Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Greatest Sad Night in American History?

We Don't Need a Different Despot

I just listened to President-elect Donald Trump's victory speech after apparently being elected as the 45th president of the United States. Like Barack Obama eight years ago, he said he understood that there were many who didn't vote for him, but that he would work hard to be their president as well. (See my blog post on election night 2008 here).

Mr. Trump, I didn't vote for you. Though you didn't ask, let me give you some practical advice on how you can work to represent me.

You weren't elected because the country thought we just needed a different despot at the helm. We have seen what happens when our president decides to govern by Executive Orders.  I would suggest that you look at every Executive Order of the past sixteen years very critically and repeal most of them.  Then demand that Congress draft legislation to address these issues and present them for your signature in the first 100 days of office.

Many of those Executive Orders addressed real issues facing our country dealing with immigration, healthcare, equal opportunity and the rule of law.  My suggestion is that you address them within the first six months of your term.

Govern based on principles, not politics.  The first principle should be to govern based on the Constitution of the United States. Before you do anything, ask if it is something that the Constitution states should be handled by the federal government.  Immigration and national security certainly would fall into that category.  Everything else should be relegated to the states.  I believe that states can better address needs such as education, healthcare, welfare and the like. Look at eliminating the departments of housing & urban development, health & human services, education and the bureau of land management,

Well, I'm tired now and have to work tomorrow.  Give me a call and I'd be glad to give you more unsolicited advice

Friday, September 20, 2013

Why I'm a Ute!

Why I’m a Ute  (What’s a Ute?)

Overall wins in series*
Wins in last 10 meetings
Blowout wins in last 10 meetings
Shutout wins in last 10 meetings
Shutout wins in series**
# national titles using 1984 criteria
Alumni on current NFL rosters ***
# conference championships
# undefeated seasons in history
# overall #1 NFL draft picks
Bowl game winning percentage
# BCS final top 5 rankings
#excuses why we lost the game in YYYY
#current players named Joseph Smith
Needs to disclaim Jim McMahon as alum
Probable score of 2013 game

 * Best thing about the rivalry is that the two schools even disagree on the historical records,  Utah says it’s 56-34-4 and BYU says it’s 54-31-4
**Including Utah’s 0-0 victory in 1928
*** Most surprisingly, Utah has 3 current NFL players with the last name of Smith and BYU doesn’t have any

Monday, October 29, 2012

California 2012 Ballot Initiatives

There are eleven ballot initiatives on the November 6 ballot in California this year.  I am certain that there are thousands of people waiting for me to weigh in before deciding how to vote themselves ;)

Well your wait is over.  Here is how I will likely vote on these initiatives,

Proposition 30 VOTE NO -- This proposition Increases personal income tax on annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years.  Increases sales and use tax by ¼ cent for four years. Allocates temporary tax revenues 89 percent to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges

If you only vote on one of the initiatives this year, this is the one.  I can't possibly list all the reasons for voting against this proposition as it will probably take up all of the storage space Google has to store blog posts for others with blogger accounts.  Here are the major reasons to vote NO:

  • Quick, name the last 'temporary tax increase' in California that wasn't extended or made permanent upon the conclusion of the temporary period.  I can't recall one either. What I do know is that California is already the fourth highest taxed state in the nation (New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Hawaii), but if this is passed we will have the distinction of taking the top position.
  • The proposition claims that the revenues go to education, but the additional tax revenues are left up to the legislature on how they should be distributed.  The California legislature has already proven that they can't be trusted to spend tax dollars responsibly, so why give them more money to waste?
  • The legislature and Governor Brown always say in defense of any tax increase that if it doesn't pass then they will have no choice but to cut funding to schools and parks.  Don't buy it!  The legislature has sold out to the California Teachers Association and the public employees unions (don't even get me started on the public employees unions) and they refuse to seek real reform or look meaningful cost reductions where they are most needed -- union pensions and health benefits.
  • As long as one dollar is allocated for the California high speed rail boondoggle we should never, ever listen to any politician that says they need more money to run the government.  That is the project that was projected to cost $9.95B in 2008  (from the high traffic Bakersfield to Madera route), but is now projected to cost over $98B.  Get rid of waste such as this and the myriad of other idiotic spending initiatives and then if we may require more tax revenue we can talk then.

Proposition 31 VOTE NO -- Establishes two-year state budget cycle. Prohibits Legislature from creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified. Permits Governor to cut budget unilaterally during declared fiscal emergencies if Legislature fails to act.

Okay, so I've read this proposition (not the above summary, but the proposition) and I can't succinctly describe what it does.  While it intends at its core to reform the state budget process, I think one thing that would certainly happen if this passes is to see that it disrupts the relationship between local and state government and piles more bureaucratic sludge onto our already snail-like government.
I have one overriding philosophy with regards to ballot initiatives.  If you aren't certain what it does or who is proposing it then just vote NO.

Proposition 32 VOTE YES-- Restricts union political fundraising by prohibiting use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Same use restriction would apply to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Permits voluntary employee contributions to employer or union committees if authorized yearly, in writing. Prohibits unions and corporations from contributing directly or indirectly to candidates and candidate-controlled committees.

The one thing that prevents the legislature from doing its job in Sacramento is the incestuous relationship between the Democratic controlled legislature and the public employee unions.  I appreciate  teachers, law enforcement officers, prison guards, firefighters, etc., but their unions ability to bribe the legislature and assure that they have the ongoing funds to carry out their bribes needs to be stopped.
Much more could be done to reform the political process in the state, but I think this is a good first step.  We will probably have to attack true election reform one step at a time as the incumbent legislature has every incentive to embrace the status quo.

Proposition 33 VOTE YES--Changes current law to permit insurance companies to set prices based on whether the driver previously carried auto insurance with any insurance company. Allows insurance companies to give proportional discounts to drivers with some prior insurance coverage. Will allow insurance companies to increase cost of insurance to drivers who have not maintained continuous coverage.

Maybe this proposition has something in the details that is different than the summary, but if an insurance company wants to give a discount to me because I have had continuous coverage

Proposition 34 VOTE ???-- Repeals death penalty as maximum punishment for persons found guilty of murder and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to persons already sentenced to death. Requires persons found guilty of murder to work while in prison, with their wages to be applied to any victim restitution fines or orders against them.

The death penalty is troublesome.  I am not opposed to the death penalty in itself, but I am troubled by the prospect of anyone being executed for crimes that they didn't commit.  The cost justification on the pro side of this proposition is not a reason to vote yes on this proposition in my opinion.  I am leaning towards a yes vote on this proposition because I believe that in the past innocent people have been executed, but not certain that this proposition is the best answer.

Proposition 35 VOTE YES--Increases criminal penalties for human trafficking, including prison sentences up to 15-years-to-life and fines up to $1,500,000. Fines collected to be used for victim services and law enforcement. Requires person convicted of trafficking to register as sex offender.

Is this a solution in search of a problem?  Maybe as it doesn't appear that there is any organized opposition to the initiative.  Human trafficking is deplorable; and while I don't know what the current penalty is for being convicted of this heinous crime, even 15-years-to-life and $1.5MM doesn't seem to be too harsh.  I did actually hear on a radio show someone call in who was opposed to this initiative.  She said it would make it more difficult for the escort service and adult film industries to recruit new talent to California.  Sounds to me like another reason to vote YES.

Proposition 36 VOTE NO -- Revises three strikes law to impose life sentence only when new felony conviction is serious or violent. Authorizes re-sentencing for offenders currently serving life sentences if third strike conviction was not serious or violent and judge determines sentence does not pose unreasonable risk to public safety.
The "three strikes" law as currently constituted seems to be working fine.  The argument to reduce prison costs doesn't seem compelling to me. High prison costs in California are an issue, but let's look at reducing costs in other ways.  California prison employees are compensated way above comparable people in other states.  In 2009 a dentist employed by the prison system took home more than $600k.  Let's address costs by bringing employee costs into the bounds of reasonableness, not be letting three-time convicted felons out on the streets.

Proposition 37 VOTE NO -- Requires labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. Prohibits labeling or advertising such food as “natural.”
Brought to you by the same kind of people that want to monitor what \kids bring for lunch to school and those who want to regulate the size of soft drinks that can be sold.  This is just another silly food labeling law.  Virtually all food on supermarket shelves for the past 20 years have been modified as specified in this proposition.  This will only increase costs of food and is totally unnecessary.

Proposition 38 VOTE NO -- Increases personal income tax rates for annual earnings over $7,316 using sliding scale from 0.4% for lowest individual earners to 2.2% for individuals earning over $2.5 million, ending after twelve years. During first four years, 60% of revenues go to K-12 schools, 30% to repaying state debt, and 10% to early childhood programs. Thereafter, allocates 85% of revenues to K-12 schools, 15% to early childhood programs.
While this proposition may actually send money to schools (See Proposition 32 discussion above) we can't trust Sacramento with any more money until they prove they can manage what they already receive from the people of the fourth highest taxed state in the nation.

Proposition 39 VOTE NO -- Requires multi-state businesses to calculate their California income tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in California. Repeals existing law giving multi-state businesses an option to choose a tax liability formula that provides favorable tax treatment for businesses with property and payroll outside California.
This is another tax grab by Sacramento, but unlike Proposition 32 or 38 this one goes after business. In today's already difficult economic environment in California the last thing we need is yet another reason for companies to move elsewhere.

Proposition 40 VOTE YES--State Senate districts are revised every ten years following the federal census. This year, the voter-approved California Citizens Redistricting Commission revised the boundaries of the 40 Senate districts. This referendum petition, if signed by the required number of registered voters and filed with the Secretary of State, will: (1) Place the revised State Senate boundaries on the ballot and prevent them from taking effect unless approved by the voters at the next statewide election; and (2) Require court-appointed officials to set interim boundaries for use in the next statewide election.

This is about the new voting districts for the California State Senate.  It remains to be seen whether the “Citizen Redistricting Commission” really worked or was just another scam.  A “YES” vote is to keep the Senate districts as the commission drew them up.  The proponents of this initiative (the “NO” side) actually gave up already

Sunday, September 25, 2011

No Greater Service

Service to others is one of the most important characteristics of a disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple is willing to bear other people’s burdens and to comfort those who need comfort (see Mosiah 18:8–9). Often Heavenly Father will meet the needs of others through you.

There are many ways to serve others. You can serve in your Church assignments and in your home, school, and community. Seek daily the guidance of the Holy Ghost to know whom to serve and how to help meet their needs. Often the most important service is expressed through simple, everyday acts of kindness.

Perhaps the greatest act of service we can render to others is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.  This video highlights the potential of one persons decision to share the gospel.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Made a Covenant With My Eyes... (Job 1:31)

Whatever you read, listen to, or look at has an effect on you. Therefore, choose only entertainment and media that uplift you. Good entertainment will help you to have good thoughts and make righteous choices. It will allow you to enjoy yourself without losing the Spirit of the Lord.

While much entertainment is good, some of it can lead you away from righteous living. Offensive material is often found in web sites, concerts, movies, music, videocassettes, DVDs, books, magazines, pictures, and other media. Satan uses such entertainment to deceive you by making what is wrong and evil look normal and exciting. It can mislead you into thinking that everyone is doing things that are wrong.

Do not attend, view, or participate in entertainment that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in entertainment that in any way presents immorality or violent behavior as acceptable.

Friday, September 23, 2011

That Which Cometh Out of the Mouth

How you speak says much about who you are. Clean and intelligent language is evidence of a bright and wholesome mind. Use language that uplifts, encourages, and compliments others. Do not insult others or put them down, even in joking. Speak kindly and positively about others so you can fulfill the Lord’s commandment to love one another. When you use good language, you invite the Spirit to be with you.

Always use the names of God and Jesus Christ with reverence and respect. Misusing their names is a sin. Profane, vulgar, or crude language or gestures, as well as jokes about immoral actions, are offensive to the Lord and to others. Foul language harms your spirit and degrades you. Do not let others influence you to use it.

Choose friends who use good language. Help others around you use clean language by your example and by good-naturedly encouraging them to choose other words. Politely walk away or change the subject when others around you use bad language.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How Far is Too Far?

When you obey God’s commandment to be sexually pure, you prepare yourself to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple. You prepare yourself to build a strong marriage and to bring children into the world as part of a loving family. You protect yourself from the emotional damage that always comes from sharing physical intimacies with someone outside of marriage.
Do not have any sexual relations before marriage, and be completely faithful to your spouse after marriage. Satan may tempt you to rationalize that sexual intimacy before marriage is acceptable when two people are in love. That is not true. In God’s sight, sexual sins are extremely serious because they defile the power God has given us to create life.