Saturday, July 31, 2010

Reign in Government Spending

As I prepared to get out of my car to campaign on the west end of the district, in Bluffdale over near Herriman, Enid Greene was closing her KSL program with a note on how the estimate of what this year's federal deficit will be has been increased to $1.4 trillion (or just more than $1.4 trillion).

As I got back in my car after knocking doors, Charlie Luke was taking his turn on KSL, taking up the topic Enid spoke of the week before, the Bush tax cuts, and how the federal deficit needs to be reigned in.

Sandwiched in between, a talk with Wells Wagner. Big on Wagner's agenda, in voting for public officials, is determining which of them are against big government. We discussed state and local issues more than the federal budget, but it was clear he would be against the irresponsible federal spending if we had discussed it more.

Wagner informed me -- I did not know this, and probably should double-check it -- the state budge went up 50 percent under Gov. Jon Huntsman. Wagner also questioned the need for each community having its own government, creating duplication of services. School districts? Too many. The split off of Canyons School District from the Jordan School District being the most recent mistake. He spoke of sitting in a meeting from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., with those in the audience saying don't raise our taxes with this school district split. But, he noted, taxes increased 20 percent, anyway.

Wagner suggested school boards should not have authority to raise their budgets without some form of checks and balances to counter it.

He asked me how I felt about school spending, and I said since I have been campaigning, I have came to feel this is not an area we should cut. He suggested even the schools, though, may be administrative heavy.

And, as I walked to my car, I wondered if there are cuts in school administration that might should be considered with our economy as it is. Not that we want to put anyone out of a job, but what if we eliminated all vice principals, how much of a savings would that bring? Is it something we should consider?

Have we reached a point where we should consider laying off assistant school board administrators? Laying off anyone is not pleasant, but should the economy be prompting us to consider this?

I also thought about whether it would be less expensive to have a single city across the valley. I do not know. Yes, each city does have its own set of administrators, but with a single large city, would we simply have a single but humongous large staff underneath the administrators. After all, if Utah's government grew by 50 percent, that came without us dividing into two states, but rather just by growing the administration within our government. Perhaps instead of consolidating cities into one, the answer is to see whether the chief administrators can do hands-on work, instead of viewing themselves as just supervisors. Maybe that is already being done. I hope so.

Stories and Stands

Scroll down through these stories. I try to offer an opinion on a news story each day other than Sunday. Follow my posts and you'll learn how I stand on the issues. Many of the opinions are of national issues, but state issues are scattered through these posts. -- John Jackson, candidate for Utah House District 41, which includes parts of Sandy, Draper, Riverton, South Jordan, Bluffdale, and Herriman.

This Time, Vote on Principle

West Valley Mayor Mike Winder stepped up with an apology just in time, just as the Salt Lake Tribune was preparing an editorial against him.

Early this week, Winder appeared in an advertisement for EnergySolutions, using his title as mayor, no less, and reaped a public outcry of how it is not proper for him as an elected official to become part of a formal advertisement endorsing a company.

This morning's Tribune says Winder indicated he is big enough to admit he made a mistake. "From many politicians, you will get excuses when they goof up, but that's not my style," Winder is quoted as saying.

Winder's apology is honorable. I tend to think of him as a person we should be proud to have in office.

His having a favorable opinion of EnergySolutions (and I know he draws some income from them) should be allowed, and he should be allowed to express that opinion publicly. Free speech, you know, is the American way of life.

Expressing it in a formal advertisement? I know some suggested that was unethical.

Rather than being concerned whether elected officials express their opinions, we should be concerned with whether their opinions are purchased -- especially if that opinion is expressed in the form of votes.

What, then, of the practice of EnergySolutions and most all groups contributing to political campaigns, knowing full well that once elected, the elected officials will be in position to help them?

I'm sure Winder received contributions from EnergySolutions. Many politicians do, including my opponent, Todd Kiser. EnergySolutions, along with insurance interests, have contributed to Kiser's campaign. Even our most honorable politicians are taking money from EnergySolutions, and many of them have work ties to the company, that list including Winder, current senate candidate Mike Lee, and current U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (who was a lobbyist for the company). Former Senate President Cap Ferry and former Speaker of the House Craig Moody are current lobbyists for EnergySolutions.

"EnergySolutions and its predecessor, Environcare of Utah, has long relied on political leaders to bolster it credibility," today's Tribune article says.

I do not know that I am opposed to EnergySolutions having a dump in Utah. I listen to the radio advertisements about their nuclear waste not being harmful, and tend to believe them.

But, the network of influence EnergySolutions has in our political system is surprising. The flow of political contributions is wrong, just as it is wrong for other entities to contribute when they stand to reap political favors in return. It is not illegal, but wrong, even if we haven't been wise enough to make a law against it.

I am not accepting any political contributions, so in this election, this time, you have a choice. This is one election in which you actually do have a choice to vote for someone who is not accepting money from influence buyers. You can say you don't like it when your elected officials are bought off, and you can also say you, yourself, will not be bought off. My opponent's campaign is better funded, with money from EnergySolutions, the insurance industry and others, so his campaigning will reach you more readily than mine. I'm hoping you will say it doesn't matter how much money he throws around, you are going to vote for me, anyway.

Oh, I am a Democrat. In a Republican stronghold, and that, too, is working against me. I'm hoping you will vote on principle, not on party.

-- John Jackson, candidate Utah House District 41

Let's Seek Federal Approval

Would be fun, I say, to find right where in the law it says:
1. To walk on American soil, you must either be a citizen or have proper paperwork.
2. It is the federal government that bequeaths upon those from foreign lands the right to be here.
Unfortunately, I believe I have found the second citation. I say it be unfortunate, because I quite like the idea of Utah granting passes to those from foreign lands, allowing them to come here for jobs that await them.
Alas, I found this in the Immigration and Naturalization Act: "The Attorney General (that would be the federal government) shall be charged with the administration and enforcement of . . . all . . . laws relating to the immigration and naturalization of aliens."
The only opening I see for states having authority to issue work passes is if we say "immigration and naturalization" does not include a person just being here to work. My dictionary defines "immigration" as "to come into a country and settle." Does "settle" mean stay on a permanent basis?
At best, a guest-worker program is going to attract litigation unless we get federal approval. Rather than giving up on the guest-pass idea, let's seek federal authorization. Giving states this right allows those states willing to take in these workers the right to do so while no imposing these workers on the states that do not want them.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Let's Live With Cost of Jobs Increasing

True, the guest worker pass idea does have some other problems, besides not squaring with the federal government's right to be the sole grantor of the right to be here.

For one, if government is bringing them in, aren't they going to be obligated to pay taxes? That is exactly what we want, of course, but will the farm owners and others still be able to afford them? What if we decide they must be insured, to help prevent them from receiving free medical attention? Isn't that, too, going to drive up the employer's outlay?

Taxes are something we want them to pay. If for no other reason, their children will be attending schools here, and that should come at their expense. Insurance is something we want them to have. If they are insured, they should not be receiving free medical aid at everyone else's expense.

If we as a state to create a guest-worker program, let's find a way to make the insurance as affordable as possible. Then, let's simply require the employers to put more out for their workers. At the moment, I am seeing no other way.

Do not let it go unnoticed, though, that these same things that are negatives are also positives. People are yelling at the immigrant for getting an education without paying for it. They are yelling at him for getting medical aid without paying for it. It would be great to fix these inequities.

If farmers and other employers do not end up hiring through a guest-worker program, as they either cannot or do not want to pay the extra money, then to the degree of non-participation, we have failed. But, let us do try to make this better. Look at what we are fixing. We are taking away much of the reason people are angry with immigrants, fixing that problem, by reducing how much of a drain they are by not contributing to social and educational funding. We are drawing them into our payment systems.

And, we are serving the immigrant, helping him, by getting him medical insurance, not to mention making him a legal resident. Fixing the problems is what it is about, so, let's do this.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Guest Pass Remains Lovely Idea

The idea of the guest cards, allowing foreign workers to come to Utah not as citizens, but just on work visas, remains a lovely idea.

But, precede with caution.

Lt. Gov. Greg Bell is quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune as saying, "Is there any system that Utah could adopt . . . without a federal action taking place?"

The federal government controls entry into the country. So, one worry is that the border agents wouldn't honor the Utah guest passes. If that is the only fear, legislation should do no harm. The feds will either honor the cards or not honor them. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

But, what of the possibility of litigation? If the matter is to be tied up in the courts, perhaps it is better to seek federal legislation allowing states to issue such guest passes.

The Tribune article also has Roger Tsai, chairman of the Utah Chapter of the American immigration Lawyers Association, saying guest passes would require a structure parallel to what the federal government already has in place for processing applications, conducting background checks, and enforcing against violations.

I do not know that that is entirely true. Perhaps the Department of Workforce Services could be asked how much of the processing could be absorbed by the existing staff and how much would require new staffing.

As for enforcement, we already have law enforcement officials. I don't see any need at all to hire new ones to enforce the guest pass program.

One guest pass idea being put forth would require the companies bringing in the guest workers to bond for them. Why ever would we do that? Keep the system simple, so it doesn't require much administration.

One service, though, must be funded, albeit it keeps the system from being as simple as I would like. Once the guest workers have gained entry to the country, some would go no further than Arizona or New Mexico or California or Texas. We cannot bid them in, only to have other states end up taking care of them. We should have escorts ensuring they make it all the way to Utah. True, once in Utah they might fan into other states, but having established them here with jobs should discourage that.

Other provisions of a good guest pass law? It would be nice if any job they take is required to have health insurance, thus side-stepping having them receiving free medical aid. Can farmers and other employers they often end up with afford to get them health plans? This, alone, would endanger the very reason for bringing many of them here, cheap labor, but we should look to see if there is a way to make it work, a way to get them insured.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Neighborhood Watch Gone Tragic

The neighborhood watch that went tragic adds an attempted murder convictions to the unfortunate outcome.

A Bluffdale man, Reginald Campos, was convicted hours ago. Campos, thinking his daughter had been stalked when if fact the following was done by David Serbeck and another while on an informal neighborhood watch (in was not a watch sanctioned by any law enforcement agency.) Campos took his daughter's description of the vehicle and went out in search, finding the Serbeck vehicle. An exchange ensued. Serbeck, who also had a gun, put it down. Campos, in anger, shot. Serbeck was paralyzed.

That Serbeck should be paralyzed in a misunderstanding during a neighborhood watch is a tragedy.

Is what Campos did an argument for gun legislation? After all, had he not been allowed a gun, the crime would not have taken place. Serbeck would not be paralyzed and Campos, himself, would not be facing prison.

The argument could be made, but the Constitution's language of not impeding the right to keep and bear arms overrides it.

The lesson is simply that the right to keep and bear arms comes with responsibility, and if a person oversteps them, he must pay the price. Citizens have the right to their arms, but not the right to abuse them. When that high right is abused, a high penalty is in order.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our Neighbor's War -- 25,000 Dead?

Did you catch the Sunday news item that 25,000 drug violence deaths in Mexico have occurred since President Felipe Calderon commenced his war on the drug cartels in 2006?

Sounds like he's ran into a little resistence, doesn't it? Twenty-five thousand is a staggering number.

Or was it the mass grave story, with 51 bodies being found, that caught your attention?

How many police officers does Ciudad Juarez (just across the border from El Paso) have? About 3,000, I believe, which evidently is not enough. Juarez is the center of the storm in the drug violence.

Oh, and unless they've been recalled recently, the Mexican government also has 7,500 troops deployed in Juarez. Now there's a number worthy of calling this a war.

I ran into a friend from my home town today, who had just returned from the Mexican border just south of Laredo. He went as far as the border on business, but was caught in a drug-cartel traffic jam. The drug runners hijacked some trucks and -- did I get this correct? -- killed 16 people? If per chance, that is not just a rumor, then they must have been killed on the Mexican side of the border or surely we would have heard about it. Maybe it was all rumor.

"It's a war zone down there," my friend said.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fingerprinting South of Border

Fingerprinting to catch undocumented residents who build up criminal records on this side of the border is making the news, including discussion tonight on the KSL's Nightside Project.

Funny enough, because earlier today I was wondering whether we should encourage more fingerprinting of those who build up criminal records on the other side of the border.

I've been saying if we catch someone crossing illegally, we should call the law enforcement agency back where they are from to check to see if they are wanted. Well, I was speaking to a man from Mexico today, and he noted the drug carriers often have false IDs and fingerprinting is not done much in Mexico.

Perhaps, a first step in fighting crime can be establishing IDs that follow the criminals. If everyone was fingerprinted in Mexico, when a known drug trafficker was nabbed trying to sneak across the border, a false ID would do him no good. His fingerprints could be checked against home country's database, and if there was a match and he was wanted, he would be turned over to officials.

Perhaps most drug lords don't cross the border themselves, anyway, but rather force ordinary folks who are going to try to slip across the border illegally to pack a few drugs along when they come. Human pack horses, they call them.

Our very insistence on not giving Mexico workers legal right to come into the U.S. is perhaps even responsible for this problem. If we just let the workers come in legally, instead of sneaking across between the checkpoints, they would be crossing at the checkpoints.

Make it so none of their visas are finalized in their home countries, but rather make it so they must be certified at the border. That way, they will want to pass through the checkpoint in order to be legal. Now, you just don't bring drugs along if your coming through a legal checkpoint, not if a good and thorough check is going to be made. If we make the immigrant legal, we will take away the pack horses from the drug lords.

And, if we persuade Mexico and other Central and South American countries to have complete fingerprint data banks of their citizens, then when the real drug traffickers do try to slip across, and are caught, they can be turned over to law enforcement officials for prosecution.

Obama Could be Right on Mexican Drugs

President Bush took a step against the drug cartels in Mexico, and President Obama is turning it into a dance.

Well, that might be a little too much, but we can hope good will come of what Obama is doing.

Back in 2008, Bush's Merida Initiative went into effect, with $1.6 billion allocated to provide training along with armoured cars, helicopters and such for Mexican law enforcement agencies in their war against the drug cartels.

Now, changes Obama is bringing to the Initiative might make it a little more artful, a little more of something we can dance to. Obama wants the project to shift away from buying armoured cars and airplanes and helicopters and instead reform Mexico's corrupt law enforcement agencies, and courts and government.

I don't know how he's going to go about it, but it sounds like the right move. If the officers are corrupt, why would we ever buy them equipment? You don't pay the guards at the hen house if the guards are wolves. You don't buy chariots for warriors unless you know the warriors are on your side.

I don't know Mexico's law enforcement system is riddled full of drug influence, but I googled up an article that led me to think it might be.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Elections Reflect Our Border Problem

While discussion of illegal immigration has been all the rage in Utah of late, the elections in Mexico drew hardly a peep.

It would seem if drugs coming across the border are part of the reason we are so outraged, then those Mexican elections should have at least raised our eyebrow.

They reflected the problem.

In the state of Chihuahua, drug gangs intimidated voters by hanging four bodies from bridges on election day. In the state of Tamaulipas, a candidate for governor, Rodolfo Torre, was assassinated, supposedly by the drug cartels, the week before the election.

In Mexico, we have a land ruled by one party of vice and corruption for 71 years until a man from another party won a historic presidential election in 2000. Hoping they were shedding themselves of those years with that presidential election, people celebrated the ouster of the ruling party with fanfare equal to that of winning a World Cup.

Yet another president was elected to a six-year term in 2006, this one swearing to fight the drug cartels. His failure in that endeavor is seen in his low approval ratings, and in that his party fared poorly in elections this year.

The old ruling party, the PRI? It won 9 of the 12 governorships.

The drug cartels' reflection in these elections was clear. And, the drugs of Mexico spill across the U.S. border, pouring into a lucrative market that will remain lucrative unless we secure our border against them.

Minuteman Members Support The List

Alex Segura survived "impeachment," his membership in the Utah Minuteman Project remained.

But, a defiance remained as Thursday's meeting drew to a close. Will he "follow protocol" and not overstep his authority within the club? he was asked.

If something comes up, he more or less said, he will address that situation. Eli Cawley (the chair of the group) has lost his credibility with the state government, Segura said.

He didn't say it, but crying to be said was the fact the Governor called a meeting to discuss undocumented residents -- and no one from the Utah Minuteman Project was there. "We were not invited," I was told by Michael Sanchez, co-chair of the Minuteman Project.

The Minuteman Project was formed to oppose illegal immigration. How many other organizations deal solely with undocumented residents. The topic belongs to them as much as to anyone. So, somehow it seems they should have had a voice at the governor's round table Tuesday.

Cawley was calm and collected for much of Tuesday's meeting, but at one point launched into screaming. Would such an outburst have been welcome at the governor's round table? I've heard (while listening to Enid Greene today on KSL) everyone kept a civil tongue at the round table.

Segura's point was that Cawley has lost his credibility. Would that be for supporting those who put together a list of people who supposedly do not have paperwork to belong in the U.S.?

You know that list. It is now simply referred to "as The List," and two Workforce Service employees were put on administrative leave for having released it. They sent the list to the media and to law enforcement agencies, demanding action against the 1,300 purportedly undocumented residents on the list.

"They gave it to ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and they did absolutely nothing," Cawley said. He charged that the List was first given to ICE, then, when nothing resulted from that effort, it was released to the media and others.

What of it that the law might have been broken in how the employees went about obtaining the List, and perhaps in how they released private information? Cawley had an answer. "The law was violated in April when the list first came out because no one did anything about it," he said.

Cawley's support of the List echoed the sentiments expressed others at the meeting.
One raised his hand and said that while some have suggested the List did not benefit the cause of forcing undocumented residents to return to their own countries, that is wrong, "because now we know who they are." He felt that now we know who they are, action can and should be taken against them.

To my memory, that names on the List have proved to be either documented or citizens was not mentioned at the meeting.

Segura's stance was that since the reason for going after the undocumented workers is that they are breaking the law, keeping the law should be important to those who oppose them. And, the List did not come about except through breaking the law.

"That's what I've been spewing out: Rule of law! rule of law!" Segura said, saying that if the organization supports such lists, then they are hypocrites.

One man in the audience, though, suggested there are times when a little law breaking is in order. What if the law said turn in all your guns, he asked, and then said of those who composed the list, "The people who broke the law, I believe they did the right thing."

Another man suggested there always have been times when it has been necessary to break the law and then pay the consequences.

Cawley asked for a raise of hands of those who disagreed with his stance. Of about 45 people there (some being members of the press, who wouldn't have raised their hand), only about two or three raised their hands.

Cawley quoted Thomas Jefferson as saying, "When law becomes tyranny, resistance is a duty." He said what was done, was done out of a pure intent and with the intent of protecting the taxpayers.

He then said he has never yet got the media to repeat something he has said, and I didn't follow his point as to what it was, but it may have been that nothing is done when the undocumented workers are known. "This List represents a broader problem," he said.

"That's why I support the people who put out the List," he said.

And the room clapped.

I had went to the meeting wondering if the Minutemen are like others (perhaps even most) in the state: Simply people who believe the undocumented workers are a drain on our government and our economy and are illegal, to boot, and they ought to be dealt with.

I don't know how much of the general public supports breaking the law to create such lists, but I'm guessing most do not. Support for such law breaking, however, seemed to be the consensus of those at the meeting.

I cannot agree. It does seem significant that the single law they are being asked to be accountable to is having paperwork. (Hmmm, it occurs to me I have never heard quoted the law where it says a person cannot be in the U.S. from another country unless he has paperwork, but I suppose it must exist, even though I never hear it referenced.)

Should, per chance, there be a time for breaking the law, going after people who do not have paperwork is not it.

That said, I do believe we should go after many undocumented people who break the law. If they buy or create false IDs, that is a definite crime, and they should be punished.

And, I am appalled by the ease of drugs coming across our border. This is our problem. We do need to secure our border, to stop the drugs, even though it will mean the person simply crossing without paperwork will be caught in the process of looking for these drug dealers.

Unfortunately, we are going about securing the border backwardly, chasing after the ones without paperwork instead of the ones with the drugs. Yes, the two categories overlap, but by focusing on those without paperwork, we are failing to do a lot of policing against drugs that ought to be done.

From all checks I have made, we don't even run a criminal background (inquiring of law enforcement officials in the country they are coming from) when stops are made at the border. Isn't that basic police work?

And, according to the sheriff-elect in Davis County, Todd Richardson, those caught with drugs (unless it is a very large amount) are often simply escorted back to the border, not prosecuted for carrying drugs.

Can we be so busy chasing the man without paperwork, who often is simply an humble soul seeking a frugal-paying job in the U.S., that we sometimes ignore chasing the large and vile drug cartels?

Yes, I wonder. I say, let's get our focus straigtened, then go back to the border and do it right. Chase the criminals, not the humble workers.

He Calls for Constitutional Values

Such a relief tonight's door knocking was. I've been thinking I'm not interesting many in the notion of electing someone who isn't taking political contributions.

But, tonight, at least three or four indicated it means a lot to them.

One sent children after me, they catching up with me as I was on down the sidewalk, to help me campaign. (I'm afraid I didn't feel too great about using children to knock doors, so couldn't do that.)

One person echoed what many Utahns are feeling. "We're in trouble as a nation," said Dennis Christensen. "We're getting away from the Constitution. And, religiously, were getting away from what the signers of the Constitution expected."

Friday, July 23, 2010

OMB: Fiscal Trajectory Unsustainable

Read this, and tell me what "the nation's long-term fiscal trajectory" is referring to. It's a quote from the federal Office of Management and Budget, garnered from a New York Times article today.

“The economy is still struggling; too many Americans are still out of work, and the nation’s long-term fiscal trajectory is unsustainable, threatening future prosperity."

If it is saying we are spending our way into insolvency (and it is), I agree, and most Utahns agree, and maybe most Americans.

So, why do we keep on spending? Yesterday's extension of unemployment benefits is an example. As much as we might want to make things better for workless workers, we just do not have the money. We don't have it. We have to stop. We cannot hold up one hand to acknowledge the deficit must be reduced while the other hand is pouring more bills into it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top News Buried on Page 15

Late as it is and as early as I must rise, I must share today's lead story with you. Actually, it was page 15 (Deseret News) and well in the middle of the article that I found it.

The U.S. Border Patrol isn't allowed on its own land.

But, not to worry, Rep. Rob Bishop is introducing legislation to change all that.

Evidently, the federal land often comes with such restrictions that even the U.S. Border Patrol cannot fully access or fully police the lands.

That the federal government is keeping the federal government from doing a little police work might sound like a funny thing, but depending on how much of the criminal (and I don't mean foreigners coming across without paperwork -- I mean drugs coming across) activity at the border is sliding through these holes in our border, doing something to shut down these holes is a great thing.

Seems like someone would have thought of this before. Congratulations to Rep. Bishop for introducing the legislation. With all the talk of securing our borders, it seems what he is doing should be receiving much, much bigger play.

Minutemen Remain United

Whatever became of Alex Segura, one of the founders of the Utah Minuteman Project, having called for the current chair of the UMP, Eli Cawley, to step down?

And, whatever happened to Eli Cawley, the current chair, having suggested Segura could be impeached, or kicked out of the club?

This was, to some degree, over the List, with Segura saying whoever did it was wrong, while Cawley offered the List authors some support.

Well, the Minutemen met tonight. Other than Segura's bringing it up, they didn't even entertain a motion to have Segura step down. Nay, instead a show of hands overwhelmingly supported him for whatever favorable things he has said about the List.

But, they did entertain a motion to kick Segura right out of the club. He survived by the narrowest of margins, an 8-7 vote saying keep him as a member.

Perhaps I will blog more on the Minuteman Project tomorrow. 'Tis late, and I should be in bed.

Bless the President; Bless this Act

We just tucked $110 billion back into our collective pocket, no more giving it to graft, irresponsibility and improper allocations?

Yes, my friends, this is highly newsworthy. And, I present it to you as an opportunity to present yourself as an American first, whatever your political persuasion.

Stand up and clap, my friends of the Republican Party variety, clap for President Obama, who this morning's placed his signature on the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act.

Cutting waste and cut fraud . . . shout for joy when it happens.

The bill was crafted to cut into improper payments by federal government agencies. Now, I haven't learned yet how exactly the bill has us go about this, or even why it takes a bill to make this come to pass.

But I'm clapping.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jobs For Everyone: 100% Employment

Remember Herbert Hoover's 1928 campaign slogan? "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage." We joke about it now, saying politicians will promise anything to get elected.

I'm not promising, but I am saying this slogan works for me: "A job for everyone -- 100 percent employment," or, more correctly, "A job for every able and willing person -- 100 percent employment of those able and willing."

Can't promise, because one legislator needs to persuade others before this could happen. But I say it can be done, and should.

Probably has. But has it been done in a capitalistic society? Let's make Utah the first.

I can see why it probably hasn't been done in a free-enterprise system. The entrepreneurs creating jobs want to ensure themselves good money, and hiring workers others have passed over doesn't always provide a profitable workforce. Such a workforce is risky, maybe even fatal.

And, the poor, down-and-out, unemployed folks usually lack the means, and usually the self-belief to go out and start a company.

So, they need a little help. Now, about this point, don't be running for the door, suggesting I am suggesting socialism. Remember, I just said 100-percent employment hasn't been done in the free-enterprise system, so obviously I want to keep the free-enterprise system as involved in this grand idea as possible.

So, will creating jobs for everyone require a little government help, a little socialism? My guess is, it won't. Our state is loaded with giving people. If we first appeal to rich philanthropists and to charity organizations -- like United Way and the Utah Food Bank -- I am all but certain they will be willing to create companies just to serve those who cannot find other jobs.

This will take a whole new way of thinking. Right now, philanthropists give to the needy -- just outright give. And, charity organizations provide free food, free counseling, free this and free that -- but they don't even think to create small companies and give them jobs.

Some of the companies will prosper. Others will need to be propped up by the philanthropists and charities. Fine.

Now, if government does have to provide some jobs, because enough philanthropists and charities can't be found, then let's be willing -- but let's get those companies right back into the hands of free enterprise as quickly as possible, allowing some of the workers to take over the companies once they are up and running.

Let's put these companies at every pocket of unemployment. Pioneer Park and the Road Home can be served by a company, the Unemployment Insurance office can be teamed with a company, and even programs for the disabled can have companies.

Sometimes, these companies will amount to no more than people standing on street corners, selling paper flowers.

Now, there won't truly be a job for everyone. Some people might not be able to work, period. But most people can do something. Nor will everyone be work even if offered a job. Some people just won't work. So, it won't be 100 percent employment, but it will be 100 percent employment of those who can and are willing to work.

I've been picking an invention of the week for the past few weeks. Creating jobs for all willing and able people, then, is the invention of the week.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Say No to UI Extensions

Word is, Congress is finally about to approve the Unemployment Insurance extensions President Obama is begging for.

I wish Congress wouldn't. I'll give two reasons.

One, whereas traditional funding for Unemployment Insurance comes from money paid into the system, in true insurance fashion, my understanding is that those companies paying out can not be charged for the extensions.

So, guess who is paying for them? You might be thinking the taxpayers, but that wouldn't be correct, unless you mean the taxpayers of the future. When congressmen asked where the money would come from, the answer was that it would be "stimulus" money.

In other words, the federal deficit.

The second reason I oppose the UI extensions? I oh-so-much believe that weening people from staying home and not working is a must. It will improve the economy. I look around and see people who have lost their jobs, gone on unemployment, and now do not want off it. This next sentence may seem backwards, but it's not. People become what they are. Or, in other words, they become what they practice. If a person gives himself to pornography one night, that is what he is at the moment, and that one time probably will lead to his doing pornography again and again in the future. So, a person becomes what he is.

The same principal can apply to unemployment. Not always, mind you, and maybe not even most of the time. But, if a person finds a way to pay all the bills with Unemployment Insurance instead of working, there will be a natural tendency for him to want to stay on UI, instead of returning to the job force.

Our economy needs a boost, a real boost. This is not a short-term fix, but instilling in people a strong work ethic will benefit the economy in the long run.

So, how much government money has gone into Unemployment Insurance? Remember, the current unemployment extensions came as we scrambled to save our economy. And, remember, the tradition way of funding UI is through money paid into the system, but extensions are not part of that.

A little graph in a USA Today last week gives the answer. A record $144.52 billion -- roughly double what was spent in any quarter before the current economic mess -- went into UI in the first quarter of 2010.

Stop and consider how that stacks up against other large bills the government has footed recently. What was the Obama stimulus package? Wasn't it in the $800-billion range, an amount so large we worry it could lead to the toppling of our economy?

So, $144.5 billion, to me, is a frightening amount. No, I do not support Unemployment Insurance extensions.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Of Paul, Al, and 1,300 Others

Which was bigger news this week, Al Jefferson coming to Utah, or the release of a list of people who allegedly came to Utah illegally?

Ahh, though we might like to think there is more interest in public affairs than sports, 'tis not so. Even with all we have going on with health care reform, stimulus spending, and Arizona's immigration law, sports remains with the upper hand. Al Jefferson was a bigger story than the List.

But an entertainment story topped them both.


Never did the Beatles play in Utah, and never did Paul McCartney perform here, either, until in his advanced years he swung into town, playing at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, which happens to be in Utah Legislative District 41, to which I target my blogs, as I am running for that legislative position.


So, then, Al Jefferson's landing in Utah via a trade would be our top story if not for McCartney's concert. Al quickly won the hearts of the fans, or at least of the media.

The Jazz had suffered one-two punches in losing Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver (and Wesley Matthews was on the ropes, he having received an offer from Portland), but Utah general manager Kevin O'Connor struck back with a one-two series of his own, first bringing in Jefferson, then encoring by signing free agent Raja Bell. Whether Raja is too old is yet to be seen, but if he is the same Raja who last played here, he will prove a significant addition.


Another case of racial profiling? With the nation already ablaze and abuzz over Arizona's law, now comes a list that may have been put together in part by selecting names that were Hispanic.

This quick-developing story opened with someone giving the news media and law enforcement agencies a list of about 1,300 people who purportedly are undocumented residents, demanding that they be deported immediately.

Governor Gary Herbert, in turn, demanded an investigation. And, about that quick, at least two state workers were escorted off their jobs at the Department of Workforce Services for compromising state data bases to compile the list. They will surely be charged with crimes more serious than that of being here in the country without license to be in the country.


Alas. I thought to give you a more complete recap of the week's news. But it is late and I am tired. No review of the bank bill that was in Congress, no summation of Bob Bennett's staff workers being accused of taking influence-seeking loans from Countrywide Financial, no discussion of EnergySolutions dropping plans to bring in nuclear waste, no attempt to explain what the UTOPIA debate is all about, no attempt to get myself to understand the iPhone controversy, no dealing with how Harvey Unga (BYU running back) was drafted after the draft was over, and no explanation as why I didn't play the capping of the BP oil spill as the lead story.

Money Can't Buy Me Love

"I don't care too much for money. Money can't buy me love." So sang the Beatles.

The song has bounced through my head as I have campaigned, and I sure hope there's truth in it for me. Money buys love in politics. Seldom is a person elected without having money, maybe never in races such I am in, running for the state legislature.

I am not going to accept any political contributions, other than from myself. Here's hoping that this has value to you as a voter, that you like my not placing myself in the way of influence from those who later would later want me to legislate to their benefit.

-- John Jackson, candidate, Utah House of Representatives, District 41

Bless Immigrants; Chase Criminals Home

There was a day I was so, so opposed to our border policy. What, I cried, we create an entire police force just to go after people without paperwork? We post a sign at the border in New York City, saying, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," but make it so hard for them to come, so hard to get the paperwork to stay, that it can easily take a decade?

I say, Bless the immigrant. Let him stay. Just give him his paperwork right at the border and tell him he is welcome here.

Yes, I once said that. And, still do.

I've added another leg to my stand, though. I say we should -- definitely should -- secure our border with Mexico. No, that isn't a contradiction. Our problem at the border, our most significant problem, is drug importation. It is a huge problem, a massive problem, and we need to fight it.

And, I worry we are so busy chasing so-called illegals right back to Mexico, and back to other Latin American countries, that we often overlook chasing the criminals.

What an oversight, fighting crime at the border even as you are all worked up about how much crime there is at the border. Oh, we fight it, but not enough. We are too busy fighting . . .

Best as I can tell, when we find someone coming across illegally, we don't (at least as a practice and maybe not at all) run a criminal background check on them. No, I don't mean a U.S. background; I mean a background from Mexico or from whatever Latin American country they are coming from. Why ever -- if we are concerned about crime and criminals coming across -- would we not contact Mexican authorities and ask them if the person has a criminal record? Isn't that about the first step in police work? When an officer has stopped a person, and has reason to do so, the officer immediately runs a background on him.

Standard police procedure. And yet at the border, where one of our largest crime problems exists, we aren't even doing that? It makes me wonder if we are so busy chasing those coming across without paperwork, and perceiving that therefore our duty is to escort them back to Mexico and simply let them go, that we forget this is an opportunity to fight crime.

True, it is, that many of those bringing drugs across the borders had their arms twisted to do so. They are forced to be the human pack mules bringing the drugs, not wanting to do so, but being so threatened that they have no choice but to do so. So, let's make it legal for them to come. If they are coming legally, they will be checking in at the border stations, and therefore likely to not be forced to bring drugs with them.

Those smuggling drugs don't march up to the border stations; they sneak through the breaches between the stations. Welcome those who are straight up and clean to come on in, and you might reduce the drug peddling right with no more said.

As for securing our border, I am not against better fencing. A double fence has been suggested. If that's what it takes, do it. If it takes more border officers, do it. If it takes changing the mandate and job description of a border agent, let's do it.

Now, yes, granting citizenship is a federal right, given by the Constitution. But, Utah can grant right-to-work passes, guest-worker cards giving bearers right to enter the Union and head for Utah to work here for a limited amount of time.

If this cuts down on the percentage of people being forced to be human pack mules, then Utah will have fought crime at the border even though it is not a border state.

Yes, it will also mean Utah will have an even larger share of people coming from Latin America than it already does. That is fine. They are as fine of people as we are.

There is one more suggestion that hasn't fit into what I've written so far. Those who obtain false IDs are committing severe crimes, and should be punished. When a person shows up at the DLD to get a license, and his ID is obviously fraudulent, he shouldn't be told to go home and get some real ID, he should be taken to jail.

List Against List is Long List

As I blog, I listen to Enid Greene (KSL radio Saturday talk show host) adding her name to the list of those outraged with The List.

"Guv blasts list architects," screams the headline of today's Salt Lake Tribune. Gov. Gary Herbert is on the list of those opposed to The List.

Alex Segura, founder of the Utah Minuteman, and Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino are on the list of those opposed to The list. Note, the Minuteman and Proyecto Latino have opposing stands on immigration. That they came together against The List shows how wide spread opposition to The List is. The Utah Minuteman Project was founded specifically to fight illegal immigration. So, that The List offended Segura's sensibilities says a lot about how many oppose The List.

Okay, not everyone opposes The List, but those who favor it are a small minority.
The list against The List is a long, long list.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Economy Drags School Funding Down

Education, and the lack of funding for it. No concern is more expressed as I knock doors.

So, I decided to call the state, see just how severe a crisis we have.

The man on the other end of the line didn't unload, cursing the Legislature for shorting the schools. Not at all. Rather, he said both the governor and Legislature are helping what they can.

Todd Hauber, associate superintendent for the Utah State Office of Education, tied the problem to the economy. With much of the funding coming from income tax, more funds will be hard to come by until the economy turns around.

I asked him how bad off schools are, and again he spoke of the economy, and whether it would recover. How about we set the economy aside, and you just tell me how bad schools are hurting, I said.

Well, he replied, schools have always scrambled to get their share of the money, but now it has reached a point where they need everything they can get just to cover operations, just to keep going.

I told him the doors I am knocking are telling me this is the first year the state has not funded growth. "You could argue growth wasn't funded," he replied, acknowledging no new money to cover the expanding number of students. But, he said ways have been found to fund the growth with existing money.

Those are not fortunate ways, though. Social security and retirement funds were raided, and daily bus services slashed.

"We've gone through a couple of very difficult years and I don't see recovery taking place," he said, again tying the problem to the sour economy.

Will educators ask for money to match growth next year? "At this point, after two years . . . it actually needs to be funded," he said.

And now, I close my blog with what I should have opened with. Perhaps I will learn more about this and blog anew on it in the future.

Depending on how you measure it, Utah is not stingy on funding. Oh, yes, it is true the state, year after year, ranks right at the bottom in per pupil spending. But . . . it doesn't rank even near the bottom in spending as a percentage of total state outlays.

"It is higher than other states," Hauber said. He didn't have the exact figure at his fingertips, but suggested 46 to 50 percent of the state budget goes to education.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nightside Project Informed Me Tonight


The founder of the Utah Minuteman Project, while a guest on the Nightside Project, asked the organization's chairman to step down.

"We're going to ask Eli (Cawley) to step down," Alex Segura said.

I don't know if Segura had publicly asked for Cawley's resignation before the Nightside show.

Segura decried Cawley's support of the release of a list of 1,300 supposedly illegal residents. It was noted Cawley has called whoever compiled and released the list "a hero."


Didn't know this till listening to the Nightside Project tonight: Mike Lee, the Republican Party candidate for the Senate, this week came out against public transit projects such as Utah Transit Authority.

Now, if I am correct, UTA owes much of the federal funding it has received to Sen. Bob Bennett. So, let's see, Lee and Tim Bridgewater first kicked Bennett out of office by defeating him at the Republican convention, and now, before he is even elected, Lee is kicking one of Bennett's legacies.


A Nightside caller from Sandy named Mike said UTA has 4,000 less bus stops today than it once did. He said 90 percent of the bus service in Sandy has been lost.

UTA Chairman Greg Hughes replied that only efficiency is being stressed, and that it is all about ridership.

Hughes said that with five new spurs underway, UTA's urban train system is becoming the most expansive in the nation.

Standing on that Issue

And, out I go, to knock a few doors, intending to fight the influence-peddling system we have. This time, in this election, voters of Utah's House District 41 have a choice. They can vote against influence peddling. They can say, "This time, I am not going to be influenced by money, either. I am not going to vote for a candidate simply because he is more visable. I am going to vote for someone who is not accepting any money from those whose issues he will later be voting on."

I am not going to accept any political contributions. I believe that can mean something to you, when you hit the polls in November.

-- John Jackson, candidate, Utah House District 41.

Bennett's Office Tied to Influence Peddling

I'm feeling for Bob Bennett. First he gets booted from the Senate not by the voters, but by political activists (convention-goers). And, now, today . . .

The New York Times today reported Countrywide Financial gave favorable loans to many senators and their staff members. Those in Bennett's office, it appears, received more loans than staff from any other senator's office.

Twelve from Bennett's office.

“I never had a Countrywide loan, and I do not pry into the affairs of my staff,” Bennett is quoted at as saying. “I have no idea what any of the rest of them had or not.”

I love Senator Bennett. I am sorry about the way he was ousted from his seat, but since it was the buying and selling of influence taking place, and it was the influence of his office being sought -- and therefore him -- "I do not pry into the affairs of my staff," is not enough.

It would be right to pry into their affairs. In this case, their affairs were Bennett's affair as well. If somebody tries to buy your influence, it is your affair.

At the point Bennett became aware his staffers were taking the loans, he should have inquired of them. It became his concern when he learned someone was trying to buy his influence.

The Countrywide loans story is, of course, being taken up by the talk shows. I heard it on Roger Hedgecock at 630-AM.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told the Senate Ethics Committee on Ethics of the the loans to senators and their offices. Countrywide gave the favorable loans as part of its VIP program, which targeted the favor of the senators.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Campaign Log: He had Idea before Orrin

Now, I know where Senator Orrin Hatch got that idea about requiring those receiving welfare to pass a drug test.

Ran into the guy who about 10 years ago suggested it to Orrin. He wrote Sen. Bob Bennett and whoever was his representative in the House, as well. Who knows if his letter, all these years later, didn't rest in the mind of Sen. Hatch. Probably not, but maybe. The guy didn't claim as much, he just noted he suggested it.

And, he gave an example of why Sen. Hatch's proposal is a good one. He spoke of someone who takes the welfare money and trades it in. "They take the Food Stamps and the Horizon card and trade then for drugs instead of helping their kids."

The kids end up eating ramen noodles.

And, he gave another example of something he didn't like about our welfare system, speaking of a man who worked about a year, just long enough to qualify for Unemployment Insurance, and then quit when the company asked him to come along to St. George, where they had a job. "Now, he's been on unemployment all summer == playing," he said.

Concert Next Door

The concert next door just ended, and now I can say Paul McCartney played for me live while I sat in the comfort of my own home.

I live but a half mile away.

Coming home from work earlier tonight, I listened to the news and it had the story about the list of illegal residents being released to the public, and I believe it said something about the economic indicators to be released tomorrow. Then, as almost an afterthought, it mentioned McCartney would be playing.

I suppose to me, McCartney should have been a bigger deal.

As his music wafted our way, I asked a couple young boys skateboarding in a parking lot if they knew whose music that was. They didn't.

I asked an adult if he knew what was going on at Rio Tinto Stadium. He suggested maybe there was a soccer game.

I asked a 30-year-old I saw at the recreation center. When I told him Paul McCartney was one of the Beatles, he replied. "He may have been. I don't know."

Invention of the Week: TANF Economics

How about more attention to our TANF rate? We already know so much about our unemployment rate, and everyone concedes knowing how many people are unemployed goes a long way in telling how the economy is faring.

So, how about our TANF rate, you know, the percentage of people who are receiving a little help from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program?

Of course, a welfare rate perhaps should include not just TANF, but, if possible, all of our welfare programs. But some say TANF is the most welfare of all welfare, so I wonder what the participation rate for it, alone, is.

Perhaps TANF participation figures are released, although I doubt it. If they are, I never hear about them.

Perhaps a welfare rate is released. If it is, it doesn't receive near the attention the unemployment rate does.

Perhaps it should. It is the welfare rate that would tell us how many are hurting to the point they cannot pay thier bills without a little help from big brother.

(This post was updated 9/4/10.)

Images of Voter Uprising

Cast your eyes around, and tell me what images you see of a voter uprising.

If you think voter turn out in last's primaries might be one, you may be mildly right. Although the voter turnout ratio is not to be released until next week, it is possible the June Primaries brought the best voter turnout in 18 years.

Not since 1992 has a primary in Utah brought 20 percent of the voters to the polls. Now, if 20 percent doesn't sound overly great, I would agree. So, let's not make too much of this particular image of a voter uprising.

If last month's primaries come in with a 20 percent turnout, mark it as the best in 18 years. If they come in with, say 17 percent, it would be the best since 2000, when Glen Davis and Michael Leavitt squared off for the Republican Gubernatorial nomination, and Merrill Cook and Derek Smith battled for nomination in U.S. District 1, and Mark Shurtleff faced someone called Frank Myler for the Republican nomination as Utah attorney general.

A whopping 19 percent turnout, there was that year.

Other images of a voter uprising currently, circa Utah, as opposed to the rest of the land? Bob Bennnett's being booted from office in convention comes to mind, of course. And how about the Republican caucus meetings? Fifty-six thousand voters came out for those, probably a record, and about 20,000 more than normal.

All told, not much of an uprising.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I Bid Ye to Cast Your Vote My Way

Yes, it would seem I have so many news item posts, and so many reports on what the voters are saying, that my own viewpoints are hard to find on this blog site. So, I'll point some out so you can scroll down and find them:
"Don't Issue Cards to Those Already Here," July 3
"Guest Pass a Passing Idea," July 2
"Governor Steals My Thunder," June 25
"Let's Chase Real Criminals," June 30
"Give Free Enterprise a Chance," June 19
June 17 has entries on my ideas for helping the economy.
More than any other issue, though, I'm campaigning against special interest money. When a candidate takes a contribution, knowing he is going to voting on issues involving the contributor, then he (or she) is accepting special interest money. Unfortunately, that's simply the way we elect officials. But -- this time, in this election -- you can say no to that system, you can vote for someone who is not going to take any political contributions.
-- John Jackson, candidate for Utah House, District 41

Campaign Log: Welfare, Welfare


Here's a couple that had their fill of Food Stamps. They felt so harassed, they took the final stamps right back, and told the administrators they didn't want them.

Now, this was 25 years ago, so supposing they were ill treated, I would guess things have changed.

I ran into the wife while knocking doors in Draper, west of I-15. She spoke of administrators threatening to sue (perhaps she meant charge them with welfare fraud) if paperwork wasn't filled out perfectly. She said they got the year of their Ford vehicle inverted, having it as an '86 instead of what it was, a '68. "They were very adversarial," she said. Finally, the lady took the latest issue of Food Stamps back, telling the administrators, "Take us off the list. I don't care if we qualify or not. . . . They made it very hard on us. They made it very miserable. So, I just said, Keep 'em."

I walked away from that door not knowing what to make of it. You want administrators to watch for fraud, but were they just being difficult?


Later, but while working on the same side of I-15, I ran into the qualifications director of the Food Stamp program.

. . . And I didn't think to ask her about the lady above. Don't believe it would have done much good even if I had, though, as she surely wasn't the director, or even with Workforce Services, 25 years ago.

I did ask if she thought there should be any changes in the programs. She noted they continuously review how the programs are run, but she didn't vocalize any changes she would make if she could change the programs she administers. "It is all done at the federal level (Medicaid and Food Stamps)," she said.

I do know some social assistance programs can be altered at the state level, though, including Unemployment Insurance.

She spoke also spoke of the program often as not referred to as government welfare, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), noting participants need to put 40 hours each week into it, searching for jobs, preparing resumes, and such.

McCartney Tickets Not Sold Out

Driving past Rio Tinto Stadium this morning, it occurred to me that with just days left before Paul McCartney's concert, we haven't heard nearly as much about it as it would seem we should have.

This is Paul McCartney, he of the Fab Four. Now, weren't the Beatles the biggest music act ever?

Then, this afternoon, I called the ticket office at Rio Tinto Stadium. Surprise: Tickets are still available. Three days till the July 13 concert and one of the most notable musicians in history has not sold out in his first-ever and what will surely be his only-ever concert in Utah. Oh, a lot of the reason they are still on sale is the price, $169 for the least expensive seats still available. (I also called a reseller and they had tickets for $82.) I was told less than 2,000 of the 18,000 tickets remain. Call 888-477-5849 for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of seeing McCartney in a Utah venue.

As for the lack of buzz surrounding his coming, is it that so many years have passed that even the Beatles are being forgotten?

Gallivan Seeks to End Homelessness

Hidden in the Deseret News (okay, not hidden, as it is front-page news) today is a story of a quest to end homelessness in Utah.

That the story was in the Deseret News is of interest since it is about the efforts of former Salt Lake Tribune publisher Jack Gallivan.

Gallivan would have every Utahn donate 1 percent of a year's income to help the homeless. Now, lest it go unsaid, Utahns, for the most part, like to keep the government from doing everything.

So, Utahns, if you don't want the government doing everything, give a bit. One percent is too much for me, but I'll give a small bit. The 1 Percent Campaing is at

Jazz Lose All-Time 3-Point King

I am wondering why the Jazz let Kyle Korver go. Didn't he just set the all-time record for single-season three-point shooting, connecting on 53.6 percent of those shots? Fifty-three percent is a great ratio for two-point shots, but remarkable for three-pointers.

Weren't the Jazz 120-60 in games Korver played for them?

Yet, the Jazz didn't even make him an offer.

There may be factors the Jazz considered that I do not know about. Maybe his defense was suspect. Maybe he didn't fit the Jazz style of play. Maybe the Jazz are just so loaded with good players, they had to let someone go.

All is that by bringing Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver into their starting five (assuming Korver starts, the Bulls added a potent one-two punch most any team would relish. Fans in the Windy City might be forlorn at the moment, after having chased LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh and came away with none of them, but it is hard to think the team didn't improve by raiding the Jazz for Boozer and Korver.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Campaign Log: Twin Themes Endure

The same two themes of last night popped up this night, as well: children staying home from school a few days so taxpayers save money and disabled being blocked from care by insipid rules.

And, like last night, these two themes came up while hitting oh-so-few doors. I didn't count, but if I hit more than four, it wasn't by much.


That perceived rich school district may not be so rich, after all.

The mighty Canyons School District is under the same duress of budget as others.
Witness this recent move: The district will send all the students home for an extra five days next year to save money, as personnel will not be paid for those days. One doesn't have to pay teachers for time they are not working.

Nor administrators. The administrators are taking it on the chin, themselves, including themselves in the new cost-saving, five-day furlough.

All the above according to a teacher whose door I knocked.

"I don't know where it (more money for education) is going to come from, or how you're going to get it. I just know there needs to be a way," she said.


"SiCKO," I was told, would be an eye-opening experience for me to view.

The person who suggested I watch Michael Moore's documentary then presented her mother-in-law as living proof of what the movie contends: that our health system comes woefully short of caring for those it should.

"We're spending billions of dollars overseas and we have people over here dying simply because they cannot afford health care," Melissa said.

She then called her mother-in-law, Mary Messner, to the door, and Mary told her own story. Mary worked for the state for 22 faithful years. Then, the state outsourced her job, and she got laid off, and she lost her insurance.

And, along came emphysema. (It may have been something she had already, but I believe it came after she lost her job.) Diagnosed with that, and without insurance, Mary turned to Medicare for help.

And was told she wasn't old enough, but, if she waited two years, they would give it to her, anyway.

Now, however do you put medical problems on hold for two years? When you need care, you need care, not two years later.

Mary cashed in her retirement and scrambled to find another job, and for awhile had one, and also received help from IHC's financial assistance.

But, a large enough share of the bills went on her credit card.

This past December, her problems got worse. She was diagnosed with cancer.

Now, it's not that Mary hasn't received medical attention. "I've gotten all the medical help I need. They have not rejected me," she said.

But, the bills piled up. "My credit card got maxed out," she said. "It got to where my payments were $180, $190 and I didn't have the money to pay for it."

And, what became of the two years Medicare required her to wait before it would help her? It was up this month, and she is finally on that program.

Mary is not a person who can't see abuses. She spoke of seeing people with cell phones and getting their nails done, and wondering, "How do they get Medicaid?"

While at the door, I told Melissa I believe in exchange for welfare, people should be allowed to work. Now just how would that be possible for Mary? Melissa wondered, noting she got so weak from the four-hour chemo treatments that just talking to people drained her. "You can't expect someone to work after four hours of that," she said. People that should be working, should be working. But some cannot work at all.

So, what to do when a person can do no work at all. We would not want to deny them the care they need. So, there are times they simply cannot work. In some of those situations, however, they will be able to work after they recover and are in better health.

Other times, can't is can't.

Now, you ask, however can a person be expected to work off medical bills, insomuch as they easily spiral into the tens of thousands of dollars. No, I don't believe they should be expected to work off the expenses dollar for dollar. But, I do believe, when it is possible, they should do some work.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Freedom Festival Excludes Democrats?

Only caught a few minutes of it, but Nightside (a KSL talk show) tonight said the Freedom Festival in Utah County allowed Republicans in its parade . . . but didn't allow Democrats. Democrats were told no campaign slogans and such were to be in the parade, but a few Republican candidates were allowed.
Not sure how that would have came about. Evidently, the policy was in place, but some candidates got in anyway.

Campaign Log: Four Doors

The four doors I knocked tonight give me 10 for the last three days. At this rate, I will hardly make it through the whole district.

One lady called for more money for education. "A ton more," she said.
She also suggested there shouldn't be so many days students have off, noting they are getting five days off before Thanksgiving. She quoted a teacher as saying, "All we have is days off. How are we suppose to get through our curriculum?"

Another lady spoke of how one welfare program has "silly rules about how money should be spent." There's money for a housekeeper, money for sending parents on vacation, and money for babysitting . . . but no money for many of the medical needs, such as eye exams or skin treatment.

The four doors I hit were back in my opponent's neighborhood, on 455 East north of 10600.

Still, June's Primaries Might Fare Well

Tomorrow, all counties are to have their voter-turnout tallies turned in, from last month's primaries. The voter turnout might not be released then, though, as the figures will be reviewed before being released.

Or, will they release what they have as preliminary and then review the figures?

At any rate, when the figure is released, it is expected to be higher than originally expected. Some were suggesting the state's turnout would be but 13 percent. Instead, it now appears it will be about 20 percent. That may sound low, but would actually be about as good as Utah has fared in any primary since 1992.

If so, add the primaries to the success of the caucuses -- I understand participation was high this year -- and the suggestion of a voter revolt endures.

Voter Apathy has Bit of Voter Lockout in It

When you cast your eyes back at all these years Utah's primaries have been held to voter turnouts of about 20 percent or less, you might well shake your head at such shameful voter apathy.

But, there are voters who are showing up at the polls, only to be turned away, told that there is no primary for them.

This because if your party in your precinct doesn't have a contested race to place on the ballot, then no primary is held there.

But, when the percentage of folks who showed at the polls is figured, the ones who were turned away angry for not being able to cast ballots are counted among those who didn't bother to even show up to vote.

That's definitely ironic.

All this is an argument for opening the polls to all voters, even to those who will find no contested races. One thing that would help is if allowed write-in votes. That way they would have some choice even though no contested races were on their ballots.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

No More Ships to Break Blockade?

Now, perhaps, no more ships upon the water.

How successful was the Mavi Marmara/Gaza Flotilla incident to the radical portions of the Islamic world? That incident, now fading from our memories after more than a month has passed, brought perhaps as much international outrage upon Israel as anything ever has.

So, other ships were expected, portraying themselves, too, as humanitarian, sailing towards Israel's blockade of Gaza in hopes that they, too, would be picked off before getting there.

Hoping to imitate the Mavi Marmara, shifting yet more shame upon Israel and increasing the share of the world standing against the nation of the Jews.

Nine passengers died. How do you justify attacking a humanitarian ship and killing nine people?

Israel pleaded that they were provoked, that hoping-for-suicide terrorists got exactly what they wanted out of the incident. But, much of that plea went unheeded.

Word came that other ships were to leave from Turkey, from Lebanon, and from Syria.

But, weeks went by and no ships. Oh, the Rachel Corrie did sail days after the Mava Marmara and the Gaza Flotilla, but none have since, that I have heard of.

Now, with news breaking two days or so ago that Israel was easing the blockade to allow virtually all consumer goods in, will threat of more 'humanitarian aid,' blockade-busting ships be gone?

Perhaps, Perhaps not. Restrictions still remain. Travel is banned. Exports remain banned. Construction materials are still banned. Gaza business leaders responded to news of the blockade being eased by saying it does not go nearly far enough.

But, what is a humanitarian ship if it is reduced to bringing only construction materials? Israel may have robbed future flotillas of their cause by easing the blockade. One can hope no more ships will come.

Chicago's Boozer 'Polarizing'

KFAN was calling Carlos Boozer the most polarizing player ever in Utah sport as I drove home. It was announced today, you know, that Boozer will sign with Chicago.
One call-in listener suggested Boozer was the first player (I assume he meant high-profile free agent) to come to Utah and the first one to leave. One has only to go back as far as Derek Fisher for someone who left, and didn't Mark Jackson come to Utah as a free agent?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Campaign Log: Six Doors

No politician yet has been able to solve our economic problems, I was told as I hit six doors and spent twenty minutes on David Street and Afton Circle (near 9400).
One of the things that needs done is seen by most every non-politician in these parts: cut runaway federal spending.
Federal spending, though, is not something state legislators have much input on.
It is late, too late to blog more. But if you scroll down to June 17, I have posted on the economy.

Invention of the Week: Chia Cereal

In an age of super grains, wouldn't the flavor of the moment, the hottest of them all, be Salvia Hispanica L?

Better known as chia.

So, why is it I walk down the cereal aisle in the health food store without finding a cold cereal made from chia? I find amaranth, spelt, millet, quinoa, kamat and khorasan wheat all present and accounted for.

But, no chia.

Whether the grain doesn't adapt to cereal, or whether it is just that no one has yet got around to making a chia cereal, I do not know.

For it would seem a ready market awaits whoever might take up this idea, producing chia cereal. That, then, is the invention of the week.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Campaign Log: Of Firefighters and Bennett

Firefighters feel like they are being sprayed with a cold, high-powered hose.
The last legislature, a voter told me today, passed legislation cutting into their retirement. He said the firefighters' retirement fund had a large amount of money in it, so the legislators decided to put some of that money elsewhere. "They've taken our from our fund to supplement teachers and cops, which doesn't seem right," he said.
He said firefighters cannot easily retire from a job, draw the retirement, and then hook up to a new job. "It took me six years just to get on the first time," he said.

Sweep all the scoundrels out, one voter seemed to be telling me today, as I campaigned my way through 570 East, 540 East, 9940 South and 575 East, all of which are south of 9800.
Bob Bennett lost his spot, the man said, "not because they don't like him, but because they don't like the way things are. And, if they don't get things straightened out, there's going to be a rebellion in this United States that they won't be able to stop."

So Many of Ills Trace to Drugs, Alcohol

For your perusal, I say, a sampling of some of the news from the past week and more, complete with annotation and comments.

I favor Senator Orrin Hatch's plan to test for drugs before granting a person public assistance. His reasoning is that too often the money is taken and spent on drugs, an outrage, I say.
One of the replies has been to ask where this will leave children, as the drug-taking parent's benefits often support children in addition to the parent. If some children would be left out as a result of the drug testing, and they cannot be picked up through other programs, let's make changes to accommodate them.
Another argument against the Hatch plan is that the person might be a drug addict, but that doesn't mean we should dump him (or her) helpless and hopeless into the street. One thought here is, we could make it so the assistance available only comes in the form of food, not cash. But, I also see the wisdom of the no-assistance-at-all-if-you-test-positive approach. If the drug addict has all the comforts of life, what incentive does he (or her) have to get off the drug? Given the choice of comforts or no comfort, some will leave their drugs behind.
The drug abuser should not have the comforts of the laborer, but should not be left uncared for.
When they test positive, let's not allow them government housing, unless it is of the rescue mission variety, roll-your-bag-out-on-the-floor help. And, let's not give them cash, itself, to spend, but rather issue them food only, and not high-end food, but subsistence food.

We also need to do something toward preventing a person from going to the store, using welfare funds, and then selling the food to their neighbor. What safeguards are possible? We can hardly send government workers into the homes to check to see if all the bought food is there, and hasn't been sold or given to neighbors.
But, there is one thing we can do: simply give notice that selling of welfare food is illegal. It's fraud. Have a written notice in large letters placed on all grocery bags leaving the store when the items are bought with welfare money. If we make it more of a crime by giving more of a notice, it will have an impact. People are more inclined to follow the law when you spell it out loud and clearly. Have the notices on the grocery sacks say what the punishment is for welfare fraud and have the the same notice ask for anyone observing such fraud to report it, giving a number to call.
More, it would be good if such notices were on the walls at stores, encouraging people to report fraud.
It is the nature of some in society to assume they are not breaking the law, unless you spell it out very clearly. But, when you make sure they cannot misunderstand, many will then keep the law.
This is something we are not doing that will make a difference.

Startling statistics from Senator Hatch, who got them from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University:
Of the incarcerations in the U.S., 80 percent are for crimes associated in some way with drug or alcohol involvement.
And, of the $10.6 billion that states spend on child welfare, $74.5 billion is caused or exacerbated because a parent has a substance-abuse problem.
Okay, that doesn't mean all of society's problems trace back to drugs and alcohol. We still have Iraq to deal with. We still have a sour economy. But, wow, if such statistics are correct, look how many of our problems ARE due to drugs: Up to 80 percent of our crime and 3/4 of welfare involving children.
Perhaps my reading of the figures is leading to an overstatement of the problem. Perhaps the the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University overstated the problem. I just know if what I am reading is correct, it is shocking.

Why the low turnout in the primaries weeks ago (about 13 percent)? Jay Evensen, that favorite-of-mine columnist for the Deseret News, suggests two things: 1. The Republicans closed their primary some time ago, allowing only those registered as Republicans to participate; and, 2. In 1994, Utah moved the primaries from September to June. The last primary held in September (1992) attracted nearly 50 percent of the voters, but we have not fared better than 20 percent in any primary since.

From another Deseret News columnist, Frank Pignanelli, comes the assertion that Jim Matheson remains one of the most popular politicians in Utah history.
I quite like Matheson, but didn't realize he ranks as one of the most popular Utah political figures ever. I don't know if that is based on percentage of votes in elections, but assume it is.

The credit union industry threw a sizable amount of money into Tim Bridgewater's campaign for the Senate. (Mike Lee defeated Bridgewater in the Republican primary.) It is hardly large news that candidates accept money from those who will, once the candidates are elected, hit them up for favorable legislation. It is a money-buys-influence system.
I like Bridgewater (and Lee). I mention Bridgewater's taking the credit union money simply because when I heard it, it reminded me of how even our best and brightest take the money simply because that is the way the system works. They know they need money to conduct a campaign with, and collecting from special-interest causes is simply the way the system operates.
Somehow, though, we've got to make a dent in this. Somewhere, sometime, it would be good to elect someone without their taking special-interest money. And, yes, I'm asking for you -- this time and in this election -- to vote for me even though I will not take political contributions. I've gone so far in talking to some as to suggest this is an opportunity to say THEIR vote cannot be bought. We don't like it when our elected leaders are influenced by money, so why should we let money influence us as voters?

I wonder how Arnold Friberg's "The Prayer at Valley Forge" painting would fare if stacked up against other notable paintings of the last century?
Let's say you put 40 of the top paintings on display and asked people which ones they recognized and which ones they liked the most. How then would Friberg's painting of George Washington kneeling aside his horse fare?
It believe it would be one of the most popular.

From this week's Jay Evensen column (as opposed to the one from last Sunday referred to above), we learn a public school in Seattle that has "facilities more befitting a college." Roosevelt High has not only a large theater with padded seats (that's traditional enough) but a separate room used just for designing sets. The athletic department has a climbing wall and a beyond-normal abundance of weight-lifting equipment. The school offers offers Latin as a course. It sends students to South Africa and Northern Ireland in the fight against hatred and prejudice. Its students worked with NASA to design robots capable of operating in a weightless environment.
All this in one public school?

Here's the underpinning in the above story about Roosevelt High. In the door-knocking I've done, a few have suggested they would be willing to give more money to education. Even while saying our rough economy demands cuts elsewhere, they want more for education.
How about creating foundations to help support public education? Evensen was at Roosevelt High for a class reunion -- his wife attended Roosevelt -- and found a tour of the school ended with a pitch for contributions.
"Are school-specific foundations the way to help public education?" Evensen asks.
This would not be charter schools, but rather foundation schools. Maybe, before long, we will have both.

A Deseret News editorial about a week ago referred to how author Benjamin Skinner has estimated that 17,500 people a year enter the U.S. as slaves? (What -- the Civil War didn't work?)
Can this be? I have never knowingly ran into a human slave here in the Salt Lake Valley, nor in any other place I've lived. And, I stretch to even remember many news reports of people caught for not just kidnapping, but for having slaves imported from other countries.

How serious a crisis is drug crime across our border? The front-running candidate in a border state in Mexico was assassinated this past week. The drug cartels were suspected of having performed the act.
Threats on candidates and fears the drug lords are buying off the candidates has been a theme of the elections in Mexico this year.

Stephen Sandstrom, the legislator from Orem who wants to create legislation in Utah similar to what Arizona adopted, this week said he wants to avoid racial profiling.
People would not be stopped for looking like immigrants, but only if there was cause to stop them and question them.
"I want to get away from racial profiling," Sandstrom was quoted in the Deseret News as saying. "That's a concern of mine. I don't want people who are here legally to feel like they are going to be arrested or harassed in any way."
I came away from the Deseret News article, though, still not sure how Sandstrom is proposing that would avoid racial profiling anymore than the Arizona law. If Sandstrom is suggesting a legal stop must be made before the immigration status can be questioned, that is also in the Arizona law. The section and paragraph I am now looking at does not allow a person to be stopped simply for looking like a foreigner, but rather allows their immigration status to be questioned only after "lawful contact" is made.
Says the Arizona law, "For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official . . . where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person."
Perhaps the difference between the Arizona law and what Sandstrom will propose is that Sandstrom's law will not include the part that says "where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present." Perhaps instead, Sandstrom's law will require that every person who is stopped will be asked to show his or her driver's license or paperwork.

For all the talk of how immigration is a federal issue, did it occur to you that if Utah approves guest-worker legislation, it will be circumventing the feds?
The immigrant would pull up to the border station, and when the officer asked for his papers, he would not present a U.S.-issued visa or any paperwork issued by the federal government, but rather papers issued by Utah.
(The guest worker program, proposed by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, the Sutherland Institute, the Salt Lake Chamber and others), would allow a person to be in Utah if they had a work card allowing them to work here.)
Frankly, I like the guest-worker idea. Nor does it bother me Utah would be taking on authority some see as strictly federal. The federal government has the right to issue citizenship, but that is not being changed. Utah is simply saying it has the right to allow those it chooses to work in this state. That is an authority Utah should and does have.

What of the Supreme Court ruling this past week that the Second Amendment means the government should not be so quick to limit the right to keep and bear arms?
I agree with it. If the Constitution says leave a matter alone, we should follow the Constitution. If we don't like what the Second Amendment says, then work for a new amendment to replace it. The Second Amendment is but a single sentence long. "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Campaign Log: He Didn't Like Extensions

Why would a person work if they could get something for nothing, get something without working?

Knocked on one door tonight, this one on Fruitwood Lane, where the person didn't like President Obama's extending unemployment insurance benefits.

"Obama, everytime he extends it, there's no incentive for people to go out and work," he said.

In my door pitch, I say I don't like our welfare system, and that people should be allowed to work for what they get. The last couple days, I have spoken of how news reports suggest the recovery may not be as enduring as hoped, and we might be facing a double-dip. Part of the problem might be that we have given extensions to those on unemployment. I cannot help but wonder that once on unemployment, if some do not stay on it as long as they can. A couple months ago, when the news reports had us riding an economic recovery, it was noted that the recovery was a jobless recovery, meaning the one part of the economy not recovering was the unemployment rate, which remained in the 10 percent range.

Back then, I couldn't help wondering if our policy of extending unemployment benefits contributed to unemployment not recovering. If you want people to work, you encourage work. If you encourage them not to work, they'll readily comply. For a portion, that is exactly what we reap by extending unemployment benefits.

Anyway, I do believe in helping our unemployed, and our disadvantaged. We, as a society, have the means to help everyone. If we can, we should.

"You're a lot nicer than me," the man at the door said, when he perceived I wasn't saying let's do away with all our welfare programs. "I say get rid of it all."

Campaign Log: San Antonio's Answer

I never heard of the San Antonio answer to America's health-care crisis until tonight. Well, it doesn't provide an answer to all the crisis, but it is a way of providing universal health care.

Knocking doors in Orangewood Lane, Fruitwood Lane and Fruitwood Court (west of 700 East and south of 106 South,), I ran into a lady who had worked in the health-care system down there. People loved it," she said. ". . . People all over the country came to look at the system."

The San Antonio system covers those left out of the rest of the health-care net. It serves those above the line of Medicaid line who do not have health care through the work place or through their plans purchased independently by the self-employed.

Premiums are based on their income. If a person uses the emergency room instead of their primary provider, the rates go up. "It basically ties them into their primary-care doctor," the lady said.

The system collected $13 million in premiums one year. The lady didn't specifically say this, but such people generally get their health care by showing up at the emergency room, where they cannot be turned away for lacking insurance or money to pay, so (and she did say this) the $13 million is money collected that otherwise would be lost.

Sounds like a good way to provide health care to everyone.

Don't Issue Cards to Those Already Here

Features I would like to see in work-card legislation:

-- Make the cards only for those coming in. If you issue it to those already here, you encourage them to come in illegally on the hope of getting the card after they arrive.

-- Require references, both family and friends living back in the home country and those they know here in Utah. This way, when it comes time to leave, you have a way of tracking them down.

-- Make the guest worker subject to all obligations of citizens, paying taxes.

-- Make the card valid only while a job is maintained. If the job is lost and the person doesn't quickly grab another, he (or she) must leave. The idea here is to cut down on guest workers gravitating onto our welfare rolls.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Campaign Log: Democrats Didn't Exist?

One kindly lady listened to most of what I said, then said she just wouldn't be able to vote for me because I'm a Democrat.

That's simple enough.

A few doors later (actually, this next guy was just walking down the sidewalk), I ran into Roland Williams, whose face and demeanor make him about as likable a soul as you will find. He was of a different nature than the lady, saying he votes the person, not the party.

Roland told me back in 1958 when he first registered to vote, it seems that a person could only register as a Republican. Those were your choices: Republican or none.

I guess so many people were Republicans, it just seemed it was the only party.

Roland told me about a time he went to the polls to vote for Gerald Ford for president, and he spoke to someone who didn't know who to vote for, suggesting the name Roland Williams. He said he ended up getting five votes.

And, I spoke to a lady who applauded the idea our welfare system needs a little course correction. "The system has been abused, terribly," she said, saying she saw a lot of that while living down South.

She, though, said we need to do what we can to help people.

She told a story of how she was able to help a neighbor, a great story of service. B But for the fact his situation might not be common knowledge, I'll hold off repeating it. "I'll be the first to help my neighbor if there is something I can do to help," she said. She really got to like the individual she helped, saying he was pretty much a perfect person.

My door knocking got no further than just a portion of 475 East, just south of 7800.

Guest Pass a Passing Idea

No, I don't mean an idea that will pass away. Yes, I do mean an idea that passes with my approval.

Issue the immigrants guest passes, work cards allowing them to work here temporarily.

It's a great idea. Whoever came up with it -- Utah Attorney Mark Shurtleff, the Sutherland Institute, the Salt Lake Chamber, or whoever -- deserves a slap on the back.

Don't we have something like this already? It's called a work visa and it's used to help staff our ski resorts, among other places.

Thing is, those visas can be expensive. The poor hod worker from Mexico is hardly going to fork over $4,000 for a work visa. (Let's hope Utah's guest pass will be inexpensive.)

So, he sneaks across the border, becomes an "illegal alien."

Sometimes, before he gets out of Mexico, drug runners hit him up to take some merchandise along. Perhaps they cajole him in the kindest of ways, suggesting it might lead to a longer life. However they persuade, they persuade.

But, with apologies to the drug runners, this idea of a guest pass could put a damper on the availability of drug couriers.

A man going through a border check point is hardly going to bring drugs with him, unless he sneaks across with the drugs, sneaks back without them, then heads for the security check point to pass through legally.

And, those unfriendly drug lords -- realizing our friendly immigrant will be going through that check point -- are going to leave him alone. No more threats.

So, giving the poor Mexican worker a legal way to enter the U.S. has a nice little side benefit. (Maybe we should consider allowing more of these folks to come through legally.)

For once, justice, the American way and a good border policy win.

Israelis Feel World Closing In On Them

Now that a good month has passed since the battle of the Mavi Marmara turned so much world opinion against them, how do Israelis feel they are faring in the court of public opinion?

Do they still feel like the world's hatred of them is multiplying?

"Israel's deteriorating international status has reached critical proportions," reads a recent editorial at It notes longshoremen in both Stockholm, Sweden, and Oakland, CA, recently refused to load or unload Israeli ships. And, it says people in Greece are suing over the Mavi Marmara incident, and, in Belgium, indictments are being brought against two Israeli government officials for alleged war crimes in a separate and less-recent Israeli engagement in Gaza (that affair known as Operation Cast Lead).

And, today, at, we read a light-hearted editorial titled "Please, hate us!" saying, "What would Israel do without a sense of siege or the feeling that the entire world is closing in on it and without the certainty that no matter what it does anti-Semitism will continue to flourish?"

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Campaign Log: Block Parties Could Help

Susan Booth may be part of the answer to her own question.

After I said I will not be taking political contributions, she wondered what the alternatives are, inasmuch as candidates have to get their names out if they are to be elected.

Susan is a precinct chair for the Democratic Party, and an ambitious one at that, considering throwing a block party and inviting the likes of gubernatorial candidate Peter Corroon.

Block parties are, indeed, one way for candidates to get their names out. Hopefully, Susan will invite me to her party.

In addition to meeting Susan, while campaigning on Darin and Torry circles, I met a man whose small business is being stretched by the economy. He wondered if this is the time for all the concrete walls to be going up on 13th and so much other road construction going on. "In a hard economy, you can't spend all your money keeping streets pretty," he said.

He was in favor of spending on education, however, which shows how deep some people feel about education. Even when they see the need to cut elsewhere, they say education should not be cut.

Drug Couriers and Smugglers are Set Free on that Famous Mexico-Arizona Border

Today's news post is truly a news item, a group of legislators and government officials having returned Tuesday from the Arizona border on a fact-finding mission.

Among them was Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, R-Orem, who has said he will craft legislation in Utah similar to the Arizona legislation stirring a national firestorm.

I can't offer the Sandstrom angle, though, other than to say he was there, as I didn't speak to him. I spoke to Todd Richardson, sheriff-elect in Davis County.

"We've created an illusion for the citizens of this country that we have some kind of security down there," he said, adding that such security just isn't the case. "We don't have a secure border," he said.

The fences are often in ill repair, and a person being able to walk right through them. "We should have double-fencing all the way (across the Mexican border) like they have in San Diego," Richardson said.

He said he has heard the double fencing in San Diego has cut entries by 90 percent.

"The number-one thing is the fence," he said when asked what the border agents need to do their job.

One bit of information Richardson brought back with me shocked me: He said those smuggling drugs are set free if caught with less than 500 pounds -- just kicked back across the border. Why would they simply be let go? "That's what our question was and the border patrol agent had no answer at all," he said.

I have a friend who I spoke to after talking to Richardson (it was he who told me Richardson had just returned from the border and suggested I call him) and he suggested many of those coming across with drugs have been physically threatened, forcing them serve as drug couriers.

Could the border policy of not prosecuting for less than 500 pounds be a mercy ruling saving the pack-mule illegals from prosecution for a crime they have little choice but to perform? I don't know.

At any rate, Richardson said the drug rings often send their couriers over with about 490 pounds, just cutting under the limit. And, when they are turned back across the border, the couriers are free to try again -- and often do the very next day.

How many of the illegal immigrants are bringing drugs? I asked, my friend having told me Richardson told him a large percentage do. "I don't know the ratio," Richardson said, but then said the border agent told him a third or forth of those coming across are carrying assault rifles or drugs.

Richardson also found the borders are not so secure that a person could not just go hang out for a good portion of a day without being discovered by border agents. He said his group was down there for a few hours, unmolested and unquestioned and without seeing patrolling officers. Evidently, though, the media got wind of the government delegation (Arizona government officials were there with the Utah officials) and the border patrol was notified when the media called inquiring. Suddenly, three or four trucks appeared out patrolling. "It was politically advantageous to make it look like they had a presence," Richardson said.

Richardson also spoke of ramps the smugglers use, setting them up at the fences and using them to drive their pickups across. I didn't think to ask if the double fencing like there is in San Diego would solve that problem.