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"What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?" Thomas Jefferson

The LDS Church And The Gay Scout Leader Decision

August 4, 2015

Last week, the LDS Church reacted to the recent Boy Scouts of America (BSA) plan to formally allow openly gay men to be troop leaders (Boy Scouts End Ban on Gay Leaders, Over Protests by Mormon Church):

But the new policy allows church-sponsored units to choose local unit leaders who share their precepts, even if that means restricting such positions to heterosexual men.

Despite this compromise, the Mormon Church said it might leave the organization anyway. Its stance surprised many and raised questions about whether other conservative sponsors, including the Roman Catholic Church, might follow suit.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote,” said a statement issued by the church moments after the Scouts announced the new policy. “When the leadership of the church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with scouting will need to be examined.”

Only two weeks ago, the Mormon Church hinted that it could remain in the fold so long as its units could pick their own leaders.

Why is the church so upset? They seem to be miffed because they didn’t participate in the vote but why would the BSA think they would have opposed the policy change? As the article notes, the church indicated they would support the policy if an exception was included. Furthermore, the church has set a very clear precedent that it will support and lobby for laws/policies coercing acceptance of gay lifestyles so long as the church is exempted. The BSA must have felt fine since the policy includes an exemption just like the other laws the church as fully supported.

Maybe this means the church is shifting away from this type of ‘good for thee but not for me’ policies.  Personally, I do hope they come back to the foundational values they’ve held and transition from the increasingly rudderless BSA. However, more than likely, this is just going to amount to a bunch of bluster and they’ll back the (bad) policy. Hope I’m wrong…

Early Warning: City Tax Increases For UTA And Kickbacks (Update)

June 29, 2015

The Bountiful City Council is poised to pursue recommending tax increase on the November ballot.  Likely they used this vapid, boilerplate resolution provided to them from the Utah League of Cities and Towns (ULCT – a tax-funded municipal lobbying group that lobbies the legislature to increase you taxes – go figure).

Basically, if they are able to pass the tax increase, UTA  (Utah Transit Authority) will get 40% of it for improving their service (…and free up funding for more outrageous executive bonuses). Meanwhile cities get 40% of the take and counties get 20%. Effectively, the legislature set this scheme up so everyone get’s a juicy kickback by getting this thing passed. As one person I know put it: Imagine if the city were to agree with Comcast to slap a fee on every homeowner for Comcast internet improvements under the agreement that Comcast will give the city/county 20-40% of the fee?

Of course, if Comcast and the city rigged a deal like this, there would be an investigation and things would not be pretty.  However, since government and a government-spronsored private organization (UTA) is involved, this is somehow kosher.

This tax will be on top of several new, and proposed 2015 taxes/fees (note there may be more, these are just off the top of my head):

  • Statewide property tax increase of $46/average home ($250K, I think) (SB97)
  • State gas tax increase (now 12% which also automatically increases the revenue as wholesale price increases up to a threshold of $0.40/gallon (HB362)
  • Directed by the Utah Legislature (SJR6) Chaffetz has proposed a law that would require all online businesses to collect Utah sales tax from Utah citizens

Fortunately for cities, ULCT (along with Utah Chamber of Crony Capitalists-afilliated groups and front organizations) is going to help cities with the get-out-the-vote campaign (see the “When” section). Based on the aforementioned resolution and linked document, cities are likely to make hay of their road maintenance shortfall to convince you to spit up 40% overhead to UTA. Quite frankly, the shortfall is of their own doing – if they would’ve focused on core government functions instead of pet projects like recreation centers, theater for plays, art displays/festivals, special-interest museums, etc (see the tags linked above). Maybe it’s time they check their priorities and adjust such first before further burdening families.

Unfortunately, for those who expect some fiscal responsibility and oppose these intra-governmental kickback schemes, things will be tough. The above crony groups will use their coffers to swamp the media with ads etc as they will see a return on investment (at your expense) and attack opponents as ‘miserly’ for such a small increase (again, ignore the other increases this is heaped on).  Plus, they also have the advantage of  the “Concentrated versus Diffuse Interests” effect so eloquently identified by Milton & Rose Friedman many years ago.

Good times ahead, or something.

UPDATE (8/18): The Davis County Commission voted to stick the measure on the ballot:

The motion was unanimous with votes from Commissioners.
Milburn – on the UTA Board of Trustees.
Smith – CEO of  Davis Chamber of Commerce – Chambers are involved in PR for the tax increase (see my above link), I’m betting Davis Chamber will chip in too…
Petroff who stated: “putting the sales tax increase on the ballot is not a hard decision for me.”

UTA’s ‘not so dazzling’ State audit reports can also be found (via Evelyn Everton’s twitter) at the links:
2014
2012

Various Thoughts Post

June 28, 2015

I don’t get much time to post anymore so I’m just putting some thoughts down on a variety of issues in what amounts to a first draft with no real review/editing.  Thus the very generic title, no comment section, and uncharacteristic scant source links.

Daesh (ISIS)/War-on-Terror

Obama’s very inept handling of the region helped precipitate this despicable crime group accurately know as Daesh. Right after the success of the Iraq surge, Obama intentionally spiked the SOFA and gave us an arbitrary withdrawl without the residual force to buffer Suni/Shia and keep ISIS-like groups at bay. Later, he pushed for the rebelion against Asad without heed of who would arise in such a power vacuum (McCain get’s credit for this too) meanwhile ignoring the Green Movement in Iran (and subsequently guaranteeing Iran’s ruling regime nukes). Besides Asad he helped screw up Lybia (again with inept handling) and provided an opening for radicals there too where we wound up with a dead ambassador and securtity detail in Benghazi on a September 11 anniversary (Hillary’s State Dept is deserving of blame for awful basic security). As an added bonus, he just about pulled the same thing in Egypt.  He’s practically pulled the same stuff in Afghanistan (already a tougher operation than Iraq) when presented with surge force options for high, medium, and low risk of failure (based on troop numbers).  He opted for the low troop, high rist option and here we are today. Lives have been impacted and allies left twisting in the wind.

Confederate Flag

Some screwed-up guy murders nine people and all the media and people want to do is focus on a flag.  No one seems to want to figure out why this guy snapped or how to prevent/indertict such a person in the future, instead, we’re going to ban Dukes of Hazard memorobelia.  It’s absurd. South Carolina and other ‘flag states’ can deal with the flag (preferably without a frenzied, knee-jerk reaction but thoughtful consideration). Nope, we’re going to focus on a flag and totally ignore the perp and the crime.

Gay Marriage

Government should just get out of the marriage business. My guess is this isn’t over and one gay leader (Takei) is ready for the next step: diluting individual religious right once protected by the First Amendment.  Forcing businesses and laborers to, literally, cater to them when alternatives abound will continue and be expanded upon. No one should be allowed to steal another’s labor or turn them into your forced servant. The ACLU is cool with it apparently deciding the some rights are more equal than others. At the local level, the LDS Church has some complicity in this with the new law they helped pass to force businesses while exempting themselves from the same law. When I called the church on how they could reconcile this, the spokesman noted that they had really taken a beating in the media etc by standing up for traditional marriage. So they threw their members under the bus (who by the way took just as bad a beating and are still expected to stand up for biblical marriage with the bonus of continuing to take the beating).  Anyway, Utah should just get out of marriage, ASAP.  Oh and, yeah, polygamy and other alternatives will be legalized – deal with it.

Obamacare

Twice saved by Justice Roberts, each time with a Constitution crushing decision: First, include a tax in any law and you can do whatever you want no matter how intrusive it may be in an individual life (an anethma to the clear intents and debate into the framing of the constitution found in the Federalist Papers). Second, judges can now moonlight as legislators and re-write legislation even when it was clealy spelled out in black-and-white writing and the intent from those drafting the provision was clear. No need to make the legislators revisit the issue and change it to a new intent, just do it for them (no idea why what point the legislative branch serves now). No do I know what the Constitution is for – it is totally ignored or just twisted in what ever convenient manner is now desired (we don’t no stinkin’ amnedment process!).

Republicans

The useless party with poor leaders beholden to the Chamber of Commerce and other crony capital elites. Besides Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and others they do not serve as an opposition party.  Sure the media hates them and wants to destroy them but they continue to try to curry favor with them so they capitulate more than oppose. Limbaugh nails it when he said they act more to make socialistic policies palatable than oppose them.  Hope that changes and they start talking to the American people instead of continue to try to filter everything through the media and their intere$t groups… Principles should always take precidence over party.

Illegal immigration

More consititutionally destructive stuff from Obama with willing complicity of the Republican establishment elites and their Chamber of Crony Capitalist befactors. They know of the identity theft (SSA says 75% engage in this), document fraud, and tax fraud committed by illegal immigrants and are A-OK with it. Here again, the LDS Church is involved wher it tells members to do the right thing no matter how hard it may be but then gives illegal aliens a free pass on key standards. It’s a clear double standard and shameful. All members, regardless of legal status, should be held to the same standard – either the stated high standard or the seemingly new standard where members get to pick and choose laws to follow (even if it may involve a felony like ID theft and involve victims) so long as some personal hardship can be demonstrated. Seriously, is a cup of tea worse than trashing a child’s identity, credit, earnings, and medical records?

Anyway, one court has stood up to Obama’s massive power grab on arbitrarily making up immigration law (whis is in violation of constitutional separation of powers – not that we really have a guiding constitution anymore) but given the Supreme Court’s record as of late, don’t count on that standing.  Roberts will just pencil something in.

Update: As an added bonus, the Supreme Court is also ok with not requiring anyone to show they are actually a citizen to be able to vote.

OPM Leak

More inept work what will continue with no accountability. OPM’s head made it clear that ‘no one is responsible’ for the massive screw-up. No one will be held accountable of fired just like all the other failures (Benghazi, Fast & Furious, Snowden, Domestic spying, the border crisis, IRS scandal, Healthcare.gov site, on and on). The loss of SF-85 and other sensitive personnel data will have negative implications for many years to come.

Parting thought: The Constitution is effectively dead and not much more than a distant memory. Hopefully, that will change and future generations will recognize its wisdom (including the amendment process) and bring it back to prominence.  One can only pray this happens sooner rather than later or after a very painful experience.

Bountiful City’s Fallacious City Power “Dividend” (Update)

May 15, 2015

Maybe the Kaysville’s citizen revolt on its power transfers has Bountiful City worried. Accompanying this month’s Bountiful City Power bill is a mandatory notice letter that goes out of it’s way to shout praises that the city opts to overcharge you on power (and avoid truth in taxation) and tries to convince you that such is a “dividend”:

Viewed in another way, these transfers are a “dividend” to Bountiful Taxpayers as the result of the taxpayers’ original investment in the City’s power infrastructure.

It seems that city believes that dividends are not returned to investors to do with as they please, rather, dividends must be returned to the company (Bountiful City) to do with as it pleases. Unfortunately, Webster doesn’t seem to agree

finance : an amount of a company’s profits that the company pays to people who own stock in the company

I also have a feeling the SEC would frown on a company unilaterally spending it’s investors dividend. This years take from taxpayers forced investors: a cool $2.38 Million.

Almost humorously, is that the city’s own words sum up the whole reason they continue to spin the power overcharge – a convenient vehicle to dodge truth-in-taxation and cloak the actual tax burden and cost of government:

…these dividends are used to offset what otherwise would be a significant increase in property taxes.

Doubly humorous exit quote from the letter:

The transfers also provide a means for reimbursement of the…services provided to non-property tax paying groups such as non-profit organizations, churches…

Shame on those dastardly charities and religious community service zealots! Glad we could stick it to ’em.

UPDATE (June 8): I understand that the Bountiful City Council will meet tomorrow to officially transfer the $2.38 Mil. during their scheduled council meeting. Feel free to attend or email them about it. Good luck getting them to switch off the gravy train.

LDS Church And LGBT Non-Discrimination Law Credibility

January 30, 2015

My first post this year and imagine my surprise when I realize that my last post of 2014 was on the exact same topic.  Back then, the church had to quickly scrub a webpage of what looked like their plans for this announcement.  Apparently, they were preparing this almost exactly a month ago.  Now we know they were indeed going to issue a statement. Since I covered this in greater detail earlier (see prior link), I’ll be brief.

A few of days ago, the LDS Church came out and pushed for LGBT non-discrimination legislation…so long as it is exempt from it.

Its easy to mandate rules on others you are exempt from, I guess.  And that’s the problem.  At this point, they’ve undermined any credibility they had on this issue.  If you’re going to advocate for a law for everyone else (including your own members), then you best be subject to it as well. If you are unwilling to follow such a law, it might be better to just not say anything at all.

I just can’t take anyone seriously who says: ‘This is a great law everyone should follow as long as I don’t have to’.

UPDATE (March):  It is now well known that the church is backing the bill (SB296 – Antidiscrimination And Religious Freedom Amendments) that it is exempt from while leaving members with no such exemption (“good for thee but not for me”).  The Baptist’s* Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission have a good write up on individual religious freedom concerns related to the bill: Is Utah’s LGBT-religious liberty bill good policy?

*Yeah, I know the Baptists are not aligned with the LDS Church on doctrine but the article establishes common ground (religious liberty), is very respectful, and well written.

Good For The Gander: LDS Church And LGBT Non-Discrimination Laws

December 29, 2014

This caught my attention on Fox13’s website: LDS Church clarifies it has not announced support for statewide LGBT non-discrimination bill.

It appears that the church may be in the process of pursuing an expansion of sex-orientation non-discrimination law in Utah. While the church official’s response (see link/text on the Fox13 site) seems to distance them from any further laws (besides the 2009 law), the church’s email ends with a statement that seems to indicate that the webpage was a work-in-progress for some sort of new announcement:

“This is a beta site and is not a final product. Additional edits and changes are possible before it reaches final completion.”

Maybe the final sentence in the response is just poorly written or intentionally cryptic. I don’t know, but I’ll take it at face value based on past experience. As noted by the LDS Church response, they supported a similar localized law in 2009…and made sure they were exempt from the law. Back then, I opposed what they were doing as it epitomized a “good for thee and not for me” attitude.

It sounds like the church may be preparing to push for government power to force acceptance of behaviors some of the community and its own members (and the church itself) consider immoral. In doing so, they intrude of private property rights and rights of association of their own members but, through carving out a special exemption, the church is not subject to adhering to this coercion itself.

These are the types of laws that we’ve seen force private bakeries (here too) and wedding reception/service businesses to violate their moral beliefs (or close shop) despite their attempts to find alternative accommodations for the clients (who clearly had predetermined to force acceptance via litigation).

If this issue is indeed so important – then step up and remove the exemption and allow the same policy to affect the church’s properties (such as BYU housing etc). To sum: “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander”.

Utah’s Voter Roll Disclosure Open To James O’Keefe, Project Veritas Operation On Voter Fraud

December 3, 2014

Based on what I watched and read regarding James O’Keefe’s operation in North Carolina this year, he could use similar methodology to target Utah’s elections (frankly made much easier with our ridiculous vote by mail only program).

Essentially, thanks to Utah’s past and continued distribution of the voter list (albeit now just to politician’s pet groups/projects) via the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, O’Keefe would have what he needs to run a similar sting here: voter name, address, age, phone and vote history.  In North Carolina, he used the voting history to identify inactive voters (I think he looked for those who had not voted in the last three elections).  The only hope would be a poll worker to ask for ID, which I understand is not a strict requirement in Utah (again, even easier with mail-in only voting).

Hopefully, we clean our voter rolls and identify voters who have moved and those attempting to illegally vote (like non-citizens…again in North Carolina).  I would prefer that we just take the simple steps to respect that citizens’ right to vote is not beholden to political favored industries’ desire for marketing or data-mining information and prevent easy methods of voter fraud.  Let’s not be embarrassed like North Carolina, please.

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