Saturday, December 17, 2011

Today Marks Anniversary of Jewish Expulsion Order . . . And, It Happened in America by Military Decree

Speaking of anniversaries, today marks 149 years since Ulysses S. Grant ordered the expulsion of Jews from his military district in Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky.

That surely ranks as one of the low points for civil rights in American history. And, ironically, General Order 11, as it was known as, came during the Civil War, the war being arguably the greatest effort in our nation's history to provide equal civil rights --  and, it came from one who was leading the charge, as Grant was the U.S. Army's major-general for the Tennessee-Mississippi-Kentucky area.

Low point? Can you imagine, that, in America, there would be an expulsion order against Jews -- and that it would come in the form of a military decree, at that? I had never heard about this dark moment till I learned of it while reading Wikipedia.

Well, the outcry against the expulsion order was swift and hard. Before the order could be enforced much (only a few deportations actually took place), President Lincoln directed Grant to revoke his order, and he did. Grant worked hard to regain the confidence of the Jews, and when elected president even drew the majority of their votes.

Grant achieved a sterling record on civil rights while in the White House. He signed the Fifteenth Amendment, giving those freed in the war the right to vote. He became the first president to sign a congressional civil rights act, he signed legislation for the prosecution of Ku Klux Klan members. There was a reduction in the number of battles against American Indians. "Wars of extermination . . . are demoralizing and wicked," he said of the Indian wars. (I got this quote from Wikipedia, which credited "Michno (2003), 362)" in the footnotes.)

And, he became the first president to attend a Jewish synagogue service.

For more on General Order 11, signed Dec. 17, 1862 by U.S. Grant, turn to your local Wikipedia encyclopedia

Thursday, December 15, 2011

SLC Airport Immigration Raid Great Achievement in War on Terrorism? Sunday's 10th Anniversary Went Unnoticed

The beginning of one of the greatest achievements in the war on terrorism (at least one of the great achievements according to then U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft) took place right here in Salt Lake City, Dec. 11, 2001.

The 10th anniversary this past Sunday passed us with scarcely a notice. If it caught a plug in the media, I didn't notice. I learned of it when immigration attorney Mark Alvarez made mention of it while we were, ironically, at a vigil Monday marking the fifth anniversary of another immigration raid (the Swift raid).
Hail back to the 2001 raid, to consider what it achieved in the war on terror. The pall of 9-11 hung freshly over the land. The fear of where terrorists might strike next clawed into the nation's psychic. And, with Olympics having been a past targets, and with the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City looming, there was fear for the Salt Lake City Games.

So, federal agents swept into town, making Salt Lake City the initial raid in a series that would eventually include about a half dozen other airports.

The raid came three months to the day after 9-11.

Our enemy in the War on Terror has largely been from the Middle East, operatives in such groups as al-Qaeda. The people hit in the Great Raid of Salt Lake International -- if I may call it that -- were largely from Mexico, and Central and South America. Have any of the terrorists in our war on terror originated from these places?

And, rather than fitting the profile of secret operatives away from their families, those apprehended in Salt Lake City were family men, workers all, laboring to carve out a living for themselves and their families.

Any ties to terrorism? U.S. Attorney Paul Warner said none of those caught had attempted any type of terrorism. So, not only did they not fit the profile of terrorists, there was no evidence any of them were going to commit terrorism.

No less than 271 were fired from their jobs in Salt Lake City, many for falsifying their applications. A good number used Social Security numbers issued them in a state program to provide them drivers licenses, but that were not intended -- or valid -- for obtaining work.

The fired lost jobs ranging from being fuelers, to being food service workers, to being -- ah, yes -- security screeners. Sixty-nine people were indicted. Of the 69, two-thirds of the cases were later dismissed or ended up in nothing more serious than probation, with the probations ranging from a single day to 36 months. I do not know how many deportations there were, nor do I know what the most serious crime was.

A great raid? A great achievement? Those who assail people coming from south of the border to take jobs illegally certainly would hail it as a great achievement, regardless whether it affected the War on Terror.

But, I think not. These people did make the mistake of using Social Security numbers in a way they should not have. And, they did falsify applications.But -- you be the judge -- are these offenses of the sort to suppose we are making a great mark in our War on Terror if we round up the offenders?

I will grant you it is hard to judge what didn't happen during the Olympics, since these people were removed from their jobs and no longer in line to commit terrorism.

But, perhaps you will grant me, in turn, that these were hardly hardened criminals, nor potential terrorists. Being from south of the border -- though lacking proper work papers -- does not a terrorist make.

Would that we had not treated these people this way. Fire them for falsifying their applications, if you will, but do not dub them possible terrorists. Do not suppose that removing them was a great act in the War on Terror, and a great thing for our national defense.

Branding a common laborer a terrorist? It is a little much, to me. Perhaps we should have marked the 10th anniversary of the raid as an example of how fear can drive us to persecute people in a way they shouldn't be persecuted. (And, I refer to the branding of them as would-be terrorists as a form of persecution.)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dec. 6 Dark Day for Liberty in Our Land

File this one under the "While You Were Sleeping" listing.

You know, While you were sleeping, government did this or that, or society did this or that. And, before you even knew what was happening, a cherished freedom was lost or tarnished.

Dec 6, 2011 -- that puts the latest "While You Were Sleeping" just days ago, Tuesday, to be exact. While you were sleeping, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a resolution supporting a constitutional amendment against what is called "corporate personhood."

Clever wording, that is. Right off, most would agree corporations are not people.

Turn to the organization's webpage. Read, and you will likely find yourself agreeing with this movement to amend our freedoms and to amend our Constitution. Read, then, read:

"We the People, Not We the Corporations

"On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.

"We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

"The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule. We Move to Amend."

Well, then, having read that, do you agree? I certainly do. That is, I agree with much of it. I love the way they phrase it, "Money is not speech." For too long, lobbyists have rushed to the courts, decrying any move against lobbying as a move against free speech. Almost as if they were saying, "What, take away our right to spend money to influence politicians and office holders? That would be a violation of our free speech."

I, too, would to end a system where those who have the ear of our government are those who have money, a system in which the money that elects is the money that buys what happens.

Read on. Read a little more on the Move to Amend webpage. Learn of what is next on the horizon for this movement. Read:

"January 20, 2012: Move to Amend Occupies the Courts!

"Inspired by our friends at Occupy Wall Street, and Dr. Cornel West, Move To Amend is planning bold action to mark the second anniversary of the infamous Citizens United v. FEC decision!

"Occupy the Courts will be a one day occupation of Federal courthouses across the country, including the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Friday January 20, 2012.

"Move to Amend volunteers across the USA will lead the charge on the judiciary which created — and continues to expand — corporate personhood rights.

"Americans across the country are on the march, and they are marching OUR way. They carry signs that say, “Corporations are NOT people! Money is NOT Speech!” And they are chanting those truths at the top of their lungs! The time has come to make these truths evident to the courts."

Clever wording, there: "Corporations are NOT people! Money is NOT Speech!" I imagine a lot of people will be proud to carry those signs, and they may make a hit on the evening news.

But, somewhere in all this, you might be thinking, Yes, but there is not a corporation out there that is not made up of people. A corporation is nothing but a group of people.

And, therein lies the rub. You can't take rights away from corporations without taking rights away from people, because, yes, corporations certainly are people. You can paint it differently. But, if you do, your painting will only recolor and cover over the truth.

Since a corporation is nothing more than a collection of people, you cannot take away the rights of the whole without diminishing the rights of its parts, and that means taking away the rights of -- uhh, well -- people.

They will tell you that this is all to reclaim our own rights, to tear our government, our society, away from the claws of  the corporations. Those things, I might not be opposed to. I certainly do not oppose a move to disenfranchise lobbyists. Why is it ever that while we can see they are a bad influence, instead of outlawing them, we license them? In essence, we make them more legal than the rest of us, in that we give them special access to our lawmakers, access that the rest of us do not have.

A constitutional amendment against that? No, I wouldn't oppose such an amendment. I would welcome it.

But, strip public entities of their civil rights? That's overkill. It reminds me of those, who in the argument over illegal immigrants, say those caught crossing the border should be shot. Yes, that's one way to stop the problem, shoot them all, as if to say, "There. that should do it. Now you won't be coming over here anymore."

So, shall we disenfranchise corporations of not just their ability to run our country, but all their rights? Shall we chop of their civil rights and tear them away from any rights spelled out in the Constitution?

Don't those rights belong to everyone, including corporations, and . . . religious organizations? This amendment would strip constitutional rights away from any entity established by government. Under that umbrella, any organization that receives government incorporation -- and I think that would include churches -- would lose their civil rights.

So, imagine that: The people, themselves, would still be free to worship the way they please, but the churches would not.

Even before we took churches into consideration, this was a dangerous amendment. Now you see it as even more dangerous.

Maybe it's time to read what the amendment actually says:

"Section 1 [A corporation is not a person and can be regulated]

"The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

"Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

"The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

"Section 2 [Money is not speech and can be regulated]

"Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

"Federal, State and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

"The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment."

"Section 3

"Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press."

Note the last part of section one, that inherent and inalienable rights would no longer be considered inherent or inalienable where public entities are concerned. While the very meaning of "inherent" and "inalienable" indicates these rights cannot be removed, this constitutional amendment would endeavor to do exactly that, remove them.

An assault on our liberties? One of the more dangerous assaults we have ever seen? I would say so. To think that one of the largest cities in our land endorsed it -- unanimously -- is shocking. Could a movement against our liberties gain such traction?

Almost makes me tremble.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

This Nation Could Use a People's Protest Society

Got an idea for a new, dynamic, sister-of-the-Occupiers organization. Though I offer it in theory only, I do think it would be a perfectly splendid organization.

The People's Protest Society.

See, we learned from the protest of HB477 that often government DOES respond when we march and complain. (The HB477 protest is a better example than the Occupy movement, for the HB477 protestors brought about change, more than the Occupiers have yet achieved.)

A great little organization, this People's Protest Society would be, dedicated to marching and protesting and rallying for whatever cause might be found.

And, no these would not be mercenaries for hire. Members would respond only to causes they believed in.

Sometimes, a group of them would respond to one side of an issue, and another part to the opposite side of the same issue, thus showing up to counter protest against their own group.

Ahh, yes, a splendid little organization, this People's Protest Society would be, mobilizing democracy, enlisting the populace to action, and demanding that the voice of the people be heard.

And, bringing change to matters where change has long been needed, but where there has been a lack of outcry to bring it about.

The People's Protest Society, then. The People's Protest Society would provide that outcry.

A Call for the EMEM to Help Restore Our Greatness

Got an idea for a dynamic addition to our society, to our education, and to the wellbeing of our nation.

How 'bout an adult education movement? How about abandoning the notion that systematic education ends with graduation from high school or college?
How 'bout a program for continuing education, one that marches with us right throughout our adult lives?
Now, in order to be a truly systematic program, we will have to set aside our time, make a block of our daily time available. Ever heard of release-time seminary? Let's follow a little along those lines.
We'll establish an early-morning education system. There will be classes available to adults before their work hours.
And, what shall we teach? Why, politics, of course! I say this only partially in jest, as there can be taught whatever it is organizers will teach, but I do believe politics should be part of it.
Instead of politics and religion being taboos, those are perhaps the two things we should discuss the most, they being more important than most anything else -- even more important than the NBA lockout.
So, I call for this new movement. I call for an education movement. I call for a movement of adult education. Let systematic education no longer end when we pass from puberty, for I ask, why should our earnest efforts to become educated end with college? Let's have a system for formal education that continues with us throughout our lives.
Why is it, I ask, that the U.S. must fall behind other nations in education? Can we do nothing to halt the slide? Will we do nothing? Lift your feet, America. Do not let your past greatness end. Education was part of your greatness -- and is part of your greatness. It was and is one of the engine that brought you to the top, that spawned and continues to spawn your great inventions. 
So, America, steady this ship, return to your spot as the most-educated nation in the world.

I call for this early-morning education movement. Let us have a large blanket of early-morning classes. Let classes be found in our libraries and in our schools and wherever classrooms are available. Let companies  open their doors before working hours, welcoming workers to show early for these study courses. 
The EMEM, we can call it, short for the Early-Morning Eduction Movement. And, though I throw this idea out knowing it won't be taken up, and though I realize the thought of it will probably will not even reach the public, yes, I do think it would be a wonderful thing.
A wonderful, wonderful thing, this EMEM, one that could help restore this nation to its greatness.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Protest of One -- and in a Vacuum

A bride-to-be and her photographer were on the stately, marble stairs on the opposite side of the rotunda. At the top of them, the two who looked like tourists from Mexico began to make their way down. Somewhere in the building, there was a family of five, with one of the kids having an arm in a cast.

But, looking around, I could see no one who looked like they were here for my protest. It was just me. So, I took out my marking pen, and wrote on a poster sheet,

"A Protest of One."

Then I picked up my two picket signs -- the other saying, "Redistricting should serve the people, not the politicians" -- and displayed them.

To no one.

This was at the Utah Capitol, but it was Saturday, and no public officials were there. Not only had I thrown a party and no one came, but I was holding the protest in a void, a vacuum: No public officials and no press to be had.

Alas, alas.

After 40 minutes, I picked up my signs and headed upstairs. Knocking on the doors to the senate and house chambers, I sang a reworded version of a Paul McCartney song. "Someone's knocking on the door. Somebody's ringing the bell. Do me a favor, and open the door, and let 'em in. Speaker Lockhart, President Waddoups, Governor Herbert, Sergeant at Arms, Do me a favor, and let us in."

The final maps for the redistricting had been drawn behind closed doors, in the Republican Party caucus meeting.

Going up another flight of stairs, I found the balcony to the House chamber had been left unlocked. So, I went in and sang my song again.

As I left, I noticed a placard next to the door, announcing that the room held 197 people. I had wondered when I had been there the night the legislature approved the Congressional redistricting, just how many people the balcony held. It seems the state's business should be valued enough by the public that occasionally more than a couple hundred would show.

Guess not.

I walked out, and exited the Capitol about an hour after I had arrived, singing the McCartney song one more time as I stepped down the outside stairs..

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Redistricting was Wrong, and Demands a Protest

As redistricting fades weeks into the past, we might wonder if the moment has passed, if we are just going to say, "Oh, Well,' and move along.

As if no wrong has happened..

And, is there a wrong?

Is it wrong to spend $1 million for public input, then to set it aside and slip behind closed doors, the public barred from even listening in on the most influential part of the process?

Is that not wrong?

Is it wrong to for state legislators to draw their own districts? Is it wrong if they set aside the best districting that can be done for the public, and instead draw the lines to best ensure their own reelections, the good of the politicians trumping the good of the people?

Is that not wrong?

Is it not wrong to draw the lines to advance political careers? Do we say, this is not about serving the public, but about serving the favored politicians?

Is that not wrong?

Is it wrong to serve your own political party, drawing the lines for its advantage, instead of weighing only what lines will best serve the public?

Is that not wrong?

If a map ean be drawn that is best for the public, but you change it up to serve the politician, that is wrong. Politics should have been the last consideration when those lines were drawn.

So, if these things are wrong, are we to sit idly by? Are we to say, "They've already done it now, and weeks have past," and shuffle along?

They won't go back and do it right unless we tell them to, unless we protest. Oh, there might not be enough people who will protest to make any difference at all, but it does so surely seem a protest ought to be organized to at least give people the option of expressing their displeasure.

For Edmund Burke was right. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." If we continue to sit and do nothing, the wrongs will prevail. It will be too late, and the moment will pass.

The bills can be revisited. They can be changed. At the moment, it is not too late. This can, yet, be corrected. The process is as important as the product, and we should demand they go back and carry out the process correctly.

Oh, and a protest will be set, either for Saturday, Nov. 12 or for Saturday, Nov. 19,  noon, at the Capitol. If these things do matter to you, do attend. Your being there will make a difference.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reason for Voting Hatch Off the Island

Here's a story that has prompted me to consider jumping on the vote-Orrin Hatch-out-of-office bandwagon.

A bandwagon that might be emptying, admittedly, as both Jason Chaffetz and Jim Matheson have announced they won't run against him.

The story that brings my support into question comes from an obscure website (aren't there a million of them these days?) called "That's My Congress" to be found at

The author notes new medical imaging devices have poured onto the market recently, many being so easy to use that no radiologist even needs to be anywhere around. Of course, there are going to be those in the radiology world that don't like this, and, sure enough, there are. One group, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists is seeking legislation making it illegal to use radiology equipment unless you are a radiologist.

Maybe the legislation has been approved by now, I don't know. At any rate, the group has named Orrin Hatch as the biggest supporter of the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility, and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Act.

And, by coincidence, the American Society of Radiologic Technologists contributed $25,000 to Orrin Hatch's campaign. Now, I'm thinking the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, other than its members in Utah, has little reason to care who gets elected to the senate, or how Orrin Hatch will do in the 2012 election -- other than the fact he supports them.

Brilliant, Einstein! I hear you reacting. However did you ever deduce that, Watson?

Yes, it obvious enough. But sometimes what is going on deserves verbalizing. Influence is being sought with money, bought with money. As if, a penny for your thoughts, but for $25,000, your thoughts can become reality.

Since when do we want our congressmen passing legislation based on who gives them money?Legislation should not be a commodity to be bought and sold. Laws should be enacted to serve the public, that's all.

Do I hear someone reacting to me, again? saying, "John, this is the way it is done, the way it has always been done. Don't blame Hatch for this. Every congressman out there (or most every one), plays the game this way."

If so, when are we going to say, "Enough is enough. We aren't going to take it anymore. The game is over. If you do it, you've lost my vote."

I'm arm-in-arm with the Occupiers on this one. It makes me want to go down there and spend a night with them.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How Much of $1.5 Million Goes to Jail Common Folk?

I read how Sen. Orrin Hatch wants the Department of Homeland Security to return immigration detainees to the Weber County Jail.

The jail lost the contract to house the undocumented Americans, you may have heard, after an audit found shortcomings in the way the jail treated the detainees.

But, here's the kicker: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement paid out $1.5 million a year to Weber County on the contract. It was $55 a bed per night, with 30-60 detainees on any given day.

That's $1.5 million, at a single county jail.

One wonders how much money we are spending nationwide detaining and jailing people simply because their paperwork wasn't in order -- and this in a day we need federal thrift.

Perhaps many of those in the ICE houses -- if I may call the jails that -- have also committed other crimes, more serious. Would be interesting to know. If so, maybe the cost is justified.

If not -- if these are by far and away just simple everyday people caught living where they aren't wanted, then we are wasting a lot of money jailing common folk.

Friday, October 14, 2011

I'll Cast My Own Vote, Thank You

The caucus system is a great idea, a great principle, because it is the involvement of people in the political process. But, what do we do when we get there? We elect someone to do our electing. We turn over our right to vote to them. We surrender our right to vote to the political activists.

It doesn't make sense to go to a meeting just to be being involved in the political process, only to cough that right up to someone else as soon as you get there. Let the people go to the conventions, everyone. We can teleconference between as many venues as necessary to fit them all in.

Let the caucuses morph into something bigger . . . the conventions, themselves.

Government for the people, by the people and of the people doesn't mean surrendering your right to vote to political activists. It means keeping that right for yourself. I'll cast my own vote, thank you, if you'll only let me.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What Part of the Word "America" Don't We Understand

How is it, that in America, of all places, any people should be considered illegal?

How is it, that we have criminalized the act of existing and breathing on American soil?

What part of the word "America" don't we understand?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Let Them Live Amongst Us

So many reasons for not having them.

We should not forgive them, for to do so condones dishonesty? There would be no forgiveness for anything if we felt that to do so would condone and we were unwilling to condone. They came without permission, without paperwork, which does not mean they are inherently dishonest. Let them stay.

They are our criminals, and our welfare recipients? There are, among them, criminals and welfare recipents, just as there are among those already here, criminals and welfare recipients? Such reasoning would get all of us kicked out of the county. Let them be here.

We don't have room for them? America has taken in a lot of people, and no one has spilled out yet. Let them come.

They will ruin our economy? Adding a people to your populace, even if it is a poor people, is still expanding the economy. Are we to say they are too poor, and their poverty will drag us down? Let them work.

These are people, same as you and I. If we find faults in them, look in the mirror at other social groups, and the same faults will exist. Let them live amongst us.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Perhaps We Should Call them 'Undocumented Americans'

   I would call them "undocumented Americans." No, they are not "illegal immigrants" or "illegal aliens." Oh, those terms will be used, and I will, indeed, use them myself, at times, as they are terms leaving it clear as to who is being referred to.
   In calling them "undocumented Americans," the listener or reader might not make a full connection, thinking you must not be speaking of those here illegally, for they are not "Americans" if they are not citizens.
   But, I use the term not to say they are citizens, but to say they live in America, just like everyone who lives in Utah is a Utahn.
   Calling them "Illegals," I do not like. Crimes are illegal. People are not. "Illegals" is an offensive term.
   Calling them "aliens" is also offensive. When I think of an alien, I think of someone from outer space.
   "Undocumented residents"? It offends some to have them called by that name. Call a spade, a spade, they say. They are illegal aliens, so that is what we should call them. The law books even call them "illegal aliens," so if we are to call them by the correct name, "illegal aliens," it is, we are told.
   If government terminology is always right, then consider that once there was a government program for deporting them (1954) called "Operation Wetback." We can see we shouldn't call them "Wetbacks," so let's use better judgement and find a different term than, "illegals" and "aliens."
   So, I might call them "undocumented Americans," acknowledging that they do live in America. Some will say, "Well, that's the point. They don't have the right to live in America, so we shouldn't be calling them "Americans'."
   "Undocumented Americans" is an oxymoron, to them, as would be "illegal Americans."
   Fact is, they do live in America. So, if I am using the term in that context, it is not an oxymoron.
  Just as we are allowed to speak kindly and favorably about anyone, I am choosing a term that is favorable towards them.

Is Poverty Reason Enough for Getting Rid of Them?

Are we to say, Get rid of the illegal immigrant, for he is too poor to be an American?

It does seem to me that one of the arguments for deporting the illegal immigrant is that he is an economic liability.

Comes this comment on a thread about undocumented residents: "They are NOT an economic asset. They are an economic liability. The vast majority of illegals are desperately poor, and like all poor people, they consume far more in government services than they pay in taxes."

One does not need to be following the illegal immigration debate too closely to realize that how much money the undocumented residents are racking up in social services is being used as an argument against them.

Another thing a poor person does, besides taking government assistance, is to work for a pittance, pulling down the wage scale, and winning away the job from others. Just like at an auction, where the item goes to the highest bidder, so in a free market will the job go to the lowest bidder.

But, should that be argument for not legalizing the illegal immigrant? It should not, for to lock him out because he is so poor he will work for a pittance is to say he is too poor to be allowed in America.

We have other poor among us, others who pull down the standard wage, others who take jobs away from us because they are willing to work for less, and others who are on government assistance. Are we to take all our poor, and boot them out of our country?

All the poor are a liability. Cut off the bad, and keep the healthy? Is that the criteria for deciding who shall live in this nation? It's not exactly the sentiment of, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

The poverty of a people should not be reason for getting rid of them.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Alabama is Not Worst Our Nation has Treated Them

What is happening in Alabama is troubling to me, people being chased from the state, and parents holding their children out of school (fearfully hiding their children from the government, if you will). But this is hardly our nation's lowest point, in terms of how we have treated these people.

At the onset of the Great Depression -- without search or arrest warrants -- people were rounded up, including some who had legal papers to be here and some who were even citizens. The Wickersham Commission called what was done to these people "unconstitutional, tyrannic and oppressive."

Why must we treat people this way? Why cast them out from living amongst us? Some come seeking only to work. Others come to join family here. Yet others come simply to be in America, the land of the free. These things should not be crimes.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Here's the Part of Illegal I Don't Understand

What part of the word "illegal" don't I understand?

I don't understand the part about why coming to America should be illegal, or the part about why joining family members here should be illegal, or the part about why it should be illegal to work, even when no one else wants the job.

I don't understand the part about having a welcome sign at our country's entrance, saying, Give us your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, but when they arrive, we tell them to seek their refuge elsewhere. I don't understand how it is suppose to be patriotic to oppose these people when truth be told one of the reasons listed in the Declaration of Independence for declaring war against England is that the king was restricting immigration. I don't understand how the first naturalization laws (1790 and 1795, I believe) required people to have been living here a few years in order to be granted citizenship (indicating there was no restriction on coming), yet having such open borders now is considered outlandish. I don't understand how one of the freedoms this nation once enjoyed was the freedom to come here, but now it is not.

I don't understand why the freedom to come to America should be a lost freedom.

I don't understand the part about them being normal, simple, everyday people as long as they stay in Mexico, but if they drift too far to the north, they become fierce criminals, capable of destroying our nation's rule of law if allowed to remain.

I don't understand the part about how poor people coming to America qualifies as an invasion.

I don't understand how it is that the Declaration of Independence speaks of certain inALIENable rights, yet the only people we won't grant those rights to are called, coincidentally, aliens.

No, I don't understand word one about it. Since there is only one word in "illegal," I guess that means I don't understand the whole of it. What part don't I understand? What part do I understand?!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Political Careers Should be Last Consideration

With the legislators about to meet in special session to establish districts, I wrote this letter to those legislators whose addresses I have:

As much as we do not like gerrymandering -- creating arms instead of enclosing the district in a compact area -- it is a worse thing to draw the lines with political careers in mind. Politics should be the last consideration. We do not elect people to serve themselves, to further their own interests, but we elect them to serve us, the people. Here's hoping that when the special session opens this coming week, you will reject the notion of making any district more electable for any individual, or more Republican or Democratic just so that party can elect more of its candidates.
Please set aside your own desires, your own wants. Please do not consider helping your friends on the Hill by making it easier for any of them. The politican may be out of office in two years (or less), but the boundaries will remain for 10 years. Please, instead of considering the benefits you can achieve for any political party, consider how you can help the people. Instead of trying to silence any group of people, by watering down their power by placing them in districts where they will be the minority, please look to grant as many people a voice as possible. Certain groups -- whether we speak of the Democratic Party or rural interests or whoever -- represent the majority in their areas. Give them their own district, then. Give them a voice, the opportunity to elect their own person, instead of silencing their voice by placing them in a district that has more voters who believe differently than they do.

We often say, "I do not agree with what you are saying, but I will fight for your right to say it." Here is the moment when you can prove you meant that, if you should ever have said it.

The pizza approach might have reasonably clean boundaries, but its strength is its weakness. I have heard it has gained favor for mixing urban and rural, thus forcing the elected official to represent both interests. But, if it results in all the representatives being from the cities -- none from the rural areas -- are you really ensuring representation of both? You are not. You are, to a degree, disenfranchising your rural voters.

Rural areas by definition are less populated. They are going to have a minority representation regardless. Even if we could take the most rural parts of our state and round them together in a single district, that would give them but one representative. The urban areas would have the other three. Why make it any harder on them by slicing them in with urban areas so they end up with no elected official of their own at all?

I'm hoping you do not do that to our rural areas. Might gives the power to do wrong, but it does not give the right.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Little Tweak Would Make our Welfare Perfect

In the heart of the Great Depression, about 25 percent were unemployed. That's a whopping number, one in four.

Eighty percent of the workers made such meager wages, they didn't have to pay taxes. That's 80 percent so poor, they might be considered living in poverty. The official poverty level, though, only took in just more than half of all Americans. Imagine, though, half of everybody living in poverty.

I bring this up because we cast such a watchful eye these days at our own economic prospects. And, because we could do something to ensure it never happens again, something to ensure that if a depression comes to us, we will be ready for it.

Back in the Great Depression, we passed the Social Security Act of 1935. It marked a huge step in providing a safety net for those who could not support themselves. We can, if we want to -- with just a little tweaking -- turn our social programs into a safety net against another Great Depression.

Oh, there are other things that will need to happen. If the monetary system collapses, another Great Depression probably will not be avoided. But, other than protecting the monetary system, and protecting against our government going insolvent, this is perhaps the surest insurance against a massive depression.

The thing to do, then? Simply turn the social programs into employment agencies. Instead of saying, "Since you don't have a job, we'll help you," say, "If you get a job, we'll help you." When they take jobs that do not pay well enough to cover all their essentials, then help them with the difference. Say, "You just take a job, and if it doesn't cover your basic needs, we'll provide the rest."

When a person comes into the agency, look for a job for them. Make it just like a Job Service office, with job listings. But, don't stop there, seek out philanthropic millionaires and billionaires who will provide -- in the name of philanthropy -- jobs, who will start up companies not to make a profit, but to provide jobs. Seek out charities who -- in the name of charity -- will provide jobs, who will create positions for those who private enterprise deems unemployable.

End result? Everyone is employed. Oh, some might not be. There may be a few we are still giving aid to even though they cannot work, but most will be employed. Twenty-five percent unemployment? It won't happen. Instead, unemployment should be below 1 percent. Fifty percent living in poverty? It won't happen. We'll be providing the essential needs for everyone coming into the office, so the number of people living in poverty should never rise above 1 percent.

We are an advanced society. And we are so close to doing this already, as we have social programs in place. Why not tweak them just a bit and make the system perfect?

To Put Nation to Work, Give Jobs to Those on Welfare

Don't know where on the timeline to collapse our nation's economy is, or if it is even for sure careening toward such a fate.

But, I do know one little trick to turning the economy around, a sure trick. Bring your sense of logic along as you listen, for I feel if you listen with logic, you shan't disagree.
To put the nation back to work, of course, you need to get people off social programs and back into the workforce, you need to funnel them from one to the other.

I hear some of you say, "Good thought, Einstein. We all know that."

And, I hear others say, "Yes, we want to get people back into the workforce, but, no, we don't want to rip them out of the social net. We want to protect, mother, and care for our needy."

Second objection, first. Moving them from the social net to the workplace is not a lack of help. It is a way to help. And, it is the better way to help them. They are better off in jobs than on welfare.

First objection, next. Do we? Do we know that to put us back to work, we need to transfer people from our welfare rolls to our work rolls? Do we? Why, then, do we extend unemployment benefits? Extending benefits preserves them a spot in our care system, but it does not move them off the welfare rolls. It extends the incentive to stay on those rolls. I have heard, studies show many find their jobs just before the benefits expire. It shouldn't, though, take a study to tell us this will happen. We should see the law of carrots at work. Put a carrot in front of staying unemployed, and that's what you'll get.

Having a safety net is a must, if you want to be an advanced society. And, no, we don't want anybody to go hungry or without life's necessities. But the safety net cannot be so comfortable, a person stays wrapped safely within it when a job becomes available. Your safety net cannot be allowed to compete against your jobs. It should never dissuade a person from working.

And, our social programs do, very often, compete with our jobs. We can see, can't we, that our carrots are arranged so as to entice many to remain on unemployment? Ever hear someone say, "Why should I take a job at $9 and hour when I can get $11 on unemployment?"  Our safety net is competing against our jobs. And winning. And, leaving jobs unfilled.

Not so, you say, for someone else will take the job? Perhaps. All I know is that the person passing up the job remains on unemployment insurance, so that is one more person not working.

So, when are we going to learn this is not a good system? The Social Security Act was passed in 1935. It enjoyed its 75th anniversary in 2010 with little fanfare. It came in response to the Great Depression. Our nation did two things back then. One, it created jobs through the  Civil Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration. And, two, it created a way to survive if you didn't have a job, a safety net through the Social Security Act. We created jobs, but we also created an alternative to those jobs. From the get-go, welfare was competing against the jobs available.

The disappointing thing is that in 76 years, we haven't figured this out. We haven't changed things. Year after year passes, and (even though we complain about our welfare system), we don't change it.

If we are complaining, that means we surely can see it's wrong, that it's not a good system. Now, there's a quote about people who will not learn from their mistakes. I'm afraid that's us. Are we blind? Or are we just not learning? Why does session after session of Congress go by without something being done? How have 76 years swept past without us correcting a fundamental flaw in how our economy is operating?

Why do we have welfare programs in which, if the person works too much, they lose all their benefits? Clearly, what we are trying to do is to not allow a person to have benefits if they don't need them. But, what we have achieved is to give them incentive for working under the table, and incentive not to work at all, or to work very little.

Again, our carrots are in the wrong place.

Better to have a system that says, "Take a job, even though it is low-paying, and we'll make up the difference. If it doesn't pay for all your essentials, we will." Now, you're placing your carrots so the incentive is to go out and get a job, not stay out of a job.
Have the benefits agency help find the job. Have it be an employment office, as it invites companies and charities to list openings. Have the benefits agency on the prowl to find work for the person. Encourage charities to -- instead of just providing handouts -- provide jobs for these people.
Now, at the beginning of this post, I said the idea is logical. Our unemployment rate is running around 10 percent. Some are suggesting that 10 percent, once considered high, is becoming the "new normal." If all those on unemployment, and disability, and other benefits had jobs, what would our unemployment rate be? There is no way it would not go down. Argue, if you will, that you cannot place them into jobs that don't exist, but this might lead to the creation of jobs of types that now hardly exist, for, with charities providing jobs, they can be custom created to fit with the limitations of the disabled, whereas now there are few jobs for those with those limitations. This means this jobs idea can reach into the far corners of the labor field. Instead of just creating jobs with no regard for whether they'll fit all potential workers, it reclaims most everyone to the job force.
There will be some, perhaps, for whom no job can be found.  Once the agency has exhausted efforts to find the person work, help them, anyway. Let the job market decide if they truly are unemployable. Then, if they are not, give them the flat-out assistance.

If 10 million Americans are placed back into jobs, many of which are productive jobs, how could this not help the economy?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Reports from the War

Don't recall seeing too much about the Iraq or Afghanistan wars this past week (but the Libya war, of course, was big news).

So, how about news from the Mexican front, the war down in Mexico?

It's been better than a week, now, since men strode into a casino in Monterrey in broad daylight, pouring gasoline about, and torching the place. People flocked for the doors, but many didn't make it in time, 52 being killed. Five arsonists, I believe all associated with the Zetas Cartel, were apprehended and then a police officer. The casino owner is believed to have fled the country, and Interpol called in to search him out so he can be questioned. Then, a video of the mayor's brother surfaced, showing him not long before the attack receiving money at the casino. Speculation then spread that the casino corruption was tied to city hall, but the mayor said such was not the case and called on his brother to be responsible for his own actions. The attack came days before President Felipe Calderon's state of the nation speech, so it was a focus of his remarks. He vowed to remove corruption from police agencies before leaving office.

Other news? Well, they did arrest no less than 31 members of Los Zetas. I believe that was yesterday. Thirty-one. That's a pretty big haul. And -- get this -- 14 of them were policemen.

And, the No. 2 man in the Sinaloa Cartel is no more. Samuel Flores-Barrega, aka Metro 3, was found shot dead, his body and that of a policeman in a pickup truck along the Monterrey-Reynosa Highway.

Ahh, Monterrey, again.

I read a week or so ago of a tourist official in Mexico suggesting that visiting that country was safe, as the tourist sites are not in places where the violence is taking place. I can't recall hearing of any tourists being killed, so it might be right that they are relatively safe. Then again, Monterrey is a tourist city. There were but 267 murders there in 2009, before the Zetas broke off from the Gulf Cartel and the two commenced warring with each other. This year, so far, there have been about 1,100.

Oh, some of the news from the war's front is not from Mexico, but right out of Utah. The Drug Enforcement Agency arrested seven members of the Sinaloa Cartel, including the man who coordinated the flow of drugs into Utah for Sinaloa. They caught him on the I-15 near Nephi. Other arrests came in South Jordan and at the Mi Ranchito restaurant. The arrests were part of Operation Broken Glass, which has netted about 30 arrests. Authorities say it has decimated that drug ring and they expect it to have an immediate impact on the availability of drugs on the streets.

Salt Lake City was identified, along with Las Vegas, as a distribution center for drugs coming across the Mexico-California border, the drugs fanning out from Salt Lake City and Las Vegas to other locations.

Well, there's a touch of news from the war's front. In closing, the past week also marked the one-year anniversary of three other significant events in the Mexican drug war. On Aug. 26, news broke of the 72 migrants from Central and South America who were massacred by the Zetas about 100 miles from crossing the border, The migrants were kidnapped and told to pay extortion money. Being poor, they couldn't. They were then offered employment with the Zetas (slavery, in essence), but they refused to join up.

The second anniversary was Aug. 30, when the legendary "La Barbie," Edgar Valdez-Villarreal, was arrested. La Barbie was heir apparent in the Beltran Leyva gang.

The third anniversary is of the story of one Marisolina, and how she survived a concentration camp -- a death camp -- a drug cartel had for those it intercepts while they are attempting to immigrate illegally. Marisolina lacked the $3,000 ransom money, not having any relatives in the U.S. to pay it for her and certainly not having any relatives back in El Salvador rich enough to pay the ransom. So, she was taken to the "safe house" where others who had been kidnapped were kept, and she became a cook, As her story goes, she got on the good side of El Perro, the man charged with executing the migrants. El Perro told her he chopped them into pieces to fit them in drums, then burned them till nothing was left. Marisolina was eventually let go, and ran to authorities with her story. The attorney general, though, shortly concluded she was still a Zeta and indicted her.

All three anniversaries leave us begging to know what has happened since. Whatever became of the loan survivor of the massacre of the 72 migrants? Whatever became of La Barbie? Was he extradited to the U.S., and is his case going through the slow legal process? And, whatever became of Marisolina, if that story is true? More so, is the death camp still there, and is there more than one?

'Tis too late to edit this. So, I'm off to bed without doing so.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Here Comes Anniversary of Reagan Imminomics

Back in the day, Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants. Yes, Ronald Reagan did this. Has ever such a whopping number been given amnesty in all of our nation's history?

Consider, if you will, that most estimates today suggest we have but 11-14 million undocumenteds. I don't know how many there were back then, but 3 million must have represented a good chunk of them, maybe most.

So, 'tis an event of note, and the 25th anniversary of it also worthy of attention, given that illegal immigration is one of the rage issues of our time.

The bill that brought such a large wave of amnesty? The Immigration Reform and Control Act, also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act. The Reagan Administration, with its commission on immigration reform, helped bring it to pass.

But, that bill should be notable for more than the 2.9 million or so immigrants it ended up legalizing. Those who aren't fond of easing things on the undocumented immigrant have cause for celebrating the Simpson-Mazzoli Act.
Reagan Imminomics established the principle that to work in the U.S., you would from that time forward have to show you had the right to live and work here. Ever since, everytime you file paperwork for a new job, there's that I-9 to fill out.

Toss a kiss at the Simpson-Mazzoli Act for that. It has made it much tougher for an undocumented to take a job.

And, Simpson-Mazzoli criminalized the act of hiring those who do not have legal permission to be here. Employers could no longer hire without shame, saying their's was not the fault, suggesting they were breaking no law.

The law was enacted Nov. 6, 1986, meaning in a couple months it will be the 25th anniversary of one of the more significant laws on how to deal with illegal immigration.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Answer to Economic Woes is in Museum

The answer to all our economic woes lies in a display at the Museum of Church History and Art.

Well, not all our woes, but a lot of them.

So, make a short trek downtown, walk into the museum, and step into a little room titled, "Zion's Co-operative Mercantile Institution," and uncover what President Obama, John Boehner, and Harry Reid all need to know.

The title says,
"The Public Works Program
Providing Labor, and Stimulating a Pioneer Economy"
Ahh, how that word "stimulating" reminds us of our current affairs, and the "stimulus." What then, we wonder, did they do to "stimulate" the economy back then?

"Organized in 1850, the Church's Public Works program provided work for immigrant laborers, artisans, and mechanics. The Public Works created an immediate labor market by sponsoring construction projects and setting up shops for skilled craftsmen. By providing employment to thousands of workers, the Church contributed to the well-being of the entire community."

So, what did the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do? Simple, simple: It created jobs, and put people to work.

There's a trick that's been lost somewhere along the line.

Instead of pumping cash into the economy, pump jobs into it. Create companies. Back then, they were settling a land, converting it from a wilderness. Today, maybe we would look at our own frontier and have a portion of the jobs be on the Internet.

I think of where we are at today, unemployment running above 9.0. Why would we not go out and create jobs, just start companies so people would be employed? It sounds a whole lot better than just giving people money.

There, again, is that difference of jobs vs. money.

And, as I think back on the spirit of the Public Works program, of how it provided jobs, I recall another story from those days, probably the same year, 1850. Wish I would have saved it. While reading microfilm copies of the Deseret News, I had come to a story of a visitor to the Salt Lake Valley in those days. He spoke of walking the streets of the city, and seeing an industrious people. I believe he might have said not an idle person was to be seen, as in, everyone was seen working.

There must not have been much of an unemployment rate back in the early1850s, then, and that makes sense. If you give people jobs, unemployment drops. That's obvious. There simply is no more direct way of addressing the problem. But, if you give them money, like we do today, well . . . your unemployment rate might be lucky to only be 9.1 percent.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Do We Limit Not Buying, But Paying Bills?

A quick thought on the economy before heading for bed:

I never did understand the bit about raising the debt ceiling not being for new debt, but it rather being simply to pay the bills on money already spent. Seems if you have a debt ceiling, it should be on spending, not on your ability to pay for the spending. Did we, then, in fact, break the debt ceiling? Did we break our own law not to go above $14.3 trillion? True, I must be wrong on this. Either the ceiling prevents us not from buying such-and-such amount, but for paying off the bills when they reach such-and-such amount, or I got ill information when I heard the deficit had to be raised just to pay for existing expenditures. Otherwise, surely there would have been an outcry. . . .

But, if this is what did happen and there wasn't an outcry . . . amazing!

I will say this: Supposing the ceiling is on the paying the bills, and it doesn't specifically and in writing restrict us from running up bills at all, as long as we don't pay them. I say that still implies you should not be spending the money. If a father gave his son access to the family credit card, wouldn't he be a fool to say, "Okay, son, I can only afford to pay off  $14.3 thousand dollars, but you are welcome to use the card beyond that. Go as high as you like."

Did we really do that? Did we create a law limiting how much we allow ourselves to pay for, but not limiting how much we can actually buy?

If we did this, we are sooo foolish. I think I must have got wrong information when I read raising the ceiling was to pay for existing bills. This simply cannot be true, for I cannot believe we would have such an unwise debt ceiling.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Prophecies of Current-Day Israel?

So, Israel is being fought over by different religions. Islam, too, believes it is their land. Is there any scripture that prophesied this?
I do not know that I am right, but I might be. This scripture might be saying as much: "Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against all Idumea, which have appointed , my land unto their possession with the joy of all their heart, with despiteful minds, to cast it out for a prey." (Ezekiel 36:5)

It does seem, in this day, that Islam has "appointed" God's land unto themselves, that they have "despiteful minds" against Israel, and they they would to "cast it out for a prey."
All of Ezekiel 36 is interesting, but I love that it also contains a passage that might be referring to the fact that the Jews continued to deny Jesus was the Savior, even as they were scattered across the world. I wonder, when the scripture says they "profaned my holy name" if that is what is meant. This scripture that I quote says that those in the world would be aware that the Jews scattered are the Lord's people. I find that neat as it is a prophecy fulfilled.

"And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said to them, These are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of his land." (Ezekiel 36:20)
Why, then, if the Jews were not ready to accept their Savior would God so bless them? "Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God: I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went." (Ezekiel 36:22)

I am not studied enough to know whether the Jews consider their return to Israel as fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, or whether they reject the notion. But I know Christendom sees it as fulfillment in this very day we live in. The immediate nations around Israel -- the Arab nations -- might not be considering it a fulfillment of scripture, but perhaps they are being pushed around so much that they, too, are becoming fearful the true God is with Israel. I do not know. I only know the scripture says (and I do not even know the scripture is referring to this, I only wonder);

"Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it." (Ezekiel 36:36)

So it was spoken, and so it seems to me that it is.

Friday, August 5, 2011

You Want to be an American? Go Get a Lawyer

So, you want to stay here in America, maybe even become a citizen? Fine, go get a lawyer.

Often, our borders are locked to the person without an attorney. So regulated and complicated is immigration these days, that it often takes help from someone with a large pile of law books.

Shouldn't be so. Coming to America, to live in the land of the free, shouldn't take a lawyer. Becoming an American shouldn't take a lawyer.

Hold On'M Loosely, Don't Let'M Go

The most nerve-racking debt ceiling debate ever, two of the roughest weeks in Wall Street history, and the U.S.'s credit rating being dropped for the first time ever.

Forgive the U.S. public for feeling a little jittery.

It would be good to keep our chins up, as public confidence fuels the economy as much as anything. But, we cannot be blind to reality.

What does that song say? Without looking it up, something like, "Hold on'm loosely. Don't let'm go. . . . You're going to lose control."

Okay, we do need to hold on loosely. With the word "loosely" meaning don't be clingy, but rather be ready to accept economic failure if comes to that, we need to hold on and not let go of our working, investing, and buying. Don't give in to not having a job. Keep looking. Don't decide to not start that little company because it just seems like a bad time. If your business idea is solid, launch it. Don't not buy that car simply because the economy is bad. If you need a new car and can afford it, buy it.

Otherwise, we are going to lose control. Hang on, America. Hold on'm loosely.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

He Who is Free is also Governed

He who is free is also governed. But instead of being governed by others, a free man is governed by himself, at least in part. For, instead of having laws foisted upon him by a monarch, to benefit the monarch, a free man is part of the government, having a hand in the creation of laws, and the laws are created not to benefit a ruling class, but to benefit the people.

Freedom isn't lawlessness. It isn't the absence of laws. It's the enactment of just laws. Freedom does not seek to oppress one people for the benefit of another. It does not exclude anyone from its virtues, to suppose that they are not worthy and therefore cannot be partakers. It does not suppose one group has rights, while another doesn't. Freedom only takes its rights away when they are violated, or in danger of being violated.

And, just as freedom is not an invitation to lawlessness, it is not a protection of sin. Freedom allows for laws which engender virtue. It allows for laws that create a good and moral society. Freedom is not the allowance of corruption, but the removal of corruption's chains.

Friday, July 22, 2011

As a Society, How Did We Arrive at This Point?

How did we arrive at this point, as a society? A people arrives from another country seeking employment, so destitute that they are willing to work for a pittance, and, because they do not have their paperwork, we seek to pile punishment after punishment upon them. We blame them, in part, for our failed economy. We assume they are going to go on to become our criminals -- our murderers, thieves, and rapists. We call them "aliens," and speak of an "invasion."  Do we forgive them for not having their paperwork? No, for that would be amnesty. Now, amnesty might be just another word for forgiveness -- a thing we believe in -- but because we have been trained not to be amnesty-ites, we will not forgive them. We tally up how much they cost us in welfare, never minding that we could tally up such totals on other segments of our society, and cast them out just as well when the total reached a certain point. We forbid that anyone should help them, and if any of our elected officials moves toward them, to help, we snarl and promise to have that person removed from office. If any of our churches seeks to help them, we are perplexed, not fathoming why the church would support them.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good Democracy Allows More Voices

Went to a redistricting public hearing the Utah Legislature held tonight. I have argued that instead of chasing after trying to have every senate district have the same number of people in it, we should be seeking to see that each community of interest is represented. And, I encouraged the legislators to give voice to every group possible. After it finished, had this thought: "Democracy might well be giving rule to the majority. But good democracy is giving a part of the rule to every group." Hmm, have to work on that. Late, though, so must go to bed.
One more quick try: "Democracy needs only to listen to the majority voice, but good democracy hears all the voices."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Missionaries Allowed to be Undocumented

So, you read how it is illegal to transport or harbor a person who is in the United States who shouldn't be here. And, you say, "Wait a minute, doesn't the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints send undocumented people on missions?"

I don't know whether the church does send such on missions, other than I have heard some say that it does.

Tonight, I ran across the law that says, in essense, "Send them on missions. We, the federal government allow for that."

There it is, in 8 U.S. Code 1324. First, read the portion that would seem to make it illegal. Then read the portion that says an exception is granted for missionary work. (Source: U.S. Code as quoted online by the Cornell Law School)

1324. Bringing in and harboring certain aliens

(a) Criminal penalties


(A) Any person who --

(i) knowing that a person is an alien, brings to or attempts to bring to the United States in any manner whatsoever such person at a place other than a designated port of entry or place other than as designated by the Commissioner, regardless of whether such alien has received prior official authorization to come to, enter, or reside in the United States and regardless of any future official action which may be taken with respect to such alien;

(ii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, transports, or moves or attempts to transport or move such alien within the United States by means of transportation or otherwise, in furtherance of such violation of law;

(iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation . . .

(II) aids or abets the commission of any of the preceding acts,

shall be punished as provided in subparagraph (B). . . .

(B) A

(C) It is not a violation of clauses [1] (ii) or (iii) of subparagraph (A), or of clause (iv) of subparagraph (A) except where a person encourages or induces an alien to come to or enter the United States, for a religious denomination having a bona fide nonprofit, religious organization in the United States, or the agents or officers of such denomination or organization, to encourage, invite, call, allow, or enable an alien who is present in the United States to perform the vocation of a minister or missionary for the denomination or organization in the United States as a volunteer who is not compensated as an employee, notwithstanding the provision of room, board, travel, medical assistance, and other basic living expenses, provided the minister or missionary has been a member of the denomination for at least one year.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Senator Mike Lee Not Closed to Waiver Idea

(Note: This post has been updated, as Sen. Lee responded to the Daily Herald article with a Facebook Post indicating he is not inclined to introduce legislation providing a waiver.)

This is exiting to me. Senator Mike Lee is not saying he will introduce legislation providing that the federal government give Utah permission to have a guest worker program for immigrants (HB116), but he is open to considering it.


The authors of HB116 anticipated federal permission would be preferred before the bill goes into effect, so the bill itself asks that a waiver allowing a guest worker program be sought from the federal government. I have not heard that any federal authority has even considered granting such a waiver to Utah.

Till now. Extremely. The first ray of hope that a waiver can be obtained.

I love Sen. Lee for his fight to balance the budget. If government were to end its deficit spending, that would be historic, and who knows but what it might not save our very nation, at least in a manner of speaking. I don't know what kind of ruination will come if we continue to pile up debt, but obviously at some point we face an economic ruin. I love Sen. Lee for his efforts on the budget, and I love him for being open minded enough to weigh whether a federal waiver should be created to make HB116 legal.

So, this is good news.

Well, after writing the above, here is what Sen. Lee posted on Facebook:

"One local newspaper has apparently interpreted a statement I made last week as somehow expressing a willingness to help Utah secure a waiver from Congress to allow the state to implement HB 116. Lest there be any uncertainty, I have never been, and am not now, willing or inclined to secure such a waiver. I have indicated many times that I'm open to considering and debating the merits of any serious proposal to expand the authority of the states (all states) in the employment-regulation arena, but trying to exempt a single state from a broad range of existing immigration laws would, I believe, be an unwise exercise in futility."

Alas, alas. So, still no ray of hope. I know of no congressperson considering introducing legislation for a waiver.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Is This Enough Reason to Kick Them Out?

"What I don't like is when they get your order wrong at McDonald's," someone at work said, explaining what is wrong with some of those who come to our country. The thought was, if they come to America, they should speak our language.

"For English, press 1. For Spanish, press 2." The person I was speaking with didn't like to have to go through such exercises. This is America, and we should all speak English. Period.

I wonder about our being so willing to eject them from our country for such reasons. Here is a people coming to America, so poor that they take some of the poorer jobs in our country, including as fastfood workers. They come here, take the job at McDonald's, and within a day, mess up on someone's order. Now, not in jest, but in all seriousness, we would tell them they cannot stay in our country because they got our order wrong?

"Get out of my country, if you cannot get my order right!"

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One Way to Tell the Good from Bad

Aren't there so many stories like this, of legislators taking trips at government expense? And, should we allow them to have such trips? This story does not say what the conference is about, but I so wonder but what almost any conference would be without justification. If they want to learn about a topic, much is online, and much available by simply calling on the telephone those sources who are authorities on various topics.

Are there companies that put these conferences together, knowing the legislators are each allotted $1,500 per year for travel expenses (and are they allotted other money that would fit into the trip?) that simply are taking advantage of the expense account the legislators have?

There is an axiom, that if you put money on the table, someone will come along a sweep it up. By making it available to the legislators, the legislators not only see a need to spend it, but someone comes along with the idea of creating the conferences just so they, too, can sweep the money off the table.

Legislators should not be going to these conferences simply because an account exists making it possible. They should not be looking to spend taxpayer money just because is available.

Here's the story from 4 News:

EXCLUSIVE: Legislators trip to Hawaii may cost Utahns tens of thousands

Of all the things we use in deciding who to vote for, whether they take perks like this perhaps should be as important as any. Having legislators who are there as servants of the public, as opposed to looking out for themselves, is (or should be) important to us. Whether they spend this money also serves to indicate whether they will wastefully spend other tax dollars. So, if you want someone who will hold back on government spending, you should consider whether you want to vote for these people.

A field trip to the Mexico border to learn first hand what is going on, I can understand. But most of the "conferences" are nothing but wasteful spending. The good thing about them is that they perhaps unmask the unfaithful office holders.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wish a Nudge from Lockhart Would Help - Speaker Lockhart goes after Utah delegation on immigration
Wish a nudge from Speaker Lockhart would bring someone from the Utah Congressional delegation to help the immigrant (including those here without paperwork). There is nothing wrong with helping another person. One can, indeed, argue that we should not help them, as they are all lawbreakers, having entered without paperwork. And one could argue it lessens and makes mockery of the efforts of those who have come here legally. I do not think so. I think of the story of the workers who came at the 11th hour, and were paid the same as those who came earlier in the day. Yes, I wonder about our charity for others, when all we can think of are ways to bring to justice and punish a people who often seek nothing more than to work, and often earning no more than a pittance, at that. Punish them? Yes, I do ask where charity is.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Let's Outlaw Paid Campaign Workers

A few days ago, I laid out some thoughts on people in politics who perhaps we could do without. I gave campaign managers a pass, saying they were earning a living the same as the rest of us.

A day hadn't passed before I gave it a second thought. In a world where money runs politics, this IS one place we could stop the flow of dollars.

Make it illegal to be paid to work on a person's campaign. If you want to campaign for someone, do it because you like the candidate, and for no other reason. This will reduce the influence of money, as the poor man will have just as much resource as the rich man in assembling a campaign staff.

We have campaign spending limits, and that might be good. But, if that is a reflection of our distaste for people buying their way into office, let's take it another step.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Georgia Heading for Govt.-Made Disaster?

Ran into a person from Georgia yesterday who painted not not-pretty picture of what is going on in that state. "It looked crazy," he said of one news report, which showed "cucumbers yellow for as far as you can see." They were rotting on the vine, that farmer losing $80,000 in cucumbers, alone, and the cucumbers were just one of his crops. (Most likely, the other crops were not ready for harvest.)

And, why the loss? What brought it on? A little law called HB87, which hasn't even gone into effect yet. It calls for police to detain and question folks who might be in the U.S. without proper paperwork. "Just the thought of being arrested -- a lot of people are scared," my friend from Georgia said.

Georgia is one of the few states that has passed harsh laws against undocumented immigrants this past year. Yesterday, a judge blocked provisions of the law that call for police to question folks about their immigration status. Other portions of the law, including one saying many businesses must use E-Verify, remained intact.

What's going on in Georgia isn't getting much play in Utah, but the loss of the crops is significant. Georgia uses more illegal migrant labor than most any state, if not the most, and for that state to have passed a laws cutting into the workforce there, is significant in and of itself.

I don't know how bad the crop loss is (or will be), because I neither live there nor have read much of the news, but I know there is much concern in Georgia.

They might have as much of a shortage of farm workers as 11,000.

When the Georgia legislature passed the law, "They didn't for see that the crops would be damaged," my friend said. "It's ridiculous." He said those steering clear of coming to Georgia include legal migrants who simply do not want to be harassed.

The story of the shortage of farm labor "has taken over the news" in Georgia, my friend said. How serious is it? Will enough crops being lost to call it a disaster? If so, it will be a government-created disaster.

The judge's decision follows similar decisions after similar laws in Arizona, and Utah. While many hail the judge's ruling, it did not come fast enough to save some of Georgia's crops. The bulk, though, I'm sure are still to be harvested, so we will now see if the migrants will come in now that the judge has lifted their fear of being stopped and questioned so easily.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Partial Wrap of Immigration, Border News

Okay, say I was to try to write a wrap on all the immigration, border, and Mexico drug war news. What follows is too incomplete to be that, but it does offer a few interesting tidbits.

Russell Pearce, made famous for his legislative efforts to reign in the illegal immigrant in Arizona, now faces a recall. The necessary signatures for the recall were validated Wednesday. Pearce supporters are saying he will easily win the election. In addition to his immigration legislation, Pearce was embroiled in the Fiesta Bowl scandal, being accused of taking trips and game tickets from Fiesta Bowl officials. He filed amendments to his financial disclosure reports as a result.
-- Source: New York Times

For the first time, the price of securing out southern border has been established. The Associated Press, using Freedom of Information requests, has determined $90 billion was spent securing the Mexico border during the past 10 years. What results have been reaped? The Associated Press determined there are fewer illegal immigrants, but there has been little impact on terrorism and no stoppage of the supply of drugs entering the U.S.
Source: The Associated Press

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio plans to open another crackdown on illegal immigrants this Thursday.
Source:, which was, in turn, sourcing

Latinos and immigrants are fleeing Georgia as many provisions of HB87 are to take effect Friday, barring a court stay. Some communities are being said to have become "ghost towns." HB87 calls on local law enforcement authorities to check the immigration status of people and arrest anyone found to be in the U.S. illegally. Georgia has been one of the country's hot spots for migrant workers. Hall County, where many come for agricultural work, grew 72 percent from 2000 to 2010.
Source: Gainesville (GA) Times

An unscientific survey says Georgia is short about 11,000 workers in its agricultural fields. Many fear the risk of deportation there, now that HB87 is set to take effect.
-- Source: The Associated Press

Georgia is turning to laborers on criminal probation to fill the void as migrant workers are refusing to show up. But, the probationers are not required to take jobs they consider too oppressive, so many of them are turning down the agricultural jobs.
Source: The Associated Press

Political Careers Should be Last Consideration

I trusted our Legislature to act fairly in redistricting. Yes, I do feel they are good and honorable souls.

But, then, came this one-two punch. First, the editorial from KSL, noting the legislators are considering divvying the Salt Lake Valley among the four Congressional districts. KSL's Con Psarras said the move seems "motivated by the desire to preserve and expand Republican Party dominance."

Horrors, I thought, can the legislators really be considering this? After beginning their work with a pledge to be fair? My mind raced back to the accusations out of Washington, DC, and New York City that Utah is the most gerrymandered of all states.

Precisely because it did in 1991 what it is again considering doing in 2011, I would imagine.

Punch two came the next day, when I heard of an article in the Tribune that had published a couple days earlier. "Protecting incumbents part of redistricting," read the headline. That, alone, is enough to tell us the Legislature has taken a wrong turn, straying from its pledge to be fair. Of all things to be considered in redistricting, political careers should be the last.  That the politicians are considering doing this underscores the fear I had going in. See, it is the legislature, itself, that is allowed to draw the boundaries. And that is wrong. It is inherently wrong. You don't let legislators draw their own boundaries. There is too much temptation to draw them to their own benefit. They might be good and honorable people, but that does not mean you put them in a situation where they might be tempted.

The Trib article told how Sen. Michael Waddoups first drew the lines with a mind to not divide communities. He did a nice enough job, only to find his fellow legislators upset, since a third of them were tossed in districts with other incumbents.

We can't have that, they apparently told him.

So, he redrew the map, coming up with one that neatly put most all the existing senators in their own districts, albeit Sens. Ross Romero, of Salt Lake City, and Pat Jones, of Holladay -- both Democrats -- were pitted against each other in the same district.

Waddoups' map also places Sens. Dan Liljenquist and Luz Robles to face off against each other. That's a district gerrymandering down from Bountiful, where Liljenquist resides, to Rose Park, where Robles lives.

And, here's the catch on this one, as pointed out by Tribune columnist Paul Rolly. "So why are Republicans being protected except Liljenquist?" Rolly asks. "Well, he just happened to be the guy who ran for president against Waddoups in the Senate Republican caucus last fall."

Now, pardon, but the lines being drawn will last 10 years. Some of the legislators being protected might not even run in 2012. All this protecting them, then, will be of no avail and we will be stuck with lines drawn just for them and yet they aren't around to enjoy them in a singe one of the elections.

Draw the lines for the people, not the politicians. They'll still be around. And, they ought to be your interest, anyway, not the politicians.

Yet another couple or few days passed after I read the Tribune article. I went back to the KSL editorial. I read how Rep. Ken Sumsion has said, for example, he wants to draw Congressman Rob Bishop's district so it include coal and gas lands, saying it makes sense because Bishop is "probably our best congressman on land issues."

Con Psarras in his KSL editorial jumped Sumsion for the thought. "That statement alone is evidence of a mindset that clearly puts political interests above all else," Psarras said. "Districts that will exist for at least a decade should not be designed to accommodate a particular politician's skill set."

No, don't draw the lines for a politician. Draw them for the people. Besides, this area that would be tossed into Bishop's district typically votes Democratic. Is the idea to put those people into a district that has enough Republicans as to overpower the Democratic vote?

Well, going back to the notion the legislators are good and honorable men, I do believe they are. I really do. And they did pledge to be fair. Since then, though, they've let their guard down, and are considering political careers, not people's interests. What they are considering ought to be enough reason for us to be clamoring  for a changing of the state constitution, to strip them from doing the redistricting.

Or, at least we should be crying against them drawing the lines unfairly this time, in 2011. This is a matter worthy of public protests, ala the outpouring when the Legislature passed HB477. If we don't let them know what they're doing is wrong, they are going to do it. I perceive that left to their own, they cannot see that what they are doing is even wrong.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kick Some Politicians Out of Political Process

There are three kinds of politicians in the world. There are the ones who run for office. There are the ones who seek to influence the ones who run for office. And, there are the ones who campaign for the ones who run for office.

As kind of a subset of that last group, there are the ones who seek to manage the ones who run for office. You know, the political bosses: all the campaign managers, consultants, party heads and power brokers. Yes, the ones who sometimes figure they are smarter than the ones who run for office. They pick up the candidates like pieces of a board game and move them around.

We don't usually refer to all these groups as politicians, of course. But, well, aren't they? A person who seeks to influence a politician is dealing in politics, isn't he? And a campaign manager is about as political as a person can be.

It's some of these ones who seek to influence the ones who run for office and also some of these ones who seek to manage the ones who run for office that I wish to address at this present time. To them, I say, Step up, and let me bend your ear (as in, twist it) so it hurts just a little.

Now, not everyone who seeks to influence the man running for office is a bad person. Sometimes, it's just an honest soul needing an honest change, and appealing to government to make it happen in an honest way.

But sometimes, the influencer is a little more devious, contributing to the campaign of the one running for office, or just giving flat out giving the one running for office a gift of some kind, as if to say, "I've been nice to you, now you be nice to me." Now, not all gift giving is bad, but some do to it expecting a return. There's not a formal agreement between the influencer and the influenceable elected official, but things just kind of come to be understood: "You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours."

And, as we said, the campaigners, including the power brokers, are also among those who can be spoken of a politicians, as they delve into the political process to get their political candidate elected. Some of them, again, are honest souls, seeking no more than to forward their candidates. Some of them are very good folks, indeed, supporting causes, fighting for right, and seeking to place not themselves, but other people -- good people  -- in office. No, I have no quarrel with them.

But, some of them . . .

Well, here we have government and it's suppose to be a serious thing, and all . . . and some of them reduce it to that board game I was talking about. I suppose, I could fire off my anger at the guns for hire, the political bosses who care not what candidate hires them, only that they have the job. But, I give them my pass. They take a job just like the rest of us take jobs, and there is nothing wrong with being employed.

And, I guess I could take out my wrath on a different set of political bosses, the party bosses, since they often support candidates not on virtue of who the candidate is, but simply for no more reason than that that candidate belongs to their party. The party boss -- and party campaigners -- can argue that their party has a set of values, and they are simply seeking to elect people with those values. But, there are those among their party who actually don't hold those values, and those among the other party who do.

But, no, it is not them at which I direct my greater displeasure. It is those who use go about getting someone elected in an ill fashion, those who are devious and mean as they proceed about the whole thing, spreading rumors about their opponents and all. It's this -- the methods they use more than their ill regard for which side they are on -- that puts them on my bad list.

Politics is often a dirty word. So, in deciding who is a "politician," when we are using the word in a negative way, I say we include all those who abuse the system, either by seeking influence in a way it shouldn't be sought, or by seeking the election of friends by methods that oughtn't be employed.
The ones who peddle influence upon the ones who run for office and the ones who peddle the ones who run for office. It is some of them that draw my ire. So, then, of course, I sometimes wish we could somehow kick them out of the whole process. Yes, I do sometimes wish we could kick some of the politicians out of the political process.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

As an Economist, I Can't Figure This One Out

As an economist, I'm lost on this one. I just cannot figure out why America's entrepreneurs are not jumping to make cars powered by natural gas, and why they are not rushing to open stations selling natural gas? I mean, when I gas up, it costs me about $3.50 a gallon, yet I'm told natural gas would be about $1.30 a gallon. Natural gas is abundant in America, and it burns cleaner.

Why then, as a nation, are we not jumping all over this? Why aren't we demanding an immediate switch from gasoline?

Save at the pumps, and end our dependence on the Arab world, to boot? What is holding us back?

Given it was time to buy a new car, and we could buy it at the same price as a gasoline-powered model, who wouldn't buy a natural gas-powered vehicle? It seems we all would, if only they were available, and fueling stations in place.

Opportunity knocks, and no billionaire answers?

Now, someone out there has floated an idea to help kick start this conversion to natural gas. There's this proposal called HR1380, aka the New Alternative Transportation to Give America's Solutions Act of 2011. That's right, it's a bill to give tax incentives to makers and buyers of natural gas vehicles. When it was introduced back in April, some were saying it would sail through, and quickly. It gathered in about 157 co-sponsors in the House and won favorable comments from President Obama.

But, now it has stalled, and, if I understand, co-sponsors are dropping off. Some say the oil industry got to them, but I don't know but what they just said, "If this is such a good idea, why does it take government subsidies (tax credits are a form of that) to make it work?

I'm with that. Good question. Isn't it said, "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door"? That might be a simplistic way to put it, but it's still one of the principles of economics.

So, I'm lost on this one -- and I'm an economist. (Well, I make payments on a house and still have money left for groceries. That's kind of an economist.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One Community, One Vote

One community, one vote. Every community deserves their own voice, so give each its own state senator. Let it not matter if the community has but 20 residents, or 2,000.

Instead of divvying up the senate districts by population, how about creating them solely on the basis of which are separate communities? The Skull Valley Goshute Indian Reservation would have it's own senator, and Hildale would have its own, or be packaged with another polygamist community. However many distinct communities there are is how many districts there would be. If some senators represented only 20 people each (that would be Skull Valley), so be it.

Now, don't so quickly walk away from this idea, saying the Goshutes and the residents of Hildale hardly deserve equal representation with the all of Salt Lake City. You could divide the cities into districts, as well, with the Avenues, Olympus Cove, and Rose Park being just three of the areas in the Salt Lake Valley that could be considered separate communities.

Here's why this idea is worthy of consideration: Communities often have needs of their own, and therefore deserve a voice of their own. The prairie dogs so affect a portion of Southern Utah as to put livelihoods there at stake, yet those living along the Wasatch Front hardly follow the issue. Rural communities need voices of their own because they have issues of their own. As the system is now, their voices are often lost. At the ballot box, their votes are cast in with those of the larger communities and they never get someone from their community elected. Oh, if their community's thinking is enough in line with the thinking of the larger community, they will have someone elected from time to time, but the further their community's way of thinking is from that of the larger community, the less likely they will ever have someone elected.

Having a senator for each community is a way to ensure the voice of the small is not washed away by the voice of the large.

Go ahead and tell me when the last time someone from Hildale was elected as a state senator. I haven't studied, to know, but guess it hasn't happened. You may not agree with their beliefs -- including the practice of marrying off teenage girls in arranged marriages -- but that does not mean they shouldn't be allowed representation.

People who live next to our national parks and our rural mining areas ought to have a say, an elected voice, in what happens in that area. For better or worse, they are caretakers, so to speak. The cities will still have more of a voice in what is done with the land than the folks who actually live there, having more representation, but at least give the rural folks a voice in what happens to the land they live on and next to.

Representation by community would give rise to better representation of ethnic groups, as ethnic groups often are communities, and to minority religious groups, such as the polygamous groups in Utah.

How far you divvy up the municipalities would be a matter to consider. If you divide them up too much, you are going to have a very large legislative body. Perhaps, it would be best with this chamber of the legislature to allow for large districts in metropolitan areas.

Socio-economic lines should be considered. Perhaps even have overlapping districts, all renters living in one area being in one district and all the landowners of the same area being in a separate district.

This idea of representation by community, with population being set aside, takes its inspiration from the U.S. Constitution and each state having two U.S. senators. No one complains that it is unfair that Rhode Island and Montana have as many senators as California and New York. The Founding Fathers saw fit to give their existing governmental territories each equal representation in the Senate, while allowing larger populations to have more representation in the House.
So, we say every vote should count, yet votes from small communities often don't? Let's change that. Let's help ensure that, indeed, every vote does count, that every community does have a vote in one of our legislative chambers. One community, one vote.