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The nature of government is to grow itself, to expand, to become bloated. Thomas Paine, widely ignored today, said, “That government is best which governs least.” There’s much that would pain poor Thomas today.

151 people (the legislature and governor) in a single city in our state are thinking of banning smoking from every private establishment except for shamelessly exempting casinos, allowing red-light cameras to be material evidence on every corner, forcing students to stay in school until 18 years old, telling educators with doctorate degrees that they need so-called “professional development.” And their federal counterparts have created a tax code so complex that few in the country would claim to understand its entirety except we know that we’re taxed on interest, soda pop, home sales, gas, income, and coffins.

Where are the limited-government conservatives, or are they the last dinosaurs? Who is left to make the argument that if people don’t want to be in a smoke-filled environment, they shouldn’t patronize the establishment? There’s a free market solution for a state that might erase the banner on the state flag and replace it with, “Grandma in Des Moines knows best.”

2018 Legislative Agenda: A bill mandating portion sizes in nursing homes, a bill streamlining taxes on Easter Eggs and Halloween Pumpkins, a bill requiring fat-free ranch dressing in every salad bar, and a declaration that the state will launch an investigation into what’s been happening in dryers where mysteriously two matching socks go in and only one comes out.

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Lawmakers in Des Moines are considering hiking the compulsory attendance age to 18. The last thing our public schools need is more kids who don’t want to be educated. Some legislators have a new take on the old saying: you can lead a student to a school and you can make him think. While some drop-outs have unmet needs, some young adults simply refuse to be educated. Schools shouldn’t be places to keep “kids out of trouble” because too often, we bring the trouble to our kids.

The truth is that drop-outs see little reason for completing high school because they know they lack the skills to pass their current school work thanks to social promotion. At age 16, they may read at a 6th grade level; therefore, a diploma doesn’t represent marketable skills. These students are more honest in their assessment than schools which will hand them a paper and tell students they statistically have a better chance of success.

Drop-outs see little relevancy to their education because they have been told that success is a four year college degree. Instead, we ought to tailor education to students’ needs by giving them the opportunity to explore trades through vocational programs, many of which have suffered severe cutbacks.

And for a student who refuses to be educated, why force him to be in a desk with his head down and pretend we’ve solved the problem? Could it be that the student will learn the merits of the work world and later earn a GED once maturity and the real world help him along?

What we should never do is legislate that 17 year olds must be in school. Adding another retention specialist to a budget, pointing to more high school diplomas, or keeping older kids under the compulsion of the law will not bolster our workforce or help young people.


Think about it.

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Previously published letters to the editor of the Sioux City Journal will appear as posted with the date at the bottom.

SIOUX CITY — Journal copy editor Dave Yoder wrote a column lamenting the lack of solutions from critics of the current immigration amnesty proposal while incredibly failing to offer a hint at a solution.Yoder is a microcosm of our senators in Washington not only because he is in the minority concerning the will of the people but because his argument lacks the cold, hard facts. Yoder claims that most aren’t making enough to afford the $5,000 fine [for a family of five], so they’ll stay illegal. What a specious argument for $12-14 starting wages at the packing plant or construction job that are tax-free. One-third of illegals overstayed their visas, some of them becoming small-time entrepreneurs (see the Heritage Foundation report).

Here is my proposal. Let’s be a country that lives up to its laws. The only reason that deportation never failed to stem the tide of illegal immigration is that no one followed through with the law. If we come up with new laws, who is to say that after the current amnesty akin to 1986, we won’t be facing a 2016 deja vu debate and recall 2007? At some point, despite the compassion of our collective hearts, we will have to face the fact that we will need to deport people back to their native countries.

My mother-in-law has spent $1,300 and 21 years of her life trying to come from Vietnam to live here after her husband was killed fighting for South Vietnam/U.S. I spent $1,500 in legally bringing my wife through the citizenship process (others spend even more on attorneys). Would Yoder or Tom Harkin be willing to meet my mother-in-law and tell her how foolish she was for doing it the right way?

If they are willing, they will have to wait. After 21 years, she’s still in line.

July 4, 2007

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