Opinion Briefs: Trump trial is waste of time . . . Romney family program makes sense . . . Don’t emasculate Electoral College . . . Chinese coercion defeats COVID

The Trump Trial: Pure Political Theater. In ever-dysfunctional Washington, D.C., the big agenda item this week is the Senate impeachment trial (or, as some call it, the Senate harassment trial). Like much that happens in Congress, it will be pure political theater — a waste of time and effort. The outcome is a foregone conclusion. It won’t change any minds. It won’t unify the country. It will simply be an opportunity for Trump-obsessed Democrats to pursue more vengeance and vindictiveness against the hated former president. It’s the dumbing-down of impeachment.

There will be a great deal of posturing and pontificating by both sides, a vote will eventually be taken, and Trump will not be convicted. His devoted followers (and there are far more of them than progressives are willing to admit) will be even more convinced that the deck is stacked against them as the Democrats and the news media hound their hero even after he is gone from office. 

By the way, Rep. Andrew Stoddard’s attempt to impeach Atty. Gen. Sean Reyes is also ridiculous.

Voucher Program to Support Families? Sen. Mitt Romney isn’t just a “hate Trump” guy, although that does seem to take up quite a bit of his time. He’s also doing some interesting things. I like his “Family Security Act” which would consolidate some welfare programs into a simple direct cash payment for families with children. It would use existing program funds for the payments, but would reduce bureaucracy and complex eligibility requirements.

I’ve often thought that the myriad federal and state welfare programs ought to be consolidated into a simple “voucher” payment for needy families. They would receive the same, or more, in value, but would be responsible to use the money for food, child care, housing, etc. But here’s the problem: Officials would have to be firm enough to say, “Here’s your voucher and you need to use it wisely. There isn’t any more.” Some families wouldn’t use the money responsibly and progressives would demand they receive additional help. We’d soon be back to the complex, bureaucratic, numerous programs we have today.    

Don’t Pass National Popular Vote Compact. Legislation sponsored by State Sen. Derek Kitchen would have Utah join the National Popular Vote Compact. That would be a big mistake. States that join promise to allocate their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, thus emasculating the Electoral College.

The legislation will not pass. Sensible lawmakers will not thwart the will of voters by approving a system that would cast Utah’s electoral votes for a candidate that Utah voters rejected. Such as system would hurt small states like Utah. As I’ve written previously, we are a nation of states, not just a population mass. The founders instituted the Electoral College to ensure that all states have meaningful roles in the federal system, not just the states with large populations. Without the electoral college, political strategists would not campaign state-by-state, addressing priorities of individuals states, but would instead campaign to large demographic groups.  

Want to Survive a Pandemic? Hang Out in a Totalitarian Country. The Economist, an international magazine, recently noted: “China’s economy zooms back to its pre-covid growth rate . . . Its success offers some useful lessons about how to confront a pandemic.” The magazine also noted: “Many in China are strikingly accepting of harsh virus controls.”

In China, coercion and severe penalties obviously produce compliance in strict lock-downs and mask wearing, reducing virus spread. But, thankfully, we’re Americans. We believe in freedom. That means we may not do as well as China in combatting COVID-19. My wife and I always wear masks in public and follow good pandemic hygiene. Some other people don’t. But I’d rather live in a free country, even with more risks, than be subject to a despotic government. One line in the Economist article acknowledges the truth: “Other countries understandably shy away from such (punitive) tactics, enabled as they are by China’s authoritarian politics.”