I will be a recipient of a beautiful painting this Christmas painted by Utah artist Kathy Peterson. The painting, titled “Goats and Sheep,” depicts five goats and six sheep in a green pasture. Like all works of art, the painting leaves room for extensive interpretation. It’s precisely the interpretation of the painting that drew me to it.
Last week the National Center for Health Statistics released final birth data for 2018. The verdict is in. Utah’s total fertility rate dropped for the eleventh consecutive year and, for the first time, dropped below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman. Utah’s fertility rate now stands at 2.03 births per woman and three states — South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska — have higher fertility rates than Utah.
Approximately 9% of Utahns live in poverty. Many others struggle to meet basic subsistence needs. The reasons for their financial struggles vary, but all Utahns benefit when people live in a stable and healthy environment. The question is, what is the best way to help?
There’s not much inspiration in politics these days. This year, Utahns witnessed a rare exception: the Salt Lake City mayor’s race. The race hit the mark of substance, civility and class. Both state Sen. Luz Escamilla and Salt Lake City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall campaigned in Utah’s capital city with grace, dignity and competence. We are all better for their leadership and example.
I watched with interest the Democratic presidential debate this week. Twelve candidates lined the stage at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, to make their case to lead our nation. The debate covered lots of topics, including segments on foreign policy, health care, the middle class, gun control and more. But what really captured my interest was the dialogue concerning tax and expenditure policies. It’s not clear to me that any of the candidates (with the possible exceptions of entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar) understand how taxes and government spending impact the private economy.
Former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt tells a story of being stuck in traffic on I-15 and feeling frustrated. He said to himself, “I thought we fixed this!” Upon further reflection he remembered the I-15 reconstruction during his administration was projected to forestall congestion for about 15 years. Then a news flash hit him … it’s been more than 15 years!
There is a memorable line in Ernest Hemingway’s book “The Sun Also Rises,” where a character says. “How did you go bankrupt?” The second person replies, “Two ways, gradually, then suddenly.”
The response provides potent imagery for America’s debt problem. Each day we borrow more, and our debt rises. We are doing fine now — low inflation, low interest rates and full employment. But there’s more to the story. Bad things happen gradually before they happen suddenly.
This, in a nutshell, is America’s borrowing problem.
Next week Salt Lake City voters will select their final two candidates for mayor. Meanwhile, the 94% of Utahns who live outside the capital city and who don’t have a vote will watch as finalists emerge. Why should all Utahns care about this choice?
I have a simple answer: Salt Lake City belongs to all Utahns.
I love July in Utah because of the twin holidays of nationhood and statehood. We celebrate our independence as a country and our pioneering history as a state. The long summer days and two large parades provide a chance to reflect upon what it means to be an American and a Utahn.
I’m a fifth-generation American and Utahn. My great-great-grandfather — Howard Egan — emigrated from Tullamore, Ireland to Canada, became an orphan at age 13, found work in Salem, Massachusetts as a rope maker, converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made the long trek West to help establish the Salt Lake Valley and later planned and rode in the Pony Express.
I saw “Hamilton” last week, the Broadway musical that chronicles the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. The acclaimed show, with its hip-hop beat and powerful storyline, celebrates America’s founding, while featuring challenging questions about race, immigration, privilege and human frailty. The play delivers cultural criticism with fun, style and even grace. The Fourth of July offers a great time to ponder America’s founding and our “lived experience” as we seek a more perfect union.