Why This Past Year Was Great And The Rest Will Be Even Better

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One year ago today my beautiful wife Heather and I were married for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake City, Utah LDS Temple.  It was a perfect day and one that I will always remember and cherish.  I am so grateful for her and for all she does for me.  Heather makes me a better man and I love her with all my heart.

This past year has been absolutely amazing!  over the past year we have traveled to Park City, Disneyland, and Las Vegas, and Heather graduated from BYU.  Heather loves watching football and basketball like I do and we’ve had a blast going to BYU Football, BYU Basketball, and Utah Jazz games together (even a fun Utah Grizzlies hockey game too).  For my birthday in April she really surprised me with awesome lower-bowl seats to a Jazz game!  I love the little dates we have such as mini golf, Orem Owlz minor league baseball games, and trips to the dollar movies.  We even bought a brand-new car a couple of months ago!  I treasure every moment I get to spend with my wonderful wife.

Heather, you are my best friend, and I love you!  Happy Anniversary!

As these pictures will show, we have had a blast!

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Disneyland

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Heather’s graduation from BYU!

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Chillin’ in Vegas

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Mini golf . . . I won!

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Late night movie–Despicable Me 2

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Utah Grizzlies Hockey

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Orem Owlz baseball!

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Social Media Experiment

Near the end of April I decided I wanted to try an experiment–an experiment in social media.  I wanted to see how much “branding” I could do via Facebook, Twitter, and blogging.  I really wanted to know just how powerful these outlets can be in spreading thoughts and ideas.

I started by making my own Facebook page, “The Official Jimmy L. Trent III.”  Some people probably thought I was full of myself when I did this, but I promise that was not the reason.  Creating my own Facebook page was essential in being able to spread my blog to more people.  Something I learned in the social media experiment is that Facebook advertising and page promotion works really well.  Last week alone I was able to reach nearly 10,000 people, and it didn’t cost very much at all.  As of today I have 110 “likes” on Facebook, with 46 of those being people I do not even know!

Another thing I learned this summer is that Twitter is more fun than Facebook.  On Twitter you have a chance to actually connect to people you wouldn’t normally be able to connect with on Facebook.  One example of this is from back in June when a syndicated columnist for the Huffington Post and Newsweek tweeted my blog. That was awesome.  I have also had tweets back and forth with John Stossel from the Fox Business Channel and Forbes CEO Steve Forbes.  I was retweeted by companies such as Jell-o, Kmart, and the Deseret News.  I also got people such as Darrell Issa (congressman from CA) and Jeff Duncan (congressman from SC) to follow me on Twitter.

As far as the blogging goes, I actually enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.  I was hesitant at first to putting my ideas and opinions out for others to read and criticize, but the moment I got over that, it made writing them a lot easier and much more fun.  I would like to thank all of those who have come to read my blog every week.  It has been fun to see people reading my blog from countries like Brazil, Canada, United Kingdom, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, and Maldives (and yes I had to look up where Maldives is).  I want to give a shout out to the faithful reader from Canada. Thanks for coming back every week.  I didn’t think that I would blog longer than these few summer months, but I am pleased to say: The blog must go on!

The social media experiment went better than expected. Thanks to all for being part of it.  Thanks for reading my blog every week, and I will see you next week!

Economic Injustice

“Economic justice” has become a theme for the current President and his administration.  They have shown a stalwart allegiance to promoting equality for all Americans through government spending and regulation. Here are some facts on how well that is working:

  1. Since Obama took office, 7 out of every 8 jobs created have been part-time jobs.

  2. 53% of American workers now make less than $30,000 a year.

  3. In 2009 the average duration of unemployment was 20 weeks. Now it is nearly 37 weeks.

  4. More than 8 million Americans have stopped looking for work (the highest number in any 4-year period).

An economic battle has been waged in America. There are those who believe that the government owes them something and that government should expand to meet the needs of the people.  There are others who believe that limited government and free markets are the pathway to prosperity.

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Here is a short parable to illustrate the two philosophies that exist today:

“Two fathers lived side by side as neighbors. Each had two sons. Each had a good job, a roomy house, and material means to provide the best of life’s luxuries. The essential difference between the two fathers was one of philosophy.

Mr. A’s objective with his sons was to instill principles that would bring about self-respect, personal responsibility, and independence. His method merits our scrutiny.

When his boys were young, he taught them how to work at simple tasks by his side. When they became more mature, he developed a work-incentive program. The pay scale was commensurate with the quality of the work performed. An “average job,” for example, paid fifty cents; “above average,” sixty cents; “exceptional,” seventy-five cents. A “one-dollar job” was the impossible task, a goal that he soon observed the boys were striving after. He impressed on them that the only limitations to their earnings were their own personal initiative and desire. He emphasized the necessity of postponing wants so they could save for the future. The lessons were well learned over a period of time.

There was an undergirding moral element to Mr. A’s philosophy, a principle more “caught” than taught. A simple example will suffice. One day the boys, now young men, were working in his plant. Mr. A observed some sloppy work being done on one of the products. He asked to see the product, and removed the label. One of the boys resisted. “Why are you doing that, Dad?” he asked. Mr. A replied, “I’ll not have my name attached to a shoddy product. When my name goes on, my customers must know I’ve given them my best workmanship. Would you want to own this product?” It was an answer that provided a lesson that would last a lifetime. How could the Golden Rule be emphasized more effectively in business!

Mr. B also had a philosophy, albeit one that was reactionary to the early struggles of youth. “I’ll not have my kids go through what I did.” His philosophy was designed to remove the struggle from life. His method also merits our consideration.

Regularly his sons were provided with generous allowances. Little work was expected in their formative years. In later years the boys were encouraged to work, but now they were too comfortable in their security. After all, they had all their material wants satisfied. At this juncture Mr. B made a profound discovery: wants always exceed needs and are never satisfied unless disciplined. To counteract the lack of self-discipline, Mr. B embarked on a routine of imposed restraints. To his chagrin, he found his sons embittered toward him, ungrateful, and frequently disobedient to rules imposed on them.”

Unfortunately Mr. A’s philosophy is so unfamiliar to many who believe that the government owes them something.  The philosophy that government should expand and essentially manage an economy is immoral. I believe that it is wrong, and I do not apologize for that.

“If our country wants to help the poor, it should emphasize free-market capitalism.  Government creates scarcity. On the other hand, when people want more of something, entrepreneurs find ways to deliver more of it.”–Steve Forbes

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The only way that we can have economic justice is through economic freedom–free markets and free people.  Free markets improve lives by allocating scarce resources and allowing people to create value.  There are many examples of people who have been successful in doing this: from Sam Walton and Wal-Mart, to Bill Gates and Microsoft.  From Steve Jobs and Apple to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.  The list can go on and on. We are blessed to live in a country where an idea can turn into a product, which in turn creates wealth. That wealth is then also created for countless others. Think about how many jobs were created by people such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Government simply cannot create wealth the same way a free market can.

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Big government advocates will argue that government-created jobs are the way to improve the economy.  However, what they fail to realize is that while jobs are a means of creating wealth, it is not simply more jobs that creates wealth, but rather jobs that produce goods and services that people value.

Florida State University economist James D. Gwartney argues:

“Does government spending create jobs? When thinking about the answer to this question, consider the following . . . the funds for the spending will have to be either taxed or borrowed from the private sector. This will mean either higher taxes or higher interest rates, both of which will reduce private sector employment. This reduction in private employment will largely, if not entirely, offset the jobs generated by the government spending . . .The employment supported by the government spending can easily be seen, but the employment eliminated by the higher taxes, increased government borrowing, and reduction in demand for the products of unsubsidized firms is largely unseen. This also helps to explain why deception is so widespread in this area. Nonetheless, the offsetting reductions in employment are real.” (“Common Sense Economics” pg. 27-28).  Pretty much explains what is happening with the statistics presented earlier.

Whether you consider yourself conservative, libertarian, or independent, and are for a limited government, the time is now to rise up and stand against the liberal big government machine. We cannot afford to sit on the fence while basic principles of this nation and the Constitution are being blatantly ignored. We must raise our voices and defend the liberties we know to be right. We see the slander and filth around us, from Hollywood, to the race peddlers of the left, to big government activists. The time is now for us to make OUR voices heard. I invite you to take a stand today!

I am Jimmy Trent and I am for limited government, free markets, and individual liberty.

God bless America!

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Freedom From Big Government

“There is no more persistent and influential faith in the world today than the faith in government spending.” — Henry Hazlitt

Many people today believe that the government should be relied upon to improve the economy and improve the lives of American’s in general.  Some may believe that this is the moral thing to do, or that it is moral to try to provide a fair standard of living for all citizens.  Government officials are continually pushing for more regulations so that they can make things more “fair.”  While many regulations may seem like a good idea, most of them are only a temporary fix and end up actually hurting more than they fixed.  We have to realize that there are indirect and direct consequences for every government action.  Today I challenge the political thought that more government spending and regulation are a good thing.

For over 50 years the city of Detroit has been run by Democrats.  With the country’s highest property tax on homes, highest commercial property tax, second-highest industrial property tax, third-highest income tax, and the country’s only utility users tax (in Detroit you actually pay a tax based on how much you are charged in utilities), Detroit has become a model of the tax-and-spend methods that liberals get so excited about (NY Post).detroit-files-bankruptcy-390x220

So if Detroit was such a “model” city, what happened?  Well, huge pensions for government workers, excessive borrowing, and corrupt politicians have badly hurt the city.  Also, increasingly higher taxes forced out businesses and skilled workers over the years. Detroit once had a population of over 2 million, but now they are barely above 700,000.  On an episode of “John Stossel” on the Fox Business Network, they showed how in Detroit homes are abandoned, basic city services such as garbage pick-up or snow plowing sometimes don’t show up, police can take up to an hour or more to respond to 911 calls, and sometimes 911 calls aren’t even answered.  Now the city of Detroit is the largest US city to ever file for bankruptcy.

Let’s give one big round of applause for Detroit: The Big Government Utopia.

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If you have already watched the video above, you saw what Puerto Rico has done to reign in government.  Before this, one in every three workers worked for the state!  People now get approval to start businesses much faster due to less regulation.  Even though government jobs were cut due to high government debt, fewer regulations on business and lower corporate taxes brought in thousands of private sector jobs to make up for the lost government jobs.  And that brings me to my next point.

When people talk about shrinking government and cutting government spending, the big government lovers are quick to say that it would be immoral. They say that it is good for the government to provide more jobs.  Think of it this way: When driving down a road with construction, you can physically see the worker who is there working due to a government contract.  We see the job that the government created, but what we cannot see are the other jobs that could have been created in the private sector.

Those in favor of bigger government love to play this game. They will always talk about the things that we can see and that have happened, but they fail to consider the things that they cannot see or the things that have not been permitted to happen because of their suffocating regulations. We must realize that there are direct and indirect consequences for every government action, and that when the government spends, there are a range of possibilities that weren’t allowed to come into existence.  Government may say that their spending and regulations provide more security, but that is false.  Just from the two examples in Detroit and Puerto Rico we can see what excessive spending and regulating does, as well as what happens when government is reigned in.

I believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  I do not believe that just because you are an American, you are entitled to certain things.  That would be socialism.  America is a country that gives its people an equal chance.  If you are willing to work hard then you can achieve great things.  If you aren’t willing to put in the work, then you should not expect the same results as those who do.  For this, I am anti-big government. I believe in limited government, free markets, and individual liberty.

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Thanks to capitalism and free markets, today we enjoy luxuries such as cars, computers, and smartphones.  Because of free markets you can go to the grocery store and find hundreds of items available in abundance.  The private sector operates more effectively than the public sector. It is more efficient and moral.

“It is intuitive to think public is better than private, but next time someone tells you that, tell them to think about this: public toilets.” — John Stossel

See you next week!

Freedom in Education

I would just like to start by thanking those who have come back over the weeks to read what I have written on my blog.  This past week the blog hit the 1,000 view mark!  It is super exciting, and again I thank you.

Last week I discussed how the private sector functions more efficiently than the public sector. In the private sector it is “put up or shut up.”  If you can’t compete then you’re out of business.  In the public sector you just ask the government for more money or to subsidize you, and there is  no threat of going out of business.  I closed by saying how that sounds like education in our country, and I’ll show you why.

Did you ever go to preschool?  I did, as have many others.  One of the things that the federal government wants to push is universal preschool.  While campaigning in 2008 then-Senator Obama said that, “we need to enroll more children, and we need to start at an even earlier age.”  Here in America we call universal preschool “Head Start,” but does it really give students a head start?  According to a study by the Department of Health and Human Services, not really.  They found that any advantage that students gained from Head Start was essentially gone by first-grade.  In fact, “Head Start has little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of its participants.”

With a price tag of $8 billion per year, I think we are safe to say that the only “head start” we have received is a head start into more debt.  So if children aren’t receiving any real benefit from the Head Start program, why is it still around?  Big government bureaucracy.  Unfortunately the big government bureaucracy is also wasting money past preschool.

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Take a look at the first chart above.  The cost of an education (per pupil, k-12) that the federal government spends has increased nearly 350% since 1970; yet the test scores are only slightly up in math and reading, but down in science!  The second chart below shows how graduation rates in the United States have remained basically flat despite a very steady rise in spending.  Spending more and more money is not the solution.  Getting big government bureaucracies out of education is.

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Here is what should be done:

  1. Give principals and superintendents the ability to fire teachers and other administrators that aren’t up to par.  In a private sector job, if you aren’t performing to expectations then you can be fired, so then why not in schools? Teachers unions have made it so that tenure exists in public education, which makes teachers nearly immune from being fired.  And when they are able to fire a teacher, there are seemingly endless rules and regulations for the principal or superintendent to follow.

  1. Allow voucher systems.  A school voucher system allows for parents to apply the money that would have been spent on educating their child in a public school, to a private or charter school.  These schools often perform very well, if not better, than public schools. One example comes from Oakland, CA where a man named Ben Chavis ran a charter school that had higher test scores despite less spending from the government.

  1. Scrap current teacher-salary matrices.  Pay teachers based on merit and performance, not by how long they have been working.  Very few things will motivate employees to improve performance better than a hit in salary.  Sounds harsh, and free-market opponents hate it, but how committed are we to bettering education?

Operating the US education system in a less big government sort of way would greatly improve the quality of the education that children receive.  If education bureaucrats really are trying to help the children, then they must put their political agendas aside and actually bring about some real changes.  Spending more money obviously hasn’t worked, so it’s time to try something new.

Thanks for reading!

Freedom of Competition

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Sorry that I am a couple of days late on posting this week.  I do have a good excuse though.  Heather and I bought a car! A brand new 2013 Hyundai Accent. We love it, and we are very grateful that we’ve been so blessed.  From all of the things we learned with our first experience buying a new car, I would like to emphasize one of them this week.  First though, let me backtrack a little bit.

After looking back over the last couple of weeks, I discovered that I have hit on an underlying theme of trading freedoms for security.  It is that theme that I would like to expand upon, and present a series of posts on trading freedoms for security.  I have always thought of security as being in the physical sense, but now I want to explore how we sometimes trade some freedoms for some security in other aspects of life as well.  So it is with that introduction that I present to you, for the next unknown number of weeks,  “The Freedom Series: How You And I Benefit From More Freedom.”

So now back to the car.  This last week we did a lot of homework on which car would be the best for us in terms of ratings, reliability, and of course price.  We decided either the Hyundai Accent or the Mazda3 was that car.  Let me tell you about our experience.

We started out at Orem Mazda in Orem, UT.  They had a sign out front that advertised the Mazda3 at $14,995 with 0% financing for 60 months (I learned quickly to never trust an advertised price when car shopping).  From the very beginning all the sales people wanted to do was tell us was how great Mazda was compared to other cars, even though we told them we were interested in the Mazda3 and really only wanted to talk price.  It was very frustrating to say the least.  The car that they wanted to sell us wasn’t even to the specifications we said we wanted!  The one thing I can say good about that dealership is that the trade-in value they offered for the 2002 Honda Civic was generous.  However, they were terrible at really trying to work with us on the price.  It didn’t seem like they couldn’t come down, they just didn’t care.  They were also evasive in answering our questions, and didn’t seem to care very much about what we really wanted.  We finally left, and I definitely would not recommend them to anyone.

Our next stop was Murdock Hyundai of Lindon.  We started out just walking around the lot looking for the Accent’s. As soon as we found one, a salesman came and greeted us and we took it for a test drive.  When we got back to the dealership from our drive we went inside to negotiate.  At first, the price was just too high, but we negotiated some.  After seeing the price fall, we told them about the trade-in, but they offered us $1,750 less than the previous dealer did.  We used that as leverage and got them to agree on the trade-in value. The price was almost to our range (and the low area of that price range too)!  With some more negotiating we agreed on a price and shook hands.  I couldn’t believe that Heather and I had just bought a new car!

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What does this whole experience illustrate?  Free market competition.  When companies are able to compete for our business, we as consumers win (and in our case we won big).  Because of competition, the Hyundai dealership also won.  My real-life experience taught me that the businesses with better customer service, who are most willing to work with the customer, are the ones who succeed.

Unfortunately though, when the government gets involved in markets it tends to not go so well.  Take the classic example of the United States Postal Service.  Looking at page 22 of their 2012 Report on Form 10-K we see that just last year the government-run Postal Service carried a net loss of nearly $16 billion. ups When you compare the same documents from UPS which had a 2012 net income of over $1 billion, or the 2012 net income of over $2 billion for FedEx, it is obvious that something is missing in the government-run business.  That something is competition.  In fact, in that USPS report, among the many reasons it gives for huge losses, one of them is “increased competition from alternative delivery services.”  A government-run company doesn’t have to worry about better customer service or offering new and innovative services, because they will be able to simply lobby for more taxpayer funding.

Now how does trading the freedom to compete in a market relate to security?  Many critics of markets say that they are not “fair.”  Many big government bureaucrats argue that by intervening in a given market, they will be able to bring fairness to everybody.  But I wonder, what is so fair about having to subsidize a failing business model?  It doesn’t give us any more perceived “security” at all.  If anything it hurts people by taking more tax dollars and throwing those dollars into a no-win situation.

The private sector does things more efficiently than the public sector. In the private sector it is “put up or shut up” so to speak. If you can’t compete then you’ll be out of business.  In the public sector you just ask the government for more money or to subsidize you, and there is  no threat of going out of business.  Hmmm, sounds like public education in our country . . .

See you next week!

Trading Freedom For Security: Why The Only Thing We Need To Secure Is Our Freedom

A few weeks ago I posted this satirical comment on Facebook (there have been a couple of changes but the idea is the same): “Between all that we have seen the last few months in the news between the IRS, the DOJ, and the NSA, it’s apparent that Constitutional principles of the USA are MIA. Those in D.C. just LOL thinking that things are A-OK, the CIA and FBI are probably reading this blog, and when pressed to answer questions our government just says IDK.”  Oozing with sarcasm yes, but it really is how I feel at times.

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Last week in “Gun Control: Liberal Logic That Kills” I put to rest the myth on gun control.  Well this week I would like to expand upon a broader topic that encompases gun control. That is, giving up freedom for security.

“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution.  That must be maintained for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.” — Abraham Lincoln

On June 7, 2013 President Obama said this at a press conference about NSA surveillance: “You can’t have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”  It is very true that we have choices to make. That choice was made in the form of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.  The people today have also spoken.  A Rasmussen poll shows that 59% of likely voters oppose government collecting of phone records.

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Obviously some in government think that by us giving up certain freedoms they will be able to protect us.  While that may be the case for some things, should we really be using that as a reason to give up freedoms?  Why don’t we just give up more of the Constitution? Wouldn’t that make us safer?  Let’s give up our right to bear arms so we can prevent crime like some in government say would happen.  While we are at it let’s give up our freedom of speech because it can hurt others.  We should also give up the freedom to assemble because a small percentage of the time this results in riots and people are sometimes injured.  Let’s just let the government control everything.  That way there would be no crimes and we would all be safe.

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What we have to avoid is a slippery slope into less freedom.  We must avoid having a government of distrust and fear.  That is one thing that our Founding Fathers sought for when founding this great nation, and it is why some people still flee other countries to come to America.

Let the words of Benjamin Franklin be a warning to us all: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

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