Thursday, September 29, 2011

Political Quote of the Day

Today's winner is from Senator Mike Lee, as it appeared in the Washington Examiner:

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)
From an op-ed, "Obama's Unserious Plans are Losing the Future,"  published in the Washington Examiner on Sept. 27, 2011:

In consecutive weeks, President Obama has presented two painfully unserious and economically misguided proposals. The first, his $450 billion "American Jobs Act," is another stimulus proposal, based on the ill-conceived notion that more government spending is the answer to what ails the economy. The second is the president's plan to raise taxes by $1.5 trillion on American job creators. Both plans are a far cry from "winning the future," as the president claims on the campaign trail.

Read more at the Washington Examiner

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What Happened to the Middle Class?

An article caught my eye this morning that updates the statistical findings available to us back in the 90s when we wrote Power and Covenants: Men, Women and Priesthood.

In the post the author, Jeremy Egerer, asserts the emergence of families with dual incomes has all but assured two demographic realities in our American society -- 1) the middle class is not improving economically, and 2) the lower wage earner class is shrinking as jobs for which they might be suited are disappearing.

Egerer is a newly-minted Christian conservative writer, having defected from the self-described ranks of "radical liberalism," making his insights particularly valid, it would seem, having bridged the gap of logic at long last.

Egerer reminds us that when Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, he noted the wages of the lowest classes were oftentimes determined by the lowest their employers could pay. Now, however, present population acknowledges that employers could not pay their workers less than would maintain a family of four (Book I, chapter VIII). Back in those days, if employers were to pay less that the minimum required for sustainability, then populations would shrink until competition over labor would force the wages of even the lowest classes higher. Western societies are generally monogamous in terms of marital structure, and historically the poorest working class was once able, even without minimum wage regulations, to afford families of five and greater. If this were not the case, then wealthy families would have been primarily responsible for the present population. However, that's not a likely scenario, considering even Smith acknowledged that wealthier women were less inclined toward childbearing.

Significantly, Smith noted wages could fall below this natural sustainability floor. If a household were to have a second source of income, the worker was likely to compete for employment at a lower price than his neighbors, bringing wages below standards of maintenance. Today, that second income is provided either when welfare payments are received from the state or when two breadwinners exist in the same home. The natural result of either circumstance is that the once-sustainable wages of the single employment are compromised, and though two breadwinners now occupy one household, their wealth is not greatly augmented.

The U.S. Census Bureau confirms this reality with its newly-released 2010 study on household income demographics. In the class warfare nonsense one hears from the left in an effort to protect the struggling lower classes who are oppressed (as they would have us believe), the lower class is least likely to be dual-income families, while those in wealthier middle-class categories are a minimum of close to four times more likely to have dual incomes. Compared with the bracket with the highest percentage of dual income households, the lowest quintile is somewhere around eleven times less likely to have a second income.  If this is the case, then poverty and the number of incomes are absolutely correlated.

Rejecting the mantra of the leftists and the socialists, Egerer concludes:

"The wise know another method of restoring household stability, and it is a restoration of the traditional, biblical nuclear family.  It will do little good to have both parents live in the same home if they refuse to subscribe to the natural roles provided by the God of nature. How the husband and wife manage themselves -- the man laboring as the breadwinner and the giver of law, the woman laboring with equal nobility to raise her children and ensure the propagation of heritage -- is as important as marriage itself. This is not to say that women should never seek maximum productivity, as even the Bible praises the woman who, above and beyond her duty to her household, operates a business from her home. But her income must remain in most cases a responsibility secondary to both the care of her children and the economic liberty of the family. This structure is intended by God. And if mankind is not wise enough to heed His call, as shown above, it will be enforced by the iron hand of nature." (Emphasis mine).

All Egerer has done here is affirm what Scott Strong and I were writing about twenty-five years ago:

"Recognizing the two parts [male and female] must be different, males and females should cherish our different natures to perform our unique tasks for the benefit and blessing of the whole. While the powers resident in the different natures and capacities of the sexes are not the same, neither are they superior or inferior to each other. They are equally necessary and valuable.

"Some fail to understand the term different does not imply the meaning unequal. Different does not mean unequal. Different capacities are not unequal capacities. Different roles and duties are not necessarily unequal roles and duties. Different missions and responsibilities are not necessarily unequal missions and responsibilities. Some do not comprehend this important principle with regard to the sexes.

"Total and absolute equality can and does exist within the dichotomy of the marriage covenant."

President Spencer W. Kimball
We cited President Spencer W. Kimball:

"Many of the social restraints which in the past have helped to reinforce and to shore up the family are dissolving and disappearing. The time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us." (Ensign, October 1980, 4).

"We speak not by way of alarm but by way of gentle counsel. Let us go back to the basics and follow the fundamentals. Thus we will experience a spiritual resurgence in our lives which will help us through these tempestuous times." (Ensign, May 1981, 80).

As fallen mortals we have an innate desire to “want it all,” even when all the choices seem so “good.” The good news is we have more choices as men and women than ever before.

Sometimes forgotten from our pre-mortal experience is the reality we came to earth to make choices here, as we did there. If we will follow President Kimball’s counsel and go back to the basics, we will rediscover the truths about men and women, eternal marriage and the pure absolute equality of the sexes. Such truths will anchor our vision of becoming eternal couples dwelling in celestial glory and creating worlds without end. The realization of such lofty aims is only the result of today’s choices. Those eternal choices have everything to do with our respective but equal roles.

Only slightly off topic (bear with me), I heard many say this morning in our high priests' group, "Some people don't have a choice about whether or not they will work on Sunday, because that's what their jobs require them to do." Steve Young was cited as the example of a Mormon whose job (NFL football analyst) requires him to work on Sunday. Before that his job as quarterback required him to work on Sunday. Therefore, the reasoning proceeded among otherwise intelligent and seasoned high priests, he doesn't have a choice. REALLY?

No one even offered the obvious: Steve Young made a choice in his employment. No one forced him to take a job that required Sunday work. He made a choice. Don't condemn him for the choice he made. Similarly, no one compels you to do what you do.

Remember this, it is important: We all have moral agency to choose. It is a God-given endowment to each of us. The government of the United States of America is founded upon this key principle of freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness. We do that by choosing from among the vast array of alternatives. A key purpose of mortality is to learn to make choices, and to accept gladly the consequences of those choices, knowing we are accountable before Almighty God. 

Is there no other way?

There is no other way.

Align your choices with "the natural roles provided by the God of nature."

It is statistically obvious our society has not chosen well, but just because they haven't and they don't is no excuse for you to follow them over the cliff, is it? Our alignment determines our trajectory when our choices take flight toward their intended target.

So choose well. The harvest will be worth all the sacrifice.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How Well Do You Understand the Constitution?

Think you've got a pretty good handle on the issues of the day as they relate to the Constitution of the United States of America?

Take this little quiz and get a free download to test your knowledge. . . it's only five questions.

Good luck!

Political Quote of the Day

Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN)
Recently, Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN), once thought to be a potential presidential contender and declined to run, was interviewed by CBS News. They were discussing his new book, Keeping the Republic (Sentinel). This quote from his interview caught my attention this morning, qualifying it for the political quote of the day:

"There is a long, clear history of nations rising to greatness and leadership, and then falling. And interestingly, I quote an historian who says, 'It always starts with the money.' You know, first they spend themselves into a corner, borrow themselves into a corner. And the rest of the fall, including military defeat sometimes, flows from that."

Daniels says we urgently need to balance our nation's books - as he did in Indiana, by taking big government OUT of the equation and letting free enterprise take over.

"The heart of American society is the private sector," he said. "Government should be there not to dominate it, to dictate to it, make all the decisions, but to do those things we have to do together to make private life flourish."

Well said, Governor. My thoughts exactly.

How Miserable Are You?

"So I says to Barack, 'I knew Abe Lincoln, and you ain't no Abe Lincoln'"

It was Abraham Lincoln who once observed, "People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be." In other words, happiness is a choice. Do you believe it?

During the Reagan-Carter campaign of 1979, somebody came up with something called the "misery index." It's the sum of the inflation and unemployment rates, two nasty statistics when totaled together equate to economic misery. You'll be relieved to know the Obama administration's misery index hasn't reached the highs hit by Jimmy Carter's.

It's hard to believe but I still remember, so I looked it up today to be sure. Carter's yearly average of 20.8 was reached by 1980 and was the all-time modern high. Obama's administration hit a monthly rate of 12.8 in June of this year. Just so you can compare and remember the "good old days," the average misery index over George W. Bush's two terms was only 8.1, and Bill Clinton's administration was even lower at 7.8.

In one of their debates toward the end of the campaign Reagan quipped, "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?" He closed the deal with the American people, who decided they weren't and handed Reagan the presidency, making Jimmy Carter the poster child for one-term failure.

There are many today who are comparing the Obama administration to the Carter administration and coming up with the obvious similarities. Many of us hope the crowning likeness will be the one-term comparison.

However, nobody in America wins when the president is weak. I had at least hoped for the best a few months after Obama took office, but his steadfast adherence to his flawed Keynesian economic model is killing us. The lurch to the left went beyond traditional Democratic tax and spend philosophy. It went right off the charts into Democratic Socialism. His stimulus spending to the tune of $825 Billion did nothing. You can ignore all the rhetoric about "creating jobs" or "saving jobs." When the August number came in there were zero jobs created, and that hasn't happened in America in a very long time.

Add to it something called the "Public-Private Investment Partnership," nothing more than Obama's version of Bush's TARP, and all that happened was more toxic assets were transferred to the government, which of course translates into the taxpayers - YOU!

Remember how successful "Cash for Clunkers" was? Remember nationalizing the automotive industry to rescue it from bankruptcy? Somebody at Ford should be crowned King of Captialism for refusing the government handout when GM and Chrysler are still owned principally by the taxpayers.

Remember Obamacare? I have hated the idea since it was first introduced, largely because of the staggering costs involved. It reformed little and the cost was extraordinary in a time when America could afford it least. We won't know what its full effect will be until (and if) it takes root. I'm betting the SCOTUS will strike it down as unconstitutional because of the individual mandate. Whatever that eventual outcome, the short-term effect has been businesses by the droves are getting out of the business of providing private healthcare coverage for their employees. If you've loved Medicare and Medicaid, then you're just going to love government-sponsored health insurance exchanges.

Remember the national debt clock? It's still ticking at a more rapid pace now than ever before in our history. It has now exceeded $14 Trillion and will hit $15 Trillion by the end of September (yes, this month). When it happens, don't expect a flurry of headlines, because the story will be tucked away somewhere on page 10 below the fold. It will be the first time since World War II that the debt will exceed the GDP.

Remember the first downgrade on our debt in our history from "AAA" to "AA?" Unless Congress takes substantive steps to change course this fall in the supercommittee, the credit markets will continue to react negatively.

Remember "tax the rich?" He's still thumping that theme as recently as yesterday in his stump speech. I was heartened yesterday to hear a report that thirty-six senators from both parties are now calling upon the super committee to enact sweeping tax reform as part of their work product. Knock on wood. With an approval rating of 12%, Congress had better do SOMETHING, ANYTHING to demonstrate their willingness to do the bidding of the American people who employ them. The polling data is suggesting there are very few who are inclined to send the same members of Congress back in 2012 unless they prove worthy of their hire.

We're running up debt for the next generations of Americans that will prove to be impossible to repay unless the growth engine in our economy is jump-started and begins to hum again.

There are those who say it isn't fair to hold Obama or any POTUS to the same standard as private business measurements for success. Honestly, why not? If he were CEO of America, Inc., no board of directors worth its salt would retain him given his record. Here's a stunner for comparison: This "recovery" has been underway for two and half years and employment has actually dropped by a full percentage point. The only other president in American history to have witnessed negative job growth for a comparable period is Herbert Hoover. I'm certain when Barack Obama took office he wanted to be considered an historic president, but I doubt this is what he had in mind. Nor did any of us.

Despite the clear record, he continues to blame George W. Bush for the mess we're in. I have stated repeatedly it is more complicated than blaming your successsor. Presidents, let me say it once again, DO NOT create jobs. Their policies, however, provide either an environment for job growth or an environment that stifles job growth. So what does this failing president flail away at? The same failed European economic model that won't work, and he keeps doubling down on his bets.

Obama might do well to take a page out of Bill Clinton's playbook. Clinton lost control of both houses of Congress in 1994. But Clinton the pragmatist, wanting to be re-elected, decided a 180-degree turn was in order. He put Al Gore in charge of downsizing the federal government and he worked with Republicans in Congress. Together they passed the North American Free Trade Act, they reformed a badly broken welfare system, and (listen for the drum roll) they enacted and achieved a balanced budget!!!

It's been done before. When correct principles are applied they work.

Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton, and he's certainly proven he's no Abe Lincoln, but he needs to pick a new path and try something dramatically different than giving another speech before a joint session of Congress about all the jobs he's going to create with government debt and deficit spending.

I just hope it's not too late before he becomes another Jimmy Carter.

On the other hand, there are only thirteen and a half months left until the next election. Maybe we'll all just have to be patient.

Until then, I choose happiness instead of misery.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mike Lee Says Compromise NOT a Solution

Utah's freshman Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) makes it clear in this interview why this next election in November 2012 is a national debate with clearly drawn differences in the two philosophies for governing America. One path says government spending and ongoing expansion of the federal government is desirable. The other path suggests to do so would be catastrophic.

Never in my memory has the debate been more clearly defined by President Obama and whichever Republican candidate emerges as the eventual nominee.

If the economy were functioning and growing at an annual rate of around 4%, all the anxiety over government spending and deficit spending goes away because the growth of the economy is a reality that would cure all evils. That's why it is imperative the federal government adopt policies that will grow the economy, and not the debt, not the size of government, and not the deficits.

As Lee points out in his new book The Freedom Agenda, we have reached a point as a nation that we must now consider Constitutional restraints through the Balanced Budget Amendment.

Every time I listen to Senator Lee I ask myself, "Do these ideas rise to the level of extreme or radical?" Call me stupid, but they sound reasonable and immediately actionable. The only question before us as a nation is which path we will choose by electing the candidates who represent the right policies we need to adopt.

In another appearance, Lee reiterates the same points:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Some 9/11 Lessons Ten Years Later

This morning I responded to a letter to the editor criticizing the caucus/nominating process here in Utah. Routinely, I read these types of letters complaining about how intimidating and unaccommodating the physical arrangements tend to be at the grassroots level in politics.

Ground Zero Memorial
I have been watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's tribute to the victims and first responders to the tragedy that befell us as a nation ten years ago today. They have been singing "Amazing Grace" in a moving reminder we are all stumbling and bumbling children of our Heavenly Father. We often don't get it right and need His help to sustain us. In the grace He offers us, we can give as good as we get.

The Jews in the time of Jesus were looking for a Messiah to deliver them from their afflictions. That's not what He did. The changes we all long for in external circumstances rarely happen. George Will observed our self-inflicted wounds are the most difficult to heal, despite all our memorials. Only we can look inside to cure what ails us now. We cannot heal every single shortcoming of America's political landscape.

Instead, Jesus Christ changes us from within when we accept His grace and hope for the future. He never changes. He is constant, ever present and all-knowing. In the immediacy of the moments of crisis in our lives, we sometimes want everything healed and made better in an instant. However, in the struggle in the quiet moments of our misery and greatest need, there is often growth in the grappling for answers. If all our complaints were immediately lifted from us with only the need for a quick whispered prayer, there would be no stretching, no magnification, no growth. When we finally give up asking the "Why?" questions, we are delivered.

Now as they conclude their program, the Choir is beginning to sing the stirring unofficial anthem of 9/11, Irving Berlin's "God Bless America." In his words we found comfort and a pledge for renewal and unity unlike anything I have witnessed in my lifetime. Two years ago I reflected on the meaning of 9/11 in a historical context linked with prophecy. On last year's anniversary the controversy was swirling over the building of the mosque at Ground Zero, and I wrote about the emerging hate speech atmosphere.

When Major League Baseball resumed its schedule following the events of 9/11, the seventh inning stretch was highlighted every game thereafter with inspiring versions of the song as flags are unfurled. It's a fragile feeling that dissipates all too easily if not consciously remembered.

Even when we don't deserve our blessings as a free nation under God and we are often ungrateful for what we have received in abundance, I hope we never fail to remember what makes America great. We have liberty to the degree it has never been realized in the world since its inception.

Unity at Ground Zero
It's one thing to criticize our country and its political processes. I do it routinely when I feel we are being led astray. I must remind myself the world is full of critics. Let's have a constructive conversation about how to improve the process of freedom and liberty. No matter how great we have been, "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance," according to Thomas Jefferson. As Thomas Paine said, "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." I welcome your comments on this page.

And while I'm thinking about that, let me express my gratitude to all of you who take time to seek out this page. Last week we topped 100,000 visitors. Thanks for the love and support!

In the exercise of our freedom here in America, I believe the Utah caucus/nominating convention process is the best demonstration anywhere of representative government in this Republic of ours. If there are tactical inconveniences associated with gathering in freedom and being able to see the blessing of free speech on display, and if it's intimidating to some, then so be it.

Democracy was never intended to be convenient or easy. Often it's messy and uncomfortable. But if you shrink and stay away, fail to make your voice heard, and refuse to participate at the grassroots level, who knows what might have happened if you had been there?

If there is a profound and lasting lesson of 9/11 it is that we must never forget the priceless freedoms we enjoy in this land. Ten years later Osama bin Laden is dead. However, the ongoing victory must never be measured on the battlefield. Freedom is so transitory in its nature, we must be willing to do even the little bit we can, each of us, to sustain it. To fail to participate (and Utah has an abysmal record of participation in the electoral process) is to abdicate and surrender the privileges of citizenship in a land governed by the rule of law where the sovereign is the people themselves.

At Gettysburg, it was Abraham Lincoln who said: "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced." His words are still true today.

That's a blessing worth preserving for our children, even if it's messy and inconvenient.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rick Perry and Ponzi Schemes

Ooops. That was a tactical blunder the other night by Governor Rick Perry to call Social Security a "Ponzi scheme." Even when given the chance in the debate to walk back his mischaracterization, he refused to do it. I was anxious to see him perform for the first time, hoping he would add some firepower to the mix, but I came away disappointed.

Romney clearly outclassed him, when he even defended Perry over his decision to mandate by executive order cervical infection inoculations for young women in Texas instead of going to the state legislature first, he appeared more presidential than ever. "I'm certain we all would do things differently if given a do-over or a mulligan," quipped Romney.

Classy. I wonder how many Americans were having some buyer's remorse the other night, thinking what might have been in 2008, if the country had rejected Obama and chosen Romney instead.

But Perry really stepped into it badly in answer to his comment about the Ponzi scheme being likened to Social Security.

Charles Ponzi
Let's begin with the basics on what a Ponzi scheme really is, because I've been asked this question several times this week. The name of the scheme was first attributed to a man named Charles Ponzi. As defined by Wikipedia, a Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to separate investors, not from any actual profit earned by the organization, but from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors. The Ponzi scheme usually entices new investors by offering returns other investments cannot guarantee, in the form of short-term returns that are either abnormally high or unusually consistent. The perpetuation of the returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises and pays requires an ever-increasing flow of money from investors to keep the scheme going. Eventually what happens is the house of cards is toppled when more money is being paid out than is coming in. The fraudulent schemes have been perpetuated, and many examples can be cited here in Utah and elsewhere.

The Simpson-Bowles committee tasked with studying America's debt and deficit problem a few years ago coined the phrase that Social Security was a Ponzi scheme and the moniker has stuck. Alan Simpson, customarily verbose and outspoken has referred to what Social Security is currently doing as running a Ponzi scheme, so Governor Perry is merely repeating what he's heard. It's guaranteed to set off a fire storm of denial and attempts to re-explain later, but the cat's out of the bag now that the words have come out of the mouth of a presidential candidate. Here's the way Simpson characterized Social Security in his Congressional testimony:

So is it really a Ponzi scheme? Not really, because there is no fraud involved. You can argue the trust fund has been mismanaged, since the assets were long ago raided to satisfy the general fund of the U.S. Government, but it has always been a system where it has taken in more than enough to handle payouts to subsequent recipients. Cutting spending is a splendid idea, and we must certainly do that, but growing the economy through pro-growth policies will do far more than drastic cuts.

Social Security is comprised of people who funded it and counted on collecting the benefit in their retirement years. I filed for benefits the first day I was eligible on my 62nd birthday, and like clockwork my monthly check shows up in my bank account. That's hardly fraud.

I am not alone, because I know many in my baby boomer category who are receiving exactly what they expected based upon their work history to qualify for the income supplement promised. The promise of future safety is being realized every day. The problem isn't what is happening today, it's what the demographic studies and the projected revenue confirms what will happen in the near future years unless something is done to amend the funding assumptions.

These facts don't rise to the accusations of being a “fraudulent scheme.” It's not even as bad as Professor Harold Hill's scheme to sell band instruments and uniforms in Gary, Indiana and then skip town. That was attempted fraud until a sweet Marian librarian straightened him out, but Social Security is just an entitlement program badly in need of revision. And the revision choices are not that difficult. Governor Perry is right to warn the younger generation that unless it is modified they will not be able to collect. That should be obvious. But the hyperbole has to stop. It might play well in Texas, but it isn't presidential and not worthy of the eventual Republican nominee.

The threat from President Obama to withhold Social Security payments in August unless he got a debt and deficit deal was even less presidential. Leaders must lead or be replaced at the ballot box. Obama is coming under increasing scrutiny after Thursday's jobs speech, many of his base completely disheartened now about his re-election prospects.

The assumptions about demographics, productivity, and economic growth will need to be revisited so they can either be sustained for future benefits to its future recipients, or lacking the political will to amend it just be allowed to expire.

As I've studied it in more depth this last year, I have become convinced it can be repaired rather easily. It will require some combination of benefit cuts and tax rate hikes in order to reduce the spending or to increase the  revenue being paid in; or we will have to witness a growth in the numbers in the workforce and in their individual and collective productivity to dramatically step up the revenue side and avoid increasing tax rates. Thomas Sowell weighed in on the debate too.

Historically, we could almost with certainty predict self-funding because of the predictable growth in productivity, the number of workers and the overall macroeconomic benefit of skilled workers producing more widgets with ever-increasing efficiency. This latest long-lasting recession has blown all those growth assumptions right off their hinges.

I still remain hopeful that if the correct growth policies are still put in place that favor expansion, lower taxes, some certainty about the role of government regulatory practices being put in place in the upcoming election of 2012, these stagnating and stubborn economic problems can be resolved. It will take growth beyond all the proposed cutting to lift us out of this quagmire we are in.

If ever there were a time in human history when false ideas were more prevalent than they are today, I do not know when it might be. The Obama administration's bold Keynesian experiment as painful to watch and feel as it has been, is now on life support and dying quickly. In his attempts to put into practice the bold and false theoretical agenda of Keynes, my hope is that at last reason will prevail and we will re-emerge from this tragic period and forever bury the false ideas of Keynesian philosophy once and for all. I never imagined in my lifetime we would ever seen another attempt to resurrect it the way we have under Obama. November 2012 cannot come soon enough.

Friedrich Hayek
Here's a favorite quote from Friedrich Hayek, summarizing the false theoretical ideas of Keynesian economics:

"[John Maynard] Keynes' disciples were shocked when, long after his death, it became known that he had, in a private letter, said of my book, The Road To Serfdom, that morally and philosophically he found himself in agreement with virtually the whole of it -- and, not only in agreement, but in deeply moved agreement. . . [However] He qualified his approval by the curious belief that dangerous acts can be done safely in a country that thinks rightly -- which [Hayek asserted] could be the way to hell if they were executed by those who feel wrongly." (Emphasis mine).

All of which is to underscore the point. Cut, Cap and Balance is imperative in some acceptable combination, but all of it is only a good first step. What is needed is sustained and predictable growth like the 59-point proposal Mitt Romney has put forward for review and scrutiny in the buildup to the election. His leadership is welcome, and so is the plan put forward by Jon Huntsman, hailed by The Wall Street Journal as the best they've seen to date. Take your pick -- either one works for me, because both contain the kind of pro economic growth policies sadly lacking in President Obama's Keynesian administration.

John Maynard Keynes
If you pressed Obama to the wall, he would undoubtedly stand by this statement from John Maynard Keynes in 1933: "The decadent international but individualistic capitalism, in the hands of which we found ourselves after the War, is not a success. It is not intelligent; it is not beautiful; it is not just; it is not virtuous - and it does not deliver the goods. In short we dislike it - and are beginning to despise it." So beginning with Social Security in 1937, the course was set toward government being the end-all, be-all for everyone and everything. 

Until 2010, we continued down the path of more and more government intervention into our lives. That's when Americans finally awakened to their terrible plight, and in an historic mid-term election stripped Obama of his majority in the House and sent Nancy Pelosi to the back bench. 

Thanks very much for proving the case, Mr. Obama. America will take Hayek's private enterprise growth engine now that you have almost single-handedly discredited Keynesian philosophy and economic theory. The State must be toppled, and we as Americans will do it at the ballot box in November 2012, without a single shot being fired in the revolution. Individual freedom is on the rise once again.

That way, we'll be able to tamp down the hyperbole about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and get on with the serious business putting America back on the map economically.

We have stared over the edge into the Keynesian abyss, and we didn't like the view.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Networking Entrepreneurs

Loved this presentation from Abhishek Ved Prakash Shah -- recommend it to everyone with an entrepreneurial mindset, whether you've already started your own company or just thinking about it. Networking among professionals is the way you create opportunities in today's economy. There's no substitute for being proactive. You'll find you can retrain your brain, get off the sidelines and back into the game. Here's the best networking opportunity for budding entrepreneurs in Utah.

My advice is don't sit around sending off your resume into cyberspace looking for a job and hoping for the best. Make a beginning, and share yourselves with others. You'll find through your networking activities that taking the risks to put yourself out there will yield the harvest you're seeking. I love it when someone I know (and even a total stranger) walks into our office and presents themselves in person as a new opportunity for us. We immediately start thinking about how we can use someone with initiative even if we don't have an immediate position.

I read an article the other day that basically said people are giving up on the job market and increasingly turning to their own solutions by starting the companies they've always dreamed of owning and operating. I commend everyone who's thinking in that direction. It's what made America great the first time around, and now it appears we will have to recreate and retrace our steps to re-enthrone the spirit of "can do" once again.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Obama's Biggest Mistake

I said it from the moment it was announced, and now even his most liberal stalwarts, looking back, are confirming the obvious. To be fair, there are a few who think Obamacare will jump-start the economy.

Obama's biggest mistake in the two and a half years of his presidency is Obamacare. The absence of a national mandate and a Congressional consensus from both political parties, the staggering costs associated with it and the way in which it was crammed down the throats of Americans proved to be all the stimulus needed to empower the Tea Party movement and revitalize normally complacent citizens.

Awakening the sleeping dog on the porch was a political miscalculation for which Obama rightly predicted he would be a one-term president. If the Supreme Court rules it unconstitutional before the 2012 election (and I believe it will), Obamacare will yet be seen the way Howard Fineman sees it today.

In the annals of political theater this snippet will go down in history. Chris Matthews seems amazed at Fineman's response, yet Fineman is only stating the obvious to the rest of us. Wake up Chris.

Beware of False Doctrines

In the past week I have been exposed to three false doctrines. I'll confess this is not a rare occurrence, though I wish I could say our members were well grounded in the true doctrines so the false ones wouldn't ever see the light of day.

Here they are:

1. That openly gay men are holding positions of authority in the priesthood and the Church is softening its position over the LGBT agenda. These stories often come as anecdotal references like, "I have a friend who lives in Southern California in a ward where an openly gay man in a relationship with another man is the president of the elders' quorum." Beware of these kinds of stories, because they simply are not true. Someone is soon going to have to start a Snopes page to sniff out these falsities and expose them for what they are.

After responding to the person who shared this latest story with me, the Church issued a statement on its Newsroom Blog page refuting these kinds of claims. In part the blog post said:

"In this period that many are calling another 'Mormon Moment,' Mattingly correctly asserts, 'If people make claims about evolving Mormon doctrines, look for names, titles and clear statements of attribution.'

"There is a lot of interest in the Church and a lot being written about it. It's important for the public to distinguish between fact, opinion and personal advocacy."

2. I received an e-mail from a well-informed young man who is a student of the scriptures. In the e-mail he quoted Heber C. Kimball to the effect that our Heavenly Father was not only the Father of our spirits, but also the Father of our physical bodies.

"I have a question that I’ve been pondering for some time and thought you might be able help me with it.  As I have studied the creation more I find the verses in Moses 2:27-28 and Genesis 1:27-28 perplexing.  When it speaks of creating man it does not mention that they are created of the dust in these verses until the next chapter in verse Moses 3:7 - It mentions that they form man again this time out of the dust and man becomes the “first flesh upon the earth”. So I conclude that the account of the days 1-6 of creation is actually the spiritual creation, and the physical creation happened on the 7th day or at least the creation of man (D&C 77:12).  This brings me to my question, I want to know what the above verses mean when it says '…be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth'? Because Adam and Eve are only spirits at this point… So, Is Heavenly Father teaching them that this will be their role in life…? Or is he asking them to spiritually pro-create at this point? And this would allow them to create spiritual tabernacles in the same way we create physical tabernacles in mortality…?"

Elder Harold B. Lee
His question reminded me specifically of a quote from Elder Harold B. Lee that arose out of his summer lecture series in 1954, where his audience was comprised of Seminary and Institute instructors. During the summer he discussed many and varied doctrinal topics, and in particular this one referenced in the e-mail to me. I responded by saying I had read the entire Heber C. Kimball discourse in its original source and that one statement appeared to me to have been lifted out of context. This is a favorite tactic of anti-Mormon writers who delight in this practice to misrepresent and embarrass current leaders of the Church whose statements are pitted against the early leaders of the Church to create intentional conflict. Said Elder Lee:

"It is just as dangerous for teachers of religion to teach as absolute facts that can't be controverted, something that still is in the realm of speculation and theory, and when you find someone who is writing a book in which they speak with a pedantic authority as though it were an accomplished fact and couldn't be gainsaid, then you put a question mark by it and write 'theory.' I will tell you what I do, as I read these many books that come (and I think the day is here when we have got to be more discriminating in our reading than ever before).

"Let me suggest a method. As you read these books, no matter who writes them, read carefully down the record and where their teaching is in complete agreement with the revelations that the Lord has given us and with the teachings of the scriptures, accept it as being fact, but where they go off into imaginative suppositions or speculations that are not fully proved by the scriptures, write out in the margin, the name of the author. It is his idea, you see. Distinguish as between the individual's idea and that which is supported by scriptures. It is perfectly all right for us to get another's idea. . .

"Talk in simple language -- keep your teachings just as simple as the Lord has told it -- simple for the purpose that he told Moses, 'To bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life of man.' (Moses 1:39). He showed Moses the history of this world, who saw it in vision, but of all things else pertaining to the rest of the universe, he didn't show him. Perhaps if we had the full story of the creation of the earth and man told to us in great detail, it would be more of a mystery than the simple few statements that we have contained in the Bible, because of our lack of ability to comprehend. Therefore, for reasons best known to the Lord, he has kept us in darkness. Wait until the Lord speaks, or wait until that day when he shall come, and when we shall be among the privileged either to come up out of our graves and be caught up into the clouds of heaven or shall be living upon the earth likewise to be so translated before him. Then we shall know all things pertaining to this earth, how it was made, and all things that now as children we are groping for and trying to understand.

"Let's reserve judgment as to the facts concerning the creation until we know these things for sure. Then let us answer those who offer their theories with reference to the creation, which come from men: 'We don't know, and nobody knows.' Label 'theory' by the name of the man who gave us the theory and think of it as has been said by Elder [James E.] Talmage, as merely the scaffolding, until the walls of our faith are built and that glorious day when we are permitted to enter into the presence of the Lord and receive greater instructions."
(Elder Harold B. Lee, manuscript copy of 1954 lecture series at BYU for Seminary and Institute instructors [unpublished], pp. 38, 44).

3. A text message asking if I was aware that the "matriarchal priesthood" was going to be restored to the earth before the Second Coming. When I inquired further into the origins of the statement, I discovered there are many women who have spiritual gifts enabling them to heal physical, emotional and spiritual ailments of all kinds. These women are wonderful examples to me of deeply spiritual and committed individuals who exercise supernal gifts of the Spirit. One of those enumerated gifts in the scriptures (see Moroni 10; D&C 46; 1 Corinthians 12) is the gift of healing. Spiritual gifts, of course, are not distinguishable between male and female, and often operate outside the authoritative priesthood keys that are the domain of men only. They are clearly explained in the context of the spiritual keys of power available to men and women without regard to their free exercise by males or females. In the past Scott Strong and I have written extensively about these distinctions, and I would refer you to our compilation on these topics.

There can be little doubt these spiritual gifts can, do and have always existed among women in the Church. The evidence they are efficacious and beneficial for many is irrefutable. However, there is no need to force the invention of a modality linking this spiritual gift to the priesthood keys of authority to somehow reach for authenticity. Such is a false idea and if pursued would foul the pure channel from which the gift flows to those individuals so endowed.

That said, the exercise of the spiritual gifts and discerning of how the those gifts exercised by others within the boundary of his congregation is clearly within the domain of priesthood leaders and the priesthood keys of authority he holds. (See D&C 46 and 50). However, to assert that women must have something called the "matriarchal order of the priesthood" to freely exercise their spiritual gift is absolutely false on its face.

Ask yourselves, when confronted with such ideas, "In all my life in the Church, have I ever heard anyone in a position of authority offer such an idea?"

If the answer to that simple question is "NO," then leave it where you found it and don't pick it up again. Left unchecked and unchallenged, repeated to the uninformed and gullible, these ideas gain more power than they deserve to garner.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Balanced Budget Amendment, coming soon

Roll up your sleeves, America. It's time to go back to work and stop waiting on the Washington establishment to solve our problems. The failed policies of this administration are numerous. This month's jobs report, released yesterday, confirms idle labor is still sitting on the sidelines with ZERO jobs added to the economy. It's time to put Washington in a debt and spending straight jacket from which it will never again be released. There are two prominent GOP versions of the Balanced Budget Amendment that will be floated to both the House and the Senate, requiring a 2/3 majority to send it to the states for ratification.

In 1995, a BBA failed to win approval in the Senate by only one vote. Imagine where we might be today if only one Senator had voted the other way. We certainly would not be in the debt debacle we are.

It is imperative we change the trajectory we are on as a nation. All that is necessary is that Washington STOP coming up with solutions that don't work, get out of our way, and let US as the sovereign people we are step forward and put an end to elected representatives who are unresponsive to our desires. Here's a thoughtful approach to doing things the right way. Further, there is incontrovertible evidence the regulatory environment under the Obama administration has been stifling.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the sponsor of two leading GOP versions, makes the case for the necessity of the BBA in a weekly Republican address airing Saturday that an amendment would create jobs by putting Congress on a spending diet. It is clear Americans have finally tuned out this president. What is becoming obvious to even the casual observer is that speech making by this president isn't demonstrating the kind of leadership for which Americans yearn and expect. Obama may be reaching a point where no one cares anymore what he says. His deeds have not matched his rhetoric, and that's record his opponents will increasingly jump on then pile on. When he speaks next week about his plan for creating new jobs, we would be well-advised to look elsewhere for our answers, since nothing he has promised has come to pass. Presidents do not create new jobs. Their policies either enhance or destroy the incentives for those who do. Thus far he has done nothing but paralyze private capital investment into the economy.

Republicans, of course, maintain by ending attempts at Obama-style stimulus spending we can finally put the nation back to work. To get the BBA passed, it will take a bipartisan effort, setting party politics aside and keeping it on the sidelines. We need representatives in Washington who will finally decide to do what is right for America's future, not their own individual interests.

Be patient. If Congress fails to pass the BBA this fall, and the "super committee" fails in its mission to send a serious signal to the rating agencies that we are serious about managing our debt and deficits, then Americans will elect those who will get it done in the next Congress following the 2012 election. We really have no other choice. That's why this next election is so critical to our collective welfare as Americans. We are at a crossroads. We can no longer have it both ways. Decision time is upon us.

“The president’s ‘stimulus’ spending has proven counterproductive,” Goodlatte says. “This fall, both the House and the Senate will vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution that would force Congress to spend only what the government takes in… That doesn’t just mean a fiscal house in order: it also means more certainty for the private sector and a better environment for job creation.”

Goodlatte calls on Obama to back a balanced budget amendment in the president's Sept. 8 jobs speech to Congress. However, one should acknowledge this president is tone deaf to anyone who dares to oppose his point of view. Don't expect that tiger to change its stripes in yet another speech filled with empty rhetoric and unrealistic promises involving more government spending.

Why would we give the federal government a free pass on spending and running up unconscionable deficits, when in 49 of the 50 states their individual state constitutions mandate a balanced budget?