Archives for February 2010

Caption Competition #5

Spring Break

Paul occupies himself during spring break

This photograph was taken during Spring Break of March 2004. My son Paul is the one that appears to be holding up one gigantic rock. It will be interesting to read the captions you come up with because I can’t think of any right now.

Rachel eating Turkish Delight

Rachel eating Turkish Delight

The first prize (Kaysville and environs only) is a 51 gram Fry’s Turkish Delight bar. Turkish Delight is the addictive confection to which Edmund Pevensie succumbs in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. Sales of Turkish Delight rose following the theatrical release of the film version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This is your chance to find out what Turkish Delight tastes like and if it is really addictive.

Rachel agreed to model the Turkish Delight. After eating one bar she wanted to also eat the bar that has been reserved for first prize. Perhaps these Turkish Delights are addictive after all. Well now, write a caption at your own risk.

The judging of this latest competition passes from Judge Jill to Judge Jake. I expect we will run the competition for two weeks. Even if you are not local we will still be delighted to hear from you. However, we cannot mail prizes because there is no money left in the budget. Turkish Delights don’t come cheap you know.

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Return to a Limited Government, Step 4

John Adams

While all other sciences have advanced, that of government is at a standstill - little better understood, little better practiced now than three or four thousand years ago ~ John Adams

Mike Lee is challenging Bob Bennett for his senate seat. Lee’s website clearly defines his stance on a variety of issues, with the emphasis on Five Steps to a Return to Limited Government. I am discussing each of these five steps, examining them on their merits. Previously I discussed Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3

Step 4: Reduce Government Regulations

Mike Lee’s proposal:

The answer to an economic downturn is not a government stimulus, but a reduction in government regulation and bureaucracy to allow the natural forces of our private enterprise system to rebound without undue interference.

There are two parts to this proposal:

  1. Do not use government stimulus in economic downturns.
  2. Reduce regulation and bureaucracy to allow private enterprise to rebound.

Stimulus

The conventional wisdom is for governments to pick up the spending when consumers retrench. This is not as wise as many want us to believe. All of this stimulus spending is creating huge deficits that in later years will be even more of a drain on the economy because of the additional interest.

Those that do have money to spend because they have little or no debt and have planned for times such as these are not likely to increase spending. And why not? Because they are spooked by the government spending! They see higher taxes and/or high inflation up ahead and so put away extra money or convert it to gold.

So the very deficit stimulus spending by government has the opposite effect on the populace most able to stimulate the economy.

Reduce Regulation

Not owning a business I know little about regulations. But if they are anything like the tax code they must indeed be onerous. Some would argue that it was lack of regulation that caused the recent economic meltdown. It seems to me that it was partly government pushing banks to loan to people who should never have received loans. And regulations that should have been enforced were not. Money was also given away too quickly to dubious bailouts.

Just by letting states manage more of their own affairs without federal interference would result is less regulation. Of course mistakes will be made but surely things cannot get any worse.

Summary

My grade for this proposal is 5 out of 5 because I never believed that the stimulus money was spent wisely. There is even TARP money left that the politicians are looking around for causes to spend it on. If it was such an emergency that this money be appropriated how come there are billions still left over a year later?

Bailouts should have been made on a case by case basis and only in a dire emergency. “Saving jobs” is not an economic emergency, although granted it is for the soon to be unemployed.

What do you the people say?

Next Time

Mike Lee’s Step 5: End the Era of the Lifetime Politician
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Missionary Dan Is Kicked Out Of Mongolia

Members in Mongolia

Daniel (second right in rear) with members in Mongolia. At the time they did not know he was leaving.

We, Daniel’s family, knew last Sunday that Daniel was imminently leaving but were asked not to blog about it until we were sure it would happen. It will be a loss for Mongolia to have all those missionaries leave. They love Mongolia and its people and contributed much to improving their lives. Daniel wrote in an email Sunday:

I was in complete shock hearing the news last night. Since we hit our year mark in the country 3 days ago I thought I had a solid 9 months left to work hard. It has been quite the challenge to have to accept I’m very likely leaving in a week with a possibility of finishing my mission somewhere else.

As a foreign missionary, Daniel has two documents which allow him to be in Mongolia: one is his visa and the other is his residential permit. Both are stamped in his passport. His visa extends beyond his scheduled departure from the mission. However, his residential permit is only good until February 23, 2010. This residential permit needs to be renewed at least once during his mission as they are only good for one year.

The mission has been having difficulty in obtaining visas for new missionaries coming to Mongolia. This process has resulted in the majority of the missionaries being delayed during the past 15 months and no new foreign missionaries coming to Mongolia since the beginning of July 2009.

The occurrence of these visa difficulties are a result of relatively recent laws in Mongolia regarding foreign workers. The number of visas available to an organization is now governed by a quota system related to the type of organization and number of local employees. Being volunteers does not allow us to circumvent these rules which are quite reasonable given the size of the population and the strong feeling towards preserving Mongolian culture. Even with these laws, Immigration continued to give visas to the foreign missionaries until last year. All of the foreign missionaries currently serving in Mongolia came in as exceptions to the new rules. Residential permits for the missionaries will no longer be renewed until they are in compliance with the quota. This permit renewal has previously been a routine matter.

Daniel with Mongolian members

Daniel (in rear) with Mongolian members and missionaries

Yesterday Daniel had permission to telephone home to update us. He is going to Kennewick, Washington. The rest of his group (nine missionries) are going to Oregon, California, and Washington D.C. Says Daniel:

I am leaving Choybalsan on Monday. The Andersons are leaving with me by a church car. So we’ll leave Monday morning and get to Ulaanbataar at night. Then have interviews with president on Tuesday or so and I think we are leaving to Korea on Wednesday at midnight. Then from Korea I’ll go to California LA then to Washington.

Then there is a group of seven Americans that have finished their two years and will leave the week after me. Then about three months or so later another American group will leave. From about May on there will be only two American missionaries here then in July it’ll all be Mongolian.

Daniel explained that they are just keeping to the law so when they figure it all out they should be coming back. He said that it looks like he can come back but there are no promises.

As Daniel’s parents we are grateful for the time that Daniel has been allowed to spend in Mongolia.

Elder Daniel Willoughby is serving in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission but will be temporarily assigned to Kennewick, Washington. If you want to communicate with Daniel, write in the comments or use one of these addresses.
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Return to a Limited Government, Step 3

Benjamin Franklin

Without industry and frugality, nothing will do; with them, everything ~ Benjamin Franklin

Mike Lee is challenging Bob Bennett for his senate seat. Lee’s website clearly defines his stance on a variety of issues, with the emphasis on Five Steps to a Return to Limited Government. I am discussing each of these five steps, examining them on their merits. Previously I discussed Step 1 and Step 2.

Step 3: Reform the Tax System

Mike Lee’s proposal:

With 50% of wage earners paying little or no taxes, too many voters have no ‘skin in the game’ — and no reason to question new government programs that are funded by the real taxpayers. Until we reform the tax code to give all Americans a stake in their government (through a flat tax), Congress will continue to adopt new entitlements, new bailouts, and new relief programs.

There are two parts to this proposal:

  1. All Americans should have a stake in their government.
  2. We need a flat tax.

It is not necessary to have a flat tax to adjust taxes so that more Americans pay a share of the burden of government. Taxes need to be broad based so the load is shared and those that work hard are not discouraged by having to pay a disproportionate amount to the government.

There are several ways to broaden taxes. A federal sales tax would work, as well as a reduction in tax credits. A reduction in services would also achieve the goal of having a broader load.

A Flat Tax

What we are really looking at is a leveling of the tax burden so that all can help. Which is why Mike includes a flat tax. It seems the two go together. A flat tax is a popular idea. Even I would pay no more taxes under a flat tax of 12%.

It is sad that in some quarters some cry, “Soak the rich!” The wealthy that I am familiar with worked extremely hard for their money and/or took extraordinary risks. This is something we should not discourage. Under a flat tax, a rich man still pays much more than a poor man, yet at least it has a veneer of fairness because the percentage is the same. Perhaps that is why tithing works so well, at least in some churches.

My decades of living in England taught me that eventually even the poor pay higher taxes because under the crushing weight of socialism there is not enough rich people left. When I was a teenager the concern was the “brain drain” where professionals and the wealthy were leaving England for a lower-tax America.

Summary

My grade for this proposal is 5 out of 5 because as much as possible should be done to lessen the pain of taxation for everybody. Well did Winston Churchill speak when he said that “there is no such thing as a good tax.”

What do you the people say?

Next Time

Mike Lee’s Step 4: Reduce Government Regulations
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Caption Competition #4 Winner

Janay Blair

Janay wins first prize for her brilliantly worded caption


As the judge, Jill’s captions were excluded from the competiton. Thank you all for the great and humorous captions.

Janay is this week’s caption winner.

  • First — “Apparently she wasn’t a ten cow wife.” Janay
  • Second — “Holy cow head Batman!” Randy
  • Third — “Mom, I’m sending this home for your primary lesson on cow-nting your blessings!” Adelaide

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Return to a Limited Government, Step 2

James Madison

The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home ~ James Madison

Mike Lee is challenging Bob Bennett for his senate seat. Lee’s website clearly defines his stance on a variety of issues, with the emphasis on Five Steps to a Return to Limited Government. I am discussing each of these five steps, examining them on their merits. Last time was Step 1.

Step 2: Strengthen National Security, But Stop Nation-Building

Mike Lee’s proposal:

A core constitutional function of the federal government is to ‘insure domestic tranquility’ by protecting our country. We must continue to develop sophisticated, cutting-edge tools to defend our citizens from threats of terrorism. But our focus must be on rebuilding our own nation. We should not and cannot afford to continue the quest for nation-building.

There are three parts to this proposal:

  1. Insure domestic tranquility.
  2. Rebuild our own nation.
  3. Cease nation-building elsewhere.

Who can argue with the charge to “insure domestic tranquility?” In the process individual rights need to be upheld, which has not always been the case.

There are many interpretations of what “rebuilding our nation” means. Is it meant in a military sense? Or increasing employment? Perhaps strengthening the dollar? My view is that once the monetary system is functioning correctly many other problems will fade.

In ceasing nation-building it is hard to to see that as anything else but an exit from Iraq and Afghanistan. This is not the normal Republican line. Recently, this has not been been the Democratic line either. In these times of huge deficits an end to the wars would save a useful sum.

Also, presidents need to be reined in a little by Congress so that no more entangling alliances are made.

Summary

I agree with step two so long as it means that the wars America is involved in are ended. Life can be made difficult for terrorists without having to occupy two countries. My grade for this proposal is 4 out of 5 because an end to overseas nation-building will benefit the U.S. in the long term.

What do you the people say?

Next Time

Mike Lee’s Step 3: Reform the Tax System
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Return to a Limited Government, Step 1

Thomas Jefferson

I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared ~ Thomas Jefferson

Mike Lee is challenging Bob Bennett for his senate seat. Lee’s website clearly defines his stance on a variety of issues, with the emphasis on Five Steps to a Return to Limited Government. In the next several days I will be discussing each of these five steps, examining them on their merits.

Step 1: End Deficit Spending

Mike Lee’s proposal:

“Deficit spending facilitates the continuing growth of the federal government. It is far too tempting to shift the cost of today’s federal expansion to future generations. Until we require Congress to operate under a balanced budget, that expansion will continue. A balanced budget amendment is essential to restoring the original, proper role of the federal overnment.”

There are two parts to this proposal:

  1. The problem: Deficit spending.
  2. The solution: A balanced budget amendment.

Growth of the federal government is not necessarily a problem, especially with a growing population. It is when the growth is funded with borrowed dollars, allowing federal intrusion into areas that should be reserved to the states, or to the people.

Balanced Budget Amendment

I am with Mike on the need for a balanced budget amendment. I would also add a presidential line-item veto, which many state governors already have.

What are the chances of enactment of a balanced budget amendment? Through the amendment process. Article V of the Constitution specifies two methods to add amendments.

  1. Two-thirds (290) of the House and two-thirds (67) of the Senate propose an amendment. Three-fourths (38) of the states ratify it.
  2. Two-thirds (34) of the states call for a constitutional convention. Three-fourths (38) of the states ratify the convention’s proposed amendments.

There is already a call for a constitutional convention in progress. In the mid 1970s a movement began for the purpose of drafting a balanced-budget amendment by Constitutional Convention. By 1983, 32 of the needed 34 state legislatures had asked Congress to call a convention.

These are the states. States marked with an (R) have since rescinded their calls.

Alabama (R)
Alaska
Arizona (R)
Arkansas
Delaware
Colorado
Florida (R)
Georgia (R)
Idaho (R)
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Louisiana (R)
Maryland
Mississippi
Missouri
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Mexico
North Carolina
North Dakota (R)
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
S. Carolina (R)
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah (R)
Virginia (R)
Wyoming

Some say that the rescissions are not valid and that the calls cannot be overridden. This view includes even some opposed to calls for a constitutional convention. However, this is far from settled. Although I am in favor of a constitutional convention to get a balanced budget amendment, I can see that in the end the rescissions will have to be upheld.

Summary

With popular support, the people could pressure congress to begin the amendment process, which alleviates the necessity of a risky constitutional convention. My grade for this proposal is only 3 out of 5 because the chances of ever getting a balanced budget amendment are rather slim.

What do you the people say?

Next Time

Mike Lee’s Step 2: Strengthen National Security, But Stop Nation-Building
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Missionary Dan Email #17 from Choibalsan, Mongolia

Traditional Mongolian garb

Daniel (right) and companion in traditional Mongolian garb

Thagaan Sar was lots of fun. We spent almost every day visiting members and eating buuz. It was an adventurous week. Elder Naisbitt and I didn’t quite make our goal of eating 200 buuz, but we did eat 155. Not bad at all. I was so full all the time. It made every day this week feel like one day. I really enjoyed the holiday.

The best thing that happened this week though was Sunday. Church attendance soared. It was around 159. Along with that we had seven investigators from our work came. Three of them were faithful through Thagaan Sar so they will be baptized very soon. It truly made me happy and thankful. I hope that I will be able to see their baptisms.

Transfer calls came as well so my new companion is on the way. I’ll see what I can do to get some pictures sent on their way.

Daniel with Mongolian members

Daniel (second from right) with Mongolian members


Visiting Mongolian members

Daniel (back row, right) visiting Mongolian members


We hit our year mark in the country three days ago.

The photos looked great Dad. In front of the temple there isn’t a road any more so that picture was way interesting to see. The color green looks a bit brighter too back in that day. Happy birthday! The picture of you makes you look good. It’s good to see my good “old” friend, Dad.

I got the thermometer from the package. It has been a steady 0 degrees F. This whole week. The lowest for the week was around -10 F. It is really starting to warm up now though. Yesterday it was close to 20 F. which is about to where we feel like we don’t need to wear coats anymore.

The pictures are of a few members that we went to.

This is an email conversation I had with Daniel:

Daniel: Do you want anything from Mongolia?

Dad: One of the vests. Like the one with white sleeves and the light brown body. The one your buddy was wearing that you had your picture took with. I am a large (not a Mongolian large — American large). But don’t go to any trouble.

Daniel: Ha ha. Alright will do, got to go now. Bye.

Love, Elder Willoughby.

SpongeBob Square Pants rings

Daniel (left) and companion wearing SpongeBob Square Pants candy rings

Presented have been portions of an email from Elder Daniel Willoughby serving in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission. If you want to communicate with Daniel, write in the comments or use one of these addresses.
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Those Mormons Keep On Growing

Salt Lake Temple

Salt Lake Temple viewed from the Church Office Building 1979

The 2010 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches reports total church membership of 147,384,631, up 0.49 percent over 2009. The top five churches listed in order of size of membership:

  1. The Catholic Church, 68,115,001, up 1.49 percent.
  2. Southern Baptist Convention, 16,228,438, down 0.24 percent.
  3. The United Methodist Church, 7,853,987, down 0.98 percent.
  4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,974,041, up 1.71 percent.
  5. The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875, no updates reported.

Churches reporting the highest membership losses:

  1. Presbyterian Church (USA), down 3.28 percent to 2,941,412.
  2. American Baptist Churches in the USA, down 2 percent to 1,358,351.
  3. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, down 1.92 percent to 4,709,956.

How many years will it take for the LDS Church to overtake the United Methodists and occupy third place? To find out I have assumed the UMC continues with a rate of decline of .98% and the LDS with a steady 1.71% increase. The figures reported in the yearbook are for 2008.

My calculations indicate that by the end of 2019, less than ten years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be the third largest church in the United States.

If the table formatting is scrambled, view the table here.

Year UMC -0.98% LDS +1.71%
2009 7,853,987 76,969 5,974,041 102,156
2010 7,777,018 76,215 6,076,197 103,903
2011 7,700,803 75,468 6,180,100 105,680
2012 7,625,335 74,728 6,285,780 107,487
2013 7,550,607 73,996 6,393,267 109,325
2014 7,476,611 73,271 6,502,591 111,194
2015 7,403,340 72,553 6,613,786 113,096
2016 7,330,788 71,842 6,726,882 115,030
2017 7,258,946 71,138 6,841,911 116,997
2018 7,187,808 70,441 6,958,908 118,997
2019 7,117,368 69,750 7,077,905 121,032
2020 7,047,617 69,067 7,198,937 123,102

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Note: The result of the percentage decline or increase is shown in the following year, hence the result of UMC’s forecast -.98% decline of 76,969 in 2009 is shown in 2010 as 7,777,018 (7,853,987 – 76,969).
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