October 26, 2008

Obama vs. McCain by the numbers

COLUMBUS: This election campaign is coming down to a clear division point between the candidates. Senator Obama says he is representing the 95% who expect to be on the receiving end of the excess wealth of the country, and Sen. McCain says he is looking out for the 5% expected to contribute it. With those kind of percentages it’s no surprise that Mr. Obama draws crowds of 100,000, and Mr. McCain averages 5000.

The financial mess on Wall Street reached Ohio last week. National City Bank of Cleveland failed. After it’s stock dropped from $24 to $2, it was salvaged by a Pittsburgh bank The bank president and a dozen of his henchmen claim they are each owed a 5 to10 Million dollar bonus, I suppose for their splendid financial foresight.

Saturday night I went to the Ohio State-Penn State football game. You might say that was another instance where an Ohio institution was taken over by one from Pennsylvania. Coach Joe Paterno is an institution himself. He’s been coaching there more than fifty years, inflicting pain and losses on teams across the country. Even his opponents will agree Joe Paterno is one presiding officer who would deserve a $10 Million parting bonus.

For those of you who read this column in your weekly newspaper, this will be the last column before the big election. “My” birthday is November 4, and I’ll be in Oklahoma Nov. 1-5 for the celebration.

This is rare, to have a Presidential election land on my birthday. Since being born on election day in1879 (an off-year), in a log house near Oologah, Indian Territory, the only Presidential elections on November 4 have been in 1884, 1924, 1952 and 1980. And in case you’re wondering, the next ones will be 2036 and 2092. That’s a long time to wait between ’em, but the way the candidates are going at each other, you might prefer spacing them out.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“We know that everybody should ‘share the wealth.’ Now, Huey’s [Sen. Huey Long] plan to “share the wealth,” it’s a marvelous idea. Huey’s a smart guy, don’t overlook that. And our own downright conscience tells us that there’s no reason why anybody should have more than you. There ain’t nothing wrong with the plan, only this one little defect: Nobody ain’t going to share it with you, that’s all. I know a lot of tremendously rich people that should share their wealth with me, but they just don’t see it that way. And I know folks that ain’t got as much as I have that think I ought to share it with them. Well, I just can’t hardly see it their way either. That is, even if I can see it that way, I’m not doing it.” Radio, April 21, 1935

(On his radio show Will described a lunch he had in the Capitol with 5 Senators, both Republican and Democrat, and concluded with this…) “We had a great lunch. (Senator) Capper paid for it. The Republican pays, as usual. And everything that the Democrats are doin’ now, the Republicans pay for it. Everybody asks me, “Will, how long is this going to go on, spending all this money and everything going like this?” I says, “Well, it will go on just as long as the Republicans has got any money. That’s all I know about it.” Radio, March 31, 1935

“I guess this stock market drop is due to the fact that Rockefeller and all those big men who stabilized it a couple of weeks ago have about reached the limit of their margins. What the market needs now is another bunch of men that will stabilize it during its next 100-point drop.” DT #1030, Nov. 13, 1929

“Say, this new home building idea of (President) Hoover’s sounds good. They are working out a lot of beneficial things. The only thing is it took ’em so long (2 years) to think of any of ’em. We ought to have plans in case of depression, just like we do in case of fire, ‘Walk, don’t run, to the nearest exit.'” DT #1659, Nov. 16, 1931

“You know the more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that’s out always looks the best. My only solution would be to keep ’em both out one term and hire my good friend Henry Ford to run the whole thing, and give him a commission on what he saves us.” WA #3, December 31, 1922

“So it’s going to be mighty hard next Wednesday after it’s over to tell which one to congratulate. If this depression stays with us, the loser Tuesday is going to be the winner.” DT #1951, Nov. 4, 1932

#521 October 19, 2008

Will finds a Congress with horse sense

COLUMBUS: As this Presidential election campaign winds down to November 4, the candidates have been knocked out of the spotlight by Joe the Plumber and Tina Fey. Those two are leading the news when we should be hearing wisdom from the candidates on the question, “How will you reduce spending by 20 percent to match revenues?” Or if they prefer, “How will you raise revenues during an economic downturn to match spending?”

Senator Obama raised $150 Million in September. He’s been raking in so much loot from millions of old and new supporters, I think that’s where he got the idea for his share the wealth plan. He plans to balance the budget by asking these same folks to keep sending in their monthly donations, payable to the U.S. Treasury. And Warren Buffett will match ’em dollar for dollar.

The American Quarter Horse Congress is going on at the Ohio state fairgrounds in Columbus. The main difference between this Congress and the one in Washington is horse sense.

Talk about raising revenue, in three weeks these horse folks kick in more to the local economy than college football and politics combined. It’s a thrill to walk around, looking over the thousand horses and the people. And the trucks. They’re selling trucks here that would be insulted if you called ’em pickups. It takes a big truck to pull a big horse trailer. You can buy a trailer with stalls for 4 horses in the back and living quarters for a family up front.

Now, one of these luxurious trailers may come in handy if this financial jam we’re in reaches all the way down to impact our expensive hobbies. If foreclosure takes the house and land, just live in the trailer with your horses. Sell the truck, and any time you feel the urge to move, get a fifth wheel and hitch ’em up.

Well, the campaign has narrowed down, after a long, grueling season, to Florida and Pennsylvania. Those two states are going to decide it. It is the World Series, and the Philadelphia Phillies play the Tampa Bay Rays. Of course, there’s plenty of folks, if you gave ’em a choice, would prefer to have the runners-up, the Dodgers against the Red Sox. Sometimes baseball is just like Presidential elections.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“A man that don’t love a horse, there is something the matter with him. If he has no sympathy for the man that does love horses then there is something worse the matter with him.” (WA #88, August 17, 1924)

“The big writers are hollering now that Congress ‘soaked the rich’ by raising the rate after (income) passed $1,000,000 to 45 per cent. Why the holler?… You can’t legitimately kick on income tax, for it’s on what you have made.” DT #1798, April 28, 1932 [Actually by the time the bill passed Congress, the top rate was raised to 55%.]

“(Louisiana Senator) Huey Long had tough going last week, with his ‘Share the Wealth’ plan. Interior Secretary (Harold) Ickes and Relief Commissioner (Harry) Hopkins, who handles more money than any man in the world, they said, “No, Huey, you’re not goin’ to share any of our wealth.” Well, that’s the wealth Huey was kinda figurin’ on sharin’. You know, the national problem in this country today is not who shall be relieved and whose money shall relieve him, but who shall be the one that plays Santa Claus and actually hands out the presents. That’s the main problem today, it’s who hands out the presents.” Radio, April 21, 1935

“It looks like the financial giants of the world have bungled as much as the diplomats and politicians. This would be a great time in the world for some man to come along that knew something.” DT #1611, Sept. 21, 1931

“It looks to me like any man that wants to be President in times like these lacks something.” DT #1803, May 4, 1932

“If this depression stays with us, the loser Tuesday is going to be the winner.” DT #1951, Nov. 4, 1932

“Wall Street is being investigated, but they are not asleep while it’s being done. You see where the Senate took that tax off the sales of stocks, didn’t you? Saved ’em $48,000,000. Now, why don’t somebody investigate the Senate and see who got to them to get that tax removed? That would be a real investigation.” DT #1803, May 4, 1932

“We are known as the wealthiest Nation of all time. Well, in the first place we are not. The difference between our rich and poor grows greater every year. Our distribution of wealth is getting more uneven all the time.” WA #388, June 1, 1930

“Everybody knows that one of our great ills today is the unequal distribution of wealth. You are either at a banquet in this country, or you are at a hot dog stand. There was no doubt that the ones with the money were about the only ones that could pay anything, but after all, these rich ones are the ones the rest of us got to live off of. If the Government takes all their money in taxes it don’t leave any for the folks that work for ’em.” WA #486, April 17, 1932

“All you will hear (on the radio) from now until the 4th of November will be: ‘We must get our government out of the hands of predatory wealth.’ ‘The good people of this great country are burdened to death with taxes. Now what I intend to do is …’ What he intends to do is try and get elected. That’s all any of them intend to do. Another one that will hum over the old static every night will be: ‘This country has reached a crisis in its national existence.'” WA #86, August 3, 1924

#520 October 12, 2008

Comments from readers:

“One of your very best! Your original contributions exceeded WR ‘s stuff this time.”  Allan  S.
“Excellent!”  Cara
“Great article and ideas” Bruce L.

Needed: Fewer politicians, more engineers and accountants

COLUMBUS: Let’s see. The $700 Billion bailout was passed to “stabilize the economy”. Since it was first proposed, the economy has stabilized all right, about $7 Trillion below what it was at the time.

Gasoline is $2.80. It may go down to a dollar a gallon, but we won’t have a dollar to buy it with.

The Treasury Secretary put an engineer in charge of the $700 Billion program. He figured the economists let us get into this mess, may as well appoint an engineer to clean it up. You know, this $700 Billion is to be “invested”, and a few years down the road we’re supposed to get it back, except a few Billion thrown in the pork barrel for rum, wool, fish and a horde of other items no honorable Congressman would have dared attach to a smaller bill. So you can expect the first announcement from this engineer to be, “Nobody gets any pork from this bill until the $700 Billion investment is paid back in full.”

This financial mess was caused by banks being forced to give mortgages to people with no chance of paying it back. And who did the forcing? Mainly Democrats in Congress. You might ask, why are you blaming the Democrats? Well, can you imagine a conservative Republican ever demanding that banks make such loans? Regardless of party, what we need in Congress is fewer politicians and more accountants.

If Congress insists on a stimulus package for individuals, I propose this one: Whatever federal income tax you owe in December you get to keep. With this provis 50% of it must be put into a regular bank account or used to pay off your debts; 25% spent on Christmas presents made in America; and 25% donated to the Salvation Army or local charity to help the poor. That way, your bank gets some cash to loan out, the poor get to eat, and your family enjoys a holiday.

In the final debate this week, I want Bob Scheiffer to ask one question of the candidates. They have been asked it before, but promptly ignored it. “How will this financial mess we’re in change your plans as President?” Bob remembers the Depression and how long it lasted, and he may make ’em wrestle with this question and how they’ll deal with it, for the entire 90 minutes if necessary. Where’s Ross Perot when we need him?

On Wednesday I donated blood at the Red Cross. While I was laying there with a needle in one arm, on the television they were talking about AIG needing another $40 Billion, presumably for a few more executive retreats at a half million each. I suggested to the nice nurse collecting my blood that if we can’t send ’em to jail, at least they ought to be tied down and take out some of their blood. She snapped back at me,”But nobody would want it.”

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“When Wall Street took that tail spin, you had to stand in line to get a window to jump out of, and speculators were selling space for bodies in the East River… You know there is nothing that hollers as quick and as loud as a gambler.” DT#1013, Oct. 24, 1929

“Sure must be a great consolation to the poor people who lost their stock in the late crash to know that it has fallen in the hands of Mr. Rockefeller, who will take care of it and see that it has a good home and never be allowed to wander around unprotected again. There is one rule that works in every calamity. Be it pestilence, war or famine, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The poor even help arrange it.” DT #1019, Oct. 31, 1929

“Our whole Depression was brought on by gambling, not in the stock market alone but in expanding and borrowing and going in debt, all just to make some money quick.” Radio, May 5, 1935

“Candidates have been telling you that if elected they would ‘pull you from this bog hole of financial misery.’ Now is a good chance to get even with ’em, by electing ’em, just to prove what a liar they are.” DT #1334, Nov.2, 1930

“If you got a dollar, soak it away, put it in a savings bank, bury it, do anything but spend it. Spending when we didn’t have it put us where we are today. Saving when we’ve got it will get us back to where we was before we went cuckoo.” DT #1353, Nov. 24, 1930

“While the Republicans are smart enough to make money, the Democrats are smart enough to get in office two or three times a century and take it away from them… Now the Republicans admit that they’re rich and that they’re the smarter ones and can make money faster, so it’s a good thing the old Democrats come along and level ’em off every once in a while. If they are so smart, why let ’em go out and make some more because they’re going to have to pretty soon.” Radio, June 24, 1932

“The American people are a very generous people and will forgive almost any weakness, with the possible exception of stupidity.” WA #63, 1924

“We’ll hold the distinction of being the only nation in the history of the world that ever went to the poor house in an automobile.” Radio, Oct 18, 1931

“Ain’t it funny how many hundreds of thousands of soldiers we can recruit with nerve, but we just can’t find one politician in a million with backbone.” DT #800, Feb. 18, 1929

#519 October 5, 2008

Restoring Confidence costs $700 Billion and a bottle of Rum

COLUMBUS: The big news last Friday came out of Washington. The Senate and the House passed a huge bill, the biggest in American history. And here’s what the bill does. It subsidizes Puerto Rican rum, Somoan fishermen, wooden arrows, sheep’s wool and bicycles.

Now, if I had known Congress was so concerned about sheep and bicycles, I might have requested a few million for cattle and horses. With the high price of corn and oats and hay to feed ’em, our ranchers could use the extra loot. I’m confident I could have got it, too, if I had arranged to send each Senator and Congressman a few cases of Puerto Rican rum. That’s what appeared to put the whole thing over, was rum. On Monday they were against the bill, but by Friday they had drunk enough Puerto Rican rum to vote in favor of it.

Of course they don’t call it the “Rum, Wool and Bicycle Bailout Bill”. No, it’s a “Rescue Bill”. It’s funded with $700 Billion from the Taxpayers (hereafter known as the “Rescuers”) which will be turned over to Wall Street and the Bankers (hereafter known as the “Rescuees”). In return for rescuing the Rescuees, the Rescuers have been assured that the Rescuees will do all in their power to Restore Confidence.

As I was watching the debate between the Vice-Presidential candidates I was reminded that Sarah Palin got her big boost in politics because she was appointed to the Alaska Oil Commission and cleaned up the corruption. That’s what got her elected Governor later on. It got me thinking, if some President a few years ago had been smart enough to appoint Sarah Palin, or someone like her, to the Board of Fannie Mae and Freddie, we could’ve saved the country $700 Billion. Except of course for the portion set aside for rum, wool, arrows, fish and bicycles.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on restoring confidence)

“America already holds the record for freak movements. Now we have a new one. It’s called “Restoring Confidence.” Rich men who never had a mission in life outside of watching a stock ticker are working day and night “restoring confidence.” Writers are working night shifts, speakers’ tables are littered up, ministers are preaching statistics, all on “restoring confidence.”

Now I am not unpatriotic, and I want to do my bit, so I hereby offer my services to my President, my country and my friends to do anything (outside of serving on a commission) that I can in this great movement. But you will have to give me some idea of where “confidence” is. And just who you want it restored to.” DT #1035, Nov. 19, 1929

“I have been trying my best to help (the President) and Wall Street “Restore Confidence.” Confidence, is one of the hardest things in the World to get restored once it gets out of bounds. I have helped restore a lot of things in my time, such as cattle back to the home range. Helped to revive interest in National Political Conventions. Even assisted the Democrats in every forlorn pilgrimage, and a host of other worthy charities. But I tell you this “Restoring Confidence” is the toughest drive I ever assisted in. When I took up the work two or three weeks ago, confidence was at a mighty low ebb. Wall Street had gone into one tail spin after another…

I am telling (folks) that the Country as a whole is “Sound,” and that all those who’s heads are solid are bound to get back into the market again. I tell ’em that this Country is bigger than Wall Street, and if they don’t believe it, I show ’em the map.” WA #362, Dec.1, 1929