A Prophet Occupies Wall Street

November 6, 2011 | 122 comments
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This from then-member of the Quorum of the Twelve Spencer W. Kimball in the October 1953 General Conference:

“Now, all money is not lucre—all money is not filthy. There is clean money—clean money with which to buy food, clothes, shelter, and other necessities and with which to make contributions toward the building of the kingdom of God.

Clean money is that compensation received for a full day’s honest work. It is that reasonable pay for faithful service. It is that fair profit from the sale of goods, commodities, or service. It is that income received from transactions where all parties profit.

Filthy lucre is blood money; that which is obtained through theft and robbery. . . .

Compromise money is filthy, graft money is unclean, profits and commissions derived from the sale of worthless stocks are contaminated as is the money derived from other deceptions, excessive charges, oppression to the poor and compensation which is not fully earned. I feel strongly that men who accept wages or salary and do not give commensurate time, energy, devotion, and service are receiving money that is not clean. Certainly those who deal in the forbidden are recipients of filthy lucre. . . . I am sure that money is unclean when it is obtained through oppression, fraud[,] bribery, or through misrepresentations. . . . He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want (Prov. 22:16). Much is said about the hirer and the hired in the scriptures, and about the employer and the employee:

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth ( James 5:1-4). . . .

Again:

Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give him his hire neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it… ( Deut. 24:14-15).

And to me that means, woe unto them who will rationalize, who will explain away their errors in these matters, who justify their oppressions. Farm hands, domestic help, and unprotected people are often oppressed, when economic circumstances place them in the position where they must accept what is offered or remain unemployed. And we sometimes justify ourselves in underpaying and even boast about it:

Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage ( Micah 2:1-2).

And then there are those of us who require excessive compensation for services and who fail to give “value received” and who give no loyalty with their insufficient and inefficient service. . . . And as we look about, we see many who are greedy for excessive wealth, and especially that which comes with sharp practices and at the expense of strict honesty and complete integrity. It is hard to satisfy us. The more we have, the more we want. . . . Having food and raiment let us be therewith content. Why another farm, another herd of sheep, another bunch of cattle, another ranch? Why another hotel, another cafe, another store, another shop? Why another plant, another office, another service, another business? Why another of anything if one has that already which provides the necessities and reasonable luxuries? Why continue to expand and increase holdings, especially when those increased responsibilities draw one’s interests away from proper family and spiritual commitments, and from those things to which the Lord would have us give precedence in our lives? Why must we always be expanding to the point where our interests are divided and our attentions and thoughts are upon the things of the world? Certainly when one’s temporal possessions become great, it is very difficult for one to give proper attention to the spiritual things.”

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I came upon this talk by accident looking for materials on 1 Timothy for my Sunday School lesson and I was surprised to the extent that this quotation reflected the sentiments of the Occupy movement and did not reflect the sentiments of (most of) the political conservatives that I encounter. Now, I am having a little fun with the title of the post; I suspect that President Kimball would be opposed to some of the methods, as well as the general aesthetic, of the Occupy movement. I’m not claiming he’d be out there, unshaven and unwashed, eating free pizza and trying to get arrested; I am suggesting that he is one of a long line of prophets to occupy something other than the ground from which the free market is worshiped.

122 Responses to A Prophet Occupies Wall Street

  1. Cynthia L. on November 6, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Wow. That wasn’t subtle.

    Thanks for this, Julie.

  2. Dan on November 6, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    how the hell did we get from that to what passes for Mormon culture on wealth today?

  3. Kevin Barney on November 6, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Cool find, Julie.

  4. Sam Brunson on November 6, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Dan, I suspect that, culturally, we were never at “that”; the prophet’s job, often, is to tell us where we need to make changes. From the tone of his remarks, it doesn’t sound like Pres. Kimball was patting the Saints on the back—he was telling them (and us) where to repent.

    And, like others have said, thanks, Julie. That is pretty cool.

  5. Russell Arben Fox on November 6, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Indeed, a great find, Julie. But not, I would argue, an entirely surprising one. Spencer Kimball was one of our last church presidents born in the 19th century, and I think he clearly was the last one significantly shaped by the agrarian, collective, and egalitarian legacy which characterized the Mormon church up through the middle of the 20th century. What Kimball said here, isn’t all that different from what Lorenzo Snow said here:

    Zion cannot be built except on the principles of union required by celestial law. It is high time for us to enter into these things. It is more pleasant and agreeable for the Latter-day Saints to enter into this work and build up Zion, than to build up ourselves and have this great competition which is destroying us. Now let things go on in our midst in our Gentile fashion, and you would see an aristocracy growing amongst us, whose language to the poor would be, “we do not require your company; we are going to have things very fine; we are quite busy now, please call some other time.” Your would have classes established here, some very poor and some very rich. Now, the Lord is not going to have anything of that kind. There has to be an equality; and we have to observe these principles that are designed to giver every one the privilege of gathering around him the comforts and conveniences of life. The Lord, in his economy of spiritual things, has fixed that every man, according to his perseverance and faithfulness, will receive exaltation and glory in the eternal worlds–a fullness of the Priesthood, and a fullness of the glory of God. This is the economy of God’s system by which men and women can be exalted spiritually. The same with regard to temporal affairs.

  6. Christopher on November 6, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Nice find, Julie.

    Dan, because it wasn’t a transition from one to the other. Elder Kimball’s attitude existed alongside (and in tension with) the assumptions, ideas, and attitudes of other church leaders who approached the topic from other points of view; the same as today.

  7. Dan on November 6, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Christopher, you mean they don’t think monolithically? :P

  8. Stephen M (Ethesis) on November 6, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Part of what I got from reading Miracle of Forgiveness was this perspective.

  9. Russell Arben Fox on November 6, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    I think that’s a great comparison, Stephen: in exactly the same way in The Miracle of Forgiveness Kimball expressed astonishment and revulsion at the modern proliferation of forms of what Kimball regarded as immorality and perversion, Kimball is also astonished and repulsed by the proliferation of opportunities for materialism and distraction. “Why another farm, another herd of sheep, another bunch of cattle, another ranch?…Why continue to expand and increase holdings, especially when those increased responsibilities draw one’s interests away from proper family and spiritual commitments, and from those things to which the Lord would have us give precedence in our lives?” Kimball’s vision for the Saints was clearly that we should all attend to our lives in our wards and not be engaged in the pursuit of pleasures and profits beyond those which are immediately necessary to sustain our basic needs and wants.

  10. Jonathon on November 6, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Dan asks a great question—how did we get to the current culture of defending wealth as if it’s an integral part of the plan of salvation? In my last ward, people seemed to get uncomfortable and even defensive when the topic of charity was brought up in Sunday School, responding with statements like, “But God wants rich people!” and then ignoring or glossing over the part about him wanting those rich people to build the kingdom.

  11. Ardis E. Parshall on November 6, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Hurray, Julie! I’m envious that you found it first, and grateful that you posted it.

  12. James Olsen on November 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Timely. And you’re right – unlike Sam – Elder Kimball surely would’ve been scandalized by the beards.

  13. Jax on November 6, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Fantastic Julie, also look up his talk given July 1976 called “the false gods we worship”. Same tone and message. And one totally ignored and abandoned by LDS people. I’m sure Pres Kimball wouldn’t be out there to “Occupy” anything, but the sentiment against greed and excessive wealth is very much alive in his messages. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Allison on November 7, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Well it makes perfect sense. The government/economy of the church is not capitalism. During the Millennium, people will have a perfect ruler and be living the Law of Consecration, a concept so very unlike capitalism that I’m sure the Wall Street guys would poop their pants at the thought of it. Of course benefiting from the loss of others is not congruent with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

    But I also think we should be careful passing judgement on others about this. The “love of money” is the root of all evil, not simply money. It’s dangerous to put money and what it can get you and your family above your love of God family. But where do you draw the line? This is an extremely hard principle for some to understand, especially if they grew up in a privileged household where they never were wanting for anything.

    I think the core of his message is honest earnings for honest work.

    This is a problem in society today with Wall Street, but also with low work-morale. It is a huge obstacle companies are facing. It’s easy to give less because you are monitoring yourself. Integrity is almost invisible in the workplace. Also, the Occupy movement is making a fuss about student loans. Their argument doesn’t fit in with the principles of his talk.

    So there are a lot of useful principles you can get out of this wonderful talk.

  15. Jeremy on November 7, 2011 at 2:37 am

    Allison:

    You said, “It’s dangerous to put money and what it can get you and your family above your love of God family. But where do you draw the line?” I’m not sure where precisely to draw the line, but I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere this side of the three richest people in the world, who together possess more wealth than the world’s poorest 48 countries combined.

    You also said: “This is a problem in society today with Wall Street, but also with low work-morale. It is a huge obstacle companies are facing. It’s easy to give less because you are monitoring yourself. Integrity is almost invisible in the workplace.”

    I don’t know what industries you’re referring to, but in my occupation (higher ed), there is far less “monitoring yourself” and much more quantification and assessment of productivity than there used to be. I’d be interested to know of industries in which, especially in today’s labor market, people can get away with doing less work.

    Also, the facts don’t seem to bear out your assertion. Worker productivity has steadily increased in this country for the last thirty years or so, even as wages have remained stagnant. For example, in the previous economic recovery period, from about 2001-2007, wages barely budged, even while worker productivity increased by nearly 20%. In other words, workers were producing more wealth, but that wealth never came back to them in wages.

  16. Alison Moore Smith on November 7, 2011 at 3:11 am

    Julie, I think this is a great talk. Here’s the link for those of you who’d like to read it.

    http://scriptures.byu.edu/gettalk.php?ID=667

    As one of the very few conservatives who writes for (and reads) T&S, I have to say that not only do I agree with his talk, but pretty much all the conservatives that surround me do, too.

  17. Stephen Hardy on November 7, 2011 at 4:03 am

    President Kimball had this persistent habit of speaking like a prophet. He was one of the few (maybe the only) prophets in my lifetime who occasionally sounds angry.

  18. Aaron R. on November 7, 2011 at 6:23 am

    Julie, a really fantastic find. I will be teaching Timothy this week and this will certainly be used in my lesson.

  19. psychochemiker on November 7, 2011 at 7:03 am

    I agree with his talks, but I also agree with his anti-homosexuality talks. More menu-Mormmonism at play here at T&S?

  20. James Olsen on November 7, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Alison, I certainly hope that you’re wrong in your claims about the conservative/liberal make-up here at T&S.

  21. Ray on November 7, 2011 at 8:16 am

    Bravo, Julie. Once again you are the conscience of Mormondom. If nothing else, I am reminded why I loved Pres. Kimball. Thanks.

  22. Joe Spencer on November 7, 2011 at 9:04 am

    It’s worth noting that (beautiful) excerpts from this talk appeared in one of the Gospel Principles lessons (“Work and Personal Responsibility,” chapter 27) until it was reworked a year or two ago. The passage was not replaced with a more up-to-date quotation along the same lines, but simply removed in its entirety. Here’s a link to the notes I posted on that lesson when it came up for Relief Society and Priesthood….

  23. Naismith on November 7, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Julie, thanks for the quote.

    Ardis, this is like Steve Jobs saying he is envious of Bill Gates. Y’all are both superstars.

  24. Paul on November 7, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Love President Kimball. Thanks for this reference.

  25. bbell on November 7, 2011 at 10:29 am

    As a conservative I am quite comfortable with this talk about filthy lucre. I am confident that if I taught these priciples in my upper middle class ward it would be warmly received. In fact we have discussions like this regularly.

    I don’t see any linkage at all between occupy wall street and Pres Kimball. Pres Kimball was a fairly successful small business man himself after all. The occupy folks are looking to get something for nothing. See the actual things that they are asking for for reference.

    I don’t think the average Mormon worships the free market either. The free market is simply better then all the other systems ever tried. It will thankfully come to the end when Jesus comes again.

  26. Suleiman on November 7, 2011 at 10:57 am

    bbell: “It will thankfully come to the end when Jesus comes again.”

    A few comments/questions that I hope are respectful in tone:

    So we should embrace it until then or can we look at ways to improve the existing market system? Because if you think the system is flawed and that reforms and regulations are needed, by definition you have ceased being a conservative.

    Is economic reform to help the working and middle classes suddenly beyong the scope of being a Latter-day Saint? What of the law of consecration? Should we embrace the market system until Jesus returns or do we need to live it in some way before that time?

  27. Rosalynde on November 7, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Okay, so I was suspicious at first, Julie, because I’m always suspicious whenever anybody brandishes a prophetic quote to support a political position.

    Now I’ve read the entire talk, and I have to say that I’m unconvinced that SWK’s worldview overlaps in any substantive way with OWS. I don’t have a political bone in my body, and I have no strong feelings about OWS. But I think you’ve cherry-picked your excerpts and in doing so you’ve misrepresented SWK’s point.

    For one thing, he balances his criticism of greedy and unjust employers with criticism of lazy, rent-seeking employees:

    “And then there are those of us who require excessive compensation for services and who fail to give “value received” and who give no loyalty with their insufficient and inefficient service.

    “Scripture writers admonish the employed to obey masters, to please their employers, to work with singleness of heart, to be honest in time spent and service rendered and to avoid purloining.”

    But in a much more profound sense, the full text of the talk reveals SWK’s thoroughly sacralized, covenantal vision of human interaction, including commerce. He’s just as exercised — if not moreso! — against small business owners who sell liquor or do business on Sundays as against those who oppress the poor. Why? Because human obligations to one another should be based on Zion covenants. There is no pluralism in his worldview. He was speaking to a geographically unified, socially homogenous, religious hegemony in the arid Great Basin.

    OWS, in contrast, seems to be based on a thoroughgoing vision of rights, redistribution, and pluralist liberalism.

  28. john willis on November 7, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I saw the movie “Margin Call” over the weekend . It is a fictionalized account of the 2008 collapse of Lehaman Brothers because of the suprime crisis.

    I wonder what President Kimball would of thought of it. (Of course he would of had to watch a heavily bleeped version as there was generous use of the F

  29. john willis on November 7, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Sorry I hit the send button too soon, there was a great deal of profanity in the movie, but I guess that is the way wall street traders talk.

  30. Julie M. Smith on November 7, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Rosalynde, I don’t disagree with anything you wrote. I’m not making any enormous claims in this post (as I hope my final paragraph in the post made clear); I’m just suggesting that there is some sentiment in his talk that is much closer to the Occupy rhetoric than to the Tea Party . . . or the GOP . . . or even the Obama administration’s response to the debauchery that caused the crash in 08 and continues today.

  31. Stephanie A on November 7, 2011 at 11:48 am

    The part that stands out most to me is, “Farm hands, domestic help, and unprotected people are often oppressed, when economic circumstances place them in the position where they must accept what is offered or remain unemployed. And we sometimes justify ourselves in underpaying and even boast about it:” As a small business owner, Pres. Kimball was concerned with paying employees enough. Far more people today than those working these lowly jobs have to worry about accepting what poor wage is offered or remaining unemployed, if they are lucky enough to find work at all. Enough people are still comfortable that it can be too easy to ignore the fact that hard-working people who do a great job and put in extra hours are laid off, unemployed, or making too little to pay for the necessities, much less any reasonable wants. And then companies and governments (as in when they cut teachers’ pay yet again) brag about the savings. OWS is not wanting something for nothing in wanting jobs or in wanting jobs that pay enough.
    Meanwhile, large banks are borrowing from the government at zero percent, then lending it back for a profit–the very definition of something for nothing. This system should change. And large investment firms sold bundles of mortgages at a profit that were likely to fail, while also buying insurance against their failure, thus making a huge profit when they did. “Compromise money is filthy, graft money is unclean, profits and commissions derived from the sale of worthless stocks are contaminated as is the money derived from other deceptions, excessive charges, oppression to the poor and compensation which is not fully earned. . . . I am sure that money is unclean when it is obtained through oppression, fraud[,] bribery, or through misrepresentations. . . .”
    Re-regulating Wall Street and encouraging hiring and fair pay are OWS main goals and completely consistent with this talk. I could go into even more, and there are demands by some people that are certainly more debatable, but I agree we need to pay more attention to this sort of thing, as well as much of the Book of Mormon, rather than agreeing with conservative stances without thought or study.
    Thanks, Julie.

  32. Jax on November 7, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Julie,

    He does have sentiments that sound more OWS than Tea Party/GOP… but he has things that are more Tea Party than OWS. The point I think we should all try to understand is that the reason the church doesn’t support any party or either of those two movements is that neither of them are based on gospel principles or are tryint to achieve gospel oriented goals. IMO any LDS person who throws their efforts into either group are working for goals contrary to what SWK was encouraging.

  33. Rosalynde on November 7, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Fair enough, Julie. I’d just add that “resemblances in this mirror are smaller than they appear, and mostly coincidental.” :)

  34. Bryan Stiles on November 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    I find it difficult to pin down exactly what OWS is saying. Some are protesting for redistribution, some are protesting for reregulation and not redistribution, some for forgiveness of student loans, some are against that. I’ve seen plenty of forums where someone says “OWS wants redistribution” and someone else says “No! they just want regulation of the market!” and someone else says something else. It seems everyone is right depending on which group within OWS they are talking about.

  35. Mfpenny on November 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Very appropriate to our times and Sunday School lesson about 1 Timothy. I think a very relevant scripture to note is Jacob 2 verse 13 and 14 and verses 17-19. What destroys our souls? It isn’t money, but pride and the view of ourselves compared to others. Money does a lot of good things if the proper perspective is applied to earning it and using it for good. Unfortunately most of our brothers and sisters do not look to God and building His kingdom before their own wants are satisfied.

  36. Bryan Stiles on November 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    “Unfortunately most of our brothers and sisters do not look to God and building His kingdom before their own wants are satisfied.”

    Can’t we say something similar to virtually every commandment there is? Scripture study, prayer, tithing, chastity, word of wisdom, multiply and replenish the earth, temple attendance, patience, long-suffering, love, etc…

  37. S.P. Bailey on November 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Does the OWS crowd have a coherent critique of anything? I mean, I have sympathy for anyone who is struggling through the recession. I hope everyone who needs a job can find one soon. And I agree that bailouts–which serve the interests of big government, big business, and labor unions at the expense of others–are regrettable. And clearly it sucks to have many thousands of dollars of non-dischargeable student debt and (often) nothing to show for it but an unmarketable squishy humanities credential. (This last is a complex problem: students are responsible, but so are government programs that make the debt too easy to incur while hiding the true risks/costs, and universities that have jacked up tuition dramatically in recent years because they are insulated from usual market forces by the aforementioned loan programs.) But is this what the OWS crowd stands for? And if so, does it propose any answers? I mean other than camping out in parks, smoking dope, and banging on drums?

    Would Spencer W. Kimball support thugs vandalizing private property, thugs shutting down honest businesses and preventing ordinary people from putting in their honest day’s work, self-inflicted student loan debt troubles, rampant anti-semitism, dumb marxist “anarchists-for-statism” propaganda, etc., etc? If not, would his objection to all of this be merely “aesthetic?”

  38. Tim on November 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    S.P. Bailey,

    Of course Kimball wouldn’t support those things. I also like to believe that he wouldn’t support blatant, political-driven stereotyping and slander, but that’s just me.

    I don’t know where people are getting their wacky ideas about OWS (although I suspect Fox News may be a source); that’s certainly not what I’ve seen from the local OWS Facebook page and the local OWS camp in a nearby park.

  39. S.P. Bailey on November 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Tim: the dark side of the OWS crowd is well documented. You can Google it on your iPhone, but I can understand why you may not have sullied yourself with the products of “evil” corporations in that way.

  40. Jeff Hoyt on November 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Just wanted to add my name as one more conservative who wholly endorses the sentiments of the talk, and will be incorporating the elements from James into Gospel Doctrine class next Sunday.

    As to OWS, who knows exactly what they stand for, but I think everyone would agree that demonizing the wealthy is a big part of their message. I find this both repugnant and immoral. Some wealthy are good people and some are not, but my observation (I am a financial professional) is that the wealthy are no more likely evil than are their poor counterparts. In my view it is immoral to try to convince the poor that the wealthy are their enemy. Most wealthy understand that, in a free, capatilist society, the path to wealth is surest for those that provide something of benefit to as many people as possible. The message I see from OWS has been tried before, and the results are always tragic.

  41. Alison Moore Smith on November 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Rosalynde #27, amen.

    The talk is great and worthy of discussion, but I saw no need for the conservative jab. I’m conservative/libertarianish. I’ve been to a number of Tea Party rallies. I haven’t heard a word that would counter this speech. I don’t believe a single one of my conservative or libertarian friends would disagree with it’s message either, based on hundreds of collective hours of political discussion.

    As for what the Occupy crowd supports, there is no unified coherent message. I believe there were many sincere people originally there — although their sincere message was disjointed and often nonsensical. (Few seemed to even know who/what Wall Street actually is, for example, and they moved active protests to individuals who aren’t Wall Street at all.)

    Overall, I think the movement has been co-opted by radicals of many bents. (Tim, rather than use your clever ad hominem, try google — or just look up the arrest reports. Start with Oakland.) Some of the more unified voices are, for example, people who CHOSE to take out massive amounts of student loans and now don’t want to pay them back. What exactly is that message, other than, give me what I want or I’ll tantrum in the park? Yea, that sounds pretty much exactly like President Kimball. :/

    Stephanie A (and Jeremy), you’ve inspired my next post. Too much to respond to in a single comment. Wah!

  42. Raymond Takashi Swenson on November 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Clearly, these concerns are of a piece with President Kimball’s concern for the wellbeing of Hispanics, American Indians, and blacks. The Indian Placement Program was an effort to equalize educational and economic opportunities through private donations of personal care and support to less privileged Indian kids. The current Perpetual Education Fund uses education loans more effectively by focusing on less developed nations where the cost of marginal added education is low in US dollar terms, but highly effective in raising income levels. The $50,000 in student loans that many American students have incurred for a BA could raise the educational and earning levels of a hundred people in Central and South America.

    Going into debt for education has generally been endorsed by the Church as a reasonable action, since it was presumed to affect future earnings, the other legitimate reason for debt being a home mortgage. However, current economic conditions demonstrate that although SOME debt for those purposes is reasonable, a LOT of debt is not.

    President Kimball’s concern with greed and failure to give honest value in return for payment is directly relevant to the education loans complained of by some OWS protestors. At the state university where I teach parttime, the annual undergrad tuition is now $10,000 a year, which was the tuition for George Washington University Law School when I was there in 1983. It is going up 16% next year. I know that my salary for the class I teach is a very small percentage of the tuition the students have paid (or borrowed). In contrast, my undergraduate tuition at the University of Utah in 1967 was only $400 a year. Minimum wage then was $1.10 an hour, so multiplying that by the factor of six that the current minimum wage bears, that is still only $2,400 a year. Where does the other 75% of the increase come from? It is not obviously coming out as a greater value of a BA in 2011 compared to 1967.

    At the same time, an indictment of greed among people and organizations that engage in commercial transations is NOT an endorsement of government intervention to “rebalance” those transactions, through regulation, punishment, taxation, revision of existing contracts and debts, or appropriation of wealth. The lack of justice in many commercial transactions where there is an imbalance of power is not presumptively remedied by giving power to an equally fallible third party in government. First of all, those with financial power in commercial transactions tend to have commensurate political power to bend government to serve their own ends. Thus, we get government subsidies to ethanol production that does little if anything to reduce environmental problems, while driving up the cost of basic foods to the poor worldwide. Second, governmental power, that largely relies on coercion rather than offering an exchange of value, is the ultimate “getting something for nothing” actor. The claim that government creates conditions that are prerequisite for prosperity, and therefore have a claim on the income and wealth of all, never gets subjected to a full accounting of the costs and burdens that government also inflicts, especially in the modern era. The faith that government is the benevolent arbitrator of value in all private transactions is the faith that has proven wrong again and again in controlled economies. The only consistent winner in transactions controlled by government is the government itself, and secondarily specific elements within society that have reached power sharing agreements with government. Intervening to save people from the consequences of their own economic choices enables more bad choices, and ends up doing more harm in the long term. Government is neither smart enough, nor benevolent enough, to establish a Zion economy. Coerced “unselfishness” all too easily becomes simply selfishness by government, on an even worse scale than private selfishness.

    Elder Kimball did not call for massive government intervention. He called for repentance. As Alma realized when he resigned his position as Chief Judge in order to preach repentance, changing people’s hearts can produce better behavior than governmental coercion, or incentives using assets obtained through coercion.

  43. Cc on November 7, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Dan above asked how did we get from there to where we are today. It’s not the church in whole that says “god wants us rich”, it’s the people that are starting to get cold hearts and forget that god which taught of love and charity. If it seams that you come in contact with a lot of people in the church that are like this, they need to repent and change their ways

  44. Tim on November 7, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Alison,

    Bailey calls OWS “thugs” and “discusses “rampant anti-semitism,” I state that such arguments are slander and such ideas are wacky, and I am the one using ad hominem attacks?

    In any case, OWS is much, much bigger than Oakland. I don’t think anyone’s surprised that OWS’s problems are greatest in Oakland, or that the press likes to focus on where the excitement is–I can understand how some might come to the belief that what’s happening in Oakland is exactly what’s happening with all other OWS groups. But Oakland’s just a tiny piece of the whole picture, and to point to a few arrest reports or a few incidents of vandalism would be like pointing to the racist element of the tea party. It’s there, it’s very much real, but it’s not at all at the heart of the movement, and the vast majority of participants and supporters oppose it. The media may point to it because it attracts viewers and readers, but it’s not a fair representation of what’s really going on.

  45. Julie M. Smith on November 7, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Alison, as you might suspect, I broadly support the goals of the Occupy movement, but I’m not sympathetic to efforts to stop student loan repayment. (With the possible exception of some loans from scamalicious for-profit schools, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)

  46. Alison Moore Smith on November 7, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Bailey calls OWS “thugs” and “discusses “rampant anti-semitism,”

    There has been vandalism, violence, drug use, destruction of property, and arrests in many (most?) major OWS venues (Brooklyn, Oakland, Lower Manhattan, Denver, etc.). Yea, I’m one of those people who usually thinks the cops are decent and who usually thinks people people who spray-paint building, throw rocks at cops, and disregard laws are thugs.

    There have been enough anti-semetic incidents that the Anti-Defemation League is concerned and “keeping an eye on the movement.”

    According to wiki, 98% support civil disobedience (which may or may not include violence) and 31% openly support violence. It showing.

  47. Jeremy on November 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    ” It takes a walloping amount of willful cluelessness to look at a mass of people holding up signs and claim that they have no message.” – Dahlia Lithwick.

  48. Alison Moore Smith on November 7, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Julie #25, what is it that you “broadly support”? Last I heard some members of the group were scrambling to come up with some kind of general consensus, some in the form of the 99% Declaration — with little success. What are their solutions?

    Interviews show people all over the map, with a good dose of “I want more stuff” thrown in for good measure.

    Of course, I can’t link to the multitude of post/videoss with all the cursing and nudity (which is apparently an integral part of civli protest). But there are plenty of people who’ve never even heard of Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner and have no idea about political processes — but “want to be part of something.”

    Hey, maybe they can join the Boy Scouts??? ;)

  49. palerobber on November 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    #41 Alison Moore Smith

    [...] I’ve been to a number of Tea Party rallies. I haven’t heard a word that would counter this speech. I don’t believe a single one of my conservative or libertarian friends would disagree with it’s message either[...]

    wow, not a single tea partier, conservative, or libertarian you know would disagree with “Why another farm, another herd of sheep, another bunch of cattle, another ranch? Why another hotel, another cafe, another store, another shop? Why another plant, another office, another service, another business?”. not one of them would disagree that “Farm hands, domestic help, and unprotected people are often oppressed”. not one would disagree that unearned income is “filthy”.

    that’s pretty incredible.

    who knew that today’s right had turned into a bunch of hobo-hugging freedom-hating socialists?

  50. palerobber on November 7, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    #41 Alison Moore Smith

    [...] I’ve been to a number of Tea Party rallies. I haven’t heard a word that would counter this speech. I don’t believe a single one of my conservative or libertarian friends would disagree with it’s message either[...]

    wow, not a single tea partier, conservative, or libertarian you know would disagree with “Why another farm, another herd of sheep, another bunch of cattle, another ranch? Why another hotel, another cafe, another store, another shop? Why another plant, another office, another service, another business?”. not one of them would disagree that “Farm hands, domestic help, and unprotected people are often oppressed”. not one would disagree that unearned income is “filthy”.

    that’s pretty incredible.

    who knew that today’s right had turned into a bunch of hobo-hugging freedom-hating socialists?

  51. Jeremy on November 7, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Alison: c’mon, you know better than to present cherry-picked YouTube videos and claim that they’re broadly representative of the movement–any more that it would be fair to judge the entire Tea Party movement, or the Republican Party, solely by a few selected hilariously misspelled signs about getting the guvmint’s hands offa my Medicar and getting a brain, Moran, etc.

    That’s just low.

  52. Brad Kramer on November 7, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    “Among the more plausible suggestions offered to correct existing abuses without adversely affecting the productive system, is to continue the socialization of our service institutions through a system of progressive taxation based upon ability to pay. In other words, to let such captains of industry, and financial geniuses as the Mellons, the Morgans, the Fords and the Rockefellers, continue to produce wealth and provide employment in the future, much as they have in the past, but through a scientifically worked out tax system, taking the bulk of their profits to finance free education, free libraries, free public parks and recreation centers, unemployment insurance, and perhaps eventually free medical aid and hospital service.

    From _Priesthood and Church Welfare: A Study Course for the Quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood for the Year 1939_.

  53. Jeff Hoyt on November 7, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Jeremy;

    So you know that those videos are “cherry-picked” and not representative because???? How is anyone supposed to make heads or tails of what they want? Should I just take your word for it that there is a cohesive message somewhere in there? Your previous post referenced signs, but I cannot go by them apparently without accusations of cherry picking.

    Also, am I the only one that finds irony in a group asking for all kinds of freebies on the basis that those unwilling to fork over their money are greedy?

  54. Brad Kramer on November 7, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Whether or not you see irony in something you made up is beside the point. The fact that you see in OWS nothing but lazy slobs looking for handouts speaks volumes about you but says nothing whatsoever about OWS itself.

  55. Julie M. Smith on November 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    “Julie #25, what is it that you “broadly support”?”

    I broadly support the idea that we need to return to (1) the post-WWII norms of a much higher tax level for the wealthiest and (2) a more robust regulatory environment, especially of the financial industry and (3) a greater commitment to ensuring equality of opportunity for all Americans, especially kids.

  56. Stephanie A on November 7, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Do we want our church judged only by the meanest, least Christ-like members or by those who least understand our doctrine or maybe only by those who drink? We want people to ignore the vast majority of us who try to live the gospel and be kind and good neighbors and citizens? Then it’s unfair to judge any group, including OWS, by its worst element. Though I’m also disturbed that the worst element is being referred to as Occupy Oakland, where very few protesters have actually turned violent and the police started the brutality using tactics characterized by members of the military as unlawful in a combat zone.

    The economic and political problems being protested and addressed are also too complex to be simplified this way, as are everyone’s ideas of causes and solutions. Claiming that OWS has no demands or solutions or purpose or claiming that they are asking for all kinds of freebies is again dismissing the movement without thought or without paying attention. Clearly President Kimball’s address touches on many of the same problems that are motivating people to demand that they are no longer ignored or dismissed or ridiculed. Discussing the implications from all political sides is helpful, but only by seriously trying to understand the problems and wanting to come up with solutions. We may all disagree on what solutions would work and what is more in keeping with the gospel, but simplifying and ridiculing a complex movement is not only unhelpful, but not in keeping with the gospel.

  57. Stephanie A on November 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    And I’m trying to attack one side here, though I agree with Julie’s comment. I very much liked Raymond’s comment (#42), though I disagree with some of what he said.

  58. Stephanie A on November 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    NOT trying…

  59. Adam Smith on November 7, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    The main message of OWS (99% agains the 1%) is a dangerous and destructive message diametrically opposed to the Gospel. Forced distribution from the wealthy to the lazy is inconsistent with the teachings of the Book of Mormon.

    This talk by Spencer W. Kimball is about personally sacrificing unnecessary temporal increase for spiritual increase. It has nothing to do with forcefully stealing another’s property and redistributing under the protection of the government.

  60. Tim on November 7, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Assuming everyone who’s poor is lazy is inconsistent with the gospel. The vast majority of the poor are working poor (or, in this economy, desperately wanting to be working).

    And, according to Brad’s #52 (excellent find, by the way), a progressive tax rate–and free healthcare!!!–is mentioned by the church itself as a “more plausible suggestion.” While some might consider that “forced distribution,” the church itself has no issue with it.

  61. Brad on November 7, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Adam (59),

    Are you saying that unemployment and low income is all attributable to laziness and that high income is attributable to hard work?

    Also if anything the message of OWS is more in line with the BOM than not. The BOM is replete with passages that condemn the people akin to the financial elites. Here are a couple of examples.

    2 Nephi 28:13
    They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their cpride they are puffed up.

    Alma 5:55
    Yea, and will you persist in turning your backs upon the poor, and the needy, and in withholding your substance from them?

  62. Jeremy on November 7, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Jeff Hoyt: I know the videos Alison posted are not representative because I sympathize with the OWS movement, and have several friends who have participated in occupations, and the videos are not representative of them. Also, because I’ve seen more than three You Tube videos.

    Adam Smith: calling all taxation “forced redistribution” and all poor people “lazy” is far more quantifiably incompatible with the gospel than anything going on at OWS protests.

  63. Jeremy on November 7, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    If I had to summarize the grievance of the OWS crowd in a simple sentence, it would be this: that our country has become a place where risk is socialized but profits are privatized, and where the economic expansion created by longer hours and increased productivity have been enjoyed almost exclusively by a smaller and smaller circle of executives.

  64. Adam Smith on November 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Tim:

    I didn’t say that. OWS’s main message is the 99% against the 1%. It’s lazy to go out and protest and demand that the government forcefully take the 1 percenters money and give it to the 99% as a solution to our problems.

    Brad:

    Those scriptures, like Spencer W. Kimball’s talk, have nothing do with forcefully redistributing the 1 percenters money to the 99%.

    Jeremy:

    I didn’t say either of those things.

    And your sentence of what the OWS crowd wants is far more charitable than what OWS has stated. I would be in complete agreement if all OWS wanted was a stop to socialized risk and privatized profits. However, that hasn’t been the message I’ve seen. Again and again the only message I see is 99/1: the 99% want to take the 1 percenters wealth.

  65. Dan on November 7, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    yep Adam. Tax the hell out of the 1%.

  66. Jeremy on November 7, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Adam Smith: so some level of taxation on the wealthy is not considered forced redistribution? What level would that be?

    And how does one remedy the socialization of risk and the privatization of profits, except through some sort of “redistribution”? You don’t seem to think that the socialization of risk and the privatization of profits is actually a problem, since you insist that the 1%ers’ acquisition of wealth is wholly unproblematic.

  67. Brad on November 7, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    Alison,

    No doubt there are loons and druggies among the OWS. Also conservative media outlets such as Faux News and the like who are seeking to blackball the movement have found what appear to be a few anti-Semite nutjobs. The anti-Semitic nature of the protesters is greatly overstated, much like the so-called racist nature of the Tea Party. Yet you say you support the Tea Party? The Tea Party has a well documented history of infiltration by the lunatic right-wing fringe. Yet you say nothing about that.

    A lot of people make up OWS and have a lot of different things to say. But you do hear common themes: increase taxes on the uber-rich, pass the jobs plan, hold bankers who defrauded the public accountable, and stop this trend of privatizing gains and socializing losses.

    You attack the people with high student loans for complaining about having to pay them back. They WANT to pay back the student loans with job opportunities, which are not greatly available right now. Why don’t you criticize the wealthy financier class who took great risks with their money thus causing the financial crisis of 2008 and hold them responsible for not willing to take their due losses?

  68. S.P. Bailey on November 7, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    The OWS crowd (and their academic/media cheerleaders) are very sanctimonious in their condemnation of productive people. It would be interesting to know how many of them are truly poor, and how many have just made consumption decisions–expensive education, urban living, low-pressure/feel-good employment, and on and on–that guarantees they will never produce excess wealth that they themselves could, you know, share with the truly poor. Or is it beyond the pale to suggest that utopians should earn the wealth they would like to spread around by the sweat of their own brows?

  69. Dan on November 7, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    SP Bailey,

    Or is it beyond the pale to suggest that utopians should earn the wealth they would like to spread around by the sweat of their own brows?

    Yeah, we can’t all be Mitt Romney, sweating at the brow to tear down businesses, putting people outta work and reaping millions in return. I know I’m sweating at the brow watching my stocks rise in value. That’s some mean hard work there. It’s hurting my back.

  70. Dan on November 7, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Why don’t you criticize the wealthy financier class who took great risks with their money thus causing the financial crisis of 2008 and hold them responsible for not willing to take their due losses?

    Silly Brad, the only people who should be responsible for their actions are the damn poor! Clearly the blame goes on the poor for banks over-leveraging their assets 30-1.

  71. Cynthia L. on November 7, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Jeremy’s 1-sentence summary of OWS seems pretty much right on to me. I’m curious where Adam is getting his information because it doesn’t ring true to my observations of OWS.

    Repeating the “99%” refrain doesn’t mean “take the 1 percenters’ wealth.” That’s just imagination or mischaracterization on somebody’s part (somebody who is against OWS, it would seem). The “99%” refrain is just a shorthand for the kinds of things Jeremy talked about. Here, let me break it down for you by annotating Jeremy’s sentence: “that our country has become a place where risk is socialized [paid for by the 99%] but profits are privatized [go to the 1%], and where the economic expansion created by longer hours and increased productivity [of the 99%] have been enjoyed almost exclusively by a smaller and smaller circle of executives [the 1%].”

  72. Dan on November 7, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    well summarized, Cynthia.

  73. Brad on November 7, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Adam, you are disingenuous to believe that the top 1 percent have acquired their wealth merely by virtue of their hard work. Some have and deserve their high pay. But many of them are profiting off of the backs of the poor.

    To attribute wealth and ownership to laziness or hard-work is ignorance of basic systemic facts of wealth distribution that one would learn in an Econ 101 class. Since the 1980s the economic system has become increasingly deregulated, which has led to the financial elites to be able to take increasing risks with peoples’ money. When the housing-bubble popped, the financial market crashed, and the private sector became deleveraged, thus causing widespread unemployment.

    You need to study basic economics dude. People aren’t unemployed simply because they’re lazy.

  74. Jeremy on November 7, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    “very sanctimonious in their condemnation of productive people”

    What’s sanctimonious is to assume that the people they’re protesting about are “productive.” Was it “productive” people at Citibank and elsewhere who sold investments in risky mortgages, even while betting against those mortgages themselves? Was it “productive” people at S&P who gave those mortgage investments triple-A ratings? Was it “productive” people at AIG who sold the insurance policies against default on those mortgages, sometimes leveraging the actual assets 15:1, resulting in a trillion dollars disappearing from the economy overnight?

    Are those the “productive” people you’re talking about? Because those are precisely the coddled crooks this movement is protesting against.

    And you’re right, “it would be interesting” to know how many of the OWS protesters are lazy or dumb–but you saying “it would be interesting” to know if they are doesn’t make them so.

  75. S.P. Bailey on November 7, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Dan: You are a troll. Also, you can learn what private equity firms actually do if you want to. Something tells me, however, that you are perfectly content to go on parroting willfully ignorant lefty cliches.

  76. Jeremy on November 8, 2011 at 12:03 am

    Yeah, Dan, it’s not that hard to find out what private equity firms do:

    http://www.boston.com/news/daily/26/ampad.pdf

  77. S.P. Bailey on November 8, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Jeremy: regarding my reference to the sanctimonious condemnation of productive people … I agree that risk should not be socialized. The financial folks (and the politicians) who caused the crisis should have suffered the consequences of their foolishness/cupidity. And as I said above, I am sensitive to anyone who is struggling through the recession. May they all find good jobs soon.

    But let’s not talk past each other: the OWS crowd is not specifically directed at people/institutions whose decisions caused the financial crisis. The OWS crowd demonizes the top 1% of income earners. A vast majority of this group had nothing to do with causing the financial crisis. Many people in this group are merely passing through–ordinary folks whose small business had an unusually good year or who lost a loved one and inherited the family farm. The OWS crowd also rants about allegedly “evil” and “greedy” corporations. This is plain dumb for a variety reasons. Corporations generate wealth that all of us enjoy in one way or another. They employ people. They produce products people want. They are owned by the pension plans of millions of ordinary Americans. And on and on.

  78. Adam Smith on November 8, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Jeremy, Brad, Dan, Cynthia:

    You’re all doing the same bait-and-switch that OWS is pulling: pointing to the objectionable bailouts where losses were socialized and profits were privatized and then stating that’s why the 1 percenters wealth needs to be re-distributed to the 99%.

    Like OWS you’re failing to distinguish between wealthy productive members of society and wealthy crony capitalists and insisting that all need to be punished alike, which is why the movement is dangerous and not at all related to any principle of the Gospel.

  79. Jeremy on November 8, 2011 at 12:33 am

    “Many people in this group are merely passing through–ordinary folks whose small business had an unusually good year or who lost a loved one and inherited the family farm.”

    [Spit take.]Yes, you are correct: we are definitely talking past each other.

    “Corporations generate wealth that all of us enjoy in one way or another. They employ people…”

    And yet, while Wall Street has recovered from the recession and corporations are enjoying record profits (due in no small part to the increased productivity of the terrified employees left after rounds of recession layoffs), job growth remains slow. And at the same time, the political entities always going to bat for the corporations and the wealthy and protecting them valiantly against even the most modest (<1%) tax increases, are the same entities demanding extreme budget-cutting austerity measures resulting in public sector job losses, that offset what few jobs the private sector adds each month.

  80. S.P. Bailey on November 8, 2011 at 12:33 am

    Jeremy: One case is not an argument. Do you have any nifty infographics depicting Bain’s many successes?

  81. Jeremy on November 8, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Adam:

    The House recently rejected an infrastructure bill that would have included a very modest surtax on the very wealthy–less that 1%. Don’t you think “punish” is a melodramatic term?

    You’re conflating–either dishonestly or inadvertently, I really don’t know–two separate issues: one is the suggestion of a progressive tax on extreme wealth in a time of ever-widening gap between rich and poor; the other is a call for accountability from reckless financial entities who caused the economic crisis.

    My desire to see some AIG execs in handcuffs and jumpsuits is NOT the same issue as my desire to see a person pay more taxes if s/he has benefited more from the things taxes pay for. You’re the one doing the bait and switch here.

  82. S.P. Bailey on November 8, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Jeremy: you wrote: “And you’re right, ‘it would be interesting’ to know how many of the OWS protesters are lazy or dumb–but you saying ‘it would be interesting’ to know if they are doesn’t make them so.”

    I never said anything about “lazy or dumb.” My point was very different–that some people trashing their productive brothers and sisters seem to make consumption decisions that prevent them from generating wealth they could share with others. Motes, beams, etc.

  83. Adam Smith on November 8, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Jeremy:

    I’m not sure what that bill has to do with OWS’s goals.

    I’m not conflating anything, OWS is. The name is Occupy Wall Street, tapping into people’s desire to see a Wall Street exec in a jumpsuit, and yet the main message is 99/1, tapping into certain people’s desire to see higher taxes on the rich. I’m saying that it’s not right for OWS to conflate the two because they are very different messages. Either you disagree that OWS is conflating the name and the main message or your disagree that’s it wrong to do so but I’m not the one doing the conflating.

    By the way, you and Brad have now suggested I’m disingenuous or dishonest. I’m not going to return fire but I’ll point out that it’s unnecessary.

  84. Jeremy on November 8, 2011 at 12:56 am

    S.P. Bailey asked “Do you have any nifty infographics depicting Bain’s many successes?”

    No, I don’t, because while Bain Capital crows about jobs it created during Mitt’s tenure through startups and seed capital, it refuses to divulge before-and-after employment numbers for companies it acquired through leveraged buyouts. Bain even refuses to divulge whether its activities during Mitt’s tenure as head of the company resulted in a net gain or a net loss of jobs.

  85. S.P. Bailey on November 8, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Bain helped Staples grow from 1 store to over 2000 stores. None of the Staples locations I have shopped in were staffed by robots …

  86. David Elliott on November 8, 2011 at 1:04 am

    Jeremy said: “If I had to summarize the grievance of the OWS crowd in a simple sentence, it would be this: that our country has become a place where risk is socialized but profits are privatized, and where the economic expansion created by longer hours and increased productivity have been enjoyed almost exclusively by a smaller and smaller circle of executives.”

    I agree with this summary, but I’d take it a step further. I think the common thread running through the OWS grievances is “get Wall Street out of Washington”. It all seems to go back to the corrupting influence of powerful lobbies and poorly regulated campaign contributions.

  87. Brad on November 8, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Adam,

    You need to own up to comments you made before, which I am simply responding to. You are clearly suggesting that the poor are that way because they are lazy. I am simply saying that it is not so. Would you care to explain what you meant by people being lazy? Most people are pushed out of the job market not because they are lazy, but because of a combination of structural unemployment and demand deficient unemployment (aka cyclical unemployment) the latter of which we are experience right now.

    Raising the top tax bracket from 35% to 39.6% is not punishment on the wealthy. They can afford to pay higher taxes, this is common knowledge, not socialist propaganda. Corporations are sitting on huge profits right now that they are not investing in job-creation. Why are they not investing it in job-creation? Because there is an overall lack of demand (and no, they aren’t citing uncertainty because of regulation and taxation, that is a myth) and they don’t want to see their investments go to waste. NO ONE here is criticizing the producers. The people that the I, others on T&S, and OWS are criticizing are the rent-seekers, those who are wealthy by virtue of having money to take risks with. They aren’t producing anything. They just sitting back and collecting interest payments on debts that people owe or insurance payments that insurance companies owe them. The whole shadow banking industry is full of these types.

    How exactly is OWS dangerous? Please explain. Because taxing the wealthy at higher rates is dangerous? 35% is the lowest tax rate on the top income-earners ever since WWII.

  88. Jeremy on November 8, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Adam said: “I’m not conflating anything, OWS is. The name is Occupy Wall Street, tapping into people’s desire to see a Wall Street exec in a jumpsuit, and yet the main message is 99/1, tapping into certain people’s desire to see higher taxes on the rich.”

    C’mon, Adam, saying two things is not the same as conflating two things. I like egg salad sandwiches. I also like ice cream. That does not mean I like ice cream on my egg salad sandwiches. I want some jerks from AIG to go to jail for fraud. I also think returning to a higher tax rate on the wealthy would be fair and beneficial. That doesn’t mean I want to put all rich people in jail and take their money.

    You also said: “I’m not sure what that bill has to do with OWS’s goals.”

    The infrastructure bill was a jobs bill. OWS is ultimately about jobs. That should be no more complicated that the relationship between the New Deal and the Great Depression. If corporate profits and tax cuts for the wealthy in the last few years had turned into jobs, there would be no OWS.

  89. Brad on November 8, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Admin, might I suggest closing the comments when we hit 100. The discussion is starting to get a little intense and redundant.

  90. Alison Moore Smith on November 8, 2011 at 1:26 am

    palerobber #50:

    wow, not a single tea partier, conservative, or libertarian you know would disagree with “Why another farm, another herd of sheep, another bunch of cattle, another ranch? Why another hotel, another cafe, another store, another shop? Why another plant, another office, another service, another business?”

    Do you notice that this isn’t a statement with which one can agree or disagree, it’s a series of QUESTIONS? So, no, I don’t know anyone (of any political bent) who either agrees or disagrees with the QUESTIONS posed here.

    Do you like apples? Agree or disagree.

    I assume — given the church’s actual behavior and accumulation — that there might actually be valid, righteous reasons for “another herd of sheep,” just as their might be valid righteous reasons for “not another herd of sheep.” Kimball’s questions are good and meant for introspection. They provide a warning about when “temporal possessions become too great.”

    But apparently you’ve divined this to mean something specific. Please share.

    “Farm hands, domestic help, and unprotected people are often oppressed”

    No, not when you include the entire sentence “…when economic circumstances place them in the position where they must accept what is offered or remain unemployed.”

    …not one would disagree that unearned income is “filthy”

    KImball didn’t say “unearned income is filthy.” He didn’t reference “unearned income” at all — which has very specific meanings in accounting and economics. If you mean dishonestly earned money or stolen money then, no, I don’t know anyone conservatives would disagree with that.

    Jeremy #51:

    you know better than to present cherry-picked YouTube videos and claim that they’re broadly representative of the movement

    Actually, Jeremy I wasn’t very selective. It wasn’t worth the time. I simply googled something about what I was looking for and took the first thing that related. There are tons to choose from. Maybe you didn’t actually watch the vids before you blew your stack (which might be deemed kind of “low”), but you’ll notice that at least one of the vids I linked to was actually produced and posted by a PRO-OWS group. (As were some of the most vile, that I chose not to link to at all.)

  91. Alison Moore Smith on November 8, 2011 at 1:40 am

    Thanks for clarifying, Julie. I don’t know that OWS as a whole agrees with you, but some certainly do.

    Jeremy #63:

    If I had to summarize the grievance of the OWS crowd in a simple sentence, it would be this: that our country has become a place where risk is socialized but profits are privatized, and where the economic expansion created by longer hours and increased productivity have been enjoyed almost exclusively by a smaller and smaller circle of executives.

    That’s not really a “simple sentence.” :) But anyway…

    I am completely behind your first part. I don’t agree that it’s true universally at all. (I am a business owner. My risk is all my own and always has been.) But to the extent it IS true, I think it’s dead wrong. I have been against bailouts and the like from the get go. It’s all cronyism.

    But you seem to be arguing for simply a reversal of the inequity in the second part, which I can’t abide either. I think both risk AND profits should be privatized. I don’t think we should flip a bad equation (in the relatively few — but expensive — cases where it is bad) on it’s head and call it good.

    My parents didn’t own businesses. I wasn’t born into money. My husband came from much more difficult circumstances. We went to school. We worked hard. We worked for others.

    Our jobs weren’t everything we hoped for because, yes, other people (the ones who took the risks and created the businesses and institutions and JOBS) got most of the benefit.

    So, we started our own company. And ran it the way we thought was best. And we tried to be generous and honest and fair. Including paying everyone else and NOT ourselves when things were difficult. Sometimes it’s rewarding and always it’s freakishly demanding and stressful and the “company liability” is usually the owner’s PERSONAL liability. It might not be YOUR idea of a perfect company, but it was the closest we could do.

    And here’s the thing — YOU (not Jeremy specifically, the collective you) are free to do the same. If your job sucks because you have a horrid, evil boss. Leave. And if you can’t find the employer you want — who has taken the risk and had the innovation and wherewithal to provide you with a lovely, magical job of happiness — then YOU can become the employer you want. (Look at all the out of work people who need jobs! And, as the perfect employer, they will FLOCK to you!)

    But if, by some chance, YOU cannot become the employer you (and everyone else) dream(s) of, then just maybe you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

    There is a lot more to say, but I’ll leave it for my own posts. Carry on.

  92. Brad on November 8, 2011 at 1:42 am

    Alison,

    I have to agree with Jeremy. I think that you are grossly mischaracterizing the OWS movement. It is a peaceful movement with a few bad apples.

  93. Jeremy on November 8, 2011 at 1:48 am

    And now, add on top of that, grossly mischaracterizing the plight of the unemployed and sermonizing about entrepreneurship in a way that borders on bizarre. And abusing your all-caps key.

    I feel dirty. How close are we to 100?

  94. Adam Smith on November 8, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Brad:

    I’m not sure what I have to own up to. I didn’t say that about poor people. You did say I was disingenuous and needed to take Economics 101 and then proceeded to lecture me on Krugman’s view of the world, which I’m already aware of.

    Your second paragraph captures perfectly what bothers me about OWS and its supporters: you absolutely insist that you’re not criticizing producers and in the same paragraph insist that taxes are too low on the wealthy because they can afford it. It’s as if producers and wealthy are mutually exclusive.

    If OWS and it supporters were truly concerned about Wall Street the main message would be a financial transactions tax or something similar. But it’s not, it’s just a vehicle for tapping into people’s anger against Wall Street and then channeling it into raising taxes on all the wealthy, including producers who have nothing to do with Wall Street.

  95. Brad on November 8, 2011 at 2:04 am

    Alison,

    Running a good business and running a good economy are two completely different things. Successful business people thrive by beating out the competition. Running a good economy requires maintaining good management of fiscal and monetary policy. Generally speaking the Federal Reserve can balance the economy. When it overheats due to speculation-mania and inflation it can raise interest rates. When it is lagging in production, it can decrease interest rates to stimulate growth. However, when the economy is in a liquidity trap (meaning that the lowering of interest rates and quantitative easing are failing to gain traction), which we are in right now, government stimulus and spending are needed to grow the economy.

    Anyhow I refer you to Paul Krugman’s daily blog. He knows his econ.

  96. Brad on November 8, 2011 at 2:11 am

    Adam,

    Admit it, you’re not here to have a real intellectual discussion. You’re here to push buttons and make casually incendiary suggestions. You bait and switch and play the dumb uncle. You may be aware of Krugman’s worldview but you don’t appear to understand it or have internalized it. Most of what I am saying is basic economics, not some far-left theory. I’m out.

  97. Adam Smith on November 8, 2011 at 2:24 am

    Brad:

    I must have missed the part about how raising taxes on producers is a good thing in the multiple economics classes I aced.

    And just for the record it’s possible to understand a different point of view and still disagree with it without the name calling.

  98. Cynthia L. on November 8, 2011 at 2:30 am

    “You absolutely insist that you’re not criticizing producers and in the same paragraph insist that taxes are too low on the wealthy because they can afford it.”

    Adam, The tax increase proposed is less than one percentage point increase. It is actually possible to not criticize producers as bad people who need to be punished and “demonized,” and at the same time saying they can afford to pay more in taxes, when that “more” is less than one percentage point. There are a lot of really nice, kind, voluntarily generous people who can, at this time of economic extremity for many people, afford to have their taxes raised by less than one percentage point. It’s not complicated. It seems you are almost trying not to understand this point.

    Let me turn your own logic back on you: if you think it is ok to cut Medicare, Medicaid, education, unemployment assistance, and myriad other things; if you think it is ok to lay off a bunch of public employees–a 100% cut in their income!–is it fair for me to conclude that you “demonize” and punish the elderly, poor, children, unemployed and public employees? If it wouldn’t be fair for me to say that about you, then why is it fair for you to say that a <1% tax increase proposal from OWS equates to demonizing the rich?

  99. Peter LLC on November 8, 2011 at 2:35 am

    But if, by some chance, YOU cannot become the employer you (and everyone else) dream(s) of, then just maybe you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

    If one’s success in life depends on chance, then there’s no point in lecturing the unsuccessful.

    But even if YOU (not Alison specifically, the collective you) really are the master of your fate, there’s only so many referral links and pixels to go around before somebody’s piece of the pie gets smaller.

  100. Cameron N on November 8, 2011 at 2:35 am

    The free market is worshipped because it represents a system of individual economic agency, which is a part of our sacred agency given to us by God. As the Receiver of memories said to Jonas, “it’s the choosing that’s important, isn’t it?” Most free-market Mormons don’t worship the market, they worship the freedom.

    Everything President Kimball covered in those statements applies equally to people of all incomes and living standards who live beyond their means and have grown accustomed to expecting doles. God is no respecter of persons. The rich selfish man is no more wicked in God’s eyes than the poor covetous man who lives beyond his means. President Kimball’s successor wisely noted that pride is often worse from the bottom looking up.

    The honest rich in America could even be a considered contemporary examples of the widows mite (albeit a compelled version). They give more proportional to what they have than any country in the world. The ‘fair share’ argument has no merit whatsoever.

    Convoluted and unwise tax codes which promote corruption that in part caused our current problems are an ironic justification for further government intervention.

    “I’m just suggesting that there is some sentiment in his talk that is much closer to the Occupy rhetoric than to the Tea Party . . . or the GOP”
    Occupy rhetoric is based on envy and contempt for sacrifice and accountability. It seems to me President Kimball was condemning all those things. We are not called the ‘me’ generation for nothing.

  101. Brad on November 8, 2011 at 2:35 am

    Adam, I love have you have to claim that you’ve taken econ classes. Apparently you’ve forgotten what you learned there and have merely succumbed to mimicking conservative myth radio talking points.

  102. Cameron N on November 8, 2011 at 2:38 am

    Another misconception of the Occupiers and the President is that tax rates directly correlate with tax revenues, which is a horrible notion to base public policy on.

  103. Cameron N on November 8, 2011 at 2:45 am

    One final, anecdotal thing to share:

    I was recently hired by a private equity firm. They created about 50 jobs in the midst of a horrible, So-Cal economic climate, and are currently losing money, but the investors whom I have personally met are in it for the long haul. This man and his filthy rich acquaintances have turned around 33 companies over the last few decades and created hundreds if not thousands of jobs in the process. He doesn’t do it for the money, he does it because he enjoys it.

    I, for one, do not believe that greed and its related vices are unevenly distributed across the socioeconomic spectrum.

  104. Adam Smith on November 8, 2011 at 2:51 am

    Cynthia:

    Wealthy people have a moral obligation to help the poor. No disagreement there.

    But that’s not the point of OWS. OWS is riling people up about legitimate anger against Wall Street and re-directing the anger to increase taxes on all wealthy people. Why should successful Main Streeters pay for the sins of Wall Street?

  105. Adam Smith on November 8, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Brad:

    I thought you left? Anyway, I only cited my Econ classes as a rebuttal to your personal attack on me that I didn’t understand basic Econ. Now you’ve doubled down. Well, go find your Exon 101 textbook and show me where it says raising taxes on producers as penance for Wall Street’s misdeeds is a positive thing for the economy. Or you can keep hurling insults. Whatever suits you.

  106. Glass Ceiling on November 8, 2011 at 3:18 am

    The OWS was exactly OFF. They should have been in Washington fighting deregulation. The same corruption was going on in the 1920-30s and was only fixed when FDR put Joe Kennedy as watchdog of the SEC. Things stayed tame until Reagan ‘s deregulation. Now we have OWS at Wall Street with everyone on the ground needing a history lesson

  107. Glass Ceiling on November 8, 2011 at 3:29 am

    And every banker on Wall Street looking down from their lofty office windows at the fools below and thinking, “Well, from the looks f things we got at least another decade before THIS group figures out the score. Maybe we can buy ALL the news sources and ALL the government by then.”

  108. small star on November 8, 2011 at 3:39 am

    A fact–the economy grows the most when corporations a d the wealthy are taxed at much highher rates than now; somewhere around 70%. http://www.angrybearblog.com/2011/05/optimal-tax-rates-for-generating.html

    Another fact–every civilization find a way to distribute money downward or ends in tears/revolution/up against the wall. You’ll have to google that one. Try pretty much anything.

    Rents, people! Read your Adam Smith. Rich people stay rich by extracting money from the rest of us; not from the sweat of their brow. Also, somewhere between 40 and 80% of the wealth in the US is inherited, so it seems that there’s little work involved.

  109. small star on November 8, 2011 at 3:42 am

    Adam Smith, I’m willing to bet fiat money that you haven’t made it all the way through “Wealth of Nations”. Tell me about Gold.

  110. Cynthia L. on November 8, 2011 at 4:00 am

    “Why should successful Main Streeters pay for the sins of Wall Street?”

    Did you read my comment? Raising taxes <1% on the wealthy (including non-Wall Street wealthy of course) has nothing to do with "paying for sins" or other such nonsense. It is just a good policy decision. This was precisely the entire point of my most recent comment.

  111. Dan on November 8, 2011 at 6:48 am

    SP Bailey,

    I am not a troll. Do i think you’re full of crap? You bet. :P

  112. Dan on November 8, 2011 at 6:52 am

    Adam,

    I must have missed the part about how raising taxes on producers is a good thing in the multiple economics classes I aced.

    Check out the 1950s….seemed to work just fine. Oh and they paid their debts too!

  113. Dan on November 8, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Reaganomics works great for the wealthy. Sucks for the rest of us. Time to end Reaganomics.

  114. Jeremy on November 8, 2011 at 8:59 am

    “The honest rich in America could even be a considered contemporary examples of the widows mite (albeit a compelled version). They give more proportional to what they have than any country in the world. The ‘fair share’ argument has no merit whatsoever.”

    Please, for the love of up being up and down being down, somebody close this thread.

  115. Dan on November 8, 2011 at 9:08 am

    sadly, closing this thread won’t stop such idiocy, Jeremy, from reappearing. It’s amazing how those who call themselves followers of Christ could so badly misunderstand the “widow’s mite” analogy.

  116. Curtis Pew on November 8, 2011 at 9:14 am

    I think it’s singularly unfortunate that Sis. Smith chose to spin this quote by a true prophet to as supporting a particular political position. If nothing else, this comment thread has shown how poorly that often turns out.

    Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Whenever approached with questions that had political implications He deflected them. It’s usually pretty easy to apply His teachings and the teachings of His prophets to our individual behavior, but extrapolating to public policies is not so straightforward and seems to always lead to contention.

    There’s nothing wrong with holding strong political opinions, but trying to use gospel principles to attack those who we disagree with is not consistent with the gospel.

  117. Raymond Takashi Swenson on November 8, 2011 at 9:22 am

    RE: Mitt Romney and Bain Capital–My understanding is that they bought companies that were failing, headed downhill toward bankruptcy and !00% layoffs, and reorganized them so they could continue in operation as viable businesses and taxpaying employers. Saying that the reorganization process involved layoffs of many employees needs to be compared with the fact that the jobs of other employees were saved, and as businesses continued to operate, new jobs were created, so that the net number of employees times months worked ended up being larger after a couple of years.

    A company that is losing money can be self-righteous about not laying off anyone, and then take along all its employees as they ride the plane into the ground. Or it can realistically try to keep some of its people employed by reorganizing itself so it can make a profit, attract investment, and keep going, with the potential to expand again in the future and hire more people.

    I was laid off when the law firm I worked for found irself hit hard by the Japanese recession in the nineties. I had been with them just a year and had not become a net profit center. If they had kept me on, they would have gone under even faster. But the downsizing that year kept many of my friends at the firm employed a few more years. Fortunately I was able to find a new job within a month, but I know that the vast majority of the unemployed are decent hardworking people who are trying to find new jobs.

    And my guess is that the vast majority of people commenting here have fasted and donated lots of their own funds, even in their own poverty, to help the poor, and have labored on Church farms to raise corn and wheat and cows, and canned foods for Deseret Industries for distribution to Bishops Storehouses, and bought second hand goods at DI stores and contributed more of them, to provide jobs. As typical Mormons you have also donated to ither charities, and you have been honest in paying your taxes that end up paying my military pension. We can disagree about the best public policies to help the poor, but I don’t think we disagree that much about being unselfish and caring about our neighbors.

  118. Jeremy on November 8, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Curtis: Julie really didn’t have to spin much at all to apply this quote to the present day. Those defending the acquisition of wealth as inherently virtuous and those lacking wealth as inherently lazy have had to spin much faster, harder, and erratically to defend their position against this quote than Julie did by presenting it in the first place.

    The Book of Mormon makes two things inescapably clear: 1) we’re all beggars, so blaming the poor for their poverty is wrong, and 2) one of the most consistent signs of a corrupt society is the widening of the gap between rich and poor.

    That’s not a political position, it’s a doctrinal one.

  119. Stephen M (Ethesis) on November 8, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Russell Arben Fox — thanks for getting that.

    palerobber — many in the Tea Party are like Annegb, greeters at Wal-Mart and the like — and very much resent what they see as corporate welfare and corporate fraud enabled by the government to allow looting of the common good by the rich and powerful. Alison Moore Smith otherwise has it right.

    It is much too much simpleminded to rely on stereotype and false rumor than reality, and you seem to have done that.

    Raymond Takashi Swenson — nicely said.

  120. Stephen M (Ethesis) on November 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

    small star — would be nice if they read their basic econ texts. Been a long time since I’ve reviewed the basics, I might do that. I do review basic education and foundational issues from time to time.

    But, back when I took the GRE, I had finished one upper division econ class (on my way to the departmental honor) and I got an 800 on the advanced econ portion of it.

    Shouldn’t take that much work for some people.

    As for Dan, David O. McKay and many of his family were good Democrats.

    But, as Cameron N points out, not everyone is a looter. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn pointed out, the search for wreckers and looters can destroy more in a society than anything else, handled without understanding.

  121. Adam Egan on November 8, 2011 at 9:38 am

  122. Julie M. Smith on November 8, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Well, I think we’ve reached the point of no return on this one, so I’m going to close the party down.

    Thanks for all of the comments, even the crazy ones!

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