Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Road to Serfdom

                The topic of discussion for this Freedom Friday is the connection between the economy and freedom.  The economy must be free from governmental control in order to prosper.  When the government controls the economy – as it does more and more today - freedoms are destroyed.

                Friedrich August Hayek wrote and published a book in 1944, which has recently been re-discovered.  His book, The Road to Serfdom, became a No. 1 best seller.

                Mr. Hayek was a Nobel Prize-winning economist and a philosopher.   He was a well-known scholar and one of the most influential intellectuals of the twentieth century.  He earned three doctorates – in law, the social sciences, and economics – and authored many books.  As President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher restored free market economics in the United States and Britain, they called Hayek the “founding father of freedom-inspired economic policies.”

                In a special abridged edition of The Road to Serfdom, Edwin J. Feulner, past president of The Heritage Foundation, claims that Hayek was not only an economist, philosopher, and scholar but a prophet also.  “Hayek taught that socialism leads to slavery and that those who try to control an economy are guilty not only of a fatal conceit but also of factual errors – which inevitably doom planned economies.”

                Included in this abridged edition is a list of “Ten (Mostly) Hayekian Insights for Trying Economic Times.”  It was adapted from a Heritage First Principles Essay of the same title by Bruce Caldwell.
                (1)  “Recessions are bound to happen.”
                (2)  “Central planning and excessive regulation sure don’t work.”
                (3)  “Some regulation is necessary.”
                (4)  “A stimulus will only stimulate the deficit.”
                (5)  “The economy is too complex for precise forecasting.”
                (6)   “Remember the rule of unintended consequences.”
                (7)   “You won’t believe how much you’ll learn in Econ 101.”
                (8)   “Leave social justice out of it.”
                (9)   “Nothing beats the free market.”
                (10) “As a rule of thumb, government cures are not only worse than the disease, but lead to further disease.”

                The Road to Serfdom is often referred to and cited.  It has much information for those of us who do not fully understand the connection between the economy and loss of freedom.  I encourage you to read the book and learn more about this topic.

                In the meantime, read this comic strip – converted into video. It was originally published in 1945 with the title “The Road to Serfdom in Cartoons” and contains the fundamentals of Hayek’s argument.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Acts of Courage

                It is Days of 47 time again, time to remember and honor the courage and strength of the Mormon Pioneers.  The first pioneers crossed the plains to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 to build a place where they could enjoy religious freedom.   They entered the Valley on July 24th, and the date of their arrival, known as Pioneer Day, is celebrated with parades, rodeos, and other activities.  This time of celebration is important to my family as seven of my eight ancestors were part of the Mormon Exodus and my eighth ancestor entered the Valley a few years later by transcontinental railroad.

                The Mormon pioneers, most of whom were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, migrated from Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley, located in the Territory of Utah (the present state of Utah).   This area was once part of the Republic of Mexico before the Mexican War, but it became American territory after the United States won the war over the annexation of Texas.

                The Mormons were forced out of the American Midwest because of their religion.  They were chased out of Missouri with threats of death; they settled in Illinois where they built a beautiful city known as Nauvoo.  A few years later enemies of the Church killed the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum in Illinois in an effort to destroy the Church and extinguish the religion.  When the enemies realized that the Church was not falling apart, they forced the Mormons out of Illinois.

                The pioneers began leaving Nauvoo in February 1846 by crossing the Mississippi River on top of thick ice.  They traveled westward in winter weather until they left the United States.  They wintered in Winter Quarters, near present-day Omaha, Nebraska.  There they repaired old wagons and built new ones; they gathered supplies and made plans.  They built log cabins and planted crops in the spring for the people who would follow them.   People who could not afford teams and wagons built handcarts to carry their belongings.  The advance pioneer companies entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 and were followed by approximately 70,000 people.  Some handcart companies were caught in early winter weather and suffered greatly.  The Mormon Exodus is said to have ended with the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. 

                This video, narrated by President Gordon B. Hinckley, illustrates the sacrifices made by the Mormon Pioneers.  His retelling of the experiences of the Martin Handcart Company at the Sweetwater River is particularly poignant.  The pioneers were struggling with cold, hunger, and discouragement when three 18-year-old boys came to their rescue.  The names of these three young men are etched in history:  George W. Grant, C. Allen Huntington, and David P. Kimball.  These young men carried nearly every member of the handcart company across the icy river and died years later from the effects of the experience.  Their acts of courage, compassion, and service saved many of the handcart pioneers, and the report of their acts brought tears to the eyes of President Brigham Young. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Moral Issues of Crisis

                The crisis caused by our porous southern border involves many issues.  There are the health problems coming into our nation by unvaccinated illegal aliens.  There are the social issues caused by people who refuse to assimilate.  There are the national security problems caused by porous borders.  Then there are the moral issues.

                Victor Davis Hanson, a historian at the Hoover Institution and Stanford University, wrote an interesting article about how the crisis shows the immorality of “callous parents” who “send their children as pawns northward without escort,” liberal elites, progressives and ethnic activists, CEOs of companies wanting cheap labor, immigration-reform advocates, etc. 

                Hanson also discusses the hypocrisy of the government in Mexico.  “Mexico strictly enforces some of the harshest immigration laws in the world that either summarily deport or jail most who dare to cross Mexican borders illegally, much less attempt to work inside Mexico or become politically active.  If America were to emulate Mexico’s immigration policies, millions of Mexican nationals living in the U.S. immediately would be sent home.
                “How, then, are tens of thousands of Central American children crossing with impunity hundreds of miles of Mexican territory, often sitting atop Mexican trains?  Does Mexico believe that the massive influxes will serve to render U.S. immigration law meaningless, and thereby completely shred an already porous border?  Is Mexico simply ensuring that the surge of poorer Central Americans doesn’t dare stop in Mexico on its way north?”

                Hanson also discusses the hypocrisy of the U.S. government in its choice to simply not enforce existing laws, in the decision to “send immigrant kids all over the United States and drop them into communities without firm guarantees of waiting sponsors or family.”

                I encourage you to read the entire article because it asks a lot of questions that should be asked and points out the selfishness and immorality in allowing the crisis to take place.

                Judge Jeanine Pirro explains the moral problems clearly and passionately. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Daniel Boone

                Daniel Boone was born on November 2, 1734, in Berks County, Pennsylvania.  He learned to read and write but received little formal education.  He was an expert rifleman, hunter, and trapper by age twelve.  He married Rebecca Bryan about 1755.

                Boone was part of the unsuccessful mission to capture Fort Duquesne in 1755 and escaped from the bloody ambush.  He later led an expedition into Kentucky where he eventually settled and endured many hardships.  Boone and twenty-seven of his men were captured by Indians in 1778; he was taken to the Indian village and adopted by Flack Fish, a distinguished Shawnee Chief, to replace his deceased son.  Boone was honored and respected by the members of the tribe.  He escaped by traveling one hundred and sixty miles on foot in four days while being pursued by several hundred Indians. 

                Daniel Boone had great influence in opening the wilderness beyond the Alleghenies to millions of Americans.  He died on September 26, 1820, in Missouri at the age of eighty-six years.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Confront Witnesses

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:  “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall … be confronted with the witnesses against him….”  This provision gives the accused the right to confront the witnesses of his alleged crime and to question them.

                W. Cleon Skousen explained that under “the English system of law there was an odious practice of having witnesses make out depositions (written testimonies) which were read to the accused at the time of his trial.  This deprived the defendant of the opportunity to confront his witnesses and cross-examine them.  It was on the basis of a mere deposition that Sir Walter Raleigh was convicted of treason and beheaded.
                “The one exception to the rule against the admission of a written accusation is the declaration by a dying witness, which may be read against the accused on the ground that the `solemnity of the circumstances’ tends to make the testimony creditable.”  (See The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, pp. 708-709.)

                John C. Douglass of The Heritage Foundation explained that there was “no record of any debate over the Confrontation Clause in the First Congress.  Nevertheless, history offers some guidance to understanding the purpose of the clause.  Long before the American Constitution, trials featuring live testimony in open court subject to cross-examination were typical in the English common-law courts.  Those who adopted the Sixth Amendment probably had that model in mind, especially in light of the abuses the American colonists knew of or had experienced….”  (See The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p. 354.)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Making the Sacrament Meaningful

                What do you do to make your sacrament experience more meaningful?  The opportunity to partake of the sacrament and renew our covenants with God can be a source of strength to us as well as a new beginning.  We can make our experience more meaningful by preparing ourselves for it.  We should examine our lives and consider what we need to do to repent of our sins.  We should also ponder the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how we are applying it in our lives.  None of us is perfect nor do we need to be perfect to partake of the sacrament; we just need to come to our sacrament meeting with a spirit of humility and repentance in our hearts. The sacrament helps us draw closer to the Savior.  

                Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained, “The ordinance of the sacrament makes the sacrament meeting the most sacred and important meeting in the Church.  It is the only Sabbath meeting the entire family can attend together.  Its content in addition to the sacrament should always be planned and presented to focus our attention on the Atonement and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

                Continuing with his remarks, Elder Oaks suggested several things we can do to better prepare ourselves for a more meaningful sacrament experience.  (1) Be seated “well before” the meeting starts.  (2) Dress appropriately.  “Our manner of dress indicates the degree to which we understand and honor the ordinance in which we will participate.”  (3) “During sacrament meeting – and especially during the sacrament service – we should concentrate on worship and refrain from all other activities, especially from behavior that could interfere with the worship of others.”  (4) “The music of sacrament meeting is a vital part of our worship….  How wonderful when every person in attendance joins in the worship of singing – especially in the hymn that helps us prepare to partake of the sacrament.  All sacrament meeting music requires careful planning, always remembering that this music is for worship, not for performance.”

                Elder Oaks quoted President Joseph Fielding Smith:  “This is an occasion when the gospel should be presented, when we should be called upon to exercise faith, and to reflect on the mission of our Redeemer, and to spend time in the consideration of the saving principles of the gospel, and not for other purposes.  Amusement, laughter, light-mindedness, are all out of place in the sacrament meetings of the Latter-day Saints.  We should assemble in the spirit of prayer, of meekness, with devotion in our hearts” (Doctrine of Salvation, 2:342).

Friday, July 18, 2014

Finding Happiness

                Parents can strengthen their homes – and thus strengthen their communities and nations – by teaching their children the path to happiness.  We are all searching for happiness, but many of us do not know where to look for it.  The Declaration of Independence declares that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are God-given rights.  So, how are we to find the path to happiness?

                Bishop Gerald Causse, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, discussed how to follow the path of happiness.  “Most people dislike the unknown.  The uncertainty of life can create a lack of confidence, a fear of the future.  Some hesitate to make commitments out of fear of failure, even when good opportunities present themselves….

                “Another philosophy that will limit us is illustrated by this maxim:  `Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die’ (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 2 Nephi 28:7).  This philosophy favors indulging in immediate pleasure regardless of their future consequences.

                “There is a different path than the paths of fear or doubt or self-indulgence – a path that brings peace, confidence, and serenity in life.  You can’t control all the circumstances of your life, but you have control of your happiness.  You are the architect of it.

                “Your happiness is more the result of your spiritual vision and the principles upon which you base your life than of anything else.  These principles will bring you happiness regardless of unexpected challenges and surprises.  Let me review some of these essential principles.

                “1. Recognize your personal worth….  Knowing that God knows us and loves us personally is like a light that illuminates our life and gives it meaning.  Whoever I am, whether I have friends or not, whether I’m popular or not, and even if I feel rejected or persecuted by others, I have an absolute assurance that my Heavenly Father loves me.  He knows my needs; He understands my concerns; He is eager to bless me….

                “2. Become who you are….  One of the great adventures of life is finding out who we really are and where we came from and then consistently living in harmony with our true identity as children of God and with the purpose of our existence.

                “3. Trust in God’s promises….  [The promises given to Abraham] are tangible, and  if we do our part, God will do His….

                “You have dreams and goals?  That’s good!  Work with all your heart to accomplish them.  Then let the Lord do the rest.  He will make you  into what you cannot make of yourself.

                “At all times, accept His will.  Be ready to go where He asks you to go and to do what He asks you to do.  Become the men and women He is nurturing you to become” (“Follow the Path of Happiness,” Ensign, June 2014, pp. 14-18).  

                I know there is a God in heaven who wants us – His children – to be happy.  That means all of us, including you and me.  I know that we can follow the path to happiness if we will follow the counsel of Bishop Causse.  We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by following the path to happiness.