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.)

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.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Ted Cruz issues a warning to the GOP

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is warning Republicans they are about lose more elections. I think he's right.

Although "progressive" (the only thing that progresses under progressivism is government size and power) Liberals only comprise only about 20% of the voting population, Democrat politicians consistently win elections. How can that be?

It is my observation that most American voters are lazy, ignorant, and/or selfish and simply vote for the letters "R" or "D", free stuff, or some other characteristic that has nothing to do with a candidate's character, agenda, and ability (eg, physical appearance, sex, skin color, charisma, etc.). A bit less than half of these voters vote "R". A majority of the lazy/ignorant/selfish voters vote "D".

Elections are decided by the small portion of voters who actually vote based on principles. Those with Leftist, "progressive" big-government ideals overwhelmingly vote "D" and they tend to vote to win. They don't pout and stay home on election day when their favorite isn't on the ballot. Those who prefer small government and individual liberty/responsibility vote for like-minded politicians -- if one is on the ballot -- regardless of party label. If a like-minded politician isn't on the ballot, many small-government voters simply stay home and pout if they don't vote third-party (which effectively is the same as staying home).

A substantial portion of Republican politicians act like Democrats and pander to voters with "progressive" big-government ideals. Such Republican politicians get neither principled Democrat nor principled Republican votes. All they get is a bit less than half of the votes of those who simply vote for the letters "R" or "D". Republican politicians will never get votes from big-government voters nor from voters who expect/demand free stuff. By alienating the conservative voter, they throw the election to the Leftist 20%.

If Republicans would simply stick to the Constitution and to the Republican Party Platform, they'd get nearly all of the principled conservative votes as well as their share of the ignorant/selfish voters and consistently win by landslides in most of the nation -- just like Reagan did in '84 -- even in California. (My RINO senior senator, Orrin Hatch, actually condemned voters who voted for a Constitutionalist candidate! Shouldn't all politicians be Constitutionalists? Utah reelected Hatch anyway. Utah needed smarter voters.)

Instead of rejecting people like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee (and calling them "wacko birds", the Republican establishment needs to embrace them. The Republic, the Constitution, and our liberty are at stake and depend on that reawakening.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Another child dies due to firearm negligence

Another innocent child has died due to firearm-owner negligence. This story is a repeat of a tragedy for which there is absolutely no excuse. Minors should not have access to firearms and/or ammunition unless they have parental permission and awareness. Below age 14, Utah requires that children be supervised by a responsible adult when handling firearms and/or ammunition.

A loaded gun that is not secure? That's even worse! Free gun locks are available for Pete's sake!

A few people argue that "Locking up your self defense just makes you defenseless which makes having defensive weapons pointless." Those who think they need a gun for self defense (Don't we all?) and who can't figure out how to also keep it safe are not responsible enough to have a gun. They are an "accident" waiting to happen. A self-defense firearms belongs in a proper holster on the defender's person. As long as its there, nobody's ever gonna get hurt. All other firearms should be unloaded and stored so that they are inaccessible to children and other unauthorized persons and separate from ammunition. Having a gun (especially a loaded gun), whether for defense or otherwise, accessible to children whose judgement you can't yet completely trust is dangerous negligence, pure and simple.

News reports tell us that children occasionally need a gun for self defense and therefore need access just as much as an adult does. It is up to the parents to ensure that such access is granted only to youth who are trained in firearm safety and whose judgement can be trusted completely. (For that reason, I encourage parents taking my Utah Concealed Firearm Course to bring their teens to the class at no charge so they can learn about safety and use of deadly force.)

The shooting sports are statistically safer than may other popular sports. Government statistics show that a child is more likely to drown than to die from an "accidental" gunshot. (Accidents are extremely rare. When people get shot, it's almost always somebody was negligent or criminal.)

Every child deserves and needs to know how to react when they encounter a gun without adults around. Even children who don't have them in the home need to know how to be safe around firearms, BB guns, paintball guns, AirSoft guns, etc. Parents without guns presume that their children are safe, but never consider what could happen to their untrained child when he/she is at a friend's home where guns could be present. (About half of the families in your neighborhood have at least one firearm.)

Especially fathers might disagree, but most parents are not the best persons to teach firearm safety. Even parents who shoot often have wrong-headed ideas about the proper handling of firearms and even practice very dangerous gun-handling habits themselves. Parents who are not shooters and those who are anti-gun usually have no idea what a child needs to know and do or how to teach it.

So, for the protection of their own children, every parent should ensure their children get some firearm safety training as soon as they are mature enough to learn -- about age 5-8 for most children -- from a competent firearms trainer -- even a trainer certified by the much-hated NRA. Another good resource is to get their children into a state-managed Hunter Education course -- even if the parents are opposed to hunting or the children will never hunt. They'll not only learn safety, but also wildlife conservation, respect for the outdoors, etc.

Utah law allows, but doesn't require, public schools to provide gun safety training to students. The state has published rules for how this optional training is to be conducted.

I am generally opposed to mandates. However, I think that, because many parents will fail to get their children gun-proofed (trained in safety), every school child should get at least 15-30 minutes of age-appropriate firearm safety training in school from a competent instructor every year from K through grade 12. Our schools are teaching children how to be safe from drugs, malnutrition, strangers, disease, school bus accidents, and even sex. Why not guns?

The NRA's Eddie Eagle program is a good place to start for small children. For older children, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has some excellent training programs suitable for school presentation. You can watch these videos below. These all are politically-neutral and are not designed to indoctrinate children into the shooting sports -- only to teach them to be safe. The anti-gun organizations, on the other hand, do nothing to promote safety. Instead, they chose to fight the organizations that are doing something positive about safety.

Just because child deaths due to "accidental" gunshots are rare doesn't mean we adults should't do more to teach our children how to be safe. This head-in-the-sand attitude that most adults have regarding gun safety is killing our children!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Privatizing government-provided services

Local politicians are discussing whether to turn local ambulance service -- currently run by the Sheriff -- over to a private company. I support this proposal.

Wherever possible, services are best privatized.

Whether an ambulance service is provided by government employees or by a business, that service will be monitored by our elected officials. If such a business doesn't meet the standard of excellence expected, they will be replaced as soon as the contract allows. That provides the incentive to meet public expectations. The profit motive ensures that costs don't soar.

On the other hand, it is extremely rare to see a government employee dismissed when standards are not met. (That doesn't imply that current providers of emergency care aren't top-notch.)

For those who still think a business can't provide adequate ambulance services at a reasonable cost, they need to look into who provides air ambulance service in Iron County. It isn't government employees.

There are many other government functions in this community that need to be privatized: Heritage Center, library and bookmobile, aquatics center, Cross Hollow Arena, trash pickup, tumbling classes, swimming lessons, exercise classes, farmers' market, schools, etc. The assumption that only the government can provide these services is flawed and extremely dangerous to liberty in the long run -- especially when government (backed by the power to tax) is competing with private enterprise as it often does.

Some opponents of the change are worried about a privately-owned ambulance service having monopoly status. But, when only the government has ambulances, isn't that a monopoly too?

I cannot understand why so many complain about high taxes and about how poorly government does so many things with so much waste, then insist that only government is competent to do them.

We need smarter voters.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Who is a gun owner's worst enemy?

This photo was taken in Connecticut early this year where gun owners were lining up to meekly submit to a new gun registration law. These gun owners were asked whether they were members of the NRA (National Rifle Association) and the Connecticut Citizens Defense League. Few were -- typical of the nation as a whole where only 5% of American gun owners support the very organizations that defend their rights.

Instead, many gun owners whine about those organizations -- especially the big dog in the fight, the NRA. They even whine about getting too much mail when all they have to do is tell the organization to stop sending it!

Then, there are the guys full of "from my cold dead hands" and "molon labe" bravado. Don't they understand that when it comes to burying their guns or physically fighting over their gun rights, it's far too late? No doubt many of those Connecticut gun owners once said "from my cold dead hands" and "molon labe". What did those slogans get them? A chance to line up on a cold winter day!

If just 20% of gun owners would put their money where their mouth is, and join the NRA, we would have 20 million members. That would give the NRA the clout to dictate the law -- not compromise. You like SAF, CCRKBA, GOA, or JPFO better? Fine. Show me how you are helping them to be at least as influential as the NRA.

Then, there are the clowns who say they're for gun rights, yet vote of the very politicians who promise to take their guns away. Gun owners need to vote like gun owners! Always!

Far too many gun owners are the worst enemy of gun rights.

Join the NRA today! Tell everyone you know to join.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Is Loretta Lynch an enemy of the Constitution too?

I was deeply disappointed when Senator Orrin Hatch voted to confirm Eric Holder as US Attorney General even though it was (and still is) clear that Holder is an enemy of the Constitution and lacks the objectivity and wisdom necessary for high office.

Now, as the Senate considers President Obama's nomination of Loretta Lynch as Holder's successor, I'd like each and every senator to ensure that she is not also an enemy of the Constitution by asking her pertinent questions including:

Will she will enforce the Constitution as if it truly were the "supreme law of the land" or will she allow exceptions for shariah law as well as for federal laws that are not "in made in pursuance" of the Constitution?

Will she continue Holder's policy of rejecting the the right and authority of the states to minimize voter fraud?

Will she continue Holder's practice of pressuring banks to decline banking services to legitimate, but politically-incorrect, businesses such as the firearm industry?

Does she agree with the president and Holder that the president may refuse to enforce laws he disagrees with?

Does she agree that the president may change immigration laws with nothing more than his pen and phone?

Does she agree with Holder that the president may spy on people using general warrants?

Will she issue subpoenas to the home phones of Associated Press and Fox News reporters, as Holder did?

Will she conduct an honest and thorough investigation into the "Fast and Furious" gun-smuggling fiasco?

Will she conduct an honest and thorough investigation into IRS targeting of tea party and other conservative groups?

Will she continue Holder's practice of injecting race into situations where race is immaterial as he did in the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases?

Obama has a poor track record when it comes to surrounding himself with people who understand and honor the Constitution. I hope this nomination is a change in that pattern.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Government doing what it does best: What it's supposed to not do

The mayor of Cedar City is among those who are touting the clubhouse renovations being done at the city golf course. One of her fans added, "What a great tourism and economic simulator in our beautiful city". They presume that no economic stimulus comes by leaving those funds in the pockets of taxpayers so they can spend the money in a way that best benefits them.

These anti-free-market sentiments are typical of the we-must-have-government-take-care-of-us mentality that infects modern American society.

People seem to believe that only government spending can create prosperity or stimulate an economy. They presume that private spending is not the highest use of money and other resources. Instead, they think that only government spending is well-directed. Of course, politicians and bureaucrats are eager to exploit such beliefs. Presidential-wannabe Hillary Clinton even went so far as to proclaim, "Don't let anybody tell you it's corporations and businesses that create jobs." She must have had an extremely low estimate of the intelligence and rationality of her audience. And that low estimate was apparently correct.

Why must it be the government that provides a place where golfers (a tiny portion of the community) can chase balls? The same question can be asked of almost everything we allow or ask government to do for us: dog parks, swimming pools, basket ball courts, baseball fields, recreation centers, farmers' markets, libraries and bookmobiles (Has anyone besides me ever asked how much a library costs per book lent?), theater production companies, senior centers, theaters, stadiums for professional athletes, as well as swimming, dance, and exercise classes, etc. Too many presume that none of these recreational activities can be met by private enterprise or by individuals on their own.

A few years ago, Cedar City sold its swimming pool to the local college. Soon, that pool was demolished and converted to student parking. The value of that land was, apparently, greater as a parking lot than as a public swimming pool. The cities' politicians were quick to dream up ways to replace that old pool at taxpayer expense rather than leave the decision up to free enterprise. I was one of a tiny handful of taxpayers who asked the question, "Why must any new swimming pool be owned and operated by the city? Can't private enterprise satisfy that need?" My questions were ignored and the city built a $4.7 million 4-pool aquatics complex that reportedly goes into the red to the tune of at least $800,000 per year.

Cedar City has at least 4 fitness gyms that could, and would, add a swimming pool to their facilities. Why haven't they? Because those entrepreneurs, unlike politicians, are smart enough to know that they cannot possibly compete against the deep pockets of a taxing entity such as Cedar City that can afford to lose money on an aquatics center and simply pass the red ink on to the taxpayers. When governments take upon themselves to do what private enterprise and individuals should do, it always drives private enterprise out of the market.

Why do so many think that government can better allocate resources (land, labor, energy, knowledge, time, equipment, materials, etc.) than can a free market? A free market exists when producers of goods and services satisfy the needs of the consumers and consumers are free to buy from, or not buy from those producers. There are many who believe that only government (politicians, bureaucrats, and, sometimes judges) are smart and wise enough to allocate resources.

For example, if a golf course is the best use of a particular piece of land, an entrepreneur (eg land developer) will buy that land and convert it to a golf course with all of the expenses covered by himself and other investors. Consumers (eg golfers) will support the golf course as the best use of that land by paying fees to the entrepreneur so that he/she can earn a profit from his/her risk of creating a golf course. If the golf course is unusually profitable, other investors will create additional golf courses as necessary to satisfy consumer demand. On the other hand, when governments create and run golf courses, they do so without regard to whether a golf course is the best use for that land and without regard to whether the golf course will ever make a profit, let alone not be a money-pit burden on non-golfing taxpayers.

Nearly all that governments do at all levels (local, state, national) is to buy votes from special interests with money extracted from people who will never benefit from that government spending.

So, who are the special interests? Probably you.

If you want government to build and operate a golf course for your recreation, you are a special interest preying on taxpayers who do not golf.

If you want government to build and operate a swimming pool for your recreation, you are a special interest preying on taxpayers who do not swim.

If you want government to build and operate a baseball or soccer field for your recreation, you are a special interest preying on taxpayers who do not play those games.

If you want government to give you a rebate for your purchase of a hybrid or electric car, you are a special interest preying on taxpayers who do not play those games.

Yes, I am a special interest too. I'm the guy that expects you to pay your own bills rather than to ask government to tax me to pay for your golf course, swimming pool, dance lessons, dog park, etc.
"Would you be willing to give up your favorite federal program if it meant never having to pay income tax again?" -- Harry Browne

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The "supremacy clause" and nullification

The Utah legislature made an effort to nullify unconstitutional federal gun laws. But, the legislature lost its spine and neutered the bill. The Tucson Sentinal recently published a short article on the matter of state nullification of unconstitutional federal gun laws

Contrary to popular opinion, federal law (along with federal regulations, policies, and judicial opinions) is not the supreme law of the land simply because it was created by an entity of the central government. The supremacy clause says, "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land...." (emphasis mine)

According to that clause, coupled with the Tenth Amendment to the US Constitution, any federal law, regulation, policy, or judicial opinion which exceeds the authority specifically delegated to the central government by the states to the central government via the Constitution or which infringes any right guaranteed by the US Constitution is not "in pursuance" of the plain wording or the original intent of the Constitution and is therefore unconstitutional and must be nullified by the states and ignored by federal bureaucrats until Congress has the sense and integrity to repeal it.

Thomas Jefferson, among other distinguished Americans agree. His draft of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 first introduced the word "nullification" into American political life, and follow-up resolutions in 1799 employed Jefferson's formulation that " the rightful remedy" when the federal government reaches beyond its constitutional powers. In the Virginia Resolutions of 1798, James Madison said the states were "duty bound to resist" when the federal government violated the Constitution."

Unfortunately, federal court opinions (including opinions by the Supreme Court) erroneously establish the distorted doctrine that only they may be the final arbiters of what's Constitutional. That, in effect, establishes the federal courts as the supreme law of the land -- not the Constitution!

I ardently support the Utah Legislature and Governor in voiding all federal laws which violate the US Constitution. It is an essential part of their job.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A gun restriction in a store that sells guns?

I've spent thousands of dollars in a certain chain of stores around Utah.

Today, as I entered the branch of that chain in Cedar City, I noticed a sign saying, "All firearms must be unloaded prior to entering the store." (An unloaded firearm isn't much good for self-defense.) I don't know how long that sign has been on the store's door -- this is the first time I noticed it.

Inasmuch as I have taken firearm training in that store and I have bought several firearms from that store chain around Utah, including the pistol that is on my hip as I write this complaint, I find this restriction incongruous and puzzling. It's odd that store management doesn't trust gun owners who are certified as by the State of Utah and by the FBI as responsible gun owners and who are trained in firearm safety (including those trained in the stores' own classrooms).

Store management surely must recognize that a person intent on committing violence in one of their stores will not be deterred by this sign. In fact, such a sign would likely indicate to such people that everyone in posted stores is defenseless, making their stores, employees, and customers more vulnerable to serious harm or death. I therefore consider that chain of stores to be too dangerous to enter.

I will respect their policy by taking my money elsewhere until this policy is permanently removed for all of their law-abiding customers and employees in all of their stores.

I am sharing my concerns with my friends, family, and blog readers.

Note: I have redacted the name of the store chain because they removed the above-mentioned sign within hours after I contacted store management. At 9:37 PM on 18 Oct, 2014, I received the following response from store management: "Thanks for bringing this to our attention. These signs are meant for firearms being brought into the store for warranty purposes and to have optics installed on them. This sign was removed this evening. We will provide better instructions to our store teams on the proper wording. We are fervent believers in the second amendment and our right to carry concealed or open carry firearms where permitted by law."

Ebola, flu, and tyranny

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is an ugly and deadly viral disease that was identified in Africa in 1976. It has a relatively low rate of contagion, but is is devastating to those who contract the disease.

We have had less than a handful of ebola cases in the US in recent weeks, but it seems to have the public and the news media in full panic mode. As of 14 October 2014, 9,216 suspected cases worldwide resulting in the deaths of 4,555 have been reported.

There's no doubt that ebola is an ugly disease, but it's nowhere near the threat of influenza.

According to "On average, there are about 36,000 flu deaths per year in the United States. This number includes people who die from the flu itself and those who develop complications from the flu - such as pneumonia - and then die from that illness. The CDC estimates that between 5 and 20 percent of the country's population gets the flu each year."

The big threat of ebola is fear which, in turn, is based on ignorance. Because of that ignorant fear, millions of Americans are demanding that the central government, especially putative President Obama, do something to give us absolute protection from ebola (while ignoring the flu, for which relatively few seek immunization).

I challenge anyone and everyone who demands Obama and other central-government agents to do something about ebola (and almost everything else the central government does including Obamacare) to look into the US Constitution for the authority and/or responsibility of the central government to do anything about any disease whatsoever. Instead, a careful reading of the Constitution reveals that dealing with disease is the sole responsibility of the individual states and of the People themselves -- not the central government (see the Tenth Amendment).

Our current fixation on ebola serves best to distract Americans from the greatest, and very real, threat this nation has suffered for decades: The steady loss of individual Liberty and the accelerating growth of big government tyranny.

This demand that Obama fix the ebola problem only fuels a continued expansion of imperial, dictatorial power in the Whitehouse. Is that really where you want to go?

We need smarter voters!

Friday, September 19, 2014

The FAA wants to dictate how private property (hangars) are used

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has proposed a policy (docket number FAA-2014-0463) on the non-aeronautical use of airport hangars. This proposal is another example of the central government's overreach and must be rejected.

I agree that airport property is scarce. I agree that is wise that such property be used primarily for purposes directly related to aviation and which cannot reasonably be conducted away from an airport.

That said, when a hangar is used only for storage or maintenance of an aircraft, any reasonable person can see that there is a lot of wasted space inside that structure. It is reasonable that a person or other entity that owns, rents, or leases a hangar has a right to use his/her property efficiently, even if it means using the property partly for non-aeronautical purposes so long as the primary use of the hangar is for aviation.

It is unfortunate some government agents feel like they have authority to dictate the use of private or business property simply because an airport gets a bit of funding from the central government. The fact that hangars are usually built without funds from the central government -- even on airports that receive some federal money -- makes that bureaucratic power grab over those hangars even more alarming.

I support the comment given by AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association). The proposal in docket number FAA-2014-0463 must be amended to protect the right to use hangar space efficiently so long as the primary use of the hangar is related to aviation.

Most Americans think that if they can get to the mall, they are free. This proposed rule change is another piece of evidence that they are not free. We need smarter voters.