Saturday, April 30, 2016

Modern Technology Makes the Sail Car Viable

   I do not know whether wind sail transportation has ever been given much consideration, but I do know the advances of technology make it so sail cars are more feasible than before.
   The cars would have to have a second source of power, as the wind is not always blowing. With modern technology, the car could automatically shift back and forth from using the sails to using the other source. The size of the sails could automatically be reduced as sensors determined the danger of the car being blown over. The sails could automatically adjust as corners were turned and the wind came at a different angle.
   Perhaps this also could work (I'm not sure): Modern technology could be used so that the suspension system would absorb pressure when the wind otherwise would topple the car over. The car's body would rotate while the wheels on each side remained perpendicular to the ground.
   So, advanced technology has made it so a sail car is more practical than ever. With green house emissions threatening our planet, we should be looking at energy sources lacking those emissions. Sail cars -- at moments when the alternative power source is not needed -- operate with zero green house emissions.
   Of course we should consider the sail car. It could easily be dismissed as a wild and silly idea, but it is not.

On Lobbyists Donating to Gov. Herbert's Campaign

   We read how Gov. Herbert held a meeting with lobbyists, inviting them to donate to his campaign. He has been roundly criticized for doing so. But, how far does it drift from what is done by all the candidates? If the news stories are giving us the correct impression, Herbert just invited lobbyists, as opposed to potential donors in general. But, even when you have $500-a-plate fundraisers, as many candidates do, the money is often coming from those who want political favors. If what Herbert is doing is wrong, how is that so different, and shouldn't we see that the whole system is wrong?
   Still, it does bother me if Gov. Herbert chose just to invite lobbyists, for he had to realize everyone of them is looking for a favor. I wish the news coverage told us whether the lobbyists at the meeting were pitching things they would like to see happen. I wonder how often at normal fundraisers, the donors pitch things they would like to see happen. Should that be illegal? Is it legal? It should be, if it is not already.

Friday, April 29, 2016

There are More who are Homeless than Those who have been 'Chronic'

   It's been a year and a day since Utah trumpeted that it had solved chronic homelessness. The Road Home remains one of the largest shelters in the nation. How to deal with the problem has remained one of the city's biggest concerns. The state has adopted a satellite approach, planning to move the homeless out of the downtown area by opening facilities in outlying communities.
   Below are links to two great articles on the subject. I think we must be concerned for the businesses Jay Evensen mentions in his article. A third link speaks of what is being done in Portland. I can't help but look at the pictures and wonder if they have only created a ghetto. By comparison, you can drive by Palmer Court in Salt Lake City, and not even realize you are passing by housing for those who have been homeless, so nice is it. (See the picture in the fourth link.)
   Yes, what Utah is doing for the chronic homeless seems wonderful. What it has achieved is wonderful. But, do I read that 1,000 are served by the Road Home? Or did I read somewhere that between the downtown and Midvale sites, no less than 1,300 are served? Even if the figure is only 1,000, it astounds me.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/apr/27/utah-homeless-shelters-housing-first

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865653081/Utahs-homeless-problem-still-rages.html

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/01/oregon-tiny-houses-solution-homelessness

http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/cgi-bin/id/shelter.cgi?shelter=9059

Sail on, America; Consider Land Sailing, if You Will

   You might think -- as I did -- a sail-powered vehicle could only achieve slow speeds. Surprise, the world land speed record is 126.1 miles per hour, set in 2009 by Richard Jenkins at Ivanpah Dry Lake in Nevada.
   Land sailing is a sport, perhaps more common in Europe than in the U.S. The point is, land sailing vehicles are not unheard of. That noted, however, I wonder if there has been any effort to employ them for transportation. Would these sail mobiles tip over? Would they slide across street lanes? While sail boats have hulls that go beneath the water, to anchor them, the sail carriage has no such advantage.
   Ahh, the "sail carriage." I read how they date back at least to the Sixth Century A.D. in China. They were used on the Great Plains, being called "wind wagons."  And, did you know a sail vehicle has been proposed for use on Venus?
   But, have sail vehicles ever been considered for transportation purposes? Mind you, the reason I explore this idea is that I have been persuaded global warming might well be a reality, and, I believe that if it is a reality, then we should be doing all we can to counter it. This is an important matter, with some urgency. If there are transportation alternatives that do not have greenhouse emissions, we should be considering them, exploring them.
   Sail mobiles should not be too quickly dismissed as impractical. The urgency of solving the problem should persuade us to place them on the table as we consider solutions. This would only be a very small part of the solution, but it could be definite help, the same. Whatever miles our nation accumulates on wind power, are miles without greenhouse emissions.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Worm: Utilizing Power Sources with no Greenhouse Emissions

     A solar-paneled, wind-powered car would have to be a long vehicle. So, I'll call it the Needle. You can't place the solar panels and sails atop the car, as it would topple over if the center of gravity were not kept low.
   The sails would need to be short, limiting their effectiveness. And, they might only be employable at slow speeds, as the wind generated by a fast-moving vehicle defeats any natural wind.
   A third power source would be rotors or  wind mills or wind turbines, or whatever they are called, at the front of the vehicle, capturing the wind created by the car, itself, moving forward.
   A fourth power source would be required, as all three of the other sources, even combined, could not usually keep the car going full strength. So, an electric engine, perhaps.
   Why make such a car? Well, solar and wind are two sources of power that do not generate any green house emissions, to my knowledge. If the goal is to reduce green house emissions, it makes simple sense to pick power sources that do that the best.
    The car would likely be so long, it would need to have as part of it, a trailer or two. So, instead of calling it, the Needle, call it the Worm.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ban the Gasoline Vehicle and Give Me a Solar- and Wind-Powered Car

   No time to study on this tonight, but I will throw out some thoughts. I have been somewhat undecided on global warming, on whether to believe in it, but today I decided we are fools not to do something. With so many scientists saying there is global warming, and saying it is man-made, we would be foolish to not consider they might be right.
   If something possibly is causing great damage, even if you don't know for certain, you take steps to alleviate the problem. We have sayings to guide us in this one: Prudence is the greater part of valor. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I would add another one: Warnings are made for the wise.
   One thing I wonder whether we should do, is to outlaw the traditional gasoline car. This is what I wish I had time to study tonight. Does it cause just as much pollution to manufacture the batteries or whatever? Or, is the electric car truly better for the environment? Do we go to natural gas? Could solar-paneled cars work, or would the size of the solar panel be too large to carry around on a car?
   At any rate, without studying, it seems we have enough options that we should be able to survive without the traditional gasoline car. So, why don't we ban it? I'm serious. I wonder. I know it isn't the only polluter. Seems I've read automobiles only account for a third of our pollution. Still, it is a large chunk of the problem. If we had a smoker who was diagnosed with emphysema, we would think him foolish if he didn't give up smoking.
   Are we just as foolish for not giving up the gasoline car? I'm thinking, I'd ban it. And, why wait for the whole nation to do it? Utah could go ahead and do it.on its own. Encourage one or two start ups to build electric, or natural gas, or whatever cars, so there would be more offerings when you pull the plug on the gasoline car. If it is impractical to have non-gasoline farm tractors and semi trucks, then let them stay on gasoline, but ban the gasoline car.
   Hey, if it'll work, have a contraption that offers both solar and wind power. It might look like a monstrosity, but if it can be done, make such a car. All this might seem like a little much, but is it? Remember the guy with emphysema. He simply has to quit smoking.
   And, so do we.
  If something will work, you don't laugh at it; you do it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Throw the Bums Out of Office Who are Throwing the Bums Out of Office

   Perhaps this would be the place to start, if we are to have term limits: Let's limit how many times a person can serve as a convention delegate.
   Or, do we even need term limits to do this? Let's just throw the bums out of office. I use the term "bums" only because it is part of the commonly used phrase. They are not bums. They are great people. It's just that they don't seem to represent the people. In last Saturday's convention, they relegated Gov. Gary Herbert to second place, giving him only 45 percent of the vote to 55 for Jonathan Johnson. This is a popular Gary Herbert. This is the current head of the National Governors Association.
   Was it but few years ago they tossed a sitting senator, Bob Bennett, out of office? They didn't let the public even have a voice in that one, eliminated Bennett in convention before the race could reach a primary.
   How long ago was it they booed another sitting office holder of their own, Gov. Mike Leavitt? That was in 2000. Leavitt, too, was popular, with an 80 percent approval rating. They forced him into a primary.
   Or, go back to 2004, when for the first time in 48 years, a standing governor failed to win the party nomination. Gov. Olene Walker, the state's first female governor, finished fourth in the delegate count, failing to advance to the primary.
   I don't know how many delegates are there year after year. I wonder if some might have been there even as far back as the defeat of Walker, or even four more years back to the testing of Leavitt.
   Throw the bums out of office? Maybe someone should throw the bums out of office who are throwing the bums out of office.

Monday, April 25, 2016

If the Creative Minds Stayed at the Top, Our Economy Would be Better

   Some time ago, I believe I blogged on how it would be good to keep the people who produce the product in charge of the product.
   Let doctors run the show in medicine, dictating how much their patients are charged, and how many patients they see.
   About a week ago, I was writing about how it would be good to strip the the defense industry of the layer of fat at the top, if I can call it that. I just wonder if we couldn't pare off most of the top executives with no harm being done. I was thinking in terms of reducing our military bills.
   As I went to bed, two thoughts came to me:
   1. When an industry starts, the creative minds are usually running the business. Look no further than the computer industry: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. Then, think back to the automotive industry, and how Henry Ford ran Ford Motors. I do wonder how we could fashion our economy so that the creative minds remain at the forefront, and remain in command of our businesses.
   2. If we could strip the exorbitant pay of executives from our companies, the mystery of what to do about the income divide would be solved. No longer would the top 2 percent be so much richer than the rest of us. How to achieve this? How to keep superfluous executives from planting themselves at the top? In the defense industry, it might could be done. The U.S. government would simply not accept bids from companies whose executives pass a certain salary threshold.
   But, do we take this solution further? Do we outlaw executives who market in the private sector from making too much money? Do we say, you cannot earn beyond  a certain threshold?
   . . . Or, do we say, Unless it is your product? Now, we are putting the creative minds back in charge of their companies.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Big and Spacious Building and Those Who Laugh at Porno Concern

   I think on how some have told me America is laughing at Utah for declaring pornography a health care crisis. And, I think on a scripture the LDS people have. A man named Lehi is telling the story.
  "And, I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth. And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit."
   I see no reason to mock. I find it not wrong to declare porn a health care crisis. But, it is the same with those who mocked those partaking of good fruit. Why laugh at those who are eating good fruit?
   Bless those who find it humorous that we should declare pornography a health care crisis that they will understand. Pornography does have harmful effects. These include health care effects. It is a worthy concern. Laugh if you will, but there is not good reason to.

America has Problems? No Labels has Answers

   Now, the nation has a playbook for solving all its problems (well, some of them). Jon Huntsman, Joe Lieberman, and the group they co-chair, No Labels, has issued a policy book with 60 answers to America's problems.
   Refreshing.
   Huntsman, Lieberman and crew drew on the wisdom they could find, and have compiled a wonderful playbook. "Policy Playbook for America's Next President," they title it. "No matter who wins the election, America will need to be ready with goals and ideas," says the first web page.
   Some of the answers are admittedly too vague. Take the problem of the U.S. tax code being too complicated and cumbersome, No Labels' answer? "Simplify the tax code so that tax returns for at least 90% of taxpayers are limited to two pages." That would become a good answer, except it begs the question of how you are going to limit the tax return to two pages.
   What about the national debt? How are we ever going to solve it? "At minimum, tax reform should be revenue neutral and ideally it would help reduce the federal deficit over time," says the No Labels playbook. That's an easy enough answer, but it, too, begs a question: Where are you going to cut, and what are you not going to fund?
   Just to be sampling, here are a couple of No Labels' solutions:
   Immigration? "Promote a path to earned legal status for illegal immigrants in the United States who meet strict conditions such as learning English, paying back taxes and passing rigorous background checks."
  Failure to prepare students adequately for job opportunities? "Make computer science courses available to every middle and high school student by 2020. Many local efforts and partnerships are underway to make this possible. But to bring computer education to every school, these bottom-up efforts will need support from the federal government."
   Bless the No Labels group for proposing answers. Would that we would weigh and consider the proposals -- and implement many of them. To read all of their suggestions, go to nolabels.org.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Right of Choice in a Vote Shall not be Constrained

   Freedom of vote, the right to vote freely for whomever one chooses, is not always an honored right, not in America and not in Utah.
   In Utah, you cannot write in a candidate when you do not like those on the ballot, unless, per chance, the person you write in is registered as a write-in candidate.
   What if the freedom to choose the candidate of your choice were a Constitutional right? What if there were an amendment worded similarly to another right mentioned in the Bill of Rights: "The right to vote for whomever one chooses shall not be infringed"? Or, to make it clearer, what if we added this: "Nor shall the vote of any person be compulsed, nor regulated. Nor shall the right to express that vote be restrained. Nor shall the right to support or oppose any candidate or viewpoint be constrained or imposed on the people."
   It might yet be a good law, protecting the right of people to vote freely, of their own choice, and without retribution, but it would yet need some more wording unless we were to allow it to bring to a screeching halt our current political system.
  The idea behind such a law would be to prevent political parties from imposing loyalty oaths. In this state, for example, the Utah County Republican Party dictates that no Republican office holder or candidate shall be allowed to support anyone except the party's own candidate. Some would say that does not quite rise to the level of dictating how a person votes, although it does ban the expression of how they intend to vote. Some would say it does rise to the level of dictating how to vote, as they are not to support any other candidate, and voting for someone is a form of support.
    At any rate, it does silence free speech. And, political bodies hailing the right to free speech as one of their most basic tenets should not be in the business of restricting that free speech.
   So, would this be a good law: "The right to vote for whomever one chooses shall not be infringed. Nor shall the vote of any person be compulsed, nor regulated. Nor shall the right to express that vote be restrained. Nor shall the right to support or oppose any candidate or viewpoint be constrained or imposed upon the people"?
   Unless we added some more words, it would bring to an end the delegate system. No longer could delegates be pledged to vote for a particular candidate. Once a delegate was at convention, he or she could vote for whoever they wanted. This wording could be added, then: "The exception is that voters can be elected to carry forth the people's votes for candidates."
   I am not so sure we should want this last clause, however. I have some wonder as to why we even have the delegate system as it is. If we are just electing someone to pass along our vote, why not just eliminate the middleman and do away with the caucus and convention? Why not let our votes in the primaries count directly for the candidates we vote for, and there be no delegates to water down the system?
   I understand the principle of republican government. But, I don't know that it has much credence unless you intend to let the person you elect to do the electing vote of his or her own free will. If you want to have middlemen, then elect them with no constraints other than to be charged with studying the candidates and voting for the best. I believe that intent is behind the republican form of elections. Electing someone to simply pass along your vote only bends and twists and, in some cases, hinders the democratic vote. Occasionally, someone gets elected who did not really win the popular vote.
   Decide which of the two systems you want, either the republican form or the democratic form. But Do not suppose that by electing electors who must vote as you dictate, you are following the republican form. You are still demanding a democratic form, but are skewering it so it sometimes is not accurate.
   Even as I write this blog, the two parties are in convention, electing delegates to the national conventions. Will those delegates simply pass along the will of the Utah voters, or will super delegates and such other provisions provide a change-up from the map the voters laid out? In the case of whether they should be compelled to vote for Cruz, if they are a Cruz nominee, consider that some of the popular vote would have went to Mitt Romney, had people been allowed to vote for him. Even though he was not on the ballot, he remained the choice with many in the public. Unfortunately, in Utah, as I said earlier, you cannot write in a candidate unless that person has the status of being registered as a write-in candidate. If, as this blogs is suggesting, people were accorded the right to vote for whoever they chose without that right being infringed upon, voters could have written in Romney's name.
   Many might have done so. A draft-Romney campaign would have been much more likely.
   So, to say delegates should be obligated to vote for Cruz on the second ballot in order to carry out the will of the people is a misnomer. Voting for Romney on the first ballot might well be the will of the people. While that isn't reflected in the actual results of the Utah caucus, that is only because Utah restricts the right of vote, the right to vote freely for whomever one chooses.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Our Political System is a Playground for Hate

   Is there any activity that drips with more hate? If you were to want to be part of hate, or feel it, or to have opportunity to express it, could you pick anything better to be involved in than politics?
   I sit down at my computer with a news story I read yesterday still open. "Rep. Kraig Powell ends campaign to avoid 'divisiveness," says the headline. I couldn't help but wonder if he had felt the fangs of hate, and was pulling back in defense.
    The thought rushed to my mind: This is not a good political system, that it elicits us to so much hatred. How can anything be noble and honorable, while fomenting such hatred? Or, is it not the system, but the people who play in it?
   If we were to seek to redo our society -- reform it -- surely our political system would have to be touched. I do not know if a simple tweaking would work. Perhaps. I only say, that to have a great and wonderful society, our political system as currently practiced would have to be addressed. It is a weakness.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

We Must Audit our Spending in the Military Sector

  It's the return of the Cold War. One day I read Russia is buzzing our ships and within days I read Russia is expanding its submarine fleet, aiming its presence in places where it can contest American and NATO dominance.
   Sabre rattling.
   And, it causes me to wonder if we should not match any military buildup. Of top, I suppose we must. And, off top, it makes me wonder about the national deficit. We cannot afford to go further in debt, but it seems we cannot afford to not match Russia in military might, either.
   I think of how I have said everyone should be allowed health insurance, even if it means raising the national debt, for people are dying, and I am with those who say you do not let someone die for lack of money to save them. You save them, then worry about the bill.
   But, with health care, I see things we can do, that might reduce the cost of that care. What of defense spending? Are there things we could do to lower it, also? Is it possible to have a defense contractor without many executives? Would that save any money, even if we were able to persuade the existing companies to lay off the fat at the top, or if we were to persuade new companies to form with a dearth of executives, and they only frugally paid? Can the cost of component parts somehow be reduced?
   I think we must find ways to lower the expense of our defense industry. Audits are in order, looking at where the money is going and whether the processes involved can be done less expensively. I think it is imperative that we do this. We simply cannot continue to run up a debt, yet it is perhaps also true that we simply cannot afford to be outmatched militarily. It should be an urgent thing, then, that we audit our system, audit defense spending, and find ways of holding expenses down.
 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Openness in Government? Then Disclose Who Asked for the Money

   How much do we value openness in government? Would this be an idea for increasing openness: Each piece of legislation could disclose the brief history of how it came about, who suggested it and who endorsed it to the legislator who is proposing it. And, when funds are to be disbursed, state who is asking for them, and who will be receiving them, and how they will be spent.

Cigarette Smoking and Pornography are Both Health Hazards

   Many years ago, cigarette smoking was declared hazardous to people's health. Now, in Utah, pornography is being pronounced a hazard to public health. I appreciate the state legislature and the governor signing legislation declaring porn a public health crisis.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Will this $4.8 Million in the Name of Education Really Benefit Education?

   Governor Herbert vetoed $3 million for a K-3 reading program, $1.5 million for an online preschool program, and $275,000 for the Utah ProStart Teen Chef Masters competition. Now, he has agreed the funding should be restored to those programs.
   Me? I wish the news stories told us more about where the proposals came from, who was pushing them. I guess I often wonder if company lobbyists are behind matters, just seeking to make a profit at the taxpayer's expense.
   Do three companies or organizations stand to make a buck from the three programs? Is there an industry benefactor behind each or any of the three programs? In the name of education, what is being done? If the three programs really are highly beneficial, go forward with them. But, if they benefit some companies while not overly benefiting the students, pull the plug on them.  We are short enough on money for education without spending some of it on things benefiting lobbyists more than the students.

Kudos to Our Leaders for Declaring Pornography a Public Health Crisis

    If a natural disaster were to ravage us, the damage would be acknowledged by declaring a national disaster area. I like it that we are taking a similar approach with the harm of pornography. Kudos to the Legislature and the governor for making Utah the first state in the Union to declare pornography a public health crisis.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Imagine a Society that Would Stand in Line to Give to the Poor

   What a wonderful thing it would be if we lived in such a blissful community that at five o'clock each day, instead of the homeless lining up for meals at the homeless shelter, cars lined up aside the shelter, people waiting their turns to give food to the needy.
   We could be the ones lining up. We could be as anxious to give, as they are to get. What if we were so desirous of doing good and helping others? What if we viewed the homeless not as a crisis, but as an opportunity to make someone else's life better?

What to do with the Panhandler?

   What to do with the panhandler? Is there any social question that stirs church-goers more? These are good people, my church-going friends, but most choose not to give to panhandlers, and there decision is based on sound logic:
   The beggar is often a professional.
   Are we to allow them to come, day after day, year after year, making a living from no more than begging -- and often with a pitch that isn't true? Stories abound of panhandler corruption. There's the one about the panhandler who makes $40,000 a year, and the one about the person who has been begging for 20 years, and the one about how you give them food and they throw it away. In our minds, as we review the stories and size them up . . .
   We turn beggars into pickpockets.
   And, in truth, perhaps many amount to that. So, what to do? Do we give, anyway? Or, do we send them off to the Road Home, saying they can get all the food they need there, all the shelter to keep them warm?
   Are you a person who likes to do your part? If you are, then if you give to the Road Home, it is probably fair to direct them to such services. The question becomes, then, not whether you give to the panhandler, but whether you give to the charities that are taking care of them.
   Another solution would be to seek out the poor. The ones panhandling might often not be in need, but it can be very easy to find a homeless person who does need help: Go downtown, spot them, and approach them with your money or your food.




Saturday, April 16, 2016

Church or Government Shouldn't need to Take Care of the Poor

   I do not understand homelessness, nor extreme poverty, nor hunger in America.
   I don't understand it in Utah.
   There shouldn't be a need for church, or government or even charity. No, not to take care of the needy. It seems that every time a person was spotted homeless, someone would come along to invite them into their home. And, every time a person was spotted begging, someone would come along to feed them.
   Every time -- at least every time the needy person made himself visible. You can't help the poor, if you don't know who they are, but if you do, and if you have the resources, then you help them.
   Yes, I think we are that kind of people, both as Utahns and as Americans.
   I think of a church hymn. It will be sung tomorrow in meetinghouses across this state. "I cannot see another's lack and I not share -- my glowing fire, my loaf of bread, my safe shelter overhead." I don't believe those are words uttered without intent, without being meant. I believe those who sing them, mean them.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Critical Thinking is the Art of Taking Knowledge and Increasing It

  Tonight, I want to kick the same ball I kicked the other day: Critical thinking should be the heart of our education system.
   I never had such a class; There was no Critical Thinking 101. Now, to me, the shortage of such classes points out just how much room for improvement there is in our education system. If critical thinking is one of the most most important things we can teach, and we are seldom teaching it, we stand to make marked improvement.
   So, is critical thinking all that critical? Is it as important as I am claiming? If I am going to argue it is one of the biggest holes in our education system, it falls to me now to make that case.
   Memorization of algebra, science, and so forth is important; Don't get me wrong. The person who doesn't know how to add cannot make change, and thus cannot even fill a job as a store clerk. The person who cannot read likewise misses out on many jobs. I do not say these things are not important, but I do say critical thinking has an importance that goes beyond.
   Learning math, history, and geometry is the accumulation of past knowledge, while the act of thinking is the creation of future knowledge. Critical thinking is the art of taking knowledge and building on it.
    There is no scientist until he learns to think. There are no advancements in society, until someone thinks them up. There are bright ideas, until a little light goes on in someone's head.
   I am simply saying this: If there are ways to encourage the mind to think, we should pursue them. If there are classes and methods ad ways for encouraging thinking, and we are not offering them, are we not limiting what we can do to develop the student intellectually?
   Education reform? It does seem to me that instilling more critical thinking should be one of the most obvious ways of improving our education system.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

If You Want Tolerance and Open-Mindedness, You Need to Teach Them

   What you teach is what you get, often. So, refashioning debate classes so the students argue not for one side of the issue, but for both makes sense, to me. We are a nation divided by politics. It would be good to plant seeds of tolerance for the views of others. If you train the student to consider both sides of the issue, you begin a healing process that brings more tolerance to the nation.
   So, if you are debating global warming, one person doesn't take the side saying there is global warming while the other person disputes it. No, instead they both are charged with bringing up arguments on both sides of the issue. The person who wins, is the person who makes the best points on both sides of the question.
   Thus, you teach the student to be open minded and tolerant, two things that make for a better citizenry. I will repeat, what you teach is what you get. If we do not have anything in our society that teaches these principles, then we should not expect to have them. If we do value them, then we should implement a mechanism for teaching them.
   

We could Look at the Homeless as an Opportunity, not a Crisis

   We could look at the homeless congregating downtown in an entirely different fashion, you know. We could see them as an opportunity, not a crisis. Instead of just being concerned with how they congregate to sell drugs, instead of being much concerned with how they blight our business district, we could say, "Hey, this is wonderful. I can go downtown at any moment  and find someone to help." We could say, "We don't have to round them up to help them, because they are rounding themselves up. We couldn't help them if we couldn't find them, but having them congregate here downtown makes it easy to find them, and help them,"


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Homeless Should not be an Industry, They Should be a Service

   Homelessness as an industry: Bring them to the clinics, where the clinicians can make a living off them. I thought on this as I considered someone's warning that in moving the homeless out of downtown the downtown area, we must not remove them too far from their services.
  Perhaps the services are helpful, all of them. But, we should give them pause. We should consider not only if they are necessary, but if they are being administered in the best of fashions, which, in part, means that someone's not making their buck off the homeless while the homeless really are not reaping much benefit.
   I say this, in part, because we cannot afford many bills. Often, the government pays the bill. We are maybe $18 trillion in debt. Some things -- even good things and things we want to do, are simply not affordable.
  But, even if it were not a matter of what we could afford, the homeless should not be an industry, they should be a service.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

There is no Scientist unless He Learns to Think, so Teach Him to Think,

   Critical thinking, I'm thinking, is the essence of a good education. You might forget what you learn in biology. You might not use what you learn in algebra. But, you will use the skills you develop from critical thinking every day of your life.
    And, the person who masters the art of critical thinking becomes a better person. Look at the definition of the term. "The objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment." If you learn to be objective, you learn to set aside biases.
   So, inject larger measures of critical thinking into our education. When we study history, and social science, and current affairs, encourage the students to analyze the issues and then to express their opinions.
   I would suggest debate has as much call to be a mandatory subject as any except that with it, the student is learning to be an nonobjective analyst. He is learning to think, but in an nonobjective way. There is some value to this, but it is better to teach the student to be objective.
   Maybe have a debate course where they are asked to present both sides of the issue. The person who wins the debate wins it not for being more persuasive on one side of the issue, but on making the best points on both sides of the argument.
   The thinking skills developed in school are the essence of a good education. There will be no inventions without thinking being involved. If our schools spend a good share of the day honing and encouraging thinking skills, of course we will have a more productive education system, one that resulted in better scientists, and wiser business people,.
   If the ability to think is what makes for a good scientist, then one of the most important things in a good education system is to teach the student to think. I suggest, then, that education reform should focus on providing much greater dosages of critical thinking in the class room.

Monday, April 11, 2016

We are the Fools, if We Dismiss Love as a Silly, Laughable Ingredient

   If I were to say, "Love is one of the greatest forces in the world," most people would not question it. Many would agree. Others would politely think it a nice platitude.
   But, if I were to suggest love is one of the most important things to revamping our education system, I might get laughed to scorn.
   Yes, what would you think if I were to suddenly jump up, start running in circles, waving my hands wildly, and say, "I've got it! I've got it! I've got it! I know what we should do to save our education system. Does anyone want to know?"
   "You better tell us," someone replies.
   I take three large steps toward them, and shout, "Love." I pause, break into a little laugh, and then start singing, "All you need is love, love, love. Love is all you need."
   Love is one of the most powerful of forces. In changing peoples lives, I wonder but what it isn't the single most powerful force of all. In inspiring someone to greatness, it can work wonders. I say, truly, it is important in an education system. So, if it is such a powerful force, if it does play a lead factor in whether a student learns well, why would we not want to reflect on how we can get more of it into our education system? If we are going to blueprint our system, why would we not include this? If we really want to have a successful education system, we had best not overlook the elements that truly do make a difference.
   We are the foolish ones, if we dismiss love as a silly, laughable ingredient.
 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

These Four Things Must be Present in a Good Education System

   Four things, I tell you, are the keys to a good education system.
   And, none of the four are exactly being emphasized. No, as our nation rushes to improve its education system, spilling dollars and coming up with assessment tests and establishing various programs and worrying about the curriculum -- it is pretty much overlooking these four things.
   Love, desire, choice of interest, and critical thinking. I repeat, if you don't have them, you won't have a good education system.
   Love. The old axiom holds true: "I don't care how much you know, until I know how much you care." People respond to love. When they are loved, they are more likely to succeed. We need teachers who love the students. All this is not to say we don't have such teachers, at least some. But, I venture to say many of them do not fall into this category. Many don't view it their responsibility to love. Some are stern, disciplined and authoritative. A stern person is sometimes not going to convey love. Now, if a stern person is conveying love, let him (or her) continue to be stern. But, I say, usually that is not the case. Other times, you have teachers who, while respectful in the way they treat the students, really do not care one way or the other about them.
   I tell you this: If you have a teacher who warmly greets the students, who smiles at them, and shows interest in them, that student is going to be more inclined to want to do well in school. Love is one of the strongest forces in the world. It is a healing balm. It is something people cannot do without. When they are without it, they often wither away. Talking today with a social worker, she told me of the stresses brought on by academic expectations. She spoke of suicides. She suggested that if these things were being caused by drugs, we would see it for the crisis it is. I say, give the student all the love you can, for you never know the good it can do.
   Desire. Everything begins with desire. If a person has the desire to do something, he (or she) will more likely achieve it. We do the things we want to do long before we do the things we don't. We go to movies, play basketball, and eat ice cream because they are things we desire to do. The teacher who can instill desire students, is the teacher who is a good teacher. Inspiring the student is a key to success.
   Choice of interest. Not sure that is the right term to use. But, what I speak of, is giving the student free rein to pursue whatever topic pics his or her interest. If it is math, let him specialize in that. If it is the Civil War, let him study that to death. If it is playing the piano, let that be his thing. This doesn't mean the rest of the curriculum goes away, but it means the student is given large blocks of time to study what he or she selects, what he or she wants to pursue.
   Thomas Edison is said to have one time been judged a poor student, but when given free rein to choose what he would pursue, became one of the geniuses of our time. Albert Einstein's father and uncle were involved electricity and drew the young Einstein into that interest, and the relationship of electricity and magnetism on light waves helped put Einstein on the road to the theory of relativity.
   Critical thinking. Teaching a person how to think, is as important as what he learns. It is said that if you give a person a fish, he will have a meal for the day, but if you teach him to fish, he will be able to get his own food for the rest of his life. This principle applies to education. If you get them through the situation of one assessment test, that is good, but if you teach them to think, they will have a skill that takes them through situations for the rest of their lives.
   I suppose other things could be added to these four items. Positive reinforcement would be one. That, though, is part of love. Any teacher who is providing love, is providing positive reinforcement. Discipline and direction can be important, for it the student is left to himself, he might not choose to study at all. Then again, if you have instilled desire into the student, he will be studying. Still, discipline and direction can be helpful, and with some students, all together necessary.
   I do not say all the programs and tests do not have beneficiary effects on the students, but the four elements I have mentioned are the real keys to a good system, They, perhaps, are more important. To not be considering them as we strain to improve our education system, is overlooking the real things that bring success.
   I had occasion today to reflect on what could be done to improve education. Some would suggest we go to private schools, or away from private schools. Others have other suggestions. Some of the ideas are wonderful. I only say, if it were me, I would look to see if we were excelling in these four areas before I would try other things. If you are a basketball player, you are taught how to make a layup. These four things are the basics. There might be other basics I am not thinking of, but these are four. If you are not doing them, you are not doing the basics, you are not following the rudiment instructions of how to make a layup.

Friday, April 8, 2016

If Anyone Tries to Vacation Outside U.S., Let's Confiscate Their Money

   I wondered much on Donald Trump's proposal of paying for a border wall by intercepting the money Mexican immigrants send back to their families in Mexico. I've never thought it reasonable that we object to the immigrants sending money back to Mexico. The thought behind opposing it, is that it takes the money out of the United States, and thus depletes our economy some.
   I've always felt a little surprised at this. Let me get this straight: We oppose poor people sending money back to their families? Making matters worse for us, if you're looking at our attitude, is that sometimes we don't let their families join them in the U.S. If we did, they wouldn't have to send the money out of country, to begin with. So, we are intolerant of them regardless what they do.
   Now, along comes Donald Trump. He speaks of a wall between Mexico and the U.S., a wall that has long been thought of, but one which he promises to make a reality. His pitch warms the hearts of enough voters that its helping propel him to the presidency. He's said he will make Mexico pay for the wall, and Mexico has said, no, we're not going to do that.
  So, Trump says he will seize the monies being sent home to Mexico by the hard workers who come to the United States. If I understand him correctly, he plans on intercepting electronic transfers and confiscating the money.
   Sounds to me like taking from the poor to pay the rich, for they certainly are the poor and the United States certainly is the rich. I guess the thought is, since they shouldn't be sending the money out of country to their starving families, in the first place, we are justified in taking the money away from them. It's not like they have a right to do that: supporting their indigent families when it comes at the expense of the U.S. economy. That's simply wrong.
    Such a charitable, wonderful people, we are.
   Well, I don't know whether Trump plans on confiscating every electronic transfer that heads into Mexico, or just the ones by those who are sending money to their families. What about transfers from Americans who have kin vacationing down there? I suppose their vacationing down there is a wrong thing, too. Since they are choosing to vacation in a foreign land, all the money they spend there is being drained out of the U.S. economy. That's simply wrong.
   We might want to make it a law that it's illegal to vacation outside America. And, anybody who is caught doing it, let's confiscate all the money they attempt to spend.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

My Hat is a Democrat's Hat, and My Hat is in the Ring

   As a candidate sharing values with you, I would ask for your vote for House District 44. You will get a candidate who shares concern with you on such things as Medicaid expansion, open government, lobbyists, and prison reform.
   You will not be getting a legislator who simply votes on the bills presented. You will not be getting a spectator legislator who does little more than taking it all in, just proud to be there. There are many social injustices to be corrected.There are many wonderful things we can do to change our society greatly and significantly.
   I do not arrive at your door without some ideas -- wonderful ideas. I do not know how much I will be able to accomplish once elected, but I will push. I do not know how much Republicans will resist, simply because the ideas are coming from the Democratic side of the aisle, but I will push. I do not know how far a bridge some of these ideas might be, but I will push to cross that bridge. I am inviting you to be the empowering force, for without your nomination, I will not be able to go to the Hill to even begin to push.
   I have run for the House before, first as a Democrat, then as an independent, and finally, even as a Republican. Each time, I rejected not only taking campaign contributions, but even spending money at all. I do not like it that money buys elections. I do not like it that the person who has the biggest wad is the person who draws the biggest vote. Indeed, if elected, this is something I have resolved that I would like to help change.
   But, I have learned my odds on being elected are not very good if I do not accept contributions and do not spend the money it takes.
   I am an independent, at heart. (Should you like, you are welcome to read the following blog, which I wrote back in 2012: http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2012/10/america-of-today-deeply-divided-by_26.html. A much better-known candidate of our party, Bernie Sanders, also is an independent now running as a Democrat. He has been the longest-serving independent member of Congress in American history. Bless him.
   Today, I am a Democrat. My views and stands remain the same. What I now stand for, I already  stood for. We will have another census in a few short years, and it will be followed by redistricting. Again, I do not know how much I will be able to accomplish, but one of the things I would love to do, is to take the redistricting process out of the hands of the legislators. They should not be allowed to taint the redistricting to benefit one political party above the other.
   I am a Democrat. Of all that I aspire to change, perhaps nothing would be more society-altering than what I would do to the corrections system. Democrats value people, and they do not exclude those who have stumbled. Democrats believe prisons should not be just holding cells, should not be there just for punishment. If we can effect change in the prisoner, how great an improvement would that be for us, as a society? Yes, we are living in a day when many wonderful changes are being made. But, we are but scratching the surface of what can be achieved. There are so many things we are not doing, that we ought to be doing, things that make it exciting to think of how much room there is for improvement.  The thoughts in the blogs below reflect but a portion of what I wish we could do with our courts and prisons. Give one or two a glimpse, if you like.
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2012/10/love-criminal-or-face-him-again-if-you.html
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2015/05/it-takes-village-to-correct-criminal.html
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2015/05/prison-should-be-incubator-for.html
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2014/12/will-have-this-prison-not-in-my.html
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2015/05/prison-time-should-be-family-time.html
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2016/04/in-addition-to-sentence-being-given-to.html
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2013/06/this-is-essential-if-we-are-to-reform.html
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2015/06/if-we-would-change-prisoner-we-must.html
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2012/10/blog-post.html
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2014/02/dont-release-them-from-prison-until.html
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2015/06/what-is-important-in-raising-child-is.html
  As a Democrat. I am excited at that ours is a position of strength in arguing for more Medicaid expansion.
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2016/04/we-let-them-die-with-no-apologies.html
  As a Democrat. I favor not the lobbyist, but believe all people should have equal access to our elected officials.
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2012/02/why-register-lobbyists-why-give-them.html
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2015/03/lobbyists-should-walk-through-same-door.html
   I am a Democrat. I believe in openness.
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2016/02/do-away-with-backroom-meetings.html
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2015/08/if-you-are-doing-publics-business-do-it.html
   I am a Democrat. I believe in campaign reform with regard to contributions.
http://newsasnewstravelsfast.blogspot.com/2016/04/this-is-so-close-to-bribery-it-too.html
   Perhaps some of these feelings as I have on lobbyists, openness, and campaign contributions would translate into proposed legislation. I would first give my thoughts more thought, but I certainly think there is reason for change.
   Nor are the topics I have discussed a wrap on the legislation I would consider. We need a better lemon law. We need legislation to protect us financially from devastating hospital bills. I, myself, was in the hospital three days, without getting surgery or so much as having my broken lips sewn up, and was billed $39,000. I was so aghast as the cost, I called them back twice trying to figure out what was wrong. Yes, I would legislate to protect us from such a crisis. Yes, I think there is an urgency to correct this wrong. I have since run across others in the same boat.
  Perhaps, most notably, of what I would consider doing, I do, of a truth, believe there are things not being done that should be done to slash the cost of health care. Just do these basic things, just try them here in Utah, and see if our prices do not tumble.
   Bless you all for participating in this process, for being delegates. My opponent is a wonderful candidate. I hope you select me above her. Actually, if I had my way, both of us would fit on the ballot. I much like it when the voters are given the choice. Why have them come to the primary election if they are not given a choice of candidates? I remember a number of years ago, when I was a delegate at a Democratic convention, trying to vote for the candidate less likely to win, in hopes of leaving the decision open for the public.

(Edited April 8, 2016)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

This is so Close to Bribery, it, too, should be Illegal

   I wonder if we have laws against money that buys influence. Yes, we have bribery laws. But, do we have any law that says, if you contribute money to a candidate, you forfeit the right to approach that respective legislative body concerning legislation to benefit you, specifically, or to benefit any entity you represent? Does any state have such a law?
   Do we have any law that says you cannot seek a contract with any government entity having officers to whom you have contributed?
   These are laws we should have. We should seek to end government by veiled bribery. Yes, actual bribery is the giving of money with the express understanding that a political favor will be granted in return. And, yes, that is different than giving money with only the hope the government official will come along with a favor. But, the second situation is so close in kinship to the first that it remains wrong. It is a shadow of bribery. It is the essence of bribery without the designation.
   I wonder but what such a law would run into trouble in the courts, being seen as a limitation of free speech. My argument before the judge, would be that current laws against bribery are not seen as impairing free speech, so this new law should not viewed as such, either.
   (This column was edited April 7, 2016.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Investigate not Just the Crime, but the Criminal

  In addition to a sentence being given to every prisoner, a rehabilitation plan should be given. We should outline the steps and measures that will be taken to change and rehabilitate the prisoner.
  It is said, if you don't have a plan, you plan to fail. Having an outline of what will be done to effect change makes sense, if your goal truly is to rehabilitate.
  Now, if you are going to have a plan, it also makes sense to base it on what you know about the prisoner. What are the factors that led him or her to drift into lawlessness? What are the factors in his or her environment, and what are the factors in his or her psychological makeup? If you want to put it this way, what are the buttons that need to be pushed?
  The prisoner becomes the patient. You evaluate him or her.
  So, in addition to an investigation into the crime, you now need an investigation into the criminal. You need a social worker to study the prisoner. Of this, I am fearful. I do not want to create an expensive system. Government is expensive enough. So, I toy with the idea that the police officers take on the background studies, instead of adding a new layer of workers. Nor do I feel the study should be overly exhaustive. Once the worker knows what to look for and what questions to ask, perhaps each study can be completed in a day.
   I do think this whole idea bears merit, though. It would be a revolutionary change, true, but a worthy one. I do think having a rehab plan based on the individual's own needs and characteristics will enhance the chances of rehabilitation. I do feel we should study the criminal in order to know what things will work best to bring about change, and what things there are that need to be changed. The evaluation should include determining what character flaws he or she has, so those can be addressed. We should be seeking to place a better person back into society.

Monday, April 4, 2016

You Won't Recover the Prisoner if You Don't Offer Him Love

   If you would change a person, you must love him first.
   What is that phase? I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care? And, what is it that all those studies on loving and hugging children show? That they grow up to be better adapted? Well, the need for love doesn't stop just because you are no longer a child. And, there is no part of society we should want to change more than those who are in prison. 
   So, where is the love?
   When our prisons are created -- when the functions of the prison officers are assigned and the programs are all set in place -- how often is the element of love even considered? Confinement is the concern. As long as we have confinement, we have a prison. To the large degree, it is punishment we seek for the criminal to have. Love becomes important, though, if we decide punishment is not enough, that we also want the criminal to be rehabilitated. Now, though we often do seek rehabilitation, I do not see love as being an integral element that we infuse into our correctional system when our jails are established.
   It should be. A correctional facility should not be master planned that does not address how the prisoner will receive love. In Utah, we are fortunate to have volunteers go to the state prison, and we are fortunate that the prison is located so close to our large population, so it is easily accessible to the volunteers and encourages them to come.
   Studies have indicated recidivism is reduced when the prisoner is loved. 
   Love the prisoner, then, or face him again.
  (Blog is a repost from Oct. 26, 2012)  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

I Would have had Some Rich, Meaningful Experiences by Now

   I listened with great interest to Elder Patrick Kearon's talk in General Conference today. My understanding is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not trying to dictate immigation policy -- not trying to direct governments on when or if refugees should be accepted -- but it is calling for church members to help those in need..
   I think it wonderful.
   I also see that I, personally, should be looking for something to do. I remember how a couple or so years ago, I almost became a mentor for youth refugees here in Salt Lake. That was through Catholic Charities. I didn't go through with the application, partly because I had questions about a form I was asked to sign.
   At any rate, I wonder what I now could do. I wonder about recontacting Catholic Charities. I wonder -- as I did then -- if being a mentor would be too time consuming. I also consider on the rich experiences I would have had by now if I had gone ahead with the work back then. This was when there was the crisis of children immigrants flooding across our southern border, and some of those children were ending up here. I could have been helpful That would have been good.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

We Let Them die -- With no Apologies

   Medicaid expansion? I consider the expansion offered up by the Utah Legislature to be a first step. We should never let people die, yet we do -- with no apologies. We look at those not receiving medical insurance and not receiving full medical benefits -- and dying as a result -- and we actually believe what we are doing is just and right. How can we think this way? Of course we need to cover them.
   The question should not be whether we should expand Medicaid, nor even, really, whether we can afford to -- for we have to -- but how we are going to pay for it. Unfortunately, we cannot wait for an answer to that. When lives are at stake, you save them, then figure out how to pay for it.
   I will say this: There are things we can do to reduce the cost of medicine.

Who Knows but What Lobbyists Wouldn't Learn to Like the Openness

   As you might know, I've thought some on what it would be like if the public were invited along every time a lobbyist sat down to talk to a government official. Maybe it would be, the public would only be invited when prospective legislation is discussed. No matter on the specifics of whether the public comes along all the time, or just some of the time.  At any rate, the public would be there live and also on the Internet.
  And, I've wondered how lobbyists would take this. Now, among all the lobbyists, there are  a number with good causes and good hearts.
   Yet, they might be apprehensive of having their meetings opened to everyone.
   Here's my thought:  Even though they might feel a reluctance at first, they might well find they like the public tagging along. Even though it might change what they do, and how they speak, and what they say -- they might grow to like it. And some of them, for all we know, already could have their meetings open to the public, without making any changes.

Friday, April 1, 2016

I Was a Stranger is an Effort Worthy of Praise

  Okay, then, it is just an invitation to do good. Yesterday, I wondered if The Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was rolling out a program to help refugees. Today, I read through the website, iwasastranger.lds.org, and it said, "This is not a program; it is who we are."
   It is a wonderful effort, a wonderful invitation, the same. The sisters are asked to look around and seek ways that they might administered relief to those in need. The Relief Society is not the only church organization making the invitation, as the Young Women, and Primary joined in the invite.
   I hail the pro -- I mean, effort. The plight of the refugees is a situation that cries out for help from others. As travelers on this earth together, it is good that we should lift up and help those in need
 It is good that such a large body of people are being encouraged to pray and consider what they can do to relieve the distress and discomfiture of others.
   I think of Christ, and how He spent much of his ministry healing those in need, and I see this effort as a reflection of that, finding those in need and doing what can be done to help them.