Sunday, November 30, 2014

Seek Not a God to Bless Thee, But a God to Serve

   The other day, thoughts grateful for what recovery I have had from an accident mixed with a yearning to be blessed with a wife. I have never married. My best days for finding a wife are passed.  I prayed to the Lord, asking for this blessing. As I prayed, I thought how faith is to let God do what He will with us, and to leave it in the hands of Him as to whether He chooses to give us a blessing. As I concluded my prayer, though, my thoughts went even further. My need for a blessing should turn me even more to God. I should resolve to serve Him with completeness, with more devotion, with my whole soul.
   Yes, leave the blessing in the hands of God, but resolve to serve Him regardless and completely. That should be my quest, not the blessing.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

What Contaminates Crops? Manure, Roundup, Both or Neither?

   As I slipped into my car to drive home, I was thinking it is a little odd that some who do not approve of insecticides and pesticides being used on crops find no harm at all in manure being spread on them.
   How can manure not be harmful? I thought, for it is the same principle.
   Now, set the thought I had while getting into my car side-by-side with what I experienced as I got out of my car and began to walk to my front door. A sudden and urgent need to attend to the bathroom hit me -- diarrhea, I guess they call it. Food poisoning. I had eaten two new organic foods that afternoon, and one of them was the culprit.
   Well, after giving it some thought. I doubt my organic food's being raised in cow manure caused my food poisoning. For one thing, manure is spread on the field before the plant is even planted. The manure is changed chemically as it enters the plant and becomes part of it, or, so we are told. That is different than an insecticide being sprayed on a growing plant, absorbing into it and not being changed genetically. Does the pesticide evaporate away? Or, is it, indeed, changed chemically as the plant grows and absorbs into it? Somehow, I do have doubts about the chemical composition of Roundup being altered by the plant so as to make the deadly chemical harmless. Maybe so, but I certainly have doubt.
   And, consider this: While I do not know how long manure takes to decompose -- how long it takes for the bacteria to die -- the manure doesn't all enter the plant while it is a seed. Some probably brushes against the plant once it is growing -- same as the Roundup does -- and is absorbed at that stage.
   Is it that the bacteria is dead by then, that it isn't harmful? Or, is it that the bacteria can be changed genetically, while the Roundup cannot? Or, can Roundup, just as well, be changed genetically?
   To give this line of questioning further perspective, as we wonder if some poisons are safe and others not -- what if we sprayed arsenic on our crop? And, well, I guess nerve gas would be a bad idea.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Understanding Officer-Involved Shootings Means Considering Drugs

   I understand Darrien Hunt's toxicology report said he was not under the influence of any drugs at the time of his deadly encounter with police. He didn't have drugs in his system.
   Said the report: "Toxicology Results: Negative."
   That is at odds with affidavits. His brother, KJ Hunt, said Darrien had a drug problem, had been a user of marijuana for about five years, and had both manufactured and used a drug called DMT. KJ also said Darrien had used acid in the past month.
  Nor is KJ alone in his witness. A affidavit says his mother said he used DMT.
   Darrien allegedly lunged at officers with a sword -- not a normal behavior. His attorney has said his drug use was not relevant, but determining what prompts a person to commit a crime -- and lunging at an officer with a sword is certainly a crime -- is a normal investigative procedure. It is fair to wonder if drugs were at play. But, do we say the toxicology report is the final word and leave it at that? Or should police have delved further? (Perhaps they did.)
   I am not saying the killing was justified. I haven't arrived at an opinion. But, I do see a trend in some of the officer-related shootings, and that is of irrational, emboldened behavior on the part of the person being shot. Yes, I think we should wonder at what factors might cause their rash and brash but provacative and ill-advised actions against officers. If we sight other possible common factors, we should study them as well.
   Perhaps, after study, we would determine that in Darrien's case, the irrational decision-making might would have existed even without drugs. (Maybe we would even determine there were, indeed, he did not do drugs.) Still, a study is justified. Still a study of the possible rolesof drugs in these cases is warranted.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Were His Decision-Making Tendencies Influenced by Marijuana?

   Marijuana affects a person's decision-making ability. Such is the contention of many, including me. Sometimes, decisions made under the influence of marijuana are disastrous.
   So, I do wish one element of the Ferguson story were investigated. Was Michael Brown high when he encountered Officer Darren Wilson? We know some marijuana was found in his system, but the time frame on when he would have taken it could be long removed from the day Wilson shot him.
   I doubt the angle on marijuana has been investigated beyond noting that marijuana was in his system. To me, it would be good if it were. I would like to know the influence of marijuana on a person.
   Michael Brown's mother, when she heard Darren Wilson's account, reacted with amazement. She said it was crazy to think someone would rush someone else holding a gun, ready to shoot. I don't know if Brown did rush Wilson, but I am guessing Brown did something to provoke Wilson. I am not saying Wilson was justified, only that he likely was reacting to something Brown did. Reaching into a police car and punching an officer, to me, is not in sound judgement, either.
   Were Brown's decision-making tendencies altered by marijuana? Seems to me, we should want to know.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

George Zimmerman Logic Comes to Play in Ferguson Shooting

   If Officer Darren Wilson is telling the truth, he might have had cause to shoot Michael Brown, though, perhaps not cause to shoot him dead.
  They exchange blows when Brown reaches into the car, with Wilson taking a punch so severe he doesn't know that he can survive another. Suddenly, Brown bolts away, but doesn't run too far before turning around and charging again at Wilson, reaching into his waistband as if to get a gun. He keeps coming even though Wilson shoots him, and, about 8 to 10 feet away, lowers himself as if he is going to tackle Wilson. Wilson then fires a bullet that hits Brown in the head.
   I can't help notice how the reaching into his waistband follows the story of an officer-involved shooting in South Salt Lake, where Dillon Taylor was killed. It does occur to me it becomes a claim you could make to justify a killing. Still, it could be true, and just a coincidence that the claim is used in both shootings.
  All, told, supposing Wilson is being honest, I'm still not sure I believe Brown should have been killed.  Wilson's claim that he did his job haunts me because officers are trained to kill. "The reason I have a clean conscience is because I know I did my job right," Wilson said.
   If officers are trained to kill, then he did his job right, by that measurement. I'm just not sure they shouldn't be trained to have more restraint from killing. By the time Brown would have been 8 to 10 feet away, lowering himself into a tackling position, it isn't likely he was positioning himself to pull a gun. Simply, a physical rumble was about to ensue.
   You don't kill another man simply because he is about to fight you. If Wilson were justified in this, so is most everyone who gets in a fight. There is always the danger that someone will kill you in a fist fight. Do we say that whenever you are in a rumble, if you are scared for your life, you should pull a gun and take the other person out?
   That's George Zimmerman logic, logic that got Zimmerman off for killing Trayvon Martin. And, now it has raised its head again. I will not say I totally reject it. Perhaps we should let anyone getting in a fight protect themselves by shooting the other person dead.
    But, somehow, I'm doubting it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Give Us a Step-by-Step Account of Michael Brown's Killing

   The little bit of news I've had time to catch on Ferguson indicates some authorities are saying, The grand jury had all the evidence, and the jury members were the only ones who heard all the witnesses.
   I'm also hearing anger that the media has had such a frenzy.
   It does seem, though, the public deserves to know more. You have a city overturning police cars and a nation wondering if justice has been served. It would help to have the evidence, so we might agree, if you think we would. Yet, I don't believe the authorities are saying, Okay, here's how we've reconstructed what happened, and then proceeded to give a step-by-step account. Don't give us just the snippets that support the police officer, such as his face being beat to a pulp, and such as Michael Brown rushing him, give us a step-by-step, both-sides-of-the-story account.
   Perhaps many of us, then, would agree the killing was justified. Perhaps not. Either way, the public has a right to know.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Obama's Immigration Plan: All Bang and No Bullet?

   Now, how much will President Obama's new immigration plan really achieve? Will it actually come as advertised, and bring substantial change?
   He didn't promise a soul citizenship. He didn't even promise them they could stay permanently. What, then, is the big deal? Why so much hype? Perhaps what he delivers will be bigger than what his speech suggested, but if the effort doesn't go beyond what the speech discussed . . .
  Then I  am reminded a little bit of my childhood days with a cap gun: all bang and no bullet.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

If He Plays it Right, Obama Might not Need an Executive Order

   As the days begin to lapse away, I take up watch for the online arrival of President Barack Obama's immigration executive order. It's only been two days, and it is a weekend, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise I don't see it yet.
   Frankly, just listening to his speech, I'm not sure an executive order is even necessary. Nor am I fully sure the changes are going amount to a "new era for immigration," as some have suggested. In his speech, President Obama spoke of doing three things.
   Beefing up resources at the border, to stop illegal entries. I think that could be done without an executive order.
   Making things quicker and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to get through the system. I would guess there might be found ways to speed things up without needing an executive order.
    Allowing those to stay who have been here five years who have children, who pass a background check, who register, and who are willing to pay taxes. Actually, this too, might could be achieved without executive action. They already are not deported until they have gone through the legal process, so there is a window of time we keep them. Today, I read online how this move, indeed, is based on "prosecutorial discretion," meaning the law enforcement officers will simply prioritize their efforts. They'll go after those who are also committing other crimes first. Those getting the reprieves will still get prosecuted, they'll just be allowed to wait.
   "It does not grant citizenship or the right to stay here permanently or offer the same benefits that citizens receive," President Obama said in his speech. "Only Congress can do that. All we're saying is, we're not going to deport you."
   Not going to deport them while they are registered to wait for their deportation, that is.
   Well, prosecutorial discretion is used throughout the nation, by most every agency, and therefore we can assume what is being proposed might not need an executive order.
   It is almost as if President Obama could hear the footsteps of Republicans anxious to sue him if he created law by using an executive order. If he does the things he outlined in his speech, yet does them in simple enough fashion that no new law is necessary, then whether he writes an executive order or not, he is steering clear of those who would seek to sue or impeach him for his efforts.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A New Neighbor does not Equal a Job Being Lost

  Give a job to someone coming from another country, and you take it from someone who is already here. That is the argument.
   But, to me, a new neighbor does not equal a job being lost. The more people a nation has, the more jobs there are. If that were not true, we could deport some of us who were born here to make jobs for the rest of us.
   Add people to a nation, and the added people buy gas, go to movies and eat food, all of which creates jobs. The more people you have, the more gas stations, the more movie theaters, and the more restaurants you need.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

We Must Wait to See What Really Will Happen

   We'll have to wait to see how this plays out. Is it more smoke than fire? Is President Obama not delivering much of a change despite all the hubbub of a build-up? The heart of what he announced was that if a person here illegally has been here five years, has children, and is willing to register and pay taxes, then they can stay . . . temporarily.
   They can already do that, if you account for the fact there are deportation hearings before they are deported. If we just didn't place them in jail while they went through the process, would we be accomplishing just as much as what Obama's "deal" is providing?
   We will have to wait and see how it plays out. Obama's speech was too vague for me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Where is the Right to Privacy Implied

   So, the decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton -- those famous cases back in 1973 that legalized abortion -- were based on the premise of privacy, that women have a right to privacy protected by the Constitution?
   I join my voice to others. Just where in the Constitution does it mention this right to privacy? I understand that it is only implied. I just want to know where. Where is it implied?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Where on the Meter with Congress is rBST?

  No, we shouldn't ban an item just because everyone else does, but we sure ought to wonder about the item, and, yes, we ought to see if there is reason.
  So, if the artificial growth hormone known as rBST, which is fed to dairy cows, has been banned in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel and the European Union since 2000, well, we ought to wonder why the U.S. Congress doesn't consider its own ban.
   The rBST opposition says the artificial growth hormone is responsible for many a health woe.
   So, why is it we never hear a drum beating for Congress to take action on rBST? Why is it we don't hear about rBST even being considered by Congress? Perhaps there have been bills. Perhaps I just haven't been in tune enough to hear about them.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Popular Opinion and the Courts Both Give Nod to a Stronger Argument

   So, I noted that the courts are in line with public opinion on the same-sex marriage issue. They were in line all those years when same-sex marriage was not popular, and they swung over to the side of same-sex marriage when that view became popular.
   But, it should be noted that the argument for same-sex marriage became stronger. Somewhere in there, the notion that people are born with a predisposition for sexual orientation got a scientific stamp of approval. It is probably more true that the courts were but influenced by the new argument, than that they were influenced by public opinion. Public opinion, as well, also was influenced by the new, improved and stronger argument.
   Me? I do not fully accept the notion that those with same-sex dispositions are born with those inclinations. At least not all of them. Maybe many are born that way, maybe not. I do know. I have read the account of Josh Weed, and he is both sincere and persuasive in saying he was born with his same-sex attractions.
   Regardless whether it is something some are born with, I do not believe a person should practice same-sex intimacy. I simply believe God has said no to that. The Bible seems clear on the topic.
  (This post was added to 11/18/14.)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gorbachev and the Miracle of a Kingdom Set Free

   One of the rare individuals in history, this Mikhail Gorbachev, for has ever there been a leader who set about taking power from himself and giving it to the people?
   What of the things leading up to the demise of the Soviet Union? Gorbachev, the supreme leader, calling for restructuring ("perestroika," we called it) of his own government?  Since when does a man in power call for a restructuring that leaves him less in power? How is it that we found this Gorbachev, whose power didn't leave him much short of being a  dictator, calling for more openness and freedom ("Glasnost," we called it)? Since when does an oppressive government such as the Soviet Union call for "openness"?
   I have long considered the return of the Jews to Israel and the the creation of the nation of Israel in 1948 as a miracle in my time. Last Sunday, as the world reflected on the 25th anniversary of events that brought down the Berlin Wall, I considered that those series of events were also of the fabric of miracle.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Courts are not to be Given to the Winds of Popular Opinion

   I read a portion of the majority opinion in the Sixth Circuit Court's decision on DeBoer v. Snyder -- that would be the case on same-sex marriage that appears likely to throw the ball back into the Supreme Court's lap.
   But, it is from the dissenting opinion that tonight  I think to comment. Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey would have the courts make same-sex marriage legal. But, I find in her comments an argument for not making same-sex marriage legal. "The framers (of the Constitution) presciently recognized that two of the three co-equal branches of government were representative in nature and necessarily would be guided by self-interest and the pull of popular opinion.To restrain those natural, human impulses, the frames crafted Article III to ensure that the rights, liberties, and duties need not be held hostage by popular whims."
   To Judge Daughtrey, I would note that it is the swing of popular opinion that has led same-sex marriage now winning the day, it is popular opinion that is leading marriage to expand to include same-sex marriage. If left to the other two branches of government, same-sex marriage will likely continue to gain acceptance and legality.
   It is, indeed, Judge Daughtrey, the provision of the courts not to bend with the wind, not to serve popular opinion. One can wonder how well they are doing on this matter, for they stood with marriage as being between a man and woman for as long as that was the popular opinion, and now are shifting to say marriage should be between any two consenting adults.
   Popular opinion does seem to be a factor.

Friday, November 14, 2014

To Stop a Criminal, You Shoot and Kill -- Everyone Knows That

   Add Kristine Biggs Johnson to a growing list. There was Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. That was the big one. But, what of John Crawford being shot down by police as he walked down an aisle in an Ohio Walmart? Or, Danielle Willard in West Valley City? What of the two more recent Utah cases, Dillon Taylor in South Salt Lake and Damian Hunt in Saratoga Springs? What of Mary Hawkes in Albuquerque, New Mexico?
   And, you've heard of others. Police use of deadly force being questioned for being unreasonable and unnecessary.
   Unlike the others listed above, Kristine Biggs Johnson didn't die. She survived. She lived to file suit. She had her eye shot out, but she lived to tell about it. You have heard it said, always kill them? Dead victims don't talk. They don't file lawsuits. Their family might, but they don't.
   At what point do we say something must be done? At what point do we start to wonder if we are training them wrong? Or hiring them wrong? Or doing something that can and ought to be corrected? I do not know but what some of these incidents were not justified. I rather think some might have been. But, I wonder about them as a whole.
   How about that maxim that to stop a criminal, you shoot -- and you shoot to kill? Isn't that a little bit of a dangerous generality to be teaching each other?
   I do notice this: Police are taught to use deadly force. Society teaches the same. We teach each other that if there is any danger at all, you pull that gun, shoot and . . .
   The officer was reportedly in no danger of being harmed when he took a gun to Kristine Biggs Johnson, shooting through the window of a truck she was driving no more than 5 mph. She was drunk. She was resisting arrest. But, those are not capital offenses.
   Shoot . . . and kill. Society teaches that. To stop a criminal, you shoot and kill. Everyone knows that.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Voters are Guided by Their Fear of Voting for a Hairball Candidate

  Sometimes, I think voters select their candidates not so much because they like them, but because they aren't afraid of them. They vote not to make the right choice, but out of fear of making the wrong choice.
   An independent or minor party candidate? No way. It might be an hairball. Better to play it safe and go with the Republican or Democrat.
   This principle prompts voters to return the incumbents to office the majority of the time. Congress might have a 90 percent disapproval rating, or whatever it is, but the majority of incumbents still are returned to office. Why? I believe it is, more than anything, because voters figure they at least know a little about the incumbent. They know the incumbent hasn't done anything real egregious, and they just don't know much at all about the challenger.
   So, they take the safe bet and punch their vote for the person already in office.
   It's called electing by fear of the unknown. Better the devil you know than the devil you don't. Voters vote not to make the right choice, but to avoid making the wrong choice.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Voters Poison Their Own Chances of a Competitive Election

   Voters administer themselves poison when they line up with one party. Soon, they have races that aren't contested. The same voters don't see the sense of voting if only one candidate has a chance to win, so they don't vote.
   They, the voters, are the ones who choose to let their state be dominated by one party, and one-party dominance is why their races are not competitive. So, they, the voters, hoist the cup that poisons their chances of a real election.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Competition brings out the Best in Voter Participation

  Much sweat and consternation is going into efforts to increase voter participation. Mail-in voting, early voting and such are the rage in some places.
   You want voter turnout? Design it so there's competition. Perhaps more than all those othr things, this is the difference-maker. Competition might not be a complete cure-all, but it will help. Much. Voters will be more likely to come out to the polls if they see a hotly contested race.
   So, how to you design it so there's competition? You can't force the public to divide half-and-half, half being Republicans and half being Democrats.
  One idea? Let the primary field candidates from all parties (as well as independents) against each other. Lump them all together. Instead of having one primary for the Republicans and another for the Democrats, it's all one big free-for-all.
   And, here's the trick: If two Republicans are the top two vote-getters, they both advance. Thus, if your state has become so strongly Republican (or Democrat) that the Republican (or Democrat) is going to win in a yawner, no longer will that be the case. Instead, you now have two Republicans on the November ballot, and so even though the voters are prone to vote Republican, they can no longer make such an easy choice.
   Now, with this, you are more likely to be a tight and lively race.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Instill the Love of Learning, and the Learning Itself Will Follow

   "If we succeed in giving the love of learning, the learning itself is sure to follow." -- Sir John Lubbock
   The path to a good education lies in these words, the solution to our education woes will be more surely achieved by abiding this wisdom, perhaps, than in all the Common Core and No Child Left Behind programs there might be.
   If the child loves learning, he will learn. If he (or she) does not, all the programs you can offer will do no good. Therefore, it makes good sense to make instilling the love of learning into the child the first objective of every school board and every school.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Voters Want Choices; Without Choices, You have Low Voter Turnout

   The single greatest thing a state can do to increase voter participation is to provide hotly contested races. Usually, that translates into having a balance between Democrats and Republicans. No, I have not studied (very much) states dominated by one party, and compared their voter participation to states with divided party loyalties, other than to note some of the things that happened in this election and other than to note Utah has long been dominated by one party, and has for some time had a low voter turnout.
   Voters want choices. Otherwise, why vote? It isn't really an election if the ballot offers no choice.
   Texas is said to have the lowest voter turnout in all the land, but this year it was even lower (37.5% turnout in 2010 to 33.6% in 2014). Did the new voter I.D. law have an effect? Perhaps. But the biggest factor in the low turnout was probably lack of enough barnburner races. Senator John Cornyn crushed his Democratic challenger, David Alameel, by 27.2 percentage points. Greg Abbott sailed past his Democratic opponent, Wendy Davis, by more than 20 percentage points.
  As for nationwide trends, Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida, cited in a Los Angeles Times article, noted that where there were competitive races, "we actually had a fairly robust turnout."
  The writer of the article, Maeve Reston, wrote: "The turnout picture in Tuesday's election was complex. Ballots were still being counted Wednesday and the final numbers will not be certified for some time, but the preliminary figures showed an uneven picture across the country. There was a huge variance among the states based on whether they had hotly contested statewide races."
   So, you want voter turnout? Design it so there's competition.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bless the Gazans and Give Them Help

   Bless the Gazans, and rush to their relief.
   It is said 4,100 homes were destroyed and 17,000 damaged, that 100,000 are homeless, that 32,000 have no running water, and 100,000 have it every 2-3 days, and that 80 percent of the water is unfit to drink. It is said that 90 percent of the people suffer power cuts and the rest have no power at all, that 80 percent of the families are on food aid, and 70 percent live on $3 a day. It is said that 95 percent of the industries are suspended.
   Oh, help is on its way. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked for $4 billion in aid. Participants in an international donors conference, led by Qutar's $1 billion, bettered that request, pledging a combined $5.4 billion.
   But, how quickly will the help come? Will the blockade, which bans entrance of such things as cement, steel and glass, prevent the nation from rebuilding much at all?
   Supposing things are as severe as the reports suggest, let the international community rush more rapidly to help. Let them reason with Israel that they must be allowed to bring in the necessary building supplies. Let the wells be repaired and rebuilt and let power be brought back. Are current efforts successfully handling food needs? If so, keep them up. But, the economy must be rebuilt, so the people can support themselves.
   Is one possible answer relocating the Gazans? What countries will accept them? Are we looking around for alternative locations for these people, or are we assuming they won't move? Or, are we saying that Israel must not be allowed to win in forcing these people to move elsewhere? If relocation will help them, and if they are wanting and willing, then relocate them. At least offer them relocation. I have not heard word one about any nation offering to relocate them to that nation. Why not?
   There is an old German proverb: Charity asks not the cause, only the need. Let us not consider whether Hamas, which governs Gaza, is as much to blame as anyone, and whether Hamas will benefit if the people are aided. And, let not ask if Israel will be aided if the people are relocated.
   Let's just help them.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Is Marijuana a Factor in Crime?

  Voters legalized marijuana in Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. Various debates are swirling: whether marijuana is harmful, whether it should be legal, whether it should be punished with jail time, whether it should be used medicinally, etc.
   What of the debate as to whether marijuana contributes to crime? I would point out the number of times criminals are found to be under the influence of marijuana. If we were to take the percentage of times a person committing a crime is considered to be under the influence of marijuana, and compare it to the percentage of all people under the influence of marijuana at any given moment, I suggest the percentage committing criminals under the influence would far excede the percentage of the general public.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Everyone Who has a Toy, Longs to Use it

    Everybody who has a toy, longs to use it. And, if the "toy" is a gun? If the desire can be fulfilled target shooting or hunting, wonderful. But, there will always be someone who longing leads to their using it on another human. They might long to use it defending their home, and they shoot a trespasser dead. They might long to use it on a villain who comes to the school to kill children, and they shoot the shooter dead before he can kill a single child. (That would be good.)
   Or, they might use it in a way they never intended. They might have intended to use it to protect their home or to kill a killer, but then one day they get mad at their wife, and in anger, shoot her dead.
   Everyone who has a toy, longs to use it. And, if they long to use it, the day might come that they will. Some of those uses will be good, but not all of them. Some will be tragic uses.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What Will Republican Victory Mean?

 So, we wait to learn what Republican control of the Senate will mean. An end to any hope of immigration reform? A hardening of the line against immigration? Progress against the federal deficit? Will it mean an end to the gridlock in Congress? Is the Affordable Care Act in jeopardy?
  (Note: this very short blog was added to 11/5/14.)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Choosing a Wise Person Better than Choosing a Friend

   Too late now, as the election looms tomorrow. But, how would I decide who to vote for, if I had taken more time?
   I think of three races where I know candidates on the ballot. Do I vote for someone because I know them? Do I vote for them because they are religious leaders, and of the religion I believe in and belong to?
   I think it good if a person can lay aside personal associations, and choose the candidate who will best fill the post. But, I wonder if I or anyone else can be so even-handed. I wish to be and aspire to be.
   But, what are the ways for sifting through the candidates? Do I seek out the honest and honorable, those of integrity, above all else?
   Or, do I pick a key issue, say, immigration, and vote solely based on that?
   Perhaps I study them the candidates well, learning their stands on all the issues, and vote for the one closest to me on most things.
   Or, do I just seek a person of wisdom? Do pick the person not who has decided where they stand on every issue, but who will weigh each issue, each topic, each stand?
   All of these methodologies have value. Of them, though, I wonder if the last is the best of all -- that is, were it possible to determine the wisdom of the candidate, and, were it possible that candidates themselves valued weighing their stands as much as already having them. Can you imagine a candidate putting out a flyer saying, "I haven't taken stands on a number of issues, but promise to study those issues and vote accordingly." Or, "Vote for Jim Vinch: The candidate who is still weighing his stand on Common Core!"
   Instead of appreciating such open-mindedness, we, the voters, would eat them up for being indecisive, for lacking vision, and for flip-flopping.
   Of course, some candidates may have already weighed most all of the issues, and came to their conclusions already. In those cases, if I am seeking a person of wisdom, I need to seek for someone who can tell me why he or she holds the views they do. If I can see their reasoning was wise, then I can select those who are wise.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Competition from Cooperatives Might Make Student Loans Unnecessary

   The notion of doing away with student loans has come up in the Doug Owens / Mia Love race. I will take a position neither of them took.
   Let's do do away with student loans . . .  but only if we can find a way to continue to ensure our youth an education.
   If you put money on the table, someone is going to snap it up. In this case, if you provide loans to students, colleges are going to snatch up that money. However much you put on the table will be the amount swept off the table. And, have you ever heard of the law of supply and demand? If enough money is available -- if enough money is placed on the table -- prices will rise.
   I'm sure there are other reasons our tuition rates have risen in the past few decades, but, yes, this is probably one. Now, we've reached a point where a higher education is out of reach for many youth . . . unless they get a student loan. They have to go in debt for a good part of their lives to get an education. Is that wise of us, as a society, to set it up so students are in debt for decades and decades? Is it wise that we set it up so the first thing they learn to do upon leaving home is to go into debt? It's a ritual of society now: As you embark on life on your own, acquire a debt you might never pay off -- and do it in the name of doing the responsible thing, going to college and obtaining an education.
   If colleges and universities want our business, they must find a way to lower tuition. If they won't, we must find another way of educating our youth.
   Classes attached to the work site, the companies educating their employees? That's a thought, but I'm not sure it's a good one. It's only a good one if the work sites decide, on their own, to educate their employees. Government should not mandate this.
   Volunteer-based community education? People could volunteer to teach topics, and youth (as well as others) could take whatever classes they wanted, for no more money than it takes to rent the hall where the class is held. Or, you could pay the teachers. If you have 20 students, and you have six one-hour classes and you are paying your teachers $20 an hour, that's only $6 a day per student. You will probably have more than 20 students, and teachers will probably teach more than just one one-hour class a day, but the cost for paying them remains $6 a day per student.
   Call it cooperative higher education (CHE) and make it a movement, and reclaim our right to a reasonably priced education.
   The key is going to be finding inexpensive halls to rent. Perhaps this will prevent one-site cooperatives. They might need to rent a recreation center at a housing development for one class, and an available room at city hall for another. Their classes might be scattered, but the program will still work. Maybe you design your cooperative so you do, indeed, keep all the classes at one site, renting a work place and holding the classes just in the evening after the company's workers have all gone home.
   Leave the universities open. Remember the law of supply and demand? Remember what competition can do to an economy? Imagine, if you will, how this will re-infuse free-market competition into our education system and wonder if it will not affect tuition charges. Once colleges and universities see that the cooperatives are able to do it while charging the students only for the room rental and $6 a day to pay the instructors, they probably will find a way to lower their tuition rates.