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Prophetic Statements

Harold B. Lee

It is indeed a sad commentary on the loyalty and devotion of the citizens of the United States to those early American ideals if we have come to a time when it is thought that the distressed should look to a paternalistic agency rather than to their own for help in time of need; when it is expected that the cost of calamities must be compensated by the government or by some other agency. I fail to find in such attitudes of dependence on the government, which means an increasing burden of taxation, any show of patriotism and loyalty to this nation that characterized those who pioneered this great country. The first real step toward self-sufficiency and true patriotism is taken when a man resolves in his heart not only to be self-sustaining and independent, but also to aid others to be likewise. 1

We have come to a time when some seem to feel that because they have paid taxes in the past, now the government is obligated to care for them in idleness. We are also aware today that many of those with means have the feeling that they have discharged their full duty toward the unfortunate when their annual taxes are paid.2

If we were united as a people in electing honorable men to high places in our civil government, regardless of the political party with which we have affiliation, we would be able to safeguard our communities and to preserve law and order among us. Our failure to be united means that we permit tyranny and oppression and taxation to the extent of virtual confiscation of our own property.3

Those who refuse to honor father and mother in the way the Master explained 4 are jeopardizing their tenure upon this land which the Lord has given us. I have thought a great deal about that. I wonder whether that tenure shall be jeopardized because of the burdensome taxation that shall increase and grow until we are virtually displaced in our ownership, if we don’t take care of our own. 5

David O. McKay

Of all crushing taxes that impede the economic recovery of the American people, the crime tax is the greatest. 6

The burden of taxes and the proper distribution of wealth are questions perplexing the wisest minds. Truly, we are living in an age of shifting opinions, of swiftly changing human relations. Man’s wisdom is baffled. Obviously, there never was a greater need for anchorage to fixed principles, and never-changing truths. 7

Spencer W. Kimball

Men have tried through centuries to cure these evils and solve these problems and correct these crimes with police, courts, jails and penitentiaries. They have had blue laws to correct Sabbath breaking, obscenity, hedonism, immorality. They have tried wars to end wars. They have tried handouts and outright gifts to solve poverty, especially through taxation. They are trying numerous force and superficial ways to cure racism. They have used the law and the officers and the jails and systems of force to solve problems. Through the ages we have come to know we cannot legislate goodness….The world would legislate goodness and make men fear to do wrong. The gospel would cause men to do right because it makes them happy to do right. 8

Ezra Taft Benson

The Saints have been advised to pay their own way and maintain a cash reserve. Recent history has demonstrated that in difficult days it is reserves with intrinsic value that are of most worth, rather than reserves the value of which may be destroyed through inflation. It is well to remember that continued government deficits cause inflation; inflation is used as an excuse for ineffective price controls; price controls lead to shortages; artificial shortages inevitably are used as an excuse to implement rationing. When will we learn these basic economic principles? 9

History teaches that when individuals have given up looking after their own economic needs and transferred a large share of that responsibility to the government, both they and the government have failed. At least twenty great civilizations have disappeared. The pattern of their downfall is shockingly similar. All, before their collapse, showed a decline in spiritual values, in moral stamina, and in the freedom and responsibility of their citizens. They showed such symptoms as excessive taxation, bloated bureaucracy, government paternalism, and generally a rather elaborate set of supports, controls, and regulations affecting prices, wages, production, and consumption. 10 11

Even among free nations we see the encroachment of government upon the lives of the citizenry by excessive taxation and regulation, all done under the guise that the people would not wilfully or charitably distribute their wealth, so the government must take it from them. We further observe promises by the state of security, whereby men are taken care of from the womb to the tomb rather than earning this security by the “sweat of their brow” Moses 5:1; deception in high places, with the justification that “the end justifies the means”; atheism; agnosticism; immorality; and dishonesty. The attendant results of such sin and usurpation of power lead to a general distrust of government officials, an insatiable, covetous spirit for more and more material wants, personal debt to satisfy this craving, and the disintegration of the family unit. Yes, we live today amidst the times the Savior spoke of, times when “the love of many shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound” Matthew 24:12. 12 13

The phrase federal aid to education is deceptive and dishonest. What is really meant is “federal taxes for education.” The federal government cannot “aid” education. All it can do is tax the people, shuffle the money from one state to another and skim off its administrative costs from the top. Only the people can aid education. They can do it safer, faster, and cheaper within their local communities than by going through the middleman in Washington. Federal taxes for education means federal control over education. No matter how piously the national planners tell us that they will not dictate policies to local school systems, it is inevitable that they will in the long run. In fact, they already are doing it. Whenever the federal government spends tax money for any purpose, it has an obligation to determine how and under what conditions that money is used. Any other course would be irresponsible. 14 15

The framers of our Constitution knew that many forces would be at work toward the concentration of power at the federal level. They knew that it somehow seems easier to impose “progress” on localities than to wait for them to bring it about themselves. Raids on the federal treasury can be all too readily accomplished by an organized few over the feeble protests of an apathetic majority. With more and more activity centered in the federal government, the relationship between the costs and the benefits of government programs becomes obscure. What follows is the voting of public money without having to accept direct local responsibility for higher taxes.

I know of no device of government which will lead more quickly to an increase in the number of federal programs than this. If this trend continues, the states may be left hollow shells, operating primarily as the field districts of federal departments and dependent upon the federal treasury for their support. 16 17

I maintain that every person who enjoys the protection of his life, liberty, and property should bear his fair share of the cost of government in providing that protection; that the elementary principles of justice set forth in the Constitution demand that all taxes imposed be uniform; and that each person’s property or income be taxed at the same rate. 18

I consider it a violation of the Constitution for the federal government to levy taxes for the support of state or local government; that no state or local government can accept funds from the federal government and remain independent in performing its functions, nor can the citizens exercise their rights of self-government under such conditions. 19

Only saved profit, not government, creates more jobs. The only way government can create jobs is to take money from productive citizens in the form of taxes and transfer it to government programs. Without someone’s generating profit that can be taxed, government revenue is not possible. 20 21

While politicians will continue to insist that our economy is not in the slightest danger, lest they be accused of being “negative,” or “spreaders of doom,” there is a sound and realistic course of action that we can follow to prepare for the coming readjustment period and to lessen the shock. As a nation, we must stop giving away money to foreign nations as though we had it. We should demand repayment of our loans to other countries-especially those which are making the heaviest demands upon our gold supply. We should cease giving them our gold until they pay their debts to us. We must stop the federal government from deficit spending, and begin immediately to pay off the national debt in a systematic fashion. This, of course, means increasing taxes or decreasing the size of government. It is doubtful that the American people can absorb more taxes without further injuring the productive base of our economy, but there is no doubt that government can be reduced without any such risk. 22 23

Taxes are necessary for defense and for some needful services that none of us would begrudge. But at the same time all of us are concerned about the expense of operating the government with our money. We must not let inflation impose further crushing burdens of cheaper dollars. 24 25

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 power as welfare programs, schemes for redistributing 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 my goal? If I do have such a right, I may delegate that power to my government to exercise on my behalf. If I do not have that right as an individual, I cannot delegate it to government, and I cannot ask my government to perform the act for me. 26 27

Deficit spending and the inflation it produces constitute a hidden tax against all Americans-especially those who own insurance policies, have savings accounts, or who are retired on fixed incomes. Every time the dollar drops another penny in value, it is the same as if the government had counted up all the money that you and I had in our pockets, in savings, or in investments, and then taxed us one cent on each dollar. The tax in this case, however, does not show up on our W-2 forms. It is hidden from view in the nature of higher and still higher prices for all that we buy. 28 29

Howard W. Hunter

We don’t rely on taxation to take care of our people. We believe that we should take care of our own and not rely upon the help of others. These newspaper reporters were interested in how we build without having any debt. We have built thousands of buildings in the world, and every one is paid for in full. We have no indebtedness. The Church has always taught us that we should live within our income and be free from debt, and it practices what it preaches. 30

Gordon B. Hinckley

The Book of Mormon narrative is a chronicle of nations long since gone. But in its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired, and inspiring concerning the solutions of those problems. I know of no other writing which sets forth with such clarity the tragic consequences to societies that follow courses contrary to the commandments of God. Its pages trace the stories of two distinct civilizations that flourished on the Western Hemisphere. Each began as a small nation, its people walking in the fear of the Lord. But with prosperity came growing evils. The people succumbed to the wiles of ambitious and scheming leaders who oppressed them with burdensome taxes, who lulled them with hollow promises, who countenanced and even encouraged loose and lascivious living. These evil schemers led the people into terrible wars that resulted in the death of millions and the final and total extinction of two great civilizations in two different eras. 31

Socialist and Communist Statements

Scriptures

Mosiah 7:15
For behold, we are in bondage to the Lamanites, and are taxed with a tax which is grievous to be borne. And now, behold, our brethren will deliver us out of our bondage, or out of the hands of the Lamanites, and we will be their slaves; for it is better that we be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites.

Mosiah 7:22-24
And all this he did, for the sole purpose of bringing this people into subjection or into bondage. And behold, we at this time do pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites, to the amount of one half of our corn, and our barley, and even all our grain of every kind, and one half of the increase of our flocks and our herds; and even one half of all we have or possess the king of the Lamanites doth exact of us, or our lives.

And now, is not this grievous to be borne? And is not this, our affliction, great? Now behold, how great reason we have to mourn.

Yea, I say unto you, great are the reasons which we have to mourn; for behold how many of our brethren have been slain, and their blood has been spilt in vain, and all because of iniquity.

Mosiah 11:3-6, 13
And he laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their ziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain.

And all this did he take to support himself, and his wives and his concubines; and also his priests, and their wives and their concubines; thus he had changed the affairs of the kingdom.

For he put down all the priests that had been consecrated by his father, and consecrated new ones in their stead, such as were lifted up in the pride of their hearts.

Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity.

And it came to pass that he caused many buildings to be built in the land Shilom; and he caused a great tower to be built on the hill north of the land Shilom, which had been a resort for the children of Nephi at the time they fled out of the land; and thus he did do with the riches which he obtained by the taxation of his people.

Mosiah 19:15
Therefore the Lamanites did spare their lives, and took them captives and carried them back to the land of Nephi, and granted unto them that they might possess the land, under the conditions that they would deliver up king Noah into the hands of the Lamanites, and deliver up their property, even one half of all they possessed, one half of their gold, and their silver, and all their precious things, and thus they should pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites from year to year.

Founders Statements

Supporting Statements

  1. Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 364.
  2. Harold B. Lee, Ye Are the Light of the World: Selected Sermons and Writings of Harold B. Lee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974]
  3. Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 387.
  4. Exodus 20:12
  5. Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 308; Conference Report, April 6, 1946, pp. 67-72
  6. David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals: Selections from the Discourses of David O. McKay [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953], 385.
  7. David O. McKay, Steppingstones to an Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1971], 17.
  8. Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 411.
  9. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 268; Church News [21 November 1953]: p. 4
  10. The Red Carpet, pp. 168-69.
  11. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 674.
  12. This Nation Shall Endure, p. 8.
  13. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 697.
  14. An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 231.
  15. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 298.
  16. The Red Carpet, pp. 147-48.
  17. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 611.
  18. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 617 – 618.
  19. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 618.
  20. This Nation Shall Endure, p. 86.
  21. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 630.
  22. An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 219.
  23. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 641.
  24. The Red Carpet, p. 172.
  25. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 642.
  26. An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 135.
  27. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 673.
  28. An Enemy Hath Done This, pp. 210-11.
  29. Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 642.
  30. Howard W. Hunter, The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 157.
  31. Gordon B. Hinckley, First Presidency Message, Ensign, August 2005

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