Monday, March 30, 2009

Unemployment?

It is likely that few of the thousands of people who travel Interstate 40 across northern Arizona even think about stopping in some of the small towns between Flagstaff and the eastern Arizona border with New Mexico. The small towns have interesting names like, Leupp Corner, Two Guns, and Lupton. Some of the towns still have the ruins of the tourist stops built when Route 66 was a major highway. One of those small towns is called Joseph City.

Joseph City lies in the middle of some of the most desolate and unappealing landscape in the entire country. It has no attractions whatsoever. If the Salt River Project had not built the Cholla Power Plant just outside of town, the population would have been no more than a few families. As it is, the population is only reported as "sparse."

In 1877, my great-grandfather Henry Tanner and his new bride Eliza, got out of a wagon after traveling for over a month, and began their life together out there in the wind and dust of the Colorado Plateau. At that time the settlement, if you could call it that, was called Allen's Camp.

It probably never occurred to Henry that he was broke and unemployed. He didn't have Social Security, Unemployment Insurance or any other government welfare program to keep him and his soon growing family alive. They and their families had only recently been driven forcibly out of the United States and then subjected to Army occupation. Their property had been confiscated and they were systematically persecuted.

Henry lived in what became Joseph City until he died at age 82. In his entire life, he probably never even thought of the concept of unemployment. You might argue that they lived on a "farm" and that is a lot different from today when few can live on a farm. You try and grow a "farm" out there where the wind blows 350 days a year and you are living at 5000 above sea level. There was no running water, they had to haul water from the Little Colorado River in barrels and let the sediment settle out, just to get a drink.

In typical Mormon fashion, they built dams on the Little Colorado River to irrigate the soil but the sandy soil and periodic floods washed away dam after dam. They raised cattle, sorghum for molasses, milk cows and a lot of children.

They lived in a cooperative society. They helped their neighbors. Although they had their differences, even after three generations, there is a bond between their descendants. If your ancestors came from Joseph City, you share a common bond of suffering and hardship that the years cannot erase.

It is remarkable to me to hear today's stories of the unemployed. They act like it is someone's fault that they do not have a "job." What do all of these people do all day? They certainly don't go volunteer at the public library, they don't show up to serve at the relief agencies, they don't volunteer in their communities, they aren't planting gardens, cleaning their houses or helping in care centers. We certainly haven't seen a resurgence of community service in places like Michigan and Arizona where there is high unemployment.

Maybe we need to rethink the concept of unemployment.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Books are not dead, neither are they dying

Recent news articles have focused on the imminent demise of U.S. newspapers. Local newspapers, especially in two newspaper towns, continue to decline. Advertising revenue and circulation are both declining. See for example this article in The Washington Post. The overall concern is that reading is on the decline. A report on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo clearly indicates that the trend in newspapers does not extend to the book market.

The article posted on the LDS Media Talk blog showed the following:

  • Literary reading is growing, not shrinking.
  • Publishers are moving from publishing for general markets to focusing on
    more targeted markets.
  • E-books are growing, but at the same time, printed books are not fading.
    (2006-7:
    e-books doubled and tree books rose 3.2%)
  • Publishers are moving from print-only publications to print and digital
    publication. New devices for digital reading (Kindle, e-Reader, iPhone, Android)
    are growing and improving dramatically.
  • Take a visit to your local library. On a recent visit to the Maricopa County Library in Gilbert, Arizona, we found the library full of people. There were literally stacks of recent popular books for checkout. The library was not only stocking books but also recently released audio books and movie DVDs.

    If overall reading and demand for reading material is not declining, perhaps the newspapers should look to content, relevance and convenience as an issue. Maybe putting out pounds of newsprint every week is no longer socially acceptable. If you are like my family, we stopped taking the newspaper, not because we didn't want the news, but because we didn't want the huge piles of newspapers we felt duty bound to recycle.

    In addition, if I do read a news article and I want to comment on the article, how do I do that with a print version of the newspaper? Write a letter to the Editor? Sure.

    The newspaper industry is facing technological and social changes. The will adapt or they will disappear.

            Thursday, March 26, 2009

            Comments on the idea "New Puritanism"

            In a recent article, commentator Orson Scott Card, either out of ignorance or lack of historical perspective, attributed the rise of those people in America professing "no religion" to a "New Puritanism." He cites a study by Trinity College investigators who found an increase in the percentage of Americans claiming no religion from 8.2% in 1990 to a most recent figure of 15%. At the same time, the study claims that the number of Americans claiming to be Christians declined, over the same period, from 86.2% down to 76%.

            In making his comparison between the current non-religionists and the Puritans, Card focuses on his perception of the zeal of the Puritans in imposing their religious views on others, claiming that the non-religionist act in the same manner. Unfortunately, this shallow analogy is not supported by any competent historical analysis. Puritans were deeply religious and in America has a highly organized church structure that persists in many ways today. The Puritans were Calvinists at heart, and people of deep personal piety. Their Puritan ideas can be summarized in five words; depravity, covenant, election, grace and love. (See Fischer, David Hackett. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Page 23).

            Without going into a long discussion of Calvinist theology and religious tenants, it is a disservice to the religiously motivated immigrants to America to compare them to those who profess no religion today.

            Now, what of the those professing no religion today? Are they content to sit idly by and ignore those who profess a religion? In this regard I must agree with Card, they do exhibit the same zeal in their non-religion. It is not a coincidence that the area of the country reported as being the most non-religious, is also the area where those persecuting religion also live. Vermont is named as most non-religious state in the U.S. It is also a focus for the anti-marriage and anti-religious so-called Gay Rights movement. Card's description of them is appropriate:
            They bristle at the slightest sign of Christians laying hold on the machinery of the state -- while having no compunction about using the power of the state to establish their own dogmas in the schools and in the courts.

            Believing in no god, they have no law to check them; whatever they think to do, they will try to do, and their fury when they are resisted knows no restraint.
            Although the tactics of the non-religionists is similar to that of any oligarchy, it is unfair to compare them to the pious Puritans and their strong beliefs. The immorality of the non-religionist should not be compared to the morality of the Puritans.

            Tuesday, March 24, 2009

            Gay Rights Doublespeak

            The 1949 novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell acted as a symbol for a dystopian society. A dystopian society is one in which the conditions of life are miserable, characterized by human misery, poverty, oppression, violence, disease, and/or pollution. Wikipedia. This overly depressing view of the future of society is considered a bench mark of what is wrong with a propaganda controlled society. Orwell popularized the use of composite nouns using the terms "speak" and "think," as in newspeak, oldspeak and doublethink.

            Although not used in the novel, the term "doublespeak" has followed Orwell's example. Doublespeak is language constructed to disguise or distort its actual meaning, often resulting in a communication bypass. Doublespeak may take the form of bald euphemisms (e.g., "downsizing" for layoffs) or deliberate ambiguity. Wikipedia.

            As pointed out yet again in the debate over a Gay Marriage bill in Vermont, those supporting the so-called Gay Rights are using doublespeak to promote their cause and thereby impose a propaganda controlled society.

            Here are some examples from the news articles and from the comments made by the supporters:

            "gays have different brain structure than straights" Nice to know that the person making this conclusion has discovered something that is not proven by any accepted scientific evidence. The real meaning of this statement is to try to distort the underlying issues and take the behaviour patterns out of the realm of voluntary.

            "gay marriage" Despite the overwhelming majority of the states' laws defining marriage, this use of the term is specifically designed to provoke an emotional response.

            "granting people the same rights regardless of sexual orientation is not \"immorality\". bigotry is immoral" This quote uses multiple doublespeak. Terms such as "sexual orientation" are euphemisms coined by those supporting so-called gay rights. Bigotry in this context is used to refer to anyone opposing their view of gay rights. In their definition of bigotry, gay rights advocates are not "bigots" when they attack people for their religious beliefs.

            "civil right" I have written several blogs on this topic. In one news article a Vermont State Legislator is quoted as saying, "I spent many long hours on a snowy night at the hearing and I listened to everything that came before us. It was somewhere in there that I realize this was a civil right, and I supported it," she said." Marriage is not a "civil right." Apparently, you can become converted to "gay marriage" like a religion.

            Propaganda is propaganda and doublespeak is doublespeak, especially when it is used in this context.

            Saturday, March 21, 2009

            Seven things America does not owe

            With all the talk about rights and entitlements and all the things America owes to the world, here is a list of seven things America does not owe:

            1. Everyone in America is not entitled to feel good about themselves. We alone are responsible for our feelings. If we do wrong, we should feel bad.

            2. Everyone in America is not entitled to a job. We can have opportunity, but how we use that opportunity is our responsibility.

            3. Everyone in America is not entitled to live in the same house, drive the same car or eat the same food. Only prisoners have the same house and eat the same food.

            4. Everyone in America is not entitled to good health. If we live a destructive life style, our bad health is our own problem.

            5. Everyone in America is not entitled to the same level of education. Opportunity to learn is not the same as a guaranteed education to a minimum state test level. A student who refuses to learn and obey school rules should not be forced to stay in school.

            6. Everyone in America is not entitled to spend all day talking on cell phones, online or watching TV. Goods and services are items for sale in the market place and we do not have some fundamental right to own a TV, cell phone or computer.

            7. Everyone in America is not entitled to live the life of the rich and famous. We all have different callings and opportunities, how we live our lives should be our own concern not the concern of our government.

            Friday, March 20, 2009

            A trillion here, a trillion there

            Only recently mass storage devices have grown to the extent that the average person can buy a 1 Terabyte hard drive (or even larger). A Terabyte is 1000 Gigabytes. Familiarity with this concept of a trillion has apparently jaded our society so quickly that the U.S. Government's recent announcement that the Federal Reserve will buy $1.15 trillion in Treasuries. One time Senator Everett Dirksen was quoted as saying, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money." Well, it added up to real money.

            It might be a good idea to try to real grasp of this number, even given the present familiarity with trillions.

            A trillion seconds is 31,688 years. A stack of 1 trillion $1000 bills (not $1 bills) would be over 67 miles high. The government could give a million people a million dollars each. Here is a graphic representation of the amount of money in a $1 trillion.

            The national debt is estimated to be over $11 trillion or about $36,000 per person for every man, woman and child in America today. However, there is a whole lot of disagreement about the amount of the debt, even from the government itself. If you have a new baby, that baby immediately has a $36,000 debt. Maybe, we could negotiate with the government and if we paid our share, $36,000, we wouldn't ever have to pay anymore taxes?

            James Hamilton of Econbrowser puts a trillion dollars into perspective this way:

            A trillion dollars is about the total amount collected in [individual] income taxes by the U.S. federal government in fiscal year 2006-- $1.04 trillion, if you're curious to use the exact number. That gives me a simple rule of thumb for personalizing these numbers. If I want to know what an additional trillion dollars in government borrowing or spending will mean for me, I just imagine what it would be like to pay twice as much in federal income taxes for one year. So, for example, with the President's proposed budget calling for deficits of $1.75 trillion for 2009 and an additional $1.17 trillion for 2010, after 3 years of paying twice as much as I paid in 2006, I'd have about paid off my share of the bill for the first two years of the proposal.


            What is the effect of adding these huge sums of money to our money supply? No one knows. Isn't that a bit scary.

            Wednesday, March 18, 2009

            Marriage Amendment introduced in Minnesota

            Pro-marriage proponents, concerned with legislation being introduced in the Minnesota state legislature, introduced a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Not surprisingly, the media immediately began condemning the proposed amendment as "anti-gay rights" and the proponents as "same-sex marriage opponents." In the StarTribune article the reporters said:

            Activists, legislators and religious leaders representing Christian, Muslim
            and Jewish congregations said at a news conference organized by the Minnesota
            Family Council that such an amendment -- which would need ratifying by voters --
            is the only way to block changes in the status of marriage sought by legislators
            or same-sex couples launching court challenges."This is not a political issue, or an issue of choice or rights. It is an issue of life," said Andre Dukes, pastor of Shiloh Temple church in Minneapolis. A constitutional amendment, said Rep. Dan Severson, R-Sauk Rapids, one of the sponsors, would "allow the people of Minnesota to vote on this very important issue ... and let them decide."

            The article goes on to quote State Senator John Marty, DFL-Roseville saying, "This is not a political issue, or an issue of choice or rights. It is an issue of life," said Andre Dukes, pastor of Shiloh Temple church in Minneapolis. A constitutional amendment, said Rep. Dan Severson, R-Sauk Rapids, one of the sponsors, would "allow the people of Minnesota to vote on this very important issue ... and let them decide."

            Marriage amendments are moral issues. They go to the very essence and quality of our national fiber. I certainly support those who have brought this amendment issue to Minnesota.

            As usual the comments on the news article make you wonder if people can still read and write, much less type on the computer at the same time.

            Sunday, March 15, 2009

            What would you expect from California?

            There used to be an old saying, "Look what the cat dragged in..." now the saying would be "Look what showed up on Facebook..." A recent Facebook post caught my attention, it said: "Would you like to earn an online law degree from the comfort of your own home?"

            Fascinated by the opportunity to fame and fortune over the Internet, I clicked on the link. Here is what it said:

            Would you like to earn an online law degree from the comfort of your own home? It’s not easy, but it is possible. Earning an online law degree poses several unique challenges. No online law school is accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA); however, forty-nine states require that law school graduates earn a degree accredited by the ABA in order to take the bar exam needed to practice law.

            California is the one state that allows graduates from distance learning law schools to sit for their bar, assuming the examinees meet certain requirements. If you live in California, or if you’re willing to relocate, you may be able to become a practicing lawyer with an online law degree. After you work as a lawyer for a few years, it may be possible to practice law in some other states.
            Do we now have an explanation for part of the problem with the law coming out of California recently? Maybe.

            The online article goes on to state:
            Once you’ve used your online law degree to practice law in California for a few years, you may be able to work as a lawyer in additional states. Many states will permit California lawyers to take their bar exams after five to seven years of practicing law. Alternatively, you could enroll in a Master of Law program accredited by the American Bar Association. Such programs take only one or two years and will help you qualify to take the bar exam in other states. You may also practice law in federal courts located in any state.
            As a practicing lawyer in the state of Arizona for over 34 years, I would seriously doubt that anyone could obtain an adequate law school education without classroom attendance. Learning to be a lawyer isn't just about reading some case law and deciding to represent clients, we no longer live in the 19th Century, Abraham Lincoln may have been self taught, but he didn't have the IRS or the Rules of Civil Procedure to contend with. With a ratio of 49 to 1 it doesn't seem like this is a movement that will sweep the country, but the fact that California, the lone dissenter, is liberal enough to allow people to officially practice law without going to an accredited school says volumes about their attitude towards the law in general.

            Would you go to a doctor who got his or her degree over the Internet? Probably not knowingly. I have met a lot of people who have represented themselves in legal battles, some with as much expertise as practicing lawyers, does that mean I would like that person to represent me in a lawsuit? Not likely or even possibly.

            Thursday, March 12, 2009

            Can Gay Rights activists claim "basic human rights"

            A stated goal of the Gay Activists Alliance founded in New York City in December of 1969, was to "secure basic human rights, dignity and freedom for all gay people." Wikipedia. This statement referring to the concept of "basic human rights" has been repeated thousands of times in the context of the activists' rhetoric.

            In examining this topic it is important to differentiate between those "basic human rights" which are defined as those "basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled" (Wikipedia) and what the Gay Activists mean by the phrase, the recognition of same-sex marriage.

            Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), states: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." Wikipedia.

            However, Article 16 of the UDHR states:


            Article 16
            Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to
            race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.
            They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its
            dissolution.
            Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
            The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.


            The Declaration continues to be widely cited by governments, academics, advocates and constitutional courts and individual human beings who appeal to its principles for the protection of their recognised human rights. But the UDHR itself states that

            Article 29, Paragraph 2 of the UDHR explains the limitations of the Declaration:

            In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only
            to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing
            due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting
            the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a
            democratic society.

            It is important at this juncture to emphasize that these statements come from the United Nations documents, not from anything directly adopted by the government of the United States of America. It should be noted that the UDHR would not seem to provide any support for the adoption of the phrase "basic human rights" by the Gay Activists.

            The U.S. Federal Courts have infrequently used the term "basic human rights" and then only routinely in the context of political asylum cases. Importantly, there are apparently no Federal cases at all linking the issue of "basic human rights" with Gay Rights in any way. Not surprisingly, the term "basic human rights" has only been linked to Gay Rights in one single case, Anderson v. King County, 138 P. 3d 963, 158 Wash. 2d 1, (2006). The Anderson case was brought by Gay Rightists seeking to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act in Washington State. The phrase was used by the Plaintiff/Appellees in that case in their arguments. The Washington Supreme Court reversed the lower court and upheld the constitutionality of the Washington statute.

            Although the term "basic human rights" has great emotional appeal, it is evident that the use of the term by the Gay Activists is pure propaganda. It is further apparent that an appeal to "basic human rights" at least as defined by the United Nations, would not recognize Gay Rights' issues.

            Wednesday, March 11, 2009

            Hospital visitation rights -- Gay Rights propaganda

            In response to my last post on the propaganda nature of the Gay Rights' Movement's use of the term "hospital visitation rights" I received an interesting comment. Since the comment demonstrates the pervasive nature of the propaganda mechanism, I thought it necessary to address the language and concepts expressed in the comment.

            The comment starts by making the following statement: [I have copied the comment directly without correcting either the misspellings or the grammar.]

            "Imagine this for a moment: Your husband or wife is lying in a hospital ICU or CCU dying and that hospital's policy was that only "blood" relatives were allowed into the room. Your children are allowed, your spouses parents and siblings are allowed, even their cousins can go right in, but you are not because you do not share the same gene pool."

            Response: As in most propaganda, this comment starts out with classic fallacious reasoning. Fallacies often exploit emotional triggers in the listener or interlocutor, for example relating arguments to patriotism or family, or intellectual weaknesses targeting subjects which the listener knows little about. They may also take advantage of social relationships between people, for example citing support of important individuals to encourage listeners to agree with a conclusion. Wikipedia, Fallacies. The above statement imagines a situation that is not only unreasonable, but extremely unlikely; that a spouse of a dying patient would not be allowed into a hospital ICU. I have personally visited friends who were dying in the hospital both in and out of an ICU and only rarely have I ever been asked who I was or why I was visiting. The person making the comment seems to have little or no experience with hospitals or hospital policies and is making the argument specifically for its propaganda utility.

            The statement made by the commentator is usually referred to as a "converse fallacy of accident" arguing from a special case to a general rule. There is likely no actual hospital policy anywhere in the United States that would allow visitation by "blood" relatives alone and exclude all others including spouses. The commentator would like his or her readers to believe that this special case is the general rule throughout the U.S.

            Comment: "Would you not feel that your “basic human right” to be with and comfort your dying loved one was being violated?"

            Response: Referring to the "way I would feel" is basically an irrelevant conclusion, or red herring. Hospital policies are more likely dependent on considerations of safety, possible contagion and the care and privacy of the patient than the feelings of those excluded by any "policy." When a close family member went through a major surgery, I was excluded from the area due to concerns about possible infection. My feelings were not considered and rightly so, my feelings were of far less importance than the care of the patient.

            What if I were in New York and my dying loved one was in Phoenix and I didn't have the financial means to travel to Phoenix. Would my "basic human right" to be with and comfort my dying loved one be violated? Would the State or Federal Government have to pay my way to Phoenix because of that "basic human right?"

            You will also note here that the commentator has subtly changed the argument from a spouse to a "dying loved one," an entirely different category and emotionally equating "spouse" with the made up term "dying loved one." The conclusion then becomes one of argumentum ad misericordiam, that is, to arouse pity for getting one's conclusion accepted. I doubt that the commentator has read the book on fallacies, but the comment would certainly be a good example. What degree of "love" do I have to have to qualify for entry into an ICU?

            I will address the "basic human right" issue in a future post.

            Comment: "That exact scenario happens every day across the nation to same-sex couples. Hospital visitation of your loved ones is a “basic human right” regardless of weather there is a legal precedent for it or not."

            Response: Although this statement is also fallacious, it is also totally untrue and without one shred of actual evidence. My review of the law and the posts on the Internet shows two facts: there are virtually no U.S. cases either Federal or State, involving a so-called "hospital visitation right" and almost all of the posts mentioning this exact title deal with Gay Rights activists using the term as propaganda. By the way, the same argument could be made for a cohabiting heterosexual couple but, of course, the Gay Rights Activists are not concerned about that aspect of the problem, if there is one.

            Conclusion: The term "basic human right" is also a propaganda term, just as is "hospital visitation right." If a person wants to have another person involved in his or her hospital care, that can be accomplished by signing an advanced care directive, also known as a Health Care Power of Attorney. The comment raises several levels of fallacy and as I indicated above, I will address the issue of the so-called "basic human right" in another post. It is reprehensible to use these bare propaganda statements as facts to support a political and social agenda.

            Tuesday, March 10, 2009

            That slippery word "rights"

            In the discussion engendered by the controversy over Proposition 8 in California, the participants have repeatedly used the term "rights" over and over. A recent comment to my previous post, stated, "Looking at the broader perspective, you're right of course. In California, gay individuals really do have a lot of rights. Unfortunately, that's only in California. Take a short drive to Utah, and even if you are a faithful, covenant keeping member, if someone thinks you look, act, or might in any way be gay, they can fire you from your job and evict you from your home. Even something as basic as hospital visitation rights doesn't exist in the state of Utah."

            [Aside: Short drive from California to Utah?}

            First of all, we have to ask if the characterization of rights in Utah is accurate. I strongly disagree with the statement based on the definition of rights discussed in my previous posts. To begin an analysis I will take the last issue first, is there a legal "hospital visitation right" and if so what is meant by the term "right" in this context? Is this so-called "hospital visitation right" basic in any way? (Whatever basic means).

            Put another way, do I have a "right" to visit someone in a privately run, privately operated hospital? If not why and if so why? Does my right to visit anyone I choose, overrule the patient's privacy and health care concerns?

            It appears that the term "hospital visitation rights" is a short hand buzz-word way of referring to an issue created by the Gay community. Those supporting this so-called "right" insist that it is a "human rights issue." The usage of the term "rights" in this context is a prime example of propaganda, which is defined as a concerted set of messages aimed at influencing the opinions or behaviors of large number of people. Here is a description of the use of propaganda:

            Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or gives loaded messages in order to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda. Wikipedia.


            Visiting someone in a hospital is not an "inherent human right" neither is it a civil right under any definition of civil rights. The use of the term "rights" in this context has absolutely no legal support whatsoever. It appears from a review of the discussion on the Internet and research in Westlaw for court cases, that their is no particular legal precedent for such a claim. Although the Gay community would like to make this a Gay-rights issue, hospital visitation issues in general are looked at legally under the wider umbrella of cohabitation. An unmarried heterosexual couple is subject to the same restrictions based on policy.

            The term "hospital visitation rights" itself has no legal existence outside of the contrived Gay Rights agenda. In fact the concept of "hospital visitation" is referred to in the very few Federal cases even mentioning the term, as a "benefit" not a right. See Milberger v. KBHL, LLC, 486 F.Supp 2d 1156, D. Hawaii (2007) for example.

            Claiming some sort of "hospital visitation right" is a case of pure propaganda with no basis in law whatsoever and I sorry the person who made the comment bought into this scheme.

            Now, what if there is a real issue about hospital visitation apart from the Gay Rights' agenda. How can that be solved? Probably the easiest way to solve this problem is with some sort of Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will. This approach avoids the issue of the relationship of the parties altogether by designating someone to act for you in the case of an emergency where you cannot communicate your wishes. If the contrived issue of "hospital visitation rights" can be so easily resolved, isn't it even more obvious that the use of the phrase by the Gay community is for propaganda only?

            More later on the issue of rights in the context of hospital visitation.

            Sunday, March 8, 2009

            What rights are we talking about for Gays?

            The recent news accounts of the oral argument in the California case challenging Proposition 8, prominently featured Gay Rights activists chanting "We want our rights" over and over. What rights are they claiming? What about my rights and the rights of my ancestors?

            Do they have the right to vote?
            Of course, no Gay person has been denied the right to vote merely because they were Gay.
            My ancestors were disenfranchised by the United States Government and forcibly expelled from the country.

            Do they have the right to peaceable assembly?
            Of course, they do. They demonstrated that in California this week.
            My ancestors were mobbed and forcibly expelled from Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and ultimately the United States entirely. My own great grandfather was mobbed and beaten and left for dead because of his beliefs.

            They claim they want the "right to marry."
            My own grandfather was arrested, tried and sent to Federal prison for his beliefs concerning marriage. All of my ancestors had their religious property expropriated and taken by the United States Government, who sent an army to enforce the taking.

            Do Gays have the right to free speech?
            Once again to California, last week, who stopped them from speaking?
            However, they would deny me the right to speak and to vote and to peaceable assembly.

            Do they have the right to bear arms?
            Yes, certainly, just as many of my ancestors fought in every war on the side of the United States from the Revolutionary War to the War in Vietnam. I presently have relatives who are serving or have served in Iraq.

            Do they have they have freedom of religion and the right to worship as they please.
            Yes, but they would deny me the same right.

            Excuse me if I don't quite see what rights they are claiming to have been denied. They can work, they can go to school, they can assemble, they can vote, they can eat at any restaurant and stay at any hotel they choose, they can travel freely throughout the United States, they can pay taxes just like the rest of us.

            Maybe they want the right to pay divorce lawyers, the right to pay alimony, the right to child custody battles, and the right to unfair treatment by the tax laws that prevent older people from marrying.

            Would they like my ancestors' rights, the ones they didn't have when they were mobbed, shot, killed and died crossing the country, fleeing from mob violence and oppression?

            Exactly what rights are we talking about?

            Thursday, March 5, 2009

            Can Gay rightists claim civil rights' protection?

            In a recent comment to one of the past posts, Euripides stated and asked: "Blacks and women have a substantive claim to discrimination based on economic and social inequities and have gained civil rights protections as protected classes. So is it correct that gays have no claim to civil rights, having no substantive claims to discrimination. Or is it that gays, as a group don't have the necessary self-definition to create a "class"?"

            The answer is both because the issues are interrelated. However, the question is slightly mis-stated. In order to claim protection under the U.S. civil rights statutes, an individual must be a member of a protected class. The issue is whether any particular individual qualifies as a member of the class. If a person is racially an African-American, membership in the protected class of race is a given. But, in another example, if the protected class is a religion, the claimant may have to prove that they are actually member of a qualifying religious group or organization. There are large numbers of cases in which the Federal courts address the membership in the protected class issue.

            The major problem with the claim to membership in a protected class for someone who claims to be gay, is that there is no legal definition of the class. The California Court cases are no help in this regard. The California Courts have made no attempt at defining who is or who is not entitled to protection. As it stands right now, anyone, with any basis whatsoever, can claim to be gay and therefore a member of the protected class. The law cannot allow someone to define themself into a protected class, especially when there is no consistent legal definition of the class at all.

            Discrimination only exists as to protected classes. For example, age can be a factor in a discrimination claim, but a 15 year old cannot claim discrimination on the basis that only 16 year olds can drive. If there is some rational reason or explanation for the apparent discrimination, then, by law, it cannot be unreasonable and therefore cannot be the basis for a lawsuit. Again, there are hundreds, likely thousands of cases testing this issue of who can claim discrimination.

            If you cannot define the class, you cannot claim discrimination based on the undefined class.

            Tuesday, March 3, 2009

            Gays a protected class?

            In order to make a claim for a violation of a civil right, it is necessary to establish that a person belongs to the protected class. There are literally thousands of Federal Court cases involving the issue of the definition of a protected class and whether or not a specific person is a member of that class. For example, during the deliberations that preceded the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Congress considered and rejected proposed amendments that would have included older workers among the classes protected from employment discrimination. Thereafter, the Fair Labor Standards Amendments of 1966, Pub. L. 89-601, Section 606, 80 Stat. 845, and in 1967, 29 U.S.C. Section 623 (a) (2) added provisions extending protection to individuals' employment opportunities from discrimination because of age. Therefore, in the narrow area of employment discrimination, age became a "protected class." See Smith v. City of Jackson, Miss., 544 U.S. 228, 125 S. Ct. 1536 (U.S. 2005).

            Additionally, to state an equal protection claim in the context of a discrimination suit based on claimed civil rights, a plaintiff must prove that he or she was discriminated against by establishing that other similarly-situated individuals outside of his protected class were treated more favorably. See Amnesty Intern., USA v. Battle, --- F.3d ---, 2009 (Case has yet to be formally reported). Fundamentally, the person making a claim must prove that they are a member of the protected class.

            Presently, there are possibly hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals claiming that they are members of a protected class and attempting either through legislation or through the courts, to establish that they are entitled to civil rights standing and protection. 42 U.S.C.A. Section 2000 et seq. establishes that as a prerequisite to any of these actions, the individual must prove membership in a protected class.

            Clearly, under the existing law in the U.S., no one can automatically argue that they are entitled to some type of civil right without a basic consideration of the person's qualifications and membership in the supposed protected class. See Laderach v. U-Haul of Northwestern Ohio, 207 F.3d 825, C.A. 6 (Ohio) 2000. The plaintiff always bears the initial burden of establishing a prima facie case of disparate treatment based on race, religion, national origin, sex or age by introducing evidence that gives rise to an inference of unlawful discrimination. See Sischo-Nownejad v. Merced Community College Dist., 934 F.2d 1104 (9th Cir. 1991).

            As Euripedes, pointed out in a recent blog, about Gays the Hijacking of Civil Rights, "If gays can claim protection, based solely on association as a member of the gay class, then anyone can make the same claim and there are no standards of protection for any other protected class. " How does one go about proving they are a member of a class that has no accurate definition and no criteria for membership? Again, referring to Euripedes, "The slippery slope exists when other people group themselves together and begin to claim protected class status for the most frivolous of claims. " For example, if a person is the subject to same-sex attraction, but never acts out any of their feelings, is that person entitled to class protection as a "Gay?" What about the commonly argued situation where two people of the same sex live together but are not sexually involved at all. Are they also a member of this protected class of "Gays?"

            It is apparent that the argument in California over Proposition 8 has jumped over this fundamental issue and made an invalid assumption that a protected class exists without ever defining that class. Class definition is not difficult in the instance of race, or sex (i.e. women vs. men) but has been and will continue to be problematical for national origin and religion. Are we ready to include a class that does not have a definition? Won't that open the door to almost any possible group or preference labeling themselves and claiming protected class status?

            Constant repetition of the mantra of "gay rights" does not automatically create a protected class, unless there is some rational way of defining the class other than by someone claiming membership. To do otherwise, destroys the whole concept of civil rights in America today.

            Sunday, March 1, 2009

            I want some of that government math

            In its desperate attempts to shore up Citigroup, Inc., the U.S. government has agreed to a third rescue attempt. The Treasury Department said it would convert $25 billion (with a "b") of preferred shares to common stock. The conversion would increase the U.S. interest in the company to 36 percent. [As the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke avows that the U.S. will not nationalize the banking industry].

            Now, this may seem like a reasonable position until you examine exactly what is happening with Citigroup. First of all, the U.S. government has already poured $45 billion into Citigroup. The company had a loss of $27.7 billion in 2008. To quote Bloomberg, "Assuming the maximum amount of preferred shares eligible for conversion, existing stockholders would be left with a 26 percent stake. The stock fell 96 cents to $1.50 in composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange at 4 p.m. as a record 2 billion shares changed hands. It plummeted 90 percent during the past 12 months and is down 78 percent so far this year."

            What are the U.S. citizen's getting for their money? Under the terms of the deal, Citigroup will exchange common stock for as much as $27.5 billion of its preferred securities at a conversion price of $3.25 a share. However, Citigroup's stock has declined to around $1.50 a share, so there would be an immediate loss to the government equal to the difference between the conversion rate and the actual market value. Why can't I get a deal like this? I will certainly agree to sell my house, my cars or anything other dispensable item, to the government for over two times its current market value. I could then turn around and purchase a new house (or maybe even the same house) at its currently deflated value. What is Citigroup doing with all this free money, it is paying for a $20- million-a-year sponsorship of the New York Mets’ new baseball stadium in the New York City borough of Queens. Corporate- governance advocates also say the bank is paying for millions of dollars of perks, including offices, secretaries and cars and drivers, for retired executives.

            Again to quote Bloomberg, "The bank said last week director Roberto Hernandez Ramirez will keep getting reimbursed for his use of private aircraft and other perks after he steps down from the board in April because of his continuing role as non-executive chairman of Banamex. The benefits, which also include an office, secretary and personal security, cost $2.61 million in 2007, according to a March regulatory filing"