Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Our Vulnerability to Fraud, Deception, and Questionable Religious Marketing

Fraud is a problem that those of any religious community, Mormons included, need to beware. In religious communities where there is a sense of trust and fellowship toward others who share the same faith, con artists can rarely resist the temptation to exploit the religion to gain the trust of others. Utah Valley, for example, has a painful track record of fraud, with many deceivers having sought to strip believing Mormons of their wealth, using religion to gain confidence of believers for their scam.

On my last trip to Utah, I had dinner on a Saturday night, where I heard from one of my favorite ex-Mormons about his experiences with Mormon fraud. In the real estate market in Utah, he has faced dishonest people too frequently and had developed some basic warning signs of fraud and deception. In his view of the world, there are two warning signs that he feels are red flags for fraud and deception by religious con men. These signs are (1) talking openly about having an LDS temple recommend, and (2) making a point of displaying Books of Mormon. When someone seeking to close a deal or gain someone’s confidence uses both of those elements for personal gain, they can’t be trusted, in his opinion. Use of religion for personal gain is the essence of what Nephi warns against in the Book of Mormon, and I suppose it makes sense that it would be associated with fraud.

What amazed me was that within hours of that conversation, I picked up the Salt Lake Tribune and read an article about a prominent LDS politician on the cover of one of its sections. This politician apparently (so I imagine) was trying to score some points with the Mormon community by (1) telling them that he had a temple recommend and (2) making a point about how he has Books of Mormon on display in his office. Update: As much as I have come to distrust this politician's motives in recent months, I am not saying that this article proves he is a fraud, though I did find it strangely ironic after the previous evening's conversation. I couldn't help but chuckle (tried to keep it a non-partisan chuckle, with equal air flow to both sides of my mouth).

The article in Utah's leading newspaper opens by noting that this particular man "keeps a copy of the Book of Mormon in his office just off the chamber floor. There's a second copy handy to give away to someone in need of spiritual guidance." It then assures us that he has a temple recommend and is very active in the Church. The article, in my view, looks like it is drawn from a clever PR piece from the Senator's office rather than being a real news story. Certainly slanted to assuage the LDS community.

While the only thing I have ever said about that politician on this blog was positive, I’m afraid that the LDS community needs to step back and look past his religion in evaluating whose side he really is on. It's OK to vote however you want, but I hope LDS voters in this case - and all cases - will consider the real track record and not the religion in making a decision. It is vital that we elect readers not based on appearances but on their core values and track record.

Yes, I recognize that calling attention to this will be viewed as a purely political attack, but it's not. I'm not a Republican, and am ashamed of that party's actions to erode the liberty and financial stability of this nation over the past couple of decades or so. Their insane spending and growth of government has only accelerated, however. I am not for either party, but for liberty and for the US Constitution, and am simply shocked at how Constitutional restraint has been eroded in favor of big government socialism that will make the rich and powerful rich and powerful beyond imagination, at the expense of all of us. The real fraud that threatens this nation is not from any one individual, but from the insane spending frenzy and power grabs of the past few years that will leave our children and grandchildren with much less freedom and unbearable debt. When a government becomes so big and corrupt that it claims the privilege to offer - or compel - cradle-to-grave care of its citizens (typically a sham whose real aim is seizing massive power and wealth), there will inevitably be fewer cradles and more graves.

Sadly, the US Constitution and the extremely limited form of government it gave us is not just hanging by a thread, but being devoured by a lion. If ever there was a time for good men and women from the Rockies and everywhere else to stand up and insist that we return to the principles therein, this is it. I hope Congressmen of both parties, both LDS members and non-LDS, will take up this cause and perhaps repair any mistakes or misdeeds they may have been part of.

Our religion teaches us that the principles of that Constitution were inspired by God and that it is right that we should defend it. By the same token, I am prepared to look completely past the religion of anyone who, in my opinion, brazenly violates it in supporting the quest for power over our lives. They may be sincere in their personal faith and may be active Christians in good standing in their churches or ours, but when their supporters make a show of their religion to garner confidence among the faithful, my suspicions can only grow, regardless of which party they are in. Skepticism in this and all cases with politicians can only be healthy.

Any of you read the Constitution recently? Any of you compared the principles of the Republic given to us by wise and inspired Founding Fathers with the principles we see in operation today? These are troubling times. The excesses of dictators of all kinds in the past century have often begun with a claim of helping the people - a claim based on fraud and misplaced confidence. This is not the right time for blind faith in mortals and any scheme that gives politicians even more control over our lives.

A good Mormon or good Christian in general can believe many different things when it comes to politics, but I think a good Mormon must in some way be deeply committed to the cause of personal liberty. If nothing else, we depend on that if our religion is going to survive in this crazy world. But it matters for many more reasons as well. Once liberty is lost, you don't just get it back by trying a different politician when the next election rolls around.

Dec. 30 update: I've changed the title for clarity.

69 comments:

Dan said...

wow, are you calling Senator Reid a fraud? That Senator Reid is the same as some local schmuck who thinks he can get an extra dollar or two by exploiting his religious connection with the person he is trying to exploit? That's just lame dude. I'm not going to read your blog anymore.

Sam B. said...

Jeff,
Did you read the article? He keeps a Book of Mormon in his office. (Various missionaries have asked me to do the same thing.) The temple recommend comment was made by members in D.C., not by Senator Reid, and was made apparently as a repudiation of the oft-repeated allegation that Reid's not an active member.

I realize you're not a fan of Democrats, but accusing the journalist of repeating a press release? Seriously, did you read it?

The difference between Reid and your average Mormon con artist? I've not seen Reid trying to sell a fraudulent product by being Mormon. (Frankly, his Mormonness may be a disadvantage in convincing those with whom he works.)

And how can he win? If the media doesn't mention his religion, conservatives widely accuse it of using Mormonism against Mitt Romney while ignoring Reid's Mormonism. If his Mormonism is mentioned, apparently he's a purveyor of fraud.

Hank said...

I like Reid. I approve of doing something to help more Americans get healthcare than our current situation. If Reid has a Book of Mormon in his office, good for him! Don't be ashamed of the gospel.

Anonymous said...

Sam B.,

"I've not seen Reid trying to sell a fraudulent product by being Mormon".

In case you don't follow the news, the health care bill that just passed the senate is the largest fraud ever forced upon the American people.

Shana said...

I live in Utah and I think your favorite ex-mo is very insightful. It is a red flag for anyone who is selling anything to promote him or herself as a "good Mormon", and I have seen politicians do this as well.

In all fairness to Senator Reid, when I read this article my impression was that the reporter was using this tack as a way to promote the Senator to Mormons, most of whom do not approve of his conduct since he became Senate Majority Leader. He may not have been the instigator of it. The story reads like a propaganda piece, and I imagine the whole idea behind it was, "Let's show what a good Mormon Senator Reid is to his LDS constituents!" I have seen a lot of this in the media during the last year or two; leftist politicians are portrayed as "good Christians" whose politics are driven by their devotion to Jesus Christ. It's obviously just another way to try to get votes.

Stan said...

Speaking of the constitution hanging by a thread and using Mormonism to promote a political agenda, have you kept up with the Rex Rammell story? At least now America is familiar with the White Horse prophecy.

http://www.rexburgstandardjournal.com/articles/2009/12/21/news/16.txt

bubbatis said...

The fact that Harry Reid keeps a copy of the Book of Mormon on his desk doesn't necessarily indicate fraud, but having senator in front of his name does.

Sam B. said...

Anonymous (10:09),
I'm afraid I don't follow you. The Senate bill is far from perfect--there should, among other things, be a public insurance option--but "fraud" has a very specific meaning, and that meaning is not, "Legislation that I don't personally like."

Admittedly, posting anonymously doesn't provide you any credibility, but even if you had any, misusing terms of art would shoot the credibility you had.

Sam B. said...

And Shana, the Salt Lake Tribune isn't writing to Senator Reid's constituents. Or at least I assume Nevada has its own papers; I can't imagine Nevadans spend a whole lot of time reading a Utah paper. So it's not written to his constituents, any more than the New Yorker article I read on him a few years ago was written to his constituents. It's a general interest piece about one of the most powerful men in America who, although he has no geographic connection with Utah, has a religious link.

John said...

Another blog for another day might be a take on multi-level marketing. It can be okay, but quite often the scams do choose to use multi-level marketing, which helps give multi-leveling a bad name. I am not a fan of multi-level, but it seems to be bigger in Utah than other places. Would you consider a blog on it some day?

Mormanity said...

John, some (not all) multi-level marketing companies may be great examples of this problem. That's the source of some of the Utah Valley fraud, in fact. Way too much gullibility and abuse of religion to drive business. Beware!

Dan, no, I'm not saying Harry Reid is like the local guy who gets an extra dollar or two. The actions of numerous players in our government from both parties over the past several years that really concern me involve a scale of theft far greater than many people can imagine - trillions of dollars seized or created from nothing to defraud our currency, decades of indebtedness, power grabs beyond the wildest dreams of petty conmen, the transfer of vast segments of private enterprise and private property rights into the hands of bureaucrats, the awarding of billions of dollars to criminal elements on Wall Street, and horrific, unnecessary and highly expensive war around the globe that will further erode our economy and our security while costing many lives. There is fraud and corruption in all of this. To link that with petty con-men charging too much for some beverage or even ripping off several thousand people Madoff-style, is off by many orders of magnitude.

John said...

I remember a year or so ago, your blogs prompted by our shriveling economy. I enjoyed them. I also enjoy this one.
I think I'll weigh in with those who say Senator Reid is fine in placing his Book of Mormon prominently in his office. Sounds like a plus, not a negative, as I am not going to judge his motive.
Now, I wish I could find the article with the quote, but I know Sen. Reid, about a week ago, said something to the effect that every Senator should have something in this new health bill, this in response to talk of how the Sen. Nelson from Nebraska got something in it and how the senator from Florida got something in it and many others, obviously, also got things in the bill. Perhaps Sen. Reid was simply saying it was such an important piece of legislation, every Senator should help craft it. But I can't help but notice a lot of what is in the bill is not reform, but pork barrell.
Yes, Sen. Reid's comment somehow seemed to condone, encourage and approve of that.
I do not think a bill filled with pork-barrell offerings is what was in mind when the nation decided to reform health care. It seems one of the biggest needs of all was to REDUCE the price of health care. How is it, then, government estimates are suggesting the new legislation will result in health care costs going up from 2011 to 2020?
Reform? I don't think so. Rather, I'm fearing, the new legislation may embellish the problem.

Anonymous said...

To claim that the bill is about reducing health care costs is, on its face, frauduelent with the lawyers behind it refuse to consider the most obvous and easy-to-fix source of burgoning costs, tort reform. Reid and his gang won't even let it be debated, if I understand correctly. Why? Follow the money. It's about money, and taking it from us.

Rich said...

I appreciate your expression of your opinion. I would like to also express my opinion on the condition of our country. I truly believe that it is in trouble with our current system of 2 parties and special interests. But who is to blame for the current condition. I would say that we the people, which as it is stated in the preamble of the constitution, have gone awry with not caring enough to get involved with their local and national political machine.

It is a true shame that all that seems to be of priority to our congress is where they can get the most support from. The skill of negotiations with an eye trained on keeping right the laws, not to legislate righteousness, of the land for the protection of everyone and not the rich or the special interests.
Things have gotten out of control and as you stated about the conduct of the local and national government.

We need to pull the government back into line by letting them know by our votes that the good-old-boy mentality is a no go with us. Vote out the bad and find the good to put in office.

I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and will have a Happy New Year. May we all shoulder the responsibility that is ours because we are Americans no matter our race or our heritage. Get involved and do your part.

Creek said...

Every recent poll has shown the huge majority of Americans are against this health care bill. Do our leaders listen? No. They are only interested in re-election and pork.

Creek said...

Jeff,

Not many years ago, Utah Valley was called Happy Valley because life here was like an episode of "The Brady Bunch". Many people, especially those raised here, still see this area as Happy Valley and that makes them very vulnerable to fraud. To put it bluntly, they are gullible, especially when dealing with other Mormons.

Anonymous said...

Sam B.,

The definintion of fraud is: Deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.

Hmmm...

Harry's health care debacle is full of pork, special deals (Lousiana and Nebraska) and partisan closed door meetings. All of these things are "perpetrated for profit". Sounds to me like the definition of fraud.

Harry knows exactly what he is doing, and it isn't the first time he has played this game. Just ask Nevadans how he got a sweatheart deal on land at the Las Vegas airport.

So rant all you want about credibility...it doesn't change the facts.

Sam B. said...

Anonymous,
Sorry, no. Your characterization of the bill is way off, but let's assume that you're right, and that the bill is pure pork, enacted for Senator Reid's profit.

That's groovy. But where is the deceit? You apparently know what's in the bill. You disagree with it and consider it a waste of taxpayer dollars. But that's not fraud---at worst it's poor legislation.

Paul said...

Well, Jeff, I suppose you wish, but it's hard to imagine that Reid's Mormon ties as a political asset these days.

Reid, like all of us, is welcome to practice the politics he chooses.

Paul

MarkS said...

Jeff,

While your point is well taken, i agree with earlier posts that the article is written to show there is some evidence that contradicts the prevailing notion that Sen. Reid just isn't a very good Mormon.

When I lived in South Carolina, I remember the Baptists saying, "if you're in a business deal, and the other guy mentions he's a Christian, check for your wallet." The same advice applies here.

Sam B, It's ironic that you say 'anonymous' lacks credibility because they don't say who they are. When I click on "Sam B" it takes me to a blog on food that, as far as I can see, says nothing about your identity. Having a coy partial name (like yours and mine) is no more credibility-building than just signing in as anonymous.

Matthew said...

Gotta love the way any politically themed blog post goes down. It always amazes me how fired up people get over this stuff. Not that it isn't warranted but everyone is an expert and everyone else is a deceptive jerk, or just plain misinformed.

On the Prop 8 issue, I think the solution is not to change the definition of marriage but for the federal government to finally say, "hey! This is a religious issue and has nothing to do with federal law anyways. Civil unions all around and let churches decide if two people are 'married' or not!" I honestly cannot see how the federal government started recognizing 'marriages' of any type to begin with. Should there be federally recognized baptisms as well? How many people would like that? Silly stuff, this.

JonathanPDX said...

Jeff,

I've always believed that one should judge a person by their actions, not be the religion they claim to have of follow. But I am always leery of anyone who makes a point of displaying their religion like a signpost or use any part of it in their advertising, intended or implied.

To anyone who feels the need to do this, I immediately am wary, as one should prove one's faith through one's actions, not one's advertising. If a man is honest and true, word will get around, as will the opposite, and the need for trappings will be irrelevant.

Bookslinger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bookslinger said...

I learned to stop trusting Mormons just because they are active or temple-recommend-holding members of the church when I was in the MTC in 1984. Well, at least I hope I learned that lesson.

shokupanmanbo said...

I had a client from a South-East Asian country who owned a car repair shop. He is not LDS but managed to more than double his business by placing great big pictures of the First Presidency on his wall...

Anonymous said...

Senator Bennett suddenly writes a book about the Book of Mormon. Does that make him a fraud, too? You don't have to like Sen.Reid or healthcare reform, but to accuse him of being a Mormon huckster is way off base.

Mormanity said...

The unofficial warning signs listed by my ex-Mormon friend are simply red flags, not proof of anything. Con men can write books, I suppose, but there are much easier ways to run a scam.

As for his religion not being a political asset, it certainly may be among the roughly 20% of his voters who are LDS. The rest are likely to perceive religion as not being a big factor for Reid when his positions on abortion and other topics don't seem to reflect LDS tainting.

Zera Pulsipher said...

I live in Nevada and his faith has never played a role in my decision whether or not to vote for him, which is why I haven't not once since being allowed to vote and the reason is he is a political fraud he does not stand for his constituents including those that are LDS and those that are not. He has only won the office because of heavily using his faith as a tool to get re-elected and finally those of us who have seen through him the entire time feel vindicated knowing that rest of the good people in this state see right through him. Unless you live in this state and ask the people who vote for him why they did (most common answer is that he's Mormon, second most common is I always have that should tell you something)you have no room to stand up for this man who is slowly turning our state into California only worse because we don't have California's natural resources to work with. So to those defending him read his record see if he's a fraud (hint he is).

Dan said...

Jeff,

"The actions of numerous players in our government from both parties over the past several years that really concern me involve a scale of theft far greater than many people can imagine - trillions of dollars seized or created from nothing to defraud our currency, decades of indebtedness, power grabs beyond the wildest dreams of petty conmen, the transfer of vast segments of private enterprise and private property rights into the hands of bureaucrats, the awarding of billions of dollars to criminal elements on Wall Street, and horrific, unnecessary and highly expensive war around the globe that will further erode our economy and our security while costing many lives."

Who do you think this began with? Admittedly I have not read your blog since its inception (not really knowing when you actually began). But I'm curious what you thought of Bush's tax cuts of 2001 back in 2001. I bet you liked them very much, even though they were exactly what you describe here. I bet you voted for Bush in 2004, thus giving legitimacy to everything you deride here, which is exactly what Bush did in his first term.

However, this is not even close to the thrust of your piece here. So you are offering a red herring as a response. Your post here is about Harry Reid and how he is a fraud because he has a Book of Mormon on his desk and has journalists write than in puff pieces. And you offer this charge based on some ex-mormon whose own wisdom is questionable at best. This is really really lame, Jeff.

Creek said...

Dan,

A tax cut simply allows people to keep more of their own money. How can that be considered fraud or theft?

Mormanity said...

Dan, you may not have noticed that my comments were critical of both of the big government, big spending parties. What makes you think that concern about Harry Reid's vast escalation of government and our indebtedness automatically means that someone must be a loyal Bush supporter? FYI, I did not vote for him in 2004.

Tax cuts aren't what lead to a loss of liberty - it's unconstitutional power grabs and property grabs. Deficit spending for unconstitutional purposes is clearly part of that problem. Tax increases to give big spenders more money is not the solution.

Do you realize what it means to have increased our national debt from a trillion to many trillions of dollars in a brief period? If you found that a stranger had hacked your credit card and that you were now accountable for $30,000, wouldn't you be furious? What about people who hack our nation's economy and government to suddenly add about $30,000 or more per family to your debt? Doesn't that concernn you? It's part of a pattern of gargantuan theft occuring before our eyes. Where have our individial politicians been during these atrocities, both partisan and bipartisan? Cashing in, advancing their careers, or defending the Constitution? Where have we all been? Ignoring the erosion of our future, or at least paying attention?

Socialism works - for those who want massive power over other people's lives. For those who want freedom and prosperity, it's a dismal failure worldwide, now and historically. Whether it's administered by Republicans or Democrats, it's deadly medicine.

Dan said...

Creek,

It is fraud when the tax cut benefits the rich at the expense of the poor. But hey, I'm some socialist commie and all, and I actually care about the poor. Sadly, libertarians care only about the super wealthy for they support policies that keep the super wealthy super wealthy at the expense of the poor.

Hank said...

I find it interestingly how many people say they didn't vote for Bush, but really hate the debt Obama is putting our children in. My question; Where the heck were all these people when Bush1, Reagan, and Bush2 were putting us in this debt? Where was the outrage? I don't recall any angry voices.

Dan said...

Jeff,

once again, you are on the subject of the red herring and are avoiding my criticism of your main post. I really couldn't care less if this country was socialist, fascist, totalitarian or whatever. I am criticizing you for calling Senator Reid a fraud, particularly critical of your method of your accusation. You use the words of someone whose veracity cannot be verified as indication of how to identify a religious fraud and then causally tie that to some puff piece article in the Salt Lake Tribune about Senator Reid. I find that shameful of you. If you have a charge to make against Senator Reid, make it. Otherwise stop with this backhanded crap. It is deceitful, rude and un-Christian. You are simply besmirching Senator Reid's name without cause. You share no reason. You merely attach his name to an accusation made by an ex-mormon who thinks he knows how to spot a fraud. Will you answer my charge against you or will you continue talking about the red herring?

Tony said...

Dan, I think you are assuming what Jeff was trying to say in this post, and trying to declare it as fact. That seems unfair to me. He already said that it could be a red-flag, not necessarily evidence of fraud.

You've already made faulty assumptions about Jeff in an earlier post.

Ryan said...

I'm no expert in this particular politician, but several things jump out to me in this post and comments:

1. That "bitter, unreliable, [insert-favorite-epithet-here] ex-mo" has pretty much nailed things, though he missed a third, even bigger, warning sign: when somebody tries to replace due process (like signing contracts) with [religious] "trust." I've seen it many times before, and Bookslinger's seen it also. It was a *huge* part of the problems in Kirtland back in the day, leading to both real estate and banking crashes.

2. If a Mormon politician really wants to reassure his fellow constituents, he should try actually voting for the values they believe in (this may or may not actually apply to S. Reid, but other comments suggest it is a problem).

3. Everything I've heard about the health care bill screams pork politics (= euphemism for "fraud"). I'm not generally a fan of McCain, but he nailed with his comment about people wanting to push it through before it started stinking like a fish in the sun. What happened to the days when you had to read the whole bill out loud before voting?

4. bubbatis has it right. It's supremely naive to ever trust a politician blindly (= based off *anything* except their track record). There are (probably, occasionally) good ones out there, but the odds are waaay against you.

5. "press releases" make their way into newspapers way more often than most people realize. Ever heard of "astroturfing?" There's a whole industry for planting news stories. The semi-ethical ones plant accurate stories, and the client benefits simply because their topic gets airtime when it otherwise might not have. The unethical ones...

6. I had the impression that Jeff already had major misgivings about everyone involved in the current batch of politics (he says so repeatedly!), and was struck that someone should mention these red flags in a completely non-political discussion, right near the time Senator Reid started flying them (or, maybe, third parties started flying them on his behalf in a well-meaning but ominous way).

Dan said...

Tony,

I think Jeff was perfectly clear. Let me break it down.

1. This is the way to identify a fraud.

2. Look Senator Reid fits the bill.

3. You make the conclusion folks.

Jeff doesn't make the charge outright, because he is afraid to actually say it. But it is very clear from his post that he thinks Senator Reid is a fraud. I'm calling him out to say what he actually thinks and stop dancing around.

Mormanity said...

Dan, after telling us you were going away for good, it's great to have you sticking around. However, I am not comfortable with the hard-line spin you put on statements in a quest to overly simplify nuanced matters. I did not say that the two indicators suggested by friend represent "a way to identify fraud." They are his indicators for potential deception, and I recognize that they can be used by people to gain confidence of others in a religious community for business purposes, but they are not reliable indicators per se. I have Books of Mormon in my home, and like many LDS bloggers, writers, and leaders, have made reference to going to the Temple.

The thrust of my post was the need to look past the religion of Harry Reid and others in making political decisions. I called for people be skeptical and aware of the potential of deception when dealing with politicians who make reference to their religion in dealing with religious folks.

However, based on my open discomfort with the cancerous growth big government, with seizing of our savings and economic future through massive deficit spending, with Marxist redistribution of wealth such as the mailing of checks to families under the first Bush stimulus plan, with the unauthorized seizure of private industry such as 1/6 of the economy in one fell swoop, with the graft and corruption associated with unconstitutional bailouts of powerful friends on Wall Street, with the erosion of our currency, and with any form of government tyranny over the souls and minds of man (or over the bodies of man, especially those of prenatal children subjected to the horrors of government-endorsed abortion), one can infer that I am unhappy with many of the actions of leading politicians in both parties. Well, no need to infer that - I've said it several times. Both parties, Dan. If Harry Reid has been working to reduce the size of government, to limits is cancerous growth in accordance with Constitutional principles, to protect private property rights and increase the ability of hard-working people to keep that which they earn, and to oppose the inertia of past decades toward massive socialism, then that would be welcome news - indeed, it would be genuine news to me.

Being on the wrong side of the Constitution and on the wrong side of the fight for personal liberty does not necessarily make one a fraud nor make one dishonest. There were sincere men trying to do what's right who have supported the various gangs and combinations that have brought socialism and big government tyranny throughout history. But being sincere in doing wrong is not enough for a political to impress me. Being a sincere LDS person is not enough for me. I think people must look past religion (and even party lines), whether it's Orrin Hatch, Mitch Romney, or Harry Reid, and consider voting records and other actions to determine if the person can be trusted with political and financial power that may affect us and our posterity for decades to come.

Dan said...

Jeff,

well I had to respond. But I did take your blog off my google reader, so once this debate is done I won't be visiting much more.

Look, you title your post "beware Fraud in the middle of Mormons." You're making an accusation that Senator Reid is a fraud. But you veil it so it doesn't look like it. You may not like Senator Reid, and you may vehemently disagree with his worldview. But don't try and label him a fraud unless you have actual evidence. He's not a fraud. He's not pretending to be someone he really isn't.

I totally get why you would consider someone like Senator Reid a fraud, or a fakester. See, in your worldview, a Mormon simply cannot be a real and sincere believer in his faith and hold to liberal ideologies. You simply cannot fathom that it is possible for the two to reconcile. Thus any Mormon that happens to be liberal, must therefore not be really a Mormon, or in other words, a fraud. He may be a Mormon in name, but not in real identity. You cannot identify with this type of Mormon because your Imagined Community does not calculate such an equation. You lament something you call big government as if that phrase describes everything antithetical to your imagined community of pure ideology. You have an utopian view of how government should operate and sadly your ideological worldview of governance has never been operable anywhere on the planet. Reality constantly gets in the way. And when it does, and individuals in government account for reality, you consider them frauds because they do not stick with your idealistic, unrealistic, utopian philosophy. It is very hard for me to take libertarians seriously because they constantly deride from their high perches on top of their utopian ideology whilst not doing a single thing to actually improve the governing of this nation. Meanwhile those frauds who work in the government right now try to do their best to solve these quite impossible problems.

Do libertarians not get that governing is a wrestling match? It's not a game of chess. It's a wrestling match to the death. It is no holds barred. Blood splatters on the walls in a democratic republic. When you give everyone a stake in the governance of the entire nation, everyone then has an interest in the manner of that governance. There's no such thing as limited government in a democracy. It does not exist.

Mormanity said...

Whoa, Dan, that's an awful lot of stereotyping there. My trouble with the current power grab and the insane deficit spending of the past few years or decades is not one of automatically judging someone because they are liberal or conservative. The neo-cons, so-called conservatives, have been among the worst big spenders and war mongers. A simple label of conservative or liberal, like party labels, can be misleading and inadequate.

"See, in your worldview, a Mormon simply cannot be a real and sincere believer in his faith and hold to liberal ideologies. You simply cannot fathom that it is possible for the two to reconcile. Thus any Mormon that happens to be liberal, must therefore not be really a Mormon, or in other words, a fraud. . . ."

A bit too condescending, Dan. Good Mormons can be liberals on many issues. I've never said otherwise. I have expressly left open the possibility that Reid is in fact a sincere Mormon and not a fraud, though I do disagree with him, in spite of having previously been positive about him when I was hopeful that he would resist the excesses of the Republicans when they were in power. And Dan, yes, I knew he was a liberal then, and at that time I certainly had the intellectual ability to recognize that one can hold liberal views without being a total apostate. He has disappointed me, yes, and I am grieved over the loss of fredom and financial responsibility this nation now faces, but he may be acting in sincerity rather than deceit or for personal gain. Thus, not necessarilty a fraud. But that doesn't make the harm to our economy and Republic by leading politicians over the past few years any less painful. Liberals and conservatives, whatever those labels mean, should, as I said, look past religion in evaluating him or any other politician.

Dan, you seem to insist on twisting words to create extreme positions from those with differing views, as if anyone who disagrees with you must be hopelessly stupid and extreme, in need of a condescending lecture. Doesn't make for a meaningful discussion or debate.

Dan said...

Jeff,

" Liberals and conservatives, whatever those labels mean, should, as I said, look past religion in evaluating him or any other politician. "

Well then state that, and don't use the term fraud. You admit that you leave open the strong possibility that Senator Reid is a relatively honest politician, and I applaud you for that. Speaking as one who leans liberal, I think I can safely say that no liberal voter that I know has ever considered a candidate because of his or her religious views. This tends to be a problem on the conservative side (heck you highlight a certain fool named Rammell in your most recent post who panders to religious voters).

Jeff, I am highly critical of libertarian idealists because they generally speak loudest when a liberal is in office. They are then oblivious to the numbers, the actual facts of fiscal policies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_by_U.S._presidential_terms#Federal_spending.2C_federal_debt.2C_and_GDP

That particular page from wikipedia is such a beautiful sight to behold. Take a look at those numbers. Honestly, you libertarians ought to hang out with Democrats more, because they have proven with hard numbers to actually govern fiscally responsible. Those numbers only go through 2005, so they don't take into account the collapse at the end of the utterly awful George Bush years. When those numbers are updated, the Republican numbers will be truly horrendous. In any case, look at those numbers. Since 1978, under Democrats, Federal spending increased 10% while federal debt increased only 4%. That's not bad. At the same time, GDP increased 12%. Now compare with Republicans during this same time. Federal spending increased 12% while federal debt increased a whopping 36%!!!!!!! And GDP only increased by 10%. The numbers do not lie, Jeff. It is Democrats who are actually fiscally responsible. They increase taxes appropriately. They trim spending appropriately and they try not to add too much to the federal debt. Why are you so vociferously angry at them? What's this generalized term you use against them: Socialism? What the heck does that mean? Big government? What the heck does that mean? You chide me for using generalizations but your whole piece is chock full of generalizations against straw men enemies. You ought to be a big fan of this current health care bill. It trims the deficit, it pays for itself, and it reforms our awful health care system. It's a libertarian's dream bill! :)

Mormanity said...

These are fair points, Dan. I have spent far more time on this blog bemoaning what was happening under Bush than under Obama, and I do recognize that modern Republicans have a horrific track record of fiscal irresponsibility. I have said that both parties are at fault several times here - so please quit assuming that this is a jab at Democrats only.

In terms of making too strong an accusation against Reid, I will consider modifying the title so that people don't jump to extreme conclusions.

However, Dan, I DID NOT say that I consider Harry Reid to be an honest politician. I have recognized that he may be sincere in his religion, and I have said that there have been sincere men throughout history caught up in supporting theft by the state, but I have not praised him or his other partners from both parties over the years in the quest for the unconscionable, mind-boggling transfer of wealth and power to the federal government (and wall Street) in flagrant opposition to the limited powers given our leaders by the Constitution.

He has played a key role in exploding the national debt beyond levels ever imagined by big-spending Republican con-men dressed as fiscal conservatives. That's part of the track record that voters should consider.

If you think crushing debt is good, if you think the inevtiable collapse of the dollar is good, if you think that an economy and health care system run by politicians lacking the omniscience needed to make a centrally planned economy work is good, if you think humans can be trusted with unlimited power and wealth, if you think bureaucrats know how to spend our money and live our lives better than we do, then keep voting for the people who are doing what they are doing. You cn find folks in both parties to keep that agenda alive (and Bernie Snders of the Socialist Party makes three). Me? I'm on the other side and wish to support politicians who I feel are good, honest, bonorable, and smart enough to support liberty, personal freedom, and fiscal responsibility, and who have the integrity to live up to the oath they made when they took office, rather than view America as a deep pocket for anything-goes pork-barrel legislation (public bribes, as we saw in the Christmas Eve swindle) that tramples upon the wise and even sacred principles of liberty, personal freedom, and limnited government with checks and balances that this nation is supposed to founded upon.

Dan said...

Jeff,

I don't think our national debt is that crushing to be honest. Percentage wise, we were in a far worse situation during and after World War II. Our debt during those days far exceeded our assets. Today our GDP stands at about $14 trillion dollars, and our national debt (excluding personal debt, because that's a whole other story) is at $12 trillion dollars. That's not crushing debt. Sure, that's a lot of money, but we're by far the richest country in the world. The numbers are going to be fantastically high. I mean, Lehman Brothers had $600 million in assets, which was more than the country of Argentina! Citigroup has like $1.2 trillion in assets (maybe less this year). The ability of this country to pay its debts is not crushing. Our tax levels are historically low (and this is where our major problem is related to debt, we're a country unwilling to pay for the cake we're eating). There's a misconception out there that higher taxation levels thwarts a thriving business. This couldn't be further from the truth. During the 1950s-1970s we had one of the greatest economic growth periods in American history. Almost everyone benefited from this growth. Taxation levels were high, particularly among the ultra rich. Heck, in the 1950s, the top 1% were taxed at 90%. They somehow survived, and the whole country thrived. Right now the top 1% are taxed at 35% or something close to that. What a ridiculously low level. Personally, to solve our woefully balanced budget, I believe the top 1% ought to be taxed at 50% and the top 5% below that at 40%. Watch the magic as our budget is balanced and our debt becomes manageable. Responsible governance requires increased taxation when the budget is imbalanced. It requires a reduction in expenses. The current batch of Democratic Congressmen and Senators have passed a health care bill (which now needs to be reconciled) which will do exactly this, reduce expenses. I am obviously more of a partisan than you. I don't direct most of my ire at all politicians, but more at one party. I do this because I obviously see that politicians are corrupted by the system, but I believe the Democratic party actually tries to govern responsibly. The Republican party hasn't. Honestly as I've gone back in studying history, I cannot recall an instance where the Republican party has actually governed responsibly. Maybe the Theodore Roosevelt administration. Eisenhower was a decent president (but today's conservatives disown him, after all, he allowed such high tax levels). Reagan? My goodness the man did such a terrible job at governing! Look at how much debt increased under Reagan! Holy cow! What an awful awful president. He never tried to rein in spending. Never.

What I'm essentially saying, Jeff, is that your ideology will never work at actually governing this country. It is impossible, because your ideology would be destroyed the first day of implementation. Because of this, try to support those who actually do try to govern responsibly. Because if all you do is harp on those who work within the government but never actually support anyone who is currently trying, what good are you? How are you actually helping?

Paulist said...

Dan said, "Jeff, I am highly critical of libertarian idealists because they generally speak loudest when a liberal is in office. They are then oblivious to the numbers, the actual facts of fiscal policies"

What? What justification do you have for these statements? Have you followed what Ron Paul and others of the libertarian mindset have been saying? How they have loudly spoken against the excesses of Bush and other Republicans? How they have been about the only ones focused on the realities of what is happening to debt, the size of government, and real inflation (the excessive expansion of the money supply)?

Matthew said...

@ dan,
Hey, I really appreciate a lot of your comments. I also found it extremely weird that Reid was being called out as a fraud for saying that he is an upstanding Mormon and being a liberal.

This is a rather prevalent view in the church but is nearly always addressed with this same sort of skirting around the issue. People won't come right out and say it until they are sure that you aren't liberal then they'll start spewing all the, "no respectable believer in Jesus Christ could support the Democratic part" garbage.

Jeff's title couldn't say this any more clearly yet he seems to be constantly arguing against what that title states.

If you're going to make such a claim, Jeff, you should at least be honest about it. If you think that Reid is a dishonest huckster that cannot be in good standing with the churc then state your reasons why. If you do not think this is the case then don't say that he is a 'fraud in the middle of he Mormons' because I have trouble seeing what else you could be trying to get at here.

As has been stated before (even by you Jeff) most people really do feel that their personal ideas on governance are good and actually want to make the world a better place. Not all of them do, there are certainly corrupt politicians. If Reid is corrupt then he certainly would be a 'fraud amongst the Mormons' But so far this is not something you have stated, and are instead talking about how you think his ideals are dangerous. Even if he is completely wrong this would not make him a fraud, just misguided.

Mormanity said...

Matthew, I think you missed the point of the post. If you read it again and my further comments, I hope you'll notice that I'm asking people to look past religion in evaluating politicians. This post is NOT about evaluating religious standing. It is not about whether Reid or any other liberal can be a good member of the Church or a believer in Christ. I even stated that "good Mormons can be liberals on many issues." What you take as the thrust of my words is quite the opposite of what I said and feel. I recognize that Reid is said to be active, that he has a temple recommend, and that he is a member obviously in good standing.

My point is not whether he or any other politician is a good Mormon or good member of any religion, but whether a politician is a good American, true to the oath of office, true to the Constitution, and true to the people he or she represents. I am asking people to be more wary, to recognize that positive impressions from sharing a religion or any other common interest or characteristic is not a reasonable basis for trust in a world of deceit and corruption, even among the Mormons. Look at actions and voting records, not that temple recommend or Bible on their sleeve or press release. This applies to Reid, Hatch, Romney, Hucklebee, Obama, and so forth.

I'm puzzled about why you think my concern is about his ideals. Everyone in office has lofty ideals, just like they often have noble religious views. I don't care about stated ideals - everyone believes in freedom, love, equality, kindness, and peace. Let me state once again that it's the actions that I care about. High ideals have not shredded away 97% of the value of the dollar since the Federal Reserve Bank system was founded. High ideals have not given trillions of dollars of debt. High ideals do not send money to corrupt organizations that encourage voter fraud or abortion of viable human beings. It's the actions of individuals that matter, actions which often are contrary to the ideals they share in the media.

As for recent specifics about questionable actions, did you not notice what happened with Nebraska? Can you find any way to justify this kind of use of our tax dollars? Can you find any way to resolve that with the oath of office that the participants took? Maybe you can - but it's an example of actions that demand further consideration, regardless of anyone's publicly stated and possibly purely sincere religious ideals.

Remember: I don't care whether Reid is a good member of the Church or not when it comes to evaluating his political work. I care whether he is a good American supporting the Constitution and living up to his oath of office. I'm vastly more more inclined to vote for a rabid atheist who understands and even slightly respects the Constitution than I am to vote for a good Christian/good Mormon whose actions show contempt for or ignorance of that document.

As food for thought, John F. Kennedy was a liberal and a very bad Catholic with a shocking string of affairs that disgraced the White House, but, in my opinion, had vastly more respect for the Constitution, personal liberty, and financial restraint than the vast majority of our artistocrats today. There was an honorable and freedom-loving streak in him that I wish more would emulate.

Matthew said...

@ Jeff,
I may have totally missed what you were going for with this post, and if I have I totally apologize. I agree that people should never assume that because a person has the same religious beliefs as I do that they should be held above reproach as far as their methods or politics go. People should vote for the person that most well fits what they feel to be true and right regardless of the their personal beliefs.

I may have been getting caught up more on your eye grabbing post title and making massive assumptions based off of that. For me if I read a title like that and then read about a particular person (Harry Reid in this case) I tend to assume that this was the intention of the article to call out a particular person or political standpoint as being fradulant in the gospel. It appears that I was incorrect in this though.

Mormanity said...

Matthew, since my title appears to have created some misunderstanding of my message, I've updated it with language that I hope is more clear and less accusatory. But I am not retracting what I've said or walking away from my concerns about the actions of any person who engages in unbridled spending of other people's money.

JWCaldwell said...

Most journalist are lazy. They dont create their stories from nothing. Usually, journalist get a pre written press release. They then use the press release to write the story quick and easy... bada bing.. bada boom... story is submitted to the editor and hits the pages. The Harry Reid story most likely fit this scenario. Harry Reid's PR manager wrote the talking points, submitted the talking points as a "press release" to several news outlets. One of the news outlets took the bait as an easy story and sent out a journalist or the journalist conducted a quick interview telephonically. Usually, when a news article has no mud, no controversy, the article was conducted via the lazy journalist method. It was already written and ready to go via the Reid PR account.

Anonymous said...

Re: nebraska. See http://www.lifenews.com/state4687.html. Senator Nelson is taking well-desrved heat for his corrupt deal that gave him $$ for Nebraska to help his future in exchange for selling out on abortion and on the health-care takeover bill. But the greater crime may be Reid's for his misuse of tax dollars to fund the heist. Forcing language in the bill to fund abortions with tax dollars and to ultimately force insurance companies to pay for them is heinous, even if it were constitutional.

Mormanity said...

Whoa, just saw what Provo's Daily Herald had to say about some of the actions from Harry Reid in pushing for the Health Care bill. Very hard to disagree. See Health, freedom are at stake.

This is getting far too close to some disturbing Book of Mormon themes for my taste!

Mormanity said...

Below is an excerpt from the Daily Herald's column:

Such sellouts are the inevitable byproduct of a process in which corruption was breathtakingly brazen, reminiscent of the Chicago of Al Capone. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said his anti-abortion principles wouldn't let him vote for the bill. But then his state was given a perpetual exemption from the cost of new Medicaid patients. Suddenly his principles weren't so important, and he supported the bill.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) grabbed $300 million in extra federal spending, a rip-off dubbed the "Louisiana Purchase." Other senators grabbed millions in what should be considered plain old bribery.

This orgy of graft was so bad that even Sen. Orrin Hatch, usually eager to seek bipartisan accord, ripped into his Senate colleagues. "Despite all the promises of accountability and transparency, this bill is a grab bag of Chicago-style, back-room buyoffs," he said on the Senate floor. "It is nothing more than a private game of 'Let's Make A Deal' with special interest groups financed by American taxpayers."

Democrats didn't even pretend to be ashamed of the sleaze. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said of the vote buying: "I don't know if there is a senator that doesn't have something in this bill that was important to them. And if they don't have something in it important to them, then it doesn't speak well of them."

Finally, the hubris of the senators reached new heights with language creating the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (a.k.a. "death panel") and placing it beyond the reach of future Congresses. The Senate bill proclaimed: "It shall not be in order in the Senate or the House of Representatives to consider any bill, resolution, amendment or conference report that would repeal or otherwise change this subsection."

We're not sure if this is Mao on the march or Stalin. Take your pick.

(Hat tip to Connor Boyack and Chris Knudsen.)

Tony said...

Seriously Dan, if Jeff and other Mormons thought that Democrats couldn't conceivably be Mormons, than what say you of Elder James E. Faust?

And also, if that was the case, then my beloved second mother Sister Clancy would have been disowned and thrown to the curb if we started labeling others to not be true Mormons simply because of different political ideologies.

Happy New Year. Sorry you won't be visiting anymore.

No need to take offense when it wasn't intended.

Molly said...

Dan, re: "I don't think our national debt is that crushing to be honest."

I can't believe you typed this comment.

Anyone unconcerned with our ever-increasing National Debt and with the speed in which it's expanding, needs to have his head examined. (How's this from steering clear of any soft pedaling)?

Jeff, I agree with you on many points. I also believe that this sad state of affairs we find ourselves in cannot be generalized as the result of a 'republican' or 'democratic' administration. The problem did begin farther back than this Administration.

However, I see this administration further perpetuating the problem with total disregard for the American people and the Constitution.

I find it alarming and of great concern that across party lines, the Constitution is being shredded and that basic laws and rules enacted to prevent this are being completely disregarded. Open corruption and greed has become business as usual on the Hill.

Having said this, we have been very outspoken on our blog regarding Harry Reid. I hold him more accountable for his behavior BECAUSE he is LDS.

Whatever happened to just doing the right thing?

Dan said...

Molly,

I can't believe you're shocked that I wrote that comment.

well, actually, I can believe. I so desperately want more sensible, rational debaters. Let's keep things in perspective shall we. The US government's debt is still less than the GDP of the United States. This is good. The path George W. Bush put us on is definitely unsustainable, but we're not in desperate trouble yet. Not even close. Consider Japan. 20 years ago, their economy collapsed for much the same reasons our economy just collapsed. For the past 20 years, the Japanese government has attempted to stimulate their economy with mixed success. This has translated into a debt to GDP ratio of about 130% right now, with a projected peak of about 200%. But no one in Japan is thinking their country is going to default on their debt. Smaller countries, however, have a more difficult time. For example, Greece is fearing they will default on their sovereign debt, and that the bigger EU nations are going to have to chip in to save Greece. Iceland faced a phenomenally bad problem last year due to their over-leverage in finance.

I'd love for conservative/libertarian bloggers to be more realistic about things, instead of this annoying immature hyperbole. Realism is sadly lacking from conservative/libertarian bloggers on the issue of finance. Their voices are loudest when Democrats are in charge. It's painfully hypocritical.

Dan said...

and Jeff, seriously, Mao? Stalin?

Mormanity said...

Molly, what blog are you referring to?

Dan, when a government seeks to own or control a huge and previously private sector of the economy, I think it's fair to reflect on the past actions and teachings of Marx, Stalin, and Mao. There is a reason why our Founding Fathers wanted government to be limited and small - microscopic relative to what the aspirations of power-hungry men will bring if left unchecked. Do you not see a shift bringing us much closer to the centrally planned systems advocated by Marx and hopelessly far from the system our Founding Fathers sought to give us?

Dan said...

Jeff,

Small government? Really? Did the Founding Fathers all agree on this? Because let me tell you, I can interpret much of what Jefferson and Hamilton said and conclude they were perfectly fine with large central governments. Even Madison. Heck, in terms of health care, there is actually a provision in the Constitution that says that government is to provide for the "general welfare" of the nation. You think simply saying "the Founding Fathers liked small government" would make your argument stand, but it doesn't. Show me where the "Founding Fathers" argued against what you label "big government."

Secondly, socialism as an idea, i.e. strong central governments controlling the nation's economies, is not an idea that began originally with Marx. Heck, Thomas Paine was a big fan of communist ideas.

"It is a position not to be controverted that the earth, in its natural, cultivated state was, and ever would have continued to be, the common property of the human race. In that state every man would have been born to property. He would have been a joint life proprietor with rest in the property of the soil, and in all its natural productions, vegetable and animal."

and

"[C]reate a national fund, out of which there shall be paid to every person, when arrived at the age of twenty-one years, the sum of fifteen pounds sterling, as a compensation in part, for the loss of his or her natural inheritance, by the introduction of the system of landed property. And also, the sum of ten pounds per annum, during life, to every person now living, of the age of fifty years, and to all others as they shall arrive at that age."

Those come from one of his tracts. Sounds highly socialist. I wish libertarians would not argue with the phrase "The Founding Fathers said" because, as the Founding Fathers were not monolithic, one cannot make the argument "The Founding Fathers said." There was only one thing they all agreed on: the creation of the United States of America. The rest was up for arguments, and argue they did! Heck in 1800, they nearly came to blows over governing this nation of ours. You can make the argument that some of the Founding Fathers argued for small government, but you cannot make the argument that ALL the Founding Fathers argued for small government, because that is just not accurate.

So, back to Mao, what does your point, and the point in that article, have to do with the price of tea in China? How does the health care proposal currently in Congress compare at all with Mao's, well anything? The article talks about how votes were bought. Did Mao purchase votes for something? Did Stalin? Do you see how silly libertarians have got? This is lame, Jeff.

Molly said...

Jeff:

http://kudzumollymormon.blogspot.com

Sorry for the delay.

Dan:

Calling me an irrational debater because I believe the US is headed for bankruptcy is laughable. Are you aware Cheng Siwei, former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee and now head of China's green energy drive, said Beijing [is] dismayed (about our debt crisis)...

"The US spends tomorrow's money today," he said. "We Chinese spend today's money tomorrow. That's why we have this financial crisis...He who goes borrowing, goes sorrowing,"

Let me understand this...China is concerned, and you're not?

Dan said...

Yes, it is an irrational position to take because it doesn't take many factors into account. The Chinese are concerned because it is their money being spent. But that concern does not translate into fears of US bankruptcy. No Chinese banker is even close to that kind of fear. Why are you? If you supposedly base your fears on what the Chinese banker fears, then surely your only concern is that the US is spending too much. Your fear would not be that the US is going bankrupt, because the Chinese banker doesn't think so. He's only concerned that the US is spending too much of their money. He does not believe the US will default on those loans. He's smarter than to think like that. Please be smarter and think like this Chinese banker. The US will not be defaulting on its loans anytime soon. I showed the example of the Japanese to attempt to allay your fears, but apparently it matters not because the Japanese are not American. But consider, 20 years after the Japanese economy collapsed and after 20 years of the Japanese government injecting and pumping tax dollar back into the economy to prop it up, and yet the Japanese fiscal situation is still not dire. They are not close to defaulting on any of their loans despite how much debt they are in.

Clif said...

As a temple-recommend holding, Book of Mormon loving, priesthood holder that you should trust, I would like to second everything that Dan has said :-)

On a more serious note though, I really do agree with almost everything Dan has said here. I love your blog Jeff, so I was really disappointed to read this post. It really smacks of a lot of the ill-informed and nonsensical rants that have come from the right lately.

I was a die-hard conservative before I went to back to school and worked towards a minor in economics. That experience radically changed my political leanings. As Dan has pointed out, the numbers just don't lie. What the numbers say is that the federal debt has exploded almost exclusively under the watch of Republican administrations since 1980 while at the same time the rich have become spectacularly richer and everyone else has languished. Yet paradoxically, it is only when we have a Democrat in office that people start hyperventilating about the debt and deficit spending.

I would submit that anyone that is a pure laissez-faire capitalist is simply ignorant of economic history. It cracks me up to hear some Ron Paul type talk about how great the gold standard is and why we should abolish the Fed. People don't realize that there were very valid reasons that Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act nearly a century ago and reasons why it has endured.

People don't stop to realize that absent such government involvement, panics and banking failures used to be commonplace. Recessions were far worse in both frequency and severity. These were the days when child labor was considered acceptable and there was no such thing as OSHA - so a coal miner could expect to be dead somewhere around 40. All of these things represented the kinds of government expansions that you seem to think are unconstitutional.

You might not have come right out and called Senator Reid a fraud - but you certainly insinuated it. There's no other way to read it. How do you believe Senator Reid stands to personally profit from what he is doing?

There's a big difference between legislation being unconstitutional versus it simply being a bill that you personally don't like.

Dan was (again) on the money with his point about the founding fathers. This idea the founders were somehow united on their ideals about limited government is historical revisionism at its worst. Conservatives recite this line like it's the gospel truth. It's not. Just like it is today, there was a wide variety of thoughts and opinions on the subject. We got the constitution after weeks of debate and compromise.

Matthew said...

@ Clif and Dan,
Thanks guys. Your posts have been a breath of fresh air in here.

While there are some points that libertarians hold that I can kind of get behind there are as Clif pointed out so well plenty of areas where the 'no government' or 'small government' idea just isn't plausible. My main complaint with Ron Paul has been that he seems to talk about how the current system is broken and his way would fix it but doesn't really get into how his way will fix anything.

For example in the area of medical industry reform he believes that removing all government meddling will fix all of the issues and prices will fall dramatically. I don't understand where he is coming from on this in the slightest. While it's easy to find areas of the medical industry that are convoluted and made worse by paperwork or government involvement there are also plenty of areas where the need for intervention seems obvious. The idea is to find the areas where things don't run as smoothly and fix them. Throwing away the whole system would not be a very wise idea in my mind and if my personal experience with insurance companies is anything to go by the last thing I want is less regulation. I'm thoroughly convinced that Insurance companies are willing to screw people over just as much as the government allows them to. I don't see how a free market system will solve that issue.

Honestly how does a free market libertarian utopia defend itself against the corrupt types of practices that corporations are always engaging themselves in? Without governmental pressure what encourages exxon Mobil to clean up their oil spills?

Robert said...

Your friend's perspective on the use of religion is a lot like my experience in the trucking business. Any driver who ever made strong references to being a "trucker for Jesus" or similar references to being very Christian in my earliest conversations with him (never met a woman who did it) turned out to be very untrustworthy. Several of them ran off with thousands. I developed an immediate red flag, as your friend did, to anyone using such references. It's sad when people try to use and abuse their faith to take advantage of others.

Alan said...

Has anyone here ever asked themselves why "limited government" is always a good thing? It seems that some of us at time "worship" the "free market" and "limited government" to the point that we don't want our government to have any power to help relieve suffering and poverty. For example, I would like to have Single Payer Health Care like Canada. There are a lot of LDS in Canada. Do they long for a "limited government" that will take away Single Payer and give them a US style system so that at last Canadians can be "free"?
Here is another thought: In Mosiah 21:17 we read that King Limhi "commanded (COMMANDED) that every man should impart to the support of the widows and their children, that they might not perish with hunger; and this they did becasues of the greatness of their number that had been slain."
To me this sounds like the government taking from the haves and giving to the have-nots, so that people would not perish.
I personally believe that a good person and a good LDS can believe any political philosophy they want in good conscience. I think Senator Reid is a good man and a good Senator who is trying to do what he thinks is right.

Matthew said...

@ alan,
I agree with you sir. I think the typical response to what you said by someone that is a member and is against government spending and taxation will say this though. In the BoM when the people are commanded to give of their own goods to the poor that this is a commandment from a righteous church leader and that the people were supposed to give directly to the poor so there wasn't some government agency that is going to misuse the funds. Something to that effect.

Their fear is based mainly on a distrust of people different then themselves having any sort of power. Obviously as members of the church they have to be in support of the law of consecration if it ever comes into effect and that has always been interesting to me. Again, to be consistent with the church one has to be okay with giving all one's power up to another. It's just in the church we are taught that the person we are submitting to is either God, or one of his servants (since God rarely, and in my experience, never speaks to us directly.) The major difference between communism and the law of consecration is that you have 'righteous' servants of God making decisions on how the money and goods are distributed.

As is the case with any system of government (and with really large people you will always need people to govern) if you have people in power that want what you want and are more concerned about the welfare of the people then their own, then life is great. For this reason I think that the United states has one of the better forms of government worldwide because it works best with the selfish prideful nature of mankind.

Alan said...

@Matthew
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I often get incredulous comments when I say things like this so I pretty much keep my opinions to myself.
I think the Lord told us LDS that we should diligently search for honest and wise persons to serve in public office. (D&C 98:10)
I am more interested in good government than in limited government. I pray that our President and Congress will be inspired to enact legislation that will bless the laws of many people. I don't think the Lord is pleased when some of us are very rich and some of us are very poor. I don't see anything wrong with the people, through their elected representatives, seeking to help. If there is a free market limited government way to do this, I am all for it. I am for what works, not for some ideology or Party. I wish more of our elected representatives were the same.
For example, other countries have found better ways to ensure health care access than we have. I think we should see what they are doing that works, and try to copy it.

Matthew said...

@ alan,
That's the beauty of the internet! Since it's fairly anonymous people are free to speak their minds and not worry about how their peers will look at them. I think (well it depends on where you live I suppose. Here in Oregon people are probably a little more laid back in terms of conservative or libertarian politics) you'd be surprised how many people either agree with you or see your point completely. What you are saying is totally sensible.

I think we all like to invent demons that are the 'culprits' of everything that is 'wrong' with the world. For some this is big government, for others it's a large military, for some it may be a particular person that was called to be president (we've seen this on both party lines with the vilification and scapegoating.)

It's always good to have a civil discussion that doesn't devolve into an us vs them battle, yet those types of confrontations seem nearly impossible to avoid.

I've said it before but only in the realm of politics can people nearly come to blows over topics that they've spent about 5 minutes analyzing (or at least about 5 minutes analyzing the opinion that is different then the one they made a 'gut' decision on at the beginning.)

I agree, I think that it is the duty of every US citizen to vote for the people and processes that they feel are in the best interest of not only themselves but our society overall.

Blackmarch said...

Interesting story...

while your friend has some decent theory, keep in mind this;

Con men don whatever costume that makes their target(s) most comfortable- and in the LDS community today, apparently thats showing your faith by indicating you have a recommend or display book of mormons.

If it was say the opposite, that the LDS community promotes more of being silent about your belief (which it does not currently), said con men would probably choose to be "secretive" in regards to their "beliefs".

hardiansyah said...

yea. i think so In case you don't follow the news, the health care bill that just passed the senate is the largest fraud ever forced upon the American people.