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.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Draw the Lines Fairly, Legislators

Heard a KSL editorial tonight, ' bout redistricting, noting that while the citizens' groups are calling for keeping a U.S. House district just for the Salt Lake Valley, the legislature itself seems to be going towards slicing the valley up so a little urban sticks with all the rural.

And, the editorial suggested party politics might be behind the move, as the redistricting plan would keep the Democrats from having an area where they are likely to win.

Of course this is wrong to do. The legislators promised to be fair. Can we trust them? This is not about -- or should not be about -- their own political desires. It should be about drawing fair lines.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Story of Day is About Saving Us $8 Billion

If I were to pick one story off the page from Friday's news, as the story of the day, the most important . . .

. . . perhaps I'd pick the one about Attorney General Eric Holder announcing that over the past two years, $8 billion in welfare fraud has been returned to government coffers.

Not a small thing, to me, that they collected so much. This is exactly what we are screaming at our government to do -- stop the fraud -- and we should be appreciative and complimentary when stops are found. More, we should be shouting, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" to cheer our leaders on.

If we as a people were to respond with a big thanks, it might encourage even more fraud finding.  Folks are rising up in rebellion with what they don't like about government, and that can bring change, but so can encouragement. We should be a grateful people, and a grateful people, and acknowledge good when it is found.

Slap somebody on the back when they do a good thing -- even if it is the government.
The web story is at:

The Health and Human Services website has a contact link at the bottom of its home page. One way to contact the Department of Justice, to thank it, is at

Friday, June 17, 2011

HB116 Not as Bad as Video Implies

For the sake of posting something today, I post this reply to a Facebook link of a YouTube video against HB116.

Candace, there are counterpoints to be made for the things mentioned in the video. If we want truth, then a real truth serum suggests we consider them. When discussing the cost of illegal immigration, when saying Utah taxpayers are forced to pay for their education, welfare and incarceration, it should be remembered the taxpayer has always paid for the education, welfare and incarceration of all residents, not just those coming from other countries, and not just those staying here illegally. This is not something new. Regardless whether we allow these people to come, there will still be an expense for the population that is here. It is not something the immigrant, alone, is thrusting upon us. If you pick other segments of our society, and add up the expenses associated with them, will you decide to deport them when the total reaches $450 million? You might argue that those here are paying taxes, but remember you also argue the immigrant often steals an I.D. Oft-times, he steals it. and thus ends up paying taxes. No background check? Which forms of current immigration require that? It is something that should be required, definitely, but to fault HB116 is not fair if the other immigration modes also do not require it. Family members with serious crimes can remain as long as one family member qualifies for a work permit? This does not mean those committing serious crimes will not be prosecuted for them, same as those who were born here are prosecuted when they commit crimes. Those with fraudulent documents will not be denied permits? They can still be prosecuted for using false documents, as those laws are not being done away with. Rewards current employers by allowing them to retain their illegal employees? Yes, except now they are legal employees. The purpose of HB116 is to allow them to become legal employees, so it seems to me no great harm that is what happens. The purpose was to make things legal, and that is not a fault. The employment costs are not the same, since the immigrant must provide his own insurance? If you oppose the immigration of these people, you should hail this provision, for it does seem requiring the immigrant to find his own insurance before he can have the job is problematic. Shall we counter this "advantage" the immigrant will have by offering all citizens the right to get their own insurance before they seek employment? I believe they already can do so. So, if they feel they are being discriminated against, let them run out and get their own insurance before they look for a job. It should make them more employable. I wish them luck. There are 50,000 Utah Children who are victims of I.D. theft? Then prosecute those stealing identities. Having a guest worker program does not stop you from prosecuting those who steal identities. HB116 benefits big business? Some of the farms, some of the restaurants might be considered big business, but many of them are small. The argument might well be made that HB116 is a bill that is friendly to small businesses.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Israel Practices 'Bless Those That Curse You'

News came yesterday that Israel sent a letter asking Turkey that Israel be allowed to provide aid to those who fled to Turkey to escape Syria's civil war.

Syria is about as hard-bent against Israel as any nation in the Middle East. Typically, when an enemy of yours fractures into civil war, you respond with the hope that they kill each other off. If some flee the oppression of the civil war, you don't concern yourself with them; they remain the enemy. And, just where these refugees stand with regards to Syria's civil war -- the the rebels, with the government, or just trying to get out of the way -- it would not seem likely they are pro-Israeli.

So, why would Israel reach out to them?

"In the name of those who fight for freedom, I ask you to allow a mission, which I will lead, that will bring humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees in Turkey," Ayoub Kara of the Knesset (Israel's legislative body) wrote. "As a Druse, with a wide regional orientation, I have great concern for the fate of the Syrian nation at large, and specifically the refugees that have been forced to flee their homes."

So, is Israel practicing Jesus Christ's admonition to "bless them that curse you"?

Turkey's leaders at the embassy, where the letter was delivered, reportedly reacted with surprise.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Give Hildale Its Own Senate Seat

How about a separate senate district for every separate community in the state? Throw out population considerations, not caring if one district has but 1,000 residents while another has 100,000.
I attended the redistricting meeting tonight. Each 10 years, the legislature redraws the lines for itself, the school board, and the U.S. House. The idea of allotting senate seats based on separate communities came to me while at the meeting.

I had other thoughts, and shared some. I told the legislators it is inherently wrong for them to be drawing the boundaries for their own districts. Why would we think they will not be tempted to draw their lines to their own advantage? And, if we can see they might be tempted, why don't we change the system?

Still, I do have faith in the legislature, that they are good people, and that they will attempt to be even-handed, not drawing to the benefit their own political parties, nor to their own self interest, not concerning themselves with boundaries that will be friendly to them come the next election. Oh, I waver in my support of them, because I know of the temptation, but, yes, I do believe they want to be fair.

"To the victor goes the spoils," it is said, and hopefully they will spurn that line and instead operate by, "To the people goes the spoils."

We now have 29 senate districts. How many would we have if we awarded one to each separate community?  One each for Beaver, Milford, Nephi, Tremonton . . . hmm . . . Hildale (on the Utah side of the border from Colorado City, Arizona), and so forth. Midvale would have one, and Rose Park. The Indian reservations would each have their own senators. Can you imagine the Goshutes with a senator of their own?

Here's why I feel this system would be just: We have the principle of one person, one vote, and that principle is given bloom in the House, but what of the principle that every vote should count? When entire communities are not given equal representation, the smaller are often overshadowed by the larger ones. How much does the vote of the Goshutes count if they are part of a district that includes Tooele? Their view may run counter to the views of those in Tooele every time, but every time the voice of those in Tooele will prevail.

On a larger scale, we might struggle to give Price voters a vote that will count as we set up our Congressional Districts. But, surrounded by communities with different political leanings, the vote of a person living in Price likely will be swept away.

The U.S. Constitution provides for representation by states, two senators going to each regardless the population. Perhaps we have homogenized since then, and many states do not have a character of their own. As much as any state, Utah does, and we should appreciate this concept of representation by societal grouping.

So, give the Goshutes a voice, and give those in Colorado City a voice.

More thoughts after attending the meeting: Although what I got of it was but a quick glance, I liked the districts for the Utah House proposed by Rep. Cox. He tried to divide the seats according to municipal boundaries. Now, if you are to choose just one overriding factor in dividing the seats, choosing from ethnic boundaries, income-level lines and whatever, municipal boundaries might be as fair as any. I hope the legislators will give thought to Cox's proposal.

As for the U.S. House? I like dividing the urban areas from the rural, giving the rural areas their own representation as much as possible. I like dividing the more rural districts based on industry, or character of land use. Maybe try to put the national parks in the same district. Maybe try to put the mining and oil and gas areas in the same district.

When I came home, I happened on a website suggesting Rep. Sumsion wants to create a Congressional district for big oil. Just off the top, without having studied the accusation, that does not seem a fair attack. It is the people in those areas that are going to be represented. If they side with big oil, then it is a big oil district. But, if you throw these communities in with an urban area, then the urban area's views on how the oil land should be developed are going to have more sway than the views of the people living there. The urbanites are going to dictate the lifestyle of the rural folks. Is that just?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

To Fight Crime, Fight Crime

Oh, how do we fight crime when it originates across our border? And, are we fighting it more than hardly at all?

Are we not told the Mexican cartels have become the greatest organized crime threat the U.S. has? That's not the Mafia, and its not the Crips and Bloods. It is said, the Mexican cartels now have a presence in about 250 of our cities.

And, what are we doing about it?

Are we stopping illegal immigrants at the border, and escorting them back to where they came from? Many of them -- maybe most -- are no more than laborers. Some are farmers. What does stopping farm laborers have to do with stopping crime? You will never stop crime if you don't know the difference between it and immigration. You will never adequately address a crime problem if you give it no more than immigration answers.

If crime in Mexico is the problem, we need to fight crime in Mexico. Mexico is our neighbor, and our friend. Surely (hopefully, anyway) they would be willing to enter an agreement with us, allowing us to bring crime investigators and police right down into Mexico. Yes, this would be most unusual: one country's police force actually operating within the borders of another, but it is what is needed. It is what is required. You cannot expect to fight crime if you do not have the authority to arrest the people committing it. The drug lords are surely laughing at us as they sit safely on the other side of the border, recruiting immigrants to smuggle the drugs across for them, laughing as we turn all our venom on the immigrant, who they just forced -- at point of life -- to do the smuggling.

Yes, the drug lords are sitting on the other side, safe and secure and laughing.

Are we losing the drug war? Of course we are. If we are fighting immigration in the name of fighting crime -- well, we better get a clue.

We have a police force at the border, but what do they do? They escort you back across if they catch you. That's not a lot of heavy-duty crime fighting. Instead, let's have a real police force, one with authority to go right into Mexico and apprehend the criminal. Will Mexico let us come down? How many Mexican citizens in this drug war have been killed since 2006? 35,000? A lot, anyway. Surely they want a solution. Surely, they would accept our help.

And, let's ensure our laws reach into Mexico. Let's write a whole new set of them, if we must. Let's pass a law that says if you raise drugs on foreign soil, we can come after you. Let's have one saying if you coordinate the flow of drugs from an outside country into this country, you are guilty of a crime in America. Let's have a law that says if you recruit someone to smuggle for you, that is a separate crime, and we will add it to the charges against you. And, when the immigrant is free from you and on our side of the border, let's encourage him to turn you in and testify against you.

Instead of the immigrant being used against us, let's make it so he's working for us.

We are quick to enter wars in the Middle East. How much more, then, should we be concerned about what is happening right next door, and spilling over into our country? Let's demand of Mexico that they let us in, and let's go about fighting crime the way it has always been fought: with laws against it, and arrests when the laws are broken.

We have seen how we can be outraged when people come across the border without permission, screaming at them that what they are doing is a crime. Let us, instead, be outraged with the drug lords, who are not coming across, and -- in cases where our laws do not apply to them -- not breaking our laws. Which is the greater harm? If you want crime to be a crime, make a law against it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Church Takes Stand on Enforcement-Only Bills

Only been a day, and I catch but a portion of the the public discussion, but is anyone noticing Friday's statement by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not exactly endorse HB497?

That would be Rep. Stephen Sandstrom's bill, which sets a few new standards for arresting and detaining those in the U.S. illegally. HB497 was one of a package of bills approved in Utah this year.

Consider it an enforcement-only bill. And, read this from an Associated Press story three weeks ago: "While most states rejected immigration crackdowns this year, conservative Geogia and Utah are the only states where comprehensive bills have passed."

I think the story is saying Utah and Georgia, at that date, were the only states to have comprehensive enforcement bills. What an honor. Or, dishonor.

So, the church statement is of interest. The part I am referring to says, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned that any state legislation that only contains enforcement provisions is likely to fall short of the high moral standard of treating each other as children of God."

The connection between that statement and HB497 is surely being noticed, but it is not being overly verbalized. Bless the souls such as Sandstrom for doing what they think best on the immigration issue, but here's hoping they change their minds.

With Wave of Democracy Comes a Watch

With the wave of pro-democracy sweeping across the Middle East and Africa comes a watch: Will those toppling old guards be replaced by governments less jihadistic, or more? Will they be less anti-Israel and anti-American, or more?

So, we watch.

We have Ayman al-Zawahri, bin Laden's deputy, crying to the rebels in Yemen. "We are with you in your uprising," he shouts. And, he warns against replacing one pro-American regime with another.

And, we have a Gallup Poll out of Egypt -- I didn't even know Gallup went into Egypt -- with 69 percent saying religious leaders should be allowed to influence legislation, but only 14 percent saying the religious clerics should have full say in drafting the laws and 9 percent saying they should have no authority.

I wonder how the poll would have went if they had asked whether the clerics should have but the same influence as the rest of the population. That is what I, and probably you, favor. For, why should a cleric -- unless he is elected -- have any special hand in writing legislation?

More on Egypt: We have the Muslim Brotherhood reinstated as a political party, and we read how their candidates -- simply as independents since they couldn't be on the ballot as party candidates -- won 20 percent of the vote in 2005. The Muslim Brotherhood, you may know, is of the anti-Israel extreme.

We've watched Egypt open a border passing into Gaza, effectively easing the blockade Israel tries to maintain in attempting to keep arms and weapons from reaching their enemies in Gaza.

We've wondered about the rebellion in Syria. Will the rebels lean closer to the jihads, or further away? The past week, the rebels pointed out that those trying to break across the border into Israel were paid by the Syrian government. Knowledge of this supported Israel's position, and we can only wonder if the Syrian rebels might be a little more friendly to Israel.

And, we've watched Libya. The conflict there has become America's Third War. We have Iraq (peacekeeping forces still there), we have Afghanistan, and now we have Libya, where now we have been fighting for three months. Three months amounts to more than a quick military intervention. It is war, even if no ground troops are involved. Has America ever been involved in three wars at once? I do not know.

To me, the uprisings in that part of the world are as slaves rising up against their masters. I wonder if history has even seen such a string of nation-after-nation revolts by the populace. Its a phenomenon I do not guess the world as ever seen.

I do not favor our vocally supporting only those rebellions that will bring pro-America governments. If we favor democracy, we should consider rooting for them all, even if our support comes grudgingly, for it is natural to want pro-American, pro-Israel governments. Perhaps some of the rebellions are not coming from the people, but just from the militant exteme, alone. In those cases, we need not feel the need to support them.

Well, we keep an eye out, anxious to see if the change in regimes will be more favorable to America and Israel. We watch.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Story Out of Kansas City Vindicates LDS Belief

'Twas a heart-wrenching murder, as a 5-year-old allegedly dragged an 18-month-old into a tub of water, holding the wee youngster's head under until he died. When questioned about the death, the 5-year-old said she just didn't like the infant. He cried too much, she said. She drowned him on purpose, she confessed.

Kansas City, where the ugly story unfolded, should never be so quiet as when it heard of this event. Breathtakingly shocking, The horror has no words.

But, perhaps just as shocking: Authorities were considered prosecuting the 5-year-old on murder charges.

Of course, the outcry is that a 5-year-old couldn't know the consequences. Does a 5-year-old know what death is? "Does she actually understand the meaning of drowning? Or the permanence of death?" asked a Kansas City Star news writer.

(Read more:

While outcry across our nation might be, "No, no, no. A child so young could not have known what she was doing," there is a portion of America that might have a little more reason than most to believe that than the rest.

The LDS. It's part of their doctrine.  Children under the age of 8 are not accountable for any wrongs they do. "Little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin," says a book of scripture called, "The Book of Mormon."

Eight being the cut-off age, what think ye of this little comment, made on a online thread:

"I really just can't see a five year old being that methodical and logical about the whole thing. Their thinking just doesn't tend to be that linear at that age. The whole sequence of sneaking around at midnight + crying baby + full tub + holding baby under sufficiently = no more crying forever, just seems beyond the abilities of a child age. A nine year old, an eight year old? Sure. But I just don't see it with a five year old."

A nine-year-old, or an eight-year-old might have the realize what they were doing, you say? The writer picked the exact cut-off date the LDS use. Who knows, though, but what the writer isn't LDS. Still, at any rate, the age of eight is of interest. I don't know whether eight is a solid age when children start knowing the difference between right and wrong, but it is the age the LDS set for being of age to be baptized. An age had to be set, and eight was it. They baptize those who repent, and since little children have nothing to repent of, they don't baptize them.

Now, I am one of these LDS, and when I heard of this story, I quickly thought of the church doctrine. When I heard of the outcry saying a child so young could not know what she was doing, I thought how it all supports a doctrinal belief of which I know of no other church having.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Health Care, As It Should Be

Health care, as it should be, would be where you could see your doctor whenever you wanted, whenever you needed.

"Oh, I forgot to ask if the medication is what is making me dizzy." And off to the office you go, maybe not seeing the doctor, himself, but someone who can answer your question.

I don't know whether insurance plans do, but with health care, as it should be, they would not dictate how often you  see the doctor, nor how often you have tests performed. If it would be helpful to have an electrocardiogram every week, so be it.

And, in health care as it should be, all this would come without much of a bill.

It might sound like a little bit of a dream, but if we are to really take care of patients, this is the way it should be. As society advances, living conditions improve. This is a societal advancement, and I hope we reach it, soon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Recruitment of Death at Israel's Border

Find those who, for good money, will be your "protesters." Seek them from among your poor, your farmers, and have them march on your enemy's border. Make sure you pick a spot along the border you know is laced with landmines, although you do not need to tell them that. And, should the landmines not get them, the enemy's gunfire will await them.

Tell them, their children are welcome. Bring along at least a few.

This plot played out Sunday, on the Syrian-Israeli border. The Syrian government says 27 of the protesters were killed by the Israelis. And 350 injured.

Imagine, soldiers opening fire on unarmed protesters, killing so many, including one 10-year-old boy. That is the image organizers hoped would come, and, to some extent, it did. But, many world observers saw through the false image, and saw what really happened, saw that innocent folks had been recruited to cross an enemy's border, at risk of life. It was the rebels in Syria, fighting in a separate conflict, who charged that Syria paid $1000 for recruits -- and $10,000 to the families of those killed.

The recruitment of death, then.

I do not know for sure if the Syrian rebels told the truth in how the protesters were recruited. But, yes, I believe them.

Other protest efforts took place at other Israel border spots the same day. Perhaps those protesters protested from their heart -- I do not know -- but I believe those at the Syrian border, at the border of Golan Heights, were recruited with the hopes they would be killed. It was as if someone called out to them, "Money for your death, my child."

The recruitment of death. This is where the world's outrage should go.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Often, We Don't Even Think to Punish Them

What criminal gets turned loose, unpunished, more than any other?

Some would say the illegal immigrant, caught at the border, only to be escorted back and turned free. I hear you say it is them and the estimate 10 million illegal immigrants running around America, many of which are well known to their neighbors, but never turned in to authorities.

But, I've got another entry, another group we let loose, scot-free, most every time we find them breaking the law.

I thought of them as I listened to the Enid Greene Show today on KSL Radio, as she discussed a new law in Florida that requires testing for drugs before granting public welfare.

Good idea, the callers said, and I agree with them.

But, I couldn't help wishing I had the show's number so I could call and question why we don't prosecute the drug user whenever we catch them. Part of this would be if we citizens turned them in whenever we saw them smoking pot or shooting up or whatever. But, what I was really thinking of was the pre-employment drug screens.

They test positive, and we set them free. Like escorting the undocumented person back across the border, we often escort them out the building and on their way. No more said.

I think of a news story I saw this week, about how our war on drugs is failing. Someone from that study suggested we should legalize some of the drugs. I guess that's one way to stop crime, legalize it. You'll quit losing if you quit trying.

But, I would suggest one reason we're losing is that we are not taking it serious enough. If we do not prosecute the crime, how do we expect to control it? We listen to those who say we cannot pack our jails with potheads, because we need the jail space for real criminals, and our prisons and jails are simply overburdened.

I'm afraid if we are serious about this crime, we better find a way to enforce it. If that means finding a way to reduce jail expenses for these people, if it means making new-but-cheaper jails, let's do it. We must. How about a low-security jail that is little more than a house with bars on the windows and doors that lock on the outside instead of the inside? How about a low number of jail guards?

Oh, and while we're at it, let's require the prisoners to work. If we are going to round up all the drug users and do no more than put them in free housing and provide them free meals . . . that just doesn't make sense. Put everyone of them on work release, or have work provided in the housing, and let them pay their own way.

That will make tossing them all in jail affordable. And, perhaps it will fit better with the idea the punishment should fit the crime, as we will not be putting them in with more-hardened criminals and not letting them out among the public. Perhaps it will even decrease our nation's chronic unemployment (if only a titch), as we will be placing them in jobs, requiring them to work. I can only wonder that the unemployment rate among drug users is higher than among the general public.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thieves Make Rich on IRS's Turf

Identity theft increases fivefold in two years. Should that make the news?

Well, according to the Government Accountability Office, identity theft of one variety -- that being committed on the IRS's own turf -- has, indeed, catapulted up five times from 2008 to 2010.

I don't know if the only way these thieves are benefiting is by receiving other people's tax refunds, but that is one way.

Now, however is it a thief would be so brazen as to engage in I.D. theft right on the government's home turf, stealing tax refunds administered by the IRS right from under their noses? It would seem the IRS would be all over this as quick as ugly on an ape, or cement in a sidewalk.

But. apparently not so. The GAO said there were 248,357 identity-theft cases from 2010. It said there were but just more than 4,700 investigations of all types performed by the IRS in fiscal 2010. If these two figures being reported are accurate, then but a slim, slim portion of the cases even gets investigated. Does the IRS catch most of these cases before it pays out the refunds? I don't know. But it does seem if almost a quarter million were not getting their refunds, there would be a lot of screaming and rising up in rebellion.

Perhaps the IRS simply issues the second refund, when the real person on the account files. That means Uncle Sam is losing the money.

But, here's the thing about the story that really caught me when I read it: Is this fivefold increase partially due to the Internet? How much of it is coming with Internet filings? Whether they steal the info in advance of the filing, or intercept the filing at the time it is transmitted, the Internet might well be a major factor in the increase.

Perhaps the increase also reflects an increase in document mills, with the drug cartels from Mexico and others in the crime syndicate opening more and more factories for false I.D.s. Whether this is a bigger factor than Internet fraud, I do not know.

Don't most of us file on line now? I've blogged before, on how I do not believe we are adequately reacting to Internet crime, and I repeat that assertion now. As I said before, we are dealing with a 21st Century problem with 20th Century ways.

For one thing, we need more police whose only job is the pursuit of Internet crime. It might well be time for creation of a whole new police agency. In jest, I say call it the Federal Bureau Belonging to Internet Investigations. That's the FBBII, for those of you who stutter when mention of the police comes up.

With 248,357 identity crimes being coming to the attention of the IRS, and only a little more than 4,700 crimes of all kinds being investigated . . . this screams for more agents being added. While I would like to see an agency dedicated to Internet crimes, we probably also should add agents to the IRS's criminal investigations division.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

How Civil to Call it Corruption?

I do want to be civil. Was yesterday's post as much?

I may drastically pare it back, but for the night I let it stand. And, if I do edit out the questionable, do I delete this entry as well? For I will mention what I did here, as I consider whether it was civil.

I did not call anyone corrupt. But I called the principle corrupt of not allowing the poor and needy to work simply because they come into America without permission.

Then, at the end of the blog, was I too sarcastic? I had already pointed out that everyone "takes" a job from someone else, since if they are not it the job, someone else would be. So, I suggested that those who argue the immigrants take jobs from others might best be suited in an economy of one.

These are things I will think on -- the civility of these comments -- tonight and tomorrow. Then, this entry might disappear and yesterday's entry be edited back.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Working Should Not be Illegal

It could be argued the jobs you and I have would be available to someone else if we were deported. If one person works, he is always "taking" the job from someone else.

So, let's find a reason for not liking you and me, and kick us out, and the economy will improve. . . . I'm sorry, I don't find that very sound logic.

Here's my thought: Work should not be illegal. The work ethic should not be criminalized, but encouraged. Let the working class come to America. And, if we really feel we must send someone packing back to the country they came from, let's try to hold on to these, the ones who just want to work. Who would think America would criminalize such a thing? Often they are the poor, seeking no more than an honest-day's work. Instead of cutting these people off, wouldn't we be better served to screen out someone else? Maybe go after the dishonest, or those who come in with criminal records, or those who commit crimes when they get here, or those who come just seeking to get on our welfare programs?
But, those who come in search of a better life, wanting no more than to work? Are these the people we would criminalize?

Whenever we find our government is making honest work illegal, we should cringe, and change the law. Whenever the government is regulating people out of work (other than for such things as prostitution), we should find it to be a cause we cannot support -- especially when these people are often the poor and needy amongst us. If America is so set on putting the poor and needy out of jobs, we are not as great of a nation as we think we are, and as we ought to be, for is it not just a little corrupt to make it illegal for the poor and needy to work? It displays a wrong set of values.

Now, I'm sure some would say what is corrupt, it to allow them to work ahead of those who are here, abiding the laws -- to allow them to take jobs from those who are Americans. We simply have a difference of opinion on what is corrupt, and I while I think you have a misplaced position, and mistakenly favor that which might be considered "corrupt," you, yourself, are not corrupt. I know many who are against the illegal residents who are far from corrupt and wonderful, caring people.

But, yes, I do maintain the principle is corrupt. To take people who are dirt-poor, yet willing and begging to work . .. and make it illegal for them to work? To say, No, you are not worthy? What is up with that? Why would we treat them that way? Could this not be considered kicking someone while they're down?

If those who oppose the undocumented residents oppose them for other reasons -- not opposing them their work ethic -- then, let them prove it by going after them for those other reasons. Leave the worker alone. And, if they oppose them because they are taking jobs from someone else, let them consider that for every job these immigrants take, they create another. While they live among us, they buy our food, and buy our entertainment. You might argue they are too poor to buy enough to create another job. Fine. But I don't think you seriously want to kick someone out of the country because they are not making a good enough living to qualify to live here.

Those who argue immigrants are taking jobs from others might be best suited in an economy of one. Then, no one can take their job from them.