Friday, May 29, 2009

Pirates of the Caribbean...or Somalia

I watched an investigative news program on 20/20 delving into the modern rise of piracy. As the program progressed, several different first-hand accounts of piracy were detailed. Four of the stories began and ended the same way: commercial vessels were approached by weapon wielding pirates. The people aboard these vessels were terrorized, ran into hiding, and called the land dwelling owners of the vessels for help. In all of these cases, neither the captains of the ships nor any of the crew/passengers had any weapons of their own. The ships were held hostage for hours until the ransom of millions of dollars was paid by the owners to the pirates. The ships were then released.

One of the stories featured on the program; however, ended differently. This story featured two elderly couples who were aboard their ships. These couples were just trying to have an enjoyable vacation voyage. As they were approached by the weapon wielding pirates, these couples decided to fight back. They had one pistol. They rammed their ships into the pirate ships and began shooting at them with their one pistol. The pirates withdrew and let them go. No millions of dollars were paid. No lives were lost. What is the difference? Well, of course, it was the pistol!

The people from the vessels featured on this program that paid ransom and did not have weapons were interviewed. They all agreed that weapons should not be used to fight the pirates. This would be too dangerous, they said. It is better to simply pay the ransom. But I always learned the #1 rule for ransom is that you don't pay it, because if you do, it brings more of the hostage taking behavior. That is what is happening now - pirates take hostages, collect ransom with no fight put up, no risk to their personal safety, and piracy grows by leaps and bounds. Minimal risk and huge rewards!

This is the perfect allegory for the entire gun control debate. By taking guns away from law abiding civilians, you invite crime from criminals who get their guns illegally anyway. There is no stopping these criminals because they have no fear. It's not like their weaponless victims can harm them!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Mass Transit Racket

The population is exploding, congestion is growing, there seems to be no end in sight. What is the solution? For some it is population control, i.e. don't have any more kids, and for some it is ride your bicycle to work. But the current hip money-making scheme for politicians is mass transit. Because who doesn't know someone who is dying to sell their car if only a train passed by somewhere within the 20-mile radius of their home. The idea of mass transit is popular with the masses, at least based on voter preference, which baffles me, seeing as the masses do not utilize it.

Patrick Bedard contributes to the magazine "Car and Driver". You can find his columns under the features section of caranddriver.com. He has two excellent columns posted entitled "Mass Transit Gets Its Big Chance" and "Take the Car or Hop a Choo-Choo". In the following, I will post some of his key points.

A traffic study by the Reason Foundation has found that "in highly decentralized Los Angeles, where just 4.8 percent of people use transit to commute, over half of the long-range-plan money, $66.9 billion, is being spent on transit." Bedard continues, "that $66.9 billion, if shifted from transit, which commuters shun, to highways, where they swarm, would almost cover the entire $67.7 billion needed to relieve L.A.'s severe congestion. "

"The economic value that society places on light-rail transit is reflected, in part, by people's willingness to pay for it," says a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. "Fare revenue covers only 28.2 percent of operating costs in St. Louis, 19.4 percent in Baltimore, and 21.4 percent in Buffalo." The taxpayers carry the rest of the load, after they've coughed up the full price of building the systems in the first place.

The New York subway system, popularly called the “electric sewer” in my 19 years as a Manhattan cliff dweller, hauls the masses and is arguably the most cost-efficient transit system in the country. Passengers pay 68 percent of operating costs. The numbers drop from there, as does ridership. Around the country, San Francisco is next best at 57 percent, then Washington, D.C., at 48 percent, followed by Boston riders who pay 41 percent, 36 percent in Chicago, 31 percent in Atlanta, 28 percent in Los Angeles, and 20 percent in Denver.

The Cato Institute’s Randal O’Toole points to commuter rail as the big hole in the fiscal bucket. He cites General Accounting ­Office figures, saying the cost to build a rail line can be 50 times that of starting a bus service with comparable frequency and capacity. While buses run on streets already in place, light rail has to construct the track system before the first train can enter the station. Cheapie layouts that run on a level grade—that means the trains will stop traffic as they cut across streets—cost $25 million to $50 million a mile.

So rail systems run on borrowed money, and bondholders must be paid, mostly from sales-tax revenues.

The riders never value the service enough to pay its full cost. O’Toole, in this 2006 study, quotes 2003 numbers showing that subsidies for transit beyond the expense covered by fares amounted to $31 billion. That same year, subsidies to highways less user fees paid by motorists that were diverted to nonhighway uses such as mass transit came out to $15 billion. “Yet highways account for about 100 times as many passenger-miles and infinitely more freight movement than transit.”

These paragraphs from Patrick Bedard cited some specific cities, but the general idea is applicable to all cities with mass transit systems. It is always a racket.

Utah currently has a commuter light rail in place with plans of expansions being constructed through 2015. This is the big plan to ease congestion. With round-trip TRAX fare at $4.50, it would often be less expensive to drive your own car on any given trip. Now this varies depending on how far you are going, how much gas costs at a given time, and the gas mileage of your vehicle. However, TRAX does increase its fares if the cost of gas goes up to a certain amount. If you have more than one person in the car, TRAX becomes an even more expensive alternative. All of this does not even include the taxes that are spent on TRAX. $312 million was spent for the initial TRAX construction. This does not incude all of the extensions. $290 million has recently been pledged just for the airport extension. There is also always the inconvenience factor. You probably need to drive to get to a TRAX station. If you are already driving there, it would be much faster to just continue driving to your final destination. TRAX is a wonderful alternative for those who do not own a vehicle. But then, to me, this just becomes another welfare program.

I do not understand the positive mass transit opinion of an average taxpayer. Your average taxpayer will not use TRAX, and for sure will not use it regularly. My husband's car was in the shop at a point in which we lived in an apartment building with a bus stop right in front of it. There was also a bus stop a block from his place of employment. So he rode the bus to work. And then he made me drive him to work for the rest of the week because even though the bus stops were right next to his home and work, it just took too long to get there!

Hundreds of millions have been spent constructing the TRAX tracks here in Utah. More will be spent through 2015 with expansions in place or planned through to Layton, Draper, the University of Utah, and the Salt Lake City International Airport. Taxpayer money will continue to be spent each year to supplement the operating costs. If we could just stop building and paying for TRAX, we could get the congestion on I-15 settled once and for all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Buying California

California is insolvent, on the verge of bankruptcy. Beloved California, home of celebrities, creativity, beautiful weather . . . champion of political ideas and policies I despise. California was pushed to insolvency by numerous bad economic decisions. $3 billion was handed over for embryonic stem cell research in 2004. Home to sanctuary cities; paying for the education, health care, and incarceration of illegal immigrants in the state accounts for $10.5 billion per year (Rush Limbaugh). Placing moratoriums on new homes in order to save open space caused home prices to artificially skyrocket, leading to massive devaluation in the current housing slump. Banning the clearing of underbrush in the forest areas of California has contributed to the increase of forest fires, along with the increase of damage caused and money spent in fighting these fires. Refusing to allow new electric power plants causes loss of electric power for citizens every summer. Some of the highest taxes in the nation are required to feed this massive welfare state. All of these problems, added to a "soak the rich" tax structure and an unfriendly business environment, has sent the "rich" out of the state, thus decreasing the income for the state. And now you and I will pay for the failure of all of these policies and ideas imposed by politicians we did not vote for.

Rush Limbaugh has an excellent article out. It is well worth reading; but, because it is so long, I will summarize some of the key points. To emphasize: I highly recommend reading the entire transcript.

Summary of Transcript: Tuesday night, California voters voted no to five different ballot initiatives asking for more taxes. They voted yes to putting a freeze on state legislators' salaries. Immense excitement ensued for conservatives nationwide pleased that Californians are finally telling Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger no to more taxes and a poorly run state. The problem, Limbaugh points out, is that the next likely step is for Obama to step in and "bail out" the state. That would lead to the billions worth of debt being absorbed by the rest of the nation in the form of higher federal income taxes. So the Californian voters voted no to an increase in their state taxes, but will most likely end up paying higher federal taxes along with the rest of the states. Limbaugh points out the states of New York and New Jersey are currently in almost as precarious a situation. If California is "bought" by the federal government, then New York and New Jersey are sure to follow in these footsteps.

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_052009/content/01125106.guest.html

If the federal government is to "bail out" the state of California, what does this mean for state's rights? If the federal government owns 3 or 4 states, what are the rights of these states, and what does that mean for the rights of the remaining states? Is it the end of federalism (state's rights and a decentralized government)? Do we no longer even have states? This would definitely ease Obama nicely into further socialism. Would Obama be in charge of California? And if the rest of the nation is footing the bill for California, then would we all get to vote in all future Californian elections? I would sure like a vote in some of their decisions. I would love to get a chance to vote for their next governor, if they were to get another one. I closely followed the 2003 election in which Schwarzenegger became the governor. He was definitely not the candidate I would have voted for. But now I must pay for his decisions.

The fate of California must be watched closely, for it may hold dire consequences for our entire nation.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gay Marriage: The Death of Religious Freedom

Nothing better illustrates the war that is being waged upon religion than the venom spewed toward Miss California Carrie Prejean.

Everyone who want homosexuals to just be left alone and have the same rights as everyone else is completely and absolutely missing what this war is actually about. Make no mistake, this war comes down to freedom of religion and is being waged by a Gadianton coalition with a premeditated agenda that has been being planned for years. Unfortunately, the other side, for the most part, is an uninformed citizenry of church-goers that would like to be open minded and loving, and for this are not understanding what they are or are not fighting for.

I do not wish to meddle with homosexuals. I wish them no harm. But the idea of letting them live their private life and leaving them alone is not a valid argument when their fight for gay marriage infringes upon my right of freedom of religion.

The California supreme court admitted that the state's domestic-partnership law gives gay couples "virtually all of the legal rights and responsibilities accorded married couples under California law." Marriage would add no new rights. So why did they continue the fight for actual marriage? Why not be happy with civil unions? The answer is they (the inter-connected groups pushing these laws) are not looking for marriage and the rights that come with it. They are looking to punish and stop the "bigotry" of those who believe homosexuality is a sin. Thus, religion has become the main target. They will do this through legal action. “The basic argument is: Once the state recognizes us as married, no private group outside of the sanctuary of the church is entitled to treat us otherwise, and various civil-rights laws banning discrimination over sexual orientation ought to take priority over religious liberty in every case,” says Marc D. Stern, general counsel of the American Jewish Congress and a contributor to the forthcoming book Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty. The way this works can be demonstrated by the following cases that have already occurred inside the United States:

* In 2006, Vanessa Willcock filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission against a company called Elane Photography for refusing to photograph her gay commitment ceremony. The business is owned by a husband and wife — evangelical Christians who have made a decision not to photograph ceremonies related to gay unions. In April, the New Mexico Human Rights Commission found against Elane Photography and ordered it to pay $6,637 for Willcock’s legal fees in bringing the complaint. The decision has been appealed. Of course, Elane Photography is hardly alone. There’s been an effort in the courts not just to legalize gay marriage but to force acceptance of it as a matter of conscience and religious practice.

* In Ocean Grove, N.J., a lesbian couple brought a complaint to the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights against a Methodist church for not allowing them to use a pavilion on the church’s beach-front property for their civil-union ceremony. The church had offered the couple use of its property and boardwalk for the ceremony, just not use of places the church considered “worship spaces.” In January, an administrative judge with the Division of Civil Rights found against the church and stripped the pavilion area of its tax-exempt status for the church’s refusal to comply with the state’s sweeping anti-discrimination law. This will reportedly cost the church some $20,000 a year. Notably, the tax exemption was tied to the church’s making its property publicly accessible, rather than to any religious criterion — but the Department of Environmental Protection managed to lift the Methodists’ exemption within one week of the complaint’s filing, even though it isn’t the agency in charge of lifting tax exemptions. The church is appealing the decision.

* In California, the state supreme court is hearing a case against San Diego fertility doctors who are being sued because religious objections led them to refuse in vitro fertilization to a lesbian couple. Legal observers noted that the court — the same one that just legalized same-sex marriage — seemed hostile to the doctors’ defense during oral arguments in May. In 2006, Catholic Charities in Boston stopped providing adoption services since state law would have compelled them to facilitate adoptions by same-sex couples. The archdiocese was prepared to provide referrals for same-sex couples looking to adopt, but that wasn’t acceptable to the state.

These cases have been documented by Mark Hemingway, contributor of The National Review.

The legalization of gay marriage is already causing problems with religious freedoms for religious individuals and groups outside of a church. However, other countries are further along in their acceptance of and legalization of gay marriage. They can provide some of the future we are in store for further down the line. The more credence given to the idea that gay marriage is the same as heterosexual marriage, the more our religious freedoms are chipped away at. Gay marriage is the biggest threat to our religious freedoms we have ever seen.

"In England, a Catholic school has been prohibited from firing an openly gay headmaster, and parochial schools there are forbidden by law to teach that homosexuality is a sin. In Canada, the Alberta Human Rights Commission recently took the draconian step of issuing a ruling forbidding a Christian pastor to make “disparaging” remarks about homosexuality — or even to repeat Biblical condemnations — for the rest of his life. And in 2005, the Knights of Columbus were fined by the British Columbia Human Rights Commission for refusing to rent their hall for a lesbian wedding." - National Review

As you can see, the legalization of gay marriage around the country will eventually lead to religions being controlled and being told what they can and cannot teach. Can you imagine if your church were outlawed from preaching traditional marriage? Do not think it cannot happen here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Marriage Seminar - Sutherland Institute

We attended a marriage seminar sponsored by The Sutherland Institute in the fall of 2008. I wanted to share some of what I learned from this.

Speaker: William Duncan
The drive to make gay marriage legal is coming from a highly organized coalition of powerful people who have a definite plan and an agenda. Certain states have been targeted to get legislation passed to make gay marriage legal. These states are CA, NY, NJ, CT, MA, and RI. These states were specifically chosen because of three factors: demographics (the majority of voters are democrats), the supreme court judges of these states have a majority of activist judges (judges willing to make laws against the will of the people), and they are states in which it is hard to amend the state constitution (it is hard for the people to start a vote to amend the constitution to make marriage only between a man and a woman).

When gay marriage becomes legal for a state, it becomes the state's policy to promote gay marriage over the will of parents in schools. This means that teachers would be required to teach this new definition of marriage.

Utah currently has state protection that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. The next step for the gay marriage coalition is to try to get the federal government to tell all states that they must make gay marriage legal.

Speaker: LaVar Christensen
He is the author of Amendment 3 which makes marriage in Utah between a man and a woman. No elected Utah democrat supported Amendment 3. He started work on Amendment 3 back in 1995 when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints issued The Proclamation to the Family. When he read this proclamation, he knew it was time to start fighting gay marriage.

All legal benefits are already available to gay partners. Marriage adds no legal benefits to them. The California supreme court judges said they made gay marriage legal because they "just felt the time had come".

Our Socialist Future/The Death of Freedom

Quasi-socialism has been here in America for decades now. We have free government provided health care for the children, the elderly, and the poor (CHIP, Medicare, and Medicaid). We also have social security. All of these programs are unfunded Ponzi schemes that will bankrupt our country at some point. And now we have a socialist president. The road to extended socialism is scary, and we are on it. The government now has ownership in many of our major banks and companies. The government is not stopping there and is currently pushing for universal health care which would add government health care to those who are not children, elderly, or poor.

So what is wrong with this and why should we care? Mark Steyn has an article entitled "Live Free or Die!" that has been published in Imprimis. This is a monthly publication that you can sign up to receive for free. Steyn, a Canadian, begs us to avoid Canada's fate. His article explores the effects of extended socialism in Canada and Europe. The picture is not pretty. It details how socialism, or the government taking care of all your needs, leads to "spiritual torpor". Steyn powerfully explains as well that socialism is unsustainable and leads to loss of all individual freedoms. This is our future if our path is not altered!

http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2009&month=04
Go to the above link to read the article and to sign up for your own free subscription!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Socialism vs. Communism - Significant Difference?

The short answer is no - not to me. I am continually baffled by those I have personally come in contact with who openly condemn communism and embrace socialism. I have come to the conclusion that these people are uninformed. From http://www.dictionary.com/, you can read that the definition of socialism includes the following: (in Marxist theory) the stage following capitalism in the transition of a society to communism, characterized by the imperfect implementation of collectivist principles. By Marx' definition, socialism is a temporary state, the goal of which should be to move to a perfected communist state. I have come to believe that the informed will either embrace both or condemn both.

As far as those who will cite the "Law of Consecration" as evidence that God finds a state of socialism to be the preferred state for America, I believe that socialism will never happen in America except by force. I also believe that the right of free agency trumps any misguided attempt at the law of consecration. I would call these "attempts" because the true law of consecration will never happen in this imperfect world.

President Ezra Taft Benson left us with a warning about communism.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ7LcplfkgY

President Ezra Taft Benson also gave a very powerful talk about the harm of communism. One paragraph of it says, “We call upon all Church members completely to eschew [shun] Communism. The safety of our divinely inspired Constitutional government and the welfare of our Church imperatively demand that Communism shall have no place in America” (signed: Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., David O. McKay, The First Presidency, in Deseret News, 3 July 1936; italics added).
http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=3d7f615b01a6b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

The call to eschew communism is a call to eschew anything resembling communism which I interpret to include socialism. With all of the bailouts and proposals for government take-over of health care, the environment, and further businesses, we are definitely witnessing a sharp rise of socialism in America. And this road can only lead us to communism. We must awaken!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Local Media Bias/You Vote Your Own Tax Increases

In the summer of 2007, I was walking into my local library when I was stopped by a reporter for the local newspaper. He wanted to put my picture and opinion in his opinion section. He wanted my picture first. He told me he was really excited to get the picture of a young and very pregnant lady for his section. I started taking off my sunglasses. He asked me to leave them on because it would be more of the look he wanted. At this point, I became wary of the whole thing. I told him we should get to the question before we did the picture.

He wanted to know if I would be voting in favor of the local tax increase for a new park somewhere. But he presented the question as this, "There will be a vote on whether we can have a new park here in the area for our children to enjoy. Of course these kind of things really benefit our community and our children. So of course you will be voting for this, right?"

I declined being presented in this kind of biased "opinion" section. But I wish I had been a part of it afterall. I should have said, "I have never voted for a tax increase for myself and I never will."

The secret is, for the most part, we vote ourselves these local tax increases. So why do we do it? Do they really need one more park? It wouldn't benefit most of the residents, but most of them voted for it. We need to really look at these tax increases we are voting for ourselves and really think about whether we would like to add this tax to ourselves or not. I always vote against each tax increase. The perfect example is how myself and my neighbors must pay an annual tax to support a recreation center that is about 15 minutes away. But most of my neighbors never use this facility because they belong to the swim club that is just up the street.

My annual property tax is almost $3,000! When will people stop voting to increase this?! I never hear anything but grumbling about how much taxes people pay, so why do they continue to vote for increases?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The State Stole My Baby's DNA!

I first learned of this issue from The Glenn Beck Show on Fox News. When you have a baby and you are still at the hospital, someone comes in to take some blood from your baby's heel. This blood is sent in for testing for diseases. What I didn't know is that this testing is not done by the hospital, but it is done by the government. In 10 states, the government then stores this blood indefinitely in a baby blood bank of DNA for research and testing for their own use. In many states, this DNA is kept for a very long period of time. This is done without your consent, and in most cases, without even your knowledge.

This could be so bad for so many reasons. Something to think about: The democrats are currently trying to get the state to be your insurance and your health care provider. If they succeed at this, they will also have a store of your baby's DNA. Think "Gattaca" or "Minority Report". With this DNA, they could perform testing for your child's predisposition toward certain disease or social behavior (violence), and then descriminate based upon this. People would be up in arms if their current health care provider were storing this DNA. It is more scary to me to have it in the hands of the government.

I can't think of any reason why I would want the state to store my child's DNA.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,518127,00.html