Opinion briefs: Honoring Gary Herbert . . . Home ownership . . . Dog strollers

Accolades well deserved. Former Gov. Gary and First Lady Jeanette Herbert will be honored at a special tribute at Abravanel Hall this coming Friday, June 11. The event is hosted by Scott and Karen Keller and features Broadway performer Alfie Boe.

I won’t be able to attend, but I’m glad the Kellers and others are putting on this event. Herbert deserves it. I think he was a terrific governor, underrated by a lot of people. He was Utah’s second-longest serving governor and took the state from economic malaise to the nation’s best economy, remarkably diversified. In his last year he led the state’s straightforward and well-balanced response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That sort of success doesn’t happen by chance. Herbert was never flashy, but he worked incredibly hard, exhibited much-needed common sense, and put together an excellent team — as evidenced by the fact that his No. 2, Spencer Cox, succeeded him as governor, defeating a tough field of candidates. 

Having worked in the governor’s office myself for six years, I know it’s a tough job. Herbert has earned the gratitude of the state, and an evening to honor him is well deserved.

What’s solution to low Black homeownership? Pres. Joe Biden recently gave an important and emotional speech in Tulsa, OK, commemorating the 1921 race massacre in which the prosperous Greenwood District was destroyed, with hundreds of Black residents killed and hurt. A truly sad day in U.S. racial history.

Biden addressed Black homeownership in the speech, saying, “Shockingly, the percentage of Black American homeownership is lower today in America than when the Fair Housing Act was passed more than 50 years ago.  Lower today.  That’s wrong.  And we’re committing to changing that.”

I thought that was very interesting. In other words, despite billions of dollars spent on all sorts of housing programs over the last 50 years, the housing status for Black Americans has gotten worse, not better. So, this unfortunate reality could be addressed in two different ways.

One, we could spend even more tax dollars (mostly borrowed) on housing subsidies and welfare programs. Or, two, because the billons we’ve already spent haven’t worked, we could take a different approach and focus on fundamental things like functional families and education.

I’m not an expert. I’m not Black. I’ve always had housing. But I’ve listened to dozens of Black conservatives who argue persuasively that the plight of inner cities and lack of good housing and opportunity for disadvantaged groups isn’t the result of spending too little on welfare programs. It’s actually caused by spending too much and creating intergenerational dependency and the wrong incentives. I think these Black conservatives are the most articulate voices in the public policy arena today. We ought to listen to them. 

How did we get here? I love hiking with my dogs. And I always thought walking the dog meant the dog walks with its four paws on the sidewalk or grass, presumably to get some exercise or go somewhere. But then Costco sent me an ad via email for pet strollers, price starting at $130, up to $170. I clicked on the ad. One of the dog photos on the product page was a big German shepherd, and the dog stroller was big enough for him to hop in and be strolled down the street. Really?

I dunno. As an old guy, this is hard to take. If I was the dog I’d be really embarrassed. But I guess nobody’s having babies, so you might as well stroll your dog down the street.