#618 Aug. 29, 2010

Will recalls Hurricane Katrina, 5 years ago

COLUMBUS: The economic news got worse this week for the President. A poll reported that 83% of Americans are sending a message to Washington; they rated the economy as Bad or Fairly Bad. The other 17% are actually in Washington.

For everywhere except Washington, unemployment is over 10 percent. Washington is the only place where everybody is employed. (Notice I said “is employed”, not “is working”.)

It’s been 5 years since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, and all the newspapers and TV folks are looking back at what they said and wrote at the time. I happened to be in New Orleans following a speaking engagement on the paddle wheeler, American Queen. We were fortunate to be among the last ones to fly out of the New Orleans airport, just 36 hours before the storm hit.

Here are some of my “Weekly Comments” written in the month after Katrina devastated New Orleans. (I was not kind to the Mayor and Governor.)
A gigantic hurricane was forecast to take dead aim on New Orleans 5 days (before it hit). That extremely accurate prediction was made by an agency of the United States government, so don’t go laying all the blame on the Feds…
The Times-Picayune reports that as a result of a big hurricane New Orleans is flooded, poor people are stranded and hungry and clinging to rooftops, and chaos rules. Of course that was in the paper in 2002, but nobody at City Hall bothered to read it, even if they could read. Blame the editor for not putting in more pictures…
I have heard (President Bush) will give New Orleans at least $100 Billion for relief. For that you ought to be able to buy New Orleans, at least the part below sea level. In fact if we’re going to spend it, that would be a great idea because you would only have to spend it once. For a family living in a $50,000 house below sea level, it will cost at least $100,000 to rebuild it, and the next hurricane it’ll get flooded again and cost us $150,000. Now, we know these folks want to go right back where they lived, and who can blame them. But let’s make sure where they build is above water level. Anybody that insists on living below sea level, let ’em rebuild in Death Valley.
Here is the key to my Plan for New Orleans. You take all the area below sea level, and divide it in half. Let’s say for discussion purposes that whole flooded area is 2000 acres. The half that’s the lowest (deepest) will be dug out even deeper, maybe 10 to 20 feet deeper than it is now, and let it fill with water. And you use the fill dirt you took from that half to build up the other half, so where now you have 2000 acres that’s likely to flood every now and again, after we move all that dirt, you’ll have a beautiful1000-acre lake, and 1000 acres of dry land ready to build on. Of course, we’ll use some of that fill material to raise and strengthen the levees.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on the Mississippi River flood of 1927)
“There will be bills introduced in (Congress) to regulate the rainfalls. Some will suggest moving the river over into some other Senator’s state. Some will suggest letting it empty into the Grand Canyon where the levees on each side are high enough now without rebuilding them. Someone will introduce a bill to have the river run up hill so it won’t go so fast. But the people down there better not put too much dependence in Congress. They can grow web feet quicker than Congress will relieve ’em. If I was them, I would make my next house a house boat. But Congress might fool us, and let us all hope and pray they will, for if anybody ever needed help it’s those people down there.”
 WA #231, May 15, 1927

#617 Aug. 22, 2010

Will offers tips on government spending… and eggs

COLUMBUS: Washington is on vacation. President Obama is at Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts where he traveled after a day at the beach in Florida where he met up with his wife returning from a week in Spain.

Congress is back home. Actually, no one has seen them. Last August they held town hall meetings that caused such a ruckus (remember?), so this year they are holed up in the basement.

All except Vice-President Biden. He come out and said don’t be concerned about the economy, enjoy the rest of the summer, and things will look brighter when Congress gets back to work in a month. In other words, if you are out of a job think of it as a long vacation.

The President has so often been on the opposite side of what people want that he’s sitting up there on a sailboat wondering, “Ain’t there something I can be in favor of that the majority of Americans will agree with me.” On illegal immigration, the mosque, health care, government jobs, energy taxes, income taxes and inheritance taxes – he’s been on the short end of all these.

Well, here’s my suggestion that would make everybody cheer him and forget the past. The President should announce tomorrow that Football is a great sport and that we should all support our favorite teams, whether in the NFL, college, high school or peewee. But don’t be surprised if he messes up and instead of football he says soccer.

A long time ago I said, Be glad you don’t get all the government you pay for. Times sure have changed. Today, we got more government than we know what to do with, and we’re only paying for 60 percent of it. China is covering the rest. If we had to pay the total bill, we would all end up at the Poor Farm.

What do we do with all this excess government? The part of it you get yourself, just refuse it. Say, “No, it’s government money, and it’s tainted.  And I don’t believe in the government spending all this money, and hence I don’t take any part of it.” (Radio, Apr. 7, 1935)

Here’s a public service announcement about Eggs. If you plan to eat eggs, make sure they are well cooked. If on the other hand you intend only to throw them at a rotten politician, I suggest Blagojevich. He was saved by a lone juror, likely bought off by the Chicago mafia. He’ll be harder to get behind bars than Al Capone. Frankly, I don’t care if he’s free, if he’ll just shut up and disappear. Like Congress this August.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Looks like the taxpayers in the U. S. are the only folks hiring any help nowadays. A private business, when it don’t do any business, don’t use anybody. But the less business the public has the more we hire to tend to it. There is but one county institution that needs enlarging, and that’s the Insane place; put us all in there till we know enough to vote to cut out at least 50 percent of our governing expenses.” DT #1846, July 5, 1932

 “Sure, the government can help us on everything – if we just furnish ‘em the money to do it with.” Notes, undated.

“What the government has got to do is live as cheap as the people.” DT #1990, Dec. 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

#616 Aug. 15, 2010

Economic Solution: pay public employees with food stamps, post-dated

COLUMBUS: This Summer of Recovery has turned into a Season of Requesting More Handouts. With more people unemployed and losing their homes, government unions asked Congress for $26 Billion to keep their annual salary increases intact. Congress approved, figuring a million happy government workers will mean a million more votes in November. And compared to the other handouts lately, $26,000 for a sure vote looks like a good investment.

Congress came up with a new scheme to pay for these salary increases, with $26 Billion that’s been promised for food stamps… now get this… 4 years from now. Well, as silly as that sounds, they’ve been doing the same thing with the Social Security fund for years. Here’s a suggestion. Let these teachers and government workers keep their jobs and their higher salaries, but give them 10 percent of their pay in food stamps, post-dated to 2014. And here’s another thing: they’ll be allowed to pay all their union dues and contributions with these post-dated food stamps. Food stamps will become the new currency for government unions.

But it ain’t just the public employees unions with their hands out. There was a horde of unemployed folks protesting on Wall Street, and you know what they wanted? They weren’t after jobs. No, what they want is for the unemployment checks to keep on coming. They weren’t after work; they wanted a dole. It’s a shame. We’ve got 7 million long-term unemployed, nobody’s hiring (at least not hiring these folks), and the government is creating government jobs as fast as good politics allows but it’s not enough to soak up all these millions that are out of work.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac heard about the free money from Congress, and they popped up again. See, they kept their heads down and out of sight while all the financial reform arguing was going on in Congress, but now they’re back. The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to zero on money for banks, and these two still claim they can’t break even loaning it out.

President Obama took his family to Panama City, Florida, for a day at the beach and to inspect the Gulf of Mexico. With not a speck of oil in sight, he declared the Gulf is open for swimming. He would have gone to Florida sooner, but he had to wait for Mrs. Obama to return from a week in Spain where she was inspecting the Mediterranean.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
“The only problem that confronts this country today is at least 7,000,000 people are out of work.  That’s our only problem. It’s to see that every man that wants to (and) is able to work, is allowed to find a place to go to work.” Radio, Oct. 18, 1931

“Our President left for a quiet vacation with twelve carloads of cameramen, reporters, cooks, valets, maids, butlers, doctors, military and naval attaches. I saw King George when he left Buckingham Palace in London last Summer for his vacation, and you could have put all he and Mary both had in a Ford truck.” DT #281, June 15, 1927

“…if (the President) had the authority to keep Americans at home one summer and made them see their own country, it would be the greatest thing that ever happened to this Country, and incidentally give Europe a chance to laugh at something else beside us… There ought to be a law passed in Congress that no one was allowed to receive a Passport to leave this country till they had visited New Mexico and Arizona.” WA #222, March 13, 1927

#615 Aug. 8, 2010

Remembering Will Rogers, 75 years later

Seventy-five years ago, Aug. 15, 1935, Will Rogers and world-renowned pilot Wiley Post died at Point Barrow, Alaska. Below are the syndicated newspaper articles, slightly shortened, that Will wrote and sent by telegram in his last week on Earth:

JUNEAU, Alaska, Aug. 7, 1935. Well that was some trip. Thousand-mile hop from Seattle to Juneau. Was going to stop at Ketchikan for lunch, but mist and rain and Wiley just breezed through, never over 100 feet off the water.
And talk about navigating. There is millions of channels and islands and bays and all look alike to me, but this old boy turns up the right alley all the time.
Nothing that I have ever seen is more beautiful than this inland passage, by either boat or plane, to Alaska.

Aug. 8. This is Juneau, the capital of the whole territory of Alaska… The Chamber of Commerce will shoot me for this, but I have been buying raincoats since early morning.
We are going to Skagway now and see the famous Chilkoot Pass. We will do it in ten minutes and it took the pioneers two and three months.

Aug. 9. Bad weather. Not a plane mushed out of Juneau yesterday… Tourists are still arriving by the boatload. Mining activity everywhere. Not much news of Congress, and what we do get is mostly bad. Guess it’s about the same down there.

AKLAVIK, N. W. T., Aug. l0. Get your map out and look this up. The mouth of the Mackenzie River, right on the Arctic Ocean. Eskimos are thicker than rich men at a “Save the Constitution convention.”   We are headed for famous Hershel Island in the Arctic.
Old Wiley had to duck his head to keep from bumping it as we flew under the Arctic Circle. What, no night? It’s all day up here.

AKLAVIK, N. W. T., Aug. l2. Was you ever driving around in a car and not knowing or caring where you went? Well, that’s what Wiley and I are doing. We are sure having a great time. If we hear of whales or polar bears in the Arctic, or a big herd of caribou or reindeer we fly over and see it. Friday and Saturday we visited the old Klondike district, Dawson City, Bonanza, Eldorado.
Say, there is a horse here; the furthest north of any horse, and he eats fish and travels on snowshoes.

FAIRBANKS,  Aug. 13. This Alaska is a great country. If they can just keep from being taken over by the U. S. they got a great future. This is the greatest aviation-minded city of its size in the world. There is only 30,000 white people in Alaska and there is seventy commercial planes operating every day, in winter on skis.
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.

ANCHORAGE, Aug. l4. Well, we had a day off today and nothing to do, so we went flying with Joe Crosson, Alaska’s crack pilot, who is a great friend of Wiley’s… In a Lockheed Electra we scaled Mount McKinley, the highest one on the American Continent. Bright sunny day and the most beautiful sight I ever saw… Flew right by hundreds of mountain sheep, flew low over moose and bear down in the valley. Now out to visit Matamuska Valley, where they sent those 1935 model pioneers [as a New Deal project].

FAIRBANKS, Aug. l5. Visited our new emigrants. Now this is no time to discuss whether it will succeed or whether it won’t, whether it’s farming country or whether it is not, and to enumerate the hundreds of mistakes and arguments and management in the whole thing at home and here. As I see it, there is now but one problem, and that’s to get them housed within six or eight weeks. Things have been a terrible mess. They are getting them straightened out, but not fast enough. But it’s just a few weeks to snow now and they have to be out of the tents…
There is a lot of difference in pioneering for gold and pioneering for spinach.

#614 Aug. 1, 2010

Make no big decisions in hot weather

COLUMBUS: A federal judge in Arizona struck down the heart of the state law that was written to enforce the federal law against illegal immigration. The judge sided with the Mexican President and against the Arizona Governor. See, the governor wants to send home the Mexicans that sneaked across the border but the Mexican president wants them to stay in Arizona, and send home their money.

What the judge really wanted to strike down was the federal law, not just Arizona’s law. She says a sheriff in Arizona can’t ask you to show identification to prove you are legal, making Arizona the only state where you can be caught speeding anonymously. If you are stopped for going 90 on the Interstate, you just say, “Officer, the judge say, ‘No papers, no license, no ticket’.” Well, he can’t write a ticket without a name, so he’ll just send you on your way north, along with your 13 friends piled in the back.

Of course I’m exaggerating, but no more than the television networks that say we should open our borders to anyone who wants to come here and become a U.S. citizen. Too many Americans are out of work and living on unemployment. Does the Attorney General think our unemployed can go to Mexico and get a job?

The big problem with this ruling is the judge made her decision in the middle of summer. In Arizona. As I said in 1935, “Heat and reason don’t go together.” Important decisions should be pushed to one side until late September. Why would Congress want to add a tax on electricity in August when half the country can’t live without air conditioning? And the estate tax. We’ve got old people trying to hang on through this heat, and Congress threatens to bring back the inheritance tax. And do you really want to increase the income tax rate on the only people with enough dough to hire someone?

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (from his last radio broadcast)

“…I’m off the air during the heat spell… So I’m just going to let you find out your own way of settling the affairs of the world during the hot spell.  I won’t be able to advise you for about two or three months.
Heat and reason don’t go together, anyhow… There’s going to be a lot of spouting from the radio and from the speakers’ platforms all this summer.  There’ll be more perspiration than common sense flowing, and the whole political thing has come to a pretty direct division point.  I mean there’s been a direct split in the parties…
Both sides want the country to be prosperous.  It’s not a political thing. It’s just a difference of opinion in arriving at it. Both sides, I think, are equally patriotic.  Neither has a corner on patriotism, and neither has a corner on brains.  It’s just, What should we do to recover?
Nobody wanted to claim the credit for the country blowing up, but wait until it starts picking up and they’ll both be on it then.
I don’t think either one of them 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… 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