My view: Public policy of personal responsibility


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  • Mit Ailbu Salt Lake City, UT
    July 18, 2013 9:54 p.m.

    "No one is advocating anarchy or no government." - I am.

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    July 17, 2013 4:11 p.m.

    re: Steve C. Warren

    Wasn't it one of the Eccles whose family started First Security Bank that was the brains behinds FDR's 'economic stimuli'? How's that for irony?

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    July 17, 2013 4:08 p.m.

    to Jason Welch

    If you are *outraged* about paying for education just imagine how the rest of us feel when we get our property tax bill & learn our share for 'the privilege' of helping educate your kids and many others.

    Why do people think they still feel the need to produce the same # of offspring as their ancestors did in the 19th century? I could go off about scarcity of natural resources but won't.

    My solution to fund education? An occasional per capita tax. Or, maybe (this is a stretch IMO) minimal property tax on all the ward houses here in Zion?

  • Jason Welch Riverton, UT
    July 17, 2013 9:51 a.m.

    "Brigham didn't ask for volunteers to go off to the far corners of Mormon Country. He sent them. Not a lot of freedom or democracy in those early years."

    Are you contending that a member of the church had the choice of obey or get arrested and locked in a cage? The moves were given as callings, there was no threat of force.

    You asked for an example of a libertarian/voluntary society, and I gave one to you that lasted, by your calculation around 70 years.

    @BlueDevil, no one should be forced to pay for the voluntary education of another adult. There is even less of a justification for public spending on University than for schools for children.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 17, 2013 9:50 a.m.


    I have no problem with putting more folks to work when and wherever possible. I get that you think that we should (individually) step up and take care of folks. And, in my experience, sometimes we do. But sometimes we don’t.

    Is it my job to take care of that young person with severe disabilities and no parents he can rely on? To a degree, yes. But just me? I don’t have those kinds of resources. Pooled with others? Maybe. But then we get back to what private charities can and can’t do. Again, the evidence appears to be that charity alone is insufficient to the societal task.

    As to why it is insufficient? I leave that to the churches to mull and address. It is not a function of govt.

    Govt. policy needs to be crafted based on everyone, not what one small group can or will do. Unless there is evidence (outside of smaller religious groups) that charity alone has been sufficient for long-term sustaining of vulnerable people, we need to look elsewhere.

  • lbrown0715 Kearns, UT
    July 17, 2013 2:16 a.m.

    Twin Lights

    I don't know what we do with a child with no parents and no church. Does that mean that leaving this child to a local charity means that we ignore that child's needs? Not at all.

    The ineffective use of charity by a people is something of an individual issue that cannot be solved simply by making an edict by the federal gov't to ensure that all are taken care of. In Australia where social welfare is shared by all by legislation still has people who live well below the poverty line. I would argue that charity through legislation does not work. In fact we have people here to simply do not desire to work because the gov't will take care of them.

    Who's fault is it that charity faileth? I would point to the people most responsible for it's distribution.....you and I. It's not the gov't job to take care of the child with no family and no church. It our job. It's the gov'ts job to stay out of our way in allowing us to do just that. People taking care of people.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    July 16, 2013 9:29 p.m.

    Public schools are the perfect example of why we need to teach personal responsibility. Kids who think they are entitled learn nothing, no matter how much we punish the schools and the teachers for not teaching them. Kids who take personal responsibility for their education, learn much.

    If everyone does what they can, to care for their own, there will be plenty left to care for the needy. We can care for the helpless, but not for the clueless and the helpless. The clueless need to get a clue and start being contributors instead of takers.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 16, 2013 8:42 p.m.


    I am aware of the church's stance on food storage, humanitarian aid, and members helping each other. As helpful as these things are, they are (in my experience) insufficient for many chronic problems. Self-reliance is the ideal and should be strongly promoted, but what do we do with a kid with chronic disabilities who has no parents and is not a member of any church?

    Reference government assistance, the following is from Handbook 2, Section 6.2.4: "Leaders may also help members receive assistance through community and government agencies."

    Reference to charity being sufficient, I think even a cursory reading of 19th century history shows that, outside of tight-knit religious communities such as the LDS or the Shakers, charity alone was not sufficient to meet the needs (think Dickens).

    We may not need to be of the same religion to know that charity works, but communal religious communities seem to be the only ones who actually made it work. That is not where the LDS are today and not where our nation is.

  • lbrown0715 Kearns, UT
    July 16, 2013 5:49 p.m.

    Twin Lights

    As members of the LDS church we are commanded to store up foods and supplies in times of need. We are advised to grow a garden. It's not so much that the church will take care of our needs as much as the members help each other take care of their needs. When that is not able to take place THEN the church can step in. But, in nowise are we advised to go to the government for assistance. Firstly we ask our families. Secondly we ask for help from the church.

    There is also a large humanitarian resource at the disposal of the church where they can send needed supplies anywhere, anytime. In many cases the LDS church is the first to be there.

    Yea....sure it can. Joseph Smith taught the Saints true principles and then let them govern themselves. Charity works.....we don't all have to be of the same faith to know it works or to know of its effects. At the same time the LDS church does not discriminate who that charity is given to when aid is required. All are Gods children and therefore should be treated as such.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    July 16, 2013 5:21 p.m.

    @Jason... does that animosity carry over toward public education equally apply to universities - which are also subsidized? Just wondering. Is the U of U an immoral taking of others money too...? Just wondering how far your feelings go here?

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    July 16, 2013 4:26 p.m.

    @Jason "There is not a better example of a voluntary society than the first few decades of Mormon history in Utah."

    Then the Great Depression came along and showed how unprepared Utah was to deal with life unless government stepped in. Utah ranked No. 2 in the nation in terms of per-capita relief spending in the Depression.

    @Kent DeForrest Enjoyed your comments. You are spot-on.

  • Ford DeTreese Provo, UT
    July 16, 2013 4:17 p.m.

    You know Eric, my friends in Germany think they have more liberty than we do in America in many ways. Especially in terms of health care, they are free obtain quality health care from any of thousands of facilities and providers, and they pay, on average, half of what we do for health care. They consider that a greater liberty than we enjoy. So how do you define freedom? Your definition seems to be "freedom from government." But sometimes government provides greater freedom. Of course, we have to pay for it. But by your definition, that would be using "force," the libertarian F-word.

  • shoalcreek5 Cedar City, Utah
    July 16, 2013 4:14 p.m.

    Amen to goosie's comment. Governments that have superfluous programs tend to shrink over time.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    July 16, 2013 4:08 p.m.


    "I guess when the Mormons first moved into the SLC valley and took care of themselves wasn't a good enough example of people taking care of people without gov't intervention."

    Interesting that you should mention the LDS move to the Great Salt Lake Valley. I've been editing an article today about how the LDS stance on public education changed during the presidency of Joseph F. Smith. Of course when the Mormons arrived, they were their own government, a theocracy, which, by the way, required a lot from the people. Brigham didn't ask for volunteers to go off to the far corners of Mormon Country. He sent them. Not a lot of freedom or democracy in those early years.

    But by the early twentieth century, the Church couldn't afford to educate all of its children, especially in areas where there were no church academies. So in February 1905, President Smith endorsed the growing public education system. The Church shut down most of its academies and began the seminary and institute program to provide religious instruction.

    In other words, the world changed, and the Church adapted. They were actually glad for this "government intervention."

  • shoalcreek5 Cedar City, Utah
    July 16, 2013 4:07 p.m.

    Ultra Bob...

    Here are the basics to all good government...Everything that conforms to Natural Law arises from the following three rules:

    1. Do all you have agreed to do.
    2. Do not encroach on others or their property. (This rule implies that any and all agreements should be made only through free will, not through force.)
    3. Groups of people, unorganized or organized (governments included), have no moral authority to do that which an individual has no authority to do.

    The problem is that some people refuse to obey these rules for a civil society. For this reason, people have instituted governments for the defense of the rights of those who choose to live by these rules. Criminals lose their rights when they harm others.

    When governments begin to act in a criminal manner (as defined above), there is no one to defend against it. Instead, economies stagnate, science falters, civility disappears, security crumbles, and ultimately, that society or its government collapses. It happened to the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, Mongolians, Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, English, and Soviets. It is beginning to happen here. The only way out is for individuals to return to sound principles for a civil society.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    July 16, 2013 4:01 p.m.

    We can provide an effective, single payer health care system for everyone on less than what our piecemeal system costs us now. It would be the great american charity to one another, to not subject people to choose between treatment and financial catastrophe. It's greedy and conceited to think that an every man for himself system actually functions in delivering health care.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    July 16, 2013 3:53 p.m.

    Dangerous? IMO, this particular article and those who promote similar things are the true danger.

  • Eric Checketts Mesa, AZ
    July 16, 2013 3:31 p.m.

    Ultra Bob, I think you're right in your comments about government in it's different forms. All of those examples you gave would, in my mind, qualify as a form of government. And to your point about the "rules of government" not being posted, indeed they aren't. I think this is the crux of the libertarian message; we want people to understand principles of good government so they'll stop supporting the immoral actions of government in any form. The potential of a libertarian community is a very real one, but it depends on how well we do at spreading the message. And for now the liberty-loving community may be relatively small but it's growing like wildfire.

  • goosie St. Louis, MO
    July 16, 2013 3:06 p.m.

    In the past, there were plenty of resources to help people in need. If somebody fell upon hard times, they could turn to family. If family was unable to help, there was the church or the community,and failing that, the local government. Since then, the family has been decaying at an alarming rate, fewer people go to church (and the current administration seems bent on stripping churches of whatever influence they still have), and there is precious little sense of community, with people sequestering themselves in their own homes to partake of the latest hot reality show on TV. Sadly, with all of these buffers either falling apart or rendered impotent, many people feel they have nowhere else to turn BUT the state or federal government. Until we truly become our brothers' (and sisters') keepers and shun this "every person for themselves" mentality that we tend to have,I fear that the government's reach will only extend deeper and wider. We need to weaken it by rendering it superfluous.

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    July 16, 2013 2:34 p.m.

    I think Mark 1 asks the most important question. What is the limit of government growth? If Democrats would only say they are concerned with too large of a government, then maybe we all could have a constructive debate. However is seems that to Democrats, there is and should be no limit to government spending. The military being the exception, but then Democrats would rather use military cuts to spend more on other programs. Who thinks that the national debt can go on forever. If you do think the debt can grow forever, then I have the solution to all financial problems. Raise the debt limit to 100 trillion dollars for this year and fund everything needed. Sound stupid and unworkable? So does a 17 trillion dollar debt.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 16, 2013 2:12 p.m.

    Eric Checketts.

    Thank you for responding. The only time I feel insulted is when I am totally ignored.

    If there are Natural Laws that apply to governments, where are they posted and who handles the enforcement.

    My understanding of the notion of government would include every organized group of human beings, large or small, that shares the responsibilities of the group in return for the benefits of the group.

    The family is a government. The parents are the administrators and make and enforce the rules. The kids have only those rights and privileges allowed by the parents.

    Churches are governments, with the government administration ranging from democracy to dictatorship.

    Every business, club, union, association and whatever is a government for its members.

    The only thing constant about governments is the aspect of sharing and the notion of purpose.

  • Eric Checketts Mesa, AZ
    July 16, 2013 1:49 p.m.

    I wish I could edit my second post. I meant "do" not "due".

  • Eric Checketts Mesa, AZ
    July 16, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    And, Ultra Bob, I disagree with you. There ARE rules that govern the formation of governments. There ARE rules that say what a government *may* or *may* not due. These rules are called "Natural Law". There's a difference between 'power' and 'authority', and though it is clearly within the *power* of groups and individuals to form governments and do as they please, it is also true that they are acting outside of their moral *authority* anytime they act outside of the boundaries established by Natural Law.

  • Eric Checketts Mesa, AZ
    July 16, 2013 1:04 p.m.

    Connor is spot-on. BTW, he's not "rant[ing] against government." That's disingenuous. He may be ranting against the government status quo, but he also acknowledges a proper role for government.

    Also, to claim that - short of an equitable sharing of the wealth (a whole debate of its own) - the next best thing is a progressive tax system? More than just a logical leap, that's total nonsense.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    July 16, 2013 12:51 p.m.


    I think any reasonable interpretation of LDS history in the valley would say that, in the early years, the church really was the govt. for the people.

    This leads to a few questions.

    First, with a widely dispersed LDS population (inter-spliced with other faith and non-faith communities), could even the LDS now provide that level of care and oversight for their members?

    Second, can we base a govt. structure necessary to serve all citizens on what a closely knit religious community will do for its own members? What of those whose faith community (if they have one) is less able to care for its own members?

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 16, 2013 12:41 p.m.

    There are no rules that govern the formation of governments. There are no rules that say what a government can do or can’t do. There are no limits to what the people can ask their government to do, except the limits of the natural world and the people themselves.

    People create governments to do those thing they cannot or don’t want to do for themselves. Governments accomplish their mission by force of control over the people themselves. For every law that protects us from outside enemies there are thousands, millions of laws to protect us from each other.

    The need for government comes from the greed and dishonesty of all people of the world. Consequently governments are always created by people seeking to control the wealth of other people.

    Our founding fathers were no different. They wanted a bigger piece of the pie. Since governments are reluctant about giving up their control, it usually takes a war to accomplish the deed.

    The people in our state governments are doing the same thing that others have done for centuries. Trashing the federal government is just like when we trashed the English.

  • lbrown0715 Kearns, UT
    July 16, 2013 12:37 p.m.

    @Kent: I guess when the Mormons first moved into the SLC valley and took care of themselves wasn't a good enough example of people taking care of people without gov't intervention.

  • Jason Welch Riverton, UT
    July 16, 2013 12:32 p.m.

    Blue Devil, I have five kids and one on the way. I wouldn't dream of subjecting them to the travesty that is our public education system. That I am forced to pay for it, and my own kids education is immoral and unjust.

    July 16, 2013 12:00 p.m.

    No one is advocating anarchy or no government. It is possible that our society would work better if people were allowed to make their own choices and take care of themselves and their neighbors.

    To the people that say that government needs to do more and more, I have one question, when is the point that government gets to be to big?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    July 16, 2013 11:56 a.m.

    @Jason.... the average Utah family pays in state taxes $5,986 - this includes Income Tax, Property Tax, Sales Tax, and Auto taxes including registration and gas tax. Source - Utah Tax Payers Association. For the same year that these numbers were taken, per student spending was $7009 a year.

    So, if you have a single child in school.... you are receiving a net benefit of $1023 a year - you are receiving more in services than you pay in taxes. If you have more than one child in school, that number shifts dramatically to over $8,000 dollars in net benefit.

    This does not include any of the other services you use on a daily basis, roads, standby services like police, fire and medical assistance, libraries, the courts, ... the list goes on and on.

    So in the end... a lot of people are being "forced" to subsidize the average family in Utah. But even forced is a wrong word. You want to live in a world where it is pay as you go and consume... elect people who will do that. Elect people who will change the system so that before you enroll your kid in school... pay full tuition cost.

  • Jason Welch Riverton, UT
    July 16, 2013 11:45 a.m.

    Kent, You want to force me to do something I don't want to do, and then pretend like you are not an enemy of agency? I am in favor of self defense, justice, books, the ability to travel, and clean water to drink. I don't pretend that the only way to have these things is to get together with my neighbors, give one of them a gun, and have him go around and collect money from everybody in the neighborhood to pay for them, or else they will be locked in a cage.

    I don't know how you define "problem", "solution" and "constructive" action, but I am pretty sure we are not on the same page.

    As someone who lives in Provo, UT, I assume you are LDS, or at least are familiar with pioneer history. There is not a better example of a voluntary society than the first few decades of Mormon history in Utah.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    July 16, 2013 11:16 a.m.

    Mr Boyack has a very limited perspective, showing little historical knowledge. From our British mercantilist roots through the present day commercial interests and government have worked hand-in-hand. More often than not this has been a hand-out to those commercial interests. In the 20th century the common man and woman received (finally) some of government's help, largely beginning with the New Deal. Recent times have simply witnessed some degree (but only some) of balance between the little guy and the big interests in terms of government attentiveness.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    July 16, 2013 10:56 a.m.

    Jason, I'm not speaking about my own character, just commenting on the actual state of our society and human nature.

    Also, I'm sure you don't like being "forced" to pay for police protection, public libraries, road maintenance, and clean drinking water. Until you lose the attitude that government is the enemy and is evil, you will be part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Using emotionally charged vocabulary is counterproductive and just widens the political divide so that nothing constructive can be accomplished.

    In the meantime, perhaps you could give us just one real-world example of libertarianism that works.

  • Jason Welch Riverton, UT
    July 16, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    Kent, Lets stop calling forcing people to pay for something they don't want to, force? Your willingness to take others money without their permission, and view of people as inherently greedy and unwilling to take care of people in need, speaks volumes about your own character.

    The struggle between agency and force is not new to our time, I am pretty sure I have heard the "greater good" argument from the advocates of force before. Whether it is to "take care of the poor, and funding a civil society" or "redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost", the effect is the same. A tyrant who thinks he knows better, seeks to take away the agency of man.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    July 16, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    Two significant problems with this libertarian rant against government. First, show me one example, in the real world, where libertarianism has actually worked in practice. Why, in all the industrialized world, is there no successful libertarian country? The answer is because these ideas simply do not work, except in idealistic, utopian thinking. Sure, they sound good, but nobody has ever been able to get people to charitably do all the things we expect good government to do.

    Second, statistics show that the wealthy, those who would have to fund all this charity, contribute a smaller percentage of their wealth to charitable causes than the middle class. So, once again, this pie-in-the-sky appeal is really just another way of putting the huge burden of taking care of the needy on the backs of the middle class. And they can't do it. Their resources are already stretched too thin.

    Unless we are bold enough to equitably share the fruits of labor (profit) with those who actually produce them, the next-best alternative is a progressive tax system. But let's stop calling it "force" and recognize it as simply the way we fund a civilized society.