#596 March 28, 2010

Will dives into milk and meat debate

COLUMBUS: Politics takes a back seat to basketball this week. You’re gonna be hearing a lot about “Hoosiers” (the movie), as Butler takes on the big boys in their hometown, Indianapolis. If Butler gets by Michigan State they will be playing either Duke or the West Virginia Mountaineers for the NCAA championship. I have my own favorite among these Final Four, but I’ll save it till next week. Don’t want to influence your picks in the office pool.

Friday I was in Michigan State territory speaking to young dairy farmers in Lansing. These milk producers survived a tough year and are hanging on. They are counting on us to drink more milk and order extra cheese on our pizzas and hamburgers.

Their governor is no help. She proclaimed a No Meat Saturday, and it riled the farmers so much they turned around and declared the same Saturday as Michigan Meat Day. You might remember a few months ago Michigan capitulated to Wayne Pacelle of the mis-named Humane Society of the U.S. and put him in charge of farm animal care. He’s a vegetarian who wants to rid the whole country of meat.

The farmers won that Meat Battle. Michigan set a record for the most meat eaten in one day. You may wonder, why would dairy farmers be upset; they still have Kellogg’s Corn Flakes to pour milk on. Well, if the HSUS succeeds in banning meat, the dairy farmers will have as much trouble getting rid of old Holsteins as we do old horses.

I just read that a lot of farmers do not have health insurance, so you may wonder where they stand on this new health care law. They’re pretty independent and frugal, and if they get sick they go to the doctor and just pay for the visit and any prescriptions. And if they get really sick and need an operation, they call their veterinarian.

Not really. But I did say, in 1927, that “the best doctor in the world is the Veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter. He’s got to just know.”

President Obama took a quick trip to Afghanistan to compliment our troops. They have a tough job and need all the support we can give them. And with the continuing arguments over the health care bill, he figured he was just as safe in Kabul as in Washington.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“A farmer at Claremore named Morris Haas hid $500 in bills in a barrel of bran and a cow ate it up. He has just been able to get $18 of it back, up to now.” DT #1740, Feb. 21, 1932

#595 March 21, 2010

Health care bill does not add up

COLUMBUS: Tonight America witnessed history in the making. As Speaker Pelosi said, “Health care has now joined Social Security and Medicare as a human right.” She went on to say that this reform bill would save taxpayers over a hundred Billion dollars by 2020.

What she should have added was a promise to write a personal check in 2020 to cover any deficit in that prediction. If the economics of Health Care turn out as successful as Social Security and Medicare, she had better have a huge bank account.

President Obama and the Democratic leaders mean well. They are lawyers, not accountants. They know reading and writing, but not arithmetic. I hope I’m wrong, but their numbers just don’t add up. The President says this bill will create the “biggest surplus ever”, and that health costs will “go down 3000 percent.”

For better health care what we need is more doctors and nurses. What we get is 20,000 more IRS agents in Washington to make sure we all buy the right insurance policy. (The Capital architect has a spacious area picked out along the Mall for a 20-story building for them.)

We’ll get fewer doctors and nurses because their salaries are cut. The 5 million uninsured because of pre-existing conditions will be covered (that’s great!), and the other 300 million will pay more (no surprise). Funding for Medicare goes down, costs for Medicaid goes up.

You may wonder why I’m telling you all these details. Well, Speaker Pelosi published the 2000-page bill on Thursday and told everyone to read it by Sunday. And I know that between watching college basketball and filling out your brackets, no one had time to even get to page 10. Even Congress didn’t read it. Congressman Kucinich traded his vote for a plane ride. Mr. Stupak of Michigan, a fine God-fearing man, swapped his vote for a promise to not fund abortions on Sunday. Probably another two hundred got something in the deal so don’t be surprised if a new bridge or dam or airport shows up in your district.

See, I could have told you about basketball and who made it to the Sweet 16. But you already know that news, so my role this week is to fill you in on the shenanigans in Congress.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
“A Senator [and a Congressman] learns to swap his vote at the same age a calf learns which end of his mother is the dining room.” DT #1123, March 2, 1930
“The trouble with the Democrats has been that they have been giving the people ‘What they thought they ought to have,’ instead of ‘what they wanted.’” Saturday Evening Post, March 30, 1929
“Us Democrats just seem to have an uncanny premonition of sizing up a question and guessing wrong on it. It almost makes you think sometimes it is done purposely.” Saturday Evening Post, Jan. 19, 1929

#594 March 14, 2010

Will reports from Washington: economy booming

COLUMBUS: If you want to see a city on the move, go to Washington. Buildings are being built and renovated. Cars and buses pack the streets. No foreclosure signs, and seldom a vacant store. When the President looks up Pennsylvania Avenue all he sees is a booming economy. No wonder he thinks his stimulus plan is working.
Can’t be much unemployment. Around the Capitol it’s just crawling with traffic cops and security folks. If you can blow a whistle and say, “No, you can’t go there,” (in English), they’ll probably hire you. At the Department of Agriculture they checked visiting farmers to be sure they weren’t trying to sneak in a pitchfork or ax handle, even if they was wearing a 3-piece suit.
I didn’t get into the Capitol. They closed it on Wednesday for a big ceremony honoring civilian women pilots from World War II. I read in the newspaper that some of the men back then did not believe a woman could fly one of those Army airplanes. A plane would land, a woman would climb down out of it, and the guy on the ground would ask her, “Where’s the pilot?” Shucks, I could have told them about plenty of fine aviatrixes way before 1940, like Amelia Earhart. The women used to have air races, called them Power Puff Derbies.
An Ohio farmer got excited when he came across an old newspaper article where Nancy Pelosi said she wanted to “drain the swamp.” See, there is millions of acres of farm land in Ohio and other states that floods about every spring and stays wet. The government has said it should be called a “wetland” and leave it alone.  So he thought Speaker Pelosi had changed her mind and would let farmers put in more ditches and tile. But she was only talking about cleaning up Congress, mainly Republicans. She was surprised to find a few Democrats mired down in the mud, too.
Almost a hundred of us Ohio Farm Bureau members got to meet in the Longworth House Office Building (named for Nick Longworth, Speaker from 1926-31) with Mike Pence of Indiana and several Ohio Congressmen including Boehner, Tiberi, Jordan, Austria and Marcy Kaptur. John Boehner is the loyal opposition to the Democrats and Speaker Pelosi. He does not think the Health Care bill will pass. “The minute the Democrats can round up a majority for it, she will hold a vote. She’s been trying since Christmas, and is still short.” On the Estate Tax bill, Boehner says they will compromise and pass it. But Congressman Tiberi says he doesn’t think Congress can make it retroactive to January 1. “How can we tell a family that lost Grandpa in February, when the tax was zero, that we’ve changed our minds and now we want 45 percent?”
Social Security payments are now borrowed from China.  They used to come from payments by younger American workers, but those are short this year and they’ll have to borrow $29 Billion. A fellow who has been working for forty years is going to be thrilled to learn that all his Social Security money has been squandered and now he has to depend on the generosity of  China and India to loan us enough to cover him. Social Security was started in 1935 by Franklin Roosevelt, and since about 1970 it was run by Bernie Madoff. Personally, I think the best security for old age is to be nice to your grandchildren.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
“Retroactive.  I like to use that word.  I just learned it.  Retroactive.  It means that you can go back and get something that you forgot to get at the time.  In other words they can turn around and go back and run over you after missing you the first time.” 
Radio, May 26, 1935

#593 March 7, 2010

Weekly Comments: Will is returning to the old joke factory

COLUMBUS: I’m flying to Washington for three days to check in on the old joke factory. I’m with a hundred farmers calling on Congress and the Department of Agriculture.

In the old days farmers were asking Congress and the President for relief. And to some extent they got it. What they’re after today is relief, but it’s relief FROM the EPA and IRS.

The EPA wants them to stop stirring up dust. Now, farmers are against dust as much as anyone. Especially the women, because they’re usually the ones stuck with cleaning it up. Out in the country things are just naturally dustier than in town. Take roads. There’s nothing a farmer would like more than having a paved road everywhere he has to drive. Gravel and dirt roads kick up dust when it’s dry. If your streets were gravel instead of asphalt, you wouldn’t like the dust either. Spraying old engine oil on the roads can stop the dust, but EPA frowns on that, too.

The beef with the IRS is over the inheritance tax. In the old days that never bothered a poor farmer because he had nothing left to inherit. Today, there’s a few that have scraped together enough land that when the grim reaper arrives the tax man is right behind him. Giving up half the farm makes it tough for the heirs to keep on farming. Even with the whole farm, it ain’t easy.

Climate change is another thing that’s got farmers riled up. But with all the rain, floods and snow in the past couple of years, they’re not against changing it as much as they used to be. If the government could guarantee the climate would change for the better, they would be for it. Farmers aren’t convinced that adding a $5 tax on diesel fuel is going to assure them of good weather.

In New York, they are having a tough time hanging on to their Congressmen and Governors. No sooner does a man get in there than he is found out. Of course Charley Rangel has been in a long time and heads up the Ways and Means Committee. I said one time that’s the committee that is “supposed to find the Ways to divide up the Means.” Well, Charley has become an expert at finding the ways, but he don’t like to divide it with anybody.

Charley owns half an island in the Carribean, and New York wants their 10% share of any profits. He claims he don’t make nothing on it. In fact he says he is so poverty stricken the only way he can even get down there to check on his holdings is for some company to loan him an airplane.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“We cuss (Congress) and we joke about ‘em, but they are all good fellows at heart; and if they wasent in that, why, they would be doing something else against us that might be worse.” May 18, 1926

“They are voting in New York State whether to keep a Governor two years or four… I think a good, honest Governor should get four years, and the others life.” DT #405, Nov. 8, 1927