Dream big – the Utah Royals have come to town

Originally published in the Deseret News.

“I teared up during the welcome. Remember, even in my life I started competitive soccer in a boys’ league.”

That was the text I received from my daughter as Utah Royals FC kicked off their inaugural home opener. More than 19,000 fans, including 5,000 season ticket holders, filled Rio Tinto Stadium to support professional women’s soccer. The day not only made Utah sports history, it gave thousands of young women in our state the opportunity to dream big. I predict this historic inflection point will live on for generations

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Springtime brings reflections on change and renewal

Originally published in Utah Business.

Spring is here! Sunshine, heat and color blanket the state. With each passing day, we marvel as perennials pop out of the ground, trees show their buds and the mountain white melts away. Runners, hikers, cyclers and gardeners are doing their thing. It’s a beautiful and active time of year.

When seasons change I intuitively become more reflective. It’s as if a page is turning and I’m thinking about what to write. It’s a chance to erase the old or write something new. I like to ask the question: What should I change, rekindle or keep exactly the same?

I think this change-of-season exercise is not only good for an individual, it’s good for a community. I’ve compiled an incomplete, but thought-provoking list for reader’s consideration. You may not agree with all my ideas, but I hope they will get you thinking.

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Utah could use a little beautification

Originally published in the Deseret News.

During World War II, Germany destroyed Great Britain’s House of Commons Chamber. When it came time to rebuild the structure, an argument ensued. Some members of Parliament wanted to rebuild the chamber in a semi-circular design, but Winston Churchill favored the same rectangular pattern that existed before the bombing because he felt it bolstered the two-party system. He famously uttered, “We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.”

I’ve always appreciated this profound phrase. We shape our homes, communities and cities, and afterwards they influence how we feel and interact with one another. This sentiment harkens back to the City Beautiful Movement of the 1890s, which inspired Chicago’s magnificent waterfront area and the development of the Washington, D.C., Mall. The idea was not just to pursue beauty for its own sake, but to pursue beauty because it promoted civic virtues. I’m persuaded that Utah could benefit from a beautification movement.

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It’s not about you: Why social cohesion is more important than ever

Originally published in Utah Business.

As an economist, I am often asked to speak to groups about global, national and local economic conditions. It’s a familiar routine—l talk about jobs, unemployment, wages, price levels, interest rates, and even taxes. But lately, a different topic has crept into my presentations. More and more, I find myself talking about social cohesion. It’s really thrown me off because I’m not a sociologist and it’s not my area of expertise. I do know that social cohesion is important to well-functioning economies and societies.

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It’s been a banner legislative session

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The final votes are in. The Utah Legislature completed a banner legislative session. Victory goes to the residents of Utah as the legislature passed visionary, bold and meaningful legislation that will keep Utah prosperous over the long term.

Success has many fathers, but I attribute the success of the 2018 legislative session to the combined leadership of House Speaker Greg Hughes and Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, both of whom have announced their retirement. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service.

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Here’s why the Utah Legislature should pass an earned income tax credit

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The prominent journalist and author Megan McArdle once observed that Utah is “a bit like Sweden … if it were run by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.” This statement captures something truly special about the Beehive State — we care for the common good but do it in an evidenced-based and fiscally conservative way.

The Utah Legislature has the chance to build upon Utah’s innovative and conservative public policy reputation by supporting an earned income tax credit (EITC) for Utah families trapped in poverty. Here’s why the Legislature should pass HB57: Utah Intergenerational Poverty Work and Self-Sufficiency Tax Credit.

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Pursuing the Olympic Games is about our children

Originally published in Utah Business.

All of us have memories of when the Olympic movement first touched our lives. Mine was in 1986 when Tom Welch, then in charge of Utah’s Olympic bid, called the governor’s planning office, and I picked up the phone. He was calling from an airport payphone, on his way home from a United States Olympic Committee (USOC) meeting. The USOC had decided to drop Anchorage, Alaska, as the U.S. bid city and open up the competition to others. Tom wanted to know if he could count on the economists in the governor’s office to help prepare Salt Lake City’s bid. This phone call started a 32-year connection for me with Utah’s Olympic movement that continues today.

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The feminine connection to the Olympic flame

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The eyes of the world will be on Pyeongchang, South Korea, this week as torchbearers light the cauldron for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games. If you are like me, the Olympic flame will capture your imagination and inspire you with its spellbinding power. It represents the light of life and celebrates the indomitable spirit and extraordinary achievement of Olympic athletes and, by extension, ourselves.

Few people know about the flame’s feminine origins. I witnessed the importance of women and the Olympic flame when I attended the ritual lighting ceremony for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games torch relay in the ancient city of Olympia, Greece. I credit some measure of the power of the flame to the feminine divine expressed in this thought-provoking ceremony.

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The SLC International Airport is a first-class gift to Utah’s economy

Originally published in the Deseret News.

I just completed eight years of service on the Salt Lake City International Airport Board. During this time, I observed air traffic controllers doing their stressful work, TSA officers screening luggage in their high-tech monitoring area, airline employees supervising the automated luggage sorting system, airport police working with their bomb-detecting dogs, a wildlife officer keeping birds away from the jets using pyrotechnics and raptor traps and the incredible airport staff servicing more than 23 million travelers annually. The SLC Airport is a wonder to behold.

As instructive as all of these experiences have been, none compare to the importance of the day I held a ceremonial shovel in my hand and helped break ground on the new SLC Airport. This completely new airport is a first-class gift to the Utah economy and on my list of the top three most important economic events of the past 15 years (the other two are I-15 reconstruction and the hosting of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games). We need to recognize this gift, express our gratitude to those involved and then enjoy the fruits of this massive investment in our future.

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Themes for a New Year: Storylines, Words and Phrases in 2018

Originally published in Utah Business.

At the end of every year, news entities, language companies and others select a word or phrase of the year. In 2017, Merriam-Webster selected “feminism” because of the Women’s March in Washington D.C., the #MeToo movement and other instances of women speaking their minds.

Oxford Dictionaries picked the noun “youthquake” to describe the significant cultural, political or social revolution arising from what Oxford calls the actions and influence of young people in 2017. Other entities selected “complicit,” “resist,” “taking a knee” and even “covfefe,” a word Pres. Donald Trump tweeted that’s meaning remains in dispute.

These words all say something about the intensity of 2017. It got me thinking about what words or phrases would prospectively capture Utah events and stories in 2018.

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Writings and Reflections