Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ending Compulsory Education in Utah

The following  blog post from the blog Senate Site by Senator Aaron Osmond gives some serious food for thought :
A Practical Argument for Ending Compulsory Education in Utah : Renewing Accountability for Parents and Respect for Educators
by Senator Aaron Osmond

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"Before 1890, public education in America was viewed as an opportunity—not a legal obligation. Prior to that time, the parent was primarily responsible for the education of their children. The state provided access to a free education for those that wanted to pursue it. The local teacher was viewed with respect and admiration as a professional to assist a parent in the education of their child.

Then came compulsory education. Our State began requiring that all parents must send their children to public school for fear that some children would not be educated because of an irresponsible parent. Since that day, the proverbial pendulum has swung in the wrong direction.

Some parents completely disengage themselves from their obligation to oversee and ensure the successful education of their children. Some parents act as if the responsibility to educate, and even care for their child, is primarily the responsibility of the public school system. As a result, our teachers and schools have been forced to become surrogate parents, expected to do everything from behavioral counseling, to providing adequate nutrition, to teaching sex education, as well as ensuring full college and career readiness.

Unfortunately, in this system, teachers rarely receive meaningful support or engagement from parents and occasionally face retaliation when they attempt to hold a child accountable for bad behavior or poor academic performance.

On the other hand, actively engaged parents sometimes feel that the public school system, and even some teachers, are insensitive to the unique needs and challenges of their children and are unwilling or unable to give their child the academic attention they need because of an overburdened education system, obligated by law to be all things to all people.

I believe the time has come for us to re-evaluate what we expect of parents and the public education system, as follows:

First, we need to restore the expectation that parents are primarily responsible for the educational success of their own children. That begins with restoring the parental right to decide if and when a child will go to public school. In a country founded on the principles of personal freedom and unalienable rights, no parent should be forced by the government to send their child to school under threat of fines and jail time.

Second, we need to shift the public mindset to recognize that education is a not an obligation, but an opportunity to be treasured and respected. Utah’s constitution requires that we provide the opportunity for a free public education to every child. But public education is not free—it costs taxpayers billions each year. When a parent decides to enroll a child in public school, both the parent and child should agree to meet minimum standards of behavior and academic commitment or face real-life consequences such as repeating a class, a grade, or even expulsion.

Third, we need to stop dictating the number of hours a child must be present in a classroom. Instead of requiring that teachers and students must be in class for 990 hours a year, lets enable our local school boards to determine the best use of a teacher’s time and focus student and parent expectations on educational outcomes such as completing assignments and passage of exams as the measurement of success for the opportunity to progress in public school.

Finally, if a parent decides to keep their child home or to go on a family vacation, it’s the responsibility of that parent to ensure their child completes the assignments and stays current with their class. Similarly, if a child consistently misbehaves, it’s the teacher’s right to send that child home to their parent until he or she is ready to respect and appreciate their opportunity to be educated.

I believe it is time to change how we approach public education in Utah. In my view, we should take a close look at repealing compulsory education."

- Pam

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mercy vs Justice : Immigration Reform

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Mercy cannot rob justice. If it does, it invalidates the law by eventually rendering it inconsequential.

Misdirected compassion is rampant in the immigration debate. Too many advocate “compassion”—setting aside the law-- for families that will be separated, should illegal immigrants be deported from the United States. A recent article in the Provo Daily Herald states that we in Utah Valley “are all about families”. This argument overlooks an important fact: we in Utah Valley have also always been about obeying the law.

Illegal immigrants are just that: illegal. It is true they are people trying to provide for their families and those families will suffer should we, as a nation, finally decide to enforce our own laws. This does not, however, lessen the absolute necessity of a society to abide by its own ethics and act in its own best long-term interest. It is not in the best long-term interest of America to ignore justice and offer wholesale “mercy” to those who have broken the law to come here.

We must not lose sight of the fact that the individuals who made the decision to come here illegally also made the decision to take the risks connected with that decision—the possibility of deportation and family separation, and their effects on loved ones.  As individuals with the right to choose their own actions, they have done so. How, then, have we evolved to a belief that it is our compassionate duty to protect them from the consequences of their choices?

We can see the core issue by drawing a parallel with parenting. Wise parents set sound rules for their children, with rewards for good behavior and consequences for disobedience.  After the rules are established, parents allow children to choose their actions. Through his choices a child earns for himself either the benefits that lead to his place as a sound, contributing member of society or the consequences that limit his opportunities for trust and further responsibility.

What happens if parents disregard their own rules and decide instead, on a consistent basis, to ignore misbehavior and give the rewards, anyway? Children would quickly learn to ignore the rules and expect the benefits, regardless. It is not likely that these unwise actions by parents would encourage children to understand the need for rules and commit to obey them.

As a nation, we have done the same. We set rules, namely the United States Constitution. According to our rules you can come to our country through a set procedure, become a citizen, and reap the prosperity available to all citizens. Under these circumstances, we welcome you, your talents and skills, and trust that you will be an honest, contributing member of our society because you chose to abide by the law.

 Yet misguided proponents of amnesty support setting aside the law because consequences for lawbreaking will cause problems for families. It is not our collective, constitutional responsibility to erase the pain of illegality and remove the effects of disobedience. That is an individual duty, based on regret for wrongdoing and a decision to abide by the law in future. It is our responsibility to uphold and enforce existing law. By doing so, we show genuine compassion--we create a culture where citizens are safe under the umbrella of fair laws fairly and uniformly enforced; a culture that upholds what is legal (right) and punishes what is illegal (wrong). Within that framework, individuals and nations genuinely flourish long term.

How can a nation that rewards and condones lawbreakers hope to create law-abiding citizens from those it excuses? Do we really believe individual circumstances justify ignoring our laws? How can we find security and prosperity for all Americans by the wholesale abdication of law, not to mention common sense? Finally, how is it fair to those who keep the law to award benefits to the lawless?

Those whose myopic fixation on mercy drives them to advocate amnesty for all illegal immigrants have misunderstood the basic concept of mercy. Scripturally, mercy is granted on a case by case basis to those who feel remorse for wrongdoing. That is the only situation under which it is granted. The mercy we propose to grant through national amnesty to illegal immigrants is to be awarded wholesale, without regard to the individual’s regret for lawbreaking. That is not mercy; it is legal abdication. Either we keep the law or we don’t. If we don’t, we ultimately become an unfair society with the inevitable anarchy and tyranny unequal law always becomes.

Only one set of rules governs a moral universe. What is true for us as parents is true for us as citizens.  Either we decide the law is relevant and govern our actions accordingly or we decide that law is expendable when inconvenient and ultimately become lawless. As a nation we can demonstrate the moral courage to uphold the system of law designated in our national charter. While we feel deep compassion for those who will suffer the consequences of their actions, let us not make the mistake of believing it is our responsibility to spare them those consequences. Mercy cannot trump justice. If it does, it ultimately invites injustice.

- Pam

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

EMP : Future Threat in a Vulnerable World

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The nation and the world face a potentially catastrophic threat from a future EMP: a massive, unpredictable pulse of electromagnetic energy. While we have surge protectors for minor surges, the great worry concerns a major surge that would "fry" sensitive electronic equipment, shutting down our computer driven world. A future certainty in a natural world, a massive EMP could leave us without electrical energy for weeks or years. This is unfathomable, but possible.

While EMPs are natural events, they can also be manmade, either as a deliberately directed force or as a high altitude nuclear EMP to disable political enemies. Added to the threats of chemical weapons, long range attacks, invasions, terrorism, and political subversion that require our defensive energies, the threat of an EMP strike by an aggressor demands attention.

What would happen if one of these inevitable massive solar flares occurred?  Our modern world would stall and stop. Computer driven cars would coast to a halt, left to decorate abandoned freeways until power was restored. Computer driven gas pumps would no longer dispense fuel. Food production, heavily oil dependent, would grind to a halt, as oil supplies are computer driven. Grocery shelves would be bare, due to computer driven delivery systems. Medical activities, from records access to lifesaving equipment to pharmaceutical manufactures, would cease. Bank computers would no longer dispense money and national commerce would fail. Most companies would shut their doors; fast food restaurants would have nothing to offer. Electronically driven emergency services, badly needed in a crisis, would be sidelined. Homes would be dark, either freezing or sweltering, with bare cupboards and no sewer or running water—all driven electronically.

In short, civilization would crash. The thoughts are frightening. We are, to an extent, victims of our technological sophistication and scientific advancement. Left long term without power, the American people would face starvation and the unprotected force of the elements. If an artificially engineered EMP attack was directed just at the United States, we could find ourselves with massive needs for foreign assistance which could have dire political effects on our national sovereignty.

The technology exists to protect ourselves from EMP events. Republicans in the U.S. House, led by Trent Franks, R-AZ., are proposing legislation, called the SHIELD Act, to protect the vulnerable U.S. electrical grid from an attack. This legislation would harden the grid, ensuring that it can be brought back after an EMP, thus protecting vital hardware for critical infrastructure. The act gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority to develop standards on this matter but would not preclude industry from developing its own.

It is essential that the entire grid be hardened. If it is not uniformly resilient, cascading effects from unprotected entities would initiate rolling blackouts and massive outages. The federal government has refused to make potential EMPs a priority. States need to take up the banner and act. Maine has passed legislation ordering the hardening of its grid, the first state in the Union to do so.

Knowledgeable sources believe an EMP event is the greatest national security threat facing the United States today. While military systems have been hardened, they depend on the national power grid, which is not hardened. This would make it difficult to respond in the event of an attack.

As an aside, this potential for an EMP event spotlights the flexibility of our Constitution. While the Constitution does not provide for events such as an EMP, unknown in 1787, it assigns responsibility to protect national interests. Article 1:8:18 empowers Congress to pass laws necessary to carry out the duties of the federal government. Because an EMP would affect every responsibility assigned to Congress, the Constitution provides for congressional involvement, answering critics who declare that our Constitution is outdated for a modern world.

- Pam

Monday, July 8, 2013

The County Sheriff : Protection from Federal Abuse

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You have a friend in your county sheriff—a source of protection from federal control. He has the power, authority, and duty to protect you from oppressive government. That is his job. He is your last line of defense from federal abuse.
America has become a battleground. On one side are those who want control: of our property, our resources, our finances, our thoughts and our lives. On the other side are those who demand freedom of choice and action, the right to keep what we earn, and the right to self-protection. Those who want control offer us custodial care in return for their control; given, of course, on their terms. Those who demand freedom aspire to prosperity and the inevitable risks entailed in achieving it. The two do not mix; we will have one or the other, but they do not cohabitate. America’s soul is at stake, and it hesitates on the cutting edge of a ponderous decision.
Thomas Jefferson said it well: “When all government shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.” Constitutional directives created a great protector for citizens. The county sheriff is the elected (yes, chosen by the people and thus accountable to the people) agent of assistance in our battle for individual rights. Although he is part of the executive branch of government, he is our protector. He doesn’t have to abide by federal regulations if they abuse his “bosses”, the people of his county. Federal agents are required to submit to his authority. He acts independent of all but the people who put him in office and the law of the Constitution.
We mainly have Sheriff Richard Mack to thank for the clarification and understanding of this liberty principle. He took the federal government to the Supreme Court to prove that it did not have the authority to commandeer state and county officers to do its bidding. The legislation in question was the Brady Bill, passed in 1994 by Congress under President Bill Clinton. The Brady Bill required sheriffs to enforce unconstitutional federal gun control measures in their counties. No funding was provided, so the sheriff’s department had to pay the bills, and if he failed in his imposed duties he was subject to arrest under the terms of the bill. Thus, a sheriff was required, under penalty of prosecution, to enforce an unconstitutional bill at his own expense.
Sheriff Mack declares unequivocally that a sheriff has “the authority, the power, and the duty to be the ultimate check and balance for the American citizenry in (his) county and to defend them against all local and federal criminals.” It falls to the sheriff to have the “guts and dedication to tell the feds that we will no longer tolerate their intervention, control, meddling, mandates, or criminal behavior”. That is clear-cut, simple, and direct. In means the sheriff is in charge.
His first duty is protection of your liberty—your land, water, food, air, crops, guns and children. Corporations, bureaucracies, and even the IRS must yield to his authority within his jurisdictional area. He is the executor of the law—the Constitution of the United States, to which he pledged his allegiance in a sacred oath.
Some sheriffs don’t realize the extent of their authority. Some, sadly, back down before the power of the national government and its agents. But if your county sheriff will stand true to his oath and serve the rights of his bosses—you, the people—he is your “line in the sand” against encroachment.
Get to know your local county sheriff. Introduce him to your children. Tell him what you expect of him and reward his good efforts with recognition. He is your friend and benefactor.
- Pam


Friday, July 5, 2013

Federal Money : Seducing the People

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A few centuries ago Elizabeth Barrett Browning penned the words: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” With scorn, we can adapt her sonnet to our federal government and its profligate spending: “How do I seduce thee? Let me count the ways.”
There seems to be no end to the methods employed by government to enforce power plays over cowering states and apathetic citizenry. One of the most effective tools of federal manipulation is the treasury—giving funds to those who “obey” and withholding funds from those who don’t. Like obstinate children, those who do not comply with federal demands don’t “get the goods”.
Our Founders intended that money spent by the general government benefit all the people equally. Congress was to have power to provide for the general welfare of the United States. Thomas Jefferson said this clause limited the power of taxation; Alexander Hamilton contended that it granted government spending power. Over time, Hamilton’s philosophy won out. Today the federal government squirts money like water from an untamed fire hose. Over time, with substantial help from the Supreme Court, we now have spending on steroids.
It began with national parks. The Constitution allowed for federal purchase of state lands only for forts, magazines, dockyards, arsenals and such. Undeterred, in 1896 the feds began setting lands aside for national parks, sans constitutional authority to do so. Today they don’t even bother to pay for federal lands, they just confiscate them under the powers of the 1906 Antiquities Act, as was done with Utah’s Escalante Staircase.
Then came the Butler case in 1836 to ordain the federal government with power to spend at will—so long as it was in the general welfare of the country, of course. “General welfare” and “country” (in other words, all of us) were undefined—left to federal interpretation. This decision, alone, destroyed the concept of limited government. Partnered with the 16th Amendment, passed a few decades before, which allowed the federal pilfering of individual pockets for funds, the race to “buy” the American way of life was off and running.
Today taxpayer money funds turtle crossings, camps to instill socialism in teenagers, and empty commuter rail cars. It bankrolls questionable companies that go bankrupt, subverted funds for the desperately poor in foreign nations, and gives guns to rebels that use them against us. Public funds are used to force compliance in areas as diverse as education, banking, land use, and transportation.
The feds follow a patently unconstitutional pattern. Money offered to states is available only through compliance with federal “guidelines”. State governments weakened by feeding at the federal trough yield to the seduction of “free” money. Obama introduced a new twist: free money for a few years, then vicious second stage requirements a few years later that throw states under the economic and regulatory bus. Examples can be found in new federal legislation on education, such as Common Core. In addition, “voluntary” programs become compulsory: “Comply or we take your federal funds from another program”. Strong, independent states expire; instead, they comply with unconstitutional federal bribery, acting against their better judgment and self interest, to get the “goodies”. Secondary requirements have now driven many states into desperate economic territory. The feds take our money through taxes, then use it to force us to do what we don’t want to do. In the end, we victimize ourselves.
The short-term answer to this dilemma rests with states: stand up to the bully and fund your own projects. Federal money means federal control. It’s like going to college: pay your own way and make your own decisions.
The long term answer is a return to constitutional principles of strong states, a firmly limited federal government, and ethical, hard-working citizens who get to keep their pay.
- Pam

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Nullification by the United States : Unconstitutional?

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States are getting fed up. Their rights are being mowed down by the federal government. One at a time, each in its own way, the states are standing up to government abuse, saying to the feds: "You are meddling where you have no right to be. I am reclaiming my authority; keep your hands out of my business.

They have every possible right to do so; in fact, they have the responsibility to stand up to illegality.

The Constitution puts states or individual citizens in charge of most everything --- their land, children, health, and checking accounts; their safety, religious activities, and education. These rights are woven into every clause of our national birth certificate. Fearful of misunderstanding, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, reiterated and locked our rights in place. The last of those ten amendments reads: "The powers not delegated to the United States (the federal government) by the  Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to the people." In other words, "If we didn't specifically give you, the federal government, the authority to do that, you can't do it."

Some, even those who profess constitutional scholarship, miss the point. The deride the states, saying the supremacy clause in the Constitution puts federal laws superior to state laws. This is true, unless (drum roll, please) the laws passed by the federal government are illegal. Illegal federal laws - those that violate the 10th Amendment to the Constitution - do not stand supreme over the states. They have no right to exist as laws precisely because they violate the law. If this were not so, our law would say that only states were required to abide by law; the federal government was exempt from it. What a farce that would be - a federal government thrashing about wildly, snatching anything it wished, like a spoiled child taking from everyone. (Hmmm --- this sounds familiar.)

The Constitution gives only 6 powers to the executive branch of government and 20 powers to Congress. Anything beyond those 26 powers comes from a federal government elbowing its way into the party to hog all the power and glory. And what a hot fest it has been! The president now has thousands of duties over 200 major bureaucracies. Our no prolific Congress passes volumes of laws and regulations, the overwhelming majority of which it has no authority to pass.

Americans, unfortunately, have tolerated this far too long. We have rolled our eyes, complained profusely, and written an occasional letter to our congressional representatives. Little has changed.

Now it's getting serious. The health care bill will impose highway robbery on most of us. The right to own weapons to protect ourselves is under attack, as are our rights to self-determined worship. The IRS is corrupt and irresponsible, and our privacy has been decimated by subversive federal government. Environmental laws block our access to public lands and dictate use of personal property. The economy is headed off the cliff and no one seems able to prevent the coming train wreck. The schools are preparatory hotbeds of socialism, turning us into "sheeple". New federal scandals erupt weekly. The 6000 year old pattern of marriage and its protection of our children is being waylaid, and those who have studied the proposed immigration bill tell us it could finish us off.

One would think it's high time the states stood up to the federal bully.

- Pam