The World Cup is here. You should give it a chance.

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off next week in Russia. It is, by far, the grandest sporting event in the world. Teams from 204 countries competed across six continents, for three years, playing in 855 matches, to be one of 31 qualifying teams (plus the host country of Russia) to play. Global gross domestic product will likely drop temporarily as an expected viewing audience of 3.2 billion people watches and celebrates the most popular sporting competition in the world.

Sadly, the United States did not qualify for the first time in 32 years. In what can only be described as a devastating blow to U.S. soccer, the red, white and blue lost 2-1 in the final qualifying match to Trinidad and Tobago (population less than half the state of Utah). Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica will represent North America in the heralded tournament, and the Yanks will stay home.

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We are all caregivers

Originally published in the Deseret News.

After my mother passed away, a friend inquired about her death. Without meaning to jar me he asked, “Are you an orphan now?” I was taken aback by the question. I’d never thought of it that way. Since my father had died several years earlier, I responded, “I suppose I am.”

I don’t like the term orphan. It suggests you are someone who has lost support, care and supervision. That’s not me. I am rich in family and friends. But I am always keenly aware of how my parents cared for me, the example they set for me and the influence they continue to have on my actions. My parents are still a very real part of my life.

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A Picture Is Worth a 1,000 Words

Originally submitted to Utah Business.

Gov. Gary Herbert hosted the 12th annual Utah Economic Summit last month. Approximately 1,000 Utah business and community leaders attended to learn about and discuss business opportunities in the Beehive State. I was honored to report on the Utah economy.

With a nod to the internationally acclaimed Economist magazine, I worked with a talented graphic designer to create covers for a fictitious Utah Economist magazine. Each cover conveys an important economic issue. I thought Utah Business readers would enjoy seeing these covers and the important message that inspired each one.

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Act now to avoid a housing crisis

Originally published in the Deseret News.

The Utah economy continues to perform. The expansion celebrated its eighth birthday this year, and the federal tax cuts will extend the expansion, which is already the nation’s and state’s second longest ever. These are prosperous times.

Every economic expansion party has a host of well-wishers — low unemployment, strong job growth, in-migration and rising incomes bring plastic hats, whistles and gifts to the party. But every party also has the party pooper, the rude uncle who can’t leave well-enough alone.

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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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Writings and Reflections