Sunday, July 22, 2012

For the love of mammon

I don't know much about them, but one thing I learned recently is the Mormon Church is really good at making money:
Mormons make up only 1.4 percent of the U.S. population, but the church’s holdings are vast. First among its for-profit enterprises is DMC, which reaps estimated annual revenue of $1.2 billion from six subsidiaries, according to the business information and analysis firm Hoover’s Company Records (DNB). Those subsidiaries run a newspaper, 11 radio stations, a TV station, a publishing and distribution company, a digital media company, a hospitality business, and an insurance business with assets worth $3.3 billion.
They own land, "about 1 million acres in the continental U.S." worth well over $1 billion. And then there's their foreign holdings:
Outside the U.S., AgReserves operates in Britain, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. Its Australian property, valued at $61 million in 1997, has estimated annual sales of $276 million, according to Dun & Bradstreet.
And they own non-profits including "the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), a 42-acre tropical theme park on Oahu’s north shore that hosts luaus, canoe rides, and tours through seven simulated Polynesian villages." That's worth some $70 million. PCC’s president earns a cool $296,000 annual for running it. Hawaii finally insisted they pay state taxes but they get to skip out on federal taxes on "claims to be a 'living museum' and an education-oriented charity that employs students who work at the center to pay their way through church-run Brigham Young University-Hawaii." In fact, as a church, they get to skip out on a lot of taxes, even those related to profits from their commercial properties. Also they "don't pay taxes on donated funds and holdings."

A recent Reuters investigation estimated "the LDS Church is likely worth $40 billion today and collects up to $8 billion in tithing each year." Last spring, they spent $2 billion of that wealth building a mega-mall across the street from their giant Salt Lake City temple.
The mall includes a retractable glass roof, 5,000 underground parking spots, and nearly 100 stores and restaurants, ranging from Tiffany’s (TIF) to Forever 21. Walkways link the open-air emporium with the church’s perfectly manicured headquarters on Temple Square.
Meanwhile, SoBeale flags a piece on one of their other business enterprises, "one of the most active and unregulated gun sale websites in America. runs "classified adverts which allow individuals to buy and sell handguns and other firearms without proper background checks and no questions asked."

They list an inventory of some 6,000 items including high caliber guns. A spokesman for the website says well, they put a disclaimer on the site advising people to follow the appropriate gun laws and not to sell to kids. So they figure they're covered.
"The responsibility for the transaction is that of the parties involved," Mr Atkinson added. "This is just like any other transaction, a vehicle, a lawnmower, a bicycle."
Yes, that's exactly the same as selling Glocks, Smith & Wessons and Sigs to any random anonymous maniac with an internet connection. Guess we know now where Slippery Mitt learned his business ethics.

[Big thanks to Bill Wolfrum sitting in at Crooks and Liars Blog Roundup for kindly linking in. If you're on twitter and you're not following @Wolfrum, you should be.]

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Blogger E.A. Blair said...

Ann Romney was very self-righteous about stating that her husband "...tithes ten percent..." of his income to the Mormon church. To what good? Who benefits from all that money? How much of Romney's money went towards opposing Prop 8 in California?

What the hell do the Mormons do with all that money anyway?

12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Oddly, no one seems to know for sure. The Church's money is mostly "centralized." But the Mormons who blitzed me with email assure me they do much to help the poor. At least the poor Mormons.

1:50:00 PM  

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