Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Thinking of my father

The movie, Big Fish, caught my attention while flipping channels.  The story had progressed nearly to the end, the part where the son arrived at the hospital, finding out his father was near death, having suffered a serious stroke.  The young man volunteers to sit by his bed all night and gives his mother a chance to go home.

If you’re familiar with the movie; his father wakes up momentarily and sits up wild eyed saying something that sounds like, “the river”,   His son reaches over as if to hit the Call Nurse button but instead waits to find out his father’s request. 

“Tell me how it ends”, the young man wasn’t prepared with a response.  The father had never told his son what he’d seen in the old witch’s eye so many years earlier, a prophecy of how he was going to die.

The son being familiar with the many fantastic yarns his father had shared begins to carefully create the vision his father never told him about, pausing as details sprang to mind in such a way as to fit with other stories his father conjured up throughout his life; all having to do with the river.

According to his son’s interpretation his father was no longer constrained by oxygen tubes and able to move about, points to a wheel chair and stresses the need to escape from the hospital in order to return to the river…

Interestingly, I found tears streaming down my cheeks, an uncontrollable transference of emotions as thoughts of my own father came crashing down on my consciousness.  

One of the earliest memories of my father is linked with a trip to Jones Beach out on Long Island, New York.  We’d gone to the huge Olympic pool and dad was standing in the water making sure I didn’t drown; but the memory had to do with how much hair covered his chest and back, more like a friendly bear than a human to my young eyes.

Dad’s getting up in age and his physical strength and mental awareness are cause for concern as Alzheimer’s robs the best of him.  Dealing with these feelings, the movie progressed; but I was already lost in my own thoughts.

I can’t turn the clock back and my father’s health continues to deteriorate; that is not within my power to change. 

However; for a moment I can visit an earlier time, like when I first saw him playing ball with other young fathers on a field of dreams, a battered old First Baseman’s ball glove on his hand.  From that moment I wanted a First Baseman’s glove, to be just like dad.

I got into a fight during Painting Time in Kindergarten because the other kids didn’t know how to apply paint properly to the blank sheets of paper.  I tried to show them how my father applied paint to our garage, big sweeping horizontal strokes; but the teacher was unaware of the proper way to paint as well.   

One chilly winter day as my father was attempting to get me off to meet the school bus and noticed I had no jacket.  He grabbed a brown jacket belonging to my brother; but my jacket was blue, certainly he should have know my jacket was blue, so I refused to wear the brown one.  Getting chased around the house was going to make me miss the bus so I ran out the door before dad could catch me; I wasn’t wearing that brown jacket and he couldn’t make me.

Many years later I recall sitting down for lunch at Sharpstown Mall with dad and some of his friends from work to tell him I’d joined the Houston Police Department; now that was a day to remember.  Dad wanted me to be an accountant, had paid the first two years of college and was totally blind sided by my decision.  It was the first, perhaps the only time dad was unable to speak a word.

These thoughts and a thousand more rushed through my mind as the movie played on. The young man carried his father to the river as everyone waved good bye, the river where it all started, the river where it all must end.

So this is how it is and as it should be…

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.   Malachi 4:6  

I considered saving this to be published on Father’s Day; instead the idea occurred to me that Father’s Day should be celebrated more often, just as we should celebrate the birth and life of Christ everyday. 

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Erasing Christianity a piece at a time

In case you've just awakened, as did Rip Van Winkle, from a hundred year nap, sitting under a huge tree that had been a sapling when you first closed your eyes; a few things have changed.  The sun still rises in the East, grass is green and thunder follows lightning; but the foundations upon which our society sprang have been under attack for quite some time. 

Let me bring you up to speed…

Printed books have for the most part been replaced with digital versions which can be accessed with the touch of a finger anywhere in the world.  Books can be accessed and purchased at a reasonable price, downloaded and saved for when you have time to read.  There’s no reason to take up space on a bookshelf with a hardcover copy of Moby Dick or any other classic now that they’re all digital.

I have the Standard Works as part of the LDS app; the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price on my laptop, tablet and cell phone.  It took all of a couple of minutes to download these from the Internet. 

Some other items came with the; General Conference talks going back about forty years, teachings of Latter Day Prophets, and even James Talmage’s,  Jesus the Christ.

None of this makes a lot of sense; I forgot, you’ve been asleep under a tree for the past hundred years.  

We have electronic devices which would make Guttenberg die with envy; all that work spent making the written word accessible to the masses and nobody wants books in print, go figure…

Click on the item and it shows up, click another icon and the recorded version plays while you read along.  The ability to have Jesus the Christ read to me via the miracle of modern computers makes for an enjoyable ‘read’, following the text as the words graced my ears. 

“Christian and unbeliever alike acknowledge His supremacy as a Man, and respect the epoch-making significance of His birth. Christ was born in the meridian of time; and His life on earth marked at once the culmination of the past and the inauguration of an era distinctive in human hope, endeavor, and achievement. His advent determined a new order in the reckoning of the years; and by common consent the centuries antedating His birth have been counted backward from the pivotal event and are designated accordingly. The rise and fall of dynasties, the birth and dissolution of nations, all the cycles of history as to war and peace, as to prosperity and adversity, as to health and pestilence, seasons of plenty and of famine, the awful happenings of earthquake and storm, the triumphs of invention and discovery, the epochs of man’s development in godliness and the long periods of his dwindling in unbelief—all the occurrences that make history—are chronicled throughout Christendom by reference to the year before or after the birth of Jesus Christ.”  James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, Chapter 1

As the Introduction moved along I was reminded that certain elements within our society don’t like references to the Ten Commandments, morality, family values and especially Jesus Christ or Christianity; anything which reminds them how far down the toilet they’ve gone.

Several years ago my friend Mike Landfair, aka Mover Mike, wrote about a visit he and his wife made to the Portland Art Museum and his observations.

“The artifacts from indians on the Columbia river and later artifacts from the Etruscan and Roman empires are all dated "BCE" or "CE". We asked one of the curators as we were leaving, "What's with the BCE and CE?" Didn't it used to be "BC" and "AD"? Turns out it did. Seems some groups were upset with "Before Christ" and "Anno Domino - In the year of our Lord" . Now artifacts are labeled Before the Common Era (BCE) or Common Era (CE). It's the same dividing line between BCE and CE as BC and AD. I don't know how they explain that!”

Jump forward a few years and observe how much further we as a society have fallen.  The Ten Commandments have been ruled unconstitutional and the courts have ordered them removed from public places.  Parents who home school their children are being dragged into court for brain washing their kids with Christian principles.  More recently the courts have sided with the Obama administration and ordered all bathrooms and changing areas open to transgender perverts.

Can you imagine how Talmage would have written that introductory paragraph in this day when the foundations of our society and culture are under steady attack?  I don’t think he’d have changed one word, not one word.

The Meridian of Time is linked with the birth of one individual, an individual who changed the path of mankind for time and all eternity, even Jesus of Nazareth, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Only Begotten of the Father, the Christ.

Mike pretty much covered, “It's the same dividing line between BCE and CE as BC and AD. I don't know how they explain that!”

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Mother’s Day Thoughts

Sunday is Mother’s Day, a chance to consider the many blessings we should be grateful for.  Years ago my friend Tim Andersen would be asked to give the Mother’s Day talk at church, something of a tradition that we looked forward to.  He was the youngest son in a large family and his older siblings were much older so his parents had one more child in order to give him a playmate more his age; which is why Dean Andersen came to be.

I saw Dean at the Houston Temple going through the men’s dressing area this past Thursday.  Knowing a little about his family and his brother Tim’s brave fight with Leukemia, a fight that Tim eventually lost; made for a quiet moment as I considered the eternities and how Tim must be carrying out ‘the good fight’ on the other side of the veil.  We quietly acknowledged with a nod and a smile how much we missed Tim without saying a word, interesting how that works.

I used to catch a plane and visit my grandmother, Granny as she was known to everyone, each May, it being her birthday and Mother’s Day, take her out to dinner and let her know what a special lady she was in my life.  As she got towards the end of her life she didn’t want to go out to restaurants, preferring instead a quiet dinner at home.

Prior to visiting I called her next door neighbor and good friend, Robert, to arrange for a meal to be brought in; his knowing the local eateries and needless to say I’d reimburse him for what ever costs were involved.  I also made sure that Robert and his sister Judith would join us.

Upon arriving Robert and Judith were there waiting, a fabulous meal having been delivered.  There was a tray of Black and Green Olives, Celery, Radishes, sliced Bell Peppers with a bowl of Ranch Dressing Dip in the center.  I noticed a tray of sliced Roast Beef, freshly steamed Green Beans, New Potatoes and a loaf of French Bread.   I asked Robert how much I owed so we could settle up.

“Thirty Bucks should about cover it”, was his reply.  Hell, the tray of fresh vegetables cost at least that much as I crooked my neck and gave him a look of incredulity, to which he reassured me, “Thirty Dollars”.

During the prayer, prior to enjoying the meal I made sure to offer thanks for the food that had been graciously prepared; but decided to bless the, “wonderful liars who claimed the meal only cost Thirty Dollars”.  Robert and Judith nearly fell out of their chairs, not having expected such a straight forward expression of gratitude.

While working and going about locksmith calls it was a pleasure to call Granny on my cell phone; mostly to let her know I was thinking of her, and a chance to chide her as well.  I’d ask how she was feeling, knowing that becoming ancient comes with regular pains and set backs. 

Her answer became standard, “Simply splendid”; she wasn’t going to talk about anything negative so “Simply splendid” was code for, “let’s talk about what’s going on in your life”.  

I’d tell her I was driving on the wrong side of the road, honk the horn and pretend to be annoyed with oncoming traffic to which she'd gasp and scold me for being such a difficult grandson, all the while laughing at the thought.

One time when I called her neighbor Judith answered the phone, “Wadsworth residence”.  I knew right away who it was as I asked irreverently, “Let me speak to the Old Bat”.  

I might as well have shot the woman as I listened to the silence on the other end.  Granny had exceptional hearing and right away burst out, “Give me the phone, it’s my grandson!”    Not sure if Judith understood what a special relationship I had with Granny that permitted such a conversation to take place; but I miss those encounters more than can be expressed.

I suppose that’s why I enjoy calling my own mother during the week to let her know I’m thinking of her.  Life can be tough the older we get so a simple phone call might be the only ammunition against a worn out body and limited function.    

We sent mom a box of fancy dipped strawberries, something simple that would arrive in time for Mother’s Day.  Dad will enjoy them too, maybe more than mom; but they will know we love them and care about them.

I have a box of dipped strawberries for my wife and another box for my daughters who have children of their own.  If I’m lucky they won’t mind sharing one with this old man, let me thank them for all they do in their callings as Mothers.    

There really isn’t any job description that covers what Mothers are required to do; basically “what ever is needed” and do it with a loving heart.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Justifying the Locksmith Licensing Scam

I’ve been involved in the locksmith industry right at forty years.  As far back as the 70s those who taught me the ‘tricks of the trade’ could see the handwriting on the wall; eventually licenses would be required.  A couple of respected locksmiths vouched for my abilities and had me join the Associated Locksmiths of American (ALOA) with the understanding that having membership would be the key, no pun intended, the key to being ‘grandfathered’ by the State; they were correct.

Licensing came about in spite of many individuals pointing out it was a mistake; but as it was explained in no uncertain terms by our local ALOA representatives, it was either become licensed or find some other line of work. 

I wrote some of my thoughts when it all came about, Business Licenses – Jump for Joy.  From that article:

I will start off with the stated mission of the Agency which is the “protection of the public through fair and impartial regulation of the Private Investigations and Private Security Industry”. It goes further and states its job as Agency in the State of Texas for “ensuring citizens and consumers of investigations and security services, that these industries provide reliable services, employ qualified and trustworthy personnel, and are free from misrepresentation and fraud”. With a mission statement as broad as all that; (*) who could complain that they don’t have everyone’s interests at heart?  (*sarcasm button engaged)

I’ve since learned much more about locksmith work; but also about how government screws up nearly anything they touch.

In a landmark decision, “Dent v. West Virginia gave to the states the police powers to regulate occupations (Gross 1984). This case largely took away the right for the federal government to preempt state law in the arena of occupational licensing.”   Dent v. West Virginia involved individuals in the medical field as pertains to the State including specific wording, “…to protect the health and safety of consumers…” 

Magically, the same basic phrasing applied to doctors to have them licensed has been applied to almost every other industry the State decides needs to be licensed.

“The main rationales for occupational licensing are to protect the health and safety of consumers and to ensure a sufficiently high level of product or service quality.  By making would be practitioners undergo specific training, pass exams, and complete other requirements, according to this rationale, the public is better protected from fraudulent, disreputable, and unqualified service providers.” (emphasis added)

The expansion of government depends on the public’s perception that some bureaucracy run by the State magically guarantees your safety and well being.   “…and if you’ll buy that… I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona”.  George Straight made a chunk of change off of that tune.
But can the State justify licensing so many varied industries under the all encompassing phrase, “to protect the health and safety of consumers”, or as Thomas Sowell has been quoted when pointing out how our constitutional republic continues to drift toward Socialism, “Mystical References to ‘society’ and its programs to ‘Help”…”?

The answer is, No, they can’t; …but they do it anyway.

Study after study has shown there is little if any additional ‘safety’ gained by licensing a wide variety of industries, to include the locksmith industry.  Such licensing; however, has proven to increase the cost of goods and services to customers while limiting competition for those already licensed by keeping newcomers, part timers and tinkerers out.

“In fact, standard economic models imply that the restrictions from occupational licensing can result in up to 2.85 million fewer jobs nationwide, with an annual cost to consumers of $203 billion (Kleiner, Krueger, and Mas 2011).  In addition, evidence suggests that occupational licensing can result in a loss in overall output of about 0.1 percent of annual consumption expenditures (Kleiner 2006). Overall, current research shows many cases in which there are limited benefits of occupational regulation for consumers. There is little evidence to show that the licensing of many different occupations has improved the quality of services received by consumers, although in many cases it has increased prices and limited economic output.” (from the Hamilton Project, emphasis added)

“The burden should be on the government together with the associations representing the occupation to demonstrate that the social benefits of these requirements exceed the economic costs.”

“If current legal remedies are adequate, then there is no need for further occupational licensing. If the courts are crowded due to claims of fraud or incompetence against currently unlicensed individuals in the occupation, it is unclear that licensing would reduce court crowding, as courts currently adjudicate cases between licensed occupations.” (Which begs the question, How many law suits are brought before the courts which involve unlicensed locksmiths defrauding consumers and are these law suits causing the courts to be overloaded?”)

But, in actuality the burden isn’t on government to prove anything…  Locksmiths who have been applying their skills, those who’ve already proven their products and services a value to the community, licensed locksmiths who are purportedly government’s guarantee for the public’s safety…, qualified skilled locksmiths are reminded each year that they must maintain that license by jumping through Lilliputian Hoops, completing meaningless continuing education classes which further add to the cost of doing business, costs which are passed directly to the consumer…either that or forfeit their license and seek employment in some other industry.

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Claude ‘CD’ Siems this past Saturday (April 30, 2016), a fellow locksmith and only sitting board member on the DPS/PSB who is a locksmith.   He seemed frustrated, a mild observation, as he mentioned he was not permitted to talk with other board members about items they were about to vote on, items which would directly affect each and every licensed locksmith in the State of Texas.  Does that seem more than a little odd to anyone else?

I mentioned my concerns about the DPS/PSB being able to justify licensing locksmiths, mandatory continuing education credit hours, arbitrarily high insurance requirements and other issues.  I brought up Ezra Taft Benson’s talk, The Proper Role of Government, one of the best explanations about how government receives its authorized powers from the governed.  

The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess.

Translated that means other locksmiths don’t have legitimate power to mandate how I run my business so how can they give powers they don’t have to the DPS/PSB?   Short answer, they don’t and can’t.

‘CD’ and I acknowledged, licensing wasn’t going away; but the State really couldn’t justify most, (if any), of the board’s mandates; but the DPS/PSB, can do what ever it wants.

The cost of keeping a business in good standing along with renewing a locksmith license each year is about $500, give or take; but the State of Texas claims those fees are to cover ‘clerical costs’.  If that is so, why does the State of Texas only charge $25 for a Driver’s License,…and that’s good for 6 years? 

Please explain the enormous difference in ‘clerical costs’.  These folks have already been investigated, already obtained their locksmith license and have not violated the trust of the public; surely the State isn’t doing any additional background checks.  Could it be that locksmith associations, via the State, are intentionally creating a closed market, limiting those who can or cannot be a locksmith?

In my wallet I carry both licenses; they look identical, even the photograph is the same.  Why can’t the State of Texas put a mark on the back of the driver’s license to indicate the individual is also approved as a locksmith and pass along the more reasonable ‘clerical cost’ of $25? 

As for the State’s mandates regarding continuing education to maintain a locksmith license; … can the State prove that even one hour of continuing education for an already licensed locksmith is justified?  They can’t and they know it!  

It would be nice for folks to keep up with technology; but can the State reasonably restrict a locksmith who only wants to work on older locks he/she has proven to be proficient with and has no desire or claim to be proficient in newer locks?   The government must prove its demands, not the other way around!

One thing I’ve noticed in almost every Occupational Licensing research study is their inability to understand that nearly all occupational licensing violates the principle of individual liberty.  Instead they see America as one huge ‘collective’ rather than acknowledging inalienable individual God given rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness as mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.

I can hear the DPS/PSB board members unspoken thoughts, as if in the movie, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, “We don’t need no stinkin’ justification, do as you’re told!”  Sorry, Folks, that’s not acceptable.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.