Wyoming Abraham Lincoln Monument

Bronze Bust of Lincoln

On my way east on I-80 last week, between Cheyenne and Laramie, I came across the Wyoming Abraham Lincoln Monument. It originally stood at Sherman Summit, 8,878 feet above sea level, the highest point along the old coast-to-coast Lincoln Highway. When I-80 was completed in 1969, the head was moved to its current location, about 195 feet lower but seen by many more travelers.

Wyoming Lincoln Monument

The monument was created in 1959 by Wyoming State Parks Commission and the sculptor Robert I. Russin, a University of Wyoming art professor, to honor the sesquicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. The bronze bust of Lincoln’s head is 13.5 feet tall. Russin required ten tons of clay and eleven months of work to create the head.

The original casting was done in Mexico City and the sculpture is comprised of thirty pieces that were bolted together. The bust, weighing two tons, sits on a thirty-five-foot tall granite pedestal. The base is hollow and when Russin died in 2007, his ashes were interred inside.

Lincoln Monument plaque

The Monument is a reminder of Lincoln’s Second Annual Message to the Senate and House of Representatives on December 1, 1862 wherein he detailed his plan for the remunerative emancipation of slaves:

It is not “Can any of us imagine better?” but “Can we all do better?” Object whatsoever is possible, still the question recurs, “Can we do better?” The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. (Abraham Lincoln, Second Annual Message, emphasis added.)

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Sam Houston On Government

Sam Houston's head
In March I was travelling along I-45 when I saw Sam Houston, larger than life. His statue, near Huntsville, Texas, towers 67 feet in a clearing by the freeway. On the base of the statue I spied a plaque inscribed thus:

The great misfortune is that a notion obtains with those in power that the world, or the people, require more governing than is necessary. To govern well is a great science, but no country is ever improved by too much governing…most men think when they are elevated to position that it requires an effort to discharge their duties and they leave common sense out of the question.

The best part of this quote by Sam Houston is saved till last: “Govern wisely and as little as possible!”

If our current state governments would take those seven words to heart we would soon see improving economies and happier people.

Sam Houston

Derek, Bryson, Sarah, Jill, and Rick at the feet of Sam Houston

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California Should Promptly Balance Its Budget

CaliforniaIt’s another year and California has to balance it’s budget. Isn’t that tough. I have to balance my budget every two weeks when I get my paycheck. Every household in the land does the same thing. If a family goes for too long without balancing its budget they go bankrupt, lose their house, and in some cases end up divorced.

California has a $19.9 billion budget gap to close. Governor Schwarzenegger has proposed steep reductions in almost every major government program. The Republicans favor the cuts and the Democrats want tax hikes and a $6.9 billion loan from the Federal government. And so a rerun of last year’s spectacle seems likely where week after week no agreement could be reached. Each party blaming the other, while the deficit grew larger.

Utah has around a billion dollar shortfall, maybe less, to cut from it’s budget. As a percentage it adds up to quite a reduction in tax receipts. But don’t expect to see a California style drama of many months when the Utah legislature meets. Cuts will be made, some taxes and fees will probably be increased, and life will go on. California could learn something from Utah in this instance.

As for California, both Repuplicans and Democrats are right. There should be deep cuts and tax hikes. Get on with it so the good people of California can go about their business. And forget the Federal loan. Washington has enough problems of its own. People are not going to forget come election day the wasteful bailouts and programs that Congress legislated in 2009.
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Patrick Henry Caucus Supports Lawsuit Against Feds

Patrick HenryThe Patrick Henry Caucus is calling on the leaders from all States to join in the effort to file a lawsuit against the federal government in order to stop the federal health care bill. The Patrick Henry Caucus says the national health care bill is unconstitutional on two counts:

  1. The preferential treatment given Nebraska “violates principles of due process and equal protection” under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.
  2. The law is “an excess of Congress’s enumerated powers inasmuch as it requires every American to acquire health insurance.”

In a The Patrick Henry Caucus on Facebook press release the Caucus wrote:

On Wednesday, December 23, 2009 The Patrick Henry Caucus adopted a unanimous position to oppose the Health Care Reform Bills, and to support a lawsuit against the federal government.

Listed below are the amendments cited. I have italicized what I think is the applicable text. Correct me if I wrong on this.

Article 1, Section 8 lists the enumerated powers (see below) which doesn’t outline any power remotely resembling health care. The general welfare clause could be used to argue for the constitutionality of health care and no doubt it will be. My question is why bother limiting what the federal government can do by enumeration if a general clause makes it all moot?

As always, I am open to discussion on this although I do believe the time for talking is over. The states must act to reign in excessive federal abuses, for we have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.

Amendments 5 and 14

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment XIV

Section 1.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

[Section 2-5 not listed]

Article I

Section 8.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;
To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;
To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;
To establish post offices and post roads;
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;
To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;
To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
To provide and maintain a navy;
To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;–And

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
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If Utah Was A Country

Qatar, Jamaica, and Ecuador flags.

If Utah was a country it would have a GDP of $105.7 billion. This would place Utah above Qatar’s GDP of $102.3 billion but below 32 other states and 55 other nations. But what is GDP and how is it measured?

Gross Domestic Product

The gross domestic product (GDP), a basic measure of an economy’s economic performance, is the market value of all final goods and services made within the borders of a nation in a year. The most common approach to measuring GDP is the expenditure method. This method states that GDP is equal to the total expenditures for all final goods and services produced within the country in a stipulated period of time (usually a 365-day year). Goods and services are consumption plus gross investment plus government spending plus exports minus imports.

For a state the counterpart to GDP is Gross State Product (GSP) and is a measurement of the economic output of a state or province. It is the sum of all value added by industries within the state. Bear in mind that flows of goods, services, labor, and capital across state boundaries are not measured very accurately as compared to nations.


If Utah was a country its population of 2,736,424 would rank it above the nation of Jamaica with a population of 2,719,000. Utah ranks 34th among the states in population. If Utah were a country, and no other U.S. states were, it would be positioned 139th in population among all nations.


Fertility rate is live births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years. The TFR (Total Fertility Rate) of a population is the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime. Bear in mind that the replacement fertility rate is roughly 2.1 births per woman for most industrialized countries.

If Utah was a country its fertility rate of 2.63 would rank above Ecuador’s 2.59 and would be higher than the world average of 2.61. If Utah were a country it would be 91st among the nations for fertility and ahead of all other U.S. states.


You can probably think of many more comparisons of Utah with other countries. Because the United States is such an economic powerhouse the GDP comparison is the most impressive, especially when comparing a larger state. The GDP of the United States ($14,264,600,000,000) is almost as great as the next four largest economies combined, which are those of Japan ($4,923,761,000,000), China ($4,401,614,000,000), Germany ($3,667,513,000,000), and France ($2,865,737,000,000).

One last item of note. If Utah was a country it would have a balanced budget.


Wikipedia: List of U.S. states by GDP (nominal). I used the 2008 GSP.
Wikipedia: List of countries by GDP (nominal). I used the 2008 list by the International Monetary Fund.
Wikipedia: List of countries by population.
Wikipedia: List of U.S. states by population.
United States Total Fertility Rate Increases. I used the 2006 rates.
Wikipedia: List of countries and territories by fertility rate. I used the 2008 CIA TFR rankings.
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