#592 Feb. 28, 2010

Weekly Comments: Health care bill may sink Democrats

COLUMBUS: President Obama moderated a meeting last week on health care, with Democrats and Republicans. It went on for 6 hours and was the second most watched daytime TV drama in recent days, behind the true confessions of Tiger Woods.

Americans are telling the president they want more jobs and a reduced deficit. The President says, “I hear you. We’re gonna change your health care.”

Speaker Pelosi says the health care bill will create thousands of new jobs. She didn’t say how many of those new jobs would be in Washington. I’m not an economist, but how can they cut health care costs by hiring more people? How about if they pay for more doctors by paying for fewer lawyers. Hire more nurses for rural areas by cutting bean counters in Washington. Reduce paperwork and increase medical research. Most people would like everyone to have a chance to buy insurance, but don’t want to lose their own.

Pelosi says her fellow Democrats should vote for health care reform even if it costs them reelection in November. President Obama agrees with her but neither one promised to resign if other Democrats happen to lose. See, they are willing to sink the ship if necessary, but do not plan to go down with it.

There’s some Toyota owners I need to apologize to. It seems the gas pedal problem is more than just a few drivers who never learned how to shift to neutral. Toyota engineers are working on a solution, and they’ll likely get it fixed way before Congress fixes health care.

Chile got hit with an earthquake 500 times more powerful than the one in Haiti, but with less damage. That don’t make it any easier on the ones that are suffering, so give generously.

The Winter Olympics ended tonight. I said last week that Canada had a better chance of getting a gold medal in curling than in hockey. Well, they got gold in both. The US got the most medals, just not the preferred color.

This will go down in history as the warmest Winter Olympics ever held. I was planning to write a joke, that now that everyone is leaving, Vancouver would be hit by a gigantic snow storm. But I checked the Weather Channel, and they predict a heat wave for the next ten days, temperatures in the fifties. So forget Washington DC, and New York City; Vancouver is the place to point to if you are a  proponent of global warming.
NBC televised the Olympics and they can feel proud of a marvelous job. But they expect to lose $250 Million. When you add the $40 million lost on Conan O’Brien don’t be surprised if they’re next in line for a government bailout.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“Spending when we didn’t have it puts us where we are today. Saving when we have it will get us back to where we was before we went cuckoo.” 
DT #1353, Nov. 24, 1930.

#591 Feb. 21, 2010

Weekly Comments: Congress, Canada and curling for gold  COLUMBUS: President Obama announced he will meet with Congress this week on the health care bill. So many have announced they are leaving, he is hoping they still have a quorum. Senator Bayh of Indiana is the latest. He wrote a column in the New York Times saying that he will not run for re-election because the Senate is not like it was in the old days. He says that filibusters and political bickering get in the way of passing good bills today, and he wants to help reform the Senate to make it more like it was years ago. (See historic quotes) Most of the bickering and discontent today is from a lack of money. A politician at any level, whether Democrat or Republican, likes to play Santa Claus and pass out the presents. But it’s no fun to play Scrooge, and say, “No, the well has run dry, and the feed trough is empty.” The Governors are gathered in Washington this week. They arrived in their red suits and sleighs, hoping to return home with a bag full of presents. Everybody in the country has heard the news that the federal government is broke, except these governors. We know states are in a quandary. In Ohio, for example, the Columbus Dispatch says that the budget must be cut by $7 Billion, and that if the governor were to fire all 58,000 state employees he would still be $2 Billion short. It’s pretty bad when an Ohio governor might have to lay off all his state workers, and then have to borrow 20,000 employees from Michigan and fire them too, just to balance his budget. The problem is a matter of distribution. In Ohio 85% of state money is passed down to local governments. So local units get their money from the state, states get theirs from the Federal, and the Federal government get theirs from, who else, local individuals and businesses. (Except for what they borrow from China.) The solution is for each level to collect just what they need. See, when most of the money gets collected in Washington, then shuffled back through the state capitals, and eventually to the ones that paid it in the first place you’re lucky to get back a nickel on the dollar. We’ve been working for months on an important trade deal with Canada, and tonight we messed up and made them mad. Our young hockey team went up to Vancouver and knocked out the veteran Canadian team. Now, Canada is still in the hunt, but they’ve got a better chance of winning gold in curling than in hockey. Historic quotes from Will Rogers: “The Senate is having what is called a filibuster. The name is just as silly as the thing itself. It means that a man can get up and talk for 15 or 20 hours at a time, then be relieved by another, just to keep some bill from coming to a vote, no matter about the merit of this particular bill, whether it’s good or bad.” WA #12, March 4, 1923 “Anything that has to pass by that Senate is just like a Rat having to pass a Cat Convention; it’s sure to be pounced on, and the more meritorious the scheme is the less chance it has of passing.” WA #385, May 11, 1930 “Cussing Congress was never as popular as it is now. They are not doing the best they can, but they are doing the best they know how.” WA #492, May 29, 1932

#590 Feb. 14, 2010

Snow, basketball and birthdays cost a bundle

COLUMBUS: An awful lot of Snow has rolled off your Shovels since I communed with you last week.  I see where the Weather Bureau predicts more Snow. Good joke on the Weather Bureau. They can’t have any more. They haven’t got any place to put it.
Folks, that’s exactly how I started a column 87 years ago, Feb. 25, 1923. In Washington, DC, and plenty of other places, they will tell you it’s been about that long since they’ve seen so much snow. We have snow in 49 states; the only two places without snow are Hawaii and Vancouver.
Our federal government was shut down for most of the week. Only essential employees reported to work Now, I know what you’re thinking; if the President wants to cut the budget, there’s a hint on where to start. But instead of cutting, the President raised the debt ceiling to $14 Trillion.  I think it was $10 Trillion a couple of years ago. Is that the way to solve our financial problem, make it so we can borrow more?
You would think the government shutdown in Washington would save us a pile of money. Instead it cost us taxpayers $100,000,000 a day. Makes you wonder what it costs when they are all show up.
In Vancouver the lack of snow is costing the city millions. While other cities are paying to truck snow out of town, Vancouver is paying to truck it in.
Speaking of losing money, the National Basketball Association says they will be $400,000,000 in the hole this year. Tonight they put on a game in Dallas and 108,000 showed up and paid to watch it. How could they lose money? Is the NBA run by the Post Office?
Remember when we used to have Lincoln’s Birthday on Feb. 12, and Washington’s on Feb. 22? The government split the difference and this year Feb. 15 is the only day we get to blow out the candles. At least it saves the government the cost of baking another cake.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
“Washington, D.C.  papers say: ‘Congress is deadlocked and can’t act.’ I think that is the greatest blessing that could befall this country.”
 WA #59, Jan.27, 1924
“There wasn’t any Republicans in Washington’s day. No Republicans, no boll weevil, no income tax, no cover charge, no disarmament conferences, no luncheon clubs, no stop lights, no (radio), no head winds, no margins, no ticket speculators, no golf pants. My Lord, living in those times, who wouldn’t be great?” DT #803, Feb. 21, 1929
 “Lincoln is the one that said, ‘You can fool all the Democrats part of the time, and part of the Democrats all of the time. But a Republican is the only one you can fool all of the time.’ That’s why he was a Republican.” WA #320, Feb. 10, 1929

#589 Feb. 7, 2010

Saints victory stimulates New Orleans

COLUMBUS: Does anyone understand what’s happening to the economy? We lost another 20,000 jobs, but unemployment dipped below 10 percent. The stock market dropped, but Wall Street bonuses jumped several million. President Obama announced a partial freeze on spending, but he proposed a budget 9 percent higher.

The budget is so out of whack that if all our taxes were used to pay for Defense, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, everything else the government spends next year would be borrowed. We even have to borrow money to pay the interest on what we borrowed last year.

There’s plenty of people saying we need to cut spending and balance the budget. That sounds like a good idea on paper, but anyone who proposes even a ten percent cut in any of the four items above will be howled out of the room.

The US economy may be hurting, but in New Orleans everything is booming. The Saints won the Super Bowl and that provided the stimulus. No help needed from Senator Landrieu. The win in their first Super Bowl gives hope to other teams. Here in Ohio, the Cleveland Browns are way overdue. Cleveland needs a quarterback who can do for the Browns what Drew Brees did for the Saints. Is Brett Favre available?

The Humane Society of the United States is back at it again. You may think I’m mean for saying anything against an organization with such a high sounding name. But these folks need to be stopped. HSUS co-opted the name in order to get donations from people who would otherwise give to their local humane society. Suppose I started an organization called Girl Scouts of the US.  I would solicit money by saying, “Since most of America is overweight, we’ll dispense with cookies and just accept your money on behalf of the girls.” Then, as I took in about a hundred million a year, I would give a couple of million to the real Girl Scouts and pocket the rest. Well, that’s what HSUS does regarding local shelters for cats and dogs.

HSUS wants us to stop eating steak, bacon, eggs, fish and any other meat or animal product. They even want our dogs to become vegetarians. So if you are hounded by a representative of HSUS for a donation or to sign a petition that seeks to take away some of your favorite foods, threaten to have them arrested for impersonating a humane organization. It may not do much to help the economy, but your dog will love you for it.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“No matter what party is in, if you have your election during the hard times they will throw ‘em out on their ears. The Republicans have just got from now till next Summer to make things look better or out in the alley they go.” DT #1643, Oct. 28, 1931