Day: January 30, 2012

Interview Part 3

1. What would you do to solve world poverty?

I would do nothing to actually solve the problem because I don’t believe it is a solvable problem.  The only way a utopian society works is if all pride, greed, selfishness, guile are taken out of man.  Unfortunately these qualities exist; therefore a true utopian system with monetary equality will never happen. People from my own faith have tried to eliminate poverty and despite the best of intentions it did not work.

2. if you can’t completely change world poverty how can you make an impact?

The first thing I would address is what is actually a ‘right’ in our nation.  In the Bill of Rights the government ensures that citizens can behave in a certain way uninhibited by government.  For instance, freedom of speech is a right to say what you want.  The Bill of Rights does not guarantee any possessions or standard of living for citizens as a right.  However, far too often the word right is used to describe health care, housing, food, clothing.  These ‘rights’ are things people worked for and sacrificed for millennia and now they are looked at as an inherent right.  I do not agree.

That said- I do think that a democratic government has an obligation to help (not a right) provide sustenance and housing for those that are the most worse  off.   History has shown that democracy does not flourish when people are starving.  Pretty much every dictator has risen because of poverty and starvation.  They promise easy answers with soaring rhetoric that can make their pitch very tempting.

The economist Friedrich Hayek describes it well “A claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers.”

He also said “Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one’s government is not necessarily to secure freedom.”  The less we are dependent upon the government we are, the stronger our democracy remains.

Again,  I think we should do some minor assistance to help those that are the worse off. This helps prevents an over-reliance on the government, thwarts revolutionary sentiment, and encourages more people to try and move onward from this minimal help. The rest of the citizens should be allowed to experience the true ups and downs of the free market. I believe with Hayek that if we create a false low the high will not be as high; thereby, allowing less prospering in general.  In the end, everyone is better off with a free market.

3.  What do you think is the greatest national and international crisis of our time?

People like to throw around the crisis word quite liberally. I think our largest national crisis is our insurmountable debt, $15 trillion and growing.  I worry that people are unwilling to make the tough cuts to entitlements and other programs to fix the debt.  Eventually the US will be seen as a bad investment by other countries (already happening). We’ve already lost one of our credit ratings. We are closer to becoming the new Greece or Ireland than anyone wants to admit.

My personal belief is we should stop raising the debt ceiling and cut, cut, cut.  I think a balanced budget amendment is a great idea.  Then we need to prepare the citizens for sacrifice.  If we really decide to tackle this debt everyone will pay a price.  Its just a reality.  We have NO money!  I have not seen how stimulating the economy has done any good.  Its a nice idea in theory but not in practice.  All we have done is made the dollar weaker, borrowed more and uplifted a bunch of companies like Solyndra that the free market should have handled.

Once again I agree with Hayek “To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm.”  The idea that we can sculpt a positive outcome and never face the pains of a negative downturn just doesn’t work.  It has harmed us immensely.

Another national crisis is manufacturing.  In WWII the US Govt was able to take a flourishing manufacturing sector and convert factories into military suppliers. We also produced our own steel, copper and other metals.   If a similar conflict happened now we do not have the infrastructure to prepare for a world war.  Assuming we could find factory space, we don’t have the skilled blue collar workforce like we did in the 40s.  Almost all of those jobs have gone to countries like China, Mexico and India.

Why have these companies left US manufacturing?  It is simple.  All of the regulations, labor disputes and taxes make it impossible to run a profit, or at least not be as profitable as nations without all of those barriers.  Companies are responsible to their shareholders for making money and if producing in China makes more profit they usually don’t care where it is made. People like to say they would spend more to shop American but it has not panned out in actual sales.  We have to find a way to be competitive.

Also, there are companies that have little choice but to go to China.  In the handwarmer business our competitors completely undercut our prices making the profit margins so low we had no choice but to have the warmers made in China over Japan.

To help solve this manufacturing crisis I would make it easier to start up a business, ease the tax load on the self-employed, have a bare minimum of practical regulations and provide incentives to keep companies here like low taxes and an occasional subsidy. Why do you think so many movies get made in Canada? Because they have subsidies and low regulations that make it attractive for Hollywood companies to make their movies there.  (If you look Toronto is the New York and LA in many a movie).  An investor in some movie doesn’t care about loyalty to America, they want to make money, and if filming in Toronto costs less they do it.  We have to make America as attractive for businesses as any other country.

As far as an international crisis, the crumbling of Europe greatly worries me.  If Italy, Greece, Germany, Ireland and Iceland were companies they would all be bankrupt.  They have received bailouts because they are governments but I don’t believe bailouts actually work.  I think they just extend the problems a little bit longer before the crisis hits.  Countries like Greece will never be able to pay back the debt they owe. In 2010 the Greek public debt was forecast  to hit 120% of GDP.  No company could get away with this kind of debt.  The Greek government even lied and falsified data to get accepted into the EU.  Makes Enron look honest.  I honestly don’ t know what to do about it but there has to be consequences.

I am also very concerned with Iran’s nuclear capability.  They hate Israel, have a brutal dictator at the helm, and are a sanctuary for Al Queda.  All very comforting information.  I worry that as we withdraw from Iraq, Iran will get stronger, spreading its influence amongst its friends.  This is not what the US wants.  I worry that with our rapid abandonment of Iraq another Khmer Rouge will happen. We need to be very careful.

To be honest I’m not sure what the solution is for Iran but sanctions aren’t working.

 4. What do you think is the problem with politics today?

The problem starts with the death of the melting pot.  America is no longer an amalgamation of differing ethnic groups and viewpoints.  It is a scattering with one group here, another over there, spotting the map.  What happens then is a representative is chosen from this cluster, sharing that cluster’s perspective.  If he wants to get reelected the politician knows he must keep the cluster happy; however, now he is in Washington and must interact with all these other clusters through their representatives.  This creates divisiveness and an unwillingness to compromise.  For instance, someone from Utah would never vote for a pro-choice bill..  It would be political suicide here.

This sorted environment creates more partisan representatives who are more extreme.  Some could argue the founders were a pretty partisan and extreme group,  and they would be right, but the spirit of compromise they brought with them tempered their extremism making popular policy a reality. They were even willing to put deeply held moral views on the table for discussion when that would never happen today.

There are things I agree with about the democratic party but the issues have become so polarizing that it feels like you give an inch they take a yard, making everyone more stubborn and uncompromising.

5. What is an issue you disagree with in the republican party?

Immigration.  I believe that it is too difficult to get citizenship or even a green card.   The amount of work takes years of paperwork by trained professionals, a basic implausibility for a hardworking migrant worker who wants citizenship.   My sister-in law got a greencard after she married my brother and the interviews and paperwork was astounding.

Immigrants have always proven the naysayers wrong and they have always benefited our country in the end.  Sometimes it takes a generation or two but they become productive, even exemplary citizens.   So, there you go.  I think we should make it easier to get a greencard and then citizenship.  This would solve many of the problems that go along with illegal immigration such as drug trafficking, sweat shop work, gangs and the sex trade.   We can do better for our immigrants.

6. What can we do to better educate our children?

Education starts at home.  Anything we can do to help a home be more stable for a child the more likely he or she will be able to learn.  For example, having more big brother big sister programs might help support parents as they raise their children.  I’d love to get involved but the closest chapter is in Salt Lake 30 minute drive.

This may be controversial but get the lemon teachers out!  They damage the progress of children instead of advancing it.  I don’t know what the best way is for finding out the lemons but everyone knows who they are.  At my high school there was a math teacher who was a notorious lemon.  He told us at the beginning of class that the only reason he taught was to coach.  Most of the time he’d put problems on the board and my fellow students would explain them.  This should not happen.  This person should certainly not get tenure for doing a lousy job.  There has to be a better way.

I find it insulting that the idiot math teacher I had will get the same tenure and benefits as my awesome history teacher who truly engaged every individual in learning.  Its wrong!  There has to be a way to differentiate the crap teachers from the awesome ones.   The problem is the teachers union doesn’t want you to touch tenures; thereby, limiting the potential bonuses that could be given good teachers, and vaulting up the lemon teachers to the same status as the good teachers.  If I was a good teacher I’d be ticked off to see lemons getting the same treatment as me.  It is disheartening and discourages quality education; thereby, creating more lemons.  How do you get motivated when you know the lemon will get every bit of benefits and pay as you?

There has to be a solution. Get the lemons out! A bad teacher can cause years, even decades of harm.  I had a lemon choir teacher in high school and didn’t believe I could sing until I took lessons again at 25.

I would also say that we need to get more field trips in the budget for schools.  I learned so much going to the museums in DC and trooping around the Chesapeake Bay.  I saw things that my parents never saw and museums I would never have been too with my family.   Surely there is something we can cut to make room for a few field trips or perhaps we could fund-raise?

The point is somewhat mute because I plan on homeschooling my children (if I ever have any) but I still would like to have as effective a public school system as possible.

7. Has the importance of education changed in the last few years?

Yes and No.  Education has become much easier over the last few years.  Not easier in sense of content (although that argument can be made- grade inflation is a serious problem) but in access and locations.  With the internet thousands graduate each year with credited bachelors and and higher level degrees (including myself, MBA 2008 UofPhx, flexnet program).  It is exciting to live in an era where education is so available.

With so many graduates; however, you have a problem of a Bachelor’s degree not having the power it once  had.  Bachelor’s degrees have become a dime a dozen, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important.  Even a liberal arts degree, that may be seen as impractical, still adds great value to our society.  Any education makes people better, and better people have better kids, better kids make the future better.  Plus, educated people are more thoughtful voters which is what our democracy needs to remain strong.

8. What other issues are you solid on?

Pro Life- My personal beliefs is that it should almost never be done.  If the mother is really going to die I might consider it.  I have stronger feelings on this issue than my church’s official stance.  I believe it should almost never happen.  I believe life starts at conception  and that life is innocent and pure.   A baby at any phase has value,  has life.   I think it is also a mistake to assume that a poor woman should have abortions so she can provide for her already large family.  This is making a judgement about the value of this human being.  Poor people, facing dramatic odds, have made huge differences in our world.  Who are we to say that life is not valuable?  That is God’s decision. That’s my view.

Capital Punishment- Some people have committed such terrible crimes they should pay the ultimate price.  In fact, they are usually treated with much more grace than their victims ever were.  We should be stricter with parole and inmates serving their actual sentence.  I don’t view incarceration as a form of recovery. There are those that change their lives after jail but those are the exception to the rule.  I think non-violent offenders are more likely to rehabilitate.  I also don’t agree with the 3 strikes rule.  This has led to huge overcrowding in the California penal system.  Everyone should be judged by their action not by some set policy of 3 strikes.

Pro-Gun- I debated about this for a while but my gun friends have finally convinced me.  If someone wants to own a gun I think they should have the right to do so.  I don’t have any issue with waiting periods but guns must be locked in a safe at all times so nobody can accidentally get them. I would like to learn how to properly use a gun. Anyone want to take me shooting sometime and show me the ropes?  As a single woman I can’t deny that the thought of safety and protection hasn’t entered my mind.  They still kind of freak me out but I think that is because of my ignorance in using them.  If I became more informed that would remove some of the fear.

Health Care- Again, I think the free market is the best solution for health care.  The insurance system we have is not really free market because the consumer doesn’t feel the true cost of their care.   When I was uninsured I called to make sure I got the cheapest prescription, compared doctors rates and got the best deal.  Do I do that now that I’m insured? Sometimes but not on a standard basis.   If you look at procedures in the free market (not covered by insurance) such as lasik eye surgery they have gotten better and cheaper each year.  That’s what the free market does.

I don’t have a problem with free clinics for those badly off but nothing to the extent of the socialized medicine found in Europe and in Obamacare.  Such programs create more expenses, not less, leading to huge government spending, with the standard of care going down.  Why do you think most of the wealthy come to the US for surgery or treatment?  Its because we are the best.  We would be even better if there was a true free market instead of the insurance system we currently have.

Pro- Marriage- This isn’t  a shocker.  I support marriage between a man and a woman.  This is God’s system for His children.  That is what I believe.

So, those are some dicey issues.

I think that there is another underlying issue throughout the globe that will be felt in the next 30 years.  We have entire generations who stare into computers all day, everyday (including myself).  You almost have to plan ahead to do anything creative, enlightening, joyful.  I call this generation the Dilbert Generation, and I think it is going to have an impact on our happiness, families and society at large.  I’m not sure what the solution is but companies like Google are at least trying to bring a creative atmosphere into the workforce.  This should be encouraged.

9. Who are you voting for?

Well,  I liked Michelle Bachmann but she’s gone.  So I am voting for Romney.  I like his jobs plan.  Go to his website and read it.  Its good.  He knows how to lead and get things done. Let’s hope he gets the nomination!  I am also not ashamed to say that I do feel a connection to Romney because of our shared faith.  That’s not a reason to vote for him, but I am kind of rooting for him.  Is that so terrible to admit?

There is a wider range of political thought in the Mormon church than we are given credit for (both Romney and Harry Reid are members) and on either side of the spectrum we add a focus on family, a deeply seated patriotism, a belief in helping all who suffer, and a hard work ethic.  These are values I see in Mitt Romney, and I will be curious to see how he implements them as President.

My prediction is- Romney will be the nominee and will do quite well against Obama because so much of Romney’s ‘dirt’ has already been spit out.  Bain will be old news by the time they get to the general election.  Romney could fall apart but if he doesn’t I think a very strong race could be had between Romney and Obama.

Good luck Brother Romney!

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Twin Cakes

As all my facebook friends know I’ve found a new obsession.  Twin Cakes raw gluten-free snack bites.  These delectable ‘cookies’ are low glycemic, low sugar, low carb and despite their small size they pack a ton of flavor.  I like them so much that I emailed the owner (one of the twins Lori) and she agreed to give me a bulk rate.  I now have 16 bags coming this week- that’s 160 balls in various flavors:

the brownie bites are very rich. Under 100 calories, 6 gr sugar, 9 carbs. For strong chocolate lovers only.
mint chocolate coconut bites
spiced hazelnut dough balls

And I ordered the Cinnamon Coconut bites which they do not have a photo for on their site.  I will sell bags to anyone who is interested at cost. This is really just a way for me to get healthy goodies at a discount.  I’m not making anything. Call me for the prices. They are between 8-10.

Spiced hazelnut dough ball –  4 bags for
Brownie bite – 4 bags
Cinnamon coconut bite – 4 bags
Mint Chip coconut bite –  4 bags

There are 10 bites/balls per bag.

If you are lucky enough to live near certain stores that carry their product I am very envious.  I can’t say how delicious I think they are.  I just love them so much!   If someone tried to tell me I couldn’t eat them I think the fangs would come out.

Ingredients for brownie bites (as an example) maple syrup, cocoa powder, coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut flour (all organic).

Ingredients for cinnamon coconut bites- coconut flakes, maple syrup, coconut oil, coconut butter, cinnamon (all organic).

Most ‘healthy sweets’ taste just awful which leaves me craving for the bad stuff.  These bites are full of flavor.  You really don’t need to eat more than one.  Plus they last forever.  If refrigerated could have them for many months. They are also vegan for anyone interested in that.

It actually means something to me to be able to eat something sweet and have it not ruin my diet.  Something sweet that actually tastes GOOD! It really does add to the quality of my life.  The first time I tried one I literally had a few tears. I had just finished the sugar fast and it was like yes! This I can live with.  This is delicious! This is the sweet life!

Now, you cant eat bags and bags.  They are still a sweet but they are all pretty strong.  The temptation to eat more than 1 is usually not there for me.

If you come by my place ask to try one.  I want to get as many of my friends hooked as I can so I can make more bulk orders, possibly lowering costs even more or convincing Whole Foods or someplace around here to stock them.  They make me very happy.

So, if you are interested in any of the above items at the above prices let me know.  Again, I’m not making anything on this.  In fact, I will absorb the minor shipping charge.  No pressure because any that aren’t sold will be saved for me to gladly eat but if you want let me know.

I applaud people like the twins at Twin Cakes and Elana Amsterdam at Elana’s Pantry because they make good tasting products/recipes despite their dietary restrictions.  They aren’t happy with a ‘kinda, sorta, tastes like the real thing’ treat.  No,  they wanted something genuinely delicious.

I admire that type of thinking.  Too often I feel discouraged because something has been removed from my diet.  I don’t think ‘how could I make it work and make it still taste delicious’.  People like this inspire me to do better and be more adventurous.

I’ve got sweets coming…Life is good! :).

Btw- anyone who comes new to book club will get to try them.  This should definitely entice you to come!  (It sure would entice me!)