#566 August 30, 2009

Senator Kennedy, a man of good humor

COLUMBUS: Will Rogers would have enjoyed talking and joking with Senator Kennedy, just as he did Huey Long, Reed Smoot, Joe Grundy, Jim Reed, and all the other humorists in the Senate.

One thing in common all the speakers said about Ted Kennedy was that he liked to laugh. It seemed that he treated debate in the Senate like a mock debate in college; when it was over he would hug his “opponent” and joke about how they had done.

The quotes below were not about Ted Kennedy, but they probably could have been.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: 

“You know I like to make little jokes and kid about the Senators.  They are a kind of a never ending source of amusement, amazement, and discouragement.  But the Rascals, when you meet ‘em face to face and know ‘em, they are mighty nice fellows. It must be something in the office that makes ‘em so ornery sometimes.  When you see what they do officially you want to shoot ‘em, but when one looks at you and grins so innocently, why you kinder want to kiss him.” WA #345, Aug. 4, 1929

“Well, visited the Senate Saturday and renewed many pleasant acquaintances. They are a fine bunch of fellows when you take into consideration the amount of things the people lay onto ‘em. They rant at each other in there, then come out and are good friends.” DT #2336, Jan. 28, 1934

“Funny thing about being a U. S. Senator, the only thing the law says you have to be is 30 years old. Not another single requirement necessary. They just figure that a man that old got nobody to blame but himself if he gets caught in there.” DT #2770, June 21, 1935

“We lost a mighty good ex-Senator out here this week. James Phelan, a philanthropist, a scholar, a patron of the arts and a gentleman; with these qualifications, naturally a Democrat.” DT #1262, August 11, 1930

“There is an old legend that years ago there was a man elected to Congress who voted according to his own conscience.” Notes, 1919

“You may ask: Isn’t the Presidency higher than Senator? Well, no! The Senate can make a sucker out of any President, and generally does.” Republican Convention, Article #6, June 8, 1920

“The trouble with Senators is that the ones that ought to get out, don’t.” WA #323, March 3, 1929

“The Senate opened at twelve o’clock. Huey (Long) grabbed ‘em by the ears at 12:05 and shook ‘em till four o’clock. Well, when he turned ‘em loose they was ready to go home and behave themselves.” DT #2637, Jan. 17, 1935

#565 August 23, 2009

Weekly Comments: Work ain’t like it used to be

COLUMBUS: I learned something this week about work. Using a shovel, wheelbarrow, chainsaw, and an axe for a half day at a time can make me feel like10 or 12 hours of work used to. That don’t mean I accomplished a full days work in half a day, quite the contrary. I guess it has something to do with age, but that’s just from the male viewpoint. For a woman, they seem to get hardier as they get older, except they never get older.

President Obama took his family to Martha’s Vineyard for their first vacation in six months. After traveling on business to such spots as London, Paris,  Rome and Cairo, I guess he wanted to see how the other half live. The way some of our Congressmen and Senators are being yelled at back home, there may be about three hundred of ‘em wanting to move in with him.

My campaign to get news outfits to call H1N1 flu by its rightful name has utterly failed. The headline says, “Swine flu getting worse”, then in the main story they feel kinda sheepish and call it  H1N1. It’s no wonder our dailies are losing readers when they have such a low opinion of their subscribers’ intelligence. Headline writers have got everybody so scared of hogs, they ignore the real source of the flu, which is each other. If that ain’t bad enough, along comes another story claiming turkeys have contacted swine flu. That’s a double whammy for farmers. I can’t imagine Thanksgiving dinner without turkey or ham.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“I don’t think either (party) knows what it’s all about, to be honest with you.  Both sides are doing nothing but just looking towards the next election. You don’t hear anybody talking any more about, ‘I wonder when these folks are going back to work.  What are they going to do about things picking up?’  All you hear now is, ‘Do you think Roosevelt will be reelected?’  and, ‘Who will the Republicans run?’  Shows you what their minds are on.  Their minds are on their own business.  That’s all it’s on now.” Radio, June 9, 1935

#564 August 16, 2009

Health care solutions and Hiney flu

COLUMBUS: This month Congress is learning that folks doubt that our government knows more than doctors about how to keep them healthy. There’s nothing wrong with a Dept. of Health keeping an eye on the whole industry and heading them in the right direction when they get off track. But the government doesn’t need a representative standing there beside the doctor while they ponder whether to prescribe two aspirin or to operate.

It’s kinda like farmers who don’t want the Humane Society of U.S. put in charge of teaching them how to raise and care for their chickens, cattle and hogs. One of the first things a farmer learns at a young age is if the animals aren’t well-fed, cared for, and healthy they sure aren’t going to lay more eggs, give more milk, or add more pounds of lean meat. And the more efficiently the animals produce eggs, milk and meat, the less money you need to spend on food.

In the U.S., everybody has a choice. If you want eggs layed by hens that roam free (like all of them did fifty years ago), then you can buy ‘em. The price this week is over $3.00 a dozen. Regular eggs at the same grocery are ninety cents. You can’t tell any difference between them, but HSUS wants everybody to pay $3.00. Or stop eating eggs at all. And no meat either.

Now I don’t blame the President for trying to improve health care and reduce costs. But there is legitimately only about 5 million Americans that can’t afford health insurance; for the others uninsured, it’s their choice. If they drive a car, they know how to buy insurance. And their health ought to be worth more than a car.

I read in the newspaper where Charles Krauthammer has a great plan to cut out the lawyers’ share of health costs. Instead of malpractice trials, where the lawyers get a third, create boards of medical professionals who will punish the guilty doctors and hospitals, and award reasonable payments to the victims, all paid for by a small insurance charge. That alone would save enough to cover the 5 million uninsured.

You’ve got to remember that about half of the cost increase in the last thirty years has been from new medicines, new technology and other advancements. We don’t want to give that up. What we should give up is overeating. That might save the other half.

While we’re on the subject of health, have you noticed how many news folks still incorrectly call the flu outbreak that started in Mexico as “swine flu?” It’s really H1N1, but nobody wants to say “H-one-N-one” so they say swine. I suggest a nickname for H1N1: call it  “Hiney flu.” With hiney flu you’re just as sick, but you’re not impugning innocent hogs as contributing to your illness.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“This Alaska is a great country. If they can just keep from being taken over by the U. S. they got a great future. There may be some doubt about the Louisiana purchase being a mistake, but when Seward in 1868 bought Alaska for $7,000,000 he even made up for what we had overpaid the Indians for Manhattan Island.” DT #2815, Aug. 13, 1935 (one of the last columns by Will before his death Aug. 15.)

#563 August 10, 2009

Weekly Comments: Congress wants to fly, not read

COLUMBUS: This health care argument is putting a dark cloud over summer vacation, and not just for Congress. About three-fourths claim they like their health care just the way it is. But  President Obama is trying to convince us to sign up for another plan that will “save the health care system.” Only trouble is it will mainly increase costs and reduce care for the three-fourths in order to insure the other one-fourth.

I happened to talk this week with a young woman who has been accepted to start medical school, and I asked what she thought of the health care proposal. Well, she isn’t too thrilled about it. She’s dedicated to becoming a doctor, but she figures “many of the brightest students will choose a different direction”. I jumped in with, “like becoming a lawyer?”  No wonder she’s concerned. With the government adding 40 million people to the health care system, that’s what the country needs all right: fewer doctors, and more lawyers to sue ‘em.

People are shocked that their Congressman hasn’t read the bill he voted for. They’re just now learning what many of us have known for years: nobody in Congress has ever read any bill in it’s entirety.

Well, I ain’t read it either. But according to those who have, the bill is 1000 pages explaining that government commissions will be appointed to fill in 98 percent of the details about the plan. There’s supposed to be about 50 of these commissions and they will bring the final bill up to around 100,000 pages, which of course nobody will ever read.  If you want to get a glimpse of the future of your health, ask your Congressman or Senator this question: Out of those 50 commissions, how many will be headed up by a Doctor, and how many by a lawyer?

Congress spent much of 2009 shaming the big banks and automobile companies into selling their executive jets. Claimed it wasn’t right for outfits dependent on public money to have their top people flying hither and yon unless it was coach. Now the newspapers are reporting that Congress ordered a bunch of  new jets of their own, costing us half a Billion dollars. I guess if these folks at GM, or Chrysler or Bank of America want to fly anywhere, maybe they can hitch a ride with Speaker Pelosi or Senator Reid. Congress has no intention of signing up to use the same health care plan they’re proposing for the rest of us, and apparently that applies to airplanes, too.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“I don’t suppose there ever was a time when everybody knew as little about what they were talking about as they do today. Actual knowledge of the future was never lower but hope was never higher.
Confidence will beat predictions any time.” DT #2224, Sept. 19, 1933

“…People who send useless wires (telegrams) –  I was about to say, people who send useless wires to useless Congressmen, but I wouldn’t say a thing like that.  That’s kind of raw, and I wouldn’t do a thing like that.  I wouldn’t say that. So on either one of these plans don’t wire your Congressman.  Don’t wire him; even if he could read, don’t wire him.” Radio, May 26, 1935

#562 August 2, 2009

Weekly Comments: Ole Will recalls 1927 health insurance plan

COLUMBUS: Congress has adjourned for their August vacation, at least the House did. The Senate says they want to stay another week to argue over the next Supreme Court Justice and appropriations for agriculture. But really it’s to let the Congressmen and women go home first and take the heat on health care, energy, and global warming.

Dairy farmers say they need support from Congress the same way the automobile manufacturers are benefitting from “Cash for Clunkers”. They figure if the government paid them for sorta de-commissioning every old Holstein cow of a certain age that might reduce the milk surplus and let ‘em get back to break even. Only trouble is that whereas the old cars have to be traded for a new one giving more miles per gallon, most old Holsteins get replaced by young heifers giving more gallons per cow.

The whole health insurance debate has boiled down to who gets the care they need, who pays for it, and who gets a share of the payment. The only ones we can agree on to cut out of the payment is the lawyer, but you’ve got a better chance of cutting lobbyists out of politics.

No dairy farmer wants to go back to milking cows the way they did fifty years ago, and no American in his right mind wants to give up the advancements in medical science over the same time frame.

Well, just as Congressmen sometimes do, I’m yielding the rest of my time here, to a man who had gall stones removed, at age 47, and lived to write and joke about it.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
(Excerpts from “Ether and Me”, a 32 page book Will wrote about his gall bladder surgery in June 1927. The book has sold over 80,000 copies, and is available for about $6 from the Will Rogers Museum at willrogers.com.)
(After the diagnosis, but before going to the hospital) “My wife was setting on the edge of the bed and we were talking it over.  She got up and went into another room. I got up and went in to console her.  She was digging in an old musty leather case marked Insurance Papers….
(After the surgery…) One day I was a-laying in the hospital and I just happened to have the only bright thought that had come to me in weeks. This operation comes under the heading of sickness, so I thought of those insurance policies I had been paying on for years. This sickness is going to turn out all right. I began thinking how I could stretch it out into a slow convalescence. When my wife called again I broke the good news to her. “If we can get a bona-fide doctor to say I have been sick and couldn’t spin a rope and talk about Coolidge, we are in for some disability.”
Well, I noticed my wife wasn’t so boisterous about this idea. Then the truth slowly came out; she told me the sad story of cutting down on the insurance. She said my good physical condition had misled them. She said the operation would not be money-making.
So if you want to stay well, just bet a lot of rich companies that you will get sick; then if you can’t have any luck getting sick, have the policy cut down, and before six months you’ll be saying “Doctor, the pain is right there.”
Of course if I had had the bigger policy, why, it would have had some clause in there where I got sick on the wrong day or had the wrong disease. There would have been an alibi somewhere, because those four pages of clauses in a policy are not put in there just to make it longer.
We kid about our Doctors and we hate to pay ’em after it’s all over and we have quit hurting.  But I expect a lot of us have got ’em to thank for us being here.”