Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Utah Vouchers Referendum, Yea or Nay?

So what do you Utahns think about the impending voucher referendum? Yea or nay? I think I would be a yea. Please read this persuasive post by Megan McArdle over at Assymetrical Information. She does an excellent job refuting the major anti-voucher arguments. Here's her rebuttal to a common argument I've heard against the Utah voucher bill.

6) There aren't enough private schools. Right. Do you realize that in 1995, not a single iPod had been manufactured? That must mean that the iPod I am currently holding in my hand doesn't actually exist! I'm living a lie . . ."

The fact that there are not now enough private schools to educate kids doesn't mean that there won't be, if we offer to pay private schools to educate kids.

This sort of goes back to my last post on government regulations messing up agriculture. Why are we so afraid of letting people choose something different with their tax dollars? Whose interests are we looking out for? Who will be hurt if 5 or 10 percent more of the kids in Utah choose a private education? I know this is a complex issue and I still need to read through the comments of her readers because I'm sure they contain some good counter-arguments, but in general I prefer to give people more choices than not.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Agriculture in "The Home of the Free"

I have been studying sustainable agriculture fairly intensely the last several months. If you know the way most of the food you eat is produced, you can quickly see how unsustainable and undesirable it can be. I don't have time to go into detail, but the way most of our animals are raised in this country is unsanitary, inhumane and an environmental catastrophe. I'm not an environmentalist, but I do believe in stewardship--and the way we grow a lot of the food in our country is not good stewardship.

The irony of all this is that I'm working on a PhD in plant biology that has prepared me to go work for the ag-biotech companies like Monsanto and Syngenta. These companies are huge cogs in the gears of conventional ag. I'm probably not going to go work for those guys--but I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do instead, although I have LOTS of ideas.

Okay, now to the point of this post. I just finished reading this article by Joel Salatin. Joel is a sustainable ag farmer in Virginia and a real luminary in the movement. I love his books and his philosophy on farming and food. In the article he discusses how government regulations have interefered with just about every step in his development of a profitable and sustainable farm. He can't sell his neighbors farm products at his farm because that would make him a store--which means he needs restrooms, handicapped access, etc. The blame for these idiotic regulations that prevent entrepreneurs from developing alternatives to conventional ag can't be assigned to Democrats or Republicans. The whole system stinks. It makes me want to go out and vote for Ron Paul. I'm tired of the government "protecting" us from our own creativity and ingenuity. The latest regulation that will "protect" everybody is the National Animal Identification System that the USDA is trying to put in place. Essentially, it mandates that farmers label every farm animal in the United States--oh, but if you are a big producer it's easy because your animals are born, raised and slaughtered at one location so you don't have to label every animal. Also, you have to register your farm in a national database and report any movement of an animal off the farm within 24 hours. This is just one more regulation that could cripple small farmers. Anyway, there are lots of "stop the NAIS" websites out there if you want to learn more.

What can you do? We really need to think about where we buy our food and what our food dollars are supporting. We should consider buying our produce through local farmers markets or CSA's and our meat and eggs from local producers. What we don't need are more regulations or new laws--although phasing-out farm subsidies would be a good start. We need to vote with our dollars. That's my first agriculture rant. Don't worry, there will probably be more!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Evangelical Theologian Backs Mitt Romney

Go read this article by an evangelical theologian who has decided to support Mitt Romney. I try not to delve too deeply into politics here because I view The Provonian more as fun among friends than a place to argue about divisive issues--there are plenty of forums for that. (That said, always feel free to share your opinions, political and otherwise.) But I thought the conservatives and Mormons in the audience might find this article to be a good read. Romney supporters should e-mail this to their conservative Christian friends. I'm leaning towards voting for Romney in the primary--and my brother Rich is leaning towards Stephen Colbert. I think Giuliani could do a decent job, but I have more trust in Romney to be a principled and effective leader. I need to read up a little bit more on Fred Thompson. If any of you are really gung-ho for Fred please let me know why.

How do you feel about Mitt? A lot of folks don't find him genuine or say he flip-flops on issues like abortion. I watched a Youtube clip of a radio interview where the host focused on what role Mormonism will play in Romney's candidacy. When they go off the air the cameras keep rolling (that's at about 10:30 in the clip) and you really get to see the real Mitt. I was impressed. He seemed like a genuine person who can be articulate and firm without being disrespectful--and he shot down the guy's crazy Constitutional theories pretty nicely. Regarding flip-flopping, my guess is that if a pro-life politician shifted to a more pro-choice stance the media would applaud the move as personal enlightenment rather than political pandering.

What are Mitt's pluses and minuses. Has he won your vote? Or are you still shopping? Which Democratic candidate is your favorite?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Check Out This Sweet Post

I stumbled upon this awesome post over at Mormon Mommy Wars. It has a bunch of "funny things that happened at church" with an emphasis on crazy fast and testimony moments. Give it a looksee.

Our ward in Provo was always pretty calm. I don't remember any real crazies at church. One time one of the priests was giving the closing prayer in sacrament meeting and started giving the sacrament prayer instead. As a missionary in South Korea I somehow avoided having too many weird experiences at church. We never had anyone crazy wander in, although we did have an unofficial janitor who lived in the basement of the church. One night we were having an open house at the church and he wandered in drunk. He was an older guy who had learned English from the soldiers during the war, so he knew some choice words which he proceeded to use. I can't remember how my companion and I convinced him to settle down, but we eventually got him to leave. It wasn't long after that that they found him some housing elsewhere.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Bring the Funk

Hey there, lovers of all things funk... What are the must have funk albums and/or singles? I've already got two Herbie Hancock albums (Headhunter, and a "greatest hits" that only has 6 songs on it), and a few by Earth Wind and Fire. And that's about it. Where do I go next?