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Author Topic: old man blogs at cloud
kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by JanitorBlade:
Well that didn't last long. Kind of wish we didn't eat our young here. :/

What, exactly, do you mean by "eat our young" in this context?
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Stone_Wolf_
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Some young deserve to be eaten
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Rakeesh
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Always going by the assumption that he's actually gone.

Anyway, I get where JB is coming from. As a thing that happens, it's regrettable. This particular instance? Nah. That guy was looking for a fight, and not even a decent one either. He wanted to preach a bit about poor, put-upon conservatives and how nasty liberals are, and that's fine. I mean it's horse puckey, but some ideas are. The part that keeps it from being regrettable is that he was completely unwilling to hear any sort of rebuttal. He pivoted to talk radio pundit talking points immediately.

So it's not a shame that this particular young...devoured himself, I guess? Since he wasn't thrown out, he left. Which incidentally ties into another discussion about tone policing that's been done over and over again, BB, but it does seem to relate so I'll just remark the following: it wasn't a shame that he left, since he never intended honest dialogue and we didn't eat our young, he stormed out in a dramatic huff and is quite possibly reading these words right now.

The truth is that with the sorts of books Card writes* now, and *especially* with his essays nowadays, Card is himself probably as much if not more of the reason there aren't really conservative voices here anymore. There's certainly an echo chamber aspect here, it's true, but what sort of new blood would be attracted if drawn by one of his essays or his Empire books?

------
DB, you're a rad dude.

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Dogbreath
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Right back at ya Rakeesh.
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Samprimary
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quote:
In the Mormon Church, there are no paid positions.
i severely doubt this
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Elison R. Salazar
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Oh dear.
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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
In the Mormon Church, there are no paid positions.
i severely doubt this
http://www.dovesandserpents.org/wp/2013/01/how-much-does-a-mormon-apostle-make/

The church is very secretive with how much it pays people "living expenses", but some inferences can be drawn:

quote:
In 2009, the LDS Church in Canada filed the annual earnings of its employees there with the federal government. Out of 184 full time employees, the average salary was $83,000, with 2 of them earning between $80,000 and $120,000, 6 of them earning between $120,000 and $160,000, and the top 2 earning between $160,000 and $200,000. Considering that such salaries were way above the national pay average ($50,000 for business administrators in the private sector, which normally pays better than the non-profit third sector), plus taking into account the “living expenses” benefits that the Church seems to be quite liberal with (as per our earlier discoveries regarding mission presidents), it is safe to presume that the Church generally pays above-average wages with lavish benefits. It then stands to reason that Apostles may earn something between $300,000 and $800,000 a year, if not much more in the higher echelon (i.e. First Presidency and Senior Apostles).
Which seems more or less in line with what you'd expect for executives of a business the size of the LDS church. Which is fine, I mean, they probably bring enough wealth into the church to justify that amount and then some, and I have no problem with them being generously compensated for their work. The "Mormon Church has no paid positions" line, and apparent need for secrecy and obfuscation of the fact that that's pretty blatantly untrue is a little weird, though.
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Samprimary
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quote:
According to LDS anthropologist and former Church employee Daymon Smith, the Church can invest its religious funds (i.e., money from tithes and offerings) into its own for-profit companies, circulate the monies in multiple investments and other high-yielding portfolios accruing considerable profits, and subsequently return said funds to the Church for religious use, all the while eschewing government taxes along the way because of its religiously-based tax exempt status. Furthermore, the Church can accept donations (i.e., tithes and offerings) in the form of stocks and bonds, which can be sold for profit, allowing the donors to evade federal taxes
that is a really nice racket. like that is a really, really nice racket.
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JanitorBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Dogbreath:
I'm not really sure how it could have been handled better? I mean, I gave the guy a really warm welcome on the other side, and pretty calmly and politely affirmed that, yes, Mr. Card really said the things he said. And in response I got called a youngster who's been tainted by Marxism. (lol @ Marxism btw, is anyone a Marxist anymore?) In my case, I chose not to respond. Should I have been "well, I can totally understand your point of view. I'll try harder not to be such a dirty commie" or something? Because he was being kind of ridiculous.

I could have been clearer. I was more disappointed in the new arrival showing up with boxing gloves tied on, and then leaves all huffy.

I wasn't trying to censure anybody here, I felt mostly y'all we're responding to what they were saying, which is why I played it hands off, and let them go when they asked to leave.

edit: Hence my saying "we" eat "our" own young. I would have liked somebody to maybe tell the youngin to cool it and stick around long enough to learn something, but I'm certainly don't think anybody acted unfairly. [Smile]

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JanitorBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Stone_Wolf_:
Some young deserve to be eaten

Ha! True.
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JanitorBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Dogbreath:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
In the Mormon Church, there are no paid positions.
i severely doubt this
http://www.dovesandserpents.org/wp/2013/01/how-much-does-a-mormon-apostle-make/

The church is very secretive with how much it pays people "living expenses", but some inferences can be drawn:

quote:
In 2009, the LDS Church in Canada filed the annual earnings of its employees there with the federal government. Out of 184 full time employees, the average salary was $83,000, with 2 of them earning between $80,000 and $120,000, 6 of them earning between $120,000 and $160,000, and the top 2 earning between $160,000 and $200,000. Considering that such salaries were way above the national pay average ($50,000 for business administrators in the private sector, which normally pays better than the non-profit third sector), plus taking into account the “living expenses” benefits that the Church seems to be quite liberal with (as per our earlier discoveries regarding mission presidents), it is safe to presume that the Church generally pays above-average wages with lavish benefits. It then stands to reason that Apostles may earn something between $300,000 and $800,000 a year, if not much more in the higher echelon (i.e. First Presidency and Senior Apostles).
Which seems more or less in line with what you'd expect for executives of a business the size of the LDS church. Which is fine, I mean, they probably bring enough wealth into the church to justify that amount and then some, and I have no problem with them being generously compensated for their work. The "Mormon Church has no paid positions" line, and apparent need for secrecy and obfuscation of the fact that that's pretty blatantly untrue is a little weird, though.

I don't believe the apostles and members of the first presidency are paid in the same way church employees are. They do not draw "salaries" but they are given generous living expense reimbursements.

I have been to one of the nicest housing complexes that general authorities are situated in within Salt Lake City. The apartments were very nice, and even luxurious to some degree but I wouldn't call them out of control expensive.

There is no way Apostles and members of the First Presidency are being paid compensation totaling $500,000 - $1,000,000 annually. If they were, they don't seem to spend their money. None of them have mansions, super nice cars, crazy nice clothes. If they were being paid those sums, I'd be furious.

edit: I will concede that the LDS church books being opaque in the US makes it impossible to give a realistic estimate as to how money is managed. But we can see church finances at work in many other countries where they are required to be transparent.

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Dogbreath
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Did you read the article?
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Dogbreath
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Also,

quote:
If they were being paid those sums, I'd be furious.
As sort of a reversal of our usual roles here, why would that make you furious? I mean, they're the executive officers of a 15 million+ member organization with billions of dollars in revenue every year - ~$500,000 a year seems pretty reasonable to me. General Officers in the military are compensated similarly under the understanding they would probably make more as business executives. (They get about $220,000 in actual salary, but about twice that in housing allowance, per diem, and other perks)
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Samprimary
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it would blow my mind if the top dogs of such a profitable and hierarchical enterprise were not getting at leaaaaast 400k a year each. and i mean that as a bare, bare, barest minimum appraisal.

it seems not at all surprising.

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Samprimary
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like the only thing that will be noteworthy about this is how the church excuses a statement like "in the mormon church there are no paid positions" (in this case i am assuming that the church itself would stand behind that phrasing, but it could just be osc talking out his ass, idk)

as in like, that the statement is so clearly false on its face that it becomes interesting to wonder exactly how they pretend it is true? does it rely on semantics? on very weird financial classifications? on the idea that they think they have kept enough of their internal finances 'sacred' that you can't prove otherwise? how fascinating!

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Rakeesh
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The pay, if it is that high, wouldn't be a problem for me, were I still a member. Well, not much of one.

What *would* be a problem is that a) the finances of the Church are kept secret, even from members-seriously, that will never not be problematic and a bad sign at *best*, they're supposed to be representing God's Church, literally the best institution of humanity on earth, and they feel that scrutiny and knowledge is to be avoided...why?; b) because it is often claims for the highest leaders by others how godly they are, how spiritual, how not of the world they are and so on and so forth. This is often used as the humblebrag sort of 'humility' common to many religious institutions. Meanwhile the supposed example they're supposed to be emulating was fairly emphatic on the themes of wealth and wealthy clergy and the worthiness of not being compensated for doing God's work.

Now it's quite possible that a significant or even quite large sum of a large annual 'living expense' might be given back or to other charities. But...well, how would we know?

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JanitorBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Dogbreath:
Did you read the article?

Yes.

quote:
Originally posted by Dogbreath:
Also,

quote:
If they were being paid those sums, I'd be furious.
As sort of a reversal of our usual roles here, why would that make you furious? I mean, they're the executive officers of a 15 million+ member organization with billions of dollars in revenue every year - ~$500,000 a year seems pretty reasonable to me. General Officers in the military are compensated similarly under the understanding they would probably make more as business executives. (They get about $220,000 in actual salary, but about twice that in housing allowance, per diem, and other perks)
Their executive officer roles are secondary to their roles as ordained leaders of the church by God. One of the major principles our church espouses is that the ministry are not paid so as to avoid priestcraft. I already have iffy feelings about leaders of the church writing books about the gospel that are then sold in church bookstores because I feel strongly about the gospel not costing any investigator money nor any person profiting from it directly.

If I felt my tithed funds were ending up in their personal savings accounts, I would be very upset. It is because I believe that these billions of dollars in revenue are invested in vehicles that further the mission of the church as a whole and not an individual's pocket book that I am OK with the church engaging in investment outside of what it does with tithed funds which are considered sacred and only to be used in specific charitable ways.

But neither of these sources of funds should ever be *paid* to a church leaders. To the corporations employees? Yes, they should be paid salaries. To the church officers? No, absolutely not. Nothing beyond reimbursement for living expenses. My bishop gets paid nothing for his time, neither does my stake president, or my area authority, nor the Seventy, nor the Apostle, nor the First Presidency.

Church materials are quite clear on this point.

Samprimary:
quote:
it would blow my mind if the top dogs of such a profitable and hierarchical enterprise were not getting at leaaaaast 400k a year each. and i mean that as a bare, bare, barest minimum appraisal.

it seems not at all surprising.

I agree it would be very unusual. But that is exactly what I expect from the leaders of the church. They shouldn't be drawing any salaries whatsoever. I am happy to pay for their living expenses and fully understand that there is some small discretion in what that means for the individual. But I do not believe they are being paid a salary.
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Samprimary
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i am going to assume a 0.00000001% chance that tithe money is not effectively used as salary for the church's hierarchical top dogs. i guess it is a complete and practical guarantee that they will repackage or otherwise essentially internally 'launder' the tithing contributions to make the claim that tithes are not what is used

but i am still going to be very, very curious about what argument they will use for this, much like i am curious about how, specifically, they claim there are no paid positions in the church.

additionally i keep seeing it repeated in a number of places that church finances are kept 'sacred' (i.e., to be kept from the prying eyes of the unclean such as myself)

is this a literal wordery, or what? does the church actually claim that its own finances are sacred? what does that mean?

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JanitorBlade
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Samprimary:
quote:
additionally i keep seeing it repeated in a number of places that church finances are kept 'sacred' (i.e., to be kept from the prying eyes of the unclean such as myself)

is this a literal wordery, or what? does the church actually claim that its own finances are sacred? what does that mean?

I've literally never heard before that claim of "sacredness" made regarding the church's finances and books.
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JanitorBlade
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Samparimary:
quote:
i am going to assume a 0.00000001% chance that tithe money is not effectively used as salary for the church's hierarchical top dogs. i guess it is a complete and practical guarantee that they will repackage or otherwise essentially internally 'launder' the tithing contributions to make the claim that tithes are not what is used
The church has absolutely used tithed funds for things such as salary for church employees, debt servicing, operation expenditures. The church even used to as part of general conference report on the church's debt situation to members as a way to shame the leadership into running a tighter ship. Starting in 1959 the church's financials stopped being made public. But they are transparent in Canada and in the UK.

But the fact remains today that nobody has managed to actually demonstrate or prove that any one church leader is being paid outside of what the church has declared it does pay; living expenses.

That they can posit all sorts of scenarios where there could be theoretical salaries paid without outside observers being the wiser doesn't prove it's own point, only give cause for concern (A concern I share), I've never heard a satisfactory explanation for why the church keeps its' books closed in the first place.

That said I don't see anybody leaking documents demonstrating financial fraud. I don't see people leaving the church over the issue. I don't see the leaders spending these millions of dollars they've allegedly paid themselves. But I do see the church spending its money on projects that provide charitable relief or a reasonable return on investment. I do see its internal auditing department affirm funds are being used correctly.

I'll reiterate that the present situation lends itself well to corruption. I haven't yet seen that corruption however. So at present I worry that it will come up, but I'm not willing to just assume it's a foregone conclusion. I believe these men are exceptionally virtuous in many respects. I am hopeful that they will continue to be so.

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Jon Boy
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quote:
I've literally never heard before that claim of "sacredness" made regarding the church's finances and books.
Really? From the LDS Church's page on tithing:

quote:
Church members give their tithing donations to local leaders. These local leaders transmit tithing funds directly to the headquarters of the Church, where a council determines specific ways to use the sacred funds. This council is comprised of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric. Acting according to revelation, they make decisions as they are directed by the Lord. (See D&C 120:1.)

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Rakeesh
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Actually, the fact that finances aren't secret in the UK and Canada and yet are in the United States is either very peculiar (because what benign circumstances might explain secrecy here but not elsewhere?), or disturbing.

Also, not to beat a dead horse or anything, but the defense 'I haven't seen corruption' is pretty paltry when you are kept from one of if not the biggest thing used to sniff out corruption.

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JanitorBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Jon Boy:
quote:
I've literally never heard before that claim of "sacredness" made regarding the church's finances and books.
Really? From the LDS Church's page on tithing:

quote:
Church members give their tithing donations to local leaders. These local leaders transmit tithing funds directly to the headquarters of the Church, where a council determines specific ways to use the sacred funds. This council is comprised of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric. Acting according to revelation, they make decisions as they are directed by the Lord. (See D&C 120:1.)

I've heard tithed funds called sacred lots of times, I can see how I might be engendering confusion.

But I've never heard of the church,

1: Referring to all funds it manages as sacred. Certainly not its investments.

2: Indicate that the attribute of sacredness requires that the finances be kept from the scrutiny of the world like other sacred things such as temple ceremonies.

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JanitorBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
Actually, the fact that finances aren't secret in the UK and Canada and yet are in the United States is either very peculiar (because what benign circumstances might explain secrecy here but not elsewhere?), or disturbing.

Also, not to beat a dead horse or anything, but the defense 'I haven't seen corruption' is pretty paltry when you are kept from one of if not the biggest thing used to sniff out corruption.

I'll concede that the secret nature of the church's books makes it harder to prove corruption. But there are plenty of corrupt organizations that have secret books and people find out about that corruption.

Anyway, I'm not defending the fact the finances are kept secret as I don't know why it is, and the church does not discuss why it does so.

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Rakeesh
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Isn't most corruption discovered because either a) someone was specifically looking into that person or institution or b) in the course of ordinary financial reporting, flags were raised and then a happened?

As for the split in secrecy of finances, I wonder if a possible explanation might be that various businesses the church owns and operates are governed by American laws? Which would make secrecy convenient for a number of things. I don't mean to default to suspicion-truly, I don't-but I am drawing a total blank on why it would be important to have the finances secret here but not elsewhere. Though now that I think about it, it may not be legal in Canada and the U.K. to have such secret records.

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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by JanitorBlade:
[Their executive officer roles are secondary to their roles as ordained leaders of the church by God. One of the major principles our church espouses is that the ministry are not paid so as to avoid priestcraft. I already have iffy feelings about leaders of the church writing books about the gospel that are then sold in church bookstores because I feel strongly about the gospel not costing any investigator money nor any person profiting from it directly.

If I felt my tithed funds were ending up in their personal savings accounts, I would be very upset. It is because I believe that these billions of dollars in revenue are invested in vehicles that further the mission of the church as a whole and not an individual's pocket book that I am OK with the church engaging in investment outside of what it does with tithed funds which are considered sacred and only to be used in specific charitable ways.

But neither of these sources of funds should ever be *paid* to a church leaders. To the corporations employees? Yes, they should be paid salaries. To the church officers? No, absolutely not. Nothing beyond reimbursement for living expenses. My bishop gets paid nothing for his time, neither does my stake president, or my area authority, nor the Seventy, nor the Apostle, nor the First Presidency.

Church materials are quite clear on this point.

Thanks for the explanation.

I'm not sure if I'm understanding, though. The link I provided shows that these people are being re-compensated very generously for their living expenses - indeed, at a much higher standard of living than most of the US lives at. (let alone the world) Look at that list.

1 Medical expenses, including dental and eye care, though not orthodontics (except in specific cases) and cosmetic surgery (unless covered by the insurance provider);

2 Rent (usually quite upscale);

3 Living expenses proper, including utilities, food, household supplies, dry cleaning, phones, internet, dry cleaning, etc.;

4 One official car, with maintenance and gas;

5 One second official car for the wife, with maintenance and gas;

6 Clothing for the mission president and his family;

7 “Family activities” (unspecified, possibly purposefully vague);

8 Long-distance personal phone calls;

9 One round trip for each unmarried child under 26 to visit the parents out in the mission field;

10 “Modest gifts (for example, Christmas, birthdays, or anniversary)”;

11 Support for children serving full-time missions;

12 Elementary and secondary school expenses (including tuition, usually in upscale private schools, including fees, books, and materials);

13 Extra-curricular activities for the children, such as music lessons, dance lessons, sports, etc.;

14 Undergraduate tuition at an accredited college or university (tuition cap at BYU’s rate, tuition waived at Church-owned schools);

15 Part-time housekeeper/cook (20 hours/week);

16 Gardener, if necessary;

17 Income Tax and Tithing exemptions.

They're getting:

Free rent in an upscale place, all living expenses paid, two cars *with gas and maintenance included*, clothing, private school tuition and university tuition, and a frigging housekeeper, cook, and gardener.

Those are all very expensive things. It is not technically a salary since it's not money they're able to save or invest, but they're at a standard of living that probably costs $200,000 a year. At least. And those are just mission presidents, not Apostles or General Authorities or what have you.

My wife and I are very fortunate and blessed to earn a low 6 figure income, and we have nowhere near that standard of living. Granted that's because we also live off of about a third of that income, but even if we spent every penny we made, we still couldn't live like that. I couldn't afford to hire a cook and a gardener, and just having 2 kids in a nice private school would just about max me out.

And again, I'm not complaining about them making that much money - I'm sure they work tirelessly to deserve it - it just seems very odd to say "yeah, we're reimbursing them for $200,000+ a year living expenses but of course they're unpaid volunteers." That seems like it's stretching the truth pretty far.

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Samprimary
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So basically, multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars providing completely for a lavish beyond-1% upper-class lifestyle for themselves and their children, right down to cooks, housekeepers, and gardeners, and all their expenses pertaining to cars, food, clothing, medical coverage. everything.

i will again be super surprised if they aren't getting 400k worth of "living expenses" per year out of the church. Where do they live? Does chief god-conduit have a known personal residence or two?

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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
...chief god-conduit...
Every religions got em...however I don't recommend this label for discussions w/ religious folk not named BB
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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
So basically, multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars providing completely for a lavish beyond-1% upper-class lifestyle for themselves and their children, right down to cooks, housekeepers, and gardeners, and all their expenses pertaining to cars, food, clothing, medical coverage. everything.

i will again be super surprised if they aren't getting 400k worth of "living expenses" per year out of the church. Where do they live? Does chief god-conduit have a known personal residence or two?

He gets driven around in a luxury car that costs nearly $1 million. He also has a private jet at his disposal. (He and the Apostles all share 2 Gulfstreams, which is sort of a shame. You'd think they would at least get their own personal jet as a "living expense" instead of having to share)

As far as his residence: he apparently lives in an upscale condo in SLC near where he works, with a full wait staff. Nothing too fancy in that regard.

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JanitorBlade
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Dogbreath: I'm fully aware that the reimbursements general authorities are a pretty sweet deal compared to how others live. It's a valid criticism in my mind.

I also saw how my mission president lived and while it was a really nice house right in the middle of Taizhong (The church bought it a long time ago), it was a fully functioning mission office. He worked easily 60 hour weeks for three years there. Missionaries were constantly staying in the home. He was a retired military chaplain, I'm sure it was a pay cut. Was there a gardener? I think so? The building had grounds and he certainly didn't have the time to trim the hedges and put flowers in.

The church offers such generous reimbursements because they want as many people as possible to be able to serve with minimal personal financial duress. There was a time in church history where men went on missions for indeterminate periods of time (Often many years) leaving behind their families to try and make due which typically meant the community stepped in to help. It was an enormous hardship in those days. The church did not have the wherewithal to help. Now it does.

President Monson was a bishop at 22, Stake President at 27, Mission President at 31, and has been an apostle since he was 36. He's 89 now. Virtually his entire adult life he has served in the church in what could be considered a full-time capacity, without sabbaticals or extensive time off. He may control the spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars, but none of it actually belongs to him. He can't leave those funds to anybody. He doesn't own the home the church has provided for him. So he has wait staff? He's 89, his wife is dead, he nearly collapsed the last time he spoke in general conference. He probably needs living assistance. I'm happy to help pay for it.

Look, if you want to look at it with a microscope, then I'm sure the way some general authorities get reimbursed is very wasteful. Some probably eat out more than others, or buy more expensive furnishings for their homes. And those are all things we all have to give an accounting for to God one day. How we utilized the resources we had access to. I mean my mom had a general authority submit a list of foods to her he *would only* eat while in Hong Kong for the temple dedication. Obviously the list was all Western foods and could be gotten inexpensively. My mom thought it was ridiculous and ignored the list. General authorities are people, and make mistakes including financial ones. But I think they try *very* hard to be good men. Being careful with money is one of those things.

But these men have also traded out (And many of them were very successful men of means before being called to be leaders) careers and no longer earn salaries. Since they cannot earn salaries that translate into money they can leave behind to their families, I am comfortable with them being well taken care of while they are alive. There aren't going to be rich Monson heirs who inherit fortunes from tithed funds or church investments.

quote:
(He and the Apostles all share 2 Gulfstreams, which is sort of a shame. You'd think they would at least get their own personal jet as a "living expense" instead of having to share)

Gulfstreams that were donated to the church by rich members. And not in exchange for favors. And not because leaders of the church were out shopping for jets. Jets used for church business, not because they want to catch their tee time in Scotland.
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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by JanitorBlade:
[QB]
President Monson was a bishop at 22, Stake President at 27, Mission President at 31, and has been an apostle since he was 36. He's 89 now. Virtually his entire adult life he has served in the church in what could be considered a full-time capacity, without sabbaticals or extensive time off. He may control the spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars, but none of it actually belongs to him. He can't leave those funds to anybody. He doesn't own the home the church has provided for him. So he has wait staff? He's 89, his wife is dead, he nearly collapsed the last time he spoke in general conference. He probably needs living assistance. I'm happy to help pay for it.

I don't have a problem with the renumberation that a large organization chooses to give to its leaders. I find it laughable, however, when Mormon's denigrate other denominations for paying a salary to people who follow a similar life trajectory to what you've described here, when the salary amounts to considerably less than the "living expenses" described.
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Dogbreath
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BlackBlade:

You're being rather dogged in consistently missing the point here. As I've already emphatically stated twice, I have no problem with how much they make. Seriously, I've told you I'm fine with them being paid large sums of money for their "living expenses", I have no problem with their opulent lifestyles. Like, if right now President Monson was on his 300 foot yacht in the Bahamas snorting coke and partying with strippers, I would just say "rock on dude!" - I really don't care how much money he makes or how he chooses to spend it.

What I do have a problem with, and the point you keep missing, is that it's ridiculous, hypocritical, and, worst of all for those who tithe, deceptive to say these are "unpaid positions" when Church leaders are being compensated hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for their work. Living expenses absolutely count as payment. I happen to know this because a substantial part of my salary at a job I held was a cost of living allowance to compensate me for my high rent and utilities payments in Hawaii, and it was both advertised as part of my compensation and (regrettably) treated as such by the government when I paid taxes a few weeks ago.

It's like... ok, I volunteer at a homeless shelter occasionally. If in response to me volunteering, they started cutting me a check for my rent, it wouldn't be a volunteer position then, would it? And I don't think you could honestly call that an unpaid position at that point. And yet you seem to have no problem with saying that people who are paid enough money to maintain an incredibly high standard of living are somehow "unpaid" because they're technically not supposed to invest that money. (whether they do or not is between them and their conscience, it's not something I'm judging)

Or rather, do you consider the money you make that you spend on your rent as not being your salary? Like if you take home $5000/month and you spend every penny of it on living expenses, do you tell people you work for free?

Edit: Another way to look at it: 62% of Americans now live paycheck to paycheck - meaning they have little to no savings, and spend just as much as they make on living expenses. (quite disturbingly, some spend more than they make and are getting deeper and deeper in debt each year) Would you call all of them unpaid volunteers, since they're not able to save or invest either? And keep in mind that very few of them have cooks, housekeepers, gardeners, or kids in top-notch private schools.

[ March 26, 2016, 01:08 PM: Message edited by: Dogbreath ]

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Rakeesh
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As with others, I would not have any issue with the pay (call it compensation or living expenses as you like) at all except for the context the church attempts to establish for it. That context seems to me to be one of selfless, virtuous, godly men* sacrificing and enduring for the good of their fellow man on behalf of God.

But the difficulty is that while this very well may be true, even in every case actually, where it's not true is in respect to the sorts of living expenses/compensation these men receive in return for (or so that they may continue, choose your own description). But the Church seems to invest some effort in perpetuating this story.

Where do the church leaders have to go and with what unexpected urgency do they need to travel that commercial airlines cannot get them there? Super deluxe first class, even, since hard travel can be a burden to the elderly. How much would a single flight in a lear jet run, much less keeping it in operation? If you deduct the cost of all of the first class flights that could have been taken versus the cost of acquiring and operating such an aircraft, how many hungry could have been fed even in the United States, never mind elsewhere where it's much more inexpensive to do so. How many schools could have been built, how much clean water supplied that would actually, very quickly, save lives? How many poor and needy could be helped instead of having a family have, for example, a full wait staff?

My problem with this arrangement isn't that the church leaders are paid/living expensed so well. It's in the things the church says about itself and its leaders around it, and the way they make it much more difficult if not impossible for their own members to see if they're telling the truth about themselves.

They claim to be in direct working relationships with the man who is actually God's prophet on earth. Alright. I wonder, was God whispering something about 'sell the jet, build a water treatment plant somewhere...' To me a question like that is certainly a gotcha question, but it's made a fair question by the fact of the church's use of its own missionary and charitable work for the purposes of proseltyzing and publicity.

They have invited these sorts of high standards on themselves, by making a point to claim for themselves the qualities of charity, humility, and decency.

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Rakeesh
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Another way to put it: it's not a useful way to go about life, considering everyone guilty of corruption until proven innocent. However, if someone claims they are not only corrupt but are actually quite virtuous and yet they're standing next to a fortified bunker into which outsiders aren't allowed to see-or even their own members-and it is out of this bunker from which many of the good things they do come, and into which the tithes of their members to do good go...

Well. The proper response to a claim of virtue in such a case might not be doubt, but it is certainly skepticism. You should be skeptical of any claim anyone makes if they have ensured it cannot be confirmed or denied.

*Are there any positions for which the living expenses of women are paid, aside from 'married to someone who has such a position'?

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JanitorBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by JanitorBlade:
[QB]
President Monson was a bishop at 22, Stake President at 27, Mission President at 31, and has been an apostle since he was 36. He's 89 now. Virtually his entire adult life he has served in the church in what could be considered a full-time capacity, without sabbaticals or extensive time off. He may control the spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars, but none of it actually belongs to him. He can't leave those funds to anybody. He doesn't own the home the church has provided for him. So he has wait staff? He's 89, his wife is dead, he nearly collapsed the last time he spoke in general conference. He probably needs living assistance. I'm happy to help pay for it.

I don't have a problem with the renumberation that a large organization chooses to give to its leaders. I find it laughable, however, when Mormon's denigrate other denominations for paying a salary to people who follow a similar life trajectory to what you've described here, when the salary amounts to considerably less than the "living expenses" described.
And that seems reasonable to me. I hope I've never denigrated clergy members who are paid for their services. Have I?

I would point out that a living expense is still fundamentally different than a salary. Reimbursed living expenses do not incentivize one to do things with a personal monetary goal in mind. If nobody draws a salary but your living expenses are covered your decision making rubric is improved IMHO.

Of course I'm not saying that paid clergy all make decisions because of the effect on their pocketbooks.

------

Dogbreath:
quote:
You're being rather dogged in consistently missing the point here. As I've already emphatically stated twice, I have no problem with how much they make. Seriously, I've told you I'm fine with them being paid large sums of money for their "living expenses", I have no problem with their opulent lifestyles. Like, if right now President Monson was on his 300 foot yacht in the Bahamas snorting coke and partying with strippers, I would just say "rock on dude!" - I really don't care how much money he makes or how he chooses to spend it.
It appears you too are doggedly missing my point then. Because I *do* care about both of those things. If I felt President Monson was purchasing things like yachts for his personal use, I *would* have a serious problem.

quote:
What I do have a problem with, and the point you keep missing, is that it's ridiculous, hypocritical, and, worst of all for those who tithe, deceptive to say these are "unpaid positions" when Church leaders are being compensated hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for their work. Living expenses absolutely count as payment. I happen to know this because a substantial part of my salary at a job I held was a cost of living allowance to compensate me for my high rent and utilities payments in Hawaii, and it was both advertised as part of my compensation and (regrettably) treated as such by the government when I paid taxes a few weeks ago.
There's nothing deceptive about making the distinction. When I was a missionary I wasn't *paid*. My rent was covered by the church, but I did not get to choose my own lodgings. I was given an allowance for food and mission related materials. If I needed something (Like say a new bicycle), I made a paper request, the office approved or modified it, they gave me a set amount of funds to buy a bike, and I used the bike. When I finished my mission, the bike was returned to the mission. If I had excess funds at the end of my mission (I did) I returned those funds to the mission office.

I personally didn't get to hold onto one church dollar during my time as a missionary. Did I buy film for my camera and develop photos that I kept? Yes. Did I buy small keepsakes in Taiwan that I took home. Could we technically say I was being *paid*, just in photographs and souvenirs? I guess, but that's not how most people mean "paid". I was not being "compensated" for my time and efforts. The general authorities are not being compensated. They do not have vast sums of church dollars that they can simply spend how they wish.

quote:
It's like... ok, I volunteer at a homeless shelter occasionally. If in response to me volunteering, they started cutting me a check for my rent, it wouldn't be a volunteer position then, would it?
It would (to me) if you spent all your time there and could not hold a full-time job because of the commitment you made to the place you were volunteering at.

quote:

And yet you seem to have no problem with saying that people who are paid enough money to maintain an incredibly high standard of living are somehow "unpaid" because they're technically not supposed to invest that money. (whether they do or not is between them and their conscience, it's not something I'm judging)

They are not *paid* enough money to maintain a high standard of living. They aren't just handed large sums of money to spend how they wish. They certainly are not given funds to invest for themselves that they then keep the returns.

Also you are intentionally using words like "incredibly high standard of living". By American standards they live quite well. But it's not right to act like there is no discernible difference between the living standard of a millionaire and a general authority.

quote:
Or rather, do you consider the money you make that you spend on your rent as not being your salary? Like if you take home $5000/month and you spend every penny of it on living expenses, do you tell people you work for free?

If you worked for a company that said, "You must live in *this* apartment, *we'll* pay the rent directly." And that was all they did for you, would you say you are being paid?

---------

Rakeesh:
quote:
My problem with this arrangement isn't that the church leaders are paid/living expensed so well. It's in the things the church says about itself and its leaders around it, and the way they make it much more difficult if not impossible for their own members to see if they're telling the truth about themselves.
I've said repeatedly that is something I don't understand and feel concerned about. Being a missionary and seeing how my mission president lived does do a lot to help me see how the system works at that level, and that there is certainly reasonable to believe it is like that all the way up to the top.
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Samprimary
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besides that the religion pretty clearly does the whole Men > Women thing*, the institution doesn't even really want women in the role of providing for their own living expenses and wants them to marry a man who will do that because that's man role. I can imagine between the two factors and how many positions in the church forbid women there's probably a substantial minority of the phat living expenses dosh alloted to women


*oh man! incendiary proclamation! but truuuuueeee

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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by JanitorBlade:
It appears you too are doggedly missing my point then. Because I *do* care about both of those things. If I felt President Monson was purchasing things like yachts for his personal use, I *would* have a serious problem.

I realize you care. But you're arguing to me how their large incomes are justified when I don't really think they aren't justified.


quote:
It would (to me) if you spent all your time there and could not hold a full-time job because of the commitment you made to the place you were volunteering at.
lol, no, it would mean my full-time job was working there. You know, since they're paying me to do it.

quote:
Also you are intentionally using words like "incredibly high standard of living". By American standards they live quite well. But it's not right to act like there is no discernible difference between the living standard of a millionaire and a general authority.
You're being absurd. I know several millionaires. Two of my uncles are millionaires, my landlords are millionaires, my mother and father in law are millionaires. (as are my FIL's parents) None of them have cooks or gardeners, only one has a housekeeper, none of them sent their kids to private schools. They're millionaires precisely because they didn't spend a lot of money for a long period of time, and were they to live the exorbitant lifestyle of a Mormon general authority, they would quickly stop being millionaires.

I would say the Church leadership has around the same lifestyle as a high 7 figure/low 8 figure millionaire. Not 9 figure yacht-buying millionaire, but they live at a higher standard of living than any millionaires I know.

quote:
If you worked for a company that said, "You must live in *this* apartment, *we'll* pay the rent directly." And that was all they did for you, would you say you are being paid?
Yes! Of course I would!

I got a job offer in Kuwait where I would have been given an apartment owned by the company, and given a company car to drive, and they included the price of both in the overall compensation package. When I was in the military, when I lived in the barracks or a squadbay, the cost to the government to house me there - as well as the amount they spent for my meals at the galley, the amount they spent for my dental and medical insurance, my cost of living allowance, the amount they spent for my uniform allowance, etc. - was all factored in to my overall compensation down to the exact dollar amounts. I got sent those statements every month.

The federal government of the US very clearly considers things like a company furnishing your rent, car, food, etc. as income, as does literally every company and organization in the U.S. If they didn't, you would see companies left and right paying their employees "living expenses" less a big chunk of their salaries as a means of tax evasion. You're literally making up a definition of compensation that is apparently not used outside of the Mormon church just to try and justify the false statement of "the church doesn't have paid positions." Don't you see how ridiculous that is?

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JanitorBlade
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Dogbreath:
quote:
I realize you care. But you're arguing to me how their large incomes are justified when I don't really think they aren't justified.
OK.

quote:
lol, no, it would mean my full-time job was working there. You know, since they're paying me to do it.
No, I'm sorry. You're not being paid. Your expenses are being paid for so you can continue to help over there. You are not being given a rent check because it has anything to do with the value of the service you are providing. You are not being compensated. You seem to be looking at this from this perspective,

"Because I have experience working for an agency where my living costs were part of my total compensation package, they are no different than the salary they paid me as part of that package. It's all dollars and cents anyway."

Is that accurate?

quote:
You're literally making up a definition of compensation that is apparently not used outside of the Mormon church just to try and justify the false statement of "the church doesn't have paid positions." Don't you see how ridiculous that is?
So when I used myself as an example, are you claiming all Mormon missionaries are paid employees of the church?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
are you claiming all Mormon missionaries are paid employees of the church?
My understanding is that missionaries actually pay for their own keep.
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JanitorBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
are you claiming all Mormon missionaries are paid employees of the church?
My understanding is that missionaries actually pay for their own keep.
Missionaries all pay a set monthly amount regardless of their cost of living. Some pay personally, others have parents that pay.
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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by JanitorBlade:
No, I'm sorry. You're not being paid. Your expenses are being paid for so you can continue to help over there. You are not being given a rent check because it has anything to do with the value of the service you are providing. You are not being compensated.

This is blatantly incorrect. If someone is paying your rent in exchange for work you do, then you are being compensated for that work. And yes, you pay income tax on that. If you don't, you are committing tax fraud.

You are making up a definition of "compensation" that do not align with reality. Or even with the dictionary.

quote:
You seem to be looking at this from this perspective,

"Because I have experience working for an agency where my living costs were part of my total compensation package, they are no different than the salary they paid me as part of that package. It's all dollars and cents anyway."

A) I never said it's no different than salary.

B) It's not just "an agency", it's literally any company or organization in the US. Because that's the law. Once again:

The federal government of the US very clearly considers things like a company furnishing your rent, car, food, etc. as income, as does literally every company and organization in the U.S. If they didn't, you would see companies left and right paying their employees "living expenses" less a big chunk of their salaries as a means of tax evasion.


quote:
Is that accurate?
No.

quote:
So when I used myself as an example, are you claiming all Mormon missionaries are paid employees of the church?
quote:
Originally posted by JanitorBlade:
Missionaries all pay a set monthly amount regardless of their cost of living. Some pay personally, others have parents that pay.

I think you answered your own question here.
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JanitorBlade
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Dogbreath:
quote:
This is blatantly incorrect. If someone is paying your rent in exchange for work you do, then you are being compensated for that work. And yes, you pay income tax on that. If you don't, you are committing tax fraud.

You are making up a definition of "compensation" that do not align with reality. Or even with the dictionary.

I'm not sure why you are beholding me to IRS tax practices as if they were the final word on a subject when we discuss what people mean when they use words.

The general authorities live in church provided housing. The housing belongs to the church. There isn't a landlord being paid rents in many cases. It's not really much different than a parent letting their kid stay in their basement for free. The kid wouldn't be required to declare some sort of value for the rent they weren't paying as income.

quote:
I never said it's no different than salary.
OK, then I'm misunderstanding you. One of the major things I am saying is that I don't believe the general authorities are or should be paid a salary.

quote:
The federal government of the US very clearly considers things like a company furnishing your rent, car, food, etc. as income, as does literally every company and organization in the U.S. If they didn't, you would see companies left and right paying their employees "living expenses" less a big chunk of their salaries as a means of tax evasion.
Again I'm not sure how I got us to a discussion about what the US government considers "income". I've been trying to talk exclusively about two concepts. "Salary" and "Living Expenses."

It is important to me that the former not exist insofar as general authorities are concerned, and I do not consider the latter to be essentially the same thing as the former, which you have indicated neither do you.

quote:
I think you answered your own question here.
You might reasonably think that. But you'd be wrong. The amount of money missionaries or their parents pay into the system is typically less than they take out. The church subsidizes the difference with donations to the missionary fund as well as directing money from investments into that same fund.

So a missionary may be paying $400 (The general cost) a month, but expend far more than that amount in the course of their duties. So are missionaries in effect really getting an income equal to their living costs less the $400 a month?

I don't think most people would consider that system as the missionaries having an income.

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Stone_Wolf_
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As far as I've heard...income tax was to be a temporary war time expedient...and then...bam...government decided to keep it up...

Income tax is BAD.

Sales tax is good

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Samprimary
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the actual story:

the first income tax in the US was for the civil war, but it was not kept up after the war. the first income taxation used in peacetime was in 1894 as part of a thing called the Wilson-Gorman tariff.

because of various issues with income taxation re: constitutionality, the us then passed a constitutional amendment which said "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." And so, you have income taxation.

Income taxation is better than sales tax unless you like severely regressive tax schemes which put the primary burden on working class people and allow runaway wealth gains among the wealthy.

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Samprimary
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anyway the most interesting part of the discussion thus far is that while I think none of the rest of us actually think it's unreasonable for the mormon church's head honchos to get enough dosh to live super rich, we just think it's ridiculous to pretend that they aren't effectively being paid for their positions or claim that the church has no paid positions.

additionally i mean if you compare the mormon church to the heads of various other sects i would be pretty sure that the mormon church higher ups have a downright modest lifestyle compared to the televangelist-esque largesse that so many others have taken by their leaders.

but at the same time i guess i have to remember that Mormon, Inc is huge and they are by now effectively a giant socioeconomic enterprise of significant power.

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Stone_Wolf_
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I love Hatrack...I ALWAYS learn something.

It's amazing how little I know in my thirties vs how much I thought I knew in my twenties.

Thanks all

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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by JanitorBlade:
'm not sure why you are beholding me to IRS tax practices as if they were the final word on a subject when we discuss what people mean when they use words.

*blink* You don't understand why I would use the legal and dictionary definition of a word like "compensation" to discuss what people mean when they use that word? Seriously?

quote:
The general authorities live in church provided housing. The housing belongs to the church. There isn't a landlord being paid rents in many cases. It's not really much different than a parent letting their kid stay in their basement for free. The kid wouldn't be required to declare some sort of value for the rent they weren't paying as income.
1) If said kid was receiving that rent-free income (along with college tuition, free plane tickets, food, a cook, gardener, housekeeper, etc...) with the explicit understanding that he's getting it in exchange for working at his parent's company, then it absolutely is income. It's compensation for work being done. If he's getting it just because his parents are willing to let him crash there, then it's obviously not.

2) The Church is not a family, nor does it constitute a family unit or a household.

3) There's a huge gap between hundreds of thousands of dollars of "living expenses" being paid for everything you could possibly think of and "crashing in your parents basement for free."

quote:
OK, then I'm misunderstanding you. One of the major things I am saying is that I don't believe the general authorities are or should be paid a salary.
Nope, you don't get to move the goalposts like that. It's not a "misunderstanding", you know very well that I explicitly stated that the living expenses are not a salary at the beginning of this discussion. What you said is they are not being compensated.

quote:
]Again I'm not sure how I got us to a discussion about what the US government considers "income". I've been trying to talk exclusively about two concepts. "Salary" and "Living Expenses."
No you haven't. You explicitly said that they aren't paid or compensated. If you've realized you were wrong to say that, then just admit you were.

quote:
You might reasonably think that. But you'd be wrong. The amount of money missionaries or their parents pay into the system is typically less than they take out. The church subsidizes the difference with donations to the missionary fund as well as directing money from investments into that same fund.
How do you know that? The actual leaked documents seem to indicate that money is really going to pay for the mission presidents' "living expenses." (housekeeper, kids tuition, flights, cook, cars, etc.)

quote:
So a missionary may be paying $400 (The general cost) a month, but expend far more than that amount in the course of their duties. So are missionaries in effect really getting an income equal to their living costs less the $400 a month?

I don't think most people would consider that system as the missionaries having an income.

Of course not. At best they're getting a subsidized rate on their mission. If the Church leaders were largely paying their own "living expenses" out of pocket and, say, getting free flights and hotel rooms when travelling to work for the church, then that would be an equivalent situation. (I get free hotel rooms, flights, and use my company card to pay for food when travelling for work)

What's actually happening is they're getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for every imaginable "living expense" - including luxuries like private cooks that most people don't have - to replace all the things that a salary would normally provide someone. And that's not a bad thing, it's actually probably a very good thing and necessary for the Church to attract high-quality leadership, but it is a thing. And compensating or "reimbursing" someone with a standard of living only experienced by maybe the top half of the top 1% of Americans and then claiming they are unpaid volunteers is just absurd equivocation. It's also a straight up lie in both the dictionary and legal definition of compensation.

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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:


additionally i mean if you compare the mormon church to the heads of various other sects i would be pretty sure that the mormon church higher ups have a downright modest lifestyle compared to the televangelist-esque largesse that so many others have taken by their leaders.

If your comparison is to the leaders of other denominations, whose compensation is determined by the denomination, rather than to televangelists who start their own organization and decide for themselves how to distribute the money they take in, I think you're wrong.
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Samprimary
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to call it televangelist-esque largesse is to say that some denominations have had leaders who are getting enough cash to live extravagently wealthy, like many televangelists did/do. Some leaders of the southern baptist conference were basically paying themselves a million a year, and might still be.
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dkw
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I'm more familiar with the mainline Protestants. Salaries for the top leaders in the United Methodist, ELCA Lutheran, and United Church of Christ are all in the 100,000 - 150,000 range.
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