Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Welfare Numbers Now Haunting

While watching with dread as the federal deficit soars, cast an equally somber eye at the number of people now receiving government help.

A record one in six people, according to yesterday's USA Today, a hauntingly high number. Whatever nation holds the record for having the largest percentage of its people on government assistance, I do not know, but one in six is sobering.

So, the federal deficit has sky rocketed as we have sought to save our economy? Even so have our welfare rolls ballooned to all-time highs.

So, you need unemployment insurance, but your benefits have run out? We'll extend them. According to USA Today, nearly 10 million receive unemployment benefits, nearly four times as many as in 2007.

So, you are just flat in need of government welfare? More than 4.4 million are now on the welfare, according to USA Today, The paper says the number has increased 18 percent during the recession. (While "welfare" can apply to any government assistance for the needy, I believe USA Today here is referring just to TANF, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which is the program often designated as "welfare.")

Do you have medical needs, but can't afford them? The USA Today story says more than 50 million are on Medicaid. This is believed to be the highest peak the Medicaid has ever had. The numbers are 17 percent higher than at the beginning of the recession in December, 2007.

And, if you'll note, all of the above doesn't mention the free government aid awarded through stimulus money. Much of it could be termed government aid.

This recession, the answer has been, jump on the government's back, and we have, pushing our welfare rolls to historic levels.

Welfare Threatens Nation, So Give Everyone Job

Our way of caring for those who need a little help is to give them a handout. Has been for probably 75 years now, August having marked the 75th anniversary of the Social Security Act.

We must, if you don't mind, change that.

And, what would be a better solution? Give them jobs. Simply give everyone a job.

This is a state issue, to some degree. States dictate the qualifications for Unemployment Insurance. We can, as a state change it and also change some of the other social assistance programs.

Why, pray tell, do we not? Why in a state where many believe in work, do we not require whenever we can that people work? Work benefits our society, and it benefits the individual. With the economy what it is, the national unemployment rate riding steady at about 9.5 percent, what if we were simply to offer everyone a job, every person willing to work?

Reading the USA Today article, about how a record one in six is now on welfare, I cringed. We are not considering the danger we have moved into by having so many people on our welfare rolls. Even as the federal deficit is a threat, so is the rate of people on welfare. As with anything in life, a person is more likely to try something again once he has tried it that initial time.

So, during this recession as record numbers have turned to government assistance, we have raised the threat of our becoming a welfare nation.

I would guess more people have been introduced to government assistance these past three years than at any time in our history. We are taught Unemployment Insurance is rightfully ours, that it is simply an insurance that payments are made into with the understanding we should then draw from it when we lose our jobs.

I, too, believe that. I likely would take UI benefits if I were to lose my job and be unable to immediately find new employment.

Accepting government-funded help? How long have we heard the mantra, "I pay my taxes, so I am not getting something for nothing when I receive this help."

And it is a true statement. Trully, we should take the help if we have been paying in and reach a point where we need a help.

What I fear is that many of us will get a taste of the help and eat from the trough longer than we need, or return quicker than we need. This is not an idle worry. It is the way of humankind.

Our welfare system is an accident waiting to happen, simply because human nature is to get something the easiest way possible, and keep receiving it if it is possible. Many trully do need help, but others might simply justify being on the program. Herd them that way, and they may graze there too long.

I think of my days growing up on a farm, how the cow could not be left alone in a field of alfalfa, or it would eat until it bloated. So it is with us, we cannot be left on the welfare rolls, but must be herded back to the job market.

What are we doing to herd them back to work?

What you practice is what you become. So, instead of giving people something for nothing, we need to provide work for them whenever we give them assistance. Then, they are practicing work.

Developing a work ethic in our people is, indeed, one of the answers to our sour economy that we are not considering.

Let's provide jobs for every single person willing to work. Let's create small companies at every pocket of unemployment. We can create a small company for those panhandling and begging in downtown Salt Lake City. We can create a small company for those on TANF, for those on Unemployment Insurance, and even those on disability (many of them can do some kind of work, if not physical labor). Let's attach small work programs to our homeless shelters.

Sometimes, it might be no more than giving them flowers to sell on street corners. Work is work, though, so that is enough.

Who is going to create these jobs, these companies? I submit to you it would be better use of our tax dollars to create employment than to just giving out money outright, but private enterprise should be able to support our needy.

We already have so many rich philanthropists. Would it be so impossible to ask put a new twist on their giving, instead of just giving, creating the small companies we need?

This avoids the dreaded socialism.

But, however we do it, let's provide work, jobs, for everyone, everyone who is willing to work. Really, there is no reason for not having 100 percent employment, at least of those who are willing to work. Even those who are unable to do most work, can be given something to do: Making phone calls from their bed, even if but for just a short period each day, is better than providing them no work at all.

There are two ways of measuring a bad economy. One is to look at how many people are unemployed, and how many receiving assistance, and how many in need. The other is to look at the GNP, and the stock market, and consumer spending.

The first of those two can be solved easy enough. Just create jobs for everyone. That is not a hard solution. It is something we should do.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Religion Not in Opposition to Social Duties

Hey, does one of the earliest and key papers used to argue a barrier should exist between church and state actually say religion is quite alright in government?

I believe it does.

The idea of separation of church and state has been traced by some to a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote, in which he wrote of a "wall of separation between church and State."

I find the letter to be arguing religion should not be removed from government, that there is nothing in the practice of religion that stands in opposition to the public duties.

Public duties include those of public officials, so this would indicate religion should be allowed in the performance of public duties by public officials.

Here's the whole quote, taken from his letter. The part I refer to is at the very end:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their 'legislature' should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties."

Jefferson's letter was written in 1802 to a minority group, the Danbury Baptists, who were concerned about being dominated by the Congregationalist church in Connecticut.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thanks, Glenn Beck

Today's event was an uncommon one, a rally of an estimated 87,000 that focused as much as anything on . . .


I have perhaps only once or twice caught snippets from Glenn Beck's talk show, and I didn't tune in for his "Restoring Honor" event, but from the story I read at Fox News, it was a worthy occasion.

"Something that is beyond man is happening," Fox quotes Beck as saying. "America today begins to turn back to God."

Now, Beck is a political commentator. Many in attendance were Tea Partyers. Sarah Palin spoke. Of course politics were not entirely avoided. But, the quotes I read from Beck didn't reflect partisan politics, he even quoted from Barack Obama. And, he had asked attendees to leave their signs at home.

I think it a good thing, the rally. (Apologies, though, did I read somewhere that Beck didn't want it called a rally? -- But it was.)

I think it a neat thing that a national leader threw such a big event to turn our hearts to God.

May Ours Be A Christian Nation

So, Glenn Beck called on us to turn to God. What do I think of us being a Christian nation? What do I think of mixing religion and politics?

On the coin, it says, "In God We Trust." In the Pledge of Allegiance, we say, "one nation, under God." When taking an oath of office, the office holder often places a hand on the Bible and says, "So help me God."

These are not mistakes that have crept in. They are not items requiring correction. Oh, if the day comes when the majority wants them removed, it will be right to remove them, but I hope that day never comes.

George Washington, in his inaugural address, said, "It would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe."

Perhaps, then, when we wrestle with what separation of church and state should be, we shouldn't separate God from state. It is wise to ensure that no one religious faction controls the government, and that no single church is pronounced the official church and that the rights of all denominations -- Christian and non-Christian -- are protected.

I would even say it is right that no elected official should have to place his (or her) hand on the Bible and say, "So help me God."

But, may he forever have that option, and my personal hope is that he chooses to include God in his oath.

May everyone have the right to worship as they see fit. May Muslims and Buddhists and Jews have the same civil rights as Christians. When Muslims, or Buddhists, or Jews, or Wiccians are elected or appointed, let's not require them to observe any Christian oath or observance. If it is a city council's practice to hold a prayer at the beginning of a meeting and if a person is elected who does not believe in God, let him excuse himself from the prayer, or join the group after the prayer, or stand by with his eyes open and arms unfolded -- whatever he will -- and let us not think it wrong or hold ill will toward him.

But, let us not mandate God out of our government. When public officials want to turn to God, they should be allowed to do so. When they want to acknowledge Him, pray to Him, or honor Him, they should be allowed to do so.

Even more, it is my personal hope that they do. I hope ours remains a Christian nation. I hope our leaders are Christians, God fearing and God abiding, and I believe they should have the right to seek God as they carry out their official duties.

That, too, is freedom of religion.

Freedom of religion, to me, includes being able to practice religion in all settings and in all places, including in the public arena. Freedom of religion, to me, means not being forced to check it at the door. It doesn't mean religion is taboo. It means it is allowed. Simply said, freedom of religion is being able to include religion in all you do, rather than having to exclude it in certain settings.

What, then, of the Constitution, the First Amendment, which says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"? Well, to me, this only backs what I have already said. The Constitution doesn't mandate that religion leave government. It mandates that government leave religion alone.

Just a Day of Thanks, or a Day for God?

Thanksgiving isn't a day to just be thankful in general, without thanking anyone in particular, but rather it is a day to give thanks to, specifically, God.

Even more, it is a day to serve God.

Open up the proclamation, if you will, and see it you don't read that it is to be a day "devoted . . . to the service of that great and glorious Being."

Imagine, a holiday created just to honor God. I've always thought that would be neat, but imagined Christmas was the closest thing.

Well, go ahead and open it up and read what George Washington said in the proclamation way back in 1789:

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:

"Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted' for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us."

Political Contributors Often Want Political Favors

I do not like it that the people who finance our political campaigns are very often the ones wanting political favors once the candidates are elected. Could we put an end to this? Maybe, but not without you, the voter.

I'm running for the legislature the hard way, having vowed to take no monetary political contributions.

That, please note, means no special interest money.

I would hope my stand on special-interest money, alone, might win your vote. But, I will be quick to state my view on other issues, selecting a news story a day, and matching it with an opinion on an issue, posting them on this blog site. While the stories and posts are usually on national issues, you still will be getting a feel for me as a candidate.

Know someone who lives in House District 41? If you want to support my campaign, please share a post with them, or suggest they become my Facebook friend so they can be notified when I post blogs.

District 41 has the Midvale city limits and 8680 North as its northern border, and lies between 1-15 on the west and 700 East on the east. That part of the district stretches down to 11400 South (excluding a little box in the southeast corner).

It also includes the area between the Jordan River on the west and I-15 on the east, between 10600 South and 12300 South.

And, the district takes in the area south of 12300 South between 300 East and about 1300 West, with that part of the district going south to 13800.

And, it includes the area south of Bangerter Highway between I-15 and 4800 West, going to the county line.

I'm running against Todd Kiser.

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

Friday, August 27, 2010

Behold, Glenn Beck's Rally Cometh

Tomorrow, then, is the big day, Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally promising to salute the military and others who exemplify integrity, truth and honor.

Those being good things, while I won't be there, I will be interested.

As for the flap about it falling on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, and being held at the very location of King's speech . . .

Beck has said this is just a coincidence, but he has to understand if we are skeptical. After all, King's niece, Alveda King will be one of the featured speakers. And, to top it, Beck has said (quoting from an Associated Press story), "This is a moment, quite honestly, that I think we reclaim the civil rights movement."

So, the event is envisioned to reclaim the civil rights movement, and King's niece is to speak, and it is at the Lincoln Memorial where King gave that memorable address, and it falls on the very anniversary? It all does seem too much for coincidence.

That being said, what it observes and whether good comes from it is what is important. If Beck is planning on including goodwill for civil rights at his party, that's great. Al Sharpton and other civil rights advocates do have the right to oppose what Beck is doing, but I would rather see them wait to see what happens, and if the event does support civil rights, then congratulate the effort, instead of opposing it.

If someone supports your cause, support them for doing so. As another African-American man named King once said, "Can't we all be friends?" (that would be Rodney King, who was beaten by police in 1992, sparking the Los Angeles Riots.)

I'm Glad King has His Day

Each January, when Martin Luther King, Jr. Day rolls around, many Utahns sit it out.

Perhaps they just view King as too subversive to be worthy of a holiday.

In Utah, the day was observed as Human Rights Day before 2000, and on that year, the holiday's name was changed to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

George Washington, too, had flaws, but there is nary a person I would rather honor with a holiday than him. King? He did a lot of good impressing upon us the importance of treating people as people regardless of race.

My personal observance of the day -- along with observance of some of our other holidays -- often lacks much attention, but I like it that we honor King with a holiday.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Massacre Might be Worst Yet

Though I found the massacre of the migrants on my Walmart Connect website this morning, I heard no more about it in the news today until I did a web search tonight. I do not catch television news to know how much play it had there.

I guess I thought it would be the lead story. I do wish what was going on in Mexico would attract more attention. With 72 people being massacred, perhaps the worst massacre of the drug wars in Mexico so far, it seems it would warrant more concern.

The Laredo Sun website indicated the massacre was yet to be verified as being the work of a drug cartel. A man believed to be the lone survivor said the attackers identified themselves as Zetas, which is the most feared of all Mexican gangs. The Zetas demanded the migrants work for the cartel, according to the survivor. Evidently, the migrants declined, and were killed.

They were reportedly from Ecuador, Honduras, El Salvador and Brazil. They were but 100 miles from the U.S. border when killed.

How dangerous is it for a migrant to journey across Mexico in hopes of reaching the U.S.? The Mexico Human Rights Commission says 500,000 make the trip each year. It said 10,000 were abducted in about six months from 2008 to 2009, so the rate of abductions is high. They are taken at point of life, and forced to serve the drug cartels, and others are extorted before being let go

The dangerous trip across Mexico surely discourages many, and will dissuade even more when they hear about the massacre.

Since I try to post an opinion on an issue each day and tie it into a news story, my opinion is that we should legalize immigration. The obstacles facing a person who wants to come to America often mean he must wait years to come, or if he comes, he must come illegally. In essence, then, it is illegal for many to immigrate into the U.S., thus we have so many illegal immigrants.

Instead of making it illegal for them to come, and leaving them facing the terror of crossing through the drug-cartel land of Mexico, I wish they were escorted here. I wish Mexican officials greeted them at the southern border and escorted them safely to the U.S. border, where they were issued paperwork making it legal for them to enter the U.S.

72 Massacred in Mexico

With announcement of 72 migrants being massacred in the Tamaulipas state of Mexico, perhaps the horror of what is occurring in that country will finally reach more Americans.

And, by my way of thinking it underscores the need to make it easier for immigrants to immigrate, instead of locking them out. They are victims.

But, it is time to go to work, so this is all I write for now

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jeff Greene Leads Way to Defeat

Jeff Greene, billionaire though he be, is showing me how running with on the slogan of not accepting special interest money might not be enough.

Green lost Florida's Democratic primary for Senate today, with Kendrick Meek defeating him.

Greene entered the campaign promising not to accept a penny of special interest money. He bankrolled his own election and had twice what Meek did in his campaign money, but it wasn't enough.

Now, I am not accepting any monetary political contributions while running for House District 41, but the difference between me and Greene is that I have no money to begin with.

Wonder if that difference can work to my advantage?

Legalize Immigration, Not Drugs

Here are some afterthoughts and notes from a little Internet study on what I posted yesterday, about how former Mexico President Vincente Fox wants drugs legalized there, including putting cocaine and heroine on the store shelves.

Since legalizing the production would likely increase the production, if Mexico does listen to Fox, yet more drugs will be available to spill across into the U.S. So, we should be discouraging Mexico from the move, with Hillary and others in diplomatic positions applying the persuasion.

How many drug-sniffing dogs are at the border. A good number, but not enough. In 1987 or 1988, two dogs named Rocky and Barco set a record with 969 drug seizures on the Texas-Mexico border. Rocky and Barco were so good, the Mexican drug lords put a bounty on their heads.

But, despite Rocky and Balboa's -- I mean, Barco's -- success, more could be done. From what I can tell, the drug-sniffing is only done at random. I read one story about a man on medicinal marijuana who moved south to Calexico, Calif., to be nearer medical treatment and in a healthier environment. He crossed the border often, and evidently without problem even though having drugs with him. Then, at last, he was caught in a random search, handcuffed, bodily searched, then let go. His drugs were taken from him.

Did the border agents known he had the right to the drugs through the medicinal marijuana laws? I don't know. His story doesn't say they did. He says he was told the dog was "searching for what it alerted to," and does not make mention of drugs even being verbalized. He says they let him go without ever explaining what they had been looking for or why they detained, handcuffed, and searched him.

You might be wondering if the agents didn't know the man was medicinally allowed marijuana, why didn't they then file charges to have him prosecuted? But, perhaps somewhere in the conversation, the man, Charles Berg, told them his situation, even though there is no mention of that in the story I read.

Berg was upset that they should even make such a search, suggesting it should be illegal to search without a warrant.

I would think everyone should be thoroughly searched at the border. It shouldn't take a search warrant. If, per chance, this isn't so, then a legislation should be drawn up making it legal, even if it means going so high as a Constitutional amendment.

Every vehicle crossing the border, and every train box car, and every truck trailer, should be searched, complete with drug-sniffing dogs sniffing every parcel. If this is considered an invasion of privacy by some, then I suppose they will need to get used to the notion this is a border, and crossing the border is not the same as living within the walls of your own home.

We should also make searches of everything leaving the U.S. and entering Mexico, searching especially for weapons. By our government's estimate, 90 percent of the weapons used by the Mexico drug cartels are coming from the U.S., and from what I gather, they are being smuggled in illegally.

Yesterday, I said we should make it easier for those coming from Mexico to obtain legal right to be here. If we make it so the entry papers are issued right at the border stations, as opposed to issuing paperwork in advance, then they will be funneled right into our searches. The drug cartels will no longer be forcing poor immigrants to be human pack mules carrying illegal drugs because the drug lords will know the people will be going through the search points.

But, you say, if we make it so easy for a person to get the right to come across, the drug lords, themselves, will apply for and obtain the right to be here. True, but if they have to come through the legal checkpoints, they, also, cannot bring drugs through. The only way to bring drugs in is to sneak across. They might have paperwork, but they won't be using it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

To Soften Violence, Legalize Cocaine?

Tonight, just a thought on securing our southern border.

The massive drug war down in Mexico -- 28,000 murders have been attributed to it in the past four years -- is prompting people there to re-think how they deal with the drug cartels. The nation's past president, Vincente Fox, has an answer: just make all drugs legal, no exceptions -- cocaine and heroine along with the rest.

That way, he suggests the drug cartels will have nothing to kill people over.

The debate over legalizing drugs is exploding in Mexico, with four proposals making their way through the country's House of Deputies.

I would hope Mexico doesn't legalize drugs. Fox wants both the production and sales legalized. I would imagine legalizing production would only lead to more of it being produced, which isn't good for the U.S.

The U.S., if you didn't know it, is the largest drug-consuming nation in the world. We are much of the market fueling the troubles south of the border. The weapons being used south of the border come from the U.S., 90 percent of them, reportedly.

So, we are part of the problem, and it is our problem, too.

It is also Utah's problem. A few weeks ago, Mexican nationals were arrested at a drug farm near Cedar City. And, along with Arizona and the rest of the nation, we are considering Utah solutions in how to handle the illegal residents.

I say, let those without paperwork in. Let them stay, and make it so they can get paperwork. Many of them -- on threat of life -- are being forced to carry drugs across the border with them. Instead of Mexico's legalizing drugs, we should legalize immigration. If the poor person wanting to come to the U.S. for a job is coming here legally, he will no longer be sneaking across. He will be passing through a border checkpoint where we can search his vehicle for drugs.

Stop crime, not immigrants.

Instead of fighting the man without paperwork, we should be fighting drugs crossing our border. It is a matter of what you emphasis. If you are out to get immigrants and politely escort them back to their own country, well, that's one way to stop immigrants coming without their paperwork.

What about stopping drugs? As a policy, we don't even call to see if the person caught at the border is wanted in his home jurisdiction. And, how many drug sniffing dogs are there? Do we have enough? Are they at every border checkpoint, and also positioned so they can be taken to those caught crossing illegally?

We should be doing more to fight the flow of drugs, emphasizing that instead of just stopping those without paperwork.

Monday, August 23, 2010

SLC Running Own Businesses Out of Town

For a country that believes in the free enterprise system, we sure shoot ourselves in the leg a lot.

Salt Lake City is reaching for a rifle as we speak, aiming to fire a shot at its own taxi industry. Saturday's Deseret News says the city will put cab service out for bids, selecting just two companies.

Just two.

As best as I can determine, the idea is taxis will do better if they don't have so much competition. You read the quote the DesNews got from Ray Mundy, the transportation expert whose study is behind this, and tell me if that isn't what it all boils down to:

"Fewer vehicles generate more trips per vehicle and more revenue. It's in the public's interest to regulate."

Regulate? That's one thing. But this will be flat-out legislating companies out of business, telling them they have no right to exist anymore, at least not within Salt Lake City.

Why is Salt Lake City picking on just the taxi industry? If this is such a good idea, why not just two fastfood restaurants, and two companies to sell us cars, and two grocery stores? Each would be allowed to have more than one store or dealership, just as the taxi folks are allowed more than one taxi. If I'm reading the DesNews story right, Salt Lake City is going to give the two winning taxi firms a limit of just 200 cabs.

Maybe limiting taxi business to two companies makes sense to some, but it doesn't to me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Come Close to Saying Build Mosque

I come close to saying let the Muslims build that mosque at Ground Zero. Freedom of religion on their part and tolerance on our part both being important.

It would be comforting to know, first, who is going to pay for it, to rule out the notion terrorists would fund it. If this is simply Muslims building a mosque, we should not be associating them with the terrorists of 9/11. The terrorists were Muslims, but not not every Muslim is a terrorist. Not every Muslim participated in 9/11, or endorsed it. Many were surely horrified, along with those of us who are Christian.

If we lack a more specific reason, then saying Muslims shouldn't built a mosque at Ground Zero is to blame the entire Islamic faith for 9/11.

But, a Facebook friend (Clint Harper) provided me with a reason: Mosques are often built to commemorate conquests.

I recoil.

I still might say allow the mosque, but not unless we first know where the funding is coming from.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pick Someone on More than Friendship

So, is it right to screen out the outside candidates and select just from among friends when appointing someone to a governmental post?

The governmental post, in this case, was the Granite School District's superintendent's position. The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting today that while the district touted a "nationwide" search for the job, it interviewed only its own assistant superintendents, three of them.

If the Tribune article is complete and accurate, and supposing there were other candidates, it means those on the outside the district were not even given a chance to present themselves, an indication the district quickly decided to stay in house in filling the position. Is that wrong? Is it wrong to limit your choice to your friends?

If were talking your own company, it's alright. But, when it's a government position, you represent the people and should not serve your own, personal friendships.

I do not know the winning candidate, Martin Bates, but would guess he is wonderful. Still, it would have been better to sincerely look at the outside candidates.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

BYU's Bolting MWC to Join WAC?

What if the news angle were that BYU is leaving the MWC for the WAC? Not many would favor that move, moving from a strong conference to a weaker one.

Yet, unless all sports except football are throw-outs, that is what would happen.

Perhaps BYU is making the right move if it goes independent in football and joins the WAC for the other sports, but I am not sure. The MWC has grown in stature since its inception, and with the college football landscape changing, perhaps recognition of that is shortly to come whether or not BYU sticks there.

On Following Church Leaders

Okay, the idea is to take a news story each day and blog an opinion on it -- a political opinion, that is. Now, how do I write about BYU leaving the MWC and tie it in to how I stand on the issues?

Well, I'm told the BYU football's going independent is being brought before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

And I did just blog my reservations about the wisdom of the move.

And, to some, one of the big political issues is whether elected leaders who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ kowtow to their church. Well, then, would I "kowtow" to the church.

If you need a one-word answer, then, yes.

But, how that breaks out in reality as issues come up is yet to be seen. I can give you some background and that will tell us much.

Going back to ERA, I have supported positions taken by church leaders. I have supported them whether they were on gay rights or blacks in the priesthood, or whatever.

I have supported them on public prayer. I remember I once came to the conclusion of opposing prayer in government meetings, with the reservation that members of the governing body wanting to do so ought to be allowed to pray together in private before going into public session.

But -- unless my memory fails me on the timeline -- about as quick as I came to that conclusion, I read something (either an official statement or just a quote from a church leader) suggesting prayer in public meetings should be allowed.

And I promptly changed my opinion.

But, stop right there. Don't suppose I believe a person is apostate if he or she does not support official church positions on these type of matters. On questions of how to get to heaven, and questions of doctrine, what they say is final. But how about on Prop 8 and gay rights and prayer in public and such.

If they say, Thus saith the Lord, then we better listen. The Lord can speak on any topic he wants. A thought for a political cartoon just comes to my mind, with the Lord calling down to the earth on what he wants done on some political matter, and someone yelling back at him, "Sorry, Lord, but we have a separation of church and state down here. This isn't your call."

Hmmm. Let's not do that.

That being said, I don't know that all stands taken by church leaders come with "the Lord speaketh" stamp of authority. How about BYU going independent? If church leaders involve themselves in that, and make or ratify a decision, does that mean their decision is the Lord's will on the matter? Perhaps. Perhaps my even wondering is a lack of faith, but I suppose I wonder if some of their decisions are decisions the Lord leaves to them, to make of their own and on their own.

If so, BYU going independent might just be one of them.

So, how about church statements? The ones I'm thinking of -- Prop 8 and others -- are on moral issues. They may also be political, but the church leaders make the statements due to the moral value. On these issues, they speak for the Lord, as they are His representatives here on earth. So, I listen.

I have posted some reservations on BYU going independent, without guilt. Even should the Twelve end up taking a hand in the decision on that matter that is contrary to what I have posted, I might still maintain my opinion.

But, Church statements are another matter.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How Does Going Independent Affect BYU Football's National Championship Hopes?

And, this candidate waddles away from politics to weigh in on the day's biggest news story.

BYU's football program going independent.

It seems to me, the biggest consideration should be how it affects the chance to play for the national title. If BYU were to stay in the MWC, what with Boise State and TCU making the conference arguably as tough as any, it might well be the BCS would shortly be forced to grant the conference an automatic berth in a bowl.

But, a BCS bowl isn't necessarily the national championship game.

Running the table is the only way to qualify. Which would be easier, running the table in the MWC, or as an independent? Which spot, staying in the MWC or going independent, puts BYU in better position for a bid not just to a BCS game, but to the national title game?

Do not know. But I think that should be the chief consideration, bigger than how much revenue you can make.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Share the Land

Know someone who lives in House District 41? If you want to support my campaign, please share a post with them, or suggest they become my Facebook friend so they can be notified of my campaign blogs.

District 41 has the Midvale city limits and 8680 North as its northern border, and lies between 1-15 on the west and 700 East on the east. That part of the district stretches down to 11400 South (excluding a little box in the southeast corner).

It also includes the area between the Jordan River on the west and I-15 on the east, between 10600 South and 12300 South.

And, the district takes in the area south of 12300 South between 300 East and about 1300 West, with that part of the district going south to 13800.

And, it includes the area south of Bangerter Highway between I-15 and 4800 West, going to the county line.

I'm running against Todd Kiser.

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

A Vote for Me is a Vote Against Blago

Do we say Rob Blagojevich's court outcome today places a blotch on our system, that a high politician should wiggle free while all appearances are that he most certainly did attempt to auction off the Senate seat being vacated by Barack Obama?

Or do we say we we should grant him the assumption of innocence since the court didn't convict him?

Juries can err, and, in this case, the evidence is not washed away the jury's decision.

Or indecision.

The jury deadlocked 11-1 on whether Blagojevich tried to auction off the Senate seat being vacated by Barack Obama, this despite an FBI tape having him saying the opportunity to name someone to the Senate seat was "(expletive) golden."

That was among the evidence that seemingly should have nailed Blago to the wall. One juror said the holdout juror "just didn't see what we all saw." He said that of all the charges against Blagojevich, the selling of the Senate seat was "the most obvious." (Blago was convicted on a charge of lying, but not on the bribery charges.)

I came home, listening to KSL, listening to Blagojevich suggest prosecutors had persecuted him, wondering if, per chance, he was right.

But, oh, no, I hardly think so.

Rather, I think today was the latest citation in the What-I-Did-Was-Quite-Alright, Money-For-Favors heritage of political thought.

Money for favors is not alright. Asking for money for appointing someone to political office is, of course, wrong.

And -- I beg to suggest -- so is it wrong that those running for office often take contributions from those who will be coming before them asking for favors. This may not be blatant bribery, but it is a slight form of bribery. Candidates take the money without thought as it is simply the way the system works. But, if they gave it some thought, many would surely see it isn't the best way of running an election.

Why do we allow it? I am not going to take that money. I am not going to take contributions from those seeking my favor after I'm elected. (Actually, just to be safe, I am not taking political contributions from anyone, but instead will rely on my own finances.)

If you will, after all you might have said of how you do not like special interest money running government, please see this as an opportunity to do something about it. (And, to boot, you'll get a good legislator.)

A vote for me is a vote against a slight bit of corruption, if we can call the current system that. Please vote for me for House District 41.

-- John Jackson, candidate House District 41

Monday, August 16, 2010

Give Them Their Rights, But Not Marriage Rights

If I had a chance, I'd ask the world to dance, and I'd be posting with myself.

But, since I have suggested I will blog pretty much daily, I'll post a quick thought tonight, despite having a minus 20 readership.

The marriages are all off. Last week, the court in California said same-sex marriages can go ahead and take place while the decision to throw out Proposition 8 is appealed.

Today, a higher court said, No, let's wait for a decision before allowing these marriages.

And, so how to I feel about same-sex marriages and gay rights? I'm against same-sex marriage, but for many gay rights.

I would also suggest the not-to-long-ago decision by the Salt Lake City Council to grant some rights to gays could give some insight into this issue. I'm in too big of a hurry to go to bed to look it up, but I know when the city council proposed an ordinance, a spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints read a statement supporting the ordinance.

That shocked some (well, many).

But the statement noted the ordinance was not allowing same-sex marriages, just assuring certain inalienable rights (I don't believe "inalienable" that was the wording, "normal" may have been.)

The judge who tossed Proposition 8 out a couple weeks ago suggested it is not Constitutional because it doesn't allow the -- for lack of looking up the exact wording -- inalienable rights.

But, from what we learn from the Salt Lake City ordinance case, marriage rights and gay rights are not always the same. My understanding is that Prop 8 is short. It says little but that marriage is between a man and a woman. Does it get into what rights there are for gays in domestic partnerships?

I don't believe so.

If Prop 8 says only that marriage is between a man and woman, then it doesn't delve into the natural rights. Whatever rights are rights remain with the gay whether in a marriage or domestic partnership.

I agree that gays should retain their natural rights. With Prop 8, they lose whatever privileges legally are spelled out in law as being in a marriage, but Prop 8 cannot assume to take away their natural rights.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Utah Might Leave Money on Table

Okay, you heard President Obama signed a new stimulus bill (only $26.1 billion this time, instead of $800-plus billion like the big one).

And, $101 million of it is to be sent to Utah, and 1,400 to 1,500 school jobs will be saved.

Now, education funding is one of our most crying needs here in Utah. Saving 1,400 schools jobs is something we desperately need to do.

But, Utah just might turn the money down. So says a story in today's Deseret News. The story quotes Governor Gary Herbert as saying the stimulus money might be a way to address the need of more funding for education. But, it says, Herbert says we should first determine if taking the money is the right thing to do.

I'm thinking not too long ago, such money would be accepted with no pause for thought. Actually, I'm wondering if Utah has ever turned money down just because we don't want pork barrel money, or because we don't want to be running up the national debt.

The story doesn't specifically say either of those reasons are what Gov. Herbert is concerned about. It may be he is concerned about the ties that come with the money.

But, the story does indicate running up the national debt is a concern of some. It quotes Rep. Carl Wimmer of Herriman on whether Utah ought to just leave the money on the table for some other state to snatch up. "Let them," Wimmer says. "At least then we can hold our heads high knowing we did not participate in the bankrupting of our nation."

All of which leaves me wondering. I remember there were states that considered leaving the big stimulus money on the table. Did any of them actually do that? I suppose they did.

I think of how I do not want to take political contributions from those whose issues will come before me, thinking it wrong to take such money.

Wimmer and others are of a same mind about taking federal money and running up the national debt. I would love to see us find a way to get money to education, but I'm having trouble disagreeing with Wimmer. Maye this, too, is a time we should say, "I'm not going to take that money."

Wimmer's argument is worthy of thought.

Stories and Stands

Here's hoping you will spot a blog below that you like and pass it along to someone living in Utah House District 41, which includes parts of Sandy, Draper, Riverton, South Jordan, Bluffdale, and Herriman. 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 on national issues, but state issues are scattered through these posts.

I am running for the Utah House, District 41. Why vote for me? You don't often have an opportunity to elect someone not accepting special-interest money. Most all candidates accept such contributions, knowing that if they don't, hardly anyone will hear about them and they won't get elected. I do not like the idea that politicians take contributions from those they know will be bringing issues to them once they are elected. I'm not going to take that money (actually, I'm not accepting any contributions, period), and hope that -- even though this means you will hear more from my opponent, Todd Kiser -- you will vote for me anyway. I hope this stand, alone, is enough to persuade you to vote for me.

District 41 has the Midvale city limits and 8680 North as its northern border, and lies between 1-15 on the west and 700 East on the east. That part of the district stretches down to 11400 South (excluding a little box in the southeast corner).

It also includes the area between the Jordan River on the west and I-15 on the east, between 10600 South and 12300 South.

And, the district takes in the area south of 12300 South between 300 East and about 1300 West, with that part of the district going south to 13800.

And, it includes the area south of Bangerter Highway between I-15 and 4800 West, going to the county line.

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

Immigration -- Something Worth Fighting?

Why are we fighting immigration?

When you stop to think about it, that's really all we are doing when we demand that undocumented residents be sent home. Oh, many will argue it is not immigration they opposed, but illegal immigration.

But, an illegal immigrant is nothing but a person who doesn't have paperwork. You can grant him his paperwork, and thus support immigration, or you can find reasons for not giving him his paperwork, and thus fight immigration.

What are some of the demands we might make?

"Learn English before you come in here. Everyone here speaks English, so we can all get along better."

There are many jobs employers simply cannot offer them if they do not learn English. That is as it should be. There are many opportunities they simply cannot take, including passing our driver's license test, if they do not know English. They will serve themselves well to learn English, but I suggest we shouldn't impose it as a law.

"Wait 5-10 years. It took my neighbor 10 years to get his citizenship, and he happily did it. This is a fine system we have here, and I think you should wait 10 years, too."

Perhaps we shouldn't make them wait just to wait. Standing in line five years is a long time for paperwork. If there is a reason for making them wait, I guess I am not aware of what it is. I do not know of a reason other than that we simply think they should wait. Why?

Well, there's two of the ways to fight immigration, and there are others. Now we can say, "Whatever we do, let's make it hard on them. Whatever we do, we don't want to just give them their paperwork."

Why take that thought? Are we wanting to make it hard just to make it hard? Or do we have reason for wanting to do so? I do wonder what the reason is. Is it that we might let terrorists in? Yes, keeping terrorists out is a worthy concern. But some of our laws are not shielding us against them. I understand immigrants who live here a certain amount of time then become eligible for citizenship. How would we be stopping a terrorist if we let him live here five years before granting him citizenship? He is already here.

Sometimes, it seems it is only the poorer of our immigrants who we screen out. If a person wants to come to the U.S. on a work visa, and he has the thousands of dollars to pay for it, or a company pays the fee for him, he's here. And, he usually gets a respectable-paying job, to boot.

Not so, the man without money. Not so, the man who comes looking for a low-paying job in our fields, which is what most of those coming across the Mexico border are. We require him to buy our visa, asking him to give us thousands of dollars. This only make it so the only way he can come, is to come illegally. Yes, getting paperwork is the right thing to do . . .

But consider that when we scream at them -- telling them they're breaking our laws, that they're all criminals and that we want them all to just go home -- it is the poor hod carrier we usually are yelling at.

And, yes, we tell them when they take our low-paying jobs that they are taking jobs away from us. We quickly tell them we have right to those jobs because we were born here and they shouldn't be taking jobs from us.

Some study I read of said that they actually create more jobs than they take. Either way, I say give them jobs if they will work. It is the person who won't work I'm concerned about. People willing to work are not the ones we should be angry with, although, yes, we need to work on our system so they can pay taxes. Making them legal might be a good start.

If they try to educate their kids, we remind them that we pay for those schools, and they might as well be reaching into our pockets and taking our money. Now, if we keep them from having the right to work, they aren't going to be in position to pay taxes.

Why would we not just give them right-to-work paperwork, and make it easier on everyone?

Same with our hospitals. These people are so poor they can't afford our insurance. And, they often are working for employers who don't offer insurance. Is it fair to turn around and tell them, "What are you thinking, coming in here and using our hospitals when you can't afford them, then asking our government to pay for it? That's a fine howdy-doody."

Finding a way to get them insured might be a more understanding route.

Well, these are some of the things we can do to make it hard on the immigrant. Dang him for trying to come in here as poor as he is, anyway.

Funny thing is, for all the terrorists who might be slipping through, and all the drug dealers (and it is they I'm afraid of), the people who end up catching our wrath are often the ones who just poor and needy.

That's going to happen if you oppose immigration. Instead of opposing people coming here, let's oppose just the ones who are terrorists or drug dealers or criminals.

(Note: This post was rewritten the morning of 8-16-10.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Does Sandstrom's Bill Just Go After Immigrants?

State Rep. Stephen Sandstrom withstood a wave of protesters to introduce his proposed legislation to the public today. Later, I heard him on KSL Radio. "Illegal is not a race. It's a crime," he said, responding to those who believe his legislation would cause racial profiling.

His bill has been much anticipated as an Arizona-type law.

Rather than pursuing legislation against the undocumented resident, I believe we should focus our concern on those who are criminals in more serious ways. The two (undocumented workers and serious criminals) may overlap, but criminals also overlap with most every other group of people, from those who speed to those who belong to various religions. I believe crime entering our country is what we should be against. Just a week ago, a marijuana farm near Cedar City was uncovered, being farmed by Mexico nationals. It is this type of criminal element crossing our border we should be emphasizing our efforts against.

A Pair of Border Agents for Every Mile?

News from the last day: The number of border agents continues to sky, and the number of deportations continues to soar.

All this to stop the poor man without his paperwork. True, some of those caught are actually criminals, but most are simply criminals in that they do not have paperwork. Should they be called criminals any more than those who speed? Both are breaking the law, so both are "criminals."

The Senate voted funding for an estimate 1,000 new border patrol agents Thursday, passing a $600-million measure that also brings more equipment to the border.

Manpower is definitely on the upswing. "Today, we have more boots on the ground near the Southwest border than at any time in our history," Obama claimed in early July.

And, that was before he sent 1,200 National Guardsman to the border a month later.

How many border agents are there at the Mexico border? In July, the St. Petersburg Times' PolitiFact.com website cited the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as saying about 21,000 agents were at our various borders, most of them being at the Mexico border.

And, U.S. Customs and Border Protection told PolitiFact there were 17,057 now assigned to the Mexico border, way up from 6,315 in 1997.

That is nearing a three-fold increase.

All of which leaves me wondering if something is wrong with my math. Can this be? With the Mexico border stretching 1,969 miles from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, having 18,000 agents (assuming they work eight-hour shifts) means there should be a pair of agents for every mile, around the clock.

It does not make me wonder that ANYONE is getting across, but it certainly makes me wonder that this is the most-crossed international border in the world. It makes me wonder how 250 million people a year are crossing back and forth. (Wikipedia cites a U.S. Embassy report from 2006 for this. I assume it is counting both legal and illegal crossings, estimating the illegal ones.)

Two-hundred-fifty million? Compare that to the U.S. population of about 309 million. Almost there is one crossing every year per every man, woman and child in the U.S.

Clearly, many must be crossing the border multiple times.

How do I stand on the bill Congress just passed? I favor securing the border against crime, even if that means securing it also against the man without paperwork. The drug lords south of the border are smuggling way too much of their product north of the line.

So, do I support the bill? I might, if I knew more about it, but probably not.

First off, I question why a pair of agents for every mile, plus a fence running across the border, are not working. I imagine border officials have a reason that will satisfy me on this. I just need to ask. I also wonder why, with a pair of agents per every mile, the fences cannot be kept mended. I'm sure there is a good answer, and perhaps if I ask, I'll be told.

So, objection two to the bill: What of the amount, $600 million? If we are hiring 1,000 agents, paying them, say, $50,000 a year, that is only $50 million. If we buy one vehicle for every six agents (supposing three shifts share a vehicle and two officers are in a truck), that's 167 vehicles. Supposing the truck and equipment we put in it costs $100,000, that's only $16.7 million.

This objection, though, like the first one, might be washed away if I knew what the equipment was. It must be more than what I am considering.

Are we taking bids for the high-end equipment, not just from existing makers of the devices, but from others who would be willing to open shop?

My third objection is, do we have a system at the border that is working, to begin with? If we are doing nothing more than escorting these people back to the border, we might as well tell them, "Your did it wrong today, and we caught you, but you are free to try again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Keep on trying till you get it right."

True, not having paperwork is not such a serious thing that we should do more than escort them back. So, fighting paperwork has created somewhat of a charade at our border.

What we have is a police force just to stop those without paperwork. We can do better than that. Drugs are more of a threat than people without paperwork. Instead of paperwork police, perhaps we could man the border with DEA agents.

How about legislation mandating that when we find someone crossing the border, we call the jurisdiction where they are from and ask if they are wanted on any crime? The best I have been able to verify is that we do not doing this. We should.

Well, this blog is getting too long. The other news item I referred to was deportations. Lee Davidson of the Deseret News today reported there were a record 1,167 deportation cases in Utah this year. His source was the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. The Clearinghouse said there were only 103 cases in 2002, so the numbers have shot way up.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cut Foreign Aid; Increase Private Charities

So, western Russia is aflame, and an estimate 350 per day in Moscow alone are dying from the disaster. As I reached the end of writing that blog, I remembered I am trying to accompany an opinion a day with a news story a day. So, how do I stand on government aid in time of such natural disasters?

I'm sure there is not a reader of this blog who would not want to ease the pain in Russia. In this case, I doubt there will be any U.S. government aid to help rebuild.

Nor do I think there should be. I would like to see aid -- aid that perhaps will not come -- but not U.S. government aid.

Our national debt is at a crisis point. We must pull back, cutting most all our foreign aid. This doesn't mean we, as a nation, need to quit giving. It means we, as a government, need to quit (until our national deficit is brought under control). But we cannot just turn a blind eye to all the hurt and pain internationally, not while thinking of ourselves as the model nation, the leader of all other nations.
Cutting our government's foreign aid should be done in concert with an exerted effort to raise private donations for humanitarian causes worldwide.

Out steps the government, and in steps the people, ideally speaking.

How much do we spend on foreign aid? One web posting tells me it is $25 billion. That's a chunk of change and will make a small bit of difference if we save it. Also, remember foreign aid is by definition money spent overseas, so it largely is not creating American jobs or spurring America's economy.

At a time when we are balancing the cutting the deficit on one hand with continuing to pump money into the economy on the other, cutting foreign spending is a logical and practical place to look.

I do sit back and wonder what will happen if we cut off our foreign aid. Can private charities raise so much? Only if they step it up. If we are to give more, as a people, we should increase our own awareness. Media attention would be helpful. When the Haiti earthquake struck, the disaster was covered throughout the media and, as a result, the fate of the Haiti people was on all our minds, and many of us offered donations.

Not so, the Russian Fires (admittedly, a much lesser natural disaster). Should the media not stir our interest, then it is left to the charity organizations themselves to be more active, more solicitous. Knock our doors, if you will. Call us on the phone, if you will.

And, we need organizations void of high-paid executives. If we question whether our donation money is being skimmed off by such administrators, let's create new charities. I think of a dominant charity organization in Utah, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and know there are no lavishly paid executives running it. I would doubt Catholic Charities has any.

Russia Worse Off for Lack of Attention

The Russian Fires of 2010. They were made worse by Russia's not being prepared -- for one thing, Vladimir Putin eliminated the national fire service in 2007 -- and, they were made to seem not as bad as they really were by lack of media attention -- with some villages being burnt two weeks before information about them surfaced.

With a shortage of official firefighters, people ended up going out on their own -- volunteering -- to fight the fires.

In the U.S., I do not judge that the fires and drought and heat wave have received much attention.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Heat Wave, Fires Double Deaths in Moscow

Have you heard about the natural disaster taking place in Russia? Perhaps 350 people a day are dying from it in Moscow, alone.

All deaths told -- normal deaths and those from the disaster together -- about 700 people a day are dying in Moscow, which is twice the normal amount, as the city is taken by a sweltering heat wave and heavy air pollution from smoke drifting in from fires.

A heat wave the likes of which it is said the land hasn't seen in 1,000 years has swept across Russia. A state of emergency has been called due to crop failures from the drought.

And, fires? There were 612 of them as of earlier today. The amount of acreage under fire, though, was only half what it has been, leading to the air of Moscow actually looking normal this August 11 day.

It is perhaps the first clear day in weeks. The fires started July 29.

The heat wave has killed as many an estimated 15,000 so far.

How do I stand on government aid in time of disaster? Such giving is primarily done on the federal level. We should stop most all our federal aid, including not extending federal aid to Russia. Our national deficit is such a problem that even humanitarian aid, from the federal government, must end. This can be done, however, in concert with a more exerted effort to raise private donations for humanitarian causes worldwide.

Record Filings for Social Security

More people applied for Social Security in 2009 than in any other year in history (2.74 million applied).

Is this just the Baby Boomers reaching the age of eligibility? The Baby Boomer generation encompasses those born 1946-1964, and eligibility for full Social Security benefits does not come until age 66, so the first of the Baby Boomers will not reach that eligibility 2012. They can, however, take an early retirement if they are willing to lock in at a 75-percent rate.

So, then, the record number of entries in 2009 is, indeed, partially due to Baby Boomers coming of age.

The bad economy is another reason. Many are out of jobs, searching for incomes, and turning to Social Security to receive the money they need. The converging of a bad economy with the coming of Baby Boomers is driving up the number of Social Security filings.

Knowing many are being forced into early retirement, and thus locking into reduced benefits, we should wonder how they will fare. Will they have enough money? One thing we could do for them is to lock in property tax rates for senior citizens. This would be a step towards protecting them as they are on fixed incomes. That is something we can do on a state basis. And, with the Public Service Commission overseeing utility rates, we should also study whether locking in their utility rates is advisable and doable.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hold Put on Military Aid to Lebanon

Congress is slapping a hold on hold on $100 million allocated for the Lebanese military for 2010, this in the wake of a border incident in which Lebanon attacked Israeli forces that were clearing brush and trees.

Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.) called the border attack "tragic and entirely avoidable." Lowey chairs the House subcommittee over the spending.

House Foreign Affairs Chair Howard Berman (Calif.) said he cannot in good conscience continue to support supplying weapons to Lebanon.

In addition to congress putting a hold on the $100 million for 2010, Rep. Eric Cantor (Virginia) called for blocking the $100 million allocated for for 2011.

The question of whether funds should be ripped from Lebanon also further opened the help Saudia Arabia. The U.S. is considering a $30 billion arms deal with the Saudis.

Why Give Military Aid to Terrorists' Friend?

Okay, dismiss this as the U.S. simply propping up Mideast governments -- something Ron Paul and others have been pointing to all along -- but I, for one, am a little surprised at the news behind the news as we read of a hold being put on military aid to Lebanon.

Whatever are we doing, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars toward Lebanon's military might to begin with? Why would we give money to a nation that might be considered somewhat of an enemy? If not our own enemy, Lebanon certainly is an enemy of Israel, our ally. Now, we are not talking of humanitarian aid. We are speaking of us giving them money to fulfill military objectives.

We donated to Lebanon's military for 2009 (how much, I do not know), we have allocated $100 million for 2010, and the Obama Administration has asked for another $100 million for 2011.

I can tell you what the reasoning seems to be. It is that if we give Lebanon some money, it will help wean that country from tying itself to influences in the Arab world that we don't want it to have -- primarily meaning Hezbollah.

I'm afraid that is dangerous logic. Would we give money to a drug dealer to help him become independent of the drug cartel? Yes, we would love Lebanon to be independent of Hezbollah, but it takes only a cursory look at the landscape to see we simply should not go about it this way.

(Note: The lead on this post was rewritten Aug. 11.)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Rio Tinto Project Makes Coburn-McCain Report

That Coburn-McCain listing of wasteful spending in the Obama Stimulus bill, what was a Utah firm doing on it?

Rio Tinto, to be exact. True, Rio Tinto isn't headquartered in Utah, but as Rio Tinto's very significant holding -- the Kennecott copper mine, the world's largest open-pit mining operation -- is in Utah, that makes Rio Tinto a Utah connection.

And, no, I don't know whether Rio Tinto is mentioned by name in the Coburn-McCain study, but the a project it has is mentioned.

It was Tuesday Good Morning America broke the story, senators Tom Coburn and John McCain giving the program an exclusive. The Coburn-McCain study lists 100 questionable projects receiving stimulus money.

Like $71,623 to study monkeys on cocaine.

And, $554,763 to replace windows at a visitor center at Mount St. Helens that was closed in 2007.

And, $1 million to study exotic ants in the Southwest Indian Ocean islands and in East Africa.

And, $200,000 to help folks in Siberia lobby Russian decision makers.

Mind you, I am not saying everything in the Coburn-McCain report is accurate, or correct. I'm just conveying the allegations.

Now, here's a quote from a news story at abcnews.go.com:

"In perhaps the most eye-popping instance, the report says oil giant BP, the company behind the worst oil spill in the nation's history, is benefiting from $308 million given to Hydrogen Energy California -- a company it owns -- to build a California power plant that won't even break ground for another two years."

The abc.go.com story goes on to say the California project BP has is actually a 50/50 cost-share with Rio Tinto. In addition, it turns out only $175 million in stimulus money is going to the power plant, with by far most of the funding coming from private enterprise. And, perhaps 47 current employees owe their jobs to the stimulus money.

What do I think of the Coburn-McCain report? I think we should be thankful for any false projects it has brought to light. It is too bad we are not looking for monies not yet spent that we might rescind.

Wasting Money to Save the Economy?

Tuesday, Good Morning America's Jon Karl broke the story of senators John McCain and Tom Coburn listing government waste in Obama's stimulus package, one of which was $71,623 going to Wake Forest University to study how monkeys react to stress when under the influence of cocaine.

These type of stories quickly bring ridicule. I certainly found myself laughing when I heard it. Government funding to study monkeys on cocaine? Oh, boy!

I googled up an old story of how the same Wake Forest University has studied monkeys on cocaine before. Science Digest reported it in 2008. That study showed that monkeys with lower social status were more likely to choose cocaine over food when in stressful situations.

Wake Forest's scientists say much good will come of the new study, helping to understand the addiction and why addicts slip into relapse. I don't know. Perhaps so. Still, I am not at all in favor of public funds for this study.

I've heard the $71,000 for the new study, and many of the other abuses on the McCain-Coburn list, were things that went into the stimulus bill to get it passed, rather than being actual save-the-economy measures.

I don't know that that is the case, though. It seems the good portion of the stimulus went for things we didn't necessarily need. We spent the $862 billion simply to be injecting money into the economy. We reaped some benefit whether the money ended up being spent on needs or on things not needed.

I don't know how many of the projects on the McCain-Coburn list are trully wasteful, but I would be rather sure many of them are. Inserting such waste into the stimulus is the same as saying, "Our economy is in big trouble, so let's waste some money to save it."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sorry Judge Threw Out Prop 8

Well, it is eight minutes before bedtime, but I am attempting to post an opinion on a news item each day.

A circuit court in California overturning Proposition 8? I favored Prop 8. I do not see it wrong that a marriage be defined as being between an man and a woman.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Give Panhandlers Jobs

I do wonder what would happen to panhandlers if we gave them all jobs.

Salt Lake City is revamping its law on panhandlers. The Deseret News today reports they won't be allowed within 10 feet of outdoor cafes, theater lines, churches, and public transit stops. They will also be in violation if they follow a person after a solicitation or make threatening gestures.

What if we just gave them all jobs? What if every couple hours a man came out from a small factory, offering every panhandler within sight to come with him to the pasta plant and work for a few hours?

It doesn't even need to be the government doing this, lest you fear I'm advocating an act of socialism. We already have a world full of philanthropists, and they are as abundant in Utah as most anywhere.

Why not encourage them to philanthropically create small companies for the panhandlers? This will take philanthropy into new territory, as I really don't hear about philanthropists doing this. I hear about them giving to cancer research, to education, and to one thing and another.

I see charity organizations geared to feeding the homeless, providing relief to disaster victims, and helpiing people medically.

But, I don't see many charities creating small companies just to give people jobs.

Why not?

Invention of the Week: Locked-in Taxes

I borrow from KSL's Doug Wright for the invention of the week. Doug suggests property taxes for senior citizens be locked in. I agree, they should cap at the amount the person makes when he or she is 65. If they drop, the senior gets the reduced tax, but they cannot increase beyond what they were when the person retired.

Monday, August 2, 2010

No, It Should Not be the American Way

The best and brightest: They err here, on the issue of special-interest money.

Whether I would consider U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz among the best and brightest, I am not certain, but sufficient to say I like him.

And, sufficient to say he errs. My humble opinion, of course, but I don't believe it right to take money from those who hope for political favor in exchange for political contributions.

Chaffetz differs. He all but calls it the American way, if indeed that is not exactly what he is saying. "I believe in the United States of America, you should be able to donate what you want to who you want as long as there is full disclosure," he is quoted as saying in today's Salt Lake Tribune.

I beg to differ. Full disclosure it not enough. A wrong is not a right simply because it becomes transparent.

Chaffetz is under attack in the Tribune's lead story. "Chaffetz's top donors: Unions," says the headline. The article says unions are the single largest source of campaign contributions for Chaffetz.

And, we are not talking just any unions, we are talking unions having to negotiate new contracts with the U.S. Postal Service in the next few years. Clearly, they are currying his favor, for, according to the Tribune, Chaffetz is the top Republican on the House subcommittee overseeing the Postal Service.

"This is why I'm sure people are trying to be friendly," the article quotes Chaffetz as saying.

Oh, did ever the article catch my attention. I am campaigning on this very issue. I do not feel comfortable taking money from those whose issues I would be coming before the legislature. I am not going to take any contributions, other than spending from my own pocket. "This time, in this election," I tell voters, "you have a choice."

I'm hoping the chance of electing someone who is not accepting such money will mean something to voters.

-- John Jackson, candidate, Utah House District 41