Wednesday, May 31, 2017

We Should not Jump Ship on Paris Accord

  If we have concerns about whatever governing body their might be for the Paris Accord, we should see that changes are made. But, we should not jump ship on the agreement. Too much is at stake. If anything, the Paris Accord does not go far enough in slowing climate change.

We Should Heed the Word of the Climate Change Scientists

 I did not study it much. But, I did just pause to look up how climate change predictions in an August, 1981, article in Science have proven true. Ice in the Antarctic has begun to crack and crumble. Areas prone to drought are receiving less water. My thought is, we should listen to these climate scientists who are warning us. What they are saying is proving true and we continue to be a nation of naysayers. Forgive me for saying so, but we have stones for ears, and will not give heed to the warnings of those in position to know.  

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Democracy Means Little Without Discussion

 Democracy is nothing without discussion. If we do not first discuss public issues, what benefit does democracy offer? Decisions are meaningless, or of little value, if they come without thought. A vote without study, a vote without having weighed the issues, benefits us little. If you study a candidate, and where he or she stands on the issues, that is good. Study also the issues, themselves.
   Did I tell you about the president who also believed this? It is a completely fictitious story, I admit, but you might want to listen, the same, to his inaugural address. Read on, and tell me if this wouldn't be the best president we've ever had.
   "My fellow Americans. Today, as I come before you, I would like to use that term with more meaning than you are accustomed to. I would like to extend to you a hand a friendship, and partnership, and of working together with you like no one has ever offered you. You are my fellow Americans. You are my equals. And, we shall move this nation forward together, or not at all.
   "Here's is what I am proposing. It truly amounts to a different way of going about governance. We have a lot of issues -- health care, the national debt, climate change, and many others. What I would like to do is have a national discussion on each issue. I really don't plan to take much action on any of them for six month or so. And, when we do take action on an issue -- and I realize that means Congress -- it should only be after we have weighed that issue enough that we have some answers. What I will do, is take from the things you say, and make proposals to Congress. They must pass the legislation, but we, as a people, can come up with the ideas. I am a believer in this new way of going about governance. It is not a new system of government, but it is a new way of practicing it.
   "So, we will discuss things. I'm going to call for your arguments, your proposals, your ideas to all be placed in the public forum. We will have town halls all across the nation. And, perhaps we will use Facebook. How would you solve our health care crisis?  Tell us at the town hall and post it on our Internet discussion site. When we have a large body of advice, I will weigh what you have said. I will pick from among the ideas those that I like and I will select proposals that will work. Then, I will invite you to Washington, where you and I can discuss the proposals. And, we will discuss the issue some more, and debate it -- in public -- before we make a final decision on what to do.
   "We will go about solving our nation's problems this way. We will go about fixing our needs. We will solve what issues we can, and move on. Bless you all, my fellow Americans, and God bless."

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Good Patriot Seeks to Remove the Evils from His Land

There is a level of patriotism we should always offer. Support of country should exist, to some degree, despite the faults that nation might have. It is a little like a parent with a child. The parent loves the child regardless what the child does.
So it is, we should love America, even if it has warts.
But, I think this also: There is such a thing as blind patriotism. To vehemently support your country, regardless the vices of that nation, can become a vice in and of itself. Yes, you usually should go ahead and support the laws even if they seem wrong. We cannot pick and choose the laws we think just, and obey only them, for that would be chaos. Even so, a child might obey the parent, regardless though the parent be wrong. But, there is a limit. If a child's parent were to ask him to murder, we'd say that is going too far. Even so with our nation, there should be limits on our support. For one thing, if a law is unjust, while we might obey it, we need not become its cheerleader.
We speak of blind obedience and wonder whether it is good. Even so, we should not be blindly devoted to a nation, regardless what that nation does.
And, it is the same with our political parties. If we support them blindly, and regardless, that is not wise. I think it not wrong to mention this in a post on patriotism, for people are often more patriotic to their parties than they are to their nation.
The past year has seen Colin Kaepernick protest what he sees as the faults of our nation by not standing and placing his hand on his heart as the National Anthem is sung. I do not foresee myself ever doing as he does. But, I do not fault Kaepernick. In his eyes, we have faults needing correction if we are to be the nation he desires us to be.
It is not a renunciation or repudiation of our nation by Kaepernick. Rather, it is just his way of rebuking us for what he sees as our faults. If you want to correct a child, you might lightly slap his hands. I see Kaepernick doing nothing worse.
A good patriot is not the one who supports the wrongs of a nation, but the one who seeks to remove them. A good patriot seeks to cleanse the evils from his land.   

Congress Bears Some Responsibility for Flint Fiasco

   "Flint's water has been poisoned for 1000 days," reads a post on Facebook. "Cost to fix the pipes: $216 million. The U.S. military spends that much every 3.75 hours."
It seems like some kind of emergency funding could be provided. I read how President Obama, in January of 2016, declared a federal emergency in Flint, but declined to designate it as a disaster area because the disaster was man-made, and thus didn't qualify. At that point, Congress should have stepped in and sent some relief. It isn't too late. Congress still should step in and help.

If a Law is Unjust, I Might not Root for it to be Enforced

   Across my Facebook newsfeed comes this question:
   Do you support stripping federal tax dollars from sanctuary cities?
   And I reply:
   Perhaps most do. I don't. Many see this as a matter of upholding the rule of law. I see another side of it. I see the poor, the needy from other countries being offered sanctuary by certain cities. I cannot oppose that. If a person broke a law, and the law was unjust, would I be inclined not to root for him to be prosecuted? That's how I feel about this. I do not root for the poor and the needy -- those who come seeking jobs and freedom and to be rejoined with family -- I do not root for them to be prosecuted.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Is the Paris Temple Fulfillment of Prophecy?

  Is this prophecy fulfilled? I would ask, why not? In 1976, President Spencer W. Kimball promised a temple in Paris, but suggested it might come only if the people there clenched their fists and ground their teeth. He also suggested church membership there would double, and even quadruple.
  The church membership in France was about 10,000 then. Now? Almost 40,000.
   President Gordon B. Hinckley in the 1990s asked the members there to pray that the church might find a site, for finding a site was proving difficult. I do not know how much opposition to the temple there was, but it becomes one of the few temples without a spire, due to height restrictions. Anticipation of the temple through the years has been high, but no temple came until now. I would guess it has been the most significant city in the world without a temple.
   All these years later, then, after clenching of fists and grinding of teeth -- figuratively speaking -- Paris finally has a temple.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Only Now is Kushner to be Interviewed?

   I was surprised when I heard the news that Jared Kushner was suggesting he would be glad to meet with investigators.
   What? You mean, he has not already met with them? I must wonder, then, if while James Comey was heading the investigation, it truly was not investigating any Trump collusion. Because, if collusion is to be investigated, surely you should interview the potential actors.
   Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Rex Tillerson, and perhaps a dozen others, not to mention Trump, himself.
   Per chance it was not that Comey did not have them interviewed because he did not want to upset Trump?
   I don't know. But, I do know that if you are going to look into whether there was collusion, you need to interview those who might have been doing the colluding. Yes, you might do advance work before you bring them in, but it seems the time for that would have come and gone long ago.

Bless the Donald and Bless the Angela

   Bless Donald Trump. At times like this, I think there is much good about this president. News comes that he considers himself "more knowledgeable" on climate change and that is opinion on the issue is "evolving."
   It is common to be dogmatic. Once arriving at an opinion, most of us will not let it go. We hold loyalty to our own viewpoints rather than to the truth.
   I do not know what was said at the G7 meeting. I understand Germany's Angela Merkel was among those who helped persuade Trump to reconsider climate change. Bless her, as well, as it takes great leadership skills to bring about such a change.

Friday, May 26, 2017

How did this get Tucked into a Story instead of being its Own Story?

 Rewind, if you want a big story that didn't get much attention. Was it about one week ago. I believe the story I caught it in was about Trump's speech to the Saudis. It was a small paragraph in the midst of another story.
   One hundred billion dollars in military aid to Saudi Arabia?
  That's $100 billion. I understand that will make it one of the largest arms sales ever. I read one source calling it the largest. Somehow, that seems like it should be big news. As in, the lead story of the day.
   And, the $100 billion might grow. I see, in another story, how it is expected to evolve into $300 billion. The U.S. doesn't want Israel to fall behind. It wants Israel to maintain a "qualitative military edge" over other Mideast countries. So, the $300 billion will include money for Israel.
   Are we bankrolling an arms race here? Are we buying friendship with bombs? Are we seeking the favor of the Saudis the wrong way?
   Are we spending way too much money on this?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Are We Right in Giving the Saudis $100 Billion in Military Aid?

   Not chump change, the $100 billion arms deal President Trump is offering Saudi Arabia. One wonders why we are spending it. Are we just seeking the favor of the Saudis? If so, why? Or, do we suppose to end the war in Yemen by injecting money on one side of the conflict?
  One-hundred billion? Can we afford this? And, is increasing the militarization of Saudi Arabia what we want? Perhaps if it situates the Saudis to stand free from the more-radical countries over there, it might be worthy. But, I wonder. And, I wonder but what pouring more weapons into the region is liking tossing wood on a fire. Perhaps. Perhaps not. I do not know.

Do We even have a Plan to Avert Future Mass Killings?

   What are we doing to stop mass murders? Anything? Mass killing after mass killing, and we aren't doing a thing to avert them in the future? We don't even have a plan of action.
   Am I wrong?
   Okay, we discuss gun control. And, we discuss mental health. And, I believe President Obama even signed an executive order outlining some actions. But, far and away for the most part, we are doing nothing.
   Where is the omnibus bill, addressing every angle we can think of? Not everything that needs done requires legislation, but it would be nice to see a bill.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

An Ad Campaign like None Other would Oppose these Killings

      Let us launch one of the largest advertisement campaigns ever undertaken. If we are to fight terrorism, there is more to it than warring in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is more to it than firing missiles at al-queda and ISIS.
   The power of the word is as mighty as the power of the sword, maybe more so.
   So, we find ourselves suffering from one mass killing after another. If we really believe the power of words is as mighty as the sword, why would we not take it up? The string of mass murders might be ended as quickly with the word as it is with the sword.
   You've heard of public service announcements? This would be along those lines, except PSAs are typically unpaid, and we would pay for these. And PSAs never have been as big as what we would do with this. We would flood the media.
   Literally flood the media,
    Every TV station, every large newspaper and every notable Internet site would have one of these "PSAs." And, the effort wouldn't stop there. We would call on civic leaders, church leaders, youth leaders and others to take up the campaign, speaking to their groups, urging them to stand against the violence.
   We would call on their leaders. From the leaders of their nations to the community leaders they have in the U.S., we would ask them all to speak against the violence, to call their people together and reason with them.
   I see a scroll come across the screen in one such ad, rolling like a credit line of a movie, citing one after another of the mass murders, pointing out the waste of lives. The words, "What did they do wrong?" crystallize on the screen, then fade, as do the following words:
   "Not a thing."
   "What did they do to offend their killers?"
   "Unknown. In almost every case, they didn't even know them."
   "What was achieved?"
    "What was accomplished?"
    Another ad would portray the victims in their lives, showing them smiling, being friends, helping each other and enjoying life. Then, their images would fade to a cemetery, and grave markers would appear, and grass growing over the graves and blowing in the wind, depicting the needless waste of humanity, and of goodness.
    The ads would try not to inflammatory. They would seek not to heighten bad feelings between us and ISIS and al-queda. They would try not to be adversarial. While they would point out al-queda and ISIS is doing is wrong, they would not offer harsh rhetoric that would escalate the bad feelings. If you want to win someone over, you don't call them names and demean them.
    Even ISIS and al-queda.
    Instead, they would simply point that what is being done is unnecessary, hurtful, damaging, and unproductive. In those points, the ads would be very forceful. The ads would be more of an effort to reason with al-queda and ISIS and their followers than a condemnation of them.
    "We call for peace," the final line of the ad would say, or maybe, "We call for doing what's right." Or maybe both.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

In My Humble Opinion, Love Matters in Stopping Mass Killings

   On of the things that would be most effective in warding of terrorism and mass killings? I give you my humble opinion: Love.
   Yes, you would almost have to create a world of love to make love work. If all of society were a loving society, the love would reach to those who might commit the crimes. People are less likely to lash out if they are loved. 
   I hear the many of you thinking love a silly answer. Bottom line is, though, it is a big factor. And, if we are serious about stopping these things, we should be looking at the things that make a difference. Love might sound silly. Love might be discounted as silly. But, if you really want to get serious about solving the problem, you might want to consider the things that do make a difference.
   Love is one of them. I don't know if it would just trim off some of the mass killings, or half of them, or all of them, but it would definitely have an effect. 
   I wonder if a world leader were to suggest love, what would be the reaction? Would he or she be ridiculed? Laughed at? Or, might people actually acknowledge he or she was right?
   And, could you persuade people so easily to start loving each other more? I don't know, but the first step is to suggest it, to ask for it. Nothing taught is nothing learned. If no one suggests love is an answer, there is not much chance we will move that direction.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Moderates are Moderates because Their Views don't all fit in One Box

   A new political party announced its entry today, the United Utah Party. It fashions itself as being centrist, moderate, and far from extreme.
   It also announced a few of its positions, and of that, I wonder.
   Many are moderates because all their views don't fit in one box. They think each issue through, on its own merits, instead of signing on just because it is the party position. So, almost by definition, a moderate party shouldn't dictate too many political stands. Moderates aren't locked into opinions fed them by others.
   I might join this United Utah Party. We shall see.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Day the Lord Rapped Me on the Knuckles

It's been two weeks today since I injured my hand. Was doing yard work on a Sunday. Now, there is so much yard work, and no free time to do it, that I rationalized that the Lord understood and that it was a little bit of the ox being in the mire. Well. anyway, as I was concluding having pulled weeds for a good portion of the day, I was pushing the garbage container filled in part with dirt when it slid out in front of me, pulling me down as my hands held to the handles. My knuckles hit the cement with the full weight of the garbage container on them, bloodying them good. It's a little like the Lord was literally rapping my knuckles, saying, "John, you know you shouldn't be doing this on Sunday." Anyway, I've refrained from yard work the last two Sundays, but who knows what I will do in the future. 
I do believe in the Sabbath. I do believe if we call it a delight, and enjoy doing the things of the Lord on the Sabbath, and abstain from doing our own things (Isaiah 58:13-14), He will bless us. 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Does what Trump said in Firing Comey amount to a Confession?

What Trump said in letting James Comey go strikes me. If you are to confess not only that you discussed whether you are under investigation, but if what you say lends credence to the thought you tried to persuade Comey not to investigate you . . .
  You just don't use your power to get out from underneath an investigation. It is not only highly inappropriate and unethical, but a crime, obstruction of justice.
   So, when I opened Time magazine and read the words of Trump's message to Comey, in letting him go . . .
   I wondered how close they come to being  a confession. Read them, and decide if you agree or if you do not feel they are a veiled acknowledgement that he tried to persuade Comey not to investigate him.
   "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau."
   If Comey investigating him has nothing to do with Trump firing him, the words have no business in the message notifying Comey that he is fired.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Don't Center Just on things that Lead to Impeachment

Sometimes, the problem with investigations is that they look only for crimes. It would be nice if the investigations into Russia's meddling in our election went beyond that. I would like to know what the Russians did, regardless whether a crime was committed. It was said that they used propaganda and disinformation to influence our election. That doesn't sound like a crime, but I would still like to know what stories they planted.
   Same with the Donald Trump collusion angle. I hope the investigation doesn't just seek to find criminal offenses. I don't know that any crime was committed if Trump did get the Russians' help in being elected, but I would still like to know what happened.
   I am not saying don't pursue criminal matters. If Trump tried to influence whether he was being investigated, that sounds criminal (to me), but it is something that arose as a sidebar to the original investigation of Russia influencing our election. I just don't want what was originally being pursued to be swept aside in favor of these later developments.
   Nor do I want these later developments to focus solely on criminal matters. What has transpired, has transpired. I want to know. I think we, as a nation, deserve to know.
   Impeach Trump? If he has committed a crime worthy of impeachment. But, I hope that isn't the drive behind the investigation. Instead of just focusing on those things that could push for impeachment, speak to all that has gone on.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cyber Crime is becoming One of Our Biggest Problems

    Two of the biggest stories of the past week involved harms committed in cyber space. There was the WannaCry story, of course. But, don't forget that the investigation of Russia's meddling in our election involved acts committed online. So, perhaps reflecting on the fact that two of our biggest news stories involved cyber harms will prompt us to realize harmful cyber activity has blossomed into one of our nation's biggest problems. Cyber crime has earned a spot right next to the national debt, pollution, terrorism, etc.
  Do we even have an investigative agency for cyber crime? It is tucked into the FBI, I realize, but I wonder how many agents there are and how advanced they are in the art of tracking down cyber criminals. And, shouldn't we have a whole new string of laws? We should identify each harm being committed by cyber players and make a law against it. Phishing, for example, should be against the law. Is it? I doubt it. And, is it against the law to send an email that spreads a virus? I wonder. It seems surely we have at least created a law against that, or have we? I do not hear any news of what charges the WannaCry criminals will face if they are caught, so I wonder.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Who is Chasing Down the WannaCry Criminals?

   I've not followed the WannaCry ransomware story as close as I should. But, from what I have heard, I am left wondering what charges the cybercriminals are guilty of in the various countries, and whether we expect to be able to apprehend them.
   Although the damage is largely overseas, I believe some has been done in the U.S. and they remain a threat to the U.S. Who is chasing them down? The FBI? What investigative agency is after them? Because I tend to think we need an agency in place, or a branch of an existing agency, that specializes in cybercrime.
   And, what laws are they guilty of breaking? For I wonder if we need new laws, specific to cybercrimes.

Is Mueller taking over the Existing Investigation?

   My initial reaction to news that the Justice Department has named Robert Mueller as special counsel to an investigation of the Russia-Trump thing? Well I was a little lost as to the need for a special counsel. Isn't the Intel Community already on this? Aren't these our nation's highest professionals, when it comes to investigators, already digging into what has happened?
   Do we not trust the investigation already underway? Do we not think it adequate? Do we suppose it is not going to get to the bottom of things, and therefore we need to bring in someone else?
   But, on first hearing of Mueller's appointment, I think I misunderstood what he will do. After reading a news story, I don't believe he will be opening a new investigation, one independent of the one the FBI is already conducting. Instead, I believe, he will be set over the current investigation as its head. That is a good thing, for it will steer the investigation a little out of the reach of Trump's new FBI director. Having Trump name who he chooses to head the investigation of himself is not a good idea.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Now is not the Time to be Appointing a Friend as FBI Director

  If Donald Trump wants to steer clear of charges of obstructing an investigation -- and actually it is too late to do that, but he might want to steer clear of additional charges -- he should appoint Andrew McCabe as the new director of the FBI.
   Andrew McCabe, or someone else already serving in the U.S. Intelligence Community who is working on the election meddling thing.
   Here is the thing: You (meaning Trump, of course) are already in hot water for firing James Comey, with some of us wondering if it was an attempt to influence the investigation. Now, if you do want to influence the investigation, you should choose someone who will be friendly to you.
   I said, if you want to influence the investigation. Hopefully, you don't. If, on the other hand, you want to follow the laws warning against influencing an investigation -- we call it obstruction of justice -- then you better not so much as appoint a friend. Not at this point. At this point, that, too, could be seen as an attempt to influence whether the investigation investigates you.
   Indeed, that might truthfully be what Trump is trying to do. He might be looking for someone who will be less inclined to dig into whether he was complicit with Russia.
   I will tell you this: investigators should have -- and perhaps have -- obtained court warrants to eavesdrop on the president and anyone in the White House who might interview potential FBI directors. If the conversations suggest the White House is looking for someone who will be friendly to Trump in the investigation of Russian meddling . . .
   Then that is a definite violation of our laws against impeding an investigation.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Obstruction of Justice?

   There's a world of you who believe Trump clean on the Russian thing, and clean on the firing of James Comey. Bless, you. Each of us has our own opinion. Yours is fine.
   Mine does differ. As what has transpired has sunk in on me, I have come to believe he might be guilty of obstruction of justice. He says Comey told him three times he was not under investigation.
    And, he now denies he did, but reports say he asked for Comey's loyalty. Asking for loyalty when you are wondering if you are under investigation is asking for the investigation to steer away from you or to find nothing amiss with you and the Russians.
   Why is that not obstruction of justice? To me, it clearly and plainly is. You, as the boss, approach the person conducting the investigation, asking if you are under investigation, and saying, "Come on, now, be loyal to me," and that is not to be taken as an effort to turn the investigation away from you?
 I suppose many will say it is not, and I suppose each of us has an opinion. My opinion is that it is a definite attempt to turn the investigation away from him.
  If there are tapes of the conversations between Comey and Trump, they should be subpoenaed. If he asked for loyalty, it is obstruction of justice.
   Firing Comey, in and of itself, might be an effort to influence the investigation. If you can fire the person who might be investigating you, and replace him with someone else, you might be able to influence the direction of the investigation. Only two FBI directors in history have been fired. When it is one of only two firings, and there exists the possibility you were under investigation, of course we are going to wonder if you fired the director because you are under investigation.
    Once you have confessed that you wonder if you are under investigation, you better not fire the director of the investigation, because it clearly does point to you trying to steer the investigation.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sabbath Observance can lead to Friendship with God

  If there be a God (and I am among those who say there is), He would be a good and kindly God. So, what of the commandment to observe the Sabbath?
  I thought along these lines as I and my family sat at the table, eating dinner, talking of various things. Would God be upset? Would He want us to talk about Him this day?
  I think of ourselves. And, of how a good person would react if he or she were neglected. Would they demand the attention? Would they demand honor? No, a good person doesn't demand honor.
   Is God so different?
   I believe God wishes us to observe the Sabbath, and is gratified when we do so. But, I don't believe He throws much of a fit if we don't.
   I believe we can have friendships with God. I believe we can show Him we love Him. Giving Him time on the Sabbath increases our friendship, and shows Him our love.
  I believe that just as it is with relations here on earth, where one person shows appreciation for another, so it is with our relations with God. If we show Him love and if we observe the Sabbath, He appreciates it and is grateful.
   If we would have a friendship with our God, then, we should enjoy the Sabbath, and enjoy giving it to Him.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

If Trump is Nervous, Perhaps there is Reason

   Thankfully, the ship has sailed, and there will be no calling it back.
   I think of what acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe's has said. An Associated Press story says he characterized the investigation into Russian interference in our election as "highly significant." He said James Comey's firing will not hinder the investigation and no interference from the White House will be tolerated.
   The investigation will go on, regardless what Trump might want, or who he might fire.
   Bless you all, who say the investigation is unnecessary, or that it is a witch hunt, or that it will turn up nothing. Your opinions are fine.
   Mine simply differs. I wonder at a president so concerned about the issue that he would fire the FBI director. I wonder that he would be so concerned that he would seek a pledge of loyalty from the FBI director, implying that he must pledge to find nothing to implicate him. FBI directors are appointed to 10-year terms. Comey was but four years into his. Only once before has an FBI director been fired.
   So, this firing is significant.
  You can grapple for reasons why Trump fired Comey. If we are conjecturing, then the thought that he grew nervous is one. If he had nothing to fear, nothing to hide, then why was he even asking Comey to take a pledge of "loyalty"?
   Acting FBI Director McCabe said the investigation is "highly significant." That doesn't sound like he expects it will turn up little or nothing. It doesn't necessarily mean it will turn up something on Trump, but it indicates we can expect something significant. McCabe also said they will not keep Trump abreast of what is being found. That indicates that they might be looking into a Trump connection. It doesn't mean they will find such a connection, but it certainly suggests they are going to search to see if there is one.
   If Trump is nervous, perhaps there is reason for his nervousness.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Turn the Individual Mandate on its Head

   I would turn the individual mandate on its head. Given a chance to reform out health system, rather than requiring everyone to buy insurance, I would require health providers to sell to everyone.
   My thoughts on this were reinforced a couple days ago, as I thought on how it is a principle of economics that those marketing a product, are sometimes influenced by those buyers who will pay the most -- and that drives prices up.
   If they could get $20 from the rich for a pack of bubblegum, they'd do it. But, the rich don't want bubblegum that bad, so bubblegum doesn't end up costing $20.
   Health care might be another matter. The rich want health. And, they will pay what they have to get it. If it costs $60,000 for a surgery, they'll pay it. And, that drives the price of the product up.
   Now, truth be told, even the rich don't pay out of their own pockets for health care. They buy insurance, like the rest of us. So, you might suggest my theory that the rich drive up the cost of health care is false.
   Insurance, you might argue, actually does the opposite. By removing the rich from directly paying for health care, it reduces costs. If they were paying out of their own pockets, they would pay whatever it took. But, they are not paying out of their own pocket. They buy insurance. The plans they buy can differ -- they might opt for something called concierge medicine, and set up something called S-corps and LLCs and they might opt for high deductibles, but they buy insurance.
   That they buy insurance does have some buffering effect from driving costs up by being willing to pay whatever it takes. But, consider this: insurance companies are as rich as the rich people who we are talking about. They might not be as willing as the rich individuals to pay whatever it takes, but they do have the money to do so.
   And, that does drive prices up.
   The poor become the rich when you have insurance. When they need a $60,000 surgery, the insurance company comes up with the money. The poor person could never do that on his own.
  So, it might seem that keeping insurance is a way of keeping the poor covered, and therefore a good thing. And, perhaps so. But, we should consider that there might be another way of going about it. If the insurance companies are rich and the fact that they are rich drives prices up, should we take insurance out of the picture?
   I said I would turn the individual mandate on its head, but I did not say that meant insurance companies would be required to sell to everyone. No, I said health care providers would be required to sell their products to everyone.
   There's a difference between the hospital being required to take what the insurance company can pay and being required to take what a poor person can pay. A big difference. What if we had the mandate that hospitals must sell, but we booted insurance out of the equation?
   It is a solution I toy around with. I think I like it. And, will go to bed thinking about it.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Day of the Working Class Might be Closing out

   One wonders if we sit on the precipice of the greatest economic threat ever. Robots swallow up all our factory line jobs. Drones take over all our transportation jobs. Automated checkers replace every check-out clerk.
   There is nary a manual labor job that a robot cannot do.
   So, what becomes of us? Do the rich -- all those who own companies -- remain, but the working class run out of work? We speak much of the gap between the rich and the poor. This could exacerbate that problem.
   We soon could live in a world where you either own a company, or you are unemployed. That might be a little bit of a generalization, but to a large extent, it could happen.
   What kind of jobs might will remain? Perhaps, those that rely on human interaction. Guides, hosts, trainers, and counselors stand a chance of surviving. Who knows, as our economy shifts, we might see job creation in those fields just to keep people employed. Instead of going through national parks much on your own, the day might come when a guide accompanies the whole way through the park.
   But, shifting workers to human-touch type of jobs is only part of the answer. We will also need to shift many workers from being just that -- employees -- to being owners. The day of the working class may be coming to an end, and the age of everyone owning their own business at our doorstep.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

This would be a Sanctuary City like no other

   Sanctuary city? We don't have one of this kind, a city created -- built from the ground up -- just for those who come to the U.S. A city fostering them as the seek to become legal, helping them become legal.
   Well, yes, I can see such a city would be shut down fast. But, I still think it a wonderful idea, if only Donald Trump and the government would let it stand.
   You don't want them stealing your jobs? Put them in their own city. If you must, restrict them from working outside the immigrant city. You don't want them using your schools? Let them have their own, right there in Sanctuary City.
  For that would be the name of it.
  You don't want them to use your hospitals? Let them have their own.
  We have -- what -- 10 million undocumented immigrants? There's enough of them they could have a sprawling city. Is there some place in New Mexico or Arizona or Texas we could put them -- some place large enough for  a city of 10 million?
  So, instead of deporting them, send them to Sanctuary City.
  I don't know if this idea would work. I'd like it to. But, would it be but a slum city? Would they not be able to fashion a thriving community for themselves? Perhaps, like the name of the municipality suggests, we would have to nurse them along, building stores and manufacturing sites and businesses for them to come work at, and to come and own and operate.
   A sanctuary city might require some sanctuary.
   While I wonder if it would work, I like the idea. You could take virtually every negative aimed at undocumented workers and erase them. Crime? That would be pretty much their own problem. If they were stealing or robbing or raping, it would more likely be among their own. And, I already pointed out they would no longer be taking jobs from us, no longer using our schools, and no longer using our hospitals.
  Social programs? Government care? Give them their own network. And, instead of it relying on Uncle Sam, let charities pay for their "Medicaid" and "Food Stamps."
   If we take away all the reasons you don't like them, will you let them stay? Give them their own city, and let them stay.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Poor Man Out

   As Republicans and the Trump Administration seek to inject more competition, more free-market policies into health care, we should open our eyes to one of the disadvantages.
   Aye, make no mistake, to date, my thought is that we need to turn to competition and free-market values if we are to lower health-care costs. But, a day or two ago, I realized there is a drawback that we will need to overcome:
   The tendency of the free-market to preclude some from affording health care.
   When the marketer has differing economic levels to market to -- ranging from rich to poor -- there will be the tendency to target the higher-paying customers.
   At the expense of the poor.
   So, you set your price in accordance to how you believe you can make the most money. If you can only get $1.95 from the poor and you can get $195 from the rich, obviously you set your price to garner your business from the rich.
   Poor man out.
   So, tonight as I go to bed, perhaps I will give thought to what might can be done to include the poor, for surely it is imperative that the poor are provided health care.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Testimony Comes from Believing, not from Knowledge

   A testimony comes from believing. It is not the product of knowledge.
   I often consider mine will be thought of as a weak testimony if I say I believe instead of saying I know the church is true. But, perhaps, as I said, testimony comes from believing, not from knowledge.
  I think on John 16:7, and wonder if I understand it better than I ever have. "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."
  As long as Christ was there, their testimonies were testimonies of sureness, of knowledge. But, without him, they had to live by faith, their belief had to be enough. I do not know, and know I can be wrong in how I understand the scriptures, but I wonder if what I have just said is so.
  If a person knows something, he has no cause to belief, no cause for faith, for he knows it. I don't have time to look it up, but there is a scripture to that effect.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Foster Placement Program for the Homeless

   We place orphans in homes. We once placed native American children in homes. We still place foreign students in our homes.
   The homeless? One level of taking care of them would be to place them in homes. Do not let it bother you that it wouldn't be a terribly popular program, for those placed in it would receive some of the best care of all.
   And, providing the best care of all ought to be something we seek.
  The Homeless Placement Program, then, where one could take care of a foster homeless person.
   It does not go unnoticed on me that there is not such a program because taking care of the homeless is not something many would relish. Few would actually take them under their own roofs.
   But, some would. And, if we are to solve homelessness, this is a piece of the puzzle.

Friday, May 5, 2017

If We Confuse Fighting Immigration with Fighting Crime, We are Fools

We should be sending our law enforcement agents right down into Mexico.

I do not need to tell you how serious a problem drugs pouring across our border is. Within the last decade, the Department of Justice suggested the Mexican drug cartels -- not the mafia and not the Cripps and Bloods -- are our foremost organized crime problem. We were told the cartels are stationed in, I believe, 250 of our cities.

We should go right down into Mexico to fight the crime crossing our southern border. How do you fight crime, if you do not go where the criminals are and arrest them and bring them back? Yes, this will require an agreement with Mexico, allowing our investigators and officers to go down there to enforce U.S. laws.

I don't know how many countries have ever had agreements with other countries allowing for such an arrangement. But, if this if this is what circumstances demand -- and it is-- then we should do it. Would Mexico oppose our bringing officers in? It would seem they should welcome it. They have been fighting this problem for decades without winning. Surely having a partner to help them would be something they would embrace.

And, we need laws -- new laws -- specifically addressing the crimes being committed. We have laws against cultivating drugs, but do we have one saying if you raise drugs in a foreign land to send to the U.S., it is a crime? Do we have a law saying if you raise a drug that even potentially could be sold in the U.S., we will come after you? Do we have a law that says if you -- even though you are outside our borders -- direct or coordinate the flow of drugs into the U.S., you are guilty of a U.S. offense? Do we have a law making it a crime to recruit someone to bring drugs across our border? If we did, the immigrant -- who is sometimes forced to become a human pack mule at point of his life -- could finger the drug runners once they crossed into the U.S.

And, our border patrol: It is not much more than a paperwork police. It does nothing but chase people who don't have paperwork. That is not a lot of serious police work getting done, when you weigh it against the severity of chasing those who are importing drugs. 

So, get the agreement with Mexico, allowing our border agents to go right down into that country, empowering them to fight crime, not just people lacking their paperwork.

If we don't know the difference between crime and immigration, we are never going to solve either problem. We will never solve the crime question if we do no more than slapping immigration answers on it. If we just fight immigration, when crime is the real problem, ours will remain a foolhardy effort. 

How come we have such a crime problem from Mexico? It could be because we are so busy fighting immigration, thinking that will do the trick, that we lose sight of the fact that we aren't doing much to fight the crime.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Mother Who got Away

   Here is the story of Silvia Avelar-Flores. She was buying one of her daughters things for her birthday party when immigration officials apprehended her, and hauled her off for deportation. But, when the judge heard the case, he granted her 90 more days in America.
   She got away. And, it wasn't the first time. She had been in America about 24 years. She came on a six-month visa as a 7-year old and is still here as a 31-year old. There's a trail in there of times she got away, of times the system thought about deporting her, but didn't. She got away and got away and got away.
   And, should have. 
   How do you deport a mother? How do you deport someone who, if they broke the law, broke it was as a 7-year old? This is a country of rules, you know, and the rules say you are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Where in being deported are you allowed liberty? Where in it are you allowed to pursue the happiness of living in America? This is a country of freedom -- or, at least, it is suppose to be. Where in being deported are you being given your freedom?
   This is a country of laws. And, the laws suggest that if you are age 7, the parent might be convicted, but not the child. If they went into a candy store together and the parents pulled some licorice out of the candy jar and placed it in the hands of the 7-year old and they walked out together, who would you convict, all of them, or just the parents?
   Set her free.
   You might say this is not a criminal case in that manner. It is just a question of whether she is lawful to remain. She is not being convicted of a crime, only deported because she simply doesn't have the right to be here. You might say it is like the parents taking their child with them as they trespassed. Only the parents would be guilty of any trespassing charges, but all of them would be removed from the property -- child included.
   I say there is a difference. You can be removed from a no-trespass site without it adversely affecting your life. You cannot be removed from the land you grew up in and sent to a foreign land you fear without it depriving you of freedom, of friends, and of most all you hold dear. While comparing it to being removed from a no-trespass area might seem in order, it is more in order to compare it to being removed from your own home.
   For literally, that is what is happening.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

What Benefits Zion National Park should Benefit Bears Ears

   It strikes me as odd that the same state leaders who oppose the designation of Bear Ears as a national monument shout praises to the five national parks in Utah. They speak of the economic benefits of the five parks, but when it comes to new monuments (a status that could lead to those areas becoming national parks), they suddenly only see bad economic consequences.
   I don't know. I rather wonder if, instead of opposing the Bear Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, we ought not embrace them, and start pitching them as national tourist attractions. I would imagine if the areas are to be properly protected, tourism should not be encouraged in all places, but in those spots that do warrant tourism, bring it.
   It seems the same type of economic benefit that comes from Zion having national park status should be available to Bears Ears with it having national monument status.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Bear Ears: Speaking of Ears, He Who has Your Ear has Your Heart

   As you read this, if you read it on Wednesday, it will be on the day the Bear Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition will hold a press conference on President Trump's executive order relating to the Bears Ears National Monument.
   I don't know specifically what the coalition will say, but I think they might could say something about how Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke should meet with them. The Native American tribes have been asking Zinke to meet with them since January. Surely, their views and feelings deserve at least an audience, at least a sit-down meeting with the secretary.
   Nor, do I believe Zinke has met with other proponents of monument status for Bears Ears. Has he set down with any nature groups? Meanwhile, we hear of him meeting and listening to most everyone who opposes the monument designation. I have thought well of Zinke, but his uneven treatment of those with interests in the monument designation is unsettling.
   I have a couple of sayings:
   We always trust the face before our face,
   He who has your ear has your heart.
   If Zinke would to come to even-handed conclusions, he should be even-handed in who he listens to.

Humor Should not give License to Demeaning Others

  The problem with humor is that it gives license to personal attacks. If you are just being funny, just joking around, just having a little fun, suddenly it becomes okay to go to the gutter and tear apart another person.
   You don't have to be correct. You don't have to be honest or truthful. After all, you're just joking, just having a little fun. Jokes aren't meant to be truthful, just funny.
  Trouble is, they end up being hurtful, just the same. Humor gives license to hurtful. Bullying and harassment aren't normally considered good behavior, but if you fashion bullying and harassment into humor, many will say you are justified.
  I think of Steven Colbert's rant against Donald Trump the other night. In the name of humor, he was about as derogatory as you can be against a president of the United States. (Oh, yes, others have surely been as derogatory towards the office, but you can only go so low, and at that point others can only join you as low-talking champs.)
  No person should be subject to the treatment Colbert offered -- certainly not the president of the United States.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The stature of a man 
comes not from the stage he stands upon,
 but from how tall he stands 
on the stage he is given.