Gates and Buffett follow Rockefeller’s example

#415, June 26, 2006

COLUMBUS: When Bill Gates announced he was gonna give away $30 Billion it caused quite a ripple in the country. Now along comes Bill’s good friend, Warren Buffett, who says he will go in with Bill and add $40 Billion to the pot. It wasn’t just a ripple, it was flood.

In fact in Washington, DC, it really was a flood. The high water was partly from a rain storm. But mostly it was tears from the IRS. Seeing all that revenue siphoned off before it could be inherited and taxed, the IRS is crying a river that rivals the Potomac.

These tax folks aren’t just worried about losing the Gates-Buffett fortunes, it’s all the other Billionaires that might follow their lead. But they ain’t the first wealthy Americans to bypass the government and do good with their own money. There was Carnegie, Kellogg, and “my” good friends Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller, the man who kinda set the standard (or Standard) for philanthropy. (See Historic quote below)

The way Mr. Buffett invests and multiplies, that $40 Billion is likely just a down payment. A few years ago I proposed that we let him manage our Social Security funds. If Congress had been that far-sighted to make such a wise move they wouldn’t have to argue over how to pay for drugs for old folks.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“Hurrah for Mr. Rockefeller, 96 years old today, one of the very few men that knew how to give money away so that every dollar does good. That’s more than our government can do. It’s more than anybody can do. All over the world there is a Rockefeller doctor swatting at a mosquito or trapping a poisonous fly. I flew the whole east coast of Brazil and they have eliminated mosquitos. However, I do wish he would spread some of that Standard Oil (or even Gulf Oil) on some of these home-talent mosquitos. There is no end to that old gentleman’s talents. He beat insurance without dying. They just got discouraged and paid him. He will make the 100 and some to spare.” DT #2784, July 8, 1935

(Note: John D. Rockefeller died May 23, 1937)

Who said, “I’m an idiot?”

#414, June 19, 2006

COLUMBUS: The new hotbed of hockey is Raleigh, North Carolina. Yes sir, they just recently learned how to cover a basketball floor with ice, and tonight they skated so good on it they beat Canada for the Stanley Cup.

On Sunday an Australian showed us how to win at golf. Have you noticed that most Americans, especially men, relate to golf much more than hockey or soccer. Americans are not especially fond of sliding on ice even in an automobile or pickup truck. And why would any man with a reasonably good pair of hands and arms insist on batting a ball with his head.

But golf? Is there any golfer who hasn’t uttered those famous words of Phil Mickelson on the last hole of the U.S. Open, “I’m an idiot.”

In Washington they debated the Iraq War. Both sides of the issue are quite simple: Republicans stand behind their President when he insists, “Stay the course.” On the other hand, Democrats insist the President stand up and say, “I’m an idiot.”

Houston is getting belted with a foot or two of rain. Meanwhile, the drought continues in north Texas and Oklahoma. Wheat yields are so poor the farmers are petitioning their Congressmen to build an irrigation ditch from Houston for relief. Houston’s for it, not only providing the water but an excess Congressman to boot.

North Korea announced they will soon fire a long range missile as a test. President Bush says we are ready for ’em, on the outside chance it might reach as far as an Alaska oil well. So, by coincidence, we’ll be testing our own new-fangled missile defense system. If our anti-missile missile knocks the Korean rocket out of the air before it leaves their shores he will give it a passing grade. Vice-President Cheney is confident it will perform even better than that, “If it works to perfection, it’ll blow up their rocket before it leaves the ground.”

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“I guess there is nothing that will get your mind off everything like golf will. I have never been depressed enough to take up the game, but they say you can get so sore at yourself that you forget to hate your enemies.” WA #310, December 2, 1928

“Diplomats are just as essential to starting a war as soldiers are for finishing it.” Saturday Evening Post, June 9, 1928

Al-Qaida drafts a dark horse

#413, June 12, 2006

COLUMBUS: There’s some good news from Iraq. Al-Zarqawi got bombed and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving fellow.

Zarqawi is dead, so al-Qaida kinda called a political convention to vote on a new leader. A dark horse candidate won because all the front-runners dropped out. They dropped out when they heard the autopsy report on Zarqari. If you think walking for months through snow drifts in New Hampshire is enough to slow down a man’s presidential ambitions, consider the prospect of having a 500-pound bomb dropped on your head. Three men were so afraid of being drafted for the office they committed suicide.

It seems this new terrorist leader is a man nobody had ever heard of or seen before. I think he goes by the name Abu al-Stupo. If he’s smart he’ll head directly for a deep cave in Pakistan.

Hurricane season just opened, and Florida bagged the first one. It’s kinda puny as hurricanes go, but it’s got a name: Alberto (or is it al-Berto?). As of Monday night it’s blowing 70 miles an hour. Most of Florida actually wants the storm to land because they need the rain to put out grass fires. Besides, anything in Florida that can’t handle a little wind is already flattened or blown clear to Georgia. You could tell that some of these national television folks were downright disappointed it headed to Tampa and not New Orleans.

The Senate voted on the Estate tax. The two sides couldn’t be farther apart on the tax: Republicans want to eliminate it, and Democrats want to make it 100 percent (see historic quote). The way they decided the vote was that each multi-billionaire in this country was paired up, one-on-one, with a Senator, at least the Senators that claim Republican heritage. There’s only 55 men living in the whole country who stand to gain from the bill, and they needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster by Democrats. So it looks like they fell 5 billionaires short.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

(From Will’s weekly radio show…)
“Treasury Secretary Morgenthau (under FDR) has come out with a plan to put a bigger and better tax on these big estates, these tremendous estates. An inheritance tax, that is, on a man who died. And on an estate of say $10 million, why the government will take about 90 percent of it, and then giving the offspring 10. And then on estates of 100 million, 200 million, a billion, and like that, well, the government just takes all of that and notifies the heirs, ‘Your father died a pauper here today. And he’s being buried by the M. E. B. A.; that is the Millionaires’ Emergency Burial Association.’

Now mind you, I don’t hold any great grief for a man that dies and leaves millions and hundreds of millions and billions. I don’t mean that. But I don’t believe Mr. Morgenthau’s plan will work because he gives figures that shows what this new inheritance tax would bring in every year. He says in 1936 we get so much, in 1938 so much… He gives these figures to show what it will bring in every year. That is, as long as the Democrats stay in.

He seems to know just who’s going to die each year. And how much they’re going to leave. Now, brother, that’s planning. Now suppose, for instance, he’s got scheduled to die J. P. Morgan. He’s got him scheduled to die on a certain year. And you can bet, if they can arrange it, they’ll have him die while the Democrats are in, so they can get the benefit of that estate.

Now, according to plan, J. P. Morgan’s got to die in order for Mr. Morgenthau to reach his quota for that year. Now Mr. Morgan is a nice man, a very able, nice fellow. And I think his patriotism might compare with some of the rest of us, but whether he’d be patriotic enough to want to die on this year’s schedule or not, just to make Morgenthau’s budget balance… I mean, that’s asking a good deal of a man to just die right off just so I can balance my budget. He might be rather unreasonable and not want to do it.

I say, old men is contrary, you know what I mean? And rich old men is awful contrary. They’ve had their own way so long.

So in order for Mr. Morgenthau’s plan to work out, well, to work out a hundred percent, he’s got to bump these wealthy guys off, or something. Well now, the government’s doing everything else, you know, but there IS a Humane Society.” Radio, April 28, 1935

“I don’t see why a man shouldn’t pay an inheritance tax. If a Country is good enough to pay taxes to while you are living, it’s good enough to pay in after you die. By the time you die you should be so used to paying taxes that it would just be almost second nature to you.” WA #168, Feb. 28, 1926

Washington takes on Marriage; Will takes on Divorce

#412, June 4, 2006

WILDCAT, West Va.: I’ll tell you in a minute about where I am. But first, this argument in Washington over marriage is why coming to a place like this for a weekend is a good idea.

Democrats say, why aren’t you debating the war in Iraq, oil prices and nuclear power for Iran?

Republicans say we’ll be glad to talk on those topics, plus the economy, Mexican fences, and even Barry Bonds home runs.

Democrats say, why bring up marriage just before the election?

Republicans say, it ain’t our fault. Everything was going smooth on the marriage front for over 200 years, there was more marriages than divorces. Then some judges decided we needed even more marriages, probably so we can have more divorces, and that’s what brought it to the front burner.

So, I’ll let Washington argue marriage, and I’ll stick with divorce (see below).

Onto the important news of the week, we want to congratulate Canada on stopping those terrorists before they could blow up anything. It appears that 17 of them each went to the local farm co-op and bought a bag or two of 34-0-0, and when they piled it all together it added up to 3 tons of ammonium nitrate. They were in cahoots with 2 men in Atlanta, and have you noticed, no one has complained about the CIA listening in on their phone calls?

Well, let me tell you how to find Wildcat. You start out in town (which most of you would call civilization), and after a few miles on a state road you turn onto a narrow blacktop. You pass a house once in a while in a clearing, but mostly you’re surrounded by trees. Big, tall trees. Then after a few minutes you turn onto a gravel road and head up a steep hill. Just when you’re thinking the best you can hope for is a tent suspended between trees, you come out of the forest into the open. And you’re surrounded by freshly mowed hilltop meadows, clean pastures, fat cattle, a modern farm house, garden and barns. When you gather in a couple dozen family and friends, now THIS is civilization.

This particular Wildcat is in West Virginia, but every state has one. It’ll have a different name, and look a little different, but it’ll have the same feel.

The thing about West Virginia is it has a number of “Wildcats”, and one of them is called Pickens. It’s in the mountains, maybe 50 miles away as the crow flies. I read in the paper where their school’s graduating class had a valedictorian and a salutatorian. That’s all. Two seniors. Only 42 in the whole twelve grades. You can find cul-de-sacs with more than that being home schooled, but these are gathered in from miles around. They get 200 inches of snow in Pickens, and I bet they miss fewer school days than some towns with 10.

If I’m ever invited to give one of those commencement speeches Pickens is where I want to go. When it’s my turn, after all the pomp and circumstance, we would pick up our 3 chairs (me and my audience of two), go sit under a shade tree and chat a spell. It would not go down in history as great oratory, but we would each remember the occasion and how we felt.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“I maintain that it should cost as much to get married as it does to get divorced. Make it look like marriage is worth as much as divorce, even if it ain’t. That would also make the preachers financially independent like it has the lawyers.” DT #562, May 15, 1928

“The biggest thing in legislation nowadays is the different States’ race for the divorce business. Arkansas guarantees a divorce in three months including room and board. Nevada heard about it and called a special session of their Legislature and says: ‘We will give you one in six weeks, and if any other State goes under that time, we will give you a divorce, marriage, and another divorce all for the same time, and price. In other words, that’s our business. We have built it up to what it is today. If there had been no Reno, you would still have been living with the same old gal.'” DT #1444, March 10, 1931

“(Nevada) is a funny colony, and it ain’t funny, it’s sad. But there is many a heartbreak here, and lots of children, that’s the tough part. Divorce ain’t so bad I guess when it’s only the participants suffer, but it’s sure tough on the children. Well anyhow it’s a great Industry, and I guess about the only way to stop it is to stop marriage.” WA #404, September 21, 1930