Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Superstorm Sandy, Preparation and Reaction

It is interesting watching how various people, towns, cities and states deal with natural disasters. With in-your-face TV, radio and Internet coverage, we have an encyclopedia of cause/effect. Whether it is tsunamis in Asia, tornadoes in the heartland, earthquakes along the Pacific Ring of Fire, floods in the Asian sub-continent, famines in Africa, cyclones in the Pacific, or hurricanes in the Atlantic, Mother Nature wreaks its havoc, discriminating against none.

As members of the LDS Church, we have been counciled for decades to prepare for the unexpected, which could be man-made or natural. Food, water, shelter, clothing, power and a plan are core to any emergency preparedness plan. Despite advanced warnings, some prepare, others do not; some heed the advise of the weather and government experts, others ignore it.

We have little control of what happens during a natural disaster. However, we do control what we do prior to ingress of a natural disaster and how we react afterwards. New York and New Jersey residents, for the most part, acted exemplary. Of course the media covers the exceptions.

True character comes to the surface in times like these. How we react to the loss of a home or car, the absence of power or gasoline, the lack or running water and waste disposal, is telling. Some take advantage of those in need, whether it is charging unreasonable prices, issuing blame without full knowledge, or participating in aggressive language and dialog.

In more cases than not, it is those in blue, urban areas who do the biggest complaining. It is those in red areas that realize the government is limited and that it is better to take things into your own hands.

Government has a roll but blaming it for not getting what you think you need is the entitlement mindset of those that favor more and bigger government.

On the eve of a presidential election, those that think the government is the answer to most of our problems will vote for more of the same. Those that realize that the government is not the end-all will for a change.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sunday Store Closing: A Town's Prerogative

This year, Highland, UT residents have a proposition to vote on. Traditional retail commerce is not allowed on Sunday. Stores are closed. Earlier this year, the City Council passed an ordinance to allow Sunday openings. Here's how the referendum reads:
PROPOSITION NUMBER 6
A Referendum Placing Before the Voters of Highland the Issue of Whether to Approve or Reject an Ordinance Allowing Businesses to Operate Seven-Days-a-Week.

On July 17, 2012 the Highland City Council passed Ordinance 2012-12 which removed certain restrictions regarding the days of operation for businesses within Highland. The Ordinance amended the Municipal Code to allow businesses to operate seven-days-a week, except between the hours of midnight and six a.m. A voter desiring to vote in favor of the ordinance which allows businesses to operate seven days a week should mark "For." A voter desiring to vote against the ordinance should mark "Against."

[Here's is what appears on the ballot]

Proposition 6 - Sunday Closing Referendum (Vote for One)
[] For
[] Against
Those for the referendum feel that by not allowing businesses to open on Sunday it impacts their freedom to operate a business. They believe that by allowing commerce on Sunday, more businesses will open, giving residents (and others) more shopping options. They feel it will increase the tax base. They claim they do not wish to impose their values on others, that "to shop or not to shop" is an individual's prerogative, but must be allowed.

Those against the referendum prefer Highland the way it is. Highland is a religious community where the bulk of its residents are LDS. Not shopping on Sunday is integral to obeying the commandment "remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." If any resident desires to shop, they can drive 3-5 miles east, west and south and find plenty of commerce to indulge their need to buy stuff.

Communities should decide what is in their best interests -- what they want for their image and families. This referendum is about freedom -- the freedom to decide what a community wants.

One can apply the same argument for "Open on Sunday" to many other consumer options. For example, why limit it to traditional retail? If one wants to allow fast food company X to establish a presence on Sunday in the name of freedom, why not allow a business that sells alcohol or one that peddles voyeurism? The answer is that it is up to the community residents to decide its culture. They set the standard.

I have heard people laughing at those against the proposition using the "religious imposing their views on the others" argument. Mormons living their religion want to keep the Sabbath Day holy. They want their community to follow suit. They do not want their children to choose between working for a company that requires some Sunday labor and or not working. Sure the Mormons are imposing their values. They have that prerogative.

In Highland, there are a number of national chains that are open on Sunday in most places but not in Highland -- Wendys, Taco Time, Papa Murphys, Little Caesars. They made it work. Highland is perfectly fine without Sunday retail. It is one of the last bastions of religious observance one can find in a secular nation.