Thursday, April 29, 2021

Plague of Fiery Serpents and COVID-19

Numbers 21 tells the story of the Israelites being affected by a plague of fiery serpents. Moses, by the direction of God, made a serpent of brass and asked the Israelites to look at it to be cured from the plague. While many of them did, many of them, thinking the thing was so simple, did not. Another example is in 2 Kings, chapter 5, where Pharpar is asked to bathe in the river Damascus seven times, a particularly dirty river, to cure leprosy. At first he was hesitent, but then, in verse 13, we read "Naaman's servants went to him and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, `Wash and be cleansed'!"

With this plague, we have been asked to do a few similar things, ones that even have the backing of science, but have been encouraged by religious leaders, including those of my faith, that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Of some note I can't find anything from any apostles, but it was certainly encouraged by example from the highest levels. We have been asked to wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have been encouraged to socially distance ourselves to minimize the spread. And while I haven't seen it explicitly stated, we are encouraged to get vaccinated when we are able to to even further prevent the spread.

While the effects of not following these simple guidance aren't as dramatic as that of the fiery serpents, I can't help but wonder how many people have had a similar reaction of that of the Isrealites, of not doing the thing because of its simplicity. It sadens me deeply that it seems like the evangelicals are those on the leading edge of anti-mask and anti-vaccine behavior. To me, these are those who are not looking at the brass serpent.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Poverty, education, and the American Way.

I firmly believe that everyone in this country should have a chance to move on up in the world. But what exactly does that mean? I believe that everyone should have the opportunity, no matter where they started, to succeed. This helps in so many ways, it helps to find new talent, reduces poverty, and overall helps people to live better lives.

Let's start with an ancient Chinese proverb. "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime." We should be teaching men, and women, to fish. Finding ways to help them improve their circumstances will always be of benifit. In Doctrine and Covanents, a book of scripture used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Section 42, we read the following:

30 And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken.

42 Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.

By all of this, we should help the poor, especially those willing to work. We should give them skills so they can take care of themselves, and someday improve themselves, and thus be able to better take care of society.

I personally have benifited from policies inspired by these principals. When I was born, my father was working to improve his life situation by attending college. He received pell grants, student loans, and food stamps during that time. Since that time, nearly 30 years ago, he has gone on to be an engineer, further improving his life circumstances. As a result, I was able to also go to college, and while still on my own, I was able to do it with fewer student loans and pell grants, and have achieved a level of success.

Policies which can help students to rise above poverty should always be pushed forward. This benifits us all. By education, we have more engineers, scientists, teachers, and others who are able to help. We should also encourage those who are willing to take on trades, like plumbing, electricians, carpenters, welders, and other such skills. All of these are worthy skills, and have a measureable effect on all of us.

In general, I believe all should be able to work, all should have the ability to improve their life circumstance, no matter the circumstances they were born to, and we should be willing to help those around us to improve their life circumstances. These will pay dividends as well. It has been shown that President Biden's proposed free college tuition would pay for itself in 10 years. I know that I personally have paid far more in taxes as a result of my education than was invested of me. The same can be said of my siblings and parents. Some thought needs to be given to ensure that such money is not wasted, there are certainly some college degrees that aren't really worthwhile. Still, as a whole it benifits us all to have education. Most of those who receive pell grants go on to have quite successful careers. Remember, the proposal is only to allow for paying tuition. They still have to work to survive for the years they are getting that education, simply wasting their time is otherwise of no worth.

Considering running for public office in Alabama

This will be a bit different from my other posts. I have been thinking about running for public office of some kind for a while, and recently had a bit of a push in that direction. One of the senators from my state is not going to seek reelection, and I thought about what it would be like to try to run for that particular office.

I'm not at all commiting to this, and will have to think quite a bit about the particular office that I might someday run for, but I've decided to take at least the first step, formulate a complete policy. I plan on looking at all of the major issues and formulate my own reasoned thoughts about them.

To explain myself simply to those who might stuble on this later, I consider myself a moderate Republican. I was born in a small town in Idaho. My dad at the time was studying to get a degree in Engineering, my mother was working in a fabric store. When I was 6 my dad graduated and became an engineer for the Public Health Service, mostly working on the design of sewer and water systems for the Indian Health Service. During this time I frequently lived in small towns, including in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arizona. I continued in my education, and eventually graduated from High School, got a degree in Electrical Engineering, and eventually even a Master's Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Univesity of Arizona.

I believe we are all more similar than we are different. Both political parties seek to find solutions to help those around us have better lives, to make this country greater, to reduce abortions, increase education and prosperity, protect the enviroment. The priorities might be different for the parties, and the methods certainly are, but the goals are many times the same. I like to really get to the bottom of these issues, seek commonality, and find common ground.

One thing that I will certainly do is be willing to convinced that another position is right. There are very few subjects, and none of which are relevant to politics, that I can't be convinced are the right course. I will see what is best for all of those in my realm of responsibility, and seek experts to understand better. If the bill is one of energy policy, I will talk with various power plant and grid operators. Education, I will talk with educators to understand what the problems are, along with some students. I will try and talk with as wide of a variety of such people to better understand. As a result of this, I may be a "flip flopper", but that is an acknowledgement that I don't know everything that I would need to know now.

We will be exploring things a bit more in the future, including some of the ideas and thoughts on how we should deal with these issues. I believe in seeking common ground, and will always seek to improve those around us. I seek to look at the science, not just the popular science and thoughts but what the real science is behind issues, and some of those might surprise some people on both sides of the aisle. Come join me in this journey!

What does it mean to be a "Free" nation?

One of the things that I frequently see in online discussions is the concept of a "free" nation. But what exactly does that mean?...