Just Say No! (To Primates)

In a brilliant move of solidarity with the victim of the recent chimpanzee attack, the U.S. House of Representatives, rather than focusing on important issues, passed a bill that would make it illegal for private persons to own primates – not just apes but all primates (e.g., lemers and monkeys). I believe the bill technically only forbids selling primates across state lines, but that would in practicality ban all private primate ownership. Such dangerous creatures as pygmy marmosets would be outlawed (this particular one might be outlawed already if it is an endangered creature but my point remains the same). Just look at that thing – it probably has laser beams that shoot from its eyes; it’s just deceptively cute – it might kill you with cuteness overload.

This whole bill is ludicrous. Now, I don’t think most people should own primates – they require a lot of care and space and money (but so do kids) but if someone can afford it and provide good care, why shouldn’t they be able to own one?

Our government just keeps finding new ways to regulate us to death. Pretty soon our houses will be built exclusively from red tape. We’ll have Frosted Red Tape Flakes for breakfast, and red tape for toilet paper. Our government is becoming oppressive (some would argue that they have been for a long time but compared to most other governments around the world, the U.S. government is not very oppressive).

How many primate attacks are there every year in the U.S.? How big of a problem is this? Our legislators are spending our tax dollars and their time trying to protect us from the dangers of primates? The next thing that will happen is outlawing cars because they can be so dangerous. Then they’ll outlaw the sun because it gives people cancer. We can ride this slippery slope all the way down. We might as well outlaw all people because people can hurt others. Maybe robots should rule the earth and keep a few humans in carefully controlled cages for observation.

I don’t deny that primates can be dangerous. They are strong and can carry diseases but if someone wants to own one and can care for it – let him own a primate (even a gorilla if they have the space and money for it). The legislation is silly. Then again, maybe the ban is good. It might just prevent something like this from occuring many years in the future.planet_of_the_apes

Mitt Offers His Sage Advice

Once again, Mitt Romney, a successful businessman and former governor of Massachusetts, offers his insightful advice about how to best stimulate the economy. His theory toward economic policies is much more Smithian than Keynesian. His tagline is Stimulate the Economy, Not the Government.

Quoting the CNN article: “In the final analysis, we know that only the private sector — entrepreneurs and businesses large and small — can create the millions of jobs our country needs. The invisible hand of the market always moves faster and better than the heavy hand of government” (emphasis added).

Lastly, in a letter to supporters he stated, “This is a time of hardship and uncertainty for millions of Americans. Unfortunately, the new President and the Democratic Congressional majority seem more concerned with stimulating the government than stimulating the economy.”

We need to stimulate the economy by freeing up more money from the clutches of our inefficient government. Our government needs to gain inspiration from Smith and Friedman (as far as arguing for smaller government), not Eva Perón’s welfare program or her husband Juan’s economic policies that led to the downfall of the Argentinian economy (please read the comments to this post for more about Argentinian economics).

LDS Church Further Clarifies Its Role in Prop 8

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following article today on their newsroom site:

Media Reports on Proposition 8 Filing Uninformed

The article is fairly brief but very comprehensive. If anyone still doubts the Church’s financial role in Prop 8, they are just willfully rebelling against the truth. The Church was always very open about its role, they never tried to hide any part of their involvement in Prop 8. LDS Church members were encouraged to vote in the election and to vote in defense of traditional marriage but no one was ever forced to vote a particular way. The LDS Church became involved in the issue because it is an important and fundamental moral issue. Marriage and family are the foundation of society. Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples is a radical shift that could have unintended negative consequences on society for generations. It is an attack on the sacred bond of marriage and family.

Prop 8 Spending Update (and Lies)

The final numbers are in. “The final tallies show that opponents of Proposition 8 raised $43.3 million in 2008 and had a little more than $730,000 left on hand at year’s end. The measure’s sponsors raised $39.9 million and had $983,000 left over.” (Source). Many opponents of Prop 8 are bitter about the measure passing. Some say that the LDS Church bought Prop 8 (see below), yet opponents raised and spent more money on the measure than proponents did. The hatred toward the LDS Church is mind-boggling. I don’t mind the hatred though but I do mind the lies.

Here are a few inaccurate headlines/articles describing the LDS Church’s role in Prop 8.

How the Mormon Church Bought Prop 8 (this site is full of hatred; I just skimmed some of the comments to the article. They were appalling). If the LDS Church bought Prop 8 with their $190,000 of in-kind (non-monetary) donations, that’s quite a good return on their money considering that is less than 0.44% of the total money spent by opponents of Prop 8. In other words, if the LDS Church bought the proposition then their $190,000 of non-monetary donations was more effective than the $43.3 million spent by opponents of Prop 8. That’s quite a good return on money. So who bought the election (it of course begs the question that the election results were purchased)? Even if you factor in contributions by individual LDS Church members (and of course, church members do not equal the LDS Church in any political or legal sense), they still raised and spent less than half of the money opponents raised and spent.

Separation of Church and State…except in Utah and, Uh, California. I will not provide much commentary on this article (because their dishonest portrayal of the issue has already been addressed by the LDS Church). The author completely misunderstands the 1st Amendment (and separation of church and state, for that matter). I love this drossy gem: “There’s no point in asking if what LDS did is ethical; clearly, it is not. But that didn’t stop the church from intensifying its disregard for the rule of law and the political system in this country.”

Mormons Caught in $188,000 Lie. I’m sorry but the only lies being told are by the opponents of the LDS Church on this matter. The LDS Church acted in accordance to law. The reported every expenditure within the time frame that they were legally required to. If you argue that the Church was trying to hide their involvement, then you have to argue just as strongly that all other groups on both sides of the issue who just reported their financial contributions were hiding their involvement as well.

There are more inaccuracies along the same lines. The LDS Church already responded to the issue. They hid nothing. They did not lie. They acted well within all legal, moral, and ethical bounds. The only lies being told are those who spread this misinformation about the LDS Church.

LDS Church Prop 8 Spending Update

From the LDS Church Newsroom site: “SALT LAKE CITY. 2 February 2009. Today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints clarified erroneous news reports following the filing of its final report on donations to the ProtectMarriage.com coalition.

On Friday, 30 January, the Church filed the final report of its contributions (all of which were non-monetary) to the ProtectMarriage.com coalition. The report, submitted in advance of the 31 January deadline, details in-kind donations totaling $189,903.58.

The value of the Church’s in-kind (non-monetary) contribution is less than one half of one percent of the total funds (approximately $40 million) raised for the “Yes on 8” campaign. The Church did not make any cash contribution.

Because media coverage about this filing ran without a comment from the Church, the following statements of fact from the Church add context to this story and should help correct the record:

Fox13 (Utah): “The documents show the amount spent by the Mormon Church is greater than what was initially stated.”

Fact: The Church, like other organizations on both sides of the ballot issue, was required to publicly file these donations by the 31 January deadline. The Church has been filing required contribution reports throughout the campaign. Those earlier donations “initially stated” were filed for specific time periods prior to this last reporting period, as required by law. Other groups are also filing their final contribution reports to meet the same deadline.

San Francisco Chronicle : “Mormon church officials, facing an ongoing investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, Friday reported nearly $190,000 in previously unlisted assistance to the successful campaign for Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.”

Sacramento Bee : “The disclosure comes amid an investigation by the state’s campaign watchdog agency into whether the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints violated state laws by not fully disclosing its involvement during the campaign.”

Fact: This filing is in no way prompted by an investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Many organizations are filing this week to meet the deadline required by law. We believe we have complied with California law.

KFMB 760 AM (San Diego) :

“Mormon Church Misstated How Much It Spent in Prop 8 Fight.”
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints previously claimed only about $2,000 was spent in support of the measure.”

365Ga y : “Mormon Church admits it spent 100 times more for Prop 8 than reported”

Fact: Again, the previous disclosure of an in-kind donation was to meet an earlier deadline. In fact, previous filings detailed over $50,000 out of the total non-monetary contribution of $189,903.58. This week’s filing reported donations that fell within a different time period and required reporting by the 31 January deadline. Other groups also made their final contributions reports this week.

Understanding the extent of donations from other organizations may help the media and the public better understand the context in which the Church’s donations were made.”

The LDS Church clearly acted in accordance to the law. The only reason this is an issue is because some people are so hateful of the Church that they try to do anything to discredit them.

The LDS Church Contributed $190,000 in “In-kind” Donations to Prop 8

UPDATE: I corrected the figures in this post now that we have the actual amounts. I will post a reprint of the LDS Church’s clarification of news stories about the issue.

On Friday the LDS Church filed a report outlining their contributions to the Prop 8 campaign in California. They spent $190,000 (a GLBT site reports the amount was “more than $190 thousand.” Notice how the amount creeps upward as sites become more pro-homosexual. Note: I don’t know what the actual amount is; news sites have just been rounding the number – some up and some down). $96,000 of that was spent paying some church employees for their time (e.g., designing a website or things like that). The rest came from flying church officials to California (and putting them in hotels and renting cars and similar expenses). The Church did not donate any money directly. When a complaint was filed against the Church in November 2008, the LDS Church stated they would be making all required declarations by the time they were legally required to. They were not required by law to declare their contributions until February 2, 2009.

The articles I linked to generally do not give the LDS Church the benefit of the doubt (searching the related headlines in Google News reveals such biased gems as “Mormon Church Misstated How Much It Spent in Prop 8 Fight”). The news bias is not surprising given that all 10 major California newspapers editorialized against Prop 8. Only the SF Chronicle even bothers to mention the Feb. 2 deadline for reporting contributions. However, those who filed the complaint against the Church believe that the Church was required to report their contributions earlier.

The Yes on 8 campaign spent $39.2 million out of a total of about $41 million spent (Source). Older estimates had supporters of Prop 8 spending $35.8 million with opponents spending $37.6 million (Source). We’ll see what the revised number is once opponents of Prop 8 declare all their contributions (it is likely higher than the $41 million spent to support Prop 8). While LDS Church members donated a sizable portion of the money spent to support Prop 8 (possibly as high as $20 million – but those are estimates are by anti-Prop 8 groups and so may be on the high end of the actual amount), the LDS Church as an entity donated a whopping 0.45% of the total money spent to support Prop 8!

True, individual LDS Church members might have donated 50% of the money spent in support of Prop 8 (again, this is based on unofficial estimates) but church members who donated are citizens and are allowed to donate however they want to. Hollywood celebrities contributed large of amounts of money to fight Prop 8 (for example, Brad Pitt donated $100,000). At least churches are Constitutionally-protected entities unlike Hollywood. The LDS Church encouraged time and money donations but never forced anyone to donate. It’s ironic how some who “fight against hate” hate the LDS Church so much. Where are all the complaints against entities who made anti-Prop 8 contributions?

Showing their intense hatred of hate, Californians Against Hate has a “Dishonor Roll” that includes people who donated more than $5000 to support Prop 8. Way to fight hate! It’s the kind of list I’d like to be on.