Sunday, March 01, 2015

Irony at CPAC

Apparently a group of protestors at CPAC stomped out of a speech of Jeb Bush because they considered Jeb Bush to be too much of an establishment candidate.

Conservatism, by definition and tradition, is an ideology that prefers the established over change.

Seeing conservatives protesting against a fellow conservative for being too establishment is irony in action.

Conservatism is an 180 year old ideology that was established when right wing thinkers found it necessary to rebrand the English Tory Party in 1834*.

In this 180 years, the conservative movement has flip flopped on numerous issues. At times it supports protectionism, at other times it cautiously flirts with free trade. At times it flirts with religious tolerance but abruptly reverses its position when tolerance threatens to disrupt the established order.

The one and only consistent principle that the Conservative movement has held since the rebranding of the Tory Party as the Conservative Party has been preference for the existing social order over the specter of social change.

Conservatives will tolerate free trade up to the point that it threatens the established class order. Conservatives will tolerate religious tolerance up to the point that it threatens the established class order, etc..

Like most Americans, I am not a member of the Republican Party. Conservatives have systematically driven out anyone critical of conservative hypocrisy. I suspect that Jeb Bush will win the GOP nomination in 2016 precisely because he is the establishment candidate and conservatism always favors the established class structure over social change.

As for the people who stomped out on Jeb Bush ... perhaps they should read US History. The Tories were the people who fought against the US Founders. If you were attracted to conservatism because you believe in the ideals at the founding of this nation; then you actually found the wrong place at CPAC.

You have to remember, the Tories did not rebrand their party the Conservative Party out of love for liberty. They rebranded the party because the Representation of the People Act of 1832 forced a redistricting of English boroughs. The power base of the Tory Party lay in sparsely populated boroughs. The Conservative Party allowed measured tolerance of religious and economic liberty because doing such was necessary for the political survival of the party's members.

Since the rebranding of the Tory Party, Conservatism has been nothing more than measured free market rhetoric to the extent that freedom does not disrupt the social order.

And, I am sorry, but such measured freedom is not a substantial foundation for a free and prosperous society.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

William F. Buckley's Conservatism

There are many different definitions of conservatism. Which brings up the huge question, where is one to find the definitive core of "conservatism."

Is the definitive core of "conservatism" those few months when the Tea Party was fun and open to ideas or is the definitive core of conservatism, perhaps, that 180 year history as the ideology of a major political party in a leading industrial nation?

I've been receiving a great deal of grief for my assertion that one will find the definitive core of conservatism in the Conservative Party of Great Britain.

Many American Conservatives point to William F. Buckley (1925-2008), with his Ivy League education and patented transatlantic accent, as the father of conservatism.

It turns out that Buckley's transatlantic accent came about because he was educated abroad.

Who would have thought a person educated abroad would have a unique accent?

It turns out that William F. Buckley went to high school in England.

Now, I am not surprised when I find out that graduates from America's progressive public high schools can't add, can't name the major political parties in the US or can't find Florida on a US map. I suspect that this Beaumont College in Old Windsor, where Buckley when to high school, had slightly higher academic standards than progressive schools.

I suspect that Buckley was aware that Neville Chamberlain of the Conservative Party was the Prime Minister and that the opposition was a coalition of the Liberal and Labour Party.

NOTE: There are multiple parties in English politics. If a politician can stitch together a majority vote from the various parties, the politician forms a government and becomes prime minister. Those in the minorities parties form an opposition government led by the leader of the largest opposition party. When Buckley was in England, the Liberal and Labour Party formed an opposition coalition led by the Labour Party.

It is because the Liberal Party and Labour Party formed an opposition government to Conservative Governments that conservatives lump the libertarian ideals of the original Labour Party with the socialist ideals of the Labour Party under the heading "liberal."

Anyway, while it is tempting to say that William F. Buckley invented a new ideology called "conservatism" from the aether. The fact that Buckley went to school in England tells me that he was aware of the fact that England had a political party called "The Conservative Party." The fact that Buckley's ideology lumps socialism under the header "liberal" seems to reflect the fact that Buckley lived in England when the Labour and Liberal Parties formed the opposition to the Conservative government.

I hope that it is clear to anyone with half a brain that Buckley was importing his thoughts about English parliamentary politics to the United States.

I apologize to people living in Great Britain. But I reject wholly this idea  that Buckley's ideas about British parliamentary politics makes a strong foundation for American political philosophy.

I contend that the defining core of conservatism is found in the Conservative Party of Great Britain in 1834 and which has had a 180 year history of being a primary force in the politics of Great Britain.

The term "liberalism" comes from English politics as well, but has been poisoned with time.

It appears that the driving force of early conservatism in 1834 was Sir Robert Peel (1788 – 1850) who created a coalition between the British establishment of England the aristocracy of England (the establishment were derisively called Tories) and moderates from the Whig Party.

In forming the Conservative Party, Peel drew heavily on the conflict between Edmund Burke (1729-1797) and Charles James Fox (1749-1806).
Apparently, Sir Robert Peel supported free trade and religious tolerance while traditionalists in the conservative movement did not.

The Liberal Party was formed in 1859 when followers of Sir Robert Peel left the Conservative Coalition to form a coalition government with members of the Whig Party. The Conservative Party of 1859 was primarily a party of those who supported the establishment and regulated commerce.

The Liberal ideal of religious tolerance touched on the hairy issue of Catholic Emancipation as Catholics in Ireland sought independence. Liberals who were opposed to Irish Home Rule left the Liberal Party to form a coalition with the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party changed its name to the Conservative and Union Party. The Liberal Party fell into minority status and eventually disappeared. NOTE: Members of the Labour and Liberal coalition created an ideal called "Social Liberalism" that was fundamentally at odds with the classical liberalism of the previous century.

Key moments in the 180 British Conservative tradition involved opposition to free trade (in 1859) and opposition to religious tolerance.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Bold Assertion About the Foundations of Conservatism

WARNING: In this blog post I am going to make a bold assertion about the foundation of the Conservative movement based on a prejudicial assumption about a class of people.

I've come across multiple sources claiming that Edmund Burke (1729-1797) was the father of Conservatism.

Conservatism is the ideology of the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party was created in 1834 by a group calling itself the Tory Party.

The Tories were thrown into crisis by the Representation of the People Act of 1832. Prompted by rioting in the street, this reform act forced a redistricting of political boroughs so that the parliament would be somewhat more in line with the population. The act also expanded suffrage to upper middle class property owners.

The Tories were in crisis because their position in parliament was dependent on "rotten boroughs" which had very small populations. To retain power, the Tories needed to rebrand their party.

This rebranding occurred when the Tory politician Sir Robert Peel (1788 – 1850) made concessions to the Whigs and created an ideology that drew heavily on a rift between Edmund Burke and Charles James Fox (1749 – 1806). Fox and Burke who were both members of the Whig Party. Apparently Fox was a firebrand who supported the French Revolution who later became horrified by the atrocities of the revolution, while Burke was skeptical of the French Revolution and was also horrified by the atrocities of the affair.

Peel was also deeply influenced by William Pitt the Younger (1759 – 1806) who was often called a Tory but called himself an Independent Whig.

The Conservative Party appears to have been created by Peel and his followers who were influenced by Pitt and the rift between Burke and Fox.

Now for my bold assertion based on a prejudicial assumption about a class of people. I am going to reject the claim that Edmund Burke, who died in 1797, was the founder of the Conservative Movement in 1834.

As you see, in 1834 Edmund Burke was member of the class of dead people. Burke had been numbered among the dead for a good thirty years before the Tory Party changed its name to "The Conservative Party."

I base this assertion on my personal observation that dead people tend to be somewhat lifeless. I've observed that the dead tend to lie about all day and are not prone to doing things like starting political parties.

I know, I know. I know. It is not uncommon for dead people to register and vote. Dead people often register for the opposition party. This is especially true for dead people living Chicago cemeteries, but I assert that dead people only take a passive role in politics and that dead people do not go around starting political movements.

Burke was a member of the Whig Party and it appears that Burke called himself a "Whig." I feel that information is sufficient to classify his beliefs as "Whiggism." Conversely, I do not feel that it is right to call Burke either a "conservative" or a "liberal" as these parties did not exist yet.

The Conservative Party, and consequently conservatism, seems to have a lot more to do with a guy name Sir Robert Peel than with Burke as Peel was both living and present at the start of the Conservative Party.

Now, it would be tempting to say that Sir Robert Peel formed the Conservative Party to counter the radicalism of the evil liberals except for the unfortunate fact that the Liberal Party didn't exist yet.

Peel's Conservative coalition fell apart in 1846 over the issue of free trade. Mainstream conservatives opposed free trade. Peel and his closest followers supported free trade.

The Liberal Party was formed in 1859 when the self-described Peelites, who supported free trade, left the Conservative Party to join Whigs to form a new party.

It is difficult to say that Peel founded Conservatism to fight against the evils of Liberalism when his followers left the Conservative Party to help form the Liberal Party.

I admit, my political ideas are driven by quaint notions about the linearity of time. My statement that dead people don't start parties is based on my prejudicial view that dead people are lifeless. The people living in cemeteries are just a bunch of layabouts ... I tell ya. I say this knowing that large numbers of dead people seem to change party affiliation after they die and continue to vote. This is (especially those living in Chicago cemeteries), but I will take the controversial position and state that dead people tend to be passive members of the party at best. I hold firmly to my view that the dead (also known as life challenged citizens) lack the animation to actually start political movements.

Counter to the rhetoric of Conservative pundits, I will assert that Edmund Burke, who died in 1797, did not start the Conservative Movement in 1834.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of an Ugly Partisan Year

It's the end of the year; So, I should write an end of the year post.

Unfortunately, that means thinking about a truly pathetic year.

My goal for the last six seven years has been to either attend or host a meeting in which people spoke about free market health care reform.

I consider health care to be the most important issue of our generation. Considering the importance of the issue; one would think there would be people interested in discussing it.

Unfortunately, I live in Utah which is the most conservative state west of Iran. Conservatives in Utah are so closed-minded and so oppressive that open discourse simply does not exist.

I spent time researching the history of conservatism and finally have a solid definition of the term.

Conservatism is simply the partisan ideology of the Conservative Party.

The Conservative Party was founded in 1831 from the remnants of the Tory Party.

During the US Revolution the Tories were the ones who stood shoulder to shoulder with the Red Coats and leveled their musket fire at the US Founders.

When Benjamin Franklin said: "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately," the Tories were the one's holding ropes and fastening nooses.

The Tories changed their name to the Conservative Party in 1834.

The evolution of "modern liberalism" is even more bizarre.

The term "ideology" was coined by Antoine Destutt de Tracy in 1796 simply to refer to the study of ideas.

Napoleon Bonaparte rose to power simply by labeling those opposed to his empirial rule as "liberal ideologues."

The modern term "ideology" came from people who were using the term in the negative or as an insult.

Pundits and politicians who rise to power by denouncing ideology are part of a grand tradition started by Napoleon.

The term "Right" and "Left" comes from the French and English Parliaments.

In France, the Right sought to preserve the class structure of the ancient regime. The Left sought radical social change.

The division in England between the Tories and Whig party often had more to to with religion that ideology. The Whig Party officially changed its name to the Liberal Party in 1859.

Pundits who babble on about the division between Conservatives and Liberals are referring to a division of the English Parliament in the 1800s.

Both the Whigs and Tories were oligarchies. The primary political concern was the secession of the monarch. The King of England is also the head of the Church or England. The parties often mirrored religious divisions.

These divisions took a strange turn with the death of Queen Anne in 1714. Queen Anne was of the House or Stuart. Her fifty closest relatives were raised Catholic; So, in 1714 rule of the House of Stuart came to a close and King George the First from Hanover (now part of Germany) rose to power.

The Hanoverian Kings of England were German! King George II founded the University of Gottingen. The German Universities which produced the likes of Hegel, Schopenhauer, Feuerbach and Marx were funded by the Kings of England.

The new modern logic (aka Dialectics) was funded by England and became the rage in politics.

Both conservative ideology (aka the Tories) and liberal ideology (aka the Whigs).

The Liberals of 1859 had an alliance with the Radical Party which supported Catholic Emanicipation and universal male sufferage.

This led to a huge division in the 1880s about Irish Home Rule. In 1886, the Liberal Unionist Party split with the Liberal Party to form a coalition government with the Conservative Party. The Conservative Party merged with the Liberal Unionist Party in 1912 at which time the Conservative Party officiall changed its name to the "Conservative and Unionist Party."

After the defection of the Liberal Unionists, the Liberal Party began to switch from classical liberal views to the new social liberal views.

The party itself grew out of favor and was eventually supplanted by the Labour Party in the early 1900s.

Dialectics is just a method used by the ruling elite to divide and conquer the people. The partisan ideologies of Conservatism and Liberalism simply seek to divide the people and centralize power.

The great left/right divide in the early 1900s saw the Conservative Union Party supporting an ideology of National Union while the declining Liberal Party and emerging Labour Party were defining a new system of Social Union (also known as Socialism and Progressivism).

The same division appeared in other European nations. The Conservative Right would preach divisive rhetoric about national union with the Radical Left preaching Social Union.

The shrill partisan ideology on the right led from Toryism to Fascism while the shrill ideology on the left led to Stalinism.

After World War II, Conservatives found it difficult to push the message of National Union. Realizing that Modern Liberalism (aka progressivism, aka socialism) was an enemy of classical liberalism, Conservatives began infiltrating the Republican Party.

Conservatism is the ideology of the Tories rebranded. The American Republican Party was actually founded by Whigs who sought to stop the expansion of slavery in the West.

The watershed event for "conservatism" came during the Civil Rights Movement. Prior to Civil Rights, the Democrats were the party of Jim Crow. Democrats demanded government expansion and big government to keep the races separate.

A group called The Dixiecrats left the Democratic Party and became the base of the shrill conservative movement that now dominates the GOP.

By capturing the GOP; Conservatives found that they could rise to power by preaching free market economics. In power they would promote economic and political centralization.

/From the Civil Rights Movement onward one sees a steady stream of Conservatives rising to power on the issue of free market economics only to support centralization when in power. Some call this phenomena RINO (Republican In Name Only) but if you consider the history of Conservatism from Toryism to the party of National Union one realizes that the phenomena is inherent in Conservatism.

Remember, Conservatism is the ideology of the Tories. The primary goal of true conservatives is to establish a class society. Conservatives fought against the US Founders. Conservatives opposed free trade reforms in the 1800s. Conservatives opposed religious freedom in the UK. They opposed expansion of suffrage in Ireland and supported the cause of National Union up until WWII. The Conservative Party is still called The Conservative Union Party.

Anyway, I begin 2014 with the foolish hope that perhaps I could find a Conservative or Libertarian group interested in discussing free market health care reform to simply be rebuffed at every turn.

Trying to figure out why Conservatives are so adamantly hostile to free market economics, I decided to research the partisan ideology and simply became depressed as I watched the Fascist elements of the GOP take control of the party and am ending the year wondering why people are willing to follow such a hateful ideology as Conservatism.

I find myself staring at 2015 in a state of deep despair. I might take another stab at finding groups wanting to talk about free market health care reform. It is a fascinating topic.

The partisans on the Right and Left are rogues divorced or principle and reason. A partisan is driven a driven solely by a desire to increase the power of the party. Conservatives (ie the Tories) are every bit as bad the Liberals that they and Napoleon claim to detest.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday Protests

The left is trying to build on the momentum it gained with the Ferguson Riots with Black Friday protests against targeted merchants.

The game is simple: The left targets a few select enemies to gain power over their enemies and to cow other merchants into submission.

Notice how very few merchants or business owners come out to speak their minds on local political issues?

The protests are about gaining power. There often is little rhyme nor reason to the chosen targets. The stores can be big or small like the Ferguson Market displayed after the Ferguson riots.

As for my Black Friday activity. For the last couple years I spent hundreds of hours infusing my sites with coupons with the hopes of raising enough funds to engage in some quality reporting. It hasn't worked. This year I just didn't have the heart to post the coupons. My coupon site is called You will see it is short on new coupons.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"People With Guns Kill!" Huh?

Mike Brown was a shoplifter who used his size to intimidate people.

When faced with arrest, Mike Brown started using his size to intimidate the officer.

The officer pulled out his gun to equalize the situation.

Mike Brown tried to take the gun from the officer.

The narrative of the prosecutor is: If Mike Brown took the gun, he would have immediately turned around and killed Officer Wilson.

The major premise of this narrative is: "People with guns kill."

Mike Brown had size on the officer. If he successfully took the gun, he would have humiliated the officer. Why would he shoot the person he just humiliated?

If you remove the premise "People with guns kill;" then you are left with the view that the officer's pride was a stake.

The premise behind the conservative narrative leaps out at me because I live in an area where one is not allowed to utter in any form the sentiment "People with guns kill" without being vilified.

I am not even allowed to say that people with guns shouldn't shoot across public roads and trails without attracting the venom of the right.

Yet this is the central argument in the conservative argument that Mike Brown deserved to be shot down.

If you are a member of the NRA; Please, answer this question: Does the possession of a gun warrant your being gunned down?

If Mike Brown successfully took Officer Wilson's gun; he would have humiliated the officer and established a local legend for himself. He had size on the officer. Why would he kill the disarmed officer?

Fortunately, the disarming did not happen. Officer Wilson shot Mike Brown in the hand and Mike Brown fled.

This first shooting was clearly justified. Officer Wilson was right to protect himself and to keep control of the weapon.

After this first justified action, Officer Wilson chose to pursue, on his own, a suspect who made it clear that he would resist arrest. Officer Wilson chose to pursue a person he could not restrain without lethal force.

This leads back to the argument in the last post. Officer Wilson is a professional hired by the public. A professional should be able to foresee the likely outcome of his actions.

Pursuing the suspect on his own would lead to a second shooting. Officer Wilson chose to pursue a course of action that would inevitably lead to shooting.

Officer Wilson was not the primary detective involved in the shoplifting case. There were other police resources near by. There was no compelling reason to continue the pursuit. There was simply high risk with low reward. Prudence would demand waiting for back up ... which was near by.

The decision to continue the pursuit, with pride on the table, led to a petty thief being gunned down over a handful of Cigarillos.

While the idea of indicting Officer Wilson is absurd, his decision to continue the confrontation shows lack of the sound professional judgment.

Officer Wilson is a public servant hired by the people. He is not entitled to his job any more than I am entitled to a job. I lost a job because a client didn't like the colors used in a graph. It is completely appropriate to dismiss Officer Wilson.

The conservatives who are jumping up and down yelling schreeching that the Ferguson shooting was a just kill and we should be slapping medals on the brave hero who shot the vicious shoplifter in Ferguson are a bit off base.

NOTE: If Officer Wilson were fired, he could always go into journalism and would be immediately welcomed as a paid news contributor on Fox News. Fox News is an outfit that rejects the premise: "People with guns kill" when it suits their political desires, but waves the premise when it fits their desired narrative.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Fatal Decision

We should learn to judge actions and not people. It is easy to change policies and actions but difficult to change people.

The Ferguson shooting shows how the impulse to judge one's neighbors leads to ruin.

Activists on the Left decided that the shooting of Mike Brown was a wrong. So they played the narrative that the shooting resulted from racism. They heaped accusations of racism on the officer involved in the shooting. Agitators worked people into such a frenzy that they set Ferguson on fire in their riots.

The right was equally ugly. The right responded by heaping derision on Mike Brown. They loudly proclaimed the shooting a just kill and that Mike Brown's shop lifting Cigarellos was such a heinous crime that he deserved to be gunned down in the street like a rabid dog.

Now that the inquest is through, we have the sequence of events.

The confrontation started when Officer Brown responded to a call about a robbery. He saw Mike Brown and friend walking cockedly down the middle of the street with the loot in hand.

He stops the suspects. The 6'4" Mike Brown assaulted the officer in his vehicle. It is likely that Mike Brown was trying to take the officer's gun away. Officer Wilson shot Mike Brown in the hand. This first shooting is evidenced by blood spatter in the vehicle.

Mike Brown fled the scene.

Officer Wilson called in for back up then made the decision to pursue Mike Brown.

In the second confrontation, Mike Brown charged Officer Wilson. The officer fatally shot Mike Brown in self defense.

The deliberate actions in this event were the shoplifting and Officer Wilson's decision to pursue Mike Brown before back up arrived.

Both decisions were wrong.

Officer Wilson's decision was wrong because he chose to pursue a suspect when he had inadequate resources to detain the suspect peacefully.

Both actors engaged in flawed actions. There is one big difference:

Mike Brown was an amateur crook. Officer Wilson is a professional law enforcement officer. One should expect more from trained professionals employed by the state than from amateur crooks out for personal gain.

A professional should be able to foresee the outcome of his actions. Officer Wilson chose to pursue a suspect who he could not contain. This is evidenced by the fact that he had to shoot Mike Brown.

Officer Wilson claimed that he was doing as he was trained. If so, then the training was at fault.

We live in a day when there is so much surveillance going on and identification procedures are so strong that it would have been easy to track Mike Brown after the first confrontation. Mike Brown had a shot up hand and could easily be identified by the blood spatter in the squad car. The video at the store clearly showed Mike Brown as the shoplifter.

The risk that the pursuit would result in a fatal shooting was very high. Mike Brown had already tried taking the officer's gun. A pursuit by a lone officer was all but guaranteed to result in the fatality of either the officer or suspect.

We can see the question of risk and reward in a closely related subject of high speed pursuits.

For decades the thinking was that the police needed to pursue perpetrators in high speed car chases until the inevitable spectacular high speed crash.

This idea led to a great deal of property damage and loss of life including many innocent lives.

People later realized that if you can get a proper description of the car and a good picture of the driver; the police are likely to catch the perpetrator without the high risk of the pursuit.

I just watched a video for the StarChase Pursuit Management which tracks vehicles allowing officers to back off from a fleeing suspect and reduce the risks associated with a chase.

Professional Law Enforcement is a matter of risk management. Risk Management plays a central role in most professions.

Risk Management is central to investing. Investor should fire and sue financial advisors who take an undue risks and lose their money.

Office Wilson claimed that he was trained to pursue the perpetrator after the initial confrontation. If the training is not teaching proper risk assessment; then the training needs to be reviewed and revamped.

Personally, I was upset that the official report on the incident casually glanced over the officer's decision to engage in a high risk pursuit and concentrated on Mike Brown's behavior instead. Mike Brown was a small time amateur crook. Vilifying an amateur for being amateur is redundant.

Officer Wilson is a professional police officer. We should have higher expectations of professional police officers than for amateur crooks.

That said. Police officers put themselves in harm's way to protect the public. The idea of issuing a criminal indictment against an officer for doing this job is absurd.

The decision to risk the loss of life by pursuing the suspect before back up arrived was a poor professional decision.

Just as you would be correct for firing a portfolio manager who invested your money with Berny Madoff, the people are in their rights for dismissing an officer who made a bad professional decision that led to a the shooting of a teenage shoplifter.

By rationally analyzing the events that led to the shooting, we find a bad risk management decision. Figuring out how to avoid pursuits with a high likelihood of a fatal shooting should be a priority of the police.

Regardless, the game of vilifying the actors in a tragedy leads to bad ends.

Rather than vilifying the police officer in the Ferguson shooting, as was done on the left, or attacking the victim as was done on the right, our attention should look at the actions that led to the shooting and find out ways to reduce that problem.

Contrary to what Sean Hannity says, Mike Brown did not deserve to be gunned down for shoplifting. The bold declaration that Ferguson shooting was a just kill is also absurd.

Bad decision making led to a horrible result. We should use this horrible event to find ways to improve decision making.

Officer Wilson was not the only police officer in Ferguson on August 9, 2014. Officer Wilson, himself, was back up for the primary officers in the shoplifting case. Officer Wilson's decision to pursue a suspect that he could not restrain was imprudent. The decision to a confrontation that was likely to lead to a fatality. In this day of networked system, pursuing felons should not be seen as the act of an individual officer but as a professionally managed activity of a professional police force. On seeing a perpetrator shot for shoplifting, the Ferguson Community is right to be outraged and to demand dismissal of the officer for what was clearly a bad decision.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Just Kill

The American Legal system is premised on the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

This idea applies to all Americans including police officers.

The idea of presumed innocence includes officers involved in shootings.

Giving the officer the benefit of doubt has one important ramification:

Because we gave the officer the benefit of doubt; the decision not to indict the officer does not mean the shooting was just.

The decision not to indict Officer Wilson does not mean that shooting Mike Brown was a just kill.

The decision not to indict Officer Wilson simply means that a jury found no reason to believe the actual shooting was more than self defense.

Police are hired by the public to stand in harm's way and defend the public. Officers step into harm's way on our behalf. The nature of their jobs puts police officers in intense situations where shootings might occur. Because they are working on our behalf; It should be rare that we indict officers involved in shooting while doing their job.

However, the fallout after a shooting should not stop with a decision not to indictment. Since officers are employed by the state, officer involved shootings bring up a second important issue: Should we retain the officer after a shooting?

Police officers do not have a right to their job. It is perfectly legitimate for a community to decide to dismiss an officer who was involved in a shooting.

Most communities do not want gun happy police. It is perfectly legitimate for a community to ask for an officer involved in a shooting to step down.

The decision to retain or dismiss an officer after a shooting is a purely political decision.

I need to repeat the logic here: Police officers are public servants. The police are not entitled to their job. If the public feels uncomfortable with an officer then it is legitimate for the community dismiss the officer.

The tradition that police serve the people is witnessed by the periodic elections for county sheriff. The people should have say in who protects them.

The caveat is that since dismissal is political decision, it should be understood as political.

Politics is neither rational nor just. Politics weighs innuendo over fact. Politics factors in opinion makers and emotion.

I'd love to live in a world with no politics, but politics is inherent in a democracy. The question is not how to eliminate politics but how to treat politics so that it minimizes the impact on the courts. The best system has a combination of court decisions that focus on facts and political decisions where emotions rule.

IMHO, the public show about the Ferguson shooting should have been about the political decision: Should we retain or dismiss the officer. This could have helped shield the court decision about indicting the officer from politics. The indictment after all is a case to decide if the officer should be sent to prison. It is not a judgment on whether or not the shooting was just.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ecclesiastical References for Health Care

My last post touched on the Ecclesiastical References used at BYU.

BYU is a university system with some 30,000 students and several thousand employees. Students are required to obtain and sustain their ecclesiastical references throughout their course of studies. If a student sours on the LDS Church, the student is summarily expelled.

I was summarily expelled from the education department of the University of Utah for supporting school choice. My sympathies fall to students who are expelled for well reasoned beliefs. Being flunked out of school for regressive ideological reasons is devastating.

Anyway, BYU has some 30,000 students. Maintaining ecclesiastical references for this many students implies that there is a system for ecclesiastical references.

The ecclesiastical reference system is a stasi-like system that sits on the peripheral of the public education system here in Utah that tracks the activities of members of the community.

The ecclesiastical reference system is also handy for things like employee references. The LDS Church has a well established employment system to help local businesses be assured that their new hires are members of the church in good standing.

I also encountered this system while working for a local insurance company.

A policyholder would file a claim with the company. The claims adjuster would call telephone numbers owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The conversation would not be recorded but appeared weigh heavily in the decision to approve or deny claims.

Management claimed that calling people with local knowledge of claimants was a good fraud prevention technique. I argued if that if ever a lawyer subpenaed the insurance company's phone records that the insurance company would be sued into submission.

(Yes, I tend to have rocky relationships with employers. Personally, I think I did the company a favor by telling them to stop making the calls on the company's phone records.)

Now, fraud is a big problem in insurance. Local knowledge is a great way to cut down on fraud.

As for the charitable aspects of health care, I have no objection to the church or politicians weighing in on who should receive charity or how much they receive.

If a person decides to leave the church and become an apostate, then that person has no claim on charity from the church.

Problems arise because insurance confuses the charitable and basic aspects of health care.

In our confused insurance company, people pay into crazy insurance pool.  If they are denied basic care because of the same system that would deny charitable care, then we are doing the people a disservice.

I don't care if a person is Mormon, Gentile or Jack-Mormon. (In Utah, the term "gentile" refers to anyone outside the LDS Faith. So, if you are say Jewish; you are a gentile). I want a health care system that first secures basic care for people, then starts providing advanced and charitable care for people.

Utahans are a regressive lot. I suspect that few members of the LDS Church have a problem with denying apostates and gentiles the basic care they paid for. But, to me a system where people are denied care because of a covert stasi-like monitoring system is a broken system.

But this might make for a interesting debate: Should the same system used to deny students education at BYU  be used to deny health care?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ecclesiastical Endorsement and Expelled Students

This is telling. Students at BYU must obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement from their local bishop each year. Apparently, if a student loses their ecclesiastical endorsement they are summarily expelled. Here is the stated policy.

Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement Students are required to be in good Honor Code standing to be admitted to, continue enrollment at, and graduate from BYU. In conjunction with this requirement, all enrolled continuing undergraduate, graduate, intern, and Study Abroad students are required to obtain a Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement for each new academic year. Students begin the Continuing Student Ecclesiastical Endorsement process online at
I've been reading stories claiming that BYU students who are caught associating with apostates (ex-Mormons), researching Mormonism from non-official sources or who question the veracity of Brigham Young and Joseph Smith are getting expelled. Such students lose their housing, lose their jobs and are simply put out.

A group called "FreeBYU" advocates ending the policy of excommunicating students who engage in open inquiry. The mainstream Utah view seems to be that these students are apostates who should be expelled from school and forced to live as second class citizens.

The fact that BYU expels students who talk with people outside of their religion helps explain why I've been unable to find people in Utah willing to talk about Free Market Health Care Reform. People who are banned from engaging in open inquiry in College are loath to engage in open inquiry outside college.