Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Orrin Hatch Makes Bizarre Case for New House Seats

Senator Orrin Hatch's recent letter to the Deseret News seems to me to be an effort in propaganda. His discussion about the District of Columbia having a seat in the House of Representatives has some logic to it, but the contortions he goes through to say that Utah should also have another House Seat is atrocious.

He begins by saying:

Legislation is necessary to give the District of Columbia a seat, and Utah another seat, in the House of Representatives so Americans are properly represented in Congress.

D.C., maybe. Utah--no way.

Let's leave aside the reasoning that Senator Hatch uses to justify a D.C. House seat. I'll talk about that below--after I talk about his contorted Utah House Seat "logic".

Here's what he says about Utah:

This legislation would give Utah the fourth House seat we deserve and years of seniority before the next census and redistricting process would be complete. I remind those who insist that process will necessarily give Utah a fourth (the News says even a fifth) seat that we thought so after the last census. However, the extra seat is not guaranteed — some other states are already claiming it. So this legislation would not jump the representation gun; it would correct an injustice.

I agree with the News that this issue must be addressed "in the proper way — on its merits." Doing so requires putting all the pieces together. The Constitution does not prevent accomplishing by legislation the goal of America's founders that Americans, including in Utah and the District, be properly represented in Congress.

Okay, he's right, when he says "The Constitution does not prevent accomplishing by legislation the goal of America's founders..." But the problem is that he doesn't end his sentence before he gets himself in some obvious hot water.

There is no way that Hatch's legislation could be passed without violating the Constitution. It would turn the need for a national census on its head by giving Utah a extra seat in perpetuity regardless of whether Utah's future population relative to the other United States warranted it.

Let's wait for the 2010 census. Chances are very high that we'll get a 4th seat then. But what if legislation gives us one now, and we don't qualify for it then. Do we get to keep it? I should surely hope not. That's why this legislation is inane.

The Constitution refers several times to the "states". According to Senator Hatch:

For more than two centuries, courts have approved application to the District of constitutional, statutory and treaty provisions that are similarly phrased in terms of states. The original Constitution, for example, said that "direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states." Article I gives Congress authority to regulate commerce "among the several states." Article III says that federal courts have jurisdiction over lawsuits between "citizens of different states." The Sixth Amendment requires a speedy criminal trial in the "state" where the crime was committed. An international treaty refers to "all states of the Union." Each of these now applies to the District.
That's all well and good, but the Founding Fathers knew--and left it that way--that the District would have other benefits to outweigh the fact that they didn't have representation in Congress. Interestingly enough, a Constitutional amendment to grant D.C. representation in Congress failed in the 1977-1984 ratification period.

The solution to this problem is not to give Washington, D.C. a seat in the US House of Representatives. Rather, if anything, D.C. residents should have voting rights in Maryland, from which the existing District was ceded in 1790. If not, then what happens after they get a seat in the house? Do they get two seats in the Senate?

Senator Hatch is attempting to open Pandora's Box.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Another Reason to Get Rid of the IRS

You may not want to read this post, because you might find out that you are breaking the law, too! It has just come to my attention that I am a miscreant because I have not been itemizing and reporting to my employer my cell phone usage into business vs. personal minutes. It will cost my employer more money for me to do that each month than my monthly phone bill costs!

There are things that the IRS does that tick me off, and there are things they do that are beyond explanation. I found one, and apparently, I and my co-workers have been breaking this law for quite some time.

Here is an excerpt from an e-mail that I just received, entitled "2nd Request-URGENT!! Important Cell Phone Tax Implications".

Dear Cellular Phone Subscriber,

A previous communication was sent to you on July 6, 2007 and we do not have a record of a response. You are receiving this because our records indicate that you have a cell phone ... which is paid for by [the company]... The IRS requires that personal use of employer-provided cell phones must be taxed to individuals as additional compensation.

Do people really use their cell phones that much that it would mean a substantial difference in their tax liability?

Give me a break!

Has anybody heard of this malarkey before? It sounds like we have at least one too many lawyers in our legal department.

Oh well, I'm off to spend $50+ to calculate how many minutes of my $44 phone bill were personal minutes. Bye!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Throwing Michael Vick to the Dogs

It is a travesty that the media and nearly everyone else with an opinion has declared Michael Vick guilty of participating in dog-fighting. He might just be. But how can we possibly apologize to him and give him his life back if he is not?

Updated: 7/31/2007

I don't even really like the National Football League (college football is much more fun to watch). And I don't really like the Atlanta Falcons. And I don't think, from my limited knowledge of the professional game, that Michael Vick is a very good quarterback. But I am of the strong opinion that he is being treated wrongly by a pack of leeches who can't wait to get in the first lick.

Have you ever noticed that when someone is captured for this or that crime, that more often than not the person's mug shot is on the evening news that night with the implication that the individual is clearly guilty of the crime for which he has been arrested? I think such statements by the media should be illegal. In most cases, the individual does turn out to be guilty, but what about the times when he or she not? Where do they go to get their reputation back?

One of the characteristics that has always made America great is the right of a person to be presumed innocent until he is found guilty in a legal court. It's a sign of the degradation of our society that so often individuals are sentenced by the media and the public before the case has even gone to trial. Who knows how much this early sentencing affects the outcome and distorts the "reality" of the actual trial?

If Michael Vick is guilty
of being

a sinister thug who used his big payday to satisfy a lust for blood, who turned dogs into killers and signed off on gruesome executions when they wouldn't fight,

then he should be punished to the full extent of the law. That, however, has not yet been proven. Several people think he couldn't have done something like that, but that doesn't stop the media from flaying him before the facts are in.

The NFL thinks Vick is guilty. Michael Vick has been banned by the NFL from appearing at the Atlanta Falcons' training camp, despite still being under contract with his team, and despite his having as of yet been convicted of nothing.

Other rats are abandoning ship as well, all due to the court of public opinion. Several memorabilia and trading card companies have stopped selling Michael Vick items, all because they don't dare wait to find out whether he's guilty.

I can't help but wonder...what if it had been a white guy? Would we all be so quick to judge? But because he's a black guy who had a hard life...it's easy to make assumptions, isn't it?

Despite Michael Vick's possible involvement in dog fighting, he is a person who has just as many rights as you and I. One of his (and our) most important rights is not to be declared guilty by an angry mob.

"He's being portrayed now sort of like a monster, but that's not him," said Johnson. "I know his heart."

"Mike did everything we asked him to do," said Dan Reeves, Vick's first pro coach. "He was never any trouble, and he had a great attitude. "

Imagine his attitude now.

Update 7/31/2007: Greg Allen raised an excellent issue this morning on The Right Balance. What if this Tony Taylor has an ax to grind? What if Michael Vick is being unjustly framed for something that he didn't do, or that he wasn't nearly as involved in as he is being painted to be? Remember the Duke University case?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Minimum Wage Increased Today. Ho-Hum.

The previous federal minimum wage was so low that it had little effect on the nation's economy, and particularly Utah. Which confirms my opinion that, instead of increasing the minimum wage, the government ought to be doing the kinds of things that government can do best--promoting the general welfare--so that business can thrive and grow amidst fair competition.

If the minimum wage is raised in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

The nation's lowest-paid workers will soon find extra money in their pockets as the minimum wage rises 70 cents to $5.85 an hour today, the first increase in a decade.

It ends the longest span without a federal minimum wage increase since it was enacted in 1938. The previous increase came in September 1997, when a bill signed by President Bill Clinton raised the minimum 40 cents, to $5.15 an hour.

Legislation signed by President Bush in May increases the wage 70 cents each summer until 2009, when all minimum-wage jobs will pay no less than $7.25 an hour.
Less than one percent of the members of the United States workforce earned only the previous minimum wage of $5.15, and a significant percentage of them were not primary breadwinners, including teenagers. (Admittedly, with the increase, more people will now make only the minimum wage--I don't have those statistics.)

Government figures show about 1.7 million people earned $5.15 or less in 2006.
Utah's economy is booming, so much that hardly anyone noticed the increase in the minimum wage.

with Utah's economy booming and an unemployment rate at 2.6 percent, few employers in the area pay minimum wage. Mark Knold, chief economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, said that in 2005, only 7,000 people earned minimum wage in the state, or 0.5 percent of the employed population.

Knold said now is the best time in Utah to have the minimum wage increase because it will have "no economic effect."

"The reality of it is in this explosive economy we have, (business owners) are having to pay more than minimum wage, and they're still in business," he said. "I don't think it's a very stressful thing to businesses."

...most businesses have to pay employees more than minimum wage due to the current scramble for workers. Marc Greeley, owner of Connie's Pizza in Salt Lake City, agrees.

The minimum wage, he said, "doesn't mess with me at all. I can't image anyone paying minimum wage."

In economic parlance there is a phrase: "The things seen versus the things unseen." Most people tend to go for solutions that are easy to see, without stopping to consider (a) how they affect other things, and (b) that there are unseen (more-difficult-to-understand) solutions that are better. It's extremely easy to see a minimum wage increase, and it's equally easy to feel good about something like that, because we can see it and 'get our hands around it'. It's a lot harder to see how much the economy would thrive if the government would just get out of the way.

But actually, that's the better solution. Utah's economy proves it.

Want Accurate Polling Results? Ask the MTV Crowd.

If recent polling results are true, I'm disappointed in the younger generation. I have a suspicion, however, that the results are suspicious. MTV participated in the polling.

According to a recent poll, youth are much more likely than their elders to favor national health care:

"Young Americans are more likely than the general public to favor a government-run universal health care insurance system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage, according to a New York Times/CBS News/MTV poll.

... Forty-four percent said they believed that same-sex couples should be permitted to get married, compared with 28 percent of the public at large. They are more likely than their elders to support the legalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The findings on gay marriage were reminiscent of an exit poll on Election Day 2004: 41 percent of 18-to-29-year-old voters said gay couples should be permitted to legally marry, according to the exit poll.

...Their views on abortion mirror those of the public at large: 24 percent said it should not be permitted at all, while 38 percent said it should be made available but with greater restrictions. Thirty-seven percent said it should be generally available.

I hope it's not true. I suspect it's not. MTV has its moniker on the poll along with CBS, New York Times, and CBS.

But if it is, I suppose I'm not surprised. Now that MTV is into influencing its second generation toward hedonistic lifestyles, it's probably not all that odd that the "I want it now" crowd thinks that government is the silver bullet for everything.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I Agree with Barack Obama

To be sure, me and Barack Obama disagree on a lot of things. But I was surprised how many times I found myself agreeing with him as I read his new book, The Audacity of Hope. You might be surprised what his political beliefs are. I was.

Almost shockingly to me (after recently accusing Barack Obama of dogpiling on whites at a debate a Howard University; I now suspect the statement I made about him was wrong) there are a plethora of things that I put an "A*" in the margin of my copy of The Audacity of Hope (meaning that I agree substantially with the associated statement in the book). I list here several of those issues that I'll admit I thought were the exclusive domain of conservatism.

I agree with him on sexuality and abortion:

I think faith can fortify a young woman's sense of self, a young man's sense of responsibility, and the sense of reverence all young people should have for the act of sexual intimacy. (pg 215)
He has something good to say about the importance of religion:

...the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of "thou" and not just "I", resonates in religious congregations across the country. We need to take faith seriously not simply to block the religious right but to engage all persons of faith in the larger project of American renewal.

Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square; ...the majority of great reformers in American history [] not only were motivated by faith but repeatedly used religious language to argue their causes. To say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public-policy debates is a practical absurdity (pp 216, 218)

Admittedly, Senator Obama supports a minimum wage, which I do not. But we do agree on the importance of a more targeted solution, the Earned Income Tax Credit:

Strategies like an expanded [EITC] that help all low-wage workers can make an enormous difference in the lives of these [people]. (pg 256)

He goes on to imply that such issues as better policing, community-based health centers, and radical transformation of the schools would make the EITC less necessary for many people.

Here is one about family that I am warmly impressed with:

Many single moms...do a heroic job on behalf of their kids. Still, children living with single mothers are five times more likely to be poor than children in two-parent households. Children in single-parent homes are more likely to drop out of school and become teen parents... In light of those facts, policies that strengthen marriage for those who choose it and that discourage unintended births outside marriage are sensible goals to pursue.

Community-based programs that have a proven track record in preventing unwanted pregnancies--both by encouraging abstinence and by promoting the proper use of contraception--deserve broad support. (pp 333-334)

Here is an issue that has been mostly championed by liberals, but with which I as a conservative unabashedly agree:

...when we seek to impose democracy with the barrel of a gun, funnel money to parties whose economic policies are deemed friendlier to Washington, or fall under the sway of exlies like Chalabi whose ambitions aren't matched by any discernable local support, we aren't just setting ourselves up for failure. We are helping oppressive regimes paint democratic activists as tools of foreign powers and retarding the possibility that genuine, home-grown democracy will never emerge.

And along those same lines:

The United States won the Cold War no simply because it outgunned the Soviet Union, but because American values held sway in the court of international public opinion. (pg 307)

Unfortunately, because of the political capital George W. Bush had just after 9/11, he felt that international public opinion no longer mattered with regard to American values. In the process, American values have been dragged through the dirt. It will be hard (but we can do it) to make them clean again.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Global Warming: They're Doing it Again

It bugs me when people speak half-truths or worse when it comes to the defense of their position on a controversial issue. The issue that is perhaps most spoken of in less than a forthright way is global warming. The Deseret News jumped to its own erroneous conclusion about Global Warming yesterday.

Why is it so easy to speak in false platitudes about Global Warming? The only other issue that appears to me to be so falsely spoken of is stem cell research. When the media talks about stem cells, they invariably refer to embryonic stem cells, avoiding completely the fact that adult stem cells exist, and that adult stem cells are the only stem cells with which cures have been effected, of which there have been several. When it comes to global warming, it's hard for the media to admit that although global warming exists, and that although we should clean up our environment, that not everyone thinks we need to clean up the environment because it will reduce global warming.

I'll admit it's easy to make assumptions. I do it more than my fair share of the time. However, I want, anyway, to point to an egregious example of the Deseret Morning News having done just that. Here is the thesis statement of the DesNews article.

By enormous margins, Utahns want alternative fuels developed in a fight against global warming.

I say Hogwash! Bull-chicken!

Utahns want alternative fuels developed because it makes sense to have a cleaner environment and to be less dependent on foreign fuel sources. It's an interesting logical jump to think that they only want it because they are afraid that the sky is falling.

Here were the poll questions.

1. Do you agree or disagree that Utah should be looking for alternative fuels and or energy technologies?

90% agreed somewhat or strongly that we should be. Of course we should. I'm surprised it wasn't 99% or so.

2. Will making major changes in our energy sources and use be good or bad for the economy?

The graphic shows the same percentages for the responses to this question as to question #1, so I'm not sure if it was a mistake, but I think most people would agree that it would be good for the economy. Then, after asking those two innocuous questions, the third question was:

3. A number of energy alternatives have been proposed as possible solutions to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases. Do you support or oppose government incentives and investments to encourage the following. (Several alternative energy sources are then listed. All of them receive at least majority marks in favor.)

Global warming is a fact. Greenhouse gases are a fact. The problem is the linkage of the two. Many scientists think that man has very little to do with global warming, but you wouldn't know that with all the propaganda going around.

Poll questions are strange sometimes, and sometimes strangely worded on purpose. Since the question was loaded in such a peculiar way, the response must be given with focus on (a) the reduction of greenhouse gases, or (b) that we find alternative energy sources.

I think Utahns were responding to the (b) part of the poll question. This is why their numbers were an affirmative majority in all cases. Because it makes sense to have cleaner, more reliable energy. But it does not make sense to infer that they want it because they think the sky is falling in 50 or 100 or however many years.

I wish the pollsters would have asked a more forthright question: "Do you think that man is causing global warming?" (They would have gotten an answer containing much different percentages). I think they probably want you to think that that was the question they asked, when it wasn't even nearly so.

Green Grass? Now There's a Law That Should Be Removed from the Books

The City of Orem, Utah got a bit of egg on its face recently, and it was all because of a law that should have never been passed. A 70-year-old Orem woman was arrested as a result of having not watered her lawn.

Have you ever driven down the street and looked at someone's yard and thought, "I sure wish someone would make them clean that up"? Orem, Utah has a law that says they can do that. And they did that a couple of weeks ago.

A widow and grandma spent the morning in jail, arrested for refusing to give a policeman her name when he tried writing her a ticket for failing to water her yard. The woman hasn't watered her lawn in more than a year, and the condition of her yard violates an Orem zoning ordinance.

Tonight, the woman says she is traumatized and shocked that she was hauled to jail, just because she says she can't afford to water her lawn.

Betty Perry says, "I never thought they would ever do anything like that to a person that is 70 years old. I've never bothered anybody, I've never hurt anybody."

When Betty Perry heard a knock at her door and saw a police officer standing outside, she never imagined she would end up in jail. That's what happened, though, when the officer tried enforcing Orem's nuisance ordinance against neglected yards.

When I served on the Santaquin City Council several years ago, it was not uncommon for someone to comment that Santaquin City wasn't a pretty as other cities. The statement went something like "My relative/friend came to visit the other day, and he/she said they couldn't believe how dirty Santaquin was. We should do something to require people to clean up their yards."

The way I see it, however, it's not about pretty. It's about safety and property rights. You might make the claim that if your neighbor's yard is messy then your property value goes down. But in my opinion, that dog won't hunt. If you're that worried about your property value then you should (a) get to know you neighbor better, and (b) have not gone into such great debt to buy a house. The Santaquin City council in a least one case did require the police department to act in a case of nuisance, but that was because he had stacks of waste and old cars and unkempt weeds that had become breeding ground for rodents, etc. And the requirement was that the home owner clean up their mess. I supported that action as a matter of public health and safety.

If someone wants to have a yellow lawn, then let them have a yellow lawn. Admittedly, the Orem police chief was incensed when he found out the 70-year-old woman was in jail, and he had her immediately released. But the problem wasn't with the fact that she was arrested.

The problem was that Orem, Utah had the audacity to make such a senseless law in the first place.

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Greatest Fear About the Education Voucher Debate

I often measure the worth of the book I am reading by how much it inspires me to write about my feelings. I have only reached page 23 of Barak Obama’s The Audacity of Hope and already I have a lot of things to write about. Senator Obama’s insights into political decorum are particularly poignant for me as I contemplate the vitriol that accentuates the current debate over Utah public education vouchers.

As I began to read Senator Obama’s book, I already knew that I was going to disagree with him on several issues: health care, global warming, welfare, and many others--because he had the courtesy in the beginning of his book to tell me. I’m sure as well that he and I would have diametrically contrasting positions regarding education vouchers, but I’m also confident that we could sit down over a cup of hot chocolate and have a respectful and respectable conversation on the subject.

Which is more than I can say for a plethora of Utahns on both sides of the issue. It is the height of irony that a state that has one of the highest rates of religiosity of any of the United States can have such a rancorous, irreligious division when it comes to our debates and disputes about vouchers and other political issues. Here’s one of many statements that I have agreed with so far in Senator Obama’s book.

What’s troubling is the gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics—the ease with which wed are distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our seeming inability to build a working consensus to tackle any big problem.

What I fear about the Utah voucher debate is that advocates on both sides of the issue are so fearful of losing the debate that they have take as their weapon of argument the same acidic brand of politics that hatched such political debacles as the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearings and the Swiftboat Veterans for [so-called] Truth. I fear that each camp is so fearful of their opponents’ bludgeon that they feel it necessary to mount their own pre-emptive strike of acerbic “shock and awe”. I fear that when the smoke clears, the activities of the voucher battlefield will have inspired an even more vitriolic baseline for the future of our political warfare.

In the big picture, which side achieves victory in the voucher debate matters relatively little. It instead pales in comparison to our most pressing political needs: (1) to seek to paint our political opponents as something other than our mortal enemy, and (2) an ability to seek first to understand their positions and points of view.

I’ll bet you know someone who disagrees with you about education vouchers. But I’ll also wager that you’ve never seriously tried to understand their perspective about them. It’s clearly uncomfortable when we experience the rejection that is our unreciprocated attempt to understand our opponent’s point of view. With nearly every such attempt, however, the fear of ultimately turns into the exhilaration of a gained mutual understanding. I know. I’ve experienced it.

So, as soon as you get a chance, find one of those someones that you know disagrees with you about education vouchers (or about anything else for that matter). Then listen to them. You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chasing Ambulances and the Rising Cost of Health Care

When productive members of society have to make up for the waste of non-productive members of society, the net effect is a decreased enjoyment of the material blessings of life for everyone. One problem with health care in the United States is that we have way too many lawyers. Like annoying dogs, many attorneys constantly nip at the heels of doctors with their senseless litigation on behalf of themselves rather than for their clients.

I remember quite some time ago listening to a Paul Harvey commentary on the radio. I don't remember the exact ratios, but I remember the stark contrast he presented. While Japan had something like five doctors for every one attorney, the United States had nearly the correlative inverse--about 5 lawyers for every doctor. This skewed ratio of lawyers to doctors contributes significantly to the high cost of health care in the United States. It needs to be fixed.

Investor's Business Daily recently ran across a place that lawyers don't much enjoy anymore--Texas. In Texas, the spoils of litigation are no longer a slop pile for legal swine to wallow in.

The migration of doctors into Texas has become such a flood that the state cannot process their license applications fast enough. It should be no surprise that the Texas Medical Board received 4,000 applications for medical licenses last year, a 33% increase over 2005. Or that applications jumped 88% from the first half of 2003 to the first half of 2006. Here's why:

Four years ago, through a constitutional amendment, the state capped noneconomic damages in medical malpractice suits. The result has been a 21% drop in the average malpractice insurance premium. An Associated Press report tells of one oncologist who moved from Chicago to Austin and saw his malpractice insurance premium cut by three-fourths.

Though the system is straining to process the applications and taxpayers are having to fund added staff, Texans will benefit from the $250,000 cap the state has placed on noneconomic damages that can be awarded in a malpractice lawsuit. (The same cap is in place for hospitals and other medical facilities.) The deluge of applicants ensures that the Texas board can choose the best doctors to practice there. It will also give Texans more choice.

Residents of other states aren't so fortunate.

In Texas, meanwhile, things are looking up in terms of health care.

areas of Texas where trauma patients once had to be flown elsewhere for treatment are now getting the doctors they need to staff their trauma centers.

Utah and other states, take note. Sensible law can protect the rights of people to work without constant duress. When, in the case of doctors, people are allowed to serve without the constant stress of looming litigation, the health of everyone is benefited.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dutch and Burghie: The Epitome of Color Blindness

In a day when race mongers profit from their race mongering, it is refreshing to have heroes who are not “conscious of race at all”. Ronald Reagan was such a person, one who loved and respected every man and woman because we are all children of God. How unfortunate that some current candidates for President of the United States would attempt to use their bully pulpits to divide and desecrate on the basis of race.

Have you ever had someone tell you over and over how bad you are and that something is your fault? Did it make you more or less disposed to try and fix the problem? I thought so. Me, too.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints often sing the song I Am a Child of God. The third verse says

I am a child of God
Rich blessings are in store
If I but learn to do His will
I’ll live with Him once more

An essential part of His will is that we love everyone else, because everyone else is a child of God, too. It doesn’t matter if they’re male or female, black, white, or some other skin color, or if they choose to worship differently than we do. They deserve our love and respect all the same.

I am a child of God
So are my fellowmen
If we respect our differences
We’ll live with God again

Hillary Clinton blames white people (except for herself and her friends) for the plight of HIV/AIDS in the black population. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have made a career of accentuating differences and manufacturing controversies that give unthinking people of various races the impetus to hate each other.

Hatred is a cancer whose cure cannot possibly be additional hatred. Yet these are often the positions and the attempts of the demagogues who would be our leaders. Fortunately there are true leaders who do not lower themselves to the gutter-level of race baiting propaganda in an effort to aggrandize themselves. One such man was Ronald Wilson Reagan, of whom it was said by a black friend, “”I don’t think he was conscious of race at all.” “Dutch” learned this quality from his parents. Of Ronald Reagan’s parents it was said:

Jack believed—really believed, didn’t just say it—that all men are created equal. He believed racial and religious bias cruel and un-American…

Nelle thought everyone was a child of God—literally His baby, literally made by Him. So by definition no one was better than anyone else and no one was worse.

--Peggy Noonan, When Character was King, p. 22

Jack once slept in his car in a blizzard rather than pay to stay in a hotel where the proprietor had told him that the hotel was “Jew-free”.

Burghie was a football teammate of Dutch Reagan at Eureka College. One night after an away game, when the team went to find a hotel, the desk clerk announced that Burghie and another black player would not be allowed to stay there. Reagan’s parents at the time lived near where the team had played, so he drove Burghie and the other black teammate to his home.

He couldn’t call to tell his parents they were coming…but he knew if he showed up all of a sudden with two black strangers his parents would say: Great to see you, come on in. Which is what they did.

Ron and Burghie remained friends until the day Burghie died.

Burghie died in 1981 and the last phone call he got before he went into the operating room was from his friend the president.

How refreshing it is that the United States can find a quintessential example of kindness in a President who respected everyone regardless of race, religion, and any other factors that make us different. With this kind of optimism, problems of race that have been exacerbated by snake oil salesmen can be cured despite the potion of quack political doctors. It is a sad state of affairs, though, that those who use race to divide and conquer appear to be in the ascendancy in the race for the 2008 presidency. There are very few good choices on the presidential slate of candidates this year, but we must hope above all that purveyors of racism do not prevail.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Come Along on the Utah Valley Children's Choir Summer Tour!

For the next few days, I'll be traveling with my three oldest kids, who are members of the Utah Valley Children's Choir, based in Spanish Fork, Utah. To follow the One Nation Under God choir's tour, check here. Stops along the way will include Springfield, Illinois, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

ProtestWarrior.com--Warning "Explicit" Anti-Liberal Satire

Warning: If you are a liberal and do not think that conservatives have anything to contribute to the conversation, and that sometimes they are downright rude, you will be offended by this article. I, however, think that political satire is funny, as long as it's not vulgar, and regardless of which side of the aisle you come from. Hopefully we all can take satire as tongue-in-cheek when necessary and as constructive criticism when appropriate.

If you want to laugh at the same time you consider a brilliant insight that you might never have considered before, go to ProtestWarrior.com. The following introduction greets you after you successfully navigate to the site.
Welcome to ProtestWarrior.com, a website created to help arm the liberty-loving silent majority with ammo -- ammo that strikes at the intellectual solar plexus of the Left.

In a recent interview on the Right Balance, Kfir Alfia of ProtestWarrior unlocked for host Greg Allen and his listeners the secret of why liberals are more successful protesters than other political groups (I paraphrase):

Libertarians don't want to get into other people's lives, so they don't protest, and conservatives work all the time, so they don't have time to protest.
Obviously many liberals work, but there are several who have become liberals with daddy's money, and there are others who have succumbed to the liberal mantra that they are evil because they are rich; so without giving up their riches, they deflect the ire of the liberal community by becoming one themselves. Far fewer conservatives have such resources, and therefore they protest less. ProtestWarrior's observation about liberal protesters makes sense, and leads me further to believe that Rush Limbaugh and other conservative radio talk shows are so successful because conservatives can listen to these shows while they are hard at work.

Here is my favorite of the ProtestWarrior bumper stickers:

War is not always justified, and in the case of the Iraq invasion, George W. Bush didn't make a very good case for a war that has gone terribly awry, but it is ironic that people who, without war, would have likely still been living under the iron fist of the King of England can be of the opinion that war never solved anything.

Here's another one:

I am in favor of Muslims, Hindus, and everyone else practicing their religion, including the right to learn about it in the public schools. I just happen to believe that Christianity should be afforded the same respect.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Downward Spiral of the Subsidy Shell Game

There's a lot of envy going on the United States these days. It's not necessarily by those who have less than the others. It's more often by those who are trying to convince the ones that have less that they're trapped, and that it's because those with more took it all from them. This is how subsidies are born. This is how nations die.

Jesus taught that "Thou shalt not covet." I think it's a pretty good idea. There was once a time when I had a hard time making ends meet. I've worked hard, and that's not the case now. If I'd have coveted, at best I would have settled for a life of mediocrity. It's frustrating, then, that many people believe the propaganda of certain politicians who tell them that they can't ever work hard and make something of themselves, and that it is other people's fault that they can't.

Coveting makes us all angry. It makes the poor angry because they are encouraged to believe that they've been stolen from, and it makes the rich angry because they keep getting told that they are the problem. It's remarkable, with all the negativity preached against the so-called rich in the United States, that the United States is still the most charitable nation. Imagine how charitable it could be if there weren't so much envy-fomenting going around.

If there are specific cases of theft from the poor by the rich, then the rich should be punished (as should anyone be punished for theft). But if there aren't, it is much worse than counterproductive to pretend that there are.

If you realized that someone was taking away your money and giving you back only part of it, would you still want them taking it? Probably not. Yet that's all a government subsidy is. Subsidies become more common in nations that pit groups of people against other groups of people in a hard-to-end battle of hate. America, welcome to the downward spiral of hate, called the Subsidy Shell Game!!!

The more subsidies the government forces each citizen to bankroll for others, the less the citizen is able to provide for himself and his family. Subsidies, by eroding self reliance, guarantee a spiral of growing demands for more subsidies.

We are often not able to pay for our own children's needs, such as college education because we are paying for everyone else's children's needs. Nor do we have the ability to help our family, friends, and neighbors pay for their children's education, because the government is doing it for us.

The more things are financed by subsidies, the more activities become dependent on bureaucratic approval and political manipulation. The expansion of subsidies guarantees the expansion of political power.

Some politicians make a career of being politicians precisely because they crave power along with anything that perpetuates that power. Subsidies are an excellent way to ensure that perpetuation.

Government subsidies allow the government to progressively dominate each activity that it sets out to aid. Politicians first assert their sacred duty to help those in need by creating a subsidy program--and then assert their sacred duty to taxpayers to regulate the subsidized in order to protect the taxpayers' "investment". Government starts out acting generous and soon ends up dictating terms and conditions.

What has government ever subsidized that is has improved?
The more rewards and penalties the government possesses, the more the individual will be influenced in his daily decisions by the preferences and values of the bureaucratic political rulers. (All quotes from Lost Rightsby James Bovard, pages 162-163.)