#548 April 26, 2009

Weekly Comments: Ideas for keeping your head above water.

COLUMBUS: President Obama asked for my advice Saturday. Yes, he’s looking for ideas on how to reduce government spending.

Well, I’ll jump right in with a big one, and gladly give him full credit. Raise the retirement age for collecting Social Security to 75 by 2020. This is a tough one, but do it gradual and give a bonus for these deserving old folks: once you reach 70, you can stop paying into it. People are working longer anyway. With this idea, everybody will want to live longer just to get even with the government. They’ll eat better, drive careful, maybe even stop smoking and drinking. So not only will it save on Social Security, but Medicare, too.

Now here’s one for you personally, Mr. President. Stay in Washington. Just because you have Air Force One, and limos, and a helicopter, it don’t mean you need to use them every week. Naturally it’s fun to fly to Des Moines or Tucson to make an announcement standing in front of local scenery and politicians. But a trip that any of us could make for a few hundred dollars, when you go it costs at least a million. Washington has some lovely scenery you can try out. Maybe no corn fields or cactus, but cherry blossoms along the Potomac are more than acceptable.

And these foreign trips to shake hands with various dignitaries: let ’em come here to meet you. Don’t fly off to Europe or South America and sit there and let everyone poke fun at America. Invite ’em here where you’ve got home field advantage.

Here’s one for Congress: stay in session two weeks at a time. Instead of flying home every weekend, work straight through, then take off a week. That way we only pay for about 20 round trips instead of 40 or 50. Why, just imagine the savings from Speaker Pellosi alone.

I don’t know if this will make a dent in your Trillions of deficit spending, but it’s a start. We’ve got to do something or, as I read in the newspaper this morning, “the taxpayers will be drowning in debt for ten years.” While we can’t even pretend to drown a terrorist, drowning a taxpayer is not only legal, it’s encouraged.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“People don’t change under governments. Governments change, but the people remain the same… What does it matter who is in any four years? You got to get out and hustle for it or you don’t get it, no matter what Government is in.” Saturday Evening Post, Dec. 4, 1926

“There’s the one thing no nation can ever accuse us of and that is Secret Diplomacy. Our foreign dealings are an Open Book, generally a Check Book.” WA #45, October 21, 1923

#547 April 19, 2009

Weekly Comments: Oklahoma spurs ideas for tea parties and Earth Day.

COLUMBUS: I just returned from two days in Oklahoma City. The Land Title Association invited me to their annual powwow at the Skirvin Hotel. After all the titleing work was done, they held a Roaring Twenties dinner, and everybody dressed up in costumes. It’s the biggest business Oklahoma Halloween costume shops have ever done in April.

Al Capone was there, and several keystone cops to chase (but never catch) him. I saw one forlorn farmer who had lost his wheat crop, but that may have been for real. Most popular though was the flapper girls. Why, there was enough of ’em we could have put on a Ziegfeld Follies show just like the old days.

These folks have done their part to keep land sales honest in Oklahoma. You don’t hear about foreclosures there the way you do in Florida and California.

In Washington (or was it South America) President Obama announced a new plan for CIA agents. From now on they’ll get the same training for dealing with prisoners as our teachers do with ornery students. “We’re ending torture. There’ll be no raising the voice, no searching their belongings, and absolutely no paddling.” Saudi Arabia replied, “We’re pleased the U.S. ended torturous water boarding, hair pulling and eye gouging.” They went on, “In the Muslim world, we would never do any of those things, except in a humane way.” Uh, humane way? “Yes, before we do anything to a man’s head, first we chop it off.”

But these CIA birds are shrewd, probably some are former Navy SEALS, so they’ll figure another way to get information from captured terrorists.

Everybody got their tax forms finished last week, then some of ’em went to a Tea Party. Maybe a million all together, and another million or two that would have liked to go. Taxes was the prime topic, mainly on how they’re spent.

I wish a reporter had asked a few tea partiers two questions: What spending should be cut? And what services would you personally be willing to give up? On the first one, ear mark pork barrel projects and bailout money paying million dollar bonuses would have been mentioned often. On the second, a hundred people would have given a hundred different answers, except the ones who admitted they really didn’t want to give up anything that directly benefits them. There’s the rub. We want the government to spend less, but it’s the other fellow we want ’em to spend less on.

Earth Day is April 22, as it has been since 1970. Most of the fine folks you’ll hear speaking on Earth Day will have good ideas for preserving and protecting the planet, or their favorite parts of it, mostly by fencing it off just to look at. Our farmers and ranchers consider themselves environmentalists, too, and they do a mighty fine job protecting the land in this country. The big difference is, while they are protecting it they’re also producing from it. So remember these agricultural environmentalists because they are trying to provide a steady supply of some essentials for you, like corn, meat, potatoes, cotton and 2x4s.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“The crime of taxation is not in the taking it, it’s in the way that it’s spent.” DT #1764, March 20, 1932

“It costs ten times more to govern us than it used to, and we are not governed one-tenth as good.” DT #1770, March 27, 1932

Weekly Comments: Easter Sunday brought good news to U.S.

COLUMBUS: In case you were ever in doubt, today proved the worth of a Navy. Those Somali pirates had been living high, raking in millions of dollars faster than a Wall Street Hedge Fund manager. These aren’t your Disney pirates; they’re bright, ruthless kidnappers who trained by studying the likes of Al Capone, Willy Sutton, and the Dalton Gang.

But they neglected one big lesson: don’t rile the U.S. Navy.

The French Navy was no pushover either. Now we’ve gotta convince a few more countries to get serious with these Somali terrorists. The head guys are on land and think they’re safe. We’ve got an Air Force too, and if a few bombs eliminate a few head guys, the ships held for ransom may be let go in a hurry.

The heroism of ship captain Richard Phillips and the Navy Seals sharpshooters overshadowed the big news from the White House: a non-allergenic dog for the First Daughters. It’s a special dog, a water dog of Portugese and Kennedy ancestry. The girls named him Bo.

There’s been more interest in naming the dog than naming assistants for Treasury Secretary Geithner. They’re short a dozen high level money managers to work on our financial mess. Personally I figure quite a few taxpayers who today are scrambling to dig up enough cash to cover their check to the IRS are qualified. The first question on the job application should be this one. If you are hit with a huge unexpected expense that drives you far into debt, the following year would you plan to: A. Spend more; B. Spend the same; C. Spend less; or D. It depends?

If they answer “C”, hire ’em. The government is already overloaded with ones who said “A”. If you get more worthy candidates than needed, send ’em to Sacramento or some other state Capitol.

The Obama family attended a local church on Easter Sunday. Like a lot of other church goers, they gave no indication they’ll return any time soon. See, they haven’t decided yet on a home church in Washington.

In the Masters golf tournament, they had a three-way tie, and none of ’em was named Tiger. The playoff winner was an Argentinian named Angel Cabrera. Quite appropriate for Easter Sunday.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.” WA #99, Nov. 2, 1924. Also DT #822, March 15, 1929

“If there ever was a time to save, it’s now. When a dog gets a bone he don’t go out and make the first payment on a bigger bone with it. He buries the one he’s got… Don’t make the first payment on anything. First payments is what made us think we were prosperous, and the other nineteen is what showed us we were broke.” DT #1234, July 9, 1930

#545 April 5, 2009

Weekly Comments: Will has more faith in Detroit than in Washington

COLUMBUS: Congress passed what they humorously called a budget. It says we will spend $3.5 Trillion of the $2.5 Trillion we take in. Where else could you call a spending plan with a Trillion dollar deficit a budget, except maybe on Wall Street.

Actually Congress didn’t pass the budget, the Democrats did. Republicans may as well stayed home.

By coincidence, President Obama went to Europe for a series of conferences. First, he and Mrs. Obama met the Queen. Then he conferred with the leaders of 20 countries. Everything was going smooth, they all liked him, right up to the minute he asked ’em to loan him a Trillion dollars. Then his popularity sorta waned.

He went on to more conferences in Germany and Prague, and suggested all nations with nuclear weapons should give them up, and everybody cheered. That is everybody except the nations who have nuclear weapons. You know, even if we got rid of the nukes, we would have to dig up another Albert Einstein to invent something just as good.

That G-20 conference in England got off to a rocky start. The hooligans heard G-20 was coming to London, thought it was a soccer team, and started a riot. Did you see it? They hurled insults, bricks and empty beer bottles. (An Englishman, even an ignorant hooligan, would never throw a bottle before emptying it.)

For years we’ve heard, “As General Motors goes, so goes the nation.” Well, that pretty much explains the hole we’re in today. For close to a hundred years, we put our faith and our monthly payments in the automobile industry. Every time we bought one, we hoped the payments would stop before the car did. Then about ten years ago Congress, Fannie Mae and the bankers said, “Put your money into housing, even if you don’t have any, because a house always goes up, not down like a car.” So we did. We bought a house and a car, sometimes two or three of each. But houses dropped faster than cars and now nobody is buying either one.

So GM is broke, our President fired their president, and says he’ll run it from Washington. Chrysler is gonna be paired up with Fiat. An earlier deal with the German company, Daimler-Benz, ended in divorce, so this time she is to be married off to an Italian. If you wonder what a bright European company would see in this ugly step-sister, well, you haven’t seen the dowery. President Obama is playing father of the bride and giving Fiat $6 Billion.

Personally, I would have put GM and Chrysler together. Instead of turning it over to Wall Street bankers and Washington lawyers to run, bring in a president who knows how to build the best “vehicles” in their industry. I would suggest the president of John Deere, the president of Caterpillar, or the president of Harley-Davidson. Either hire one of them, or Lee Iacocca.

Word leaked out that the President’s economic advisors recently got big payoffs from Wall Street and the bankers. Larry Summers collected $5 Million for giving them advise. If his advice is worth $5 million, why did stocks drop 50 percent? Why would we think his advice to the President is any better than it was to Wall Street?

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

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

“Popularity is the easiest thing in the world to gain and it is the hardest thing to hold.” Radio, May 18, 1930

“America, a funny thing about us, we never was very good in conference. We have a unique record. We never lost a war and we never won a conference. I think, without any degree of egotism, we can say, with our tremendous resources we can lick any nation in the world single-handed. And yet we can’t confer with Costa Rica and come home with our shirts on.” Radio, April 6, 1930