Force or Freedom

Force or Freedom:

Which is compatible with the laws of heaven?

The obvious answer is Freedom. The modern welfare state operates through force, compulsion, threats and intimidation, all in opposition to the gospel, whose instruments are gentle persuasion, love unfeigned, and meekness.

The liberal program is paid for by taxes, which are taken by force, and by regulations, which come in two costumes, requirements and prohibitions. Here is a short list of programs and agencies who live only because a government agent has taken money from someone who earned it.

Low-income housing



Social Security

National Public Radio

The National Endowment for the Arts

Historic Preservation programs

Child care subsidies

Children’s Health Insurance Program

Women, Infants and Children

Temporary Assistance for Needy families

Drug treatment programs

Early Childhood Intervention

Indian Health Service

Bureau of Land Management

National Park Service

Job Corps

Bureau of Indian Affairs

How do we know that the money for these programs is obtained by force? Because people don’t mail checks to these agencies. In order to get money, these agencies get the IRS to do the collecting. If it was a voluntary giving, government would not have to compel it. The Sierra Club has voluntary support, Medicaid does not.

Besides compelling the payment of taxes under threat of jail, the other liberal tool is regulation, prohibitions and requirements. You may not build a house beyond a city limit-type Growth Boundary, you may not build an office building over 30 feet high, you may not build within 150 feet of a stream, you may not pay regular wages to an employee who wants to work 30 hours one week and 50 the next, you may not mine coal, or cut certain trees on your own land, you may not close your factory without paying employees to go to college, you may not put up a big sign. Liberals author many picayune regulations; regulations are force.

Conservatives allow maximum personal choice. They expand opportunity and require responsibility. They allow owners to keep and spend their gain, whereas liberals spend other peoples’ money vicariously. Conservatives regulate as lightly as possible.

What school of thought aligns with religious teachings? The conservative one does.

  • We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.”1 Each person bears responsibility for sins. The economic corollary to this is individualism and markets.

  • Urged by King Mosiah, his people opted out of the risky entrusting of public affairs to a king, for a system of judges.

  • Every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.”2 We might also presume that each wanted to savor the fruits of their own successes.

  • Adam and Eve had to choose, that they might know good from evil, have seed, and”know the joy of our redemption”.3 Choice is opposite to force.

Satan planned a no-failure system assured by force. He concocted a plan under which “not one soul would be lost”.4

God’s plan was for his children to prove themselves. The earth was formed as a dwelling for His offspring. He said, “We will prove them now herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” 5 Some would; some would not. And each would receive glory in accordance. God allows failure, Satan blocks it.

Liberals smooth the natural consequences of failure. They want not one to fail. If students don’t study, they must still be given a free college education. Sixty hour-per-week workers must not have visibly more stuff, and better health care than thirty-five hours-per-week workers. No one should receive health care of a lesser quality just because they choose to buy skis, not health insurance. Gluttons should not pay for their own diabetes or heart disease treatment. Smokers get the same Medicare package as non-smokers. For liberals, consequences must not harm.

What do scriptures say about charity, one of the favorite subjects of liberals? Charity is commanded. But charity is from a good heart, not coordinated by the tax collector. Liberals think of welfare programs as government-mediated charity. And since they are the shepherds of activist government, they feel that it is they who are being charitable. But charity is only worthy of the name when it is volunteered. Liberals lose when charity is examined.

Examining God’s plan, we learn that men are free to choose liberty and happiness6, or captivity and death, addiction, poverty and misery. No person is left without choice. Liberals want assured outcomes. Conservatives allow choice with consequences. Liberals lose this comparison.

We might compare modes of public administration. Liberals centralize administration. They suck functions states once handled into the federal quagmire. Reflect on the Environmental Protection Agency, Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The conservative way is to decentralize, to provide public services at the lowest possible level. A conservative wants the individual to carry his or her own burden. If trials come, family ought to assist. If family cannot, neighbors should. The city and state should be called in only as a last resort. The welfare plan of the church follows this protocol: Individual-Family-Church. A liberal cries for the federal government to solve all individual problems.

Conservatives believe in addressing problems in competing legal and legislative jurisdictions. They believe in branches of government vetoing each other. They believe states should view the federal government warily. All of these are brakes on a clumsy, distant,out-of-touch federal government. The big boy has a terrible appetite. He is obese, yet insatiable.

Samuel warned of ravenous kings.7 So did Nephi8. Noah’s tenure proves Samuel right9. Good kings are hard to find.

When good king Mosiah retired, he recommended, as we have already noted, an end to the kingly system of government10. Kings simply cannot be trusted, and neither can governments who have too much latitude. The judge system included mechanisms to restrain the judges. A judge’s opinion can be appealed to a higher judge. A higher judge’s decision can be appealed to a panel of lower judges. Even this judgment can be overturned by the vote of the people, whose voice is the highest court. Commonly the greater part of the people desire that which is right. But if the majority chooses iniquity, destruction ensue. Heaven has a veto.

The liberal tendency to centralize is like the fearful rule of kings. The conservative ideal is unobtrusive government; liberals seek powerful, all-purpose government. Mosiah’s system keeps most decisions local, at the lower judge, and provides mechanisms to restrain every officer of government. This is conservative, not liberal.

Point by point, we see that the liberal approach is out of harmony with religious teachings. Force is the “enemy of all righteousness”; freedom is the law of heaven.

Tom Burnett

March 6, 2007

1Articles of Faith

2Mosiah 29:31-38

3Moses 3:17

4Moses 4:1

5Abraham 3:25

62 Nephi 2:27

7I Samuel 8: 10-12

82 Nephi 5: 18

9Mosiah 11:1-3

10Mosiah 29: 20-29


One Response

  1. wow- great stuff. I’ve been working on a piece about the requisite libertarianism for a moral person and this work definitely strikes a lot of the same chords. A+++

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