The Rogers Plan for New Orleans, one year later

#422, August 28, 2006

COLUMBUS: A year ago Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, and every newscaster on television is camping out down there to remind us of how bad it was, and still is for a lot of folks.

Some of those news hounds were kinda hoping for another hurricane to test the levees, but Ernesto decided to blast Cuba, and then maybe take on Florida instead of Louisiana.

There’ll be a lot of spouting this week in newspapers and on radio and TV about how to rebuild New Orleans. Considering that less than half the population has moved back, maybe the “Rogers Plan” of 2005 is as good as any.

Here are pieces of two columns I wrote last year, Sept. 14 and October 12:

The President will go on television tomorrow night (Sept 15, 2005), probably announcing what he would do different for the next Hurricane. I don’t want to interfere with anything he might say, but I have heard we will give New Orleans at least $100 Billion for relief.

For that you ought to be able to buy New Orleans, at least the part below sea level. In fact if we’re going to spend it, that would be a great thing to spend it on because you would only have to spend it once. For a family living in a $50,000 house below sea level, it will cost at least $100,000 to rebuild it, and the next hurricane it’ll get flooded again and cost us $150,000. So let’s buy it once, and let it flood. We’ll at least have the pleasure of knowing somebody can go fishing on our investment.

We know these folks want to go right back where they lived, and who can blame them. But let’s make sure where they build is above water level, even if they have to move a mile or two uphill from the old homestead. Anybody that insists on living below sea level, let ’em rebuild in Death Valley.

Here’s the Rogers Plan for a higher, dryer New Orleans. You take all the area that’s below sea level, and divide it roughly in half. Let’s say for illustration purposes that entire flooded area is 2000 acres. The half that’s the lowest (deepest) will be dug out even deeper, maybe 10 to 20 feet deeper than it is now, and let it fill with water. And you use the fill dirt you took from that half to build up the other half, so where now you have 2000 acres that’s likely to flood every now and again, after we move all that dirt, you’ll have a beautiful1000 acre lake, and 1000 acres of dry land, ready to build on. Of course, we’ll use some of that fill material to raise and strengthen the levees.

The secret to this whole Rogers Plan, and how we can do it for a fraction of $200 Billion, is to hire all those unemployed men and women that want to return to New Orleans, give ’em a mule and a scoop, and put ’em to work, just like the farmers that built the levees after the 1927 flood. If you’ve ever been to New Orleans you know they have a lot of mules, and they’re all pulling carriages filled with tourists. That’s kind of a waste of valuable horsepower, but at least it has kept them in good physical condition. (The mules, not the tourists.)

Any shortage of mules can be filled by going up to Tennessee and buy a few thousand at auction. For scoops, well, we’ll ask Mr. Ford to shut off production at his SUV factories for a week (nobody is buying ’em anyway), and build scoops. It’ll keep the auto workers occupied, and make ’em feel like they are contributing to a good cause.

There you have the ingredients of the Rogers Plan: a New Orleans worker, a Louisiana/Tennessee mule and a Ford scoop. Let’s see Bush and the Army Engineers top that.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“I don’t really believe that 80 or 90 per cent of the people realize just what flood disaster means, and what type of people it is that lost most by this particular horror. An Earthquake, a Fire, a Tornado, or anything like that is over in a few minutes. You know what you lost and you know what you got left. But look at this particular flood we have been reading of it for over 6 weeks. If your house burns out in the country you can run over to some one else’s and stay, but with this when yours go, your neighbor’s go too.” WA#230, May 8, 1927

To hear an interview with “Will Rogers”, click on this site:      Judyth Piazza is the host. There are about 30 seconds of other stuff before the interview begins… This site has interviews with other interesting folks, including some real “characters”, such as Presidents Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.

Will gets one right, one wrong

#421, August 21, 2006

COLUMBUS: Two weeks ago I said those rusty BP oil pipes in Alaska would lead to higher prices. I was wrong, and I’m the first to admit it. Gas prices in Ohio are down 40 cents instead of up. Maybe we can get the other big companies to shut down a few wells and drop the price 80 cents. Maybe even a dollar.

But I got one thing right about the Lebanon cease-fire. France wanted to take charge of controlling the Islamic terrorists; said they would send 2000 Army troops. They wanted to lead the disarming force, to be a role model for other freedom-loving nations. Well, when word reached Paris that Hezbollah did not intend to disarm without a fight, 1800 of the French Army decided to stay home. Seeing what the French had done, these other countries decided not to send any soldiers at all, except for the nations on the same side as Hezbollah. With the prospect of a force like that staring at ’em across the border, can you blame Israel for disarming a few terrorists themselves?

By coincidence Philadelphia decided to kick out 60,000 Boy Scouts from their headquarters building in the City of Brotherly Love. Well, these boys put God and country above self; they could go over there and root out those Hezbollah polecats before France gets even 200 of their soldiers picked up off the Riviera beaches and back in uniform.

Joe Lieberman uttered the quote of the week: “I’m not a member of any organized political party.” Hey, I’m kidding about the quote, but ole Joe is trying to get re-elected as an Independent. He wants to do for Connecticut what Huey Long did for Louisiana. If he gets in there and the Senate is split even, he’ll just throw his vote to whoever gives him the most dough to spread around. He’ll propose a dam on the Connecticut River. It’ll cover half of Massachusetts, but his farmers can use the water to irrigate their crops. Why, don’t be surprised if he puts in a bill to build a bridge from New London to Long Island.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Heat and reason don’t go together, anyhow, you know…. I’m just warning you what you’re going to get this summer. There’s going to be a lot of spouting from the speakers’ platforms all this summer. There’ll be more perspiration than common sense flowing, and the whole political thing has come now to a pretty direct division point. I mean there’s been a direct split in the parties…

So all this talking and all this spouting, and all the hard feelings and all the perspiration that’s going to be smeared about all this summer will just be a total loss. Conditions win elections and not speeches, and these denouncing orators should remember that every time they cuss the president they lose friends. They may get some applause from a partisan audience, but we still think it’s the highest office in the whole world. And we always think, and we have justification in thinking, that it’s always held by the highest type of men, regardless of which party they belong to. So any denouncing, no matter which side he’s on, he loses more votes than he gains.” Radio broadcast, June 9, 1935 (This was Will’s last radio broadcast.)

Will prefers Fair life to the Middle East

#420, August 14, 2006

COLUMBUS: The Ohio State Fair ended yesterday and the farmers returned home to catch up on chores and inspect their crops. Not just in Ohio, but across the middle west, corn and soybeans are looking mighty good.

If you still have an opportunity to attend a Fair this summer or fall go to it and support all those young folks with their 4-H and FFA exhibits and contests.

We can’t stay at a Fair forever, ignoring the rest of the world. These UN countries voted 15-0 for a so-called peace plan in Lebanon. Iran and Syria abstained. When asked if they were for the War or against it, they said, “Of course we’re against it.” Then they shipped 5000 more rockets to Lebanon. Said it was to maintain the Peace.

Iran and Syria learned their history from Hitler: try to conduct your wars in some other country. Hitler picked France and Russia as his primary foreign locations; these two picked Lebanon. By paying someone other than their own army to do the fighting, they even improved on Hitler. And if all their martyrs succeed a hundred percent and commit suicide, they don’t even have to pay ’em. Nobody in this country ever thought of running a war like that.

Fighting an enemy that don’t have any use for human life, even their own babies, is worse than Bonnie and Clyde, the Dalton Gang, Jesse James and John Dillinger combined. We used to think a cannibal was as close as a man could get to having no conscience, but at least a cannibal is limited somewhat by his own appetite.

The wets used to say, “Prohibition’s better than no liquor at all.” Well, to a diplomat a cease-fire is better than no war at all. The diplomats announced the peace will be enforced by the Lebanese Army and the French Army, backed up by United Nations forces. When the news reached Hezbollah you could hear ’em laughing all the way to Paris. Can you imagine any less formidable opponents? There would be a better chance of disarming Hezbollah if we called up 10,000 Boy Scouts, backed by a thousand Campfire Girls.

Good luck to Lebanon. Good luck to Israel.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“A Diplomat is a man that tells you what he don’t believe himself, and the man that he is telling it to don’t believe it any more than he does.” Saturday Evening Post, June 9, 1928

Will keeps eye on oil, testosterone and fine old movies

#419, August 7, 2006

COLUMBUS: This week I am starting with a commercial. And if you want to switch off your computer screen you’ll be justified. But if you ever look over the list of movies playing at your local theater and say, ‘They sure don’t make movies like they used to, ‘ then here’s one ad you’ll like.

Rupert Murdock, the man that runs 20th Century Fox and a whole lot more of our media companies, has released four films from 1935 for your viewing pleasure. They are on DVDs and the cost for all four is only around $50. The movies are: Steamboat Round the Bend, Doubting Thomas, In Old Kentucky, and Life Begins at Forty.

Now I could have been like those hucksters on television and told you that the first two were available for $50, and if you act immediately we’ll give you the other two absolutely free. Of course these four full length films are a real bargain, less than $15 a piece, and anyone over about 60 will get a thrill out of them. And if you’re over 75, these movies will remind you of the first time you saw them. I bet the young folks like them, too, even if they are in black and white. Great gift for Grandparents. Of course you may also have to buy them a DVD player. And show ’em how to run it.

Now that I have you all worked up and ready to buy, here’s where to call: the Will Rogers Museum at 1-800-828-9643, during normal business hours in Oklahoma. The DVDs are a package deal, you get all four.

On with our regularly scheduled program: I’ve been reading about this fellow that won the Tour de France. They say he had an extraordinary abundance of testosterone in his blood, and ought to give back the award. I sure ain’t defending him, and if he won it illegal he should rightly return the trophy. But if you asked the average American male to list ten things he might enjoy doing with extra testosterone, riding a bicycle in France would not make the list.

Oil found another reason to set a record price. Here we were all concerned about hurricanes in the Gulf, war in the Middle East, and prosperity in China and India… now it’s rust in Alaska. I don’t know how high these rusty pipes will drive gasoline prices, but I do have a suggestion: let those who don’t want us to use any oil from Alaska pay double, and the rest of us can maybe keep it under three dollars a gallon.

You know, riding a bicycle ain’t such a bad idea after all.

Historic note:

These were the last four movies starring Will Rogers, all shot in the first half of 1935.