Friday, January 30, 2009

An Apostle On The Economy

Spoken in general conference fifty years ago, but never more relevant than today. Elder Ezra Taft Benson, in October 1958:

"Our economy must remain free - free of excessive government paternalism, regimentation, and control. As a nation, we are strong. With the freedom of economic enterprise that we possess, we are able to produce as much industrial goods as all the rest of the world combined -- even though we are only six percent of the world's people and possess only six percent of the world's land.

"These abundant blessings have come to us through an economic system which rests largely on three pillars:
  1. Free enterprise...the right to venture...the right to choose.
  2. Private property...the right to own.
  3. A market economy...the right to exchange.
"Working together, we can maintain the strength of these three pillars.

"There are some in our midst, nevertheless, who decry free enterprise, who would place business, agriculture, and labor in a government straight jacket.

"Our economic order is not perfect, because it is operated by imperfect human beings, but it has given us more of the good things of life than any other system. The fundamental reason is that our economy is free. It must remain free. In that freedom ultimately lies our basic economic strength.

"Let us admit the weaknesses that exist. Let us work aggressively to correct them. But never let us make the catastrophic blunder of putting chains on our basic economic freedom. Yes, our phenomenal material advances have been the fruit of our freedom -- our free enterprise system -- our American way of life -- our God-given freedom of choice."

President Benson and James Madison on Government

"Government is instituted to protect property of every sort....This being the end of government, that alone is not a just government,...nor is property secure under it, where the property which a man has in his personal safety and personal liberty is violated by arbitrary seizures of one class of citizens for the service of the rest." ---James Madison

In a conference report in October of 1968, Elder Ezra Taft Benson had the following to say about taking private property from one citizen to give to another:
"No one has the authority to grant such powers as welfare programs, schemes for redistributing the wealth, and activities that coerce people into acting in accordance with a prescribed code of social planning.......Once government steps over this clear line....into the aggressive role of redistributing the wealth through taxation and providing so-called "benefits" for some of its citizens, it becomes a means for legalized plunder."