Restore the sales tax on food and implement an earned income tax credit

Originally published in the Deseret News.

A lot has been written on these pages about the problems with Utah increasing the sales tax on food. I would like to offer a different perspective. I think there are far better ways to help low-income Utahns. Legislators would be wise to tax unprepared food at the same rate as other commodities and find a much more tailored way to help Utahns in need.

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Truth and Consequences

Originally published in Utah Business.

America’s best immigration policy is a prosperous Mexico

I’ve always admired Condoleezza Rice. I first met the former National Security Advisor and later U.S. Secretary of State during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games when she attended Opening Ceremony. A year later, in Washington, D.C., I was fortunate to visit with her at the White House. And while I admire her grace and stature, what I prize most is her well-informed insights.

I have a vivid memory of an interview she gave on the topic of illegal immigration. She explained to the reporter that the best way to stem the tide of illegal immigration from Mexico was to foster a healthy, growing, and strong Mexican economy. This sensible comment struck a chord with me. We can talk about deportations, walls, the war on drugs, visa reform, and import taxes, but what we really need is a prosperous Mexico.

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Invest in rural Utah to help with public land disagreements

Originally published in the Deseret News.

I revere the people of rural Utah. Eighteen years of public service in the Utah governor’s office afforded me many opportunities to travel to rural communities, meet the hardworking people, and appreciate the important economic and cultural contributions they make to the Beehive State.

I also love outdoor recreation. I’ve backpacked in the canyons of the Escalante, camped in the San Rafael Swell, and experienced the whitewater in Cataract Canyon. I view a large portion of the Colorado Plateau as sacred land that needs protection.

I share this background because the rancor between Utah’s outdoor products industry and many of Utah’s elected leaders troubles me. Amid the talk of boycotts and lawsuits, I think an important element is missing from the conversation. In addition to preservation of Utah’s precious wild lands, we need to talk about the economic reality facing rural Utah.

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Predictions for 2017

Originally published in Utah Business.

I love the start of a new year and am typically filled with optimism as I contemplate local and world events. This year the realist in me takes center stage as I look forward with more trepidation and uncertainty, particularly concerning global affairs. While my crystal ball is foggy and blurred, here are a handful of predictions for the new year.

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An end-of-year prayer

Originally published in the Deseret News.

An End of Year Prayer

Like a lot of people, I have many thoughts on my mind as 2016 comes to a close. When thoughts turn to words, it can take many literary forms — a memo, an essay, a poem, lyrics for a song or even a prayer. I decided to take my thoughts about troubling world events, homelessness, crime, addiction and income disparities, and compose a personal, non-denominational end-of-year prayer. My hope is that the simplicity and solemnity of the prayer will help us in 2017. Here is my prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for this beautiful day. The earth you created continues to inspire me. I recognize your hand in the sun and the moon and the sky. Thank you.

I’m also grateful for the remarkable people in my life.

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Gifts of the season

Originally published in Utah Business magazine.

The holidays are in full swing. Snow blankets our yards, lights illuminate our streets and homes, and songs of the season fill the air. This is a glorious time of year … with one exception. We spend too much time thinking about and collecting things.

Every year around this time, I circle back to the same holiday wish. I want the holiday season to be about people, not things. I want to spend less time chasing material satisfaction and more time building lasting relationships.

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Is increasing diversity good for Utah?

Originally published in the Deseret News.

(God) did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world.

— Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

Utah’s population is growing and diversifying. Each year, birth by birth, death by death, and migrant by migrant, the population changes. We are growing, aging, diversifying, and urbanizing. Today’s population is dramatically different than just three decades ago.

Last year, approximately 21,000 more people moved into the state than moved out. That number will likely be even greater this year. These newcomers create a state that is more diverse, more progressive and more open to new ideas.

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Writings and Reflections