Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Health Care Fight

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the continuing battle over Obamacare. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, but the U.S. Senate cannot seem to get the job done. The vote on the Senate bill has been postponed twice, and a vote to strictly repeal Obamacare is promised for this week. As reported by Conservative Review, the House Freedom Caucus has decided to force some action. 

The House Freedom Caucus has not abandoned the health care fight. In fact, it has declared all-out war on Obamacare.
On Wednesday, the conservative House members filed a motion to force a vote on the 2015 repeal bill the GOP-controlled Congress passed and sent to President Obama.
Congressman Tom Garrett, R-Va., a freshman representative, filed a special rule known as a “discharge petition” to begin the process of forcing a vote.

            Garrett said that he was sending a message to several individuals or groups, including the President, the House leadership, the Senate, and the Democrats. The message is that the House Freedom Caucus will support anyone who will work toward repealing Obamacare.

Every member of this body elected prior to last year’s election who has an “R” beside their name at some point voted on many of the dozens of occasions on which we passed a repeal…. Let me be clear on this: It’s not a full repeal and nothing. It’s a full repeal with two years … with a 24-month phase-out to find a replacement.

This is a message to House leadership that we support their best efforts and we want to work with them to continue to move the ball forward to do what we all said we wanted to do….

This is a message to the Senate that if they act as Leader McConnell has suggested that they act, we have their backs. We will be here. This is a message to the president of the United States that we haven’t abandoned the fight, nor have we relinquished our desire to fight for the promises we made.

            The repeal legislation in question “would repeal most of Obamacare,” but it requires the “signatures of 218 members of Congress.” By signing or refusing to sign the petition, each member of Congress will demonstrate their support or non-support to repealing Obamacare – and voters will take notice.

            Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) says, “We should put on President Trump’s desk what we put on President Obama’s desk. We should demand no less.”

            This writer agrees with Garrett and Meadows that Congress should pass the bill and put it on Trump’s desk. The in-fighting and non-support of Republicans is not acceptable. It is time to repeal Obamacare!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Remembering the Pioneers

            July is an exciting time to be in Utah because there are many events leading up to the big celebration of Pioneer Day. Residents of Utah and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in other areas celebrate Pioneer Day in remembrance of the arrival of the Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. The holiday is celebrated for several weeks and includes concerts, rodeos, and marathons as well as the big parade on the 24th.

            President Gordon B. Hinckley presented some remarks at a Pioneer Day commemoration concert on July 22, 2001. He counsels the people of Utah and particularly members of the Church to never forget the sacrifices and achievements of the pioneers.

I have felt that we must never permit ourselves to lose sight of the great and singular achievements of those who first came to this valley in 1847. They came not for riches or gold, but rather to find a place where they could worship God under the revelations which are the foundation of this work. They were outcasts, driven and hounded, persecuted and peeled. Their reliance was on the God of heaven. When they reached this place, they stopped in spite of entreaties to go on to California or the Northwest. 

As I have said before, they knew nothing really of the climate of the area, of the conditions of the soil, of the crickets or the grasshoppers with which they soon became acquainted. They had learned all they could concerning the Great Basin, but that was precious little. No one before them had ever grown a potato or an ear of corn or moved a plow to break this sunbaked soil.

            In the months leading up to July 24, 1997, members of the Church studied the lives and accomplishments of the Mormon pioneers. There was a huge reenactment of the pioneer trek with a wagon train traveling from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Salt Lake Valley. My husband’s brother and his wife took part in this event. Their experience had a profound effect in their lives.

            In recent years the youth organizations of the Church started doing “Trek.” The youth and their leaders are divided into “families” who are members of a handcart company. The youth have the experience of walking for several days, pushing handcarts, and living in conditions similar to those of the pioneers. If the youth live near enough to the pioneer trail, they do their trek along the actual path of the pioneers. Other groups reenact the experience in their local areas. All come away from their experience with greater knowledge about their ancestors and other pioneers and stronger faith in Jesus Christ.

            President Hinckley often reminded members of the Church that we are all beneficiaries of the Mormon pioneers whether or not we had ancestors among the Mormon pioneers. In these remarks he shares the following quote made by Brigham Young in 1868 – 21 years after entering the Salt Lake Valley.

We made and broke the road from Nauvoo to this place. … Some of the time we followed Indian trails; some of the time we ran by the compass. When we left the Missouri River we followed the Platte. And we killed rattlesnakes by the cord in some places, and made roads and built bridges till our backs ached. Where we could not build bridges across rivers we ferried our people across, until we arrived here, where we found a few naked Indians, a few wolves and rabbits, and any amount of crickets; but as for any green tree, or any green fields, we found nothing of the kind, with the exception of a few cottonwoods and willows on the edge of City Creek. For some 1,200 or 1,300 miles we carried every particle of provisions we had when we arrived here.

            President Hinckley says that President Young went on to say: “We prayed over the land, and dedicated it, and the water, air and everything pertaining to them unto the Lord, and the smiles of heaven rested on the land and it became productive, and today yields us the best of grain, fruits and vegetables” (quoted in Nibley, Brigham Young, 441-42).

            Then President Hinckley says, “We must never allow recognition of their trials, of their sacrifices, of their tenacity, of their faith and their prayers in establishing this great community to lapse or be forgotten.”

            The Mormon Pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and began to tame the desert. They built homes and dug ditches to bring water from the mountains to water their crops. They made the desert blossom and the Valley to become fertile. Many of them were barely settled when they were asked by Brigham Young to go to other areas to make more settlements. Most of the cities in the Mountain West were first started by Mormon Pioneers.

            I am a descendent of the Mormon Pioneers. Seven of my eight great-grandparents traveled to Utah with the pioneers. The eighth came after the transcontinental railroad was finished. Pioneer Day has always been an important day in my life as I remember the trials and sacrifices of my ancestors and their associates.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Family Reunion

           Families are strengthened by family reunions, and strong families support communities and nations. My husband and I - along with three children, their spouses, and twelve grandchildren - recently attended the annual reunion for the posterity of my parents. I love family gatherings, and I look forward to THE family reunion each year. Even though I recently had two weeks with my children and grandchildren, I still looked forward to attending the reunion of my extended family. I love being with my siblings and seeing the various members of their families.

            Most years I leave the reunion feeling a little let down, and this year was no exception. I felt a little sad and slightly disappointed, but I did not know why. The patriotic program was outstanding, the company was wonderful, the food was delicious, and the games entertaining. What more did I want?

            I finally determined that I was saddened at the number of family members who attended. I checked the official records and determined that about 130 people were at the reunion. Although this number is a little low, it is very close to the average attendance. I was sad because 130 people represent about 27 percent of my parents’ posterity of 487. I wondered why the rest of the family was not there.

            I started by subtracting the family members who are deceased – about a dozen. I figured that there were another dozen or so people serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or serving in the military. I know that a fair number of people live far enough away to make it difficult to travel to the reunion annually. I gave them a pass as well as a pass to a niece celebrating her birthday, another niece who had an annual commitment on that particular weekend, a great-niece who gave birth to her first child the previous day, and anyone who was too ill to come or had to work. I gave an arbitrary number of 243 people who fit in these categories. That leaves 244 people. Where were the 114 people who were not there?

            Why would this number of people choose to stay away from a family reunion – especially when they live in the same city or within an hour’s drive of the reunion? Everyone is welcome for whatever time they can spare. There is no requirement to attend the entire reunion, and numerous family members were in attendance only a part of the time. My son attended the first half and then left for work. Members of my younger brother’s family left a little early in order to attend a nephew’s baptism. Others came late and were a welcome addition.

            I am saddened to think that I have loved ones who do not want to be around family enough to attend the reunion. How many of them are nursing bitter feelings? How many of them do not feel like they are important to the family? How many of them do not place a high priority on family togetherness?

            These thoughts and feelings are weighing on me quite heavily. I have them every year, but this year they are a little weightier. I suppose the extra weight could come from the fact that I am the chairman for the next reunion. Now I am faced with more questions: What can I do to encourage better attendance? Who can I invite to assist me? What will make a difference?

            I put a high priority on family, and I feel that attendance at the family reunion is important. My husband and I paid more than $1300 to attend this reunion, and we are away from home for ten days this year. I consider those facts to be proof of my commitment to family. I hope and pray that more members of my family will put a high priority on family togetherness!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Family Prosperity

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the connection between strong families and economic prosperity. I have written numerous times about the importance of families in society, and I have called families the core unit of civilization. I found a report that shows the truth of my statements in figures and charts.

            The Sutherland Institute posted its Family Prosperity Index for 2016 showing the connection between the family and the economy. The article reports a combined effort by Sutherland Institute and the American Conservative Union Foundation.

The family is an engine, a force for good. It powers our country and our economy. It’s a building block of who we are, a vision for what we can become, and the cornerstone of strong communities. Without it we are lost. Nourish it and we find prosperity.

            This project is called the Family Prosperity Index (FPI). It ranks the fifty states in how well they are “moving toward the goal of creating family prosperity” in the following six areas: economics, family culture, family self-sufficiency, family structure, family health, and demographics.

            The initiative “measures more than 50 of the economic and social factors that show how families experience prosperity. A state that scores well on the FPI is one that is moving toward the goal of creating family prosperity.” The state with the highest rank is Utah (7.24), and the lowest ranking state is West Virginia (3.50).

            The 2015 Family Prosperity Index here has Utah with the highest rank and New Mexico with the lowest (3.94) - but West Virginia is listed next with a score of 4.03. It shows Alaska in the middle with a ranking of 4.89, just above Illinois at 4.87. It also has the following explanation for what the index does.

The Family Prosperity Index (FPI) provides federal, state, and local policymakers – as well as civic leaders and community-minded citizens – the roadmap needed for the development of economic and social policies that improve the wellbeing and prosperity of American families and the communities in which they live. No other measure provides more credible and comprehensive insights into how the economy affects families, and how families affect the economy.

            Strong families help the economy and good economies strengthen families. Wise politicians will recognize the importance of supporting families by strengthening the economy. Boyd Matheson, President of Sutherland Institute says the following.

Of all the awards and accolades Utah has received, this may very well be the most significant. While Utah has long recognized family as a critical social engine, this report illustrates the power of the family as an economic engine. Lawmakers would be wise to recognize that just as a strong economy helps families, strong families strengthen economies.

            The Sutherland Institute is not the only ones calling for stronger families. Linda and Richard Eyre have written a book with the claim that “strong families equal strong economy and strong society. Their book is titled The Turning: Why the State of the Family Matters, and What the World Can do About It.” The Eyres make the following three points in their book: (1) Households or family groups are the basic unit of society, not individuals. (2) Families have declined more in the last 50 years than in the previous 6,000 years. (3) The increase in social problems directly corresponds with (and is caused by) the decline in functional families. According to the Eyres, strong families will bless this country and society.

Of course, it is one thing to talk about societal problems and declining families, and another thing all together to do something about it. When we are speaking, we like to tell our audiences that “the best thing you can do for this country, and for society at large, is to form a strong family and raise responsible kids.”

            We can follow the counsel of the experts on families and help our nation and society to prosper, or we can ignore them and face the opposite consequence. I intend to do everything that I can do to strengthen my family and other families. I hope that you will join the effort too.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sabotaging Trump's Agenda

            Donald Trump has been in office six months tomorrow, but he has little to show for all his efforts. Congress seems to be the problem. Congress has approved a small percentage of his appointees. A Senate bill repealing and replacing Obamacare has once again been shelved. The wall on the southern U.S. border has little or no financing. It appears that Democrats are not the only factor in stopping the Trump agenda. Republicans are not supporting the President.

            Trump campaigned on “draining the swamp” but apparently did not realize the depth of the swamp. Establishment politicians, Democrats and Republicans, are fighting against him. The Blaze reports on statements made by Rush Limbaugh on a recent radio show. Limbaugh accused the “Washington establishment” of trying to stop the President with a “silent coup.” 

There was no way that this establishment was going to permit an outsider to come in and clean house and show how Washington can work and blow their cover for the last how many decades….

They were not going to contribute…. They were not going to make this easy for Trump….

We’re in the midst of a silent coup…. These people are trying to take this president out. And everybody understands that. So why in that circumstance do you think that the same people trying to destroy Donald Trump are going to help him get rid of Obamacare? Are going to help him reform the tax code? They’re not. They are going to have to be defeated, not worked with. There isn’t any cooperation.

            This writer believes that Limbaugh is on to something. RINOs are sabotaging President Trump and making it impossible for him to fulfill his campaign promises. Voters gave the Republicans control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and now the White House with the expectation that great things would happen. Trump and his cabinet have gotten rid of some of the swamp creatures, but there are many more than must be defeated. Voters can help Trump defeat them by voting them out of office.    

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Wisest Person in My Life

            I received a different but interesting and appropriate gift for Mother’s Day. One of my daughters gifted me with a subscription to “StoryWorth.” The idea behind the subscription is for me to write the stories of my life. Each week my daughter will select a question, and the company will email it to me. I am supposed to write the answer to the question and send it back. The company will send the answer to my daughter as well as combining the answers into a book at the end of the year. I have not posted my story for a few weeks, so I thought I would share a little more of my life.

            Here is the question for Week 10: Who is the wisest person you’ve known? What have you learned from them? Wow! What a question! It is a good question, but it is one that I would have never considered. In fact, I had to give it a great deal of thought. There are many wise people in my life, people that I know personally. They include my parents and siblings, my children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews. They also include friends, teachers, and associates.

            I suppose that the wisest person in my life is my father. I chose him because his teachings seem to ring louder in my ears than any other. My father was a good man who lived the commandments of God to the best of his abilities. He would be the first person to say that he had many weaknesses, but he worked diligently to overcome them.

            My father was a man who lived the law of repentance. I know this because I saw the effects of the law in his life. He did not use a lot of cuss words, and he never took the Lord’s name in vain. However, I heard some words occasionally on the farm that were not appropriate. I do not remember him using that type of language after leaving the farm. I never heard my father use rough language around my mother.

            My father loved my mother dearly. He made it clear with his words and actions that she was the most important mortal in his life. There was never any doubt in my mind – or the minds of my siblings – about his feelings for her. There was also no doubt that we would be in serious trouble with him if we showed disrespect to his sweetheart – and he heard about it. I think that I saw him cry for the first time when she died in 1979. I felt much security in my childhood because I knew that my father and mother loved each other dearly.

            My father had some sayings that he used over and over again. Each saying had a specific meaning. When he said, “Little picture have big ears,” I knew that I needed to be careful with the words I was using because there were small children in the room who would pick up on the words and probably share them. Another saying was, “Don’t tell anyone everything that you know because they will know what they know plus everything that you know.” My father did not play cards, but he would have held them close to his body if he had.

            My father taught me by word and example to work. He labored hard on the farm to make it successful, and he also worked an eight-hour graveyard shift at a Sinclair service station. He did not take much time for rest or recreation – except on Sundays and holidays. Because my father taught me to work, I am able to walk into a situation and see what needs to be done – and I am not afraid to roll up my sleeves and go to work.

            My father taught me by his words and actions that family is important. He would make any sacrifice of time, effort, or money for the good of the family. He did lots of family history and temple work to connect us with our ancestors and attended annual family reunions. He watched over and took care of his family, no matter their relationship with him.

            My father is a very wise man, and I look forward to being with him again in the next life. I am sure that there is much more than he can teach me.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Rand Paul

            Senator Rand Paul is my VIP for this week, and he may just be the most important member of the U.S. Senate. It seems that Paul is the only person in Congress that remembers their promises. He recently posted an article outlining his reasons for not voting for the Senate healthcare bill. 

I miss the old days, when Republicans stood for repealing Obamacare. Republicans across the country and every member of my caucus campaigned on repeal – often declaring they would tear out Obamacare “root and branch”! …

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. I want to repeat that so everyone realizes why I’ll vote “no” as it stands now.

            Paul states clearly that he will not vote for the Senate bill as it is written because it does not repeal Obamacare. He calls the bill “Obamacare-lite” and says it does nothing to improve health care.

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. Not even close.
In fact, the Senate GOP bill codifies and likely expands many aspects of Obamacare.
The Senate Obamacare-lite bill codifies a federal entitlement to insurance. With the Senate GOP bill, Republicans, for the first time, will signal that they favor a key aspect of Obamacare – federal taxpayer funding of private insurance purchases.
The bill will transfer billions of dollars to people who will then transfer billions of dollars to insurance companies….

The Senate Obamacare-lite bill does what the Democrats forgot to do – appropriate billions for Obamacare’s cost-sharing reductions, aka subsidies. Really? Republicans are going to fund Obamacare subsidies that the Democrats forgot to fund?

Doesn’t sound much like repeal to me. One might even argue it’s worse than Obamacare-lite because it actually creates a giant superfund to bail out the insurance companies – something even the Democrats feared to do.

            According to Paul, the Republicans are trying to make Obamacare even worse, rather than repeal it completely and then replace it with something better. The insurance companies surely must be exerting some pressure on Congress to get this type of treatment! It is definitely not the program that Americans are demanding.

I was first elected in the heady days of the Tea Party Tidal Wave, when tens of thousands of citizens gathered on the central city lawn to protest Big Government, Big Debt, and a government takeover of health care.

This citizenry won in four elections. Each time, the GOP establishment told conservatives, “We can’t repeal Obamacare until we have all three branches of
government.” Finally, in 2016, that came to pass. Republicans now control all three branches of government.

And . . . the best that is offered is Obamacare-lite: keeping the Obamacare subsidies, keeping some of the Obamacare taxes, creating a giant insurance bailout superfund, and keeping most of the Obamacare regulations.

            Senator Paul may be joined by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) in opposing the bill. So far, Lee has not committed himself one way or the other. Hopefully, he will stand with Paul and save Americans from Obamacare-lite. Maybe, just maybe, both of them will remember their campaign promises to repeal Obamacare.