These two verses in the Book of Mormon seem to declare and obvious cause and effect, something that Adam Smith discovered and described in The Wealth of Nations:
And it came to pass that the Lamanites did also go whithersoever they would, whether it were among the Lamanites or among the Nephites; and thus they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and to sell, and to get gain, according to their desire.
And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites; and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north. (Helaman 6:8-9)
A few verses later, it seems to endorse prosperity and industry as the key to peace:
And behold, there was all manner of gold in both these lands, and of silver, and of precious ore of every kind; and there were also curious workmen, who did work all kinds of ore and did refine it; and thus they did become rich.
They did raise grain in abundance, both in the north and in the south; and they did flourish exceedingly, both in the north and in the south. And they did multiply and wax exceedingly strong in the land. And they did raise many flocks and herds, yea, many fatlings.
Behold their women did toil and spin, and did make all manner of cloth, of fine-twined linen and cloth of every kind, to clothe their nakedness. And thus the sixty and fourth year did pass away in peace. (Helaman 6:11-13)
Indeed, it wasn’t the riches that lead to their subsequent downfall, it was the love of their riches (rather than God and each other.)
For behold, the Lord had blessed them so long with the riches of the world that they had not been stirred up to anger, to wars, nor to bloodshed; therefore they began to set their hearts upon their riches; yea, they began to seek to get gain that they might be lifted up one above another; therefore they began to commit secret murders, and to rob and to plunder, that they might get gain. (Helaman 6:17)
When members of the LDS church talk about the secret of prosperity lying in individual righteousness, this is what they are referring to. If we set out into the world with intent to love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves, then capitalism is the natural result. We won’t need government programs for the poor because we’ll have more than enough wealth to go around. People will naturally apply themselves to whatever job they decide on, and will naturally build the wealth that is needed not only to eliminate poverty, but to build a lasting peace.
The problem arise when people begin to value wealth over God, themselves, or their neighbors. When this happens, then it is only natural to see why you’d go about hurting people to make your money, even killing those who stand in your way. War is a natural result, because if you’re willing to kill one person, you’re capable of killing many to achieve your desires.
Wealth doesn’t cause wickedness any more than poverty causes righteousness. The two concepts are completely orthogonal one to another, meaning that there are endless combinations of relative righteousness and relative poverty.
One cautionary note: Note that when people attack the “rich” and want to “punish” them to help the poor, they are no different than those who value wealth over people. They falsely ascribe maliciousness to people who simply have done well for themselves, and then prescribe injustice as the cure. This is just as bad as a rich man who abuses the poor to get what he wants out of them, such as an employer who hires people far below the wage they deserve! (Thee are scriptures condemning both actions; both are a sign of pride or a lack of love for fellow men.)
I would love to live in a society where we have groups of insanely wealthy people, groups of extraordinarily wealthy people, and groups of fantastically wealthy people, with no poor among them. In this society, it would be no burden to see that even the least among us, those who are incapable of communication and bound to wheelchairs, would be treated with the highest level of attention and care. If anyone had any lack, they could simply ask the nearest person for assistance, who would not only freely share his substance but help of all forms because he has no real needs that are not met and exceeded.
As long as people in this society put God, their neighbors, and themselves even, above wealth, there would be no wars, no contention, no conflict of any kind, just industrious people trying to create ever more vast sums of wealth to satisfy their desires and the desires of the people around them, as well as to glorify God. This is what I imagine Zion to be, and the reason why in the future paradisaical world we would have buildings encrusted with rare gems and precious metals, and why we would have fantastic gardens of unimaginable beauty: the people on the earth would have so much wealth that providing such luxuries to their communities would hardly be a sacrifice, and that every pressing matter of higher importance than what to put on the walls of our buildings would be taken care of.