Ezra Taft Benson Predicts Economic Collapse of 2008-2009

The following article was posted recently at SimpleUtahMormonPolitics.com

Ezra Taft Benson, thirteenth prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was one of the greatest statesmen that has ever lived. Not only was he prophetic when it came to spiritual things, he was equally prescient when it comes to economic issues. I have read several times the economic warnings of President Benson, but his warnings have never rung more true than now--when we are in the midst of suffering for failing to heed his warnings.

Recently I wrote about the prophetic mantle of Gordon B. Hinckley as regards the world economy. With similar prophetic insight, Ezra Taft Benson authored The Red Carpet in 1962, and in 1969, he penned An Enemy Hath Done This. What follows are selections from those two books. Warning: If you feel a sense of dizzying deja vu, don't be surprised.

Care for a stimulus package, anyone? How about a bailout? When you read the following axiom from Benson, the futility of such economic silliness will make perfect sense to you.

A nation cannot spend itself into prosperity. Nor can we preserve our prosperity and our free-enterprise system by following a reckless policy of spending beyond our income...

The Red Carpet, p. 167
Do you ever wonder why Americans have become so conditioned to spend themselves into drunken oblivion? It's because we've been encouraged to do so by the profligate monetary policies of our government Treasury and quasi-government organizations, such as the Federal Reserve.
Few policies are more capable of destroying the moral, political, and social basis of a free society than the debauching of its currency.

An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 211
Free enterprise = corporations, right? No--not very often anymore. If it was bad enough in the 1960's for Benson to write the following, imagine how bad it must be today.
...corporate entities seem to lack that social consciousness proportionate to their power and the privileges granted them by the state. Some...still fail to recognize that there are social and spiritual values...that should be considered in their operations.

The Red Carpet, p. 119
In his recent book, Bad Money, Kevin Phillips observed the insanity of the United States having nearly completely replaced its manufacturing capability with a non-productive financial sector. Forty-six years ago, Ezra Taft Benson warned against such foolishness.
In the long run, a nation enjoys in the form of goods and services only what it produces.

The Red Carpet, pp. 116-117
It has been common for economic analysts to predict that the current economic collapse will ultimately be "great"er than The Great Depression. For statesmen like Benson, this was not hard to predict almost fifty years ago.
We must reverse our present dangerous fiscal policies. If we fail to do so, we will set off an international monetary debacle that could easily make the experience of the 1930's sink into insignificance.

The Red Carpet, p. 308
Much of our program of letting the government pay for it "can be described as an attempt to better yourself by increasing your pay and then sending yourself the bill."

The Red Carpet, p. 221
Ron Paul, among others, from a closer vantage point in time, had been warning about the obviousness of the pending economic collapse, although hardly anyone would listen. But it takes a prophet to notice, from five decades hence, the obviousness of something the likes of which nearly everyone else observed only when it began affecting them personally. Part of Benson's prophecy is still yet future, however. Are we stupid enough to simply count him lucky in what he has correctly "predicted" so far?
The pending economic crisis that now faces America is painfully obvious. If even a fraction of potential foreign claims...were presented to the Treasury...the rush to get rid of dollars would rapidly accelerate the visible effects of inflation... Uncertainty over the future would cause the consumer to halt...spending. ...problems of unemployment and low production will be compounded by a monetary system that will be utterly worthless.

An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 216
Benson taught that free choice should always prevail, and that along these lines, government should never insinuate unfairness between business and labor unions. Yet with recent financial and automotive bailouts, this is precisely what's happening. Big business and labor bosses are getting the cream of the crop, and the rest of us get to pay for their indulgences.
My conscience forbids me to consent to granting exclusive privileges to either business or labor unions. ...the power of government should never...force it one way or the other.

An Enemy Hath Done This, pp. 237-239
What's the antidote? Free enterprise, says Benson, which we haven't experienced too much of lately.
The welfare state...not only fails to provide the economic security sought for, but [it] always ended in slavery---and it always will.

The Red Carpet, p. 308
We abolished slavery once in America. Now, unfortunately without most of us even noticing it, slavery is coming back in vogue.


Stephanie said...

the insanity of the United States having nearly completely replaced its manufacturing capability with a non-productive financial sector

I think this is the key. The financial sector has "created" money - created wealth from nothing. The problem is that when it comes down to it, there is really nothing there, and that is what we are seeing. A collapse of an illusion.

The Faithful Dissident said...

Frank, thanks for an interesting post. However, I just want to point out something that I feel is important.

Yes, Ezra Taft Benson was a skilled politician and no doubt a smart and educated man. As well, he did go on to become prophet. But I think it's extremely important to make the distinction between a man or politician expressing his personal political opinions in a book -- which may or may not be correct (in this case he may have been right about a lot of things) -- and true prophetic teachings like we find in the scriptures.

You said in your post, "it takes a prophet to notice, from five decades hence..." and, "(P)art of Benson's prophecy..."

But Ezra Taft Benson was not Prophet/President Ezra Taft Benson in the 60's. Even if he was, a prophet writing a book does not automatically qualify it to be prophetic teaching or doctrine. Therefore, I think it's misleading to portray such books as prophetic. Educational, interesting, accurate, sure. I would even possibly give him an "inspired." But not "prophetic." Even if I agreed 100% with Benson's politics, I wouldn't consider such a book to be prophetic or doctrinal. Those are pretty sticky terms.

Just my opinion.

Frank Staheli said...


It was the carefully crafted illusion--that has caused similar financial collapses at other times throughout history--that our advanced society could provide value by pushing funny money around. (See Kevin Phillips's book entitled "Bad Money")


To an extent I can see your point. I can go with "inspired". It's probably important to point out, however, that nothing regarding his 1960's insight in these two books changed as he became prophet. He was a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles when the books were written, and although he at the time was not authorized to speak as "The Prophet" for the whole church, he nonetheless possessed with his apostolic calling the title of "prophet, seer, and revelator."

The Faithful Dissident said...

True that he had been called as an apostle already, but he also proclaimed the civil rights movement to be a "communist program." I debated about this on my own blog a while back and although I got a better historical understanding as to why he thought Martin Luther King was part of a communist team, it's disappointing to me that anyone ever could have believed that to be "inspired."

Scott said...

@ FD & Frank,

FD is very wise (I think) in saying that terms like "prophetic" and "doctrinal" are a bit dangerous; although "prophetic" alone need not be--it just means you predicted something and it came true--in an LDS context, "Prophetic" takes on a whole new meaning. Even "inspired", while certainly less burdensome than "doctrinal" leaves you in the un-fun position of explaining how all of the other members of the 12 who so utterly disagreed with Benson's writings were "uninspired" in doing so.

That said, I agree with the sentiments about Benson's awesomely-awesome policy and foresight. One of my favorite, and less-known, talks is from a BYU address here.
Painful stuff.

Stephanie said...

That is a really good one, Scott. Thanks for sharing.

Frank Staheli said...


That is one of my favorite talks, next to "The Constitution a Heavenly Banner" that he gave in 1987 at BYU.

Having read so much of Benson's works as a teen/twenty-something, I was surprised when recently my mother came across this talk and, although it was very inspiring to her as well, it was new to her.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly unnoticed by the less read bloggers is the "mandate" given to Ezra T. Benson by the then Prophet Seer and Revelator David O McKay (President)to directly "speak out on freedom". Biography of Ezra T. Benson pgs. 372-374. And there is more. Although some have to be commanded in all things for ther judgements of inspired words based upon popularity, politics or party, there was certainly an easy way to attack such inspired boldness of principle with false statements such as "When did he say that" "Was the Prophet/Head of the Church when he said that?" or "He was too political".
Enough said, go check it out and perhaps The Faithful ? should be faithfully informed before exercising priestchraft!