Compare/Contrast: Wildlife Biologists and Teacher Unions

I was browsing job announcements a week or so ago and one caught my eye: the state is looking for a wildlife biologist. Well over a decade ago, I worked as a wildlife biologist. It didn’t pay much but I loved the job and had to move on as we expanded our family. Work was no picnic; you had long hours in bad weather conditions (especially when caring for animals) and had expansive duties (vehicle and equipment maintenance, chemical management, computer systems administration etc. etc.) but we enjoyed the work despite often eating overtime (we frequently didn’t have a budget to pay overtime, so we wouldn’t claim it).

Any way back to the job posting. I was shocked when I saw the pay for the job: $16.31 an hour. In all these years the pay has barely budged – it has only increased about 8.7%. That certainly doesn’t keep up with inflation over all that time. Wildlife biologist jobs are highly competitive – you need a minimum of a Bachelor of Science degree plus several years of experience (in the job announcement they want five years direct experience, it used to be only two). Often the Bachelor’s degree isn’t enough and you need the Master’s degree for an entry-level position…earning $16.30/hr. It’s so competitive that I remember being beat out by a PhD for such an entry level job!

As I said, despite very tight finances, I loved the job but I have no idea how anyone can do it now – especially with the housing bubble we see now. They don’t give you a vehicle outside of work duties and they no longer let your family come out with you during field surveys etc. (hopefully that has changed but I doubt the liability lawyers will allow it – it was one of the few benefits that helped compensate for the lack of compensation). No one has taken notice of this and I bet the jobs are highly competitive. I suppose biologist still scrape by (more so now then ever) and find happiness in the job. When I was in, people didn’t complain as we all knew the low pay when we were earning our degree and gaining experience – we just found happiness in the job and if pay wasn’t enough, I moved on without begrudging anyone.

Compare that to the teachers’ lobby. Politicians cater to them, they have a huge political machine and they certainly don’t go unnoticed. I hear constant complaining and protests (plus strike threats). Yet they come out of school and get a $40k/year job but work 9.5 months for it. It would be nice if someone would take notice of the biologists who knowingly go into a low paying, competitive field and don’t gripe constantly about what they knew they were getting into.

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Member Push Back On Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) Anti-Gun Policy

The Church of Jesus Christ recently formalized and publicized their dangerous policy for meetinghouse security (or the lack thereof) and now there may be push back. The social justice movement has undoubtedly been successful with the church on illegal immigration and LGBT issues and the church continues to cater to them as it embraces a globalist posture. Many of these policy directions have come at the expense of undermining individual rights/choice, the doctrine on a divinely inspired US Constitution, and in seeming conflict with current and past instructions to members along with the accompanying double standards.

Interestingly, there may be push back from members who have quietly put up with all the policy shifts. Taking a page from the ‘social justice’ protesters play book (e.g. ‘wear pants to church’ day), I’m hearing of personal protests related to the policy. Thus far I’ve heard of civil disobedience (ignoring the policy), carrying a visible, empty holster (bad idea, IMO), walking out, calling church HQ and a ‘soft walk out’ (my term for it).

I like the soft walk out best (it can be combined with calling church HQ). Here’s the soft walk out theory: The church meticulously watches its weekly attendance. The attendance clerk typically runs the count immediately after the sacrament is passed. To coincide with the week of Constitution Day, on September 22nd, protesters would quietly walk out for a bathroom break or to get something from their car and return to their seat once the count was completed. Walking away from the count would be even easier if you sat out in the foyer rather than inside the chapel.

I have no idea how many will do any of these let alone how many know or have thought of the above. I don’t really care. I’m sold on the soft walk out, I’m tired of being pushed around and getting hit by friendly fire from the public affairs virtue signalers. Regardless of what you do regarding this policy or how you feel about it, please review active shooter training and be vigilant.

The Church of Jesus Christ Enacts Lethal Policy, Ensures Meetinghouses Are Soft Targets (Update)

I’ve been documenting this dangerous policy for years, including the beginning of this year.

This new announcement  isn’t much of a change from the current policy but strengthens the gun ban and extends it to all “lethal weapons” (a vague policy letting them pick and choose what they ban). Either way, it means attending members are left defenseless in an advertised soft target. The Salt Lake Tribune has a very good article by Kathy Stephenson and Peggy Fletcher Stack on this. Read the whole thing:

LDS Church makes it clear: No guns in its meetinghouses

The article mentions two shootings that took place at a Church facility:

There have been gun incidents — even deadly ones — at Latter-day Saint meetinghouses through the years. In July, a 48-year-old man opened fire inside a church in the northern Nevada city of Fallon, killing one man and wounding another. A decade ago in Utah County, a pregnant woman was shot and killed by her estranged husband in the parking lot…

Not one of these incidents would have been prevented by the new policy. It won’t stop a criminal/murder. Worse, it reduces security. It ensures a disarmed, vulnerable set of victims to be slaughtered, particularly in a space with poor egress. This is a very tempting target for a criminal or terrorist.

This begs a few questions:

1. What will the church do to secure their facilities and ensure congregants are protected?

2. Will church leadership (including President Nelson) lead by example, eschew armed security and adhere to the policy and risk their lay members are subject to?

3. Does this reveal a significant policy/doctrinal change on the divinity of the US Constitution?

Finally, please click this post from January on this issue and I implore you to review the potentially life-saving training and resources in the last half of the post (as a start). You’re a sitting duck, best be prepared and aware.

UPDATE: The church is well aware of the threat and, in 2017, was provided a white paper through their lobbyist, Marty Stephens, on options regarding their dangerous no self-defense policy (View/download here: “Protecting LDS Church Members Against Church Shootings“). The document has plenty of background resources as well (read the whole thing including appendices). It is also noteworthy that one of the churches mentioned in the paper quietly rescinded their advertised no gun policy last year.

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).

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]