Perverse Incentive Double Dip: Student Loan Forgiveness For Public Employees

I was recently informed about this program: Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.

As a taxpayer, this type of perverse incentive really grates me. It appears that we are getting hit twice. First, taxpayers pay the salary of these employees (which is fair since it’s their labor). However, they get a carve out and have us pay for their remaining student loans. That is not cool at all and they’re hitting the piggybank we’re forced to pay into twice. We’re already paying the salary they can use to pay off those loans and now we’re also forced to absorb the cost of those loans. I don’t know who came up with this program but it stinks.

In contrast, if a private arrangement is made to forgive a loan or donations are gathered, that’s cool, I have no dog in that fight. The difference is a forced versus voluntary action.

I’ll also say the loan forgiveness thing at taxpayer expense is rotten in general (regardless of who benefits). It’s a slap in the face to people who opted to save, work, or serve in the military to pay for college and leave with no debt as well as those who worked and paid off the debt they incurred. I remember several friends in college who worked full time while attending or made military commitments and sacrifices to pay their schooling. Those same folks who labored and bore the cost are now told to involuntarily pay off someone else’s loan. That is just awful and it teaches an irresponsible lesson to future generations.

Finally, this isn’t the first government program the promotes entitlement and dependency. Several years ago I highlighted the destructive and indoctrinating nature of the school breakfast for all. That brings me to an exit question/information request:

The free school breakfast and ‘come to the park to eat lunch for free’ programs (i.e. force your neighbors to pay for your lunch) are bad enough that they are open to everyone, rather than means tested. But even if means tested, they make no sense. Wouldn’t the same folks who would qualify also qualify for food stamps? If so, you would expect that they should have their SNAP benefit reduced by a comparable amount, right? Having both programs overlap, besides being wasteful, sure makes it sound like those receiving food stamps are not using them to purchase the food to feed their children – to me that sounds like there is a bigger problem afoot and while I’m not a big fan for child services intervention, having the means to feed your child but not doing so sure looks like something they should look into.

If there isn’t overlap between the programs and why they aren’t means tested, I would be interested in getting some sources of info to read. Please refrain from articles about it being government’s job to feed everyone – it will fall on deaf ears as we don’t have a duty to feed our neighbor and his kids when he makes $500K/year but blew his grocery budget on a new yacht (if people have prioritization issues, that’s their problem).

UPDATE (further reading): Here’s an article on the PLSF from Brookings from 2016: The coming Public Service Loan Forgiveness bonanza (I guess the bonanza is moving forward) and an article a couple of alternative student loan suggestions to think about: Two Conservative Ideas for Fixing Student Loans (see also Fixing student loans—the right way). Finally, here’s a bit of perspective from CNN (Wealthy Borrowers Will Benefit Most From Elizabeth Warren’s Student Debt Forgiveness Plan) and Brookings (The Typical Household with Student Loan Debt).

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A New Utah Compact For Protesters (Inland Port Protest)

I’ve been following the Utah inland port protest that occurred at the Salt Lake Chamber and the continuing emotional debate in it’s wake. I’ve grown very concerned about the civility as both sides make various accusations against one another. I’m particularly worried about the charges of racism that have arisen along with “begetting violence“. Something has to be done. Thus, from compassion and piety, I propose a Utah Protest Compact:

The Utah Protest Compact was developed over several days by me because I was concerned about the tone of Utah’s inland port protest discussion. The Compact is based on Utah values and I urge our leaders to use these guiding principles as they address the complex challenges associated with a broken protest system. The Compact has broad support from me, blog readers, and anyone tired of pretentious elites. It is a simple document that expresses our values as community as they relate to specific policy issues that have become central to the protest discussion.

A Declaration of Five Principles to Guide Utah’s Protest Discussion

As signers of the Utah Protest Compact, we are committed to promoting common-sense protest reforms that will strengthen our civility, as well as attract talent and protest business to our state.

We urge state leaders and the Salt Lake Chamber to adopt these five principles of the Utah Protest Compact:

  1. VENUE SOLUTIONS Entering a private venue to protest is a policy issue between protesters and the media-not the Salt Lake Chamber and the Salt Lake City Police Department. We urge the Salt Lake Chamber to lead efforts to abide by the principles they promote on their own properties and strengthen the CEO’s office security while making other areas accessible to uninvited guest protesters. We urge them to make protesters as comfortable as possible with free WiFi, medical resources, staff assistance, comfy chairs, and drinks with those fun mini umbrellas.
  2. LAW ENFORCEMENT We respect the rule of law and support law enforcement’s professional judgment and discretion. Local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of local codes.
  3. FAMILIES Strong families are the foundation of successful communities. We oppose policies that unnecessarily separate families, such as involuntary removal of protesters from Chamber properties. We champion policies that support families and improve the health, education and well-being of all Utah children.
  4. ECONOMY Utah is best served by a free-market philosophy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. We acknowledge the economic role protesters play as workers and taxpayers. Utah’s protest policies must reaffirm our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state.
  5. A FREE SOCIETY Protesters are integrated into communities across Utah. We must adopt a humane approach to this reality, reflecting our unique culture, history and spirit of inclusion. The way we treat protesters will say more about us as a free society and less about our protesting neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill and virtue signaling…except Johnson’s Army.

If the above sounds familiar, it should. It was remarkably quick and easy to tweak the Salt Lake Chamber’s Utah Compact on Immigration and its preamble. I know that back in 2011, despite originating the Utah Compact on Immigration, the Chamber ensured that no one is “going to find the Chamber’s fingerprints on it” but the compact was just “reaffirmed on March 21, 2019” and now has their stamp of approval so I’m sure they’ll abide by the same ‘principles’ they demand us to swallow. Right?

Utah Politicians, Lobbyist Groups Put On Kabuki Show Over Driver License Data Exploitation (Updates)

Apparently politicians and some political groups are shocked, shocked, I say!

Utah DPS disputes driver’s license pics used in facial recognition mining, but lawmakers may hold hearings

This is rich. These are the same politicians who voted for sharing the driver’s license database with their cronies (see here too) and fought for increasing access for this and voter records (see here and here for example).

Available Jones Herbert and his Lt Governer Spencer Cox (Available Junior?) who’s in charge of voter records, by the way, can shove their whining where the sun don’t shine. They were mucho happy knowingly passing on your data well beyond the scope of core government functions.

Politicians and the other carping cohorts like the media, ACLU and Libertas either voted for or refused to join efforts to respect privacy and restrict the wholesale disclosure of various personal information.

The ACLU has the nerve to say “We plan to investigate how this breach of trust occurred and the steps Utah lawmakers need to take to protect the privacy of all Utahns from this widespread, open-ended surveillance program…”.

Oh really? Where were you last session when this was being voted on? Oh, right. You were too busy preparing a fund raising press release on some other unexpectedly unexpected outrage to siphon some dinero off the rubes.

Rather than carving out goodies for your cloistered buddies and yourselves, maybe next time you’ll think of the rest of us as people instead of a data resource to exploit (although Facebook would be proud!).

For the rest of us shlubs, there’s not much you can do on the driver license data but you can lock down your voter information: How To Make Your Utah Voter Registration Information Private

Ending on the positive, our political betters just earned the Captain Louis Renault award:

UPDATE: I read a few more articles on this issue. I noticed something I initially missed. It appears that the upset politcians and groups are most perturbed by ICE using the database. Interestingly, ICE may have the greatest justification for using it and we have swampy Curt Bramble to thank for it. See years ago, Bramble pushed through the Driver Privilege Card (DPC) to further Utah’s position as a defacto sanctuary state (also pleasing the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce). The DPC is only available to illegal immigrants (citizens and legal immigrants may only get a driver license). Thus, Bramble and his DPC inadvertently created a mechanism for ICE to have probable cause of a crime (illegal immigration at a minimum and likely employment-related identity theft and the other frauds/crimes that goes along with it) which could save law enforcement lives.

The ACLU also mentions the DPC in their whining. I have a feeling a lot of these politicians and organizations are more upset that their sanctuary vehicle* is being used than they care about citizen’s privacy given their tacit or overt approval of reckless personal data disclosure.

*Pun intended.

UPDATE II: The Salt Lake Tribune put up an official editorial decrying the privacy breech (and throwing in some divisive, race-baiting pap along the way). Huh. That’s funny, the Utah media (Tribune included) were all opposed to locking up voters’ personal information when that legislation was being pursued and didn’t give a rip about the Driver’s License data sharing bill when it was brought to their attention. But we should totes take their outrage seriously…That’s some nice kabuki outrage you have there.

Utah Swamp Trio Of Arrogance Inadvertently Bolster A Trump Nomination (Update)

Over the weekend, Utah’s biggest swamp creature, Curt Bramble teamed up with Paul Mero and politically entrenched attorney David Irvine to pen a laughable hit piece about a local Trump nominee (full disclosure: the nominee is my father). It was so poor, that the piece generated a single comment…which jabbed the authors. LOLZ.

The diatribe they penned is one of those eye-rolling pieces dripping with hollier-than-thou, condescending pablum interspersed with guilt-by-association and innuendo. The cherry-on-top is they attack his religious convictions and insinuate he’s a ‘bad Mormon’.

The trio sure don’t have much to stand on. David Irvine proudly voted for Hillary Clinton, as all good NeverTrumpers should. In my opinion, the guy is an underhanded political hack involved with some ethically-challenged folks. Meanwhile, Bramble is probably Utah’s biggest swamp creature, embracing his home-town Chicago politics and was on the Evan McMullin squad. Then you have Paul Mero (who dutifully posts NeverTrump stuff on his Twitter feed). ‘Torpedo Mero’ was once a semi-player in Utah politics when he was with the Sutherland Institute…unfortunately, for the Sutherland Institute, his arrogance and condescending methods (here’s one example) served to send plenty of otherwise good legislation to Davy Jones’ locker. Fortunately, for Sutherland, he’s no longer there.

These guys appear to be a bunch of sourpuss NeverTrumpers throwing an elitist fit because they hate Trump and are upset the President isn’t selecting folks from their clique.

Heh. I was no Trump fan either. After Trump became the nominee, I said: ‘one thing’s for sure, we’ll soon have a charlatan in the White House’ (referring to Trump and Hillary). Hillary was awful but, as time went on, she got worse and her ethics were atrocious. I admit being wrong about Trump* and got over it. President Trump stuck to the conservative principles he preached in the campaign and actually fights. Trump also represents a rejection of the old-guard elite policies that left pain and terrible messes in their wake and a new direction away from globalism to renewing the US as the shining city upon the hill. These guys are out of touch and don’t realize they represent a aristocratic mindset in the midst of being rejected but desperate to cling on. At least one preferred to shaft us with Hillary Clinton and all preferred a continuation of their status quo injurious policies.

The trio is great at writing a preachy article but seemed to forget to mention their target of scorn lead humanitarian operations in such lovely getaways as Haiti, Darfur, Mali, Lebanon, and Iraq (multiple times including near the front during Daesh/ISIS’ apex). And only the best vacation hotspots include cholera and ebola outbreaks. So yeah, he knows what ministering and succoring suffering looks like and actually acted rather than preached. As an aside, check out Samaritan’s Purse – they were incredibly close to the front lines in Iraq providing aide and medically care – my dad said they were awesome out there.

So some of Utah’s biggest politically entrenched elite have decided question a nominee’s religious convictions and attack a guy who went out to some hell holes and coordinate humanitarian efforts because they need a surrogate for their Trump ire. Their whole hit job comes off as snobish and petty. Really, you couldn’t ask for a more resounding endorsement.

Who knows what will happen. If their hated effigy is nominated/confirmed, I know he’ll do a great job of effectively alleviating as much human suffering as he possibly can.

UPDATE: The Buzzard’s Blog has some thoughts on this as well.

UPDATE II: The Salt Lake Tribune is desperate. They’re continuing their attack line and drafted another yellow journalism hit piece as an excuse to regurgitate part of the above Swamp Trio’s hit piece. Maybe the letter calling them out for this crap stuck in their craw. LOL!

UPDATE III: Check out this gem. Very pious David Irvine is on the board of Alliance for a Better Utah. They sent out an official action alert with Planned Parenthood to support abortion. The email sent out by the organization’s Communications Director (Katie Matheson) states**:

We have joined with Planned Parenthood and created a petition of our own that makes a very clear demand: Utah lawmakers should keep their hands off a person’s right to decide whether to have an abortion

I guess we should follow “Christ’s call – of welcoming the stranger” so long as that stranger isn’t an unborn child.

*Important caveat: While I am pleased with President Trump (albeit don’t always agree with him or some of his rhetoric), I go by Alexander Hamilton’s advice: “For it is a truth, which the experience of ages has attested, that the people are always most in danger when the means of injuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.”

**Full text of the Alliance for a Better Utah/Planned Parenthood email:

From: Katie Matheson, Better Utah <[redacted]@betterutah.org>
Date: Fri, Jul 5, 2019 at [time redacted]
Subject: Help needed
To: [redacted]

Dear [redacted],

I’m not going to mince words–things are difficult right now in Utah for supporters of reproductive rights. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed an unconstitutional 18 week abortion ban. In the past month, Riverton City and Utah County passed anti-choice resolutions. And perhaps most worrying of all, state Senator Dan McCay has announced he will introduce a bill in 2020 to “end elective abortions in Utah.”

The agency of Utahns to make the most fundamental decision of all–what to do with our own bodies–is under attack right here in our state. A new group touting extreme views on bodily autonomy started a petition to support re-criminalization of abortion in Utah. So far they have over 2,000 signatures.

This is not the Utah we know and love. Utahns support the fundamental right to freedom for every individual; and yes, that includes the right to choose to have an abortion.

We have joined with Planned Parenthood and created a petition of our own that makes a very clear demand: Utah lawmakers should keep their hands off a person’s right to decide whether to have an abortion. But we’ve got an uphill climb ahead of us–we are short of our goal by over 1,500 signatures, which means we could really use your help. Please sign and share with your family and friends, and ask them to sign and share.

More Utahns support Roe v. Wade than want it overturned, but we have been ceding ground to the anti-choice activists because abortion is such a personal issue. If we don’t stand up now, we will be forced to fight unconstitutional laws implemented by a loud minority of Utahns. It’s time to stand up.

Thank you for all your support.

Best,

Katie Matheson
Communications Director
[Remainder of Email Redacted]

Bountiful City Council Ready To Cloak Recycling Cost Rather Than Evaluate And Reform

Bountiful City already cloaks the cost of government via the power fund transfer to the general fund and the Mayor and City Council are poised to extend this practice to cloak the cost of recycling by transferring $120,000 from the landfill fund to the recycling fund. The vote on this is scheduled for 7PM Tuesday, June 25th at 255 South 100 West (Fire Station 81) and public comment will be taken.

It has been long known that recycling was inefficient with much being shifted to landfills. Ultimately, recyclers were middlemen that imposed additional cost for part of the waste stream to end up in a landfill. Many have been fooling themselves and imposing a ‘feelgood surcharge’ on their neighbors while ignoring reality for years. It’s time to come to terms that inviable recycling may emotionally feel good in ignorance but the reality is it is only adding and extra step and cost to trash going to a landfill. That special-interest cost is borne by the poor, young families on tight budgets and the elderly on fixed incomes. With the long anticipated market correction in recycling, this should be used as an opportunity to streamline programs to reflect reality and alleviate an undue burden.

While I’ve recycled for decades, I opposed the inefficient and wasteful curbside recycling mandate. If we’re serious about recycling, it would be better to return to and expand centralized recycling collection points where people can conveniently drop off their recyclables as part of their routine errands. Prior to the current government program, recycling points were located near Smith’s Marketplace (on city property), schools and some store parking lots. The city and recycling companies could join with businesses to cooperatively locate convenient collection points. These would have the several benefits:

  • Efficient recycling streams: better product segregation rather than mixed goods that require significant labor to sort
  • Cleaner, less contaminated recycling streams: partly due to better segregation and people are more careful/knowledgeable who voluntarily recycle
  • Glass collection: prior to the government mandate, glass was collected at the central locations
  • Helping air quality: lower emissions as far fewer trucks and fuel are needed to pick up from a few locations rather than every residential home/street. This is particularly the case as people can drop off their recycling as part of their existing weekly trips (grocery store etc.) thus requiring no additional gas consumption.
  • No or far lower cost to citizens
  • Alleviates the cost imposed on senior citizens who have few recyclables but are forced to pay for full-sized cans
  • Removes heavy hand of governmental force (fees)

Furthermore, some items may well still make sense and actually pay for themselves or provide revenue. Two things to consider are aluminum (and metals) and food waste – I understand the new biodigesters in North Salt Lake have the potential to make money.

The transfer should be rejected and the burdensome, inefficient program replaced with an efficient program that respects Bountiful family and fixed-income budgets. You may want to attend the meeting or reach out to the city council.

Bountiful City Not Only Hides True Tax Burden And Overcharges You On Power, Now They’re Going To Cloak Recycling Costs

For years I’ve documented Bountiful City politicians’ game of manipulating power rates to avoid truth-in-taxation and then claim taxes are low. Using this scheme, they’ve enjoyed pulling the wool over residents’ eyes on the actual financial burden imposed on residents by city government. This year, they’re again transferring about $2.49 million from power charges to the general fund (see the insert in your city power bill). I’m not going into detail on it this time, click the above link for all posts on the issue to get background and how they use the tactic to cloak the true tax rate (it would roughly double property taxes – about $2.5 million was taken in per FY 2018 Financial Annual Report (pdf).

This year, someone concocted a new way to hide the cost of government and a failing program. If you look in the notice that came in your power bill, they’re planning to transferring $240,485* from the Landfill Fund to the Recycling Fund. Their raiding the functional landfill to subsidize the failing mandatory recycling program instead of raising the recycling fee. Thus, they hide the actual cost of the recycling program by “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. Rather than argue the merits of the program, they’ll just keep forcing it on us.

The recycling market has tanked and many cities are getting rid of the inefficient and costly program (see here too). Not Bountiful politicians. It’s awful hard to give up a pet project payed for by others (particularly an unwanted project they foisted on us).

For what it’s worth, I actually like legitimate recycling and reducing trash (I don’t like waste, Neo reflects my thoughts well ). Recycle your cans (give the funds to charity) and paper/cardboard can be conveniently dropped off at schools (they get money for it) while you run errands. Feel good ineffectual recycling programs imposing a burden on struggling families and folks on fixed incomes isn’t the way to do it.

If you’re interested, Bountiful City Council will hold a public hearing on both transfers on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 7:00PM at the fire station on 255 S 100 W. You can also email city council members if you can’t make it but have a comment.

For all posts related to recycling, click here.

*Update: As of June 22, the figure appears to have been updated to a $120,000 transfer. See: Bountiful City Council Ready To Cloak Recycling Cost Rather Than Evaluate And Reform

The Equality Act: How The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints Stepped On A Rake

Fox13 reported today that the Latter-day Saint church speaks out in opposition of Equality Act:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement Monday in opposition to House Resolution 5, also known as the Equality Act…

“While providing extremely broad protections for LGBT rights, the Equality Act provides no protections for religious freedom. It would instead repeal long-standing religious rights under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, threaten religious employment standards, devastate religious education, defund numerous religious charities and impose secular standards on religious activities and properties,” the statement from the Latter-day Saint church said, in part…

Yeah, it’s bad legislation on many levels. While I oppose it, the church statement comes way too late. Their Public Affairs folks stepped right into this and were warned about it years ago when they decided to play patty-cake with LGBTQ advocates and dabble in social justice. They were happy to throw individual rights (and members) under the bus while exempting the church on this very issue in order to score fleeting political points:

Organizational Vs Individual Freedom: Elder M. Russell Ballard And Utah’s LGBT Law
LDS Church And LGBT Non-Discrimination Law Credibility
Good For The Gander: LDS Church And LGBT Non-Discrimination Laws

This year, the church tacitly endorsed the Utah Legislatures’ hate crimes bill (which undermines equal protection under the law). Now they find themselves potentially subject to the same laws they were happy to stick everyone else under while they carved an exception for themselves.

But it goes beyond that. They may have set the means for their youth-turned-LGBT-advocates to be indoctrinated into supporting this stuff. I posted on this subject in 2013: Turning Point: Did The LDS Church Lose Its Youth On Gay Marriage With KSL?. Then, in 2017, they doubled down on the same decision: Repeating History: LDS Church And KSL Programming (Note: that is a CBS show they’re running on an NBC affiliate – it’s 100% their choice and not an affiliate mandate from NBC).

To be frank, I was a decade late on this. This programming gambit was really was set in motion a decade before I opened my fat yap. Steve DeVore gets the credit for sounding the first warning on this: Utahn battles raunchy TV online.

I mentioned him and his now defunct CleanTV site in my 2017 KSL programming blog post (above). Read that post and take note of the damning quotes from the church-owned KSL programming execs. They unwisely made themselves “friends of the mammon of unrighteousness” and got burned, big time.

Coming back to this year, BYU youth and profs now cheer and herald a BYU valedictorian coming out as gay. In local Utah schools, being gay, trans, or any one of multiple gender variations is viewed as something to be respected and applauded while being heterosexual is suspect and considered a potential oppressor (definitely unjustly “privileged”).

This whole PR press has certainly worked wonders. Now the church can look forward to battling its own (now indoctrinated) members over the Equality Act (you know, like bill co-sponsor, Rep. Ben McAdams).

Many have warned them they were playing a game with groups who were not concerned for the church’s welfare and would certainly not be satisfied until a full victory. Here’s the SOP put more succinctly:

Plenty have followed gospel truths and admonitions from ecclesiastical leaders to put aside bad influences and advocate for traditional and eternal moral values. They’ve spent their time and treasure sitting on the front line and taken all sorts of flak and retaliatory strikes from the media, Hollywood and very groups the church tried to curry favor (or reprieve) with. They’ve been derided and defamed. While the church backed down, the ‘front line members’ were told to hold the line…essentially with no material higher echelon support while watching the church roll over or outright help opposing advocates successfully pursue their goals.

At least for now, the church is holding firm on this (see Fox13 link):

But homosexual behavior is considered sinful and would disqualify a member from temple privileges, and therefore employment at a church-owned business.

Whatever comes next, the church media group (and me!) owes Steve DeVore a damned good apology for not heeding his warning.