Right On: A review of 2018 finds hits, misses

Composite image, St. George News

OPINION — This was my second full year penning the Right On opinion column. I swung and missed on some, fouled a few off and got some solid hits along the way.

Here’s a look back at some of the year’s more controversial topics and where I stood.

Making sense of immigration

I described myself as a supporter of greatly expanded legal immigration. But I also noted columnist Heather Mac Donald’s statement, “Immigration is not a service we provide for the rest of the world.”

Doing my best to make sense of immigration, I recommended tightening an immigrant’s extended family relationships that automatically qualify for admittance into the country and recommended doing away with the lottery system.

I praised Canada’s merit-based immigration laws and the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform whose recommendations have never been implemented.

This column got a large number of thoughtful reader comments, even one who called me a liberal!

Can Southern Utah’s economy diversify?

While not controversial, this column addressed the concerns of many readers who complain about
Southern Utah’s low-paying jobs.

We export relatively little outside Southern Utah, making us dependent on those who bring their money here: retirees and tourists. Outside of professional services, these folks primarily spend their money in retail stores and with hospitality and leisure services, lower-paying industries nationwide.

I highlighted some promising developments, focusing on St. George’s new Tech Ridge and Dixie State University’s Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. We do have some nationally-recognized high-tech companies including Deseret Laboratories, the RAM Company and Wilson Electronics, all looking for local talent for their high-paying jobs.

The open question: Can these nascent institutions and companies draw enough talent to Southern Utah so the mix becomes self-sustaining?

Tariff tantrum or art of the deal?

At the time I penned this column, many in business and the media were hyperventilating about Trump’s plan to implement tariffs on a wide range of goods. Many of them still are.

Since then, the North American Free Trade Agreement has been replaced with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. As with any similar agreement, some industries and companies, along with their workers, benefit while others are unhappy. Further, we’re in the midst of a 90-day tariff truce with China.

The jury is still out on any ultimate benefits, but give the man credit: He knows how to play negotiation hardball.

It’s not the pipeline, it’s how many people do you want here

In case you haven’t noticed, I oppose the Lake Powell pipeline. I won’t rehearse all the reasons here; follow the link if you want this last year’s screed. Or better yet, read Carolyn Borg’s well-reasoned letter to the editor here: I wish I’d said a lot of what she said.

I firmly believe our local officials owe the citizens a vote on this matter. I hear a lot about the water legacy earlier generations left for us. We deserve a chance to decide if we want to leave a multi-billion-dollar financial legacy to our children.

#MeToo is good, what follows is not

This past year has been the year of outing sexual predators in the workplace, in schools and everywhere they may be lurking. Women should never be subjected to unwanted and degrading harassment by those who have some degree of control over them.

The #MeToo movement has made an important contribution. But it has unleashed the siren call of affirmative action, gender quotas and equal results instead of equal opportunity.

There are plenty of valid and proper reasons why every identity group is not and should not necessarily be represented proportionately in every profession, every organization or every facet of society.

Northern corridor and the environmental left

This column took a controversial position in favor of the northern corridor, the proposed road connecting Snow Canyon Parkway to Interstate 15 Exit 13 through a portion of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.

The road is an almost negligible inconvenience for the resident desert tortoises and doesn’t presage any further development in the conservation area. But it will be an important step toward reducing future traffic congestion in the fastest growing city in the country.

No one wants to breathe dirty air, drink polluted water or damage Utah’s spectacular scenery and wildlife. The trick is finding a balance between realistic human needs and environmental preservation.

The northern corridor is one of those tricks.

Proposition 2 is a wolf in sheep’s clothing

My column opposing Proposition 2 got far more comments than any other I’ve ever written. Most comments favored Proposition 2. Many were emotional while others took me to task for opposing medicines needed by a number of Utah citizens.

Horror of horrors: The proposition’s sponsors agreed to a compromise version even before we voted. The Legislature enacted the compromise earlier this month. That’s how the legislative process works.

Even Obamacare, which was rammed down our throats without a single Republican vote, was itself a compromise. The contorted law we got was far from what its original sponsors wanted. Why? To attract enough Democratic votes.

The lawsuit claiming interference by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will draw lots of publicity but will fail on its (lack of) merits.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised when some of my liberal friends – yes, I have a number – compliment me now and then on a column. Along with them, you will continue to get my unvarnished, traditional conservative opinions in 2019. Thanks for reading.

Howard Sierer is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • Red2Blue310 December 27, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    #immigration: who’s going to pay for the wall? M E X I C O
    #metoo: gets something done when Trump is sued.
    #tariffs: we are all hurting, except fatm welfare.
    #theenvironment: 80 Obama regs rolled back include poisoning our streams, air, and food. Go Trump!
    #prop2utah: the republican politicians here dont care what the voters want.

    • tcrider December 28, 2018 at 9:07 am

      Actually I think the politicians do care in Utah, they are just
      seeing their careers being ruined by the church and are obligated
      to follow through with it.

  • Comment December 28, 2018 at 1:13 am

    so, I take it Howard is a trumper?

  • Henry December 28, 2018 at 1:19 am

    It’s laughable that you believe legislating marijuana is going to limit the availability in Utah. It’s available. The issue is that we voted a law into effect, only to have the political puppets of the Mormon Church maneuver behind the scenes to change it. You said it’s the legislative process at work- but if it was a law with which you disagree, you’d be shouting liberal bias from the rooftops. Claiming that there’s irrefutable proof it’s addictive is simply your opinion based upon the studies you choose to use as supporting evidence. There are just as many studies that show it’s not addictive. If u don’t like cannibis, don’t use it. But your Op Ed statement, “ despite what you read, (pot) is addictive” shows your bias.

    The pipeline isn’t necessary. We have sufficient water to double our population. I fear that the billions required to build such a debacle will create a financial disaster similar to the sewer system in Jefferson County AL, which resulted in the highest sewer rates in the US. Lake Powell’s water levels are dropping at an astounding rate, the water might not even be there by the time they get it built. Growth for growth’s sake isn’t always beneficial to the masses, but it will line the pockets of those who are already wealthy and looking for another revenue stream. How about we tell a diner waitress her water bills are going to increase exponentially, while her pay remains at $2.13/hr? Tips don’t make up for the low pay; most locals don’t make enough to tip the difference.

    We are a desert, and can only handle so many people. it’s not mine – or my son’s – responsibility to subsidize a pipeline in order for the wealthy to profit while the rest of us attempt to subsist on the low Utah wages.

    Your Op Ed states that people accuse you of being a liberal, as if that’s a bad thing, yet brag about providing “unvarnished, traditional conservative opinions.” You even rate your “hits & misses” – an arbitrary hallmark as this too is your opinion.

    That you have a forum in which to publish your opinions make them no less (or more) traditional – or factual -than anyone else’s, you merely have a larger audience. It’s the PT Barnum effect.

    I’ll accept the opinion of the professionals on these subjects over that of a satellite systems engineer who specialized in fiber optic systems any day.

  • Carpe Diem December 28, 2018 at 6:47 am

    Howard, the “Compromise” IMHO was to get the opponents to drop the spending of millions of dollars. On that side, they saw it as a win because it would save money, water it down, and if passed they could manipulate it to hamstring it, which they’ve done. Now that it’s “legal”, the opponents think they are “so smart” because no Doctors are writing any scrips, and if they did, they are dragging their feet on making it available anyway. All the while the West is awash and up to speed on medical… even recreational.

    The COJCOLDS and State legislature’s attempt to obfuscate the implementation of medicine to people with real ills is abhorrent.

    We see you. And to that end, there is so much more disgust, and loss of respect. You own that. The medicine is available nearby anyway, who needs you?

  • Comment December 28, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    I don’t usually recommend this for “conservatives”(or really, neocons in the case of howard), but I’ve picked up on a trend with howard’s posts, and that trend is what seems to me to be a substantial lack of empathy and understanding of the struggles and suffering of those less fortunate (there’s a big world outside of the little bubble world of st george with all it’s golf courses, retired old people, and big boxy houses with central a/c, howard). So here it is, with somewhat different reasoning than I use to justify this to the multi-cult leftists here: I’m recommending a minimum 1 year stay in the Congo for our own dear howard.

    When you get back you can let us know how those golf courses in Congo compare to the ones in Bubble World STG UT. cheers 😉

    • Carpe Diem December 28, 2018 at 7:51 pm

      That punishment is a bit harsh, seeing as the Congo area is in a state of war and concurrent Ebola outbreak. That said, reality checks are good.

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