Have A Stable Job And You’re A Saver? Time To Step Up And Rev Up The Economy

Just a quick blurb that if you’re fortunate enough to have had steady employment and savings, now is a great time to bump up some of your discretionary spending.

That doesn’t mean that you dip into your savings. Don’t do that, but please consider slightly reducing how much you’re tucking away each month (your savings rate) and give the local and US economy a boost. Please also be very choosey on where you provide this privately driven real stimulus so you make the biggest/best impact possible.

If you have a job and no savings or are hopefully very temporarily unemployed, make it a goal to restore or begin saving for rainy days (or Chinese Communist Party induced pandemics…which ever comes first). I know Dave Ramsey is a big advocate and I’ve heard he has an effective ‘baby step’ system. There are others out there too. Just make it a serious goal, commit to it and follow through. Your stress level will drop and your marriage will thank you. Then you’ll be in the position to be charitable on a regular basis and the force for ramping up a hurting economy and job market when the next crisis rears its head.

Again, for those with steady employment and savings, it’s time to be the force of recovery. Let’s grab the boot straps and get going.

BOLO: Bountiful City’s 2020 Power and Landfill Fund Transfer (Hiddent Taxes) And Warning To Watch For Increases

It’s time for my annual May post about Bountiful City City Council and Mayor continuing to manipulate power rates to over charge citizens/power users so they can claim we have low taxes and hide the true cost of local government. Last year, the city raided $2.5 million from the power fund into the general fund. This year they’ve increased the transfer $250,000 for a total of $2.75 million likely aided by the 67% customer charge increase and new street light fee over the last couple of years.

This post likely also launches an ongoing annual post documenting the Bountiful City Council and Mayor employing the same tactic related to your garbage bill to cloak recycling costs. This year, they will increase the transfer from the landfill budget to the recycling fund by about 6% to $127,595 (up from $120,000). This transfer/bailout began last year but they’ve learned well from power fund game and appear to plan to do this in perpetuity (there’s no such thing as a ‘temporary government program’).

With the Chicom virus pandemic wreaking havoc on family budgets and affecting tax revenues, be on the lookout for the city to manipulate power rates, customer fees and/or garbage service fees to cover some of their revenue shortfalls rather than being transparent and going through truth-in-taxation requirements to justify increasing taxes (revenue).

I’ve been tracking this issue for longer than I would like to admit. I have scant time this year so this post is lacking in background/details. For more information/posts on power cost manipulations, click here or the “Bountiful Power” tag and click here or the “Recycling” tag to bring up the plethora of (better detailed) posts on these issues.

UPDATE: I picked a good day to post this apparently. From today’s NY Post (h/t Instapundit): The smart way for post-coronavirus pandemic NYC to save money: Stop recycling

Start At Home: Your Buying Choices Change Trade Policy And Correct Failed Globalist Policies

Earlier this month, I wrote that it was past time to stop supporting the malevolent Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and stop buying “Made In China” and promoting offshoring to the “People’s Republic of China” (PRC)*. The CCP/PRC’s Chinese/Wuhan virus (aka Chicom virus, COVID-19 and SARS CoV 2) serves as another wake-up call in a litany of what should’ve been wake-up calls over decades.

I think it’s important enough to reiterate. As I noted a few weeks ago, it is important to be more choosy in where we individually purchase our goods from. It means looking at labels and asking “where is this made”. Then selecting goods made in the USA and reputable countries. It also means selecting US and local companies and contractors who comply with labor laws and hire legal workers (ask  or check if they use E-Verify). Especially now, choosing to buy US made and locally sold products is needed as our neighbors begin to recover from a major financial hit.

Doing this also means being willing to pay a bit more for some products and also passing up some of the junk we really don’t need in the first place (adding up to substantial savings). It means saving up a little bit longer to get what you want. However, from my experience, it means getting a better quality product that lasts longer. That also means spending less for things over the long term (you pay more up front but don’t have to replace as frequently). It also means that we deal with companies in better compliance with acceptable labor and environmental laws (especially if made in the US).

That also brings me to a problem I’ve long had with globalist trade policies: they create incredibly uneven playing fields that undermine our national values and empower some of the worst regimes. Companies who operate in the US here or in reputable countries are pitted against those who rush to cheap overhead (labor and regulation) above all. The result is the the ‘less ethical’ companies realize a financial/competitive advantage over the ‘home’ companies who the go bankrupt or follow the other companies to prioritize low overhead over everything.

The result is regimes with exploitative labor laws and poor safety and environmental regulations get more business and power including influence over key products (like basic medical supplies, such as antibiotics). Oppressive regimes are thus empowered. In the PRC’s case, they have appalling records on labor, safety, and environmental norms along with intellectual property rights abuse, currency manipulation, human rights abuses, industrial espionage, general espionage and international aggression. Bill Clinton and the GOPe even nevertheless gave the PRC Most Favored Nation (Permanent Normal Trade Relations) in the 1990s and companies have been incentivized to set up there in droves.

This doesn’t mean US laws and regulations are perfect. They do go overboard in some areas, are beholden to or manipulated special interests in others and inadequate in yet other areas. However, by and large we try and adapt. The same applies to many countries including plenty in the Pacific Rim (such as Taiwan). Certainly,they too have strengths and weaknesses but are trying and are not regional aggressors.

US trade policies should be altered to include a sliding scale of basic compliance with international norms. The lower on the scale, the higher the tariff on the product. If we’re going to decide to subject companies here to a given set of regulations and their costs, then anyone we import from should adhere to reasonably similar standards or a surcharge/tariff should be placed on the product to compensate for lack of compliance. Sort of similar to what regulatory agencies do when calculating penalties for “economic benefit of noncompliance“.

Globalist trade policies dating back to the late 1970s have failed to yield promised results of democratization of such countries (far from it). Many in political circle will fight change. Thus is is on us to start these changes at home.

We must take the lead. As we choose to buy from US manufacturers with legal workers and products made in many reputable countries, we’ll enact a genuine trade policy that will benefit human rights, the environment, ethical norms. It will also benefit our wallets and families as we prioritize purchases and realize long-term savings.

Internationally, our choices will properly realign and incentivize companies to locate in reputable areas. In the long run, it will hopefully lead to the collapse of malevolent regimes (or at very least containing them) and opening former tyrannies to freedom and real trade. Trade power really does lie in your hands. Use it!

*The PRC should never be confused with the ROC (Republic of China) also known as Taiwan (a country far, far better than the PRC).

Fake News And Exploiting Taxpayers To Pay Illegal Immigrants

Here’s a FakeNews headline brought to you by KUTV: Will Congress extend stimulus to immigrants and their citizen families?

This is typical fake news by omission and distortion. They aren’t “immigrants”. KUTV isn’t honest and factual enough to state these are illegal aliens and not legal immigrants. Two very different groups. Nope, KUTV opts to deceive and try to pull the wool over your eyes. Watch the video report and they’ll admit these are “undocumented immigrants”. That in itself is bogus – they have documents…albeit stolen or forged.

Anastasia Campos with Mixed-Status Families United says there is legal action underway that challenges Congress’ exclusion of ITIN tax filers.

Campos said:

“Not just the ITIN holder, but the entire family is being excluded from this stimulus. They are being denied because of somebody else’s status.”

Catch that? They’re not immigrant families. They’re “mixed status” families and have issues because of somebody else’s “status”. Yeah, “somebody else” is here illegally. They didn’t respect our laws and continue not to. No one put Campos in that position, she put herself in that position. Period.

Worse still, they’re demanding that we cough up money for people who may well have committed ID theft, forgery and Social Security fraud when they filled out their I-9 forms using stolen Social Security numbers because an ITIN is not valid for employment purposes (note: This could be prevented if employers would use E-Verify). All too often the stolen numbers belong to innocent American children who suffer serious harm when their numbers are used by illegal aliens—denial of means tested benefits such as Medicaid, arrest records attached to their names, medical records corrupted and liability for unpaid taxes on income earned on their stolen numbers.

In addition, illegal aliens may use their ITIN numbers to file their income taxes but if they are using a stolen Social Security Number for employment purposes they are required to file using both their ITIN and stolen Social Security numbers. This doesn’t stop many from exploiting our current tax system and leaving victims in their wake (more reason to implement E-Verify).

If that weren’t enough, the stimulus money they’re demanding is really from our children and grandchildren whose identities they have stolen thanks to our foolish national debt. So they want us to reward their illegal actions with more debt heaped on future generations.

Sorry, they knew that when they became involved with an illegal alien and chose to accept the consequences. They’re welcome to go out and ask for voluntary donations to bail them out of their decisions and get a pass on consequences everyone else would be subject to. I suggest they start by contacting the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and amnesty-shill politicians (start with 2011’s HB116 supporters!), religious organizations and “social justice” charity and advocacy groups. Surely, they’ll open up their wallets and dole out some ‘stimulus’ to those they encouraged to be here (while continually pushing the costs onto the rest of us). Yes, I’m sure the they will be most charitable with their own money.

So, the answer to KUTV’s advocacy article title is a resounding NO!

Another Local Example: Why It’s Important To Limit Government To Its Proper Role

I caught this on Fox 13: West Jordan faces $8 million budget shortfall; City employees offered severance to voluntarily resign

I don’t know all of West Jordan’s details but I’m guessing they’ve got a bunch of “quality of life” programs that use the power of government to force taxpayers to pay for hobbies and fun of groups favored by a politician or politician’s pet projects. Projects include recreation centers, arts, theaters, zoos, recycling, etc. etc. etc. Worse yet, governments bond for these projects and become lashed to the debt servicing and Moody’s ratings (kind of like a credit score).

When a budget crunch hits, government doesn’t want to default on it’s loans and politicians hate dumping cutesy projects they can get some press for. So they look for broad cuts and put core governmental functions on the chopping block as well. Actually they usually prefer scream about how police/fire/streets are “threatened” by the decline and we absolutely must ‘restructure’…and raise taxes to save the basic functions (but we absolutely shan’t cut our pet projects!). Thus, the irresponsible ‘nice-to-have’ projects put basic services at risk.

All to appease politicians and some folks who demand that others should be forced to pay for their interests and don’t want to be bothered having to put the effort forth to make it an actual voluntary, community-built effort (you know the stuff that actually builds real community).

We’ll soon see more reports on local and state government having to scramble to deal with the anticipated funding declines. Just keep a weary eye on how willing they are to put up the straw man of ‘saving basic services’ but really quietly saving their perpetually funded skunk farms.

UPDATE: Needless to say, the above most certainly applies to our Federal Government too. We need to slash spending on so many non essential programs and “entitlements”. In the recent pandemic spending bill a bunch went to stuff like the Kennedy Center in NYC and PBS/CPB (which as nothing to do with the pandemic or economic security but it does bail out an place a lot of rich people support). We’re lashing debt on our kids’ backs locally and nationally to subsidize interests/venues frequented by those who can most afford to attend and actually fund themselves! It’s ridiculous.

The biggest gripe I have with Trump is that he stinks at spending and hasn’t pushed back hard enough on the drunken spenders running amok in Congress. It won’t end well. At least he does call them out and is willing to take the swamp head-on but he’s got to do better on their ‘legal plunder’ and we need to stop asking them to legally plunder our neighbors and countrymen!

Stay Frosty: Faith And Good Works Don’t Eliminate Risk And Tragedy, Not Even Close

I’ve frequently heard people say that as long as they have faith and do the right thing, ‘the Lord will take care of them’. This lackadaisical attitude, however, has a destructive potential. Faith and doing right in hard circumstances is crucial but folks overlook that those things don’t absolve you from risk (including others’ actions) and natural law. When risk’s consequences come to bear, they will blindside and strike at the core. Risk’s punch is magnified for the complacent and unsuspecting.

Christ and scripture are quite clear that we will have trials and He’ll sustain us. That’s why faith is crucial. But it’s also made very clear that trials will be lightened, not removed – often lightened just enough for you to make it through or survive; you will be “refined by fire”. There are times risk and it’s consequences will cost your life even when you seek to do God’s will. I have ancestors that can attest to that – one was laid in a frozen grave in Wyoming and another in Utah from ‘a broken heart’ related to the Wyoming death. There are plenty of bad things that happen to good people all the time.

Many of us have heard the Francis Webster story of the Martin Handcart Company’s faith. Typically, the story ends with ‘ faith grew and not a single person fell away from the church’. Unfortunately, the story has been misconstrued (to a borderline urban legend), providing a false sense of security, diminishing free agency, and a poor lesson of consequences of trials.

The journey was absolutely horrible and Levi Savage was right to warn of the likely impending doom. They chose to press forward, regardless, wanting to be faithful and go to Zion ASAP. Some probably firmly believed they would be fine because they were doing God’s will and He’d keep them safe. In reality, risk and consequences were in play and all were subject to the deadly and debilitating results of their decision.

The conclusion about everyone being spiritually strengthened by the experience is false and a better lesson lost. Some went in eyes open prepared to accept that they had accepted significant risk, others were blindsided but focused on God and adapted to their potential new fates, and others did not. An excellent historical analysis of the story is available from BYU: Francis Webster: The Unique Story of One Handcart Pioneer’s Faith and Sacrifice.

The report includes the following key observations:

[PAGE 3]By attempting to make his testimony the universal sentiment of each member of these companies, a valuable and inspiring lesson has been lost. In its place has arisen a common perception that the price he paid to gain his powerful testimony simply involved pulling a handcart and enduring the hardships of an early winter. The lesson at the heart of his statement, however, goes beyond having to endure the cold and snow that all in the company experienced…

[PAGE 8]Although the Martin Company truly exemplified the motto “Faith in Every Footstep,” its members were not unlike any other disparate group of Latter-day Saints, such as those who made a similar journey at a different time or those found in a modern ward. There was a majority of the company, including Francis and Betsy Webster, whose faith seemed to grow with every step they took. There were also those who trudged along the trail, their faith little changed by what they experienced. Finally, there were those whose faith seemed to weaken along the way…

[PAGE 9]… While it is not known that anyone in the company apostatized directly as a result of the trials they endured in the cold and snow, there were Martin Company members who subsequently left the Church…

Being cavalier about risks on horizon and disregarding them with ‘it’s all in the plan and God will save us’ has a high likelihood of a very rude awakening. It also unrealistically displaces responsibility onto the Lord. Sure He’s in control but that doesn’t mean he’s “controlling” and we can dump our responsibilities on Him. He isn’t a micro-manager; more a laissez-fair Father. He typically just lets things play out without ‘making it happen’ (I bet we drive Him absolutely nuts with our reactions though). Natural law (His law) pretty much takes care of consequences, good or bad. He is critically involved through his Holy Spirit as a support and a guide to help prompt the faithful to avoid undue trials, to help us fight through trials and comfort us in tragedies and failures. Those are still miracles and growing experiences, if we so choose.

Really, virtually all curses, plagues, blessings and miracles come about by natural means – life takes care of it. Our choices and faith will determine if we turn things into a blessing or a curse. Things He actively made happen are exceptions to the rule and few in number (it wouldn’t surprise me if many of those exceptions were natural events the faithful were guided to and we just haven’t figured out yet).

Life is unfair. Its inherent risks and our screw-ups are certainly refining fires. We’re going to get unfairly beat up, have heartaches and may well lose our lives along the way but we know there’s a life beyond and we take hope and comfort in Christ’s Grace and His mansions beyond. We absolutely need to follow Christ, help each other, consistently repent and faithfully pray for God’s strength and blessings on us. We best also plan to be aware, anticipate, steel ourselves and put up a helluva fight to stick around here and make the best of it.

Disclaimer: I’m warning everyone right now that I’m not going to tolerate any dumping on anyone’s religious affiliation. While religious, this post isn’t a forum to troll people on their religion.

Overdue: Ditch China (PRC) And Buy US And Decent Countries (Updated)

For years…decades, actually, I’ve done my best to avoid “Made in China”. I’ve never liked how the filthy Chinese Communist Party/People’s Republic of China treats its people. The CCP/PRC is despicable.

The PRC’s cover-up and subsequent actions on SARS CoV 2 (aka Wuhan Virus, Chinese Virus, COVID-19…etc. etc.) along with ‘disappearing’ the doctors who alerted the world and effectively creating the pandemic speak volumes. The type of behavior from them covering up to “save face” while reeking havoc on neighbors and the world (including SARS Part I) is a well established pattern of communism and socialism killing people.

So why buy products helping prop up and enrich elites in a regime that spits on its own people and the world, in general (along with pointing nukes at us)? Don’t.

In my years of strictly avoiding Made in China products, I’ve rarely not found a product made in an alternate country has a far better human rights record than the PRC. Better yet, there is still a fair amount of stuff Made in the USA. Yeah, it did cost a bit more sometimes but I found that products were better quality and lasted longer. I paid a bit more up front but ended up saving money in the long run (stuff lasts and doesn’t need to be replaced). I also saved by forgoing spending of ‘cheap’ Chinese virtual-slave labor junk I didn’t need in the first place.

Now is particularly a perfect time to change how you buy. Prioritize buying (and demanding) products from countries who actually try to respect human rights and basic sanitary and environmental* conditions. Ideally, look for “Made in USA” and small business (e.g. buy local, from small business sites or from US sellers on EBay) as it will have the greatest impact on the economy during this very difficult time.

If you’re fortunate enough to have steady/secure work, please make an effort to be choosy on where your money goes and try to keep it here in the US. Ultimately, you’re helping your neighbors.

One last thought: Don’t think I’m letting the globalists of the hook. They’re focus and rationalizations on exploiting cheap labor has certainly played a role in where we’re at. They’ll howl if people demand more domestic (or reputable country) goods that will cut in the profit margins represented by their underpaid labor and environmental/labor law avoidance. Make them howl.

PS: Yes, Taiwan is it’s own country, is miles ahead of the rotten PRC and should be recognized as such. Xi Jinping and the CCP central committee can stuff it.

*Besides a crappy pollution record, the PRC is a big consumer of illegal wildlife trade. Plenty of threatened/endangered species find themselves in soups, plates, and snake-oil “medicines”.

UPDATE:   Here’s an Australian reporter’s take after getting a warning letter from the PRC Consulate General demanding he tow the PRC propaganda line (which many US media outlets have done): Via Local Commie Underlings, Beijing Officially Disapproves (h/t Instapundit). Remind me why the PRC still has permanent normal trade relations/most favored nation trading status?…