Quotes by Albert E. Bowen:
The goal has always been to encourage individual enterprise and thrift and the establishment of people on a self-sustaining basis, rather than to encourage dependence and a looking to others for what they might properly provide for themselves .. The exhilaration of spirit that has come from voluntary help to others and from sustaining themselves by their own effort has filled with a living meaning in their own lives the incontrovertibly true dictum credited to the Savior: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
These systems rely for their financial resources upon public treasuries which are fed out of the taxation of the people. The donor thus becomes not a voluntary giver but a compelled giver. Between him and the beneficiaries of his contribution there is no bond, hence the character building value which attends voluntary responses to the cry of need is lost. He has paid his taxes and is through, experiencing none of the exhilaration of spirit which floods the being of the voluntary donor to the relief of distress. On the other side the beneficiary of aid paid under the mandate of law is all too likely to forget the sense of gratitude which should well up in the heart of one who receives voluntarily rendered succor. Instead he is all too apt to fall into the habit of thinking that he is getting only what is his personal right, and in that spirit to become demanding and grasping for more and greater bestowals at the expense of a proper sense of thankfulness.
Nothing but a revolution in human behavior and a reappraisal of what is enduring in values can rescue us from seemingly impending chaos. There must be a reorientation of life around spiritual verities if individual or national integrity is to be saved. This miracle can be wrought only in the hearts of men. Laws on the statute books howsoever multiplied can never work it. No amount of force which it is possible for human ingenuity to devise or impose can ever introduce a regenerating influence into the human soul. I know of only one power that can do it, the power of a revived living faith and an acceptance of the anciently declared truth that to be saved man must be born again, purged and cleansed. This is one of the messages of religion to this age.
In this day principles and practices and institutions and beliefs, grown venerable with age, are cast aside with contemptuous abandon, often for no other reason than that they are old. We have even invented some names for those who refuse to throw overboard the principles by which they have lived and flourished. In the language of the day, no doubt, James and Paul would be called reactionaries, anti- liberals, non-progressives. It would be easily demonstrable that most of the supposedly new and progressive offerings of the hour are in fact age-old and have been tried and found delusive and been thrown into the discard in the far-distant past. Their advocates so far from pointing the way to progress are the real reactionaries, leading back to discredited failures of long ago. I have a notion that the reactionary or progressive quality of a doctrine should be determined by the soundness or lack of soundness of the principle it embodies and not by its age. Take for instance the Ten Commandments.
No government – federal, state, or municipal – has any money or anything else out of which to bestow bounty, except what it first takes out of the pockets of its individual citizens. It follows that whenever any one, “aged,” or indigent from other causes, takes help out of the public treasury, he is indirectly reaching round and taking money out of someone else’s pocket—not unlawfully, to be sure, but still so taking it. Has anybody, except under real necessity, any moral right to do that? .. Many hard working people find their taxes a heavy burden. They pay them out of sacrifice, bordering sometimes on deprivation. Is there any sanction in gospel principles or teachings, or in the ordinary codes of honor or fairness of dealing which will say to such a one that he must bear this burden for the benefit of another just as well able to work as he? … No one ever gets something for nothing, the recipient always pays if not in money, then in forfeiture of some invaluable right or freedom.
A change has come, due to religious decline, and people are no longer in general agreed that man is an immortal soul nor destined to eternal salvation. What formerly were programs for attaining an accepted end cease to be such for there is no acceptance of that end. Programs, particularly political programs, have accordingly usurped the place of ends and have instead of being means become ends or goals in themselves. Thus politics instead of being programs have become religions, filling the void made by the discarding of the ancient faith. “Political doctrines such as Fascism and Communism assume for the 20th Century the status which religious doctrines possessed in the nineteenth.”
There must be something tremendously important about work in the scheme of things pertaining to man’s salvation because the Lord lays such heavy stress upon it. He exalts labor both by dignifying with the stamp of His approval him who performs it and by condemning idleness in the severest terms—almost to the extent of making it a test of worthiness for membership in his Church. “Let every man be diligent in all things. And the idler shall not have a place in the Church, except he repent and mend his ways.” (D&C 75:29) .. Idleness is linked by Him with evil in such way as to indicate the relationship of cause and effect between them. “Now, I, the Lord am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them and their children also are growing up in wickedness they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness. These things ought not to be, and must be done away from among them wherefore let my servant Oliver Cowdery carry these sayings to the land of Zion (D&C 68:31-2). In no uncertain terms the Lord laid upon every able man the duty to work for what he got. “Thou shalt not p. 384 be idle for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.” (D&C 42:42) And even the poor “who will not labor with your own hands” were under special reproof. (D&C 56:17)
There is no such thing as getting something for nothing. That cannot be done. The individual may seem to obtain gratuities out of the treasury without giving anything in return. But that is a delusion. In the first place, somebody had to work to accumulate the taxable property and earn the income from which the money is taken in the form of taxation and put into the treasury. There is no other way for it to get there. It is the fruit of someone’s toil. But besides and beyond this, the individual, or state or municipality which takes anything from the Federal Treasury always finds certain conditions attached. The government demands as a condition of the gift certain supervisory rights, or the right to prescribe enabling conditions. Thus, the recipient gives, if not money, something which may be infinitely more precious. “The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.” (Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America 2:339). He has been compelled – or IT has in case of a subordinate governmental unit – to exchange some freedom of action, to part with a degree of independence and to recognize a degree of direction from another never before owed.