07 October 2016

Reaping the Whirlwind

I wrote about why I didn't support Donald Trump back in March. That hasn't changed. I don't feel vindicated by the information that was published today about lewd comments Trump made years ago.  It is not surprising. Something like this was inevitable. So why should I feel good about being right? I find it depressing and completely predictable. And there is probably more to come.
It is too late at this point for the Republican Party to do anything about it. Elevating Pence to the top of the ticket? For what purpose? It's too late, and I'm no fan of Pence, whose acceptance of the role demonstrated poor judgement (or vain ambition). Why set him up to run in 2020? Just because he knows how to behave in public? No thanks.
2016 may well mark the end of the Republican Party as I've known it, or to the loyalty I've felt to it. This is saying something for someone who has often said he was "born Republican." Do GOP elites think that doing something drastic NOW will atone for this mess? To paraphrase a great spiritual leader, when it comes to repentance "the bandage must be as wide as the sore." The Republican Party must suffer through this to the bitter end.
I don't want Hillary Clinton to be President of the United States, but at this point she should win. And we deserve the result. I believe in our system, I believe in the Constitution. I believe in our country. I'll keep working hard, taking care of my family, and enjoying the rich relationships that continue to make life here beautiful and worthwhile. I have a lot to be grateful for.

03 October 2016

What I Believe, Part 1

I believe in Free Trade. I believe that the net benefits of free trade outweigh the costs. I think this has been demonstrated academically, and it makes intuitive sense. Pablo Fajgelbaum of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Amit Khandelwal, of Columbia University (from The Economist, and cited in this post from Tyler Cowen): 

...in an average country, people on high incomes would lose 28% of their purchasing power if borders were closed to trade. But the poorest 10% of consumers would lose 63% of their spending power, because they buy relatively more imported goods. The authors find a bias of trade in favour of poorer people in all 40 countries in their study, which included 13 developing countries. 
There is a negative impact on low-tech firms, but the firms that survive become more dynamic: 
An in-depth study of European industry by Nicholas Bloom, of Stanford University, Mirko Draca of Warwick University and John Van Reenen of the LSE found that import competition from China led to a decline in jobs and made life harder for low-tech firms in affected industries. But it also forced surviving firms to become more innovative: R&D spending, patent creation and the use of information technology all increased, as did total factor productivity. 
Neither major-party candidate in the presidential election is very supportive of free trade, with Trump being in favor of eliminating some existing trade deals like NAFTA. Mary Anastasia O'Grady explains how much of what Trump has said about NAFTA is incorrect:
Mr. Trump gave a quick nod to one genuine U.S. disadvantage during the debate when he talked about cutting U.S. corporate tax rates to spur investment at home. But his main message was that under NAFTA Mexico is “stealing” U.S. jobs. In fact, an interconnected North American economy has made U.S. manufacturing globally competitive. U.S. companies source components from Mexico and Canada and add value in innovation, design and marketing. The final outputs are among the most high-quality, low-price products in the world. U.S. automotive competitiveness is highly dependent on global free trade. According to the Mexico City-based consulting firm De la Calle, Madrazo, Mancera, 37% of the U.S.’s imported auto components came from Mexico and Canada in 2015. This sourcing from abroad is important to good-paying U.S. auto-assembly jobs. But parts also flow the other way. U.S. parts manufacturers sent 61% of their exports to Mexico and Canada in 2015. 
As a parent, I want my children to succeed. But I want this to happen in a way that prepares them for the real world, a competitive and dynamic world that owes them nothing. We don't help our industries by sheltering them from competition, and we may harm our own citizens in the process. Trade restrictions are almost always worse for American industry than it is for the industries from the countries we seek to deal with. One way to level the playing field is to stop playing favorites.

12 July 2016


I wrote this a few weeks ago but neglected to upload it to Blogger. I'm traveling back to my family after a short business trip to Toronto and the thoughts feel as relevant as ever. Here goes:

A few weeks ago I listened to an interview of author Sebastain Junger by Tim Ferriss. Junger spent time talking about his new book, Tribe, which I have begun to read. In the interview, and what I've read so far of the book, Junger spends time considering the implications of how our social structures have changed, and not for the better. We lack the kind of community connections that have fostered societal accountability and unity. This lack of tribe, or community, has led to some people feeling so alienated and disconnected that they commit terrible crimes, such as mass shootings, which are truly anti-social at their very core. I am looking forward to spending more time on the book in the next few weeks.

Today's thoughts on the subject were prompted when I decided to close my eyes on a flight (we're on a family trip) and listen to some of the music from the tv show LOST. The song, "Life and Death" (actually an arrangement by Paul Cardall inspired by music from the show),  made me think about what that show was about, really, and why it was so impactful for me.

Much of our initial interest in the show (speaking of myself, Lacy, and other friends who followed it from the beginning) was in the mysteries it proposed. They were very enthralling, and answers were teased out over time in bits and pieces. Eventually, the connections and relationships between the characters were what truly sustained the show, at least for me.

For some people, the final season of the show was a waste. They devoted an entire season to off-island narratives that we came to understand were a depiction of some after-life, in-between place where people go to find the ones they love and belong with and to. It was an interesting choice, and I understand why some people were frustrated by questions left unanswered.

I thought it was perfect. As I sit here on an airplane with the most important people in my life, I feel deep gratitude for the relationships that we have. In addition to them, my other family, my good friends, and other loved ones constitute the wealth of this life. Why wouldn't that be the most real thing that mattered for the disparate characters from lost? In the end, I don't think I'll be too concerned about historical patterns in the stock market or other temporal matters. A tribe, a family, these relationships, are what remains when our loved ones leave us, and what we take when we go.

A central tenet of my faith is the eternal nature of our souls and the continuation of family relationships. It won't really matter exactly what we did together, just that we were together. And that we gave our time, our most precious commodity, our real wealth, to the people that we love.

It's tempting to focus on things that have no connection to these most important connections. I have no emotional energy to devote to the presidential race or to other similar issues, at least not at the expense of the people that I care about. It's not apathy, and it doesn't mean ignoring the need to help others. Doing so enriches our most important connections. What I mean is putting my resources where they will have the greatest impact and do the most good.

Today's random thought, brought to you by music from the tv show LOST.

01 April 2016

Line by Line

As the election season rolls on, we have to make reassessments.
Perhaps our earlier convictions are modified by events.
Republicans, facing an important election, need to consolidate support.
In this blog I have expressed unwillingness to support Donald Trump.
Looks like I was wrong.

Friends of mine may doubt my sanity, but I don't think I could vote for Hillary.
On the other hand, Trump will probably moderate a lot when he wins the nomination.
Others may doubt this, but I have to disagree.
Looking at his background, Trump is the guy to right the ship.
Seems pretty clear at this point.

31 March 2016

A Wandering Path

I was very moved by this article- http://features.texasmonthly.com/editorial/the-reckoning/. It is a lengthy profile of a woman, Claire Wilson, who was shot by sniper Marc Whitman at the University of Texas in 1966.

Her life, and how it was affected by that horrible tragedy, is full of sadness and beauty. I was especially impressed by the faith she found afterward.
As a person of faith, I'm heartened by the strength and comfort she found in seeking a relationship with  God in her life. I have tried to do the same during difficult times in my life, though I don't think my trials come close to what she has experienced.
I'm glad that I could learn her story, and in some small way mourn with her. That is the commitment I have made as a Christian, "to mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort."
I pray that she can find continued hope and peace.

16 March 2016

Fear not

The outcome in today's Florida's primary was very frustrating.

I'll say what I've told my kids in the past few days:

I believe in our institutions. 
I believe in checks and balances.
I believe in goodness.
I believe the American people are more alike than it seems, especially when you strip away false dichotomies and political semantics.

No matter what happens in November, and who wins, I will go to work, exercise, enjoy my family, attend my church, and serve my community. 

I love my country. I am so fortunate to be an American, right now, today. My best days are ahead of me.

02 March 2016


I spent last night in Tallahassee, FL, about a 10 minute walk from the State Capitol. I had a feeling in my short time walking near the statehouse that I have also felt in Washington DC. Government, it's buildings, monuments, it's scale, is impressive. But it also depresses me a little. 

Walk down the streets surrounding the Capitol and you find, not only government buildings, but lobbyists, trade groups, and hundreds of other organizations that feed like remoras off of government. I'm not saying we don't need such things. There are causes that I care about that rely on such entities to accomplish important things.

But I wish we didn't need them. I wish government played a simpler, more straightforward role, instead of so much of it being self-perpetuating. Wouldn't it be nice to start over? To dissect the apparati of government, both official and ancillary, and just keep what we "really" need? I truly believe that similar feelings fuel a lot of the fervor for Donald Trump. Of course there are elements of racism and bigotry among his supporters. Prejudice is common, and comes in many forms. But it's clear that a lot of people are just sick of bloated and unresponsive government. They want more, hence the love of Trump (and to some extent Bernie Sanders). It's not about policy. Peggy Noonan explains it really well here.

I have empathy for these folks. But I also believe in politics, and compromise. I will never get everything that I want politically. Maybe I shouldn't (don't tell my wife, but I'm not always right). I have found movements like the Tea Party (and people like Ted Cruz) unpersuasive because their unwillingness to comprise builds greater division and ultimately less productive outcomes.

In case I need to say it, I don't support Donald Trump. I believe he is the wrong choice for president of the United States. However, it does seem likely that he will be the Republican nominee.
I am among the many who have been surprised by Donald Trump's political success. I thought he would hit a (lower) ceiling, or that he would say something inflammatory and lose support. Of course, he has said many, many inflammatory and offensive things, with only positive impact on his levels of support.

You don't have to search hard for commentary on Trump and his "unfitness" for office. I've enjoyed a few, including this one:

Is Trump a Fascist? (Douthat, Dec 2015) 

I've heard some say that Trump's rhetoric is an electoral tactic and that he will change if elected. That might be true. I think Trump is an opportunist (not an evil thing by itself) and I don't know that he believes everything that he has said. But I believe that voting for someone because they might end up being less hateful and extreme is a terrible rationale.

Politics matters, and I agree with David Brooks' column from several days ago. Politicians change. They say what they need to say to get votes, but in the end we usually end up with the person we thought we had supported. Maybe they disappoint us, as Bush did with domestic fiscal policy or Obama has with his executive orders, but they were still clearly the people they had been when they ran for office. 

Would I want to work with or for Donald Trump? No. Would I feel comfortable as the counter-party in a business deal? No. So in addition to everything else he has said and done, for that factor alone I would not support him.

I've been supporting Marco Rubio since an event I attended in June 2015 (photo proof below). 

He's not a perfect candidate (there isn't one), but of all the candidates he is the one that I feel most comfortable supporting. I am a Republican, and Sanders' economic fairytales and Clinton's ethical track record make them both unacceptable for me. There are other Republicans I could support, such as Kasich, but Rubio seemed best positioned and I thought his youth was a strength. Although he is often identified with the Tea Party, I watched his senate campaign closely. I noticed that he did not refuse Tea Party support, but he also did not claim the Tea Party title for himself. His stance on immigration is politically problematic, but meaningful immigration reform is impossible without some level of compromise. There's that politics thing again.

He has to win Florida to have any chance at the nomination. I don't know if he will. If he doesn't, it will mean that Trump did and the nomination may seem inevitable at that point.

I don't like politics, and often don't like politicians, but by voting for someone I am expressing a wish to hire them for the job in question. Politics is the job, and I wouldn't hire Trump. I hope you don't either.

P.S. I have little patience for people who threaten to leave the country if Trump is elected. I have faith in our institutions and the separation of powers. If you don't, perhaps a move to Canada is a good choice. In my opinion, it's a cowardly one.

16 February 2016

Envision Alachua

I attended a meeting this evening on a major proposed change to the Alachua County comprehensive plan, spearheaded by Plum Creek through its Envision Alachua initiative. I had hoped to be able to speak to the County Commission, but as the 71st person to sign up it became clear it would not occur tonight. I hope to be able to make comments on Thursday.

I'm not an expert on these issues, so I doubt anything that I write here will be very profound.
The Envision Alachua initiative has been through an incredible public process, included many revisions and changes, and the proposal is now being considered for transmittal to relevant state agencies for review and approval.

I support the Envision Alachua plan. I believe it to be a viable plan for providing economic growth opportunities and the potential for more geographical economic balance to our community.

I live and work in the wealthiest part of Alachua County. We have some of the best schools, lowest crime, and highest home values, all focused in the western part of the county. This seems unlikely to change, and to some extent the rich will get richer. But what about the rest of the county? I don't believe that my good fortune absolves me of concern for the rest of my community.

What will it take to provide the eastern side of Alachua County with the opportunities enjoyed by those who live in the west? What about communities like Hawthorne, which are clearly dying, if we don't think creatively about future economic growth and development?

In Plum Creek, Alachua County has an interested private landowner that is willing to meet broad requirements to develop lands they own, providing significant conservation lands in exchange for concentrated development. It has been mentioned that the openness and thoroughness of the Envision Alachua initiative is almost unprecedented.

The main controversy is that the proposed development area will exist outside of existing urban clusters, as determined by the current comprehensive plan. Much of the opposition to the proposal is because it is against the rules that the county created as part of its state-mandated comprehensive plan. So Plum Creek is asking the county to amend those rules for the specific sectors it has identified. These sectors are where the development will occur, large areas in currently rural parts of the county.

Other opposition seems to come from concerns that Plum Creek will sell their land to developers once the sector plan is approved. So what? This is the right of a landowner, and just because Plum Creek is large, and a publicly traded company, they have become some kind of corporate boogeyman upon which the fears of some can be projected.

For economic opportunity to balance across the county, we need eastern development to serve as a magnet for jobs, commerce, and families. This plan presents that opportunity. And Plum Creek can't do that independently. Of course they will sell parts of their land to home builders and other entities interested in developing those parcels.

Nothing is guaranteed. I'm a business owner, and although we plan for the long-term, we understand the need to adapt policies and strategies for what actually occurs. They have done a remarkable job of planning, allowing for the real-world adaptation that will be necessary in the future. Much of the opposition of county staff comes from Plum Creek's inability to state with certainty things that can't be adequately foreseen, like transportation and infrastructure needs, not to mention the timing of jobs and commercial activity.

I wish I could post David Coffey's remarks, given at the conclusion of Plum Creek's presentation. He expressed so much of what I feel Envision Alachua represents: definite conservation of land, improved economic opportunity for the most depressed area of the county, and the chance for long-term growth which could provide economic viability for Alachua County for the remainder of my life and much of my children's lives.

15 September 2015

Don't Yearn for Bern

I have plenty of reasons to select a different candidate to support than Bernie Sanders. On some level I admire his ideological consistency, as it seems he has not altered his beliefs to seek higher office. So good for him, but not good enough for me.

The greatest reason that I see for supporting other candidates is his spending plan and the impossibility of paying for it.  The Wall Street Journal has a nice analysis of the spending proposal and the dramatic deficit it would create.


There are ALWAYS unintended consequences of government action. We should carefully examine the potential pitfalls of any legislation, and Sanders' proposals are full of them.

He will continue to find support among progressives who felt let down by a president they consider too moderate, too friendly with Wall Street and corporate America.

29 March 2015

Motes in the Sunbeam

I had a chance to spend time with an old college friend and he inspired me to resume my blog. Today's post is a spiritual sequel to this post from last year:


I wrote that after a visit to Washington DCA reminded me of the amazing things that man has accomplished. It also reminded me that we are dependent on God for these abilities, whether we recognize it or not. I concluded that post with this quote, from an article written by Truman G. Madsen:

When man measures himself against the infinity of the cosmos he is almost nothing, "hardly a mote in the sunbeam." But when he measures himself against Christ, who overmasters all of these worlds and world systems, and realizes his kinship to Christ, all diminutives become superlatives. The more man comprehends the vastness of the universe, the more he recognizes his own dignity and worth. The cosmos is God's temple. But man is his offspring--a living temple, given dominion over the rest.

During Spring Break last week, we enjoyed very contrasting experiences. We spent three days in a state park, disconnected from the digital world. It was a time to enjoy nature and appreciate our amazing world. Then we drove to Cape Canaveral to watch a rocket launch and visit the Kennedy Space Center, fully immersing ourselves in the technology and achievements of the modern era.

Despite the seeming differences in these two experiences, I came away with greater appreciation for the greatness of God. The excellence demonstrated by the achievements of our space program are significant and that excellence glorifies God because, in the end, it comes from Him, just as does the Suwannee River. And I marvel at them and give thanks to the Lord for the wonders of this world.

29 November 2014

The Sacrament of Studies

My father shared a wonderful article with me, from the most recent copy of Brigham Young University's Humanities magazine. In his introductory message he shares a profound message about the role of study and education in bring us closer to God.

The PDF of the magazine is found at this link:


Among his ideas is that we should decide what we take with us from our studies- not everything is of equal worth. Interestingly, being more attentive and excellent in our studies makes us more focused and attentive in prayer. It does this because difficult and focused study develops faculties that can help us focus on holy things, if we choose to.

He also mentioned the mission of BYU, which makes it uncommon, even unique, among large universities:

...to assist individuals in their quest for perfection for eternal life.

I am very thankful that my faith in God was strengthened during my time at BYU. I do believe that excellence in vocation can lead to excellence in worship, and vice versa, because the abilities required for each are so complimentary. I am often struck by people whose temporal accomplishment is as impressive as their attention to worship. And I don't mean wealth or income, which is not directly related to spiritual attentiveness.

I think his thoughts are very interesting, and worth your time.

27 October 2014


I've done a poor job of keeping to my resolution to write a weekly post, so this is my attempt at repentance.

One of the unique aspects of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the volunteer nature of so many jobs in the Church. We have no paid clergy, so regular members are called upon to serve in a wide variety of roles, including sunday school teacher and youth leader. Members even serve in pastoral roles, such as bishop, and with that role comes the responsibility to care for a congregation of church members. 

Recently, my Church responsibility changed. I had been serving as a counselor to our bishop. I was asked to serve in a role called High Councilor. This means I will represent our Stake President, who oversees all of the congregations in a given area, as assigned and when needed.

My primary assignment is to work with a Spanish-speaking congregation in Ocala, which I am looking forward to very much. I spent most of my missionary service in a similar setting, and I love working with my Latin brothers and sisters in sharing the gospel.

I share this to provide my witness that God works with and through man today. We believe that these different responsibities, or callings, are given through inspiration from God. We are then able to participate in the Lord's work and He blesses us for every small effort that we make.

29 September 2014

The Power of Service

A while during our weekly Family Home Evening (FHE), which is a special time set aside for sharing, learning, and fun. We had some really nice discussions, with Millie sharing a nice story with us.

We usually have a treat at the end of FHE, and while we were doing that had some more time to talk. Lacy told me that Millie had resolved a situation at school where a girl in her class was not being very nice to her. At Lacy's suggestion, Millie shared some candy with her and told her that she would like to be her friend. Today they talked at lunch and now they are friends.

I asked Millie how she would deal with a similar situation in the future, and her answer was "Share my candy?"

I told her that sharing her candy was an example of serving other people. I was grateful that Millie could see the impact of service on how someone viewed her. I believe that by serving others, we serve God. Even if our motives were as simple as hers. Even if they aren't entirely pure, such as a little girl trying to win the favor of another, doing kindness to others can hardly be seen as a bad thing, and can often change someone's heart. 

28 September 2014

Primary Programs

The  children's Sunday School in our church is called "The Primary." Once a year, the primary takes over the group worship service (sacrament meeting) to provide music, scripture, and testimony. Today was that day, and it did not disappoint.

I have always loved children, and this is usually one of my favorite sacrament meetings during the year. The kids are cute and talented. Sometimes a younger one does something wacky that provides some humor. 

Today I was moved by the spirit that I felt during the program, especially while they sang. Or maybe I should say that I was moved by the Spirit that I felt.

I enjoy reason and logic, and they are part of my daily life and work, but they are not the basis of my faith. My faith is based on repeated experiences where I have felt the influence of God through the Holy Ghost. I felt that same influence today, while the children sang sweet and simple songs about the plan that our Heavenly Father has for us.

It is my belief and testimony that God does have a plan, and that each of us can play an important role if we are receptive to the message and faithful to the witness(es) that we receive.

Today's program had a simple theme: "Families are Forever." That is the blessing that I aspire to most of all, that I can live with my family, forever, in the presence of God. This is the highest goal of His Plan, and I am grateful for the many children that shared that with us today.