Sunday, October 29, 2006

Energy Alternatives are Paramount

Many of our international problems would be solved if we weren't reliant on foreign oil. As it stands today, energy dependence allows the enemies of freedom to prosper. To silence the oppressors, we need energy alternatives that can be used around the world.

Gasoline prices are down all over the United States, and most of us are breathing a sigh of relief. I save about $25 every time I fill up my GMC Yukon compared to the highest prices we were paying 2 months ago. But there's a problem with these lower prices. When the cost of something is high enough there is a large incentive for innovators to provide a substitute for it. Which is exactly what American companies were starting to do when the price of gas was so high. Now that the prices are lower, it is not as cost effective to research alternative energy sources.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently stated that the one thing that has surprised her most in her current office is how dramatic is the effect of being dependent on other countries for our energy. Our energy-buying habits make us much less safe in the world, because the very money we spend to facilitate our transportation habits is being used in many cases by despots and dictators to undermine and destroy America.

Democrats must know how precarious our situation is when they vote in such silly ways as to prohibit many types of off-shore drilling and to whine about the non sequiturious problems that drilling for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) would cause the wildlife there.

But meanwhile:
  • The former economic advisor to Russian President Vladimr Putin can see a direct relationship between Russia's turn away from democracy and liberty and the country's takeover of its largest energy companies.
  • Iran earns tens of billions of dollars from its oil exports, much of which it bribes its own people into living with their serf-like lives, and some of which it gives to its brainchild, Hizballah, which terrorizes Lebanon and now has Israel in its sights.
  • Hugo Chavez, the butcher of Venezuela, has similarly bought off the Venezuelan underclass and used surging oil revenues to support other freedom-squelching dictators in Latin America, and has gone a-whoring with Iran.
The problem will not be entirely solved if the United States becomes energy independent. Rather, we will come much closer to a solution that makes us secure if we can create new forms of energy that are usable the world over. If we get the Chinas and the Europes of the world to, with us, reduce their dependence on oil as a form of energy, then we significantly reduce the sabber rattling and America-taunting that worthless crackpots like Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are currently so proud of.

When we take away these despots' overweening means of income, we not only give the Venezuelan and Iranian people a much greater chance of living in freedom, we provide their self-selected 'leaders' much less of an opportunity to undermine America as well.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

That's Not Constitutional!

If it weren't such a serious problem, it would be laughable about what some people think is and is not Constitutional these days. A misunderstanding of constitutionality will lead to legal disaster.

  1. Of or relating to one's physical makeup.
  2. Of or proceeding from the basic structure or nature of a person or thing; inherent.
  3. What the judges say it is
In the previous definition, taken mostly from the American Heritage dictionary, I inserted definition #3, just so you can see how absurd it is.

But there are many who say these days "That's not constitutional!" when they really mean "I don't like that!". Constitutionality is not based on emotion, but on the Constitution. If the Constitution says it, it's Constitutional, if it doesn't it's not. Constitutionality cannot possibly mean simply what the judges say it is, or all legality and lawfulness will eventually break down into a complete disrespect for law.

Perhaps the most absurd claim to unconstitutionality that I have seen is one with regard to the Electoral College. In point of fact, Article II Section 1 of the Constitution discusses the office of President, including how he or she is to be elected. The several states are to determine how presidential electors are appointed. The electors are to choose the president. So it's very clear, isn't it? "That's unconstitutional!" A reply to the above-mentioned article on unconstitutionality states:
One could argue that the Electoral College is no longer necessary or is ineffective in the electing of the President, but it is ridiculous to argue that it is unconstitutional when it is clearly in the constitution...
Robert H. Bork should be a Justice on the US Supreme Court, because he clearly understands that the Constitution is what the Constitution says, not what the judges say it is. However, those who interpret life emotionally--Liberal Democrats--clearly understood that he would respect the Constitution in his decisions, so they hounded him until he withdrew his nomination. Mr Bork explains succinctly, in his book The Tempting of America what happens when judges let their opinions run wild.
When powers are shared...the Constitution is usually explicit on the subject. There is no faintest hint...that the judiciary shares any of the legislative power. (p 4)

...when a judge realizes that in the case before him his strongly held view of not embodied in...any provision of the Constitution...[h]e must then choose between his version of justice and abiding by the American form of government. (p 1)

The democratic integrity of law...depends entirely upon the degree to which its processes are legitimate.

Either the Constitution and statutes are law, ...or they are malleable texts that judges may rewrite to see that particular groups or political causes win. (p 2)

It is common today for demonstrators to demonstrate in front of the Supreme Court instead of Congress, believing that legality has little to do with their demands.

Politics has nearly everything to do with everything these days, unfortunately. But we cannot afford to let politics drive everything we do. We must let truth rule the day. The rule of law is truth. Rule by judges is destructive politics.

It is important for us to know what really is and is not constitutional and expect it to be interpreted and enforced correctly and equally--not expect a small coterie to change it for us just because "I don't like that!"

Friday, October 27, 2006

I Don't Want Your Social Security

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme that will ultimately fail. It is a terrible experiment that, the longer it goes on, the worse the financial catastrophe will ultimately be. We should be able to keep our money and invest it where it will do some good. Social Security is not secure and it destroys the social fabric of our society.

I see approximately $300 per month of my paycheck go some god-forsaken entity called FICA, and if I think too long about that acronym, it begins to look like a vulgarity. Not only does this FICA soak me for $300, but he gets the same amount out of my employer, only to deceive me into thinking he's taking only half as much as he really is. This means that under normal circumstances I would be making about $600 more per month on my paycheck.

If I were to invest this $600 per month for the 16 years that I have worked at this job at a conservative rate of 4% interest, I would have approximately $161,003. If, from now until I retire in the year 2030, I just let that money sit and continue to gain 4% interest, it will be worth $412,692. But if I continue to invest $600 per month during that time, I will have saved $709,177.

The 2006 average monthly benefit for a retired couple is $1,648. Let's say that by the time I retire, the amount my wife and I get from Mr. FICA is $3000 per month. If I live to be 100, we will have received $990,000.

Looks like we'll be getting a great deal! But wait... If I were to take the same $3000 per month from my personal account as it continued to earn the same 4%, it would take me til I was 106 years old to deplete my savings. More importantly, I could hold down another job if I wanted to and still collected my annuity from my personal savings account, which I cannot do if I want to collect $3000 from Social Security.

Social Security does not earn interest, at least not for me. Besides that, it is a pipe dream to imagine that my wife and I will really receive $3000 per month from Mr. FICA when we retire. And what happens to my Social Security when I die? It's gone. But the savings in my personal account belong to my spouse and children.

I want my money back. No actually, let's do this. Stop making me pay Social Security taxes (and my employer on behalf of me) and let me invest that amount in a private account. I will make way more than 4% doing that, by the way. And you know what? I would be glad to renounce all prior payments to Mr. FICA if I could make this change right now.

The problem is--the money I spend into Mr. FICA's account was never meant to socially secure me. It's meant to socially secure my parents and my grandparents. So who's going to secure me when I get that old? And then whose going to secure them? You start to get the picture. It's a corrupt Ponzi Scheme. The Social Security Trust fund is bankrupt now, but Mr. FICA doesn't tell you about that. Imagine the financial fallout that will obtain in the near future when it is determined that there are no more government money buckets to rob to pay for Social Security entitlement obligations.

Social Security takes away the responsibility of family members to take care of themselves and thus breaks down the family unit. In the past when grandparents had trouble, their children were more likely to take them in and help them pass the last few years of their lives. But with the advent of Social Security, they unfortunately let everyone else take care of them in most cases. Nowadays families don't stick together as much as they once did, and a major cause is the advent of Social Security.

It is far past time to phase out Social Security and let us take care of ourselves with our own money. Everyone will be better off.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Embryonic Stem Cell Research is Hot Air

We pause now for a moment to identify the rather long list of ailments that embryonic stem cells have cured... O...kay...We now continue with our regularly scheduled program.

A friend of mine who recently lost his arm to a roadside bomb in Iraq spent quite a bit of time at Walter Reed Army Hospital. While there he learned of some excellent remedies that have come along due to stem cell research. With tongue firmly in my cheek, I asked, "what sort of stem cells, embryonic?" No, he replied, adult.


So far, all stem cell cures or remedies for any ailment that exists have been made with adult cells. Embryonic stem cells have made no contribution whatsover.

In the picture accompanying this post, the first cherub says "I died waiting for embryonic stem cell research to find a cure. What about you?" To which the second angel says "I was the embryo." It becomes a huge slide into moral relativity when we begin to say that it is okay to kill some people because their death might provide the benefit of helping us to find cures for the diseases of other people.

A Time magazine cover article within the past year made it sound as though the United States' not funding embryonic stem cell research was a catastrophe. Other countries are funding such research, and we will be way behind if we don't jump on the bandwagon. Well, despite all of their funding and research, we are still not behind. They haven't found anything yet.

Embryonic stem cell researchers generally also believe in a woman's right to abort her child. Deep down, the main desire of the embryonic stem cell supporters is this--to find a place to use their waste product, to find justification for further killing of the unborn, and to assuage their consciences.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Moral Relativity is not Relative

It can be easily proved moral relativity is not at all what it claims. In every case where moral relativity prevails, someone's specific brand of moral relativity becomes the moral norm. We can accept truth, or we can become victims to the most powerful as they decide what 'truth' is.

In George Orwell's book Animal Farm, one of the animals' mottoes was "All animals are equal." This motto was a value invented by a self-proclaimed leadership of pigs. Due to conspiracy and pressure, the other animals came to believe the motto. So it was to their great surprise when they awoke one morning to discover the barn wall had been painted with a modified motto:
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
If what the moral relativist claimed were true, he would not be able to make his claim. In reality what the moral relativist says initially is "There is no view or value that is better than any other, except for the fact that there is no view or value that is better than any other." Ultimately and unfortunately (but predictably) the moral relativist's motto changes to
There is no view or value that is better than any other, except for the views and values that I possess.
The Netherlands is a good example. Believing that any sort of lifestyle shall be tolerated, they have come to determine that this tolerance allows them to euthanize those parts of their populace that have become a drain on or are otherwise of no use to their society.

A daughter brought home from school one day a values survey that she was required to complete. As the mother studied the survey, she became more and more agitated. Each question was asking the daughter to assign a value to something for which there was really only one truth.

Finally the mother asked the daughter, "When Martin Luther King stated that slavery was an abomination, was he right?" The daughter replied, in effect, "I agree with Mr. King that slavery is wrong, but that is just one opinion." School teachers ought to at a minimum be fired from their jobs for inculcating such obtuseness in their students.

The lifeboat question is another silly antic that occasionally appears in the classroom. It goes something like
There are 10 people on a lifeboat, and there is enough room, water, and food for 9. Which person do you get rid of?
It does not matter how many times the teachers who present such drivel hope that their students determine that their personal value would be to make do with what they have and accommodate all 10 people on the lifeboat. The only value that is of any importance is that value which comports with the truth. Teachers should not simply encourage their students to fashion their own values--they should teach truth and should be held accountable when they teach such falsehoods as 'the value of moral relativity.'

Moral relativism regarding a particular subject ALWAYS gravitates to that view or value of the subject that is considered by the most powerful people to be the 'truest' view or value. And that 'truest value' WILL be enforced by the most powerful.

So which do you want? A bedrock truth that has been true since eternity because it was established by a perfect God? His yoke is easy, and his burden is light. Or do you want to risk everything by allowing what is true to be determined by discussions in moral relativism?

Moral relativism is never relative.

We Don't Need No Stinking Open Space

The state of Utah has more open space than it has any idea what to do with. We don't need any more.

Groups like Envision Utah claim that Utah needs to set aside more open space for its people. This is bunk.

Utah has more open space as a percentage of its total space than nearly any other state in the United States (Nevada possibly excepted). The Federal Government owns so much of Utah that there is virtually no risk whatsoever that we will run out of open space. If you want to go camping, camp one day in each public camping spot in the state and it would probably take you 10 years to camp in all of them. You couldn't possibly hope to hike all of the open space in Utah if you hiked it from now until the day you die.

Utah has made very good use of a lot of its open space already. State and National parks are very majestic, enjoyable, and cared for. Opportunities to visit such sites are open and accessible to all. In addition, most cities and counties do an excellent job of setting aside park land for athletics and other recreation.

Utah is one of the most urban states in the country. A lot of this has to do with the fact that we have a gigantic amount of open space. We don't need any more.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"One Person One Vote" Was a Huge Mistake

The Supreme Court's decision to require all legislative districts to be "apportioned substantially on a population basis" was a ludicrous decision that has caused a multitude of problems.

The Congress of the United States is a bicameral (two-chambered) legislature. The House of Representatives is apportioned roughly according to population of the various states of the union. Within those states, the various House districts must be generally equal in population.

The Senate is a completely different animal, however. Every state in the union, regardless of population, is given two senators in the United States Senate. This is a very healthy balance in lawmaking, pitting the overweening effect of large states in the House with the disproportionally stronger effect of the smaller states in the Senate.

The concept of "one person one vote" was popularized by the Baker v Carr Supreme Court decision in 1962, and hardened by the Court's 8-1 decision in Reynolds v Sims in 1964. These decisions effectively made it impossible for state legislatures, wishing to emulate the United States Congress, to have one house of their bicameral legislatures apportioned according to geography rather than strictly according to population. Such a clear misunderstanding of the Constitution of the United States has unfortunately been matched several times since by a Supreme Court that until recently has been largely out of touch with anything but a liberal and cultural elitist point of view. Most members of the court for the last 50 years have cared very little about the Constitution's original meaning.

This is why Robert Bork was not approved by the Senate to sit on the Court--because he cared about the meaning of the Constitution, because the Senate was aware of this fact, and because most of the members of the Senate were worried that Bork would somehow singlehandedly reverse all of their "progress" of the last several years. Somehow, the Congress failed to "Bork" Clarence Thomas, and in addition to him, a near majority, including Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, of the Court regards the basis of our country instead of wanting to be like the cesspool that is Europe.

In Utah, "one person one vote" has meant that Utah citizens living in outlying areas have very little say about what goes on in their state. Prior to 1964, the Utah Senate was apportioned at one senator for each county. This gave small counties, like Daggett (population 921 as of the 2000 census), Piute (1,435), and Rich (1,961) equal influence on state affairs that would affect them equally along with such large counties as Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, and Weber. The disproportionate effect was counteracted by the Utah House of Representatives, which always has been apportioned according to population.

It is reasonable to believe that Utah would not have become as socialist as it has become in many areas--welfare, education, taxation, regulations on business, etc.--if it had been allowed to retain its Senate apportionment according to county.

Metropolitan populations have very different needs and persepectives on life than do rural populations. Because they have a lot more people, metropolitan areas will always win the day in a "one person one vote" political environment. With "one person one vote" metro populations effect far more negative effects on rural populations--than they know or care about--than they would in a legislature like Utah had before the Supreme Court pulled the rug out from under us.

As with any decision the Supreme Court makes, it is not about who wins or loses. The important point to consider is what is right. What is right is what was intended by the original Document until such time as it is amended. The Supreme Court cannot amend the document.

Clearly the Constitution intended for States to apportion their legislatures as they see fit.

I hope we are close enough a fair and correct makeup of the Supreme Court so that Baker v Carr and Reynolds v Sims can be thrown on the ash heap of history, and then we can let each individual state determine the composition of its own legislature, as it once was and should be.