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Showing posts from June, 2007

How Do You Spell American Failure? R-E-G-U-L-A-T-I-O-N

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If you knew that a primary source of your problems was over-regulation of your life, would you care? Well, it is. For those of you who already realized this--never give up in thinking that you can get government to stop trying to suck you dry.


We're going to play a word association game. I'll ask a question, and you give me a one-word answer. Question #1:

Why are so many people losing their jobs? Why is it harder for this generation to make ends meet?

Did you guess regulation? Excellent! The New American shows the numbers behind the pain.

The U.S. economy, once a flourishing free-enterprise colossus, is now a dying Gulliver, thanks to thousands of strangling Lilliputian regulatory cords.

“The total regulatory burden on manufacturers is estimated at $162 billion,” the National Association of Manufacturers reported... “This represents an increase of 10.2 percent since 2000,” NAM reported, noting that this burden is a major contributing factor to the continuing loss of American …

Health Insurance: The Politics of the Heart

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Some people think that government is the solution for the inequities that currently exist with regard to health insurance and health care. Their hearts are in the right place. But their minds?

Update 7/05/2007:One commenter below suggested that the previous picture for this article (of Hitler and Stalin) was knee-jerk. I've taken some glucosamine and my knee is now feeling better. Besides, I found a better picture--courtesy of ProtestWarrior.com.

I appreciate Reach Upward for enlightening me on the problems with government-provided health insurance, as well as a few of his commenters who illustrate that they don't fully grasp the problems that are inherent to government.

RU says insightfully:

The underlying premise behind a requirement that each person have medical insurance is that your physical condition is public business. Why is your physical condition government’s concern? Only due to socialism. Since the public pays for a portion of your health care, your health issues i…

Brown v Board of Education Was About Racism After All

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The 5-4 Supreme Court decision Thursday banning race-based school assignments was the correct decision, after the fashion of Brown v Board of Education in 1951. It doesn't surprise me, though, that Democrat candidates for President of the United States disagreed with the decision, which re-emphasized the ban on racist government control of where children attend school.

It's ironic that people vaunting to become your next president have no clear understanding of the history of one of the most well-known Supreme Court cases in American history--Brown v. Board of Education. Here's a little background:

In Topeka, Kansas, a black third-grader named Linda Brown had to walk one mile through a railroad switchyard to get to her black elementary school, even though a white elementary school was only seven blocks away. Linda's father, Oliver Brown, tried to enroll her in the white elementary school, but the principal of the school refused. Brown went to McKinley Burnett, [of the …

DesNews Self-Defense Editorial is "Shades of" The Three Stooges

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Criminals act in certain ways precisely because society has taught its 'peaceful' (read: passive) members to act in certain other ways. When a criminal can count on passivity, he'll keep stealing your stuff. Overlooking this salient point, the Deseret News editorial board today referred to a local incident of self-defense with a weapon as "shades of Dirty Harry".


I went to my daughter's softball game yesterday after work. When one of the other girls came up to bat, her mother offered very clearly the following words of encouragement. "C'mon sweety, you can do it this time! Don't worry about all the other times. You need to swing the bat! If it comes anywhere close, just swing!" The pitcher, who hadn't been pitching all that well, thereafter looked noticeably relieved, and the batter went down on three called strikes.

Talk about showing all your cards to all of the other card players! This is the kind of behavior that criminals--loc…

The Genius of American Religious Diversity: A Hindu to Pray in Congress

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I take great interest and delight that America has the religious tolerance wherein a Hindu chaplain can be asked to offer the prayer to open a session of the United States Senate. There are many countries in which something like this could not or would not happen.


America has its share of religious debate and controversy, but it is not debatable that America is a nation of religious freedom. Because of that freedom, America is becoming more religiously diverse. There's no question that America is based on Judeo and Christian values, but that doesn't mean that other religions aren't welcome--they are. As we study other religions in greater detail, we find that they aren't so different from ours as we thought.

As much as I find it healthy that the United States Congress begins its sessions with prayer, I find it equally a sign of American religious health that a Hindu chaplain has been asked to give the invocation to the July session of the United States Senate.

Rajan Z…

Rocky Anderson, Integrity and Honor, and "The Weightier Matters"

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People may agree with Rocky Anderson, or people may disagree with him, but to question his honor and integrity because he is a "secularist" is as insensitive as it is insensible. And it is extremely insensible.


A recent letter to the editor of the Deseret News was written thusly:

I had to chuckle at Tom Barberi's characterization (Forum, June 20) of Rocky Anderson as a "man of integrity and honor." Divisive and slippery seems like a more accurate description. But then I've probably been drinking the Kool-Aid for way too long. Incidentally, do secularists even recognize a need for integrity and honor? (Emphasis added).

I will make an assumption: the writer of that ill-thought paragraph is a Christian. I'll make another assumption: the writer is a Mormon (because a lot of Mormons act this way when it comes to politics). If he's not a Mormon, I apologize. If he is, I am embarrassed. Such statements are what give other Utahns a bad impression of Mor…

Dick Cheney's 4th Branch of Government

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In accordance with a Presidential Executive Order, vice President Dick Cheney initially provided a list of documents that it had classified and declassified to the president. But since the year the US invaded Iraq, he has not done so. When questioned recently, his spokesperson said it is because the vice presidency is not part of the executive branch. What?


The Information Security Oversight Office, by way of executive order, has the responsibility to oversee which documents have been classified and declassified in any particular year. Vice President Cheney's office provided this information up until 2002. When questioned recently, an administration official said the rule didn't apply to Cheney's office.

Administration officials say Cheney's office is exempt from the executive order, since it has both executive branch and legislative functions. Per the US Constitution, the vice president serves as president of the Senate, and may vote to break ties in that chamber.

O…

After Further Review, I Support an Increased Gas Tax

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As painful as it will be, I think the best thing for America's long-term energy future is an increase in the gasoline tax.


My wife and I have a big Mormon family, so we have a big Mormon wagon--an SUV. We calculated the cost to drive the thing a couple months back, and it shocked us. At least 25 cents per mile. And that's just for gas. So it is with some trepidation that I agree with Jay Evensen of the Deseret News that we need to raise taxes on gasoline.

...increasing [the gasoline tax], with the extra money going to encourage alternative fuels, would be a good way to begin weaning the nation off its dependence on foreign oil and to take power away from oil-rich despots.


As I discussed the article with my wife, she made an interesting observation. If it meant producing our own fuel rather than relying on the unpredictability of world markets, she would be completely in favor of paying four dollars for the alternative fuel equivalent of a gallon of gas instead of three doll…

The Flying Imams: Most Muslims aren't Radical

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It's important to understand that there are Muslims in the United States who think that the Flying Imams were at fault for drawing attention to themselves by their suspicious behavior on a recent US Airways flight. Updated 8/4/2007 - Passengers who in good faith report suspicious activity cannot not be sued.


Radical Muslims are now suing a passenger of a US Airways flight who reported their suspicious behavior. What wasn't suspicious about it? He had every right to report it. Zuhdir Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracycalls the six spades just what they are--spades. A current lawsuit will create further division between Arabs and other ethnicities, as well us Muslims and adherents of other religions.



In a way, it's like the boy who cried wolf. If the Council on American Islamic relations and radical Muslims complain when they are rightfully accused of suspicious behavior, the eventual result might be the reduction of civil rights for all of us.

Update 8/4/20…

Is the Housing Market Tanking?

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In the last several years, the prices of homes have far surpassed their value. What has caused it? Is it about to change more toward market equilibrium? I think it's changing now.

Fifteen years ago, my wife and I hit the housing market just right. We found a house that had been on the market for quite some time. The asking price was reduced from about $100k to about $80k. Based on the asking price for a couple of 'cracker boxes' in our neighborhood, I suspect that now we could sell it for 3 times the original asking price. Part of that cost is that you just can't buy a loaf of bread for what you usetacould. But most of it isn't. How long can the part that "isn't" sustain itself? It's starting to look like not much longer.

There seem to be houses for sale everywhere. Interestingly, though, a lot of homes sell almost the instant that they're advertised (most often they're the less-than-300k variety). But there are ominous signs on …

Fairness Doctrine: What "Fairness" are We Talking About?

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When it comes to the Fairness Doctrine, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Are we talking about who owns the radio and television stations, or who gets to talk on them? The first is a valid point. The second is just liberals whining that nobody likes to hear what they have to say.


I once listened to a talk by Bill Moyers about the Fairness Doctrine. He pointed out that ClearChannel and a handful of other companies are buying up a lot of the radio and TV stations in the United States, and that we should put a stop to it. I think what he meant, though, was that most of these stations run conservative talk shows, and that we should put a stop to that.

I disagree. I'm of the opinion that most TV and radio news sources make up for the conservative dominance in radio talk, which partially answers the question why there aren't left-wing radio shows galore.

But the main reason? The American people just don't like what the liberals have to say. They're always negativ…

China Makes Crappy Stuff

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We need to be more discriminating when we buy things from China. At least there is a high chance that the product is of low quality. Or it could be a fake. But it could even kill you.


I can remember when I was a kid that it was common to look on the bottom of a toy or a souvenir and see the label "Made in China". It's becoming even more common, and we continue to take their shoddy workmanship. It belies the fact that a communist oligarchy can actually manage productive quality. If China were to have consumer product safety guidelines like in the United States, the Chinese economy would temporarily go in the tank, until it began turning out quality products. Instead, China manages people's family sizes, freedom of speech, thought, press, and religion while the economy turns out garbage and forgeries.

Things are definitely cheaper when they come from China. But I remember a bike we bought that we couldn't even put together, let alone ride. I remember openin…

China: The Enabler of Darfur Genocide

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How does Sudan get the wherewithal to resettle, torment, and kill its own citizens? A great deal of help is coming from China. Does anybody care?


Clear back in 2004 it became clear that China was enabling the Darfur genocide.

Although most Western oil companies have withdrawn from Sudan under pressure from human rights organizations, Chinese companies have turned a blind eye to the brutal way in which Sudan forced 200,000 to 300,000 of its citizens from oil-rich lands without compensation. Nor have these companies shown concern that Sudan uses oil revenue to purchase arms for its wars against its black African population.

Oil provides revenue. Revenue can be used to purchase weapons. Weapons can be used by a government to kill its own people.

But who would sell weapons to Sudan, knowing full well what they'll try to do with them? You've got three seconds to answer.

China? Very good! Go to the head of the class! (If you said Russia, you're correct as well.)


In a 24-page re…

Ethanol: The Real High-Price Bogeyman?

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Oil refineries are often looked at as the villains in the high cost of gasoline. But it appears that Congress and the Bush Administration are more complicit than we give them credit for.


The EPA recently changed the rules governing ethanol production so that it is regulated more like a liquor distillery than an oil refinery. This has the effect of allowing ethanol producers to pollute up to 2.5 times more than they could before.

The rules were changed after a request by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who cited the need for increased fuel production in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and called the old rules "discriminatory."

Hmmm.

In other news, oil refineries are scaling back plans to increase refining capacity due a huge Congressional interest in incentivizing higher levels of ethanol production.

With President Bush calling for a 20 percent drop in gasoline use and the Senate now debating legislation for huge increases in ethanol production, oil companies see growing uncertainty abo…

That We Could All Be "Freedom Writers"

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Occasionally a profound film emerges that reminds us of just how much too thick are the walls of our comfort zones. I came away from the movie Freedom Writers with just such a personal realization. It is because we don't step out of our 'boxes' that there is so much less success in the world.

Erin Gruwell began teaching at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, in the early 1990's. She thought that her desire to help underprivileged youth of various races would be all she'd need to succeed as a teacher--until the first day of class. Several class periods later, not much progress had been made. It wasn't until the day she had class members play the "Line Game" that she finally began to break through. When she asked them to step up to the line if they had a friend or family member who had died by gang violence, she finally understood where they were coming from. She encouraged each of them to say the name(s) of their family and friends who …

Okay, I'm A Racist. Fine. Now, Will You Build the Stinking Fence?

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That's okay if people call those of us racists who would like to build a fence along the entire 1,951 miles of the US-Mexican border. That's just because they can't think of any logical points to argue.


There are 1,951 miles of border between Mexico and the US. Hordes of people are crossing that border for 'greener pastures'. Pretty much all of them are heading north. Something is wrong in Mexican Denmark. The problem is NOT solved by having all their people come to the United States. The comparative per-capita income gives a hint as to the severity of the problem.

In an effort to solve the problem, we should build a fence along the entire 1,951 miles minus the little bit (11 miles) that has already been done near San Diego. It has been estimated at the upper bounds that it will cost $8 billion to build the entire fence. Most people (51-37%) in the US want it. And that's saying something considering that probably about 10% of people old enough to answer t…

Yes, I'd Like to Keep My Tax Cuts

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Do you suppose that 40 states have "booming local economies" and higher than expected tax revenues because of federal tax cuts? I do so suppose. When we get to keep more of our money we get to stimulate the economy. Government just pays more bureaucrat salaries and buys more '$5,000 toilet seats'.


Liberals have a penchant for complaining about a lot of things. One of them is that the rich keep getting richer at the expense of the poor. I've never seen them site a comprehensive study, so that's why I call it complaining. I suppose it could be because I haven't been paying attention to the subject well enough, but I think the fruits of liberal complaining--increased government control of every-freakin-thing--belies the fact that they do not have a good plan.

There are help wanted signs, it seems, in the windows or the little grassy plots out front of nearly every business in Utah. Alas, I exaggerate, but not by much. Anybody can get a job right now. …

"What if You Met a Guy with a Whole Bunch of Tattoos?"

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Sometimes we teach our children some unintended things. Or perhaps subtly they are intended, although they shouldn't be. This came to light last evening as my son and I talked about people who have tattoos.


Are we naturally afraid or averse to people and things that are different than us? I know my kids are. Is it because I am? I think so. It's something I need to work on.

In a book we have, my son noticed a picture of a guy getting tattooed, and he said something like 'Ewwwwwwww'! I suggested to him that that's probably not something we would do, but that it's not necessarily a bad thing if someone else chooses to do so. It's definitely not something we should use as a measure of our own better worth. "What would you do if you met a guy with a whole bunch of tattoos?" I asked.

"I would try not to stare," was his answer.

I explained to him that likely his attempt not to stare would be picked up by the person with tattoos as a sense o…

Why Would You Want to Screen for Down Syndrome?

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Most parents probably would use a Down Syndrome test to prepare to care for their child. But the test is being offered more and more. It seems that a lot of parents will use the diagnosis to change their mind about being parents. This means a multitude of missed opportunities.


Some studies indicate that as many as 90 percent of children diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted. How unfortunate. How fortunate, however, that the rate in Utah is significantly less:

A 1999 study showed that nationally, 90 percent of women terminate their pregnancies after a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. But Utah's rate is much lower: 8.5 percent of fetuses with Down syndrome were aborted from 1995 to 2005, according to the Utah Birth Defect Network.

We don't have a Downs child in our family. So I can't say personally how it would affect our lives. But I have known several people who have. A handful of them have been close friends. In every case, the families of Downs children that …

Utah: The Most Beautiful Place on Earth

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As we camped in the mountains and hiked in the red rock this past weekend, I occurred to me that Utah is the most beautiful place on earth. I need to stop taking it for granted.


As I was taking in the unsurpassed beauty of Delicate Arch at Arches National Park last Thursday (I have never seen a picture that does justice to the grandeur of actually being there), I heard a man speaking German. Having served an LDS Mission in Austria several years ago, I decided to try out my German on him. During the course of our conversation, my new friend stated that Utah was perhaps the most beautiful place on earth.

I've taken it for granted for the greater part of five decades, but I'm finally coming to the realization that he's right.

Thursday and Friday nights our church group camped high in the La Sal Mountains, while just a half hour to an hour away during the daytime hours we hiked, climbed and four-wheeled Arches, Dead Horse Point, and Canyonlands National Parks.

Just to sit and p…

i-Yi-Yi-Provo!

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Whenever the private arena can provide a service, it is better that public entities try not to compete with them. Provo is finding this out the hard way with its ill-conceived iProvo project. Yet it refuses to give up, only destined to make the problem worse.

It sounded really cool. Most projects usually do sound that way. For their compensation, everyone told Provo that it would be a home run. iProvo would be a slam dunk. A soft ball that they could hit out of the park.

Woops!

About the time I got interested in running for Santaquin City Council several years ago, the extant city council voted to go into the natural gas business, thus directly competing with Questar, who was already a gas provider in town. By the time I got on the City Council, our city manager and our contract engineering firm painted a rosy picture, giving us a break-even point of 110 homes. Every amount of revenue generated by the 111th gas customer and so on was just money in our pockets. When Questar fou…

Paris Hilton is Not News

It is interesting what tries to pass as "news" these days. Unfortunately, the USA Radio Network this morning included a story about Paris Hilton. Here's what I told them.


I had a respectable and amicable discussion with a producer of the USA Radio Network news this morning. He agreed with me that he personally didn't find a story about Paris Hilton newsworthy, but felt that several of URN's listeners would, so they decided to include it. Suggesting that he was not the best person to be talking to about the subject, he gave me the e-mail address of the executive news director. This is the e-mail that I sent to the director.

Bob,

I would have expected it from CBS, from CNN, and even (especially) from Fox. But I was rather surprised this morning that your hourly broadcast included a story of 20-30 seconds about Paris Hilton going to jail or something or other. I say something or other, because I turned off my radio when the story began and counted to 15 before I…

The Proper Advocacy of Human Sexuality

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Two recent polls can find little to agree on when it comes to the way we should educate our children about human sexuality. There should be one thing on which we all can agree on, however.

The Deseret News today reports that

Two dueling polls say they have the definitive word on how parents want schools to teach their children about sex.

"Parents prefer abstinence education 2 to 1," boasts the headline on the National Abstinence Education Association Web site. A recently released survey of California parents, however, finds that even self-identified "very conservative" parents are overwhelmingly in favor of "comprehensive sex education," which the study defines as abstinence plus contraceptive information for students who decide to have sex.

The abstinence only crowd and the comprehensive crowd could learn from each other if they would only listen. One thing is for sure, however.

No one should ever advocate for children and youth to engage in sexual activity…

The Assault on Reason: Praise for Al Gore

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I know you think it ironic that I am praising Al Gore in an article that appears just after one that chastised him. It just goes to show that I am an equal opportunity praiser/chastiser. In all seriousness, I have been so far very impressed by Al Gore's latest book, entitled The Assault on Reason.

I had an interesting discussion with our city librarian at the book fair yesterday. When I told her I would donate The Assault on Reason to the library when I'm done reading it, she said "I guess it's important to have both sides of the issue available to the public." I told her that although I don't agree with very much Al Gore says, I think it's still important to read the works of him, a very important and knowledgeable person. Imagine my surprise when I can find nearly nothing in his new book with which I can disagree!

I have as of yet only read the introduction and part of the first chapter of the book, but so far I think he makes an excellent analysis …

A Surefire Way to Cure One Effect of Global Warming

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In his scientific magnum opus, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore opined that he was rather sure that man-made global warming would cause a rise of 20 feet in the earth's oceans in fairly short order. Alas, we have found a way to solve that problem.


While using radio waves to treat his leukemia, John Kanzius discovered that at the right frequency, salt water will combust.

The possibility of powering cars with radio waves and salt water is as of yet far fetched, but imagine the ramifications. Salt water is much more plentiful than oil. And the combustion of salt water would counteract the effects that Ambassador Gore says are sure to come. Excellent!

Eat, drink, and be merry, for we have conquered global warming!!!