#539 February 22, 2009

Weekly Comments: Congress vacations while President multiplies and divides

COLUMBUS: Congress is on vacation. Passing the big stimulus exhausted ’em, so they left town to rest up before returning for another crack at saving the country.

Most of these Congressmen and Senators went home to face the voters. Democrats explained why they are for the stimulus, but confessed they don’t know when the money will show up. Republicans confessed they voted against it, but are willing to claim credit for any dollars coming to their district.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn’t go home. She flew directly to Rome to see the Pope. While others did their confessing locally, but she went straight to the top.

With Congress out of town, Governors and Mayors converged on the White House to see how much of the loot they could carry home. Arnold Swartzenegger camped out at the gate to be first in line. President Obama has promised to give to each according to need, but they must spend it wisely. Arnold said after California gets all they need, what’s left for the other 49 won’t buy ’em bus tickets home.

President Obama announced that he aims to cut the deficit in half by 2012. Asked how he planned to accomplish that, he said, “First, compared to a couple of years ago, we’re going to double it. Then cutting it in half won’t seem so tough.” He thanked President Bush for helping him with the doubling, and now he’s looking to sign up folks to help with the halving.

The big banks are, well, they aren’t as big as you might think. If you bank with Citibank or Bank of America, odds are your account in the bank is worth more than the total stock value of the bank.

All these banks got billions from the government, but they don’t want to lend it. Even if they’re willing to lend, nobody wants to borrow. We’re learning how to make do with what we got, fix it up, repair it ourselves, or get along without. It was almost a lost art here, but we learn fast when the need arises. Why, the next round of loan requests will likely come this spring from folks to buy seed and fertilizer to grow their own vegetable gardens.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“I see where Jesse Jones and his R.F.C. (Redistribution Finance Corporation) are not satisfied with the way the banks are just sitting counting their money. So to make the banks ashamed of themselves the R.F.C. is going to make loans to industries. The banks will be so humiliated that they will be the first ones to borrow all that Jesse has. Jesse, you’ve been a banker yourself; you ought to know you can’t shame a banker, especially a big one.” DT #2301, Dec. 18, 1933

“Everybody is saying that the trouble with the country is that people are saving instead of spending… Since when did saving become a national calamity? Spending when we didn’t have it puts us where we are today. Saving when we have got it will get us back to where we was before we went cuckoo.” DT #1353, Nov. 24, 1930

#538 February 15, 2009

One stimulus down, two more to go?

COLUMBUS: Congress passed the economic stimulus bill. They said the total is $780,000,000,000, but nobody has read it, so that’s just a rough idea. The President is going to Denver Tuesday to sign it. It’s the highest bill ever passed by a legislative body so it deserves to be signed in the highest city.

But really, where the President ought to sign it is on Pike’s Peak because he said this stimulus bill is only “one leg of the stool.” Now in my younger days I spent a good deal of time sitting on one of those 3-legged stools, milking cows. And if Mr. Obama ever milked a cow, he knows those 3 legs are the same height. So, if you feel like $780 Billion will be hard to pay for, the next two for $1.56 Trillion will milk you dry. Maybe he can arrange to sign those bills on Mount Everest.

The President says this bill will result in 4 million jobs (or is it 12 million). I don’t know exactly what he’ll do with 4 million jobs, even if they do show up. He’s already got two that he can’t fill. He’s running short of applicants willing to fess up and pay their back taxes.

A Commerce Secretary shouldn’t be hard to find. If you belong to your local Chamber, and your dues are paid up, send ’em a resume.

For Secretary of Health and Human Services he needs someone who is fit and trim, has experience heading up a big outfit, and operates under a huge deficit. Nobody meets those qualifications better than California Governor Schwarzenegger.

Outside of California, Wall Street is the best training you can get for a federal government job. See, you work for an outfit that loses Billions, and they give you an award. On Wall Street that means a million dollar bonus. In Washington it means they re-elect you.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers (on Lincoln and Washington):

“Lincoln’s speech (was) only about three hundred words long, and the plainest words. There’s not a child, or even a comedian, that can’t understand it. Well, President Hoover got flowery, all long words. Honest, Lincoln just as well not made his speech as far as it has had any effect on other speakers. He left it as an example, but no one ever followed it.” WA #531, Feb. 26, 1933

“Papers today say, “What would Lincoln do today?” Well, in the first place, he wouldn’t chop any wood. He would trade his axe in on a Ford. Being a Republican he would vote the Democratic ticket. Being in sympathy for the underdog he would be classed as a radical progressive. Having a sense of humor he would be called eccentric.” DT #2349, Feb. 12, 1934

“Our Public men keep Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays alive, just so they can deliver addresses… They learn ’em so they can deliver ’em backwards, sideways, or perpindicular. There has been more great ideas blamed on Washington and Lincoln than they could have possibly thought of during their lifetime, even if they had thought of nothing but great ideas all the time.” WA #320, Feb. 10, 1929

#537 February 8, 2009


Accomplished actor James Whitmore died Friday. Among all his other great talents, for about 30 years he did a one-man show as Will Rogers. I met him once at Claremore. Here’s a photo of him on this website: http://willrogerstoday.com/photo_gallery/WillRogersTodayandFriends.cfm#9

Weekly Comments: Let schoolchildren and China weigh in on stimulus

COLUMBUS: Congress and the President are close to a compromise on the big spending bill. Everybody agrees it’s a spending bill; the argument is over who gets to do the spending. Democrats say that since they won the election, they should be the ones to play Santa Claus. Republicans say, “No, let the taxpayers hand out the presents.”

Some Democrats even insisted that all the money the government will spend on products like steel or cars can only be spent on American products. That sounded fair, until word reached China. Then the whole plan fell off the cliff. Congress forgot to ask where’s the money coming from. Well, the money is coming from those that have got it. That means China, because we sent all our money over there, mostly by way of Wal-Mart. So China says, since we’re providing the money, we want a fair chance to provide the steel, copper, computers and other goods.

Now if you’re going to listen to the ones lending the dough, how about the ones that will eventually have to pay it back. I say arrange it so all our school children can give an opinion on the plan. After all, when you add up what this stimulus bill will cost them over the next fifty years, they had better get well trained to earn big salaries.

Of course our children and grandchildren may vote no on this tremendous financial burden. No stimulus, no more debt to pay back in the future. And if having no stimulus money means school has to be cut short by a month or two, why, that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make.


One good idea that will stay in the bill is more payments for folks out of work. I propose that if you are laid off or your hours were cut, to collect the benefits you have to show up and keep working. Many of these job cuts were practically forced on employers, not because there was no work, but because they had no money to pay with. If nothing else, go to work and take along a mop or paint brush or snow shovel. There’s bound to be something to work on that’ll keep you in the habit.

I’m not so sure about President Obama’s plan to limit salaries to $500,000 for anybody getting this government money. And Congressman Barney Frank went farther and wants it applied to almost everybody. Even baseball players, Hollywood actors, and college presidents. He did not include lobbyists and former Congressmen because that would be meddling.


Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“People that pay for things never complain. It’s the guy you give something to that you can’t please.” WA #160, 1926

“The budget is a mythical bean bag. Congress votes mythical beans into it, and then tries to reach in and pull real beans out.” DT #2047, Feb. 24, 1933

“The only problem that confronts this country today is at least seven million people are out of work. That’s our only problem. There is no other one before us at all. It’s to see that every man that wants to is able to work…. These people that you are asked to aid, why they are not asking for charity, they are naturally asking for a job. But if you can’t give them a job why the next best thing you can do is see that they have food and the necessities of life.” Special radio broadcast, with President Hoover, Oct. 18, 1931

#536 February 1, 2009

Will and Senator Coburn offer Stimulus ideas

COLUMBUS: Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma had the quote of the year on the Stimulus bill,”We shouldn’t be spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need.”

I’m surprised every Democrat in the Senate didn’t jump up and yell, “But that’s what our entire economy is built on!!” Only spend money we have on things we need? Why, that’s blasphemous. If Americans behave in such a foolhardy and reckless manner this year, the economy will tank. The 1930s would look like an economic boom time by comparison.
Here’s just one of the wacky ideas in that $800 Billion dollar Stimulus bill. They want to spend $10 Million to plant grass on the Washington Mall, you know, where they held the Inauguration. I bet Tom would agree with this money saving plan instead: give a farmer one Million dollars and let him plant corn on it. Why, he would plant corn all the way to the Lincoln Memorial and around the White House. With a million dollars he could afford to fertilize and go after a bumper crop. He would spray Round-Up, just like you do on the cracks in your driveway, to get rid of weeds. On hot, dry July days he could irrigate out of the Reflecting Pool.

Because farmers are used to working on shares, at harvest time he would give half the profits to the government. Can you imagine getting half the profits back from those sod layers? What a chance.

Let’s give the Federal government credit where it’s due. They stumbled on a new plan to get tax cheats to pay up. Local police have been using a similar plan for years to get known criminals off the street. They send ’em a letter announcing they have just won a $200 prize, and to come to a certain address to pick up the cash. When they show up, they arrest ’em. Well, I bet the IRS knows of at least a half million who have skipped out on taxes, so all the government has to do is send ’em a letter announcing their appointment to a certain Cabinet position. You may say it’s silly, and no one would fall for a such a trick. Well, they already caught two of ’em. If it works on the rest, Obama could collect enough to balance the budget.

The Pittsburgh Steelers won another Super Bowl, their sixth, over the Arizona Cardinals, who had never been in one before. I was pulling for the underdog because nobody in Ohio likes the Steelers. They always beat up on Cleveland and Cincinnati. The irony is that it was players from Ohio that made the big plays to win the game.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“The Townsend Plan [to give a pension to old folks] went down in Congress, so it looks like a kind of a bad day for plans. I believe if Townsend had lowered his sights and called for maybe $50 instead of $200 a month, and took out the clause where they had to spend it. Old people, you know, are naturally kind of conservative, and saving, and they would’ve hated to spend money every week if they really didn’t need to. Our government is the only people that just loves to spend without being compelled to at all. But the government is the only people that don’t have to worry where it’s coming from.” Radio, April 21, 1935