Friday, December 28, 2012

Gifts …

Gifts smI taught a lesson last Sunday. The assigned source for the discussion was a talk given by Pres. Henry B. Eyring entitled, “Help Them Aim High”. From the title of his talk you might be wondering how I jumped to gifts, I’ll ask for an indulgence as I review, what was for me, a great lesson; not because of anything I said but rather for where the class took the lesson.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

So You Think You Know The 80–20 Rule?

man frustratedDo you want to motivate others to change behavior? Are you frustrated that your children, students, employees … aren’t moved to action by your crystal clear messages. Perhaps there is a lesson in the following 80-20 story found in “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard”, by Chip and Dan Heath:

Friday, November 30, 2012

Should Congress Delegate Its Authority to Increase the National Debt Ceiling?

John MarshallThere are Supreme court rulings that support as well as oppose allowing Congress to delegate a broad range of its law-making power to bureaucracies within the Executive branch. The Supreme Court stated in US v. Shreveport Grain and Elevator Co., “That the legislative power of Congress cannot be delegated is, of course, clear. But Congress may declare its will, and, after fixing a primary standard, devolve upon administrative officers the "power to fill up the details" by prescribing administrative rules and regulations.” In 1825 Chief Justice John Marshall stated in his opinion in Wayman v. Southard, that Congress may not delegate powers that “are strictly and exclusively legislative.

Monday, November 26, 2012

William George Jordan Shares His Secret for Creating Analogies

William George Jordan created a lecture series entitled Mental Training: By Analysis, Law, & Analogy in the early 1890’s. The objective of these was to improve the ability of students to digest and utilize information.

In 1907 he published a pamphlet entitled Mental Training: A Remedy for “Education” which included a list of his twelve lectures along with a short summary of each. His view on education can be summed up in one short sentence; rather than simply feed children facts we should focus on teaching them how to think. In Mental Training shares his proposed methods for giving students the tools the need to digest and use information.

I’ve always been amazed by Jordan’s ability to teach using analogies drawn from a vast array of historical events, everyday objects, machinery … . He shares the “secret” to developing this skill as he describes an experience with a student of his lectures:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"If God be for us who can be against us." The Miracle of 1746

We read in the Old Testament of the many times God intervened in the affairs of man. From the escape of the Israelites from Egypt to the fall of Jericho, miracles seem to have been almost a daily occurrence. Why then did the Israelites repeatedly turn their back on the Lord? Good question, perhaps they simply forgot or were able to rationalize the miracles away. Many were the miracles associated with the founding of our country. These have been largely lost and are no longer to be found in today’s history books. On a day which we celebrate gratitude I would like to share one of my favorite “miracles”. One that that was celebrated for years and for which Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a ballad about over 130 years after the incident.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Favorite William George Jordan Quotes

William George Jordan - 1910-08 - Americana One of my favorite authors is William George Jordan. What I love about his writing is his ability to paint pictures with words and then use them to teach principles. You can find a quotable quote in nearly every paragraph he writes. Below are some of my favorites (I’ll be adding to this list over time).  If you are preparing a speech and are looking for insightful quotes on human nature Jordan has some great ones. Links to all of WGJ’s books can be found in my post “Books by William George Jordan.”

  • "Let us conceive of gratitude in its largest, most beautiful sense, that if we receive any kindness we are debtor, not merely to one man, but to the whole world. As we are each day indebted to thousands for the comforts, joys, consolations, and blessings of life, let us realize that it is only by kindness to all that we can begin to repay the debt to one [and] begin to make gratitude the atmosphere of all our living and a constant expression in outward acts, rather than in mere thoughts."
    —The Power of Truth

Friday, November 16, 2012

Can Communities Enact Sunday Closing Ordinances? A Postscript.

First of all I want to thank those of my friends who supported changing our Sunday closing policy, because it challenged me to research my initial position. I would also like to thank those who referred to me and other supporters as “idiotic fairy tale worshippers”, “blatant hypocrites”, “tyrants”, “religious bullies”, “liars”, having “libido dominandi [the will to power, the desire to dominate, the lust for government] … for providing the ongoing motivation to continue my research and study the issue.

The result of my research and study (see my earlier posts on Sunday closing for detailed information and sources) led me to the conclusion that while cities, counties and states may enact legislation that supports either side of the question, choosing to support as a common day of rest a great decision. Here’s why:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bright Spots

Switch by Chip and Dan HeathIn Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, authors Chip and Dan Heath share the story of Jerry Sternin (1938-2008) who in 1990, while working for Save the Children, was asked to open an office in Vietnam and fight malnutrition. He was told by the Vietnamese government that he had six months to make a difference. Note, in 1990 about 65 percent of all Vietnamese children under the age of five suffered from malnutrition.

Jerry had researched malnutrition in Vietnam. The conventional wisdom was that the causes were poor sanitation, lack of access to clean water, and ignorance of the rural villagers. From Jerry's point of view this information was “True But Useless”, as there was little he could do in six months to remedy those issues, especially with almost no budget.

Fast forward six months and Jerry had improved the health of over 60 percent of the children in 14 villages. Over time what he did reached 2.2 million Vietnamese people in 265 villages. He accomplished this without resolving the key issues mentioned above and with very limited financial resources.

How was that accomplished on a shoestring budget?

Jerry Sternin in Vietnam, 1991According to Jerry “It's easier to act your way into a new way of thinking, than to think your way into a new way of acting.” Jerry visited a limited number of villages and assessed the health of the children in each one. He then analyzed the information he collected, found the “bright spots” (healthy children among the very poor), studied what the mothers of those children did differently, then shined a light on their practices and let the villagers help each other modify their behaviors.

What were the behaviors?

  • Bright-spot moms fed their children four times instead of twice a day. In total they did not give their children more food they just spread it out over the course of the day (malnourished children could only process a limited amount of food at one time).
  • These moms were actively involved in feeding their children. Rather than just having them eat out of a communal bowl, these mothers encouraged their children to eat and hand-fed them if necessary, even when the children were not feeling well and did not want to eat.
  • Bright-spot moms also added bits of crab and shrimp from the rice paddies to the rice as well as sweet potato greens (considered a low class food).
  • He then worked with the villagers and "designed a program in which fifty malnourished families, in groups of ten, would meet at a hut each day and prepare food. These families were required to bring shrimp, crabs, and sweet-potato greens. The mothers washed their hands with soap and cooked the meal together."

The problem was solved using the local wisdom of the village. No earth shattering discoveries taking years of research were needed nor were millions of dollars required to change a host of social and infrastructural issues. Simply looking for small pockets of success, in the otherwise dismal world of children's health in rural Vietnam; then shining a light on it.

Don't we sometimes look at our environment, whether it be work, civic, or home, and feel overwhelmed by the myriad of apparent obstacles to achieve success. Some of these are ones we have little control over and would seemingly require more time and money than we have to overcome. However, if we are willing to look for them, it is always possible to find small areas of success that we can build on.

Links:

Monday, November 12, 2012

If thy brother hast ought against thee

Sermon on the MountWe covered Christ’s teaching of the “Sermon on the Mount” in Sunday School last week. As I was preparing the lesson I kept being drawn to two verses in particular—Matt 5:23-24  which read:

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought [anything] against thee;

24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Highland Prop 6 Results and Comments

Here are the results as Tuesday night November 6, 2012:

  • For 2,993 (45.94%)
  • Against 3,522 (54.06%)

Although there may be additional adjustments due to absentee and/or provisional ballots we can be fairly sure that the end result will stand.

Note, here’s the final count dated 20 November 2012. To see a signed copy of the Official Certification of the Highland City Municipal Election of November 8, 2012 click here.

Highland Prop 6 Final Results - Click to go to Utah County site

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why I drive PAST the stores in my city to shop in Highland

Here’s an email that was sent last night by a resident of Cedar Hills who shops in Highland because of our Sunday closing policy and she is evidently not the only one.

Dear friends,

vote against prop 6I cannot vote on Prop 6 because I do not live in Highland but I wish that I could because I am certainly in favor of SUNDAY CLOSURE and would vote AGAINST proposition 6.  Whenever possible I drive past the McDonalds, Harts and Wal-Mart in Cedar Hills to shop in Highland because I love to support stores that are closed on Sundays.   I also go to Highland instead of American Fork or Pleasant Grove.  I would rather have my money go to your city even more than my own.  I also know that I am not the only one who feels this way.  So this is another issue to consider when thinking about your tax dollars--mine and others will stay in Cedar Hills/AF/PG if your stores open on Sundays.  

Thank you for your consideration.  Feel free to forward onto others,

Julie Sessions

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sunday Closing: My Final Thoughts

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time since March of this year researching “Blue Laws”, dialoging with supporters and detractors. I’ve found clear and overwhelming support for Sunday closure laws from any virtually any perspective you wish do choose. No need for logical gymnastics, no need to parse words and stretch points, simple clear common sense support from many, many sources.

Residents of Highland can freely choose to support or oppose the change to Sunday opening based on what they feel will be best for the community. We have the freedom to make that choice. Business rights do not trump the rights of residents. The claim if you don’t support Sunday opening you oppose “liberty” is not supported well by the Constitution, the Founders, or the sources they used in framing the Constitution.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fiscal Conservatives should vote AGAINST Prop 6 in Highland by Tara Tarbet

The other side notes that Smith's Marketplace generates over $400K in annual sales tax revenue, Wal-Mart produces over $300K. What they choose NOT to mention is that Lehi and Cedar Hills only receive 50% of that revenue. The rest is redistributed by the state to municipalities based on each municipality's population. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

“Blue Law” Gold by Mark Beesley

highland-utahMark Beesley submitted the a letter to the SL Tribune and then recorded a message regarding proposition 6. Mark is one of many non-LDS members of our community who share the view that we should maintain our current Sunday closing policy. He said in an email that “changing the policy is simply bad economics for the vast majority of residents. If Highland homogenizes itself into another Lehi, American Fork or Orem our community will be less attractive and property values will decrease. The introduction of more tired national chains that can only survive on a 7-day model will eliminate the diversity, charm and value of locally-owned businesses that truly cater to local tastes. I believe it makes sense to reject Proposition 6.”

Here is his recording and a copy of the letter he submitted to the Tribune:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Moral Foundation for Sunday Closure Laws by Ben Austin

I thought Ben Austin’s summary on Sunday Closure laws from a moral perspective was excellent. He agreed to allow me to post it on my site. It is well worth a few minutes of your time to read. Thanks Ben.


INTRODUCTION

I wish to warn you that the following essay is somewhat lengthy. Many of you will feel that I could have covered each point much more quickly. I acknowledge this, but I chose to develop the ideas slowly and carefully because I wanted to be sure I was thorough. You will also find that Sunday closure is not even mentioned until the very end, but the earlier portions are necessary because they set up the framework for understanding blue laws. These sections are also valuable because they set the stage for discussing other political debates as well, such as the definition of marriage (a topic which I plan to address with my next treatise). I know that the first part of this paper is very philosophical and rather abstract. I do not consider myself an expert in philosophy, but I've tried to model my arguments using C.S. Lewis' writings as an example, so hopefully it will all make sense.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday Closure Thoughts by Kristen Chevrier

Some thoughts on Sunday closure (please share this with your friends in Highland):

I do not see the push to abolish Sunday closing laws as a push toward freedom. I see it as just another attempt to homogenize and to stifle the ability of a community to set its own standards.

Please consider the following:

An Alternative Solution for Highland's Revenue Problem that Increases Freedom by TJ Abbott

Here’s a great tongue in cheek solution (at least I think it is:) to Highland’s revenue problems that could even be “better” than eliminating the common day of rest which has always been part of Highland but is now viewed by some as limiting our freedom. Thank you TJ for this brilliant proposal.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sunday Business Opening by Don Ruzicka

Don wrote the following open letter to Highland residents regarding Prop 6 which is on the ballot this election cycle. I thought I’d share it with you.

For many years Highland has had an ordinance that does not allow businesses to be open on Sunday. With a few exceptions the vast majority of businesses everywhere already close on Sunday simply because they too need a day of rest and because of the reality that comparatively little shopping occurs on Sunday. Other businesses came to operate here and serve us knowing they could not be open on Sunday. As a result Highland has uniquely enjoyed a very peaceful and relaxed atmosphere on Sundays which has always been an important part of its charm and desirability. It’s nice to be able to take a leisurely drive to visit relatives or friends or just enjoy the abundant beauty that we are surrounded by in Highland without having to contend with the congestion and frenetic pace of every other day. It is truly one of the most beautiful and desirable places to live anywhere. IT’S WHY MOST OF US CHOSE TO LIVE HERE!

Lessons from a Sea Shell

I teach a Sunday School class for 17 and 18 year olds. Each Sunday I bring a random object and ask the class members to find a lesson in it. I reserve time at the end of the lesson to let the class share their thoughts.

See shell from IndiaLast Sunday I brought in a sea shell I picked up on a recent business trip to India. I showed them the shell at the beginning of the lesson and asked them to guess where I got it. Of course, no one guessed and they were surprised to learn it was from India. I then proceeded with my lesson.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Can Communities Enact Sunday Closing Ordinances–Part II

A more than sufficient number of signatures have been affixed to a referendum that will put a recent Highland City ordinance, lifting a restrictions on Sunday business operations, on the ballot this November (1,893 were validated versus the required 889). So now let the debate begin. See Part I for background info or click here to see a list of all posts on this subject from multiple Highland residents. If you want a good chuckle read “An Alternative Solution For Highland’s Revenue Problem that Increases Freedom”.

Well actually is has already begun. Local newspapers have published several articles, Facebook and blog posts have been written with a number of comments and replies (1). I’ve found that opponents to Sunday restrictions fit one or more of the following categories:

  • Strict libertarians who are opposed to most if not all restrictions on property rights.
  • Those who, although they may value a common day of rest, do not wish to “impose” that value on others.
  • Those who rebel at the thought of religious underpinnings to any law or ordinance. They may value a common day of rest but don’t want to feel like they are being told what to do.
  • Those who have no interest in a common day of rest or those who value the potential tax revenue from businesses more than a common day of rest.

Those that support Sunday restrictions include:

  • Those who value a common day of rest and believe it benefits the community as a whole.
  • Those who want to limit business growth in our small community.

Below are three of the most frequent comments by opponents of Sunday restrictions on business. They represent valid points of views or questions. My responses to each follows:

  1. While I personally don’t shop on the Sabbath I don’t want to impose my values on others.

    First of all, Highland is not forcing any resident to not shop on Sundays. Although this issue does coincide with a religious value it is really about the community saying we want a break from 7x24 commercialism, want a day set aside where they have a reduced work obligation and want to maintain our unique environment (at least as it relates to most other nearby towns).

    Second, society and government do impose values on citizens every day. Our entire criminal code is based on values and much of our civil code as well. For example, should lying really be a crime? Shouldn’t the listener bear an obligation to determine the truth of a statement? Of course I am being facetious but isn’t it a fair question to ask. Punishing liars imposes the value of honesty on others and horror or horrors lying violates one of the 10 commandments. Should we therefore be opposed to perjury and truth in advertising regulations because they are an attempt by the government to promote religious values?

    If a majority of the residents of a community value a common day of rest, which benefits include a reduced work obligation on the part residents who work there and an increased opportunity to spend time with family and friends and attend church, why should they give up these benefits? Should they be forced to strike down an ordinance which supports their values because a few may be “offended.” Residents who wish to shop have plenty of nearby choices. 

    Lastly, the claim that we are imposing the religious values of the majority LDS community is in reality demeaning to both LDS and non-LDS residents. It implies that members of the LDS faith arrogantly believe they are somehow the only people who really believe in the 10 commandments. It also suggests that you have to be a member of a religion or any religion to value Sunday closing, which is demonstrably not the case. A majority of people that I know in Highland who are not LDS support the Sunday closing restriction for variety of reasons (the same in fact as their LDS neighbors); they would prefer that Highland remain a largely bedroom community, they believe the current policy enhances the value of their property, they like the increased opportunity they have to spend time with their children on Sunday because their youth have don’t have to work on Sundays if they have a local job, they believe that the Sunday closing policy helps small businesses compete with large national ones … . 

  2. Government shouldn’t regulate when a business can be open. Let the free market decide.

    For me, this is the most compelling argument against Sunday restrictions. There are however some problems with it; assuming you believe that cities can enforce some regulations with respect to businesses (what kind, when, how loud, restrictions on signage … ).

    The first issue is that while a business may be located in a city its’ customers do not necessarily reside in the same city. If you delegate a decision about a business to the free market (its customers) then you have taken the decision out of the hands of residents who would be impacted and given it to patrons who would not necessarily be impacted by the business location. To make the point let’s say a strip club were to open in Highland. While most residents would not patronize it and do not want it in their city, the club is a business success because there are no other similar establishments within 25 miles and the club is able to draw customers from a wide area. So the club flourishes and endures in spite of the will of the residents.

    Most people would not argue against restrictions on the hours of operation for a business located adjacent to a residential area if it generated a lot of noise and therefore would disturb residents during normal sleeping hours (e.g. must be closed 12 AM to 6 AM). If a majority of the residents of Highland value the benefits the community receives by having a common day of rest, is accommodating them really much different from catering to residents who want peace and quiet at night? Both are restrictions on hours of operation.

    To my knowledge, all businesses operating under the current Sunday restriction located here knowing about them (prior to the enactment of the ordinance restricting business operations on Sunday, retail businesses were subject to conditional use constraints that included hours of operation and closing on Sundays);  in some cases they located here because of them. Essentially, they freely signed a contract with the city (i.e. the residents) agreeing to the conditions of operation to get a valid business license. Why should the residents or businesses be forced to abrogate this contract? Note, Kohler’s is a local grocery store chain that is closed on Sunday’s regardless of location.

    In the case of some businesses their franchise agreements will force them to open on Sunday if the Sunday restriction is eliminated. In these cases it does not matter if opening on Sunday is profitable or whether the owner wishes to remain closed on Sunday – the business will be required to open.

    You may also want to read Blackstone’s comments on entering a society and liberty. Here is a relevant excerpt from his commentaries “But every man, when he enters into society, gives up a part of his natural liberty, as the price of so valuable a purchase; and, in consideration of receiving the advantages of mutual commerce, obliges himself to conform to those laws which the community has thought proper to establish”. Note, the surrounding text is interesting as well. Click on the quote to see it in full context. John Locke made a similar point in a work entitled “Two Treatises on Government" pages 297 – 300.

  3. It is not American and therefore must be unconstitutional.

    Let me share a number of points. First of all contrary to popular opinion the Constitution does not contain the phrase “separation of church and state”. The first amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; … .” The intent was to prevent the Federal government from creating or supporting a specific denomination as the national religion as was prevalent in Europe.

    Sunday closing laws enacted by states, counties, and cities are far removed from establishing a religion. Moreover the fact that any law or ordinance coincides with a religious tenet does not mean that there are not secular benefits to the same. In upholding the Constitutionality of ordinances in Maryland that restricted Sunday commerce in an 8 to 1 decision the Supreme court noted among other things that “The present purpose and effect of most of our Sunday Closing Laws is to provide a uniform day of rest for all citizens; and the fact that this day is Sunday, a day of particular significance for the dominant Christian sects, does not bar the State from achieving its secular goals.”

    It is also interesting to note that all 13 colonies had laws restricting Sunday commerce prior to the founding of the United States and that all 13 states maintained Sunday regulations after the Constitution was ratified. The meant that a majority of the legislatures of each state and the governor of each state approved of Sunday restrictions. Some of these men were considered Founding Fathers and/or fought for liberty in the Revolutionary War.

    For example, In 1786 Virginia enacted two pieces of legislation. Both were drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1779 and introduced by James Madison. The first was entitled “An Act for Establishing Religious Freedom”. It essentially forbade the state from using tax money to fund religious teachers. The second was, “A Bill for Punishing Disturbers of Religious Workshop and  Sabbath Breakers.”(2). In 1799 Virginia reviewed its laws to ensure that they were consistent with the Act for Establishing Religious Freedom and the first amendment. Although some laws were repealed in the process the Sabbath restrictions remained in place. 

  4. The City will benefit through increased tax revenues because of increased business activity.

For those who do not value a common day of rest this is a valid issue. To those who do value a common day of rest but buy into this argument I would simply ask do your values really have a price? Studies have been done which “suggest that Sunday closing laws do not affect the overall level of retail activity in a region in a significant manner." See “Blue laws Impact on regional retail activity”, Douglas W. McNeil & Shirley S. Yu.

With respect to Highland specifically, the city did no studies to determine the impact on revenue (and expenses) before the city council repealed the Sunday closing restriction. They did however acknowledge that they were not aware of any retail businesses would open a Highland store should the Sunday restriction be lifted. Thus, what can be said with certainty is that there will be no meaningful short-term impact to city revenues.

I believe that the Sunday restrictions previously in place in Highland support an important shared community value. A common day of rest for the community is beneficial to individuals and families. Lest anyone think this is somehow the unique thinking of a backwards community one need only look to Europe where most countries have restrictions on Sunday business operations. Even in the US there are counties and cities where the restriction still exists. For example, Bergen County New Jersey; where a Sunday restriction on retail remains in place today. It is home to the only IKEA in the nation that is closed on Sundays (see Bergen; Sunday-Closing Law Retained in New Jersey County). The Sunday restriction was the subject of a referendum in 1993.

In Bergen County the debate was “largely about convenience and competitiveness, on the one hand, and the maintenance of suburban tranquility, on the other. The thought of clogging major highways and local streets for a second weekend shopping day has always galvanized strong opposition here.

It was the county's largest newspaper, The Record, and several major merchants, including Bradlee's and the Riverside Square mall in Hackensack, that initiated the repeal drive in the summer.

The newspaper expected to benefit from fresh advertising revenue, and the merchants hoped to attract the Sunday business that now goes to malls in Rockland County, N.Y., and Passaic, Hudson and Essex Counties in New Jersey.

But store owners in the smaller Main Street shopping districts around the county were concerned that a seventh day of mall shopping would force them to open, too, putting pressure on tiny sales staffs and adding more in overhead than in profit.”  —New York Times, 3 Nov 1993.

Of note, Paramus, a community in the county that is home to 5 of Bergen county’s biggest malls has its own Sunday closing ordinance in place on top of the county’s. It is a community not too dissimilar to Highland in size, income and home price but clearly a community that is not dominated by members of the LDS faith.

  • Population: Paramus 26,342, Highland 15,523
  • Median income: Paramus $102,278, Highland $93,535
  • Average home cost: $578,499, Highland $455,032

As our nation becomes more and more commercialized it is taking a toll on individuals as families. In a 1999 survey of retail employees SFS/Infratest found the following:

Changes in personal situation of full-time employees because of longer opening hours (%)

Personal Situations Improved Deteriorated
Reconciliation of work and private life 8.9% 46.8%

Time for family life

5.3% 41.7%

Opportunities for leisure time

14.1% 35.2%

Time for further training

4.0% 4.0%

Exhaustion after work

2.9% 30.9%

Relation to customers

18.5% 8.5%

Income

13.5% 2.3%

The same study indicates the following statistics which I found counter-intuitive:

Development of employment in shops with longer opening hours, 1996/9 (%)

No change in employment levels

43%

Additional positions

21%

Fewer positions

36%

Change in retail employment by type of worker 1996/9 (%)

Type of Worker Change in Employment

Full-time

-11.1%

Part-time (liable to social security)

-5.2%

"Marginal" part-time employment

2.5%

Trainees

-2.5%

Owners/family members

-1.3%

Total

-5.8%

This indicates that counter to claims by some supporters of the repeal that opening on Sunday will not necessarily create employment opportunities.

The more I research the stronger my personal conviction that Highland residents have every right and every reason to retain the Sunday closing ordinance. With all the criticism that has been raised in articles and online posts. I wonder when did standing up for a virtue, something that supports faith and family, become a vice. Having a community be allowed set its standards (local control) seems to me to be a freedom for which our Founders fought.

That said I’m appreciative of Dallin H.Oaks counsel from a talk he delivered on September 11, 2011 entitled “Truth and Tolerance”.

“Second, when believers seek to promote their positions in the public square, their methods and their advocacy should always be tolerant of the opinions and positions of those who do not share their beliefs.  We should not add to the extremism that divides our society.”

In closing I’m reminded of these words from George Washington in his inaugural address, “… we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained;.

And these from his farewell address:

GW 1796 Gilbert Stuart“Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion, and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Now do I think that those who disagree with restrictions Sunday business operations by local government are bad, or have ill intent. Certainly not! I have friends in my neighborhood; good moral people whom I respect, that hold this view. They simply draw the line as to where government should act at a different point than I do. Of course, in this case “government” is not some amorphous entity or limited set of people, but the residents of our city that will be drawing the line. Whichever, way it turns out will be what the community wants. Since we have the right to make that choice then we should all respect that decision when it comes.

Note, I will likely be revising/updating this a few times before the election in November so if this is of interest please check back from time to time.

Additional Sources of Information:

Additional LDS Sources

  • Israel, Israel, God Is Calling”, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Sept 9, 2012, See the sections entitled “Judge Righteous Judgments” and  “Some Issues and Laws Have Eternal Consequences.” For those who watch it rather than read it (I recommend watching it), minute’s 30-48 (especially 40-48) have relevancy, but the entire speech is well worth a listen. His remarks start at minute 13 if you want to skip the intros and choir.
  • Law and Becoming”, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Feb 4, 2011
  • O America, America”, Elder Mark E. Peterson, Nov 1979
  • Truth and Tolerance”, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Sep 11, 2011, Parts IV and V are particularly relevant.
  • The Family: A Proclamation to the World, The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles, Sep 23, 1995. The last paragraph states the following “WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.” Given the prior references that discuss the benefits of a common day of rest and the impact of changing to Sunday opening it is clear to me that a common day of rest is beneficial to families.


Footnotes


Articles from 2012 …

Provo Daily Herald Articles, Editorials and Letters to the Editor:

Deseret News Articles, Editorials and Letters to the Editor:

Salt Lake Tribune Articles, Editorials and Letters to the Editor:

Local Newscasts:

Libertas Institute (libertarian organization)

Text of “A Bill for Punishing Disturbers of Religious Worship and Sabbath Breakers”

This bill was first drafted by Jefferson in 1779 then submitted to the Virginia legislature by James Madison in 1785 and put into law in 1786.

“Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that no officer, for any civil cause, shall arrest any minister of the gospel,(1) licensed according to the rules of his sect, and who shall have taken the oath of fidelity to the commonwealth, while such minister shall be publicly preaching or performing religious worship in any church, chapel, or meeting-house,2 on pain of imprisonment and amercement, at the discretion of a jury, and of making satisfaction to the party so arrested.

“And if any person shall of purpose, maliciously, or contemptuously, disquiet or disturb any congregation assembled in any church, chapel, or meeting-house,(2) or misuse any such minister being there, he may be put under restraint during religious worship, by any Justice present, which Justice, if present, or if none be present, then any Justice before whom proof of the offence shall be made, may cause the offender to find two sureties(3) to be bound by recognizance in a sufficient penalty for his good behavior, and in default thereof shall commit him to prison, there to remain till the next court to be held for the same county; and upon conviction of the said offence before the said court, he shall be further punished by imprisonment and amercement at the discretion of a jury.

“If any person on Sunday shall himself be found labouring at his own or any other trade or calling, or shall employ his apprentices, servants or slaves in labour, or other business, except it be in the ordinary houshold offices of daily necessity, or other work of necessity or charity, he shall forfeit the sum of ten shillings for every such offence, deeming every apprentice, servant, or slave so employed, and every day he shall be so employed as constituting a distinct offence.

Report, p. 59. Text of Act as adopted is in Hening, xii, 336–7.

Bill was presented by Madison 31 Oct. 1785 and on 14 Dec. postponed to next session; at the Oct. 1786 session it was brought up again, amended by both House and Senate, and passed on 27 Nov. (JHD, Oct. 1785, 1828 edn., p. 12–15, 92; same, Oct. 1786, p. 16–17, 49, 52, 64, 127). The Act as adopted and the Bill as proposed agree except as noted below; Act was suspended until 1 July 1787 (Hening, xii, 410–11).

1. The Act reads: “minister of religion.”
2. The Act reads: “or other place of religious worship.”
3. The Act reads: “securities.”

Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, p 555

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Can Communities Enact Sunday Closing Ordinances?

Book cover of The True-Blue Laws of Connecticut and New Haven and the False Blue-Laws Invented by the Rev Samuel PetersAn issue that has come up in our community, Highland, Utah, regarding the a city ordinance that precluded businesses being open on Sunday (these types of laws and ordinances are often referred to as Blue Laws). The issue arose because of a challenge with the city budget. The rationale for removing the restriction was it would help the city attract new businesses thus raising additional sales tax revenues. The city council, after much discussion with the residents, passed an ordinance which eliminates the community day of rest.

Personally, I am opposed to the change but I have respected friends who are supportive of it. While the concept of a shared community day of rest coincides with one of the 10 Commandments, the adoption of Sunday business restrictions is no more “enforced religion” than laws that prohibit stealing, lying (perjury), or killing, each of which are also one of the 10 Commandments.

Before we get into a lengthy discussion on the matter (see Can Communities Enact Sunday Closing Ordinances – Part II?) let’s get some facts on the table:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Fourth of July

Taylor Caldwell (1900-1984) was prolific writer whose works include Pillar of Iron, The Listener, and Captains and the Kings. The following “speech” given by a disabled veteran is found in her book The Sound of Thunder. It is an excellent reminder of what we really celebrate on the 4th.

fireworks-statue-of-liberty“It’s very good to celebrate the Fourth of July with firecrackers and the shooting off of cannon and bonfires and picnics and speeches. It’s nice to go out in rowboats and canoes on the lake, here in the park, and have a holiday. A holiday. I know you people work very hard, most of you twelve hours a day, six days a week. My dad does, too. You deserve a holiday, and pleasure, and the banging of firecrackers. But it shouldn’t be on the Fourth of July. Independence Day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

To Each Generation: A Right and a Responsibility

Mike Bready, a neighbor and fellow state delegate, shared with me his thoughts on the race between Senator Orrin Hatch and Dan Liljenquist.  He sent me the write-up  allowed me to share it on my blog. His insights have value well beyond tomorrow’s primary.. Here it is:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Brief Review of Senator Hatch’s Votes on Unconstitutional Bills by Scott Bradley

imageIn 2006 Scott Bradley ran as the Constitution party’s nominee against Senator Hatch for the U.S. Senator. Note, prior to joining the Constitution Party, Scott was a long-time active member of the Republican party. During his campaign is produced the following short list of votes by Senator Hatch that expand the power of the Federal government beyond its Constitutional bounds. Scott graciously gave me permission to share this with you.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sources of Campaign Donations to Representative Jim Matheson

Representative Jim MathesonI’m adding Jim Matheson to the list of current Utah federal representatives who’s donations I’m analyzing. Below are charts & tables that summarize 2006-2012 campaign contribution data from MapLight (a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that seeks to show the impact of money on politics). I downloaded the data June 14, 2012. 

Individual donors are required to provide addresses to campaigns so it is easy to show the source of funds from a location perspective. For PACs it is difficult because if a PAC is set up by a company with a national or global presence then it is hard to identify a specific location. If on the other hand it is a PAC that represents an industry or cause then donors can come from anywhere in the US. For the PACs I went through the list and identified the ones that I determined had a significant presence in Utah (for corporations I looked up where they had offices or plants) then added a small fudge factor to this total to err on the side of donations from Utah. Note, similar to Hatch donations I did not take the time to research all of them but I did look for those that I thought would have a Utah presence first. Also, I generalized the industries for the PAC contributions (e.g. Pharmaceuticals, Hospitals, Doctors, and Medical Devices are categorized as Healthcare) and added a pie chart to the sources PAC donations by Industry.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sources of Campaign Donations to Representative Jason Chaffetz

Jason_Chaffetz Official PortraitOne of Senator Hatch’s campaign staff asked me to select another candidate for federal office and do an analysis of their campaign donation sources so they could be compared. I thought it was a reasonable suggestions so I decided to use Representative Chaffetz as a comparator to Senator Hatch. As I did for the Senator I tried to err on the side of contributions coming from Utah when there was subjectivity involved.
 
Below are charts & tables that summarize campaign contribution data I downloaded from MapLight (a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that seeks to show the impact of money on politics). The data contains all donations for election cycles 2006-2012. I downloaded the data June 13, 2012. 

Individual donors are required to provide addresses to campaigns so it is easy to show the source of funds from a location perspective. Note, there just a few donations that had no state listed so I assigned them to Utah.
 
For PACs it is difficult because if a is PAC set up by a company with a national or global presence then it is hard to identify a specific location. If on the other hand it is a PAC that represents an industry or cause then donors can come from anywhere in the US. For the PACs I went through the list and identified the ones that had I determined had a significant presence in Utah (for corporations I look up where they had offices or plants) then multiplied their donations by 2 to cover anything I missed to come up with the percentage donated that are Utah related. Note, similar to Hatch donations I did not take the time to research all of them but I did look for those that I thought would have a Utah presence first. Also, I generalized the industries for the PAC contributions (e.g. Pharmaceuticals, Hospitals, Doctors, and Medical Devices are categorized as Healthcare) and added a pie chart to the sources PAC donations by Industry.
 
Aside from the amounts involved there is a stark difference between the mix of donors between Senator Hatch and Representative Chaffetz. Whereas 22% of the individual donor’s to the Senator come from Utah, 69% Chaffetz’s donations come from Utah. The ratio of individual donors to PACs is 55/45 for Senator Hatch and nearly the reverse, 46/54 for Representative Chaffetz. Also, while Jason’s biggest PAC category was Political (mostly conservative groups which isn’t surprising since he is a Tea Party favorite) at 24%, Senator Hatch’s was Healthcare at 30%.

The source file, Chaffetz 2006-2012 Campaign Contributions (Excel 2007), can be downloaded simply by clicking on the aforementioned filename.

Here are the charts and tables:

  Contribution Amounts Percentage
Source   UT   Non-UT   Total     UT   Not UT
Individuals  $     400,264  $     180,097  $     580,361 46% 69% 31%
PACs  $     483,832  $     191,804  $     675,636 54% 72% 28%
Total  $     884,096  $     371,901  $  1,255,997 100% 70% 30%
Jason Chaffetz Campaign Donations 2006-20122006-2012 Campaign Contributions for Jason Chaffetz: PAC vs. Individual 2006-2012 Campaign Contributions for Jason Chaffetz: Location of Individual Donors2006-2012 Campagin Contributions for Jason Chaffetz: PAC Donations by Industry
   2006-2012   
State  Contributions  %
UT  $             400,264 68.97%
CA  $               42,302 7.29%
VA  $               23,159 3.99%
NY  $               18,700 3.22%
FL  $               17,010 2.93%
AZ  $               16,750 2.89%
CO  $                 9,800 1.69%
MD  $                 9,226 1.59%
CT  $                 7,500 1.29%
DC  $                 6,650 1.15%
NV  $                 6,250 1.08%
TX  $                 5,600 0.96%
MA  $                 3,000 0.52%
SC  $                 2,500 0.43%
NM  $                 2,400 0.41%
ID  $                 2,250 0.39%
DE  $                 1,200 0.21%
GA  $                 1,000 0.17%
NJ  $                 1,000 0.17%
PA  $                 1,000 0.17%
MI  $                 1,000 0.17%
OH  $                     500 0.09%
KY  $                     500 0.09%
OK  $                     200 0.03%
MT  $                     200 0.03%
TN  $                     200 0.03%
MN  $                     200 0.03%
Grand Total  $             580,361  

 2006-2012 
Industry  Contributions  %
Political  $             164,126 24.29%
Finance  $             124,243 18.39%
Energy  $               62,500 9.25%
Healthcare  $               60,250 8.92%
Retail  $               53,000 7.84%
Construction  $               29,500 4.37%
Manufacturing  $               26,000 3.85%
Defense  $               26,000 3.85%
Transportation  $               23,000 3.40%
IT  $               19,707 2.92%
Entertainment  $               17,500 2.59%
Agriculture  $               17,500 2.59%
Insurance  $               12,000 1.78%
Communications  $               11,500 1.70%
Real Estate  $               11,000 1.63%
Legal  $                 8,060 1.19%
Misc  $                 5,500 0.81%
Media  $                 4,250 0.63%
Grand Total  $             675,636 100.00%