A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, February 23, 2009

Funny Monty Python Skit!

Monty Python has all their content free on YouTube - pretty awesome, eh? And a great way to waste time.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Capitalism is the Worst Economic System, Except for...

Winston Churchill once famously said that "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others." I wonder if we can say the same thing about capitalism? In light of our current economic situation, I've been thinking a lot about how much I hate capitalism as an economic philosophy.

The central organizing principle behind capitalism is simple: greed. Capitalism is premised on use of self-interest to (allegedly) serve the common good. The problem I have with this is that capitalism is mean, selfish, and heartless. It unabashedly preaches the accumulation of wealth as the most important attainment in life. No matter who you have to run over in the rat race, it is worth it if you come out on top. Here's a quote from Brigham Young:

"[Capitalists] put me in mind of some men I have seen who, when they had the chance to buy a widow's cow for ten cents on the dollar of her real value in cash, would then make the purchase, and then thank the Lord that he had so blessed them. Such men belong to the class of Christians referred to on one occasion by Charles Gunn; and, if you will excuse me, I will tell you what he said about them. He said that 'hell is full of such Christians' (Working Toward Zion, pg. 133)."

A good example of what really disgusts me is CEO pay. A recent Washington Post article ("The Blow the Working Class Saw Coming," 02/15/09) talked about hardworking Americans who are losing their jobs even as CEOs make millions. One paragraph speaks the words that millions are asking: "Does anyone really need a $20 million salary? If you have that salary, do you need a bonus? If you take that much, won't somebody else be deprived?" Is it right that in 1985 the average CEO made 40 times as much as the average worker, and today makes over 400 times as much? Do we really think this is a "good" system?

Don't get me wrong, forcing equality on people through socialism is wrong too. But it seems we've been presented with a false choice between capitalism and socialism. Shouldn't we be rooting for a kinder and fairer system than capitalism? Can't we make our society more equal without destroying liberty? I believe that a society full of faith can accomplish this, without destroying an appreciation for business talent. "The gospel does not oppose business ability, it seeks to transform the hearts of those who possess it" (WTZ, pg. 308).

One of my favorite books, which I've been quoting in this post, is Working Toward Zion - a college textbook for my social entrepreneurship class. I like it because it bashes on capitalism and socialism, and provides a third way - a way that views fellow workers as brothers and views business as a stewardship. The authors label this living a consecrated life, with our riches dedicated to the poor - they call such a society a "United Order." The book talks about individual and collective ways we can live the law of consecration - in other words, how to be a socialist in a capitalist world. "Consecration consists not only of financial contributions or physical property put in the storehouse, but in explicit choices to sacrifice, do without, and give of oneself to benefit others" (pg. 182, emphasis added). Such selflessness in antithetical to capitalism, but I believe it is the only eternal economic principle.

So, how can we throw off the shackles of capitalist oppression and move towards a better way? What policies can encourage this instead of encouraging greed? Is Capitalism really the best we can come up with? What are your thoughts?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Inaugural Blog Post

I intended to write this post just after the inauguration (when my heart was full of nothing but sunshine and rainbows at the dawn of a new day in America). However, being a procrastinator, I put it off. So now I begin my blog almost two weeks after Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as America's 44th President.

At the beginning - an explanation of the blog's title. "Molly Mormon" can be used to mean a self-righteous prig. I'm (hopefully) not among that number. I guess I use Molly Mormon in the title of this blog in the sense of a faithful and obedient member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I believe in God. I love the Book of Mormon. I love Jesus Christ as my redeemer and example. This testimony, or personal set of beliefs, is intrinsic to who I am and how I view the world. "Democrat" is hopefully self explanatory without being limiting. As Will Rodgers said, "I'm not a member of an organized political party - I'm a Democrat." There are as many different Democratic philosophies as there are Democrats. I'm liberal on some things and conservative on others.

Though I may identify with the Democratic party on 90% of policy issues, I know it's an imperfect organization. My intent is to remain open to good ideas, whether of Democratic, Republican, or Independent origin. Please hold me to that, because I want to be able to admit I'm wrong, and I want to learn from honest debate.

One of my co-workers said that there are two things you should never discuss with people: religion and politics. I suppose this is because these two things are more emotional than rational. However, for me, these two modes of thought are connected, because I tend to view politics and religion both as ways to make our society better. My concerns about social justice, care for the environment, liberty of the individual, and equality are intertwined with my religious beliefs.

This blog won't be all about politics and religion, some of it will be silly musings of mine. But I do think it's important to have liberal and conservative viewpoints. I believe that the gospel is a tent big enough, inclusive enough, and strong enouth to embrace people for the differences they bring to the gospel. I also think politics will benefit from the inclusion of people of faith.

At its essence, I suppose blogging is a bit egotistical - it is self-centered to think that I have something so original to say that I need to start a blog and send it out to the world. But, I will try to keep the self-serving drivel to a minimum. I'm excited to have a blog, and to use it. Let me know your thoughts!