Monday, April 2, 2012

Gap Between Rich and Poor: Explained

In this morning's Salt Lake Tribune Peggy Stack summarizes a talk in yesterday's Mormon General Conference:

M. Russell Ballard, another apostle, also laid out some of the damage done to society by unbelievers.
In an increasingly materialistic world, about half of babies are born to unmarried women, more than half of marriages end in divorce, and fewer families embrace traditional values.
"Equally worrisome is the ever-growing gap between rich and poor," the apostle said. "Statistically, those who have less education and consequently lower incomes are less likely to marry and to go to church, and much more likely to be involved in crime and to have children outside of marriage."
Values come first, he said, and better situations follow.
"When children are born in wedlock and have both a mom and a dad, their opportunities and their likelihood of occupational success skyrocket," Ballard said. "And when families work and play together, neighborhoods and communities flourish, economies improve, and less government and fewer costly ‘safety nets’ are required."

Gasping, even spitting, I retrace the logic:
1. the world is increasingly materialistic
2. as a result marriage and families are crumbling
3. because families are crumbling there is a growing gap between rich and poor
4. family values will make us wealthy
5. and finally we won't need government with its social security and health insurance

There we have it. From the mouth of an apostle. Repeated, unrelenting tax cuts for the rich are irrelevant. Deregulation of banks and oil companies so they can make even more obscene profits is passé. Massive subsidies to oil companies mean nothing. People without health insurance don't have family values.

In short: if we were less materialistic we could be more materialistic.

It takes me back to 1969 when I was a missionary in Germany. I was talking with some university students who wondered if my being a missionary was a way to protest the Vietnam War and undermine the establishment. 

20-years old, politically naive, I had no answer other than to say that wasn't it at all. I did want to change the world but believed that that was done one person at a time. If I can convert a person to Mormonism and make him or her a better person, and if that is done thousands and millions of times, then the world will become better without protest or forced political change.

The students tried to explain some work by the Frankfurt School they were reading that argues that governmental and social structures can either aid or hinder us as we try to be decent human beings and that changing those structures is important.

They went back to Adorno and Habermas and I went back to knocking on doors to convert people and only later did I read Marcuse and teach a graduate class on the Frankfurt School.

Little did I know that now, in 2012, after the Occupy Movement, all that Frankfurt theory could be refuted simply by shouting "big government" and "safety net"!


michael morrow said...

wow...lets see now....60 years of organized religion,including 30 yrs with mormon bent, 4 college degrees, 3 x wives, 6 kids, some recovering from throat-stuffed-with-religion-books syndrome....all have found courage of personal conviction, having spit out all religious I did something "right"....never seen any photos of christ or buddha or any other religious demigod with books in their hand let alone hanging from their throat.....

these religious fanatics really believe their own bullshit which boils down to..."if there were a better idea for your life...I would have it"

this is a great post scott...very timely for me....

Scott Abbott said...

Michael, my own children are non-believers and believers both, depending on how and where their lives have gone. But mainly they are good people, lacking the kinds of ignorant pride that would cook up the bullshit reported from yesterday's meeting.

michael morrow said...

and,and, and.........the level of communication and friendship we share demonstrates that interpersonal communication is natural and laws regulating such activity is UNnatural...hence...the road to hell is not paved with GOOD intentions, its paved with BAD intentions...mental hell that is,,,,and if there is such a beast as an enemy to god its these UNnatural men who really believe that I need a commandment telling me to honor my mom and dad....thats totally UNNATURAL man-worm excretion....spewing out both ends of their hell-ridden single-cell-self.

M. Olson said...

The statement about poverty decreasing the likelihood of church attendance is very odd. Most studies suggest that religiosity and poverty have a positive correlation. (With the U.S. being somewhat of an outlier).

michael morrow said...

hey scott...then the Daily Herald prints this recap of UVU's "Mormonism and the Internet".....

Real history, real lives, and real theology are incredibly messy," he said. "If we only look for things that reaffirm what we already know, I don't think we are being faithful." He suggested that members must become more comfortable "living in the questions" of the Mormon faith.

Mormons simply need to be more courageous in discussing fraught subjects, Brooks said.

"Let's examine our fear of exposure in the light of day," she said. "If I find out something terrible, it may not change who I am. I might be fine. We need to foster places where we can be wrong and it is not a character flaw. It's not shameful if we address it with humility and acknowledge the human-ness of this process."