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Old 02-18-2012, 01:58 PM #1
Rapier7
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Romney, Mormonism, and private charity

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...LEFTTopOpinion

I don't think non-subscribers can see what's in there, so I'll quote the article:

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Ever since Mitt Romney said he was "not concerned about the very poor" but would fix America's social safety net "if it needs repair," conservatives and liberals have been frantically making suggestions. Gov. Romney says he would consider options like restructuring Medicaid. But if he wants to see a welfare system that lets almost no one fall through the cracks while at the same time ensuring that its beneficiaries don't become lifelong dependents, he could look to his own church.

As I ride in a golf cart through a new 15-acre warehouse on the outskirts of Utah's capital, I can't help but wonder: How many Wal-Marts would fit in here? How many burgers can you make from 4,400 industrial pallets of frozen meat? And how do they keep this place cleaner than my kitchen floor?

Dedicated last month, the Bishops Central Storehouse contains a two-year supply of food to support the Mormon church's welfare system in the U.S. and Canada (primarily for church members in need) and its humanitarian program, which sends food, medical supplies and other necessities to the needy (of all faiths) world-wide.

In addition to goods from canned peaches to emergency generators, the facility also houses the church's own trucking company, complete with 43 tractors and 98 trailers, as well as a one-year supply of fuel, parts and tires for the vehicles. Just in case.

The storehouse is not only a kind of physical marvel—it has been built to withstand an earthquake with a magnitude as high as 7.5—but also a symbol of strength and self-sufficiency.

Launched during the Great Depression, the Mormon welfare system was designed by church leaders as a way to match the armies of the unemployed faithful with some of the nearby farms that needed temporary labor. As storehouse manager Richard Humpherys explains, goods and services were traded so that if a father needed food for his family he could get some in exchange for, say, repairing the fence of a widow down the road.

In 1936, Heber Grant, one of the church leaders, reported the reasoning behind this effort: "Our primary purpose was to set up insofar as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established among our people. The aim of the Church is help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership."

Over the ensuing decades, the church acquired farms and ranches of its own. It built grain silos and dairies and canneries to store and process the food. By the end of World War II, church leaders had enough in the way of reserves that they contacted President Truman to ask if they might assist in feeding and clothing the destitute across Europe. The president readily agreed.


Mormons and U.S. Marines carry aid to landslide victims in central Philippines in 2006.

Because it has members on the ground around the world, the church continues to be an important force in bringing food and supplies to the impoverished and victims of natural disasters. Local church leaders contact the central headquarters in Salt Lake City to tell them what is needed—gauze pads, school supplies, wheelchairs—and the church does its best to accommodate.

The Department of Defense recently visited the new storehouse to find out how the Mormons are able to mobilize so quickly, and there is an almost military sense of efficiency and strategy to the church's efforts. When Hurricane Katrina struck, for instance, the church had positioned its fully loaded trucks in a kind of semicircle from South Carolina to Texas because no one knew how the storm was going to move. The church used reserves of fuel that it has placed around the country, and drivers were able to bring full tanker trucks into New Orleans, powering rescue vehicles and even chain saws to remove tree limbs.

Most of the inventory in the central storehouse, though, goes to supply more than 100 smaller storehouses around the country, plus hundreds of soup kitchens and homeless shelters of other religious communities around North America. Members of the Mormon church who find themselves in difficult circumstances can go to their local bishop and ask for aid.

The bishop then fills out an order allowing them to go and receive food from the local storehouse. Seventy percent of the items on the shelves are produced by the church itself and the remainder are purchased at steep wholesale discounts. According to Rick Foster, who oversees a smaller storehouse in Salt Lake City along with the cannery and dairy at Welfare Square (the original site of all the church's welfare services), people depend on the food at the storehouse for an average of three to six months.

That's because the church's goal is to help them get back on their feet as soon as possible. And the storehouse is only one of the tools at the disposal of local bishops, who may also refer members to other church programs, including employment counseling or family services. The bishop may even use money from a fund at his disposal to help pay for education, housing or utilities.

The labor behind the farming, food production, counseling and even cattle ranching is provided almost entirely by volunteers. Some are retired folks who come in every day. Other times an entire ward, or congregation, will come for the day, each of the members standing on an industrial assembly line packaging bread, processing cheese or sealing jars of apple sauce.

Regular tithing by church members helps pay for the facilities, but the primary source of capital support is the Mormons' monthly fast, as church members are asked to contribute what they would have spent on two meals. Many give much more, says Mr. Foster.

It is safe to assume that Mr. Romney is among them. The tens of millions of dollars he has given the church over the years have raised suspicion in some quarters. What does the church do with all that cash? Wouldn't that money have been better spent paying a higher income-tax rate? But his donations are supporting the kind of safety net that government can never hope to create. Jesus may have said the poor will always be with you, but he didn't say Medicaid would.
tl;dr: Mormons believe in voluntary charity and social work to help the poor in their own communities and for others.

Romney got a lot of ridicule for saying that he was not "concerned about the very poor". It just reinforces his image as a cold and uncaring businessman.

And yet...I can't believe this guy hasn't been tooting his own horn to anyone who will listen. He gives over 13% of his income in charitable contributions every year. Sure, 10% goes to the Mormon church, but it has a proven track record of rendering aid to the poor and needy. He's served as an unpaid minister in his church for a decade.

The more I learn about this guy, the more and more I find myself respecting him. He truly is a good and capable person, and I think the US would be lucky to have him as President.

It kills me that his public persona is so wooden and fake and that he has to fight it out with *******s like Santorum and Gingrich.
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Old 02-18-2012, 02:01 PM #2
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mormons also were caught baptizing holocaust victims... after they promised the jews they would stop this practice.
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Old 02-18-2012, 02:05 PM #3
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All Americans believe in voluntary charity and doing the right thing. Federal taxes levied on the masses, as well as poor economic policies dissuade people from giving.

Everyone I know loves helping people, and does so often with no expectation of reward. Its built into us as human beings.


If all welfare programs ended there would be tons of people with open arms ready to help the users of those programs.



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mormons also were caught baptizing holocaust victims... after they promised the jews they would stop this practice.
Not really that big of a deal for me.

The LDS people that I have met have all been nice and hardworking people who desperately wanted to help others. That being said the times I roll through Salt Lake and anywhere in urban Utah, I get a bit nervous and feel like an oddball... but once again that feeling is a necessary part of mind expansion.

I don't like Romney because he's a corporate whore just like our current CINC.
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Old 02-18-2012, 03:32 PM #4
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In 1936, Heber Grant, one of the church leaders, reported the reasoning behind this effort: "Our primary purpose was to set up insofar as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established among our people. The aim of the Church is help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership."
This paragraph sums up why this thinking is misguided. At the peak of the jobs recession 90% of people were working. The problem isn't people unwilling to work.
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Old 02-18-2012, 03:41 PM #5
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At the peak of the jobs recession 90% of people were working.
where in your ******* did you pull that figure from?
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Old 02-18-2012, 05:39 PM #6
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where in your ******* did you pull that figure from?
uhhh...the unemployment rate?
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Old 02-18-2012, 09:35 PM #7
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uhhh...the unemployment rate?
Really, right?
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Old 02-18-2012, 10:25 PM #8
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90% of people are in no way working. Do you know how the unemployment rate is calculated?
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:02 PM #9
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Originally Posted by Not2FFU View Post
90% of people are in no way working. Do you know how the unemployment rate is calculated?
pretty sure everyone here does.
still makes his point valid
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:19 PM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Not2FFU View Post
90% of people are in no way working. Do you know how the unemployment rate is calculated?
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:44 PM #11
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Originally Posted by Maxpow999 View Post
If all welfare programs ended there would be tons of people with open arms ready to help the users of those programs.
Lol
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Old 02-19-2012, 12:11 AM #12
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Lol
Well, we'd be halfway there. There's no real explanation for the complete disappearance of mutual aid institutions in American Civil society besides crowding out via the welfare state and changing cultural dynamics.
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Old 02-19-2012, 01:18 AM #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxpow999 View Post
All Americans believe in voluntary charity and doing the right thing.

Everyone I know loves helping people, and does so often with no expectation of reward. Its built into us as human beings.
Really, everyone you know loves helping people. Two broad over generalizations much.

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This paragraph sums up why this thinking is misguided. At the peak of the jobs recession 90% of people were working. The problem isn't people unwilling to work.
Except that the thinking wasn't applied to everyone. In fact your quoted statement is explicit: of the lives of our Church membership. That idealogy isn't reflective of the population in general, rather it is/was only applied to mormons.
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Old 02-19-2012, 01:54 AM #14
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I took it as a general attack against anyone who thinks the unemployment crisis is a result of laziness.
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Old 02-19-2012, 06:11 PM #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rapier7 View Post

The more I learn about this guy, the more and more I find myself respecting him. He truly is a good and capable person, and I think the US would be lucky to have him as President.

It kills me that his public persona is so wooden and fake and that he has to fight it out with *******s like Santorum and Gingrich.
His persona is wooden and fake, my biggest issue with him. But he is far better than Santorum, I agree. Santorum is horrible.

Mormons do believe in charity, and helping people off their feet in tough times, and the year or two year supply of food. All noble things. But there are other afraid of the Mormon agenda, cult status, and strange beliefs who will never vote for Mitt. It's not all that different than people who were against voting for JFK for being a Catholic, or when some people will not vote for an Atheist, when one finally runs for president (it will happen in the next 50 years I bet)
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Old 02-19-2012, 08:08 PM #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuff

His persona is wooden and fake, my biggest issue with him. But he is far better than Santorum, I agree. Santorum is horrible.

Mormons do believe in charity, and helping people off their feet in tough times, and the year or two year supply of food. All noble things. But there are other afraid of the Mormon agenda, cult status, and strange beliefs who will never vote for Mitt. It's not all that different than people who were against voting for JFK for being a Catholic, or when some people will not vote for an Atheist, when one finally runs for president (it will happen in the next 50 years I bet)
The problem it's no one sees the real Romney. Off camera, off the record, he is much more vibrant and alive.
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Old 02-20-2012, 02:10 PM #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by licence_to_kill View Post
uhhh...the unemployment rate?
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Really, right?
Since when was that figure ever an accurate representation of, to paraphrase you, "the % of people working"?
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Old 02-20-2012, 02:40 PM #18
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Old 02-20-2012, 02:58 PM #19
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I guess you've never lived in Utah...
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Old 02-20-2012, 03:55 PM #20
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Since when was that figure ever an accurate representation of, to paraphrase you, "the % of people working"?
are you ****ing serious? obviously 90% of the population isn't ****ing working because large parts of the population consist of, you know, old people and children...

so, do you have anything useful to add? are you going to explain to me how our unemployment crisis is a result of laziness?
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Old 02-20-2012, 04:23 PM #21
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Originally Posted by licence_to_kill View Post
are you ****ing serious? obviously 90% of the population isn't ****ing working because large parts of the population consist of, you know, old people and children...

so, do you have anything useful to add? are you going to explain to me how our unemployment crisis is a result of laziness?
Who said anything about old people and children?

I only take issue with the unemployment figures Gonzo appears to be citing, which are fundamentally flawed in that they fail to account for those who are effectively unemployed but can no longer seek benefits due to temporary or part-time work or no longer qualify for benefits because they have become too discouraged to actively seek employment.

The later category becomes increasingly important in a prolonged recession such as we're facing, to the extent that the standard "unemployment rate" becomes a near-worthless indication of true workforce engagement.

I think what's happened here is that Gonzo read the Grant quote and interprets the entire LDS welfare scheme as premised on the indictment of the work ethic of the poor, which isn't in keeping with the rest of the article.
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