Wednesday, April 30, 2014

That Government Governs Best That Doesn't Govern by First Reports

   It is fair to ask, in the debate over whether the federal government should give over to Utah the authority to run public lands: Is it sometimes better to be a little removed in order to make more objective decisions? As with personal affairs, can we sometimes be too close to the problem?
   Local government being better than national government is a cherished principle. But, are there, truly, just the same, ways in which the federal government does a better job?
   My thought, after thinking this morning, is perhaps there are some tendencies towards objectivity lent to by having some separation from the problem. But, it remains that the government that governs wisest, governs best, not that the government governs best that is in one location or the other. It is not whether the government is in Washington or Utah that determines good policy, but how thorough that government does its homework before making a decision.
  All humankind has a tendency to rush to judgement based on the first report to reach our ears. We hear the words of the face before our face, so to speak, instead of going out to get all the facts. That government governs best that seeks out both sides of an issue, and that seeks a thorough understanding of the facts, before rendering a decision.

Too Many Wild Horses in Utah?

   The Great Wild Horse Debate: On one side, we have Utah's governor, saying, "The horse issue in Utah is a good example of where the federal government comes in and says to the cattle rancher, 'You've got to cut back on your animal units. You've got to cut your herds back by 25 percent. Why? Because we are in a drought situation.' "
   Meanwhile, wild horses are "breeding like rabbits."
   Gov. Gary Herbert can point out that the Bureau of Land Management has allowed more wild horses than what its own target population calls for. A Deseret News graphic says there are believed to be 3,245 wild horses, compared  to a desired population of only 1,956. So, reduce the number of horses, including maybe "taking down" some, and it will make more room for more cattle in these times of drought.
   But, not so fast, responds the American Wild Preservation Campaign and the Cloud Foundation. Wild horses are a heritage of all Americans, and Americans overwhelmingly favor having them on public lands. The BLM should protect the interest of all Americans, not just the few who are using the land for cheap, taxpayer-subsidized grazing.
   The two groups point out that the number of wild horses pales compared to how many cattle there are, with wild horses on but 2.1 million acres compared to the cattle being on 22 million acres. So, one can wonder, could you get rid of all 3,245 horses and still not make enough room for many more cattle and sheep?
   If the debate continues, perhaps the governor's office will suggest that the point is, if it is to demand the ranchers cut their cattle, it is only fair that the BLM does its share, and cut the horses.
   (Edited 5/1/14)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Should Everyone be Punished like Sterling for Racial Comments?

   The punishment of society can be much harsher than that of government. Case in point: Donald Sterling. With the First Amendment promising free speech, government is not in position to create laws against non-threatening verbal forms of racism.
   But, society? It might demand Clipper owner Sterling lose his franchise. And, the NBA might do everything it can to agree. Sterling's racial comments reaped his being banned from the NBA for life, fined $2.5 million, and put on warning that if the owners will do it, he will be forced to sell the team.
   I listened to a fan on the radio saying all that was not enough, for Sterling is still making money. He should be forced to sell without being able to get the profits of the sale.
  What did Sterling do to get in this mess? He turned to an alleged girlfriend and said, "Yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people,  Do you have to?"
   The girlfriend (who is part black) had posted a picture of herself with former NBA star Magic Johnson. "Don't put him (Magic) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me," Sterling said. "And don't bring him to my games, okay? You can sleep with them, you can bring 'em in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that, and not to bring them to my games."
   Racism is not good. No, not all. But, but society has posted a heavy penalty upon Sterling, one that government, even if there were not a First Amendment, likely would not have imposed. Understandably, wealthy people can afford heavy fines better than the rest of us. And, understandably, a private organization has the right to police its own. Those two things make this different that if an average person in everyday life had said these comments. Still, it is of note that if all people who uttered racial comments were to be fined $2.5 million -- much less the rest of the punishment -- this would be a most interesting world.
   What has happened to Sterling also begs the question as to whether every organization should come down on its own for racist comments. Should Lions clubs, churches and employers? Should you be banned for life from a movie theater or a skating rink or a bar if you are caught saying racial things?
   True, Sterling is a public figure, and public figures must answer for what they say more than John Q. Public. But, if it is what is said that is wrong, not the person who said it, it doesn't matter if you and I are not famous. Wrong is wrong, regardless who says it. So, I wonder if we all shouldn't be subject to some of the same type of punishment if we make racial comments.
   (Last paragraph added 4/30/14)

The Life of the Unborn is a Promise of the Declaration of Independence

   This is a new defense of the unborn, an argument I don't believe has ever been made, though it seems to me to sterling, correct and powerful. It contends the unborn's right is a right spoken of in the Declaration of Independence.
  Now, since abortion is a matter that must go through the Supreme Court, I wonder if a decision has ever been rendered on the basis of what the Declaration of Independence says. Perhaps, supposing this argument were respected, this would be a first.
   The Declaration speaks of unalienable rights being those rights that cannot be legislated away, for they are not under the purview of governments. Certain things are not for governments to decide, among them being life. If a person is alive, he or she is alive, regardless what a government might say. You cannot legislate life.
   Is the unborn a living being? No scientist and perhaps no realistic person would argue otherwise. The unborn clearly is a living being. In the words of the Declaration, it is self evident. Is the unborn a human? Humans begat only humans. Of course it is human. To use the language of the Declaration, it is self evident.
  It might be argued the unborn is not human all the time it is in the womb, however it would be difficult to argue it is not human long long before it clears the womb. I would argue that once it assumes the form of a human, it must be considered a human, for it is self evident, at that point, that it is a human.
   Governments are instituted among men to protect the unalienable rights. If governments fail too often in this mandate, it becomes the right of the people to alter or abolish that government, so says the Declaration.
   "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
   It is interesting that while "their Creator," refers to God, the parents of the unborn are also to be considered creators. In creating the unborn, the parents, whether they like it or not, are creating a being that cannot rightfully be killed. They are endowing the unborn with life, and with that they are also endowing him or her with all the unalienable rights there may be.
   Once created, the being's rights are unalterable. It is ironic, then, that it is the parents who seek to take away the lives of their unborn.

By this Definition, it Would Seem Cliven Bundy Bordered on Treason

   While looking up another matter in the Constitution, I come across this passage, and wonder if Cliven Bundy and the militia who took aim at federal officers are guilty. Since no shots were fired, I suppose it is not applicable. Still what happened amounted to more than just a potential shootout with federal officers, it was rebellion against the United States. Many of those who favored the militias' involvement would have typified it as war.
   Article III, Section 3: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort."

Monday, April 28, 2014

With the Gun, Comes the Power

   A man who has a gun, is a man who rules the world. That thought could be edited to say, A man who has a gun, is a man who (thinks he) rules the world. But, either way, it is true.  Said another way, With the gun, comes the power. If you have a gun, you can demand your will.
   It has been said, Power intoxicates. This is no less true with the power of a gun. Now, if it is true that the gun grants its bearer authority, it is also true that once a person gets a little authority, they often exercise it in unrighteous ways. That thought is common to many.
   To suppose that if everyone has a gun, there will not be some abuses is to argue against wisdom. The more guns, the more abuses.
   Whatever virtues there are in having the greater part of the populace own guns, we should not forget there is also a downside.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

It is Not the Team Hat You Wear, But the Way You Stroke the Stick

   That government governs best that is closest to home. It is an old axiom, perhaps not expressed in those words, but when the thought is expressed, that is the gist of it.
   My governor, who I quite like, trotted out the thought this past week in arguing for state control of federally owned lands. He cited a few examples of how poor decisions are being made at the federal level for lands here in the state, and suggested having government 3,000 miles away in Washington making the decisions isn't the best way to go about caring for our public lands.
   Well, I open my newspaper today to see the Great Salt Lake Audubon criticizing Salt Lake City for plans to go about tree trimming and stream bed fortification during the nesting season. (The criticism did result in Salt Lake rescheduling the project.) I could not help but notice that though Salt Lake is the government entity closest to home, it still might not have been considering the need tp respect the nesting season.
   No, it is not necessarily true that that government that governs closest to home, governs best. Rather, closer to the truth is to say, that government that governs wisest, governs best. There is no substitute for thinking a matter through, whether the thinking is done in Salt Lake City or 3,000 miles away in Washington. True, it is imperative that the situation is apprised by someone with their feet on the ground in Salt Lake. The Salt Lake officials are concerned that native trees are being choked out of existence by other trees that are non native. That is a situation you only become aware of if you have your feet in Salt Lake City.
   But, the key element in making the right decision is to think the matter through. Does it matter that the non-native trees are taking over? Are the native and non-native trees likely to both survive if no tree thinning is done? Is the project worth the financial expense of taking out the non-native trees?
   I think back to the federal lands issue, of how it is said we Utahns are closer to home and know what is best. The Bureau of Land Management has officers running the lands here, doesn't it? Just because it is owned by government 3,000 miles away does not mean it is not being managed by an office closer to home. If you want the land to be managed wisely, you will have to have a wise person managing it. Whether he or she wears a federal hat or a state hat isn't going to make a difference. If this were a baseball game, we would say, it is not the team hat you wear, but the way you stroke the stick.

We Must Punish Those Who Misappropriate Government Funds

   So, the Department of Defense doesn't keep track of its spending. It buys things without writing down what it buys. How is it that Congress or the President doesn't simply demand that they start doing so, now (as in, immediately)? Every time something is purchased, you write it in a ledger and turn the ledger in each quarter.
   Is it because Defense lobbyists lobby against such prudent management of spending? Is it because they want to be able to spend too much for hammers or buy more than hammers than they actually need in order to keep their allotment of government funds flowing?
   We are very foolish to be so beholden to lobbyists.
   I read an Internet post in which a person says their uncle worked for Raytheon and each budget year, towards the end, the uncle would start getting calls from Pentagon procurement officers desperate to spend the last of their money so they would be able to go back and ask Congress for more. Such people aren't going to want you to know how they are spending the money, but they are liable to sometimes be willing to pay more than the market price.
  If they are robbing the taxpayers blind, we would be wise to pass a law against it, so we could prosecute them. Why not a law saying that blatant over-purchasing with federal money is a felony? Then, in order to catch them, also make it a law that when you buy something, you have to write it down in a ledger and that to knowingly falsify the ledger is also a crime.
   Common scense, to me, says we should do this. Why don't we? It seems very possible lobbyists have something to do with the lack of prudent governing in this matter. First, the government contractors send their lobbyists to Congress to ask for more money than they need (they rob us, the taxpayers), then, they send their lobbyists back to say, don't punish us for what we have done, do not make it against the law. (Or, maybe we just aren't enforcing the law, for there is such a thing as misappropriation of gvernment funds.)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

$8.5 Trillion Unaccounted for and no Congressional Inquiry?

   If it were revealed the Pentagon could not account for, say, hmm, $8.5 trillion -- an amount so massive it equals half the national deficit  -- wouldn't the nation rise its collective head and say, "What?"
   Wouldn't there be a major Congressional inquiry, the likes of which we've seldom seen? Wouldn't the newscasts follow developments day to day as we tried to account for where the money has gone?
   Apparently not. The story came out in November. I'd say it "broke" in November, but I'm not sure it got that much attention. I don't remember it.
   Let's run the number by you, again: $8.5 trillion since 1996, which compares to a national deficit of $17.5 trillion. If we don't know where this money has gone, isn't there a chance some of it might have been absonded with some of it? Maybe not, but we surely should at least be anxious to assure ourselves that has not happened.
   The Pentagon was suppose to start accounting for its spending in 1996. That is when it was first suppose to have been audited. Every other federal agency, I'm told, is audited. But not the Pentagon.
   And, Congress has not done anything about it.
   Not only has there not been a Congressional inquiry, nothing has been done to account for the money. The most done is that the Pentagon has been told that come 2017, the audits are coming.
   Somehow, I don't see why, right now, the Pentagon cannot be told to start accounting for where the money goes. Each time money is spent, you write it down. Is that so impossible? Maybe we should make it a federal crime for a federal employee to spend money without writing it down in a ledger and then turning that ledger in each quarter.
   I will say, I do wonder if this can be true. I know I must be doing something wrong in my math, or must be using wrong numbers, for if I'm not amiss, the annual budget for the Pentagon is $500 to $600 billion a year. Wouldn't that be $1 trillion in two years, $8 trillion in 16 years? Wouldn't that mean virtually all of the Pentagon money is unaccounted for, since 16 years from 1996 would be 2012?
   The lack of accountability cannot be that bad, so obviously I have some wrong numbers or am figuring wrong. Alas, no time to figure it out as I should have been in bed a half hour ago.
   As I do go to bed, it occurs to me that maybe the $8.5 trillion, indeed, is everything the Pentagon has spent. Since they can't account for the where the money is going, all the numbers are cooked, so none of them are accurate. If that be the case, the spin of the story has mislead us, and things are not as harrowing as they appear to be. Still, we should start demanding acountability, now, not just come 2017.
   This story fizzles when the apparent explanation becomes apparent. I am left wondering why -- if it is true -- it wasn't disclosed that all the monies are said to be unaccounted for, even though we obviously know the true dollar amounts on much of the spending. Telling a part of a story can be misleading, and was.
   (Note: the last paragraph was added the morning of 4/25/14.);_ylt=A0LEVizj5FlT5VUALNYPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMG04Z2o2BHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMQRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkAw--

Save the Unborn from the Point it has Human Characteristics

   How about we save the unborn from the time it has human characteristics? The argument for abortion is that a cell is not a human, just as an egg is not a duck.
   Well, then, can we at least outlaw killing those that have developed far enough to have human characteristics? As quick as about three weeks in, we have developing brain cells and a heart beat. By no more than 12 weeks, it has the physical features of a baby. When it has the features of a human, it cannot be denied that it is a human, nor can it be denied that it is not living. Perhaps some would guess that although the brain cells are in place, they are not yet operating. If we do not know that, for certain, are we to kill it? I think when life is involved, you err on the side of life.
   What I write should not be taken to suggest I am not against abortions all the way back to conception. I am. But, I see the point of human characteristics as being a point where it cannot be denied that human life exists. With such an argument, we should push to at least save all these lives.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

States have the Right to Declare a Fetus as a Human

   When in the course of human events, it becomes illegal to declare a human a human, the government and its courts have gone mad.
  I speak of the human fetus. To me, it is human, and I say we as the State of Utah should define it as such, in defiance of any court that may seek to overrule us. How can they say a human is not a human? How can the courts rule it is against the law to have a state statute defining a fetus as a human? 
  Truth be told, life cannot be legislated. Whether something is actually alive and human is not a matter for government to decide. It is beyond the realm of the courts. And, yes, it also beyond the realm of a state legislature. You cannot pick up a pen and write an edict that something does or does not exist as a living human, for either it is alive and well and human, or it is not, and all the dictates of government be damned.
   All the winds of public opinion mean nothing, as well, for it is human or not human regardless what a hundred million people might say.
   Some things, though, are self evident. When the sun rises in the morning, it rises. If the federal government should pass a provision saying it did not rise that day, it still remains that it did actually rise. If the federal government says that since the sun didn't rise, the banks will not open that day, the state might well come back and declare that the sun did in fact come up, so please let the banks open.
   So it is with us in Utah. If the courts have decided the fetus is not human and therefore abortion is to be allowed, we have every right to point to the sun high in the sky and say, "No, look. It did come up." To us, it is a self-evident truth.
   We have every right, as a state, to pass a statute defining a human as a human, a fetus as a human.
  The Founding Fathers, writing the Declaration of Independence, spoke of unalienable rights. Those would be the rights government cannot alter because they are outside the realm of government power to dictate. Life will be life regardless what government thinks it can dictate. 
   So, if it were within my power, I would have Utah pass a statute declaring that the life of a human is unalienable, that the life of a fetus is unalienable, and that a fetus being a human is an unalienable fact. These things are self evident and we can defy the courts to rule otherwise.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

We Should Have Law Listing Situations for Which You Cannot Sue

   If we were to solve the problem of lawsuits, how would we do it? If we believe there is too much suing, what would we do? How would we legislate against it?
   We could come up with a list of situations for which people are not allowed to sue.
   And, has it ever been done  -- is there a state that has ever established restrictions against suing?
   If you have a problem as a society, you should fix it, if you can. It occurs to me this is a problem that has not received much attention, as far as finding a remedy.

Monday, April 21, 2014

If Something is Not being done, it Only Increase the Urgency

   Abortion is now more important than ever, important because it is being forgotten, not forgotten by pro-life groups, for there are many organizations doing all they can to end abortion in the United States.
   But, being forgotten by us, the people. The message is not resonating with the public enough to cause an outcry among those who ought to be demanding an end to abortion. Though they are against abortion, they are not persuaded that something truly can be done. It's been 41 years since Roe v. Wade, and the pro-lifers among the public have softened to the fight. They lack the passion.
   I say with a million or more people losing their lives every year, this is not a cause we should lay down. If something is not being done, that only increases the urgency that something must be done.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why Not File Suit, Forcing Courts to Rule on States Rights?

   With same-sex marriage, the issue has been taken to the courts. With abortion, it has, also. Indeed, the Supreme Court exists to determine the Constitutionality of issues such as these.
   So, what of states rights? Should not a case be filed questioning whether the 10th Amendment gives states power of government that currently are being handled by the federal government? Perhaps the difference is, with abortion and same-sex marriage, there are people who who feel their rights are being violated, so they file suit and the case works its way to the Supreme Court. Citizens file those cases. With the 10th Amendment, it would more likely be a state that would file the case, saying its rights had been violated.
   But, should we not have such a filing? If a state does feel its rights are being violated, should it not file suit, that the Supreme Court might rule on this issue?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Does Constitution Preclude a Bureau of Land Management?

   So, when the Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights came along in 1791, the federal government no longer had the right to create a department of education, a broad department of commerce . . . nor a department of interior?
 Interestingly, 1789, the year the Bill of Rights was drafted, was also the same year Congress first considered creating a department of interior.
   The Tenth Amendment says the powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states. Since the Constitution makes no mention of the federal government having the power to own parks and other natural lands, does that mean the right is reserved to the states? Does it mean the Bureau of Land Management in the U.S. Department of Interior is an illegal agency?
   For my part, I give the matter thought. I have not yet decided whether I think the Tenth Amendment should preclude a Bureau of Land Management, nor such agencies as a Federal Bureau of Investigations.
   All this I'm currently thinking of, though, in context of the Cliven Bundy situation, where he is arguing the BLM does not have authority to own and regulate the land in Nevada his cattle graze on.
   I do think it sounds a little extreme to cut the FBI, the BLM, and other such agencies from the federal government, but I might give it more thought.
   Off the top, one inclination is to agree with those who argue the Constitution does give right to provide for the general welfare. General welfare is a pretty broad category, but, bottom line is, the Constitution says general welfare, and if that means most everything, so be it. The Constitution should be followed just as much on this provision as it should on the provisons that limit government. You cannot just cite the part of the Constitution you like while looking past another part.
   But, that interpretation of the Constitution renders the Tenth Amendment meaningless. Since everything could be considered under "general welfare," no powers would be reserved to the states. Clearly, the Tenth Amendment was trying to reserve powers to the states.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

All Powers Not Specified Belong to States -- Including Land Ownership?

   Still trying to figure out the Cliven Bundy rebellion. Just listened to a video of him before the Moapa town board, and he said when he pays grazing fees, it will be to Clark County. He asked the audience who owns the land, and he told them it was the citizens of Clark County.
   Doesn't being a citizen of the United States mean just as much? If the land is to belong to a government entity, why cannot that entity be the federal government just as easily as it can be Clark County? The only thing I can think of at this point is that the Constitution reserves all powers not enumerated to the federal government to the states.
  Do we consider land ownership a power? Are we to say the federal government has no right to own land? I'll maybe think on this tonight, as I go to bed, but that appears to be what the premise should be for the Cliven Bundy rebellion.
  (The last sentence was edited and changed 4/19/14.)


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Our Education Models Should Let Children Chase Their Dreams

    Does education at its best have all students study the same things, so they can be tested and compared, and so when they transfer from one school to another, they will not be behind in the what is being taught?
   Somehow, I wonder if it isn't more important to deliver students who specializes in the topics most interesting them, and who learns about the things they are most interested in, not the things a uniform textbook restricts them to.    
  Do we raise children just so they can be measured? Do we raise them just so they can be compared? Rather, I think, it is wiser to raise them to chase their dreams. If they are learning just the things everyone else is learning, they aren't being loosed to learn more than their classmates. No one dreams of being average, they dream of going beyond the norm.
   I'm not sitting in the classes, nor do I have children in them, to know how much is standardized and how much elbow room is left for learning things the other students are not learning. But, I do believe in individualism. I do think it sparks more creativity and more motivation when a child is allowed to pick and choose some of what he or she learns.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Paying Our Government Bills is the Moral Thing to do

   I believe that if you buy something, you really ought to pay for it. It doesn't matter if you are a family, a business or a government, the principle is the same. So, it being April 15 and tax day and all, I think it appropriate we consider whether we should be so resistive towards paying our taxes.
   If we think our government is purchasing too many things, then surely we ought to be demanding it cut way back on its spending. But, once the spending is past tense, once the items are purchased, then we should stand behind the effort to get the bills paid. It is a matter of integrity. Why would it not be a matter of integrity? If paying our household bills is the moral thing to so, why isn't this, also?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why Does Cliven Bundy Suppose He can Graze His Cattle for Free?

   Why is it supposed Cliven Bundy should not need to pay grazing fees? If he is in arrears to the tune of more than $1 million, and the court is saying the Bureau of Land Management can take the cattle, is that not fair? Cattle are expensive, but 400 head do not equal $1 million.
   I'm waiting to hear more, as at the moment it does not seem Bundy is justified. Someone else owns the land, and you expect to graze your cattle on it for free? Off the top, no, I don't think that is right.
   I read how Bundy believes the land belongs to Nevada, not to the federal government, but I haven't caught up with the specifics of just how that is suppose to be so, other than to know many states are claiming federal land should be theirs. I do not think Utah should be making any such claim, because I know that in Utah's Enabling Act (the document granting statehood), Utah and its citizens "forever disclaim" ownership of unappropriated land. Nevada? I quickly scan its enabling document, finding no such provision.
   But, if Bundy believes the land belongs to Nevada, why is he not at least paying the grazing fees to Nevada?
   (Note: the following addition was written 4/15/14.)
  What if Bundy's ancestors claimed the land for their own? I would think, surely, their was a process for claiming personal property back then, and would guess Bundy's ancestors didn't do the things necessary to make the property theirs. Note that a blanket ownership, though, just for being the first person to occupy the property, would give the property back to the American natives, and not to Cliven Bundy.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

   Words from a scripture wafted to my mind as the sacrament was passed. They "judge him to be a thing of not . . . and he suffereth it."
   I thought how the Lord is our example, in all things, and surely He was being my example now. The day before, running for office, I had been rejected of convention voters. That I had not won nomination was one thing, but to get so few votes stung. It was as if I had been shunted aside as a thing of naught.
   The Savior, though, suffered much worse than I. As the words came to my wind, I picked up my scriptures to find the whole of the passage. "And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore, they scourge him and he suffereth it; and they smite him , and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men."
   I think of them scourging Him, of the look of hatred they surely had in their eyes as they mocked him. I think of them calling out as He hung on the cross, "He  saved others. Himself, he cannot save." I think of them dividing his clothes among themselves, as if His death was no more than a way for them to pick up a few items.
   And, I head for bed now, thinking I should think on this more, considering how Jesus might have felt, the pain He must have gone through. And yet, He not only suffered it, he sufferethed it. To "suffer" means only to go through pain. "Suffereth," to me, means you allow it.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Nation's Charity Must be Equal to its Heart, Not its Credit Card

   Would be wise of us if we shifted our social net to private charity. Yes, let us just pack up Medicaid, Food Stamps and all and give them to United Way and its cohorts.
   We should see that we really have no choice. I'll explain that in a bit, but first let me explain how private enterprise might do a better job. Have you ever gotten a warm feeling about giving your tax money to Food Stamps? Have you ever thought of TANF as your favorite charity?
   Nope, you haven't. But, you might have a favorite private charity, Food Bank or whatever. When they call you for a fundraiser, you  say, "Yes, I'd love to give." Private charity is more apt to involve us, personally, and as a result, we bond.
   We don't bond as well with forking over money to TANF.
    Although all charities don't seek public involvement, they should. When recipients meet those who are doing the giving, they are more likely to be appreciative.
    One of the greatest benefits of private charity is that the service does not get ahead of the ability to pay for it. Maybe it has happened, but I don't believe it is common for a charity to borrow massive amounts of money in order to provide its services. It's government that makes that mistake.
   We wonder, of course, if private charity would be able to provide all the needs our society has. We wonder if it could provide anywhere near the same level of service that Uncle Sam now provides. Well, I will only say, the federal government doesn't have enough money to do all this work, either. The difference is, Uncle Sam borrows. Now, I would not have a person in need go wanting. I would for us as a society to have a social net covering everyone who is truly in need. But, it seems to me the best way to do that is to let the Christianity of the nation rise up and prove itself equal to the task. If the people really believe in caring for their poor, they will do it, they will donate. The alternative is to run up a national deficit  A national deficit should not be the answer to our problems. A national deficit should not have be the answer to how much care we give the poor. A national deficit is why I say we pretty much have no choice but to switch to private charity. 
   There is one huge manhole we will have to sidestep. Already, charity work is abused by those who use the bulk for "administrative" purposes. 'Tis such a grave problem that we might be driven back to government providing the assistance.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Of Common Core, Electability and the Meet & Greet

   We traded thoughts on Common Core and electability at tonight's candidate meet & greet. I and Raymond Poole each wooed the delegates by walking the aisles, Poole with the benefit of a sign. Bruce Cutler had the benefit of a booth.
   While Cutler appears to have a little better advantage, financially, and has a polished website,  I came away it will  not be enough for him to win outright in convention, though it might be enough for him to take the nomination if it goes to a primary. (We shall see.) Poole now appears to me to have ever bit as much chance in convention, and probably more.
   I can only wonder about my own chances -- and hope. 
   I came away thinking my appeal for votes on the abortion issue achieved nothing, or at least not much. It is as if the delegates were saying, "All right, everyone is against abortion (in this party), but there is nothing you will be able to achieve on that national issue at the state level."
   (Ah, my friend, I say, there is. Please let me do this thing.)
   Common Core? That seems to be as big an issue this campaign cycle as anything. 
   Someone once said that that government which governs least, governs best, and my reply to that is that, no, that government that governs wisest, governs best. To govern wisely, you have to consider each issue, and study it before you decide. And, well, I haven't finished doing that with Common Core, yet.
   But, I have concluded one thing: Each teacher should be making the decision, supposing we give Common Core a green light, at all. Let the teacher decide which programs are to be used. In business settings, it is considered good management to give the person charged with a program free rein to use their own ideas, instead of micromanaging them. That same principle should be applied to our schools. If you have a good teacher who has his or her own ideas, give the teacher free rein. Let the teacher run his or her own program, instead of taking programs handed down from above. The teacher is much more likely to teach with passion if it is something of his or her choosing instead of something handed down from above.
   I've been thinking that whatever candidate the party chooses, with help from the party, he should be able to take the seat away from the Democrats. This is a Democrat-leaning district, though. Shawn Bradley lost in his effort to take it away from Democrat Tim Cosgrove four years ago. Imagine that: former NBA player and BYU great Shawn Bradley, running as a Republican -- in the state of Utah -- lost. (Maybe District 44 really isn't in Utah, I don't know.) Say what you will about how he didn't campaign, still the fact remains, he lost.

   The last person I spoke with tonight persuaded me that even party money behind whichever of the three of us is chosen might not be enough. Guess we shall see.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Families are the Foundation of Society

   If the character, aspirations, beliefs, and habits of a person, to much extent, are molded in the home, then that society that would mold itself into greatness must be mindful of its homes. If you would for your society to prosper, the home should be an environment where attitudes bringing prosperity are engendered. If you would to be a nation of educational achievement, then your homes are the place to start. And, if you would to be a nation with the highest of moral values, you can only succeed if those values are taught in the home. Even success in sports so often depends on the direction the child receives from parents. A nation's greatness begins in its homes.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Confession Should be Part of the Reform of the Prisoner

   I wake up, roll out of bed, and find this video (link at the end of this blog) of a man who did apparently overcome addiction, who did pass through the correction system and was rehabilitated. Having blogged on this yesterday, I listened to the video intently, hoping to pick up clues as to what led him to overcome his addition, and what role the correction system played. A case study, then.
   The video seems to be pieced together, edited down, so I become unsure of the full chronology. But, there are some things that are clear:
   (1) He spent five years in prison for two burglaries committed to support his heroin addiction, only to get out and within days be back drinking and smoking pot and soon to be back into trouble. On at least that occasion, the correction system had failed to correct him.
   (2) All told, he spent nine years in prison. The second four years might have come after he had seen the error of his ways. Perhaps those four years provided a separation period, helping him put time between him and his errors and solidifying his thoughts not to go back. If so, for those four years, the correction system served him well, helping to correct him.
   (3) He was loved into correction. He speaks of feeling the Lord was reaching out to him. He notes he wondered why the Lord would want to help him, a convict, an addict, and an alcoholic. "Why would you want to help me?" he asked the Lord. "Mark, it's because I love you," came the answer. Having heard this part of the story, I remain convinced of what I said yesterday, that loving the prisoner is a key. I remain convinced that if we hired prison keepers who are loving and thoughtful towards prisoners, it would help.
   (4) He did not overcome his addiction and reform his life until after he realized and confessed the wrong he had done. He speaks of hiding in the bushes from the cops after a robbery, thinking of the man he just robbed, thinking of the fear he had seen in his eyes, and saying, "How could I have done that to another human being?" I conclude as I watch this on the video that perhaps the most important thing that can occur while in prison is that the prisoner recognizes his fault. If that step is already taken care of before entering prison, it is not so needful. But, if the convict went through the court proceedings without realizing and confessing his wrong, then part of his care while in jail should be to get him to realize that wrong. Reviewing the crime, going over it and recalling other incidents -- not just the crime he got caught for -- is essential. Were judges to realize how important this is, they might should even make it part of the sentencing. With or without it being part of the sentencing, though, the corrections officers at the prison should be aware of the confession history of the criminal and should be working with him to get that confession, not a forced confession, for that would be meaningless, but a heartfelt, sincere realization of fault.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

To Change the Drug User, You Must Teach Him

   America, America, I know why you are losing your war on drugs. (At least, it is said you are losing that war.)
  You can lock your drug users up for as long as you like, but once they are free, if they still desire drugs, they are going to take them. If you don't change their desire, you aren't going to change that.
   Now, America, for the most part, you don't even make a good, focused effort to eliminate their desire for drugs. Sometimes, the drug rehabilitation classes are not even held until the time of probation. For the most part, you leave them to pass their time idly in jail instead of using that time wisely to rehabilitate them.
   This, America, is why we are losing our war on drugs.
   Win? How well we accomplish this -- how well we ween them from their love of drugs -- is the crux of the matter.
   I wonder if a study has ever been done of those who quit drugs outside of help from the correction system versus those who quit as a result of passing through our prison system. If there are more who succeed outside the correction system, then surely we should see we are going about it all wrong.
   I do not know for certain that my ideas would work, for they have not been tried. But, I know there are principles of human behavior we should latch onto and use. One is that you have to teach something before it can be learned. We can't expect them to be sitting idly in the cell, and to have it of a sudden click on them: "Oh, all of a sudden, I don't want drugs anymore."
   Another principle is quoted all the time:  "I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care." Prisoners must be taught the reasons they shouldn't want drugs, but they must be taught in a loving and encouraging manner. What if we had jail keepers who were positive and uplifting, who smiled and encouraged the inmates, who daily took all the prisoners aside and asked them how they were doing?
   What if we had jailers who cared? What if we had jailers who, instead of looking down on the inmates as if they were lesser life forms, loved them, and greeted them warmly?
   What if inmates were regularly shown entertaining, well-crafted movies on the dangers of drugs?  Not that it exactly fits that bill, but the film Les Miserables would be a show good for the convict. We learn by example and the story of Jean Valjean changing his life surely should be an example we want before them. Other such movies should be sought out, so the convict is not just getting documentaries, but entertaining, enjoyable movies that teach values. If they are to change their desires, they have to enjoy the process of learning new traits. A diet just of documentaries would soon tire them, but feature films with messages could help change them.
   What about music? It is one of the greatest influences on a person. Give them uplifting music with good messages and make sure some of the songs are catchy, great little tunes teaching against the use of drugs. Now, admittedly there just aren't too many such songs right now, so contract with a few bands and have them produced.
   And, I'd try to spark their interest in societal issues. I'd bring those who wanted to watch the news together each evening, and we would discuss happenings, and talk of ways to make the world better. While that alone would be a good thing, one reason for these news encounters would be to watch for stories where drug use was involved, so I could point out the harm to the inmate. I think of a story from last week, about two men who harnessed a 3-year-old to a backpack with a leash on it and were walking him across the street when the young child tripped. They didn't pick him up and place him back on his feet. Instead, they dragged him the rest of the way across the street, over a curb, and across some wood chips to a tree, where they tethered the leash to a tree so they could be hands free while lighting up a marijuana pipe. I'd reason with the inmates, asking them what they thought. I'd bring up with them that the two men might have been smoking before their walk, earlier in the day, and were already under its influence. I'd suggest to them that dragging a child is not normal behavior and that their decision-making abilities might have been altered by the marijuana. "You've heard of impaired driving?" I'd ask. "Well, this is impaired babysitting."
   I'd talk to them about their own past drug use, having them tell me about times they used it. I'd try to be gentle in pointing out the times when their actions hurt other people, or hurt themselves. I'd especially rejoice when they agreed an incident of drug use had led to harm and they said they wished they wouldn't have done it, for an admission of wrong is the seed of change.
   How does a person know what is wrong unless you teach them? Sticking them in a cell and expecting that the realization will come to them if they just sit there long enough is not going to work. They have to be taught, coached, if you will.  Our jailers should be coaches and our jails should be coaching centers. I am not calling for expensive therapists, though, believe me. The art of talking and reasoning with inmates is something that should not require a college degree. For the most part, it should only require that we hire loving, understanding people as jail keepers.
   We are losing the war on drugs because we value punishing them more than we value changing them. Change that, and perhaps we'll change them.

A Gun on the Hip does not a Patriot Make

   I am not made a patriot by carrying a gun, but by respecting it, both for the good it can do and the harm. That person who would use the gun to unjustly take another's life -- though that other person be stealing his watch -- is not a patriot. Gun rights include the protecting of life, but they do not include the taking of life, at least not without great cause.
  Life remains sacred even in a world of guns. It is the person who realizes that who is the patriot.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Popular Opinion For Marijuana is a Reason War on Drugs has Failed

   If a person does not think he is doing any wrong, he will not likely change. That truth, as much as anything, explains why the war on drugs has failed (supposing it has failed).
  Even cocaine addicts, too often, think they are quite okay using cocaine. But, it is marijuana users I speak of most. We cannot expect them to turn from a drug if they are convinced that drug does no harm.
   In church circles, we speak of confessing and acknowledging a sin as being one of the steps of repentance. Why should we not see that the same principle applies to overcoming drugs? No one is likely to quit if they do not see the harm being done. And, however do we expect them to see the harm when a good half or more of us say marijuana should be legalized?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Society that will not Seek out Its Faults is Doomed to be Mired in Them

   There is a principle: That person that will not consider his faults is not likely to overcome them. Why should it be different with societies? That society that will not seek out its faults is doomed to be mired in them.
   What are our faults as a nation? Oh, don't even count them. They are too many. But, let's sample the pool and mention just three.
   Is abortion a fault? If it is, is it one we will seek out? For, much of our nation thinks it no fault at all.
   What of the national debt? We obviously do not see that as a fatal fault, or we wouldn't keep adding to it. Many say no harm will come. Charge away. America on the credit card with no limit.
   How about the way our stand-your-ground laws are written? It is great to have laws allowing people to protect themselves, but these laws need to be rewritten. It is not a good law that allows the person who pulled the trigger to determine in a court that it was justified. He has only to say he thought his life was in jeopardy. The killer becomes his own judge. If there are no witnesses to testify against him, his word rules. These stand-your-ground laws protect many an innocent soul, but they are worded so that murders, also, can find protection. A law that protects a murder is not a good thing. These laws are a fault in our society. And, as I said, a nation that will not seek out its faults is doomed to be mired in them.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Of All the Factors in Mass Shootings, This One Gets No Thought

  If we look for what might have averted the Fort Hood shooting, what might we see?
  "We'll learn lessons about what occurred here and minimize the chances of this ever happening again," Texas Gov. Rick Perry promised.
   I'm thinking one solution will be overlooked, never considered. When we think of all the possible contributing factors to mass shootings -- mental insanity, gun-free zones, too many guns, or whatever -- this one never gets so much as a whiff of attention.
   But, you tell me whether fewer people would shoot each other if they just figured out what love was all about. What if all the folks at the base were anxious to accommodate Ivan Lopez? What if when he came in asking for a request-for-leave form, he had not been told to come back later, but, rather, someone had jumped to find one for him? What if the attitude had been to help another person whenever possible, and -- assuming there was nothing wrong with Lopez taking leave -- everyone had been anxious to help him?
   No, this does not erase Lopez of any culpability for what he did. But, who knows but what a little show of love and assistance might have made a difference.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

To Reform the Criminal, Give Him a Job

   If we are to reform the criminal, we must give him opportunity to succeed. Translation: He needs a job. Rather than a system in which the prisoner is released and goes out looking for a job, facing many employers who do not want to hire ex-convicts, we need a system that places him in a job.
   Of all the things we should want the ex-convict to have, a job may be the most important, or at least close to it. The reasons are many. We want them to develop a work ethic. We want them to be productive members of society. We want them to have self-worth. We want them to support their families. We want them to be able to pay off any fines we might impose on them. We want them to be able to pay their bills with legitimately-earned money instead of having to turn back to crime.
   The reformation of criminals will not likely be achieved if they are not gainfully employed. It is an essential element, one that is overlooked and left out of our present system.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Inject a Little Competition into Our Health-Care System

  If we look, we can see some reasons why health care is so expensive. We've reduced competition in many ways. We license extensively. We limit the insurance choices at the workplace. We require doctors to be part of our network before we can see them. We limit the number of medical schools allowed in each state. We have patent rights that go too far in limiting who can produce drugs and medical devices.
  What if we were to change these things? Wouldn't it make sense that the price of health care would drop? How much, I do not know, but I think we should try the simple remedies that are before our eyes and see how much difference it makes in reducing the cost of medicine. Inject more competition into our system. Bring it back. We've been eroding the free market's ability to work in our health-care system for decades. Then one day we woke up and said, "Hey, this is too expensive. What's wrong? How can we get health-care costs to go down, or is that even possible?"
   Of course it is possible. But, we need to do the things that are right before our eyes.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Case of the Child Dragged in a Harness and the Marijuana Pipe

  I hear the story on KSL of two men dragging a 4-year-old child, tethering him to a tree, and then sitting down and lighting a glass pipe that appeared to contain pot.
  I think of the many times I've been told marijuana harms no one. I wonder if I am being wrong to wonder if the marijuana contributed to these two men's treatment of the child. Causation? No, some would say. After all, they lit up the pipe after they had dragged the child, not before. That isn't causation.
   But, of course the thought is, they could have been smoking the pot earlier, as well. No, I do not know so, but, I wonder.
   Some would say it is still wrong to blame marijuana. If the two men had been carrying a Bible, would I blame it on the Bible?
   The little 4-year old was in some kind of a harness with a leash attached to it. As they were crossing the street, the boy tripped, and rather than placing him back on his feet so he could walk, he was simply dragged the rest of the way across the street, over a curb, and through some wood chips to the tree, where one end of the leash was secured to the tree. That's not a normal way to treat a 4-year old. A person with good use of their faculties does not normally treat a young child that way. A person with impaired judgement? More likely.