Organizational Vs Individual Freedom: Elder M. Russell Ballard And Utah’s LGBT Law

In the LDS Church’s monthly publication, Ensign, which I recommend if you want some uplifting inspiration, I read through an article titled “The Eternal Importance of Family” written by M. Russell Ballard. The article was good as it related to traditional families and respecting those who disagree and/or don’t share those values. However, a portion caught my attention and caused some dismay. In reference to Utah’s 2015 LGBT non-discrimination law supported by the church, he states:

At the same time, religious conscience and the right to practice deeply held religious beliefs are protected by this robust legislation.

Back when the bill was developed and debated, I caught the discrepancy in the church’s justification to support the proposal:

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

LDS Church And LGBT Non-Discrimination Law Credibility

The disconnect is that the law protects organizations to practice deeply held religious beliefs via specific exemptions (see above links or the footnote 12 in the Ensign article). Individuals are not exempted; only certain organizations are.  It does not protect individual freedom, quite the contrary.

Individual freedom is the basis for freedom. Basically, it would be like saying there is only freedom of speech for specific organizations and if you aren’t working on behalf of it, you have no right and may be legally sanctioned for what you say; only specific organizations have protection from unreasonable search and seizure but you don’t and so forth.

While the church received an exemption and retained their right, individual members and non-members alike were thrown under the bus and lost their freedom. Meanwhile, we hear of Oregon upholding the fine against the cake bakers under the guise of non-discrimination. I don’t think Utah’s law is as bad as Oregon’s and, hopefully, won’t be construed or form the basis for similar actions here. Nevertheless, it doesn’t protect individual religious freedom and may open the door to exploitation in the future.

Disclaimer: I don’t advocate denying basic services – that sort of stuff isn’t my thing and goes against my beliefs. However, if there are plenty of alternative, willing sources for a basic need, then no law should be made and no freedom intruded upon (the issue is moot). Furthermore, economic and peer/societal consequences will be brought to bear as others use their free association to not conduct business  etc. with those denying the service. For fluff stuff like cakes, I think it absurd and unconstitutional to restrict freedom of the business or consumer.

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Don’t Be Fooled By OurSchoolsNow (AKA Salt Lake Chamber Of Commerce)

Elite political players (particularly the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce) is continuing to push their newest front group: “Our Schools Now”. I noted the Chamber’s newest tax-pushing alias in June along with the ‘fuzzy math’ they’re using to trick people into increasing burdens on Utah’s families (it’s actually big 18% tax increase).

The Chamber (via their alias) is continuing to push the tax hike they exempt themselves from and the coming new year is a good time to remind folks about their game. Click the above link for background on their math and the political insiders backing the increase. Also keep tabs on Libertas Institute as they are on top of the spin coming out from the Chamber as well. That includes reporting on budgetary misapplication (Another Education Ranking Shows Money Isn’t Everything):

…Our Schools Now has said previously, “Even 750 million [dollars] isn’t enough to solve the problems that we’re in.” In other words, no matter how much taxpayer money the Utah Legislature gives to the school system, it will never be enough—not only because funding has very little correlation to student outcomes, but because Utah’s $15+ billion budget looks very much like a leaky sieve when it comes to K-12 education spending. As the state adds taxpayer money to the general and education funds, a lot of it is siphoned off to transportation and higher education.

Utah doesn’t have a lack of funding problem, it has a budget prioritization problem. That is why, in the end, this tax increase initiative will do little to help teachers…

Utah: De Facto Sanctuary State And Cities With Sanctuary Problems

Recently a criminal alien fugitive was caught in Utah. Jesus Guitron-Aguilera could be yet another poster child for the fruits of failure to enforce our immigration laws. He was convicted of sexual assault in 1992 yet able to hang around illegally, rack up some other convictions and ‘go on the lamb’ (and achieve ICE’s most wanted list). Well done ICE for catching this guy.

He appears to have been living in the Provo area for years. It really should come as no surprise since, with HB116, Utah and has put out the welcome mat for illegal and criminal immigrants of all stripes. Those putting out the welcome mat include Provo’s Mayor (John Curtis) who is now gunning for Chaffetz’s vacated seat in the House of Representatives.

Lifezette has an excellent write up (Criminal Aliens Taking Advantage of ‘Sanctuary’ Policies in Deep Red State) on why Guitron-Aguilera and others would feel quite comfortable here:

In Provo, both the mayor and the police department have made clear they’ll go soft on illegal immigrants, creating an ideal sanctuary for Guitron-Aguilera, who’d been convicted in Michigan in 1992 of felony sexual assault with an attempt to penetrate.

Last February, the Provo police chief instructed his officers that it was not their job to enforce federal immigration laws, and said that they would not work with federal authorities to detain or remove illegal aliens…

…In 2010, lawmakers were debating a bill to grant “guest worker” status to illegal immigrants — granting each a two-year work permit in the state. A similar bill passed the following year, with the support of the Republican governor, Gary Herbert. It did not take effect, however, as it would require a waiver from the federal government, which Utah is unlikely to ever get. But the bill was interpreted as a “message bill” — inviting illegal immigrants to come and work in the state without fear.

Please, read the article in full (it’s brief but I’m barely scraping the surface). The article quotes Chris Herrod who notes the pressure on the medical system and double standard law enforcement officers feel required to uphold. If we had a real E-Verify law, Guitron-Aguilera was probably using a false ID and would’ve been interdicted sooner but as Herrod notes:

“The establishment in this state has really pushed for sanctuary status,” said Herrod, saying there’s an “unhealthy relationship” between illegal aliens and big business in Utah.

“That lobby is very, very strong,” he told LifeZette.

No kidding. It includes the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce and LDS Church Public Affairs, among others.

Maybe States, Cities, and other enablers would think twice about perpetuating the problem if they were subject to the same fines we’re beginning to see private business face from the Trump admin.

Note: Changed “Provo” to “Provo area” as I’m not positive if he was in Provo itself the entire time.

Doubling Dose Of Utah Corporate Welfare For Amazon.com

In January, I noted the sweetheart deal Governor Herbert had dished out to Amazon. It amounted to Amazon getting a cut of the tax revenue they collect by charging tax to Utah residents. I concluded:

…Amazon is collecting the tax and is getting a kickback that I don’t believe any brick-and-mortar or Utah online company receives…

Herbert and his cohorts heralded this as some great thing. I guess crony capital is so good, they felt like giving Amazon more of it. In June they announced:

…[Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development] GOED’s board voted to approve $5.7 million in economic incentives to lure the online company here.

Amazon collected their kickback to build a facility here in Utah. This means Bezos was ablet to double dip tax payers by getting a kickback for collecting and the bribe incentive for building here. As I noted on Gab at the time, this should be an embarassement:

Lemme get this right: In 2016, #Utah gives #Amazon sweatheart tax kickback deal unavailable to local retailers if they collect tax on UT residents. Now, Amazon will have location in Utah & have to collect tax anyway.

It sure sounds like Bezos played Herbert: he get’s a tax collection kickback then dupes us for $5.7 mil to build a facility which would require him to collect the tax anyway. Likely, Herbert etc were willing accomplices. This is the type of crap I would like to see end. States are competing with each other to entice corporate welfare business to their state by offering “incentives” on taxpayers’ and local retailers’ backs. It is something the Feds actually have constitutional authority to put a stop to and I wish they would look into doing so.

 


Addendum: As I said in June, I quit directly buying from Amazon and it’s worked great. I was given some Amazon gift cards so I bought stuff from 3rd party retailers on the site (I’m not just going to give Amazon the $ by not using the card) and have found that many 3rd party retailers have their own sites that offer the same product they’re selling on Amazon cheaper. Plus, I found many online and even local retailers match Amazon prices. I’ve always tried to support the local retailers and this has just furthered it. I encourage you to spend money in your local area, it makes a big difference (especially in rural areas where the internet seems to have really harmed the local mom & pop shops that used to exist in the small towns). Don’t boycott, buycott.

Senator Bramble and Stan Lockhart In News Over Suspicious Political Behavior (Update)

Every once in a while, I check out Utah Standard News. This week I caught a report about some possible unethical, if not criminal intrigue at the Utah County and State GOP conventions.

Some of the actors are the “usual suspects” for me. I’ve written before on the cozy relationship between State Senator Curt Bramble and Stan Lockhart. I’ve also noted Bramble’s Chicago-style political ‘tactics’ (click here for all posts on Bramble). This may well be another example of such.

I’m only going to put a very small excerpt of the article here as it would be best to read the entire article (read to the end for the big stuff). Ultimately, the charges should be investigated and verified as what may have occurred strikes to the heart of the caucus system (which I’m a big proponent of) and integrity of the Utah County and State GOP as a whole.

Caucus Obstruction, Delegate Tampering & Voter Fraud in Utah County

In what could be the biggest scandal in the Utah GOP of the past decade, this tale of corruption involves two sitting Utah State Senators (Curt Bramble & Deidre Henderson), the new Utah County GOP Chair Robert Craig, legislative district officers, precinct chairs, and state delegates. Their activities include clear and blatant infractions of the GOP Constitution and Bylaws and could result in a multiple criminal investigations and charges of voter fraud.

EDIT: I just finished typing up the above and checked back on the USN website and there’s a follow-up article: UPDATE Part 2 : Caucus, Delegate & Voter Tampering. New info. Evidence. YAK info. Be sure to read it in full too – it includes some additional information along with some more personal reports of ‘anomalies’ along the lines of the first article and some possible better perspective on Sen. Henderson. Again, this stuff should be investigated and verified.

Obviously, some are having conniptions about it and State Senator Todd Weiler (Davis County) is on threatening the publisher with libel:

I know you’re the messenger, Ed Wallace. At least one of the people you lied about called me tonight for legal advice on a libel lawsuit. Hope you’ve got good insurance!

While I’ve found Weiler to be nice and polite in person (the couple of times I’ve met him), I’ve noticed he’s disrespectful, derisive and condescending online. Par for the course.

UPDATE: USN has posted another follow-up: FINAL UPDATE Caucus, Delegate & Voter Tampering. INCLUDING EVIDENCE.

UPDATE II: This is exactly why the caucus is so important and any potential corruption thereof must be investigated. Chris Herrod probably wouldn’t have had a prayer as he isn’t an establishment/donor class favorite. Thanks to the caucus and neighbors representing their areas and vetting candidates, he now has a chance:
Utah GOP delegates pick candidate to replace Congressman Jason Chaffetz

He still has to make it through a primary and I doubt he’ll be favored by the establishment GOP. Check him out and consider helping him out.

Chamber Of Commerce Front Group “OurSchoolsNow” Employs Math Spin For Tax Increase (Update)

I’ll keep this brief. First, OurSchoolsNow is yet another in the litanny of Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce political front groups bent on raising economic burdens on Utah families. The latest gambit will be yet another “why do you hate school children?” guilt trip against those opposed to the tax increase. They’ll couple this with a quiet bit of math spin on the actual percent tax increase and neglect to mention the increase doesn’t apply to them (surprise!). They spin it as a 7/8% increase on you. No it’s not:

The first shot in this effort to raise individual income taxes by a whopping 18% from 5% to 5.875% while leaving all business taxes, including the 5% corporate income tax, unchanged was fired when the elites formally announced a petition drive to raise the individual income tax…

The real math equates to: 5.875/5 = 18% increase in rate. Again, note that the Chamber was sure to exempt the business tax rates*. People caught on to that and now they’ve moved on to a “1/2% increase” on two taxes (sales and income) still exempting themselves from an increase. The 1/2% is, yet again, a misnomer. Here’s the breakdown:

Income tax rate increase: 5.5/5 = 10% increase
Sales tax increase (5.95% is the State base rate and 6.45% would be the new rate) = 6.45/5.95 = 8.4% increase

Interestingly, added together that’s about 18% again, however, the actual burden of the sales tax increase depends on how much you spend. Furthermore, besides exempting themselves from the tax, Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) caught on that the Chamber didn’t appear all that willing to get rid of tax subsidies they gorge on…funds that could’ve gone to schools (#ourschoolsnow stop campaigning to increase tax burden & focus on multiple subsidies robbing Ed budget”):

All this does is heap additional burdens on Utah families to keep the crony capital trough full, while virtue signalling they caaaare so much about children. The Utah swamp could use some draining.

UPDATE: Libertas is also calling out the Our Schools Now bunk and Libetas’ Connor Boyack also makes note of the “politically connected insiders” pushing this boondogle.

*FWIW: I’m not a big fan of raising corporate rates – those are essentially just passed on to consumers anyway via increased product cost which can reduces sales (hence why the Chamber of Crony Capitalists exempt themselves).

Time For Utah To Declare Entitlement Addiction A Public Health Crisis?

I recently stumbled across this article by Dennis Prager:

Entitlements: The Most Dangerous Addiction

There is one addiction, however, that might be more difficult than any other to escape – in part because it is not even regarded as an addiction. It is Entitlements Addiction, an addiction to getting something for nothing.

One indication as to the power of Entitlements Addiction is that, while great numbers of people have voluntarily given up – almost always at great pain – drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc., few give up an addiction to entitlements. For the majority of able-bodied people who get cash payments, food stamps, subsidized housing, free or subsidized health insurance, and other welfare benefits, the thought of giving up any one of those and beginning to pay for them with their own earned money is as hard as giving up alcohol is to an alcoholic.

Politicians know this, which is why it is close to impossible to ever reduce entitlements. And, of course, the Left knows this, which is why the Left almost always wins any debate over entitlements. Every American who is the beneficiary of an entitlement backs entitlements, and many who are not beneficiaries of entitlements would like to be.

Read the whole thing.

Anyway, the article got me thinking: Last year, Utah State Senator Todd Weiler passed a bill declaring pornography a public health crisis which was subsequently signed by Governor Herbert. This year, Herbert signed Weiler’s bill passed by the legislature allowing you to sue porn makers if a minor has been injured.

Any chance a Utah Legislature and the Governor would support a bill identifying entitlement addiction as a public health crisis or is that an approved addiction so long as the GOP/Democrats are acting as a dealer?…