Archive

November, 2016

OPINION PIECE – Last-Minute 2016 National & Utah County Information & Recommendations for the Conscience-Driven Voter

U.S. President:

Hillary Clinton: Disaster – Criminal, Liar. Tries to prevent anybody outside her tight circle being able to find anything that she does because everything she does is unlawful and/or unethical. Any (Wiki) leaks to outside her circle, she goes into desperate cover-up mode and total denial. A disciple of Saul Alinsky (who dedicated his book, “Rules for Radicals” to Satan), Hillary has no real principles or values; instead, she substitutes for them “the end justifies the means” philosophy. In this phrase, “the end” for Hillary is wealth and power, of which she can never get enough. When she’s faced with the choice between the National Security of the U.S. versus her ability to hide her misdeeds from the light of day, Hillary chooses to hide her real self from public view at the cost of revealing national secrets to unfriendly foreign powers and putting our agents at grave risk.

Hillary has dodged so many silver bullets in her career that she believes she’s invincible; she has never been forced to take responsibility for her many egregious errors or for her intentional lawlessness. Most people believe she will never have to do so, no matter the extent or severity of her crimes. Hillary tells so many lies, including to herself, she no longer remembers what’s a lie and what’s the truth. Unlike Trump, Hillary does have many years of experience working in government; unfortunately, it has all been disaster after disaster.

Donald Trump: Disaster – Showman, Reality TV Star, Successful Businessman. Trump is completely unburdened of truth, consistency, ethics, etiquette, empathy and the facts. He is devoid of scruples, honor, character, integrity or any other redeeming qualities. In fact, he is almost the same person as Hillary, except he hasn’t had the same 30+ years of disastrous experience in government. Trump says a shotgun load of different things, and people like to select one thing he’s said that they consider to be fantastic and, based on projection of their own beliefs onto him; thus many become hard and fast Trump supporters. Many others feel obligated to vote Republican. Most people know in their hearts that Trump has done nothing to prepare himself to merit the Presidency. Enough said.

Gary Johnson: Low-information candidate, mish-mash of indistinct policies, not really libertarian.

Darrell Castle: Ostensibly guided by correct principles, but unable to reach many Americans with his message. No real contender.

Evan McMullin: Solid Republican, most views conservative, no real contender. BUT-If enough voters vote for McMullin that he wins 1+ states electoral votes, possible that neither Clinton or Trump will get the 270 electoral vote needed to win presidency – then the House of Representatives decides who will be next President. The House can only select someone to be the next President who is a significantly better choice (no one chosen could possibly be worse) than either major party candidate.

All Others: Never any real contenders here.

U.S. Senate

Mike Lee: Solid Constitutional Conservative Republican. Works hard to restrict government overreach, reclaim constitutionally-protected rights such as the right to privacy, cut spending and balance the budget, reduce taxes and regulation to promote economic opportunity, growth and prosperity for all, with the consequent expansion of jobs, improving incomes, and also to overhaul our currently unfair criminal justice system. A vote for Mike Lee is a vote for all Americans.

Misty Snow: Her priorities are to clean up our air, provide paid maternity leave, make healthcare and medications affordable and raising the minimum wage. All are old and tired, many are already tried and failed, and others have been destructive, such as shutting down the coal industry in America causing hundreds of thousands to lose their livelihood. Excessive government taxation, regulation and overspending continue to stifle economic opportunity.

Obamacare alone has suppressed economic growth, especially with small businesses (the heart and soul of our economy); it has produced the firing of thousands of full-time workers or placing them on part-time status with drastically reduced income. Many workers have taken on two jobs in order to pay their bills. While some Americans previously lacked access to healthcare, with heavy taxpayer subsidies for the individual and the health insurance companies, Obamacare still fails to provide healthcare coverage to a large number of Americans.

In addition, currently many have “healthcare coverage”, but this coverage comes with a $10,000 to $20,000 deductible that the individual must pay out-of-pocket before insurance pays anything for medical care. Virtually no one shackled with an Obamacare super-high deductible has the ability to come up with this much cash. So while many now have “healthcare coverage” through Obamacare, they don’t actually get any “medical care.”

Bill Barron: Single issue is man-made Climate Change. He would further expand the bloated federal government by throwing trillions of dollars at this contrived “problem”, created by progressives to scare people into giving government more control over their lives and property in return for government “fixing” the problem. There is no untainted evidence that conclusively supports this theory and no predictions based on this theory, ones that might confirm global warming caused by mankind’s activities, have actually occurred. No merit in the issue, and candidate is no contender.

Stoney Fonua: Pleasant candidate with great smile claims to have solutions to America’s and the world’s problems that would create world peace and a millennial utopia. However, I know of nothing, save the second coming of the Messiah that can actually accomplish such an optimistic agenda. No contender.

U.S. Congressional District 3

Stephen Tryon: Christian, Decorated Veteran, Successful Businessman, Gun Owner, Author, Constitutionalist. His main issue is to start solving problems and stop blaming others (as many say “To Get Things Done” in Congress over any objections, as with Obamacare). He is also concerned about raising the minimum wage, increasing government subsidies to improve access to higher education, federal funding to subsidize local government stimulating local businesses and funneling more taxpayer dollars to Utah businesses to stimulate clean energy research.

Tryon claims to be a Constitutionalist, but he wants to throw federal dollars at everything he sees as a problem while greatly expanding government. The things he wants to do all involve the federal government acting outside the bounds set by the Constitution. When he describes himself, all adjectives used run in direct opposition to his party. He’s Christian, his party wants to abolish religious freedom. He’s former military, his party wants a weak military. He’s a businessman, his party is saturated in crony capitalism helping a few, connected big businesses, while imposing burdensome regulations and taxes on small, unconnected businesses to exacerbate unemployment and neutralize the heart of our economy. He’s a gun owner, his party wants to outlaw guns. The man is disconnected from his message.

Jason Chaffetz: Conservative Republican Leader. Chaffetz began his political career claiming every decision he would make in the House would be based on Fiscal Discipline, Limited Government, Accountability and a Strong National Defense. Over several 2 year terms in the House, Chaffetz has occasionally leaned away from his guiding principles and favored the Republican Establishment, siding with House Leadership for increased spending and expanding government, in favor of Internet Taxation and in favor of NSA Spying on All Americans. Many believe the NSA program will enhance National Defense by sacrificing natural rights to privacy and freedom from illegal search and seizure. Chaffetz has worked hard as Chair of a House Committee to hold government accountable for its actions and to weed out waste, fraud and abuse.

Utah Governor

Gary Herbert: Governor Herbert likes to give himself credit for Utah’s alleged prosperity, economic growth and low unemployment. He claims to be a Conservative Republican, however, he’s never met a federal dollar he didn’t like. He got Utah involved in the top-down, progressive federal education program, Common Core, to indoctrinate our children and remove parents and families as an influence on them. Herbert forced Common Core down Utah’s throat and when faced with resistance, he masqueraded Common Core as a Utah Core project, all because of a promise of extensive federal aid.

Herbert has promoted Medicaid expansion under Obamacare because of promised federal funds during the first few years, only to be followed by Utah taking over a tremendous financial commitment to bear all the costs of the expanded Medicaid from then on. The expansion of Medicaid means that families with much higher incomes, many who could afford and already had health insurance, would now qualify for Medicaid. Those who qualified but already had private health insurance, would cancel their policies and become dependent upon the state for medical care.

When Herbert realized that many Utahns were not in favor of imposing expensive, mandated progressive federal programs on Utah, he met with a number of focus groups and promised them that he would take their advice and work against these objectionable programs. Then he promptly went to work to disguise the federal programs to appear as Utah-initiated projects, and went about the state promoting them. Herbert’s integrity must be questioned when he says one thing, does another and then assures Utah he has done the former. In addition, Herbert reportedly has a practice of soliciting contributions in return for his influence as Governor.

Brian Kamerath: Kamerath is the Libertarian Candidate for Governor. He believes that individuals solve their problems and govern themselves best, and that when other issues come in conflict with our natural rights, individual liberty must be the primary consideration. However, he believes individual responsibility is an integral part and always accompanies individual liberty. Kamerath does not believe in the “nanny state”, or that all problems can be solved by government simply by throwing taxpayers’ money at them.

Brian is committed to ethics reform, such that the influence of the office is not bought and sold by special interests; he takes no corporate contributions to his campaign. He is firmly opposed to SB54, the Count Your Vote ‘Compromise’ that involves government unconstitutionally writing the bylaws of private political organizations and mandating “open” primaries for all parties. Kamerath also believes the legislature has made it too difficult to get a citizen initiative on the ballot. If such initiatives were facilitated instead of impeded by the bureaucracy, in anticipation of citizen action, the legislature might be more responsive to their constituents in dealing with issues that are clearly important to Utahns.

As far as education, Brian believes that Common Core, the federally-mandated and one size fits all education currently forced on Utah, does not meet the needs of all children. Instead, he favors diversity of school choice, with multiple options besides traditional schools offered, like charter and private schools, homeschooling and online education. In addition, he believes your education tax dollars should be directed to the particular school that meets your child’s needs, not necessarily the school provided according to geographical location.

Mike Weinholtz: Successful Businessman. He favors full Medicaid expansion, inclusion of mental health, dental and vision care in insurance coverage, and providing coverage for all (i.e. Obamacare on steroids or universal healthcare). Weinholtz believes legalizing medical marijuana will allow adequate treatment of almost all diseases and replace opioids (narcotics) as treatment for chronic pain to alleviate the problem of opioid overdose death. Mike has worked hard on developing specific policy proposals to address a multitude of issues.

However, his proposals appear to involve a common theme: higher taxes to support higher state spending levels for _________ (substitute here the words ‘education’, ‘healthcare’, ‘clean energy’ and ‘stimulate the economy’). Weinholtz also favors government coercion to get people, businesses and buildings in Utah to be more energy efficient, to stop using fossil fuels, to fund UTA for building more public transportation and then get people to stop using their cars and switch to public transportation, and to stop and to punish businesses or individuals that pollute.

Can all problems be solved by government throwing taxpayer dollars at them? How you might answer this question depends largely on your personal political philosophy; however, throwing multiples of what Utah spends on public schools at inner-city schools in many metropolitan areas has failed to improve these schools, and we know that this approach cannot ever solve the derivative problem of over-taxation.

Superdell Schanze: Do I really need to say anything here?

State Auditor

Mike Mitchell: Mitchell has a B.S. in Accounting and served in the U.S. Army in positions of responsibility and authority. As State Auditor he plans on holding state officials accountable for government spending and to block the waste of money on “frivolous” lawsuits, like those slowing down the implementation of Obamacare, those struggling to assert states’ rights over the 75% of Utah that remains in the grasping hands of the federal government including the maintenance of access to this land for recreational purposes, access that the national government increasingly denies. Mitchell would obstruct other states’ rights litigation to preserve religious freedom and freedom of speech, and that to assure that any federal outlawing of firearm rights would not apply to firearms manufactured and sold solely within Utah. The idea that the State Auditor should take it upon himself to thwart the will of the people in the states conducting legitimate legal action is preposterous.

Jared Green: Green would serve as State Auditor without compensation. He would audit state accounts independent of any state executive. His office would be transparent in that taxpayers would be informed how, where and what their money is spent on. Jared would seek legislation to help him put a stop to the ‘quid pro quo’ arrangements between state officials and private entities that lead to “crony capitalism” where advantages are given, by the official in exchange for lining his pockets, to the few at the expense of the many.

John Dougall: Dougall is the current State Auditor running for another term. He is a staunch fiscal conservative committed to key principles: fiscal discipline, accountability and a focus on performance. As the taxpayer’s watchdog, John has worked hard to ensure tax dollars are spent legally, effectively and efficiently. He has also fulfilled his obligations to the taxpayers by providing the public with an independent assessment of financial operations, statutory compliance and how well their tax dollars are managed. Under Dougall’s leadership, the state has maintained its AAA bond rating and its “Best-Managed” ranking.

Attorney General

Michael Isbell: Isbell believes the Utah Attorney General should be resisting unconstitutional federal laws, programs and policies such as Common Core, Gun Control, Minimum Wage Laws, Public Lands, and Obamacare. He includes in this list the War on Drugs and the War on Terror. He notes that Utah has seen a good deal of pay-to-play abuses, bribery and other corruption coming from some of Utah’s highest officials, activity that Isbell would see end. He promises to protect the public from federal laws and federal agents when they exceed lawful, constitutional bounds.

John Harper: John has many years legal experience representing people unfairly treated by large corporations (presumably this means litigation such as class action lawsuits against Pharmaceutical Businesses or other big business where the lawyers take home millions of dollars and their clients’ share is usually something like $1.32 each). Harper has also managed his law firm and spent time as Associate Dean of the University of Utah Law School. He seeks to bring independence, transparency and integrity back to the scandal-plagued office, and end unwinnable and expensive law suits (a reference to the Utah AG’s defensive actions against the various overreaching federal assaults on state’s rights including Obamacare, public lands and religious liberty).

Sean Reyes: Sean is the current Attorney General of Utah running for reelection. His priorities continue to be to protect citizens, especially children, from violent crime and drugs, to protect businesses and consumers from white collar fraud and scams, and to restore the public trust by focusing on ethics and legal excellence. Under Sean’s leadership, the office was a finalist for the Utah Ethical Leadership Award, and has received a number of other awards, including four for “Best-of-State”.

Andrew McCullough: Andrew is an attorney with many years experience defending individuals from those who would expand State power. He is currently Chair of the Utah Libertarian Party, and has served as a Board Member of the Utah ACLU. Past and current AGs have supported efforts to expand State powers at the expense of individual freedom. McCullough says he is angry at police when they use unwarranted, excessive force, and at the violation of individual rights associated with law enforcement’s “War on Drugs”. His primary issue as Attorney General would be the promotion/restoration of individual freedom.

State Treasurer

Richard Proctor: Richard wants to restore our Republic to its previous greatness under the Constitution. He believes we should stop taking federal money with its attached “strings”, and get off the federal dole. Proctor sees many court orders and executive orders as unconstitutional and argues that these should be nullified by the State. Most of these federal orders and rulings come initially with federal money, but in a year or two, the entire financial burden of the federal overreach is typically dumped in the States lap which involves the State Treasurer. Richard wants to help Utah regain her former status as a sovereign state.

Neil Hansen: Neil is a 3rd generation Utahn and former state representative running for State Treasurer. He has had extensive experience in fiscal appropriations and oversight, and in many of the areas critical to the office. Hansen plans to focus on ensuring the hard questions are asked and answered for accountability, that taxpayer money is spent wisely, that state revenue is protected and to reinstate critical checks and balances to State spending.

David Damschen: David was previously Chief Deputy State Treasurer, and has served this past year as State Treasurer. His priorities include safeguarding the States AAA Bond Rating, overseeing the prudent investment of the $12 billion in public funds, and continuing to improve the offices efficiency. Damschen has a Finance degree and 20 years experience in banking before working in the Treasurer’s office and claims to be the best qualified to maintain the tradition of excellence for which the office is known.

Voting Guide – 2016 School Board Candidate http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/2016-school-board-candidates/

It is Recommended by the Group “Utahns Against Common Core” to Vote for the School Board Candidates Listed Below – These are Candidates That:

  1. Oppose Common Core, or
  2. Seem to be the Better Choice of the Two Candidates.

District 4: DAVE THOMAS – (Northern Davis County, Southern Weber County)

District 7: SHELLY TEUSCHER – (Salt Lake City, Southern Morgan County)

District 8: RICHARD NELSON – (East Salt Lake County from I-80 to I-215 including Holladay, Millcreek, Murray, S. Salt Lake, and Sugarhouse)

District 10: DR. GARY THOMPSON – (Eastern Salt Lake County from I-215 to Draper including parts of Cottonwood Heights & Midvale, Sandy, and Draper)

District 11: LISA CUMMINS – (Southwest Salt Lake County including South Jordan, Riverton, Herriman, Bluffdale and Northwest Utah County including Cedar Fort & Fairfield)

District 12: ALISA ELLIS – (Orem, Lindon and Summit, Wasatch, Duchesne, Daggett, Uintah Counties)

District 13: SCOTT NEILSON – (Provo, Spanish Fork)

District 15: MICHELLE BOULTER – (Washington & Iron Counties)

ALPINE SCHOOL DISTRICT

Please vote for:

  1. RACHEL THACKER in seat 4.
  2. MIRIAM ELLIS in seat 6.
  3. SARA HACKEN in seat 7.

DAVIS SCHOOL DISTRICT 

Please vote for LARRY SMITH

Utah Constitutional Amendments

Utah Constitutional Amendment A – Vote Yes

This proposal would alter a few words in the “Utah Oath of Office” simply to clarify that the State referred to is the State of Utah. Currently the phrase in question is this “…the Constitution of this State”, and with the proposed change would read as this “…the Constitution of the State of Utah.” That’s it! Really! I know of no one that objects to this minor change.

Utah Constitutional Amendment B – Vote No

The Utah Constitution has a section that deals with setting up and managing the State School Fund. Those officials that worked together writing this part of the Utah Constitution agreed on a number of key points that they felt would contribute to the permanence and sustainability of the Fund, and that through plowing a good portion of the Fund’s earnings back into the Fund could provide funding for current Utah Schools and would also be able to cover the expenses of Utah Schools in the future, a time that promised increasing numbers of school age children needing more buildings to house the growth in enrollment.

In the early years of the Utah State School Fund, the Utah Constitution specified that the amount to be withdrawn and distributed from the Fund to the schools each year was to be “only the interest and dividends” while leaving the principal intact. In addition, any other Fund earnings were to be kept in the Fund; this part of earnings was to be added to the Fund to enhance its growth, growth anticipated to be required for the support of future increased numbers of children.

There is currently no limitation on the amount of money that can be distributed to the schools from the interest and dividends each year; the State could withdraw from the Fund and spend on Utah schools potentially all the interest and dividends earned in that year. Further, the State and its Agents were charged with “safely” investing money in the State School Fund. Safely means that the money in the Fund was to be invested only in low risk vehicles. Low risk investments, while being safer than most other investment products, necessarily provide the investor with a lower rate of return.

This system of spending only a portion of the earnings and placing the remainder into the Fund to promote Fund growth has worked well with substantial growth in capital while over the same period, spending from the interest and dividends has been more than enough to provide for our growing population, the increasing numbers of children and subsequently the number of new schools we have needed to build to meet our needs. And most Utahns are content with “safe”, low risk investing of the Fund—a significant loss of capital from the Fund would be devastating for our school children and for the State as well.

A number of groups have put forward proposed changes to parts of our Constitution that deal with the State School Fund. The proposed changes, Utah Constitutional Amendment B, is in 3 parts as follows:

  1. Money available for spending on our schools would include all earnings, not just interest and dividends. These additional earnings come from a number of sources such as appreciation of stock held by the Fund that is sold, producing earnings over and significantly above that of interest and dividends alone.

With attention to reinvesting a portion of earnings, the Fund has accumulated capital and now holds an estimated $2.1 B in assets. Under this amendment, first year Fund “earnings” would total $79.0 M with the plan being to distribute all earnings for school spending. Last year the amount distributed for school spending (the sum of the interest and the dividends) was $57.0 M. The amount to go for school spending next year would be the sum of the amount of interest and dividends earned ($57.0 M) plus the amount of additional earnings from other sources to be used for school spending ($22.0 M) giving a total of $79.0 M, an increase over last year of $22.0 M. While the schools would have bundles of money to spend, that same $22.0 M that will be sifted through our fingers and gone in an instant, had in previous years been one of the few items that had been reinvested in the fund and allowed to strengthen and grow the Fund.

2. A limit on withdrawals from the Fund is proposed to restrict distributions to no more than 4% of the average market value of the Fund over the past consecutive 12 months. As Fund assets are currently estimated at $2.1 B, and the amendment limits distributions to 4% of Fund value, the maximum allowable distribution around $80.0 M. This part of amendment B is being sold as a safety feature that dials down the amount of money available for school spending if the spending becomes overheated. But actually, this “safety” feature is more of an accelerator than anything else. The maximum 4% ceiling is set so high that it actually promotes a rise in excessive spending that goes on unchecked to the maximum of 150% of the previous year’s distribution.

3. The third part of Utah Constitutional Amendment B is a word change. Where the original text requires that Utah State School Fund money be invested “safely” by the State, this amendment would change the word “safely” to the word “prudently”. If you are ever involved in discussing investments with a financial advisor, the first thing they will ask you is what level of risk you are comfortable with. They often have packaged accounts that are put together by experts and you can choose the package that matches your risk comfort zone.

I think this word switch is important, because the two words refer to different risk levels: safely means low risk with a lower rate of return. Prudently means exercising good judgment but here the word refers to a step higher on the risk ladder with anticipated better rate of return. So those who were involved in setting up this fund, selected the low risk word safely, because they knew they could not bear the kind of loss that comes more easily to those accepting higher risk. The Utah State School Fund has done remarkably well considering the low level of risk the originators were willing to accept. The financial experts are no doubt advising accepting a higher risk level in order to get better “performance” from the investments. However, at the end stage of another huge bubble that’s about to burst, along with the pending crash of the dollar, perhaps now is not the best time to increase risk exposure for the Fund.

Utah State Senator Margaret Dayton wrote the argument opposing Constitutional Amendment B for the Lt. Governor’s Voter Information book. She makes a good case for continuing as we are now instead of making significant changes both on the investment side and the distribution side that are likely to result in drastic changes that will harm our ability to sustain and grow the Fund, and would likely result in less frugality and efficiency with the spending of Fund dollars. I urge you to vote no on Amendment B.

Utah Constitutional Amendment C – Vote No

Currently the Utah Constitution provides that the State, or any governmental subdivision of the State (i.e. county, city, etc.) does not pay property taxes on property they own. The State or any governmental subdivision of the State may not own all the property and equipment they use. For example, a city within the State may lease office furniture and computer equipment from a private owner. Such property that is under private ownership but is leased and used by a governmental entity does not qualify for the governmental property tax exemption; the private owner is responsible for paying property taxes on this property, even though the governmental end-user would have a property tax exemption if it owned the property.

The proposed changes to the Utah Constitution, Utah Constitutional Amendment C, would allow the legislature to provide by statute a property tax exemption for private owners who lease their property to the governmental entity for their use. No property tax exemption is permitted for certain, leased real property such as land or buildings. Such a statute has already been enacted by the legislature and the statute, along with Amendment C, if passed, will go into effect simultaneously.

Normally, in a business interaction, the value or cost of leasing someone a computer would be the same for anyone that wanted to lease a computer. But if government leases a computer, and agrees to provide a tax break to the private party in exchange for the leasing party lowering the cost of the lease, an unfair and unethical advantage has been created. The government is getting a break on the cost of the lease in return for the government giving the private owner of the leased property value from the public domain that belongs to the public, value that is used by government to create an unfair advantage for both parties.

Some call this quid pro quo, pay-to-play, crony capitalism or even corruption. I see no purpose in creating a separate class of tax-advantaged businesses that cater solely to government operations so they will get a tax-exemption that is not available to leasing businesses that provide equipment for private parties. I urge you to vote no on Afyr_logomendment C.