Friday, February 26, 2010

Matrimony, Society, and Self Preservation

My wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary this week.  It was a great chance for Kim and I to take inventory of our marriage and look back our our accomplishments together.  Of the things we discussed, our four daughters and their development stood out as our greatest achievement together.

This inventory process got me thinking about our society.  Our laws place a heavy emphasis on protecting children.  For instance, not only is it against the law to beat a child, its against the law to beat someone else in the presence of a child.  Illicit materials are not to be distributed to children.  The legislature this year has proposed making it illegal to smoke in a car with children in it.

So why all the fuss about protecting these kids?  Well, it seems that society has interests that supersede those of the individuals that make up the society.  It appears that the most dominant of these interests is that of survival and self preservation.  Healthy societies typically value laws that promote the continuance of their existence.  Societies perpetuate themselves through reproduction and through the best possible child rearing.  

We see examples of this bias toward reproduction and parenting in our tax laws.  Married couples typically pay less than single individuals.  For each child that a parent has, they are able to make tax deductions based on those children.  The government, through making laws which represent the interest of those whom it governs, creates incentives for procreation and parenting.

Interestingly, our time sees this very common-sensed approach to self preservation under siege from many angles.  First, there is an effort to equate same-sex relationships with those of a married man and woman.  For obvious reasons, the end goal of these efforts does nothing to support the continual existence of society.  Secondly, we have our young male population being overwhelmed with insidious distractions such as pornography, video games, and electronic media which subvert the natural desire to marry and bear children.  Thirdly, and in tandem with the second point, is the ever growing size of our adolescent population.  Adolescence is the formative years of a persons life.  That being said, it is also the part of life which is the most perilous.  Its a period of life marked with puberty, development of sexual mores and norms, development of proper relationships between the opposite sexes and other developments which will ultimately establish the character, and therefore ultimate happiness, of an individual.

It used to be that adolescence started around the age to 12 and ended at 18.  Today we see the sexualization of our children as young as 8 and the attitudes of adolescence carried well into the 30's for some.  The perilous years of adolescence have grown from 6 years of a person's life to over 20.  Is it any wonder that many people in our society are not married nor ever wish to marry?  Is it any wonder that our divorce rate is so high when we have married men and women with the attitudes of a 16 year old?  As a father of only daughters, I am highly concerned about the quantity of quality young men out there that will someday court my girls.   

Despite the significance and huge impact these problems have on the future of our society, the remedy for them is quite simple.  In my opinion, an honest commitment by parents to teach their children boundaries, instill in them the value of family, and to do it without fear of supposed hypocrisy due to their own youthful indulgences will do more than any church, school, or government institution to bring our society back from the edge of chaos.  I hope that we can all commit to being those kinds of parents regardless of our circumstances.  The perpetuation, happiness, and tranquility of our society depends on it.         

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Op Ed Rebuttal: Too Much GOP Hypocrisy

I was reading the Standard Examiner this morning and stumbled upon Steve Olsen's editorial piece about the GOP.  The piece seemed to be written in two parts.  The first part, a fair criticism of Rob Bishop and budget proposals, and the second, a tirade of hand grenade throwing with the hopes that something lands somewhere and hits its mark.

The first part made its point with back story and context and I will not address it since Mr.Olsens's opinion seems fair.  But lets take a look at the reckless accusations of hypocrisy made in the second part:

Accusation #1

It is hypocrisy for Rob Bishop to paint himself as a deficit hawk, when as recently as the 2006 Congressional elections he dismissed the Bush era deficits as a non-issue, claiming deficits would disappear in a few years because   of the economic miracle resulting from Republican economic policies. We all know how that turned out.
My rebuttal:  I think its fair to say that nobody saw the crash we are in coming except for a few people in cubicles at some banks.  Rob Bishop and the current GOP aren't responsible for the crash.  Fitch, Moody's, and S&P - the ratings agencies - are responsible.  Richard Nixon is responsible for changing the structure of the ratings agencies from working for the buyers of mortgage securities to working for the sellers of them instead.  Its like having a home inspector and appraiser work for the seller instead of the guy buying a home.

Nevertheless, blaming Rob Bishop for operating under the assumptions of the day and for not being an economic seer is ridiculous.  Democrats certainly aren't deficit hawks.  Mr. Olsen would have us believe that Democrats are better because at least we know in advance that they will tax and spend us into oblivion unlike the Republicans just telling us that they won't and then do it anyway.  That's a hard sell.  The answer is populating the Republican party with principled people...not changing principles and parties.

Accusation #2

It was hypocrisy for Sen. Bob Bennett to cosponsor the bill to create a bi-partisan deficit reduction commission and then vote against his own bill on the floor of the   Senate.

My rebuttal:  Senator Bennett is in hot water with his principled constituents in the Republican party and will be dealt with at the State Convention.

Accusation #3

It is hypocrisy for the 2010 Utah Legislature to engage in a self-righteous orgy of indignation over the federal government trampling on our rights, to the exclusion of more important business — when we heard deafening silence from that body during the Bush years over much more egregious attacks on our liberties.

My rebuttal:  I particularly like the phrase "self-righteous orgy of indignation".  What fun wordplay!  The point is that Federalism is more important now than ever.  Politics is all about timing.  If the legislature does not act now with other states to push back on Federal powers, the opportunity will be lost.  Perhaps Mr. Olsen would have us wait until its convenient to confront an overreaching federal government.  Liberty isn't something we obtained through convenience.  Also, what Mr. Olsen describes as hypocrisy by the Legislature is really an epiphany.  The state realizes that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of federal government power and needs to swing it the other direction.  Now, and in tandem with other states, is the time to act.   

Accusation #4

It is hypocrisy for Governor Herbert to bemoan the horrible state of air quality on the Wasatch Front when the policies of three decades of one-party Republican rule in this state have contributed enormously to the problem.
My rebuttal: I keep hearing this "one-party" line repeated over and over again.  It's as if the Democrats need to guilt the public into voting for them because being "one-party" isn't fair.  What they don't want to admit is that the people's voice IS HEARD through one-party rule.  The people are the ones that continue to support and elect Republican representatives.  Therefore, it is not hypocrisy for the Governor to bemoan air quality because the people voted for Republicans for the last 30 years.  It is perhaps ironic, but not hypocritical.  To say so is intellectually dishonest.

Accusation #5

It is hypocrisy when every Republican legislator in the state runs on the platform “public education is my number one priority” when the Legislature has presided over a free-fall in support for education the last decade that is leading us to a crisis.
My rebuttal:  Mr. Olsen, do you have some facts to support this rhetoric?  If so, please produce them.  This statement has words that I often hear from one of my young children: "Dad, you NEVER let us do things. EVERY time we want to something you won't let us do it."  When people make broad generalizations by using the words "always, every, and never" I know they, like my kids, are trying to get their way by manipulating me.  

Mr. Olsen's op-ed was interesting.  I always appreciate other people's perspectives but the accusations of hypocrisy I believe were just an opportunity for him to throw some rhetorical hand grenades around.  Lets make our pointed accusations in the future less rhetorical and more substantive.  Perhaps by doing so, there will be less of them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Federalism in a Big Government Era

Yesterday evening I attended the Lincoln Day dinner for the Weber County Republican party.  It was a great way to get warmed up for the 2010 campaign.   Rob Bishop attended and spoke as the keynote speaker for the event.  He chose to speak about Federalism.  This topic resonated with me since I recently finished reading the Federalist Papers.

The whole concept of Federalism hinges on the balance between state and federal powers.  The Founders knew that a strong centralized government was necessary if America was to remain a tranquil Union.  However, they also understood that government is best handled at the local level and wanted to empower states to the extent that they govern themselves while part of a greater Union.  The Constitution provided the framework for that balancing act. 

The recent resurrection in talk about Federalism seems to stem from the ambitious programs being debated and pushed in Washington DC.  Such programs include Cap-and-Trade, the EPA Carbon Dioxide ruling, Government Health Care, ect.  These are all huge programs that would affect every person in this country.

Rob Bishop made the point that the states are the laboratory of democracy.  He contended that the national government should not be involved in these types of programs at all.  Instead, the states should be able to experiment on their own and find the best programs through trial and error.  He made the point that if one program in a state fails, the Union is spared the cost of the failure.

I encourage everyone to pick up a copy of the Federalist Papers and read it.  If the Constitution is a recipe for good government, the Federalist Papers are the explanation of why the recipe works.  I agree that there needs to be a balance of power between Washington DC and the state governments.  Local government is better government and the people are better able to have their wishes fulfilled at the local level than by some distant and oblivious (though well meaning) bureaucracy.  In simplest form, our national government should provide roads, national defense, currency, and international relations.  Perhaps now is a good time to look at where we are, where we are headed, and get back to the basics.