Money. Big Money.

May 14, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 8:24 pm   Category: Money and getting gain,Mormon Culture/Practices

Most of us are concerned about just making enough money to pay our bills. By contrast, there are some people in this world that are really, really rich. I have seen stats in the past that show that almost 40% of all wealth in the US is in the hands of the top 1% of wealthy people. So here is my question to you: What would you do if you were rich? I don’t mean kinda rich, I mean 8-to-9-figures rich. How would you (as a righteous citizen of Zion) handle or distribute your fabulous wealth? What could you do with that resource to actually make the world a better place?

The scriptures are replete with condemnations of the improper use of and obsession with obtaining riches. The essays in Nibley’s Approaching Zion explore these verses in painful detail. Jacob tells us obtaining riches is acceptable but with caveats:

And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good-to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. (Jacob 2:19)

So those righteous reasons to seek and obtain riches seem pretty straight forward in principle, but details are less clear. Exactly how should one clothe the naked, liberate captives, and administer to the sick and afflicted with their excess dough? If you want to keep consecration covenants and you make 10 million dollars per year do you take what you need and give the rest to fast offering? Do you divvy those millions up between the various lines on the tithing slip or do you find other methods outside of the Church to consecrate your wealth?

What do you think the best approach would be if fabulous wealth was your lot? What would you do to help the world?


  1. So what’s the deal Geoff — you holding a winning lottery ticket or something? Don’t feel bad, it could happen to anyone.

    Comment by Dave — May 14, 2005 @ 9:15 pm

  2. I would buy lots of stuff and consequently give jobs to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Somebody has to make my stuff…and fly my plane.

    Really, I think I would take care of any debt in my extended family and friends. Then I would endow research chairs at major universities and send all my friends to fill them. And then do a Hunstman – upgrade my plane and give my old one to the prophet (is that an urban legand?).

    Really, I think Huntsman soes a pretty good job. Very generous.

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 14, 2005 @ 10:33 pm

  3. I think I would take care of any debt in my extended family and friends. Then I would endow research chairs at major universities and send all my friends to fill them.

    Ah, but what about the evils of the dole the First Presidency warned against, J?

    Our primary purpose was to set up, insofar as 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 people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as a ruling principle in the lives of our Church membership. (Conference Report, October 1936, p. 3)

    I’m interested in learning more about what bro. Huntsman has done though. I’m not sure why one would need a private jet to begin with, let alone be dissatisfied with it enough to want to upgrade though…

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — May 15, 2005 @ 10:30 am

  4. If I were super-rich, I might start by paying off mortgages for people in my family.

    Comment by danithew — May 15, 2005 @ 11:54 am

  5. 1) Pay for translations of good LDS books into the 10 most common languages of the Church.

    2) Give a sizable chunk to FARMS for their graduate student support.

    3) Ditto to FAIR, which operates on a shoestring budget.

    4) Give a large chunk, (say, 50 million?) to the PEF.

    5) Give a large chunk to create scholarships for black LDS to go to BYU.

    6) Dual 30′ monitors with SLI and an Athlon 64, RAID 0+1, and speakers that can do the dusting.

    Comment by Ben S. — May 15, 2005 @ 1:42 pm

  6. I’d do what I do now — live and love my dreams, teach, preach and assist people through a tough and complicated legal system — and I’d overthrow the U.S. Gov’t and overhaul its tax system that makes slaves of people who are so blind that they don’t know they are slaves to a slavish government. Then I’d contribute about $50,000,000,000,000,000,000 and buy a presidential campaign, buy off the Senate and House (like they are now except I’d be the highest bidder), then I’d expose their corruption and argue that I should be made king of the world. Then I’d create a mind-link using the neural systems of the brain to access the internet and every other brain in existence and use the multitasking knowledge to create an anti-matter field so that I could do anything that can be done by expending energy.

    Comment by Blake — May 15, 2005 @ 2:41 pm

  7. Just to clarify Blake, are you currently overthrowing the US Gov’t?

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 15, 2005 @ 2:55 pm

  8. Gee, I wonder what’s with all the black helicopters headed towards Blake’s house?

    Comment by Kaimi — May 15, 2005 @ 3:15 pm

  9. Build a better operating system 8-)

    Comment by Daylan Darby — May 15, 2005 @ 3:52 pm

  10. Holy Smokes! That was a gnarly answer, Blake. All the more reason to avoid caffeine I guess. ;-)
    (By the way, I bet you could buy yourself the presidency, senate, and house for less than 50 quintillion. (Yeah, I bothered to count the zeros)).

    J: I think Blake qualified his answer with a big “and” before going all world-domination on us.

    Ben S.: Nice list. What good books would you start with? What would FAIR and FARMS do with loads of money that that aren’t doing now? I like the PEF idea — why spend your 50 million there instead of with straight up fast offerings?

    Daylan: Ferget about it. Submit to the MS. Resistance is futile…

    Comment by Geoff Johnston — May 15, 2005 @ 6:04 pm

  11. Blake, you’re going to need a lot more money than that. I mean, George Soros couldn’t beat Bush.

    Comment by Bryce I — May 15, 2005 @ 7:28 pm

  12. I would buy a house. They’re really expensive on the North Shore.
    No, seriously, I would spend some time figuring out how much money I thought I would need to stay influential. How much would I need to still stand out as the goofy guy that has all that stinking money and still works at that little church school in Hawaii, is faithful to his wife, hangs out and goes to the beach with his family, has a calling in a student ward bishopric, or nursery, or whatever.
    The rest I would give in the following ways:
    1. Buy my mom and dad a new home in Maine, California, and Hawaii so that they could visit any of their kids any time they want in their retirement. (The one in Hawaii could be jointly owned with the in-laws who live near all of their other children.)
    2. Do some of that debt paying. I think there is nothing bad about helping some hard-working people get out of debt they may not always have been able to avoid.
    3. Fund any missions my in-laws want to go on.
    4. Give a sizeable chunk directly to fast offerings.
    5. Fund some significant endowments for things that don’t get funded, like paying graduate students more to teach, updating infrastructre in schools in lower-income neighborhoods in states without equalized funding, funding research projects for conservative scholars in the arts and humanities, and providing financial support to religious fine artists.

    Comment by Steve H — May 16, 2005 @ 12:33 am

  13. 1. Fund microcredit organizations that I believe are well run and are making a real difference in the lives of the impoverished.

    2. Provide financing for creative individuals who have both the desire and skills to help the poor in third world countries but who lack the financing.

    3. Provide scholarships for the poor who have no access to decent education.

    Comment by Gary — May 16, 2005 @ 9:03 am

  14. How about a perpetual adoption fund for families who would like to bring more kids into their families, either from foster care or from orphanages in other countries? It could provide for adoption assistance and for counseling and medical services post-adoption. To decrease potential for abuse it should function somewhat like the PEF: borrow the funds, pay them back when you take the federal adoption tax credit.

    Just sending the idea out into the ether in case anybody reading really does have the big money …

    Comment by Ana — May 16, 2005 @ 9:58 am

  15. This article should give all LDS billionaires some ideas about how to waste that money.

    Comment by danithew — May 16, 2005 @ 11:49 am

  16. One word. Plastics.

    Comment by John C. — May 16, 2005 @ 12:28 pm

  17. I’d probably set up a lot of foundations. Both to fund scholarships and research (both often neglected) but also foundations to aid in helping people out of abuse. There’s one organization in SLC I especially like – it provides free dental care for the homeless. Little things like that can be effective. Further having a lot of money gives you a lot of control of how to target things. You can fill in cracks that tend to get neglected.

    I know many will disagree, but I’d probably fund primarily locally. There are many, many people in need of service locally. Further you have much more control in that way.

    Oh, while I’m sure many would call me a hypocrit, I’d also buy a 911 Turbo Carerra Cabriolet. Gold with black interior. And a ranch and horses for my wife.

    Comment by Clark — May 16, 2005 @ 1:28 pm

  18. Pay off my mortgage and my siblings’ mortgages. Give $10,000 a year to all my siblings, in-laws, and their spouses (avoiding gift tax). Build a house patterned after the Not So Big House book. Buy a second home that could be used by extended family for vacations. Set up a school where my wife can teach creative arts to children while charging low tuition. Set up a company where I can write whatever computer programs I want without having to worry about profitability. Give a large portion to the bishop for on-going fast offerings (are bishops allowed to manage large pools of money, or do they need to spend it asap?) Donate a lot to PEF and our alma maters (sp?). My wife would love to go to Africa or India and be like Mother Teresa. I would like to do something similar to Washington Women in Need — they pay for medical expenses and tuition for low-income women.
    If there’s anything left, I’d like to travel to places where I can climb tall mountains and look at strange stars.

    Comment by Matt Jacobsen — May 17, 2005 @ 8:08 pm