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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : “Little Utah” » “Little Utah”

“Little Utah”

Guest - September 30, 2004

In contemplating the Latter-day Saint’s admirable tendency towards saving money and being frugal (a value that can apparently overshadow regard to “no outside food and drink” movie theater signs!), I bring up another interesting phenomenon: abuse of governmental programs by Church members.

An upscale apartment complex in our Midwest college town has been dubbed “Little Utah” in local LDS circles, because more than 50% of their residents are LDS families. It is widely known, mostly among Mormons, that this complex accepts government subsidies to reduce or completely pay rent for those who qualify.

Some of these families are in need of these programs, but from what we’ve seen and heard, the majority probably are not. They are all graduate-level/professional students (mostly dental). They can take out more than enough in loans to meet their needs. Many come from very well-to-do families (children of dentists and doctors). And they will all likely be quite well off in a few years because of their chosen professions.

One has to admire the fact they are being frugal and saving their money. Most are simply trying to “avoid debt,” as we are so frequently counseled. However, we often see their savings and extra loan money go toward fun new toys, such as big-screen TVs and new minivans. They probably look at us, paying our rent (and food and health insurance, but I won’t go into the food stamps and WIC programs they are also on), and they might wonder why we don’t channel our funds more wisely.

What disturbs me most is knowing that this same abuse occurs at many universities among members of the Church. We have heard of other “Little Utahs” across the Midwest.

No one is breaking any laws here – what they are doing is clearly legal, because the numbers fit. But is this ethical? If there are loopholes, does that mean we should take them? What about all those self-reliance talks in General Conference? We could certainly work our numbers as they have, so am I being too prideful in paying my own rent? Perhaps the biggest question is, what does this trend say to non-members about us as Latter-day Saints?

1 Comment »

  1. Is it unethical for you to take the carpool lane when it’s only you and your child? It’s a governmental perk for those who qualify, right?

    I understand what you are saying and feel somewhat sympathetic, being in grad school (except my chances of being rich afterwards are far, far less) and having to take out disgustingly large loans.

    However, could it not be looked at in this way: the money is there whether or not I am the one to take advantage of it. Better me, a good Mormon who will use it to help build the foundation of a good family (presumably), than some freeloading lazy drug addict with no intention of getting work?
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 09.30.04 – 7:59 pm | #

    I kind of see this as a bigger question of how we, as citizens of this country, take advantage of the government. My wife works for an incredibly rich man who just today is adding up all the days he’s been out of New York (to make him not a resident of the state, presumably) which means a difference of millions of dollars of income for him this year. No doubt we all work the tax system as best we can. Is there a difference between this and that?
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 09.30.04 – 8:00 pm | #

    Good post Amy, and a very intresting question. We saw many students use food stamps when we were in college. We qualified, but only used the program the last month we were in college. Like all governmental programs the excess / waste was big enough we ate for 2 months off 1 month allotment.

    We pay our taxes (or at least some do) and so you can justify using any and all of the governmental programs available.

    There are enough governmental programs that no matter who you are, what you do or how much you make, you qualify for some benefits.

    We pay our tithing and trying to be self sufficent, listen to the prophet and have faith.

    I don’t know what is right.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 09.30.04 – 8:33 pm | #

    I refer to my comment on people needing to have “bearing false witness” on their minds instead of “don’t lie.” It’s kind of a sins of omission/commission thing.
    From this post, Amy, and Rusty amd Don’s comments, they make good arguments. I’m not sure what is right. I look at myself with my tuition basically being paid for by Pell Grants and the same likelihood of taking out large loans for graduate work (though my occupation is GURANTEED to make MUCH less then either Amy or Rusty) but then also look at one of my roommates who used student loans to pay off credit card debts full of toys (car, cell phone, and miscelleny like bean bag chairs!)
    And so many members think there’s no gray in this church!:O
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 3:29 am | #

    Are you suggesting that student loans should ONLY go toward paying tuition? I vehemently disagree with that. Student loans are a completely different beast than government grants. Student loans have to be paid off by the student, they are a form of debt, that just happens to be of low interest. All it is is a transfer of debt to a lower interest. It’s wise investing, not dishonest use of money. I used student loans to help pay a down payment on my co-op, which will, in a few years when we sell it, likely pay off all my student loans. I fail to see how that is dishonest.
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 8:14 am | #

    Where’s Braden to weigh in on this one?
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 8:28 am | #

    We don’t all “work the tax system the best we can.” During my last two years of graduate school, we qualified for the Earned Income Credit. I didn’t take it, in part because my temporary poverty was a deliberate choice. The IRS sent back letters telling me I qualified and should take the credit; I ignored them. We didn’t need any other government aids to the poor either.
    John Mansfield | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 8:44 am | #

    When I finished school, we had two children, no debt, and over $10,000 saved up. My annual income around this time (mid ’90s) was about $18,000. After birth of the first child, there was no more income from my wife. The key to doing this was for our first year and a half of marriage, with both of us grad students, we lived on my income and saved my wife’s. There was nothing heroic in this; we just lived frugally and did without many things for a while. When this time ended, having real money to spend was a delight. It was also a delight a couple years later to have no debt hanging over us when we were looking for a house.

    Let me give credit where it is due. Ward members and neighbors gave a lot of used clothes for the children and even a few new outfits. Relatives were also generous, giving us several hundred dollars a year.
    John Mansfield | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 8:45 am | #

    Thank you for your comments. I offer nothing but respect for the choices that you made and could only hope to make similar ones.

    I guess I still have the “stick it to the man because he’s stickin’ it to me” attitude. When the government takes half of my wife’s bonus (which is a significant part of her salary), I don’t feel all that bad taking advantage of tax breaks to get a few hundred more dollars back. I’m not so stingy with the Lord with my tithing. But of course I’m fine with the Church’s decisions regarding my money, not quite so comfortable with what the government does with it.
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 10:01 am | #

    Oh no WAY do I mean student loans should only be used for tuition. What I meant was that my roommate should not have used his money to buy all the toys he did. That’s all. He really didn’t even use the loans to pay off his credit cards (I guess I didn’t mention that. Sorry! That’s what I get for blogging at 1am!) Instead it was almost as if he thought of the student loans once he got them as free money and continued to buy more toys. Oh well. I guess if you want to go through the hassle of paying them back, go for it.
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 1:31 pm | #

    Yeah this bugs me. But I really can see both sides.

    We do okay these days, but trying to make ends meet, trying to scrape together enough money each month so the kids can have swim lessons or dance lessons or something, (I have to pay the bills today and it hurts!) I really feel the urge to cut corners any way I can, even when those corners might be less than ethical. Even when I don’t really need to cut those corners because I could make it without doing so.
    Lisa | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 3:58 pm | #

    On the other hand, I didn’t have enough money to go to college, and my parents didn’t have enough money to help me, so without government assistance I would never have been able to attend. And the whole time I was living on Mac and Cheese, working, trying to keep my scholarship, and wearing really ratty clothes (I loved the grunge era, no one knew I had to dress that way), My cousin, millionaire daughter of my Rich Aunt, got scholarships for the prestige of it, and I always felt like it was money out of the mouth of someone who really needed it.

    Sure most academic scholarships are for anyone who can cut the mustard, but is it morally upright for a rich girl (and I like my cousin, so this isn’t like some bitter family issues or anything) who can pay for her own schooling without even having to pass on that Kate Spade handbag to take that scholarship when it might genuinely help someone else who could not go?
    Lisa | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 3:59 pm | #


    Don’t be too quick to apologize to Rusty! Of course everyone uses student loans for things other than tuition. But does that make it right? What is the government giving you the loan at such a low interest rate for? Somewhere in the fine print of what we sign when we take out those student loans, it says the money is for education-related expenses. (So perhaps it’s all in how you define “education-related”??)
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 4:17 pm | #


    So because we don’t agree with how the government spends our tax dollars, we should take advantage of every program and loophole we can? If the numbers of people qualifying for programs is on the rise, whether they are in true need or not, your taxes will only increase as well. I don’t see this as a solution to the problem.
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 4:23 pm | #

    Perhaps I should have clarified my main point with a few examples of comments made to us by numerous non-member friends.

    When they figure out what’s going on over there, they are usually rather disgusted. “You mean their wives don’t even work? No wonder they qualify!” or “How can they afford such nice things, then?” or the clincher, “Uh, I thought you guys believed in self-reliance?” (These were all actual comments made to my husband.)

    You see, the biggest problem I have with this issue is the negative impact it has on our non-member friends regarding the Church. They see it as a blatant abuse, in general, and are quite turned off by a people who don’t practice what they preach.
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 4:45 pm | #

    A few months ago, an article hit our local papers revealing several football players who had worked the numbers just right and were taking advantage of government-subsidized housing. One of the players was the coach’s son, who is obviously on scholarship and whose father makes over half a million a year.

    They were doing nothing illegal, but many in the community were quite upset at the fact there are others in greater need of those spots. Even the mayor said he would look into it because of the uproar it caused. My husband and I wondered if the Mormons would be the next to hit the press. How would that look?
    Amy | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 4:46 pm | #

    This post reminded me of the countless dollars we saved by using WIC, food stamps, subsidized housing and medicaid during law school. As a successful attorney (okay, the verdict is still out on that one) I am now repaying those dollars tenfold or more. It’s not much different than the perpetual education fund of the church. Those government programs provided a means of acquiring an education and, in turn, a great job such that I no longer need those programs. Isn’t that the real purpose anyhow? Congress created the laws that allowed my wife and I to qualify, and Congress can change the laws should it determine that the programs are being abused. When we reduce our income tax burden each year through existing deductions, loopholes, etc., we are obeying the law and acting ethically. The same can be said of those who qualify for government aid even if it is merely a means of ulitmately terminating reliance on that very aid.
    SFW | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 5:23 pm | #

    Thank you. That was very well said and articulated.
    Rusty | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 5:35 pm | #

    President Ezra Taft Benson (“A Vision and a Hope for the Youth of Zion”):
    Are you–are we–part of the problem or part of the solution?
    Recently a letter came to my office, accompanied by an article from Our Daily Universe on the matter of BYU students taking food stamps. The query of the letter was, what is the attitude of the Church on taking food stamps. The Church’s view on this is well known. We stand for independence, thrift, and abolishing the dole. This was emphasized in the Saturday morning welfare meeting of General Conference.
    LAURA | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 7:58 pm | #

    QUOTE PART 2 The aim of the Church is to help people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our church membership. When you accept food stamps, you accept an unearned handout that other working people are paying for. You do not earn food stamps or welfare payments. Every individual who accepts an unearned government gratuity is just as morally culpable as the individual who takes a handout from taxpayer’s money to pay his heat, electricity or rent. There is no difference in principle between them.
    LAURA | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 7:59 pm | #

    QUOTE PART 4 Society may rationalize immorality, but God cannot condone it. Society sponsors Sabbath breaking, but the Church counsels otherwise. Society profanes the name of Deity, but latter day saints cannot countenance it. Because society condones the dole, which demoralizes man and weakens his God-given initiative and character–can we?
    LAURA | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 8:01 pm | #

    QUOTE PART 5 (I THINK?) I know what it is, as many of your faculty members do, to work my way through school, taking classes only during winter quarters. If you don’t have the finances to complete your education, drop out a semester and go to work and save. You will be a better man or woman for so doing. You will have preserved your self respect and initiative. Wisdom comes with experience and struggle–not just going through a university matriculation. I hope you will not be deceived by current philosophies, which will rob you of your godly dignity, self respect, and initiative–those attributes that make a Celestial inheritance possible. It is in that interest, and that only, that I have spoken so plainly to you this morning.
    LAURA | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 8:01 pm | #

    There’s the end of the quote — can’t really argue with a prophet, aye?
    LAURA | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 8:03 pm | #

    p.s. the full citation for the quote: President Ezra Taft Benson (“A Vision and a Hope for the Youth of Zion,” BYU Devotional, 1977):
    LAURA | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 8:04 pm | #

    Well said Laura, er I mean Ezra. I think you point (the prophet’s point) is well said.
    Don | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 9:09 pm | #

    As I recall, the Church has issued a statement in recent (post ETB) years saying that the Church does not actively discourage its members from receiving government assistance, where available, or some weak wording to that effect.

    Anyone else remember that?
    Bryce I | Email | Homepage | 10.01.04 – 9:38 pm | #

    “Does not actively discourage?” That is a rationalization if I have ever heard one. The Church doesn’t ‘Actively Discourage’ because it understands that government help, like the church welfare system, is a lifeline for EMERGENCIES, not a way of life or means to an end. Read the Bishop’s handbook on welfare “Providing the Lord’s way” and none of your arguements hold up. There are a lot of people comforting themselves while doing something they feel they have to justify. Rule of thumb says… If you have to justify, you are probably wrong. Staying away from the edge of the cliff allows a safer journey through life.
    jerry | Email | Homepage | 10.02.04 – 10:29 am | #

    A little tough, Jerry, but quite accurate. Guess we need toughness sometimes. No, Bryce, I did a quick lds.org search and couldn’t find anything that said, “Members, we now think it’s ok for you to use government assistance to get an education.” I doubt the Church would say no to welfare in its entirety (which I guess is what is meant by “actively discourage,” Jerry), but I do know that the Church has recently given a VERY clear pattern in the Harold B. Lee manual (not a more recent prophet as was requested, but I suspect the leaders chose this chapter “recently” because they are telling us it still applies):
    Laura | Email | Homepage | 10.02.04 – 10:53 am | #

    Lots of good stuff, but here is one part that I liked in particular–”In the first place, we start out with the individual himself. We do not move from that point until we have helped the individual to do all he can to help his own problem. Now, sentiment and our emotional sympathy might push us to other conclusions, but that is the first. . . . We must acquire the courage to meet the challenge of each day’s problems through our own initiative TO THE FULL LIMIT before requesting others to come and aid us in that solution.”
    Laura | Email | Homepage | 10.02.04 – 11:04 am | #

    So, Laura, what the quote says to me is that if one is using the WIC, food stamps, etc. so your children don’t go hungry, that’s one thing. But if one has the money to go out to dinner, get a new/different car, have a cellphone, buy new clothes, take a vacation, etc, etc, etc — then perhaps one does not “have the courage to meet the challenge of each day’s problems through our own initiative to the full limit before requesting others to come and aid us.”
    I just find it rather ironic that we feel so condescending to those “welfare moms” and refuse to look at the “welfare moms” that we, in our selfish refusal to step up and do what’s necessary even if that should mean dealing with extra debt at the end of our schooling, are asking our own wives to become.
    I can’t imagine they didn’t feel embarrassed to stand in line at the grocery store and hand over those food stamps–at least the first time even if they become numb to it over time.
    Jerry | Email | Homepage | 10.02.04 – 11:13 am | #

    Another tough one, Jerry. Thank you, for saying the hard stuff. Gives us a lot to think about. And, Amy, thanks for bringing up this hard subject. Almost time for Conference to begin, so I’ll sign off.
    Laura | Email | Homepage | 10.02.04 – 11:15 am | #

    I must be missing something here. WHY is it wrong for these families to be on government support? ? They have a family member in school working to become more self-sufficient. That’s exactly what we are counseled to do. Everyone who pays taxes has a right to use government aid. That is YOUR money. If you want to take the line of argument used in the post, then it must be unethical for everyone collecting unemployment checks too. I imagine a lot of church members are doing that rather than have their wives go back to work.
    JL | Email | Homepage | 10.02.04 – 6:29 pm | #

    Part 2 of my liberal rant:I prefer to have them use welfare so a parent can stay home and raise the children rather then dumping the kids in daycare. And I’d prefer to have someone on welfare and getting more education, so they can earn more later, instead of having to spend the rest of their lives living paycheck to paycheck.

    I also don’t get why using church welfare is moral and using government welfare isn’t? I know I’m a bloody liberal, but wouldn’t the conservatives out there prefer to have a parent stay home to raise the children, even if it means using welfare? If the answer is no, please explain that to me also.
    JL | Email | Homepage | 10.02.04 – 6:29 pm | #

    Of all the conjecture that has flowed on this subject, I think the strongest and simplest statement was the one by Jerry and Laura regarding the fact that using aid only when necassary is fine. That is what it’s there for. It is when we use this aid for our own comforts and pleasures is where it gets unethical.
    Now, regards to sending mother’s work over it, that is something that might be more on a personal level that each family must decide on. (Of course that’s also the safest thing to say, too.)
    Like you said (about 800 comments ago) it all depends on what you consider “education related expenses” are.
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 10.02.04 – 6:58 pm | #

    I’m like the Personal Experience Diva today:

    I had a very vocal sister-in-law that used to go on regular conservative rants about ‘the welfare state’.

    She and my brother were never wealthy but worked hard and had a solid middle-middle class lifestyle. Five kids, btw.

    I’m sure they would have agreed with everything you wrote Laura. Big ETB fans, both of them.

    A few years ago my brother lost his job, couldn’t find another for over a year and a half. Unemployment, Medicare, food stamps, wic. They were on government assistance that entire time, not to mention draining the rest of my family as well.
    Lisa | Email | Homepage | 10.02.04 – 6:58 pm | #

    cont . . .
    But instead they used government assistance. And I’m glad. He’s got a job again, and even having been out of work for almost twenty-months, their situation isn’t so bad that they will never be able to recover.

    Now maybe they should have sold their house and moved into a trailer, or maybe he should have worked at McDonalds instead of holding out for a decent job . . . but I don’t think what they did was immoral.

    And it’s funny to hear my sister-in-laws changed views: ‘the welfare state’ is now the ‘safety net’.

    I wish all ‘welfare state’ reactionaries could have an experience like this.
    Lisa | Email | Homepage | 10.02.04 – 6:59 pm | #

    Why is there a problem with grad students using government assistance for the poor? Two reasons:

    1) They are choosing to be poor. These are people with bachelor’s degrees; they are capable of worthy employment.

    2) It is not necessary. That was the point of my personal data point posted yesterday. Grad student families can get by without taking up resources intended for the poor.

    I should also gratefully acknowledge the strong support state and federal governments give to universities, including the private ones.
    John Mansfield | Email | Homepage | 10.02.04 – 7:20 pm | #

    2 things — 1st, Lisa, I’ve been there … single mom, 4 kids, no money for groceries, absolutely nothing. But we never got assistance of any kind. With that said, I don’t think anyone is arguing that it wasn’t to be used for emergencies.
    Laura | Email | Homepage | 10.03.04 – 9:29 am | #

    2nd, JL, the point is that it’s *not* ok to use church welfare in an inappropriate way either. President Lee, in the article I pointed to, gave a pattern: 1) the ind must do *everything* they can on their own first: 2) then the ind should go to family and get all the help they can there; 3) then the ind is helped with non-monetary items (e.g., clothes, food); 4) only then is the ind actually given money. My understanding is that the church encourages gov assistance be used as the final resort. But in any case, if one uses this pattern for the sacred church funds and gov assistance, that’s when the money is used properly.
    Laura | Email | Homepage | 10.03.04 – 9:30 am | #

    I have to admit — this is a sensitive subject for me and my husband. We were in the environment that Amy discussed in the very first blog. I saw members of our ward getting food stamps, WIC, subsidized housing/food — and also excitedly talking about the new leather furniture they had just purchased, the Baby Gap clothes they dressed their kids in, the river rafting trips they had planned with other member dental students (also in the subsidized housing), etc. This use of government subsidies is a lifestyle, not the life preserver that Lisa describes her brother using — that can be argued as completely understandable.
    Laura | Email | Homepage | 10.03.04 – 9:37 am | #

    Let me share an experience: In that ward, we went out to dinner with three other couples from our ward, one of which just moved to the area to begin school. We hadn’t realized that the two veteran couples were receiving government assistance; so we were shocked to listen to the new couple being “taught” about government assistance (i.e., subsidized housing, WIC, and food stamps) in our conversation after dinner. The point was made quite clear that student families shouldn’t have to go through school without these forms of assistance, that they should use them so they don’t end up with an “unnecessary” amount of student loans. Possibly most horrifying was a lengthy set of instructions how to get around the requirements for people receiving.
    Laura | Email | Homepage | 10.03.04 – 9:42 am | #

    One of the husbands laughed that everyone in the ward is embarrassed to get assistance and tries to hide the evidence, but that everyone knows that everyone is receiving it. He then went on to joke that most of these same people get fast offerings in the same way. This man’s wife saw our discomfort and began a side conversation with us. She and her husband had just begun to get govt assistance. She told us that her husbands’ parents had offered to do a no-interest loan, but they didn’t want to have the debt. She said how difficult it had been to do this, but that she had been counseled by friends that she was being prideful, that she should repent of her pride and accept this help that the Lord had provided. She told us how she now thought it was a blessing because it helped them pay for the necessities, so they could have the fun stuff like their new van, dates/trips, new clothes, scrapbooking, etc.
    Laura | Email | Homepage | 10.03.04 – 9:53 am | #

    The concern is not the emergency situations that have been described-this truly must be a matter of prayer. But these exceptions are not the rule.
    But, again, if there’s money for cable, internet, dinners out, etc — then maybe there’s a way to cut corners a little more before going for help. We live in a society today that we believe that we *need* things that truly are luxuries; that’s the lesson I learned from my mom.
    In any case, the prophet has *clearly* said that this stuff *shouldn’t* be used to pay for schooling — argue that out with the Lord, but His statement stands.
    Laura | Email | Homepage | 10.03.04 – 10:06 am | #

    The other concern is that nobody has even touched Amy’s big concern-how does the Church appear? How will our actions affect the kingdom? How can we *not* be worried that the city/mayor is screaming about the football players using assistance (remember, scholarships/fellowships aren’t considered income on taxes; many of the dental/law/med students also had scholarships).
    I’ve said enough on this subject; I can’t get caught up in the emotions of it again. The bottom line is to look at what the prophets have said on the subject and ask God for confirmation. My beliefs are that the Lord is ok if we don’t understand and/or agree with a Church policy. But I think it depends on how we handle our concerns. I suspect it does little good to argue things out on a chat group — perhaps the key is to wrestle with God over the Church’s statements that don’t make sense to us.
    Laura | Email | Homepage | 10.03.04 – 10:10 am | #

    To me it doesnt seem to be that difficult of a situation to condemn – especially, if folks are recieving Govt Assistance, while buying fancy leather furniture, taking expensive vacations etc. How doesit make them different from the “welfare queens” that people like to criticise? I wasnt raised in the church, and to me, a convert of approx 10 years, it seems, we like to do things, and then come up with a lot of convoluted reasons, from Scriptural references and exerpts from GA talks, out of context, to justify, what is essentially unethical behavior. Think about how others outside our Church might percieve us as a group, if we continue to behave this way. Does it not make us Mormons look like bunch of hypocrites?
    scaggs | Email | Homepage | 10.03.04 – 7:29 pm | #

    Scaggs, well said. Listen everyone, we all have issues we deal with and fix. Some we know what they are and have a hard time getting past (praying for strength and resolve, some we are in denial on (pride and such), the rest we haven’t had pointed out to us yet. I believe that in this life, our personal issues move from the last type to the first if we live as we should. It is a lifetime process. The current issue discussed here I had to deal with but I am glad that it didnt take me very long to find that it was not in harmony with the Church’s teachings. I know that it is one of these issues. The words from the leaders of the Church are clear. Someday you all involved in the currently discussed issue will need to ponder and pray about are you withing the words given by the leaders of the Church. There is room, I believe, for using the assistance. However, most of the people I have seen defending it use poor examples that is likely not appropriate.
    Jerry | Email | Homepage | 10.04.04 – 9:41 am | #

    “safety net” and “welfare state” are not the same thing. Students have a choice to go to school, a loss of a job is usually not a choice. Even then, there is mountains of counsel on years supply (food storage, 4 months salery in the bank, etc) that could help in most circumstances. How many people do you know that are not in school, have a job, etc, have 4 months salery in the bank for a bad time?

    I have heard people say, “I will pay more taxes when I am done”. I would bet they also try hard when that time comes to pay as little as they can. The Governement has a method for this, it is called Pell Grants and Student Loans. Legally, they are created to do exactly what most of these students are using the other subsidies for.

    Enough said. I see that many justifying the issue have not done their homework and studied first. Their knee-jerk defence exposes them.
    Jerry | Email | Homepage | 10.04.04 – 9:46 am | #

    Unfortunately, the student loan program doesn’t always work the way it should. We took out the maximum amount made available to us in government and private loans and still came up short. The government subsidies filled the gap.

    Ironically, by completing law school, which likely would not have happened had subsidies been unavailable, I am now in a better position to fund church efforts, support a large family, etc. I can’t imagine the church returning any portion of my tithes and offerings because of their tenuous connection to government subsidies.
    SFW | Email | Homepage | 10.04.04 – 11:53 am | #

    How many of you claim an itemized deduction for charitable contributions when you pay tithing? If you pay $10,000 and are in the 25% bracket, you save yourself $2,500 by claiming the deduction. And where does that $2,500 come from? The U.S. government, is where. But that’s not a handout because…er…uh…well…
    Last_lemming | Email | Homepage | 10.04.04 – 2:28 pm | #

    SFW, I think you still have not read what was posted and the links to the Church leaders. You are making choices on what you want rather than guidence. You could say that the tax system in general doesnt work the way it should. But neither does the State sponcered Lottery, which fund education. Oh yes, and if you win the lotto, the Church has stated that it does NOT want your tithing on it. This is an extream example but you are still making youer own choice. I would respect you if you said, “I know the Church discourages this but leaves window for emergencies. After much study of the Churches position, I felt that it was appropriate to use the subsidies in my situation. So, we as a family did our best to stretch the monies as far as we could.”

    Oh, but know one says that.
    Jerry | Email | Homepage | 10.04.04 – 3:39 pm | #

    sorry all for the bad spelling and bad grammer, i am just perplexed by the absence of thought in many of these statements and i responded in haste. use you mind and study. use your heart and ponder. you may not change what you are doing in the end, but your current reasons for doing what you are doing reek of incorrectness. your excuses are all extreamly poor and are totally inconsistent with church teaching. if you disagree with the church, that is fine, then say that you disagree. if you have an exception after much pondering and prayer, i can respect that. but dont justify. you all then come across as idiots, the kind that i hope never teach my children in primary or sunday school.
    Jerry | Email | Homepage | 10.04.04 – 4:26 pm | #

    Jerry, one problem is that you are not in a position to know the analysis that occurred prior to our decision. You do not know the unique facts of our experience, the guidance we read, the counsel we received, or the weight we assigned to these things. Faced with the same decision, circumstances, and information, you might have acted differently. That’s fine.
    SFW | Email | Homepage | 10.04.04 – 5:44 pm | #

    I am not justifying my reliance on the government on the taxes I paid before law school or the taxes I now pay or because the student loan system allowed my single classmates to frivolously spend their money on alcohol, TVs and other luxuries while my family cautiously spent. Government subsidies exist for the needy. They are intended to help people become independent, self-reliant. To me, this purpose correlates well with the church’s position. The quote of ETB above appears to condemn any member who uses government aid, but ETB’s statements must be tempered by the comments from other church leaders.

    We were poor during school, certainly by our own choice, but poor nonetheless. We used the system as it was meant to be used. We are now in a position to better help ourselves and others. We are self-reliant and do not look to the church or the government to provide our needs. Is that so wrong?
    SFW | Email | Homepage | 10.04.04 – 5:44 pm | #

    President Benson’s comments about food stamps were made long before he became president of the Church. I have not heard them repeated by any other leader since then, and they are not in any Church manual. The Church welfare manual used to discourage any use of government assistance; my understanding is that those statements have been removed (I don’t have a copy, so I cannot verify).
    David | Email | Homepage | 10.04.04 – 6:49 pm | #

    David, you still have not searched the churches website, pondered, or even read the discussion above. Your knee-jerk response is unfortunate. The rationalization that ETB wasn’t the president is funny since this past weekend there were 15 men sustained as Prophet, Seers, and Revelators.

    But since you haven’t read the reason for this blog or what was said, in summary, no one above said that there are not times and places for taking food stamps. In the situation given that started the blog was about subsidies for student housing. So read the following link and think a bit before you post next time:
    http://www.dailyiowan.com/news/2…ugh- 706155.shtm

    (because of the length of the link, you may have to cut and past the link in your browser in pieces)
    Jerry | Email | Homepage | 10.05.04 – 10:41 am | #

    SFW, In the case you stated, I likely wouldn’t mind what you did. I do believe (as I stated above) that there is a place in life for subsidies. What I do mind, is some of the situations described by Amy and Lara above where people using the help were not treating the money with any respect (trips, leather furniture, etc). That is wrong in any situation. People pay their taxes with the hope that people will at least respect the money. When abuses are seen, people don’t want to pay as much. If you thought about what you did and feel like it was good for your situation, AND you did your best to stretch those monies you received, I am ok with it.
    Jerry | Email | Homepage | 10.05.04 – 11:09 am | #

    SFW – (cont)

    My point is that as I went through school (through a PhD, not one penny of help from the government), there was just a big disconnect between the way I had to live (working, paying taxes, eating lots of beans and rice), and those who were living partially on the money I was paying in taxes. I will never make lots but I will remember how my taxes helped others live much better than me yet with seemingly great disregard for where the money was coming from. The money actually comes from people.
    Jerry | Email | Homepage | 10.05.04 – 11:09 am | #


    I am sorry I offended you. I read every one of the preceding posts before I wrote my comment. I commend you for receiving a Ph.D without one penny of government help. Apart from attending public schools, I did not receive any government assistance either in college or my graduate studies. My daughters in college and graduate schools have not either.
    David | Email | Homepage | 10.06.04 – 12:54 pm | #

    Jerry – (cont’d)

    You are correct, though, that I did not check the Church website before posting. I have now done a search of the Church magazines with respect to “food stamps.” The last condemnation of food stamps was in the late 1970s. The 1977 comments of Ezra Taft Benson did not come up as a result of the search (indicating that the address was probably not reprinted in the Ensign). I attended the assembly when he spoke though, and I remember his saying that. But I am not sure that his talk then represents the position of the Church on this matter now, or if the Church currently has an official position.
    David | Email | Homepage | 10.06.04 – 12:55 pm | #


    I tried the link to the Daily Iowan article, and got a “story not found” message. This may mean that I did not put the link in correctly, or that the newspaper has removed the article from the website. Do you have another link?

    My response was brief; it was not “knee jerk.” I understand a decision to eschew any type of governmental subsidies or direct assistance (including those who are in graduate school). For many years, that was the strong general counsel of the Church. My point was that I am not sure that that is the official position of the Church at the present time.
    David | Email | Homepage | 10.06.04 – 12:59 pm | #


    And, in any event, I am reluctant to criticize any graduate student or family who decides to live in government subsidized housing or receive other direct or indirect government assistance. I know you are not criticizing such people in general either, but expressing frustration with the way some people are managing funds that originate with us as taxpayers. I hope this expanded clarification better articulates my views for you. If you think there are other articles on the Church website that I should have considered, please advise me.

    With apologies and respect.
    David | Email | Homepage | 10.06.04 – 1:02 pm | #

    One more comment; if it was not clear, my initial short response related to the earlier posting (10/01/04 around 8 pm) of the talk by Ezra Taft Benson, the excerpts of which focused largely on food stamps, and the comment “can’t really argue with a prophet, aye?”, and to which someone else referred as “the prophet’s point.” (10/01/04 9:09 pm) To which I was saying, in effect, 1. True, he was a prophet, seer and revelator, but not the president of the Church (“the Prophet”), and 2. I wasn’t sure whether the excerpt represented the current position of the Church.
    David | Email | Homepage | 10.06.04 – 1:14 pm | #

    I’d meant to comment on this thread a few days ago, but as often happens my thoughts grew too large for a simple comment. So here are some thoughts on my own blog. Enjoy.
    Russell Arben Fox | Email | Homepage | 10.06.04 – 6:33 pm | #

    I was just wondering what college community you are referring to. I will be going to grad school in the midwest in the fall, and someone mentioned little utah to me.
    Ben | Email | Homepage | 05.06.05 – 9:14 pm | #

    Comment by Comment Restore — November 28, 2005 @ 12:45 am

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