Chapter 16
Work and Welfare

Our primary purpose was to set up, in so far as it might be possible a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of the dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership.(1)

The First Presidency, CR-10/36:3

      Wo Unto Rich and Poor. Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved!

      Wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands! (Revelation to Prophet Joseph Smith, 1831, D&C 56:16-17)

      Honor of Labor. Labor is the manufacturer of wealth.(2) It was ordained of God as the medium to be used to obtain a living; hence it is the universal condition of this great bond to live . . . .

      God never meant to bemean His creation, especially His own IMAGE, because they had to labor. No never; God himself according to the good old book labored on this world, six days; and when Adam was animated . . . [p. 380] we read that God put him in the garden to DRESS it: Therefore, in connection with the samples of all holy men, we are bound to honor the laboring man; and despise the idler. (John Taylor, 1844, CWP-63)

      Work- A Principle of Gospel. Let all of us be industrious and useful to the full extent of our strength and ability. We are told to earn our bread by the sweat of the brow. I believe there may be a disposition on the part of some Latter-day Saints to say, “Well, after we get to be sixty-five we will not have to work any more.” There should be in the heart of every man and woman the cry, “I am going to live and work. There is nothing given to me but time in which to live, and I am going to endeavor each day of my life to do some labor which will be acceptable in the sight of my Heavenly Father, and if it is possible, do a little better today than I did yesterday.” It is an easy thing to throw a dollar to a man, but it requires sympathy and a heart to take an interest in him and try to plan for his welfare and benefit.

      And it is a principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ, now, as it always has been, to help every man to help himself—to help every child of our Father in heaven to work out his own salvation, both temporally and spiritually. (President Heber J. Grant, CR-4/45:8)

      There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven, upon which all blessings are predicated, and no man will get the blessings without fulfilling the law. I wish to impress upon the Latter-day Saints that we get in this life what we work for, and I want to urge every Latter-day Saint to be a worker.

      Men should have a pride in doing their full share, and never want to be paid for that which they have not earned Men should be rewarded for doing the best that they can. There is a practice in some quarters, in the working world today, to tell a man how much he may do, regardless of his ability to do more, and to penalize and criticize the man who is able and willing to do more than his indolent or incompetent neighbors. If one man has the ability and the power to do three or four times as much work and is willing to do it, he should get the pay for it, and this idea of saying, “Don’t you do any more than you [p. 381] are told or you will lose your job, or your standing,” is fundamentally wrong. (President Heber J. Grant, 1939, E-42:585)

      The Gospel of Work. We have always dignified work and reproved idleness. Our books, our sermons, our leaders, including particularly our present President, have glorified industry. The busy hive of the honeybee—Deseret—has been our emblem. Work with faith is a cardinal point of our theological doctrine and our future state, our heaven, is envisioned in terms of eternal progression through constant labor.

      This fundamental principle of the honor of work is sorely needed in application in the world today. All the fraudulent schemes, the rackets, governmental corruption, and wide- spread, public demoralization have their inception and support chiefly in the failure to recognize the dignity and the happiness that flow from honest toil.

      What is honest work? I believe it is tightly interpreted only in terms of service, and the value of true service is measured by someone’s gain. Such a concept is not only Christian but it lies at the foundation of sound, profitable business. There are innumerable demonstrations of this fact. The kind of work that makes a better product for less cost is what our national economy demands. There are at least two indispensable factors in this kind of work and the efficiency it produces. First, integrity, which includes loyalty; and second, ability. No one can succeed unless he is dependable. If he works for another, he must make his employer’s interest his own. If he works for himself, he must be faithful and true to his enterprise or he will fail. The “watch the clock” variety of service, with no interest in the job but to get the per diem, is as much responsible for bankruptcies as any other factor which I know . . . .

      Now to return to the gospel of work—and it is a gospel, if ever God gave us a message and principle for our salvation. It would seem apparent, without further comment, that the spread of this gospel of work is absolutely indispensable to the solution of the problems of our individual and national economy. I think we can lay it down as an almost unfailing rule, because the exceptions [p. 382] are so few, that the loyal, able, skilled, industrious worker is successful. His loyalty is his character. He makes that for himself. His skill is attained by training and education. Even genius is little more than the capacity for hard sustained work. (Stephen L Richards, CR-10/39: 65-8)

      Work—The Law of the Earth. Work is a great thing. It is the law of this earth. When Adam was cast out upon him was passed the glorious sentence, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” Man as he is would not and could not have existed except for the promulgation of this law . . . . Milton, in that wonderful poem, “Paradise Lost,” pays this tribute to work, which he expresses, after he opens to us the vision of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden:

God hath set labor and rest, as day and night,
      To men successive . . .
      Other creatures all day long
      Rove idle, unemployed, and less need rest;
      Man hath his daily work of body and mind
      Appointed, which declares his dignity,
      And the regard of Heaven on all his ways;
      While other animals unactive range
      And of their doings God takes no account.

      My brothers and sisters, if we can get into our minds the dignity and the honor of work, no matter what that work may be, most of the ills from which we suffer will be solved. During the whole range of man’s existence there has never yet been any plan by which men may live righteously in idleness, and no such plan, it is my faith, will ever be devised. (J. Reuben Clark, CR-10/36:112)

      Six Days To Work.      We should note that God tells us we are to work six days, not that we MAY work six days. May there not be here a divine rule, a divine computation, if you will, as to the proportionate time of work and rest which God considers necessary to meet His command to Adam: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” Later God gave to Moses plans and commandments for days of feasting and festivity. He did not plan that man should work always, without times for worship, for study, for meditation, for relaxation, and for recreation. But these, when provided for, were times for seemly diversion, [p. 383] not riotous, sinful debauchery. (J. Reuben Clark, CN-3/8/47)

      All Must Do Their Share. Another principle must be recognized; to state it is to prove it: We cannot advance, indeed we cannot maintain our present social and economic achievement, if we shall gear down our production life to the activity rate of the ne’er-do- wells, the inefficients, and the confirmed idlers. Every member of our society must do his share of work, that is, must make his contribution to the welfare and growth of our social and economic organism. Since we must always have skill, efficiency, and industry, to grow or even to maintain ourselves in our present development, we must, in consequence, always recognize and encourage, by a due economic return, those who possess these attributes. Otherwise we lose some of our productive power, and loss of productive power means loss of comfort, of education, of culture, the loss of our standard of civilization. (J. Reuben Clark, CN-12/14/46)

      Idleness Linked With Evil. There must be something tremendously important about work in the scheme of things pertaining to man’s salvation because the Lord lays such heavy stress upon it. He exalts labor both by dignifying with the stamp of His approval him who performs it and by condemning idleness in the severest terms—almost to the extent of making it a test of worthiness for membership in his Church. “Let every man be diligent in all things. And the idler shall not have a place in the Church, except he repent and mend his ways.” (D&C 75:29) . . . Idleness is linked by Him with evil in such way as to indicate the relationship of cause and effect between them.

Now, I, the Lord am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them; and their children also are growing up in wickedness; they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness. These things ought not to be, and must be done away from among them; wherefore let my servant Oliver Cowdery carry these sayings to the land of Zion. (D&C 68:31-2)

      In no uncertain terms the Lord laid upon every able man the duty to work for what he got. “Thou shalt not [p. 384] be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.” (D&C 42:42) And even the poor “who will not labor with your own hands” were under special reproof. (D&C 56:17) (Albert E. Bowen, 1946, CWP-58)

      Child Labor Laws.      Child labor laws do not help much either. Enacted to combat a situation which is long since past, these very laws now contribute in some degree to the very delinquency about which we hear so much.

      Which is worse, permitting boys and girls to work sensibly, or to permit them to languish into delinquency? The sweat shop conditions of a past generation no longer exist among us. It was to meet those conditions that these laws were first passed.

      In this day of crime and delinquency, in this day of extended leisure, shall we not re- assess conditions, and work out a more intelligent program than we now have? Shall we not be willing to accept the philosophy of the scriptures instead of the extremist views of “Do-gooders” who have idleness, immorality and vandalism in their wake?

      When the Lord decreed against slothfulness and idleness and associated those two evils with uncleanness He pointed the way to us all.

      Why not abolish slothfulness and idleness among our young people by giving them activities and occupations which will meet the need without doing them the kind of injury against which the laws were passed?

      Is there any reason why parents cannot do the same? More than one family has moved to suburban areas where they can have a cow and a few sheep and an acre or two in truck gardens, simply because they wanted to save their boys from the curse of idleness.

      “Set in order your houses—keep slothfulness and uncleanness far from you.” (Mark E. Petersen, CN-4/8/61)

      The Welfare Program. The goal has always been to encourage individual enterprise and thrift and the establishment of people on a self-sustaining basis, rather than to encourage dependence and a looking to others for what they might properly provide for themselves. [p. 385]

      The exhilaration of spirit that has come from voluntary help to others and from sustaining themselves by their own effort has filled with a living meaning in their own lives the incontrovertibly true dictum credited to the Savior: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) (Albert E. Bowen, 1946, CWP-20)

      It is clear that plans which contemplate only relieving present distress are deficient. The Church has always sought to place its members in a way to help themselves, rather than adopting the method of so many charitable institutions of providing for only present needs. When the help is withdrawn or used up, more must be provided from the same sources, thus making paupers of the poor, and teaching them the incorrect principle of relying upon others’ help, instead of depending upon their own exertions. This plan has made the Latter-day Saints independent wherever they have settled. It has prevented a constant recurring of calls for help, and established permanent conditions by which the people help themselves. Our idea of charity, therefore, is to relieve present wants and then to put the poor in a way to help themselves, so that in turn they may help others. (President Joseph F. Smith, 1907, E-10:832)

      Welfare In Action. I build walls, dig ditches, make bridges, and do a great amount and variety of labour that is of but little consequence only to provide ways and means for sustaining and preserving the destitute. I annually expend hundreds and thousands of dollars almost solely to furnish employment to those in want of labour. Why? I have potatoes, flour, beef, and other articles of food, which I wish my brethren to have; and it is better for them to labour for those articles, so far as they are able and have opportunity, than to have them given to them. They work, and I deal out provisions, often when the work does not profit me. (President Brigham Young, 1860, JD-8:11-2)

      Surely there is nothing more logical than that recipients of the benefits should contribute so far as may be to their production. That is the morals of the matter; it is simple justice and appeals strongly to the sense of fairness to which people usually respond. The contribution [p. 386] may be direct or collateral. That is to say, physical toil in the production of the specific things wanted may not always be feasible or possible. But other commensurate service may be rendered, and so far as physical and mental abilities permit, should be. The spiritual well being of the persons involved demands it; the preservation of their personal dignity, their perpetuation in growth and progress makes it imperative. (Albert E. Bowen, 1946, CWP-55)

      Don’t Give to Idler. To give to the idler is as wicked as anything else. Never give anything to the idler. “The idler in Zion shall not eat the bread of the laborer.” Well, they do eat it; but it is a commandment and a revelation as much as any other, that the idler shall not eat the bread of the laborer in Zion. No, let every one spend every hour, day, week and month in some useful and profitable employment, and then all will have their meat and clothing, and means . . . . (President Brigham Young, 1873, JD-16:19)

      My experience has taught me, and it has become a principle with me, that it is never any benefit to give, out and out, to man or woman, money, food, clothing, or anything else, if they are able-bodied, and can work and earn what they need, when there is anything on the earth for them to do.(3) This is my principle, and I try to act upon it. To pursue a contrary course would ruin any community in the world and make them idlers. People trained in this way have no interest in working; “but,” says they, “we can beg, or we can get this, that, or the other.”

      No, my plan and counsel would be, let every person, able to work, work and earn what he needs; and if the poor come around me—able-bodied men and women—take them and put them into the house. “Do you need them?” No; but I will teach this girl to do housework, and teach that woman to sew and do other kinds of work, that they [p. 387] may be profitable when they get married or go for themselves. “Will you give them anything to wear?” O, yes, make them comfortable, give them plenty to eat and teach them to labor and earn what they need; for the bone and sinew of men and women are the capital of the world. (President Brigham Young, 1867, JD-11:297)

      For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busy-bodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. (Apostle Paul, Bible, 2 Thess. 3:10-12)

      A Spirit of Independence. There is such a thing as encouraging idleness and fostering pauperism among men. Men and women ought not to be willing to receive charity unless they are compelled to do so to keep them from suffering. Every man and woman ought to possess the spirit of independence, a self-sustaining spirit, that would prompt him or her to say, when they are in need, “I am willing to give my labor in exchange for that which you give me.” No man ought to be satisfied to receive and to do nothing for it.

      After a man is brought down to poverty and is under the necessity of receiving aid, and his friends give it to him, he should feel that it is an obligation under which he is placed, and when the Lord should open his way he should return the gift. This is the feeling we should cultivate in our hearts, to make us a free and independent people. The cultivation of any other feeling or spirit than this is calculated to make paupers, to degrade and bring mankind down to beggary, which is a most wretched condition for men to be in. (Joseph F. Smith, CR-4/98:48-9)

      Neighbors are to help neighbors . . . . This puts into the relief a personal sympathy that is wholesome for all, and tends to prevent imposition and over-reaching. There is an infinity of difference between the sack of flour that comes over the back fence from your next door neighbor and a sack that is sent to you from Washington. The one hallows the giver, and raises and enspirits, with the human love and sympathy behind it, him who thankfully [p. 388] eats it; the other debauches the hand which doles out that which is not his, and embitters and enslaves him who with maledictions devours it. (J. Reuben Clark, 6/20/39)

      Honoring Parents. “Honor thy father and thy mother,” Christ declared, meant to support them.(4) Yet never before in recorded history has this law of God been so violated as it is today. Untold thousands of children in this nation have abandoned their parents to the care of the state. This action has brought in its wake a host of other ills: Idleness, greed, covetousness, cheating, hiding property, lying about it, and the adoption by the child and the parent of any device that could bring the parent within the provisions of the dole law.

      The violation of this law of God in our day, has carried such a speedy visitation of many of its penalties that even the blind might see and the deaf hear and the witless understand, if they wished. (J. Reuben Clark, CN-3/8/ 47)

      As I have recalled the experiences of the last ten years, I have thought of the welfare work as a kind of temporal turning of the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers.

      You who may think that a far-fetched statement; may I remind you of one or two scriptures? To Timothy, the Apostle Paul said:

But if any (man) provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (I Tim. 5:8)

      And again the commandment from Mt. Sinai, and interpreted by the Master, you will remember, to mean the taking care of aging parents by children:

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. (Ex. 20:12)

      From these two scriptures I make these two conclusions: In the first place those who refuse to care for their own are subject to a judgment more severe than that which would be meted out to one who lost his faith and [p. 389] had become as an infidel; and second that those who refuse to honor father and mother in the way the Master explained, are jeopardizing their tenure upon this land which the Lord has given us. I have thought a great deal about that. I wonder whether that tenure shall be jeopardized because of the burdensome taxation that shall increase and grow until we are virtually displaced in our ownership, if we don’t take care of our own, or I am wondering whether the Lord will withdraw his blessings, as Amulek declared in the thirty-fourth chapter of Alma, if we refuse to succor those who stand in need of help.

      And on the other hand, so far as children are concerned, I have remembered what the Apostle Paul said about that: He predicted a time that would come in the last days, a perilous time when men should be lovers of their own selves, covetous, disobedient, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection. That sounds strangely familiar to the language of the Lord in this day, when he declared:

Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them; and their children are also growing up in wickedness; they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness. These things ought not to be, and must be done away from among them. (D. & C. 68:31,32)

      I have asked myself if the failure of children to take care of their aging parents, when they come to a day of want and are in need of sustenance, is due to the failure of parents, in the day gone by, to teach those same children to avoid the curse of idleness, and to be responsible in righteousness before our Heavenly Father. Unless we teach our children today correct principles, they, like some children today, will be thankless and without the natural affection necessary to cement this society upon a firm, determined foundation. Yes, it seems to me that in very deed, the welfare plan has been a kind of turning of the hearts of the children to the fathers and the fathers to the children, that we might be prolonged upon this land which the Lord our God has given us. (Harold B. Lee, CR-4/46:70-1)

      Verily, I say unto you, that every man who is obliged [p. 390] to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown. (Revelation to Prophet Joseph Smith, 1832, D&C 75:28)

      Eternal Principles. Some justify our present economic course by saying, “times have changed.” So they have, but character-building has not. The laws of righteousness and progress are eternal. There is no escape from them, either for the individual or for the nation.

      An uncorrupted citizenry builds a great State; no State ever built an uncorrupted citizenry.

      No man is politically free who depends upon the State for his sustenance.

      A planned and subsidized economy beats down initiative, wipes out industry, destroys character, and prostitutes the electorate.(5) (J. Reuben Clark, 6/20/39)

      Genuine Security. I want to say with all the sincerity within my soul that there is more guarantee of security in the intelligent will, initiative and determined independence of the American youth of today than in all the laws that Congress may make intended to provide us with insurance from the “cradle to the grave.” Men who are dreaming of that kind of a security are not the kind that pioneered this country and explored the unknown. They are not the ones who built the world of today nor will they be the builders of the “new” world of tomorrow of which they speak. They are, as someone has said, “only tenants in houses of other men’s dreams.” (Harold B. Lee, CN-6/23/45)

1.       The above statement is an excerpt from the official “Message of the First Presidency to the Church” which explained the purposes for setting up the now famous Church Welfare Program.

2.       “Mere work—that is, effort not guided by a rational plan and not aided by the employment of tools and intermediary products—brings about very little for the improvement of the worker’s condition . . . . Physical exertion turns into a factor of human production when it is directed by reason toward a definite end and employs tools and previously produced intermediary products. Mind reason—is the most important equipment of man. In the human sphere, labor counts only as one item in a combination of natural resources, capital goods, and labor; all these three factors are employed according to a definite plan devised by reason, for the attainment of an end chosen.” (Ludwig von Mises, The Freeman, Aug., 1963, P. 29)

3.       “Whenever I hear that the government is helping someone, I feel sorry for that person. Or whenever I find that someone, by a monopoly grant of power, has a sure market or a sure job, I feel sorry for him too. Even helping a person to help himself may be a disservice to him; for you will probably—perhaps unconsciously—compel him to do it your way. Charity, if needlessly bestowed, probably will have a vicious effect. People who are promised support will hardly work. All grants, all subsidies, all rewards for services not rendered have a deleterious effect on character; and if character is not of foremost consideration, what is?” (Archibald Rutledge, Essays On Liberty 3:30-1)

4.       “. . . the honour due from a child places in the parents a perpetual right to respect, reverence, support, and compliance, . . . and this ends not with minority, but holds in all parts and conditions of a man’s life.” (John Locke, Two Treatises of Civil Government, II, 67)

5.       “In many cases, though individuals may not do the particular thing so well, on the average, as the officers of government, it is nevertheless desirable that it should be done by them, rather than by the government, as a means to their own mental educa-tion—a mode of strengthening their active faculties, exercising their judgment, and giving them a familiar knowledge of the subjects with which they are thus left to deal.” (John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, V) [p. 391]

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