Friday, December 27, 2013

Bountiful City Managers Apparently have no clue what they are doing

I was stunned today to read today how Bountiful City Attorney Russell Mahan sent letters to four e-cigarette shops telling them on January 1st, they will no longer have a business license and must cease operations.  Why may you ask, because apparently HB95 changed the law regarding tobacco specialty shops and city managers and attorney's in Bountiful don't follow the news with regards to new laws and policies.

According to Tribune reporter Pamela Manson Bountiful's City Manager Gary Hill says they didn't know about the law after issuing licenses to the four locations for 2013.  Apparently the Davis County Health Department was so concerned about these shops for their amazing ability to give tobacco users an alternative to smoking actually cancer killing cigarettes and found these four locations in violation of law that Bountiful is apparently clueless about.  Assuming that because of the holidays everyone took the month of December off, city planners finally got around to issuing the letters with only few days left in the month.

With all four business looking at major losses and potential bankruptcy you can imagine how this is going to play out for Bountiful City.  Vapor Dreams, Vapor R Us, Utah Vapors, and Urban Vapor are getting together to discuss options this week.  Good luck team fighting this idiotic mismanagement of Bountiful City.  Most of them have long term leases and spent thousands in renovations.  Regardless if the HB95 is a good law, city officials are payed big bucks to know what laws need to be followed and help the community grow and instead they have crushed four employers and their families overnight.

I think it might be time for a Bountiful City to take some inservice days, so they can bone up on the laws from 2 years ago and make sure they are compliant.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Gay Marriage Legal in Utah - A Modern Day Mayflower.

Gay marriage is now legal in Utah.  The long battle has finally reached the inevitable solution that all Utahans have the right to marry whom they wish.  Friday a Federal Judge announced Amendment 3 to the Utah Constitution defining marriage between a man and a women and the state ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.  Immediately after the ruling hundreds of people flocked to the local city offices to obtain their marriage license.  This mass exodus to the city offices reminded me of the Mayflower and why people came to the new world in the first place.

The original Mayflower was full of non-religous settlers and religious separatists looking for a new home of liberty.  The separatists were particularly searching for a place where they could practice their beliefs without the oppression of King James.  In Bradford's History of the Plimouth Plantation, the Mayflower pilgrims discussed how they would be governed and felt they would, "...use their owne libertie; for none had power to comand them [sic]."  Meaning they were looking for a world of liberty and that no power could control them but their own.  From this simple idea, a world was born and eventually lead to these United States and a Constitution that grants freedoms to live and worship as we desire.

Those looking for the legalization of same-sex marriage are no different than those separatists, or as people in 1620 often called them--strangers, searching for a chance to have liberty and be under the command no one but themselves.

Where does this leave me and my thoughts.  I do not have same-sex attraction.  My religion, though moderately accepting of homosexuality, does believe it to be a sin to act upon these feelings and attractions.  I subscribe to these same beliefs and that marriage is between a man and a women and I have the freedom and liberty to choose to believe this way.  But this is irrelevant to the decision if someone has the right to marry or not.  My own religion says in it's Articles of Faith, "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." Just as a Muslim, or Jew, or a monk or a vegetarian lives a way I may not agree, I will respect their decision to live as they do and quietly disagree.  Now I know that same-sex attraction by most standards is considered not to be a choice; regardless it is something I don't agree with.  Still irrelevant to the decision of gay marriage.

As I do not agree with homosexual way of life, I do 100% agree everyone has earned those same liberties the pilgrims sought after.  Freedom to worship, freedom to live, freedom to disagree, and yes--freedom to marry.  Our U.S. Constitution enables us to worship and live how we want.  What the Constitution is not is a moral compass to decide what is right and wrong, it only guarantees that all can worship in a way to decide for themselves.  If Phil Robertson wants to be a jerk and only read the Old Testament to crudely criticize homosexuality then let him do it.  Let the world hold him accountable for it, he has that freedom.  If A&E wants to suspend or fire Phil, let them do it, they have that freedom and please remember A&E brought us Gene Simmons Family Jewels which had sexual commentary and crude language left and right.   Finally if gay couples want to be married in the State of Utah or anywhere else, they deserve that freedom.

In summary, gay rights, marriage and more are all part of this same amazing thing that created the United States.  We live in a country where you can be free to be different and that is just fine. The voyagers of the Mayflower knew this and came here in search of it.  So I am encouraging these new modern day pilgrims to make their voyage and seek the rights they have deserved, for they deserve to be ruled by their own liberty to choose marriage and no one else.

"Bradford's History "Of Plimoth Plantation".  From the Original Manuscript.  With a Report on the Proceedings Incident to the Return of the Manuscript to Massachusetts.  Printed under the Direction of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, by Order of the General Court.  Boston:Wright and Potter Printing Co. (State Printers), 1901.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: College Fast Track - Essential Habits For Less Stress and More Success in College.

From time to time I get the opportunity to share a book review from authors who have sent me books or books I have found interesting.  One author named Derrick Hibbard, who wrote one of my favorite books of 2010 This Side of Eden, has also written a series of non-fiction books to help college student survive.  The first book is called, College Fast Track: Essential Habits for Less Stress and More Success in College.  I know a lot of people are headed back to school and are looking to make more money so grabbing this book for Christmas may be the perfect gift for that future college student.

College Fast Track is a quick "how to" manual that affectively hits the key areas of college academic life.  Everything from setting goals to effective reading and even taking exams.  Since I was a career college student and took what seemed forever to graduate, I appreciated the simple way Derrick approaches the subject matter.  At no point did I feel I was reading a text book or a complicated "how to" manual.  Instead it was fun and light hearted and kept me interested in the next chapter.  Even though I have graduated I found myself reading and wishing I had applied some of his ideas early on.

One chapter in particular stood out to me was about note taking.  I used to write notes for hours and hours when I was in college.  At some point I gave up and just tried to do quicker outlines for my notes and I found my comprehension level increased.  When Derrick mentions this same technique I felt validated in my skills.  I wish had known this for my first couple of years of college and could have saved a ton of time in studying.  All the more reason why this is a must have for any college student.  Filled with a number of examples, ideas, and concepts that is surely to get the college student thinking on how they can improve and even get the future student excited to attend school.  Developing these habits, as Derrick puts it, " doing things without thinking..." and will enhance the students ability to quickly make smart decisions in their college career.

Students will find this easy to read and may even use it as a reference guide as they are getting overwhelmed in school.  As the student prepares for a test they may want to reference the section on exam rituals and how it can stimulate the mind by listening to the same music or eating the same things they did while studying.  College Fast track will improve the average college students chances at success and prepare them for a rewarding career.

Well worth the this quick read!  He has a number of other books including the Fast Track book on Law School as well.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Libya is not El Salvador...People Remember When it Was.

In Libya News, we have seen the country is still has major issues with terrorism and violence in the street.  Recent news shows that the city was hit today with a car bomb killing an army colonel.  (See the Daily Star here) How ever it was not too long ago El Salvador faced similar issues.  The 1980s and 90s were filled with similar stories from both sides of the bloody civil war.

As I look to the situation of Libya and the past events of Benghazi, I am thankful El Salvador has been working through many of these past issues.  But just when they are almost forgotten; they are once again brought to people's memory.  Recently reported by many media agencies that the Pro-busqueda offices were ransacked by men looking destroy there work.  Tim's El Salvador Blog has a number of posts regarding the full story.  But to give a brief summary, during the civil war it was widely suspected that children were stolen from families and forced into adoption through out the country and abroad.  Pro-busqueda and other such groups has been determined to find this children and reunite them.  As they get closer and closer to the truth, terror has returned to quite the voices.

So as I look at Libya and I am thankful those day are behind this country, I can't help but wonder if they are really around the corner with such obvious lawlessness and lack of respect.  So far no one has been charged nor does it seem to be of a major concern this has happened.  There was a few simple stories in the paper and one or to mentions on national TV.  U.S. media I feel covered the story more than El Salvador did.

Could a country like El Salvador take such a step back or can't it learn to heal and move forward?  One blogger from El Salvador did a detailed post denouncing the destruction at HUACAL including photos of the attack.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

When Government Gets Involved with Private Business

In the United States we are constantly discussing the limits of government in the free market system.  Without defining the differences between liberal and conservatives we can see there are two sides of the argument.  More involvement and regulation to maintain a certain level of "fairness" and less involvement and allow the market to regulate and police itself.

In the next three weeks, El Salvador will pass a law that has been passed in many other Latin America countries.  (See Here in Spanish - La Pagina) This law requires employers to pay severance to any tenured (2 years) employee and equates to two months worth of pay.   Of course there are some rules, like you must give 15 days notice, etc.  But essentially if an employee wants to leave they can and you have to pay for it.  El Salvador already has many laws that complement this new one, like required christmas bonuses for all employees, severance for employees who are terminated, etc.    Though the cost to operate here maybe lower than the United States, it is filled with rules and laws that actually can make it more expensive.

Tonight at a party I had a discussion with a local business owner, he has offices in Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador.  His father started the business 37 years ago and it is still going strong today.  I asked his opinion on this new law and he immediately explained he was all for it.  Stating that El Salvador is behind, everyone else already is doing this and it isn't fair to not give people money for there time.  He talked how this would inspire people to work harder or to quit the job they hate and get paid for it so they can go to a new job.

Then I asked him a simple question that changed his mind, I said, "If your father was here today, starting his business for the first time and then three of his tenured employees decides to quit just when he starts making money, what would have happened to his business?"  He replied, "He would have closed down."

This was the lightbulb moment for him realizing having government tell him how needs to run his business and how needs to pay people may seem fair upfront, if we are looking to make things fair for everyone (even the bad employees) but it creates a situation for the employer where they could lose everything just because someone isn't happy at work.  Why take a risk on a new venture if in two years your employees can run away with everything.  I predict this will hurt overall investments and small business in this country.  Employers will start looking for ways to avoid employees even reaching tenure status and keeping wages low to avoid higher payouts.

Seeing how a socialistic government operates and how a country that is essentially one big union functions has given me the chance to really reflect on the blessing of freedom and the free market system.  It also hurts to see when government constantly thinks it knows better how to run business in the United States, Latin America or any country.  Venezuela is now moving towards profit caps and price caps placed on everything to control what is considered too much greed.  (See Wall Street Journal Here).

I say keep government out as much as possible, work together to pass meaningful laws that are win/win for both side; but let business operate and grow as freely as possible.  Regulations that keep things sanitary and free of discrimination I understand, but don't tell me how to handle my employees when they quit or that I have to pay for their insurance.  That should be my decision to make as a company not the governments.

Comments welcome.