Friday, March 31, 2017

The Four Sub-Economies Inside Our Overall Economy

  To learn how to best run an economy, you do well to study its parts. If you would reform one large segment of the economy -- I speak of the health care industry -- you would do well to observe the forces at play.
   I cannot think of another industry that is so much a proxy economy. Instead of the buyer reaching into his own pocket and paying right on the spot, the money is dispensed by a third party (a proxy), it usually being either insurance or government. And, note this: The third party's pockets are hugely deeper than those of the person receiving the help.
   We could divide our economy into at least four sub sectors, dividing them by who initially pays the bill. First, there are those who have always been around, those who pull the money out of their own pockets.
  Second, there are those who pay gratis on behalf of the person receiving the product. They require no reimbursement, paying at a loss to themselves. In the health-care industry, this includes charity organizations and, largely, government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. Insurance also often fits into this category, as sometimes the money paid out is beyond what the premiums ever cover.
   Third, there are those who pay the initial bill while, though, those receiving the products eventually reimburses them. Lenders.
   Forth, there are those who pay for items they have obligation to provide to others. Landlords paying for electric bills, for example. The need to place this in a separate category comes from the recognition that it is the renter running up the bill and thus dictating how large it will be while it is the landlord who must pay out. Thus, the person paying the bill does not have full control as to how large the bill becomes.
   Thus, our overall economy is made up of proxy sub sector, a charity sub sector, a lender sub sector, and -- what shall we call the last one? -- a landlord sub sector.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Law and Supply and Demand Says Get Rid of Insurance

    Would we to have less expensive medical bills? The prices are not going to come down as long as you are providing someone who can step in and and pay the bill regardless how high it goes. Unfortunately, insurance and government are now playing the role of sugar daddies who can afford to pay whatever prices are charged, regardless how high. Prices are only going to drop if there is not a sugar daddy to foot the bill. If medical providers cannot bill large insurance companies and cannot bill the deep pockets of government, prices will drop. If medical providers are limited to getting their money from you and I, prices will come down. It is the law of supply and demand. If the supply of money drops and the demand for the service remains, it will force prices down.
   

We Cry Out on Bended Knees

The ocean winds aren't silent
They cause the waves to roar
And winds in the forest
Rustle through the trees.

I sometimes think the winds of life
Are just a bit the same
As they blow through us
We cry out on bended knees

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

When Saw I Thee Hungry or Homeless? 2017 in the Salt Lake Valley

   I thought it neat of Draper Mayor Troy Walker to offer two sites in his city to house the homeless. Alas, he was forced to rescind the offer as community members responded with outrage.
   I think of the scripture that says (words to the effect), When saw I thee naked or thirsty or homeless an took the not in? The answer for communities in the Salt Lake Valley remains, 2017. And, this in the community that is headquarters of what many of us view as Christ's church. While we might not feel comfortable taking them under our very roofs, couldn't we at least take them into our community?
   When saw I thee homeless and took the not in? Can we deny that the answer is, 2017 in the Salt Lake Valley? Is the question not fair and is the answer not clear?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Difference Between Falling and not Falling is Someone to Help You

   As I walked out of the gym tonight, I thought how making a mistake can be a catastrophe or no big deal at all, depending on whether someone is there to help you. Sometimes its a person who helps; sometimes its the Lord.
   The difference between falling and not falling is having someone to catch you, I thought, and then dismissed the though as not being very well worded.
    I got into my car and drove away. Short blocks later, as I pulled up to the corner, my car died. I looked at the gas gauge. Empty. I coasted around the corner and angled toward the curb. The car hit the curb, running up on it, and stopped. I slipped it into park, only to realize I better push it off the road better, and farther away from the corner. But, it was stuck in park. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get it the gear shift to budge.
   The words echoed in my mind: The difference between falling and not falling is having someone to catch you. Those might not be profound words, but I was living them out. And, it didn't appear I had anyone to catch me. I quickly realized I had run off without my cell phone, so I couldn't call for help. And, I had left without my wallet, so I couldn't just buy a gallon of gas and be on my way. No, I was facing a long walk home and a long walk back and the likelihood my car would be ticketed by the time I got back in the middle of the night.
   As I considered on my dilemma, a small white car drove up and parked in the lot next to me. Two young men got out and asked if they could help. I thanked them much, and they jimmied with my gear shift and got it to unlock by keeping a foot on the brake while trying. Then, they asked if there was anything else they could do and I asked them for a buck for gas, and they obliged.
   As I walked across the street, I considered how I was still in a bind, not having a gas can. I said a short prayer. As I entered the 7-Eleven, I told the attendant my plight. "Just a minute," he said, and he went into the back room and got me plastic gas container.
   No sooner did I pull back onto the road than the radio announcer suggested that if I knew someone who had committed a random act of kindness, I should report it. I wished I had taken the two young men's names.
  I was soon home, arriving at about the normal get-home time, as opposed the middle of the night it would have been had I had to walk all the way home to get my wallet as I had envisioned.
   The difference between falling and not falling is having someone to catch you. I thanked the Lord for his help.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Why don't We have a Law Making this Illegal?

   We should have a law against the type of solicitation I received the other day. You've heard about this scam. The caller says he is from the IRS and wants money. News spots warn us against these solicitations.
   Here's the message I received:
   "Call is to inform you that IRS is filling lawsuit on your name because you had tried to do a fraud with the IRS Internal Revenue Service. And we are taking legal action and we got issuing an arrest warrant on your name to get more information regarding this case file. Just call us back on our department number 844-668-3972. Thank you."
   I called the police, even though I knew they wouldn't do anything.
   Then, I forwarded the message to the IRS, as that is what the police told me to do.
   Then I wrote to my congress member, Mia Love. "Good day, Mia," I wrote. "Want to sponsor a great new law? The solicitation below, in and of itself, should be illegal. If we do not have a law making such fraudulent solicitations illegal, we ought to.  Hope to hear back from you."
  Actually, it would seem we probably do have at least one law that applies. Those soliciting me said they are issuing a warrant. Isn't that impersonating a police officer?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

That Which We Say of Others Often Reflects Faults of Our Own

   Those with faults often find fault. Guilt cries foul. Blame is the game when your heart is the same. Those who cannot see their own faults often will not overlook them in others.
   Perhaps I am just restating the adage taught by the Savior. "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:3)
   We should consider the criticism we heap on others, and wonder whether the seeds for it come from feeling guilty about something to the point of speaking out against it. But, when we speak, we not only speak against it, but find the need to attach it to another person. That is hypocritical.
  "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." (Matthew 7:5)
   That which we say of others often reflects faults that are our own. What is the saying, When you point at others, you have three fingers pointing back at you?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

'Sir, The 14th Amendment is My Paperwork, and it is in Good Order'

   When they ask for your paperwork, immigrants, ask for theirs. Theirs might have something to say about whether you belong, about whether you can stay. So, ask them to show you what is written on that venerable piece of paper known as the Constitution.
   Help them a little, turning them to Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which says, "No State shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
   "Any person within its jurisdiction." That would include, well, any person living in America, regardless.
   Skip back to what it says just before that. "Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property." Any person, it says. Any.
  Those who wrote the Fourteenth Amendment did not seem to be concerned with illegalizing people. They did not seem concerned with locking them up or locking them out, or placing restrictions on their coming to America.
   Oh, they did say something about citizenship. "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Naturalization was the process of stamping you as a citizen once you arrived. It wasn't a process of excluding you; It was a process of including you. So, all those born here or who move here are citizens.
  And, give special attention to the part of the Fourteenth Amendment that says, "All persons . . . who are subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens." A person growing up and living in Sweden isn't subject to the laws of the U.S.  A person in Chile isn't subject to our laws. No, only those living here are subject to our laws. And, the Constitution says that everyone who is subject to American laws is an American citizen.
   Papers matter, some more than others. When the paper is the Constitution of the United States, it matters a lot. It matters more than a lot of other papers, including that paper you may or may not have had back when you walked across the border.
   Maybe, you should just say, "My papers, yes, I've got them right here. My papers, my papers . . . " While you speak, be reaching for the Constitution you've tucked in your pocket. Pull it out, open it, and read the Fourteenth Amendment, explaining it as you go.
   Then, look the officer in the eye, and say, "Sir, those are my papers, and they seem to be in good order."

Friday, March 24, 2017

Kick Insurance out, and Turn the Individual Mandate on its Head

   Kick the insurance companies out of the house. Low health-care prices cannot be achieved as long as those with deep pockets are paying the bills. If you want low prices, let the health-care providers get no more than what Joe Blow can afford. The only way for prices to drop is to limit the providers to no more money than what we poor souls can pay. When we bring in deep pockets -- insurance companies -- we only set the stage for high prices.
   Turn the individual mandate on its head. Instead of mandating that everyone buy insurance, mandate that medical providers must sell to their health-care products to everyone. And, when they cannot get the price they want, they must sell at the price the buyer can pay. Medical assistance is something everyone has a right to receive. So, we will not have a system that works unless everyone has access to all non-elective services. If only the rich can afford life-saving care, we have failed.
   Create an arbitration board. When the consumer says he cannot afford the price he is charged, bring in the arbitration board to set the price at a level the consumer can afford. Since we cannot just drop the insurance companies out in one fell swoop, and since we will drive providers out of business if we force prices down too quickly, the arbitration board will decide when individuals will go off insurance, making those funds no longer available. If the insurance companies fail too quickly (as perhaps they are even under Obamacare), government insurance will provide the bridge to where insurance are out of the system. The arbitration board will oversee the transition, operating in a role similar to the Fed chairman setting the prime interest rate in accordance with economic needs. Even so, the board will decide how fast insurance is eliminated by gauging how much medical providers must be supplemented so they do not go out of business. A board chairman will establish the rate of insurance money allowed. If he sets it at 9 percent, for example, that means 9 percent of the money providers take in will be allowed to come from insurance instead of directly from consumers. The board then implements the chair's rate by selecting which individual situations will be funded with insurance money.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

To Solve our Health Problems, Turn the Individual Mandate on its Head

   Fixing our health-care system, as much as anything, means reining in the sky-high expenses. So, if we are are trying to think this through, if we were considering ways to reduce medical spending, one starting point would be to consider what the principles of economics say about how to reduce spending.
   When you open up that college textbook, what does it suggest?
   I didn't take economics in college. Wish I would have. But, I can still pursue this based on what I do know, and what I can see. Coming in, I can only think of two ways: (1) government caps; and (2) market competition. I find myself throwing out the first solution without much thought. Perhaps I might come back to it at a later date, but for now, I am not warm to government caps on health-care costs.
   So, I consider market competition -- and, as quick as I do, I remember yesterday I questioned whether capitalism was even appropriate for health-care. Market-driven systems, as a general rule, give one level of care to the rich, and a lesser level to the poor. With health care, that seems inappropriate. Everyone should have equal access to life, to staying alive, and to being treated so they can stay alive.
   So, if you are going to stick with a market-driven health-care system, you must find a way to extend it to the poor. Have we already achieved this? Is Medicaid and Medicare and government assistance the way to ensure everyone has equal access to medical treatment? Let the rich pay their own way, but let government pick up the tab for the poor?
   I wonder.
   I consider another thought I've had. The deeper the pockets of the person paying for a product, the more expensive the product will be. Government has as deep of pockets as anyone. It prints money, if it needs it. Following the principle of supply and demand, if there is a large supply of money available and you increase someone's ability to get at that supply -- if you increase the demand for that money, prices are going to go up.
   Put another way, if money is placed on the table, someone will sweep it up. And, the more money on the table, the greater their pleasure.
   So, suppose that instead of sending government and insurance companies in to help folks, we use government to hold down down prices. Up above, I suggested I know of only two ways to go about holding down prices: government and competition. I threw out government since it leaves a distaste in my mouth, but I warned I might come back to it.
   And, I'm coming back.
   What if we turned the individual mandate on its head? What if instead of requiring everyone to purchase insurance, we require every medical provider to give care to everyone -- at whatever price they can get?
    We already do this, in a way. If you go to the emergency room, they cannot turn you away. My system would kick out the insurance companies, and extend the idea that you cannot turn them away to any necessary health care, any non-elective procedure.
   Don't get me wrong. I'm still thinking this through as I type. I'm not sure it will work.
   Here's the system: You go in, you get the health care, and the hospital bills you for what it will. If you can pay what they are asking, you pay it. If you can't . . .
   A government arbitrator sets the price. The arbitrator looks at your ability to pay, and comes up with a price that is affordable. That's all the hospital or doctor gets. You can't get blood from a stone, 
   I wonder at creating a government arbitration office. This does seem expensive, and I am not a fan of big government spending. But, I consider that as an expense on the whole of the system, we already have insurance companies with millions of employees who together add up to a huge expense.
    While we jettison the insurance companies, let's move their workers -- just a part of them -- over to the government arbitration agency. That way, some of the lost jobs will be absorbed.
    And, we already have huge government expenses via Medicaid and Medicare. It might be that the expense of an arbitration board is less expensive than Medicaid and Medicare.
    That leaves only one thing not covered. How are we going to ease the new program in? If we just drop it into our society, not doing it gradually but all at once, hospitals and doctors and medical providers might be ran out of business. 
    Alas, I must go to bed. The rest of this problem must wait. No time as to so much as to edit this entry.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

When it Comes to Health Care, Should Some of Us Drive Geos?

   Does the rich man deserve a better product? I mean, when it comes to health care. If we have a pure market-driven health care system, the rich man is going to get better care.
   I don't see too much of that going on. Some, yes, but not as much as there might be. If it were a severe difference, and if we had purely a market-driven system, the rich man would pay a high premium for higher quality care. The poor person? He would pay much less, and get much less.
   Just as the rich buy Mercedes and the poor bought Geos (when Geo was still in business), there likely would be some insurance companies catering just to the rich, while others might cater to the poor.
  Now, insurance companies do, indeed, offer one product line that is a little stepped up and another that is stepped down. So, perhaps the market-driven economy is working.
   I wonder but what it shouldn't. There are times the rich man should be given the better product. When it comes to having a Mercedes instead of a Geo, let him have his Mercedes. But, in health care, I wonder but what they should be equal. I think of the words from the Declaration of Independence:
   "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
   Heath and health care fit squarely under the category of Life. If all men are to be have equal right to health care, then, should we be operating medicine under a free-market economy? If the free-market economy produces a system where the rich get a Mercedes and the poor get a Geo, and if we believe the rich and poor should have equal rights in health care . . .
   Then, perhaps we should give thought to whether we want a market-driven system to be driving our health-care system. I am not ready to say, let's steer completely away from a free-market health-care system, but I am saying we should give it some thought.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

For Life to have Meaning, it Must have Hope

   I lost all my poetry a number of years ago. This poem, though, I still remember. I must must have been in my 20s or 30s when I wrote it.

    I hate to be a disappointment
But, friends, I think I am
   Where is the hope. the strength, the drive
To break me through this jam

   The goals for self
I set them high, upon eternity
   But practice has me way below
Below sufficiency

   Now, some don't try
And some don't care
   But me, it's all or none
If I can't have celestial worlds
   Life isn't worth the run

   There's my old poem, then. It expresses the thought that, for life to have purpose, it must have hope.

Ours Might be a Great Moral Imperative to Speak out on Abortion

   We can discuss political matters because we enjoy them. We can do so as a matter of civic responsibility, wanting to be involved. We can have ideas we think will benefit others. But, of of all the reasons for discussing issues, how many of them do we discuss because we feel an obligation to do so in order to protect someone's life?
   Actually, not just one person's life, but millions of people's lives.
   Our obligation to speak out on abortion perhaps exceeds the moral imperative we have to speak out on most any other matter.
   As I think to stop my post with what I have just said, I find myself reconsidering. What I have just said stands on the basis of what I know about abortion, and about life, itself. But, what if there are things I understand incorrectly? What if the opportunity to live is not lost when you are aborted? What if you are allowed to take another body? I do not know all. Maybe some of the things I assume are wrong. If a spirit leaves an aborted body and then comes to earth in another body, that completely changes the severity of depriving it of life.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Outwitted by Edwin Markham

 "He drew a circle that shut me out --
"Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
 "But love and I had the wit to win;
"We drew a circle and took him in!
 
I think of this poem, in relation to immigration. I wonder but what it applies. We draw a line that shuts them out. We call them criminals. But, perhaps there are others of us who have the will to win. We'll draw a circle to take them in.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

These Days, Standing up for Freedom to Immigrate is Eternal Vigilance

   When it comes to freedom, vigilance is always in order. Forgive me for how I am going to apply this, for it might not fit with the way you are accustomed to thinking.
   For I speak of freedom of immigration -- specifically, immigration as practiced by so-called "illegals."
   Freedom of immigration has eroded over the last century and a half. If we are to be vigilant in protecting all our freedoms, this, too, is one we should be wary of losing. In fact, we should perhaps turn our vigilance more toward this than any other freedom -- at this time, anyway -- for it is a freedom that is being lost.
   Has been lost.
   I have studied this issue. I have learned that the loss of freedom of immigration was one of the reasons our fathers went to war in the American Revolution. At least, in the list of causes for taking up arms against England, the Declaration of Independence mentions restrictions on coming to America as one of the injuries prompting our forefathers to go to war.
   I believe in freedom of immigration. If it is one of the causes for our revolution, it perhaps should be considered one of the founding freedoms of our nation.
   I notice how the first laws on naturalization gave no restrictions on coming here. Rather, they specified that having been here a certain number of years was the basic threshold for being granted naturalization. In 1790, citizenship was granted when you had lived here one year.
   Can you imagine what it would mean if we applied that principle today? All those "illegal" immigrants who have been here a year, instead of being deported, would be granted citizenship. I'm just saying . . . I'm just saying that if we applied the same rules as we had back then, all these "illegals" would be legal.
   Freedom to immigrate is not a new thing. It is an old thing. Once was the day, maybe 150 years ago, when, by and large, you could pretty much pick what country you wanted to move to, and just pack up and move there -- no port of customs to account to and no one waiting at the border to ask you for paperwork.
   It is the loss of this freedom to immigrate that is a new thing. These days, most every nation, if not every single one, has restrictions on people coming. If we believe in protecting our freedoms, this is one we should protect. If we see a picture of of someone in the past carrying a banner reading, "Vigilance Forever," we should consider that in our day, such vigilance for freedom may well be in standing up for the right to move freely from one country to another.

Truth isn't Treason

This Argument for Immigration sits in the Constitution, Patiently Waiting

   Here's a pitch for the 'illegal' immigrant that might someday receive attention, maybe even making them legal.
   This argument sits there in the Constitution, patiently waiting.
   Pick up that venerable document, if you will, and go down to the 14th Amendment, which was enacted following the Civil War.
   Doesn't that last part of Section 1 of the amendment say no state shall deprive any person in its jurisdiction of equal protection under the laws? That means any person living in that state. Any. All you need to qualify, is to live there. It doesn't break it down into those who have been invited and those who haven't.
   It says, "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
   Strictly reading the words, for what they say and what they're worth, doesn't that give undocumented residents the right to remain? Doesn't it legalize them? "No state shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law."  Deporting folks is (surely), depriving them of liberty. Depriving them of simply existing on American soil is depriving them of life -- life here, anyway. 
  If you disagree, you are going to have to point out that the Fourteenth Amendment says life, liberty and property can be deprived through due process. I disagree with using that Due Process Clause to deport them. The Due Process Clause is for those accused of having done harm to society. Simply living and breathing on American soil is not a harmful thing. Existing on American soil is not a harm. If you are to use the Due Process Clause to deprive immigrants of their right to be here, you could also use it to deprive those who were born here of their right to be here. You could as well say, we will pass a law that we can deport any of our choice, even though they were born here -- and as long as you gave them due process, the law would be legal.
  My closer today, in this argument that the Fourth Amendment frees our undocumented residents, is to again point to the part of the amendment that says, "nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
   Any person living within the jurisdiction of a state, then, is entitled to the protection of that state. And, to what protection do we refer? The protection of rights and liberties, surely. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Would We of such a Religious City Not Heed Matthew 25?

    And, a call is out to find a new home for the homeless in the Salt Lake Valley. Which community will take them in? Now, I do wonder, that in such a Christian, God-fearing society as exists here, not a single community, so far, has stepped forth to accept them.
   What of the scripture that asks (if this is not word perfect, the very essence of it is), When saw I thee homeless, and took thee not in?
   If we had charity, we would take them in. We might not feel comfortable taking them into our very homes, but at least into our communities. Alas, even though this is the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ, still it is that in community after community, there are protests and, instead of taking them in, we are turning them away.
   One wonders if at the day of judgement, Christ will say, Was I not hungry and thirsty and a stranger and ye took me not in? Inasmuch as ye have not done it unto the least of these people living on the streets of my city, ye have not done it unto me.

If you cannot endure the night, you will never see the day

Work as if it will all work out

Thursday, March 16, 2017

These are Deaths of Our Choosing

These are deaths of our choosing. We are given the discretion of letting them live, or letting them die -- and we choose death.
I speak of the unborn. I speak of abortions.
A million times each year, we choose death. We choose it not for ourselves, but for others. Sometimes we justify our decision by saying we are doing what is best for them, that it would be wrong to bring them into a cruel world where parents do not want them, or where they would not be given good care.
I ask, in reply, what of those already born? What do we do with them when they are in the same situation? What do we do with those who are bullied, or who live on skid row? Do, we say, You would be better off dead? Either commit suicide or let us kill you -- for your own sake.
Would we make that choice on their behalf?
We make other decisions on behalf of the unborn, as well. It is we who decide whether they shall be considered persons. It is we who decide whether they shall be considered living creatures before they are born. It is we who decide if other considerations are more important than their being born. It is we who decide if all this is right or wrong.
It is we who make the choices, and it is they who either live or die with the consequences.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Perhaps We Should do away with Medical Insurance

   Tonight, I will wonder if we ought to do away with insurance. In medical care.
   As it stands, insurance is the only way we can afford to pay for our health care. If you don't have it, the only other option is indigent care -- getting taken care of and having the hospital write the expense off as a loss.
  So, if insurance is now the key to paying the bill, why am I suggesting we consider doing away with it?
  I'm just mulling on the principles of economics. We believe in something called supply and demand. And, well, insurance companies increase the supply of money that is available to pay for medical care. While the average person has little supply of money, the insurance companies pump up the supply tremendously.
   So, the medical providers demand more. They can see more money is available, so they require more money.
   What if there were no insurance? What if no one could afford to pay $40,000 for a surgery? The law of supply and demand says the price would come down. Whatever people could afford to pay, that is where the price would settle.
   I know there are other considerations here. We also need to have a system where everyone can afford health care. Without insurance, would that happen? How would we get care to the indigent? I know this question needs to be addressed, as well. But, as for lowering medical costs, I can only wonder if exiting the insurance business is the answer. I think if we studied the rise in the cost of medicine going back a couple centuries. We might find a connection to the advent of insurance and the spread of insurance.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

We Should have Laws against Internet Surveillance

  One thing I haven't heard come out of the WikiLeaks story that should: whether it should be legal for someone to conduct surveillance on the Internet. All this talk of how the CIA can reach through our computers and monitor us should cause us to ask: Shouldn't we be outlawing this?
   "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."
   Those words in the Fourth Amendment should be as valid in our day of computers and Internet as they were when the Founding Fathers wrote the Bill of Rights. We should be secure in our houses, papers and effects . . . and in our computers, Internet, and cell phones. Surveillance that hacks into our personal devices is -- to me -- very clearly in violation of the Fourth Amendment. That amendment goes on to say, "and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause." Perhaps, any surveillance upon us, then, is only occurring when search warrants are issued.
   But, note this: If the CIA can hack into our personal devices, so can others, criminals included.
   So, I wonder if we should create laws against it. Just as we have trespass laws and laws spelling out how government searches shall be conducted, and when they shall be allowed, so should we have laws concerning Internet eavesdropping. What are the specific crimes? We should define them. What are the penalties? We should establish them.
   The first way to fight against this invasion of our privacy is to legislate against it.

Monday, March 13, 2017

We Would Force Them to Speak the Authorized Language

   Once immigrants arrive, legally or not, they face those who insist --demand -- that they speak English.
   It's as if they are saying to the immigrants: "You'll want to know about the freedoms we allow, and the ones we don't. Yes, we do have freedom of speech, but don't you get all too carried away with that. Freedom of speech might mean having the right to speak your mind, but it doesn't give you the right to choose what language you will speak it in. If you think you can get willy-nilly that way, you'll be wrong. You cannot just speak whatever whatever language you want, especially not your own. No way. If you want to be an American, you will learn to speak our language. We find it highly offensive for you to come in here speaking an unauthorized language.
   "And, we don't want any excuses. If you aren't much on picking up on another language, if you've got a learning disability or something, you better get over it. We don't allow for that. What we allow for is for you to speak English.
   "You'll do things our way, and on our terms or you'll go back to where you came from."

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Why is the Term 'Illegal Refugee' Never Used?

  Someone types this comment online beneath a Deseret News story: "Refugees. Are not immigrants. Are not illegal immigrants. Well, it would seem all refugees certainly are immigrants. And, are they illegal immigrants? That would depend on whether they arrive legally or illegally. So, some are illegal.
   This broaches an interesting thought, then. I wonder why we never hear the term "illegal refugees" used. If someone is a refugee, and they are here illegally, doesn't that make them an illegal refugee?

Saturday, March 11, 2017

This is What I Hear, When I Hear People Complain about Immigrants

   Here is what I hear people saying, when I hear them complaining about undocumented immigrants. Are my ears hearing correctly? Is this really what they are saying, or am I being too critical?
  "You've got to leave because you weren't born here. You're a criminal. We cannot have an iota of sympathy or remorse for you. Are we worked into a frenzy against you? Yes, and with good cause! You are breaking our laws and making a sham of our legal system. Off with you! Out! The gall of you, to think you can breathe on American soil, to think you have the right to just exist here -- doing nothing wrong other than just existing on American soil. How vile of you!
   "This sense of entitlement has got to stop! If we are to have laws, we must enforce them. What good is a law if we don't enforce it? If we are to let you go just because you don't have paperwork, it is the same as letting someone off even though they have committed murder. This law keeping you out is a good law, and an honorable one, and we are going to enforce it.
  "Besides all that, you're an invader. And, you are disturbing our quality of life. You're taking jobs from us. You're using our hospitals, and our schools. Can't you see that this is wrong? You're not even an American!
   "Go back to where you came from. You don't belong here, you criminal, and we are not going to let you get away with such a grave injustice as staying here and breathing on American soil. We respect our system of laws too much to let you stay here when we don't even want you. The magnitude of harm you are doing -- well, it's incomprehensible.
   "You think you can just walk across a border without damaging someone else's life? How presumptuous. How inconsiderate. How wrong. How criminal. How dare you!"

Friday, March 10, 2017

Seeking to take away Free Speech should be Outlawed

   "Speech is not violence; Violence is not speech," Sen. Mike Lee said, speaking to his fellow senators this week. Lee argued against the shutting down of free speech, against those who would shout down fellow Americans, and assault them, that they might silence them.
    Lee's words might should gain history's respect. "Violence is not speech" is a a maxim we could add to our list of famous thoughts. More importantly, though, is the suggestion that one person should not be allowed to silence another. It causes me to reflect. If this is not to be allowed, do we have laws in place against it? Should we enact a more forceful law? If we believe in free speech, does it not follow that we do not allow it to be impeded? Or, do we suppose that those who would shut it down are merely exercising their own free speech?
   Violence is not speech.
   Nor should we allow the muzzling of free speech to be counted as free speech, itself. Taking one person's right away should not stand as a right, in itself.
   So, I propose, we should have a new law. Seeking to take away the free speech of another should be outlawed. I do not refer to someone simply saying, "Shut up." Rather, any endeavor bearing enough force to, or intending to bear enough force to actually shut down a speaker, should be illegal and punishable by law.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2BJhous0OQ&feature=youtu.be

http://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2017/03/03/mob-attacks-middlebury-prof-and-controversial-speaker-charles-murray

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Lowering Costs and Providing Care should be the Objectives

   Perhaps the two most important objectives in a national health care plan should be: (1) lowering the cost, and (2) making it available to all.
   So far, I am not seeing enough evidence the American Health Care Act is going to lower the cost. Well it may be that it might, but so far we don't know. And, it seems clear the proposed act is going to take health care coverage away from some. I have, in the past, been amazed at how we have allowed people to go to their graves for lack of health care benefits. Some will argue that no one goes to their deaths, that the hospitals care for them even if not paid for doing so.
   I beg to differ. For one thing, some don't even go to the doctor if they fear they can't afford it. Secondly, some are encouraged to get on hospice or Do Not Resuscitate so the hospital does not have to offer free services. To suppose that medical organizations will always be charitable and not seek to escape costs does seem, well, naive, to me.
  On the basis of these two factors -- lowering costs and providing benefits to all -- I wonder but what the new health care plan might be worse than the one it would replace.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Republicanized Version of What We Already have

   I've not yet come up with an opinion on whether I favor the American Health Care Act. But, I do wonder that perhaps it does not get to the heart of what is wrong with America's medical system. As is being suggested, it seems to be just a Republicanized version of Obama Care, addressing the questions of whether we should have the individual mandate, pre-existing conditions, etc., but not reaching too far into new territory as far as revamping our medical system.
   Thanks to Speaker Paul Ryan and all the others who have worked to bring the new law forth. Thanks for their efforts. Now, we can reflect on whether it is an improvement on the Affordable Care Act. But, I wish for greater overhaul than what this offers.

March 9 Marks the 30th Anniversary of 'The Joshua Tree'

  Can we call March 9 National Joshua Tree Day? This March 9 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of U2's "The Joshua Tree" album.

Hildegard von Bingen

   As an International Women's Day Post, I point to the life of one of history's overlooked women, Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179 A.D.). My nephew, Kevin Davis, posted about her on Facebook, bringing my attention to me.
   Hildegard might have been the first to suggest that spirit and body are the separate elements of a human. She was one of one of the greatest composers of her time. She was visionary, and her visions suggest the equality of women.
   I do not say I agree or disagree with all of her teachings. I don't know much about her. But, what I did learn tonight leads me to believe she stands as one of the great people of history.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Person Who Learns to Love Increases His Intelligence

   He who becomes angry, often becomes blind. You have heard the expression, "He was so angry, he couldn't see straight." Well, that is what I mean. Anger clouds your judgement.
   And, I speak not only of the ranting-and-raving type of anger. I speak not only of being boisterously mad. There is a quiet anger. When we become incensed toward others, we might still display a quiet demeanor, but our resolve against the other person becomes fixed.
  And, a face set in one direction does not look side-to-side. Even so, we become as though with blinders, not seeing things that can matter.
   There is a lesson in this, if you would be a person bearing wisdom, you should learn not to hate (for hatred is anger). If you keep yourself from hating others, and from being jealous of them, your mind will work clearer. If you become such a person, who doesn't hate, you will not only not hate your neighbors and those about you, but you will be less hateful of those in the news, and those of anyone who might present information to you. If you are more open to the thoughts and opinions of others, you are, naturally enough, more open-minded.
  Thus, we see, the open-minded person is the more intelligent person. And, we can see how the person who learns to love will be more intelligent than the person who goes around bearing grudges.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Is the Right to Live in America a Right for All?

  An argument rising up has it that undocumented immigrants are wrongly feeling a sense of entitlement about living in the U.S.
  "The hubris they are demonstrating shows they view America as a giant entitlement. Disgusting," writes an online commenter to a Deseret News story.
   I wonder if we should consider that they do, indeed, have the right to be here. I, for one, feel they have the right to be alive and to simply exist on American soil. They are -- or should be -- "entitled" to freedom. And, it is not "disgusting" that they seek this freedom. Entitlement? All people should be "entitled" to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, regardless whether they start in America or come from abroad. Borders do not -- or should not -- take rights away. Freedom should not enclose its blessings on those with American birth certificates. One person might be born into high society whereas others are not, but one is not born with greater right to liberty than another person. Freedom is not to be decided by borders and bloodlines, and it should not be exclusive to those with American birth certificates. I think of dogs breeds that have pedigrees, and horses. Fine breeding might get you into a horse race, but it should not get you into America. Nor should it determine whether you have freedom. Freedom is not just for blue bloods.
   You might argue that we are not talking about the level of society, but the location of your society in determining whether you can live in America. I suppose I don't make such a distinction. If a person were born on the "wrong" side of the tracks, on the "wrong" side of town, would we argue he has no right to move to the other side of town unless those on the rich side gave him their permission?
  Nor should we argue that we must take care of our own, first. Freedom does not have "its own."
  When we say freedom for all, we should consider whether there are exceptions. I suggest this freedom for all extends to all without exclusion. Freedom, by definition, is not exclusionary.
   It has been suggested certain freedoms are unalienable. Can we then toss the word "alien" on someone and they magically lose their God-given rights? Can we draw a line, and say, "For you, freedom ends when you cross this line. All the freedom on this side of the line belongs to us, not to you."
   It does seem funny that they should lose their freedom by crossing into the land of the free.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Blessing of Learning to Support Oneself

   What the Salt Lake Valley, and Utah, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are doing for the needy seems wonderful.
   I've questioned whether relying solely on paid professionals to solve our homelessness is perhaps not the way to go. And, I've wondered if we don't just turn the poor into an industry that benefits others, if paid social workers become the norm.
   But, do not mistake me. I think it wonderful our valley's leaders are seeking to take those unemployed and turn them into people who are putting bread on the table for themselves and their families.
   'Tis wonderful. Surely, we thank them for coming up with such a thing.
   Last week, I thought to write on this, wondering if any other community in the country is going this direction. Instead of just putting them up in homeless shelters, placing them in centers where they have the resources to change their lives. Is this a novel venture? Or are we borrowing from somewhere else? Thank whoever came up with it.
  Think of this: We, as a society, have progressed as social workers have become part of our society. We now have college programs where the skills of working with people of various needs are taught. You can become a trained expert in the art of helping others. But, till now, these skills perhaps have not fully been tapped as we work with our homeless. It does seem wise to utilize the knowledge society has acquired. A trained hand is not to be scorned.
  So, that is one thought I have. On the flip side, I wonder if whatever secrets of motivation, of bringing change into people's lives, cannot be practiced by those without degrees. Cannot we just teach these skills to volunteers, and have the volunteers work with the homeless and others in need? It does seem we should be concerned of the expense. Would the price of many social workers turn homelessness into an industry benefiting the social workers more than the homeless?
   Well, this morning I was blessed to be able to attend a church meeting in which the Self Reliance Initiative of the Church of Jesus Christ was introduced to us. I found it has a lot in common with what the Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County are trying to do: Taking the poor, and teaching them skills.
  I think it a great thing.
 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

As Immigrant Population Increases, Crime Goes Down

   A study reported by the Marshall Project suggests types of crime decrease in communities as the percentage of population from other countries increases. That goes against the presumption that immigrants bring crime into America. The Marshall Report cites the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice for the study.
   In word searching, I find a short story a month ago in Science Daily suggesting the study was out of the University of Buffalo.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Bill of Wrongs Establishes Freedoms not to be Enjoyed

   Some freedoms are good freedoms, freedoms that all should enjoy. Others are bad freedoms, freedoms that none should enjoy.
  To go along with a bill of rights, perhaps we should also create a bill of wrongs. The bill of rights lists all the freedoms citizens shall enjoy. The bill of wrongs would list all the freedoms they definitely should not enjoy. The bill of rights protects the citizen. The bill of wrongs would provide protection from the citizen. The bill of rights places limits on government. The bill of wrongs would place limits on the citizen.
   Government is a necessity, and if it is so, it is so because restrictions must be placed on the people in order to protect them from each other. The bill of wrongs would set forth those freedoms that must be taken to protect one person from another.
   So,
   You do not have the right or freedom to take the life of another, except when in the act of protecting your own life, or that of another.
   You do not have the right or freedom to endanger others purposefully and with malice.
   You do not have the right or freedom to take the belongings of another.
   You do not have the right or freedom to slander or libel the good name of others.
   You do not have the right or freedom to hold another person hostage, except that government can imprison those who break the law.
   You do not have the right or freedom to force another to do that which they choose not to do, except as herein listed.
   You do not have the right or freedom to claim as your own the inventions, words, or writings of others.
   You do not have the right or freedom to defraud others by making false promotions.
   You do not have the right or freedom to defraud others by knowingly and maliciously failing to disclose information affecting the value of the product or service.
   You do not have the right or freedom to sell something at a price far beyond what it is worth.
   You do not have the right or freedom to enter the property of another person against that person's will.
   You do not have the right or freedom to destroy or damage that which belongs to another.
   You do not have the right or freedom to willfully let yourself become subject to a condition endangering or damaging others.
   While you have the right to such influences as you may choose for yourself, you do not have the right or freedom to force those influences on others. You can offer those influences, but you cannot place them in a way that does not allow the other person opportunity to decline viewing or partaking of them. There is to be reason used in applying this last rule. Those influences which a large share of the public objects to should not be presented in a way in which they cannot decline. But, this is not license for a person to take offense at anything he or she might choose.



 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cut to the Chase and Ask Sessions to Say what was Discussed

 I go to bed tonight confused by the Jeff Sessions affair. Can we just ask him what it was that was discussed? Spare me the argument that national security won't allow that. Cut to the chase and tell us what was discussed. Just be open and forthcoming.
   Sessions evidently was an adviser to the campaign. So, if the supposition is that the Russians tried to influence the campaign for Trump, you should be looking into any contacts they had with the Trump team. That doesn't mean the contacts were wrong, it just means you surely should look into them. They surely should be part of any investigation.
   I go to bed, though, confused. Did Sessions suggest during his confirmation hearings that he had not met with the Russians? What exactly did he say during those hearings? I confess, I have not time to read up on this.

Four Years doesn't Qualify as Speedy

   While the Constitution calls for a speedy and public trial, John Swallow didn't receive one. Oh, once the case was put to trial, it was speedy, but what of the four years leading up to it?
   Four years.
   In his comments as the decision was announced, Swallow suggested he will now be able to get a good night's rest, something that he hasn't had in years. The jury acquitted him of all charges, so where is the justice that he had to endure four years with this cloud over him?
   If we would abide by the Constitution, trials would not be put off like this. For my part, I cannot understand why it should take anywhere near four years to put together the case, or to prepare a defense.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Trump is not Perfect, but He could Achieve Greatness, the Same

  Greatness in a president can come from a man with flaws. The past few days, I have opened hope that President Trump might achieve it. A lot of talk the past day or two has been on how he might reform immigration. For decades, now, our nation has been divided on what to do with "illegal" immigrants. We have, what?, 11 million of them? If a president were to find a way to do away with illegal immigration, he would solve one of our nation's sorest points. He would free 11 million people. He would end illegal immigration in the United States.
   Abraham Lincoln ended slavery. Donald Trump could end illegal immigration. And, if he does, he will achieve a measure of greatness, just as Lincoln was certainly great for ending slavery.
   But, it is not on the immigration issue, alone, that I find myself thinking he might do well. If he will listen to wisdom and weigh policies, there is no reason he cannot be a wise president. As I look down the list of what he is doing, I don't know how much agreement I have with what is occurring. I do not favor his trade policies. I like his some of his stance on private schools, but do not believe competition in the schooling, alone, will restore us to leading the world in education. I am still seeing national debt arising from his policies. But, I wonder but what he will find ways to reduce health care costs, and pharmacy costs. I tip my hat to his reducing the cost of the F-35. I wonder if, yet, he will find a way to rein in the national debt.
   Trump is not a perfect man. At least to say, his past has imperfections. But, if we measure a man only by his past, we will overlook both his present and his future.