Some readers may have had the frustrating experience of speaking about politics to our brothers and sisters who mistakenly believe in left-wing politics and/or economics. You may say something like, “well, you know that Church leaders have spoken out against socialism,” and they will say something like, “well, not democratic socialism.”
Let us be clear, dear readers: most Socialists of the 19th century and the early 20th century would be absolutely ecstatic to see what left-wingers have achieved, even in the supposedly capitalist United States. The United States today is a country where the government absolutely dominates the economy. Social welfare spending (meaning spending on government health care, Social Security and entitlements) makes up nearly 60 percent of the federal budget. Remember that there was no such thing as federal social welfare spending as recently as the early 1930s. Meanwhile, total government spending has skyrocketed from 8 percent of GDP in 1900 to almost 40 percent today.
By any reasonable standard, we are have a socialist system in the United States with pockets of laissez faire in a few isolated industries. Yet, we constantly hear from politicians that more socialism is necessary.
Oh sorry, not socialism. Democratic socialism.
So, let’s be more precise. What we have today is, again by any reasonable standard, statism. This is a system where the government dominates political and economic life.
And this is the opposite of what modern-day prophets have repeatedly preached going back to Joseph Smith. LDS prophets have consistently and unwaveringly been in favor of personal, voluntary charity. They have been against government-based welfare systems. And the reason is that government-based welfare systems are about force.
Again and again, prophets exhort us to voluntarily give to others, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and help the helpless. They do not tell us that the government should do this for us, and in fact again and again they say that government-based charity is not God’s way.
(Note: if you still believe the United Order was a socialist system, please read this. It was not.)
Let’s hear from the left-wing favorite, President Uchtdorf, who spoke on this subject at General Conference in October 2011. President Uchtdorf clearly points out that caring for the poor is not about government sending people a check. Caring for the poor is about personal charity that involves action by both the giver and the receiver:
There are many good people and organizations in the world that are trying to meet the pressing needs of the poor and needy everywhere. We are grateful for this, but the Lord’s way of caring for the needy is different from the world’s way. The Lord has said, “It must needs be done in mine own way.”9 He is not only interested in our immediate needs; He is also concerned about our eternal progression. For this reason, the Lord’s way has always included self-reliance and service to our neighbor in addition to caring for the poor.
Let’s hear from some other prophets on the issue of statism: