Continuing my thoughts on D&C 42 :42: “He that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.”
As I stated in Part 1, many Mormons interpret this passage as God’s decree against government welfare. Modern American Mormons are red, white, and blue patriots, yet most are leery of government social programs. Mormons believe people should work for what they receive. They believe government programs encourage idleness.
I previously made the case that the majority of social benefits from our government go to idle retirees rather than to idle welfare moms. I’d like to address another group of idlers. According to the census bureau, the top .12 % of Americans (that’s point 12 %, not 12 %) average $1,600,000 annually.
Now, except for a few CEOs and sports or entertainment stars, most people in the top .12% are not wage earners. They live off investments. Since they don’t work, I suspect they meet the D&C definition of idlers. And they definitely receive government help through our current tax rates.
Our son Wort has been politically conservative for years. This year he is supporting Obama for president. When I asked why, he said:
“I switched parties when Gingrich forced Mitt Romney to release his tax records. Romney made $20.9 million from investments last year and was taxed at a rate of 15.4% because his personal income is taxed as capital gains. Gingrich paid a tax rate of 31 ½% because most of his money is earned income. That’s about what I pay. It’s totally unfair that someone who works hard to support his family is taxed at twice the income rate of someone like Mitt Romney who is not working. Why should I vote for someone who wants to keep this unfairness going?”
So, are those living off investments eating the bread of the laborer? Obviously, businesses need investment capital in order to function and provide jobs. But, investors also need laborers in order to reap their dividends. Whether or not investors are taking advantage of those laborers probably depends on how well the laborers are compensated. Growing rates of income inequality in the US indicate a problem in this area.
The issue is complex, but trying to understand God’s message in D&C 42:42 surely deserves more consideration than simply dismissing the word “idle” as a term used only to describe the poor.