Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why Romney Won't Talk About Being A Mormon Bishop

I keep hearing people with good intentions bemoaning the fact that Romney hasn't used his experiences as a Mormon Bishop to humanize himself.

I'm telling you now, he won't.

At least in the way everyone wants him to.  I would be very concerned if he did.

Here is the thing:  just like being a pastor, there is an expectation of confidentiality.  This means your only answer is to just not talk about it.  Period.

You cannot talk about these things in generic terms.  For it to be effective politically he would have to give some specifics.  In doing so you almost guarantee that members of his former congregation would be able to figure out who it is.  That is just as bad as using their name, and so he won't discuss it.

There is also an issue of humility.  In the LDS faith acts of service are done with little fanfare, and almost in hopes of the people not knowing who did it.  To stand and beat the drum "I did this" would be an anathema to active Mormons.

There is a fine balance between keeping confidences and lying.  If I tell my wife I know nothing about a situation in the ward, I am lying as a member of the Bishopric.  If I tell her I can't discuss it, I tacitly acknowledge the problem, and thus divulge information.  The only practical option is to listen to any conversations in that regard and keep my mouth shut.  I believe most LDS leaders have ended up at this same solution.  You just don't discuss things, even in confidence, as the risks are too high.

So, no, Romney will not discuss these events in his life.

The real answer is for those he served to stand up and be counted.  If they tell the stories of how he helped them, and the acts of service and kindness he provided, that is fair game.  People can talk about themselves all they want, and in the act of doing so they allow him to keep his confidences.

My call is to those members of Romney's former ward to make some noise.  Whether you support him in his politics or not, you should be willing to let there be an accurate portrayal of who he really is.

But don't expect Romney to be the man who does it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Academics Don't Get It

I was reading the article "DEAR JOURNALISM STUDENTS: Don't Mean To Intrude, But Your Professor Doesn't Get It

I think he has hit on a problem with academics in general, in particular those holed up in universities. Professors are out of touch with the "real" world, and almost by definition are several years behind the times. 

In thinking about this over the years I have come to the conclusion that there is a good reason for this, but it is still disturbing.  There are two kinds of people, those who feel they know it all, and those who feel that the more they learn, the less they know.  Those in the second category are always innovating because they can see there are other, often better, ways to do things.  They get good jobs because they are respected and keep pushing their respective fields forward.

Those that think they know it all, teach at universities. 

Let me now say that, yes, there are exceptions.  But those exceptions are notable for their rarity.

The problem is that once you think you know it all, what is there to stimulate you?  What keeps you pushing forward?  There is a near compulsion to foist your brand of "what is" upon those coming up in the food chain, yet your grasp of what is going on in your field invariably slips.

A sure sign of "knowing it all" are regular complaints about all those new-fangled things those upstarts are using.  That attitude is a sure way to a world of irrelevance. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Reasonable Approach to Immigration

Can we all just admit immigration is broken?  It has been more than neglected for decades, and has become farcical with millions of illegal immigrants living and working in the country, and we are complicit in not fixing the codes and not enforcing those on the books.

The problem is it has become so polarized and politicized that no one will look at the real problem and solve it in a real way.

The way I see it, the arguments fall into one of two categories: justice or mercy.

Justice is they are breaking the law, and should immediately be deported.  Mercy says we let them in by inaction.  It is our fault, and we should allow them to become citizens because they have already incorporated into society.

These points are both correct, and both dreadfully wrong.

In anything justice and mercy must be balanced.  It is not fair to reward those who broke the rules, and it is not fair to punish those who are innocents.  In the process we really shouldn't cut off our nose to spite our face either.

For the sake of this post, let's focus on Mexican illegals (And yes, they are here illegally. So that is the appropriate term.) They are the bulk of the problem, and the ones at the vanguard.

I believe Mexican illegals fall into one of several categories (in no particular order):
  1. People who came here to work
  2. The children of the people who came here to work that were born in Mexico
  3. The children of the people who came here to work that were born in The USA.
  4. Hard criminals
I don't think we can combine any of these categories.  The response needs to be different for each, though in some cases (say parents of children born in the USA) there may need to be some accommodations.

Regardless of what some would like you to believe, most illegal immigrants from Mexico are very hard working people who are looking for a way to make their life better.  They do difficult jobs for low wages and keep certain sectors of our economy running.  We have grown symbiotically with them, and their contributions have become vital to our overall economy.  We cannot just rip them out of our society and not expect there to be significant consequences.

That does not mean that they should be rewarded for breaking the law though.  We tried amnesty.  It failed.

I propose that we issue a "orange" card.  To obtain this card, anyone who is in the country illegally, regardless of nationality, will have a six month period to register and obtain this card, but they must show residence in the USA prior to some date well before the legislation passes.  We can't have a last minute border rush to get these cards.  The cards will be "shall issue" unless there is any criminal record.  The card allows the bearer to work in the USA for a period of one to five years legally, after which point they must leave the country, and can only re-enter using standard legal means from their country of origin.  The length of time is to be determined by lottery and by family.  Remaining in the country with an expired orange card would mean three months in jail, expulsion from the country, and ineligibility for a future green card.

The other side of this is we need to vastly open the green card, or worker permit options for many countries, specifically Mexico.  Let's say there are 10 million illegals in the country at this time.  In year one of the orange card program, open up two million slots for green cards (over and above current levels).  In year two an additional two million (for four million above current levels), and likewise to the end.  As the orange cards expire, they are replaced by people who are coming in through the legal, regular means.

We may need to have more green cards available on the front end.  I believe many of those that draw short times will return to begin the green card process from home, and some may skip the orange card process altogether.  Regardless, it gives a five year shift from illegality to legality, while still having reasonable control of who is in our borders.

Now we need to deal with numbers two and three.

Many of the children who were brought over the border don't even remember Mexico, and are more Americanized than some Americans.  I would recommend that a child that was to turn 18 within the five years of the program, and that can prove five years residency prior to the program's beginning, have the option of being able to apply for a green card from within the USA and would receive a priority status.  These would come out of the two million card increase each year.  The family could stay until either their orange card expires, or the child turns 18, whichever is later.

For those born in the USA.  These are, by law, citizens.  We can argue all we want about changing the constitution and all that entails, but the fact is, they are citizens.  So we need to take that into account.  This becomes the sticky wicket in the whole deal.  In reality, children are born to holders of green cards all the time, and they stay or go with their family as it becomes necessary. I think that they need to be treated as those brought over the border, but have a couple of special programs.  First, if they have family in the USA, they can stay with that family and not have to leave with those who are non-citizens.  Second, should there be individuals that would like to sponsor and care for these children until they are 18, similar to a foster parent, they could stay here without their family.  Otherwise, they should go with their parents, and return when they are of age, should they choose to do so.

As far as the hard criminals, there should be several things we do.  First there should be a national penitentiary for illegals.  I would recommend Eastern Montana.   It is remote, escape would mean you would have to go hundreds of miles before getting anywhere useful, and it is cold in the winter.  Quit housing them in places that feel like home.  Make it difficult.  They should also work to support themselves.  There is plenty of farm land, let them farm. Use them to build iPods.  I don't care, but keep them busy and away from weights.  The proceeds can be used to run the facility.  Upon their term being fulfilled, they should be immediately deported, and never have any chance at any legal status within the USA again.

I also think that being an illegal should be an aggravating factor in determining punishment.  I think it should add a minimum of 25% to the term of any incarceration for the first term, 50% for the second, and so on.  If they keep at it, they can stay here permanently... behind bars.

I think the above plan, while not foolproof, is a reasonable approach to the problem that should satisfy both sides needs.  Both justice and mercy are doled out, but in a reasonable and fair manner.

What do you think?