How to Establish a County Government

by Robert John Stevens, October 20, 2017

County governments in the United States, particularly Utah County where I live, can currently be defined by this equation:

State Code + Stricter Restrictions via County Code = “Dig a pit for thy neighbor1.”

I never understood that phrase. I thought Nephi, in whom it is attributed, was joking. It applies perfectly to government regulations.

I would like to see all county governments:

  1. Operate as testbeds for innovation and thus become showcase counties for their state as well as the nation
  2. Hold charrettes (a meeting in which all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions) regularly with stakeholders for new ideas to be tested, proved and bad ones discarded.
  3. Privatize all possible services
  4. Set up a department that focuses on liberty, inalienable rights and the Constitution so they are always considered for every decision
  5. Focus on tasks that even most developers cannot do such as building roads, bridges and sewer treatment systems
  6. Prepare for all large-scale contingencies such as cataclysmic events where the trucking imports stop, earthquakes, nuclear war, EMP, etc. Citizens need leadership to prepare for such things now and in advance, and not to just be reactionary after the fact.

1 Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 28:8

Private Property Rights are Rights, Not Privileges

by Robert John Stevens, September 26, 2017

Utah County Commissioner Greg Graves at today’s Utah County Commissioner Meeting in Provo, Utah from his chair and on television made the comment. “Private property rights are privileges, not rights.” I later went to the podium and corrected him. I don’t have a transcript of what I said but this is what I know:

Private property rights existed before governments were formed. Governments were formed to protect private property rights.1

Although in the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson didn’t specifically mention private property rights, and his famous statement did not say, “Life, liberty, private property rights, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, he knew private property rights are inalienable rights, required for human happiness, and it is the proper role of government to defend them.

How do we know this?

1. Because private property rights were already stated and accepted in founding documents, even those in Virginia.

2. The phrase “among these”:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Thomas Jefferson and the signers of the Declaration of Independence knew there were other unalienable rights.

3. The Founders’ subsequent writings and contributions.

Private property rights were enshrined in every or almost every state constitution after the American Revolutionary War, including Article 1, Section 1 of the Utah Constitution which reads, ” All men have the inherent and inalienable right to enjoy and defend their lives and liberties; to acquire, possess and protect property; to worship according to the dictates of their consciences; to assemble peaceably, protest against wrongs, and petition for redress of grievances; to communicate freely their thoughts and opinions, being responsible for the abuse of that right.”

Many of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence played a major role in creating and ratifying state constitutions.

If private property rights are privileges and not rights, then as Commissioner Bill Lee so wisely asked Commissioner Graves, “Then what is their source?” If the government is the source of private property rights then the government also has the right to take them away.

Private property rights are rights, not just privileges as socialists would have us all believe. I corrected Commissioner Graves and pointed out that inalienable rights are not taught in public schools and few citizens understand their meaning or importance.


1 The United States government was formed to protect inalienable rights, including private property rights, and to defend liberty.

Defending a Mink Farm at the Expense of Citizen’s Rights

by Robert John Stevens, April 13, 2017

Suppose you buy land in the country to enjoy more space and fresh air but years later a farmer buys 40 acres next to you and builds a mink farm. Countless flys fill your home and barn, the air both inside and outside stinks of mink feces, you see dead minks lying in feces piles, and minks literally terrorize and attack you or your spouse.

You’re not alone—Your neighbors all experience the same horrors.

This is exactly the situation in Payson, Utah where dozens of neighbors rallied and testified at the April 11, 2017 Utah County Commissioners Hearing to consider farmer Beckstead’s petition for agricultural protection.

Farmer Beckstead knows his minks are damaging the property values of his neighbors and making their lives miserable so he applied for agricultural protection to use the force of government to protect his interests from nuisance laws.

Whose rights are violated? Clearly the neighbors were there first. If farmer Beckstead loved his neighbor as Jesus taught, would he pollute their air with the smell of mink feces?

Farmer Beckstead lives in Lehi about twenty miles to the north—Unless his families’ noses lost their ability to smell, he knows better than to live at his mink farm and suffer like his neighbors.

Minks aren’t just pets that have learned to happily co-exhist with humans—they are vicious, angry aggressors who sometimes carry rabies and other diseases. Children won’t know that so when they see one on a nearby school playground, they’ll gather around and try and touch it and pick it up.

Will agricultural protection protect Farmer Beckstead from lawsuits?

Neighbors report seeing minks all over their lands. Even if Farmer Beckstead could contain his minks, he can’t contain the smell that lures incoming minks looking for their own species and mates.

One man explained how he lost a fortune developing nearby one-acre parcels because after the mink farm was created, buyers lost their appetite.

Farmer Beckstead has the right to farm as long as he doesn’t violate the rights of his neighbors but since he obviously had and plans to continue to do so, he sought for agricultural protection. Rather than repeatedly break the Golden Rule, he could sell his mink farm today for a profit into Utah County’s strong real estate market and buy land far away from others.

The Utah County Commissioners heard but ignored the neighbors’ highly emotional complaints and ruled in favor of farmer Beckstead. After repeated, unsuccessful appeals to Payson and Utah County government, will the neighbors persist, give up and play dead or will they eventually defend their liberties and inalienable rights with violence as the Declaration of Independence authorizes?

My family and I lived in Highland Utah, about a mile from a mink farm. Driving by the farm we always noticed the putrid smell. As more residents moved in, opposition grew. Because of the united angry citizenry, the farmer was finally asked to leave.

Utah County Commissioners should have known better than to favor Farmer Beckstead who clearly violates the rights of his neighbors and grant him special agricultural protection. This issue will not go away; instead, it will just get worse as the population of Payson increases.

Citizens don’t care about Utah County’s hundreds of pages of regulations, especially when they contradict their built-in conscience that tells them to love their neighbor as themselves and to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

I think very highly of all three Utah County Commissioners, enjoy watching them grow in their callings, and consider Bill Lee a very good friend so I recommend that we all re-read Ezra Taft Benson’s 32-page masterpiece, The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner.


April 11, 2017 Utah County Commissioners Hearing

PUBLIC HEARING TO CONSIDER APPROVAL OF THE PROPOSED BECKSTEAD AGRICULTURE PROTECTION AREA APPLICATION, WITH THE UTAH COUNTY PUBLIC WORKS MODIFICATION REQUEST TO EXCLUDE THE ROAD RIGHTS-OF-WAY WIDTHS FROM THE PROPOSAL, REDUCING ACREAGE AND REQUIRING A VARIANCE; APPROXIMATELY 40.028 ACRES LOCATED IN SECTION 7, T9S, R2E, IN THE WEST PAYSON AREA OF UNINCORPORATED UTAH COUNTY

Ryancare, Like Obamacare, was Big Government

Trump doesn’t make the legislation, but he wants it made according to his preferences, as do all presidents. Presidents are always sending budgets to Congress and always telling the representatives what to legislate and what not to legislate. They’re always making speeches with long lists of laws they want. Congress generally follows. Trump is no different than the rest. The Executive leads the Legislature. That’s the American system.

Trump’s election year statements about health care legislation more or less reveal that he wanted Ryancare. He wanted only to fiddle around the edges of Obamacare. In this respect, he’s mainstream Democrat/Republican, i.e., he believes in big government and he believes that many aspects of healthcare should be handled by federal controls, regulations and mandates. This is one reason he’s so upset with the group of 30-36 or so Republicans who are more conservative on this issue.

More Advice for President Trump

by Robert John Stevens, March 5, 2017
Submitted to today’s White House Joint Address Exit Survey.

We wish to be a nation of fifty state incubators that compete, not satellites of the federal government that delivers poor central planning. End all federal government departments and programs not delegated by the U.S. Constitution, including the Dept. of Education so our children are no longer indoctrinated, Obamacare and healthcare so the free markets may compete. If a smaller unit of government can do a function, then give up power and let them.

If the U.S. was the sinking Titanic, President Trump is our new captain. End the Middle East wars of aggression. Bring our troops home to defend our borders and our nation. Stop wasting billions bombing nations that haven’t attacked us. Stop presidential drone and assassination missions of death. End our complicated tax system and replace it with a flat tax rate one sentence long. Penalize employers for employing illegal aliens. Destroy the false media by ending their monopoly broadcasting licenses.

Talk often about the proper role of government.

Mike Pence Nailed It: Why Most Government Should Be Abolished

by Robert John Stevens, February 8, 2017

To rephrase Vice President Pence’s quote below, “Citizens should not be trapped in a system that puts the status quo ahead of their success.” Anyone who has tried to get anything done knows how government employees put regulations over reason and common sense.

Friends,

Today, I cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education: Betsy DeVos.

The vote the President asked me to cast wasn’t just for Betsy – it was also for America’s future.

Our nation’s success depends on the education of our students. In Betsy DeVos, we have one of America’s foremost advocates for educational opportunity and excellence.

For nearly three decades she has devoted her time, her talent, and her treasure to ensure that every child in America has the best shot at a better life. Countless students have benefitted from her efforts to promote an educational marketplace defined by innovation, opportunity, and real, meaningful choice.

The President and I agree that our children’s futures should not be determined by their zip code. Students should not be trapped in a system that puts the status quo ahead of a child’s success.

Betsy DeVos will have great impact as Secretary of Education. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a public school, a private school, a parochial school, a charter school, or any other kind of school – she will help ensure that every student has access to a good school.

We are grateful to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and all the Republican Senators who stood with us on this important vote.

The President is fully committed to this mission. Today’s vote was the first of its kind in our nation’s history, but the real history will be made through our unwavering dedication to America’s children – and to America’s future.

Thank you for all your help and support.

Sincerely,

Michael R. Pence
Vice President of the United States

Is There No End to Government Cash Warranty Bonds?

by Robert John Stevens, January 12, 2017

Let’s discuss the legality and practicality of Utah County cash warranty bonds. Should the developer realistically pay a cash warranty bond to Utah County for work completed by non-government, private contractors? Where is the constitutional justification for that and where does it end?

If Utah County can justify a cash warranty bond for a private-party tasks, then why not require a cash warranty bond for the tasks performed by the Utah County Health Department for the water depth and perk tests, or the review of the subdivision application by Planning and Zoning and the County Attorney or the reviews performed by Public Works Department?

Or should we trust government but not private contractors?

Which jobs should and should not be bonded for the work done on my 5.25-acre parcel #2 where I had private contractors install power, cable, and natural gas, laser level and furrow the land, pave a shared driveway stub, dig a well, escrow water rights, provide engineering and title work, dig a trench for the water depth test, test the well water quality, and build a dirt pad and cement irrigation ditch (which wasn’t required for subdivision approval) with a gate and outlets, and install monument markers.

I also had private contractors install manholes to the south, pipe the Benjamin drainage ditch and backfill.

Warranty bonds are expensive and push the limits for developers. Loans often require interest payments. They also strain government resources by usurping responsibilities such as inspections, punch-card enforcement, and collections.

If the proper role of Utah County government is to perform tasks that private parties can’t provide, and therefore delegate to government, then stick to big tasks such as highways and sewerage processing plants which we desperately need and can’t build ourselves.

Replace all Health Insurance with Cost Sharing—A Plan to Replace Obamacare

by Robert John Stevens, December 1, 2016

For President-Elect Donald Trump to abolish Obamacare, a new plan cannot play in the same health insurance playground:

1. To win, stop calling it health insurance. A better and more descriptive replacement name is free-market shared medical costs.

We reduced our family health insurance from $1,800 to just $440 a month with Liberty HealthShare. Their website says, “Liberty HealthShare℠ is not insurance. It simply unites like-minded Americans to share medical costs together.”

In 1995 we paid $300 a month for health insurance which was affordable for me to be an entrepreneur. Fees increased steadily and at the peak we paid $1,800 each month. After discovering doctors give big discounts for cash, we went without health insurance for months until the Obamacare premiums became to expensive.

2. Declare the proper role of government is not to be in the healthcare or health insurance business. Neither power was delegated to the federal government in the U.S. Constitution.

3. Increase penalties for fraud.

Liberty Health Share is easy. We submit our bills. They send us checks in the mail. We’ve done it for about 18 months. It works great. Without it I couldn’t remain an entrepreneur.