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Befriending the U.S. Constitution

I strongly believe that in the U.S., politics and religion are on a collision course as the just and holy principles ? that should be employed to maintain the Constitution continue to deteriorate. This coming storm hopefully leads us to ask ourselves what part the Lord would have us play. Our leaders have counseled us that everyone who is eligible should educate themselves and then vote for good and wise ? people to hold public office. Some feel the call to run for office; others heed the call to teach others or gently and meekly persuade. No matter what the capacity, I believe each Latter-day Saint has a mission and duty related to the politics and government of his or her homeland. As we set out to discover that mission I believe it ?s vitally important that we understand that the Lord has been very clear on what we are to base our political philosophy on the Constitution He established.

From what I have read, studied, and pondered I believe the Constitution is in serious danger. I am certainly not the first to have this worry. Speaking at general conference in October 1942, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., a member of the First Presidency, said:

You and I have heard all our lives that the time may come when the Constitution may hang by a thread. I do not know whether it is a thread or a small rope by which it now hangs, but I do know that whether it shall live or die is now in the balance.
I have said to you before, brethren, that to me the Constitution is a part of my religion ? It is a part of my religion because it is one of those institutions which God has set up for His own purposes ?because under no other government in the world could the Church have been established as it has been established under this government.

That ?s a strong message for us today. In 1942 one of our greatest constitutional scholars said that he didn ?t know if the Constitution hung by a rope or a thread. Some might say: it must have hung by a rope, because he asked the question over 60 years ago and the Constitution is obviously still holding on. ? I would only suggest that the thickness of the rope is perhaps not as important as the accelerating rate of the fraying of constitutional fiber that has occurred in the interim. That acceleration gives us urgent reason to work as one to save the Constitution from destruction.

I believe much of the Constitutional deterioration we ?re experiencing is fueled by those who lust for power. In the beginning of our country ?s history, the federal government did very little because it adhered strictly to its constitutional mandate. The last century though brought a huge expansion of extra-constitutional federal government power; most that power was not accomplished as prescribed by the Constitution, but was usurped by degrees by the executive, legislators, and judges in the name of stopping the depression, the advance of communism, or any one of a number of other threats, real or perceived.

This is a similar circumstance to what Captain Moroni and Pahoran faced when the Nephite democracy hung in the balance:

And Amalickiah was desirous to be a king; and those people who were wroth were also desirous that he should be their king; and they were the greater part of them the lower judges of the land, and they were seeking for power. Moroni 46:4

As in Captain Moroni ?s day, we are living in a time when government functions are being subverted by a relative few “seeking for power,” power that used to reside with the people.

And there were many in the church who believed in the flattering words of Amalickiah, therefore they dissented even from the church ? Moroni 46:7

Many today have in like manner been deceived by flattering words and have been deluded into believing that large government programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are constitutional when they are not. And as in Captain Moroni ?s day, some have left the church over it.

There are also a multitude of flattering Amalickiahs in our day speaking to us from supposedly reputable news organizations, working hard to convince us that abortion is about choice and that homosexual marriage is about lifestyle. The church has taken positions on these traditional moral issues and it behooves all of us to look inside ourselves to see if we will dissent from the church when tested by political conflict and found on the wrong side of the issue. President Hinckley spoke about members ? loyalty to the church from the pulpit at General Conference in April, 2003:

Now may I say a word concerning loyalty to the Church… The Church will not dictate to any man, but it will counsel, it will persuade, it will urge, and it will expect loyalty from those who profess membership therein ?

In 1933, there was a movement in the United States to overturn the law which prohibited commerce in alcoholic beverages. When it came to a vote, Utah was the deciding state.
I was on a mission, working in London, England, when I read the newspaper headlines that screamed, “Utah Kills Prohibition.”

President Heber J. Grant, then President of this Church, had pleaded with our people against voting to nullify Prohibition. It broke his heart when so many members of the Church in this state disregarded his counsel.

It is my hope and prayer that we will all be found on the Lord ?s side of the battles to be fought in the latter days and that we all seek and find our mission in befriending the constitutional law of the land. ?

{ 52 comments… add one }

  • facethemusic August 19, 2007, 9:08 pm

    large government programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are constitutional when they are not.

    Michael, could you explain this for those of us who may be less learned in these things?
    I remember this chapter in your book– you listed some agencies and programs that the government has established that you say are unconstitutional. (Not necessarily that all of them aren’t needed, just that they weren’t formed legally/constitutionally.) If I remember correctly, you said that congress would vote to form an agency or program, (like “gee, the air is getting bad, let’s create an agency to clean up the air”. Then the agency makes laws/regulations, but THAT is unconstutional because the laws/regulations themselves weren’t made/voted on by the people/Congress, just the formation of the agency was. (Am I remembering this correctly or am I mixing it up?)
    So, what I’m not sure I understand is this: even if the EPA are the ones who came up with the Clean Air Act– didn’t Congress have to vote on that? So I’m not sure I understand where the unconstitutionality comes in. Or is it just that strict adherence to the Constiutional wouldn’t allow for government to be legislating “air”?
    What about oversight committees, isn’t that kind of what their job is? To make sure that agencies/programs are following protocol and keeping everything on the up and up?
    (Of course, that’s assuming that the oversight committees are actually doing their jobs and are on the “up and up” themselves.)
    Anyway– could you explain, maybe in a little more detail HOW Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are unconstitutional? Is it the WAY they were formed, or that constitutionally they should never have BEEN formed? Is it that it shouldn’t be something run by federal government but by state government? Is it that the constitution and/or Bill of Rights doesn’t say anything about providing healthcare or money for retirees? I guess I’m just not sure what it IS exactly that makes them unconstitutional. And don’t misunderstand.. I think Social Security is a crock. We shouldn’t be FORCED to give our money over to a government owned/run savings account. (Okay, so that in itself sounds like it should be unconstitutional right there…. )

  • Lewis_Family August 19, 2007, 9:39 pm

    I think S.S. and the Meds are great programs. So it is a little enforced charity, I think if they left it up for voluntary people would slack off the responsibility to take care of our poor and elderly. But that is my opinion, and others are entitled to theirs.

  • facethemusic August 20, 2007, 5:17 am

    Lewis, my beef with Social Security is that they SAY they’re taking my money to save it for me when I retire, but I could save it myself and earn more money off of it. Plus, when I die they only give half of it to my spouse and they keep the rest.
    Also, if you’re unmarried, or your kids are over 18, they keep your money. Your kids don’t inherit your “savings” that the government kept for you. That’s MY money that I earned– I’ve already paid loads of it to them in taxes. Then they take MORE and say they’re saving for me, but they can’t guarantee that I’ll get it back (economists on both sides say SS will be bankrupt), and they won’t give it to my children in full when I die, and they won’t give it to them at all if they’re over 18. On top of that , I have to work for more than 10 years in order to qualify to get SS payments. If I only work for 9 years, then I don’t get any of my money back– even though they forcefully took it out of every paycheck for the 9 years I DID work, under the guise that they were saving it for me. It’s pretty dishonest.
    As for the Medicaid and such — having read the book, I know that Michael isn’t saying that we shouldn’t have a way to provide for the healthcare of the needy- just that the WAY it’s been set up is unconstitutional.
    And actually– you’d probably be shocked to know that even the prophets have talked about the evils of Social Security and the welfare programs of the government. Yes, from the pulpit in General Conference. Again, not that we SHOULDN’T have programs to take care of the elderly or the poor, but that the way the government has done it, by redistributing money they’ve forcibly taken from others is wrong. (When I get my book back, I can put up the quotes if you’d like. It’s being borrowed at the moment.)

  • east-of-eden August 20, 2007, 7:32 am

    I think alot of what we have today could be deamed “unconstitutional” but I think what you’ve missed Michael is that the Constitution is a living document and things like social security, medicare and other programs can be created by way of the elastic clause in the Constitution (see Artivle 1, Section 8, Clause 18). The Preamble also makes it clear that one of the functions of our government is to “promote the general welfare”. This is not to say that there are not people hungering for power–look at our current congress and our idiot president. Generally I am against most social programs–however they do serve a purpous in our society. There are people who cannot rely on family, who have no one to turn to. Would you stop the free lunch program in public schools and let kids go hungry because it might be unconstitutional?

    Now, with that said, I think Social Security and medicare, while necessary, are both horribly mismanaged and were set up wrong in the first place. However, I do believe that we have these programs and they fall in line with what King Benjamin stated: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are in the service of your God.” These programs, though flawed, serve a segment of society that otherwise would suffer. My family has been able to use both of these programs for our grandparents and yonger cousins whose parents have died, such that they did not end up begging on the street. Sure it makes me mad that I will never see a dime of the money I’ve paid into the system over the years, but that’s the way it is.

  • Lewis_Family August 20, 2007, 9:38 am

    I’ll give you that, they seem to be totally mismanaged, but the idea and concepts behind the programs I think are great.

  • facethemusic August 20, 2007, 3:08 pm

    To be honest, the main problem for me with these programs is that there isn’t enough oversight. I’m pretty darn confidant that at LEAST half of the people who claim disability are NOT disabled to the point that they can’t work. They don’t work because the government will pay them to stay home. You know how I know this? Because about 97-98% of the time I go to the store all the handicapped parking is full and I have to park in a regular spot toward the back of the parking lot and roll my daughter in her wheelchair past rows and rows of cars.
    I see all these people getting in and out of their cars with NO problem. They’re not going into the store and getting one of those cart/wheelchairs, either. Very rarely is anyone actually visably disabled– having a hard time walking, using a cane or walker, etc.
    Explain how it is that people are at the gym working out, and have a handicapped sticker on their car? So they can run or walk on a tread mill but they can’t walk from their car to the front door?
    Explain how all these seniors have handicapped stickers, park in the handicapped spots at the mall and go in to speed walk 4 or 5 laps? They’re SO disabled that they need a handicapped parking space so that they won’t have to walk 100 feet from a regular parking spot to the front door, but they can do laps around the mall??
    I WORK in the school lunch program, and BELIEVE ME, about 75% of the families who get free lunch have the money, but the program doesn’t have any way of knowing that. They don’t investigate. So the kid comes through the line, gets his free lunch, while he’s holding his soda that he bought for $1, and 2 or 3 bags of chips he bought for 50 cents a piece and buys 4 cookies for a $1. The reduced lunch is only 40 cents– they can’t pay THAT either, even though they buy a soda and 2 cookies, EVERY SINGLE DAY??
    Sara used to be on Medicaid, when we first got out of the military and we lost our coverage.
    She got better care then. Her wheelchair was paid for –$11,000. Her chair is 11 years old. She needs a new one. But she doens’t have one, know why? Our insurance will only cover $1200 in “durable medical goods”. That’s it. So if my husband QUITS his job as a police officer and we both just sit at home then she could get back on Medicaid and get her new chair for free.
    This stuff is SOOOO messed up.

  • facethemusic August 20, 2007, 4:43 pm

    Would you stop the free lunch program in public schools and let kids go hungry because it might be unconstitutional?

    No- you don’t stop it, you redo it WITHIN constitutional bounds.

    the Constitution is a living document

    I hope Michael chimes in here pretty soon– this idea is actually something that he counters in his book. After reading it, I did a little research on this myself and have found quite a bit of evidence that supports his view that it is NOT a living document. I also found several quotes that point to the same thing, even by Supreme Court Justices, saying that it is NOT a living document.
    I think part of the problem is what people interpret “living document” to mean. It seems that the idea of a “living constitution” comes from the idea that amendments can be made. You pointed out the elastic clause, but the elastic clause says the Congress should “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution…powers vested by this Constitution” — The laws they make are supposed to be within the bounds set by the Constitution, not outside of them.
    It’s the idea that it’s a living document that allows judges to make the Constitution mean what they want it to mean, and with their interpretation, they legislate from the bench.
    I’ll see if I can find some of those quotes again…

    “Beware of those who claim that the Constitution is a living instrument because they are seeking justification for its violation. They claim that it evolves or changes as the peoples’ wants or needs change. They will call it outmoded, old-fashioned, antiquated, archaic, etc., trying to convince you that the Founders could not have foreseen the peoples’ needs so long ago. These people will support Constitutional changes resulting from Amendments, Supreme Court decisions, Presidential Proclamations or Voter Referendums.”

    ” The Constitution is an enduring document but not a ‘living’ one, and its meaning must be protected and not repeatedly altered to suit the whims of society”, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said in Milwaukee on Tuesday.
    “The idea of a “living Constitution” in which the meaning can be interpreted as society changes is “seductive,” he said.
    But Scalia also insisted that only his approach – interpreting the Constitution based on the Framers’ precise words and the meaning they intended at the time – can preserve the Constitution’s guiding principles.
    “The Constitution is not an organism,” the justice said, “it is a legal document.”

  • Lewis_Family August 20, 2007, 7:11 pm

    I wonder though if the weight of all those who do truly need these programs outweighs any counter argument one can come up with…

  • facethemusic August 20, 2007, 9:48 pm

    But Lewis, isn’t that sort of like saying “if a person REALLY is starving, how can you argue against the government barging into your house and taking your food to give to the starving person.”? Aren’t you saying that the ends justify the means? That as long as the truly needy person gets what they need, who cares how it happens, and who it might actually hurt?
    How many thousands of dollars have come from taxes my husband has paid over the past 20 years, to pay for someons ELSE’s healthcare, food etc, and we can’t get our daughter a wheelchair that fits her? The money that we’ve paid in taxes that give other people healthcare, food, government paid rent, etc could probably buy her new chair or at least cover a large chunk of it. And what’s REALLY sick about that, is that someone who ISN’T working, who’s sitting at home for whatever reason– justified or unjustified, can get their medical needs paid for in full on Medicaid, and Sara can’t get her chair, even though we’re both working. Now, if I quit my job and stay home, then she’ll qualify for Medicaid again, and she’ll get her chair for free instead of us having to save up for a few years. Do you see what I mean? The way the system is set up, it forcibly takes money from you, and gives it to someone else, even though you might really need it yourself. To make it worse, it PAYS for you to stay home and not work, while you benefit from someone ELSE’S work.
    So your statement above essentially says, “As long as Mary gets her food stamps, and she really needs them, then that outweighs any other argument. It’s okay to forcibly take from someone, and give it to someone else, as long as the ‘someone else” really needs it. AND, it’s okay to forcibly take from someone, and give it to someone else, even if they DON’T really need it, as long as every now and then it DOES land in the lap of someone who really does need it.”
    Honestly– can you imagine the Savior ever saying such a thing?
    I’m glad that fast offerings don’t work that way.

  • east-of-eden August 21, 2007, 7:41 am

    I see all these people getting in and out of their cars with NO problem. They’re not going into the store and getting one of those cart/wheelchairs, either. Very rarely is anyone actually visably disabled– having a hard time walking, using a cane or walker, etc.

    Handicaps extend beyond the realm of neededing a cane or a walker. My mother has debilitating asthma, she also has 2 artificial knees and one artificial hip, to look at her she walks just fine, after her surgeries, but walking from the back of a parking lot to the strore front kills her and she can barely breath. She uses the handicap sticker–not plate, when she is alone and needs to park her car.

    After reading it, I did a little research on this myself and have found quite a bit of evidence that supports his view that it is NOT a living document.

    I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one. I strongly believe, and after teaching American History for 5 years that the Constitution is a living document—otherwise our nation would have ended early on after the adoption of the Constitution. The fact that there are 27 amendments to meet the needs of a changing nation are the best evidence of the “living-ness” of the Constitution. And be thankful we have Amendment 19, that gives all of us ladies the right to vote. Amendments 13, 14, 15 guarantee voting rights, civil rights and the end of slavery to our nation. Amendment 24 abolished the poll tax, Amendment 26 allows 18yos to vote and so on. As the nation has changed so has the Constitution–it has grown to meet the changing nation.

  • Lewis_Family August 21, 2007, 11:21 am

    I wonder though, do you not have any family members or friends who do benefit from these programs, from all that money you have lost? Taxes are a part of life, things have to be paid for somehow, and it is something that you just have to come to means with. Life is never going to be perfect. Yes I know of some too who are far from disabled but are on disability and it is sad, but they will have to face that choice in their life later on and believe me, I would not want to be in their shoes on that judgement day. I know the “danged if you do danged if you dont” situation well, we qualified for medicaid for our first baby and not this one so it will be coming out of our pockets, but if my husband wouldn’t have taken the raise we would have still qualifed, now we barely break even, life goes on.

    So would you have it to let all starve because you don’t agree with feeding them? I think the good does outweigh the bad in many situations, and this would be one. I already stated it needs to be run better, some how make sure those who are needy and legal gets the funds, but as I also stated the world isn’t perfect so I doubt it will ever happen. But because it isn’t perfect you propose doing away with all the programs that had great intentions and still great outcomes?
    I just don’t agree, and it really doesn’t matter, because I don’t forsee the programs being done away with any time soon, so no worries on my part.

    No, I don’t see the Savior stating it in such a manner, but I do see Him being pleased when He see those of His children that do need the programs being taken care of. Tell me, if taxes were voluntary, would you pay them? It doesn’t sound so, and so no one would ever get the help that they needed because as much as people hate to look in the mirror, we are all greedy, selfish, self absorbed people. ( ok not all, but a big majoirty ) Not always on purpose, most of the time it is being lazy that makes us that way. But hey, agree to disagree sounds good to me :smile: because I know we could talk till we are blue in the face and no one’s opinion is going to change.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 21, 2007, 11:38 am

    You all bring up such great, valid, diverse opinions. Great.

    I like to look at the church welfare system. How does the church deal with this?

  • east-of-eden August 21, 2007, 12:30 pm

    The church evaluates each case individually. The bishop, who is in charge of the temporal welfare in your ward, (along with the RS pres sometimes) decides who gets what and how often. I know we had a family here in our ward who went on church assistance and the bishop told them no extras, they had to get rid of cable TV, cell phones, game systems, the extra car etc. The church will also only help you as a last resort–you have to have asked family, friends and the like before they will help you, and it’s made very clear that church assistance is very temporary.

  • Melinda August 21, 2007, 4:26 pm

    I’m in favor of treating the Constitution as a living document. It’s one of the shortest constitutions in the world, and one of the least specific. If it wasn’t a living, changing document, it would have broken down and become irrelevant years ago. I’ve read several books on Islamic history and the sturggles Islam is having in the modern world. I realized that one of the reasons Islam is having such a hard time is because the Koran is *not* a living document. It was progressive and innovative in 700 AD when it was given, but now it’s 1300 years out of date and there is no way to adapt it to a new world. I wouldn’t want the U.S. to try and live by the standards of colonial America, much as I admire our forefathers. The world has changed and we have to adapt, along with our Constitution.

    I am also fine with government interference in taking some of my wealth and redistristributing it to the poor. Left to myself, I wouldn’t worry about people who can’t pay their medical bills or who are disabled and can’t work. I wouldn’t take a big chunk of my income, interview potential recipients, and give it away to someone worthy. I’d just look around at my family and friends and think, “everyone looks like they’re doing all right,” and then keep it. If I did find someone in need, I’m just as likely to be hoodwinked as the government unless I’m going to do a whole lot of homework on the recipient’s background, work ethic, and family.

    The Church gets scammed too, but there aren’t any expose’s written about it. My Dad worked his whole life in the Church Welfare Dept, and people milk our system too, though not to the same extent that govt welfare gets milked. I still pay fast offerings and other donations. It’s easier and more efficient to give the money to someone who specializes in helping the needy rather than trying to help the needy all by myself.

    I think there are enough greedy people out there that if the govt backed off entirely from social programs, we wouldn’t have a utopia of people all pitching in to help each other. We’d have a situation like existed around the 1890s to 1920s, where there were uber-rich robber barons like the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers and Carnegies, and everyone else was suffocating in filthy little tenement houses with no sewage and instant ruin if the family breadwinner broke his arm. Those government social programs were instituted to meet a need that people were not able or willing to meet on their own. If every disabled person could move him/herself and the entire family in with wealthy relatives, we wouldn’t need disability insurance. But the fact of the matter is that if a working class person is injured, it’s quite likely all their friends and family are living paycheck to paycheck too.

    Who else wants to take on the burden of administering the distribution of resources to the poor, injured and elderly if the govt doesn’t do it? There is definitely room for improvement in the way those programs are administered, but it would be terrible to leave those people on their own. While there is fraud, there are also a lot of recipients who qualify for the help they’re getting. Better to help five people who are lying about their problems then to let one honest man starve. (Try to weed out the liars, but not at the expense of the honest one.)

    I see all these people getting in and out of their cars with NO problem. They’re not going into the store and getting one of those cart/wheelchairs, either. Very rarely is anyone actually visably disabled– having a hard time walking, using a cane or walker, etc.

    My aunt is another one of those people who is totally disabled but not visually disabled. She’s had 8 back surgeries, cannot lift more than 10 pounds, and can’t stand or sit for extended periods (she has to keep changing position). But after much therapy, she is able to walk into a store without hobbling. Thank goodness for worker’s compensation and disability insurance, which has allowed her to retain her independence and her dignity.

  • facethemusic August 21, 2007, 8:39 pm

    I’m being completely misunderstood, and I apologize for not speaking clearly enough.
    I’ll try to remedy that. :

    First– I understand that not every disability is visible. My mother in law has the same problem as your mother, Lewis. Severe asthma, on TOP of COPD. Believe me, the woman can barely breathe even in a sitting position. :) She NEEDS the handicapped parking. To me this is pretty simple– if you can’t even walk 100, 200 feet from a regular parking space to the front door of a business without severe pain, difficulty breathing, etc and/or the accessibility is difficult because you’re in a wheelchair, and being in such a low position makes it easier for you to be hit by car backing out because they can’t see you, then yes, you need handicapped parking.
    Your mother, like my mother in law, can’t get to the entrance of a shop without gasping for air– they need closer proximity. The minute my mother in law gets into the store, she has to get into one of those wheelchair/shopping cart things. She isn’t *suddenly* able to breathe perfectly fine the second she walks in the door and walk all around the store for an hour while pushing a cart loaded with groceries. And I imagine that your mother is the same way, right? If she can’t breath the distance from her car to the door, than surely she can’t breath well walking all around the store either. If I didn’t see her getting into a accessible cart, I’d see her having to stop and catch her breath several times in the aisles, she’d be winded trying to push her cart, etc.
    Do you see my point?
    My point was that MOST people who have handicapped placards are not so disabled that they need handicapped parking. And you CAN see this, despite the fact not every disability is immediately visible. If someone can walk all around the store unassisted, reach up to get things off shelves, bend down to take things off the bottom rack of the cart, and lift 24 packs of soda and heavy bags of dogfood onto the counter, then are they so disabled that they need to park 30 feet from the front door?
    Alot of people get a handicapped placard because they hurt their foot, had a surgery, etc, etc. That’s legitiate. But those are TEMPORARY tags for a reason. The problem is that people will continue to get the tags renewed (because too many doctors hand out the forms like candy) even though they don’t really need it.
    My own boss– love her to death– but she’s guilty of this. She had open heart surgery 5 years ago. Very serious. But this woman works a full time job, and is like a chicken with it’s head cut off at work. She NEVER stops. She never takes her breaks. Plus, she walks 3 miles everyday. Why in the WORLD does she need handicapped parking? If she can walk 3 miles everyday after working like a mad woman, doing heavy lifting etc, then clearly, she doesn’t need to park in a handicapped space, but that’s where she parks everyday. THAT’s what I’m talking about. People abuse the system because they think they’re entitled to it. And if having a heart surgery 5 years ago can classify her as “disabled” and guarantee her the closest parking space to the front door, then doggone it, she’ll call herself disabled… then go speed walk for 3 miles.
    Alot of people get handicapped placards because they drive their disabled mother or grandmother around. But they use it even when grandma isn’t in the car with them.
    Honestly– I’ll put the challange out there to anyone reading. Just pay attention. Watch people as they’re getting out of their cars, then pay attention when you see them shopping and walking around the store.

  • facethemusic August 22, 2007, 12:28 am

    — not trying to be a posting hog– just trying to catch up! :)


    I wonder though, do you not have any family members or friends who do benefit from these programs, from all that money you have lost?”

    Yes, I do. And as I pointed out, I’ve used some of them myself! But you’re entirely missing the point.
    I never said that people who REALLY COULD use the help SHOULDN’T get help. I’m saying I disagree with the METHOD of giving them help. I disagree with government FORCING me (anyone) to give up part of my ability to provide for my own family’s healthcare, to pay for someone else’s.


    Taxes are a part of life, things have to be paid for somehow, and it is something that you just have to come to means with….Tell me, if taxes were voluntary, would you pay them? It doesn’t sound so, and so no one would ever get the help that they needed because as much as people hate to look in the mirror, we are all greedy, selfish, self absorbed people.”

    Again, you’re entirely misunderstanding me and missing the point. I don’t have a problem with paying taxes.
    There’s nothing I “have to come to terms with” in regards to the necessity of taxes. I understand that ‘things have to be paid for” and that I’m obligated as a citizen of this country to contribute to that. Sometimes, I VOTE FOR certain tax increases! Isn’t that “volunteering” to pay them??


    So would you have it to let all starve because you don’t agree with feeding them?”

    I don’t have a problem with feeding the hungry. And I certainly don’t advocate letting anyone starve. Believe me, I’m one of those who would be the first one there to feed them. I drive my husband crazy because I give money to the homeless people who stand at street corners with signs saying they’re hungry.Sometimes I’ve just gone through a drive thru and handed them food. A couple times when I didn’t have money on me, I went home, put a loaf of bread and jars of peanut butter and jelly and a couple plastic knives and couple things of bottled water in a bag and gave them that.
    And remember… I’m the one that wrote the “Refusing the Good Samaritan” article. I’ve been down to a homeless shelter several times. I’m also the one who started the Community Service program at my kids school through the PTA. Every year we have a standing collection for coats and food for the homeless shelter. And when a family from the school has a crisis– such as time when a kid’s home burned down,
    and when another kids’ father was shot and killed– I’m the one who oragnizes the donations for them. I do these things voluntarily because I think it IS important to care for the needy, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc.
    In addition to paying fast offerings, we’ve given money to family and friends when they were in a crisis.
    When we didn’t have the money to share, we gave them food from our food storage. But we’ve handed people cash on several occasions. Nothing huge of course, we’re not loaded or anything, but we’ve handed friends $50 here and there when we had it to give. When my brother’s marriage fell apart and he wasn’t paying her any support, we sent her a little money from every paycheck for almost 6 months until the court started garnishing his wages.
    Please, please understand, I’m not saying all this to toot my own horn and make myself out to be a
    saint- I’m only telling you to dispel any idea that I’m a cold-hearted, selfish, greedy person who just wants to keep my money and wouldn’t give to the needy if the government wasn’t forcing me to. I would, and I do–often. Not just for family and friends, but for strangers as well. I just disagree with government forcibly taking from one, to give to another.

    ” I think there are enough greedy people out there that if the govt backed off entirely from social programs, we wouldn’t have a utopia of people all pitching in to help each other.”

    Melinda, this is the same idea that Lewis stated. That people wouldn’t help. But, you couldn’t be more wrong. Millions of Americans give to help the needy every year. Individuals,churches, businesses, organizations, charitable foundations, philanthropists, etc. Want to know the totals?
    2004 – $285.5 BILLION dollars
    2005 – $243 BILLION dollars
    2006 – $295 BILLION dollars
    BILLION, not million. And that’s just what got accounted for!!!! None of that was forced. It was all voluntarily and freely given. And I think that’s exactly the way it should be.

    Anyway– here are the quotes from General Conference reports,about welfare and wealth redistribution that I mentioned earlier. They even address the wrong-ness of forcing people to provide for others.

    Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1965, p. 123
    “Satan argued that men, given their freedom, would not choose correctly, therefore he would compel them to do right and save us all. Today, Satan argues that men given their freedom do not choose wisely; therefore a so-called benevolent few must establish the welfare government and force us into a greater socialistic society… No matter what you call it– communism, socialism or the welfare state, our freedom is sacrificed.
    We believe the gospel is the greatest thing in the world; why then do we not force people to join the Church… Because this is Satan’s way, not the Lord’s plan. The Lord uses persuasion and love”

    Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1968, p. 19
    “No one has the authority to grant such powers as welfare programs, schemes for redistributing the wealth, and activities that coerce people into acting in accordance with a prescribed code of social planning. Once government steps over this clear line…into the aggressive role of redistributing the wealth through taxation and providing so-called “benefits” to some of it’s citizens, it becomes a means for legalized plunder.”

  • facethemusic August 22, 2007, 7:48 am

    I know we could talk till we are blue in the face and no one’s opinion is going to change.

    And so, my final point– just to show I’m not closed-minded and that I won’t stick to my opinions to matter what as long as they suit me–Michael pointed out in his book that even handicapped and disability laws are not necessarily things that the federal government is supposed to be legislating either.
    (Hope you don’t mind me quoting you, Michael!)

    After making a list of the things the Constitution says the government IS supposed to do, and a list many of the agencies and functions that the federal government runs and funds through taxes, OUTSIDE of constitutionality, handicapped and disability laws being one of them, he says this:

    “In reading this list, please do not think that I am advocating that none of these issues be dealt with by government. We as a society need to be very concerned with education, welfare and taking care of the health of our citizens, but we should do it constitutionally, which means that they are handled by each individual state, and not by a far-off, yet every reaching federal government.”

  • Lewis_Family August 22, 2007, 9:15 am

    ps. I agree with the handi parking, it is considered handicap to be under 5 foot, so you can park close for being short, I think those are given out too freely.

  • Melinda August 22, 2007, 5:57 pm

    So the solution is to get the federal govt out of welfare and health care and let the states do it? Do all the state constitutions have clauses in them that allow them to handle welfare and health care that the federal constitution is missing?

    I guess I don’t see what solution you are advocating other than to get the federal govt out of welfare and health care and education. Who replaces them? What if the state constitution is patterned on the fed constitution (most of them are) and it isn’t constitutional for the state to handle those things either?

  • Alison Moore Smith August 22, 2007, 7:50 pm

    Melinda, it’s my understanding that the states have ALL powers not specifically restricted by the federal constitution. I’m probably now wording that correctly, but you know what I mean, I think. So why would the state constitutions have to specifically address anything in order to “allow” the state to handle welfare or any other issue?

  • facethemusic August 22, 2007, 8:51 pm

    Unless I’m mistaken, ALL state constitutions allow for the funding of these kinds of programs because they DO all use Medicaid- which is a part state-part federally funded program. Some states get more federal funding than others– the LEAST is 50%, but most get more. MediCARE on the other hand is completely paid for by federal funds.
    I admit that I don’t necessarily have the “solution” for the problem– but it seems to me that if Americans gave $295 BILLION dollars to charity last year, then paying for all this stuff with taxes isn’t necessary. Taxes should be the last resort and LEAST contributor to these programs. Right now they’re the only contributor. Plus, if people weren’t paying so much in taxes (much of which is paying for other people’s food, housing, medical care, etc) then they’d have more to pay for their own and THEY wouldn’t need assistance. People pay taxes to cover other people’s needs, and then need to turn around and get assistance themselves.
    Okay– example— I just pulled out my husband’s W2’s from several years ago— he was making right around $27 K a year– I purposely pulled out THOSE taxes, because I know that we were getting WIC and Medicaid back then. So that year, they took out just over $3,000 in federal taxes alone, that doesn’t include state taxes, and $425 of that $3,000 was just for Medicare.
    So, how stupid is it, to take $425 dollars out of my husband’s check to pay for the healthcare of elderly people when according to the government, WE’RE so poor that we qualify for Medicaid?
    Why are a part of my taxes paying for food and groceries for the food stamp program, when we were so “poor” we qualified for WIC, and were getting $60 worth of groceries every month?
    (2 gallons of milk, 1 pound of cheese, 3 boxes of cereal, a carton of eggs and 3 or 4 cans of juice, for each week) Do you see what I mean? If they weren’t taking money from our pockets to pay for other people’s milk, cheese, cereal, etc, then we could have bought our OWN milk, cheese, cereal etc, with our OWN money, instead of needing WIC to pay for it.

  • Melinda August 22, 2007, 9:01 pm

    Now that you mention it, I think I do remember hearing that, Alison. So the states would have the power. Good point.

    I still think there would be huge practical issues in trying to turn over welfare and health care to the states or private charity. That would be a big financial responsibility to give the states, so they would need more revenue. The fed govt could continue to collect the revenue through income taxes, and then parcel it out to the states. That would be a mess with determining which states get more money or less money, and then following up to make sure the welfare money wasn’t spent on something else. Or the fed govt could reduce income taxes so state income taxes could increase and the state could collect the revenue directly. That would be hard on states that don’t have an income tax. I don’t think the fed govt should compel a state to charge income taxes just to get their welfare money. Those states without income taxes would have to raise sales taxes by quite a bit.

    Then there would be the issue of having 50 different welfare and health care standards. If a stingy state bordered on a generous state, I can imagine lots of people who need help holding cardboard signs begging bus fare to get to a generous state. That could create some bad feelings between states. Some of that problem could be alleviated by requiring a residency period, like 6 months or so. But the states couldn’t impose real restrictions on the right to travel, as the right to travel is a constitutional right.

    Parceling out welfare and health care to 50 different administrators also loses any efficiency of economy. Fifty duplicate agencies in every state, working with 50 different sets of rules. Would they be able to work together enough to report welfare cheats across state lines? Which state would coordinate a national welfare cheat reporting system? The federal bureaucracy is big enough, but having 50 separate bureaucracies would be even bigger.

    I also see difficulties with turning over welfare and health care to private charities. While people do give generously to charity, not all that money gets to charity. Google ‘charity’ and ‘fundraising costs’ and read a few articles. Many of those fundraisers charge an 80% commission. So they raise $100,000 and give $20,000 to the charity and keep the $80,000. The citizen thinks they’ve helped relieve poverty, and actually they’ve paid a fundraiser mostly.

    Also, a private charity could be scammed just as easily as the govt, perhaps more so. The govt can ask for SS#s and check tax returns. A private charity can’t check tax returns, or have any other way to check someone’s income or work history. They’re pretty much depending on the recipient’s word that they need help. That’s how the Church’s welfare system works. The Church doesn’t check around to find out of the welfare recipient is lying. Would other private charities be able to check up on their recipients?

    A private charity’s funding is also at the mercy of the economy. During a recession or depression, donations would drop to next to nothing. The govt can borrow money and still provide benefits. A charity can only borrow limited amounts of money in carefully controlled circumstances, or risk running afoul of tax laws. So just when there are the most people in need, a private charity would have the least to give.

    I’m in favor of the federal government handling welfare and health care. I don’t think it’s perfect by any means, but it’s better than the mess we would have if the states or private charities tried to do it all.

  • facethemusic August 22, 2007, 9:02 pm

    it’s my understanding that the states have ALL powers not specifically restricted by the federal constitution. I’m probably now wording that correctly, but you know what I mean, I think.

    At my finger tips thanks to Michael’s book– :)

    Amendment X
    The powers not delgated to the United STates by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

    And from the Federalist Papers, #45
    “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal governemnt are few and defined. Thos which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

  • Melinda August 22, 2007, 9:29 pm

    facethemusic,

    I can certainly understand your frustration at paying taxes when you were eligible for federal aid anyway. But I think the fact you were paying and collecting at the same time is because the fed govt is big, so collections and disbursements are handled by different departments. The IRS handles tax collection. The Medicaid and WIC disbursements would be handled by an entirely different agency. It would probably be a big tangled mess to get an IRS agent to sit down with the Medicaid and WIC agents and decide to reduce your tax burden in lieu of paying you. It’s more streamlined if you pay what you owe, then get what you qualify for. Reducing individual tax burdens by the exact amount of aid they qualify for would be a lot of red tape, especially multiplied by everyone in that situation.

    It’s like when I had a scholarship at college. I didn’t get a reduced tuition bill. I got a full tuition bill from one office, then I got a check from another dept and used it to pay my tuition. I thought that was a dumb way to do it, but that’s how they handled it because the depts weren’t integrated enough to do it any other way.

  • facethemusic August 22, 2007, 9:31 pm


    Parceling out welfare and health care to 50 different administrators also loses any efficiency of economy. Fifty duplicate agencies in every state, working with 50 different sets of rules. Would they be able to work together enough to report welfare cheats across state lines? Which state would coordinate a national welfare cheat reporting system? The federal bureaucracy is big enough, but having 50 separate bureaucracies would be even bigger.”

    Melinda, you make GREAT points– but if you’ve ever dealt with Medicaid you know that it already IS 50 different bureaucracies, with different rules, different standards, etc. Ask any hospital worker. Even though they’re at least half federally funded, it’s the STATES that run the programs. But yes, you’re right, they would have to form an efficient way to work through everything.

    “While people do give generously to charity, not all that money gets to charity. Google ‘charity’ and ‘fundraising costs’ and read a few articles. Many of those fundraisers charge an 80% commission.”

    Another great point. But honestly– I doubt there’s a difference between the amount of money that ends up covering the overhead for charitable organizations and for the overhead of the governemnt. (In fact, I wouldn’t doubt that the overhead for the government is a much higher percentage perspectively than that for charitable organizations– remember, it’s the government that pays $150 bucks for a $12 hammer.) Do you think ALL our taxes are paying for the interstate system, national defense and Congressional paychecks? How many billions of the trillions collected in taxes are paying all those IRS, Dept of Education, EPA, Social Security, Medicare and NEA employees and covering all their operating costs??

  • facethemusic August 23, 2007, 6:09 am

    But I think the fact you were paying and collecting at the same time is because the fed govt is big, so collections and disbursements are handled by different departments. The IRS handles tax collection. The Medicaid and WIC disbursements would be handled by an entirely different agency. It would probably be a big tangled mess to get an IRS agent to sit down with the Medicaid and WIC agents and decide to reduce your tax burden in lieu of paying you.

    I’m confidant that you’re entirely correct on that. But the point was that if they weren’t taking taxes out for those purposes in the FIRST place, it wouldn’t even be an issue! Between the Constitution, the Federalist Papers (and if I may also include, quotes by prophets) it seems pretty clear that we were never meant to have these federally-funded-by-our-taxes programs in the first place- which brings us full circle, right back to Michael’s original post. They’re unconstituional.

    President Benson even had a plan for completely phasing them out!! He understood that it would be a catastrophic mess to suddenly pull the rug out, so he had a plan for phasing them out over a 10-20 year period, which would slowly allow other programs and funding to take over.
    And when you think about it– if our system hadn’t fostered this concept of entitlement into the past few generations, we wouldn’t have so many people using all these programs and getting so much for free in the first place.

    Proof in the pudding— true story, I swear– just happened yesterday. A girl came through the cafeteria, lunch in hand, and told me she didn’t know her lunch code yet. So I looked her up in the system– she wasn’t even there. When I told her she wasn’t in the system, she said “I’m new, this is my first day”. I said “Oh- well sweety, you’re not going to be in the system for a few days then.” The conversation continues:

    She goes, “So what do I then?”

    “Well, you’ll just pay for lunch everyday until we have an account set up for you. Then you can put money in the acouunt and when you punch in your code it will take the money out.”

    “But I get free lunch!”

    “Honey, if today’s your first day, and you’re not even in the system- how can you get free lunch?
    Who told you you get free lunch?”

    “I got free lunch at my last school and my momma turned in the paperwork in the office today”

    “Sweety- just because you got free lunch at your last school, it doesn’t mean you get it here. You
    have to re-apply for it every year, your status changes depending on your parent’s income.”

    “Well how much is it?”

    “$1.65″

    “But I ain’t got no money.”

    “So why did you go and get a plate full of food, when you knew you didn’t have any money to pay for it and your paperwork hasn’t approved for free lunch yet?”

    “Fine!” And she pulled out 2- $20 dollar bills and handed one of them to me.

    “Why did you tell me you didn’t have any money when you knew you did?”

    “”Cause I ain’t supposed to have to pay for my lunch– my momma’s gonna be pissed.”

    Oh– and for information’s sake– you’ll love this–breakfast if free every morning in all the elementary schools in our district, as well as for other districts in the area, paid for by none other than the American taxpayer. Because heaven knows– that all these people in this lower income area of the city, could ever afford to feed their kids breakfast.
    Interesting, because wouldn’t it be those same “poor people” who are getting food stamps and WIC??…all that milk, all those eggs and breakfast cereals that they’re already getting for their home, for free every week? Yeah, that explains why they need the federal government to provide them with free breakfast at school every morning.

    How insane is THAT?

  • east-of-eden August 23, 2007, 7:48 am

    Oh– and for information’s sake– you’ll love this–breakfast if free every morning in all the elementary schools in our district, as well as for other districts in the area, paid for by none other than the American taxpayer. Because heaven knows– that all these people in this lower income area of the city, could ever afford to feed their kids breakfast.
    Interesting, because wouldn’t it be those same “poor people” who are getting food stamps and WIC??…all that milk, all those eggs and breakfast cereals that they’re already getting for their home, for free every week? Yeah, that explains why they need the federal government to provide them with free breakfast at school every morning.

    It is insane, but children should not suffer because their parents are idiots. I live and used to teach here in rural Northern New Mexico (read: lots of indian reservations, lot’s of abject poverty). I’ve taught the very poorest of the poor children, believe me when I say sometimes that meal at school is the only meal they get during the day that is balanced, or not junk food bought at a gas station. And it’s easier to feed eveyone than to thy and figure out whose parents are on aid, or have applied, or have not applied, or who live so far out on the rez that they have no contact with civilization and so on. Sometimes we need to put our anger away and see the people who beneft from these programs. I’m not making excuesses for the people who scam or are too lazy to do anything, but there are people that truly need social programs–and we are not to judge. Read King Benjamin’s address in Mosiah 2. The Lord will eventually judge those who have been dishonest. Again, life is not fair–ever, and when dealing with the government expect to be burned. Even our government and Constitution, as divinely inspired as they are are full of people–and that’s where you get the failures.

  • Alison Moore Smith August 23, 2007, 10:39 am

    Posted By: east-of-edenIt is insane, but children should not suffer because their parents are idiots.

    But how far do we go with that? Honestly? It’s a serious slippery slope and, frankly, the more the government takes over, the more then HAVE to take over.

    Children simply DO suffer when parents are idiots, are selfish, are fat, are sick, are ill-tempered, are poor, are rich, are… How often do we step in and WHO decides that the line has been crossed?

    When I was on the SAC at the elementary school in Boca, the administrators/teachers kept adding NON-academic programs, breakfast, lunch, after-school, swish, conflict resolution, gender issues, values clarification, diversity issues, sex ed, etc. etc. etc. All the while screaming about not having enough money for books and while at 200% capacity in the building. Whenever they would propose ANOTHER social program, and I would remind them that we had no books, the response was, “But _________ is important!”

    Finally I said, “When are we going to implement the Kindergarten Potty Training Program. Potty training is IMPORTANT!”

    I guess the point is that we need to decide what the PURPOSE of schools is, what the PURPOSE of government is. When did feeding the children become the role of schools? And what other things will become part of that created “stewardship.”

  • facethemusic August 23, 2007, 1:15 pm

    It is insane, but children should not suffer because their parents are idiots.

    You completely missed the point though, Eden. It’s not even about their parents being idiots– it’s about the fact that they’re NOT suffering– they’re already getting “breakfast” twice over. They’re getting food stamps and WIC. Their fridges are filled with milk, eggs and juice and their cabinets are stocked with boxes and boxes of cereal, oatmeal and Cream of Wheat JUST from the WIC. If the government is giving them a week supply of mostly “breakfast foods”, every single week through WIC– , then why is the government turning around and paying for them to eat breakfast at school?
    Even if you’re talking about a mother who doesn’t make breakfast, a Kindergartner can get themselves a bowl of cereal.

    Read King Benjamin’s address in Mosiah 2

    That’s too funny– because I was going to refer to exact same chapter!

    I say unto you that as I have been suffered to spend my days in your service, even up to this time, and have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you;
    13 Neither have I suffered that ye should…make slaves one of another, nor that ye should… plunder, or steal…,
    14 And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day.

  • Lewis_Family August 23, 2007, 3:52 pm

    I must be the minority again here, I like that the schools are offering breakfast, because some kids do truly need it.

  • jennycherie August 23, 2007, 5:27 pm

    I honestly think that the breakfast thing has very little to do with kids needing breakfast because their parents can provide it and EVERYthing to do with it being a necessity when schools also sponsor before/after school care for children. Putting the feeding hungry kids spin on it helps make it more palatable for everyone.

    what makes the church’s welfare program so effective is that there is personal contact and accountability involved and limited assistance offered. Nobody would *want* to eat only from the Bishop’s storehouse for forever. Yes, it is good, balanced food but there’s not a lot of “fun” stuff. But it will get you by when the issue truly is having food on the table and not just preferring to spend your money on a new set of gold decorations on your teeth (sorry I don’t know what they are called!) or on liquor and cigarettes.

  • facethemusic August 23, 2007, 5:42 pm

    But it will get you by when the issue truly is having food on the table and not just preferring to spend your money on a new set of gold decorations on your teeth (sorry I don’t know what they are called!)

    HA!! They call it a “grill” Jenn. (like on the front of a car) One of the kids accidently threw his away last year. He’d taken it out and set it on his tray, to eat. Then he suddenly remembered 10 minutes later and came running to ask if he could get a pair of “those lunch lady gloves” so he could dig it out of the trash. So I go over there to help him dig through the trash to find it and the whole time he’s freaking out –“That was almost $400 bucks man– it better be here.” We found it. Plaited in 14 kt gold, with a few 1/8 kt or so diamonds. — And yes, he gets free lunch.

    Lewis, lewis, lewis– you’re such a softy. If I ever need help with my mortgage payment I know who to turn to. he he — just kidding. :)

  • Lewis_Family August 23, 2007, 7:14 pm

    Not to me, to the government :bigsmile:

  • kiar August 23, 2007, 7:21 pm

    so you are telling me that my kids go to school everyday, with the same snack form the dollar store, and I pay full price for lunches, because my family falls in the fun “you make too much for help, but not enough to actually buy groceries” and these other kids have diamonds on their teeth? I am gonna go eat some rice and think about that one!!

  • jennycherie August 23, 2007, 8:26 pm

    Posted By: kiarthese other kids have diamonds

    sounds comfy, huh? strange but true. I worked at Wal-mart with a guy (who could not have been making more than $10/hour given his position) who had some very fancy gold/diamond grills (thanks for the word, Tracy!). . . and paid for his food with food stamps. :shocked:

  • facethemusic August 24, 2007, 1:15 am

    so you are telling me that my kids go to school everyday, with the same snack form the dollar store, and I pay full price for lunches.. and these other kids have diamonds on their teeth?

    Sad but true Kiar. For the most part, they’re also wearing the most expensive clothes and shoes. They’re wearing $60 dollar oversized Scarface/Gangster T-shirts from Harold Penner, $35-$40 Enyce T-shirts, official NFL jerseys, and $140 dollar hightop sneakers. You’d be hard pressed to find anything from Walmart on these kids. Most of them have cell phones, IPODS– you name it.
    I’m being completely honest– no exaggerations, no fluff.
    The few kids who pay full price for their lunches are the ones wearing the plainest , cheaper clothes. They almost NEVER buy ice cream, chips, cookies etc. There are 2 kids who are ‘full pay” who never buy lunch– they just buy cookies and ice cream. (That IS their lunch!)
    But really that’s about it. The other full-payers very rarely ever buy anything extra. They can’t– they’re paying full price and have to make their money stretch.

  • kiar August 24, 2007, 7:08 am

    I thnk I am going to be ill! Why is it that sometimes it just totally sucks to be honest??

  • Michael Snider August 24, 2007, 9:55 am

    Apologies for not chiming in sooner – have been in the midst of a difficult personal health challenge, but am having success. I was especially grateful to see the high and courteous level & tone of discourse surrounding these subjects. One of the most challenging parts of political discourse today is the rancorous and contentious nature almost everywhere. Of course we’re going to disagree, but the way in which we do it is so, so important. I think that’s why Elder Robert S. Wood spoke to us in last year’s April general Conference and urged us to be polite and civil in our political, business, and civic discourse. I believe personally that distinguishing ourselves in this fashion will be one of the principle contributions of Latter-day Saints in saving the Constitution!
    In any case – am going to tackle various questions and issues.Here’s #1…
    Answer to “face-the-music” re: the creation of large government programs:
    You are correct, congress votes on the initial act, but the legislation that creates these programs is very loose. Afterward, the agency itself is left to make “regulations” that have the force of law. These regulations pass only thru oversight, but no vote. (In other words, whichever party in power writes these regulations/laws)
    Answer re: Unconstitutionality of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid
    They are unconstitutional because they were not created by amending the Constitution, but by legislative action. Congress had resisted legislating charitable acts for nearly 150 years before the 1930’s because it rightly recognized that there was no constitutional authority for them to do so. If anyone would like an opinion from someone with more LDS credentials than me, see “The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson”, and read from the chapter “Economics” thru “Government/Functions of Government”. Pres. Benson, while he was an apostle, laid out a program for phasing out Social Security…I think it’s the right approach and I believe we should do it before the weight of the program sinks us.

  • Michael Snider August 24, 2007, 10:10 am

    Answer – East of Eden: “A living document”
    The Constitution may indeed be changed, but it was not amended, ergo, SS/Medicare/aid are unconstitutional. I also have a radically different view of the general welfare clause in the preamble… the first of which is, if after 150 years, all of a sudden that means the Constitution authorizes welfare payments, then it ceases to be living and becomes a lump of clay that anyone can mold into any shape they like. That kind of malleability does not, in my opinion, form the basis of a government that will be trusted by the governed.
    You are not the first to go down this general welfare clause road. Many were afraid of it being interpreted exactly as you have. Thomas jefferson wrote this to someone who thought as you do: “Our peculiar security is in possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction.” (letter to C. Wilson Nicolas, September 1803)
    Another contradiction to your interpretation is found in the 10th amendment, which paraphrased, says that any power not expressly granted to the fed. gov. belongs to the states. Also, read Madison’s Federalist #41 if you’d like to know how the inspired founders viewed this clause and its role in constitutional interpretation.

  • Michael Snider August 24, 2007, 10:54 am

    Answer to East-of-Eden re: “begging on the street”
    I strongly disagree with the implication that America’s citizens are heartless to the point that without these programs “our grandparents and younger cousins whose parents … [would] end up begging on the street.” or that masses of kids would go hungry if there weren’t a federal lunch program.

    I believe America is largely populated with good people who have always participated in taking care of the truly needy. Before the 1930’s, people did not starve and die in mass numbers due to others’ unfeelingness and there were zero federal programs in existence. Christianity was much more the basis for charity in those days and our giving has always been, and will continue to be, robust. Was it perfect?…did some die due to neglect? The answer is yes of course. Was it any worse than today? No. I recommend reading “The Tragedy of American Compassion” by Marvin Olasky. It details ways in which our welfare programs have made the situation worse, not better.
    Bottom Line: I have no problem with any state starting/funding these programs. (and here is where I believe you lost sight of my point) I’m talking about the unconstitutionality of these programs at the federal level…not that they should not exist at all.

    #2 I believe you have misinterpreted King Benjamin’s words about service. Serving God by serving others is not a voting franchise to force others’ charitable agency…and the power to tax is just that: force. Would it be morally right if you mugged me and gave all the money to a homeless person? Certainly not. One of the great lessons of both King Benjamin, and his son Mosiah was the fact that they worked at their own vocations when not in public service. Being king (or chief judge) were not full time jobs to be paid for by tax dollars…they were, like our founders, “citizen legislators” (or executives in this case). They let Zarahemla-ites keep as much of their $ as possible and then employed “persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;” to persuade them to give to the poor. Now please don’t construe that last statement too literally…it was only meant to highlight the fact that charity, giving and helping others is to be a personal choice for which we can be held accountable (D&C 101:78), and also good government. Once we believe that our fellow man is too intractable or unkind to give to others and needs to be forced, then we’re on the first step of the slippery slope of Satan’s plan.

    I do not honestly believe that at the final judgment, when accounting for our stewardship in serving the poor and needy, that a Celestial Kingdom answer will be: “Yes Father, I took care of the poor…I voted that millions of other people’s money in addition my own, be given to them.”

  • Michael Snider August 24, 2007, 11:36 am

    Answer – Lewis Family: “I wonder though if the weight of all those who do truly need these programs outweighs any counter argument…”

    No wondering is necessary. Need does not outweigh each individual’s moral agency.
    If it did, then Heavenly Father would have made earthly need the number one consideration and chosen Satan’s plan instead of his own/Jesus’. That way everyone’s basic physical needs would have been met …nobody would have had a choice in the matter, but that didn’t matter to Lucifer.

    And I don’t mean to offend; and I say the following with all the respect and Christian kindness of which I am capable because I laud your recognition that others may have differing opinions: In my opinion, the reasoning in your posts propounds an errant philosophy of men, which can be characterized as either:
    1. The end justifies the means,
    or
    2. “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” (Marx/Engels)
    IMO this is exceedingly dangerous spiritual ground. What these philosophies advocate is communism/socialism which cite need as the moral grounds for removing other people’s freedom. I recommend you read my book “Our Title of Liberty, Latter Day Politics for Latter-day Saints” (Chapter 4: “Politics from the Pulpit,” available at Deseret Book http://deseretbook.com/store/product?sku=4963556) and study what our leaders have said in general conference about such philosophies.

  • SilverRain August 24, 2007, 5:31 pm

    Why is it that sometimes it just totally sucks to be honest??

    ‘Cause if it were rewarding, everyone would do it. :fierce:

  • mollymormon September 11, 2007, 10:48 pm

    Hi all, I’ve been absent for a while because life has been crazy! Just had to weigh in on this conversation even though it’s a couple weeks old…

    Over the past 100 years or so, I think we’ve had a gradual paradigm shift from the founding father’s original intent of the constitution (preserving life, liberty and pursuit of happiness) to today’s concept that the government should be our safety net and provider. If you read and study about the constitution and it’s origins, as Michael has obviously done, you will come to realize what liberty really is, why it’s important, and how we are in danger of losing it. I don’t mean to sound alarmist, but we really are! Part of being free includes being self-reliant, as well as charitable. When the government forcibly taxes us at high rates, we are no longer free to choose.

    When the Boston tea party occurred, it was over not only taxation without represention but also an unfair burden of taxes. Do you know how much the taxes were that were imposed on the colonists? It was something like 2 or 3% of their income. Do you know how much you pay today? It’s around 40 to 60% of your income! Don’t believe it? I didn’t either when I first heard that, so I sat down and figured it out:

    Say you’re married filing jointly with $50,000 income. Of course many of these figures are educated guesses, but I also suspect I’m forgetting many other little extra taxes we pay.

    6.2% social security tax – $3100 a year
    6.2% social security tax paid by your employer (which would be money in your pocket) $3100 a year that you don’t see
    1.45% medicare – $725 a year
    1.45% medicare tax paid by employer $725 a year that you don’t see
    State taxes – 7% – $3500
    Federal taxes – $1,510.00 plus 15% of the amount over 15,100 – $6745
    Sales tax – food (in some states), everything you buy, including vehicles. Assume you spend about $1200 a month on items that are taxed at a rate of 6.35%. That’s $76.20 a month, or $914 a year. That’s not counting the purchase of a vehicle
    Property Tax – estimate on a $250K house about $1500 a year.
    Automobile registration tax – if you have 2 vehicles around 4-5 years old, this is probably about $150 a year.
    utility taxes – taxes on your electric bill, etc – Electric bill $10/mth, Water/Sewer – $8/mth, Gas bill – $8/mth – $312 a year
    communication taxes – tax on your phone bill, cell phone, etc – Cell phone – $7/mth, Telephone – $12/month, internet – ?, cable – ? – $228 a year, not including internet or cable taxes because I can’t find those bills

    Total spent on taxes: nearly $17,000 (not including matching SS & medicare pd by employer.) If you add that onto your salary, you’d be making almost $54000 a year, and paying $21,000 a year. That’s 39% of your income. If you make more money, you’re taxed at a much higher rate. You can argue the figures, but the fact remains that we are being taxed quite heavily for many services which should never have been provided for by the government.

    The founding fathers wanted us to be free. They didn’t want us to be burdened with taxes. They wanted us to have the liberty so that we could be free to choose. They never wanted the government to provide welfare services. They knew that a free people needed to be self-reliant and able to choose to be charitable, rather than be compelled. Again, I don’t sound alarmist or radical, but I believe that we’ve had many socialist/communist ideas pervade our thinking and it’s been so gradual that most don’t realize that’s what it is. Those trying to make these changes make it all sound so charitable, but it’s satan’s way, not God’s. If you’ve ever read the communist manifesto, Karl Marx lists 10 planks of communism. These are his 10 ideas to make a communistic society. Communism is NOT the same as living the law of consecration. All is in common, but in communism, it’s forced. In the law of consecration, it’s because all are of one heart and one mind, and they are free to choose to live this life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Communist_Manifesto#10_Planks_of_the_Communist_Manifesto – you can go through each of the 10 planks and see how many of them are either in full force or partially enacted in America.

    If you believe that federal government should provide social security, medicare, medicaid, welfare, free lunches, etc, please think about studying the constitution, the founding fathers, and reading the writings of the prophets on this subject. Obviously nothing I can say will change anyone’s minds, but if you do study the constitution, you’ll start to feel the cause of liberty that Moroni rallied the people with in Alma 51:17. The cause of liberty is the spirit testifying to the truth of being a free people. In Alma 61:15, it says “Therefore, come unto me speedily with a few of your men, and leave the remainder in the charge of Lehi and Teancum; give unto them power to conduct the war in that part of the land, according to the Spirit of God, which is also the spirit of freedom which is in them.”

    The spirit of freedom (cause of liberty) IS the spirit of God. This is why we’ve been losing many of our freedoms, it’s because we’ve removed God from much of public life, and because many people don’t feel the spirit of freedom anymore. We enjoy the government “safety net”, we’ve lost that pioneering spirit that comes from having challenges.

    I don’t mean to sound like a wacky constitutionalist, I’ve just been studying the founding of our country and the constitution the last few years and I’ve been amazed at what a different way of thinking most people have today (and I’ve had to change my thinking.) This is not all-consuming for me, but I think it’s a really important part of the gospel – preserving our liberties. It’s not like the prophets haven’t told us this repeatedly! So if I sound like a wacky constitutionalist, sorry, but so be it! :)

  • Alison Moore Smith September 12, 2007, 9:34 am

    Molly, you whacky constitutionalist, you! :wink:

    I love the numbers you came up with for us. I think lots of people only see the drip and never the whole bucketful of taxes all at once. Of course, that’s the point, isn’t it? But why supposedly fiscal conservatives keep voting for more taxes–just because the tax will serve them PERSONALLY–is hypocritical to me. NO NEW TAXES–unless I get something for it.

    Posted By: mollymormonTotal spent on taxes: nearly $17,000 (not including matching SS & medicare pd by employer.) If you add that onto your salary, you’d be making almost $54000 a year, and paying $21,000 a year.

    I got lost here. If you add $17,000 to the original $50,000, you get $54,000? OK, I know you’re better at math than that, so you must have meant something else, but that’s how I read it. Can you clarify?

  • momof2 September 12, 2007, 3:25 pm

    Or, as the teenager said when he got his first paycheck, “Who’s Fica, and why’s he getting my money?” Something a lot of people aren’t aware of – if you’re self-employed, you pay double that 6.2% to Social Security, because you are paying both the employee’s and the employer’s portion of that tax.

    Posted By: Alison Moore SmithI think lots of people only see the drip and never the whole bucketful of taxes all at once.

    When we lived in North Carolina, this drove me crazy. Every other week someone was proposing a new 1% tax, to benefit some worthy cause. And the local newspaper would come out in favor of it every time, arguing that it was only “one penny out of every dollar, after all. What cheapskate can’t afford that? It’s such a worthy cause!” Of course, no-one ever seemed to realized that there are only 100 pennies in every dollar and eventually you RUN OUT OF DOLLAR!

  • mollymormon September 12, 2007, 10:03 pm

    Sorry, I meant to say if you add on the SS & Medicare match that your employer pays (about $4000) to your $50,000 salary, you get the $54,000 for what your salary SHOULD’VE been.

    Perhaps I should’ve said wacky mathematician instead of constitutionalist, lol! :) If you have kids, the taxes would be lower because of deductions. But if you make more, or don’t have kids or are older, taxes will be higher. You’ll notice I used one of the lowest tax brackets of 15%.

    Then of course I didn’t even bring up the “inflation tax.” You know the federal reserve can raise and lower rates to somewhat moderate inflation. I’m just getting into the study of that, so I am sure I can’t explain this correctly, but the federal reserve has a LOT of unconstitutional power!

  • Alison Moore Smith September 12, 2007, 10:27 pm

    Thanks, I gotcha now. It’s really stunning how much they take, really.

    Molly (or anyone), have you read The Fair Tax Book by Neal Boortz and John Linder? I think you’d really like it.

  • facethemusic September 12, 2007, 10:44 pm

    AHH! Alison, you must be psychic! As I was reading molly’s post, I was thinking “I need to ask the group/Michael what they know about the Fair Tax, and how they feel about it.”
    I just recently started hearing about it– oh 4 or 5 months ago I guess? I meant to look it up– then it got brought up during the FOX NEWS Republican debate the other night and I thought– “Hey stupid– I thought you were going to look that up?”
    I’ll have to see about getting that book!

  • mlinford September 13, 2007, 12:12 am

    Hey all, the Samuelsons at BYU spoke on the Constitution for their devotional on Tuesday…just caught most of it today on byu.tv. (They have a cool DVR-like feature with the Move Media player that lets you go backwards in time to listen to stuff. Awesome.) They are calling this year at BYU (informally, I think) “The Year of the Constitution”)…incoming freshman have been asked to read Linda R. Monk’s “The Words We Live By.” Interesting, no?

  • mollymormon October 4, 2007, 10:13 pm

    I just ran across a website that had a breakdown of taxes similar to what I did above: http://www.utahtaxpayers.org/

    This is what they had:

    (based on $57,500 income for family of 5)
    SS & SS employer match – $7155
    Medicare + Medicare match – $1673
    State taxes – $1831
    federal taxes – $230 (This differs from my assessment, because I didn’t account for kids. 3 kids = $3000 tax credit, plus I guess I forgot to count personal exemptions. Wealth redistribution at work.)
    sales taxes – $1805 (twice as much as I estimated)
    Property tax – $1437
    Auto tax & gas tax – $913 (I forgot to account for gasoline tax!)
    Employment tax – $531 (worker’s comp & unemployment insurance – paid by employer, but really by you. Required by law, so although technically not a tax, we count it as such.)
    Excise tax – $281 (this is for taxes on tobacco and liquor, but since we’re on mormonmomma, we don’t pay those. Thus I didn’t include.)

    Utah taxpayers didn’t include communications or other utitilties taxes/fees, which added up to about $350 on my breakdown.

    Total spent on taxes not including employer paid taxes or excise taxes and including the communications/utilities taxes: $10,980. Add the employer paid taxes (SS, medicare & employment tax) of $4414 to the taxes and your salary, for a total of $15394 in taxes and your salary would be 61914. That’s about 25% of your income.

    So my figure was a little high because I overestimated on the federal tax (as I didn’t do tax exemptions for kids, and I forgot about the personal exemptions.) But if you are a married couple with no kids making the same rate, your tax rate would jump up to around to 30-35% (depending on how they calculate the federal and state income taxes.) If you make more money, count on your tax rate being MUCH higher. Families with kids making under the median wage of $57,500 don’t pay much in federal taxes, but they probably didn’t realize how much they pay in all the other taxes!

  • Alison Moore Smith October 6, 2007, 11:13 pm

    Ugh!

  • Alison Moore Smith October 6, 2007, 11:20 pm

    You know, if you don’t have some kind of home-based business, you get a much bigger bite than those who do. Here’s a great resource for anyone who needs a real English explanation of what tax benefits there are, along with the IRS rulings to explain and support it.

    It’s How Much You Keep That Counts! by Dr. Ronald R. Mueller. The author now does monthly TaxWin small business tax training on BookWise. If you haven’t done a schedule C before and haven’t read all the IRS docs about it, you’d be amazed.

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