Monthly Archives: December 2016

Hatch should focus on next two years, not re-election

Conservatives value the experience that often attends age. But Hatch didn’t begin his Senate career as an old man. He was 43 years old when he defeated 18-year incumbent Frank Moss, not much older than Utah’s junior Sen. Mike Lee when he defeated 18-year incumbent Robert Bennett. In fact, candidate Hatch famously asked his old opponent, “What do you call a senator who’s been in office for more than two terms? You call him home.”

Four years ago, when facing what he perceived to be a tough convention fight in the 2012 Republican primary, Hatch promised delegates that if they elected him, he would not seek to serve a seventh term. Of course, between then and now a lot has changed in Utah politics. read more

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Pump the Brakes in Reaction to Bears Ears

The hot story this week is the presidential decree establishing the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. With a swipe of his pen, President Obama set aside over one million acres of Utah wilderness as land too sacred, too historical, too intergenerational and too pristine to be left in the control of anyone and anything short of the all-seeing and all-powerful federal government.

Utah conservatives are up in arms. They say President Obama abused the Antiquities Act (he did). They say his timing in doing so as he leaves office feels politically motivated (it does). They say he ignored the broader interests of Utah and the nation (clearly he did). And they say they will do everything in their power to undo what has been done (and clearly they will try). read more

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Free Markets Include Taxation and Regulation

On the political right, the free market is the holy grail of prosperity. And rightly so. Market-based economies have lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system devised by man. After all, that is the purpose of any moral economic order: human happiness.

Sometimes the political right forgets that end game. Sometimes the political right sees the means as end and forgets that, like all other human systems, the market economy has its own ecology comprised on many components that ensure its success. Honest observers understand that free markets have their weaknesses. They do well to encourage work and private property. But free markets do poorly for people who find it hard to work or simply cannot possibly compete for a variety of reasons. read more

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The Wisdom of the Electoral College

Prior to this year’s presidential election, four times in our history has a candidate become president without winning the popular vote. In 1824, John Quincy Adams lost both the popular vote and the electoral vote to Andrew Jackson. But Jackson fell short of the electoral votes needed that year to claim the presidency. That election fell to the House of Representatives to decide and it chose Adams. I’ll come back to this example in a minute.

In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes won the electoral vote, by one vote, but lost the popular vote by a quarter million votes to Samuel J. Tilden. In 1888, Benjamin Harrison won the electoral vote over Grover Cleveland to claim the presidency but lost the popular vote. And, in 2000, you might recall that George W. Bush became president while losing the popular vote to Al Gore. Of course, now we have the 2016 election as well. As of this date, Hillary Clinton is almost three million popular votes ahead of Donald Trump who won the electoral vote to become president. read more

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Utah’s Right Wing is Taxing

When it comes to taxes I am definitely prejudiced. I can’t stand them. In fact, I cannot remember a tax increase on a state or local ballot that I have voted for. This past election there was another tax increase on the ballot and, without even thinking about it, I voted against it. It’s not that I refused to think about it. It’s just that I already had thought about it years ago and decided to vote against any and every tax increase.

Maybe moving from an employee to an independent contractor re-lit my anti-tax fervor. All of my business income is taxed as personal income, not unlike nearly every small business. I thought paying $40,000 in taxes was a lot until the TurboTax counter spun up another $40,000 last year. Eighty thousand dollars in taxes! I still almost choke on those words. Maybe rich people are used to those kinds of numbers and have figured out ways to shelter income and avoid paying (I’m thinking Donald Trump). But I’m a regular guy and my heart tells me that regular people shouldn’t have to pay those kinds of taxes. read more

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The New Game of Politics

In over 8-plus years of these radio commentaries I have been generous with the Robert Louis Stevenson quote about honesty. He wrote, “To tell the truth, rightly understood, is not just to state the true facts, but to convey a true impression.”

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, President-elect Donald Trump was fond of calling his opponents names such as “Lyin Ted” and “Little Marco” and especially “Corrupt Hillary.” In fact, during one speech, Trump referred to Hillary Clinton as a “dirty rotten liar.” Hillary was deemed corrupt largely because she was deemed a pathological liar. Voters, ultimately, didn’t trust her. But interestingly, neither did they trust Trump. And now, post-election, we can see why Trump was so mistrusted. read more

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