#600 April 25, 2010

Cloud over Wall Street is not from a volcano

COLUMBUS: While the ash cloud hangs over Europe, another cloud hangs over Wall Street. In Europe everyone knows the Iceland volcano is to blame, but in New York we’re not sure if the blame belongs to Goldman Sachs, the SEC, Congress or our own ignorance.
Rather than keeping an eye on Wall Street, the S-E-C was watching S-E-X tapes. Now, it’s hard to blame those men, given the option of spending eight hours a day looking at Bernie Madoff, Barnie Frank, Chris Dodd and Lloyd Blankfein. Washington is blaming the brokers and bankers, but really it was Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae propping up loans to people they knew could never pay it back.
Earth Day was April 22. For forty years, we’ve been spending one day a year caring for our land and water. The one-day celebration of our environment is a wonderful idea. But some of my farmer friends reminded me that they take care of the Earth every day of the year. So you tend your own little patch of ground, and be thankful that a farmer is taking care of a few hundred acres, or even thousands of acres, of farm and ranch land.
Farmers are mighty happy this spring. Weather has been good in the Corn Belt and Great Plains and planting is way ahead of schedule. Farmers would welcome a day or two of rain just so they can get some rest.
In Arizona the Governor signed a bill that says illegal immigrants are illegal in Arizona. Seems reasonable, but a lot of folks say the bill is illegal, and that illegal immigrants in Arizona are not illegal. I’m no lawyer, but even a high-paid shyster lawyer would have a tough time proving that illegal is legal. Maybe the half million illegal immigrants in Arizona should go back home where they would be legal. Or take their chances in New Mexico.
Concerning the problem with Wall Street and the big banks, it was mortgages that caused the housing bubble in the first place. If people bought a house to live in, and not to make twenty percent a year, they wouldn’t care so much what it’s worth. It’s home. Live in it thirty or forty years and you get your money’s worth even if it goes to zero.
The government should stop encouraging big mortgages, especially for us old folks. When you reach 60, or maybe even 55, cut off the tax deduction for mortgages. By the time you get within sight of retirement, you ought to pay off your debts and be ready to live off of interest instead of paying it.
(Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to duck before some of my old mortgage-afflicted friends shoot me.)

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
“After Wall Street had been dead for a couple of years….(a government investigation) will find out exactly what everyone else already knows: the deceased died from overgorging while the gorging was gorgeous.” 
DT #1783, April 11, 1932
“Did you read that Senate Wall Street investigation? … Twenty-four thousand patriotic Americans was all betting against the country. And we used to arrest men for just saying something against it.” DT #1793, April 22,1932
 “You know it’s too bad everybody was so busy getting in on it, that no one had time to investigate Wall Street before 1929, when the horse was being stolen.” DT #1796, April 26, 1932

#599 April 18, 2010

Weekly Comments: Volcanic ash has clouded Will’s brain on tax solution

COLUMBUS: Who would ever imagine that a volcano in Iceland could shut down air travel in Europe. The ash is wreaking havoc and travelers are crowding onto trains and ocean liners, and squeezing into those little cars.

Kinda reminds me of 75 years ago and the dust storms in Oklahoma, Kansas and other Great Plains states. “Flew through these dust storms last night, with the pilot flying entirely by instruments. It’s a terrible thing, and it’s going to bring up some (peculiar) legal cases. If Colorado blows over and lights on top of Kansas, it looks like Kansas ought to pay for the extra top soil. But Kansas can sue them for covering up their crops.” (March 28, 1935)

Whether that ash blowing onto Europe will add any value to their soil, I’ve got my doubts. Everyone is focused on the ash, ignoring all the carbon dioxide spewing into the air with it. If it keeps up for a year or two, the question Al Gore and the rest of us will have to answer is: Will all that CO2 cause global warming, or will the ash block the sun and cool us off?

I read a poll that said 66% of Americans are unhappy with the federal income tax system. That’s not unusual around April 15, but the fact is only 53% of us pay income taxes. So I guess there’s a bunch that claim their handout ought to be bigger. With all these unhappy taxpayers, we’re still only paying two-thirds of the cost of government. President Obama has admitted we’ll have deficits of a Trillion dollars a year for ten years, or until China runs out of cash. And he says he has no idea how he can cut costs to decrease the deficit.

A new tax is being tossed around, called a Value Added Tax. It’s a sales tax, and if the VAT is 10%, the Administration says it would collect…  now get this… a Trillion dollars a year. What a coincidence. But I don’t think it will work. If everything costs ten percent more, we’ll buy less, and make do. Instead of buying, we’ll grow it, raise it, build it ourselves or do without.

The President held a Nuclear Summit and asked for volunteers to give up their nuclear materials. He was hoping Iran and North Korea and Pakistan would offer to sell us all they got. But no, it was Canada, Mexico and Chile. I bet everyone along our northern border will sleep better tonight knowing the Canadians won’t nuke them.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“You can’t say civilization don’t advance. In every war they kill you in a new way.” DT #1063, Dec. 22, 1929

“Now hang onto your seats while you get this item of expense: Interest on the Public debt is $731 million. They keep jugging with millions and we owe billions. That’s where all the money goes that we pay in Taxes. Let’s sell off enough of this Country to somebody and pay off all National debts, then the taxes wouldn’t be nearly as much. The Democrats will agree to peddle Texas and Florida, and I am certain the Republicans will let Massachusetts and Rhode Island go.”  WA #312, Dec. 16, 1928

#598 April 11, 2010

Will Rogers pinch hits, on taxes

COLUMBUS: Baseball season is starting as Tax season is closing. Since I’m still tangled up with my income tax return, I’m calling on a Pinch Hitter to take a turn at bat for Weekly Comments.

Now, if you’re in the half of the country that is paying no income taxes this year, and likely coming out ahead, then these comments will be more hilarious than if you’re in the half that makes the first half possible. Here’s Will Rogers with some major league quips on taxes.

Historic quotes:
This is income tax paying day. No two can agree on what is deductible. When it’s made out you don’t know if you are crook or martyr… By the way, did you charge off money given to the Democratic campaign? You could, it’s a legitimate charity, not organized but a charity nevertheless. (1929)

Everybody knows that one of our great ills today is the unequal distribution of wealth.  You are either at a banquet in this country, or you are at a hot dog stand.  There is no doubt that the ones with the money are about the only ones that could pay anything, but after all, these durn rich ones are the ones the rest of us got to live off of.  If the Government takes all their money in taxes it don’t leave any for the folks that work for them. (1932)

There’s no income tax in Russia, but there’s no income. (1935)

You can’t legitimately kick on income tax, for it’s on what you have made. But, look at land, farms, homes, stores, vacant lots. You pay year after year on them whether you make it or not. Every land or property owner in America would be tickled to death to pay 45 per cent of his profits, if he didn’t have to pay anything if he didn’t make it. (1932)

There is a tremendous movement on to get lower taxes on earned incomes. Then will come the real problem, “Who among us on salary are earning our income?” (1929)

You let a Politician return home from Washington and announce, “Boys we lowered your taxes. We had to borrow the money to do it, but we did it.” Say, they would elect him for life. (1926)

At the present income tax rate the government takes 55 cents of every dollar from any of the high-priced stars. You see that hires many a politician, and gives some of us a little license to holler how the government is run, even if it’s only a holler. (1933)

Presidents have been promising lower taxes since Washington crossed the Delaware by hand in a row boat.  But our taxes have gotten bigger and their boats have gotten larger until now the President crosses the Delaware in his private yacht. (1924)

The only way they will ever stop bootlegging is to make them pay an income tax. At present it is a tax-exempt industry. Income tax has stopped every other industry, so there is no reason why it won’t stop bootlegging. (1923)

I see by the papers that they are going to do away with all the nuisance taxes.  That means that a man can get a marriage license for nothing. (1924)

Now that brings us down to taxes… This money the government is throwing away, well, where’s it coming from?  Everybody says, “Where’s the money coming from we’re spending?” I don’t know, but just offhand, I’d say it’s coming from those that got it. (1935)

#597 April 4, 2010

Will gets pain from Devils and another source

COLUMBUS: All I know is what I read in the newspaper, and I’m not the only one. President Obama got angry with John Deere when he read a newspaper report claiming the new health care bill would cost the company an extra $150,000,000. Caterpillar, AT&T and a bunch of other companies made similar announcements, adding up to Billions.

Well, the President can pretend it was news to him, but these folks had been hollering for months. I suspect the Democrats kept their ears stuffed full of cotton until the bill passed, and now they are shocked at what they are hearing. Take John Deere for example. Suppose half of the $150,000,000 gets passed down to the farmer in higher tractor and machinery prices. Then it gets added on to your food bill. Now who’s hollering? For Cat, it means your new road construction will cost more. AT&T will jack up phone service prices.

There was some good news for new jobs. Of course half of what we added was census takers. This jobs plan is working so well, the President may propose we take the Census every year.

Tiger Woods is ready to play golf again. It has a whole different meaning than it used to when he says he wants to “play a round.”

In basketball, “Hoosiers 2” plays Monday night in Indianapolis as little Butler takes on mighty Duke for the championship. Saturday night Butler knocked off Michigan State, then Duke won by 21 over my favorite, West Virginia. On Easter Eve, Almost Heaven was desecrated by the Devils.

I better quit joking about doctors and veterinarians. In the middle of this week I was struck by a pain, in my middle. This led to my first professional visit to an ER in more than 40 years. The doc who checked me out said, “It’s probably diverticulitis, but we’ll run you through a CAT scan to be sure.” For anybody who has not had this experience, it is somewhat like taking you car to the shop, and the first thing they do is connect it to a computer to pinpoint the problem. Well, the CAT scan took only 5 minutes, and the woman running it told me that machine scans 150 to 200 people every 24 hours. Mighty efficient. After looking over the internal images, the doctor came back in and said, “It’s a kidney infection, not diverticulitis.”

See, he was only off a couple of inches, but with help from that machine he pinpointed the problem and saved me from a few days of medical experimentation. These folks who complain about the increased cost of health care, and want to go back to the way it was 40 years ago, well, the CAT scan had not been invented yet. Neither had the MRI and a thousand drugs and other medical advancements. Before sacrificing any of those, I would rather give up the computer analyzer for my Ford.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

(While watching his first golf tournament, in Los Angeles) “These fellows was doing just what I had seen those others do on a Long Island golf course, just walking around monkeying. Here, I had seen golf all the time and didn’t know it. It is the only game in the world where practicing it and playing it is the same thing. Seeing a man walking around a golf course hitting a ball is like somebody handling a ukelele. You can’t tell whether they are playing it or just monkeying around… The main thing that struck me about the game was the amount of skill they had developed in getting near the hole, and how little they displayed getting into it.” WA #163, Jan. 24, 1926