Monday, March 30, 2009
Have you seen a picture of public housing lately? Have you? Most projects, (as some public housing is often referred to) represent how some Americans who would rather live like rats in a run down dysfunctional building than improve their lives enough to live without government assistance. Perhaps our housing projects can serve as a positive. How?
Well, they serve as motivation to live better, to live within our own means. Like a prison is an uncomfortable and often violent sign (or reminder) that obeying the law is better than the alternative punishment. So can projects stand as a sign to avoid mediocre living conditions and unemployment.
The projects can also serve as a sign of what we have to look forward to if we move towards public health care. Imagine hospitals run the way the projects are run. Imagine refuse all around, and substandard care. Can we not expect the same standards in both government programs? Sure someone could make the argument that health care would be different because you are dealing with people's health. But what about a person's home? Is not where a person lives as important if not an absolutely crucial part of a persons health and well being?
In light of this comparison, how is it that a majority of American's still feel good about public or nationalized health care? How is it that people buy into the utopia that doesn't exist?
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The foundation argument does posses some merit. Can the government dictate their own powers as they have done in this case? At the same time I ask the question, what do we as citizens of a country have to vote on and what do we leave up to our legislators? Do we know? I don't. I wouldn't know if the bailout was unconstitutional because I don't think I know my constitution well enough. I know that this bailout is a bad idea but is the bailout against what we as a people have given the government authority to do? Have we the people given away the power that government seems to posses or has the government taken that power without our approval? Does the election of an official constitute our stamp of approval on his or her actions after elected? Have politicians forgotten that they are hired stewards of our government, not the executors of our destiny's? Are we the people supposed to be in control of our own country, or have we placed too much power into the hands of politicians?
In a business environment, can a shift manager make decisions for the CEO? Of course not! So why is it that we the people have succumbed to the will of our president and congress who are supposed to be the general managers of our affairs? I don't speak in revolutionary terms, but perhaps we the people need to remember how historically, as the Book of Mormon stories point out, that kings and civilizations where the people relied on their government for sustenance fell and were unhappy. Where the government served the will and earned the trust of the people the societies flourished. Are we not progressing towards a form of government where the voice of the people are only heard during a campaign and on election day but is otherwise disregarded? Have we given too much power away to our government in allowing the government to use "emergency" as an excuse for major grabs of power against the will of the people? Should we have a government that makes spontaneous reactions to crisis in a way that gives one man authority to act without the voice of the people?
Thursday, March 26, 2009
So lets cut to the chase, who's money are they now operating on? With this new bailout; they use tax dollars. We the people have paid our taxes to the government, which is now in turn going to banks. Now banks can rent us our tax money back, only now they are charging us interest on our own tax money. So we are paying interest on our taxes in a round about way. Who looses? Not the government, not the banks, the people have lost. And you thought this was supposed to bring more money in right? That is how this was "sold"? Why not just leave the money with the people in the first place since we are the ones that the government is supposed to be serving?
Please don't take that statement as an attack on the banks. The banks are as much as at fault as we are as consumers, because they can't just loan money to nobody. We took them up on these bad loans! I blame the government for turning their backs on the people. I never voted to give that money to the banks, I never said I was willing to pay taxes to support the banking system. I don't remember even giving that right to my government to do such a thing. Do you?
This video was well put together to really make it easy for individuals to see what went wrong, so we don't contribute to a problem like this in the future. After watching the video you can see why the brethren have counseled us against debt, especially risky debt. Sure it may sound prudish, but being conservative when it comes to debt is a principle established by the Lord to help us as a people avoid the sorrow and misery that is sure to follow debt. Watch and learn:
The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Did you know that there is a school called the Lobby School? The Lobby School is a for profit educational institution that teaches individuals how to lobby for government money; to be a lobbyist. On the one hand, I could view this from a capitalist perspective and say, there must be a market for that so who am I to stop them from pursuing their interests.
On the other hand they are teaching people to perpetuate the problems we have in government. So where do you stand? Should there be a lobby school? Or should something like this be considered a public nuisance as it places at odds the role of the government towards its people? Could you go so far as to say that the Lobby School is a domestic/economic terrorist against our nation?
Monday, March 23, 2009
I don't believe the rules of sacred speech apply to temple dedications as they do to temple ceremonies. However in a spirit of reverence I wish to share some impressions that I had while attending (via satellite) the Draper Temple dedication Sunday March 22nd, 2009. I have not attended a temple dedication since the mid 90's when I attended the San Diego Temple dedication. I was surprised however at how much I remembered and what a great experience they both were.
A. Roger Merrill Sunday School General President and Elder Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy were two of the earlier speakers followed by Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve and President Monson who also gave the dedicatory prayer. Brother Merrill and Elder Jensen both spoke of how the temple is a haven and mentioned how that section 87 and 88 go together as the "war and peace" sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. In section 87 the Lord warns of wars to come including the Civil War, and in Section 88, often referred to as the "Olive Leaf" section on how individuals can obtain peace. Both Brother Merrill and Elder Jensen spoke of this necessity to enter the halls of the temple as the Lords way of protecting the spirit, morale, and faith of the saints regardless of what might be happening in the world.
Feeling the effects of a struggling economy, and a nation still in Iraq and other conflicts throughout the world, I couldn't help but realize that while I watched the temple dedication I didn't worry about those things. Never once was I wondering about what Obama was going to do next, or how the stock market was going to react to the AIG bonuses. I didn't worry about foreclosures, hunger, or the cleanliness of my home. I was pondering the goodness of a loving God and what a blessing it is to be a part of the Lord's church. I didn't plan for it to be that way, it just happened. I felt peace. Admittedly, peace is not something I have felt for sometime now. Perhaps that is why is stuck out to me so much.
Symbolically I was given another level of understanding from the experience. Unlike the 70 degree day before, Sunday was a day of changing weather for the Salt Lake Valley as a storm was coming over the Wasatch mountains promising snow and rain. After leaving the stake center I couldn't help but notice this looming storm that was heading towards the chapel where the services were broadcast. These were very dark, gray clouds, darker than usual. Perhaps because they were shown in contrast to the sunny skies that rested over my head, or perhaps because I needed to be reminded that outside such holy places, there is very real and dark storm covering much of the world. I didn't fear the storm because I have shelter, but there are many who don't have such a level of comfort because they don't know where to turn for peace or refuge.
I took the Draper Temple dedication as not only a sign that I need to seek the peace that the gospel brings more often, but I should remember to be a beacon of that peace to others as much as possible or until I start to get annoying with it. I also should remember that regardless of what happens in the world of politics, law, and the societies in which we find ourselves, there is a temple within reach. And that attending the temple, a place where Obama and Pelosi cannot enter, I too can feel the peace that I forgot how much I needed.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
We have spent some of our recent posts on the growing trend towards a socialistic government. I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but I just have to say something with this whole AIG mess. The response will come in two parts:
First, I am no fan of AIG. I "lost" my house because of the loan practices of what is obviously a poorly run company. Their greed is deplorable, but legal.
The news has been rampant with stories of individuals upset with AIG getting bonuses using government bailout money and claiming that greed is a horrible thing as if no one in this world is greedy but the AIG folks. I don't like AIG as much as the next guy, but whose fault is it that these individuals are getting bonuses from government bailout money? The Government is! NOT AIG! If the government didn't want the money to go to bonuses then they shouldn't have given the money in the first place. The reason the company is experiencing hard times is because of bad decision making and we have said this all along, "Giving these corporations bailout money is like endorsing bad behavior."
The common gripe from those opposed to these bonuses is that these executives don't deserve bonuses for running a company that is obviously going down the drain; so what performance is being rewarded with bonuses? I get the argument. My thinking is that if you make this argument (that these executives don't deserve bonuses), then shouldn't the argument also be applied that they also don't deserve a bailout? Isn't the bailout money just one big giant corporate bonus for bad decision making? Last I checked, these bonuses were not the first wrong decision made by this company. AIG has demonstrated a long history of bad decision making. Like a serial killer getting a pardon from the Governor before his execution, the federal government has suspended justice for individuals/corporations who have murdered this economy.
Second, in a desperate attempt to keep the blame off of the poorly designed bailout plan from Comrade Obama, the Democrats have decided, and have put their legal minds together to "solve this bonus crisis", by levying a 90 percent tax on AIG bonuses. The nail in the coffin is that they expect the cities and states where these individuals reside to "take care of the other 10 percent". So the big government lions have left a mutilated carcass for the state jackals to gnaw on; how generous. Taking a step back we now see that democrats who have said all along that they are "for the citizens" and not "big corporations", now feel that it is okay to give away tax payer money to bailout corrupt and poorly run businesses, while at the same time taxing the life out of the citizens they "stand for". Nice bit of hypocrisy guys.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The news does portray individuals in interesting ways, often very slanted or biased. Barack Obama is a hero rock star politician, AIG execs are guilty of things no other American's are guilty of, and Mormon's are un-american. No matter how you try and slant this story, Josef Fritzl, is still going to come out creepy.
How would you look if you were the guy that locked up your daughter in a dungeon for 24 years while impregnating her with 7 grandchildren/children. Probably like his picture on the right. I realize that mercy is one of the most powerful tools of deity for bringing about the happiness of men, but only slightly less powerful is the that of agency. I believe that this man has used his agency in a pretty gross and neglectful manner. But is he beyond mercy? Is Josef Fritzl capable of pardon from the Lord and his infinite atonement? Did Christ suffer for his sins? If so, then does that suffering mean Mr. Fritzl is "pre-qualified" for repentance?
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I wanted to find out what the polls say about our Rock Star President Barack Obama. I found the latest poll numbers as of March 16th and they are quite telling. Rather than spew them out here I will let this article do the talking. Lets just say he is no better a position (given the margin of error) than Bush was at in a similar point in his presidency.
I have done market research enough to know that polls can be misleading. Just because the numbers are the same hardly means they are the same president or that they will enact the same policies. They are simply indicators of where a general populous is at the time of polling. They don't tell direction of where things are heading unless you stream them together and make an educated guess on a trend and historical patterns. Right now, our beloved President is on his way down. To me that is not a sign that he is doing worse, but rather that the general populous is starting to see through the smoke and mirrors of an election campagn and are starting to realize who they got married to. His disapproval rating has doubled in one month. Not a good pattern for him.
On the other hand there is also this little video below that states that American's, on the whole, are split on how much involvement the government should have in the economy and on how much power the government should have. The trends are showing that there is a slight decline in the number of people who feel the government should be more involved, there is also a slight decline in the number of people who say that the government isn't involved enough. So how can both of those numbers go down? Well that information translates to me that there is a growing number of people who are currently unsure or undecided and are becoming more analytical and mindful of the governments role in our lives. Perhaps that is a good thing. People not thinking about issues is what Obama elected. Now that the "honeymoon" is ending, people are beginning to look over things and question their government and their hero. I think the next month or two the numbers will tell a very interesting story as to how a majority of American's are headed - opinion wise that is.
Monday, March 16, 2009
At the end of my street this weekend a neighbor of mine had a garage or moving sale in their front yard. Sure they are not the most glamorous marketplaces, and most of the time advertising for these garage sales are flyer's posted on lamp posts or telephone poles in the surrounding neighborhood. But as I later walked past the house where my wife bought an old fashioned ice cream churning machine for 5 bucks, I thought, "Garage Sales must be the last bastion of a free market system". You don't need a business license to run one, and there is no tax collector asking for a report on the day's sales. No Federal Bureau of Garage Selling to monitor trade, and any price that the seller wishes, goes.
Then I wondered, could we be heading towards the idea that the government might want to get their hand on a garage sales too? As I searched the internet for government intervention in garage selling, I came across an article from October 2008 which reports of a town in upstate Indiana that has crossed the line. The article states that the town of Elkhart, Indiana has passed a law saying that residents can only have one garage sale a month citing that the trash, refuse, and lack of ability by residents to take down garage sale advertising has caused some citizens to be angry over the mess. Economically speaking, Elkhart has taken its share of hits like many parts of the country I'm sure. The article states that some individuals now make their living doing regular garage sales and that some of the citizens rely on these garage sale for their clothing and furniture due to the economic downtown of the nation.
Now correct me if I am wrong, but does the city have the right to even make such a regulation? Perhaps they can, and might have, put in place certain codes that would not restrict the trade but rather the mess left behind? Instead the city has set a precedent that I hope dies quicker than Obama's Hero worship in the media.
As we know, America's economy has largely forgotten the true definition of "free trade" regardless of who seems to keep referring to our current system that way ("cough" ....Mr. President....) We are still considered a capitalistic economy although that too has been attacked for quite sometime.
For me, I still love the idea that I can set up a sign in my front yard and sell whatever I want of my own property to whom ever I want for whatever price I want. Although, I worry that the garage sale, the last bastion of the free economy, might find its way into the hands of government bureaucrats before too long.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
1. A transparent government
2. End to pork projects
3. Legislative meetings will be open to public
4. No more secrecy
5. Before a bill is signed into law by the President, the public will have five days to review it online
How does he rate?
Maybe what he meant by a transparent government was that there will be no secrets between his cabinet members and himself? Maybe what he meant by an end to pork projects was an end of government spending for organizations he disagrees with ideologically, ACORN is ok? Maybe he meant legislative meetings will be open to the public excluding controversial legislative issues? I'm sure what he meant about no more secrecy in government was.......actually I'm not really sure what he meant by that? Is he truly an American citizen? Is he a Muslim or a Christian or an Agnostic? Did he or did he not have a close relationship with a racist Pastor? Was he or was he not friends with Blogojevich and does he have any connections with Chicago corruption? How many days did we get to review the second porkulus that was rammed down Americans' throats? Hmmmmm..... I could swear it was definately not 5........ hmmm. President for under two months and already the drama is brewing. Fortunately he has the majority of American media outlets protecting him.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Some of you may have heard about the upcoming episode of Big Love on HBO that is causing more controversy than the show has already created. While the show is supposed to be about a fictitious polygamous family and is not supposed to be about Mormon's, the lines between what is fictional and what is real is taking a significant jump this week. The show is supposed to depict a Hollywood version of the sacred temple ceremonies including the endowment session and the celestial room.
This is significant enough of an issue that the church has released a statement with their stance on the issue. Considering that the show is produced by outspoken Anti-Mormon Tom Hanks and in light of the recent Prop. 8 experience, it seems as this is a blatant act of revenge and a significant "below the belt" attack on sacred religious ceremonies in general. I for one am not going to give the shows producers the satisfaction of writing a letter expressing my displeasure with their decision because I know that is what this is all about. Doing such would be like giving a dog a treat for crapping on the carpet. I don't watch the show so it is no skin off my back directly. However I do feel that it is important to add my voice to those in opposition to such a display. Mocking any religious experience is in bad taste let alone experiences that are held to be most sacred by those who practice them.
Do what you wish, but I chose to "nothing" this despicable display. HBO will not hear from me, nor will I patron their services. I only share my voice of disgust that humans will treat other humans with such disrespect in the name of ratings and revenge.
Update!!! March 11th : HBO now says they are sorry for possibly offending anyone, but they are still going to show the scene because the ceremony is crucial to the story line. Heaven forbid ruin a story line! Funny how they said the show was not about Mormon's, but now they are saying that one of the main characters is going through the temple because her membership in the Mormon church is in question due to her polygamous relationship... funny how HBO lies like that. HBO does say that they are going to do their best to show the temple ceremony accurately and not distort any part of it. THAT IS WHAT IS OFFENSIVE NUMB NUTS! It is a sacred ceremony! If you depicted it wrong at least we can say "they did it wrong" and that it was not accurate. We would have an out! Now people are going to know exactly what goes on! If we wanted everyone to know about the sacred ceremony we would have put it on DVD and sold it at Deseret Book! I want to know which apostate spilled their guts in order to make this scene so "accurate".
Plus how sorry can you be if you are still going to do the thing you are sorry for !? (insert your own parallel here) "Sorry I ran over your kid. I didn't mean to run him over. But just so you know I am going to run over your other kids - and I am sorry that I am running them over too." I think I am more offended by the apology than I am by them showing the temple ceremony. One individual commented, "That the Temple ceremonies are protected intellectual / copyrighted material and the inclusion of them would expose HBO, producers and cable companies to a suit". Is that true? Do you think that the church would sue the producers of the show? Perhaps they should otherwise every joe schmo is going to think they can market the ceremony and sell it.
Monday, March 9, 2009
First the country, by constitution, has no military. None! I thought about that for sometime. My first thought, of course, was that seems really scary to me. But then again I remembered the Anti-Nephi Lehi's in the Book Of Mormon. As a people they decided to not take up arms against anyone, burried their weapons, and they lived in peace for quite sometime. Not that they weren't attacked but they felt that the preservation of life was a high principle enough that they were willing to give their own to preserve the principle.
Because of having no military, one could assume that the taxes would be really, really low. Well they are around 15 percent. Lower than most of America. What then comes with their taxes you ask? National Health Care, police, and free education. That's right free education all the way through the University Level. As a matter of fact, their Universities are as mandatory as our elementary and high schools. There are private universities, but there is a large and moderately successful university system in the country. Costa Rica boasts a 96 percent literacy rate, and they are also taught both Spanish and English. In America we have a 93 percent literacy rate-learning english optional.
The country is very interested in preserving their natural resources and the environment. In fact, Costa Rica has plans in place to be the first country to be carbon neutral by 2021. One of the ways they are doing this is through Geo Thermal energy technology. Currently the country has 15 percent of its country running off Volcano's. The energy that is released is captured and turned into usable electricity for the country. Kind of cool actually.
While the country does have a national religion (roman catholic) other religions are allowed to practice. In fact there is an LDS Temple in San Jose, Costa Rica. The people were amazingly nice. One could argue that this is because we were tourists and tourism is Costa Rica's number one industry.
On the down side, individuals make on average 4-500 dollars a month in pay. The area where I visited, Guanacaste Province, was quite rural and the homes were more like shacks than subdivisions or established communities. To their own admission, the citizens don't mind the low pay because everything else is really taken care of for them such as medical insurance and education. However, they also admit that their medical system is not as efficient or as developed as in the US.
Overall I was very intrigued by visiting another country against the backdrop of what is happening in the United States. I found the proposition of not having to pay for a military actually a nice idea and not without doctrinal foundation. While I don't believe that is possible for a country like the United States who has stuck its nose in everyone else's business for so long, the concept actually seemed in line with limited government principles.
At the same time, socialism is very apparent, in spite of the country being considered a democracy. Enacting Socialistic ideals in Costa Rica demonstrates just how ineffective such a system it is and how it does effect its citizens. I am not sure that education is diminished or feels the effects similar to currency "inflation" by having university level education on such a wide and mandatory scale. But it does appear that there is little benefit to obtaining an education if all that is to come of life's opportunities is to be a tour guide making 500 bucks a month. That isn't to say that all Costa Ricans fall into that category, but a majority of them do and that is the point.
In the end, I learned one thing (among others) from my experience in Costa Rica that I will take with me in life as a positive. The Costa Ricans, or Ticos as they are locally referred to, have a greeting, "Pura Vida"; meaning pure life. This is not meant as casually as "have a nice day", or "Good Morning" where the words have become void of real intent or genuine well wishing. The people wish others to experience a pure life. To them this means to live life to the fullest. And in order to live life to the fullest, it must be lived as purely as possible. For that, I say to you all, "Pura Vida!"
Thursday, March 5, 2009
So a while back we had a post on Chad Hardy, the man responsible for the "Men on a Mission" beefcake calendar that lead in part to his excommunication from the LDS Church. Chad is back in the news now because he is trying to obtain his diploma from BYU that was withheld from him back almost a year ago.
For those unaware, BYU is owned by the LDS Church. And as a private university is allowed to and has set the standard of student conduct known as the honor code. As part of the honor code individuals are expected to live the teachings of the church including staying morally chaste, and in good standing with local ecclesiastical leaders. In fact, an individual looking to graduate must be signed off by the stake president and bishop before receiving a diploma. Should be noted that his 2009 calendar is now for sale. (Seems like a convenient coincidence that he gets publicty for this now huh?)
Chad Hardy was excommunicated and now the university has withheld the degree for non-academic reasons. His argument is that BYU is doing this out as punishment for the calendars.... ummm yeah... Suppose you don't go to BYU the next time you chose not to live the standards that are clearly explained before admission. Perhaps individuals should consider the consequences of their actions before they do them? Maybe, just maybe, he should realize that this studpid calendar has not only cost him his diploma, but his membership in God's kingdom- is it all worth a calendar?
Now we could sit here and debate the merits and downfalls of the Honor Code. I for one am okay with it because no one is forcing you to go to BYU. And unlike other schools where immoral behavior tends to be endorsed, I think it is a higher path to set high standards and seek to achieve them. Do they go too far sometimes? Sure. College is an educational pursuit, not a moral one. Keeping them separate seems like a reasonable alternative. Such is BYU's and the Church's prerogative to enforce these standards of student conduct.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Poor Latreasa, not only did she not get her Mcnuggets despite calling 911 three times, but when the police finally did show up they cited her for misuse of 911. I mean come one! It's a freakin emergency, no Mcnuggets? With houses foreclosing left and right, the Dow tanking everytime Obama opens his mouth, and the economy crumbling around us, let's make sure we have our priorities straight. Hands down Mcnuggets trumps them all. Don't ax me, but I'm pretty sure Latreasa voted for Obama. If for nothing else her hope was in not just change, but free Mcnuggets.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
For a while now many have shared their disdain for many of Pres. Bushes actions that curbed, if not abolished human and constitutional liberties. Now that Obama has his mits on some pretty important national information it appears as if he is using that information to his own political gain as well. Obama is releasing some white house documents that show Pres. Bush did some ethically and morally imperfect things while in office. Obama's economic plans are dying and his approval rating that is dropping like the Dow Jones Average. Instead of admit defeat he is going to turn everyone's attention on what got him elected, that Bush sucked.
Regardless of the tactics and political game being played here, that does not seem to excuse some of what is being implicated in the documents that were brought forward. Pres. Bush knowingly and willfully acted against process of law. Can anyone say that Frost/Nixon was good timing for more reasons than box office sales? Should Pres. Bush be scared? There is some real evidence of breaking the laws of this country. Would a convicted Pres. Bush help the economy?
On the same note has anyone out there heard about the war being waged in Mexico between drug cartels and the government? Have any of you heard that over 6000 people in that rat whole of a country where killed last year in this war? According to this site in 6 years of war we have lost 4254 troops, but we hear all about the death toll in Iraq and yet nothing about the war at our very door step. In reading the stories about it and looking at the pictures all I can think is that this is a modern day battle with the Gadianton Robbers.
Here are some fun pictures of the Army going to war in thier country. Can't wait for that to come here as well.
Two questions for you. What happens to us in the US when this thing goes into a full fledged civil war? Where do the refugees go? How do we car for them when our country can hardly take care of itself at this point?
Next, these are drug cartels right? How about we look for actual solutions such as de-criminalizing drugs like Marijuana? Our country was count in a crime spree during prohibition, once that was done away with crime dropped. Would not the same thing stand a good chance of happening here?
What about liberty? Does it hurt you or I if some one drinks beer? If they drink and drive then yes but there are laws for our actions affecting others but if some one smokes pot and doesn't hurt anyone other then themselves what does it matter? We have been fighting a "war on drugs" for almost 30 years and it looks like we are losing, instead of admitting defeat how about we look at the basic premise of the argument and say "taking away people liberty to do with their body's what they want has negative side affects."
Monday, March 2, 2009
I wanted to pass on this story to you, the loyal readers of The Spirit of the Law Blog. A LDS young man in the Los Angeles county area has started a different kind of speech campaign. The article reads, "On Tuesday, the [county] board [of supervisors] is scheduled to issue a proclamation by supervisor Michael Antonovich making the first week in March No Cussing Week".
Apparently McKay Hatch is quite passionate about doing what he can to see that obscene language be curbed in any way he can... he is even leading a "No Cussing Club" at his High School in Pasadena. I wonder, is this a good thing? Or is this simply case where good intentions have crossed the line into being like the pharisees?