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.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Disintegration of the Family

            The family is the basic or core unit of society and eternity. When the family unit is strong, society is strong. When the family unit is weak, society is weak. We are living in dangerous times because the family unit is growing weaker. The family is being pulled apart by the many forces pulling at it, and this destruction of the family is weakening the integrity of society. This disintegration of the family did not happen overnight or without warning.

            In September 1995 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published its document titled “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” This document explains the importance of marriage and family to society and warns of serious problems if the family disintegrates.

            Some of the forces that are taking such a terrible toll on families come through technology. Technology replaces family ties with relationships formed on social media. It causes parents to spend more time on their cell phones or computers than they do with their children. It causes even worse problems when it brings evil into our homes with games and pornography. Pornography is an insidious evil that destroys individuals, marriages, and families because it destroys the ability to feel and love in constructive ways. It invites and then imprisons its victims in its realm of darkness and causes them to disconnect with life as it really is. Pornography is so bad because it comes right into our homes whether or not it is invited, but misuse of other types of technology is also serious.

            When people cannot see the difference between the real world and the fake, they often trade the good for the bad. In a powerful address about technology entitled “Things as They Really Are,” Elder David A. Bednar of the Council of Twelve Apostles outlines many problems caused by the misuse of technology. He explains that technology has the ability to make things look so real that it is difficult to see the difference between reality and simulation, and many people trade the good for the bad.

We live at a time when technology can be used to replicate reality, to augment reality, and to create virtual reality. For example, a medical doctor can use software simulation to gain valuable experience performing a complicated surgical operation without ever putting a human patient at risk. A pilot in a fight simulator repeatedly can practice emergency landing procedures that could save many lives. And architects and engineers can use innovative technologies to model sophisticated design and construction methods that decrease the loss of human life and damage to buildings caused by earthquakes and other natural disasters.

In each of these examples, a high degree of fidelity in the simulation or model contributes to the effectiveness of the experience. The term fidelity denotes the similarity between reality and a representation of reality. Such a simulation can be constructive if the fidelity is high and the purposes are good – for example, providing experience that saves lives or improves the quality of life….

… However, a simulation or model can lead to spiritual impairment and danger if the fidelity is high and the purposes are bad – such as experimenting with actions contrary to God’s commandments or enticing us to think or do things we would not otherwise think or do “because it is only a game.”

I raise an apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences upon our souls. The concerns I raise are not new; they apply equally to other types of media, such as television, movies, and music. But in a cyber world, these challenges are more pervasive and intense. I plead with you to beware of the sense-dulling and spiritually destructive influence of cyberspace technologies that are used to produce high fidelity and that promote degrading and evil purposes.

            There is good technology, and there is bad technology. Our duty is to retain our ability to discern between the two of them. We must choose the technology that helps us to become better educated, to communicate with our immediate family, to keep our extended family close, and to build and strengthen the Church. We should avoid any technology that weakens our marriages and families or that brings distance between ourselves and God.

            Satan knows that the family is central to God’s plan for the happiness of His children, and he will do anything to keep us from becoming eternal families. We can keep our families strong by following the principles outlined in the proclamation on the family. I know that families can be together forever if we stay on the covenant path back to our Heavenly Father.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Gender, Inclusion, and Empathy

            Families, communities, and nations are stronger when all members of the rising generation are helped to reach their full potential. We all lived in heaven with Heavenly Father before we came to this earth. We lived there as male and female. Our gender was important there, it is important here, and it will be important in the next life. Our gender remains the same. Because I am female here on earth, I know that I was a female in heaven and will continue to be a female in the next life.

            Since God makes no mistakes, there is no reason for a boy to think that he is a girl, or a girl to think that she is a boy. Yet, it seems to be happening more and more as time goes on. Social scientists are discovering that children get these strange ideas because of the way that they are treated. This is particularly true for those children who are a little different. Scientists have found no proof of a gene that makes a person gay. Whether or not someone becomes homosexual depends on how they are treated as children and youth.

            Most little girls play house and want to be just like mommy, and most little boys want to grow up to be just like daddy. When my children were little, their toys were all together on the toy shelves. The girl things were there right beside the boy things, yet the girls chose to play with dolls, dishes, etc. and the boys chose to play with trucks and cars. When my son wanted to play with his older sisters, he played with his He-man characters while his sisters played with their Barbies. They all played with the more neutral toys of blocks, puzzles, etc.

            Little girls want to “mother,” and they are willing to mother just about anything. If the only thing they have is a truck, they will wrap the truck in a blanket and pretend that it is a baby. Little boys want to be rough and tough. If the only toy that they have to play with is a doll, they will make it into an Army guy and make it do tough things. This is the way that we are created because our gender came with us into this world.

            What happens if the little boy does not like to rough and tumble but prefers to do quiet things like art and music? He is still a boy. His difference in taste only means that he has a more sensitive side than most boys. However, studies have shown that he wants the intimacy of being included in the group of boys. If he is allowed to form healthy relationships with other boys, he grows up feeling like a man. If the closeness he desires is not there, he will start to crave it. This desire to be intimate with other males can cause him think that he is gay. If he acts on this way of thinking, he will be convinced that he is gay.

            The same thing happens to little girls who are a little less feminine and do not want to wear ruffles and lace. If she is able to bond with other girls even though she is not as feminine, she will grow up knowing that she is female. When either a boy or girl starts to think that they are the other sex, it is because they want the intimacy with people of their own sex. This happens long before they have any desires to participate in sex. This is one reason why we need to teach our children and grandchildren to be kind and include all people. It is this lack of inclusion and closeness that is driving many of the rising generation into homosexuality.

            There are also a few other ways that children can be made to think that they are the opposite sex. Many children who have been molested start to have these thoughts. This does not mean that all people who become homosexual have been molested or that all people who are molested will become homosexual. It simply means that this is one way that children get a same-sex attraction.

            This kind of thinking can also come from a father that treats his daughter like a son or a mother who tries to make her son into a daughter. Adults who mess with the minds of children are in a class of evil all by themselves. However, we must all be careful how we treat children and youth in order to help them to reach their potential as a son or daughter of God.

            Children need to have both male and female role models in their lives. Most little boys who are able to bond with a strong male – like a loving father – will grow up to become a strong male. Most little girls who have a strong female – like a loving mother – will grow up to be a strong female. However, there are other forces in their lives, such as the children in the neighborhood or at school.

            Children can be mean. They exclude other children and say and do mean things. This is one reason why we must clamp down on bullying and meanness. If boys are telling another boy that he is “gay,” he will start to believe them. If they include him in their group, he will feel that he is one of the boys. The same goes for little girls. We need to teach children from a young age to include other children. This site gives ten suggestions of how to teach children to have empathy for others. 

Tip 1 – Empathize with your child and show empathy towards others. This is all about role modelling empathy and being mindful of your own responses to your child’s emotions. The easiest way to do this is to be reflective of the emotions your child displays and validate how they are feeling….

Tip 2 – Teach children to effectively manage their emotions and self-regulate….

Tip 3 – Use every day opportunities to address perspective taking. Children are all born with the capacity to show empathy, we just need to nurture it. You can use moments from everyday life to encourage caring and compassionate thoughts through “perspective taking.” Talk openly about how another may feel when you identify situations that elicit an empathetic response in books, movies, at the park or in your home….

Tip 4 – Help children discover what they have in common with others. Empathy is stronger towards people we have things in common with. Encourage inclusion, diversity and warmth by helping your child discover what they share in common with people of all different perspectives….

Tip 5 – Encourage kindness, thoughtfulness and compassion for all living creatures. Prioritize these traits across all situations and to all living things….

Tip 6 – Help children develop the ability to read emotional cues. Empathy requires children to identify how others feel, not only based on their own emotional insight but also on the other person’s emotional cues – not every person reacts and feels the same in every situation….

Tip 7 – Develop cognitive awareness of empathy using literature. Books are an essential tool for aiding emotional development, as they help children relate to and remember important life lessons, such as being kind to others. While you are reading you can engage in empathy building by: discussing the character’s feelings and emotions, pointing out the facial expressions or body language of characters, asking your child how they would feel if it were them, asking your child what they would do if this was their friend or classmate.

Tip 8 – Engage in emotional awareness games and play. Using games and play to teach emotional awareness helps increase a child’s emotional vocabulary bank and assists them to be more mindful of big feelings in themselves and others….

Tip 9 – Encourage younger children to develop empathic concern during imaginary play. By engaging in play with your child you can role model and encourage empathetic concern….

Tip 10 – Encourage and praise emotional sharing. Last but not least, it is important to keep the lines of communication open when it comes to emotional sharing. Your child needs to be reassured that it is okay for them to experience both negative and positive emotions. They should also feel safe to express all emotions to you….

            As we teach and live with our children and grandchildren, we must remember that each one is an individual and different. “They learn differently, respond differently, [and] have different personalities and different levels of emotional awareness.” Yet each is child of God sent to earth with a distinct gender that stays with them for all eternity. Each child deserves to be included and accepted as their own person. We can strengthen our families, communities, and nations by helping each child to feel secure in their own gender and included in the group.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Freedom to Succeed in College

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the process of being accepted at a university and why it is important. The college application process is meant to decide who is prepared to succeed as a university study and who is not. Since there are only so students admitted to any given university each year, there is a process to determine who should be invited to join the student body. When the process is corrupted, the wrong students are admitted, and the best prepared students are admitted. This means that the student who played through high school but has wealthy parents could be admitted, while the student who worked hard in high school and would do well in college is not. Corruption in the process hurts both.

            Last week The New York Times published an article dated March 12, 2019, about a racketeering scheme used by wealthy parents to insure that their children were admitted to elite universities. In the “largest-ever college admissions prosecution” the U.S. Justice Department charged fifty people in six states with corruption. There were thirty-three parents, admission officials, and coaches charged in the “nationwide bribery and fraud scheme,” but no students or universities were indicted. Twelve of the fifty charges were for racketeering. 

            This week we learn of other corruption in the college application process. This corruption involves the 500-word essay known as the personal statement. It seems that “helicopter parents or expensive college-prep counselors who cater to the 1 percent” have found a way to corrupt the personal statement. The Daily Beast interviewed “eight college application tutors” and found that their job was to edit, alter, or rewrite personal statements. These essay editors “painted the portrait of an industry rife with ethical hazards, where the line between helping and cheating can become difficult to draw.” 

One consultant, a 22-year-old Harvard graduate, told The Daily Beast that, during his senior year in college, he began working as an essay editor for a company that hires Ivy Leaguers to tutor applicants on a range of subjects. When he took the job in September 2017, the company was still young and fairly informal. Managers would send him essays via email, and the tutor would revise and return them, with anywhere between a 24-hour and two-week turnaround. But from the beginning, the consultant explained, his managers were “pretty explicit” that the job entailed less editing than rewriting.

“When it’s done, it needs to be good enough for the student to go to that school, whether that means lying, making things up on behalf of the student, or basically just changing anything such that it would be acceptable,” he told The Daily Beast. “I’ve edited anywhere from 200 to 225 essays. So, probably like 150 students total. I would say about 50 percent were entirely rewritten.”

            The personal essay may be the most important part of the application because it is personalized – at least it is supposed to be. According to this site, it is often easy to tell whether the essay was written by the applicant or the parent, so this may be one reason why would-be university students are going to places where real students are doing the work. 

The paradox of the overzealous editing of the college essay by many helicopter parents is that they don’t know what a college essay is really about. Unlike the other parts of the application, where high grade point averages and SAT scores reign supreme, the essay is less about being impressive than it is about being authentic.

It can take some convincing for many kids and parents to believe that when it comes to writing the essays, in particular, college admissions officers care about who students are. The essay should reveal their personalities, passions, dreams, weird talents, favorite foods, sickest playlists, inexplicable loves and undeniable quirks….

The college essay is about the true things students want the colleges to know about them that can’t be seen via grades and standardized tests. Are you kind? Resilient? Curious? Creative? Are you any fun? And contrary to popular belief, it’s not about unattainable standards or curing cancer. In fact, a good test of a college essay is: Can the writer convince the reader that she would make a great roommate.

            The bottom line of both types of corruption is that teenagers are entering universities unprepared to learn at that level. They get accepted to the university, and then they have to take remedial classes to learn the stuff that they should have learned in high school. Meanwhile, the universities have turned away other teenagers who are well prepared to study at the university level.

            This site claims that the current “college admission scandal grew out of a system that was ripe for corruption.” Two of the ways that allowed children of wealthier parents to enter college is through athletic teams and testing. Most college athletes are chosen because the college coaches saw them play at some tournament or camp. Two of my daughters played on traveling soccer team for the explicit reason to be seen by college coaches. From personal experience, I know that it takes money for athletes to play on such teams and to travel to tournaments and camps to be seen. This means that athletes from lower-income families, who may be the better players, are never seen by college coaches. “The pipeline system is far better at identifying the best payers rather than the best players.” 

            A second way listed by the site that money plays a role in college applications without doing anything illegal is in studying for the SAT and/or ACT. For a cool $l,000 any high school student can prepare for the tests and be guaranteed that they will receive higher scores. There are less expensive ways to study for the tests, but none of them carry such guarantees. This is a second way that wealth can help students get into elite universities without fraud.

            The site lists a third way that parental money can help children get admitted to a university of their choice – donations. If the donation is large enough, the student will be admitted. I heard rumors that such a thing happened with a young man that I know. This is perfectly legal even though it may not be considered ethical or fair. So the wealthy parents indicted in Operation Varsity Blues may have donated their half million dollars and had a building on campus named after them. Instead, they are facing corruption charges.

            I understand that some of the children of the cheating parents have dropped out of school because of the scandal. They realize what the scandal says about their preparation for college, and they do not want to face the other students. The bottom line is that many people are affected when corruption is allowed to taint the college admission process. The students who are unprepared and yet are admitted are not ready for university work and will have to face the consequences at some point. They may also face the embarrassment of knowing that their parents did not have enough faith in their ability to allow them to get into college on their own capabilities. The students who are prepared but rejected will have to attend a different school and possibly receive a lesser education, which could affect their careers.

            The end result is that the worth of a degree is devalued whenever the qualifications for said degree are lowered to enable the lesser prepared students to receive one. I am grateful to know that each of my children entered college on their own merits and received their degrees because they earned them fair and square. They worked hard during high school and were ready to attend the university. Their educations are blessings in their own lives and in their families as well as for many other people in their spheres of influence.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Turn to Jesus Christ

            There has been much turmoil in the Catholic Church in recent years concerning members of their priesthood who were accused and/or convicted of sexual abuse or of covering up the sexual abuse of other priesthood members. The latest turmoil comes from France this week where a Cardinal was convicted of covering up sexual abuse of a convicted priest. The Cardinal is the highest ranking official from the Catholic leadership to be convicted of cover up.

            The number of priesthood leaders resigning or being forced to resign and the numerous areas from which complaints are coming show that the Catholic Church has a real problem on its hands. Any priest who is involved in sexual abuse -- or the cover up of the sexual abuse at the hands of other priests – cannot serve their people as they are supposed to be serving them because they are out of tune with God. When they cannot offer spiritual help, they put the members of their unit in a terrible position. The people want to believe that their priesthood leader is acting in the place of God for their good, but then they are forced to go to prosecutors and legislators for protection against him. They lose faith in their priesthood leaders, and they start questioning the church itself. Thus, their whole belief system is challenged.

            It is a sad situation all around, and my heart goes out to my Catholic friends and neighbors, those who have endured the abuse as well as those who are caught up in the turmoil of it. Even though members of your priesthood have failed you, I know that Jesus Christ will never do so. I know that you can turn to Him for comfort and counsel, and I encourage you to take your concerns to Him.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Science and Religion

            When I was a child and lay out under the stars at night, I saw the Milky Way and some of the closer planets. It certainly looked to me that the universe revolved around the earth. I knew enough about science at the time to know that the earth was one of then-nine planets revolving around the sun. I did not understand until later that the earth was not only traveling around the sun, but it was spinning on its axis causing the seasons of the year. It was this spinning of the earth that made it appear that all things were revolving around the earth. I learned even later that the sun and the entire solar are moving through space and that the universe is actually expanding.

            I have been confused over the years by bits of information coming from the scientific community that did not seem to agree with scriptural teachings. This information included the creation and age of the earth, the existence of dinosaurs, and evolution. I slowly gained knowledge and was able to understand some bits of information differently, and other bits I “put on the shelf” for more information.

            I did not have much difficulty with changing my understanding about the age of the earth. Genesis tells us that God created the earth and everything on it in six days and rested on the seventh day. Since other scriptures tell us that a day in the life of God is like a thousand years to us, I begin to think that the year was only 7,000 years old. This thinking caused confusion when scientists began to put dates on the age of the earth, dinosaurs, etc. Then I began to think in terms of periods of time rather than days. A period of time could be of any length – day, week, year, thousand, million, or whatever was needed. With this thinking, I realized that the scientists could be correct about the age of the earth being about 4.5 billion years old.

            I had more difficulty accepting the Big Bang Theory for the creation of the earth. I just could not wrap my brain about an idea that anything other than a mess could be created by an explosion. Besides, I have a firm belief that Jesus Christ, under the direction of Heavenly Father, created the earth through priesthood power. Over the past few weeks I learned that scientists have traced the creation of the earth back to a time when the universe was about the size of an atom. They know that something caused the atom-like object to explode, but they do not know what that power was or why the atom-like object abruptly exploded. Scientists were later astonished to learn that the universe continues to expand. This is where my faith and religious understanding helped me to align my biblical knowledge of the creation to the scientific one. I could see how Jesus Christ could take a small piece of matter and command it to become something else. I firmly believe that He has power to do such a thing. Learning about how the law of gravity and other laws work in space, I could understand how the earth – indeed the entire solar system – could come to be. Thus, I no longer have any problem with accepting the Big Bang Theory for the creation of the universe.

            Along with many other people, I have questioned when the dinosaurs lived. I have actually seen the bones of dinosaurs, so I know that they were once alive. My question was when and on what planet. Because I had not yet aligned my knowledge with scientific knowledge about the age of the earth, I wondered if their bones came from another planet that had died or been destroyed. I recently saw a statement put out by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about dinosaurs. Basically, the statement said that there has been no revelation received on the matter, and scientists seem to be sure about their knowledge. In other words, the Church is accepting the research of scientists, so I can accept it also. This continues to be one of those things sitting on the shelf waiting for more information.

            The jury is still out on evolution – at least for me. I can see how evolution works in small matters. All living matter is forced to adapt to the circumstances in which they live, or they die. The ones that are able to adapt and live are also the ones that pass on their genes. Therefore, it is possible for gradual change to take place. However, I refuse to accept the theory that mankind evolved from apes. If people really did evolve from apes, then people would still be evolving from apes. I have not heard of anyone claiming to have been an ape!

            In spite of the obvious problem with the theory of evolution – or my understanding of it, science and my religious training have become more compatible. This acceptance of scientific research has been helped by statements such as the following one given by then-Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the dedication of the new Life Science Building at Brigham Young University on April 9, 2015. “There is no conflict between science and religion. Conflict only arises from an incomplete knowledge of either science or religion, or both.” Elder Russell continued his remarks by saying, “This university is committed to search for truth, and teach the truth. All truth is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether truth comes from a scientific laboratory or by revelation from the Lord, it is compatible.” 

            That second sentence is certainly true for me. There was conflict in my mind until I gained greater knowledge of science and better understanding of the differences in science and religion. Science works in the physical world and discovers when and how things happen – such as the creation of the earth. However, science does not have the ability to answer the question of why the earth was created or who is behind the creation. This question is answered by religion. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the earth was created by Jesus Christ, under the direction of Heavenly Father, for a place where the Father’s spirit children could gain physical bodies, necessary knowledge and experience, and start eternal families.

            Ascientist agrees with Elder Nelson’s comment about science and religion. Brazilian Marcelo Gleiser recently received the annual Templeton Prize along with $1.5 million for his outstanding contributions to “affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” Gleiser is a theoretical physicist who is devoted to proving that there is no conflict between science and religion. This fact is interesting because Gleiser is an agnostic who does not believe in God but refuses to say that there is no God. He is interested in how to answer questions about how the universe and life began and appears to blame atheists for the contention between religion and science. 

The first thing you see in the Bible is a story of creation…. Everybody wants to know how the world came to be.

Science can give answers to certain questions, up to a point.

This has been known for a very long time in philosophy, it’s called the problem of the first cause: we get stuck.

We should have the humility to accept that there’s mystery around us.

[About people who believe that the Earth was created in seven days, he says] They position science as the enemy … because they have a very antiquated way of thinking about science and religion in which all scientists try to kill God.
Science does not kill God….

[About atheists he says] When you hear very famous scientists making pronouncements like … cosmology has explained the origin of the universe and the whole, and we don’t need God anymore. That’s complete nonsense.
Because we have not explained the origin of the universe at all.

            Most scientists understand that they cannot be certain when they have discovered absolute truth. They also understand that science can only work in the physical world. Gleiser is one scientist who admits that the search for the origin of the universe continues. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints testify that “by the power of the Holy Ghost [we] may know the truth of all things” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Moroni 10:5). The Holy Ghost testifies of truth whether it is spiritual or physical truth. There is no conflict between science and religion now, and I believe that the time could come when science supports religious beliefs. Meanwhile, I will seek for truth wherever I can find it.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Mike Rowe

            My VIP for this week is Mike Rowe, the TV star who claims that a college degree is not necessary for success in the United States. With his history, it was important to get his position on the recent discovery that rich parents used their wealth to get their children into elite universities. More than forty such people were arrested last week on charges that they bribed coaches and staff at testing centers to make sure that their children got into college. As reported by The Western Journal, Rowe posted the following on his Facebook page.

The cheating is galling, as is the scope of the scandal. I wish were as outraged by the cost of college, as we are by the wealth of the cheaters.

You don’t have to be rich or famous to believe your kid is doomed to fail without a four-year degree. Millions of otherwise sensible parents in every tax bracket share this misguided belief, and many will do whatever it takes to get their kids enrolled in a “good school.”

            The cost of tuition continues to rise at universities and colleges across the nation. The website for Yale University states that tuition is $72,100 for one year of undergraduate study.
Rowe is not anti-college or anti-education. He just does not believe that a college degree is everything that it is claimed to be or that parents should do everything possible to get their children into college.

Obviously, those who resort to bribery are in a class by themselves, but what about parents who allow their kids to borrow vast sums of money to attend universities they can’t possibly afford? What about the guidance counselors and teachers who pressure kids to apply for college regardless of the cost? What about the politicians and lobbyists who so transparently favor one form of education at the expense of all the others? What about the employers who won’t even interview a candidate who doesn’t have a degree? Where’s the outrage?

The cost of college today has almost nothing to do with the cost of an education, and everything to do with the cost of buying a credential. That’s all a diploma is.
(N)one are necessary to live a happy and prosperous life, and none of them come with any guarantees. And yet, the pressure we put on kids to borrow whatever it takes is constant, and precisely why tuition is so costly. It’s also why we have $1.6 trillion of student loans on the books along with a widening skills gap. That’s a bigger scandal, in my opinion.

            Rowe has much more to say on the subject. I would like to say that he is right about the pressure that parents put on their children. Quite frankly, I told my children that they needed college degrees, and they do need them for the fields that they chose. Do we really want a doctor, nurse, or physical therapist that did not earn a few degrees? Do we expect our budget managers in our cities to know about budgeting and managing? Do we want our teachers to have teaching credentials? The answer to all these questions is yes. There are many advantages to having a degree, and some of them depend greatly on the field.

            None of my children lost their jobs during the Great Recession when millions of Americans were out of work. In fact, several of them changed jobs, and they either moved to a better location or received more pay than in their previous jobs. Even though I believe that degrees in certain fields are good to have, I agree with much of what Rowe is saying.

            Rowe and I believe that college is not for everyone. Not every person is cut out for academic life. They do not enjoy college and/or they wish to do something else with their life. Why does a young man who wants to be an automotive mechanic need to go to a university? He does not, but he does need to get some advance training in order to become more than just a grease monkey working for low wages.

            Rowe and I agree that school districts should bring vocational training back to the high schools of the nation. He emphasized that removing shop from high school sends a definite message to the students.

What better message could you possibly send to a kid who’s trying to figure out what’s important than by simply removing the entire discipline from consideration?

That’s what happened when vocational education got pulled out of high school. We made it crystal clear that all of the jobs that votech (vocational-technical school presaged were not worth having. There’s just no other way to spin it. The jobs that are worth having are the jobs that require the things we’re teaching. And the things we’re teaching, therefore, become the things that are aspirational.

            Rowe is exactly right in saying that one can do well without a college degree. I would add that there is still a need for training. Carpenters, plumbers, and numerous other tradesmen most likely do not need college classes, but they do need some training and a lot of experience to be good at their craft. Those who work smart will succeed, while others will get by. That is exactly         what America is all about!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

National Emergency

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday concerns the national emergency on the southern border. President Donald Trump claims that there is an emergency on the border, but the Democrats in Congress plus a few rogue Republicans say there is not. Trump declared a national emergency, and both Houses of Congress passed a joint resolution trying to overturn Trump’s declaration. 

            The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives pass the resolution last month with a vote of 245-182, and the Republican-controlled Senate passed it last week with a 59-41 vote. There were twelve Republicans who joined the Democrats to go against the President.

            The trouble with the joint resolution is that it must be signed by Trump to become effective, and he says that he will veto it. “I’ll do a veto. It’s not going to be overturned. It’s a border security vote.”

            There are thousands of people pouring over the southern border in an invasion of a sovereign nation. Yet Democrats refuse to admit that there is a problem and refused to fund a border wall. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said that the vote was difficult because there is a legitimate concern about the emergency powers that Congress has granted to the President over the past fifty years. He ultimately voted against the resolution because the vote was addressing a border crisis. “We cannot end this emergency without securing our southern border, and we cannot secure our border without building a wall. 

            Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) put my thoughts into words, “When your negotiating partners refuse to take a seat at the table, normal goes out the window. Our colleagues across the aisle left the president with few options to fund what he believed were so important for the nation’s security, and that’s what led us to this situation.”

            If the Democrats – under the direction of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer – would have negotiated in good faith, they would have approved funding for a barrier on the border. They obviously do not want a barrier of any kind – whether it be a fence or a wall – that would stop potential voters from coming into the nation.

            There are numerous attorney generals who claim that Trump has authority to declare a national emergency, while there are others who claim that he does not. This site seems to say that he can. 

§1621. Declaration of national emergency by President; publication in Federal Register; effect on other laws; superseding legislation

     (a) With respect to Acts of Congress authorizing the exercise, during the period of a national emergency, of any special or extraordinary power, the President is authorized to declare such national emergency. Such proclamation shall immediately be transmitted to the Congress and published in the Federal Register.

    (b) Any provisions of law conferring powers and authorities to be exercised during a national emergency shall be effective and remain in effect (1) only when the President (in accordance with subsection (a) of this section), specifically declares a national emergency, and (2) only in accordance with this chapter….

Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, is one of the people saying that Trump has authority to declare a national emergency. He wrote the following in January before the declaration of a national emergency was made.

Congress has refused the funds needed for the wall, so Trump is openly claiming the right to unilaterally order construction by declaring a national emergency. On its face, that order would undermine the core role of Congress in our system of checks and balances. I happen to agree that an emergency declaration to build the wall is unwise and unnecessary. However, the declaration is not unconstitutional….

The problem is Trump does have that power because Congress gave it to him….

… Congress expressly gave presidents the authority to declare such emergencies and act unilaterally. The 1976 National Emergencies Act gives presidents sweeping authority as well as allowance in federal regulations to declare an “immigration emergency” to deal with an “influx of aliens which either is of such magnitude or exhibits such other characteristics that effective administration of the immigration laws of the United States is beyond the existing capabilities” of immigration authorities “in the affected area or areas.” The basis for such an invocation generally includes the “likelihood of continued growth in the magnitude of the influx,” rising criminal activity, as well as high “demands on law enforcement agencies” and “other circumstances.”

Democrats have not objected to use of this authority regularly by past presidents, including roughly 30 such emergencies that continue to this day. Other statutes afford additional emergency powers. Indeed, a report by the Congressional Research Service in 2007 stated, “Under the powers delegated by such statutes, the president may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens.”

Congress spent decades yielding authority to the executive branch. When it agree with the president, such might authority was even celebrated….

Congress can act to stop circumvention under the National Emergencies Act. Trump must notify Congress of his declaration and detail the powers being claimed under that law. Congress could and should negate the declaration with a vote of both chambers. However, that does not make the declaration unconstitutional. Any declaration would create a myriad of legal issues and likely face an immediate legal challenge. Two questions that a court would have to consider are the source of the authority and the source of any funds. The latter is where some challenges could arise.

Congress gave Trump such authority in the National Emergencies Act, augmenting claims of inherent authority, but the source of the funds could be more challenging. Under two laws in Title 10 and Title 33 of the United States Code, he could seek to use unobligated funds originally set aside for military construction projects, or divert funds from Army civil works projects. There are limitations on the use of such money, and there could be strong challenges to the use of unobligated funds in other areas. There is money there to start but not nearly enough to finish such a wall without proper appropriation. Recall Obama funded the undeclared war in Libya out of money slushing around in the Pentagon, without the new strict constitutionalists objecting from the Democratic side of the aisle.

            From the paragraphs I quoted from the U.S. Code and the words of Turley, it sounds to me like Trump has the authority to declare a national emergency. With so much opposition to declaration of a national emergency and the determination to build a barrier along the southern border, the declaration will most likely end up in the court system. This means that the President would have to wait weeks, months, maybe years to be able to build the barrier. This also means that hundreds of thousands more illegal aliens could overrun our border before we get a barrier.