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God Bless Laurie Roberts

I cannot remember the last time I agreed with Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts but, on December 9th she made an astounding discovery; that highly paid accountants and managers in the private sector will always outsmart government bureaucrats. This was in reference to Arizona Public Service always staying one step ahead of the Arizona Corporation Commissioners. Laurie said: “Admit, commissioners, that you are no match for a monopoly intent on maximizing profits.” In a continuing brilliant fashion, she went on to suggest the only logical solution to this conundrum; deregulation. (Competition is always a better regulator than government.) Laurie said: “Commissioners Olson and Burns have expressed support for deregulation. Talk, however, is cheap and time is short.”

Amen, Laurie. Pass the ammunition.

Trash the proposed rate increase for Trash

The City of Phoenix is in financial trouble and needs more money. Some of us are not surprised about this condition since the city has failed to solve its fiscally bankrupt pension issue and continues to waste billions on expansion of the uneconomical light rail. Meanwhile, it pays its bloated staff an average total annual compensation of more than $100,000. To make up for these unwise fiscal decisions they need to get more money wherever they can. Recently they increased the rates for water service and increased fees for Uber and Lyft rides at Sky Harbor. Now they want to increase trash pick up fees. We should oppose this.

If the City of Phoenix really wants to help residents rather than simply increase their own revenue, they should allow more competition rather than increasing fees. When I was in high school in Minneapolis, I purchased a broken down 2 ½ ton dump truck, got an engine from a junk yard, hired the kid next door, and went into the trash business. (The signs on my truck said, “My business is going to the dumps” and “If your trash is not becoming to you, it should be coming to me.”) I charged fifty cents a can (they were small then) and was the richest kid in my class within only a few weeks.

I realize that rules and regulations are much stricter now and the example I have provided above is not a realistic solution today but picking up trash is not rocket science and the general idea of allowing more competition does make sense. We do not need ANOTHER fee increase in Phoenix. Let’s rely on markets and innovation rather than bigger government.

Atheism Is Not Logical

When anyone is asked whether they believe in God they will frequently respond by asking the inquirer for the definition of God. That definition usually will have a great effect on the answer, even if the answer is Yes. But when someone claims to be an atheist, there is no similar question. My response to someone claiming to be an atheist is to ask what God they do not believe in.

Here is an example of what I mean: I had the chance many years ago to attend a lecture by Carl Sagan at the University of Arizona. He was noted for his agnostic or atheist views and he got the question from the audience of whether he believed in God. He said that depends on your definition of God. If you understand God to be a nice avuncular man who sits in the sky and counts all the sparrows that die, the answer is No. But, if you understand God as the sum of all the laws of the universe, then the answer is Yes.

So, how can someone claim to be an atheist without knowing the definition of the inquirer’s concept of God? Or, to turn it around, ask the person claiming to be an atheist what God is it that they don’t believe in? To make a blanket statement that one is an atheist without the above clarification seems to me devoid of logic.

Neil Wake Mostly Right About Prop 123

District Court Judge Neil Wake is getting some unjust criticism regarding his decision in the appeal of Proposition 123, the measure that helped fund education by taking more money out of the enabling act trust fund. Former Arizona State Treasurer Jeff DeWit warned against the action of taking too much money out of the trust fund. A better solution would have been to accelerate the sale of state trust land, as DeWit suggested. This would have brought an immediate cash infusion into the trust fund from the sales and would have guaranteed future income through the payment of real estate taxes on what was government land that paid no taxes. Both sources of money could be used to increase education spending. However, this would mean a loss of control of the state trust land by Arizona State bureaucrats. I suspect that this is part of the reason for failing to take the path that was clearly proper and legal rather than the one that was questionable, as noted in Wake’s opinion.

Jeff Flake Critics are Wrong

Anderson and Murphy are wrong about Jeff Flake

Arizona Republic letter writers Parker Anderson and Edward Murphy in today’s paper (Oct 2) are wrong in their criticism of Jeff Flake. I have known Jeff Flake well ever since I and my fellow Goldwater Institute board members hired Jeff to be our executive director nearly 30 years ago. Jeff was an outstanding director, US House member, and US Senator. Writer Anderson claims that Jeff failed to speak up (about his concerns over Trump misdeeds) but this is simply false. Jeff made his opinions clear from the day Trump was elected and was always the most outspoken (and respectful) of all the Republican Senators. Writer Murphy’s complaint is that Jeff quit the senate. This was the only honorable thing Jeff could do because of the demands in his upcoming campaign for fundraising. Jeff simply knew that he could not ask other Republicans for money while at the same time retaining his integrity by holding the President’s feet to the fire.
If anyone is seriously interested in knowing where Jeff Flake stands, they need only read his book “Conscience of a Conservative.” There has never been a more honorable person in the Congress than Jeff Flake.

We Don’t Need a Citizens Review Board

There is a lot of talk lately about creating a Citizens Review Board for the Phoenix Police Department. This is a bad idea. Instead we should hold management’s feet to the fire. Whenever you create “review” boards for police, you inevitably reduce the authority of the police chief. This is a problem for every major police department in the country. Well publicized bad results have occurred in places like New York and Chicago, but Phoenix has, so far, escaped the corruption that happens when management fails. I was chairman of the Phoenix Civil Service Board back in the 1980s. We heard appeals of disciplinary actions and I saw firsthand the negative effects of taking authority away from the chief when we overruled management too frequently.

We have enough “review” within the Police Department and with the CSB now if we just insist that everyone does their job.

Memories of the USAFA Chapel

I was a devout Minnesota Lutheran when I came to USAFA in 1963. I was lucky that my sponsor was the Protestant Chaplain, Capt Bob Hendricks. (He ended his career as a Colonel/TAC Command Chaplain and we remained lifelong friends until his death in 2014.) While at USAFA I became very involved in Chapel activities and also taught Sunday School at the Base Chapel. I also tried out for the Protestant Cadet Choir but did not make the cut. Another chaplain at the time, Capt Chapman, had seminars on the Dead Sea Scrolls that I attended. I was so caught up the chapel activities that I actually considered attending a seminary (probably Luther Theological Seminary in Minnesota). However, that motivation caused me to begin a more detailed study of religion, especially doctrinal issues and I began to question doctrine, first esoteric doctrines like Transubstantiation but later, more fundamental doctrines such as the Trinity. That caused me to begin a multiyear quest for a church whose doctrine I could believe in. Long story short is that I have been a Unitarian for the past 42 years. Obviously, the Chapel and its cadet programs were very meaningful to me, as they were to many cadets in our class.