Examining Proposed Changes
Today many suggestions are heard from various sources, including prominent government leaders, that the Constitution as drafted and intended by the Framers is outmoded and needs to be changed.(1) Since Latter-day Saints believe the Constitution to be divinely inspired, Church members should examine such proposals critically, rather than accept them at face value.
Most of the proposed changes seem to revolve around making the government better serve the needs of the people or various categories of people. When such proposals are examined critically, many of them appear to be connected by a disturbing common denominator. Although large numbers of well meaning people support the proposed changes, close examination reveals that many of the changes urged are not likely to accomplish the benefits it is claimed they will achieve.(2) Instead, the proposals often appear to have been chosen to facilitate use of a fervid solicitude for the unfortunate as an excuse gradually to transform America's freedom system into a socialistic compulsion systema system under which the media of communication, the educational institutions, and the compulsory [p. 102] power of the state are used to maintain centralized control over the daily lives of the people.
The above comment constitutes a serious indictment against many proposed changes. As such it should be supported by evidence. For such evidence the case of federal aid to education will be considered.
Federal Aid To Education
Federal aid to education has been widely promoted as a means of providing better educational opportunities to children in low income states. This desirable objective lends itself to fervid solicitude for unfortunate children. It is a difficult proposal to oppose because those who oppose it subject themselves to charges that they callously disregard the welfare of deprived children through too rigid adherence to outmoded technicalities. However, the real nature of federal aid to education is highlighted by a Deseret News editorial entitled, "Uncle Has the Worst School Aid Formula." The editorial declares:
In terms of personal income per school child, Utah is one of the poorest states in the nation. You would think that any program of federal support would be directed to help such a state. But Utah ranks fiftieth among the states in the amount of federal aid received per child enrolled in public schools.
New York, with twice as much personal income per school child than Utah, receives nearly three times as much federal aid per child. In effect, Utah, already carrying one of the nation's heaviest school burdens, is also subsidizing the schools of New York. What could be more ridiculous?(3)
A politically instructive discussion of the school aid bill is found in an article in National Review entitled "How to Railroad a School Bill," by Roger A. Freeman. Mr. Freeman is described as an economist with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a longtime student of the problem of financing public education. Here are a few extracts from that article. [p. 103]
Even such an enthusiastic proponent of federal aid as Representative Edith Green (D., Ore. ) was critical of the bill: "Liberals talk about Mississippi and Alabama and we shed crocodile tears about how awful conditions are down there . . . then when we have a chance to do somethingwe give New York three times what we will give them in Mississippi and Alabama."
There is of course a perfectly good reason why New York and California get more per child than Mississippi and Alabama: that's where the votes are. . . . A legislator is no more fooled by his own oratory than by LBJ's.(4) The congressman from New York or California figures that he isn't going to be re-elected just because he sent some of his constituents' money to Mississippi.
At the minority's request I was invited by the House and Senate committees to testify on the bill. But it became obvious in several hours of questioning that the majority simply was not interested in facts. It is an irony indeed that such a bill should be enacted when the school finance picture looks brighter than it has in decades.
Is the main purpose of the bill to aid the public schools financially? That could have been accomplished by simpler methods.
The true purpose of the new program is not to supply more money to the schools but to give the Office of Education a decisive voice in the shaping of the curriculum.(5)
It would seem that Mr. Freeman's comment that the true purpose of the bill was to gain control of the local school districts is supported by the fact that the bill was drafted in such a way as to get it passed, even though the price of passage was hurting the districts it was supposed to be helping.(6) [p. 104]
His comment is also consistent with the objective of those who seek to use the schools to indoctrinate our youth with their collectivist philosophy as one of the steps in overthrowing the constitutional system. Apparently they feel that it would be easier to accomplish this indoctrination if the authority of local school boards can be bypassed by federal control of education.(7)
Can it be that the real motive behind many proposed constitutional changes is not the preservation of constitutional freedom, but its replacement by collectivism?
The comments made in this work that the tendency of socialism is to destroy freedom should not be taken to mean that all or even most of the people who promote socialism are trying to destroy freedom. On the contrary most people who promote socialism feel that they are understanding and sympathetic and willing to help those in need, and that they are engaged in a worthy cause. [p. 105]
Test Proposals Against Gospel Standards
Latter-day Saints, knowing how contrary the principles of socialism are to the principles of the gospel and the Constitution, should be especially wary that they don't accept and promote unsound principles. They should realize that incorrect principles are generally attractively packaged, made to sound plausible, and are popularly accepted. They should also bear in mind that all concepts presented to them should be examined critically with the gospel as the standard, and with consideration as to the likely human effect.
For example, another proposal involving a change in the constitutional system is to have the government assume responsibility for taking care of older people. This proposal also facilitates fervid solicitude for unfortunate people, this time the older citizens. It has been accepted widely by the people. In fact, a thought often repeated is that one evidence that Americans are socially advanced is that they are willing to tax themselves for the support of their older people.(8)
This proposal is contrary to the gospel principle of being directly responsible for the welfare of older members of one's own family. Furthermore, it would seem that shifting to the government the responsibility of supporting older family members is a substantial contributing factor to the much deplored breakdown in family life and to the lessening of feelings of stability and responsibility on the part of the younger generation. When a person's natural responsibilities are removed, it is only natural for him to tend to become less stable and responsible. In addition, giving additional responsibility to the government necessarily involves subjecting oneself to the rule of a larger and more powerful government. Also making people [p. 106] dependent on the government for their livelihood makes it difficult for them to take a stand against other unsound government policies, since it is unnatural for a person to bite the hand that feeds him.
These few thoughts concerning the effects of shifting to the government the responsibility of taking care of the older people indicate that this proposal is not only contrary to the gospel, but it also has the effect of weakening the group attitudes and standards necessary for the preservation of the constitutional system.
Beware of Ancient Power Technique
In examining proposed changes in the free constitutional system, American citizens should never lose sight of the fact that fervid solicitude for the unfortunate is a very old device by which designing persons gain power over the people. This device was well recognized at the time the Constitution was framed. For example, Thomas Jefferson wrote:
If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy.(9)
In this day people have been warned by a prophet that their inspired constitutional system is under attack by means of this same age old method of destroying freedom. President McKay has declared:
We again warn our people in America of the constantly increasing threat against our inspired Constitution. . . . The proponents thereof are seeking to undermine our own form of government and to set up instead one of the forms of dictatorships now flourishing in other lands. These revolutionists are using a technique that is as old as the human race, a fervid but false solicitude for the unfortunate over whom they thus gain mastery, and then enslave them.(10) [p. 107]
Latter-day Saints should be grateful to President McKay for not only warning them of the increasing threat from those among them seeking to undermine America's constitutional system, but also for revealing the technique by which such persons seek to set up a dictatorship here. Since the method used, is an age old method of "a fervid but false solicitude for the unfortunate over whom they thus gain mastery, and then enslave them," Americans should investigate critically any proposals to use the power of the government to alleviate distress of unfortunate or "deprived" groups. In fact, any political proposals presented should be examined carefully. All such proposals should be checked to see if they are in harmony with the freedom system designed by the Framers, or are only a device to facilitate use of a fervid solicitude for the unfortunate as an excuse for making a series of changes that will aggregate an overthrow of that freedom system.
Actually, there are many plausible sounding arguments given in favor of socialism. Latter-day Saints who believe in the inspiration of the Framers should know enough about those arguments and facts concerning them not only to confirm their faith in the Framers' inspiration and the unsoundness of socialism, but also to be able to explain to others why the individual arguments are unsound. A worthwhile book entitled The Law & Cliches of Socialism(11) can assist in gaining greater understanding of the fallacies of socialism and the flaws in the arguments used in favor of it. The book includes 42 arguments frequently used to promote socialism, together with the answers to those arguments. A copy should be owned and studied by each Latter-day Saint family. [p. 108] [p. 109]