What to expect when your not expecting

Originally published in the Deseret News.

In a very real way, June means weddings. The end of school and great weather motivate young couples to tie the knot and schedule summer weddings.

Back in the old days, summer weddings meant an uptick in births 10 months later. This is less true today. Utah’s fertility rate is at a historic low, and state demographers are asking, “What to expect when no one’s expecting?”

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Dog Economics

Originally published in Utah Business.

I share my life with a beautiful yellow Labrador Retriever named Marley. Marley has the personality of a service dog—gentle, kind, content and loving. She lives for food, walks to the park and family play time. She loves sunspots and scratches on her ears.

In the morning, she visits my side of the bed first, just to make sure I’m still there and her life is complete. When I come home from work, I can see her looking out the window watching for my return. In the evening, when I sit in my comfy chair, her tail thumps the ground when I talk to her. She makes me feel like a million bucks.

Marley lounging on the kitchen floor.

Marley lounging on the kitchen floor.

Marley sheds too much, whimpers at times, snores and makes our yard a bit more difficult to walk in. But make no mistake—my life is better because of her loving companionship.

I’ve never used the term “dog economics” before, but I think it’s useful to use my dog to make a point. As business people, we spend much of our days talking about things we can quantify—profit and loss statements, balance sheets, cost allocations—and too little time considering the things we struggle to quantify—a positive work environment, professional friendships, a listening ear to a coworker in need.

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This is Jazz Country

Originally published in the Deseret News.

My husband and I were listening to a sports radio station Sunday night shortly after the Utah Jazz soundly defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of the NBA playoffs. We were laughing out loud because of the crazy enthusiasm expressed by a fan who had called the station. It made us smile knowing that we were not alone in our passion for the Utah Jazz.

Utah is Jazz Country. We love our team. They give to us; we give to them. It’s like a really good marriage. We love being together and we work through the good times and the hard times. Now is a good time.

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Tear down walls to make a better Utah

Originally published in the Deseret News.

Jack Gallivan, the former publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune, once challenged community leaders with this statement:

“Our task is to make all of Utah as beautiful in man-made additions as it is in God-given wonders; beautiful in the maintenance of the good life; beautiful in social equality and justice; beautiful in the brotherhood of mankind.”

We live in a great place that can become even greater. Greatness starts by tearing down the invisible walls that separate our community and contribute to inequality, unequal opportunity and human hardship.

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Hillbilly Elegy: A deep, compelling look at poverty in America, with implications close to home

Originally published in Utah Business.

I’ll never forget the first time I came face to face with squalor. My car broke down as I was driving home from Capitol Reef National Park. I walked a half-mile or so in the dark to a home just off the highway. A man opened the door, hesitated, and then let me in to use his phone.

Inside the home I saw filth, dirty dishes and food scraps. I saw several children sleeping on the floor, two of whom seemed too old to be wearing diapers. Over in the corner I saw the mother staring at a TV set, barely noticing I was there. I made my phone call and left, never forgetting the sadness I felt. The home bore no resemblance to the order and comfort of my wholesome, middle-class upbringing.

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Health care reformed needs the votes of both Republicans and Democrats

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The game of history is usually played by the best and the worst over the heads of the majority in the middle.” — Eric Hoffer

Eric Hoffer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan in 1983. Hoffer — the son of immigrant parents and a man who worked as a migrant farm worker and a longshoreman — received our nation’s highest civilian honor because of his insightful analysis about human affairs. Lacking a formal education, he studied history through reading and observation. One of his most important insights concerned the human tendency towards extremism. I thought of Hoffer last week as the American Health Care Act, otherwise known as “repeal and replace,” went down in flames.

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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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Writings and Reflections