Assumed Audience: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are curious about history, civilizations, and/or Zion.

Epistemic Status: Extremely confident in the priciples. The more general or high level things are, the more confident I am. I become less confident as things become more detailed.

Chapter 14: “Labor for Zion” 1

“You can’t be serious,” the man said. “You are telling me that I must run an appliance factory? That I can’t outsource that manufacturing work?”

“Yes,” Eli replied.

“Some freedom,” the man murmured.

Josiah said, “I’m not questioning this, Eli, but I am confused too.”

“That is fair,” Eli said, and then, turning to the man, he continued. “Which is why I will explain this.

“First of all, your bishop gave you the stewardship over the factory, did he not?”


“And you need to ask him and other bishops to give you employees, right?”


“In essence, by outsourcing the manufacturing, you’re trying to get around the authority of the bishops to decide the stewardships of people in their wards.

“But on top of that, outsourcing is a technique to squeeze more money out of a process; that is its entire purpose. And if that’s your purpose, you are not laboring for Zion anymore because you’re laboring for yourself.”

“There’s nothing wrong with that!” the man insisted.

“Actually, it’s definitely against the Law,” Eli said, and he opened the scriptures.

But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.

2 Nephi 26:31

“So yes, there is a direct prohibition against that in the Law.”

“Okay,” Josiah said. “But why?”

“Because bean counting, in any form, leads to poorer quality at higher cost,” Eli replied.

“Back when the United States existed, there was a company called Boeing that ostensibly manufactured airplanes. In 2001, an employee of Boeing wrote a memo that argued against outsourcing work by saying that profits are outsourced as well. And he was right, though Boeing management did not listen.

“In fact, he was more right than anyone knew; more than 20 years later, Boeing would start to have a series of accidents, including a door that blew off mid flight.

“But even if it didn’t outsource profits, that bean counting is busywork that benefits nobody except the bean counters. This goes back to when we talked about stewardships, Josiah,” Eli said. “Sure, you want to magnify your stewardship, but it cannot be at the expense of Zion; it must be to the benefit of Zion because the Master of your stewardship is also Master of Zion.

“On top of that, bean counters tend to turn companies from their true mission to bean counting. that’s how you get an aircraft manufacturer that doesn’t build airplanes and airlines that are banks.

“So bean counting is a parasitic activity, and thus, it is against the Law.

“This goes for all forms of financialization, actually, which is why we don’t have a stock market, corporations with their perverse incentives, investment banking, and venture capital.”

“So how does investment happen?”

“By someone convincing enough bishops to invest funds,” Eli said. “Just because bishops give out stewardships does not mean that a man cannot propose a stewardship for himself. It happens all the time, and yes, people can go big if they get buy-in from multiple bishops.”

There was a small pause, and the factory man spoke. “Fine, I get it, but I didn’t know that before.”

Eli thought a moment and looked at Samuel, who nodded. Eli said, “If you’ll go back to manufacturing, we’ll end it there.”

“Yes, I will do that.”

“Thank you. Joseph, is it recorded?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Splendid. We’ll be on our way. Thank you for having us.”

* * *

“So this requirement to labor for Zion is to prevent situations where nothing of value is produced?” Josiah asked.

“Goodness, you do not let a man rest,” Eli replied, laughing slightly. “Yes, but not only that; it is also for situations where something of negative value is produced.”

“Huh? Negative value?”

“Yes, absolutely,” Eli said. “Some things are negative value.

“Like alcohol or drugs; they only serve to harm the individual, which then puts pressure on Zion through the Church welfare system. Also, gambling. Any vice, really. There are others, but I’m too tired to think of them right now.”

“I can understand why vices are banned,” Josiah said, “but things of neutral value make less sense.”

“Do you like being rich?”

Josiah hesitated.

Eli chuckled. “Of course you do. That’s not a bad thing. What’s bad is if it causes you to harm others, or even refuse to help.

“But the requirement to labor for Zion is the single biggest reason Zion is the richest civilization in history.

“Think about it: you can create something from basically nothing by applying pure, productive labor. This means that labor is what builds riches.

“Well, if you have a civilization where all labor is productive, that civilization will have more of those riches than an equivalent civilization where some labor is not productive.

“And since the default in all civilizations except Zion and the City of Enoch was to have some unproductive labor, all other civilizations are less rich. Simple math, really.”