Monday, July 26, 2010

Ezra Taft Benson and Political Extremism (part two)

God prepares His prophets. Joseph Smith declared: "I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain;... with all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there, and thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty." [1]  Indeed, the life of every prophet is filled with experiences that help prepare him for his prophetic calling.

So it was with Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994). Reminiscing about his life, President Hinckley said of him: "I am confident that it was out of what he saw of the bitter fruit of dictatorship that he developed his strong feelings, almost hatred, for communism and socialism. That distaste grew through the years as he witnessed the heavy-handed oppression and suffering of the peoples of eastern Europe under what he repeatedly described as godless communism." [2]

Preparation for his prophetic calling included a keen interest in government combined with worldwide experience as a government official. It was not just a coincidence that he presided over the Church during the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. He was this dispensation's Prophet specialist on politics.

Becoming a National Political Figure

In 1939, Ezra Taft Benson became the executive secretary of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. In this capacity, he was the Council's chief operating officer.

For the next four years, he represented the cooperatives on Capitol Hill. He also coordinated efforts to educate cooperative leaders nationwide about agricultural issues. In addition, he published a monthly bulletin for the Council and attended Council meetings throughout the country.

During this important period of his life, Ezra Taft Benson regularly had close contact with high U.S. government officials and learned to navigate the murky waters of national politics.

When he left Washington in 1943, he had become a national political figure. [3]

An International Statesman

At the end of World War II, Ezra Taft Benson supervised the Church's relief effort in Europe. In just ten months, he traveled more than 60,000 miles and met with high ranking government officials in 13 nations as he delivered food, clothing, and medical supplies to the people of post-war Europe. [4]

With headquarters in London, England, Elder Benson organized Mormon relief efforts in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Finland, and Poland. [5]

Everywhere he went, there was a constant struggle with bureaucratic red tape. Completion of this assignment required his utmost faith and diplomacy. [6]

While he was in Europe, Ezra Taft Benson again represented the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, this time at the International Conference of Agriculture Producers in London, England. Many delegates to this Conference invited him to contact them again when he visited their countries. [7]

He also participated with the American delegation to the Conference of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Copenhagen, Denmark. [8]

By the time he returned from this mission, Ezra Taft Benson had become an international statesman. [9]

United States Secretary of Agriculture

Then came his experience as the first Mormon to serve in the cabinet of a United States President. Newspapers from coast to coast headlined the news that Eisenhower had named the first clergyman in the century to a cabinet post. [10]

In a later article, the New York Times Magazine praised his integrity: "He acts like a man whose conscience is always clear—his testimony [before Congress] today will be the same next week or the week after or a year from now. He doesn't have to remember what he said to an opposition Senator at their last meeting. This is a built-in ulcer-saving device not always found in Washington." [11]

Secretary Benson traveled internationally, as he sought to increase agricultural exports abroad. He visited Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Trinidad, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Mexico. In each nation he met with presidents, ministers of agriculture, and ambassadors. [12]

He represented the United States in Scotland, England, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Italy, and Switzerland, calling on government officials and observing agriculture in these nations. In Rome, he delivered the keynote address at the International Federation of Agricultural Producers. [13]

His work took him to Japan, India, Pakistan, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, England, and Hong Kong, meeting with such world leaders as Jordan's King Hussein, and Israel's Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. [14]

When Nikita Khrushchev visited Washington, Ezra Taft Benson supervised his visit to the USDA Beltsville Experiment Station in Maryland. [15]

On a trip through Yugoslavia, West Germany, Poland, the Soviet Union, Finland, Sweden, and Norway, Secretary Benson met with Yugoslavia's President Tito and the Soviet Minister of Agriculture. [16]

Toward the end of his service as Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson made yet another trip to Europe and the Middle East. [17]

His last official trip was to the Orient and South Seas. He visited Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and New Zealand. [18]  When it was over he had visited more than forty nations as an official of the United States government. [19]

More International Statesmanship

Three years after his return from Washington, Ezra Taft Benson was back in Europe supervising the Church's missionary work there. As he traveled from country to country, he renewed acquaintances with heads of state, ministers of agriculture, and other high ranking officials. [20]  During one visit to Italy, for example, he was greeted with open arms by the U.S. Ambassador and the Italian Minister of Religion in Rome [21]  and by the time he was called back to Salt Lake City, missionaries were proselyting in Italy for the first time. [22]

During this period of his life he gave his greatest number of talks about freedom and the U.S. Constitution. [23]  It is apparent that everywhere he went, his feelings and concerns about America and freedom were confirmed by what he saw and heard. His political education had been gradual but firsthand. [24]

Patriotism and the Book of Mormon

For Ezra Taft Benson, patriotism and love of country were neither old-fashioned nor incidental—they were an integral part of his ministry.

He will be remembered as one of the greatest patriots of our time—a patriot of international stature. [25]  A tribute entered in the Congressional Record called him "intensely patriotic." [26]  In 1965, he was named to the American Patriots Hall of Fame. [27]

Ezra Taft Benson has explained his patriotic motivation as follows: "From the time I was a small boy I was taught that the American Constitution is an inspired document. I was taught that we should study the Constitution, preserve its principles, and defend it against any who would destroy it. To the best of my ability I have always tried to do this. I expect to continue my efforts to help protect and safeguard our inspired Constitution." [28]

He explained his emphasis on the Book of Mormon this way: "What is the essential message of the Book of Mormon that is so vital to our time? It is a witness to our generation. It prophesied the founding of this nation and how we may survive as a free country." [29]

From his early youth, Ezra Taft Benson devoured the Book of Mormon. He read it on trains and planes and late in the evening before retiring. Often, he sent copies of the Book of Mormon to people he met while traveling, to national and world leaders. [30]

It was his stated opinion that "a person can learn more about what is really happening in America from the Book of Mormon than he can from ... newspapers." [31]

A Uniquely Prepared Prophet

I’ve studied President Benson's life and teachings from every possible angle. I made copies of all his general conference talks (eventually 114 of them) and cross referenced them to his Church books. In addition, I have read the books and magazines he recommended in his writings. After years of careful and thorough research, here is what I’ve decided.

The general officers of the Mormon Church do a lot of traveling. They regularly see much of the world as they meet with Church members around the globe.

But Ezra Taft Benson did something most Mormon leaders do not do, something no other Mormon Prophet has ever done. Ezra Taft Benson traveled the world as a political leader. He conducted official Government business with the kings and rulers of this world. He knew them by name. And they knew him.

Any man with Ezra Taft Benson’s patriotism and experience deserves our careful attention. Considering his stature as a Latter-day Prophet, Ezra Taft Benson’s political viewpoint should be important to all Americans.


1.  As quoted by Gordon B. Hinckley in Ensign, Jan. 1974, p.124.

2.  Gordon B. Hinckley, "Farewell to a Prophet," Ensign, July 1994, p.39.

3.  Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography, Deseret Book, 1987, pp.143-180; herinafter cited as Biography.

4.  Frederick W. Babbel, On Wings of Faith, Bookcraft, 1972, pp.1-190; see also Biography, pp.197-227.

5.  Ibid.; see also New Era, Jan. 1986, p.7.

6.  Biography, p.216.

7.  Biography, p.217.

8.  Biography, p.217.

9.  Biography, pp.420 & 507.

10.  Biography, p.256.

11.  Biography, p.295-296.

12.  Biography, p.303.

13.  Biography, p.305.

14.  Biography, p.325.

15.  Biography, p.338.

16.  Biography, p.340-341.

17.  Biography, p.349.

18.  Biography, p.353-354.

19.  Biography, p.364.

20.  Biography, p.375.

21.  Biography, p.377.

22.  Biography, p.382.

23.  Biography, pp.366-367.

24.  Biography, p.363.

25.  Biography, p.507.

26.  Biography, p.359.

27.  Biography, p.385.

28.  The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, Bookcraft, 1988, pp.614-615; see also pp.50-51.

29.  Ibid., p.576.

30.  Biography, pp.59, 195, & 498.

31.  Biography, p.366.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Ezra Taft Benson and Political Extremism

Yesterday, Mormon Heretic posted "Defining Political Extremism" and in the comments John Willis brought up Ezra Taft Benson's 1968 politics. Well it just so happens that two weeks ago on this blog, I posted Ezra Taft Benson's 1968 talk on "The Proper Role of Government" and an anonymous visitor informed me that President Benson had changed his focus as Prophet, abandoning his politics.

I'm not so sure. Let's look at what President Benson said as Prophet:

"The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ....  It tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel. It testifies of His divinity and of the necessity for a Redeemer and the need of our putting trust in Him. It bears witness of the Fall and the Atonement and the first principles of the gospel, including our need of a broken heart and a contrite spirit and a spiritual rebirth. It proclaims we must endure to the end in righteousness and live the moral life of a Saint."  (Ensign, Jan 1988, p.3.)

This message was Ezra Taft Benson's talk to the Regional Representatives on the eve of his first general conference as Prophet in 1986.  He gave the same talk more than twenty times in regional and area conferences during his first year as Church President (see Church News, Dec. 21, 1986, p.3).  He gave a copy of this talk to the general authorities in a temple meeting on March 5th, 1987 (as reported in the Ensign, Mar. 1994, p.61).  He also published this talk as his Jan. 1988 First Presidency message.  Based on the number of times he repeated this talk, it's message should be considered the central theme of his administration. 

And most of us would probably say, "It was!" However, what we remember is only half of what President Benson said.  What he actually said was:  "The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means."  Two basic means.  Two.  "First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and His gospel" and so forth as quoted above.  But what about the second half of his message?  It is, after all, the same talk, the same bringing men to Christ:

"Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time....

"The situation in the world will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of God and quit building up and upholding secret combinations, which the Book of Mormon tells us proved the downfall of ancient civilizations." (Ibid; emphasis added.)

Ezra Taft Benson taught that secret combinations include large-scale political conspiracies and this was seen by many as an extremist point of view. Nevertheless, his focus on the Book of Mormon included this extremism. Notice how the Book of Mormon warns about conspiracies:

"If you use the scriptures as a guide, you know what the Book of Mormon has to say regarding murderous conspiracies in the last day and how we are to awake to our awful situation today (see Ether 8:18-25)." (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 1988, p.81.)

"Observe what we are doing to build up the enemy, this totally anti-Christ conspiracy. If we continue on this tragic course ... the Lord has warned us in the Book of Mormon of the consequences that will follow (Ether 8)." (Ibid., p.614.)

"The Book of Mormon warns us that when we see these murderous conspiracies in our midst, we should awaken to our awful situation (see Ether 8:24)." (Ibid., p.660.)

He gave many political messages during his fifty year ministry, but none was more controversial or persistent than his use of the Book of Mormon to warn about political conspiracies.  And in the last talk he personally gave in general conference, he said:

"Secret combinations lusting for power, gain, and glory are flourishing.  A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries is increasing its evil influence and control over America and the entire world.  (See Ether 8:18–25.)"  (Ensign, Nov 1988, p.86.)

Every individual must decide what he or she will remember about Ezra Taft Benson.  But from where I sat, politics was an important and consistent part of his prophetic message.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pornography vs. Modesty

People who write dictionaries do not decide what words should mean, they merely report the meanings in current use.  Therefore, a survey of English dictionaries published over the years reveals the meaning of obscenity as used by English speaking people generally.

An old definition from England held that obscene meant "immodest; not agreeable to chastity of mind."  (Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, London, 1755.)

The unassailable Oxford English dictionary says, "offensive to modesty or decency; expressing or suggesting unchaste or lustful ideas."  (The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933 edition.)

For most Americans, the name Noah Webster is synonymous with the word dictionary.  In his first (1828) edition, Webster defined obscene as "offensive to chastity and delicacy; impure; expressing or presenting to the mind or view something which delicacy, purity and decency forbid to be exposed."  (An American Dictionary of the English Language (Unabridged), New York, 1828.)

Webster published his own second edition in 1840, and in 1847 George and Charles Merriam published the third edition.  In these editions the definition of obscene did not change.

In 1909, the G. & C. Merriam Company introduced the New International dictionary. The "new" definition of obscene was "offensive to chastity of mind or to modesty; expressing to the mind or view something that delicacy, purity, and decency forbid to be exposed."  (Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language, Springfield, Mass., 1936.)

The leading abridgment of the New International is the Collegiate series of dictionaries.  Until 1961, the Collegiate definition of obscene was "offensive to chastity or to modesty."  (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Co.: Springfield, Mass., 1961.)

There have been other dictionaries in America, but all of them have been strikingly similar to Webster on the definition of obscene.  The Standard series of dictionaries, written by Isaac Kouffman Funk in 1893 defined obscene as "offensive to chastity, delicacy or decency."  The Century series of dictionaries, edited by William Dwight Whitney between 1889 and 1891 defined obscene as "offensive to modesty or decency, indecent."

Even today, many dictionaries continue to give variations of that same definition.  For example, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition, copyright 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company, which says "Offensive to accepted standards of decency or modesty."

The Legal Definition

In 1957, the U.S. Supreme Court formulated a new legal definition of obscenity. The Court’s decision in the case of Roth v. U.S. removed the religious doctrines of modesty and chastity from U.S. obscenity law. This created a new category of obscenity: material that is obscene by traditional scriptural standards, but not obscene under the new legal definition.

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that “the Roth definition does not reflect the precise meaning of ‘obscene’ as traditionally used in the English language.... Pornographic material which is [legally] obscene forms a sub-group of all ‘obscene’ expression, but not the whole.” (Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, at 18 and 19, 1973.)

It is a historical fact that the Biblical principles of modesty and chastity were upheld by this country's criminal code and judicial precedent from the day Columbus first set foot on American soil until the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Roth decision in 1957. For centuries, there was no strictly legal definition of obscenity. It was simply against the law to offend modesty or chastity in public in any way and people were sent to jail for doing so.

It is not coincidental that during the late 1950s, Church leaders began condemning an increase of pornographic material in our society. A good example of this is Ezra Taft Benson's talk in the October 1959 General Conference. ("Call to Repentance," Improvement Era, Dec. 1959, pp. 956-959.) Today, because of the tremendous shift in standards that has occurred, most (if not all) of the material to which they then referred would not even come close to being legally obscene.

Currently, pornographic material that cannot be condemned under the law is not legally pornographic. But it is important for all Christians to realize that changing its status with respect to the law doesn't change the nature of the material. Illegal or not, the material is just as obscene and harmful now as it ever was.

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Saturday, July 03, 2010

A Primer on Government

This primer on government was written by a wonderful patriot and Prophet-statesman. These are the principles the USA was built on. With them in mind, the US Constitution can be understood without reverse engineering. Happy Independence Day!

The Proper Role of Government
Ezra Taft Benson
General Conference, October 1968

My brethren and sisters: Humbly and gratefully I stand before you.

I am truly thankful that the Church is led by a prophet of God, who, as chief watchman on the towers of Zion, has the courage and inspiration to speak out against current evils as he has done again today. Thank God for David O. McKay, our Prophet-leader!

Gratitude for Founding Fathers

I am humbly grateful to God for the blessings we all enjoy as citizens of these great United States of America. I am grateful for our Founding Fathers who were raised up with the courage to give their lives, with the unselfishness to give their fortunes and the vision to pledge their sacred honor in order to establish a new kind of government of their own choosing where men might be free. I am additionally grateful that these Founding Fathers had the faith and humility to accept the divine inspiration so necessary in setting forth the Constitution as the foundation for their new republic. The Lord said he raised up these founders and called them "wise men."

Political opportunists

Men are often asked to express an opinion on a myriad of government proposals and projects. All too often, answers seem to be based not upon solid principle, but upon the popularity of the specific government program in question. Seldom are men willing to oppose a popular program if they themselves wish to be popular—especially if they seek public office.

Such an approach to vital political questions of the day can only lead to public confusion and legislative chaos. Decisions of this nature should be based upon and measured against certain basic principles regarding the proper role of government. If principles are correct, then they can be applied to any specific proposal with confidence.

Unlike the political opportunist, the true statesman values principle above popularity and works to create popularity for those political principles which are wise and just.

Origin of human rights

It is generally agreed that the most important single function of government is to secure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens. But, what are those rights? And what is their source? Until these questions are answered, there is little likelihood that we can correctly determine how government can best secure them.

Let us first consider the origin of those freedoms we have come to know as human rights. Rights are either God-given as part of the divine plan or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition, and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government.

I support the doctrine of separation of church and state as traditionally interpreted to prohibit the establishment of an official national religion. But this does not mean that we should divorce government from any formal recognition of God. To do so strikes a potentially fatal blow at the concept of the divine origin of our rights and unlocks the door for an easy entry of future tyranny. If Americans should ever come to believe that their rights and freedoms are instituted among men by politicians and bureaucrats, then they will no longer carry the proud inheritance of their forefathers, but will grovel before their masters seeking favors and dispensations, a throwback to the feudal system of the Dark Ages.

Man superior to government

Since God created man with certain inalienable rights, and man, in turn, created government to help secure and safeguard those rights, it follows that man is superior to the creature which he created. Man is superior to government and should remain master over it, not the other way around. Even the nonbeliever can appreciate the logic of this relationship.

A government is nothing more or less than a relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized. The government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who created it.

Delegation of powers

Keep in mind that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they themselves have. They cannot give that which they do not possess.

In a primitive state, there is no doubt that each man would be justified in using force, if necessary, to defend himself against physical harm, against theft of the fruits of his labor, and against enslavement by another.

Indeed, the early pioneers found that a great deal of their time and energy was being spent defending themselves, their property, and their liberty. For man to prosper, he cannot afford to spend his time constantly guarding his family, his fields, and his property against attack and theft. When he joins together with his neighbors and hires a sheriff, government is born. The individual citizens delegate to the sheriff their unquestionable right to protect themselves. The sheriff now does for them only that which they had a right to do for themselves—nothing more.

But suppose pioneer "A" wants another horse for his wagon. He doesn't have the money to buy one, but since pioneer "B" has an extra horse, he decides that he is entitled to share in his neighbor's good fortune. Is he entitled to take his neighbor's horse? Obviously not! If his neighbor wishes to give it or lend it, that is another question. But so long as pioneer "B" wishes to keep his property, pioneer "A" has no just claim to it.

If "A" has no proper power to take "B's" property, can he delegate any such power to the sheriff? No. Even if everyone in the community desires that "B" give his extra horse to "A," they have no right individually or collectively to force him to do it. They cannot delegate a power they themselves do not have.

Function of government

The proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act. By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft, and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute the wealth or force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by man. No man can delegate a power that be does not possess. The creature cannot exceed the creator.

In general terms, therefore, the proper role of government includes such defensive activities as maintaining national military and local police forces for protection against loss of life, loss of property, and loss of liberty at the hands of either foreign despots or domestic criminals.

It also includes those powers necessarily incidental to the protective function.

We should recognize that government is no plaything. It is an instrument of force; and unless our conscience is clear that we would not hesitate to put a man to death, put him in jail, or forcibly deprive him of his property for failing to obey a given law, we should oppose that law.

Constitution an Inspired document

The Constitution of the United States, an inspired document, is a solemn agreement between the citizens of this nation that every officer of government is under a sacred duty to obey.

The Constitution provides that the great bulk of the legitimate activities of government are to be carried out at the state or local level. This is the only way in which the principle of self-government can be made effective.

The smallest or lowest level that can possibly undertake the task is the one that should do so. The smaller the governmental unit and the closer it is to the people, the easier it is to guide it, to correct it, to keep it solvent, and to keep our freedom.

Remember that the people of the states of this republic created the federal government. The federal government did not create the states.

Self-proclaimed powers

A category of government activity that not only requires the closest scrutiny but that 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 redistributing the wealth, and activities that 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, then I may delegate that power to my government to exercise it in my behalf. If I do not have that right, I cannot delegate it.

If we permit government to manufacture its own authority and to create self-proclaimed powers not delegated to it by the people, then the creature exceeds the creator and becomes master. Who is to say "this far, but no farther"? What clear principle will stay the hand of government from reaching farther and farther into our daily lives? Grover Cleveland said that "though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people.

Legalized plunder

Once government steps over this clear line between the protective or negative role 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. It becomes a lever of unlimited power that is the sought-after prize of unscrupulous individuals and pressure groups, each seeking to control the machine to fatten his own pockets or to benefit his favorite charity, all with the other fellow's money, of course. Each class or special interest group competes with the others to throw the lever of governmental power in its favor, or at least to immunize itself against the effects of a previous thrust. Labor gets a minimum wage. Agriculture gets a price support. Some consumers demand price controls. In the end, no one is much further ahead, and everyone suffers the burdens of a gigantic bureaucracy and a loss of personal freedom. With each group out to get its share of the spoils, such governments historically have mushroomed into total welfare states. Once the process begins, once the principle of the protective function of government gives way to the aggressive or redistributive function, then forces are set in motion that drive the nation toward totalitarianism.

Workers create wealth

No government in the history of mankind has ever created any wealth. People who work create wealth.

The free creative energy of this choice nation "created more than 50 percent of all the world's products and possessions in the short span of 160 years. The only imperfection in the system is the imperfection in man himself." (James R. Evans, The Glorious Quest [Chicago: Charles Hallberg and Company].)

Marxist doctrine

According to Marxist doctrine, a human being is primarily an economic creature. His material well-being is all important; his privacy and his freedom are secondary. The Soviet constitution reflects this philosophy in its emphasis on security: food, clothing, housing, medical care—the same things that might be considered in a jail. The basic concept is that the government has full responsibility for the welfare of the people and, in order to discharge that responsibility, must assume control of all their activities. It is significant that in actuality the Russian people have few of the rights supposedly "guaranteed" to them in their constitution, while the American people have them in abundance even though they are not guaranteed. The reason is that material gain and economic prosperity and security simply cannot be guaranteed by any government They are the result and reward of hard work and industrious production. Unless the people bake one loaf of bread for each citizen, the government cannot guarantee that each will have one loaf to eat. Constitutions can be written, laws can be passed, and imperial decrees can be issued, but unless the bread is produced, it can never be distributed.

Destruction of productive base

Why, then, do Americans bake more bread, manufacture more shoes, and assemble more TV sets than Russians do? They do so precisely because our government does not guarantee these things. If it did, there would be so many accompanying taxes, controls, regulations, and political manipulations that the productive genius that is America's would soon be reduced to the floundering level of waste and inefficiency now found behind the Iron Curtain.

Any attempt through governmental intervention to redistribute the material rewards of labor can only result in the eventual destruction of the productive base of society, without which real abundance and security for more than the ruling elite is quite impossible.

What happens to a nation that ignores these basic principles? Former FBI agent Dan Smoot succinctly points this out:

"England was killed by an idea; the idea that the weak, indolent, and profligate must be supported by the strong, industrious, and frugal—to the degree that tax consumers will have a living standard comparable to that of taxpayers; the idea that government exists for the purpose of plundering those who work to give the product of their labor to those who do not work.

"The economic and social cannibalism produced by this communist-socialist idea will destroy any society which adopts it and clings to it as a basic principle—any society."

Individual freedom ignored

This may sound heartless and insensitive to the needs of those less fortunate individuals who are found in any society, no matter how affluent. "What about the lame, the sick and the destitute?" is an often-voiced question. Most other countries have attempted to use the power of government to meet this need. Yet, in every case, the improvement has been marginal at best and has, in the long run, created more misery, more poverty, and certainly less freedom than when government first stepped in.

As Henry Grady Weaver wrote:

"Most of the major ills of the world have been caused by well-meaning people who ignored the principle of individual freedom, except as applied to themselves, and who were obsessed with fanatical zeal to improve the lot of mankind-in-the-mass through some pet formula of their own. . . . The harm done by ordinary criminals, murderers, gangsters, and thieves is negligible in comparison with the agony inflicted upon human beings by the professional `do-gooders,' who attempt to set themselves up as gods on earth and who would ruthlessly force their views on all others—with the abiding assurance that the end justifies the means." (The Mainspring of Human Progress.)

Reliance on individual action

America has traditionally followed Jefferson's advice of relying on the profit motive, individual action, and charity. The United States has fewer cases of genuine hardship per capita than any other country in the world now or throughout all history. Even during the depression of the 1930's, Americans ate and lived better than most people in other countries do today.

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.

Three factors may make a difference: (1) sufficient historical knowledge of the failures of socialism in contrast to the proven success of free enterprise; (2) modern means of rapid communications to transmit this information to a large literate population; (3) a growing number of dedicated men and women actively working to promote a wider appreciation of these basic concepts. The timely joining together of these three factors may make it entirely possible for us to reverse the trend.

Cut welfare-state features

How is it possible to cut out the various welfare-state features of our government that have already fastened themselves like cancer cells onto the body politic? Can drastic surgery be performed without endangering the patient? Drastic measures are called for. No compromise actions will suffice. Like all surgery, it will not be without discomfort and perhaps even some scar tissue for a long time to come. But it must be done if the patient is to be saved—and it can be done without undue risk.

Not all welfare-state programs currently in force can be dropped simultaneously without causing tremendous economic and social upheaval. The first step toward restoring the limited concept of government should be to freeze all welfare-state programs at their present levels, making sure that no new ones are added. The next step would be to allow all present programs to run out their term with absolutely no renewal. The third step would involve the gradual phasing-out of those programs which are indefinite in their term. The bulk of the transition could be accomplished, I believe, within a ten-year period and virtually completed within 20 years.

Return to basic concepts

We must return to basic concepts and principles, to eternal verities in this choice land. There is no other way. The storm signals are up. They are clear and ominous.

We are building up a generation of lazy, government-dole-consuming weaklings. If this Communist-planned program of deception is not stopped, it will destroy our nation.

As Americans—citizens of the greatest nation under heaven—we face difficult days. Never since the days of the Civil War—100 years ago—has this choice nation faced such a crisis.

I have faith in the American people. I pray that we will refrain from doing anything further that will jeopardize in any manner, our priceless heritage. This is a choice land. If we live and work so as to enjoy the approbation of a Divine Providence, we cannot fail. Without that help, we cannot long endure.

As Americans, let us put our courage to the test—to be firm in the conviction that our cause is just, to reaffirm our faith in all things for which true Americans have always stood in years past.

Let all Americans arouse themselves and stay aroused. We must stop and then reverse the concessions we have made to socialistic Communism at home and abroad. We should oppose these evil forces from our position of strength, for we are not weak.

There is much work to be done. The time is short. Let us begin in earnest—now—and may God bless our efforts, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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