Monday, August 22, 2016

Let Us Personally Deliver Our Tax Money to Welfare Recipients

   I read this word of wisdom from a church leader: "The greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement." (Elder Wilford W. Andersen, a member of the Seventy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
    I think how it is also true that the greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more likely the giver is to develop a sense of resentment. 
   If welfare reform is important -- and I say it is -- perhaps we should revamp it with these principles in mind. I'm not sure how to go about it, but one idea would be this:
   After filing your taxes, the government would send you a check from the money you just paid. The check would be payable not to you, but to one of the needy families in your community. You, then, would have the option: You could either personally deliver the check to the needy family, or send it back to the IRS so someone else could deliver it.
   I consider on whether this would cost us much administrative overhead. In an age of computer niceties, I think it need not.
   So, as I sit here thinking about this idea, I like it. It connects the givers with the receivers. It makes citizens more a part of the process. With many givers likely to express concern for those they contribute to, it inserts love into the program. It also inserts more accountability, as the receivers will be more reflective on their situation and whether they need to remain on the welfare.
   I do see a danger: Some givers would take it as a chance to go to the receivers and condemn them. How to avoid that? I'm not sure. For one thing, though, remove them from the program if they do threaten the receivers.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

If We Lose the Voice of Religion, We Lose a Freedom

 "We cannot lose the influence of religion and religious bodies in our public life without seriously jeopardizing our freedom and prosperity."  -- Elder Dallin H. Oaks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  There are those who suggest (demand, might be more accurate) that religion be removed from the public stage. I am of a different mind. I agree with Elder Oaks. If we lose the voice of religion, we lose a vital voice. The contributions of religion to public thought are many and wonderful. That we should seek to throw out any voice is wrong, but it becomes interesting when voice being banned is the voice of religion.  
   The right of religions to speak in the public arena is one of our basic rights, or should be. If we ban the voice of religion, we lose valuable input in deciding our societal issues. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Can We Replace Some Pine Trees With Fruit Trees?

   As I consider wildfire prevention, a brother suggests that if the forest area is to be kept wet, maybe sometimes the tree species should be changed.
   Fruit trees instead of pine trees.
   My mind jumps to stories of how we are running out of enough farmland to feed a growing world population. I google, and see a National Geographic link suggesting converting tropical forests with farmland is one of the most destructive things we can do. Fine, not all forest land is tropical forest. Can we replace some pine trees with fruit trees?

Rather than Sitting Talent Down, Put Them in Same Backfield

  So, which quarterback is the started at BYU this season, Taysom Hill, who was a Heisman candidate, or Tanner Mangum, who came in when Taysom was injured and was a wonderchild as a freshman?
   How about playing them both in the same backfield, sometimes in a split shotgun with Taysom on one side and Tanner on the other? Other times, Taysom could be lined up as the halfback, and if the ball went to him, he could run or toss a halfback pass. The halfback pass has been considered a trick play, but with Taysom in the backfield, it could become a regular play.
   Don't know if anyone has ever had a two-quarterback offense, but rather than sitting talent down, play both of them at once.

Bring Our Own Officers in to Investigate the Lochte Incident

 Ryan Lochte says he should have been more candid in speaking of being robbed at gunpoint in Rio. And, the video at the gas station evidently is missing a segment, during which time Lochte and his Olympic friends were supposedly robbed.
   I find myself wondering, again, on whether to believe him. Were they robbed? Though just not exactly like Lochte originally said, but rather by being forced to pay a higher fee than the damage warranted? If they had vandalized the gas station, it would be somewhat normal to want to screen out that portion of the story. And, when he says they were robbed, was the only 'robbery' that took place when the security guards demanded that the damage be paid for?
   Is such street justice -- settling the issue before the police can arrive -- normal in Rio? Is it just? I'd make that part of the investigation. And, why did a portion of the video get omitted? That, too, should be investigated.
   It would be good to have a U.S. agency investigate, looking into things the Rio police are not likely to address. Bring the investigators in under the arm of the U.S. Embassy, perhaps, but bring them in. If bringing in our own investigators is deemed too much of an affront to the Rio police, then don't even announce you are going to investigate, and don't make the results public, but at least investigate.    Among other things, come to a conclusion as to whether Lochte should be prosecuted, or whether the street justice should be allowed to cover the situation. Come to a conclusion of whether he should be extradited and whether the U.S. is willing to participate in that extradition.
  You may suggest the U.S. should not interfere in these things, should not step on Brazil's toes. I'm of a different thought. Is street justice a good form of justice? Should it be discouraged in a fellow country? When one of our citizens becomes subject to it, do we not have the right to call for and campaign for, and work for justice?

(Blog updated, changed and added to 8/21/15)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Being Good is Knowing the Topic and Knowing How to Teach it

   If a teacher knows all about the stars, and knows how to get his message across, he should be qualified to teach astronomy. Well, maybe toss in there that he will, as well, need to know how to control a class.
  But, isn't that what a good teacher boils down to -- someone who knows his topic and knows how to teach it? So, why should we shy against hiring someone if we can see they know the topic and they know how to teach it?
   Are we going to send them back out the door, telling them, "Sorry, I need someone who carries a piece of paper you just don't have"?
   Yep, we are, and something seems wrong with that, to me.
   I do not know but what our current system of selecting teachers fails us, at times. Yes, having them go through four years of college and get teaching credentials is a way of vetting them. But, is it the best way? When it comes time to select teachers, we are not looking for those who know the most about biology or math or history, if they are going to teach biology or math or history. Instead, our focus is more on whether they went to college and are credentialed. If they did and they are, and their demeanor is found to be acceptable, they are hired. That becomes our criteria. I would guess sometimes we don't even grill them on what they know about biology or math or history. We miss the focus it takes to find the very best teachers.
   If being a good teacher is no more than knowing the topic and knowing how to teach it, why not simply make that the criteria? Why not seek out candidates on that basis, alone? Why be afraid of hiring on that basis, alone? It's all you want in a good teacher; It's all you need in a good teacher. Why shift from making that your goal when you hire your teacher?

McMullin says Terrorists would be Wise not to come as Refugees

   Presidential candidate Evan McMullin makes a strong point for letting refugees come to America. Are we worried about terrorists sneaking in with them? McMullin notes he spent more than 10 years in the CIA. "Let me tell you," he told Brett Baier of Fox News Aug. 15, "if you're a terrorist and you want to come to the United States, the worst possible way to try to do it is as a refugee. You'll go through a year and a half to two years of vetting."
   Sounds like coming as a refugee puts you on a terrorist watch list. So, why would those coming want to put themselves on a terrorist watch list?