Friday, September 22, 2017

Rockets take Fuel, so Consider Taking the Fuel from North Korea

  Wonder whether President Trump's sanctions mean we will cut off their oil. If I understand correctly, he, in essence, is saying if you trade with North Korea, we won't trade with you. That forces countries to choose between a small trading partner and a big one. Which will they pick?
  Does it mean no more oil for the North? For the past week, I've thought and discussed with others what this would mean. No oil means no fuel to fire missiles. If you know you can ground their military, you do it. Or, do we have reason to fear the repercussions? If we do this, will North Korea simply launch all their warheads while the little bit of oil they have remains? Also, we do not know how much oil they have stockpiled, for surely they have seen the possibility this could happen.

Usually, You Should Save the Life Regardless the Expense

One reason hospice is less expensive on its patients than death is for many others, is you sometimes (not always) sign away your rights to curative care. Curative care can be very expensive, even if you are living at home and just seeing the doctor. The thing is, I do not like us having to sign away our rights to life-saving measures. I do, indeed, wonder if this (getting us to sign away our rights to curative care because the expense is too great for the hospitals) played a large role in how hospice came about. The hospitals often feel they cannot afford to keep patients alive. Some people have no insurance. And, if the insurance companies were paying for it, would it drive them broke, instead of the hospitals?
Here is the thing: Life-saving treatments are pretty much the most expensive of all treatments. Think of a heart replacement. Are we to give every person dying of heart problems a new heart? The expense for health care would go through the roof. Still, I confess, a part of me (good part), wants to save every person that can be saved, regardless the cost. You have heard of living wills, I am sure. I cannot help but wonder if part of the reason for them coming about was as a vehicle for the medical industry to sell do not resuscitate and hospice. They persuade you to sign up for your death bed long before you reach it.
I do not know that we should try to save everyone. Perhaps it is, indeed, too great of an expense. But I clearly believe we ought to save more lives than we do. Maybe there is a point where the expense to the industry is too great. Still, we ought to be ginger about denying anyone life-saving treatment -- regardless the cost.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Universal Hospice Care is Well on the Way

   Universal hospice care? Does everyone have the right to it? Should they? How expensive would this be? Who would pay for it?
   There are some private insurance companies that provide coverage, but hospice is mainly financed through Medicaid. Families who have benefited from hospice, praise it. Should not others also have access to hospice care for their dying families members?
   Already, nearly 42 percent of the terminally-ill in the United States receive some form of hospice. That is a lot. One wonders if we are not already well on our way to providing universal coverage. Much of this has come about as a result of Obamacare, which in 2010 established that patients no longer have to make a choice between hospice and curative care.
   I have reservations about hospice. But, it is a hard program to stand up against. Should I? Or should I accept that it is a great program? Millions have benefited from it. Millions have turned to hospice care workers to do the nursing as their family members come to the end of their lives. The hospice workers change the diapers. They change the bags. They provide the baths. They do the things we often don't have time to or are just as glad to see others do.
   Hospice for everyone? Do we continue, then, to leave it primarily for Uncle Sam to pay for it? Can he afford it? Should we require all insurance companies to offer it, in order to reduce the expense on Uncle Sam? Would that drive up rates too much? Shall we do it, anyway?
   Ultimately, its your money, America. Do you want to pay for this? Or, do you suppose you have found a way to not pay for it, by having Uncle Sam foot the bill, and letting it add to the national debt instead of being paid for on the spot?

You Won't Shelter all the Homeless if You Cut Off Their Drugs

  Some of the homeless have surely been coming to the Rio Grande district because it has been the place to get their drugs. Others have stayed away from the area for that very same reason. 
  If we sanitize the shelters from drugs, many of those who are addicted are not going come, and will be left out on the streets. I'm not saying don't make the shelters drug-free. I'm just saying realize that doing so leaves many of the homeless fleeing away from your services.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Broaden Hospice to Include Everyone Who Nears Death

   I consider on the benefits of hospice again tonight. I consider how I would not want to change someone else's diaper, and would welcome a hospice worker coming and doing it for me. I consider that there are many time the hospice workers provide such services. I think of the last case of hospice I have known, of how the lady was not getting her diapers changed in a timely fashion at the medical facility, and of how once she signed on with hospice, that changed.
   And, I wonder. I wonder what if we were to keep hospice. (And, we will, for it almost seems I am the only person on the planet with reservations about the program.) If we are to keep it, could we do just one thing?
   Get rid of the ban on curative care. No longer require patients to renounce curative treatment. Instead, at each juncture, let them choose anew whether they want treatment. Let treatment always remain an option.
   Actually, it might be hospice is already going that direction. I don't know if it is true, but one hospice care-giver told me that there are different hospice programs, and sometimes a patient can continue to receive life-saving treatments.
   That would be wonderful.
   Instead of hospice being only for those who choose to let go of life, it would broaden to include all those who are approaching death. It would comfort and care for everyone. It would include those not ready to accept death as well as those not wanting to continue their lives.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bless the Hospice Workers, but I Wonder on the Industry

I would comment on hospice tonight. I wonder at it. It offers comfort and care, but aren't those things everyone is going to give you anyway? Even without hospice, everyone is going to try to make things comfortable for you. I sometimes wonder what hospice can do. It is another arm around the shoulder, another kiss on the cheek, I guess. But, I wonder. I wonder what good it really does?
Bless those who work in hospice. I cannot think of anything more noble than to serve and care for those who are dying. And, those who place their family in hospice are only seeking their happiness. Bless them for this.
But the industry, itself? I wonder on it. We have people dying, and a business comes along and says, "If government or someone pays us, we will come in and comfort you. This will let you die in dignity."
Oh, there are those in all levels of these companies -- not just the hospice workers, themselves -- who are honorable, who truly seek to serve and comfort the dying. Still, I cannot help but wonder at this industry. People are dying, and someone finds a way to make a buck off them.

Monday, September 18, 2017

If the Monuments are to be Reduced, it is Congress that Should do it

   Diminishing the size of the national monuments, including the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument, would be wrong, simply because the president has no such authority. The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives presidents power to create monuments.
   But, it gives no such power to undo monuments, nor to reduce their size.
   Power not granted is power not granted.
   If President Trump wants the size of the monuments reduced, he should bring his proposals to Congress, and ask for congressional action.
   The same should be said of Utah's leaders. Rather than appealing to President Trump to correct what they perceive as an error, they should appeal to Congress. If Utah's congressional delegation opposes the monument designations, it is they who should be introducing legislation to repeal or reduce those monuments. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Those Who Cry 'Illegal' Might be Advocating that Which is Illegal

What part of the word "illegal" don't you understand? I'm asking that question from a little different perspective than usual, and I'm asking it of those who oppose unlicensed immigration. If we have certain unalienable rights, and if it is wrong to try to take those rights away from us, then we should consider that our laws against immigration are illegal.
If just wanting to breathe and exist on American soil is life, if just wanting to not be arrested and deported when you have done nothing wrong is liberty, and if just wanting to come to America is the pursuit of happiness, then these are unalienable rights. They cannot be altered by borders, nor by government, nor by the popular opinion.
Who is being illegal? Who is advocating illegal activity? With this thought, perhaps it is those who oppose unlicensed immigration, not those who practice it.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

What Part of the Preamble Don't You Understand?

   What part of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence don't you understand? Is it the part where all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
   Is it the word "unalienable" you don't understand? That means nobody can take them away. Those rights belong to everyone, regardless where they travel to or what borders they cross to get there. Freedom comes with you when you move, when we are speaking of  these unalienable rights. Governments cannot take them away, because they are fixed and unalterable and God-given.
   If a person just wants to exist here, then that is "life." If a person just wants to not be arrested and deported when he has done nothing wrong, then that is "liberty." And, if a person comes to America in search of a better life, then that is "the pursuit of happiness."
   Those rights cannot be taken away by borders or governments. They go with you wherever you go. Unalienable rights don't change with the shifting of the sand, nor with lines drawn in the sand. (I speak of the sands where Mexico and the United States meet.) Borders can define where a country begins and where it ends, but they cannot redefine the word "unalienable." They cannot redefine who can and who cannot enjoy the blessings and freedoms that are God-given.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Only having One Acceptable Candidate isn't Choice

  I read in an email from the United Utah Party a wonderful thought from Jan Garbett. Jan would have us add choice to our elections. And, you thought we already had that? Well, a choice between someone you don't approve of and someone you do, isn't real choice. A choice of one isn't choice. If there is only one person on the ballot you would vote for, that doesn't really qualify as offering you choice. If we want real choice -- if we want more meaningful democracy -- we need two people we like on the ballot.
  Our elections will take on more meaning if we expand the ballot offering beyond a party we like and a party we don't. When we reach a point where other candidates get enough exposure, and a point where we, as voters, consider these other candidates, then we will have refined democracy to a higher level.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

There Should be Three Stages in the Effort to Stop the North

  I've wondered at what point we say, Enough is enough, and make a preemptive strike on North Korea. But, as peaceful measures should be tried before military ones, have we tried all the sanctions that might make a difference?
   Should oil exports to the North be banned?
   "Such a ban would potentially halt North Korea's tanks and other military vehicles and ground its air force. It would also bring a good proportion of the nation's industry to a standstill, halt trains and agricultural vehicles needed to bring in crops, and make the coming winter feel even more bitterly cold than usual," says an article at dw.com.
   It seems to me, there are three steps you should take in an international crisis such as this: 1.-- Negotiations and talks. 2.-- Sanctions and other such pressures. 3. -- Preemptive strikes. You do all you can with in each stage before moving on to the next. That said, have we done enough negotiating and talking? Have we appealed to North Korea? I believe President Trump is asking China and Russia to appeal to the North. If you can't reach them, yourself, send in those who are friends of North.
   And, if that doesn't work, amp up the sanctions. How will the North respond? The Korean Central News Agency reports that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the North said Pyongyang would hit the U.S. with "the greatest pain and suffering it had ever gone through in its entire history."
   It is a threat. Is it a wild one, or one they can make good on? At any rate, we cannot afford to do nothing.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

For Them, the Pursuit of Happiness has been Declared Illegal

I don't understand deporting people who come because they love America, want to work, or seek to rejoin family. Why make those things illegal? Coming here is the pursuit of happiness spoken of in the Declaration of Independence. Why make that illegal?

Cybercrime should be the Most Attractive of Professions

   Cyber crime should be the most attractive of professions. How many times is the assailant caught? One wonders but what usually the investigation doesn't begin to find who committed the crime -- if there is an investigation at all.
  And, how much can you make? I wonder if anyone has made a estimate, and if they have, is it but a stab-in-the-dark estimate. How much money is lost to cyber crime each year? I word search, and learn the cost is expected to reach $2 trillion by 2019.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I Think it Okay to Wonder of Climate Change and Biblical Prophecy

  Temperatures worldwide could go up an average 14 degrees by 2100? So, I read, in an article that lays it at the feet of climate change.
  The extreme hurricanes, and extreme flooding are being laid at the feet of climate change.
  I do not know. It might be a little premature to place the blame for world disasters so squarely on climate change. Still, I tend to believe it.
  And, I find myself turning to the scriptures, to Matthew 24.
  "(A)nd there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places." (verse 7)
  "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." (verse 21)
  Surely, the great tribulations include more than natural disasters, as there are to be wars and rumors of war and other commotions.
  Still, I cannot help but consider on climate change, and wonder but what some of its more extreme outcomes might just now be bending into view. I wonder what we see by 2100. Temperatures rising 14 degrees? I can see how that might lead to famines and pestilences. Famines and pestilences can be the product of weather, as much as anything.
   So, climate change and the problems it brings fit well with the prophecies of the last days. We may not know for certain that climate change and the weather outcomes will mesh with biblical prophecy, but I think it okay to wonder.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Did Americans Just go Ho-Hum on this Big Story?

No less than 143 million Americans had their personal information left open to possible identity theft in the past weeks. I've heard that amounts to more than half the adults in America. I read a story, and then open the online comments.
There's only one. I add my own:

Esquire, I consider that yours is the only comment I see. I wonder if we are not taking this seriously enough, hardly even showing an interest in it. I have had possible breaches on two separate bank accounts the past two weeks, so I am taking it serious. I wonder how big of play this story got. I must not have paid this news much mind when it broke, but am now going back to see what was written. Seems if half the adults in the U.S. had their information compromised, that should be a major, major story. We -- as a country -- are focused on Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma and all the disasters. That is good to be concerned about them. But, I wonder if this might end up being bigger. I wonder but what someday we might be hit with a financial disaster stemming from such things as the Equifax breach and other Internet breaches. It could bring this country to its knees if a sizable share of all bank accounts were emptied simultaneously (or even if it were not simultaneously).
And, here's a quote from the Associated Press story:
"On a scale of one to 10, this is a 10 in terms of potential identity theft," said Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan. "Credit bureaus keep so much data about us that affects almost everything we do."

Note: I corrected the spelling of Equifax. In the online comment, I spelled it Equafax.
Note II: It turns out, one of the two possible breaches on my bank accounts was not a breach.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

God Provided More than Just a Church; He Provided Eternal Life

   There are biblical passages that only seem to have meaning if you know of things in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hebrews 11:39-40 is such a passage.
   Verse 29 speaks of how the people had obtained a good report, but "received not the promise." The use of the word "promise" perhaps is just coincidence, but, just the same, it does fall in line with a term used by the LDS: "holy spirit of promise." The holy spirit of promise is the power by which ordinances  (such as baptism and eternal marriage) are performed  and sealed.
   The next verse -- at least for those in this church -- clearly is a reference to such ordinance work, and work for the dead. To those outside this church, I cannot see that it would have any understandable meaning.
   It says, " God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." Those of us who are LDS believe we need to be sealed to our families, and thus sealed to the ancestors who came before us. Thus, they without us (and vice versa) cannot not be made perfect.
   There is more to the gospel than just getting a testimony and having faith and joining the church  after you hear a report of the church and what it is about. Through the ordinances, there is the promise of living with our families eternally.
   Even so, these verses say that although a good report was received through their faith, the promise was yet to be received. But, God provided more (than just being a member of the church). We can be made perfect though others (the fathers can be made perfect by being sealed to the generations that come after them).

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Let Volunteers Spend Time with the Homeless

  There is benefit to having someone always with the homeless, talking to them, sharing time with them, just being with them -- and guiding them. As I think on this, I consider that if they have someone with them all day long, that is much the same as them being back in their homes, with those who care for them being there for them.
   I think of the radio ad, "Give your family everything. Give them your time." If people need time when they are in their own homes, they continue to need it when they fall out of their homes and onto the streets.
   And, I think of what might be a new term: homeless homes. If we were able to provide companionship for them, all day long, it would, in a way, be like giving them homes. They would be in what we could call homes for the homeless.
   Giving them someone to be with them would be no small task. You cannot afford to pay people to come in and spent so much time with them. You can't. Budgets and deficits and too much government spending tell us to not even try.
   Volunteers? This seems the only answer, but a difficult one, at that. You would benefit from all the publicity the homeless situation has received here in the Salt Lake Valley. It would drive up the number of people who want to step in and help.
  But, say we only tried to have but one volunteer per every 10 homeless people, giving the volunteers each three-hour shifts. That is still a lot of volunteers. It would be a project so big, I don't know if we could meet it.
   I think of myself, and how I would not have time to volunteer much, if any.
   But, I also consider on this: Many of the homeless are there because their families asked them to leave. The families were overwhelmed -- overwhelmed and frustrated. In many cases, they did not have the required time to spend with the them. If you are to send them to a place that will provide what the family was not able to provide, you must provide that it be a place that does provide day-long companionship.
   Solving homelessness is as easy as providing them friends. And, it is as hard as that.
 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Separate the Sellers from the Buyers and the Market Dies

  When I first heard they wanted to close Rio Grande Street to traffic, I thought they meant only to close it to vehicles. Turns out, they will fence it off, entirely. No more foot traffic if you aren't one of the homeless.
   I can see the wisdom in this. If you take away the opportunity for crime, you take away the crime. If the drug pushers cannot access the homeless, they cannot sell to them. If you separate the sellers from the buyers, the drug market dies.
   At least at that location. At least to the homeless who stay within the prescribed quarters. And, there is the rub. As soon as the homeless venture far enough away, they are vulnerable. So, consider this: Some of the homeless have some desire to steer clear of drugs. If they run into drugs, they are tempted. But, keep them removed from the drug scene, and you do them a favor.
  Other homeless want the drugs, and will leave the shelter to seek them out. So, if you want to find your drug pushers, you simply follow the homeless when they leave. For all we know, this is how the police made their big raid the other day.
 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Storm so Powerful, it brings even Miami to its Knees

   A hurricane so large it has shown up on monitors that measure earthquakes. A hurricane the size of Texas. A hurricane with winds of 185 mph, only bettered by Hurricane Allen's 190 mph winds in the 1980s.
   If my memory serves me correctly, last year when a hurricane hit Florida, most residents didn't flee, and didn't get ruffled. They've gone through them before, and it was just another.
   This time, though, they are fleeing. Hurricane Irma could prompt one of the largest mass evacuations in U.S. history.
   Only three hurricanes in history have hit U.S. coasts as category 5 storms. And, although Irma has dropped to 150 mph winds, making it  a category 4, it will still pack more wallop than most hurricanes.

(Rewritten 9/8/17)

Do not Compromise the Privacy Rights of the Homeless

  Interesting to read in the Salt Lake Tribune how officials are planning on issuing ID cards to the homeless.
   In a blog I wrote, I considered having a listing of the homeless, making them registered, in a way. I thought having registered homeless people was a novel idea. But, apparently, it isn't.
  In my system, you would simply be listed. I had not thought of ID cards. And, having heard of the cards, I would guess they will be optional, not required of everyone staying at the shelter.
   The article quoted a statement from the ACLU of Utah as saying the ID card process "may have been initiated without the proper privacy protections in place." I'm not sure what protections the ACLU is seeking. The article doesn't say.
   The card-issuing process does survey the homeless, asking them questions that are evidently standard to them when they are seeking services. But, questions about why they came here, and where they came from evidently are not standard.
   I would guess the ID cards would be legal if they are not required. As for the information provided, I wonder if it should held away from law enforcement agencies. Or, at very least, if it is to be given to them, the homeless should be told it will be. The concern is that their privacy not be compromised. The concern is wrongful search and seizure.
   And, the surveys should be optional. When services are provided, only the information needed in order to extend the services should be required. And, it should be made clear to the homeless which questions must be answered in order to receive services, and which are optional.
   The data bases used for serving the homeless should not be tied in with those the police have, nor should the information be turned over to the police.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Our Idea of What Justice is Might be a Little Fuzzy

  We would kick them out of America? We believe in taking those who came as children, and kicking them out of America -- the only home they have, and the only country they love?
  This is our idea of justice? This is how we practice law and order here? This is just how we do it in America?
   Somewhere in all this, we might just come around to realizing this is injustice.
   But, we should think not only of the dreamers, but also of the others who came here illegally, and ask ourselves the same kind of questions: We would take people who came here because they love this country, and we would take those who came here to find jobs to support their families, and we would take those who endured trials crossing a border to be reunited with their families . . .
   And, we would deport them? We would call them criminals and kick them out of our country?
   Our idea of what a criminal is might not be too clear. Our idea of what justice is might be a little fuzzy.

President Trump Gives a Challenge to Congress


    A tweet from a president:  
"Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!"
   It would appear President Trump sees the benefit of DACA, a law lauded for what it does, but decried for how it was created. So, the challenge is on the table, for Congress, thanks to President Trump.
 

Salt Lake City: Where the Streets are Alive with the Finest Entertainment

  When I suggested street entertainers sing and dance and act for the homeless, I was suggesting they do it just for that reason: to serve the homeless.
   But, it does not go unnoticed on me that free street entertainment could be a boon to the city, period. It could enhance the community's image and attractiveness, period. I wonder if there is any other city where you can go see theater-quality entertainment, all day long -- right out in the streets.
   New Orleans, Austin, Boston -- where?
   I think of the free performances at Temple Square, and in the Conference Center, and in the parks up near Temple Square, coordinated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. But, they aren't all outdoors and they aren't right out in the streets.
   There is a romanticism in running across a banjo player, playing on a street corner. It adds to the flavor of the town, when you see that. This would take that to a different level. Invite the street musicians, for sure. And, some of the homeless, themselves, would perform. But in addition to that, step up the entertainment to displaying your city's finest entertainers, the professional acting troupes, dancing teams, and musicians. Sprinkle in some magicians and comedians.
   Does any city offer that?
   

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Take out Much of the Country, or just Kim Jong-un?

   It's called a pre-emptive strike. Unfortunately, perhaps we need to consider it with North Korea.
   But, along with considering some kind of attack, perhaps we should also consider the Osama bin Laden approach: going in and surgically removing the leader.

Street Entertainment Would Provide Live Trailers

  About as quick as I walked away from last night's blog, I realized my suggestion of street entertainers had one big, big problem: How do you get the entertainers to come in without giving them a paycheck?
  Well, consider this: Most every movie has a trailer. It's called advertising. You play part of the movie to excite people to come see the rest. The street performances could be the same. The acting troupe could play just a few minutes of their play, just enough to tease, just enough to make you want to come see the rest.
   In this way, you would actually be doing the acting companies a favor, allowing them to advertise in a very effective way and in a way currently not available.
 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Make Rio Grande Street Home Central for Street Entertainers

   If a city had acting troupes acting in the streets, and it was the first thing visitors saw, would that be a good thing? Right now, as visitors arrive at the Greyhound station, and are whisked away by their rides, the first thing they see are the homeless.
   First impressions, they say.
   So, what if we had acting troupes, musicians and comedians entertaining the homeless -- in the streets? To begin with, if they were there -- all these street entertainers -- they would be a tourist draw in and of themselves. As your ride picked you up, he would say, "You might want to see the street entertainers since we're down here. They're just a block over." And, he would drive you just a block to the east, park the car, and you would get out and walk down Rio Grande Street to see all the free entertainers.
   Rio Grande Street is closing as part of the plan to deal with the homelessness and crime, so it makes it perfect for having street entertainers there.
   An idle mind is the devil's workshop, it is said. I suggest there is some value to providing entertainment for the homeless. Get them working, if you can. I have already blogged on that. But, also provide them things to do, entertainment being one.
   If we do believe there are many among the homeless who are there simply because they are down on their luck, we should want to serve them, and lift their spirits. And, probably even those who are there of their own errant ways, we should want to cheer up and help. When you love all men, you love all mankind -- those who have strayed as well as those who have not. Remember the story of the prodigal son, and how his father threw a party for him?
   Throw a party for the homeless, for the poor, every day, all up and down Rio Grande Street.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Of Homeless Remediation Specialists & Friendship Volunteers

  I've been thinking lots on how to solve homelessness, what I would do if it were mine to solve. What would be my plan of action?
  To some extent, you cannot help someone if you do not identify them, So, the first step would be to place workers on the streets, talking to each person, identifying and cataloguing them. Call them homeless remediation specialists, perhaps. They would document each homeless person they came in contact with and start each of them on a program, hoping to remedy their homelessness.
   Have you ever heard of registering the homeless? I haven't, either. But, I believe it would help. How can you expect to help someone if you don't make contact with them, if you don't take down contact information, and say, "How can I get hold of you if I come up with some help for you?"
   So, you register the homeless. I wonder if that is a novel idea. You thus have registered homeless people and non-registered homeless people.
    Perhaps the first thing the homeless remediation specialist would do would be to mediate between the person and the family. Most every homeless person comes from a family, and the reason they are out in the streets is because of a rift in their family ties. Some have left home of their own choice, and some have been asked to leave. I know of no homeless program that seeks to put them back together, but it seems that should be the first step. I would not pressure the families to take them back, as they might have reason for having asked them to leave. I would not seek to put the families on guilt trips, but, instead, praise them for what they have already done.
   But, I would try to bring about reconciliation. I would ask the homeless person if he (or she) would be willing to go back, and I would ask the family if they would take him (or her) back. Some would say, yes. And, as simple as that, you would have solved some of the homeless problem. A segment of them would be off of the streets and back in homes -- in families -- where they are best served.
   Second, I would provide each homeless person a friend. We would have friendship volunteers, if I can call them that. Every person still on the streets after the effort to get them back into their own homes would be given a friend, someone who would keep contact with them, either visiting them or calling them on the phone. These people would ask how they are doing, and be sounding boards for the homeless to discuss their problems with, investing however much time they chose. When the homeless person had a problem, the volunteer would be free to solve it themselves, or pass it along to the remediation specialists, who would be in full-time positions.
   Third, I would provide a jobs for the homeless, as least when possible, when they would accept them and when jobs could be found. The homeless remediation specialists would come with a list of companies willing to help the poor, offering them work, having them come in and sweep floors or whatever.
   And, there's where I go to bed for the night. I might add more steps to my plan, later. Food and shelter obviously have to be provided from the get-go, unless the person is choosing to sleep on the streets.

 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Why were the Police Still Following an Outdated Law?

 I wonder if I was too easy on Officer Jeff Payne in my blog this morning.
 "I do feel we should have a little more compassion for Officer Payne," I wrote. "I don't know if his job can be saved. I don't know but what criminal charges shouldn't be filed against him. I do wonder, though, that after what he has learned, it might well be he will not make the mistake again. He might well be a good officer, despite this."
  Tonight, I read the Washington Post story. It quoted Payne's comments picked up by the body cam. They had been inaudible when I listened to the video, but the Post writer picked them out.
  "So why don't we just write a search warrant?" a fellow officer asks Payne.
  "They don't have PC," Payne replies, referring to the Logan Police Department's not having the probable cause necessary for a search warrant.
   That indicates Payne should have known it was wrong -- illegal -- to collect the blood. If you know you need probable cause to get a search warrant, and you know you don't have it, and you are pressing forward to get it anyway, where does that leave you?
  Plus, the nurse, Alex Wubbels, did read Payne the requirements for a blood draw. When she read the rules, it should have registered on him that what he was doing just might be illegal. Did he think that even without probable cause, the sample could be collected legally under implied consent? If he did, why did he not verbalize as much at that point?
  Instead, after Wubbels explains how the requirements for a legal blood drive have not been met, Payne says, "So, I take it that without those in place, I'm not going to get blood." Those words indicate he had digested what she had told him, yet he was determined to act, anyway. He then moves toward her as she backs away, trying to swat the cell phone out of her hand that she had him listening to as her supervisor warned him that what he was doing was wrong.
  Payne is a trained police phlebotomist. He was not there to collect a blood draw done by one of the hospital workers, he was there to do the blood draw himself. One wonders why the need for that. Why not just let the hospital workers do the blood draws, and hand them over to the police? Was there a point when that was the practice, then the police started sending in their own people to do the draws?
   The Utah law on implied consent changed a decade ago. In addition, a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling declared blood tests without warrants illegal. How does the police agency, then, continue to operate under the presumption that implied consent is still the rule -- a decade later? How did the Supreme Court ruling never catch up with the SLCPD?
   It becomes fair to wonder if the police were not continuing the practice blood draws despite what they had been told. This scenario seems even more likely when you consider that Payne blew off Wubbels' explanation as to why she could not permit the blood draw, as if the news was not news to him and he was going to do the blood draw, anyway.
   One wonders. The police might, indeed, have been operating under the mistaken presumption that what they were doing was legal. But, if so, how? If nothing else, there should be an investigation into why they were so belatedly following bad policy.

Questions, Questions, Questions: We Need an Investigation

  Did you hear about the University of Utah nurse who was forcefully arrested for not authorizing a blood draw that was being required by the Salt Lake Police Department? Did you hear how she was just following the law on such matters, only to be physically attacked and arrested, all the same?
   Of course, you have.
   "And they called for an investigation," sings Paul Simon. We should have one here. Or a bunch of them. There are all kinds of questions about what happened, what should have happened, and what we should do to correct our wrongs.
  How common is it that police come looking for a blood draw without being within their rights to do so? Was there an ongoing, running battle between University Hospital and the SLCPD?
   Even back in the days of implied consent, did SLCPD officers stretch the boundaries? For even under implied consent rules, they should not have been asking for a blood draw this time around.
 And, is it not just the SLCPD, but other agencies, as well, that have been violating constitutional provisions on privacy and searches? It was the Logan Police Department that was asking for the blood draw. They knew the driver was not under investigation. They knew they didn't have a warrant. They, along with the SLCPD, were still operating under the assumption the implied consent rule was still in place.
  Just last year, it became a Class A felony in Utah to assault a health care professional.  Will officer Jeff Payne be charged? Are there other laws against obstructing health care officials? Did Lt. James Tracy violate any?
   What are our laws on false arrests? Should we be charging officers with this? Or, does that imperil the officers unnecessarily?
 Why were nurse Alex Wubbels' Miranda rights not read to her before Lt. Tracy lectured her and, in part, interrogated her? Is is common that SLCPD officers fail to read the Miranda rights before such interrogations?
  And, of course, how much did Chief Brown know and why didn't he take stronger action earlier? As important as any of the questions, why were the department policies not updated earlier? And, when they were updated, what, specifically, were those changes?
  And, the perhaps the most important question of all, how is it that so many officers were on the scene and all of them stood behind what Officer Payne was doing? For even under the outdated department policies, the arrest was illegal.
  Officer Payne clearly didn't know the law from what the SLCPD had taught him. But, he is also an EMT. How is it that this training didn't get through to him in that position, as well? Was it just his failure to learn or does this indicate more than just one agency is failing to properly train their people?
   With all this said, I do feel we should have a little more compassion for Officer Payne. I don't know if his job can be saved. I don't know but what criminal charges shouldn't be filed against him. I do wonder, though, that after what he has learned, it might well be he will not make the mistake again. He might well be a good officer, despite this.  I say that realizing his comment on taking the homeless to the University Hospital and "good" patients elsewhere was out of line and does need to be considered and addressed.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Everyone Needs a Friend, Including the Homeless

   Step Two. If you would deal successfully with homelessness, give each one of the homeless a friend.
   Football players have coaches. Students have teachers. Children have parents. Most any time someone endeavors to do something, there is someone there to show them how, someone there to help them.
   Surely, few groups of people are more in need of guiding and comforting hands than are the homeless.
   Everybody needs a friend. Everybody. If the homeless are to find a way out, they, too, need friends.
   Step One in fighting homelessness is to mediate between the homeless and their families, simply checking to see if the two parties can be reconciled so the homeless person can return home.
  Step Two is to assign each one a friend. These would be volunteers, not paid professionals. I imagine, in seeking out volunteers, you could have a large ad campaign proclaiming, "Adopt the Homeless."
  And, perhaps a subtitle of, "Befriend the Poor."
   Excuse me for thinking so -- if it is something you think silly -- but the principle of love is a key to solving many of the world's problems. I think we should look at love and consider how to implement it in most of our problems.
   And, that includes the problem of the homeless. And, how can you provide love if you don't provide friends?

Ronald Reagan Consistently Supported Legalization of the Immigrant

  “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and who have lived here even though some time back they may have entered illegally.” So said Ronald Reagan during a presidential debate.
  Then, you might recall, when he was elected, he signed an amnesty bill, freeing three million immigrants to continue living in the United States. Not to say the bill did not strive to do other things, not so friendly to immigrants, such as secure the borders.
  “We have consistently supported a legalization program,” Reagan said at the time of the new legislation. “The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight.”

Thursday, August 31, 2017

You can 
never tell the river 
by the waves of the sea.

Homelessness? Part of the Answer is in Reuniting Families

   Step One in working with the homeless should be contacting the homeless person's family, not to overtly pressure them to take the person back into their home, but to make a check to see if the family would allow the person back. I don't know that they should be overly pressured though, as they might have reason for having kicked the individual out.
   This I say in light of a quote from Todd Thatcher I read last week: "It is not insignificant that we refer to people as homeless rather than houseless."
   In some cases, the homeless leave their homes of their own choice. So, you also make a check to see if the person is willing to go back.
   Most everybody has family, even if it is extended family instead of immediate family. There are some who don't, but most everyone does. If someone is homeless then, it is because they have left their family. We speak of the family being the basic unit of society. I is interesting, then, that if we are to solve one of the basic problems in our society, part of the answer lies in reuniting families.
                               

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What if Everyone had Rooftop Solar?

   What if everyone had rooftop solar? What if prices dropped enough that most people placed solar panels on their roofs?
   There would still be those times when the sun's rays weren't there, thus requiring the power companies. But, to some extent, the dominance of solar power would bring the power companies to their knees.
   And, one has to wonder if they don't recognize and fear such a day could come.
   And, if the day comes that good batteries are mastered, then homes will become self-sufficient, not needing to rely on the power company for energy when the sun dips behind the clouds. Then, will we need power companies any at all?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Congress Freezes Over too Easily

    Of all the things we should reform, how about the functions of Congress? Too often, our nation's legislative body freezes up when faced with issues needing action. Take health-care reform. Republicans spoke for seven years of the need to overhaul Obamacare. Now, seven months into their having control of both houses of Congress and the president being a Republican, they have knotted up each time they've tried to take action.
   I wonder if part of the reason Congress coughed up to the president some of its authority to declare war, is that it could see it is not well equipped to make a rapid-enough decision when necessary.
   I wonder if part of the reason Congress allows the president to designate national monuments is that it realizes many of the proposals wouldn't get beyond the debate stage if left to them.
   I wonder if we have so many presidential executive orders because Congress is not able to muster action on such things.
   And, I note how Congress each time comes right up to the deadline of defaulting on the national debt.
   Remember, our Constitution called for three governing bodies, with each having its own function. If we fail to correct the unresponsive nature of our law-making body, we will continue to leave decisions in the hands of the president that perhaps they ought to be in the hands of Congress.
   How important is congressional reform? If health-care reform is important, then perhaps congressional reform is just as important, for it is clear health-care reform would go forward faster if Congress did not lock up so easily.
   Some will argue the plodding, deliberative nature of Congress is a wise thing, providing careful, crafted, seasoned legislation. I will grant that thought some credibility. But, this does not downplay the negatives we currently experience.
   I do not know what the answers are. This is a topic I have just begun to consider. But, I am of the tentative feeling that this is a shortcoming we should endeavor to fix.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Kaepernick Tries to do the Right Thing, and We Condemn Him for it

  I am not a Colin Kaepernick hater. He is one of the most unpopular people in all
America, I would guess. But, I am not among those who hold him in disfavor.
  Consider why Kaepernick does not stand and place his hand on his heart. If I am correct, it is because he does not want to salute a country where so much racism remains. He is basically saying, America. you need to get your act together on this issue. You are falling short.
  Do we fall short?
  I read an editorial in the Deseret News, suggesting that while America should unite behind racial equality, not saluting during the Nation Anthem is not the way to go about protesting.
  I'm not so sure Kaepernick is so much trying to protest as he is just trying to be honest in his feelings. He doesn't feel he should salute a nation falling short in treating all people equal, so he doesn't salute. You want him to find another way to protest? That doesn't deal with the fact he doesn't feel right about saluting the flag.
   By telling him to salute the flag, what am I saying? No, Colin, you should feel you can salute a country that doesn't treat all people as equal as you would like? Or, am I saying, No, Colin, racism doesn't reach to the level that you should refuse to salute the flag? Either way, I'm demanding he adopt my opinion, instead of having his own.
  I believe in tolerance, especially for people who are just trying to do the right thing, who are true to their convictions despite facing a national firestorm of hatred, or, at least, a national outcry of outrage. Bravery is standing true to your convictions. I admire him for risking his NFL career in the name of standing up for what he feels he has to stand up for.
   If a man feels he cannot morally salute a flag until it makes a little more progress against racism, who am I to tell him he is wrong to have that opinion? I do not view him as anti-American. I view him as someone who wants to make America better.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

  "It is not insignificant that we refer to people as homeless rather than houseless."
                               -- Todd Thatcher Of Valley Behavioral Health

    As I reflect on what Todd says, I realize many of the homeless I have known have been people who burned their bridges with their families. They lost their spots in their homes because the families became frustrated in dealing with them.
   The family is the basic unit of society. It should not surprise us, then, that when the family breaks down, there are consequences. In this case, we end up with homelessness. If people did not burn their bridges with their families, few people would end up on the streets.

Consider these Two Monuments on Their Own Merits

   So, are Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments simply too big? At 1.35 and 1.9 million acres, respectively, they each are roughly as big as the state of Delaware. They are each bigger than the Grand Canyon, and twice as large as all of Utah's national parks (there are five) put together.
   Or, so it is said, and I guess all that is true.
   Doesn't the Antiquities Act say monuments should, "be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management"?
    And, weren't the first monuments all much smaller?
   "(I)t would be hard to argue with a straight face that both these monuments followed the law's dictates to set aside the 'smallest area compatible' with the objects in need of protection," says an editorial in the Deseret News.
   I've got a straight face, and I just might make that argument.
   The Antiquities Act is to protect "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest." Take the first place designated as a national monument, Devil's Tower in Wyoming, which is the unique remains of a volcanic eruption. The "smallest area compatible" for it would be little more than the tower.
   But, what of Bear's Ears? It is said to contain the largest concentration of archaeological sites in all of North America, and maybe all the world. And, what of Grand Staircase-Escalante? It is known for its geology and fossils, scattered about.
   If you are to follow the Antiquities Act as you set the size and boundaries of the monument, wouldn't you identify each of the prehistoric artifacts and sites, draw a circle around them all, and set that as the size of the monument? There are more than 100,000 archaeological sites in Bears Ears. That's a little different than the single one that is in Devil's Tower National Monument. You can draw a lot smaller circle around one site than you can around 100,000 sites. If you have 100,000 sites to encompass, does it surprise you that they might be scattered across 1.35 million acres.
  Or, do you suggest the space in between the various archaeological sites should not be included? Should we have 100,000 separate monuments?
   So, you want the monument to include all the sites, if possible. And, it should be noted that new discoveries are still coming forth in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.
   Each of these two monuments should each be considered on its own merits. It does not matter if each of them is larger than the Grand Canyon or if they are about as large as the state of Delaware. Nor does it matter if the first monuments had much smaller boundaries. The "smallest area compatible" is going to have a complete different meaning when you have 100,000 sites to protect.
   I haven't seen on a map where all the sites are in each of the two monuments. Perhaps, if I did, I would agree that the two monuments are too large. But, I also would not be surprised if trimming needs to be done, it doesn't need to be as much as what the Trump administration is considering.

(Edited and added to 8/27/16

Friday, August 25, 2017

An Assault on the Liberty of One, is an Assault on the Liberty of Us All

I wonder, again, at the unalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence and how they apply to those of us arriving from south of the border.
These rights come from God, not from government, and government cannot (or should not) take them from us. A government might make a law taking away our right to life (on American soil), and that law might suggest we will lose our liberty if we come (be deported), and it might deprive us of the pursuit of happiness (which is what most immigrants come for), but that does not mean the law is right and just.
We should wonder about laws that take away liberties, even if we are not the ones affected. Rather than being satisfied that it is not our freedoms being lost, but those of someone else, we should hold that if freedoms are taken from one, it is an assault on the freedoms of us all.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante? Chock Full of Antiquities

   You must grant the opponents of national monuments that they are right, that the Antiquities Act of 1906 specified that the land protected as a national monument shall "in all cases be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected."
   So, what of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which at 1.9 million acres is the largest national monument in the nation, larger than the state of Delaware? What of Bears Ears National Monument, bulging at 1.35 million acres in size?
   Too large?
   Bears Ears is said to contain as many archaeological sites as there are in North America, and maybe the world. Where are they? Do we protect them by separating the land into many islands, each a monument in its own right, or do we connect them all and reduce the monument only to the size that fits them all in?
   Over in Grand Staircase-Escalante, you have dinosaur fossils dating back 75 million years. A good portion of them have been discovered just this century.
   And, there's the rub: How many archaeological sites are yet uncovered? It would seem that while you are to confine protection to the smallest area possible, in both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, you must protect all the area where archaeological sites might yet be discovered. Does that leave much room for trimming back the size of the monuments?
   Parts of these lands are among the last areas of the U.S. to be mapped and explored. It is said much of the land remains as it was millions of years ago. If we do open these areas to mining, the pristine nature of the land will be forever lost. It would seem if you are to err, you should err on the side of protecting them.
   A treasure destroyed cannot be returned.
 



 in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Unalienable Rights are not Terminated by Borders

I tend to wonder if immigrants don't have the right to come. We speak of unalienable rights. If they are truly unalienable, then they cannot be restricted by borders. If a person has certain unalienable rights in Mexico, they cannot taken away from him just because he crosses a border into the U.S. He has the right to life in the U.S., the right to liberty in the U.S., and the right to pursue happiness in the U.S. The U.S. government cannot take these rights away. And, it seems of all nations, the U.S. would be the last to try to take them away.
Unalienable rights are not terminated by crossing a border.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

When the Bill is $100 Million, is having Volunteers the Better Option?

   I read how $70 million in federal funds and $30 million in state funds will finance a Medicaid program for Operation Rio Grande, the effort to address homelessness and the crime in the homeless district.
   That's not the whole bill for Operation Rio Grande, but I would guess it is a sizable portion.
   I wonder at such a big bill, Yes, buying beds in drug treatment centers might help. I read a story of a man who was successfully treated. I wonder if Utah's commitment to social treatment might be trendsetting and wonderful.
   Or, are other states already doing this.
   I also wonder if it is too much money. I wonder if it is only a well that will only get deeper, spending increasing year after year. I wonder if we are financing an industry that feeds off the poor. Instead of giving money to the poor, we give it to the providers, those who provide treatment beds for the drug addicts.
   If the treatments work, do we say it is all worthwhile? I don't know. But, I think we should both consider the treatment centers and consider alternatives, such as volunteers. I confess, I do not know how much volunteer work is already involved. We have the Volunteers of America, but how many of their workers are actually unpaid volunteers? How many of their administrators are unpaid volunteers?
   Would we even be able to man an all-volunteer program? Is an all-volunteer program even possible, or are some paid positions necessary?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Thinking Hails us not Only Greater Students, but Greater Politicians

  If one of the greatest ways to educate is to teach to think, even so having a candidate who thinks instead of just giving the book answers is important.
   If our schools produced youth who mastered the art of thinking, those students would go on to accomplish more than the students who memorized everything in the books, but who never learned to think outside the book.
   The same is true of our politicians. If we elect those who memorize and emulate and preach the party line, we will be limited in what we get. But, if we elect leaders who sit back and think through each issue, even occasionally starting all over despite already having thought the matter to its end, we will boast leaders with the wisdom to face the worst of challenges.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

2 Nephi 28 and Flying the Confederate Flag

   Should we fly the Confederate flag? Some will tell you there are answers for all right-and-wrong questions in the scriptures, so is there anything in the scriptures that indicates whether we should fly the Confederate battle flag?
    The Latter-day Saints have a scripture. I do not say this is a fulfillment, but I wonder. If it is not a fulfillment, it certainly is a likeness. Just as we should ponder and reflect on all our scriptures, I wonder on what is said in 2 Nephi 28. "(D)ig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this."
   Even so, we "dig a pit" for the black people, in a sense. We throw them down, and harm them. The war was fought, largely, over slavery. Those who see the Confederate battle flag as being an image supporting slavery are not wrong to make that association. Dig a pit for thy neighbor? Yes, flying the flag might qualify as a way of "digging a pit" for them.
  And, as we dig this pit, we say we are doing no harm. We say we have no intention of hurting anyone, and that we are not racists, and that they should not be reading more into it than is there.
   They shouldn't be so sensitive.
   "(D)ig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this"? Even so, we say there is no harm.
   Later in the chapter, it speaks of the devil leading the souls of men carefully down to hell. How careful is the way he leads us on the race issue, how deceptive, as he makes bad things appear good. The scripture speaks of a devil that says he is no devil, for there is none. Even so, we take the message that no harm is being done and say it is not from the devil, for there is no devil whispering in our ear to fly the Confederate flag. Leave the devil out of this, for he has nothing to do with it.
   Oh, if we would just open our eyes, and see that the blacks are taking offense, and are being hurt, and they do see these signs and images as vestiges of the day when slavery was accepted. If we want to harm no one, if we want to be lovers of all men, it would seem we should realize flying and wearing the Confederate flag is harmful.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

We Take One Piece of Information and Run with it

   He told me his store was north of where I was at, and across from Walgreen's at about 4700 South. My mind seemed to remember a Walgreen's to the north, so I locked on that location without processing the rest of the information -- that it was about 4700 South.
   As it ended up, the store was not to the north, but the south. There was not a Walgreen's to the north, as I envisioned. Rather, Walgreen's (and thus also the store I was looking for) was on the southeast corner of the very intersection I had turned to the north on.
   I would spend much of the rest of my trip reflecting on the cognitive process, and of how we latch onto one piece of information at the exclusion of all other, sometimes just missing making the right decision for not processing information right in front of us.
   I turned north on the very intersection where my True Value Hardware store was. I was so close.
   So it is with all our decision-making. We are limited by the information we have, and the information we choose to process. Often (perhaps, usually), we lock on the information we first get. It becomes what I shall call our proprietary information, the information we "own" and accept. We have a bias toward it.
   I submit to you that we judge other people with a mindset that runs down this very path I have outlined. We hear bad of another, or get a bad piece of information about another, and we claim the information. It becomes a part of us. Our search for more information stops. That which we have is often information that comes from someone we want to believe.
  Often, gossip is this information that sparks our decision. We don't usually back down from it. That which is passed to us through gossip is often all we think we need to know.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Wounds do not Heal When Images of Injustice Remain

   Along with many in our nation, I consider anew whether we should have all these statues, flags, and symbols from the Civil War. Do we tear them all down? Will it reach a point where having the Confederate battle flag on your T-shirt is considered a hate crime?
   Is the Confederate flag nothing more than a symbol of regional pride? Is it simply a nice-looking symbol that people display because it is nice looking?
   I also consider this: Are some who fly the flag secretly racist? (Some, I say, not all.)
   The nation is embroiled in controversy over this (and other racial topics). Sometimes, the best answers are those that unite, not divide, and, I see a nation divided by this debate. Would we be better to let these images, flags and statues remain as acceptable, in the name of not further dividing our nation, for surely our nation is being divided by the debate? Do we put the debate down and unite under the belief that no harm is intended?
   But, even as this thought sweeps through my head, another thought comes. Perhaps ridding ourselves of these symbols is a step we must take if we are ever to end racism, something we must go through to get to a point we need to be at. I can see how, if we continue to see the Confederate battle flag as an acceptable image, it will always be a burr to some black people, always be viewed as an image that puts them down and justifies the day when they were slaves. The flags and the images and the statues will always be there to stir up feelings on both sides, if we let them remain as acceptable.
  Wounds do not heal when images of injustice remain. Not if they remain acceptable, anyway. We are more than 150 years beyond the Civil War and yet racism remain. We have not fully healed from the scars. Allowing these flags, and statues to remain around is is not alone the cause of our lingering racism, but it contributes to it.
   I do not say we should make wearing a T-shirt with the Confederate flag on it a crime. Not at all. But, I do say we should teach each other that it is not acceptable to wear that T-shirt. We can never fully unite as a nation if these images are forever splashed in front of the eyes of the blacks, making them wonder if the display of them is a way of putting them down. These images will forever be as a burr. Further, while the images are, truly, no more than displays of regional pride or beautiful symbols to some, to others they are a way of honoring racism while not confessing to it. There are those who will not admit to racism, but who wear the Confederate flag at least in part because they do have some feelings of ill will toward blacks. If we ever want to be fully united -- blacks and whites together -- we need to reach the point where it is no longer acceptable to express inner feelings of discrimination while masking them as nothing more than regional pride. I repeat, the good portion of Confederate flag wavers might be completely pure in their intentions, not being racists, at all.
   But, some are.
   Further, if you have even only a small amount of racist feelings in you and you allow yourself to practice it, you feed those feelings. You are fooling yourself, if you say there is no harm in this, if you say what you do is innocuous. If you say you mean no harm, so no harm is done, you are not facing the reality that your action does, indeed, harm another person. Allowing inner feelings of racism in yourself to fester and to be fed is a mistake. We are what we practice. If you leave just a little hedge for ill feelings toward others -- in this case, the blacks -- that hedge becomes a part of you. Those feelings will not go away as long as you allow the hedge. You have fed them and they remain. You cannot just justify what you do by saying they should get over it and not be so sensitive.
   If we are ever to get over racism -- ever to cure ourselves of it -- we must reach a point where we do not want to hurt each other. In this case, that means we must realize the Confederate flag is not appropriate. It is not that we should outlaw it. But, we should make it unacceptable.
   Just as the N-word is wrong, so is the Confederate flag. I should qualify that: Yes, flying the Confederate flag is not yet considered so offensive, so wrong. But, both acts hurt the blacks. Both are viewed by them as a way of putting them down. In that sense, I repeat, even as the N-word is wrong, so is the Confederate flag.
   There was a day when uttering the the N-word was more acceptable. That day has passed. Even so, the day may come when when we realize waving the Confederate flag is wrong.

(Blog last edited 8/20/17)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Voicing Opposition to Racism helps People Understand it is Wrong

   Nothing taught is nothing learned, it is said (by me). So, it is a good thing for voices throughout the nation to be condemning racism. Those who practice it need to know it is wrong. Those in the white nationalist organizations need to know what they are doing is wrong. Those marching shoulder-to-shoulder with them need to know what they are doing is wrong.
   Those who might be in danger of answering a call to join such protesting might think twice as they hear the nation calling out those who practice such things.

I Wonder if Operation Rio Grande could be More Open

   I wonder if Operation Rio Grande could be more open. Why be so secretive? Coming up on the initiative, officials said little of what they were planning to do. I believe I heard it said that they did not want to tip their hands, and did not want to endanger officers or the homeless.
   Now that the arrests are underway, I still am not hearing how they are going about arresting people. Are they largely just arresting people who have outstanding warrants? How many people are being caught red-handed dealing drugs? Maybe those things are not being hidden. Rather, maybe there simply isn't a reporter thinking to go read the booking sheets and file a news story.
   Off top, I wonder why officials cannot just spell out exactly how they are going about doing things. If they are protecting people's lives or health, good, but I wonder if people's lives and health are not being endangered.
   So, why the secrecy?

Barricades between Streets and Sidewalks Might Stop This

   Sometimes, when a vehicle strikes off onto a sidewalk in an act of terrorism, I repeat my plea that we build cement barricades along some of our busy streets, protecting those on the sidewalks.
   So, I repeat the plea today, after what happened in Barcelona.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Were those Who didn't Vote More Responsible than I?

 I voted yesterday. Those who didn't vote, however, can perhaps pride themselves for being more responsible citizens than I, in a way.
  I didn't study before I voted. One vote went to someone I know just a little bit. Another went to someone who I overheard saying he is running. And, went to someone I voted for at random, not knowing a thing about any of the candidates.
   Such voting can be said to be counter productive. While other voters entered the voting booth educated and prepared to make a meaningful vote, I entered with nothing (or slight little) to offer. If most voters were such as I -- selecting candidates at random -- it would reduce the election to a toss of a coin, so to speak. We would be electing by virtue of chance, not reason.
 

Choice is Increased When a Matter is Outlawed

   Outlawing marijuana, or pornography, or prostitution, or gambling, or even Diet Coke . . . can add to the choice you have. You list all the reasons for doing or not doing something, and if its being illegal is on one side of the leger, that adds to the factors on whether to do the matter.
   The sharper the pros and cons, the greater the choice. Agency is increased when reasons for and against a matter are heightened.
   Choice does not exist in a vacuum where there are not reasons either for or against a matter. Conversely, the more reasons you add, the greater the choice. And, the greater the choice, the greater the agency.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Give Criminals no Elbow Room and Crimes will go Away

   Operation Rio Grande: They are arresting people right and left, tossing many of them in jail. The effort to bring law to the lawless in the homeless district of Salt Lake City is off to a fast start.
   I have wondered why solving the crime situation in the homeless district is such a problem. You simply out man the criminals. You station so many officers there, the criminals have no elbow room to commit their crimes.
   This approach is similar to Operation Rio Grande, but might be a little different. It seems if you had stationed enough officers -- and not undercover -- there would not be many arrests. It seems the criminals wouldn't be committing their crimes if they knew officers were within sight, watching their every move.
   Whatever Operation Rio Grande is, as far as how they are going about arresting people, it might be worthwhile. Arresting the criminals gets them off the street and away from the rest of the homeless. I don't know enough about Operation Rio Grande to fully have a feel for whether I altogether like it. I understand 160 officers were involved. With that many, it seems you would have saturated the area so completely that there would be no wiggling room for criminals to commit their crimes, but they made 87 arrests that first day.
 

Choice Comes from Hearing Both Sides of the Story

   Choice comes not from having just the pleasant facts about a matter, but the unpleasant ones, as well. If you are to choose between smoking marijuana and not smoking it, but you only know what is alluring about the drug, and know none of the negatives, you will choose to smoke it.
   Which brings us to an interesting question. Why is it that so many don't know both sides of the equation? It would make an interesting survey: Ask people to list the good things about marijuana and the bad things. Bet the survey would show the average person knows more of the good than of the bad.
   One of the reasons for people knowing more of the good, is that partakers of marijuana are vocal. Another is that some don't want to listen to the negatives. They block them out. Bottom line is, backers of marijuana have been more successful at getting their message out than those who oppose the drug.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Your Choice is Limited by what You Know

  If you were deciding to visit Southern California, and the only thing you knew about the area was that it had beaches, your decision might seem easy.
   And, if you found out Hollywood was there, and they make movies there, your decision might be even easier.
   But, what if someone told you there are ghettos, and crime, and pollution and that you'd get skin cancer from all the sun? What if someone told you about all the traffic jams?
   Now, you've got a choice. When it was just the beaches and Hollywood, it really wasn't a choice.
   Well, I wonder if this same principle might apply to our discussion of whether we should outlaw drugs. When the only thing you know is that they make you feel good, the choice is easy. If someone tells you they are the most beneficial plant in the world, you are thinking even more about taking the drug. And, if they start listing all the musicians who have taken marijuana and they tell you how it enhanced their creativity, you become even more inclined to smoke a little pot.
   If the other side of the story doesn't get told, you will likely end up on weed. But, if someone informs you marijuana clouds your ability to think, and retards brain development when you are young, you might have second thoughts. If they point out that there is a greater propensity to commit crime when you are on drugs, and if they suggests the decision-making patterns are pre-empted to a degree that you are more inclined to do things harmful to others, you hopefully will reconsider smoking weed.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Consequence adds to Agency

   They would tell you if we outlaw drugs, we take away their agency.
   I will wonder if much the opposite is true: If we outlaw drugs, we add to their agency. We are not forced to keep laws. We may be subject to punishments if we do not keep them, but we are not forced to keep them.
   And, I think of a place where it is reasoned that if we do not have laws, we do not have sin. It is a scripture from my religion (2 Nephi 2:13 in the Book of Mormon).
   "And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment or misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all thing must have vanished away."
   True choice comes when consequences are attached. If there are no consequences, there is nothing wrong with whatever a person decides to do. And if there is nothing wrong with whatever he decides to do, then there is no happiness from choosing the right. And, if there is no righteousness nor happiness, there is no punishment for doing wrong and no misery for regretting that you did do wrong. And, if these things are not -- if there is no good and evil -- then there is no God, for God is the source of good. When we think of  good, we think of it coming from God. And if there is no God, there is no earth, for God created earth, which is the place we were sent to to make our choices. And, if there is no life on earth, all things must have vanished away.
  It would seem to me, then, that earth is the place we came to to make choices, and we can make those choices because punishments were affixed.

(Indexes: agency, libertarian)
 
  The Mannheimer Daily Double was an unusual newspaper, carrying not just one story on breaking events, but two -- and occasionally more.
  As the paper's executives saw it, different news outlets give different spins on the same events. So, the Daily Double printed the second stories whenever it spotted those different spins. Not the whole story, but just the portion that offered different information, or a different take or tone. If the Daily Double had printed the whole article, it would have been forcing the reader to wade through the story twice just to pick out the differences. Better to do that for the reader.
  So unusual was this service -- such an innovation in newspapering -- that the Mannheimer Daily Double was read not just in Mannheimer, Minnesota, alone, but throughout all the country. By filling a niche in the market that was not being previously met -- and one that there was a big need for -- the paper's out-of-state subscriptions came to rival those of any paper, be it USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, or whomever.
   Note: While I place the newspaper in a fictional city in Minnesota, I do wish Salt Lake City were the city to host such a newspaper.

Friday, August 11, 2017

True Republicanism Requires Men and Women of Thought

   If we were to practice the republican form of government to its fullest, we would do things a little differently than what we do now. The wisdom in the republican concept, is that those you elect should be wise, should endeavor to think things out, and should weigh issues even-handedly.
   They should be seekers of truth, as much as people who think they have already arrived at truth.
   We lack that. Our politicians each think they already have the truth. Rather than looking at issues as through a microscope, examining and studying them, they view things through either the prism of conservatism or the prism of liberalism.
   Rather than thinking anew, they apply only the thinking fed to them through the prism they ascribe to. They don't consider ideas new to them. Rather, they myopically hold to ideas they are pledged to.
   If we would practice the republican form of government to its fullest, we would elect people not only for where they already stand on the issues, but because we recognized in them the ability to think things through. Do we do that now? Do we elect people to think out the issues? No, we do not. We elect them for their agendas, and we send them forth to fulfill those agendas, be they agendas that are conservative or liberal.
   We don't elect them to think, we elect them to follow prevailing thoughts.
   Does the system we practice encourage open minds? No, it does not. In fact, if our politicians have open minds -- if they could change their minds on climate change or whatever -- we don't want them. Such open-mindedness is not considered a positive, but a negative.
   You reap what you sow, it is said. And, if we value closed-minded thinking, we will reap being a nation of division, a nation that divides into two sides, neither willing to budge. We will reap being a nation of incivility, a nation in which neither side will even listen to each other.
   And, we have done much of our reaping already.
   If we do not value open-mindedness, we will reap being a nation that does not practice republicanism to its fullest, for -- at least to me -- a true system calls for those we elect to think things through, rather arriving with ideologies fed to them, rather than coming in with marching orders from their party.
   I think of the Electoral College, and how it was set up that we would elect those who would, in turn, elect a president. My thought is that the intent was that those who were the Electoral College members were to be thinkers, elected to think, weigh, and consider. My thoughts on republicanism not being practiced to its fullest are prompted by my belief of how the Electoral College should be operating.

(Note: Blog edited and added to after midnight going into 8/13/17)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Who is this "@_americafirst_" behind this Meme?

   Now would be a wonderful time to be able to trace the sources of disinformation, propaganda and misleading memes.
   Take one of the big ones now making the rounds. "BILL CLINTON GAVE NORTH KOREA $5 BILLION AND TWO NUCLEAR REACTORS IN 1994, ESSENTIALLY GIVING THEM NUKES"
  It turns out, Clinton did negotiate an agreement in which North Korea would take a current reactor off line and stop development of two other nuclear reactors in exchange for the United States helping it construct two light-water reactors. The $5 billion might be a reference to the cost projected for those two reactors.
   But, the deal fell through. The two light-water nuclear reactors were never completed, so how much of the $5 billion was actually expended is hard to say. Was there anything, at all, then, to the claim that Clinton essentially gave North Korea nukes? Well, North Korea did steal the construction equipment used for building the nuclear reactors and did learn a little bit about making light-water reactors.
   However much the Koreans benefited is hard to say, but the meme appears to be an overstatement.
   I wonder at such memes, and such disinformation. (President Trump coined or popularized a name for them: fake news.) I wonder at them. What if we could trace down where they came from, who started these rumors.
   This one comes with a tag line, @_americafirst_. I word search, and find that that is an Instagram account. Who are the actual people behind it, however, is another matter.
   Two reasons for wanting to know where all these fake memes and such come from: (1) They are damaging and misleading, and we should want to know all those who seek to lead us astray. We should maybe even be compiling a list of those who commonly spread such disinformation. (2) When the investigation into Russian influence in our election was younger, the Intel Community said much of what was done was but disinformation and propaganda. We have no reason to believe the Russians have ceased such efforts. So, doesn't it follow that a share of the false memes might be coming from the Russians? I think we should at least be wary of that, at least open to the idea and looking to see if it is true.
(Edited Aug. 11, 2017)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

From this Vantage Point, I do not Favor Limited Government

  Big government is not necessarily bad government. It is what a government does that determines whether that government is good. If there are a lot of things the government is doing, but they are all wise actions that benefit the public, however big those actions have made the government, it is still good government.
   I am not advocating deficit spending, mind you, for spending too much money is not wise and therefore that is not good government.
   But, I am a believer that governments were instituted for the benefit of man. I do believe they were instituted because there is good that they can do. And, if governments are there to do good, I don't think we should limit how much good they can do.
   There might be different ways of looking at what "limited government" is and what it means. But, if we are suggesting government is inherently evil, and therefore we should limit it, I take a different view. I do not favor limiting government if it is but doing good things for its people, and, I suggest, there are probably a million good things it can do.

Ainges Should Make Sure the Money is being Used Correctly

  A quarter of a million dollars. That's how much Michelle Ainge, wife of Danny Ainge and mother of Third District congressional candidate Tanner Ainge, contributed to a super PAC supporting Tanner.
   A quarter of a million. 
   Danny says the Ainges have zero control over the PAC. So, it would follow that if the ads ran by Conservative Utah PAC are inaccurate or false, the Ainges can do nothing about it.
   That's if they do have zero control
    I guess I think otherwise, though. If the Ainges contributed that much money, they certainly have some leverage in how it will be used. The PAC is surely going to listen to them. The Ainges have an obligation to speak up if they feel the PAC isn't playing fair. 
   A quarter of a million is a lot of money. The Ainges should want to make sure it is being used correctly.

Just Solar Users? If there is to be a Usage Fee, Everyone should Pay it

I read a story of how the Public Service Commission in Utah is considering rate changes adverse to the solar industry. Some solar advocates say the rate changes would be among the most regressive in the nation, and could stop the solar industry in Utah.
With the solar industry just becoming viable the last few years, and with it being a key component in countering green house emissions, according to some, this is not a small issue. If you kill the industry just as it is getting on its feet, that should be a concern.
  The rate hike thing is a complicated issue and it is nice of the Deseret News to wade in offering us news coverage. Joel Eves, director of Lehi City Power, suggests his 19,800 regular customers should not have to pay costs that the 200 solar users should be paying. What costs? When the solar user buys a rooftop system, there is nothing the 19,800 regular customers pay for him.
    I think what the Lehi power director is referring to is the infrastructure -- the cost it took to build the lines to transport the power. The idea is, the other power providers paid for that, so if the solar customers are to get paid for the power they feed back into the system, then they should pay a share for what it has cost to build the grid. I wonder at this. It seems that by this line of thinking, all customers use the grid. It doesn't matter if the power is being put into the grid or taken out, either way, all customers use the grid. So, if there is to be a usage fee, it should be charged equally to everyone, not just to the solar users.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The United Utah Party Practices Americanism

   I enjoyed the experience of manning booths at Draper Days and the Salt Lake County Fair. It was opportunity to discuss what I like about the United Utah Party with people. I do not know what it will become, but early indications are it values civility and allowing people to think for themselves. It does have some political stands, but does not dictate its positions heavy-handedly. 
   There are times, when to run as a candidate, you have to sign a statement saying your political positions will fall in line with what the party believes. I cannot understand that. To me, the model for having an opinion in America is not one in which the party dictates the beliefs, and you are forced to sign on. Rather than having a party subscribe to me what I should believe, I like a party that will let me come to my own conclusions. I also like it that the United Utah Party will be less inclined to nominate just one candidate in conventions. You only need to win 20 percent of the delegates in convention to be placed on the primary ballot. Thus, we are passing along the decision to the people, who are the ones who should be making the decision. The idea that we would encourage a system where only one person's name appears on the ballot has always bothered me. That isn't democracy, to me.
   To sum it up, When it becomes that the party is selecting the candidate, and forcing its choice on the people, that is not democracy. And, when the party is dictating what the people should believe, and what their positions should be, that, too, is not democracy.
   I'm grateful that there might now be a party that is more in line with what I think America is all about. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

There are Natural Consequences and Government Consequences

   There are consequences in most any choice. If a person chooses to smoke, there will be consequences. Often, the threat of those consequences -- the threat of what might happen -- influences us to do good. If we are reminded (in a kind and caring way) that drugs might ruin our lives, we will be more likely to steer clear of taking them.
   Does the threat of what might happen -- the threat of consequence -- ruin our agency? Does it reduce our agency? I don't think too many people would say it does.
   Now, I would draw a parallel: Even as natural laws that bring consequences do not take away agency, neither do many of the laws of government erase our agency. If I smoke, I might get lung cancer. If I smoke pot, I might go to jail. In each case, there is the threat of a consequence. But, in each case, my ability to choose remains. I can smoke cigarettes and get cancer. And, I can smoke pot and go to jail. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

I Wonder on our Children's Influences, and Whether to Ban Some

  (Note: I repost this. I originally posted it Aug. 22, 2013.)

 We live in the day of the libertarian. Tonight, I hear his voice on Facebook. "Alcohol prohibition was a disaster," he says. "Drug prohibition is even worse."
   Is it spin, or is it fact? For they suggest that if I oppose them, I am opposing freedom.
   Tonight, I also think again of the three teenagers in Oklahoma, who gunned down the Australian student for the just thrill of it, just to see someone die. And, I think of the Australian's right to life, and of how good government has a responsibility to protect.
   As much as any other measurement, the measurement of government is in how well it protects its citizens.
   I think of a social media site belonging to one of the three teenagers, filled with music and rhetoric on violence, and sex and drugs. I think how even libertarians should understand these influences did play a role in the teenagers doing what they did.
   Do I wonder whether we should outlaw some music? Surely, I do. I wonder if in another day we would have been quick to outlaw it. Back in the day when we outlawed selling cigarettes to teenagers, would we not have been as quick to outlaw selling to children music that calls for the death of others, and violent video games that roll out death as a game?
   I do not know. I stop and wonder if by outlawing cigarettes to children, the children only turn to them more. But, I do not know. Perhaps, it is that they take them less than they would if they were legal.
   At any rate, I'm tending towards thinking throwing so much violence before our children's eyes is unwise, including the violence found in the theaters. Why would we subject our children to these things, in their formative years?
   We do not leave the child free to run out and get pornography, or to smoke cigarettes, or to drink. Why is it now that violence has become such a commodity, that we spin the argument that we cannot deprive them of it, for to do so would take away freedom?