Our federal government has supposedly been shut down for the past week or so. I say supposedly because only a small part of the government has actually shut down. In reality, it appears that the Obama Administration shut down only those parts of the government that will “cause the most pain,” such as the open air monuments in Washington, D.C., or the turn outs to see Mount Rushmore or the cemetery in Normandy.
Byron York at The Washington Examiner said that he asked a Republican source on the Senate Budget Committee for an estimate of how much of the government was actually shut down. This was the source’s answer: “Based on estimates drawn from CBO and OMB data, 83 percent of government operations will continue…. This is about 83 percent of projected 2014 spending of $3.6 trillion.”
“So the government shutdown, at least as measured by money spent, is really a 17 percent government shutdown. Perhaps that is why the effects of the shutdown, beyond some of the most visible problems, like at the monuments and memorials on the Washington Mall, don’t seem to have the expected intensity. Seventeen percent of federal expenditures is still a huge amount of money, and the shutdown is affecting many people. But many more who are dependent on federal dollars are still receiving their money, either as salary, transfer payment, or in some other form. Viewed that way, it’s no wonder both Republicans and Democrats appear to believe they can last the shutdown out, at least for a couple of weeks until they try to resolve the debt limit crisis due to arrive October 17.”
Democrats, particularly Barack Obama and Harry Reid, have simply refused to negotiate with Republicans. Obama claims that he will come to the negotiating table when the federal government is open for business once again. John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, said that Obama must come to the negotiating table before the House will not pass bills to re-open the federal government or raise the debt limit. Only negotiation will re-open the government, and Obama refuses to negotiate. The blame for the shutdown rests squarely on the President of the United States.
The BunYion offered a suggestion for solving the problem with the federal government. It is only satire, but it contains some true principles. Their article began: “As an answer to the government shutdown crisis, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced that Church President Thomas S. Monson met with President Obama today with one single proposal: `The LDS Church will run the government during the shutdown.’”
The article then suggested some inspired programs used by the Church that would make the government run more smoothly. 1) The tax system would change to a Flat Tax of 10%. [The Lord runs His programs on 10% income; why can’t governments do the same?] 2) The poor and the needy would be cared for through the Church welfare program with home teachers and visiting teachers serving on the front lines and necessary funds coming from fast offerings. [The welfare program requires that individuals do all they can to help themselves and then turn to their families before coming to the Church for help.] 3) The new foreign relations policy would be “Every member a missionary.” [There would be great peace in the world if every person knew and followed the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.]
Although the article was satire and there is no hope that Obama would give control of the government to anyone, our nation and the world could be greatly blessed by the leadership of prophets and apostles. Consider some of the counsel given in the ten hours of general conference held on October 5-6, 2013.
President Thomas S. Monson opened the conference by announcing that the Church has grown to 15 million members and has a missionary force of over 80,000 missionaries. He affirmed the Lord’s instructions to His apostles to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). He quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith as saying that our most important duty is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. He said that now is the time for members and missionaries to come together to spread the gospel. One way we can help the missionary cause is to contribute to the ward or general missionary fund. In his main address he spoke of his dearly departed wife Francis who passed away in May and how his testimony that their separation is only temporary brings great comfort to him. He said that we grow stronger as we face and survive adversity and become better and more spiritually refined. He told the priesthood brethren that they are responsible to teach, inspire and motivate the sons and daughters of God.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles quoted the Lord as saying “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38; emphasis added).
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about tithing. He said that when we pay an honest tithe, we receive significant but subtle blessings that are easy to overlook, such as fewer medical expenses. These blessings can only be discerned by spiritual attentiveness and observance. They include more gratitude for what we have, contentment, increased ability to do more with less, greater capacity to change our own circumstances, an assurance of deliverance from our adversities, hope, and peace. He also spoke about the simplicity of the Lord’s law of finance. The finances of the Church are under the direction of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric. This group of leaders follows the instructions given by the Lord in Doctrine and Covenants 119-120 on the fiscal affairs of the Church as well as by revelation. Members are commanded to pay ten percent of their annual income to the Lord, and these sacred funds are used to further the work of the Lord. The Church follows the same counsel it gives to members about fiscal simplicity and orderliness. The Church 1) lives within its means and does not spend money it does not have and 2) sets aside a portion of its funds for “rainy days.” The honest payment of tithing is a step toward purification and should not be procrastinated.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency said that the LDS Church does not require anything of its members – but the Lord requires consecration of all things. With this requirement, why would anyone want to join this church? He said that the Church is one of the fastest growing churches in the world. People are joining it because 1) they are converted to the idea that Jesus Christ restored His church to the earth, 2) they love Jesus Christ and wish to follow Him, and 3) they realize that assignments are opportunities to grow. To the priesthood brethren, he said “whatever you do, do it with all your heart and with God.” He said to keep our eyes on where we want to be in eternity.
President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told us that we live in the perilous times spoken of by the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy. (See 2 Timothy 3:1-5.) The safest place for our children in these perilous times is in a righteous family. The scriptures hold the key to safety and salvation because they teach us where to go and what to do. Since all scripture is given of God for our benefit, we should make scripture study a routine part of our personal and family life. (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17.)
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the moral foundation of good women and encouraged all women to cultivate the innate moral power within us. He said that the forces of evil are striving to destroy this moral foundation because women are the guardians of the well spring of life. He mentioned three ways in which this moral foundation is being destroyed: 1) the devaluation of marriage, women, and homemaking as a career, 2) attitudes toward sex – abortion, immodesty, equal sexual opportunities, and 3) erasing the difference between masculine and feminine. We need women who are kind, refined, faithful, good, virtuous, and pure. We need men and women working together to produce a whole – not simply two halves or two copies of the same half. He encouraged us to have clean language, modest dress, and pure actions. He encouraged us to put our relationship with God first and to not be afraid to apply moral goodness.
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency reminded us that we each make choices every day. We should ask ourselves: what choices do I make that help me feel the love of the Lord? We can feel the love of the Lord as we repent and put the Atonement of Christ into action in our individual lives. He told the priesthood brethren that “to hold the priesthood of God is to be responsible to God for the children of God.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminded us that the first two commandments are 1) “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” and 2) “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image….” He said that we offend God when we serve other Gods and named several “other gods” such as cultural and family traditions and political correctness; he added that there are many “other gods” that people worship as evidenced by certain conditions in our nation, such as the family becoming the exception rather than the rule and the diminishing importance of fathers in the home. He encouraged us to follow the principle: “What is our ultimate priority?” “Man’s law cannot make moral what God has declared immoral.” The commandments of God are inseparable from God’s plan of happiness for His children.
Elder Richard G. Scott admonished us to recognize the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives because personal strength comes from the Atonement. He used the story of the stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ to show how the Atonement can bless our lives. Choices have long and short term consequences. One of the long term consequences is that Satan uses our guilt over past sins to lure us back into his territory. We need to protect ourselves spiritually from our past sins and fortify our weak areas in order to maintain our spiritual strength. Since each of us has made poor choices, we each need the Atonement. We can access it through “sincere, thorough, complete repentance” and “service to others – particularly our spouse and children.”
We have clowns running the federal government. It would be most refreshing to have mature adults in charge of our nation, adults who truly want what is best for us as individual Americans and for the United States of America!