The Nacilbupera Guzzle

Whoever examines with attention the history of the dearths and famines … will find, I believe, that a dearth never has arisen from any combination among the inland dealers in corn, nor from any other cause but a real scarcity, occasioned sometimes perhaps, and in some particular places, by the waste of war, but in by far the greatest number of cases by the fault of the seasons; and that a famine has never arisen from any other cause but the violence of government attempting, by improper means, to remedy the inconveniences of a dearth. (Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations IV.5.44)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Seven Reasons Why I Oppose the $125M Provo School District Bond

Provo School District proposes to mortgage $125M in future taxpayer revenue via two bonds, $90M and $35M (link) in the name of rebuilding 7 schools. Below I present seven points why I oppose such bonding, any point of which if agreed should at least give pause to the incessant cry-for-money-in-the-name-of-children.

(1) First of all, the whole paradigm of bonding through taxation is immoral. We force (essentially steal) money from our neighbors and then give it to a board which provides education to some of the children of the city. If you choose to homeschool, private school, have no children, or have children in another city your money is being taken from you to be spent however this group called a school board pleases with no compensating service received. Most of us when our money is taxed or stolen from us don’t even get that good feeling like when we do when we give charity or to the student selling candy bars for band on our doorstep.

(2) The individual taxpayer has no real say in public schooling. One letter to the school board will not prompt change. You have to spend a lot more resources collectivizing to counter the power of the Board, not to mention the UEA. You can’t even direct your own portion of your stolen money so don’t be fooled by the argument an individual has a say in PSD. Why would you want to be bonded to an entity when you have no say?

(3) Students don’t learn best when they are coerced or through formal, socialized education. Education standards are increasingly about providing information regurgitated on corporatized, standardized exams. That geniuses fail miserably and billionaires are often public education dropouts speak to this failure. We are not spending money wisely when we think individual learning can be maximized through collectivism. For starters we should remove the compulsory factor and let teen students go who don’t want to be at school. This would reduce the need for physical buildings while providing a happier, more competitive learning environment for secondary students who really are striving to learn.

(4) Now for a quickie on bonds: “bonds” and “bondage” come from the same root for a reason. Many a financial, spiritual, and political advisor will tell you to avoid or to get out of debt and to stay such. One of the major reasons behind Detroit's collapse was $20B in bonds the city had to make payments on. The more bonds a city has, the greater the financial risk of insolvency. A municipal bond rating can be lowered resulting in higher borrowing costs if bonds become too great or if taxpayers revolt and refuse to succumb to the inevitable tax increases.

(5) Furthermore as bonds--particularly school bonds--are paid exclusively by the future taxpayer (as opposed to a power plant bond in which theory the bond of the plant is paid for by electric revenues), it breeds the mentality of "spend now, take 20 years to pay off". Is that what we want to teach our children—to have pride in a mortgaged building? How hypocritical are we--thinking we can teach values in a mortgaged building! Some of us who might grimace about personal religious ceremonies in a mortgaged building actually advocate indebtedness from the institution that governs the lives of our children. Oh my, the cant! If we want an education in principle, how about we teach the children to save and pay for the things we want. NuSkin just completely paid for $100M brand new building without bonding--why can't PSD? Want a frank answer why? We elect School Board officials who spend rather than who plan and save.

(6) A forward-looking reason against bonding for physical buildings is future of education which tells us that home-based internet-based learning is the novel and cost-effective approach to education. As the future progresses, we won’t need the same ratio of buildings-to-pupil in the future. We may need to look at selling school buildings off as they age rather than building new ones. We need to take advantage of the uniqueness of Google Fiber and move us into the 21st century.

(7) Finally, Provo has had enough bonding and taxation, thank you. We just bonded for a $40M 20-year silly recreation center and have done the most creative jumping jacks in figuring out how to get a new tax on the electric bill to pay for the I-provo bond. Then of course, the city is currently already under serious consideration for yet another substitute property tax on the utility bill called a “Utility Transportation Fund” because a large mayoral pay increase took priority in the budget over roads. This on top of already raising electric and garbage rates during Curtis’ mayoral tenure. The bottom line is that we’re taxed too much and need now to look to how we can lower tax rates and reduce indebtedness.

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Resignation From the Republican Party

The following is the text of a letter with a redacted a name or two I sent out to my neighborhood constituents and a few friends this evening:

Today I changed my life-long party affiliation from Republican to Unaffiliated.  As a result, I am also resigning today my position as a Utah County Republican Party delegate elected by majority vote in March of 2012.

I will limit to this paragraph the reasoning behind my resignation.  For some time I have been concerned about the divisiveness of partisan politics, to wit, General Washington in his farewell address warned us against such parties and factions.  Additionally in a nation built on checks and balances, I have been concerned about the concentration of power of Utah County into the hands of a sole faction:  I have witnessed the corruption that such power begets.  Finally, while I support the Preamble to the Party Platform which quotes Jefferson and our Declaration of Independence, the body of the Platform contains some items I reject as a conflict of Preamble and thus at odds with the words of the Declaration.  As a member of the Party, Article 2 of the County Constitution states that I am to support the Party Platform; this requirement is amplified for delegates with a stern, final-line warning in bold letters against anyone who might have disagreement with the Platform:  “All Republican elected officials, candidates and party officers are expected to endorse these principles and agree to be held accountable to the people and to the party.”  This statement creates an obstacle for all delegates who wish to be accountable to their constituency but whose views differ time to time from those of the Party or Platform.

I delayed my resignation so that I could report to you that I did serve you by happily attending both conventions--last year and this--and did my best to leave you with honorable elected officials and party officials.  I greatly enjoyed interacting with both the candidates and other Republicans in general.  In nearly all my interactions with other Republicans, I have been treated with respect and attention.  There is much value in us meeting together in these neighborhood political meetings we call a caucus to talk and to listen.  In my leaving there remain reasons for me to stay; yet I view the road of Unaffiliation as a freer, more noble course.  I wish no ill upon my Republican friends and will associate with Republicanism when and as it embraces truth.  Indeed, I leave the County Party today in what I feel a better place than it was when you first elected me in 2010.

I remain very involved in the political process and am retaining the non-partisan office as your neighborhood chair.  Indeed, with municipal elections Tuesday, August 13th, we need to elect among four candidates a mayor and among five candidates a city-wide council member.  

By my resignation, I am directing our Precinct Chair to fill my position until the next caucus meeting in March.  If my opinion is wanted on whom to replace me, I shall offer it to the Chair in private.

For those wishing more contact, you may always email me, Facebook me, or call me, anytime. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity this has been to serve you.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Getting To Know GOP Chair Candidate James Evans

James Evans is a former Salt Lake County Chair and State Senator who along with Aaron Gabrielson and Marco Diaz are running for Chair of the Utah Republican Party.  Evans is a self-described “conservative” (Facebook).  Elections are now less than two weeks away on May 18th. 

One of the strongest indicators of one’s political views is one’s voting record and Evans had a term as a State Senator during 2003-4.  An examination of his voting record is much more insightful into Evans’ political leanings rather than a trite label of "conservative."  In a careful examination of all of Evans sponsored bills as a Senator there are a number of bills which seem rather neutral, but I find none that in my estimation I would consider fiscally conservative, that is tending towards any of the following:  reducing government spending, lowering taxes or fees, reducing government regulation and bureaucracy, or reduction of bonds and debt.

Conversely, there were four that egregiously seemed to stand out as antithetical to fiscal conservatism:
·         (2003) SB129 Criteria in Awarding Bids Failed to pass, but attempted to restrict government contracts over $100K to companies with 15+ employees, an apprenticeship program, and health insurance.   More unnecessary regulation and anti-small-business.

·         (2003) SB140 Prescription Drug Assistance Program  More regulations for pharmacies to require promotion of public freeloading on drug programs.

·         (2004) SB135 Center for Multicultural Health, with help from Democrat House member David Litvack, this appropriated $100K for a pork-barrel style spending for the creation of an unneeded Multicultural Health Center.  In 2011 the legislature incorporated the Center into the Utah Office of Health Disparities while the appropriation was continued.

·         (2004) SB230 Reading Achievement Program Evans tried to appropriate $30 million, but in the fourth substitute successfully appropriated $15 million for a new reading program.

SB230 was in my estimation the most damaging of all the Evans-sponsored bills.  It grew the public education bureaucracy without accountability and is a classic case of money being thrown at education and hoping it stuck.  Additionally, it also authorized school districts to raise property taxes for this program so yes, it is fair to say that everyone including Evans who voted for SB230 voted to both increase spending and raise taxes.
 In a peer review by the US Dept of Education the lack of program accountability was exposed:
"Although the overall objective of the state’s K–3 Reading Improvement Program is to ensure that all Utah third graders “read at or above grade level,” this term and its measurement have not been specifically defined."
In other words, we threw $15M at reading without ever defining a measurable goal. The report concluded:

"After the implementing legislation was passed in 2004, the K–3 Reading Improvement Program was immediately embraced, with all 40 of the state’s school districts signing on. As a result, no control group exists for comparison, and it is impossible to contrast participants and nonparticipants. Thus, any relationship subsequently identified between the program and student achievement outcomes is correlational at best and does not imply that the program caused the results."
While I grant Evans freedom to use whatever label he desires in describing his ideology, based on the purest form of measurability we have--bills Evans voluntarily sponsored and initiated--I can see no iota of fiscal conservatism or financial restraint from his actions as a Utah State Senator with which I would ever voluntarily apply the term to him.

A pair of conservative Utah watchdog groups compiled their own measurements of Evan’s record which examined not only bills Evans sponsored but his record as a whole:

· in 2004 ranked Evans third-from-bottom GOP lifetime.

·         UT Taxpayers Association in 2004 named Evans in a list of ten most Liberal Republicans.  They also ranked Evans below average in 2004 with a 69% vs. an average GOP 71%.

One could certainly make a point that electing a GOP State Chair has less to do with one’s philosophy and much more to do with the talents, abilities, and leadership which comprise one’s character.  To best judge Evans’ character & leadership I chose to examine Evans’ record as Salt Lake County Chair 2005-09, the closest-fit position to the one he currently seeks.

During this time as Chair, Evans compiled a lengthy list pointing to a person of irascible character and tactics in dealing with his opposition. 
·         Evans played the race card in 2006 asking the SLC council to censure SLC Mayor Rocky Anderson of a “racial remark” when the Mayor used the term “slavish” to describe partisan, blind obedience to leaders including Evans who supported policies in violation of fundamental human rights. (Deseret News)  Funny, I feel Obamacare is slavish, yet I love the skin color of our President.

·        Evans pushed a heavily edited video on the media right before the Sheriff’s race in 2006 to imply the Democrat candidate wanted to “do an ass-kicking or shoot someone” when in reality the Sheriff was trying to model bad behavior.  (KSL) The tactic backfired and the Democrat won in a landslide as a result of Evans’ lie to the public. (SLTribune)

·         Longtime Utah GOP activist and former candidate Mike Ridgway demonstrates with recorded documentation that Evans played a role in lying to police to get Ridgway arrested. (YouTube)

·         Evans filed a frivolous complaint to the IRS asking for removal of the NAACP’s tax-exempt status after the NAACP protested certain remarks of GOP Senator Buttars and expressed interest in seeing his defeat in an election.  One blogger correctly predicted that “zero, zilch, nada” would become of Evans' complaint and quoted the law that such organizations “may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity.”  The blogger identified the impression left on the community as the result of Evans' frivolity:  “[Republican] gutter politics” (WCForum)

·         In the rumor & gossip column it has been speculated rather humorously that those who removed all of a major Democrat candidate’s signage in a single night had ties to Evans (One Utah).  Certainly there does not seem to have been any offer on the Salt Lake County Republican Party to help compensate their Democratic counterparts for the theft of their property (signs).
There are definitely more complaints registered about the character of Evans available for discovery on the internet and traditional media; I have tried to sample the flavor rather than provide an exhaustive list.  In contrast to Evans’ leadership style is that of outgoing current Chair Thomas Wright.  Wright has publicly made a point to extend graciousness and exhibited a sense of fairness towards his Democratic counterpart Chair Jim Dabakis in avoiding ad hominem attacks.  While I do not regard Wright without flaw, going from Wright to Evans in the area of character would be moving the Party in the wrong direction.

While political philosophy and character are important, the bottom line for some is:  can Evans get Republicans elected?  Obviously philosophy is important because if one is viewed as not conforming to Republican values, it will be hard to motivate the party to do the work.  Likewise if someone is viewed either internally or externally as of a bombastic or bulldoggish character people will not be attracted to such behavior.  So what results did Evans’ style as Salt Lake County Chair produce?

After three years of Evans, the 2008 election was a disaster for Salt Lake elections.  A Democrat President won Salt Lake county for the first time in memory while picking up a trio of Utah House seats in Sandy and a Senate seat while the GOP challenger to County Mayor was defeated. The Salt Lake council whom Evans had lobbied over “Rocky-gate” picked up a seat flipping to majority Democrat. (SLTribune)

Some supporters have claimed Evans is a new man.  I have not seen this.  I have not seen apologies go out to the people who Evans has lied about or persecuted.  Nor I have witnessed any involvement in Evans in working towards a changed attitude about adopting fiscal conservatism.  I believe with such a deep-rooted past record—one which Evans himself touts—I would need to see irrefutable, tangible evidence of changed philosophy, character, and results over a documented period of time before I could accept such dubious claims of a new Evans.