Guns and abortion.
Did I get your attention? These are two hot button issues for sure. I know people who judge an elected official’s worth on these issues alone. They are both emotional issues because they involve self- identification, personal liberty and constitutional rights. I have some opinions on both issues, so I’ll state them and then opine on something that may or may not be controversial.
Guns: I am pro-gun and anti-murder. When the founders drafted the Second Amendment it is likely they were considering that the country’s defense was most likely to come from citizens who took up arms in case of aggression. Every soldier furnishing their own weapon was cost effective and efficient. I believe that there is a good deal of security in having the private gun ownership we have in this country even though we also have standing armed forces. It is difficult to occupy ground when most of the people opposing you are proficient in the use of arms. I believe that every mentally and legally reliable citizen should be proficient in the use of arms even if they choose not to own them. I also believe that we should take every possible measure to keep firearms out of the hands of the criminal and the violent mentally ill.
Abortion: With the help of both science and prayer, I have changed from believing that life starts at birth to life starts at heartbeat. I believe that all life is sacred. I believe that preventing conception is a practical way of ensuring that a child can be supported and loved at birth. It is also a way of controlling the growth of populations that may not be able to thrive within the limits of our planet’s resources. I believe that a woman has a right to choose whether to give birth to a baby and that she should seek competent medical advice in making that decision. I believe that abortions should be rare and that people who oppose them in any case have the right to do so. They also have the duty to support a woman who makes a choice to carry a baby to term in difficult circumstances with physiological and financial help in navigating the future.
What I really don’t understand is how people can be both anti-abortion and anti-gun control or pro-gun control and pro-abortion. Aren’t laws to ensure rare abortions and fewer murders the same thing? Both are pro-life. The Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision regulates the safety of abortions and ensures that a woman has the facts necessary to make an informed decision to have or not have one. We are only regulating the safe use of firearms and lowering the incidence of murder when requiring background checks and registration. The Second Amendment contains the words “well regulated,” after all.
Good regulations and laws can be both practical and wise. Predictability has been shown to make us feel secure. Security and safety are our most basic needs after life itself. The idea that we can continue black-white thinking on these matters makes no sense to me. Protecting life is paramount. Having sensible regulations that control abortion but don’t prevent it and control firearms but don’t prevent their use can make all Americans feel secure while their constitutional rights are protected.
I want to see the NRA spending their money on shooting programs for children and adults instead of their overwhelming lobbying efforts. The shooting sports are fun. The engineering of firearms is intriguing. Guns used for protection can be wise. Making money by selling guns to criminals should be almost impossible.
I want to see more effort from those who are anti-abortion to encourage knowledge about birth control as well as abstinence. When mothers choose to keep babies, they should not be looked down upon as they may struggle to support them. Adoption should not cost so much that young families can’t afford it.
Let’s be practical about these issues. The constitution has spoken about both. The Second Amendment talks about guns. The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 14th Amendment right to privacy allowed legal abortion. They are both legal; let’s work to make them safe.
Has the presidential election of Donald Trump reawakened the animal spirits in the U.S. economy, giving businesses more confidence to create jobs? Judging from the latest data, it may have — particularly if you’re a miner, a machinist or a construction worker.
The employment report for February brought positive news for Trump. Nonfarm employers added an estimated 235,000 jobs, bringing the three-month average to 209,000 — more than enough to compensate for natural growth in the labor force. The unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage point to 4.7 percent. And in a sign that the demand for labor is translating into bigger pay raises, the average hourly wage gained 2.8 percent from a year earlier, exceeding the average pace of the past several years.
Some industries punched well above their weight, contributing more to job gains than their share of overall employment. Mining — particularly in areas such as coal, as opposed to oil and gas — saw the biggest turnaround: In the three months through February, employment grew at an annualized rate of 9.2 percent, compared with an annualized decline of 4.5 percent during the previous five years. Construction, including heavy and civil engineering, rose at a 6.7 percent pace, up from 3.9 percent in the previous five years. Other winners included machinery and finance.
What’s so special about these sectors? One possible explanation is that they’re expecting to gain from Trump’s policies. The president has already signed orders easing restrictions on coal miners, and has pledged to revive production. His plan to invest $1 trillion in roads, bridges and other infrastructure should be good for construction (though warm February weather may also have played a role), and certain domestic manufacturers could benefit — at least in the short term — from his efforts to raise barriers to imports. In finance, he has promised to roll back regulation and has ordered a review of a retirement-advice rule that much of the industry had opposed.
Others are tougher to explain. The strong growth in hiring at clothing and accessories stores, for example, contrasted with weak overall job growth in retail trade. Service providers, which account for more than two-thirds of all employment, hired at a slower pace than they did in earlier years, suggesting that the optimism remains far from pervasive.
To be sure, these are early days: Trump has president only a few months, not enough time to implement an economic agenda. So far, some employers appear to be giving him the benefit of the doubt. For that confidence to spread, he’ll have to follow through successfully on policies — such as well-crafted infrastructure investment and sensible measures to make banks simpler and stronger — that could benefit the economy overall, rather than boosting specific sectors at the expense of the environment or financial stability.
Last week and with little warning, Speaker of the House Scott Bedke changed the way representatives vote in the House.
It was a subtle change, and one we absolutely agree with.
Under the old system, a large board on the floor lit up with each rep’s name in green or red as they cast their vote, allowing everyone to see how their peers were voting. That was especially convenient for lawmakers who hadn’t read the bills – they could just vote the same as a political ally. Or, they could change their vote to match their allies depending on how others were voting.
It wasn’t unusual to see a name flip from green to red to green until the speaker closed the vote.
Under the new system, the board no longer lights up until all the votes are cast. No more looking at your neighbors to see what to do – or changing your vote for political games.
Now, lawmakers actually have to read the bills, listen to the debate and vote with their hearts.
Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead this Sunday for daylight saving time. But what if we didn’t have to?
The time changes were designed to cut down on energy use. But studies are increasingly showing that changing our clocks may be doing more harm than good.
Writing for Bloomberg, Ben Steverman points out studies that show changing our clocks doesn’t have much of an effect on energy consumption. In fact, when Indiana finally adopted daylight saving time in 2006, energy consumption actually went up. And losing an hour of sleep each spring has some surprising consequences. Car accidents, strokes and heart attacks spike, Steverman writes, after the time change each spring. Sleep-deprived judges even hand down harsher sentences.
Nor does the time change spark consumer spending, according to recent analysis of 380 million bank and credit-card transactions by the JPMorgan Chase Institute.
Given the choice, we’d take the extra hour of sleep.
Hundreds of high school seniors across the Magic Valley are putting their final touches on their senior projects – a state requirement for graduation since 2013.
Students have to spend 40 hours of hands-on work in an interest related to academics, a future career or community service. And every student has to have a community mentor.
Thousands upon thousands of hours go into these projects. We highlighted some of the most ambitious projects in a story in Thursday’s edition. One student created a lacrosse club. Another built first-aid kits for needy people in the Philippines and traveled to the country to hand them out. Another created a student film festival.
We strongly support the concept of senior projects. They prepare students for their next steps in life, and, perhaps most important, teach them about community service.
Congratulations to all the area’s seniors on projects well done.
On Feb. 20 11:46 a.m., my husband, Mike, had an accident in our shop out north of Jerome while servicing out one of our tractors for spring work. He fell off the top of the dual tires while cleaning the top of the tractor cab and windows, 13 feet to the cement shop floor. His brother, Gerald, immediately called 911. Within just a few minutes, Jon Nelsen and Kevin Gellings of the Jerome Rural Fire Department, plus the Jerome County Paramedics, were immediately on the scene at our shop. Soon, the Jerome County Sheriff deputies arrived.
As I sat on the shop floor watching the care they gave my husband, I heard the Air St. Luke’s helicopter hovering outside the shop door. They set down in our front yard, and within moments, Mike was transported from the shop by the paramedics to the flight crew out in our front yard. As they lifted off, I realized from the moment Gerald dialed 911 to lift-off by Air St. Luke’s in our yard, only 14 minutes had passed! What an amazing service by all! As Air St. Luke’s flew to Boise, the crew took time to text me the status of my husband. When the helicopter was close to St. Al’s in Boise, they called to let me know all had gone well during the flight and were 15 minutes away from landing. My husband and I wish to deeply thank each and every one who was at our shop that morning aiding Mike after his accident and those managing the phone calls. We were treated with courtesy and proficiency by all. What an amazing system is in place for emergencies! Thank you!
Mike and Marcia Chojnacky
A big thank you to the Times-News for sponsoring the Magic Valley Spelling Bee as well as the trip for the winner to the national event. It is great to see recognition given to students who work at improving fundamental educational skills such as spelling.