Utah's Legislature has an undeserved reputation for being reactionary. Yet state Sen. Chris Buttars of West Jordan, Utah, was definitely onto something when he proposed dropping 12th grade in order to alleviate the state's budget crunch and reduce the cost of public education.

Buttars' proposal, combined with the Utah Senate's recently passed bill to exempt guns manufactured and sold in Utah from federal firearms regulations, and with last year's resolution urging the governor to withdraw from the Western Climate Initiative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, establishes Utah as the leader in recession-proof jobs.

By dumbing down the workforce and resisting sustainable alternatives to coal and natural gas, Buttars and his fellow conservatives in the Utah Legislature are paving the way for rapid economic recovery. Utah, with the highest birth rate in the nation, could capitalize on its abundant supply of labor willing to work for low wages and compete with the Chinese for jobs that could withstand a global depression as devastating as the Great Depression.

Why ship jobs overseas when you can exploit your fellow Americans at home? Even Walmart shareholders would recognize the benefits of cutting transportation costs and reinvesting in America's manufacturing sector.

California legislators, are you listening? With one courageous stroke of the pen, you could fix your budget mess. Wyoming legislators could reverse the exodus of young talent and keep their grown children at home, where they would be less likely to get into trouble. If we band together, we could render China irrelevant. In Utah, our overly supervised young adults are so bored they will happily work seven days a week like the Chinese do, which makes it easier to recruit ideal employers.

We have nothing to fear in the American West but our attachment to outmoded ways of thinking. Tea Party-leaning Republicans don't get enough credit. Some of the most creative ideas in this region are coming from the so-called Neanderthal wing of the Republican Party. If Chris Buttars and his like-minded colleagues in the Utah Legislature deserve any criticism at all, it is for being too cautious.

Why eliminate only 12th grade? Why waste dwindling state revenues on secondary education at all?  If we gave high school diplomas to seventh-graders, we would not only slash public education costs, we could also dispense with the more onerous aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act. Think of the savings in infrastructure, paper consumption for standardized tests and faculty salaries and benefits. By acknowledging the genius of Chris Buttars' modest proposal, we could provide corporate America with a workforce unable to read the fine print in mandatory non-union contracts, such as, "If you injure yourself on the job, you forfeit your right to unemployment and disability insurance."

For this revolutionary job recovery plan to succeed, however, state legislatures would have to do their part and ban federal inspections for health and safety violations in the workplace.

With little competition in the foreseeable future for the coal and natural gas industries, Utah's notorious winter smog -- the worst in the United States -- will cause even more illness and increased mortality. This will reduce the costs of health care, Social Security and Medicare over the long haul.

As life expectancy averages decline, the collective wisdom that comes with maturity and experience will no longer stand in the way of minimum-wage job creation, and corporations will lose their incentive to funnel millions into political campaigns that distract voters' attention from the consequences of global warming, lack of access to affordable health care, and widespread consumer debt and bankruptcy.

As life expectancy averages decline, the collective wisdom that comes with maturity and experience will no longer stand in the way of minimum-wage job creation, and corporations will lose their incentive to funnel millions into political campaigns that distract voters' attention from the consequences of global warming, lack of access to affordable health care, and widespread consumer debt and bankruptcy.

Exxon Mobil, Citigroup and Aetna could then spend more of their profits on bigger bonuses instead of public relations campaigns disguised as the consensus of Nobel Prize-winning scientists, or on the re-election bids of sympathetic politicians.

With fewer educated voters, who will have a lot less time to become informed and involved, the propaganda of multinational oil, Wall Street and big insurance will be easily accepted as fact. Thank you, state Sen. Buttars, for making Utah the envy of the rest of the nation.

Jane Goetze is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (hcn.org) in Paonia, Colorado. She lives in Logan, Utah.