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.

Sure Glad Citizens Killed The Food Tax Increase

Just a few months ago, the Utah swamp tried to foist a tax increase on citizens geared to benefit corporate cronies through cost socialization and profit privatization. Part of the tax ruse involved increasing the food tax and shifted more of the tax burden away from big business (the donor class) to small business and families.

Fortunately, citizens gathered an overwhelming number of signatures to stop the increase and place it on the ballot. The legislature then quickly repealed the tax gambit in the recently ended session. It should also be noted that Harmon’s Grocery opening their stores for signature gatherers. They were a game changer* in the effort (please stop by their store and pick something up).

We’re in the midst of the SARS CoV 2 (aka COVID19, China Virus, Wuhan Virus…etc. etc.) and people are stocking up on food and good (albeit misdirected by some hysteria fueled by the national media, in particular), having to stay home and seeing individuals and businesses (especially small business) taking financial hits. If it were not for citizens and Harmon’s, not only would families and small business be facing the economic stress from the current situation but it would’ve been amplified by the high tax burden heaped on them with poor tax policy.

Harmon’s Grocery really should be thanked for their help. They really stuck their necks out for the referendum and were even targeted by an upset Governor Herbert. Thanks to them, Associated Food Stores also opened their stores to signature gatherers. Harmon’s was a pivot point and deserves our appreciation (and business).

For a partial list of those involved in the battle on this issue see here: Utah 2019 Tax Referendum: The Winners and Losers

Call Now: Bill Threatening Right To Vote On Utah Governor’s Desk

UPDATE: Due to the pandemic, Governor Herbert says he’s super worried about legislation with a financial impact but was perfectly fine signing the bill to disenfranchise voters who have personal data/safety concerns which will also have a financial impact (bill has a fiscal note) on taxpayers as we get to pay for the bill’s implementation. Not really surprising, he’s always catered to the GOPe. You’re not his constituent, political and corporate elites are (this article provides a good example of where loyalty lies related to the border wall but beware it has some salty language).

SB83 – Voter Registration Information Amendments which I have tracked is on the Governor’s desk. Details on how bad this bill is can be found here.

The bill will deny you the right to vote unless you agree that your information is shared with the Republican and Democratic parties (even if you are not affiliated with them) along with their candidates (including those convicted of serious crimes), political consultants, and  non-background checked volunteers. These third parties and legislators have decided they’re entitled to your information. Either you hand it over or you do not vote. Period.

In our world where personal data is considered currency, it’s a new poll tax.

This is your last chance to stop this. Contact Governor Herbert at 801-538-1000 and firmly request that he veto this very swampy, self-serving and seemingly unconstitutional bill which can put your personal security (particularly young women) at risk.

A Bill Utah’s Political Grifters Will Certainly Get Behind

Remember some years ago folks like Kirk Jowers, Scott Anderson, Natalie Gochnour, Lavarr Webb, former Governor Mike Leavitt and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce plotted to kill off the caucus system. While they were unable to entirely destroy the system, they came up with a means to effectively neutralize it:

Both Jowers and LaVarr Webb spoke in an effort to convince attendees at a meeting of influential Utahns to get rid of the caucus system or neutralize it with a guaranteed primary.

As I warned in that same post:

The best thing that could happen for high powered political players and big donors would be to push influence from citizens and their neighborhoods firmly into territory where their money and influence have a greater impact: primaries and general elections…

They publicly portrayed their motive for this as a way to ‘increase public participation in the process’. Really, it was to consolidate power into the hands of the political class and their corporate cronies (“the swamp”) and line their pockets in the process.

I had a first hand witness of it in action this weekend. I volunteered to help a conservative incumbent candidate gather signatures to ensure that she would be on the primary ballot since her challenger is collecting signatures. She opted to keep her campaign on a grass-roots level, asking for citizen help to gather signatures. By contrast, her opponent hired a firm appropriately named “Gather” to get her required 1,000 signatures using paid signature gathers (essentially a bounty).

Going house-to-house is a lengthy, fairly unproductive process as many folks aren’t home, have moved, won’t open their door to strangers, etc. etc. It takes a lot of time to gather a handful of signatures. It’s why signature gathering firms charge a bunch for each  signature they get. Using volunteers sacrificing their limited time (we all have day jobs and families) is the right thing to do (despite this being a swamp-designed process), but it’s tough. Meanwhile, paid gatherers use employees who don’t sacrifice their free time and have a far more time to gather signatures. Thus, most candidates pay for signature gathering.

This results in incumbents using cash showered upon them by lobbyists to pay for political consultants/signature firms, higher campaign overhead and putting less effort on the citizen-driven caucus. Those challenging incumbents either use their own funds or sell their souls in order to obtain the money required to pay the signature gatherers. The swamp becomes the driver and their ‘key constituents’. Common citizens and non-swamp anointed candidates are all but shut out of the process. All this must have Jowers, Webb and their consultant-class swamp cronies beaming…and enjoying fatter wallets.

As far as I’m concerned, they’re just a bunch of political grifters*. They run their virtue signaling sophistry about increasing public participation in elections but they’re quite clear on what they think of the public outside of their clique. In my book, they’re equivalent to the Bill Kristol/Rick Wilson ‘Bullwark liberals’ who’ve been exposed of what amounts to pretending to be conservative so they can sell cruise tickets to the rubes.

As I thought about this after returning home, it struck me that there would be a fun way to expose their true intents. I need to convince a legislator to run a bill that makes a tiny change to the current primary signature rules. Best of all it would meet their so-called goal of increasing public participation. That bill would require that all primary ballot petition signatures be gathered by volunteers and no compensation in-kind or otherwise could be exchanged for signatures.

It’s already illegal to pay for votes. Why not for signatures? Plus, requiring the use of volunteer signature gatherers  ensures actual public participation in the political process.

Care to wager what the Jowers-Webb-Chamber of Commerce swamp class will do if someone introduces this bill? The head explosions alone will blow the dome off the capitol!


*The urban dictionary definition of “grifter” is great: “A Grifter, is somebody who can influence anybody, anywhere, at anytime, into doing whatever they choose to have them do, that will result in the grifter’s personal gain. Usually monetary, but really anything that benefits him or her somehow.

Hypocritical Utah Republican, Democrat Parties And Legislature To All Voters: You’re Right To Vote Is Denied…Unless You Pay Us With Your Personal Information (UPDATES)

It’s the nouveau poll tax laid on citizens by the Utah swamp.

Personal information to mine and exploit is the the modern day currency. The Republican and Democrat parties, paid consultants (lobbyists) are looking to collect and you are the dollar signs in their eyes.

The Utah Senate unanimously passed SB83 “Voter Registration Information Amendments” which revokes the ability of all new voters (including teens who pre-register when they get their driver license) to keep their information private and requires them to involuntarily disclose personal information to the big two political parties. That applies to every voter, regardless of which party you affiliate yourself with or if you’re unaffiliated – they don’t care, they’re taking your information.

But there’s more: they will take your information and share it with their connected friends such as consultants, volunteers and other “third parties”.

But they’re not done yet: There are, of course, exemptions. Elites and the politically connected get to keep their information private, they only want the riffraff’s information to exploit…even if that might endanger them should some felon volunteers get the list or why not a felon candidate (spoiler alert: he ran but was knocked out in convention). (Bonus: see update below)

Here’s the putrid hypocrisy: A bunch of state senators threw a fit when they found out that the UofU was getting personal information for medical studies (and I support them in reigning the UofU in). These same guys/gals then don’t think it a problem at all when they do the same thing and take your information under threat of your right to vote…so long as it benefits them and their self-serving “research”.

The hypocrisy is bad enough for the Democrats but stinks worse for the Republicans. See, they purport to favor small government and don’t like entitlement. Unless it benefits them to something they’ve decided they’re “entitled” to. Unlike private businesses (and most researchers) who are expected to take the make the case for your cooperation and ask for your information (and protect it), these guys are entitled to take and share it around.

Really it’s worse than just taking and sharing. They do it by telling you that you will be prohibited from registering to vote if you don’t cough it up.

They don’t serve you, they serve the party, they serve themselves and their special friends. The bill is nothing more than bipartisan swamp dreck.

I highly recommend you contact your Utah House Representative and strongly urge them to put citizens and voter rights ahead of party avarice and oppose SB83. Furthermore, I would call both state Republican HQ (801-533-9777) and Democrat HQ (801-328-1212) and let them know you thoughts about holding your vote hostage. I would also certainly withhold any donations and volunteer work for them.

UPDATE: This year an individual convicted of sexual battery* is running on the Republican ticket. If this bill passes, your, your wife’s and teenage duaghter’s information will be shared with any number of candidates, contractors and volunteers** some with criminal histories that include sexual or other violent crimes.
*Note: The individual may have been set-up (it’s a cloudy conviction) but this demonstrates that a criminal conviction will not preclude access to the voter list.
**These all fall under the definition of “candidate for public office” in the bill.

UPDATE II: Just to pour some more salt into the wound: The bill now has a fiscal note for $28,200. So taxpayers and voters now also get to pay for the Republican/Democrat/Swam Consultants to hold your vote hostage to grabbing your personal info.

UPDATE III: Heading to the Governor Herbert’s desk. Call 801-538-1000 and ask him to veto this awful bill that institutes a modern day poll tax.

Addendum: Don’t be fooled by kabuki Senators like Todd Weiler who voted against the bill in committee but then voted for it on the floor when it mattered.

Also don’t be fooled if they say that bill has been adjusted to allow opt-out from political parties, it’s a half truth: it only applies to a few, select people (like “elected officials”) and victims of dating or domestic violence (who have to bring back the memories of their cases as they are required to provide proof thereof or, if they can’t bear to do so, can just not register and not vote).

You should also consider doing this while you still can: How To Make Your Utah Voter Registration Information Private

Utah Legislature, U Of U Still Behind Times On Respect Of Citizen Privacy; Make Small Positive Step

Last year, it was discovered that the State of Utah is sharing incredibly sensitive personal information of Utah Driver’s License holders with the UofU Hunstman Cancer Institute. In effect, the State has made your ability to drive contingent on involuntarily participating in a medical study.

Last year, some Republican legislators (I think one was Hillyard) justified the action because ‘it was for the greater good’. I guess we’re all socialists now.

Now, we should begin by thanking the legislators who supported this year’s HB183 Driver License Record Amendments from the beginning (definitely its sponsor, Rep. Karianne Lisonbee). After changes pushed by the powerful UofU-Huntsman Institute and their lobbyists, the bill was severely watered down and makes it difficult for people to secure their personal information. Nevertheless, the bill does does recognize the right of Utahns to exercise at least some control over the information it is forced to give the state and it takes a small step toward letting individuals remove themselves from a study they never acquiesced to be part of.

It is unfortunate that the bill was amended to result in an onerous process for information removal but something is better than nothing. As it currently stands, you would have to fill out a form and personally deliver it to a DMV office (including waiting in DMV lines). Even with that, it isn’t a done deal. The bill needs to pass the Utah State House and Senate and be signed by the Governor. Contact your state legislator and ask them to support it (it’s better than the status quo).

Ultimately, this medical research really should be an opt-in, not opt-out. All other studies I’ve been involved in demonstrated their importance for participation, provided clear information on data use/safety and ultimately respected an individual’s personal choice. The UofU and Huntsman Cancer Institute should be expected to do the same.

Honestly, the Utah legislature, University of Utah and Hunstman Institute are out of touch with the new reality in their incredible disrespect of personal privacy and freedom of choice. People are fed up with the invasive use of their personal information and sense of entitled data-mining invasion of privacy by big tech. A good example is right on the Deseret News’ website. If you scroll to the bottom of their homepage and click the “Don’t sell my info” link, you’ll come to a page with drop-downs. Select “I am a California resident and I have a personal information request” and look at the data control options listed in the drop-down below that. People have rejected their data being viewed as a commodity to be exploited and any large organization’s behest.

A sizable portion of the Utah Legislature along with the University of Utah and Huntsman Cancer Institute are living in the past. This type of exploitation and use of personal identifying information without prior consent is simply no longer acceptable. It needs to stop.

UPDATE: Two articles on this topic. The second has specifics on the data being handed out and cross-linked without your consent:
Compromise allows Utahns to stop Driver License Division from sharing their personal info — but opting out will be cumbersome
Ronald Mortensen: Driver license information of millions of Utahns given to the University of Utah