We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
Gordon B. Hinckley:
It is a miracle to me that the Church is able to accomplish so much. It is a miracle made possible by faith, under a plan which the Lord himself established for the financing of his kingdom. Tithing is so simple and straightforward a thing. The principle, as it applies to us, is actually set forth in one verse of section 119 of the Doctrine and Covenants. (D&C 119:4) That fourth verse consists of thirty-five words. Contrast that with the cumbersome and complex tax codes enacted and enforced by governments. In the one case it is a brief statement from the Lord, the payment left to the individual and motivated by faith. With the other it is a tangled web created by men and enforced by law.
Neal A. Maxwell:
The living of one protective principle of the gospel is better than a thousand compensatory governmental programs—which programs are, so often, like “straightening deck chairs on the Titanic.”
Bruce R. McConkie:
There are today .. so-called liberals who think the problems of religion can be solved by dialogues and discussions without reference to revelation; there are others who maintain the Church should follow the world’s course of social progress.
Joseph Fielding Smith:
The Lord revealed to Enoch the history of this earth and its inhabitants from the beginning to the end, but only a part of this has come to us because of the hardness of heart and unbelief. If the Lord should reveal to us all that He taught Enoch and other prophets, there would be many members of the church who would rebel and turn away in opposition to it. Enoch saw, after the flood, men forgetting God and rebelling against light and truth, setting up their own governments in defiance of the laws of God.
This is in harmony with the ninth article of faith. The question for us is whether we are willing to receive all the truth that God may reveal or whether we stick with that which we may prefer:
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
Marion G. Romney:
Now, my brothers and sisters, the handwriting is on the wall* “the interpretation thereof is sure.” (Daniel 2:45). Both history and prophecy – and I may add, common sense – bear witness to the fact that no civilization can long endure which follows the course charted by bemused manipulators and now being implemented as government welfare programs all around the world.
The inalienable rights of the U.S. Constitution were given by inspiration from God and is for “The rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles” (D&C 101:77). They belongs to all mankind (D&C 98:5). The Fifth Amendment states that: “No person shall .. be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” The right to private property is an inalienable divine right that is violated in societies where wealth is redistributed through state taxation. It wasn’t the Lord’s intention that welfare should be redistributed through the state. When Heber J. Grant was President of the Church, he said that welfare “Is essentially a neighbor to neighbor obligation. It is not a function of civil government.” (See Heber J. Grant below).
The Lord respects the right to private property, which he himself has given to all people. It is our right to share our wealth with others according to our own will and in accordance with the law of the gospel.
Apostle Albert E. Bowen said that we do not live the law of the gospel when our wealth is redistributed through public taxation. He said that the donor becomes not a voluntary giver, but a compelled giver and that the character building value which attends voluntary responses to the cry of need is lost under such a system. (See Albert E. Bowen and Ezra Taft Benson below).
The French economist Frédéric Bastiat said:
When a portion of wealth is transferred from the person who owns it – without his consent and without compensation, and whether by force or by fraud – to anyone who does not own it, then I say that property is violated that an act of plunder is committed.
Howard W. Hunter:
Under a free enterprise economy, little more than 6 percent of the population has produced nearly half of the world’s goods. We can today best wage a war on poverty by working on the roots of prosperity, not by sapping their vital strength. To sap, the self-reliant spirit of enterprising independent souls in the development of a welfare state can bring only “poverty equally divided.” When the responsibility for their own welfare is completely shifted from the shoulders of individuals and families to the state, a lethal blow is struck at both the roots of our prosperity and our moral growth.
James R. Otteson:
The welfare state seems to have clouded this central moral principle.* Indeed, it seems it has entirely inverted it, even institutionalized its perversion. It has created a legal apparatus that allows, even encourages, some to live at others’ expense, and this apparatus has given rise to the feeling among increasingly many people that they have the right–that they are “entitled,” perhaps as a matter of “social justice”–to live at others’ expense.
The erosion of [our] freedom is mainly in the areas of government regulation of [our] economic activities and appropriation through heavy taxation of a major part of the fruit of [our] labors for the purpose of giving [our] property to other individuals. If [we] would look in those directions, [we] would easily find many major ways in which freedom in the United States is being rapidly diminished. This rapid diminution of freedom in the United States arises out of adoption of a philosophy that it is the responsibility of government to promote prosperity through regulation of the economy and to look after the welfare of the people instead of just protect them in their freedom. Socialism is the word usually used today to describe this philosophy.
Joseph L. Wirthlin:
Men are being taught a demoralizing, and might I say a most degenerate doctrine that the world owes them a living without physical or mental effort upon their part. There has been nothing in history which has undermined and destroyed the moral fabric of the people more than this false doctrine, not a new doctrine, for it had its inception in the council of heaven when the Son of the Morning, Lucifer, proposed to save mankind without any effort upon their part. Men are encouraged to lean upon the government for their sustenance rather than to depend upon their God-given powers to create by the sweat of their brow and the work of their hands the necessities of life.
Neal A. Maxwell:
It remains to be seen whether or not our nation can tame big government. There is, frankly, no precedent for dismantling, even partially, a welfare state, especially in a peaceful and constitutional way. Such a Goliath will not go quietly to surgery.
Heber J. Grant:
According to the gospel plan under which the Church is established and operates, the care of the widow, the orphan, and the poor, is a Church function, is a part of the brotherhood of man which underlies our whole social and religious life. As God’s children all, and as brothers and sisters in Christ, we must as a matter of spiritual responsibility and pursuant to positive divine command care for the helpless, the unfortunate, and the needy. Furthermore, it is essentially a neighbor to neighbor obligation. It is not a function of civil government. This is fundamental.
It is significant to note that about this same time, when the Lord established his way of caring for those in need, the “world,” or government, introduced its form of dole assistance—a counterfeit alternative to the Lord’s way. In most instances, the world’s way dismissed the principle of individual work and family responsibility and adopted the philosophy that “the government will take care of our needs” or “the government owes us a living.” Individual and family initiative was supplanted by government handouts. The true spirit of love for our neighbor and concern for others as taught by the Savior had been generally ignored. A brief look at statistics highlights how far government has taken us down the road toward bankruptcy while at the same time destroying the will and incentive to work and earn what is received by the sweat of our brow. The total cost of government welfare assistance in the United States has risen from $5.7 billion in 1945 to $177 billion in 1975—a thirty-fold increase. (See Reshuffling Income—Government’s Growing Role, U.S. News & World Report, 4 Aug. 1975, pp. 32–33).
David B. Haight:
What has this monstrous thing called government welfare done to the people? Today we have second- and third-generation welfare recipients. Millions have learned how to live off the government. Children are growing up without knowing the value and the dignity of work. The government has succeeded in doing what the Church welfare program seeks to prevent. The Lord’s way is different from government programs. The inspired Church welfare plan is administered on the principle that an individual is responsible to care for himself where his resources are not adequate, family members are to assist. Where the family is unable to meet the needs of the individual, the Church stands ready to help. The Lord’s way emphasizes individual work and responsibility and encourages people to help themselves.
Spencer W. Kimball:
With numerous others, I am greatly disturbed at the rapid move of our government to socialism and what seems to be an approach toward dictatorship with a controlled Supreme Court, the administration continues to impose more and more demands upon the people…Taxes are becoming back-breaking, expenditure and waste are alarming. The Church must remain independent and furnish its own funds for all its own adventures and projects. The government seems too anxious to give, give, give to the poor, to the aged, to the schools, to everyone, and blinded people feel they are getting something, whereas they pay it to the government so that the government can after great overhead expense return a part of it to the people. And every time a gift returns to the people-a so-called gift-it comes with fetters binding and tying and enslaving. For every block of funds given to the people, they lose a bigger block of liberty.
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.
Ezra Taft Benson:
Basic to our understanding of the Constitution is that governments should have only limited powers.…It cannot claim the power to redistribute money or property nor to force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will.
Ezra Taft Benson:
It has been fundamental to our way of life that charity must be voluntary if it is to be charity. Compulsory benevolence is not charity. Today’s egalitarian are using the federal government to redistribute wealth in our society, not as a matter of voluntary charity, but as a matter of right.
George Albert Smith:
Consider the condition in the world, the number who are determined to take from the rich man not what belongs to themselves, but that which belongs to the others. God has permitted men to get wealth, and if they obtained it properly, it is theirs, and he will bless them in its use if they will use it properly .. We must not fall into the bad habits of other people. We must not get into the frame of mind that we will take what the other man has. Refer back to the ten commandments, and you will find one short paragraph, “Thou shalt not covet.” (Exodus 20:17) That is what is the matter with a good many people today. They are coveting what somebody else has when as a matter of fact, many of them have been cared for and provided with means to live by those very ones from whom they would take away property.
Thomas Jefferson taught that government should be prevented “from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of caring for them.” The Lord said quite succinctly, “Thou shall not be idle for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.” Nevertheless, under the pretense of caring for the less fortunate, government has frequently made appropriations from the “haves” to the “have-nots.” This has always been contrary to teachings of the Lord and his prophets.
Howard W. Hunter:
The only way we can keep our freedom is through our personal righteousness – by handling that freedom responsibly. We are our brother’s keeper (Moses 5:32-34). We must be concerned for the social problems of today. We must take that responsibility upon ourselves according to the gospel plan but not according to the socialistic plan. You know that it is vain and foolish for a doctor to criticize the symptoms of a disease and refuse to work upon the roots. So, also, it is superficial to only criticize socialism and the welfare state and the many other evil “isms” growing up among us unless we work upon the roots.
J. Reuben Clark:
We are constantly urged to adopt policies supposedly new and untried and discovered by our intellectual pseudo giants who either do not know their history or are deliberately misrepresenting it. The first Roman Code ever framed in the history of Rome—the Theodosian Code of 438 A.D. – contained provisions, as summarized by scholars, including such ‘modern’ problems as price fixing, black markets, excessive taxation, socialized medicine, conscription of labor, anti-Semitism, inflation, corruption in government bureau, the relation between church and state. Students of modern social and economic legislation, state controls, and the development of the ‘welfare state’ will find that many modern concepts and practices derive from the patterns outlined in the Code.
Marion G. Romney:
As our modern societies follow the course which led to the fall of Rome and other civilizations which succumbed to the deceptive lure of the welfare state and socialism, I think it not inappropriate for me to emphasize again the Lord’s plan for the temporal salvation of His mortal children .. We must be careful not to adopt the commonly accepted practice of expecting the government or anyone other than ourselves to supply us with the necessities of life. The practice of coveting and receiving unearned benefits has now become so fixed in our society that even men of great wealth, and possessing the means to produce more wealth, are expecting the government to guarantee them a profit. Elections often turn on what the candidates promise to do for voters from government funds. This practice, if universally accepted and implemented in any society, will make slaves of its citizens .. Let us work for what we need. Let us be self-reliant and independent. Salvation can be obtained on no other principle. Salvation is an individual matter, and we must work out our own salvation, in temporal as well as in spiritual things.
Howard W. Hunter:
From my own experience in business and as a lawyer and church worker, and from my firsthand observations in this country and other countries of the world, there appears to me to be a trend to shift responsibility for life and its processes from the individual to the state. In this shift, there is a basic violation of the law of the harvest or the law of justice. The attitude of “something for nothing” is encouraged. The government is often looked to as the source of wealth. There is a feeling that the government should step in and take care of one’s needs, one’s emergencies, and one’s future.
Harold B. Lee:
Now, keep in mind with all the crowding in of the socialistic reform programs that are threatening the very foundation of the Church, we must never forget what the Lord said, “that the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world” (D&C 78:14). Whenever we allow ourselves to become entangled and have to be subsidized from government sources—and we think that it’s the expedient way to do business in this day—or when we yield to such pressures, I warn you that government subsidies are not the Lord’s way and if we begin to accept, we are on our way to becoming subsidized politically as well as financially.
We are placed on this earth to work and the earth will give us a living .. I shall raise my voice as long as God gives me sound or ability, against the communistic idea that the government will take care of us all, and that everything belongs to the government .. It is wrong! No wonder, in trying to perpetuate that idea, that men become anti-Christ because those teachings strike directly at the doctrines of the Savior. No government owes you a living. You get it yourself by your own acts – never by trespassing upon the rights of your neighbor, never by cheating him. You put a blemish upon your character the moment you do.
Marion G. Romney:
Many programs have been set up by well-meaning individuals to aid those who are in need. However, many of these programs are designed with the shortsighted objective of “helping people,” as opposed to “helping people help themselves.” Our efforts must always be directed toward making able-bodied people self-reliant .. The practice of coveting and receiving unearned benefits has now become so fixed in our society that even men of wealth, possessing the means to produce more wealth, are expecting the government to guarantee them a profit. Elections often turn on what the candidates promise to do for voters from government funds. This practice, if universally accepted and implemented in any society, will make slaves of its citizens. We cannot afford to become wards of the government, even if we have a legal right to do so. It requires too great a sacrifice of self-respect and in political, temporal, and spiritual independence. In some countries, it is extremely difficult to separate earned from unearned benefits. However, the principle is the same in all countries: We should strive to become self-reliant and not depend on others for our existence.
Marion G. Romney:
We here in the United States, in converting our government into a social welfare state, have ourselves adopted much of socialism. Specifically, we have to an alarming degree adopted the use of the power of the state in the control and distribution of the fruits of industry. We are on notice, according to the words of the President, that we are going much further, for he is quoted as saying:
“We’re going to take all the money we think is unnecessarily being spent and take it from the ‘haves’ and give it to the ‘have-nots.'” (Congressional Record, p. 6142, Remarks of the President to a Group of Leaders of Organizations of Senior Citizens in the Fish Room, March 24, 1964).
J. Reuben Clark Jr.:
“Thou shalt not steal” and “thou shalt not covet” came from the thunders of Sinai. When government was organized for the protection of all, it became necessary to take some of the property of each for the joint benefit of all. Government is a joint enterprise for the joint welfare. Sound government has the purpose prescribed for it in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States. But when government goes beyond these purposes and undertakes to clothe and to feed its society and then begins to take John’s property without compensation to feed James and clothe him, while James lolls in unnecessary public office or lazes away his time at home or loafs all day on the street corner, then this is making John work to support James in idleness, and this is the old-time slavery. You may try to hide this ugly fact of slavery or dress it up, or disguise it, you may call it by all sorts of fancy, high-sounding names, but the fact remains it is slavery. And slavery is an anachronism in today’s human society, a reversion to an abandoned type, a setting up of an outgrown, outworn system that will lead, as always, to the wiping out of the people who practice it. The ages of the past are filled with this constant human experience. The earth belongs to him only who works for it. Neither nature nor God gives something for nothing. Work must be done for whatever man has.
Ezra Taft Benson:
History teaches that when individuals have given up looking after their own economic needs and transferred a large share of that responsibility to the government, both they and the government have failed. At least twenty great civilizations have disappeared. The pattern is shockingly similar. All, before their collapse, showed a decline in spiritual values, in moral stamina, and in the freedom and responsibility of their citizens. They showed such symptoms as deficit spending, excessive taxation, bloated bureaucracy, government paternalism, and generally a rather elaborate set of supports, controls, and regulations, affecting prices, wages, production, and consumption.
Ezra Taft Benson:
Increasing numbers of Americans are subscribing to the myth that you can get something for nothing—as long as the government is footing the bill. In fact, they believe it is the duty of government to take care of them, from the womb to the tomb. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Everything we get from the government, we pay for in debilitating taxes. Everything the government gives to the people, it must first take from the people.
J. Reuben Clark Jr.:
Both history and prophecy – and I may add, common sense – bear witness to the fact that no civilization can long endure which follows the course charted by bemused manipulators and now being implemented as government welfare programs all around the world .. Babylon shall be destroyed, and great shall be the fall thereof. (See D&C 1:16) .. But do not be discouraged. Zion will not go down with her, because Zion shall be built on the principles of love of God and fellowman, work, and earnest labor, as God has directed.