Friday, February 28, 2014

The Irony of Not Letting the Voters Decide this Matter

   The irony.
   A group called Count My Vote comes to the notion that more people should be involved in the selection of party candidates. KSL spins it this way: Who will make the decisions: the few, or the many?  And, one of the arguments against the caucus-convention system is that the candidates the masses want are sometimes turned out of office by a select group of political activists, meaning the convention delegates. Some would point to Bob Bennett as an example. Others would suggest Olene Walker.
   So, tomorrow it is expected an agreement will be reached ending the Count My Vote initiative. I find irony in this, for the decision will no longer be extended to the masses, but will be made by the few. The voters won't even have a say.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Rap Sheet Should Lead to Less Rap Music

   A person on parole shouldn't get to pick his own music. No, he shouldn't be able to listen to songs glamorizing crime, drugs, killing, and such.
   The parole already has a list of thinks he can't do. Drinking is often one of them. Music being one of the most powerful influences on people, and there being so much music laced with violent lyrics, we should place the offending music off limits. A rap sheet means no rap music. (Well, since other genres can be as violent, we can't just pick on rap.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Love the Same-Sex Community

   Opening the online Salt Lake Tribune tonight, I find not just one, but two stories about discrimination in Utah against those of same-sex affection.
   Do we, as a people, as Utahns show love for these people? Should we love them more? Do we even know what love is?
   Earlier today, I was thinking of what love is to me. It's warmness. It's enthusiastically greeting someone, and your enthusiasm being sincere. It is honestly feeling good about seeing someone and having a chance to converse with them. It is feeling joy towards someone, and showing that joy. Love is caring about them and wanting them to be happy.
   It is wanting them to have the things they need, including the social acceptance of those around them.
   Are those things you can offer those of same-sex affection? Should these be feelings you have and things you want for those of the LGBT community? What does religion teach? Is it not to love everyone? The phrase, "a love of God, and of all men," passes through my mind, as I think of the scriptures I have been taught. It says all men, as in no exceptions.
   If we were good at loving those of same-sex affection, there would be fewer stories of discrimination against them. Love does not walk with discrimination, it sheds it. On the other hand, what things accompany discrimination? Coldness, hatred, avoidance, ill will, condemnation and passing judgement.
   I am against same-sex marriage. Though I have not fully closed my thoughts on whether government should recognize it, I am against it. If I should come to agree same-sex couples should be allowed to be married, it will be because I conclude public opinion is so strong. What my perception is of right and wrong does not always coincide with what others believe. And, enough people thinking differently than I, their opinions should carry the day. But, if I do come to believe we should approve same-sex marriages, it will not be because I believe them right. I believe same-sex relations are wrong in the sight of God. My opinion is set on this. Passages in the Bible deliver to me no other conclusion.
   But, there is nothing against loving same-sex people. It is the right thing to do. If we are to have any chance of shedding the perception we discriminate against them, we must love them. Some will argue that not allowing them marriage and not thinking what they do is right in the sight of God  is discrimination in and of itself.
   And, it one way, it is, just as it is discrimination when we extend loans to students, while not extending loan money to advance the careers of everyone. Yes, it is "discrimination" when we reward someone for going to college, but we do not reward those wanting to advance their careers in other ways without college.
   Loving those of same-sex -- sincerely loving them -- will go a long ways toward erasing the perception we discriminate. But, if we want the perception to be a misperception, then we must love them -- truly love them. Whether something is truly discrimination can be judged by whether it is accompanied by love or hatred. Which will we offer those of the same-sex community?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Does E-cigarette Vapor Stick to Lungs More than Cigarette Smoke?

   You tell me why I have such an interest in e-cigarettes. I don't smoke. But, I do know smoking is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S.
    I was just getting back to thinking we ought to encourage our smokers to turn themselves into vapers. Then, today, I heard a nasty little rumor about the e-cigs: Vapor sticks to your lungs more than smoke. Arriving home from work tonight, I searched without finding much to show for it, as to the sticking-to-the-lungs question.
   But, I did run into a study that showed vaping adversely affects breathing right after the vaping. So, if vaping cuts down on your ability to breathe, what all does that indicate? It is a negative, obviously, but does it have lasting impact on breathing, or just immediately after the vape?

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Cases of al-Nashiri and Mizanskey Shame American Justice

   Two prisoners, Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri and Jeff Mizanskey are making the news, and are they ever embarrassing American justice.
   You should be especially vexed with the case of al-Nashiri. While imprisoned, we interrogated him naked, handcuffed and with a hood over his head. We waterboarded him. We threatened to kill him with a powerdrill and a handgun. We threatened to rape his mother. All while we held him in secret CIA prisons.
   Now, America is, as much as anything, justice for the unjust. So, when you hear about al-Nashiri, you might be inclined to say, Let him loose. This is a miscarriage of justice. We never treat prisoners that way. And, if we do, we free them.
    But, you might just swallow those words when you learn what al-Nashiri is accused of. He was a mastermind behind the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, an attack off the coast of Yemen that cost us the blood of 17 sailors.
    Then, there is the case of Jeff Mizanskey, who is serving a life sentence for marijuana in Missouri. Although Missouri's three strikes and you're out law makes the sentence legal, Mizanskey is the only person serving such a sentence. He has been imprisoned 20 years. He is 61. He has no chance of parole. He has been a model prisoner. His son notes he is a good man, one who taught the children a good work ethic.
   Rotting in jail for marijuana seems a little much. The punishment should fit the crime. Mizanskey's punishment doesn't.
   If you do not feel some sense of horror over these two cases, consider. Consider that the Founding Fathers placed more measures in the Bill of Rights to protect those accused of crimes than protections for any other group. No less than 14 protections for the accused are in the Bill of Rights. Amendments Four through Eight deal with their rights.
   I don't know what we should do about al-Nashiri, but we should let Mizanskey loose.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Samoans Prayed for Rain to Come with the Apostles, and it Came

   What of the 50 little stories in "Consider the Blessings," from the man the people in Salt Lake City consider a prophet?
   Not all SLC residents consider him a prophet, but I am among those who do. His little book contains story after story of God's hand in the lives of man below.
   Many years ago, Thomas S. Monson accompanied President Hugh B. Brown to American Samoa. There, they learned the people had been fasting for rain, and the drought had pushed them to the point they were on the verge of closing the school for lack of water. That morning, the Samoans told the two church leaders that they had been fasting that with the apostles would come moisture from heaven.
   Later that evening, as they arrived for the meeting they had came to speak in, the two church leaders remembered the plea from earlier in the day. A prayer was uttered for the Lord to acknowledge the fasting of the Samoans. As President Brown began to speak, the rain came down so hard it was hard to hear him speak. It rained for two hours.

In a Capitalistic Health-Care System, We Need Competition

   A Washington Post article points out that in America, health-care providers have considerable ability to set the prices at their will, so they set them high.
  So, a capitalistic system can drive prices up as the goal is to make as much money as possible. The restraint on that is suppose to be the free-market system, competition. I think there are ways we can see that we have hindered competition.
   1. We limit how many medical colleges there are. I've never understood why.
   2. We have liberal patent laws. There is only one source for each  medicine for too long of a time. The patent laws should allow the inventor to get a head start, but not a monopoly.
   3. Licensing restricts competition. There might be places where we over license.
   4. If you are going to a doctor, you have to select from the list of doctors affiliated with your insurance. That's usually a pretty broad list, I suppose, still, it cuts out some that otherwise might be the low bookers.
    There are other forces that are taking the free-market effect out of our system, but those four items are a good start.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

We've Rebelled Against the Elections Set Up by the Constitution

   Democracy is the flag that waves above America. Oh, and Republicanism, too, if you are referring to having someone do the legislating for you, instead of everyone voting on every bill and measure.
   So, I wonder if I can have any success at all telling you I'm a little intrigued with this idea of republican-styled elections, meaning, electing someone who then elects someone else.
    The forefathers seemed to have liked this type of election. They set it up so our state legislators elected the U.S. Senators, instead of us, the people voting for who we wanted to be our senators. We didn't like that. Eventually, we threw it off, in 1913 amending the Constitution so that we could elect our own U.S. senators.
   Oh, and the president? You've heard of the Electoral College, so you know the forefathers liked the idea of selecting a president by electing someone who would then elect the president. We rebelled against that, too, and when we go to the polls, it is presidential candidates whose names are on the ballot, not those of the Electoral College. We demanded our democracy.
   But, note it was republican-styled elections, for two of the three offices, that were set up for us by the U.S. Constitution.

Friday, February 21, 2014

No News Here on the E-Cigarette, Just Some Agreement

   Today, I offer a little civility to the person who vapes. Not much news in what I say, for I say it would surely seem e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes.
   Given fact, I guess.
   Since the e-cigarette doesn't have tar and smoke, those things are not being sucked into the lungs. Nicotine is, and that is not good, but an improvement is an improvement, and if you have no tar and nicotine, that is an improvement.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Illogical is Not the One Who Pays the Bills, but the One Who Won't

   Bless Gov. Gary Herbert for not wanting to shortchange Utahns. But, bless House Speaker Becky Lockhart more for not wanting to contribute to the national debt.
   Herbert wants to accept, say, $500 million in federal money to expand Medicaid in Utah. Lockhart says no, not wanting the federal money. She says the federal funding is unsustainable. Herbert suggests we can't just let those in need go without the coverage. He says it is illogical to pass up the federal funding.
   Is it? 
   What is more logical, saying, "We, the federal government, cannot afford out of pocket to pay for this, but we have an open-ended tab that we know we really aren't going to have to pay off, so let's run it up to the hilt," or, "No, Uncle Sam, bills do come due. If we are part of the household, we'll pony up for as much as we can and cover our part of the family on our own. We won't be responsible for irresponsible debt."
   It is not logical to suppose you can run up a bill forever and without end. It is logical to worry about how you are going to pay your bills. Not expanding Medicaid might seem like passing up free money, but it is also passing up unfree debt, for debt is not free. Passing up medicaid expansion is not saying, "No, we won't help you." It is saying, "We will help as many of you as we can, but we are going to pay for what we give you, instead of running our nation deeper into debt."
   Bless Becky Lockhart for her stand. Hope it is not political suicide. Passing up a "free" $500 million is a hard way to win friends.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Don't Get Rid of Caucus-Convention System, Expand it

   Idea Three, as I dream up election systems for you all:
   Instead of getting rid of the caucus-convention system so everyone's vote will count, expand it till everyone's vote counts.
   And, I do mean expand. Like, invite everyone to the conventions, even as everyone is already invited to the caucuses. Listen to this: Make convention day a state holiday, closing most workplaces so more people can attend. Keep the convention rolling for, oh, 20 hours so those who do have work can still attend when they get off work. Link different venues together through teleconferencing to accommodate however many show up.
   The caucus meetings would serve to start the campaigns, and also for the public to seek out other candidates and encourage them to run.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Let's Become the First State with Republican-Styled Elections

   I enjoy the debate on the caucus-convention system, and it has given me three ideas on how to go about electing people.
   Today, Idea Two: It is said, one of the virtues of the convention-caucus system is that it is republican-type government. Some even suggest America wasn't intended to be a democracy, so much as a republic. In the convention-caucus system, you elect someone to be a student of the candidates, charging them with analyzing them and picking the best one. That's a principle of republican government. So, let's try the virtue of being a republic. Let's make Utah the first state to elect people in a fully republican manner. No more would we vote for governor, or attorney general, or state legislator. If the federal government will let us, we'll not even vote for our congress members.
   That will be done for us.
   I can hear the outcry from you, the reader. You aren't reacting well, at all, to this proposal. I think of the thoughts I have had about the caucus-convention system, of how it just doesn't make sense to get all dressed up and go to the caucus meetings only to do little more than turn our voting privileges over to a political activist. Give up my right to vote? No way! I'll cast my own vote, thank you!
   Well, that being my reaction to the caucus-convention system, I still see a lot of virtue in republican-styled elections. It is true many a voter doesn't study the candidates. Even the voters who say they do, sometimes don't. What's the phrase? "Let's not, and say we did"? That sounds like how we sometimes handle our study of the candidates.
   So, let's try the virtue of the republican-styled election.
  If you gander at our Constitution, you'll see it fashioned two of the three federal elections to be republican in manner. The U.S. senators were originally elected by the state legislators -- they were all the way until 1913 when the 17th Amendment passed the elective powers over to the people.
   The presidential election was also set up as a republican-type thing. We elect the Electoral College and the Elector College elects the president. Unfortunately (depending on whether you like the republican form of electing officials), in practice, we elect the president by popular vote -- altered popular vote, but popular vote, the same. The only time it isn't by popular vote is when in transferring the votes into the Electoral College, it skews the tally enough to elect someone who doesn't quite have the plurality of votes. Although we officially vote for the electors and they cast the official votes, that is somewhat of a charade. The process has degenerated from a republican-styled election. (Of note, the popular vote nationwide was not even recorded until 1824.) The way it is practiced, it is the presidential candidates, themselves, who have their names on the ballot. Not only are the Electoral College candidates names not on the ballot, we seldom even know who they are.
  So, the way the Constitution set it up, two of the three federal elections were to be republican in manner. Only the election of the house members was to be by direct vote. We remain a republic in that we elect leaders who represent us, and who vote on the issues on our behalf, but the manner of electing our federal leaders is not the republican-styled election the forefathers created.
   So, make Utah the first and only state in the Union to run its elections in the manner the Founding Fathers wanted two out of three of its elections to be.
   This would just be a nod to George Washington, James Madison and the others. (That might be getting a little too specific, for though I know how the Constitution came out, I don't know whether George and James favored election of the president by Congress or by popular vote, or what they thought of the Electoral College.)
   (Note: the following was added 2/19/14.
   Well, if we were to go with such an election system as I have stated above, one problem would be electing electors who trully would study the candidates. Simply turning our votes over to someone is of no use, if they are no better at finding good people for office than we are.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Give the Parties Autonomy to Select Candidates However They Will

   Oh, this wonderful debate on the caucus-convention system. It gives me three ideas, three thoughts on how to elect our public officials.
   Today, Idea One: It is said, the state should not be dictating to the parties how to select their candidates. So, here's the idea: Give the parties complete autonomy over their own business.  Let them select their candidates how they will and on their own terms, and as provide however many for each office as they like. But their autonomy must be just that. They must be completely autonomous. They lose their favored status, their special access to the ballot. This means that if other candidates are required to get a certain number of signatures to earn spots on the ballot, so will the candidates of the parties. Or, if candidates fielded by the parties are not required to obtain signatures, neither will the other candidates be required to do so.
   More: There will there be no party primary funded by the state. Nope, not any more. If the parties choose to have primaries, they will fund and run them on their own.
   Now, there will still be a state primary, but it will come after the political parties have selected their candidates. The state primary will include all who apply for office, including those who choose no party. The state primary will reduce the number of candidates to two or three, as the top two vote-getters will advance and, if a third candidate pulls 25 percent of the vote, that candidate will also advance to the general election.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Is it Right that PSAs Benefit the Politicians?

   It's a practice I question: elected officials -- at our expense -- running public service announcements that stand to further their campaigns for re-election.
   Take Gov. Herbert, and his touting the sites in Utah. If I remember, his words are something like, "Take a day, take a weekend, take a week" to visit some of the sites in Utah. Another public service announcement of his is about using mass transit to cut pollution.
   It doesn't go unnoticed on me that the campaign between him and Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart has kicked off, though the election is yet more than two years away. Now, I agree with Gov. Herbert on a lot of issues, but that doesn't mean I like these public service announcements at my expense coming to benefit one of the candidates.
   I'd rather see the same PSA voiced by someone who isn't going to be running for office.

Send a Message to Them that Tells Them We Love Them

   If Utah wants to win its court case against same-sex marriage, it should be falling all over itself to pass the bill outlawing discrimination against those of same-sex affections. It should be moving its feet so fast it stumbles. Passing that law could send a message all the way to the Supreme Court about what Utah's feelings really are toward gays and lesbians.
   It loves them as people. And, it wants them to be treated right.
   That is a message if we don't give the the courts, anything else we say might be lost on them.
   You see, Utah's appeal of the marriage ruling has little chance at all if it comes off as an act of bigotry. America has rejected bigotry against native Americans, against blacks, against women and so forth. It is a march of history, one after another, the blocks of bigotry coming down.
   If you let this same-sex marriage question be framed as a matter of bigotry, you will lose, surely as America is America.
   I'm of the understanding we do love those of same-sex. I believe most Utahns do care about them, love them, and want them to be treated right. What is wrong, then, with a law that says we will treat them right in the workplace and in housing?
   I wish we were passing such a law with enthusiasm, saying, "Yes, of course. We will treat you without discrimination." Not only might it help send a message to the courts, but it might help send the same message to those of same-sex affection. We do love them, and we should want to show that love to them.
   Some will respond that if we are not discriminating, we must offer them marriage, as well. We should want to be in position to reply that not calling their partnerships marriages is not discrimination because it does not come with the trappings of discrimination.  We jump to afford them equal employment and housing rights. We want them to be treated right. We do not shun them. Not calling their unions marriages does not mean we do not give them their rights, and does not mean we treat them as a lesser people.
   If we want them to know, and the courts to know this is not discrimination, then let us jump to pass Sen. Stephen Urquhart's anti-discrimination bill. Let us say, "Yes, yes, of course, of course, we do want you to stand as equals with us."

Friday, February 14, 2014

Why Not Just Say, 'Congress Voted to Pay the Government's Bills'?

   "Why do they keep calling it a debt ceiling?" asks a reader in the online comments below an editorial.
    I agree. It would be more telling of what is happening to simply say Congress authorized payment of debts, or voted to pay our debts -- simple language that conveys the action being taken. It is true there is a limit on how much debt we can have, and we have to raise that ceiling in order to pay our debts, but the payment of debts is the essence of what is happening and that can be lost when the phrase, "raised the debt ceiling," leads off the story. I wonder if news outlets would be conveying the news more accurately if, on first mention, they simply said the nation agreed to pay its bills, saving the term "debt ceiling" for later in the story when it could be explained.
   And let me add this: I even wonder if some members of Congress -- though surely they know what is going on -- are subliminally influenced by "debt ceiling" and more inclined to vote against paying our bills because of that language. Of course they don't want to raise our debt. Of course they don't want to go further in debt. So, they make that connection. Does the barrage of using "debt ceiling" and the connection it has to the act they oppose affect their vote, even though they should know better?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

No Smoke, No Smell, but not, No Smoke, No Harm

   I've a question today. If e-cigarettes serve up nicotine to the vaper who vapes them, is the nicotine   present in the vapor released into the air?
   Because, if it is, I don't want to be breathing it, second hand. Many vapers, supposing since smoke isn't released into the air, believe they do no harm to others by smoking in public. Nothing but water vapor, they say.
   But, apparently, that is not so. It is now being shown that the water vaper does carry toxins into the air. We can't smell them, but that doesn't mean they are not there. No smoke, no smell, maybe, but not, No smoke, no harm.
 (Story updated and corrected 2/21/14)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Maybe Passing an Anti-Discrimination Law Would help Our Court Case

  Contrary, my dear Watson -- I mean, my dear legislature -- rather than harming our appeal of the same-sex marriage ruling, passing legislation banning discrimination could help it.
   My thought is, the appeal should make it clear Utah does not discriminate against those of same-sex. From reading the news stories on the briefs the state has filed, I think that point is being made in our appeal.
   So, how could it hurt if Utah passes a law against discrimination? We believe marriage is between a man and a woman, but we also believe in treating those of same-sex affections right. We believe in loving them, and in not discriminating against them.
  So, no harm passing a law that says as much.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Caucus-Convention Creates Right-Sized Playground for Gift-Giving

   In statewide elections, I do not believe the caucus-convention system takes much of the money element out of the race.
   Giving gifts to electors seems to happen more in the caucus-convention system. The candidate might not have enough money to buy much for all comers, but if you reduce the number of electors to just the delegates, the candidate now can afford to spend -- and does. Witness Chris Stewart mailing his book to the delegates. Witness the chances of a restaurant meal for delegates versus a restaurant meal for voters once the race is past convention.
   It could be argued that rather than reducing the influence of money, the caucus-convention system actually is the right-sized playground for it, at least the right-sized playground for gift-giving.

A Thought or Two on Stephen Urquhart's Bill

   I haven't firmly came to a position on HB100, the bill sponsored by State Senator Stephen Urquhart calling for non-discrimination against those of same-sex attraction. But, I do tend to favor it. The bill does not deal with same-sex marriage, but only with whether same-sex people will be treated equal in the workplace and in housing.
   As a renter, though, and one who rents to people living under my own roof, I do think I ought to retain the right to choose not to have that lifestyle in the same home I live in.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Is the Great Sugar Awakening Underway?

   Is it just that I'm plugging into it, or is the Great Sugar Awakening on?
   "Sweet poison: How sugar, not cocaine, is one of the most addictive and dangerous substances," reads one headline. Sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine, says the article.
   "Sugar tied to fatal heart woes," reads another headline. The article says those who consume a lot of sugar are three times more likely to die prematurely of heart problems.
   And, although it is not a news article, I find a link titled, "146 Reasons Why Sugar Is Ruining Your Health." It reduces our defenses against bacterial diseases. It contributes to cancer. It can cause premature aging. It can cause asthma, arthritis, gallstones, varicose veins, and osteoporosis. It can make our skin age. In can induce cell death. It is linked to both Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Enough sugar can lead to epileptic seizures. By the time you get through the listing, you half wonder if anything has been left out.
   Not that we have not long know sugar is bad for us, but are we realizing it is even worse than we thought? Perhaps, but perhaps it is that this is no more than the normal chatter that comes after the release of a study. Perhpas, no Great Sugar Awakening, just a moment's attention.

Read more:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Don't Seek to Make a Point, but to Make a Friend

   Don't seek to make a point, but to make a friend. Or, more correctly, Don't seek to make a point without also seeking to make a friend. Don't try to beat someone up with the facts, but rather use those facts to win them over to your point of view. You will not persuade with ridicule, nor sarcasm, nor put-downs. You will only persuade with love, and with a caring attitude.
   I write this believing both that I often do well in my political discussions, in keeping this dictum, and in knowing that I can sometimes be too sarcastic. I think of one discussion on immigration I was leaving, and I posted something like, "Well, bedtime is calling. This land is my land, his land ain't your land. . . . This land was made, for only me." Leaving like that was leaving with a zinger, attempting only to make a point without regard to making a friend. Now, it can be alright to make a point, but the tone of how you speak should carry the the attitude of seeking friendship. If you are debating to rub somebody's face into the ground, that is one thing. But if you are debating in hopes of changing someone's mind, you should remember the adage, "I don't care how much you know, until I know how much you care.
   Besides, whether you persuade them or not, you still want to treat them right. Leaving them with zingers that sting them is not a way to show love.
   So, how should I have posted? Using that song was okay, if I would have done it more gently. Perhaps I could have said: "Well, goodnight. Hope you all sleep well. Thanks for the discussion. You all are great, but I do wonder about the words of the old Woodie Guthrie song. It  does seem we are suggesting America is not for everyone, almost as if we are changing the words to say, 'This land ain't your land, this land is my land . . . This land was made for only me."  Bless you all, though, and you all have good night."

'Tis Better to be Good than to be Great

   'Tis better to be good than to  be great. It is better to be a good person, than to be one high in position and standing.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Having the Prison in a Prime Spot is Reason to Leave it There

   Wish we would decide whether to relocate the Utah State Prison based on what is best for the prison system. Just that. Economic development is important, yes, but we should be able to achieve our economic goals without sacrificing our commitment to have the best prison system we can. The current location is close to the population base, thus encouraging volunteers to visit the prisoners, and thereby serving as role models and providing them with encouragement and direction in life. The current prison is also close to legal, medical and other services, saving expenses.
   When you the right location for your prison, why forfeit it? Yes, it is prime real estate, but it is also a prime prison location. We could reap tax revenues if we sell the property, you say? The whole purpose of having tax revenue is to build good government, and provide good services. If you have to reduce your level of services to get tax revenue, you are being counter productive and losing sight of the goal.

We Make Debt a Rite of Passage in Life

   Student loans, student debt: This is more than a question of economics. It is a question of what our values are as a society. Do we teach debt? Do we practice it? Do we make it an integral part of the path thru life? It is a question of how we treat people, our young people. Do we start their lives by shoving them in debt?
   Now, speaking of the national debt and our non-inclination to pay for it, how are we to expect a people to value not having a large debt when they learn right out of the blocks to take it upon themselves to have a large one? By having them take out large student loans, we teach them in their young adulthood that it is necessary, and some of them transfer that same attitude to the national deficit, concluding that debt, too, is acceptable.
   Yes, this is more than being about economics. It is about what values we choose to have, as a people. It is a question of how we order our society and what things we do and do not think are right to establish as pathways through life. If we think the accumulation of debt should be the part of everyone's path thru life, we are on the right course, but I do not think it is. I do not think the accumulation of debt should be part of our pathway thru life.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Why Drive Young People into Debt Just as They are Embarking on Life?

   It seems like when I went to college, it cost maybe $1,200 a semester. I was able to work my way through school. Now prices are so high, students need major loans. I really question the wisdom of driving young people into debt just as they are embarking on life. That doesn't seem to be the right way to have them start out.
   Sen. Elizabeth Warren argues well for reduced loan rates, but the price of tuition should also be reduced.

Wise Observation from Elizabeth Warren

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Right to Tell Others Where They can Live

   Closed border advocates, what rights are protected with closed borders? comes a post on Facebook. I post back:
   The right to keep others from enjoying our freedoms. The right to tell others where to live. The right to keep others from finding a job. The right to keep families from getting together. The right to call someone a criminal not for murder or arson or such, but just for where they live. The right to require someone to get your permission before moving. The right to claim freedoms for yourself without sharing them. The right to change the land of the free to the land of the locked out.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Should We Clip Rich Farmers Out of Subsidies?

   I grew up on a farm. I don't know that we got much, but I believe we did get some subsidies. Not sure I like them. Maybe we should cut farm subsidies altogether. Or, maybe we should keep them for the poorer farmers. At any rate, I can't see how anybody should be getting half a million, even if it is across more than a decade. And, Rep. Stephen Fincher, at almost $3.5 million? Whoa.
  I wonder if the stories on these people receiving so much are accurate. I wish we could speak to them, to see if there are explanations. My Facebook friend, Sarge Froehle, posted this meme on my timeline. The story that came with it (link provided below), indicated much of the subsidies go to the large farmers. While there might be something I do not know, off top, that doesn't sit well with me.

If Two-Thirds of Our Cars Went CNG, How Much Would it Cut Pollution?

   What if we all (well, say, two-thirds of us), converted to compressed natural gas (CNG)?  I enjoyed Jeffrey Tanner's Feb. 2 letter to the editor of the Deseret News. "Let's . . . make Utah the first truly CNG state and a model for the rest of the nation," he wrote.
   It is said that natural gas burns 20-45 percent cleaner than gasoline. So, if two-thirds of the vehicles on the road went CNG, each burning 33 percent cleaner, that would reduce auto emissions by 22 percent. I try to remember -- do auto emissions account for 57 percent of our pollution along the Wasatch Front? If so, that means two-thirds of the cars converting to CNG would cut into the total pollution by roughly 12 percent.
   Getting two-thirds of our drivers to switch would be a tall order to reap only a 12 percent reduction. I try to remember how much it costs to convert a car to CNG, and it seems like it was out of my budget. Seventy percent would mean a lot of shops would have to be equipped to make the conversions. And, it would mean a lot of filling stations would have to add CNG as fuel they sold. And, it would mean a lot of natural gas fuel would need to be on the market.
   Still, I enjoyed Tanner's letter.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What can be Done about the National Deficit? A Dozen Possibilities

   What should be done about the national deficit? (Pick however many answers you like.)
  1. Nothing, nothing, nothing! We're really doing quite fine, thank you.
  2. Cut whatever the Democrats want.
  3. Cut whatever the Republicans want.
  4. Cut whatever the Libertarians want, for they want nothing!
  5. Raise taxes, but only on the rich.
  6. Cut entitlements, but not mine.
  7. Something needs to be done, but we really do need everything we're spending money on.
  8. Didn't you hear me? I said, "Nothing!" Everything will be okay.
  9. Let's take care of today's needs, and let tomorrow take care of itself.
  10. With air quality, same-sex marriages, guns, and so forth, do we really have time for this?
  11. You saw how we reacted to the Sequestration. That should have been your first clue.
  12. You saw how we reacted to the government shutdown (which actually didn't shut down that much of the government). That should have been your second clue.

Monday, February 3, 2014

In One Way, Education is Overvalued These Days

   Education has a little too much respect in our society. I say this as a person who believes we need more education, not less.
   Perhaps I should restate what I said. College education has a little too much respect in our society. Oh, it is important, and should be encouraged, and is wonderful . . .
   Consider what sometimes happens. An employer hires someone not so much on how good of a job the person might do, but on whether the person has a degree. Off top, that might seem to be a good idea, but is it? Now, to get that job, the person has to pass through college at an expense of, what, 40 grand or more?
   Are we a society that believes in debt? So much so, that we even make it a rite of passage in order to get a job? Remember, sometimes the person without the degree might be better equipped for the position, but the person who ran up the debt is the one who gets the job.
   We might actually be serving our economy better by putting the best qualified people in those jobs, not the ones who bring pieces of paper to the interview table.
  Back in the day when a college education was not so expensive, the get-a-degree hiring criteria made a better argument. But, times have changed. Tuitions have soared. They've reached a point where we should reconsider whether we should make getting a degree a rite of passage for jobs where the education has little impact.
   I realize there are two sides to such a change. On one side, we make it harder for the person who has built up a $50,000 debt to get it paid off if we give the job to a non-graduate instead. But, on the other side, we take away the need to run up a debt just to get a decent job.
   Life should not have to begin with so large of a debt. We should not make that a requirement.

Minimum Wage Might have Domino Effect

  I left off my own thinking on the topic of the minimum wage with the thought that there might be a domino effect on inflation. Those in other professions might argue, "McDonald's workers are getting $10.10. You've got to pay us more than that." And, at companies with varied payrolls, those already getting $10.10 only to find those below them raised to equal them would press for raises in their pay.
  Thus, the argument that the minimum wage only affects the small percentage who make less than $10.10 does not hold tight. And, if raising the minimum wage affects inflation, the inflation might not be limited to industries paying less than $10.10.
   Now, for those who have a deeper interest in the effects of raising the minimum wage, I offer a YouTube link:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Angry is What it Says Would Happen, and Angry is What is Happening

   Mine is a religion many are angry with, angry for its stands on social issues, angry for its influence on government. And, they get angry with more. At times, it seems they are angry regardless what the church does.
   They are angry that women don't hold the priesthood. They are angry that the religion is so hard to live that many of its members -- as they view it -- are saddled with emotional stress.
   And, so, I turn to a verse in the book that my religion has, and wonder if people should see it as a prophecy. The verse is in the middle of verses speaking of how people would say that they need no additional word from God, for they already had enough. If those verses surrounding it refer to this day and age, and how people would say the Bible contains all the word of God and no additional word is needed, then, the verse in the middle surely also is referring to our day.
   Is this verse (2 Nephi 28:28) a prophecy? For what it says would happen, is happening. "And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble, and are angry because of the truth of God!" Angry is the way the scripture says they would react, and angry is the way they react to the church.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Don't Release Them from Prison Until They Graduate

   We need a little less concern for time served (attendance, shall we call it) and a lot more for achievement (passing the tests and doing the homework, shall we call it)  in our penitentiaries. Yes, our prisoners should not be released simply for having filled an allotment of time. They should not be released until they achieve goals that are set for them.
   What is the purpose of a prison? Should it not be to reform the convict? Why, then, would we release a prisoner without an indication of change? If the goal is change, the reason for release should be that there is reason to believe a change has taken place.
   Ours should be an achievement-oriented penal system. Prisoners should graduate, in a very real sense.
   We need this change not only for their sakes -- not only so they will keep themselves out of trouble in the future -- but for our sakes. If we are taking these folks off our streets because they endanger society, we should not put them right back on unless they can provide at least some assurance they have changed.
   The sentencing should spell out the changes that the prisoner must demonstrate. These changes should be written right into our penal code.
   Let's say we have someone who attempted murder, who ran over a person and then stabbed him multiple times with a screwdriver. A violent crime, indeed. I would say, he needs to learn not to react with violence when displeased with others. He needs to know weapons of any kind (whether they be cars or guns or screwdrivers) will not be resorted to resolve a dispute. Nor will violence be resorted to to settle a dispute.
   I think of Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui, who was convicted for the screwdriver-stabbing crime described above, and how once in prison, he got into a fight, blackening the eyes and bloodying nose of the man he fought with. Garcia-Jauregui is said to have been instigator of the fight. It is clear, then, he had not learned violence is not to be resorted to to settle a dispute.
   The penal code should state that the violator must acknowledge the crime, express remorse, and pledge not to to involve him or herself in such activity again. The penal code should say the prisoner will not be released if he or she displays violence as a way of solving a dispute, or getting his or her demands met. Nor shall the prisoner be released if he or she expresses a desire to commit violence as a way of solving a problem.
   Classes or counseling time should be given the prisoner, teaching again and again, in this way and that, that you do not respond to situations with violence. The prisoner could be given work study assignments. For example, he or she might write a story on how a person got into a confrontation, but did not resort to violence.
    And, when the classwork is done, and the lesson learned (and the time served), the prisoner graduates.