Friday, September 18, 2015

Gun deaths, sensationalism, and statistics

A cousin is appalled at a chart created by a Leftist propaganda organization known as Center for American Progress (long known to exploit people who lack a talent for critical thinking). The chart shows that more people were killed in the US by gunfire from 1989 to 2014 than have US war deaths since 1776.

That's far too many deaths in either category, no doubt. But, gun-related deaths in the US are fewer than than poisoning deaths and fewer than motor vehicle traffic deaths over the same period. Did the Center for American Progress point that out? No, that wouldn't serve their agenda.

Firearms account for about 1.6 percent of unintentional injury deaths. As for the intentional-injury firearm deaths, a significant portion of those are lawful self-defense. Another large portion of intentional deaths is suicides -- deaths that likely would have been by some other means were not a firearm available.

As long as the Center for American Progress seems to be concerned about needless death, how about considering legal abortion? Since 1989 (the same period as that used in their article) over 35 million children have been legally killed in the womb -- usually for the mere convenience of one or both of the parents and always for profit. (Don't expect the Center for American Progress complain about that.)

My source: US Centers for Disease Control, a US government agency tasked with tracking deaths, injuries, and disease -- not the Center for American Progress which has a long history of not looking at statistics in context.

Who who needs critical thinking when ignorant emotion is so much easier? The "progressive" movement (eg, the Center for American Progress) relies on that far too-common ignorant emotion. We need smarter voters.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Utah's governor and the US Constitution

Today is Constitution. Today, we ratification of the US Constitution on this day in 1787.

In honor of this special day, Gary R. Herbert, Governor of Utah made this statement:
"How grateful I am for an inspired Constitution to unite our nation and guide us through the difficult task of governing. May we always defend, protect and adhere to it."
He went on to expand on that statement in his blog.

I wonder, does the governor mean the document the prohibits government interference (see US Constitution, Amendment 2 and Amendment 14, Section 1) with the right to keep and bear arms, yet he, himself, insists that responsible adults have written permission from one of his agents in order to carry a gun of self-defense?

Are he referring to the same Constitution that prohibits the central government from having a role in health care, education, alternative energy, environmental protection, public land management, religion, welfare, national parks, law enforcement, abortion, funding state and local projects, marriage, and countless other areas (see US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8 and Amendment 10), yet he kowtows to the feds, obeying their mandates in those areas, in order to get "free" money?

Is that the same document that was created by representatives of the States and ratified by the States to delegate a few specific roles to the central government (see US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8) while retaining sovereignty of the separate States, yet the governor leads a state government that acts as a mere functionary of the central government -- not as a sovereign State?

Is that the Constitution that says that the US Constitution is the "supreme law" of the land along with those laws that stay within the bounds of the Constitution -- not the laws, regulations, policies, and opinions of federal and state politicians, judges, and bureaucrats that go far beyond the clear limits defined in the Constitution and which he has a sworn obligation to nullify?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Abortion in the news. Again.

Abortion is in the news lately -- again -- for a very big reason: Officials of Planned Parenthood have been caught selling parts of the aborted babies for some very nice profits. This practice is not only disgusting, it is unlawful.

Firearm deaths (criminal + suicide + accidental + negligent + justified), much decried among the Left, are microscopic in comparison to what the Left loves to do to the most innocent among us.

Abortion is a major cause of death that can always be prevented. After all, as abortion advocates, like to say, it is a choice.

One woman said, "I thought this issue was settled in Roe v Wade decades ago. I don't understand why we have to revisit it."

Why? Really? Why?

Because, while legal for the most absurd reasons, abortion is morally wrong except in very, very rare cases.

Because abortion is almost always committed for the mere convenience of one or both parents -- over 3,300 times every day in the US.

Because of gross abuse of the "right to choose". Can't the parents chose to be responsible before engaging in an activity known to result in the conception of another human being?

Because the child isn't given a choice too.

Because a mother may have a right to decide what's best for her body, but the child's body is not her body! The child is genetically a completely different person -- not an extension of her body or a mere piece of tissue

Because the children have harmed nobody. Why kill (usually by dismembering) them for their pure innocence?

Because an unborn child has as much a right to live as the mother or the abortionist.

Because, as mentioned above, some very evil people have long been exploiting Roe v Wade for profit -- with taxpayer subsidies!

Because Roe v Wade is only one of the Supreme Court's very long history of horrid opinions. (They don't issue "rulings". Kings rule. Justices only have "opinions" which are almost always contradictory.)

Because the Constitution and its protections of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" belongs to the People (children are people too) -- not the Supreme Court! We, the People, have a right and duty to vote to overrule and change bad government acts and decisions. We have the last say -- not the Supremes!

We need moral voters.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Privately-owned drones and public safety

I've been an airline and military pilot for 43 years. In over 25,000 hours of flying (including flying in Afghanistan and other hot spots around the globe), the biggest threat to my life, my airplane, and the people I was responsible for was when I barely missed a remote-controlled model airplane while I was flying a 737 full of people into Seattle.

Anyone who has a pilot's license or who travels on an airliner should be terrified of the recent surge in sales of inexpensive, easy-to-fly, and easy-to-modify drones and the beer-swilling pinheads who think that mounting a firearm on one is clever and cute (see video below). Many of these drones are so inexpensive as to be considered disposable (ie a throw-away weapon or weapon carrier).

Several times, operators of these drones have interfered with, and impeded fire and rescue efforts.

I am as opposed to mala prohibita laws and regulations as anyone. But know that most of them are inspired by the boneheaded actions of people tho think they're clever and cute.

This genie (easy-to-fly and cheap drones in the hands of irresponsible people) is out of the bottle. They are just as dangerous as firearms in the hands of those same irresponsible people. Without the intervention of the heavy hand of government, I don't know how we can begin to assure the safety of the People from the abuse of these devices. We can only blame ourselves and our amusement and tolerance of this new trend in irresponsibility.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The soaring cost of higher education

Do you really want to know why a college education is so expensive, with costs soaring far faster then the CPI -- just like medical care? Blame the American voters!

Today, there are at least 225 federal statutes -- and growing -- that affect how colleges and universities must operate. Add to that any regulatory requirements imposed by the respective states. Those government mandates typically cost each college or university millions of dollars in compliance expenses.

Then, of course, we must add the cost of compliance with litigation. Whiny "victims" litigate over their perceived need for worthless pity-me courses such as gender and race studies. They litigate over college mascots and names (eg University of Utah "Utes", Dixie State University "Rebels", etc.). In their effort to get their way, these "victims" victimize every student who must then pay higher fees and taxpayers who must pay higher taxes simply to cover the cost of the litigation.

Why does all this happen? Because most voters vote for politicians who live to control their subjects. If you aren't voting for political candidates who will fight for a less intrusive and less expensive government, you are the problem!

We need smarter voters.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


The US Constitution was designed with revolution in mind.

Every two years, we have the opportunity to replace the entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate (the folks who confirm tyrannical federal judicial nominees). That's a revolution.

Every 4 years, we have the opportunity to replace the entire administration (the folks who nominate tyrannical federal judges), the entire House, and another third of the Senate. That's a revolution.

Every six years, the entire Senate and the House can be replaced. That's a revolution.

But, with a 90-95% reelection rate in Congress despite a Congressional approval rating of 16%, ya gotta wonder whether American voters are fond of revolution -- no matter how badly they need it.

We need smarter voters.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

ADHD vs greatness

In my opinion, ADHD is one of the most sinister hoaxes ever played on mankind. ADHD is nothing more than an excuse to drug a significant portion of the population -- most notably boys -- so that we all behave like standardized factory-produced products. Worse, the drugs used to treat this fictitious malady are known to have extremely dangerous side effects.
I suspect that if we made a list of the most significant, most intelligent, and most talented historical figures, we'd find a very high percentage who, if born today, would be labeled with ADHD and drugged. On that list of people needing to be drugged, I would put
Robin Williams
Alexander the Great
Isaac Newton
Benjamin Franklin
Alfred Nobel
John Calvin
Alexander Hamilton
Orson Welles
William the Conqueror
Richard Feynman
James Dean
Nikola Tesla
Thomas Jefferson
Robert E. Lee
John Hancock
Theodore Roosevelt
John Wycliffe
Clark Gable
Miguel de Cervantes
James Madison
Johannes Gutenberg
Ludwig von Beethoven
Martin Luther
Winston Churchill
Johann Sebastian Bach
Albert Einstein
Richard Wagner
Benjamin Rush
Oliver Hardy
William Shakespeare
Gouverneur Morris
Robert the Bruce
Pablo Picasso
Marlon Brando
Thomas Edison
Charles Chaplin
Julius Caesar
Humphrey Bogart
Salvador Dali
Joseph F Smith
Leonardo da Vinci
Andy Warhol
Laurence Olivier
Vincent Van Gogh
and countless more.
Think of all the lost opportunities if those men were in grade school today and drugged into conformity for the mere convenience of teachers and parents.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fair Tax vs Flat Tax

Advocates of both the "Fair Tax" and the "Flat Tax" ignore one basic fact: Government has become too expensive! It costs about 10 times what it would if kept to its Constitutionally-defined limits. I could support a "Fair Tax" only if:

1 - there were absolutely no other federal taxes,
2 - federal tax is capped at 3% (5% for a maximum of 1 year during periods of formal Constitutionally-declared war and to pay off war debt),
3 - the central government would keep itself on a rigidly balanced budget with peacetime spending capped at 2.8% with the remaining .2% reserved for the possibility of formal Constitutionally-declared war, and
4 - the central government would borrow only as necessary during times of formal Constitutionally-declared war.

That means that the alphabet soup of almost everyone's favorite "free" federal government program will have to go. As many as 2,000 federal agencies and over 2 million federal bureaucrats would be pulled off the backs and out of the pockets of hard-working Americans. Those people would have to find productive employment instead of focusing on how best to be a burden. That would not only be a shock to the RIFed (Reduction In Force) federal bureaucrats, but also to Americans who are addicted to "free" stuff. So, the cuts would be phased in over a period of 10 years. After that, the only things the central government would continue to do would be those specifically authorized in Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution (defense, immigration, customs, Post Roads, etc.)
"Would you give up your favorite federal programs if it meant you'd never have to pay income tax again?" -- Harry Browne

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Big-government "Conservatives"

I am always amazed by the portion of self-described small-government Conservatives who think only government is capable of providing
after-school programs
ambulance services,
convention centers,
dog parks,
fitness centers,
golf courses,
guaranteed income for businesses,
guaranteed income for families,
guaranteed income for farmers,
guaranteed income for individuals,
health care,
health insurance,
Internet service,
mass transit,
recreation centers,
safety of goods and services,
summer activities for school children,
swimming pools,
trash collection,
utilities, and
and that only government employees are competent to staff them. I expect that kind of lunacy from Leftists and Statists. But Conservatives too?

We need smarter voters.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Voters vs big money in politics

I'm bored with those who whine about big money from big business, big banks, and Chambers of Commerce buying politicians' votes.

The only reason we have politicians-who-can-be-bought in office is because most voters are idiots. Individual voters collectively elect even the most corrupt into office -- and keep them there -- not big money!

If, for a change, voters would simply vote based on principle -- not skin color or the letters "D" and "R", every politician who can be bought would be forever purged from from office and all replacement politicians would be put on notice that they also must vote based on principle -- not money.

Stop blaming money for voter incompetence!

We need smarter voters!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Repeal the so-called "Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990"

The "Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990" (GFSZA) was introduced by then-Senator Joe Biden and signed into law by George H.W. Bush. The alleged intent of the Act was to prevent individuals from possessing a firearm in a school zone. It was, as anti-rights bills typically are, sold to Congress as way to make our schools a safer place for our children.

Ironically, even the anti-rights Michael Bloomberg-funded anti-rights "Everytown for Gun Safety" has put together a convenient list showing just how ineffective the GFSZA has been. According to their own chart, there have been at least 112 school shootings since Sandyhook! They have unwittingly proven that their own anti-rights agenda is ineffective!

If the intent of the GFSZA really was to create a safe environment for America's children, then it has failed, and failed miserably.

This is unacceptable. The GFSZA has made our children and schools extremely vulnerable because it prohibits responsible adults (school staff and parents) from having the most effective means of defense of self and school children -- a gun. America's children should not be subject to these dangerous environments simply to appease the anti-gun radicals.

Earlier this week, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced HR.86, the "Safe Students Act", which would repeal the GFSZA. Originally introduced by former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) in 2007, this Act would restore much needed sanity to our nation's gun laws by striking down this ineffective ban that has done nothing to reduce "gun violence."

From Congressman Massie's press release:
"Gun-free school zones are ineffective. They make people less safe by inviting criminals into target-rich, no-risk environments," said Massie. "Gun-free zones prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves, and create vulnerable populations that are targeted by criminals.... A bigger federal government can't solve this problem. Weapons bans and gun-free zones are unconstitutional. They do not and cannot prevent criminals or the mentally ill from committing acts of violence. But they often prevent victims of such violence from protecting themselves."
While the President is likely to veto any such bill, Congress must give him the opportunity to reject a bill that would create a safer environment for children. It is up to the Republican-led Congress to man-up and make the President and congressmen on Left own their anti-rights bigotry.

I call on every member of the US Congress to cosponsor and vote for HR.86, the "Safe Students Act" and to everything they can to get it to the President's desk immediately. Our children can wait no longer!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Out-of-control health-care costs

This morning, the medic prescribed some eye drops to treat my red eyes. Allergy, he says. I just picked up the prescription. Cost: $222 for 5 ml. That works out to $44,400 per liter or $168,072 per gallon! The active ingredient makes up only .1% of the drops. This virtually pure water must be good stuff!

If I may editorialize a bit, the soaring cost of health care began with FDR's wage/price-fixing in WWII. Industry had no choice but to offer other incentives to attract skilled labor. The most significant incentive offered was health insurance. Before that, the cost of health care was covered by the consumer and by charity -- not insurance or government. Once third-party payers (insurance companies) became part of the picture, most consumers ceased to be cost-conscious and costs soared. Later, our politicians bought our votes with our own money by adding "free" socialist health care for the elderly (Medicare) and low-income consumers (Medicaid, CHIP, etc), driving health care costs even higher. (A similar predicable impact on costs came with government intervention in education.)

I know that a significant portion of that $222/5ml is to recover the producer's cost of development and testing. But I also dare say that government meddling in the free market is the primary reason my eye drops are so expensive.

Of course, all aware Americans know what the so-called "Affordable" Care Act (AKA ObamaCare) has done to health-care and health-insurance costs. Surely, we can count on ever more government to fix the problems the government created in the free market.

We need smarter voters.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Get control over spending on recreation, arts, and parks

The recently-completed Southern Utah Sports Academy shows that the private sector can satisfy our recreational needs if it doesn't have to compete with the taxing power of government. It shows that we don't need a RAP (Recreation, Arts, and Parks) tax or other taxpayer-funded projects to have nice-to-have services.

The RAP tax is only a penny added to every $10 spent. That seems quite insignificant. But, government takes a penny here, a penny there, and pretty soon we find that government consumes over half of what we earn and produce in this country -- just to provide "free" services. Add to that, the cost to simply maintain those "free" services.

Please take a few seconds to imagine how much money you'd have left in your pocket if the local, state, and federal governments weren't constantly caving in to every demand for a taxpayer-funded park, monument, trail, playground, swimming class, dance class, exercise class, after-school program, theater, skating rink, rec center, museum, library, bookmobile, etc. (Anyone want to guess how much the taxpayer pays for each book-lent out of our library and bookmobile?). All of these services can be provided by the private sector which includes non-profit organizations. But, when government steps in to provide "free" services, the deep pockets of the taxpayers are tapped to compete with, and push out, the private sector. They go far beyond the proper role of government which is nothing more than the simple protection of our rights (see Declaration of Independence, second paragraph).

The primary reason for government growth (and the "incumbent advantage") is that we've yet to convince people to refuse to be bribed with their own money. Virtually everything funded by RAP funds is at the request of small special-interest groups and you pass them just to get those few votes. RAP-tax applicants all seem to share the notion that government money is free and endless. Although all of us are taxed to pay for them, I can't think of a single RAP project that serves more than a tiny portion of the people.

Frederic Bastiat said, "Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone."

Harry Browne said, "Would you be willing to give up your favorite federal program if it meant never having to pay the income tax again?"

That "favorite program" concept applies right here in Cedar City. Getting control of government at all levels begins in the city councils and school boards all across this nation.

I prefer the abolition of the RAP tax. But, since a majority of voters seem to want to be bribed with their own money, my second choice to require projects paid with RAP funds to pay their own way with regard to maintenance and overhead. My third choice is that maintenance and overhead expenses of RAP-funded projects must be paid with RAP funds.

My one concern about this proposal is that I doubt that setting aside 10% for maintenance is enough.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

We need congressional action -- not promises on gun rights

In light of the ATF's (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) desire to restrict certain types of ammunition (suspended for now) in common use, it is obvious to me that it is past time for self-described pro-gun congressmen to find a spine and cowboy-up to protect the Second Amendment and the rights it is intended to protect. Political campaign promises and vague pro-gun letters in response to to constituent concerns over gun rights mean absolutely nothing. We need congressmen with courage and integrity to aggressively defend the US Constitution. We need action!

1 - The "sporting use" reference in federal law must be stricken. The Second Amendment clearly is not about sporting use.

2 - Defund enforcement of, then repeal all federal legislation, regulation, policies, and judicial opinions which violate the Second Amendment ("The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.") That'd be a repeal of virtually 100% of current federal firearms law.

3 - There is nothing in the US Constitution that authorizes anything in ATF's mission. The Tenth Amendment clearly states that all of ATF's roles are in the jurisdiction of the States -- not the central government. Therefore, I suggest that all ATF supervision of the manufacture and sale of firearms be immediately turned over to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and that all ATF supervision of firearm and ammunition safety be immediately turned over to the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute (SAAMI). Unlike the ATF, both SAAMI and NSSF have been true experts in the firearms industry for many years. Then defund, then dissolve the ATF.

If Congress would live up to with its mandate given in Article I, Section 1 of the US Constitution ("All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States...") there would be no need to worry about unaccountable bureaucrats making unconstitutional laws as the ATF is wont to do. Why should Congress ever need to introduce legislation to undo the rogue law-making done by bureaucrats? Congress must write all laws itself -- as the Constitution demands!

Join the NRA today!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Modify the Pledge of Allegiance

The United States of America is unusual among nations in that our public officers swear (or affirm) an oath to principles (the US Constitution) rather than to persons (a king or government).

The oath taken by Congress is typical and reads:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
Currently, the rest of us don't pledge such loyalty to the Constitution. Instead, we "...pledge allegiance to the flag..." -- a piece of cloth. According to the United States Flag Code (4 USC § 1), the current Pledge of Allegiance reads:
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
That pledge was penned by Francis Bellamy Socialist, a Socialist who apparently placed government and symbols above individual liberty.

I urge Congress to amend 4 USC § 1 to make the Pledge of Allegiance parallel the oath of office taken by public officers and employees:
I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, and to the Republic which it describes: one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
This pledge would continue to be made while saluting the US flag -- a symbol of the republic.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The "Flow" hive -- There's a sucker born every minute

"There's a sucker born every minute" -- David Hannum (attributed to PT Barnum)

I'm not averse to innovation in beekeeping. There have been plenty of real improvements in the craft since I got started in the early '60s and you'll see most of the new ideas that have had merit over those years in my bee yard.

Now, along comes a flashy new invention that presents itself as an effortless method of harvesting honey: The "Flow" hive. While the website does briefly mention that reponsible beekeepers should still conduct regular inspections, the website seems to imply that all one need to do to bee a beekeeper is to turn a spigot. Our honey bees need and deserve better care than simply opening a spigot. They need regular inspections and, when appropriate, treatments.

Crush-and-strain has been well-tested for thousands of years. The use of a knife and extractor has been well-tested for well over 100 years. Both of these methods were readily adopted because experienced beekeepers could see the obvious merits in them. The improvement of extraction over crush-and-strain was very significant and indisputable, leading to it's very rapid adoption in the craft to the point that even people with only one or two hives often have an extractor.

I predict that the "Flow" hive no beekeeper with more than 5 years of successful beekeeping experience will pay for this gimmick with his/her own money although a handful might be willing to accept one as a gift to be used briefly as a toy. Even then, I predict that the few experienced beekeepers who give it a try will abandon the "Flow" equipment after a season or two. I know of only one experienced beekeeper who has had anything remotely positive to say about this invention -- Michael Bush -- and his remarks seem to be a bit ambiguous (he hasn't actually tested it yet).

In spite of that avoidance by experienced beekeepers, I predict that the "Flow" hive will be a huge marketing success for up to 5 years because the world is full of gullible people -- beekeepers who typically lose at least 50% of their colonies each year.

The "Flow" hive is a clever gadget designed to extract money from people who think they are beekeepers but really aren't -- people who anthropomorphize honey bees. Beekeepers who fall for gimmicks such as this are not likely to have much long-term success keeping bees. I predict that after that five-year period, this fad will collapse. The inventors will each have nice mansions and will never need to work again -- at your expense. The landfills will receive tons of abandoned "Flow" equipment.

It's a bit like thinking one can put a cow in the back yard and still pour the milk out of a jug. Experimenting on 50,000 of God's living creatures is no place for anyone with little or no experience with bees. A good beekeeper digs into his/her hives every two weeks to check for disease, strong-laying queen, and to ensure the colony has room for colony growth. "...disturbing the bees" is part of the job. One more opening of the lid to harvest is not much extra disturbance to the bees.

Beekeepers who want "to have honey on tap directly from our beehives without disturbing the bees" are probably too lazy or timid to properly manage their bees. Ya want easy, care-free local honey? Go to the farmers' market. It's a lot easier and cheaper not to mention a lot more responsible.

It really isn't all that difficult to harvest honey from a conventional comb -- even for a person with no extractor. Nevertheless, I expect the manufacturer to do quite well selling this novelty to beginners and relatively new beekeepers who want easy local honey. (They are the experts in beekeeping, after all.)

I expect to see a ton of these on the second-hand market when buyers find out that this gimmick is a lot harder to use successfully than advertised.

As Dennis Miller would say, "That's just my opinion. I could be wrong." In five years, someone will have egg on their faces -- those who fell for this gimmick or the experienced beekeepers. Feel free to contact me in 5 years to say, "I told you so" if I am wrong.

One good thing this invention might do is to steer the above-mentioned "experts" toward Langstroth equipment (although the website says it can be adapted to a few other hive designs).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Protect private property rights!

Utah SB.99 (Public Accommodation Fairness Act) would prohibit discrimination in a place of public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Utah SB.100 (Anti-discrimination Amendments) seeks to prohibit certain landlords and business owners from discriminating against people due to their "gender identity" and "sexual orientation."

I support restrictions on government discrimination and even anti-discrimination restrictions on privately-owned entities receiving government subsidies and/or contracts.

Anti-discrimination law is entirely reasonable to the extent it is constrained only to government actors. No person required to pay taxes should ever be denied government services or protections on the basis of their race, religion, gender, sexuality, etc. But it is entirely another matter to force private property and business owners to act similarly, even for the ideal and sometimes nebulous goal of "fairness."

My parents taught me to condemn discrimination based on race, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, etc. In my small business as a firearms safety instructor, I only discriminate against students whom I believe to be unsafe and irresponsible with firearms.

I refuse to patronize businesses that I know to exercise such discrimination. Nevertheless, I affirm the right of such people to use their own property as they see fit, even if they are perceived to be unfair or unreasonable in so doing. A person who wishes to rent apartments only to senior citizens, or Mormons, or non-Mormons, or single adults, or white males, should be free to do so. No person is entitled to another person's property or the use thereof. Legally forcing property and business owners to associate with persons they may otherwise not wish to associate with undermines the property rights of those owners at the expense of creating legal protections for certain arbitrary classes of people.

Both of these bills (SB.99 and SB.100) -- along with the underlying laws they seek to amend -- violate basic property rights and must therefore be opposed.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dangerous deregulation of the beekeeping craft is in the works

I began beekeeping in Box Elder County in the early '60s as a 4-H project. That project paid for a significant portion of my college education. Later, while serving in the Air Force, I helped start up a 1,000-colony LDS stake beekeeping project in South Carolina. Today, I am the adviser for the Iron County 4-H Beekeeping Club. I also volunteer my time as the County Bee Inspector for Iron County.

Utah's beekeepers (including me) have fought (and, because of poor management practices by too many beekeepers, continue to fight_ some devastating honey bee diseases and parasites since the first honey bees were introduced to Utah in 1848. In response to that threat, our predecessor beekeepers formed the Utah Beekeepers' Association in 1892 (before statehood) and simultaneously lobbied for legislation now known as the Utah Bee Inspection Act (Title 4 Chapter 11).

Among other things,the Utah Bee Inspection Act:
1 - Requires bee hives to be designed with removable frames (combs) primarily to facilitate inspection with the side benefit of easy and efficient management and harvest.
2 - Requires registration of all beekeepers so that county-appointed and state-trained volunteer inspectors can find and examine all domesticated honey bee colonies for contagious bee diseases and parasites and to help the affected beekeepers properly treat any diseases and parasites found. This inspection is required annually.
3 - Prohibits harvesting or storing equipment in a manner which enables bees to get into the extracting and storage site to "rob" honey -- honey which is potentially contaminated with contagious pathogens that are harmless to humans and other living creatures but which are deadly to honey bees.
A liberty (anti-big-government) mindset -- which I share -- seems to have caused some to read into the Utah Bee Inspection Act heavy-handed intent and restrictions that simply are not there. Such beekeepers seem to think that the requirements for registration, inspection, and how hives must be designed are nothing more than the heavy hand of a "police state". We county bee inspectors are offended by the notion that we are the long arm of a police state. We have no law-enforcement authority. Most of us don't even care whether you comply with the requirement to have a beekeeper's license as long as all beekeepers give us a chance to help them. But we do care about keeping Utah's honey bees healthy. Registration simply makes it possible for inspectors to help beekeepers through inspection and education.

I just learned that legislation was introduced today (HB.224) in the Utah Legislature to deregulate some essential aspects of beekeeping in Utah. This legislation comes from a couple of relatively new Utah beekeepers intent on rejecting extensive beekeeping experience and wisdom accumulated over 16+ decades.

Proposals in this legislation which I find most troubling are:
1 - Elimination of the requirement for removable frames (combs).
2 - Elimination of the requirement for most beekeepers (all those keeping 5 or fewer colonies) to be registered with the state.
3 - Elimination of mandatory annual health inspections of domesticated honey bee colonies.
4 - Elimination of the requirement to extract honey in a place where bees can gain access.
In my experience and opinion, these four changes are extremely dangerous steps backwards in Utah's 166-year struggle to keep our honey bees healthy. Ironically, in the end, they will actually make beekeeping much more difficult for the very hobby beekeepers the bill presumes to help. The bill's authors are disappointingly closed to revision of their agenda. Their beekeeping naïveté is very evident throughout the bill and in their responses to criticism. It's okay to be uninformed and inexperienced -- as long as one is willing to learn from those who have wisdom and judgment honed by decades of learning and experience.

Back in the days before removable frames, the entire colony had to be killed to take the harvest. The beekeeper harvested 100% of the honey since there were no remaining bees in that colony to feed. The beekeeper left a portion of his colonies alive and unharvested to cast off swarms to rebuild the following spring. The invention of removable frames made it possible and easy to harvest without killing the bees. Perhaps more importantly, removable frames facilitates thorough diagnosis and treatment of maladies in the hive. Utah's HB.224 will move that concept backwards to the dark ages. A hive with non-movable comb cannot be adequately inspected without damaging or destroying the hive. One of the bill's authors justifies this change with the claim that he knows people (probably unregistered and surely uninspected) who are using hives without removable frames and they haven't been caught. He seems to think that when people get away with unhealthy beekeeping practices, elimination of a good and necessary law is warranted. (The dome-shaped bee hive on Utah's seal and flag is called a skep.
It has been a banned hive design for many decades because it does not have movable combs and the hive consequently cannot be adequately inspected nor can the honey be harvested without destroying the combs and killing bees.)

In order to control the spread of contagious honey bee diseases and parasites the Act was written (and repeatedly updated) to require the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to inspect all honey bee colonies in the state. There is no requirement in the law for the beekeeper to seek that inspection. The inspection is at no cost to the beekeeper. (Compensation for the County Bee Inspector varies from county to county. Most, if not all of us are not paid for our work. Most, if not all, of us are compensated for our expenses as volunteers -- although a couple of beekeepers have tried to pay me for my time.)

A major part of the county bee inspector's job is education. Sure, as I inspect the bees in my county, I'm looking for signs of disease and parasites. But I'm also teaching the beekeeper how to look for disease and parasites on their own and how to better manage their bees. That annual inspection is an opportunity to become better educated. Sometimes I learn too. As currently written, HB-224 does nothing about educating beekeepers as a replacement for registration and inspections -- especially the beekeepers with 5 or fewer hives who most need education. (BTW, I rarely even touch a fellow beekeeper's hive(s) and equipment -- I let the beekeeper do the manipulation of his own hive(s) for the inspection. Even so, I always disinfect after each inspection so that I don't spread disease from one apiary to another -- especially my own.)

Registration is a meaningless bureaucratic hurdle without inspections. Inspections can't be fully effective without registration. The two concepts are inseparable. The problem is that Utah has hundreds of beekeepers who don't know enough about the craft to not only keep their own bees healthy, but to prevent their bees from infecting yours. The county bee inspectors have the expertise to help beekeepers learn the craft and the Department has directed the inspectors to be trainers as well as inspectors. Education will do far more than anything else to keep our bees healthy. HB.224 would cripple this educational opportunity for the beekeepers who need it most -- the hobby beekeepers.

An argument being made to eliminate annual inspections (note that in the law, the mandate for inspections is imposed on the state -- not on the beekeepers), eliminate registration for small-scale beekeepers, and eliminate the requirement for movable frames is based on the idea that perhaps hundreds of Utah beekeepers are not registered nor inspected and nobody in memory has been prosecuted for failure to comply with these provisions of the law.

Let me make an analogy: A substantial portion of homicides are never solved. The perpetrator is never identified, caught, prosecuted, or punished. Should the fact that many murderers get away with the crime be an excuse to rescind our laws against murder? I say not. The same with noncompliance to beekeeping laws and regulations that are intended and designed to help the beekeepers of Utah have healthy bees.

The non-complying beekeepers fail to comply with the law for one of three reasons:
1 - They don't know about the law.
2 - They don't know the proven best methods required in the art and science of beekeeping.
3 - They simply chose to defy the law.
Item 3 can't be fixed without enforcement and the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has long chosen to assume the role of education and serving the beekeeper rather than enforcement.

Items 1, and 2, however, can easily be fixed with education. See my proposal for education below.

Everyone should be aware by now, that when the federal government perceives that the states aren't doing enough to regulate an activity, it uses a twisted interpretation of the US Constitution's commerce clause to step in with thousands of pages of regulations and an army of bureaucrats. You think the Utah Bee Inspection Act is heavy-handed?

Many of the changes contained in HB-224 will, for good reason, also taint the reputation of Utah beekeepers, making their bees unwelcome across the nation in regions that desperately need migratory pollination services from Utah honey bees. That tainted reputation will also adversely affect the ability of Utah's honey bee and queen bee producers to sell their bees to new and established beekeepers.

Contrary to what has been said about the Utah Bee Inspection Act, the wording does not require a person to "ask permission" to keep bees. Such a person is, however, required to notify the state (by registering) that he/she is keeping, or intends to keep, bees so that the sate can comply with its mandate to inspect the bees. Unlike obtaining driving, occupational, hunting, or concealed firearms licenses, the beekeeper is not even required to demonstrate any level of competence to care for tens of thousands of God's living creatures. Instead, the state "shall issue" a registration certificate to all who register. The fact that everyone who wants one gets one clearly indicates that permission is not required to keep bees. The wording of the Act does not prohibit anyone from keeping bees. (Some local governments around the state have restricted beekeeping -- that currently is not a state matter. HB-224 hopefully will fix that.) More importantly, registration enables the Department to notify beekeepers of known disease outbreaks and known pesticide applications that could affect them.

Elimination of the registration requirement nullifies a critical and beneficial-to-the-beekeeper purpose of registration: Notification of beekeepers of disease outbreaks and insecticide applications. Honey bees normally fly as far as 4-5 miles from their hive in search of food. In a dearth, they'll travel up to 8 miles. A colony that is weakened or killed by disease and/or parasites is subject to having their honey "robbed" by bees from other colonies within that range, taking that pathogen back home. Beekeepers who are unregistered, as envisioned by HB.224, will not be notified and they will suffer disheartening losses. Elimination of the current registration process will ultimately violate every beekeeper's right to have healthy bees.

Failing to register with the state as a beekeeper is not a crime. There is no penalty. But wise beekeepers proudly register. Utah has hundreds of underground beekeepers -- beekeepers who are not registered and who do not have their bees inspected. There are three basic kinds of "underground" beekeepers:
1 - Those who don't know that registration is required. This is a symptom of a beekeeper who likely doesn't know enough to properly care for several thousand of God's living creatures.
2 - Those who prefer to hide something they know or assume they are doing wrong in the way they care for several thousand living creatures.
3 - Government-minimalists who seem to prefer the death of several thousand living creatures over accepting the help of an experienced fellow beekeeper commissioned by his county and state to help beekeepers.
HB-224 seeks to legitimize underground beekeeping. In my experience, it is the underground beekeepers who have the highest incidence of disease, parasites, and aggressive bees. (All of the problem cases I identified in Iron County in 2014 were unregistered. They included dangerously high mite counts, American Foulbrood, and unmanageable bees.) Legitimizing underground beekeeping will ultimately perpetuate the most harm to the very group of beekeepers it presumes to help -- backyard beekeepers. That harm will continue to snowball to harm the rest of us.

A leading proponent of HB.224 says wants to see the beekeeping clubs assume the inspection responsibility for hobby beekeepers. Yet, the bill does nothing to establish this idea as a replacement for inspections by state-trained, county-appointed inspectors. Additionally, I doubt that it will work. Take a look at the attendance at the various beekeeping clubs around the state. It's obvious that these clubs reach a very tiny portion of the beekeepers in the state -- far less than the county beekeepers reach. Unregistered, uninspected beekeepers are not only invisible to the bee inspectors, in most cases, they're also invisible to the clubs.

One opponent of the current state registration and inspection law cites says he is opposed to mandatory licensing, mandatory health inspections, and an inspector entering his property and touching his hives without notice or permission. Here is my response to him (slightly edited):
I think your interpretation of the law is generally correct. We county bee inspectors are required to "...inspect immediately any apiary within the county that is alleged in a written complaint to be severely diseased, parasitized, or abandoned." We also are expected by the Department (and good judgment) to find the owner and work with him/her to resolve a complaint. Besides, pawing through someone's property without permission is a good way to get shot. I don't know any bee inspectors willing to take that chance.
I have never inspected a colony without the knowledge and consent of the owner. And, I let the owner do the actual manipulation of the hive for the inspection.
Here is an example how I have handled the kind of situation that concerns you:
Last summer, I received a call from the Iron County Sheriff's dispatcher about a complaint of aggressive bees a few miles west of Cedar City and two victims receiving several stings. I drove out to the complainant's home and sure enough he some very mean bees in his yard. He pointed out an apiary approximately 200 yards east of his home -- in a field right next to a cluster of a 6 or 8 homes.
I went to the apiary and found some unmarked hives (the Act requires identification of the beekeeper) with extremely hostile bees. Boxes and frames were scattered among the hive giving the appearance of abandonment. Yet, most of the equipment was new.
Without touching anything in the apiary, I called the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food who started identification of the property owner. A couple of days later, I had the name of the beekeeper. I introduced myself to her and said I was there to help. She admitted to being only two years into the craft and was overwhelmed by the task of dealing with aggressive bees. She said the disarray I found resulted from her having to flee a vicious attack.
She had no idea what the laws are regarding beekeeping, didn't know that registration and inspection is required, and had no idea who to call for help. Had she been registered, as her county bee inspector, I likely would have already met her and inspected her bees -- she'd know who to call for help.
We suited up and visited the apiary where I found signs that the colonies were being agitated by skunks. I helped her install carpet tack strips (she actually had some in her shed) to deter the skunks. In a week, she had some of the nicest bees in the county.
Yes, I probably could have dealt with the situation without her knowledge or permission as the above-mentioned objector describes. But I felt it better to find and work with the owner. The guidance we bee inspectors have been given from the Department is to be educators -- not SS troops.
In this case, it was aggressive bees that were a serious danger and nuisance to the neighborhood. I would follow the same steps for an obviously abandoned apiary. Only after failure of reasonable efforts to find and contact the owner and after coordinating with the Department and land owner would I "enter the private property and perform a complete inspection of each hive without informing the owner."
I understand why he's concerned about an unknown person digging through your apiary with out your knowledge or consent. I feel exactly the same about my own property. However, if you knew there was an apparently abandoned apiary with dead-outs a few hundred yards from your apiary wouldn't you want me to go check it out to protect your own bees?
We are not the enemy. We're beekeepers too. We're on your side.
I urge every member of the Utah Legislature and every beekeeper to oppose HB.224 unless it is amended to:
1 - Continue the current universal registration and apiary-marking mandate but make the $10 fee for hobby beekeepers optional.
2 - Continue the annual health inspection mandate.
3 - Continue the requirement for movable frames (combs).
4 - Continue the requirement to restrict bee access into the harvesting and processing site.
5 - Prohibit the sale of honey bees to anyone who is not licensed/registered as a beekeeper.
6 - Require the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food to collaborate with the Western Apicultural Society, Utah Beekeepers' Association, and the Logan Bee Laboratory at Utah State University to develop a Master Beekeeper program patterned after Master Beekeeper programs in other states such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Virginia.
7 - Waive annual inspections for hobby beekeepers who earn Master Beekeeper status (see 6 above).
One idea in HB.224 that I think has great merit and that should be adopted this year: New paragraph 4-11-18. This paragraph would prohibit local governments from imposing restrictions on beekeeping. This would keep beekeeping law uniform throughout the state -- important for those who move their bees from one area in the state to another for pollination and honey-gathering. It also voids often unreasonable, capricious, and arbitrary restrictions that have already been imposed in some Utah communities. State beekeeping law already has sufficient restrictions on beekeeping to protect the public for these beneficial stinging insects.

Contrary to what has been said about the Utah Bee Inspection Act, failure to comply with the Act is not a crime. The Act is not a part of Utah's criminal code. Criminal law specifies whether an act is a felony, misdemeanor, or infraction. Nowhere in the Act does it say that noncompliance with this Act is a criminal act or even an infraction. Nowhere does it specify any form of penalty for noncompliance. The Act does, however, outline some, not all, of the practices that all responsible beekeepers -- registered or not -- do anyway (eg, properly manage disease and parasites, use removable frames, maintain nonaggressive and manageable stock, prevent robbing, etc.).

Most of us at least claim to want less government control over our lives. Regular readers of this blog know that I want less government -- a lot less. That is the well-intentioned spirit behind HB.224. (Aren't all changes in the law are based on good intentions?) But, remember that the Utah Bee Inspection Act, as currently written, was designed by the beekeeping community for the benefit of everyone in the beekeeping community -- not to simply apply the heavy hand of government. Unless revised as I've suggested, I urge the Utah Legislature and every beekeeper to reject HB.224. Instead of arbitrarily abandoning laws that currently work as well as beekeepers enable them to work, and would better work to the advantage of all beekeepers if followed, I say let's educate our fellow beekeepers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tyranny is coming to state near you

Last month, Washington voters passed I-594 - a convoluted 18+ page initiative to require background checks on all firearm transfers with a few limited exceptions. Now-prohibited transfers include something as benign as simply allowing a friend handle or shoot your firearm. Selling your hunting rifle to a friend whom you've known for decades and who you know is not a restricted person (felon, mentally ill, an addict, etc.) is now a crime. If they aren't extremely careful, even hunter education instructors are in jeopardy when teaching firearm safety to fellow Washingtonians. Most ridiculous of all, some basic firearm safety practices are now illegal!

Gun-owners fighting for their rights were overwhelmed during the campaign by an estimated $6-8 million thrown into the fight by a handful of anti-rights billionaires including Michael "Big Gulp" Bloomberg, Bill Gates, and Paul Allen. Washington voters ignorantly sold their souls to those billionaires.

I mentioned to some gun-rights advocates in Arizona that this anti-gun assault was on the way to the rest of the States. One of them said, "Um no. No it will not." (sic)

He needs to wake up. Having tasted blood, the billionaires have already announced their anti-rights march on the rest of the "land of the free...home of the brave." They intend to keep on doing what works for them -- use lots of money to tell ignorant people how to vote. They already have the needed signatures to get a similar initiative on the ballot in Nevada. They have announced that Arizona, Maine and Oregon are next on their list.

The Arizona Citizen's Defense League (AZCDL) has done some excellent work in the gun-rights arena through the state legislature. But it doesn't have 5% of what the billionaires are prepared spend to criminalize Arizona's gun owners by circumventing the generally rights-friendly legislature and appealing directly to the typical ill-informed and uninformed voter -- just as they did in Washington. Every gun owner in Arizona must immediately join the AZCDL and the NRA and vote like their gun rights depend on it -- then get everyone they know to do likewise and to be smarter voters.

Arizona currently has some of the best gun laws (and resulting low crime rates) in the nation thanks to the AZCDL. The billionaires know that if they crush gun-friendly Arizona by focusing on ignorant voters, the rest of of the nation will fall like dominoes.

Too many non-gun owners think this issue doesn't affect them. They need consider the words of Nazi prisoner Martin Niemöller:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
Except for a few elites (so long as they stay in power) anyone who is unwilling to honor, and fight for, his neighbor's rights will ultimately lose his own.

We need smarter voters.

Who fact-checks PunditFact?

An entity calling itself PunditFact holds itself up as a fact-checking organization. They have announced a "scorecard" of how factual they think various news sources are. There have been several rebuttals. Here's mine.

Before taking their claims at face value, one must check who PunditFact is, what their credentials are, and what criteria they use to decide what's true or false (other than pure opinion). None of that is evident on their website. It is very clear, however, that PunditFact is a Leftist opinion/propaganda site -- not a news source -- that apparently has no intent to be unbiased or even honest.

Like CBS News and MSNBC, both CNN and Fox News provide a mix of opinion and news in their programming. Reasonable adults believe that news must always be facts -- absolute truth. News that doesn't fit the editor's agenda shouldn't be censored. Since the rise of competition from Fox News, CNN and the other networks have done a bit better in this regard. I see no evidence in their "scorecard" that PunditFact has much to say about the reliability of Fox's "fair and balanced" news reporting.

What PolitiFact appears to target is the fact that Fox's opinion segments often differ from their own Lefitist opinions. (Just as CNN has token Conservative commentators, Fox has token Liberal commentators.) Of course, opinions also should be based on facts as well as on the principles and ideals held by the person(s) expressing their opinions. Unfortunately, many opinions are based on misinformation, lack of information, flawed assumptions, a lack of sound principles, and even outright dishonesty. That means that opinions can differ widely between one persons and/or organizations. So, as Fox says, "We report, you decide."

Public dialog must be open to all opinions. Those who are open to at least considering the opinions of others learn to recognize when they have unsound opinions, then update their opinions. PolitiFact seems to be to rigid in its Leftist agenda to understand or recognize that the opinions held by others might also be valid. So, they simply label those they disagree with as liars. Isn't that much easier than actual thought?

Maybe PolitiFact should at least try to be funny like The Onion -- another "news" source that doesn't even pretend to be factual -- only funny.