#501 May 25, 2008

Senators’ grilling slows oil men’s drilling

COLUMBUS: The Senate invited the Big Oil men to Washington for a meeting last week. When they went in, oil was $130 a barrel, and by the time they got out it was $135.

The more those Senators lambasted ’em, the higher the price jumped. Every single word of criticism cost the American driver an extra 1.9 Million dollars. (Normally it would have been just an extra 1 Million dollars, but everything priced by an oil company has “point nine” tacked on to it.)

Sen. Patrick Leahy was the lead antagonist. He represents that big oil producing state, Vermont. He was more interested in how much these men made last year than in whether they could produce enough oil to keep Vermont warm next winter.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California complained about high prices but didn’t offer to let ’em drill off her coast. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinios pointed out that no company in America should be allowed to make a profit above ten percent, “Where is your corporate conscience?” (At that last comment a young assistant whispered to the Senator, “Last year McDonalds made 15% and Microsoft 30%.)

You might remember that when these same executives visited the Senate for their monthly confab in April oil was $95. At this rate I think all prospective summer vacation travelers will agree with my plea: Cancel the June meeting!

While the Senate was conferring with the oil men, the House passed the Farm Bill. They had been working on it two years. They sent a copy to the President, he took less than ten minutes to veto it and ship it back, then the House overrode the veto twenty minutes later. Then, someone read the bill that had been vetoed and overrid, and discovered a chunk of it missing. It may take another two years to straighten out the mess.

They call it the “Farm Bill”, but three-fourths of it goes to pay for food stamps and nutrition programs. Really, it should be named the “Food for Poor Americans” bill. The President might still veto it, but at least Laura would make him read it first.

I heard on the radio about a farmer in Tennessee who parked his tractor and is plowing with mules instead. He said he couldn’t afford to buy fuel. Well, it’s hard to argue with such a down-to-earth old gentleman. Only trouble is, compared to a big tractor, by the time those mules finish plowing it’ll be August, and too late to plant anything but turnips and buckwheat.

Senator McCain invited a bunch of prospects to his Arizona ranch for a barbeque this weekend. He’s personally inspecting the political views and etiquette skills of possible V-P candidates. Meanwhile Senators Obama and Clinton went to Puerto Rico digging for delegates. What’s this country coming to when Puerto Rico has the final say in who gets nominated for President? You would be surprised at the number of Democrats sneaking in there from Florida so their vote will count.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“United States Marines landed at Vera Cruz, Mexico, to protect Standard Oil interests. (The) next week Standard Oil, in repayment for Marines’ courtesy, raised price of gas 3 cents.” WA #111, January 25, 1925

“Say, young John D. Rockefeller, Jr. kinder jarred the oil boys dident he? He has the idea that the business can be run at a profit and still keep it off the front pages and out of the Senate investigation room. It seemed rather a novelty to have a man testifying before the Senate that would tell them what they wanted to know. I wouldent doubt that they would keep him as a regular testifier about everything, for all the others refuse to answer for fear it will be used against them later when they come to trial.” WA #270, Feb. 26, 1928

“It was us leaving the Mule and taking to machinery that put us in the dog house. That’s why I think in a lot of things we got to get back to old principles. The Mule has got to bring the farmer back just the same as many other common every day thing has to bring us all back. The difference between good times and bad times is gasoline, and what goes with it.” WA #636, March 3, 1935

“The farmer deserves a profit, but the guy that’s not eating deserves a meal more.” DT #2228, Sept. 24, 1933

#500 May 11, 2008

Food and fuel prices make Will ponder

COLUMBUS: With the price of gas and the cost of food, we sure got a lot of people riled up in this country. Throw in a million or so with mortgage problems and they want you to think the world is about to end.

Well, it ain’t been so long ago that oil was so cheap you couldn’t give it away, wheat was fifteen cents a bushel, and so many farmers were abandoning their land you could buy all you wanted just by paying the back taxes.

Oklahoma Gov. Bill Murray tried to shut down all their oil wells in 1931 till the price went up to a dollar a barrel. Of course Frank Phillips, Harry Sinclair and the other big oil men didn’t listen to any governor wanting to raise the price, and they sure won’t pay attention to Congress wanting ’em to lower the price today. Just think, if they had listened to him and left the oil in the ground, today they would be selling it for $120 and Oklahoma would be leading the nation in prosperity.

Hardly anybody listens to Congress. Remember a few years ago they wanted to raise gasoline by fifty cents so we would use less? Well, their plan failed, but since then it’s gone up more than two dollars, and the only effect, instead of driving less, is we’re complaining more.

You would think that paying more for food would be good for a country where two-thirds of us eat way more than we should. But chances are we’ll consume the same but complain more as we go to the mall to buy a new summer outfit in the next larger size.

One thing we’ve learned in the last 75 years: give more money to farmers and they find a way to raise more food; give more to the oil companies and they go find more oil; give more to the government and Lord knows where it’ll wind up.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Frank Phillips, of oil fame, was out the other day; said he was going to Washington. The oil men were going to draw up a code of ethics. Everybody present had to laugh. If he had said the gangsters of America were drawing up a code of ethics, it wouldn’t have sounded near as impossible.” DT #2164, July 11, 1933

“Another drought (in Oklahoma) looks like it’s going to kill off the corn crop. Oats 15 cents a bushel. If food is not cheaper than it ever was then somebody is making money, and it ain’t the farmer. The farmer can’t abandon the farm. He ain’t got enough to move to town on.” DT #1553, July 15, 1931.

#499, May 4, 2008

Will suggests Presidents work in shifts

COLUMBUS: I suspect that Howard Dean and the rest of the Democratic party wish I would quit reminding you folks about their 1924 Convention.

For more than a year they’ve been battling for the nomination on CNN, MSNBC, and all but one of the other television networks, and they can’t seem to break the deadlock. This week they finally admitted they needed help. They are appealing to the viewers of Fox News to sort out the mess. I don’t know if it’ll work; up to now those Fox viewers have not heard many compliments for either Clinton or Obama. Or, for that matter, even McCain.

Since they have openly admitted a need for aid, I dug into the records of the 1924 convention and uncovered an idea that the American people might go for. That convention had already been in session for eight long days, with three equally qualified candidates, and no end in sight when I wrote the suggestion below (July 2, 1924). By coincidence we have three candidates today, and I’m taking the liberty to insert their names in here also.

“I was awfully glad to meet [John W. Davis], as I already knew the other two leading candidates, Mr. William McAdoo and Al Smith. They are all great fellows. I hate to see one win because I will hate to see the other two lose.
How would this do? Put in all three and put on three eight-hour shifts. Divide the work.
Let Mr. Davis (McCain), on account of his European experience, attend to all foreign affairs, also social ones. Let McAdoo (Obama) handle the money, the labor questions and the railroads, and let Al Smith (Clinton) take a big stick and club those politicians into line and make them do something. A combination like that would be unbeatable. Elect them for life; then they wouldn’t have to worry about where they were going from there. They could give all their time to their work.”

Of course nobody saw fit to adopt my plan in ’24, so I doubt if it will be accepted in ’08. But still… can’t you see Mr. McCain taking the morning shift, then Mr. Obama relieving him in the afternoon. That leaves Mrs. Clinton fresh for the midnight shift and all those phone calls at 3:00 a.m. Now this arrangement may seem to give Hillary the lighter load. But with these three couples sharing the White House, she’ll have her hands full seeing that Bill doesn’t get too frisky with the other First Ladies.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Another rule [of the Democratic Convention] reads: no money shall change hands among buyers or sellers while on the floor of the convention. This is purely a Democratic rule; the Republicans have no such restrictions. That is why they are the most prosperous party.

…I want to see this thing over and get back to the serious business of trying to entertain people. If they are smart they will nominate some man we don’t know. I didn’t think at first that the Democrats were serious about really nominating someone this year, but they tell me they have to put up somebody or they will lose their franchise.” Convention Article 9, July 1, 1924