Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; (D&C 98:10)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Free Will Offering vs Charity from Tax

My friend Emily is happy that Obama's health care reform (HCR) has passed. It reminds me of a quote from Milton Friedman (numbers added)

There are four ways in which you can spend money.
[1] You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you're doing, and you try to get the most for your money.
[2] Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I'm not so careful about the content of the present, but I'm very careful about the cost.
[3] Then, I can spend somebody else's money on myself. And if I spend somebody else's money on myself, then I'm sure going to have a good lunch!
[4] Finally, I can spend somebody else's money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else's money on somebody else, I'm not concerned about how much it is, and I'm not concerned about what I get.
The bill just passed spends money like number 4. It is wasteful and more likely to breed corruption. We are running headlong into mountains of debt and have not considered repayment. It is irresponsible. It will prompt the health care givers to get out of the business or move elsewhere.

A better alternative is a plan by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Some points are:
- health care portability from job to job
- create state health insurance exchanges - a marketplace to compare difference policies will increase competition
- Increase transparency through a Healthcare Services Commission that relies on a public/private partnership
More details of the Patient Choice Act are here.

This is a more sensible plan. I cannot believe that we think raising taxes is going to get us out of this recession.

There are many that are out of jobs and also don't have access to health care. The best way to accomplish this is by free will offerings. Giving willingly either directly to someone you see in need or to charities that will offer relief.

Joseph Smith did not believe in Socialism.
Joseph accepted the economy of private property and individual enterprise. Even under the consecration of properties, individual stewards operated independently in a market economy, though they were obligated to return their "surplus" to the bishop
But capitalism never ruled Nauvoo as it did Chicago, a city that in 1844 was the same size as Nauvoo. The original name of the Nauvoo site, Commerce, was dropped after the Saints arrived. Rather than promising entrepreneurs great wealth, Joseph asked that "money be brought here to pay the poor for manufacturing." Profits were secondary to creating jobs.
(Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, Richard Lyman Bushman, 2005, pages 502 and 503, view online)
It can also be noted that he did not practice Capitalism in the same way. The focus was on lifting those in a poorer position instead of enriching yourself. Yet it was all voluntary. The obligation he refers to comes after I covenant to obey the law of consecration. Yet it is a voluntary covenant. I recognize my position as a beggar before God (Mos 4:16-27). I then promise to do my best to help others both physically and spiritually.

Socialism or charity from tax, promotes wastefulness and corruption. On the other hand, greedy, unchecked capitalism leaves the poor and poorest without relief. The ideal is the accountability and reward that comes from capitalism along with free will offerings lifting up the unfortunate among us. We assist them to become self sufficient. This is best achieved by capitalism and persuasion to acknowledge our positions as beggars before God.

"capitalism is the least worst system available to us — until Zion can be achieved" Geoff B.


Stephanie said...

Very well put, my dear!

Emily said...

Thanks for calling me your friend.

Rich Alger said...

You're welcome.

Tanner Fam said...

Good post, Rich. The hard part is getting others to realize the benefits of free will offering. As members of the church...it is something we are accustomed to, but many in this world aren't. Even in my family, who I love and respect and honor, have a hard time with freely giving. They feel they've worked hard for what they have and think others should be 'on their own' to do the same thing. OR, they feel if they help you, you should repay in some way, shape, or form. My family is very loving, yet it's amazing what the gospel does to people..the change in wanting to aid those in need. I truly believe free will offering is the answer, but the harder question is how do we teach this to the world?

Rich Alger said...

Just recite King Benjamin's address with a heavy tone of guilt (just kidding)

I think there are many generous people. Many many that are not LDS. I think of all those organizations that come to the aid of children around the world. I think of Muhammad Yunus who pioneered micro-loans.

There are many more examples. We can exalt the poor and humble the rich through this process and we become rich both spiritually and physically.

Ashlee's #1 Fan said...

It's amazing to me how many people oppose forcing the public to pay taxes for a healthcare program they don't want, but they turn around and vote yes on new taxes for the programs that they do like.

John M. said...

For my LDS friends: Seems we've had this argument before and the proper solution was agreed upon long before we were born into mortality. Wasn't the choice between "force them to do good" vs. "we will leave them free to choose good or evil," and didn't we firmly chose the latter? Hasn't the war already fought and won in our first estate merely changed battlefields?

"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature." -President Ezra Taft Benson, "Born of God," Ensign, July 1989

One method works, the other does not. One method debases all men to a low economic and spiritual level, the other elevates and leaves them free.