***This is a post I wrote four years ago on our family blog. I thought I would dust it off and put it on my personal blog as well. I've also added some dialogue between a friend and me on the issue in response to my post.
Recently I've had a number of conversations, both in and out of the
Church, on the topic of socialism. Often a certain line of questioning
emerges from those who are partial to the idea of socialism. It goes
something like this: Christ taught that we should serve one another. He
and his disciples have taught the importance of charity. Isn't socialism
just Christianity put into practice by government? How can true
Christians have a problem with socialism? Does not Christian theology
require its adherents to share their wealth with others?
tempting to take the easy path and say that, "Yes, socialism and
Christianity are similar." One is only the cheap copy of the other. The
consequences of each are completely different. One leads men to a higher
plane of existence, encouraging them to work harder for one another
based on true love. The other, sadly, leads to men seeking power and
authority over one another, which is so easily abetted by the
willingness of people to surrender their personal responsibility for
their own welfare to others.
President Ezra Taft Benson spoke
often about the dangers and evil of communism and its sublte
predecessor, socialism. In a conference address he stated: "We must ever
keep in mind that collectivized socialism is part of the communistic
strategy...What is socialism? It is simply governmental ownership or
management of the essential means for the production and distribution of
goods...What can priesthood holders do? We should become informed about
communism, socialism and about Americanism...We should treat
socialistic-communism as the tool of Satan."
Further he stated
the following: "A category of government activity which, today, not only
requires the closest scrutiny, but which also poses a grave danger to
our continued freedom, is the activity NOT within the proper sphere of
government. No one has the authority to grant such powers, as welfare
programs, schemes for re-distributing the wealth, and activities which
coerce people into acting in accordance with a prescribed code of social
planning. There is one simple test. Do I as an individual have a right
to use force upon my neighbor to accomplish this goal? If I do have such
a right, then I may delegate that power to my government to exercise on
my behalf. If I do not have that right as an individual, then I cannot
delegate it to government, and I cannot ask my government to perform the
act for me…In reply to the argument that a little bit of socialism is
good so long as it doesn't go too far, it is tempting to say that, in
like fashion, just a little bit of theft or a little bit of cancer is
all right, too! History proves that the growth of the welfare state is
difficult to check before it comes to its full flower of dictatorship.
But let us hope that this time around, the trend can be reversed. If not
then we will see the inevitability of complete socialism, probably
within our lifetime."
The law of consecration stands in
juxtaposition to the idea of socialism. The law of consecration is based
on agency. Individuals are free to participate in the Lord's plan based
on their love for one another as directed by priesthood leadership.
True understanding and willing participation in the law of consecration
will lead people to perform their best and not seek something for
nothing. History has proven that socialism has the opposite effect.
Groups in power use it to obtain greater power, wealth and resources
from those who are willing to work hard. This decreases the desire of
those who are productive to produce. Socialism also leads to people
wanting more in return for less. A close look at the history of
socialism in practice bears out these statements.
economic crisis, despite claims to the contrary, is the result of a
developing welfare/socialistic state in the United States. The housing
crisis alone is directly tied to the rise of socialism. Government
programs were introduced to push people into mortgages they could not
afford...because they had the same right to a house as the wealthy
family across town. Based on this ideology, members of government,
elected and appointed, pushed lending institutions to lend money to
those who were unqualified and unable to afford the loans they received.
At the same time, people loyal to those in power were put into
positions of authority to push the socialist agenda of everyone
deserving the same thing as directed by the government. These people,
once in positions of authority, fulfilled their true duty of paying back
their benefactors through campaign contributions and other kickbacks.
who took the loans were not innocent either. They were willing to take
something they hadn't earned and couldn't afford because they considered
it their right. They let the greed of "necessity" hold sway over
personal responsibility. As housing values tumbled, the house of cards
came with it. Suddenly, the reality of their situation hit them. Those
responsible, government, lenders and home owners, decided to blame the
greed of the capitalists. When in truth, those banks who held to the
ideals of captialism, avoided the governmental pressure to make unwise
loans based on the gree of "necessity" have remained solvent and are
still able to make loans. It was the greed of those who, for their own
reasons, pushed home ownership on those who were not ready that are
truly responsible. Instead they have sought to blame those who were
least responsible. Meanwhile, those of us who were not directly at fault
for the problem are now expected to come to the rescue.
destroys personal responsibility, a tenet central to the gospel of
Jesus Christ. Socialism encourages its staunchest adherents to demand
others to help them with their problems.
Dialogue in Comments from Original Post:
I really find this topic fascinating. I grew up in Canada, which has
socialized healthcare. It is actually a healthcare system that is
envied by many Americans. Canada's citizens do pay higher taxes, but in
return they are able to see a doctor or go to the emergency room, have
surgery, have their bill paid for, and not ever have to worry about
going bankrupt because their child, or someone in their family falls
ill. Women have one year of maternity leave, paid by the government,
compared to our 6 weeks of maternity leave. Granted, Canada has its
problems and faults as does every nation, especially with immigration
regulations as of the past 15 years or so, but as a whole it provides a
comfortable way of life for its citizens. Is Canada then, considered a
socialistic country? Does that make Canada doomed? I can promise you
that my family feels no more controlled by their government then we do
by ours. I think there are obviously extremes to socialism, for example
dictating how many children a family can have, etc., but I have to say
that some socialized programs seem to work well for other countries, and
it isn't sending them on the highway to communism. I agree it is
something we need to be cautious of as a nation, and I don't take words
of the prophets lightly, I just wonder if it really is a black and white
issue. There will always be some form of socialism in a country who
provides its citizens with needs dependent on their taxes.
Canada is no more doomed than the United States. There have been strong
socialist policies in the United States for decades and it will likely
only continue in that direction.
As far as Canada's health care
system, I much prefer ours. It's interesting that so many of Canada's
government and business leaders come to the United States for any major
healthcare. Socialized healthcare very seldom produces any new
breakthroughs in new technology. They wait for other places to do so
and then use it. If the US system goes socialized, advances in
healthcare will slow down greatly.
I absolutely do not think
that the healthcare system here in the US is perfect. It has major
faults, which prevent people from being able to afford healthcare who
should be able to afford it. Those problems, however, are in large part
the consequence of too much government involvement and oversight and
the threat of exorbitant lawsuits. Greed is the underlying cause, but
the mix of broken government policies at every level have contributed to
the problem. More government involvement is not the better option.
do have a problem with governments paying women for maternity leave.
It is my responsibility to take care of my children. I have no right to
expect other taxpayers to pay for my children because I choose to have
more than someone else.
I think so much more can be done by individuals who are doing it for the right reasons and because they want to.
Benson recognized the danger of a little socialism creeping into our
society. Much of what he predicted in the 1950s came to fruition in the
United States, Canada and Europe. European economies largely have
stagnated. Healthcare in France, UK, or Spain isn't much better than
healthcare was in the US back in the 1960s. But, the biggest danger of
socialism, which he recognized is that it allows people to abrogate
responsibility for themselves onto the government and it gives
government power over the people by making them dependent.
issue should be black and white, but the mixture of socialism into our
societies have muddied up the issue. It is now difficult to tell up
from down. When it comes to being controlled by the government, they
don't want us to feel controlled and many in government don't even think
of it that way. But, look at farmers in both the US and Canada. They
are dependent on government subsidies for their survival. They farm in
the way the government prescribes or they don't get the subsidy and
their farms fail. The same thing is true for education. States are
forced to enact government programs that may not be viewed favorably by
the local population. However, if they don't teach what the federal
government dictates or pay for the programs dictated, the school loses
federal funding. The list goes on and on. We are more controlled by
our governments than we want to realize--it's just nice not to feel like
Just some thoughts I had in regards to your comments on Canada's
healthcare system. I am curious why you prefer ours? This is an
interesting article that relays some of the thoughts I had when bringing
up Canada in the first place.
hope you will look it over, and share your thoughts. Canada's life
expectancy is actually higher then the US due in part to the
"accessibility" of healthcare there. You claimed that the US has
greater technological advances in healthcare, but it benefits our
citizens little if they cannot afford to access it in the first place.
The US spends more then Canada in healthcare, and actually almost every
other industrialized nation, and has far less to show for it. Canada is
not stuck in the 60's in healthcare in regards to other European
socialist countries. Actually, it is very progressive and quite
competitive with other nations, including the US. I don't know why
wealthy Canadians would cross the border to pay for services they can
get in their own country, unless under a few specific cases a rare
specialist was sought after. I am not refuting that it never happens,
but I don't think it is the norm. My point is, any way you look at it,
and there are endless articles to support it - the US ranks lower in
healthcare then almost every other industrialized nation. Most of those
nations have Universal Healthcare.
I apologize if I am straying from socialism as a whole here, I just don't see how our current healthcare system is preferrable?
suppose another aspect in all this to consider is our personal
experiences. Those who work for the government and military have much
more reasonable healthcare costs compared to the rest of middle class
society, because they are subsidized by the...government. Would you
agree or disagree?
I appreciate your thoughts.
Thanks for the article. First, I acknowledge that the healthcare system
in the United States has serious flaws. If regular market forces were
allowed to operate in the healthcare system a number of things would
occur. First, almost every aspect of care would be more affordable.
This would greatly benefit those who work hard to enough to pay for
their healthcare. It would also make it easier for charitable
organizations to help pay for healthcare for those who are struggling.
on my thesis research on healthcare issues in Russia and the former
Soviet Union, it is likely that the best explanation for differences in
demographics between Canada and the US is due to lifestyle in the US.
Many citizens of the US have allowed themselves to go to excesses in
eating, have given up exercise for a sedentary lifestyle and don't take
healthcare seriously until it is late in the game. Part of this is
because they have always had healthcare within easy reach. As the
article you sent mentions, the US is doing quite well in preventitive
medicine, but that is a new innovation and will take a few more years to
impact life expectancies.
Personally, I think that the biggest
problem is that the US healthcare system is neither a free-market system
nor a socialized system. It's a nasty hybrid, that is of huge benefit
to those who can afford it and a huge burden to those who cannot.
Whereas, socialized systems such as Canada's are largely mediocre for
Please see the article at: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/03/20/health/main681801.shtml?cmp=EM8705
Here are a couple of major problems I see with socialized medicine.
1. Freedom of choice often becomes more and more limited.
It encourages people to put responsibility for their healthcare on the
government. My study of the Soviet and Russian socialized healthcare
systems, the most egalitarian and progessive healthcare system ever
instituted, destroyed any sense of personal responsibility for health
among the population. It was deeply saddening to read the interviews
from surveys of Russians who stated repeatedly that they weren't
concerned about their health because it was the government's duty to
take care of them.
3. Without a profit motive in a market
there is little incentive for the inidustry to innovate and save costs.
As a result, many cities and regions of Canada are suffering the same
fate as healthcare in Russia--not enough resources to meet all the
4. When something is offered for free that is in
limited supply, such as healthcare, the system is overloaded. People
are not forced to consider the true value of what they are receiving.
The result of number 4 is ever increasing taxes so that the government
can meet its obligations--or as in the case of the Soviet Union,
healthcare is pushed to side in favor of other socialist projects or
military spending. The result is a population that no longer knows how
to take care of itself without government intervention.
Now, as I
mentioned, the US system is not perfect. I think there is still time
to save it from being socialized which will start a long-term downward
trend into mediocrity, loss of freedom, and increasing taxes.
has a value. A free market forces people to consider that value and to
work hardeer in order to be able to afford and to take care of
themselves. The study you mentioned looks at a number of nations that
have socialized their healthcare recently. I would encourage you to
take a look at countries who had socialized healthcare for more than 70
years. The former Soviet Republics and Eastern European countries all
instituted socialized medicine and had initial results that were
excellent. Life expectancies increased and with them the quality of
life. However, in the later stages, when the socialized economies
collapsed, healthcare took the largest hit. Today, many of those
countries continue to provide universal healthcare and they have seen
little improvement and often a decrease in life expectancies.
Canada is unlikely to ever end up a Communist dictatorship like the
Soviet Union, programs like socialized medicine do force the government
to take increasing control as programs begin to struggle.
we can someday make healthcare more affordable in the US. There are
several proposals out there that would help. Our problem is that we
have allowed government and HMOs to basically socialize healthcare for
us, by taking the decisions out of our hands and out of the hands of the
doctors. The current system in the US works in favor of the HMOs, and
they don't want to give up their profits or influence. Our healthcare
system is not governed completely by free market principles and we are
paying the price.
As far as government healthcare, while in the
military we were part of the most socialized healthcare system in the
United States. It was nice to not have to worry about paying for our
health needs, but we had the same problems as other socialized citizens.
We didn't make the major decisions regarding our healthcare. Many
people in the military system go into the doctor at the first sign of
the sniffles, needlessy overwhelming the system. My experience with the
military healthcare system only sharpened my criticism of socialized
Below is the link to another interesting article:
- Jarad Van Wagoner