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Showing posts from November, 2007

Medicare is Digging a Big Hole for America

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With the economic shape that Medicare and Medicaid are in, how can anyone expect that the federal government can provide universal health care?

Yesterday on The Right Balance with Greg Allen, Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union made the statement that for the first time, this year, Medicare depends more on the federal government's general fund for its funding than it does on payroll taxes.

Stated differently, Medicare payroll taxes as now constituted pay for less than half of the costs of Medicare.

Should we raise Medicare payroll taxes? I don't think so.

With this news, how can the government possibly think it can provide an effective service in the arena of universal health care?

BYU Cougars Beat the Utes and Down Comes the Cellophane

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It's a yearly ritual-BYU vs. Utah rivalry week. Yes, the football game, but more importantly, the protecting of signs, statues, and other objects from defacement by the opponent during game week.

I'm not sure how bad the BYU trash talkers are, but I listened for a few minutes to one of the local sports stations last week, and there are some Utah fans that make me sick. Only some. I don't mean to generalize.

My daughter's favorite password hint question is "Which team would you like to see always lose?" The answer is "The Utes". Actually, I'm a bit different. I only want to see them lose when they're playing BYU or when it affects BYU's chances of winning the MWC championship.

Worse, though, was the BYU fan who gave the Utah fan a broken nose. Even if BYU had lost, such behavior is inexcusable.

But no matter what side you came out on, you have to admit that this year's BYU/Utah football game in Provo was one of the more exciting in…

Trent Lott Decides that K Street Pays Better than Congress

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What'll you bet that within just about 12 months from his resignation from the United States Senate that Trent Lott will be the recipient of a lucrative lobbying job? It's hard not to think that these 'Republicans' are plotting the downfall of the Republican party. At any rate, it's working.

Some people have speculated that he's gay. He says that he needs to go in a different direction, and that he doesn't like the increasing rancor in the Senate. So Senator Trent Lott is resigning.

It took a lot of people by surprise. But just follow the money. It didn't take much for the New York Times to come across something highly interesting:
By resigning before the end of the year, Mr. Lott would beat the effective date for new ethics rules that double to two years the amount of time former Senators must wait before they can join a firm to lobby former colleagues. The new rule applies to those who leave office “on or after” Dec. 31.

Mr. Lott is the sixth Senate …

America: A Nation Among Equals

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America is the most powerful nation in the world. The problem is that we act like other nations in history who have achieved this status—and those nations are long gone. Our emotional capital with the other nations of the world is at an all-time low and declining. Our economic standing is not far ahead. The American hegemon, rather than showing respect the rest of the nations of the world, has for decades dictated to the rest of the world how the game should be played. With the United States’ moral and economic capital at an all-time low, it seems that our “piper” is warming up his pipe and preparing to call in our loans.

Shortly after September 11, 2001, the French newspaper Le Monde carried the front page banner headline, “We are All Americans”. George W. Bush and the United States received at that time a great deal of emotional capital from the nations. It didn’t take long, though, for us to squander nearly all of it. Instead of realizing that America is a nation among equal…

When Will They Apologize to Clarence Thomas?

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As we pulled back into town from a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday in Southern Utah, I turned the last page of My Grandfather's Son by Clarence Thomas. Before I go to sleep, I want to jot down some of the feelings that Justice Thomas' recounting of his life's path have engendered in me. Foremost in my thoughts is this--a confirmation that Clarence Thomas is one of the greatest men ever to serve on the United States Supreme Court.

As a newlywed nearly 17 years ago, I remember being awed by the commanding presence of Clarence Thomas as he was pilloried by the media during his Supreme Court confirmation and nearly lynched by most of the liberal members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee chambers became an abysmal three-ring sacrifice, complete with leaks (likely by members of that very committee) of allegations about Clarence Thomas as sordid as they were false. My only regret these years later is that I didn't join in with the thousands of Americans who …

Who's More Important, Teachers or Prison Guards?

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It's important for Utah that we continue to raise the salaries of our public school teachers across the board. But another issue has come up that seems to be more important. A far higher percentage of prison guard positions remain unfilled in Utah than do school teachers. Which group is more important? Which group do we fund first? Can we fund them both in the next legislative session?

Both the Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret Morning News reported yesterday that the Utah State Prison is terribly understaffed. The Trib said
More than 25 percent of jobs at the Utah State Prison are unfilled, putting loads of overtime on employees and even forcing the warden to wear a uniform to keep watch on inmates. DesNews reported
"We're on the verge of crisis," says Tom Patterson, state Department of Corrections executive director. "We have to fill those spots. I worry about how long we can go at this rate. It frightens me."

"This is temporary life support for he…

Shunning the "Steroid Nation"

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I've always hated the World Wrestling Federation, because nothing about the WWF is authentic, right down to the musculature of its performers. More and more, though, professional sports are becoming fake as well. Let's fix the problems with the real sports before the damage becomes irreparable.

Color me naive. A year or two ago, I became friends with someone at the local gym. He was the same age as me, but he was making dramatic improvements in his musculature and his weight-lifting ability, while my improvements were moderate and uninspiring compared to his. A short time later, between lifting sets, I overhead my friend admitting to someone else that he was on steroids.

Americans used to be incensed when East German or Chinese Olympic athletes were found to have used performance-enhancing drugs. We expressed a collective "I told you so" when Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was stripped of his gold medal and sent packing from the 1988 Olympics. But suddenly it…

Yes, Mr. Mukasey, Waterboarding is Torture

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In his Senate confirmation hearings, Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey called a memo advocating torture in certain situations "worse than a sin". But, subsequently, he said that he could not decide whether to classify waterboarding as torture. George W. Bush should have nominated someone else at that point.

A recent letter to the editor of the Deseret News implied that in wartime anything is permissible--including waterboarding--to protect ourselves. The letter writer said
We are at war. We have to win, whatever it takes. You sit in your safe, little ivory towers and postulate about the ethics of waterboarding and how we will be viewed by others. If I have to protect my children, my grandchildren or my great-grandchild by waterboarding the enemy, bring me the garden hose.I disagree. All wars are ultimately based in morality. In other words, immoral acts from one party to the war are the impetus for the other party to justify suicide bombings and other terrorist ac…

Post-Referendum 1: Toward an Improved Education System in Utah

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With vouchers defeated in the recent election, and having been a supporter of Referendum 1, I am not nearly as discouraged as I thought I would be. Probably it's a lot because we on the losing side did not get neener-neenered nearly as badly as I had expected, and I appreciate that. I've been pleased by the mostly very mature discussions that have proceeded since the referendum on Tuesday.

The biggest takeaway that everyone on both sides can enjoy is that we are all sincerely interested in improving the education that we provide for our children. Emily, on Utah Amicus, said
As citizens of Utah and more importantly as human beings, we know that education of our children is the most important thing we can do for our country. I believe more than ever that crusaders on both sides of this debate have one common goal: to provide the best possible education for our children. I hope the voucher debate has brought us together, instead of pull us apart.Jesse, over at Coolest Family Eve…

The Amero: Coming Soon to a Region Near You!!!

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Have you ever wondered why the Bush Administration not only doesn't seem to care about our illegal immigration problem, but is actively thwarting it? It's because they're actively supporting the North American Union. Have you ever wondered why the Bush Administration and Congress seem to be uncaring about our out-of-control national debt? Could it be that there are some people in high places who want America to fail, so we can be joined together in a North-American Union with one regional currency? Yes.

Shortly after Congress approved several hundred miles of border fencing last year, machinations allowed the Bush Administration to allocate the funds in essentially whatever way it saw fit. Not surprisingly, pretty much none of the fence has been built.

The United States debt exceeded the 9 trillion dollar mark yesterday. It wasn't but a year and a half ago that Congress set 9 trillion as the Federal Debt Limit. Hmmmm....do they get arrested now? Do they care that …

Slave Labor: China is Karl Marx's Britain of Our Day

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Karl Marx's solutions to the problems that he saw were not very effective or correct. But he was correct in his observations of slave-type labor in Britain, as noted in his book Capital. If he were alive today, I wonder if China would be the object of his opprobrium. It would deserve to be.

Yesterday on The Right Balance, Greg Allen made a keen observation. He said, to wit, that China gets away with both the excesses of Capitalism and the excesses of Communism.

China in 2007 is very similar to Britain of the 1800's. In his book, Capital, Marx refers to the business owners as having "the were-wolf's hunger for surplus labor". The Chinese government is today's 'were-wolf' business owner.

Capitalism to excess is bad. Communism is just plain excessive, and therefore always bad. We complain--and rightly so--when American capitalists use capitalism to the point of extortion. But we are strangely silent when the Chinese Communo-capitalists do the same t…

Clarence Thomas Must Have Had a Wonderful Grandfather

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I have been impressed with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from the first day I found out who he was. In the 16 years he has been on the US Supreme Court, I have never been disappointed. He is a class act. Justice Thomas says that everything he has become he owes to his grandfather. My grandfather was a lot like his, I think--stern, but he taught me a lot. I'd like to meet Justice Thomas's grandfather someday.

When the smoke clears, Clarence Thomas will be revered as one of the most integral Supreme Court Justices in American history. This little glimpse into his life tells us why:
Centralized governments always love grand theories and five-year-plans. But no government program could have done what my grandfather did for me and for others who needed help. It’s the golden rule—do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The golden rule can’t operate through a government program, it can only work between people.The FDR generation is wrong, no matter how intense…

Should Cell Phone Jamming Devices Be Legal?

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Have you ever been in the presence of someone talking obnoxiously on their cell phone? Sorry, dumb question. Have you ever asked them to tone it down a bit? What if you had the ability to kill the cell phone call without them even knowing what happened?

Should something like that be legal?

My initial reaction is no, it shouldn't be legal. But the idea is very tempting. And we have the technology. Currently such technology is illegal in the United States. Should it remain that way?

The International Herald Tribune had this interesting report yesterday:
One afternoon in early September, an architect boarded his commuter train and became a cellphone vigilante. He sat down next to a 20-something woman who he said was "blabbing away" into her phone.

"She was using the word 'like' all the time," said the architect, Andrew, who declined to give his last name because what he did next was illegal.

Andrew reached into his shirt pocket and pushed a button on a bl…

Salute to Utah Public Schools: No "Dropout Factories"

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During this time of controversy and mudslinging between those who support and those who oppose private school vouchers, I thought it appropriate to give praise where praise is due. The Utah public school system is one of the best in the country. Utah is the only state where there are no high schools that are classified as "Dropout Factories". This reflects positively on Utah teachers, educators, and lawmakers working together to provide an excellent education product.

A dropout factory is
a high school where no more than 60 percent of the students who start as freshmen make it to their senior year.
Some feel that Utah is the only state with no such schools because we have a lower rate of minority students, who tend to drop out at much higher rates. This may be a small factor. However, I think the real answer lies in the emphasis that Utah public teachers and administrators place on seeing Utah children succeed. This statistic is a great credit to Utah's public educato…

Environmental(ist) Catastrophe in Southern California?

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Were the fires in Southern California preventable? It's beginning to look a lot like the answer is yes. Most importantly, it's been indicated that several arsonists have been at work. And global warming (not man-made, I don't think, but a natural increase in temperatures) and drought have had their significant effects. But nearly as importantly, environmental policy has caused the destruction to be much greater than it otherwise would have been.

Update: 12:01 PM - First-hand evidence of environmental restrictions leading to an increase in damage.

A post a few days ago by Connor Boyack noted an LA Times story quoting economists who said that the fires in San Diego will turn out to be a good thing for the economy. They must be environmental economists trying to cover up the real problem--radical environmentalism and radical advocacy of an untenable claim that man is to blame for the warming of the globe.

Steve Urquhart posted a few months back on his blog about the fires i…