Showing posts from January, 2007

Religious Expression in Public Schools

Religion is a significant part of our culture. It is too bad that many have taken the "freedom of religion" clause and contorted it into a "freedom from religion" clause. I support freedom of religious expression in the public--including public schools. But I don't support current legislation in the Utah Senate that wants to protect that freedom. Here's why...

Sometime back I wrote a post stating my preference that prayer be allowed and encouraged in public school settings. I also support freedom of religious expression in public schools. A better cultural exchange I can hardly think of. Wearing of hats and t-shirts with religious emblems, passing out flyers inviting others to religious events, and religious groups using public school facilities during non-school hours are all implementations of this free expression.

The Supreme Court has clearly defined that religious expression is allowed in public schools. It's ironic, then, that there occurs t…

Hurricane Hugo (Chavez)

It hasn't taken very long, but Venezuela's elected president Hugo Chavez is on the verge of becoming a dictator. He's been able to do it by helping the disadvantaged and poor to lead a life of greater comfort, but also by getting pro-Chavez people to dominate the National Assembly.

[George W. Bush] has just about everything a president could want: popular support, a marginalized opposition, congress firmly on his side and a booming economy as he starts his new [four]-year term.

Now, he's about to become even more powerful — the all-[Bush]ista [Congress] is poised to approve a "mother law" as early as Wednesday enabling him to remake society by presidential decree. In its latest draft, the law would allow [Bush] to dictate measures for 18 months in 11 broad areas, from the "economic and social sphere" to the "transformation of state institutions."

The above were the opening paragraphs to a CBS news article about Venezuela and President Hugo …

I Like the New House Rules, Too

The people decide who represent them in the legislature. When the majority party in the legislature arbitrarily limits what legislation those in the minority party can introduce, this upsets the election balance established by the voters. A recent change in the rules permitting more fairness in the Utah House of Representatives is a welcome turn of events.

What shenanigans did the Utah Democrats pull on the Republicans when Democrats were in the majority? Were the Utah Democrats ever in the majority...?

We've recently seen what the Democrats in the US congress can do to limit the ability of the Republicans to do their jobs--the same thing the Republicans have been doing to the Democrats for the last 13 years. Similarly, current-gerrymanderers-in-power (regardless of party) have taken gerrymandering to a new art in an effort to perpetuate their power.

The kind of animosity and unfairness this engenders makes me glad, even though I'm a Republican, that Republican Representative…

Problems with Legal Immigration? Here's One!

When I've suggested in the past that people immigrate to the US illegally in large part because our legal immigration system is broken, I've had people tell me that our legal system is just fine. The Thorsted family doesn't think so, and I agree.

"The system is broken, in my eyes," [Mr. Thorsted] said.
"It just doesn't make any sense. You've got a family that wants to be together, it's just inevitable we're going to be together."
Johana and Aaron Thorsted were married in 2003. They immediately began the process of applying for her legal immigrant status. As a result of Aaron being called to active duty military to serve in Iraq, they were penalized--the application process had to be put on hold.

Because she had been in an illegal status before they met, she had to return to her native Guatemala to apply for a waiver of a 10-year ban from the United States. There she sits with her two daughters, one of which has lost her English fluency, and …

Thoughts on the Minimum Wage

Some interesting facts and figures have jumped out at me as I've done a study of the poor and how they would be affected by the Minimum Wage. A more efficient way to help the poor is through the Earned Income Tax Credit. Click "Read More" to read about that, plus a few other of my (hopefully coherent) ramblings on the subject.

I know someone whose husband left her, and if she isn't making the minimum wage as the now-sole breadwinner in her family, she's making pretty close to it. She has no phone. She has no car. Her oldest son is in and out of trouble with the law all the time. Would she be better off with more financial means? In every way. And I think there should be a way to help her become financially more well off and on the road to self-sufficiency.

Utah currently pegs its Minimum Wage to the Federal one. This to me is a State not taking care of its responsibilities, and expecting the Federal government to do its business for it.

I'm not sure wh…

European Economics in One Lesson

Henry Hazlitt's book, Economics in One Lesson, begins by saying that "Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man." European economics is based on perhaps the simplest of those fallacies to avoid: "Bite the hand that feeds you."

There are a lot of electronic music players in the world. One of them is the IPod. I don't own an IPod because it is too expensive and its music will not play on any other player. The Europeans have gotten around to noticing this lately, and rather than buying something else, they want to force Apple Computer's ITunes store to provide their music in other formats. Yes, by all means! I have just created the FSMF (Frank Staheli Music Format) and I am appealing to the European Union to including me in their list of supported formats.

I think it's the same stupid economics that made the Macintosh a second player to the PC market. But the Europeans think it is illegal. And knowing their laws, i…

Pull Up the Drawbridge! We're Under Attack!

It should have stopped surprising me by now how much of a siege mentality many public school educators and administrators have when it comes to school choice, but it still does surprise me, because I find it so irrational. Currently, a voucher proposal in the Utah Legislature has some public educators making all sorts of exaggerated and erroneous claims.

Vouchers are weapons employed in a strategic attack on our public institutions[!]

In a letter to the Deseret News editorial board on January 24, 2007, Heather Bennett and others challenge the benefits to society of school choice in the form of education vouchers.

Some of the complaints in the letter are that vouchers will:

"do nothing to address underfunding of public school programs"not reduce class size"deepen social divides and leave taxpayers without a voice. ...Transportation and tuition costs will continue to discriminate, further dividing our community.""compromise the separation of church and state and v…

I Support a Minimum Wage

Employees should be paid a wage that is worth the work that they provide. Some businesses fail to realize the importance of this principle. Businesses that don't reward their employees with enough compensation to avoid constant employee turnover are losing a lot of money.

The other morning, my wife and I pulled up at the gym that we are members of. The lights were off, and several cars in the parking lot had their engines running. Turns out the girl who was supposed to open the gym didn't hear her alarm.

A couple of days later, we and my wife's friend went to the gym. Her friend had forgotten her membership card, and in the past where any of us had forgotten our cards, they asked us a few demographic questions and let us in. But this time they refused to let her in until I offered to pay the $10 guest fee. "I could lose my job," they said.

I called the gym today, because I commonly see For Hire posters in the window. "We're always hiring," sai…

What Can the Supreme Court Decide On?

Congress can limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme (and other federal) Courts. But what happens if the Supreme Court has already issued a ruling on a particular issue? Is it too late for Congress to remove jurisdiction? Historical precedent--including the Supreme Court's willingness to abide by Congress decision--says it's not too late.

Article III, Section 2 of the United States Constitution says:

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

This means that in certain rare cases, the Supreme Court can hear an 'original case', without it having to have been heard first in a lower court and then appealed to the Supreme Court. Most issues that the Supreme Co…

Garnishing Deadbeat Drivers' Licenses

A bill before the Utah legislature would revoke the driver's license of any non-custodial parent who fails to pay child support. I'm now sure how this wouldn't make the problem worse. If the State's ability to garnish wages is not effective enough, then wage garnishment laws should be strengthened.

gar·nish/ˈgɑrnɪʃ/Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[gahr-nish]–verb (used with object) 3.Law. attach (as money due or property belonging to a debtor) by garnishment; garnishee.
When I was a kid, I heard my mother say to me on more than one occasion, "If you don't get your chores done, I'll ground you for a month!" I'm sure I've said that to my kids, too. But I knew my mom wasn't serious about the real problem. My kids as well knew I wasn't serious, because the crime they had committed was nothing compared to the punishment they would receive, and they knew I wouldn't/couldn't enforce it.

The Utah legislature is cu…

I Am Pro-Contemplation

It really is a choice.Every woman ultimately has the freedom to choose whether she will keep her pregnancy. But it’s also a life.No one can dispute that what is in a mother’s womb is a living thing. So why do we so cavalierly stuff ourselves into one of two warring camps--“Pro-Choice” versus “Pro-Life”?

Yesterday was the 34th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that everyone in the world knows about—Roe v. Wade. The march for life was out in force as well as those who want to keep abortion safe and legal. Neither side had much good to say about the other. But they probably don't really think much about how the other side feels.

I don't like the terms pro-choice and pro-life--because I am both, and I think most people are. What I think we all need to be a lot more of is "pro-contemplation". A pregnant woman should have a choice to abort a child, but it should be done rarely, and only after much contemplation and soul searching.

Not long ago my wife was diagnose…

I Will Celebrate Juneteenth

Juneteenth is the celebration of the ending of slavery, whose official date is June 19th, 1865. If we agree that "all men are created equal" why wouldn't we join together to celebrate the death of one of the most abject institutions ever known to man? I will celebrate Juneteenth, and I hope Utah chooses to as well.

On June 19, 1865, slaves in Galveston, Texas were notified, two years after Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation, that they were free. June 19th, quickly became the day to celebrate the ending of slavery. Utah has celebrated Juneteenth formally for 18 years, and informally for much longer than that.

I admit, I hadn't heard much of Juneteenth until recently. But as I've learned what it stands for, I support it as a day of celebration. That's why it surprises me that some would simply dismiss the day that should be a poignant reminder to all of man's ability to be cruel to man, and that the United States was ultimately a le…

I Hope Ron Runs

Congressman Ron Paul recently announced that he will form a committee to investigage whether he will run for President of the United States. I hope he runs. It would at a very minimum add a fresh voice to the otherwise establishmentarian debate.

I have liked Ron Paul for a long time. He has always voted based on principle, regardless of whether his detractors knew or even cared what those principles were. I'm very glad that he's running for president. As it currently stands, this Mormon would vote for Ron Paul and NOT Mitt Romney.

It is clear that his chances of becoming President are very small. Congressman Paul's exploratory committee chairman says:

"There's no question that it's an uphill battle, and that Dr. Paul is an underdog, but we think it's well worth doing and we'll let the voters decide."
Here's what I like about his potential candidacy--most previous Presidential debates and campaigns have been largely about superficial issues. …

The Real Point of Education for Undocumented Students

It's not really about racism. Nor is it really about breaking federal law. The point of whether or not Utah provides "in-state tuition" for the education of undocumented students is that these students meet a tested legal requirement. Current legislation trying to repeal this benefit, as well as cries of racism against those that are trying to do so, simply cast a cloudy pall over the issue.

Those who recently attended a committee meeting of the Utah legislature where the topic was in-state tuition for undocumented students were greeted with signs implying that certain Utah legislators are racist for not wanting undocumented students who meet established legal criteria to receive in-state tuition benefits. There is no need for such licentious pouring of gasoline on the fire of an already passionate debate. Utah legislators are not racists. There are already hundreds of documented minorities who receive in-state tuition in Utah.

The legislators who voted for the repea…

I Want to Wear My Seat Belt, Thank You!

I think it's a very good idea for people to wear their seat belts while driving. But I'm not sure how it is the government's business to require me to wear my seat belt. Current Utah law requires those under the age of 19 to do so. Pending legislation would require everyone to wear a seat belt. Why should such a common-sense driving accoutrement be a legal requirement?

Current Utah law requires those aged 18 and younger to wear a seat belt; if a police officer sees someone in this age category not wearing a seat belt, they can issue a citation on the spot. For those older than age 18, another violation must occur before a citation can be issued for failure to wear a seat belt. That may be about to change if Democrat Senator Pat Jones' bill passes the Utah legislature.


Why is government in the business of requiring you to wear your seat belt? In their response to Governor Huntsman's State of the State address, Democrats expressed that their main concern is …

A Little Too Ambitious--"Real"ly?

Mayor Peter Corroon and the Salt Lake County Council can wipe out a fairly big mistake if they act on the study recently conducted regarding building a new soccer stadium. The study indicates that Real Salt Lake's plan is too ambitious, and there will not be enough money to pay for the project even in the best of scenarios.

I once served on a city council, where we had a large development group approach us with plans for a wonderful development of commerce, golf courses, gated communities, and everything else they could think of. But we had to act fast, because if we didn't they would go somewhere else. Against my wishes, we acted fast, and luckily our town didn't get stuck with any of the bill except our city's credit rating has now become suspect. There are a few homes now (6 years later) in the once-promised shangrila.

This is why I see Dave Checketts' and Real Salt Lake's proposal for a new stadium in Sandy as a dangerous undertaking for MOST of those inv…

Banning Alcohol in Church

Utah law makes very few exceptions for underage drinking. Nebraska makes about the same number of exceptions as Utah, but a certain lawmaker wants to change that. He wants to change the liquor laws with regard to religious services. Representatives of some Nebraska religious communities have expressed displeasure.

Seven states prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from drinking alcohol. Twenty-one states have no laws against underage drinking whatsoever. The other 22 states, including Utah, provide some exceptions to their underage drinking laws. Exceptions to Utah liquor laws, according to this site, are:

Utah does make an exception permitting minors to consume alcohol for certain specific medical, religious or educational purposes, such as communion wine. The law also permits minors to purchase liquor for law enforcement purposes.
The state of Nebraska has a religious exception very similar to Utah's. Except Nebraska State Senator Lowen Kruse wants to change that limitation.


The Original Attack Ad?

Political liberals claim that conservatives have nearly perfected the art of political attack ads. Attack advertising demonstrates weakness and lack of integrity. Conservatives have unfortunately been very successful with attack ads. But way back near the beginning of television broadcasting, I think the liberals probably had the first attack advertisement. Although untrue, it was very effective.

Attack ads, in my opinion, are political advertisements that are based very little on the substance of of a political candidate's views. They are, rather, an attempt to instill fear into voters in order to get them to vote against a particular candidate's opponent instead of for the candidate himself.

Unfortunately in American society, political attack ads have come to be seen as legitimate entertainment, and thus have become accepted by large segments of society.

Conservative political candidates have been very successful with attack ads. This is unfortunate. Attacks such as the…

Stop Blaming Me for Illegal Immigration

There are a lot of reasons that people immigrate illegally to the United States. But instead of blaming those of us who think it's important to follow the law, let's identify the real problems and fix them.

Yesterday in the Deseret News, John Renteria highlighted the unprofessional way that Federal agents raided the Swift Meat Company in Hyrum Utah recently. I agree that the raid should have been done in a much more civil manner. People weren't even allowed to go back inside and get their coats. Children didn't know where their parents were, etc. Seriously, I think the feds have been watching too many Antonio Banderas movies or something.

But I want to look at it from another point of view--would the Feds have raided Swift if there hadn't been a lot of illegal immigrants there? I know, the question sounds absurd, but please just humor me for a few paragraphs.

I want to discuss a couple of points that Mr. Renteria makes. First, he seems surprised (or sarcastic) …

Tattling on Bad Drivers

I think the current law regarding the reporting of bad drivers in Utah is just fine. Attempts to change that law in the Utah Legislature are a waste of time, and take responsibility away from families who don't want to hurt other family members' feelings.

Currently Utah law requires that your name be released if you report a bad driver. A bill that passed out of a Senate committee yesterday wants to change all that. A Deseret News article published this morning paraphrases the bill's sponsor:

The intent of the bill is to allow people to quietly tattle on a loved one without any fear of hurting a friendship or family ties.
My first reaction to the story was that perhaps there had been instances of violent reprisals by bad drivers against those who had turned them in. This does not appear to be the case.

Such a law, designed to protect family members from hurting each other's feelings would be worse than a waste of time. It is the responsibility of family members to tak…

The Secret to Reduced Class Sizes

If the school-aged population in Utah grew at a slower (or flat) rate, it would soon become easy to get a handle on the problem of crowded classrooms in Utah. Since we can't force people with school-aged children to stop moving into the state nor those already here to stop having children, I have a better idea.

Inflation usually outpaces rising incomes. The only way for incomes to catch up with inflation is to stop inflation. In much the same way, increases in the school-aged population outpace the ability to provide for the education of that population. Faster increases mean more difficulty.

If Utah were a state where people stopped having children and where families from other states were not allowed to come, school-aged children would gradually become a smaller proportion of the population. This would result in a larger proportion of the state's population being tax payers, and their tax payments would go farther because they subsidize a smaller proportion of the state&#…

Require Payday Lenders to Post Interest Rates

A lot of discussion has occurred in Utah lately around the subject of Payday Lenders and the onerous interest rates that they charged. I like the simple solution that was given to the problem in a recent letter to the editor.

In 1994, Utah had about 20 paycheck-cashing lenders. Now there are about 400 of these "payday lenders" in Utah. They cater predominantly to poor and Hispanics. Up until 20 years ago, Utah had established upper limits as to what lenders could charge. In the absence of such limits today, average interest rates charged by payday lenders in Utah are 521%, with some as high as 900%.

A recent letter to the editor of the Deseret News suggests that the state should require these lenders, like all others, to post their interest rates for all to see. I agree.

A statement by the Utah Consumer Lending Association blames such high interest rates on strict Utah regulations:

A senior economist with the Federal Reserve in Manhattan has just concluded a report (1.09.0…

The Unpopular Side of Global Warming

Scientists and computer simulation scenarios offer up scary possibilities for the future of global warming. It is important to be stewards of our earth and society. But it is also important not to make more out of the earth's warming and cooling cycles than there really is.

A $60,000 climatology study was recently unveiled in Park City, Utah, and the news is not good. According to a computer modeling scenario, the temperature of earth will rise 6 to 15 degrees by the year 2100, and that means next to no snow for Utah's ski industry.

Computers have been known to make mistakes, especially when they are programmed incorrectly, and when they are fed incorrect information. And even more especially when they give man more credit than he deserves and nature less credit than it deserves when it comes to warming and cooling cycles.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts a severe increase in earth's temperature by the year 2100 (1.4 and 5.8 °C increase) based on an …

Vouchers Improve Educational Opportunities for All

Utahns are starting to see the benefits of educational choice that vouchers can provide. I think that is a healthy development. As we know we don't have a captive audience, it becomes more important to provide a product that people will want to consume. Education is such a product.

For the first time since such polls have been conducted, there are now more Utahns that favor education vouchers for children than don't. This is a great development. As more people contemplate the importance of a good education and how more choices contribute to that end, I expect these numbers to go up.

I also am pleased with the excellence in education that public charter schools have fostered. My children attend such a charter school campus, where administrators and educators are truly committed to providing both excellence in educational instruction and high expectations when it comes to good citizenship.

School vouchers can only improve this development, giving families across the economic …

Pelosi Exempts Constituents from Min Wage: Media Doesn't Care

It was reported by some news organizations yesterday that some of Nancy Pelosi's constituents were exempted from recent Minimum Wage legislation that passed the House of Representatives. How many news organizations are reporting it? Not many.

Updated: January 13, 2007 - Loophole intended to be closed.

Update: January 13, 2007. Spencer England provides insightful comments at the bottom of this post. I have also learned that Title 29 of the US Code apparently dictates Minimum Wage Laws in the US Territories. The Democrats have modified the Minimum Wage legislation to remove this loophole.

When I found out that Nancy Pelosi's own constituents were exempted from a Minimum Wage bill recently passed by the House of Representatives, I thought, this will be a good litmus test of the fair and balanced media. So I did a news search on Google. This is what I found (click image to enlarge):

Maybe it's a mistake, and Washington Times is reporting something that didn't really hap…

Immigration Affected by Education

One of the main reasons so many Central and South Americans come to the United States is for the definite improvement in opportunity that the United States provides. A chief cause of greater economic achievement in America is greater educational achievement.

Many homes in Mexico have no books or magazines. Education has never been a societal priority in Mexico. It is not surprising, then, that many Mexicans languish in poverty. Mexican President Vicente Fox placed a greater emphasis on education, but the great corruption of previous Mexican governments meant that Mexican education had languished.

Herman Badillo was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in New York. He claims that the crisis in Hispanic education drives the crisis in Hispanic economies. It's a siesta mentality that Hispanics got from their Spanish colonizers.

Mexicans in particular do not read very much. In 2005, the Christian Science Monitor reported that many Mexican book stores and publishers have shut down due t…

The Wonder of Adult Stem Cells

So far nothing has been accomplished with embryonic stem cells. But adult stem cells are effecting more cures all the time. Just today another means of collecting adult stem cells was discovered.

So far, research into embryonic stem cells has resulted in controversy. Embryonic stem cell research is not far enough along to have yielded any beneficial treatments, but adult stems cells are providing all sorts of cures. The National Institutes of Health recently said:

Research on adult stem cells has recently generated a great deal of excitement. Scientists have found adult stem cells in many more tissues than they once thought possible. This finding has led scientists to ask whether adult stem cells could be used for transplants. In fact, adult blood forming stem cells from bone marrow have been used in transplants for 30 years. Certain kinds of adult stem cells seem to have the ability to differentiate into a number of different cell types, given the right conditions. If this differ…