My Open Letter to Glenn Beck

Jeff Needlebook of mormon, Mormons 58 Comments

Well, I’m back after a bit of an illness. I don’t know if this post will generate any interest, but I thought I’d share it.

A Letter to Glenn Beck

February 29, 2008

Dear Mr. Beck:

First, let me tell you that I am not a regular viewer of your program. My politics is to the left of yours, and so I naturally gravitate toward other broadcasters. You make no bones about being a conservative. I appreciate this openness.

From time to time I find myself interested in what you’re saying. Even when I disagree with you, I find you energetic and filled with a certainty that is sometimes lacking in the political discourse these days.

A few days ago, you had a discussion about universal health insurance. The substance of your view was that you, and other healthy Americans, should not be responsible for helping those who, through their own fault, have become ill.

I was struck by this viewpoint. I know that you have come from a background of addiction, and have become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My mind went back to something that King Benjamin said in the book of Mosiah. Here is the citation from Timothy Wilson’s excellent paraphrase of the Book of Mormon:

“Help those who need your help, and give your substance to those who need it. Do not turn away those who ask for your help, saying, ‘This foolish man has brought on his own misery. I will not relieve his misery by giving him food or money. He deserves to suffer for his own mistakes.’

“Anyone who does this has great need to repent. Otherwise, he or she will spiritually perish forever, having no place in God’s kingdom.

“For we’re all beggars! We all depend upon the same Being, even God, for everything we have….food, clothing and all our prosperity.

“Today you’ve been calling on His name, begging for a remission of your sins. And have you begged in vain? No, for God has poured out His Spirit upon you, and you could not even speak because your hearts were filled with so much joy.

“God, the one on whom you depend for your lives, and for everything you have and are, gives you what you ask for, if you ask in faith for what is right, believing you will receive it. So how much more should you give your substance to those who are in need!

“If you judge and condemn those who ask you for substance just to survive, then you will be condemned for holding it back. For what you think is yours is really God’s, including your life.

“Yet while under this condemnation, do you ask God’s forgiveness or change your ways? If not, you are cursed, for your substance will perish with you.”

My question, Mr. Beck, is this: how do you reconcile your views on helping the poor and the sick with the plain teachings of the holy book of your adopted religion? Do you not fear the Lord’s condemnation when you speak as you do? Can you not see the contradiction, the offense of your views, in light of the progressive and, frankly, liberal views of the Book of Mormon?

So much has been said in Mormon circles about the “Sealed Portion” of the Book of Mormon. I have come to think that perhaps each reader has his or her own, personal “Sealed Portion” of the published book — those thoughts that are clearly the mind of the Lord, but which are not consistent with one’s political or economic views.

In the end, we’re all called upon to account for our thoughts and deeds. I know that we all come to our religious belief from a personal, individual point of view, and that we process the thoughts of our faiths through the lens of experience. But sometimes the words of the Scripture are just too plain to be missed. King Benjamin, and, indeed, the prophets of the Bible, are unanimous: do not withhold help from those who ask.

Indeed, we’re all beggars. I hope and pray that you can find it in yourself to “unseal” those portions of the Book of Mormon that the world so desperately needs to hear.

Jeffrey Needle
566 Naples St. #229
Chula Vista, CA 91911

Comments 58

  1. Jeffrey, this is a bit silly. Conservatives don’t believe in abandoning others to their fates, just that the government is not as effective at taking care of others as other means (churches, charities, businesses, etc).

  2. What Kent said. It’s fine with me if you think that the government should provide “free” health care to everyone, but there is nothing in the scriptures that requires me to think that. This is a major annoyance for me, the habit of some leftists to use scripture to condemn those who disagree with their public policy preferences. Just as I’m sure you dislike it when the “religous right” does the same thing.

  3. Conservatives don’t believe in abandoning others to their fates, just that the government is not as effective at taking care of others as other means (churches, charities, businesses, etc).

    Translation: Conservatives believe in feeding and caring for the poor, so long as someone ELSE does it.

    This is a major annoyance for me, the habit of some leftists to use scripture to condemn those who disagree with their public policy preferences.

    Translation: How dare you tell me to follow the teachings found in my own scriptures, especially those embraced by the founding prophet of my church!?!

  4. Jeff,
    It appears <a href=””<great minds think alike, or I am just a Johnny-come-lately. I just posted on this exact subject. I have actually had discussions where honest, good faith members have told me King Benjamin was wrong, when I have quoted that section to them.

    My experience has shown conservative beliefs re: business and healthcare to be a very, very bad mix. Government would have to make a real special effort to screw it up more. I wouldn’t call it sinful, just misguided.

  5. It is interesting to note that, in the commonwealth at least, it was Christian Socialists who pushed for universal health care. Tommy Douglas, Richard Tawney and Lord Beverage all came from the tradition of New Harmony and Kirtland, Ohio and that ultimately gave Mormons the inspiration for the United Order.

  6. Nick, as a matter of fact, I do try to follow the teachings found in my scriptures. I do care for the poor and I give a substantial portion of my income to programs that I hope with help the poor. That is not the same as deciding the government should provide universal health care. I do not believe King Benjamin was wrong. King Benjamin did have anything to say about government health care policy.

  7. I am someone who has experienced a chronic illness, along with an insurance company unwilling to pay, and thus having to spend thousands of dollars on my own. (I just spent $8,000 dollars Monday for a new round of tests- test, not even treatment!)

    I have to say that I am completely and totally opposed to Universal Health Care.

    For the following reasons:

    1: The Government will screw up any attempt at implementation. In fact the reason we have so many problems in our Health Care system right now is because of the unintended effects of government programs dating back to wage controls during WWII. (See Milton Friedman’s 2000 article on the subject).

    2: Even if by some miracle the government manages to be efficient for once, it will be too expensive, and the taxes/debt required to pay for it will harm the economy, and thus ultimately harm me, despite my supposed benefaction from such a program.

    3: Most importantly, what Glenn Beck said is true. It’s immoral. Taking money from other’s by force is theft, and expressly violates 2 of the Ten Commandments. Government is Force, pure and simple. Ergo, the government taking monies in the form of taxes from one group of people and giving it to another just because a majority of Americans think the second group deserve it more is theft. (Note this is different from the purchase of services that benefit the public as a whole such as law enforcement- we are talking about transfer payments).

    I have to say that it really ticks me off when liberals posture and claim they care for the poor so much, and then point to their seizure and “giving” of other people’s money as evidence.

    Anybody who thinks that voting for the transfer of wealth from one person to another is somehow fulfilling the commandment to care for the poor is simply delusional.

    Christ commanded us to share our wealth with the poor. Not taking somebody else’s wealth and share that wealth. That those who oppose such outrages are labeled as selfish (despite usually being generous with their own wealth), is a case of evil being called good, and good evil.

    Just read some E.T Benson, J. Reuben Clark, or even comments by David O. McKay and Heber J. Grant.

    Your refusal to even recognize the legitimacy of such a philosiphy as morally compatible with the gospel is outrageous.

  8. Cicero,
    It really depends on whether you see the poor as us or the poor as them. We, as a society can share the wealth we have in common, or we the individual can share our wealth. The idea that sharing commonwealth is theft is as ludicrous as saying holding conservative political views is evil. Zion is built upon the idea of taking what we hold in common and preserving ourselves with it.

  9. Cicero,

    I’m sorry about your health. Just got back from the doctor myself.

    I have a question about your tax philosophy. If you think paying taxes is acquiescing in theft, are you consistent enough to refuse to pay, knowing that little of the money you pay comes back to you?


    There is nothing in the scriptures which requires me to think that the government should give “free” national defense to everyone, either.

  10. Government is Force, pure and simple. Ergo, the government taking monies in the form of taxes from one group of people and giving it to another just because a majority of Americans think the second group deserve it more is theft.

    I find it interesting that people would make this argument in the name of religion, and then use the same rationalization (religious faith) to lobby the government to pass legislation imposing their religous values on others.

  11. Hey, I’m all for Universal Health Care. Has anyone here been to a VA hospital? That’s what you’re going to get except worse. At the VA, doctors don’t work late, they don’t do surgeries after 2pm. Doctors don’t work weekends or holidays. There is no motivation to work, they are government employees and salaried. They get paid no matter if they work a little or a lot. So, consequently, many work as little as possible.

    However, I for one wouldn’t work in that system. I would work in a private hospital that took only self pay or private pay. I think I might even move to Mexico or Costa Rica and work at a hospital that served US citizens that have moved down there and living in communities where they don’t have to support the other millions of americans who refuse to take care of themselves. Even with universal health care, many of the best physicians would start up private hospitals that catered to those who pay. Universal Health Care would only make the divide worse between the have and have nots.

    There is already Universal Health Care in the US. Noone can be turned away from an Emergency Room. I see people in the ER whether they can pay or not.

  12. #3 Nick

    “Translation: Conservatives believe in feeding and caring for the poor, so long as someone ELSE does it.”

    Your translation is bad; this might be a more perfect translation:
    Conservatives believe in feeding and caring for the poor, and want to DO IT THEMSELVES.

    If the responsibility for the poor falls on a centralized government, that government becomes the “someone else” you’ve indicated. So people with more statist political philosophies are objectively the ones who want to move the responsibility for their neighbor on “someone else.”

    Arguing for your government policy positions by impugning the motives of your opponents is bad form, by the way.

  13. David B.,
    The Government wouldn’t take over hospitals or doctors of practices as part of universal health care, they would merely take over insurance, consolidating everything into a single payer system. Your VA example is alarmist and simply doesn’t hold water. Believe it or not, there has not been a mad flight of Canadian physicians into the promised land in the US to try to make the big bucks. Neither is there a massive flight of Canadian patients anxious to try out our utopian system.

  14. To all Mormons (of which I am one):

    Stop trying to derive policy positions based on readings of scriptures. It’s beyond silly. Give any policy position for any political movement and you can probably find a scripture passage the “supports” your policy position. In the future please derive all policy positions based on thought, reason, and a coherent political philosophy.

  15. I think it is interesting to read this debate. How many of you have actually lived in a country with a universal health care system? You can argue about the morality of the issue till Kingdom come and people will not agree. Before you extol the virtues or faults of it, I think you need to do a little more research on the actual countries that utilize universal health care systems.

    I lived in Sweden for 5 years. I also have a chronic health condition that requires frequent monitoring and I gave birth to two children there. So it is fair to say that I utilized the system a great deal.

    Sweden is a socialist country which a universal health care system. I found that the care I received was excellent. The problems I saw in the system were that it was extremely difficult not to mention impossible to get an appointment. You couldn’t get an advance appointment at the doctor’s office. You called the day you wanted to go in and hope they had time for you. Usually, this meant you spent a lot of time in the emergency room. The system was extremely inefficient.

    Also, I would say that there are very few people in Sweden who cannot survive without government assistance. This can be good and bad.

    I would like to go into more detail, but that is not appropriate for a response to a post.

  16. John,

    Thank you for your well wishes. Forgive me if I came on a little strong, but it irritates me that so often conservative seems to be reduced to “hates poor people”.

    I thought I did make clear that a transfer program such as health care, welfare, and Social Security, is different from the use of taxes for the purchase of services that benefit the public as a whole such as law enforcement, public roadways, national defense, sanitation, and other public services.

    There might some specific exceptions, and some argument as to what has a legitimate public benefit as opposed to benefiting specific people. I do not see the need to address that in this specific case, as I think it is clear that paying for and individual’s heath care with the money of other individual taxpayers is not as a rule a public benefit (vaccination programs, and the treatment of infectious diseases probably are).

    My tax philosophy is that the expenditure of taxes on my personal needs is theft, and that voting for such proposals signifies my approval of such theft. Submitting to the collection of taxes is a duty, even when we disagree with the expenditure of those taxes. As many of our tax monies are used for legitimate public benefits, in my mind, the moral duty to resist being robbed is outweighed by out duty to submit to the rule of law, and our duty to pay our taxes to provide for legitimate public expenditures.

    The ratio that comes back to me is irrelevant, which is why I pointed out my personal situation, as I might expect a Universal Health Care system to provide me with more benefits then I put in. My point is that as moral citizens we must consider who we are taking the money from before we start giving it away. Too often the person who pays taxes is the forgotten man. Nobody remembers him, and so he is treated without consideration as a human being, and instead treated like a slave.

    I don’t see how refusing to pay taxes becomes a moral imperative anyways, as I must also consider the irresistible nature of the government. If a robber demands I hand my money over at gun point I would not feel it immoral to submit considering I would likely be killed if I did not. Although I guess there is a duty to society to resist such things I don’t think it’s on the same level as the commandment not to steal. I’ll have to think about it, as I’m having trouble articulating my feelings on the subject.


    You are confusing society with government. I suggest you re-read Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” and consider that this confusion about the nature of society and government is what led to the very corruption that our founding fathers rebelled against.

    It is very pleasing to think that government force will always be used for “good”, in the sense that you are forcing to people to spend their wealth to care for the poor. Something we would consider the right way to use our wealth.

    First, you might notice how this violates free agency much more than statements about the immorality and morality of different actions. I am always confused by those who can not see the problem with supporting a liberal economic program, and then complaining that conservative moralists are impugning on peoples freedom by denouncing sinful behavior, and subjecting these behaviors to public derision.

    Second, from a practical stand point, once you provide government with the authority to seize one man’s property and give it to another man, solely on the basis that the second man is more deserving, it is inevitable that the government will begin seizing the property of the poor and giving it to the rich and powerful.

    Finally, I’d like to point out that Zion is completely different from Socialism. Socialism is the devil’s counterfeit, much as lust is the counterfeit for love. Zion can not be founded upon socialist principles, but only by voluntary submission to God.

  17. If you are truly concerned about helping the poor, maybe you should follow what Christ said. Clothe the naked, feed the hungry, comfort the grieved all on your own. If we as a church spent as much time helping those, reguardless of faith, in need as we do sitting in church meetings or in the temple, we could make more of a difference and become more christlike in the process.

    Waiting for the government to make the world a better place for us is lazy. The government should not be responsible to taking care of us, nor should it have that power. Everthing that our government touches, it corrupts and politicises. I do not want universal health care, not because I do not want the poor to get it, but that I think the government will do a very poor job for everyone. The government is great at making things worse. People are great at making things better.

  18. Dan,

    An additional note, it has nothing to do with think of the poor as “us” or “them”

    Rather is has to do with anthropomorphizing Society (or the poor) as an individual, rather than recognizing that Society is an aggravate of individuals.

    Society has no soul, nor does the government. Only individuals have souls, and thus it is as individuals that we must answer to God.

  19. Cicero,
    Actually its DOC, but no matter. You are confusing socialism and communism. Force is present in revolution, not democratic government, which theoretically at least, We have. Therefore the government represents us and is accountable to we the people. I realize this is the fundamental point on which we differ, and that’s okay. Reasonable people can disagree about these things.
    I have to believe for society to exist at all, we have to be willing to share in our common wealth to some degree, whether it be medicine, science, security(law enforcement/defence)or Museums and National Parks (do you at least think these are okay or are they theft too?). The more we do the healthier (no pun intended) our society will be. Ultimately it makes all of us richer than we could ever be individually.
    I also cannot understand why you are so sure healthcare belongs with social security and welfare and not national defense or law enforcement. Is not good health a way of magnifying our agency or increasing our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? I see a fundamental difference.

  20. Sorry Doc, I must have gotten your comment confused with another comment.

    I think the fundamental disagreement between you and I is whether force is in existence in democratic government.

    I believe it is. I point to the IRS as evidence. If you don’t do what the government says the government will imprison you, and if you resist, it will kill you. That is force. It’s why a democratic government is inherently evil in nature. It’s just less evil than all the alternatives.

    I think the other issue is that I see us as fundamentally individuals. You are assuming that everybody incorporates other people’s utility into their utility curves, thus allowing you to talk in abstracts about “our” pursuit of happiness. It also allows you to conflate Society with Government.

    I instead see it simply as the government taking one individual’s means of pursuing happiness, and giving it to another individual. That is the fundamental difference between health care and national defense. Health Care is consumed as individuals, National Defense can only be consume as a collective nation. Therefore Heath Care should be purchased as individuals, while National Defense should be purchased by a national organization.

    Furthermore, I do not believe Government is necessary to the existence and function of government. In Zion, people will be of one heart and one mind with God. Thus there will be no need for Government. Only Society will remain.

    Society existed long before we developed government, and will continue to exist after.

  21. E,

    I pay taxes, so if you don’t, I disagree with you.

    Taxes are only theft insomuch as I have no voice in the formulation of public policy. Last time I checked, my vote was counted, so “no taxation without representation” works well as a principle for me. My state legislators have been very responsive to my comments and suggestions, for instance. In a republic, if you’re represented and not a slave, taxes are not theft, but part of the social contract. We can amend that contract if enough public pressure builds up.

    Why was King Benjamin, the head of state, talking at length about Christians’ responsibility to take care of the poor if it had nothing to do with public policy? Why would we assume there to be a disconnect between what he said as head of state and what he did as head of state? I assume he fed the poor out of public storehouses, etc. There was apparently no difference between church and state at this point for the Nephites anyway…

  22. Cicero,
    But I think what we are finding is that we really cannot afford healthcare as individuals. That is exactly the problem as the uninsured mushroom and business is balking at paying. Many argue that the market could fix this if we got to good old supply and demand with direct consumer/caregiver interaction. This is another argument entirely. It is an argument I have seen our shortcomings as individuals tear apart firsthand as a physician. When people have better healthcare, they can work more. This benefits all of us. Some need this just to function in society, but in being allowed to function, they give us a return with their talents, creativity and the basic gift of their life. The worth of souls is indeed great.

    Perhaps I think too much of what I do, but going to the doctor is not the same thing as going to the mechanic. We don’t call private ambulance companies, but 911 when someone has a medical emergency. This saves lives. We somehow deem it worthy of our tax dollars because it is at its core different than paying for their nintendo or cable TV bill. As we “practice” medicine we get better at it and everyone benefits. This is a public good, only affordable in large groups. We are currently seeing what the large groups of business have done with health care in this country and it is not pretty. I would argue business poisons healthcare more than government ever could, having seen it firsthand as I described in the post I linked.

    The bottom line is we all benefit from medicine, just as we all benefit from science, culture, public parks, or museums. Paying for it as a group is in our best interest. I am not a socialist, and probably fall much more in the moderate camp here, but some things are worth group purchase and I would argue that healthcare is one of those things.

    I fully agree that we are individuals equipped with agency. But I do not believe any man is an island. We cannot be saved in the highest kingdom without marriage, we depend on others to allow us to grow and develop into independent beings in our families. Ultimately, the vision of the restoration I think was to produce a people with the power of the gospel, in order to “heal the world.” I think you are selling the Zion concept short with your radical individualism. In the end we need unity in purpose with God to be saved. While this should and will be voluntary, it is still our goal nonetheless.

  23. Translation: Conservatives believe in feeding and caring for the poor, so long as someone ELSE does it.

    That is grossly unfair.

    For example, the Children’s Medical Clinic in Plano is pretty much the result of the work of Republicans (in Plano, Texas).

    The heart of it is Carla Bateman. I expect to see her at the Republican Caucasus next week.

  24. I agree with #17. King Benjamin said nothing about Universal Health Care, for or against. I also think 4 Nephi is relevant to this discussion, which I blogged about here.

    I think basically it comes down to this: Should the government be the method by which we take care of the poor? There is no scripture that answers that question, from what I can tell.

    (And I used “basically” in the last sentence on purpose. Certainly the issue of healthcare is complicated and I don’t pretend to understand all of the complexities, so I admit the question I raise is an over-simplification.)

  25. Dear Conservatives,

    Man you guys are in for it on the other side. Let’s just hope they don’t have waterboards and McJobs in heaven.



  26. But regarding what Glenn Beck said, I would agree that it was inappropriate. Clearly there are people who are sick for no fault of their own.

    But since you didn’t offer a direct quote with context, it’s possible you were misinterpreting what he was saying and your paraphrasing is not what he was trying to say.

    But even if what you said were a direct quote, I also wonder if he would have rephrased it if given another chance (sometimes we take each others’ words too seriously, without considering that sometimes people mis-express themselves–yes, even professional talk show hosts).

    And of course, it’s possible he’s just a hateful man. I have no idea.

  27. As a Mormon, one time strong conservative, now with more Libertarian, Moderate, Eclectic (expect to see me pushing that term more!) leanings, I actually have given this subject a fair bit of thought.

    Hear me out, please, because this is ALMOST as hot of a topic as Same sex marriage, but I think I’ve got a better handle on this one (rather than that one, where I don’t think we can have a workable solution from the government).

    First, I absolutely feel that Universal Health Care as promised by certain political candidates is a disaster. As someone earlier noted, while it works in other countries, it often works by people avoiding appointments and just showing up at the ER. Why? Because you can’t get an appointment for 6 months. Well, many problems are NOW, and won’t WAIT that long. Unfortunately.

    So, any plan we implement has to avoid that pitfall. But it won’t. If a country the size of Sweden can’t make it work, a country that is MUCH bigger and more densely populated is going to have more problems, not less.

    Arguments about morality are rather moot. Look, I absolutely agree with the point of view that it is, on some levels, somewhat immoral to overtax the people. The scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon) are replete with warnings about this (one of the great sins of King Noah? Taking a MERE one FIFTH! 20% of the peoples income! A LOT of people would be delighted with this situation). On the contrary, I also completely agree that it is deplorable that any society would allow those who are unable to pay for medical treatment to suffer. Regardless of why they cannot pay. Think about it. A man who works very hard every day of his life building homes for someone, is extremely skilled as a laborer, and then is diagnosed with cancer is not going to be able to pay the bills on his own. If he is lucky enough to work for a large construction company that can pay for good medical insurance, then he _might_ be covered.

    Knowing what I know about genetics, inborn ability, environmental predisposition, etc., I cannot say that everyone has the ability in life to earn enough money to make it in life to the point where they can cover their own medical expenses.

    So, can we all agree on that? If so, then lets move on. Some people can cover their own expenses many times over, some people cannot.

    So then, there are essentially three methods of handling this situations, which is this: we need, as a society, to cover those who do not have the means to pay for their own medical bills, regardless of what they are, including (and I am absolutely adamant about this) quality dental care (because I need about 10k of dental I can’t afford!).

    First, and this is what many liberals, including two presidential candidates, wish to do, we could implement a government controlled, tax-payer funded system of health-care. This could take many forms, but most would be mandatory participation in terms of insurance.

    Second would be a form of private business backed system. This is what some conservatives favor, but has not evolved.

    Third would be a completely charity based system. This is what some other conservatives favor, and has also not evolved.

    Of course what we have now is that a lot of people simply are not covered.

    Or, if they are, they are not covered adequately. My brother, who makes a reasonable amount of money, avoids the doctor as much as possible simply because of the cost because he owns his own business and cannot get the same type or rates on insurance as a much larger company could.

    Over time I have come to favor a blended solution where government steps in and simply states that insurance companies must offer a global rate to EVERYONE. Thus, those who own small businesses or were otherwise self-employed could still afford the same level of insurance that I enjoy (which is QUITE good).

    To cover those who still could not afford insurance, or who were otherwise uninsured, hospitals would be encouraged to operate on the St. Jude method–setting up large donation funds to which individuals and organizations could easily donate, knowing that those funds would go to cover the cost of paying for health care. At the end of each year, a third of the fund (or some other amount) would be used to reduce the amount that was needed to be charged to the insurance companies, so that those companies could reduce the cost of their insurance.

    Is this plan perfect? No, but it would offer some level of government oversight, without the government actually running the health-care system, which I think is essential to success in the USA. It would also offer a method of allowing those who want to donate money to those who need health-care to do so. It would care for those who could not afford insurance, it would allow those who could afford insurance to do so without being placed in a bind because they do not happen to be affiliated with a company with thousands of employees (and thus large collective bargaining power).

    I’m sure people will spot flaws in my reasoning, and I really don’t mind. What I want to do is point out that we do need a change. I think that both conservatives and liberals agree on that. The solution is the difference. Both truly want the poor to be cared for (for the most part–there are some conservatives who don’t care, but they are unworthy of the name, and I hope that Glenn Beck is not really among that camp), but some feel that the role of government should be more limited. I tend to feel that in most cases government should be limited, but this is a case where the current system is plainly failing and we must change it. I will not accept that the liberal solution is the only or best solution, but neither will I accept that we must rely only on charity. I think a combination of charity, private business and government regulation can achieve the desired goal of caring for the poor and needy while not imposing an undue or immoral burden on the rest of society, thus allowing everyone their agency, and the opportunity to receive greater blessings by choosing to assist those in need. And I believe that they will. I know that I would as I am able.

  28. Post

    Well, having been off-line all day, I’m delighted to find this spirited discussion.

    I looked on the CNN website for a transcript of Beck’s exact words, but couldn’t find it. Too bad — he was quite eloquent in his thoughts. He just happens to be, regularly, wrong .

    I’m not really a liberal. I have some conservative thoughts, and most of my views are sufficiently nuanced to make all my friends go mad.

    I continue to believe that King Benjamin’s speech will continue to challenge the political and social views of many Mormons.

  29. It’s immoral. Taking money from other’s by force is theft, and expressly violates 2 of the Ten Commandments.
    Conservatives and liberals both want to help people in need, they just have different methods of accomplishing the same goal. Coercive philanthropy is an evil which is destructive to the giver and the receiver. It is the satanic counterfit of true philanthropy. Many well meaning and good people are taken in by it. True philanthropy is inspired by the love God bestows upon us, and is beneficial to both the giver and receiver.

  30. I’m glad we are having this discussion.

    It is undeniable that our present health care system is failing us. The biggest problem is that the insurance companies, who add NO value to actual medical care, keep billions (Billions!)of our health care dollars for themselves. They need to be cut out of the system freeing up that money so that it can then go towards covering all of us.

    Instead of paying premiums to the private insurers, we pay into a health care trust fund. When we need care, we go to the doctor of our choice and the hospital of our choice. The doc and the hospital get paid out of that trust fund. This is single-payer. It will work for us. We already have the infrastructure. We just shift where the money comes from.

    No more having bean counters at the big, wasteful, bureaucratic insurance companies telling you “Denied” to tests and procedures and medicines that your doctor knows you need. Health care will be back in the hands of those who are the medical experts, your doctor.

    This is what we need. And some politicians are already working on bills that would provide such a system for us. In California it’s SB 840. In Congress it is John Conyers (Michigan) HR676.

  31. Speaking as a physician, actually the VA works quite well. It’s not the Ritz, but it generally gets the job done. I agree with others here that a single payer system is the way to go. It will be much cheaper than any system that includes the current insurance infrastructure. In 2000, the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would cost 200 billion dollars less than Bush’s plan and a lot more less than Gore’s plan. Nader is the only Presidential candidate who supports a single payer plan.

    Long waits for appointments is the anecdotal experience in Sweden, but I think that is not characteristic of all socialized health care systems. I lived in Japan for two years and you could get an appointment quite quickly there. On the other hand, sometimes patients have to wait months for apppointments in the USA. No matter what you think of Michael Moore, you should watch his movie, “Sicko.” It’s very instructive on this issue.

    As for the Mormon view of taking money by force from people to care for the poor as being wrong, the Lord states that the world is in sin because there are those who possess more than others. Thus, to be wealthy and not share your wealth is to steal from the Lord. To tax citizens seeking to even the playing field and take care of our elderly and orphans etc, surely is not an abomination in the sight of the Lord.

  32. “Translation: Conservatives believe in feeding and caring for the poor, so long as someone ELSE does it.”

    Please stop with the ad hominem attacks on conservatives. It seems like many liberals feel a need to justify their policy choices by characterizing conservatives as uncaring and hateful.

    This common stereotype of conservatives that they care less about the poor and donate less of their time and money is quite false. The opposite is, in fact, true. Liberals give less to charity, based on just about every sort of measure: money (conservatives give 30% more–they give more to both religious and secular charities than liberals), time, even blood (18% more likely to give blood); in fact, of the 25 states where people give an above-average percentage of their income to charity, 24 were red states that voted for Bush in the last election. Most of this data is based on a study done by a Syracuse University professor who has registered in the past as both a Democrat and Republican and considers himself an independent (so less likelihood of bias either way).

    Some examples:

    Scientific American:
    Bowling for God

    “On the other hand, Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks argues in Who Really Cares (Basic Books, 2006) that when it comes to charitable giving and volunteering, numerous quantitative measures debunk the myth of “bleeding heart liberals” and “heartless conservatives.” Conservatives donate 30 percent more money than liberals (even when controlled for income), give more blood and log more volunteer hours. In general, religious people are more than three times more generous than secularists to all charities, 14 percent more munificent to nonreligious charities and 57 percent more likely than a secularist to help a homeless person.”

    See also: ABC News: Who Gives and Who Doesn’t?

  33. Laying aside whether it is a sin to tax or a sin not to tax to help poor people (which is a question I’ve already argued cannot be answered through scripture in #30), I want to say something regarding a single payer system, specifically in regards to #35 and #38.

    Over time I have come to favor a blended solution where government steps in and simply states that insurance companies must offer a global rate to EVERYONE.

    I agree with your point that we should try to find a way to help the poor. I don’t think there’s a debate there. But what do you mean by this comment? Do you mean that everyone should have the same rate, regardless of health? Should an insurance company be forced to give a smoker the same rate as he gives me? Or are you just saying that big businesses should not be given a better deal than small businesses? I strongly disagree with the former, but somewhat agree with the latter. Some regulation is necessary, but this strikes me as over-regulation, and if we’re going to go this far then we’ve destroyed to incentive for the private market to offer insurance in the first place, and you might as well just have the government supply it.

    The biggest problem is that the insurance companies, who add NO value to actual medical care, keep billions (Billions!)of our health care dollars for themselves.

    They don’t add value to medical care, but they definately add value to people’s lives in general. They add the value of allowing people who otherwise would have no way to pay for care for catastrophic events to be able to afford them by assuming the risk on the company instead of on an individual. Risk is something that a company can deal with when mitigated diversified risk. But risk can destroy an individual. So I’d say that’s valuable.

    No more having bean counters at the big, wasteful, bureaucratic insurance companies telling you “Denied” to tests and procedures and medicines that your doctor knows you need. Health care will be back in the hands of those who are the medical experts, your doctor.

    I agree that the insurance system needs reforming to minimize cases where people are denied for care that they need and are legimately covered for, but are you suggesting that this pool of money you are talking about should be accessible by doctors without accountability? If the doctor says you need the test, and you get it, the doctor can then reach his hand into the pot and take out the money to pay for the procedure (including compensation for himself)? This seams like a recipe for disaster in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying doctors are crooks any more than anyone else. But any system where poeple have access to money without accountability is bound to be taken advantage of. There needs to be someone in the position of reviewing the necessity and yes, in some cases, denying coverage for unnecessary procedures. I’d even rather see the government overseeing it than no one.

    I think the free market is, hypothetically, a good way to make that oversight happen because you have an incentive on both sides. The doctor has the incentive to provide good care, so that he will get paid. The insurance company has the incentive to make sure they’re not paying for unnecessary procedures, but also has the incentive to pay for necessary procedures because if it doesn’t, people will switch insurance companies. But of course, in practice, there are many flaws to how this works that need to be fixed. But I disagree with both your solutions in #35 and #38.

    Jeff (#36), what day was this on? If it was recent it might be on my DVR. (Yes, I just admitted that I TIVO Glenn Beck)

  34. Oh, and what part of “big, wasteful, bureaucratic” would be fixed by getting government involved? I don’t mean to sound trite, but seriously, the government has not exactly proven itself an efficient and responsible manager of money (think Social Security).

  35. Using King Benjamin to argue that universal government-provided healthcare is a moral imperative (in spite of the fact that I personally happen to support such a system and think we could do a more efficient job providing healthcare to citizens here along those lines than we currently are) is really nonsense. Using King Benjamin to criticize Mr. Beck’s specific rationale for opposing universal healthcare is totally reasonable and appropriate.

  36. If you give the insurance company $100 for health care, they’ll keep $30 and put $70 to use providing care. Give Medicare $100, and over $95 goes to providing care. It is that dramatic. Look at the single-payer plans (HR 676 or California SB 840). There will be plenty of controls and oversight to be sure that our sacred health care dollars will be spent providing health care for us. And there will be public oversight. When was the last time any public group had any oversight over what private insurance companies did? (Never)

  37. If you give the insurance company $100 for health care, they’ll keep $30 and put $70 to use providing care.

    And because they made that $30, other people want to get in on it and start moving their own companies into the insurance business, which creates more competition, which encourages companies to cut their prices by either taking less profit or encouraging the medical community to find more efficient ways to do things that cost less. What your comparison leaves out is that because of the competition of the free-market, the $70 the insurance companies pays might go further than the $95 dollars the government pays in a single-payer system where there is no incentive to cut costs and become more efficient, since there is no competition. What we need is more competition, not less.

    There will be plenty of controls and oversight to be sure that our sacred health care dollars will be spent providing health care for us.

    I’m sure that’s what they said about social security. How long will it be before the government starts “borrowing” from the pot of money in the single-payer system? Just because it’s in the bill doesn’t mean it’s going to happen the way they want it to. Once healthcare is no longer a hot issue, legislatures will do what they want with that money to fund the next big thing. I wouldn’t mind the single-payer system if I had more faith in the government to do what is right rather than what will get them elected.

    I don’t mean to come down so hard on the single-payer idea. I’m actually not against it as much as some conservatives. Just to prove I’m not a mindless conservative (I am conservative, just not mindless, to be clear), I do think that there does need to be some government subsidies to help those who are too poor to afford insurance, or who have medical conditions that are not the result of their own bad choices and therefore have a harder time getting insurance. The government could give tax credits to insurance companies for every poor person they insure on a sliding scale, or for someone they insure with such a medical condition, which would bring down prices for both groups. That can be combined with tax credits for the very poor so that perhaps they wouldn’t have to pay for insurance at all. We can restructure the tax code so that it will be revenue nuetral for both the government and the insurance companies, which would just mean that the rich would have to pay a bit more for insurance since the insurance companies would have more of an incentive to cover the poor and sick than they currently do. In a sense we’re making it profitable for insurance companies to make their products accessible (which means cheaper) to the poor.

    And I do support some limited regulation (a naughty word for hard-line conservatives) for insurance companies to cover important care, and more importantly to be clear about what they don’t cover and what they do so that the consumer can make an informed choice. Regulation needs to be limited in order to promote more competition, however.

  38. Ludlow, I apologize if my comments are too harsh. You have reasonable arguments, as do I, I believe. I think the fact that 2 reasonable people can come to such different conclusions proves that this is a very difficult issue.

  39. I’ll note that on the trip my wife and I took to celebrate our 20th, we ended up sitting next to a recruiter who hires doctors to go work in England. A specialist surgeon, who puts in some steady overtime and who is at the top of the ladder makes about 100k Euros a year.

    By comparison, when I take the depositions of orthopedic surgeons just out of residency, they are typically making 2-3 million dollars a year.

  40. Re: If you judge and condemn those who ask you for substance just to survive, then you will be condemned for holding it back. For what you think is yours is really God’s, including your life.

    If you were to apply this to the good we could do by paying taxes for universal health care, one could also say that every church member should sponsor an orphan in Guatemala, pay for AIDS medication for an African child or take in a homeless person into our home. Most of us have not felt the hunger of a missed meal because we gave away our only food. Most of us have not gone naked because we gave away our only clothing. We would however, feel the effects of universal health care chipping away the level of health care we currently enjoy. There would not be enough funding to go around to meet the needs that would arise in the USA if we selected that course.

    There is another socialized medical system besides the VA. It is the Indian Health Service. Waits for appointments are similar to what was described happening in Sweden. Facilities are often outdated and political saavy rather than true need often awards the rare funding for a new facility. The physicians and nurses that choose to work in this system are, with rare exception, hard working and dedicated, cramming as much into one day as possible. When the annually funded budget money runs low, orders for screening mammograms, knee replacements, and other procedures that are not critcal get deferred until the next budget year.

    The other element which is sometimes seen with this, and other, socialized systems is the sense of entitlement. Patients have no penalty for using the Emergency room (a more expensive and critical resource), so the ER is used for spurious reasons: getting tylenol for free instead of going to the store to buy it; a parent bringing their teen to the ER requesting a “check to see if they are still a virgin” when there was no assault, bringing their AFLAC paperwork to the ER for a 2 week old injury that did not require an ER visit so they can get their benefit paid.

    Free medication does not have the same value as it does when it costs. Stockpiles of unused medications can exist in homes because a doctor prescribed it. The patient did not agree with the doctor and never planned to use it, but took the medication anyway because it was free.

    Even ambulance service has been abused because no cost was associated with it. One person who had no transportation to the clinic called an ambulance because of a sore throat. Others who needed a ride to town from an outlying area would call the ambulance and then take off after they arrived.

    What about the rising costs of health care in general? New arthritis medicines cost thousands of dollars over a year. Should universal health care cover these medications which can reduce symptoms by 70%, but increase the individual’s health expenses by 700%?

    Nobody wants an ill person to die because they do not have insurance, but costs provide a necessary deterrent to abuse of limited health resources. Even Massachusett’s universal health care system was criticized because it required those who could afford health insurance to buy it. It was politically unpopular and downplayed by the Romney campaign. Those kind of teeth are necessary in this day and age.

  41. I have personally worked at the Bishops storehouse. I have worked in soup kitchens. My Stuff a bus program raised millions of dollars in food for the CT foodbank in the 1990’s. We as a family are working to send those in need to college. I do many fundraisers for those less fortunate. I do not say these things to hold myself out, but rather to make the point: Smaller government is not about lower taxes. I believe it is about a higher law. Hiring someone (which is what we do when we expand the government) to do what the Lord would have US do is not what he requires of us.

    The answer is always WE THE PEOPLE.

    Every time I serve, I learn and I SEE. My eyes are open to the need around me. I have never noticed the need around us on April 15th. Instead I see waste. No where does the Lord tell us to create a government program to help others, he tells US to do it.

    Need is not just about those we take time to serve. The Lord knows it is about us as well. Many of us, and I include myself in this, are in need of more empathy and greater spiritual vision. I find by helping others personally, they help me. It is the same principle I find to be so true every time I do my home teaching.


  42. Pingback: » My Open Letter to Glenn Beck free medical web log: On my blog you will find stories from other writers which I have found inspiring, educational, or just fun. Follow the links to read the whole story directly from the author.

  43. Glenn, or whoever you are.:)

    As is clear from my previous comments, I’m as against government run health-care as much as you, but I disagree with you on one point:

    No where does the Lord tell us to create a government program to help others, he tells US to do it.

    While technically true, it should be pointed out that when Christ taught the sermon on the mount, he was teaching a minority people. Now we live in a nation that is predominantly Christian. What would the Lord have said to a king if that king believed him and wanted to incorporate his teachings into the governing of the kingdom? I have no idea, and as I said before, you can’t use scripture to argue for or against government run healthcare.

    But on your greater point that it is our responsibility to help the poor, I agree.

  44. I’ve lived in England for some time. Getting care when you need it was a nightmare and forget dental treatment. It took 6 months to get my son to where he could be evaluated to get physical therapy and another 4 months to start it. He was born with spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and a curvature of the spine, along with a host of other problems. His medical history has more pages that a “quad” and he’s only 17 years old. I would not say that he gets the best healthcare but he now does get healthcare. Insurance companies would not touch his case. U.S. Military medical facilities provided very little with regards to on-going needs even though when I signed up prior to even being married, they told me all medical needs would be assured me and my family. When my son needs an MRI, he needs it right now, not 5 months from now (UK NHS). I can get that here in the U.S. because it is a free market. When the factor of competition is taken out of the picture, along goes motivation for availability of services, promptness, efficiency, and competency.

    Let’s also not forget about putting all our insurance under ONE provider. You’re basicly creating a government monopoly. The government has already inserted itself so far into our current medical system that the red tape you have to go through now is almost unbearable. Imagine a government national healthcare run like FEMA or the IRS.

    The federal government is supposed to be the LEAST amount of interference in our lives with the smaller states and local government being the bulk of the laws and governance, not the other way around. We have fed the monster until it won’t go away and now you want to feed it even more. It makes no sense.

    Richard M

  45. to me, it is pretty simple. If we can afford to spend 3 Trillion dollars on a war effort that doesn’t get US much, we can afford to provide health care for our people. If is ok to mortgage our children and grandchildren’s future, they may as well get something in return.

    But, the government can’t do anything right.

  46. I don’t believe Glenn Beck is advocating ignoring charity. I’ve listened to him for quite some time and do recall him advocating any such thing.

    What I do hear him say is:

    Government cannot and should not do YOUR job of looking after yourself.
    Government should not forcibly take your livelyhood (money) to give to others.

    That is not charity and love. That is forced servitude. It is not the the plan of free agency. You cannot force someone to be loving. This is exactly why taxation past our own national protection should be strictly limited.

    I’ve looked at the economic systems of the most opposing ideologies of government and found a something very simple…

    Capitalism = privately owned / privately controlled
    Socialism = government owned / government controlled
    Fascism = privately owned / government controlled

    Now there is one missing that has not been on the Earth for very long periods of time. That is, Government owned/ privately controlled. Do you understand why? Because it is the United Order. You have the body of the Church granting you your stewardship freedom to increase your talents. The city of Enoch did this. New Jerusalem will do this. This is a simple explanation but it works. It can also be said to be a capitalistic system working within a social system.

    Mr. Beck is not denouncing the Church’s teachings. He is trying to slowly get us back to a less intrusive government. You know, like our founding fathers intended.

  47. I am a Jackie Mormon married to a Wisconsin Cathloic, my mother-in-law works for the church in Milwaukee. I believe, and always haved, In the teaching of the Book of Mormon. My brother served on a mission and tryed to pull me back in but when you can’t find a mormon to “date” its hard to stay involved.
    I am a Glenn Beck watcher and I can’t believe this is being said. I guess I didn’t go to the same church as some of you all,Rick M did. We were always taught that we should and could take care of ourselves. That is how my step fathers grandmother pushed her hand cart across the country. She took care of it herself. What has happened to the strength of the Mormon people. I was taught to be strong and work hard and share with those who shared in the work, even if they were peeling potatos.
    Do you forget that we have an ever changing world, which includes our goverment. I see the chatter on this subject stopped a long time ago, alot has changed since this was first written. I hope some minds have changed too. Our goverments mind changes everyday depending on what lobbyist is buying lunch.

  48. Kat,

    You are right that the church teaches that self-sufficiency is important. However, it also teaches that we should help those who are suffering. In fact, a major reason the church emphasizes self-sufficiency is because that’s the only way you can be able to help others who are not (yet) self-sufficient. As the original post made clear, the Book of Mormon teaches that we should help people even when we think their suffering is their own fault. That seems to conflict with your view that we should only share with those that “share in the work”. This also ignores the many people who are sick through no fault of their own, and thus can’t find affordable health insurance. Jesus, and Joseph Smith, did not tell the sick to “take care of it yourself”. They took them in and helped them.

    As I said in a previous comment, the issue isn’t whether we should help the poor. The scriptures, and the light of Christ, make clear that of course we should. The issue is whether the government should be the means by which we do it. Certainly private charity would be preferable, but what are we to do when there there is not enough private charity, or when private charities cannot organize themselves sufficiently to meet the need? And it should be noted that the government is an extension of society, and so government funding of health-care could be viewed as just a more organized method of collective charity (I’m not making that argument, but I think that’s a legitimate discussion to be had). Like I said before, I can’t find anything in the scriptures that says yeah or nay on that issue. 4th Nephi gives an example of a society where the poor are taken care of, but is silent on how that was actually implemented. So let’s debate that issue on its merits and not pretend that our way is anointed way.

  49. I couldn’t find my way back to this page once I left.

    I don’t think the scriptures would want us to let the government be in control of our bodys. The mass buaracy the government creates to take on the health care issue would make Joseph Smith turn on his heals. Do you believe that Joseph Smith would have handed over his and his followers money to the government and said ok now you can take care of us. He left because they wouldn’t let him teach his beliefs to the people that wanted to hear. Mr Obama’s plan is a way to apease the masses for the moment. Our country and beliefs are bigger and stronger than they ever have been.

    I watched the original new broadcast of the moon landing last night just like many others, I was brought to tears by the way our country has changed over the last 40 years. We all need to be involved in our contry and our neighborhoods. It isn’t fair that a few have to take care of the ones who don’t want to work or don’t want to take responsibilty for their actions. I am so tired of way we have let our thoughts be reshaped. It is not ok that a woman I met in Wisconsin hasn’t ever gotten any money from her childs father, even though he is court ordered to do so. Or the woman in Nevada who has to chase down her ex-husband once a year to get money for son, and when she catches him on the phone he can’t understand why she is so hostile and mean.

    This is what we have let happen and this rules for radicals idealisms have got to stop. You may not want to see it but everything this man is doing is driving the nail in the coffin of our former beliefs. I didn’t have healthcare for most of my life.I had a doctor, I had to get rounds of shots that my mother paid for. I was born with a hip disorder and had to have my hips broke and reset at 1 year old. I had to wear a body cast for 3 months and had to have it replaced once. All this my mother paid for out of her own pocket. When I got older my mom told me if you ever get real sick go get into your car and run it into a tree because we have hospital coverage on our auto insurance. That was the joke in our house and luckily we never had to use it,Because we never had a bad auto wreck.

    There weren’t many of us yet we helped each other. We lived together if we needed to we shared a car and cut each others hair.
    This healthcare bill is saying that we don’t help our own and we have to have the government take care of us. We have to change the way our insurance companys do business, yes but we need to help each other.
    I have had family get help from the church and when they were back on their feet they paied it back and then some. You see when you get help form somebody you know cares about you, you want to pay it back as soon as you can. It gives you pride of getting things back together. If you get “Free” you don’t have that same need to pay it back. Our youth need to learn that. Most kids today have a sense of entitalment towards everything. If we are going to have enough Doctors and Nurses in out future they need to want to give back. Not for the money, but because they are free to be the kind of doctor they want to be.

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