. government pays as much in debt servicing as it does for funding the military, it may also be worth celebrating once in a while a large service-oriented organization able to balance a budget and achieve fiscal responsibility over decades."

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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4 minutes ago, smac97 said:

But it would be a good idea for governments to live avoid and/or get out of debt, within their means, be fiscally responsible, etc.  That is, after all, the comparison being drawn here: "And at a time when the U.S. government pays as much in debt servicing as it does for funding the military, it may also be worth celebrating once in a while a large service-oriented organization able to balance a budget and achieve fiscal responsibility over decades."

Thanks,

-Smac

It actually wouldn’t be a good idea to have no debt. US treasury bonds and other instruments serve a valuable purpose. Having the government end its debt and stockpile resources would mean the government would become a HUGE player in the investment market to the disadvantage of virtually everyone else particularly the wealthy.

While you can argue the debt is excessive treating it like something to pay off to secure the future is just silly. Also the people who complain about the debt the most seem pathologically averse to actually doing anything about it in any case.

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1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

It actually wouldn’t be a good idea to have no debt. US treasury bonds and other instruments serve a valuable purpose.

I'd rather not have my taxes go towards paying debt.  I can live without the interest I earn on the investments I hold that include treasury bonds.

 

Edited by ksfisher
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17 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

I'd rather not have my taxes go towards paying debt.  I can live without the interest I earn on the investments I hold that include treasury bonds.

 

Here is an old report from back in the days after we had two Presidents who were actually serious about reducing the deficit and (if the trend had continued) could have potentially sharply reduced or even eliminated the debt (George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton). It covers some of the financial ramifications of ending treasury bonds which do a lot of heavy lifting:

https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2011/10/20/LifeAfterDebt.pdf

Then that potential future was quickly eradicated.

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

But it would be a good idea for governments to live avoid and/or get out of debt, within their means, be fiscally responsible, etc.  That is, after all, the comparison being drawn here: "And at a time when the U.S. government pays as much in debt servicing as it does for funding the military, it may also be worth celebrating once in a while a large service-oriented organization able to balance a budget and achieve fiscal responsibility over decades."

Thanks,

-Smac

If we are going to compare the government to the church, then let's do it. 

Imagine the government doing what the church does: year after year, decade after decade, it spends only about 90% of the tax revenue it brings in. The balance goes into a rainy day fund. It never taps into the rainy day fund. Not for the Great Recession. Not for the COVID-19 shutdown. Nothing. Never. Nada. The government's rainy day fund grows to the point where its interest income is enough to fully fund the government without taxes. But it doesn't lower taxes. At all. And it doesn't increase government services. It continues to reinvest all of the investment income, and continues to live on 90% of the tax revenue. 

Would you laud the government for doing that

Edited by Analytics
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17 minutes ago, Analytics said:

If we are going to compare the government to the church, then let's do it. 

Imagine the government doing what the church does: year after year, decade after decade, it spends only about 90% of the tax revenue it brings in. The balance goes into a rainy day fund. It never taps into the rainy day fund. Not for the Great Recession. Not for the COVID-19 shutdown. Nothing. Never. Nada. The government's rainy day fund grows to the point where its interest income is enough to fully fund the government without taxes. But it doesn't lower taxes. At all. And it doesn't increase government services. It continues to reinvest all of the investment income, and continues to live on 90% of the tax revenue. 

Would you laud the government for doing that

A month after doing my taxes I would be just fine with the above scenario if my taxes were only 10% of my income. :)

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3 hours ago, smac97 said:

Great article!

Ahh the persecution complex is strong in the one padawan.

But the interest in the LDS church's massive wealth is well founded. And other organizations have been subject to criticisms and scrutiny on such things as well.. Just check out Scientology. 

 

It has become pretty clear that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is pheromonally wealthy.  And it has an enormous amount of discretionary wealth. Enough to operate the church for 3 decades if it never received another dime.  Maybe really forever if it  paid for its operations of the earnings of its discretionary assets.  So sure there is an interest. And the Church does it tax free. So it has a huge advantage. Some thinking people may find this as a reason to adjust the US tax laws on such things. Thus the interest. Add to that how paranoidly secretive the church is about its finances and thus more curiosity.  Bishop Waddell was laughable in the interview.  And an embarrassment.

You all can cheer the church that claims to be the Church of Jesus Christ becoming one of the most wealthy institutions in the USA and maybe the world.  Great work if your goal is to become wealthy and to have crazy amounts of assets.  It is an amazing thing and could be lauded.  Of course where your treasure it, that is where your heart is also. Personally, IMO the amount of non operating assets the church has is obscene and immoral for a church that claims to the that of Jesus Christ.  But they won't get one more dime from me ever. THough they did get a few hundred thousand or more over the years.  My not unsubstantial donations not go to organizations that actually use it to relive human suffering to a high degree and percent of what they recieve.

 

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Along the way, little effort goes into helping viewers appreciate how the faith tradition actually uses its financial resources.

Do these authors recognize the irony in this? 60 Minutes gave Bishop Waddell the opportunity to help viewers understand what the Church's financial resources are and how they are deployed. His response was this information is "confidential." 

Quote

But there’s good reason to believe the ratio of reserves is in line with best practices for large, global charitable organizations. 

There are in fact best practices for how large, global charitable organizations are transparent with the public regarding their finances. The Church utterly disregards these best practices.

Likewise, there are best practices for how large global charitable organizations set reserves. The Church utterly disregards these best practices, too.

I suppose reasons exist to believe the Church follows best practices with regards to money. But they aren't good reasons.

Edited by Analytics
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3 hours ago, The Nehor said:
3 hours ago, smac97 said:

But it would be a good idea for governments to live avoid and/or get out of debt, within their means, be fiscally responsible, etc.  That is, after all, the comparison being drawn here: "And at a time when the U.S. government pays as much in debt servicing as it does for funding the military, it may also be worth celebrating once in a while a large service-oriented organization able to balance a budget and achieve fiscal responsibility over decades."

Thanks,

-Smac

It actually wouldn’t be a good idea to have no debt.

Ooh!  Great - lets compromise.

Federal_Debt.png

@smac97 thinks 0 debt would be good.

@The Nehor thinks some debt would be good.

Maybe we draw a line halfway through the chart, and say almost 1 trillion in debt would be ok?  Or maybe 2-3 trillion?  Honestly, I'd be willing to give up a lot to have my nation go down to 1-3 trillion in debt.

Pareto charts like this are nice when they depict temple construction, or maybe covid vaccinations given.  Spiraling unstoppable debt growth is simply unacceptable.

Edited by LoudmouthMormon
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3 hours ago, The Nehor said:

Ugh, I hate it when people compare business or charity or household budgeting and compare it favorably to government spending. A government is nothing like either. It would actually be a bad idea for most governments to stockpile financial reserves, run huge surpluses, and the like.

These criticisms were probably more accurate a few decades back when apostles and other general authorities often served on corporate board of directors for church and non-church interests and drew salaries. While it seems a logical way to support those who need some income the optics were bad. I think it was President Hinckley who ended that practice (outside of a few exceptions allowed over the years).

That's true, but not universally. Taiwan, for instance, stockpiles foreign reserves because they're not a member of the IMF, can't become a member, and hence can't ask for a bailout if some financial crisis occurs.

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Americans have always followed trashy nonsense. You ever wonder why Europeans think we're stupid and fat? (Besides the reality that we're stupid and fat)

Kardashians, Demilios. Obsessed about the royal family when it's not even ours. 

Edited by Hamilton Porter
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2 hours ago, Teancum said:
Quote

Great article!

Ahh the persecution complex is strong in the one padawan.

The gaslighting propensities is strong in others.

A persecution complex is "an irrational and obsessive feeling or fear that one is the object of collective hostility or ill-treatment on the part of others."  My comments are neither irrational nor obsessive, nor are they based on "fear."  But it's unreasonable to say that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not "the object of collective hostility or ill-treatment" by others, particularly coming from someone who so regularly disparages and calumnates against his former faith.

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

But the interest in the LDS church's massive wealth is well founded.

As is my interest in those critiques.  

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

And other organizations have been subject to criticisms and scrutiny on such things as well.. Just check out Scientology. 

The Latter-day Saints invited scrutiny and criticism.  I'm fine with that.  It's the incivility that I find problematic.  The casual slanders and misrepresentations.  The eager willingness of our critics to step in and presume to tell others what we believe, what we think, and so on.  

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

It has become pretty clear that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is pheromonally wealthy. 

Well, perhaps.  I'm not sure what pheremones have to do with any of this. ;) 

But yes, the Church is "phenomenally wealthy" given its income and wise stewardship of its funds.  It also has tremendous and regular financial obligations.

Moreover, I will once again point out that despite this smelly ("pheremonal") and substantial ("phenomenal") institutional wealth, those who have access to and control over it are not enriching themselves.  

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

And it has an enormous amount of discretionary wealth. Enough to operate the church for 3 decades if it never received another dime. 

Speculation on your part.

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

Maybe really forever if it  paid for its operations of the earnings of its discretionary assets.  So sure there is an interest.

Still, the expression of that interest is often rather weird.  And unreasonable.

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

And the Church does it tax free. So it has a huge advantage.

A "huge advantage" over whom?  Against whom/what is the Church competing?

The Church is not getting anyone wealthy.  And it exists to pursue religious, educational, and humanitarian/charitable objectives.

And yet there are those who want to punish the Church, to see its tax exempt status stripped, to see it lessened.  

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

Some thinking people may find this as a reason to adjust the US tax laws on such things.  Thus the interest.

I think many of those people use the tax code as a pretext.  

I also think many of these folks are selectively indignant about "US tax laws on such things."  

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

Add to that how paranoidly secretive the church is about its finances and thus more curiosity. 

Says the guy who posts anonymously.

If and when you publish your private financial data to the world, and when such an expectation is not solely targeted against a religious group you dislike, I'll start taking this critique more seriously.

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

You all can cheer the church that claims to be the Church of Jesus Christ becoming one of the most wealthy institutions in the USA and maybe the world. Great work if your goal is to become wealthy and to have crazy amounts of assets. 

I think the goal of the Church is to fulfill its faith-based mandates.  In order to do that, it must be - and remain - financially solvent and stable.  In the years ahead I see the Church shrinking amongst the comparatively affluent in the world, with more and more people of modest means joining it.  As that happens, the financial contributions to the Church may well shrink considerably, and its financial obligations may increase substantially at the same time.  If and when this comes to pass, I think the Saints will look back and be grateful that the Brethren stored up during the Seven Years of Plenty.

Again, nobody is getting wealthy off the Church, so "your goal is to become wealthy and to have crazy amounts of assets" is, in my view, unreasonable and unfair.

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

It is an amazing thing and could be lauded. 

"If."

"Could be."

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

Of course where your treasure it, that is where your heart is also.

Again, nobody is getting wealthy off the Church.  

2 hours ago, Teancum said:

Personally, IMO the amount of non operating assets the church has is obscene and immoral for a church that claims to the that of Jesus Christ. 

I will once again point to these trenchant comments from D. Michael Quinn:

Quote

Questions persist inside and outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about the $100 billion reserve the faith has amassed in an investment account.

In this week’s “Mormon Land” podcast, historian D. Michael Quinn says the church’s reserves are actually much steeper than has been reported. But, he adds, so are its expenses, especially in supporting its global presence.

Quinn, a scholar who has done the deepest dive to date into the history of Latter-day Saint finances — his 2017 book, “Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth & Corporate Power,” remains the definitive volume on the subject — discusses the issue.

Listen here.

And here:

Quote

{Quinn} says the LDS Church’s financial trajectory, as well as the self-sacrificing actions of its hierarchy, is “an enormously faith-promoting story.”

If everyday Mormons could grasp “the larger picture,” he says, they would “breathe a sigh of relief and see the church is not a profit-making business.”

Others, though, may not be as comfortable as Quinn with how corporate the church has become. For that, it takes some historical perspective.

I find your denunciations of the Church selective and ad hoc.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 hour ago, Analytics said:

If we are going to compare the government to the church, then let's do it. 

Imagine the government doing what the church does: year after year, decade after decade, it spends only about 90% of the tax revenue it brings in. The balance goes into a rainy day fund. It never taps into the rainy day fund. Not for the Great Recession. Not for the COVID-19 shutdown. Nothing. Never. Nada. The government's rainy day fund grows to the point where its interest income is enough to fully fund the government without taxes. But it doesn't lower taxes. At all. And it doesn't increase government services. It continues to reinvest all of the investment income, and continues to live on 90% of the tax revenue. 

Would you laud the government for doing that

I know this isn’t the point of your example but if the government actually did this it would have huge ramifications. The government would own huge amounts of the private sector via investment. Returns on investments would fall as the supply of investment money skyrockets. It could very easily slip into actual communism and give you the worst of both capitalism and communism as the government controls the private sector through capitalism. The church can do it because they are a relatively small fish. The government would be a VERY BIG FISH and dominate everything.

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35 minutes ago, Hamilton Porter said:

That's true, but not universally. Taiwan, for instance, stockpiles foreign reserves because they're not a member of the IMF, can't become a member, and hence can't ask for a bailout if some financial crisis occurs.

It is true when you are a hegemonic world power with a very powerful economy whose currency sets much of the world’s financial standards and whose treasury bonds act to stabilize the nation and other nations. Small nations can get away with things that wouldn’t work for larger ones.

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45 minutes ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

Ooh!  Great - lets compromise.

Federal_Debt.png

@smac97 thinks 0 debt would be good.

@The Nehor thinks some debt would be good.

Maybe we draw a line halfway through the chart, and say almost 1 trillion in debt would be ok?  Or maybe 2-3 trillion?  Honestly, I'd be willing to give up a lot to have my nation go down to 1-3 trillion in debt.

Pareto charts like this are nice when they depict temple construction, or maybe covid vaccinations given.  Spiraling unstoppable debt growth is simply unacceptable.

That chart is very out of date. If you find its growth unacceptable I would recommend looking at the year by year deficits and surpluses and figure out what kinds of policies are behind the problem.

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1 hour ago, smac97 said:

The gaslighting propensities is strong in others.

A persecution complex is "an irrational and obsessive feeling or fear that one is the object of collective hostility or ill-treatment on the part of others."  My comments are neither rational nor obsessive, nor are they based on "fear."  But it's unreasonable to say that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not "the object of collective hostility or ill-treatment" by others, particularly coming from someone who so regularly disparages and calumnates against his former faith.

As is my interest in those critiques.  

The Latter-day Saints invited scrutiny and criticism.  I'm fine with that.  It's the incivility that I find problematic.  The casual slanders and misrepresentations.  The eager willingness of our critics to step in and presume to tell others what we believe, what we think, and so on.  

Well, perhaps.  I'm not sure what pheremones have to do with any of this. ;) 

But yes, the Church is "phenomenally wealthy" given its income and wise stewardship of its funds.  It also has tremendous and regular financial obligations.

Moreover, I will once again point out that despite this smelly ("pheremonal") and substantial ("phenomenal") institutional wealth, those who have access to and control over it are not enriching themselves.  

Speculation on your part.

Still, the expression of that interest is often rather weird.  And unreasonable.

A "huge advantage" over whom?  Against whom/what is the Church competing?

The Church is not getting anyone wealthy.  And it exists to pursue religious, educational, and humanitarian/charitable objectives.

And yet there are those who want to punish the Church, to see its tax exempt status stripped, to see it lessened.  

I think many of those people use the tax code as a pretext.  

I also think many of these folks are selectively indignant about "US tax laws on such things."  

Says the guy who posts anonymously.

If and when you publish your private financial data to the world, and when such an expectation is not solely targeted against a religious group you dislike, I'll start taking this critique more seriously.

I think the goal of the Church is to fulfill its faith-based mandates.  In order to do that, it must be - and remain - financially solvent and stable.  In the years ahead I see the Church shrinking amongst the comparatively affluent in the world, with more and more people of modest means joining it.  As that happens, the financial contributions to the Church may well shrink considerably, and its financial obligations may increase substantially at the same time.  If and when this comes to pass, I think the Saints will look back and be grateful that the Brethren stored up during the Seven Years of Plenty.

Again, nobody is getting wealthy off the Church, so "your goal is to become wealthy and to have crazy amounts of assets" is, in my view, unreasonable and unfair.

"If."

"Could be."

Again, nobody is getting wealthy off the Church.  

I will once again point to these trenchant comments from D. Michael Quinn:

And here:

I find your denunciations of the Church selective and ad hoc.

Thanks,

-Smac

Dude, so many issues you have and poor arguments that you repeat over and over.  Oh and sorry  for my misspellings that you like to mock. I know I need to do better editing my posts. I go fast and don't have much time.  Maybe unlike you I actually am a partner in a large CPA firm and can't spent endless hours in debating people here. Based on your lengthy verbose posts that supply all sorts of stuff/links/articles that you think back up your posts I just do not have time for that.  Do you have a job?  

 

But the main point I want to make, and I will come back to revisit this horrible post you made is this:

Quote

 

Says the guy who posts anonymously.

If and when you publish your private financial data to the world, and when such an expectation is not solely targeted against a religious group you dislike, I'll start taking this critique more seriously.

 

First you post anonymously. So take a hike.  

As for your frequent comments about me or others publishing our personal financial data I will be happy to do so when I caline tax exempt status and rake in billions of $ a year with charitable contributions, as well as amassing hundreds of billions of wealth.  And oh by the way my concern about financial disclosure is not just focused on the Mormon Church. It is for all tax exempt organizations. As a CPA financial disclosure is an important thing to me. And Church's should not be exempt form such disclosures. It leads to abuse.  As your Church has demonstrated.

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I posted this on the other thread, but I think it belongs here. This is the Newsweek article which has an interesting take on the Deseret News 60 minutes piece.

Mormon-Owned Paper Slams '60 Minutes' Episode

CBS's 60 Minutes has come under fire from a publication owned by the Mormon Church after the show aired an interview with a whistleblower who alleges the church's financial arm tried to hide billions of dollars and abuse its tax-exempt status.

In the episode aired Sunday, David Nielsen, a former investment adviser for the church, accused the church's investment arm, Ensign Peak Advisors, of acting as "a clandestine hedge fund". It was the first time he had spoken publicly since telling federal regulators in 2019 that the fund amassed $100 billion intended for charitable purposes.


https://www.newsweek.com/morman-news-cb ... ts-1800635

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