Doctrinal Basis of Emergency Preparedness

woman checking food for emergency preparednessAs I embark in my new calling as emergency preparedness specialist in my ward, I wanted to start by studying the doctrinal basis of emergency preparedness. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once said that leaders, before rushing into the tactics of getting the job done, should start by stepping back and understanding the big picture. He said a leader should set the vision, focus on the Savior, and understand the why of what we are asked to do. Then you will be more likely to receive inspiration in figuring out how to get things done, and you will be much more likely to achieve your goal (from the Leadership Enrichment Series, November 9, 2011).

Heavenly Father Wants Us to Be Happy on Earth

The foundational part emergency preparedness, from a gospel perspective, was a little difficult for me to identify at first because it almost seems like a given that needs little verbalization: Heavenly Father loves us, and wants us to be happy, and doesn’t want to see us suffer.

  • During his mortal ministry, the Savior said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11).
  • The prophet Lehi taught that “men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).
  • The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “Happiness is the object and design of our existence.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, by Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 255-256).
  • Jesus Christ suffered and died for us so that he would “know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12).

The Savior had mercy on the people during his earthy sojourn, and healed the sick and afflicted in Palestine and in the Americas. The Lord’s love and mercy to relieve suffering and grant blessings is found throughout the scriptures.

Fathers’ Responsibility to Provide for His Family

Of course, a major part of being happy in this life is having our physical needs met. Everyone needs the basics of food and shelter. The Family Proclamation teaches that “Fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.” This sentence doesn’t apply just to the good times; the Lord expects men to provide for the families come what may.

  • The apostle Paul taught that “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).
  • The Lord taught Joseph Smith, “And again, verily I say unto you, that every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown; and let him labor in the church. Let every man be diligent in all things. And the idler shall not have place in the church, except he repent and mend his ways.” (D&C 75:28-29)
  • “Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken; and if they are not found transgressors they shall have fellowship in the church. And if they are not faithful they shall not have fellowship in the church; yet they may remain upon their inheritances according to the laws of the land. All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.” (D&C 83:2-4)
  • “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God….Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” (D&C 88:119, 124)

It is clear that the Lord wants the physical necessities of life met for all individuals. Of course, as the Family Proclamation explains, there will be circumstances when a husband/father is not around. In those cases, family, friends should lend a hand to help meet those needs. “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”

Happiness through Work and Not Idleness

In 1936, the First Presidency outlined a welfare plan for the Church. They said, “Our primary purpose was to set up … a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, 3).

Work is an important and eternal principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God works and it brings him glory (see Moses 1:39). The Lord commanded the first man, Adam, to work saying “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,” (Gen 3:19) and in the Book of Moses we are told that “Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him” (Moses 5:1). I don’t think it is a coincidence that the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi taught that he “did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands,” and soon thereafter he said that “we lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:17, 27). Good work ethic is a fundamental part of individual happiness, self-worth, and prosperity.

Self-Reliance

One final gospel principle basis for emergency preparedness of that of self-reliance. The Church has long taught that the responsibility for each person’s spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being lies first with themselves, second with their family, and third on the Church. The LDS Church Handbook says, “Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family. As members become self-reliant, they are also better able to serve and care for others…Church members are responsible for their own spiritual and temporal well-being. Blessed with the gift of agency, they have the privilege and duty to set their own course, solve their own problems, and strive to become self-reliant. Members do this under the inspiration of the Lord and with the labor of their own hands.” (From the Welfare section of Handbook 2, 6.1.1 Self-Reliance)

Conclusion

As we seek for happiness in this life, we will be more likely to achieve it if we are prepared for any emergency. When we are self-reliant and understand the principle of work, we will be better prepared to care for our own needs and the needs of our families and others. We will have the temporal blessings of safety and security, and as we serve and help others we will be richly blessed with Heavenly rewards.

Emergency Preparedness Specialist Calling

A couple of weeks ago, I received a calling in my ward to be the “Emergency Preparedness Specialist.” Seeing how I know very little about this subject, I thought I would document what I learn in my blog. Having this forum to write about emergency preparedness, I believe, will also motivate me, help me learn more, and provide me a place to post the resources I find.

An “In Between the Lines” Calling

When a member of my ward bishopric called me into his office and extended a call for me to serve, I accepted without hesitation. I then asked if he had any information he could give me about the duties of the Emergency Preparedness Specialist calling. He directed me to look up what it says about the calling in the LDS Church Handbook. When I got home, I went to LDS.org to the online version of Church Handbook 2. I searched and was ultimately unable to find information on this calling, but I wasn’t sure if it was that the calling didn’t exist or if it was just usability problems on the website. I pulled out my wife’s hard copy of the handbook, and searched some more, and eventually realized that there was no documented calling titled “Emergency Preparedness Specialist.”

Some time later I ran into a member of the bishopric in the hall at Church one Sunday. He asked me how my calling was going, and I said I wasn’t sure where to start. He asked me if I had read in the Handbook about the duties of my calling. I said I had looked but was unable to find that specific calling. He responded, “Yeah, that’s one of those in-between-the-lines callings,” and encouraged me to seek the inspiration from the Lord on how to magnify the calling.

What the Handbook Does Say Related to Emergency Preparedness

LDS Church Handbook 2: Administering the Church discusses the concept of the ward Welfare Specialist. It says:

“Welfare specialists serve as resources to help the bishopric and to help Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society leaders perform their welfare duties. The bishopric may call an employment specialist to help members prepare for and find suitable employment. The bishopric may also call other welfare specialists to help members with needs such as education, training, nutrition, sanitation, home storage, health care, family finances, and the Perpetual Education Fund.”

In the section on Ward Councils, it says:

“They compile and maintain a list of ward members whose skills might be useful in responding to short-term, long-term, or disaster-caused needs. They develop and maintain a simple written plan for the ward to respond to emergencies (see Handbook 1, 5.2.11). They coordinate this plan with similar plans in the stake and community.”

In the section on Stake Council Meeting, it also talks about emergency preparedness:

“Counsel together about welfare matters. Plan how to encourage members to be self-reliant. Ensure that welfare resources within the stake are made available to the wards as needed. Develop and maintain a simple written plan for the stake to respond to emergencies.”

In the section on policies and guidelines, the Handbook also briefly talks about emergencies.

“During an emergency, the stake presidency determines whether or not to hold regular ward meetings. In a community-wide emergency or disaster, the stake president may assist legitimate disaster relief agencies by allowing meetinghouses to be used as emergency shelters. The Church retains control. Stake and ward leaders ensure that people who use the buildings observe Church standards of conduct, including the Word of Wisdom, while they are in the buildings.”

There is also a sub-section on Self-Reliance, from the Welfare section of the Handbook. It is too lengthy to include here, but I plan to discuss that in a later post.

A Road Map Before Hitting the Accelerator

The counselor in the bishopric has, since that time, flooded me with ideas about what to do with this calling. He has talked to me about emergency response plans for the stake and other wards, about home storage and 72-hour kits, about proper sanitation and the handling of dead bodies, about nuclear weapons attacks and EMPs (electro-magnetic pulses).  For me, moving forward on just about any of those items feels a bit like speeding up when one doesn’t know where he is going.

I think the next step is to develop emergency preparedness goals and plans based on gospel principles, the council of the living prophets, and the needs of the people in this area. According to the handbook, such plans and actions are ultimately the responsibility of the bishopric and ward council members. Yet, the bishopric seems to be looking to me to take the initiative to get it started. I will take that opportunity and begin by doing my homework, properly framing the issue and then, by counseling with the our councils, discuss possible solutions and hopefully arrive at God inspired results.

Lehi City Council 2011: Primary Results and Other Candidates

September 13th was the primary election for Lehi Utah city council. There were a dozen or so candidates and the top six vote getters were selected to move on to the general election which will take place on November 8th. See this Lehi City website for more information on polling places. The six candidates who won and will be on the final ballot are:

  • Mike V. Southwick who got 1,067 votes in the primary election.
  • Mark I. Johnson who got 947 votes in the primary election.
  • Ted J. Peck who got 772 votes in the primary election.
  • Johnny Revill who got 757 votes in the primary election.
  • Clay T. Peck who got 719 votes in the primary election.
  • Paul C. Hancock who got 610 votes in the primary election.

Last month I wrote about most of the Lehi City Council 2011 Candidates, including four of the finalists (Paul C. Hancock, Ted J. Peck, Mike V. Southwick, and Mark I. Johnson). I wasn’t aware of the last two of the six finalists, Johnny Revill and Clay T. Peck, presumably because they did not attend the “Meet the Candidates” event where I got information on all the other candidates.

Clay T. Peck

Unfortunately, I still have not been able to find any information on Clay T. Peck. It’s a wonder that he made it through the primaries. He was not present at the “Meet the Candidates” night, and the Lehi City page on the 2011 City Council Candidates has no information on him or his website. http://www.votelehi.info/ has no information on him either. In fact, the only thing I can find about Clay is on his uncle Ted Peck’s article on Why Are Two Different Pecks Running for Lehi City Council?

Johnny Revill

Mr. Revill is a current member of the Lehi City Council, though I had to do some digging to find that out. He doesn’t publicize that fact on his election website. I’m not sure if that is an unintenional omission, or if he’s purposely trying to hide that fact. Mr. Revill appears to be against the two ballot initiatives saying “they are not needed” and they will do more harm than good and I would agree with him there. Like many of the other candidates he talks about more parks, emergency services, safe schools, a healthy business environment, and good transportation. He says he is committed to open and transparent government and to protecting the constitution of the United States and of Utah. And that’s good. But on the other hand, his website says, “I want all races, creeds and religions [to live in Lehi]. This is done with smart planning” which sounds a little socialistic to me. Maybe I’m just misunderstanding him. Mr. Revill seems well versed on the issues facing the city and has a website with much detail and his thoughts and his position on the issues (see http://johnnyrevill.com).

Who Do I Plan to Vote For?

I think I can eliminate Clay Peck and Johnny Revill. Clay Peck because he seems to be doing nothing to win my vote, and Johnny Revill because I have doubts about his conservative values and because of his vague and non-committal language. I really like Paul C. Hancock and Ted J. Peck, so I’ll probably vote for them. That leaves my third and final vote for either Mike V. Southwick or Mark I. Johnson. Based on my analysis in my previous post, I think I have too many concerns about Mark Johnson and his “hidden agenda” comments and also the fact that he is a sitting incumbent. So that means my vote will probably go to Mike V. Southwick.

Lehi City Council 2011 Candidates

In the past I have most written about national politics and broad-reaching social issues. I have a neighbor running for city councilman here in Lehi, Utah, so I thought this is a good time to get into a little local politics. Earlier this week I attended a Lehi City Council “Meet the Candidates” night. I spoke with several of the candidates and picked up literature for others. The primary election is next Tuesday, September 13, so below is some research and analysis on the candidates that I have conducted in my effort to determine who I will vote for. Honestly, it will be a hard decision, as all of these candidates seem good, honest, and capable. The primary election is Tuesday, September 13th. Find more Lehi city voting information here.

Paul Hancock

Paul is a BYU grad and has experience working in big corporations (Intel) and in small business (he started his own company in 2007). Paul, on his website, brings up some good points with regard to the large Lehi population under the age of 18 and the need for the city to work more closely with the school board. Paul also makes some good points about Lehi’s astounding population growth and the need stays ahead of the curve when it comes to public services  of Fire, Police, and Parks (though I’m surprised he doesn’t mention infrastructure like roads). Paul is opposed to both ballot initiatives, Initiative 1 would cap salaries, and Initiative 2 would impose residency requirements. I think I’d have to agree with him on both counts as these would hinder hiring the best people in a competitive job market. Paul also led an effort to petition the school board to expedite the building of a local elementary school in Traverse Mountain. Paul seems like he would be a nice addition to the city council.

Ted J. Peck

Ted is a retired salesman and business owner, and, according to Ted’s website, he now has the time and desire to serve on the city council. Ted was born and raised in Lehi, but he claims to be an outsider to Lehi City politics and that he is opposed to career politicians. I’d have to agree with him there as I feel career politicians tend to become corrupt and lose their focus on what is right. Ted claims to be a fiscal conservative and wants to reduce the City’s cost of doing business. He is an active member of the LDS Church, and is a substitute LDS Seminary teacher. Ted supports keeping taxes and fees for services and permits low, and his thoughts on the problems with the main street renovation also make a lot of sense.

R. Curtis Payne

Curtis is a small business owner and BYU grad. According to his flier, he supports “property rights” and that’s good, as I feel private property rights have been under attack in our country for some time. I like his philosophy on government, he believes in “smaller government” and that the main purposes of government are 1) protection: police, military, etc., and 2) public resources: roads, sewers, electricity, etc. Curtis believes the city should be run as “business-profitable” which I take to mean it should live within its means. Here’s Curtis’ website.

Chris Condie

In the spirit of full disclosure, Chris is my neighbor and I think he would make a great addition to the city council. Chris is a native Utahn, and moved with his wife and four children to Lehi in 2007. He served an LDS mission to Boston Mission, and actively serves in callings in the LDS Church. Chris has a plan to work strategically with Alpine School District to ensure that Lehi provides a great education to all children. Chris also has plans to improve the city appearance by encouraging residents to participate in maintaining their communities. Check out Chris’ website.

Mary Eka

Mary’s parents are from Africa, but she was born in Michigan. Mary spent most of her youth in Africa, but came back to the United States as a young adult. She is one semester away from her college degree and she is an Internet entrepreneur. Mary has some interesting ideas about improving the literacy center and providing workforce training for youth and young adults. She also wants to “create volunteer programs within the community to tutor, mentor, and be role model for youths.”Like most of the other candidates’ materials, Mary’s website has a lot of vague ideals, but I like what she says on easing the tax burden, improving the local library, beautification of our parks, and a website to make city decisions more transparent. Here is Mary’s website.

James A. Dixon

James has been on the Lehi Planning Commissioner for four years, with the last two years as chairman. James is also opposed to both ballot initiatives, points on which I agree with him. I like his stance on economic development and he claims to have a good record in creating a friendly business environment for many of the big employers in the city. Like many of the other candidates, James is very supportive of the police, fire, and parks departments. My only concern with James is that he is running for re-election, and I’d like to see some new people with a fresh perspective on the city council. Here is James’ website.

Mike Southwick

Mike’s flier was brief, but he seems like a nice fellow, and I’m sure he would be a capable city councilman. Mike is a lifelong Lehi resident and has served in many capacities. He has been a volunteer fireman, an LDS bishop, and has had much involvement with the Boy Scouts. His platform consists of efforts to bring more commercial and industrial businesses to Lehi., improving parks, updated city services, and fiscal responsibility.

Reldon Barnes

Reldon didn’t make the best impression on me personally, but his wife seemed very friendly and outgoing. His motto is “straight talk, no nonsense” and I believe it. The question is: where does he stand on the issues and do we agree? And to answer that, I don’t believe I have enough information. His flier contains primarily platitudes which would be hard for anyone to disagree with, but which come be interpreted to mean just about anything anyone wants.

Clint Carter

Clint was born and raised in Lehi, and I’m not sure if that is a plus or a minus. The last thing our city needs is good-old-boy cronyism. Clint has been a firefighter and EMT for years, which is a plus, but he has also been a city building official for 22 years. I am a fan of term limits and getting new blood in political office frequently, and I’m concerned that he has been too involved in the city for too long. His flier was vague on details, though I did like his statement that he is “committed to involve all outlying areas of the city, not just the heart of the city.” Clint’s website.

Mark I. Johnson

Mark has some good things going for him, and there are some aspects about him that concern me. Throughout his flier, he makes several mentions of “no hidden agenda” and no allegiance to “special interest groups.” This tends to make me wonder if he might have a hidden agenda or if he is beholden to special interest groups. He mentions that he works for a municipal government consulting company, and I can’t help but wonder if there are any conflicts of interests there. I also have concerns around his view on government spending as he makes several efforts to brag about his ability to acquire funding. In my view, being an elected leader is not a contest to see who can get control of the most tax dollars. Regardless, I do like his key issues that he says he will promote over the next four years, some of which are revitalizing downtown, developing fire stations and emergency services, and improving the city transportation network.  But given my concerns above, and the fact that I’d rather see new faces in the councilman seats, I’m thinking that I would rather not re-elect Mark Johnson.

Washington Post And Readers Seize Opportunity to Show Their Colors

A Washington Post headline, on March 3, 2011, read “Frederick official’s comment that a woman’s place is in the home creates uproar.” I read the article, and some of the hundreds of comments on the article. What I found, and what I did not find, was very interesting. What I found was a lot of name calling (“hate speech” as the left likes to call it) directed towards Frederick County Commissioners Paul Smith and Kirby Delauter. But what I did not find was the quote from the Frederick officials where they said a woman’s place is in the home, nor exactly what Smith and Delauter said to set off the so-called controversy.

According to the Post, Mr. Smith “told a TV station and intimated at a public hearing before voting to slash half the funding for the county’s Head Start program, [that] a woman’s place is in the home” (emphasis added). So in stead of relying what what a Washington Post reporter thinks Mr. Smith implied, I decided to see what he told the TV station and I also dug up the transcript from the public hearing on Head Start to read exactly what Smith and Delauter said that started this uproar. I hope you find this as enlightening as I did.

Public Hearing on Head Start

According to the Frederick News Post, this is what Paul Smith said in a February 8, 2011 Commissioner’s meeting:

“I am very sensitive to the importance of the 3- and 4-year-old age for children … and there’s no question that our community needs to continue to be committed in this area and watch out for and help the families. I think it’s … very significant that we did make this … marriage week announcement today because that is the best long-term … way to help our children, as marriage is strengthened in our community … because, I mean, I know — as many of you know — I had a lot of kids … and my wife stayed home — a significant sacrifice — during those early years, because she knew she had to be with those kids at that critical age, and I know everybody isn’t able to survive doing that, but clearly … as we can strengthen marriage we can decrease the children that we [the governement] have to reach, and I think the best approach … ultimately, will be through the private sector, churches.”

Mr. Smith went on to talk about the electoral mandate from the fall of 2010 to get spending under control and to not raise taxes. He further talked about the need for the public to wean themselves from entitlement programs like Head Start and the need for families, churches, and the private sector to step up in their place. Read the full transcript from Feb. 8 Commissioner’s meeting on the Frederick News Post website. Mr. Delauter  agreed with Mr. Smith and added:

“I do think the private sector’s got to take up some of the slack. We … ran on the platform like Commissioner Smith said: no new taxes, no tax increases. That was a mandate. … We’ve been very clear that we take that seriously. Again, my wife, college-educated, could go out and get a very good job. She gave that up for 18 years so she could stay home with our kids. We gave up a lot to do that. … I agree again with Commissioner Smith: The marriage thing is very important. I mean, the education of your kids starts at home, OK. I never relied on anyone else to guarantee the education of my kids. … So, again, the (Head Start) program’s not going away. Will it be affected? That’s possible. Will the quality be affected? That’s possible, but with the budget that we’ve been dealt — and we knew that coming in; that’s what we ran on; that’s what we talked about all through the campaign — but the cards we’ve been dealt — we have to deal with that, and raising taxes on people that don’t have work is not an option. So we’ve got to start living more within our means.”

Nothing from Smith and Delauter’s seems as incendiary as The Washington Post makes it out to seem. And in fact, the bulk of Smith and Delauter’s comments were regarding fiscal responsibility, rather than women’s, mother’s, and family responsibilities. One thing is clear though, contrary to the Post’s assertion, Mr. Smith never said a woman’s place is in the home. According to ABC 7 News in the Washington D.C. area, Mr. Smith did say that a mother’s primary responsibility is the care and nurture of her children (see ABC 7’s video: Comments spark vigil in Frederick.) But, perhaps this distinction between a woman’s role and a mother’s role will do little to appease Mr. Smith’s detractors.

More Common Ground Than You Think

Few people would disagree that stronger marriages and families is one of the best thing we can do for children. Few people would disagree that a mother of small children has as her first and primary responsibility to care for those kids and provide the best home life possible. And I hope there would not be many people that would argue with the premise that a child’s mother, without discounting the role of the father, is the ideal person to provide that love, nurture, and education early in life. Of course that ideal will not always be achieved, due to various circumstances in life, but just because the ideal cannot always be achieved doesn’t change the fact that it is ideal.

Washington Post and Readers Show Their True Colors

Of course, rather than focusing on this common ground, the Washington Post and ABC 7, for the sake of sensational news and perhaps due to other motives, have portrayed the comments of Mr. Smith and Mr. Delauter as incendiary and provocative. Instead of quoting Mr. Smith and giving the story proper context, the Washington Post intimates and implies things that aren’t true in order to satisfy their own agenda, which appears to be to portray Republicans and Christians as backwards and evil.

Well, based on the comments of the Washington Post readership (below), to a large extent, they have succeeded. But in the process, the Post and their friends on the liberal left, have shown their true colors. They are deceptive, mean-spirited, and intolerant of other people’s views. Here is a sampling of the things Washington Post readers are saying about Smith and Delauter. They…

  • Want women to be “household slaves”
  • Want “Sharia Law in the USA”
  • Are “like the Taliban”
  • “Should be put into a home”
  • “Pretend to be pro-family”
  • Are “anti-education”
  • Want a “theocracy like Iran”
  • Are “un-Christian”
  • “Never had to struggle for anything”
  • Should “leave the religion at home”
  • “Don’t belong holding public office”
  • Are “trashy”, “stupid”, “Rednecks”, “idiots”, “Crackpots”, “schmucks”, “morons”, “religious nutcakes”, “fools”, “religious extremists”, and “ignorant.”

All this comes from the kind-hearted, always tolerant left-wing liberals in this country. Perhaps with this additional light shed on subject, those people will reach out and apologize to Mr. Smith and Mr. Delauter. But I’m not holding my breath.

Protect Insurance Companies PSA: Hollywood Mocks, Jimmy Responds

psa There is a video making its way around the Internet in which Hollywood actors, including Will Ferrell, mock and ridicule those in opposition to President Obama’s health care reforms.  They take particular aim at private health insurance companies as they advocate a public, tax-dollar-subsidized, health insurance plan.  My wife came across this video and asked for my take on it, so I thought I’d share my opinion with all of you.

Check Your Sources

First of all, be aware of where the news is coming from.  This video is being distributed by MoveOn.org, an organization formed during Bill Clinton’s presidency.  Their organization’s main premise was that the country needed to “move on” and forget about the president having sex in the oval office with a 21 year old intern, that the president’s private behavior in cheating on his wife was not the concern of the American people.  MoveOn.org is also well know for calling General Petraeus General Betray Us in a 2007 full-page ad in the New York Times.  MoveOn.org is an extreme left-wing organization, and the mere fact that they are distributing this video ought to raise red flags.

Premise of Video Completely Wrong

The premise of the video is that private health insurance companies are evil and do not look out for the needs of their customers and only are out to try to make themselves wealthy.  While there are no doubt individuals in insurance companies, and all walks of business life, that are selfish and greedy, the indictment that all insurances are this way is patently false.  Insurance companies provide a service that most Americans find valuable.  And to criminalize private health insurance the way these Hollywood figures do and they way Canada has done, has proven to lead to fewer options, and poorer health care service.  See this story about a Canadian woman who was waiting for two years to have surgery before she finally drove across the border to Montana and got the surgery done in two days.

Most Americans Disagree with Hollywood Elites

The fact of the matter is that 80% Americans are happy with their current health insurance.  In fact, polls show that, in terms of healthcare coverage and in quality of healthcare received, Americans rate their private health insurance as superior to government run Medicare and Medicaid.  In polls throughout the summer, Americans has voiced their opposition to Obama’s reforms and disapproval of the President’s plan now stands at 56%(see Support for Health Care Plan Hits New Low).  As more people have come to understand his plan, more have stood up to oppose it.  Obama’s healthcare plan raises taxes and will reduce quality of care just like socialized medicine has done everywhere it has been tried.

Competition in Health Care

A point of emphasis in this ridiculous video is regarding competition, which everyone seems to agree is healthy and we need more of.  Yet Obama and the Hollywood elites are trying to stamp out competition with increased government intervention and fewer free market forces. It is clear, from Obama’s proposal, and from his past statements on his desire for a “single payer system”, that he many left-leaning Democrats and Socialist want to put private insurers out of business.  (see the video embedded below or Obama’s Hearth Care Deception from the Glenn Beck program.) The public option proposed is designed to eventually eliminate the private insurance business and it will do just that as no private business that has to meet a bottom line in order to survive can compete with a government entity that can run up as much debt as it wants.

Options for Health Care Competition

If Obama, the Democrat/Socialist, and the Hollywood elites want more competition in the health care industry, there are several proposals are out there that they may want to consider.  Why not let people buy health insurance across state lines (which is currently prohibited in the US)?  Why not let people get a tax credit on the cost of health insurance?  These are free market, incentive based solutions that will address the problem without growing the size and power of government.

Who died and made you king?

One other thing the video takes aim at is the profits of health insurance companies.  But my question is, who the heck are these people to say how much companies and individuals can and cannot make?  If you ask me, $40 million for acting in a movie is a bit excessive.  But I believe in freedom and if Hollywood movie companies want to pay Will Ferrell that much, that’s their right.  I have no right to tell these actors how much they can or cannot make, and they have no right to dictate the profit levels of anyone else.

Freedom and Rule of Law

We believe in the rule of law.  If Health insurance companies are committing crimes, then prosecute them and send them to jail.  Otherwise, if they are obeying the law, providing a service in exchange for health coverage, then they ought to be free to run their business as they see fit. If they are really so awful as these Hollywood actors make them out to be, then in a free market economy those companies will lose customers.

It Feels Good but Makes No Sense

It is a feel good position to support “free” healthcare for all.  But unfortunately, “free” healthcare will cost you your freedom, which is a price neither I, nor the majority of Americans, are willing to pay.  It may sound good in theory, but the only way to provide universal health care is to take, by force, from one group in order to give it to another.  America has the greatest health care in the world, and socializing it in the way Obama and these Hollywood actors want, is only sure to make health care worse for everyone.

Government Healthcare. What could possibly go wrong?

This is a great quote:

“Obama’s health care plan will be written by a committee whose head, John Conyers, says he doesn’t understand it. It’ll be passed by Congress that has not read it, signed by a president who smokes, funded by a Treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese, and financed by a country that’s nearly broke.  What could possibly go wrong?”

-From Rush Limbaugh, Obamacare: What Can Go Wrong?, August 20, 2009

Sources:

The Morality of Cash for Clunkers

clunkerI received an email from a friend recently talking about how they traded in their old car for a brand new one and made use of the government’s cash for clunkers program to sweeten the deal by $4,500.  My first reaction was to sarcastically think to myself, “I’m glad my taxes could help you get a new car.”

This got me thinking about  the morality of cash for clunkers, and if I would have the fortitude to turn down such an offer if I had a car that qualified (which I don’t). Since then, I have been debating myself on the pros and cons of participating in the cash for clunkers program.  Below are my thought; I’d be interested to hear yours.

Argument Against Cash for Clunkers

Photo of the Constitution of the United States of America. A feather quill is included in the photo.The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America and is the oldest codified written national constitution still in force. It was completed on September 17, 1787. As a conservative, classic liberal, and constitutionalist, the cash for  clunkers program is nothing more than a re-distribution of wealth.  The only way for the government to have money to fund this program is by taking it from other Americans.  Cash for clunkers is an unnecessary expansion of the power, scope and reach of the federal government.  It is just one more step down the road to socialism our country has taken.

Argument in Favor of Cash for Clunkers

But while I would never enact for such a program and I would never support a politician who did, it would be very difficult not to participate in this program.  The program exists and will be utilized whether I participate or not.   They take my money, through taxes, without my permission, so I would feel justified in taking some of it back.

And besides, where do you draw the line?  Every government program is funded by tax payers (well, except the trillions in spending the China is funding, but we’ll get to that in a minute).  Is it immoral to receive any benefits from the government?  What about Pell Grants?  Those got me through college.  What about driving on publicly funded roads?  That would be silly not utilize those services that our tax dollars fund.

LineSand1 A Line Must be Drawn

But a line must be drawn somewhere, or our already out-of-control government will continue to grow larger and larger, and erode more and more of our freedoms.  This year’s federal deficit is projected to be $1,800,000,000,000 (yes, that’s 1.8 TRILLION dollars). President Obama’s pork-filled stimulus spending is one of the primary reasons for this tremendous debt being inflicted upon all Americas.  (see US deficit forecast to be four times last year’s record)

Experts say the poor economy and lower tax revenues is the other main reason for the shortfall, but if you ask me the two are linked.  Studies have shown that ill-conceived government programs prolonged the Great Depression and this is exactly what is happening again.

china_flag_map-sq180 Asian Countries Benefiting Most from Cash for Clunkers

The problems with cash for clunkers and other excessive government programs doesn’t end with power grabbing US politicians.  Just today I read this story by Stephen Manning of the Associated Press called Asian companies see Cash for Clunkers boost.  It turns out that when people turn in their clunkers, eight of the top-10 vehicles purchased in exchange are made by Japanese and South Korean companies.

This means that the money used to fund cash for clunkers, which was borrowed largely from China, is flowing right back out of America into Japan and Korea.  In other words, cash for clunkers isn’t jump starting the American economy, but it is helping China, Japan, and Korea.  It seems our country is committing suicide, and supporting evil Communist regimes like China in the process.

Conclusion

With every government program that spreads the wealth, as Obama admittedly wants to do, we become a little more addicted to big government.  Socialism and Communism have failed everywhere they have been tried, but that’s not stopping China and other countries from benefitting from our countries sharp turn left.  Obama, the Democrats, and Socialists that support his agenda are saddling Americans for generations to come with massive debt and government control that will be difficult to ever scale back.

I know it’s a hard choice to make, but let’s do everything we can to fight unnecessary expansions of federal government like the cash for clunkers program.

Ronald Reagan on Socialized Medicine

If you have ten minutes, please watch/listen to the following speech by Ronald Reagan on socialized medicine. The speech comes from a 1961 campaign against government run health care and was distributed via a long play (LP) record album called Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine. It’s amazing how prescient his comments were. And now, nearly 50 years later, his logic and reasoning are just as applicable to the political battle currently being waged on this same subject.

Here is the transcript:

My name is Ronald Reagan. I have been asked to talk on several subjects that have to do with the problems of the day. It must seem presumptuous to some of you that a member of my profession would stand here and attempt to talk to anyone on serious problems that face the nation and the world. It would be strange if it were otherwise.

Most of us in Hollywood are very well aware of the concept or the misconception that many people, our fellow citizens, have about people in show business. It was only a generation ago that people of my profession couldn’t be buried in the churchyard. Of course the world has improved since then, we can be buried now. As a matter of fact, the eagerness of somebody to perform that service gets frightening at times.

Now back in 1927 an American socialist, Norman Thomas, six times candidate for president on the Socialist Party ticket, said the American people would never vote for socialism. But he said under the name of liberalism the American people will adopt every fragment of the socialist program.

There are many ways in which our government has invaded the precincts of private citizens, the method of earning a living. Our government is in business to the extent of owing more than 19,000 businesses covering 47 different lines of activity. This amounts to a fifth of the total industrial capacity of the United States.

But at the moment I’d like to talk about another way, because this threat is with us and at the moment is more imminent.

One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine. It’s very easy to disguise a medical program as a humanitarian project. Most people are a little reluctant to oppose anything that suggests medical care for people who possibly can’t afford it.

Now, the American people, if you put it to them about socialized medicine and gave them a chance to choose, would unhesitatingly vote against it. We had an example of this. Under the Truman administration it was proposed that we have a compulsory health insurance program for all people in the United States, and, of course, the American people unhesitatingly rejected this.

So, with the American people on record as not wanting socialized medicine, Congressman Furan introduced the Furan Bill. This was the idea that all people of Social Security should be brought under a program of compulsory health insurance.

Now this would not only be our senior citizens, this would be the dependents and those who are disabled. This would be young people if they are dependents of someone eligible for Social Security.

Now Congressman Furan brought the program out on that idea of just for that particular group of people. But Congressman Furan was subscribing to this foot in the door philosophy because he said, “If we can only break through and get our foot inside the door, then we can expand the program after that.”

Walter Ruether said, “It’s no secret that the United Automobile Workers is officially on record as backing a program of national health insurance.” And by national health insurance he meant socialized medicine for every American.

Well let’s see what the Socialists themselves had to say about it. They say, “Once the Furan Bill is passed this nation will be provided with a mechanism for socialized medicine capable of indefinite expansion in every direction until it includes the entire population.” Well, we can’t say that we haven’t been warned.

Now Congressman Furan is no longer a Congressman of the United States Government. He has been replaced, not in his particular assignment but in his backing of such a bill by Congressman King of California.

It is presented in the idea of a great emergency that millions of our senior citizens are unable to provide needed medical care. But this ignores the fact that in the last decade 127 million of our citizens, in just ten years, have come under the protection of some kind of privately owned or hospital insurance.

Now the advocates of this bill when you try to oppose it challenge you on an emotional basis, they say what would you do, throw these poor old people out to die with no medical attention?

That’s ridiculous, and of course no one has advocated it. As a matter of fact, in the last session of Congress a bill was adopted known as the Kerr/Mills Bill. Now without even allowing this bill to be tried to see if it works they have introduced this King Bill, which is really the Furan Bill.

What is the Kerr/Mills Bill? It is a frank recognition of the medical need or problem of our senior citizens that I have mentioned. And it has provided from the federal government money to the states and local communities that can be used at the discretion of the state to help those people who need it.

Now what reason could the other people have for backing a bill which says we insist on compulsory health insurance for senior citizens on a basis of age alone, regardless of whether they are worth millions of dollars, whether they have an income, whether they’re protected by their own insurance, whether they have savings.

I think we can be excused for believing, that as ex-Congressman Furan said, “This was simply an excuse to bring about what they wanted all the time, socialized medicine.”

James Madison in 1788, speaking to the Virginia Convention said, “Since the general civilization of mankind I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachment of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

They want to attach this bill to Social Security, and they say here is a great insurance program now instituted now working.

Let’s take a look at social security itself. Again, very few of us disagree with the original premise that there should be some form of savings that would keep destitution from following unemployment by reason of death, disability or old age. And to this end, social security was adopted, but it was never intended to supplant private savings, private insurance, pension programs of unions and industries.

Now in our country under our free enterprise system we have seen medicine reach the greatest heights that it has in any country in the world. Today, the relationship between patient and doctor in this country is something to be envied any place. The privacy, the care that is given to a person, the right to chose a doctor, the right to go from one doctor to the other.

But let’s also look from the other side, at the freedom the doctor loses. A doctor would be reluctant to say this. Well, like you, I am only a patient, so I can say it in his behalf. The doctor begins to lose freedoms; it’s like telling a lie, and one leads to another. First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then the doctors aren’t equally divided geographically, so a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him you can’t live in that town, they already have enough doctors. You have to go some place else. And from here it is only a short step to dictating where he will go.

This is a freedom that I wonder whether any of us have the right to take from any human being. I know how I’d feel if you fellow citizens decided that to be an actor I had to become a government employee and work in a national theater.

Take it into your own occupation or that of your husband. All of us can see what happens once you establish the precedent that the government can determine a man’s working place and his working methods, determine his employment. From here it is a short step to all the rest of socialism, to determining his pay and pretty soon your son won’t decide when he’s in school where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him where he will go to work and what he will do.

In this country of ours took place the greatest revolution that has ever taken place in worlds history, the only true revolution. Every other revolution simply exchanged one set of rulers for another.

But here for the first time in all the thousands of years of man’s relation to man, a little group of men, the founding fathers, for the first time established the idea that you and I had within ourselves the God-given right and ability to determine our own destiny. This freedom was built into our government with safeguards.

We talk democracy today, and strangely we let democracy begin to assume the aspect of majority rule is all that is needed. Well majority rule is a fine aspect of democracy provided there are guarantees written in to our government concerning the rights of the individual and of the minorities.

What can we do about this? Well, you and I can do a great deal. We can write to our congressmen and our senators. We can say right now that we want no further encroachment on these individual liberties and freedoms. And at the moment, the key issue is, we do not want socialized medicine.

Now you may think that when I say write to the Congressman or Senator that this is like writing fan mail to a television program, it isn’t. In Washington today 40,000 letters, less than one hundred per Congressman are evidence of a trend in public thinking.

Former Representative Halleck of Indiana has said, “When the American people want something from Congress, regardless of its political complexion, if they make their wants known, Congress does what the people want.”

So write, it’s as simple as finding just the name of your Congressman, or your Senator. Then you address your letter to that individuals name, if he’s a Congressman, to the House Office Building, Washington D.C. If he’s a Senator, to the Senate Office Building, Washington D.C.

And if this man writes back to you and tells you that he or she too is for free enterprise, that we have these great services and so forth, that must be performed by government, don’t let them get away with it. Show that you have not been convinced. Write a letter right back and tell them that you believe in government economy and fiscal responsibility; that you know that governments don’t tax to get the money the need; governments will always find a need for the money they get and that you demand the continuation of our traditional free enterprise system. You and I can do this. The only way we can do it is by writing to our congressmen even we believe that he is on our side to begin with. Write to strengthen his hand. Give him the ability to stand before his colleagues in Congress and say “I have heard from my constituents and this is what they want.”

Write those letters now; call your friends and them to write them. If you don’t, this program I promise you, will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, and behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country. Until, one day, as Normal Thomas said we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don’t do this and if I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.

Source: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum

Mozy Review: Two Thumbs Down

Avoid Mozy, Use an External Hard Drive for Backup

My wife and I have had a miserable experience with Mozy over the last month since our hard drive crashed.  Their customer and technical support is awful, but the real disappointment is that some of our files were not available  to restore.  My advice: go with an external hard drive to back up your computer, and save yourself the wasted time, money, headaches and heartaches when Mozy fails to meet your expectations.

Sorry for using my political blog for a personal issue, but I wanted to get the word out to as many people as possible to have a backup for your backup if you are using Mozy.  For those who don’t know, Mozy is an online hard drive backup service.  For $5 a month, Mozy will backup the files on your computer and have them available to re-download in case your hard drive crashes. We starting using Mozy’s services at the beginning of the year, and it initially gave us great comfort to know that everything was backed up.  But when we really needed Mozy, they completely failed us, they admit no wrong, and do nothing to try to make up for our loss.

From the Beginning Mozy was Slow

Mozy is slow in two ways.  One, the backup process takes an inordinate amount of time.  Our 250 GB hard drive took over a month to back up, and that was with us leaving our computer running 24/7.  And the problem was not our internet connection.  We have a cable modem with service through Comcast; it is about as fast an internet connection as a residence can get.  We also had a 100 GB external hard drive, and combined it took nearly two months, with our computer turned on all day and all night, to complete the backup.

The other way in which Mozy is slow is in regard to the responsiveness of their software.  Once their software was installed on our computer, to get into the configuration and setup area took way too long.  It just sits their and churns 5 to 10 minutes while the dialog box opens up.  And again, it’s not as if our computer is a dinosaur.  The computer is only two years old and has a 2GHz processor and plenty of memory.

Mozy’s Confusing Restore Process

When our hard drive crashed last month, the first thing I did, after getting the computer back up and running, was to visit Mozy.com to figure out how to restore my hard drive.  The only documentation was lengthy and confusing; I could find no simple steps to begin restoring my files in a similar manner (set-it-and-forget-it) as they had been backed up.  The online documentation mentioned a “restore” tab in the Mozy client, so I downloaded the software.  But when I opened the Mozy client, there was no “restore” tab.  At this point, I initiated an online chat with a technical support person from Mozy.

Mozy’s Unhelpful Help

The support person I chatted with that night did little to help me and actually contributed to the frustrations.  He told me that the “restore” option in the client wasn’t available to me and that I would have to use the “web restore.”  For a week, my wife and I struggled to use the web restore service which requires you to download the data file by file and folder by folder.  This process was excruciatingly slow and confusing due to the list of zip files(which Mozy generates) changing order each time I came back to the download page.  This put a major burden on us and still it was nearly impossible to keep track of what files and folders had been restored and what had not been.

After a week of trying to use the Web Restore process, we reported some of these issues, when the Mozy support person asked us why we weren’t using the client restore tab.  I re-checked the client and discovered that the “restore” tab had appeared.  No explanation was given as to why that tab was not present and usable a week earlier, and we didn’t ask (by this point we had no hope of getting a straight answer from Mozy support).

At that point we were finally able to use the the client restore and set-it-and-forget-it method of having Mozy simple go to work restoring our entire computer.  We let that run about a week and then Mozy said that our entire computer had been backed up.  The relative speed of the restore was a major surprise to us given how long it took to back up the computer.  But then we discovered one reason why the restore process was so fast, a huge folder was missing.

Surprise! A Major Folder is Missing

My wife has a small business where she designs and prints photo cards.  Therefore she has hundreds, even thousands, of Photoshop files, including templates and the final product.  These files were located in a folder called “C:\users\Heather\simplyfreshdesigns”  After the restore was complete, we realized that this folder was missing.  We went and doubled checked our online Mozy account, and sure enough, it was not listed as a folder that had been backed up.  At this point we re-engaged Mozy’s support team which, true to form, ended up being no help at all.

We explained that we had every indication that this folder had been backed up.

  • In the initial backup configuration, we had told Mozy to back up all PhotoShop file types.
  • The ultimate back up size was confirmed by Mozy to be 346 BG.  This, we thought, was consistent with our 250 GB hard drive plus 100 GB external drive.
  • Other folders located under “C:\users\Heather\” had been backed up and were present and available to restore.

Yet none of these facts phased Mozy.  Again and again they came back to us and said that the folder in question had not been selected by us to be backed up, therefore Mozy had not backed it up.  And of course with a fried hard drive, at this point, it was impossible to prove that Mozy was wrong.

Slow Responses, No Efforts to Make Amends, and Insults

During the past two weeks of trying to figure out what happened to the missing folder, Mozy has been extremely slow to respond to our emails.  We average less than one email a day from Mozy, which makes it very difficult to carry on a good conversation.  I would send an email to Mozy and it would be 24 hours before I would get a response back.  Once they did reply, I would respond again within minutes, yet it would still be a day or two before I would hear back.

And after nearly a month now, I have lost all hope of recovering this missing folder.  And all the while, no one at Mozy has made any offer to make this up to us. No offer of a refund.  No offer to try to recover our hard drive. In fact, in the middle of this whole situation, Mozy billed us for another month of service.  What an insult!

In the most recent email I received from Mozy (7/22/09), the Mozy support person acknowledged no wrong doing on the part of Mozy and has even gone so far as to begin mocking me. In response to my statement that I had all indications that the folder had been backed up, he said, “all indications are the folder was never backed up.” And he continued, “it looks like Mozy was working fine.”

If the experience we have had was “Mozy working fine,” you’ll definitely want to avoid ever using their services.