Skip navigation.

Proclamation on economy

Update 28 Oct 2008 - It has been pointed out that this posting is inaccurate. Read Orson Scott Card's article about this topic here: Proclamation on the Economy

Most families have the proclamation on the family and the proclamation of the twelve apostles hanging somewhere on their walls. In 1875, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued a proclamation on the economy. If it was applicable then, it should be even more applicable today. A part of it was to push the community's self-sustainance with ZCMI (which eventually went directly against the proclamation before it was sold a few years ago).

The proclamation:

The experience of mankind has shown that the people of communities and nations among whom wealth is the most equally distributed, enjoy the largest degree of liberty, are the least exposed to tyranny and oppression and suffer the least from luxurious habits which beget vice. Under such a system, carefully maintained, there could be no great aggregations of either real or personal property in the hands of a few; especially so while the laws, forbidding the taking of usury or interest for money or property loaned, continued in force.

One of the great evils with which our own nation is menaced at the present time is the wonderful growth of wealth in the hands of a comparatively few individuals. The very liberties for which our fathers contended so steadfastly and courageously, and which they bequeathed to us as a priceless legacy, are endangered by the monstrous power which this accumulation of wealth gives to a few individuals and a few powerful corporations. By its seductive influence results are accomplished which, were it equally distributed, would be impossible under our form of government. It threatens to give shape to the legislation, both state and national, of the entire country. If this evil should not be checked, and measures not taken to prevent the continued enormous growth of riches among the class already rich, and the painful increase of destitution and want among the poor, the nation is likely to be overtaken by disaster; for, according to history, such a tendency among nations once powerful was the sure precursor of ruin.

Years ago, it was perceived that we Latter-day Saints were open to the same dangers as those which beset the rest of the world. A condition of affairs existed among us, which was favorable to the growth of riches in the hands of a few at the expense of many. A wealthy class was being rapidly formed in our midst whose interests in the course of time, were likely to be diverse from those of the rest of the community. The growth of such a class was dangerous to our union; and, of all people, we stand most in need of union and to have our interests identical...

...the Latter-day Saints were acting in utter disregard of the principles of self-preservation. They were encouraging the growth of evils in their own midst which they condemned as the worst features of the systems from which they had been gathered. Large profits were being consecrated in comparatively few hands, instead of being generally distributed among the people. As a consequence, the community was being rapidly divided into classes, and the hateful and unhappy distinctions to which the possession and lack of wealth give rise were becoming painfully apparent....

Your Brethren,

Brigham Young, George A. Smith, Daniel H. Wells, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt, Charles C. Rich, Lorenzo Snow, Erastus Snow, Frankling D. Richards George Q. Cannon, Brigham Young, Jr., Albert Carrington

The full text can be found here.

Conveinent use of prophetic words

How do you know that this is really the truth and not just some self-serving words to promote the perusal of ZCMI?

By their fruits you shall kno

By their fruits you shall know them. It tastes good.

truth in context....

What I got out of the Proclamation on the Economy is that the Brethren are suggesting a society will be its happiest when a sort of egalitarian society is reached - or something similar to the Law of Consecration, maybe.

I don't think anyone has suggested it so far, but I think it would be an error to interpret their words to mean that we need to reform our current system of government to a more socialist or communist form in order to appropriate available goods according to how we would see equal. On the contrary, I think all they're suggesting is that each individual needs to keep in mind as they accumulate wealth, the situation of others, and help them to earn the same position in society that you possess.

I think President John Taylor, one among the signers of the Proclamation on the Economy, made this clear in his book The Government of God. The third chapter, titled On the Incompetency of the Means Made Use Of by Man to Regenerate the World, was republished as an article in The Ensign, Aug. 1971, 18-19.

There is also another political party, who desire, through the influence of legislation and coercion, to level the world. To say the least, it is a species of robbery; to some it may appear an honorable one, but, nevertheless, it is robbery. What right has any private man to take by force the property of another? The laws of all nations would punish such a man as a thief. Would thousands of men engaged in the same business make it more honorable? Certainly not. And if a nation were to do it, would a nation’s act sanctify a wrong deed? No; the Algerine pirates, or Arabian hordes, were never considered honorable, on account of their numbers; and a nation, or nations, engaging in this would only augment the banditti, but could never sanctify the deed.

I shall not, here, enter into the various manners of obtaining wealth; but would merely state, that any unjust acquisition of it ought to be punished by law. Wealth is generally the representation of labour, industry, and talent. If one man is industrious, enterprising, diligent, careful, and saves property, and his children follow in his steps, and accumulate wealth; and another man is careless, prodigal, and lazy, and his children inherit his poverty, I cannot conceive upon what principles of justice, the children of the idle and profligate have a right to put their hands into the pockets of those who are diligent and careful, and rob them of their purse. Let this principle exist, and all energy and enterprise would be crushed. Men would be afraid of again accumulating, lest they should again be robbed. Industry and talent would have no stimulant, and confusion and ruin would inevitably follow.

Again, if you took men’s property without their consent, the natural consequence would be that they would seek to retake it the first opportunity; and this state of things would only deluge the world in blood. So that let any of these measures be carried out, even according to the most sanguine hopes of the parties, they would not only bring distress upon others, but also upon themselves; certainly they would not bring about the peace of the world.

...There are very many philanthropists who would gladly ameliorate the condition of men, and of the world, if they knew how. But the means employed are not commensurate with the end; every grade of society is vitiated and corrupt. “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.” Our systems, our policy, our legislation, our education, and philosophy, are all wrong, neither can we be particularly blamed, for these evils have been the growth of ages. Our fathers have left God, his guidance, control, and support, and we have been left to ourselves; and our present position is a manifest proof of our incompetency to govern; and our past failures make it evident, that any future effort, with the same means, would be as useless. The world is diseased, and requires a world’s remedy.

These ideas appear to contradict what the proclamation on economy says, unless you consider them together. The point is that the means of change is not in the government we institute, but in the individual. I think all that is suggested by the Proclamation on the Economy is that each individual needs to work to achieve their means, and only through the work of each individual will a peaceful, egalitarian society exist, which will bring about greater happiness and peace than any other form of society.

An economic philosophy that requires more than meditation

I don't think anyone has suggested it so far, but I think it would be an error to interpret their words to mean that we need to reform our current system of government to a more socialist or communist form in order to appropriate available goods according to how we would see equal.

Definitely.

And the strong anti-communist feelings by many Church leaders is certainly indicative that communism is not the path to consecration.

On the contrary, I think all they're suggesting is that each individual needs to keep in mind as they accumulate wealth, the situation of others, and help them to earn the same position in society that you possess.

Only "keep in mind...the situation of others" ? I think not.

The brethren are preaching against the development of classes among the membership...which under our current economic model requires quite a bit of action on our part (to avoid the development of classes).

Just drive around Provo and Orem for a couple hours. It's clear that we have wandered, as a Church, pretty far from the golden standard of the gospel re: our economic practices. There are members of the Church living in poverty and others living in million dollar homes. This is exactly what the brethren were warning against:

Large profits were being consecrated in comparatively few hands, instead of being generally distributed among the people. As a consequence, the community was being rapidly divided into classes, and the hateful and unhappy distinctions to which the possession and lack of wealth give rise were becoming painfully apparent....

We're coming up short today.

Ignoring or dismissing our tendency to develop classes, especially among the membership of the church, is dangerous.

No matter our economic condition, we should ask ourselves how we can give more, because inevitably we all can do just that: give more, be it time, money, talents, etc.

depends on what context you a

depends on what context you are thinking about. Not temporal inequality, but spiritual.

Thank you biter, i was just d

Thank you biter, i was just drawing simalarities between the two.

wrong

taste is totally subjective; thus, your truth is subjective. In order for it to be true, it would then have to be universal, not tasty.

Interesting standard

So it's only true if it tastes good to you? I used President Hinkley's conference addresses to point out that war is neccesary at times and you insinuated that he wasn't speaking prophetically. Yet somehow, when it serves the gospel of tyler it is good fruit.

You can't selectively quote scripture and prophets only when it serves your purpose. If the standard is subjective to your line of thinking with no objective guidelines then discussing anything of an eternal nature is pointless because there there is no way for us to have a competent discussion where you get to make the rules based off of how you feel.

Thank you Brad. The American

Thank you Brad. The American economy would benefit from better citizens, not socialism. Some people love socialism. It's stable. I gives everyone the warm fuzzies and "free" health care. Markets might not exercise much mercy, but the world has yet to come up with anything nearly as efficient. I don't advocate any crazy utilitarianism, but the invisible hand has given us kids the spare time to sit around on message boards and philosophize about epistimology. Wannabe socialists should bite the hand that feeds them at their own risk.

Thank you

Yeah, thanks for clearing that up. Those are the lines along which I was thinking. My point was that the government is not where we should turn to distribute things equitably.

Thanks Boca. I agree with alm

Thanks Boca. I agree with almost everything you said.

"And the strong anti-communist feelings by many Church leaders is certainly indicative that communism is not the path to consecration."

I agree that a reforming of government will not do the trick. Rather it seems that the historical/scriptural tradition is to not reform the government, but to abandon it and begin a new one. One of Brigham Young's frustrations was that in leaving behind the political and economic structure of the states, the saints just brought it with them. One of Young's primary reasons for gaining statehood was to free the states from the Federal nations' economic and political grips (states had far more individual governing rights compared to the nation then they do today).

I believe the fear of communism of some church leaders (especially Benson) did not stem from something inherently wrong with Communism, but rather from a misunderstanding by equating Soviet Socialism/Communism with 'true Communism' (though many disagree what exactly 'true Communism' consists of, most agree that the Soviet Union did not live it).

Third Nephi in many ways defends Marx's Communist Manifesto. 3rd Nephi begins with a huge economic seperation between the proletariot and the Bourgoise with the former being terribly abused, oppressed, and commodified by the latter. However, instead of the Proletariot uprising and tearing down the Bourgoise social structure, they are to oppressed and without power. Instead Christ acts as the weapon and army of the proletariot. Christ destroys the Bourgoise. He totally annihilates the economic, political, and social structures of the Lehites. With fertile grounds to build a community, Christ institutes his new communal structure. He install a politics of community... or communism.

i know

Of course then, any spiritual confirmation is subjective. The proclamation on the economy was more than just a touchy good feeling. It goes along with the economics that Christ taught in the gospels and as taught in the Book of Mormon. Something that the capitalist economics of the nation (and of most of Mormondom) cannot claim today.

"So it's only true if it tast

"So it's only true if it tastes good to you?"

Not just if it tastes good to me (though I'm pretty sure everyone has difficulty swallowing something that does not taste good). I am pretty positive that this tastes good to most people (besides people who enjoy accumulating wealth). It tastes good in light of what the scriptures taught, especially in comparison with the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. And for me personally, it tastes good spiritually.

"I used President Hinkley's conference addresses to point out that war is neccesary at times and you insinuated that he wasn't speaking prophetically"

I don't recall that. I do think war is necessary at some times, though very limited.

"You can't selectively quote scripture and prophets only when it serves your purpose."

Who doesn't do that?

"there there is no way for us to have a competent discussion where you get to make the rules based off of how you feel."

I agree. Private spiritual epistemology should not be used as grounds for an argument. I should have been more clear that 'taste' included more than just a personal spiritual witness. Ironically, many of the initial attacks against me were based on the accuser supposedly posessing an authentic testimony and me supposedly not having this same authoritative witness.

What are you suggesting?

Given our current situation, what do you suggest be done?

The equal distribution of wea

The equal distribution of wealth is inherent with societies that are communistic and socialistic. But the oppertunity we have to obtain wealth in the society we live is essential to our personal progression. Where is our incentive to efficiently contribute to society if we cannot progress beyond a certain point? The gospel is all about inequality. We all progress at different rates. We will not all be at eqaul levels of 'godliness' in the celestial kingdom. We will learn precept upon precept always bettering ourselves knowing that we become better and stronger. Our capatalistic society in which we live is patterened much after the personal progression in the gospel and eternities. The reason societies that are communistic and socialistic seem to fail is because they inhibit people from progressing beyond a certain point. To inhibit progression is un-godly.

ho-hum.

"Of course then, any spiritual confirmation is subjective"

Obviously, a spiritual feeling is by definition subjective. It is only spiritual for that person.

However, the question was: How do you know that this is really the truth and not just some self-serving words to promote the perusal of ZCMI?

WOAH!

"The gospel is all about inequality."

Did I hear that right? And I thought i was radical! So all these scriptural conceptions and actualizations of Zion were wrong?

my epistemology

I lean somewhat towards a relative epistemology such that my knowledge can only be understood in context of and in relation to my already existing beliefs and world view. Because of this, it is only possible for a person to know what is 'really the truth' for themselves personally. So for me, this is 'really the trut' because it seems true to me (tastes good) in context of my understanding of the scriptures and morality.

No, but can you deny that we

No, but can you deny that we are not all equal in our progression spiritually? Do we not live our mortal lives in a sort of resemblance of spiritual lives? Zion will be a society in which we will have ultimate progression.

ahh doy

"So for me, this is 'really the trut' because it seems true to me (tastes good) in context of my understanding of the scriptures and morality."

Well duh, but he was asking what is your reason for believing that this is true, i.e., what is your criterion for judgeing that this is true as to opposed to being not true.

Taste is fine. It's just weak.

Great! 2 years down the toile

Great! 2 years down the toilet! ;)

Subjectivity vs Objectivity

OK. Now we have a topic that makes sense. Tyler, I agree with you in a way. You can have your own percepcion of truth, which is determined by personal experiences and beliefs.
Although, truth by itself cannot be dependant on personal perceptions of truth of individuals. Truth by definition exists by itself (I imagine it is similar to Plato's forms).
I guess the whole purpose of rational investigation is to achieve a perception of truth as close to the "real" truth as we can.
One thing: Tyler, I get the impression by your posting that in this case you believe you have a perception of truth. I hope you don't think that that perception is conclusive. I think it is a little "iffy" to use an argument like the one you are presenting by your reply. I mean no offense.

Ahhh.. the good ol' pharisees

The pharisees strived to make themselves spiritually higher than others. They lived a 'capitalist spirituality', not only did they seek for spiritual greatness above others, they did so by pushing off of others.

Christ taught us to reach down and live among and help out the sinners and the sinned-against. It's not about lifting ourselves, but the lifing up of those below to an equal spiritual level. As a community we lift eachother up equally. Their is no individual path to heaven. It's with a community. The City of Enoch was lifted together because of eachtother, not one by one with individual merits.

"Well duh, but he was asking

"Well duh, but he was asking what is your reason for believing that this is true, i.e., what is your criterion for judgeing that this is true as to opposed to being not true."

I think I've already answered this a few times...

1."It goes along with the economics that Christ taught in the gospels and as taught in the Book of Mormon"
2. "n context of my understanding of the scriptures and morality"
3. "I am pretty positive that this tastes good to most people"
4. "It tastes good in light of what the scriptures taught, especially in comparison with the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price"

Are you referring to our miss

Are you referring to our missions? If so, how did things go down the drain? I'm assuming that on your mission, you did not convert by argement, but by bearing testimony of your own understanding of personal revelation and having them try it out for themselves.

Dude, that comment was very lame

Provojoe, you are NOBODY to judge someone else and their missions.

"I guess the whole purpose of

"I guess the whole purpose of rational investigation is to achieve a perception of truth as close to the "real" truth as we can."

That is what Hilary Putnam believed with his analogy of a frictionless place. It's impossible for aeronautical engineers to create a frictionless plane, but it's always possible to get a little closer.

I am starting to side more and more with Kuhn that we understand the world through paradigms, we may switch paradigms in order to account for anomalies, however that in no way means that we are getting any closer to the Truth. What we know to be true will always be relative to our paradigm.

"Tyler, I get the impression by your posting that in this case you believe you have a perception of truth. I hope you don't think that that perception is conclusive. I think it is a little "iffy" to use an argument like the one you are presenting by your reply. I mean no offense"

No offense taken. A paradigm will always seem 'iffy' from somebody outside of the paradigm. Until an anomaly comes along that presents a strong enough reason to abort my paradigm, it;s all I got.

An MBA program takes two years guys ....

Sheesh. Cute comment I thought.

ty

I never said it was a competition to see who could get higher spirtitually, what i said is that we are inequal in our attempts to progress spiritually. we will not have the desire to progress to be better than others, but to better ourselves personally. we will not compare, but we will be inequal in our spiritual progression

So i should lower myself to s

So i should lower myself to someone elses spiritual level so that i can progress with them and not make them feel bad. OK.