Monday, February 22, 2010


We've had a series of Nobel laureate economists that have dictated some very damaging policy to pretty much the whole civilized world (and the discipline of economics) for decades. I'm not super impressed with the discipline in its current form, I have to say. It comes off as kind of junk science when it oversteps its reach. Economics starts from a set of weak premises, the main one being that individuals don't matter and that prosperity of some makes up for the poverty of others. The discipline also seems to be saddled with a metaphysical dogma that one would assume to be anathema to a scientific pursuit. The dogma I am speaking of is the idea that "markets" are magical or divine and that any tampering with them is like steadying the ark of old. Never mind that there never has been a purely free market and there certainly is nothing like that in our modern highly complex and interconnected world. If economists could think about individual human beings and actually solving the myriad problems faced by humanity, we might make some progress.

Poverty and the Old Testament

I have been teaching and learning about the Old Testament recently, as have many mormons. I am constantly impressed with how much of the scriptures dwell on the subject of poverty.
The lack of poverty is one of the two defining traits of Zion:
Moses 7: 18
18 And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.

Moreover, one of the main sins of Sodom was the simultaneous existence of wealth and poverty:

Ezek. 16: 49
49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

I don't think I have a problem with wealth, but I have a major problem with poverty and wealth existing side by side. I believe that any society that tolerates poverty when it has resources to eliminate it will be judged of God. And I don't think God gives a darn about labels like socialism or capitalism, or whatever. Those are all man-made words that actually don't mean a heck of a lot.

Letter to President Obama

Why are democrats always on the ropes? The republicans are constantly attacking us with false and hypocritical claims. I honestly believe that the best defense is a good offense. And a good offense is an honest one. The rhetorical strategies of the republicans are so bad and dishonest, that they provide an opening for an offensive that might change the rhetoric of our whole political sphere. Please use the bully pulpit to make it difficult or impossible for republicans to continue to lie and distort with impunity. Make them pay for it. Then we can potentially have some sane political discourse, and we might be able to actually solve some problems.

Thanks for all that you do.

Christian Asplund

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Correspondence with Curt Bramble

Dear Curt,

Thanks so much for responding so quickly. I have written many letters
to politicians, but have never received a response so quickly.
Moreover, most of the responses in the past have been form letters.
So, thanks for your concern.

I was most troubled by the bill to sponsored by Carl Wimmer to "opt
out" of any federal health care reform and thus most like lose
medicaid. The "Medically Needy" program of medicaid has already
apparently been cut.

Then there was the proposal to eliminate 12th grade. Or the voting
down of a proposal to limit the sale of unhealthy soft drinks in our
schools. Or the proposal to get rid of laws requiring booster seats
for children.

There are more. They are all examples of people getting carried away
with reactionary ideology, that I could ignore if the efforts were not
so damaging to our state and even life threatening to so many people.

I just wish the legislature would try to think of ways of improving
our quality of life, instead of how to make it worse, under the ruse
of "limited government."

I am a Christian and a Mormon, and I believe in the sermon on the
mount. I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea of limiting government's
reach, but my belief in caring for the needy by whatever are the best
means at hand, including the government, is much stronger and more in
line with my religion. That is why I mentioned un-Christlike. Each
proposal I have mentioned, and the arguments made for them are mean
and heartless an anathema to the philiosphy that Jesus taught.

I keep hearing that we are a Christian nation. We aren't, but we should be.

Thanks again for taking the time and for the service you do for our
district and state.

Sincerely and respectfully,
Christian Asplund
- Hide quoted text -

On 12 February 2010 13:14, Curt Bramble wrote:
> Dear Associate Professor Asplund
> Thank you for sharing your view of our legislative process. Perhaps you
> could be more specific regarding the shame and un-Crist-like attitudes as
> evidenced by a "manifestation of ideology at its ugliest, meanest and most
> damaging". These are rather serious criticisms that I would like to better
> understand, particularly from an Associate Professor at BYU.
> I would be better able to address your concerns with some clarification of
> those concerns.
> Respectfully,
> Curt Bramble
> Senate District 16 (Provo/BYU)
>>>> Christian Asplund 2/12/2010 11:05 AM >>>
> This legislative session has been a manifestation ideology at its
> ugliest, meanest and most damaging. I am so ashamed of my state when
> I hear what is being discussed and proposed. Shame on the legislature
> and their un-Christ-like attitudes.
> Sincerely,
> Christian Asplund
> Associate Professor
> Brigham Young University
> 1182 Locust Circle
> Provo, UT