You see, my husband graduated from "The Lord's University" (BYU-Provo) with a prestigious degree that landed him an awesome job literally 11 months before he graduated. His income potential with that degree, because of what it is, is quite literally limitless. And that degree has worked in our favor in spades.
I'd say we're "blessed," but according to members, we'd only be being "blessed" if we were active, righteous, tithe-paying Mormons. Instead, we're apparently being cursed by Satan with money that leads us away from wanting to pay tithing...that, or tried by God with an income that will test us to see whether or not we apply it to a righteous purpose. You know, like a $4bil mall in Salt Lake.
Anyway, my husband just got a raise, and it was a good one, and though we are frugal people, it's nice to know that (for the time being!) we don't have a ton to worry about in the family financial department, and I can continue to stay home with our kids and run a household. AWESOME.
Back to the point, we're sitting on the porch talking about his raise when he notes that now we have exactly one debt: a mortgage. We used his bonus last year to pay off all remaining student debt in the Samuelson household, and without car payments, and by carrying zero-balances on our credit cards, we are (excluding a reasonable mortgage) debt-free. He then noted that the church preaches there are only two acceptable kinds of debts: a reasonable mortgage, and education. Whatever we think or feel about the church, that was sound financial advice, and we're glad to have been raised to follow it.
That said, it dawned on us about the same time WHY the church believes education to be the only acceptable form of debt...and the reasons are threefold:
- The church wants educated members so they can point to their membership as among the most educated of any church around...thereby implying that the church really is God's church.
- The church wants people to pursue a "righteous" education, meaning that BYU will grow and make money, harking back to the image of the church, of course, but also ensuring that they have control over the type of uber-conservative religious education their students receive.
- Educated people command infinitely larger salaries than the uneducated, which means educated adult members will contribute larger tithing sums.
And what happens with those third world members? They'll be educated, rising above their communities and making more money (from which to tithe) and opening businesses (to employ community members they can proselytize) and become respected "wealthy" community leaders who credit their success, income, and esteem solely to the LDS church...another proselytizing strategy.
Have you ever been to Disneyland? Being from Southern California, I have...too many times to count. Disneyland now has a very large parking structure...the largest in the world at the time it was built. It...is...amazing. It is daily filled to capacity with precision, the parking attendants moving cones, directing traffic, and smoothly, ever-so-smoothly, leading cars into perfectly aligned diagonal spaces with perfect timing and perfect smiles.
The LDS church is a Disneyland parking garage. It has been redesigned "in these latter days" with absolute Disney precision. And what is Disneyland's ultimate goal? The give your family a perfect day at the Happiest Place on Earth? NO! If that were the case, the lines for rides wouldn't be 4 hours long, the ticket prices would be cut in half, the park would be limited to half it's current "capacity", and a host of other things would make it an easy, peaceful, fun, inexpensive day. The ultimate goal of the Disney Corporation, lest we deceive ourselves, is to MAKE MONEY.
Such is the case with the LDS Corporation. Sure, go into debt for education. (You'll have to pay it back, not us.) In fact, get in debt up to your eyeballs for education, because while you're paying back half a million dollars in loans for dental school, you'll also be making $100,000 every year (to start) and forking over $10k in tithing...which tithing might cover a small portion of the cost of the City Creek Mall's electric bill this month, or might help persuade a minority female to take a position at BYU to bolster the university's professorial diversity, or may even pay for some fabric to make more garments that we'll sell right back to you at $6 per article, like the Company Store of a coal mine a hundred years ago.
Of COURSE education is an "acceptable" debt to the Brethren. It inflates their yearly tax-free income.
And that's when the light bulb over my head exploded, and I was blinded by the flash of anger it emitted, and I vowed that my children's children would never even hear the letters "B", "Y", and "U" strung together in that order.
I'll pay for Harvard, thanks.