A country run on polls can end up on wrong track

April 24, 2011

COLUMBUS: Everything in Washington today is run by polls. Nobody who has the job of making decisions about the future of the country will say or do anything important until after some pollster calls a few voters to see how it will fly.

Polls are fine to help pick a top football team, but whether you want the financing of Medicaid or Medicare based on a poll, I got my doubts.

In one poll, 70 percent of Americans say the country is “on the wrong track.” They should have asked the other 30% to point out the “right track.” That way the folks running the locomotive can perhaps get us switched over to it before the train goes off a cliff.

According to a poll, nobody likes Congress. Well, almost nobody. Their approval rating is 9%. The only problem is, the other 91% can’t agree on what they disapprove of. I bet close to half of that 91% is mad at the Senate and the other half is mad at the House. Are they mad because the budget is being cut, or because it is not being cut enough? The only “approval rating” a Congressman pays attention to is in his own district. And as long as that is above 50% on election day, he’s happy.

A New York Times poll asked whether the 2% of the population who make more than $250,000 should pay more income taxes. As you ponder that for a moment, would you be surprised if 98% said “Yes?” But actually, only about 75% want them to foot more of the bill. Even among the Democrats, who have a habit of asking someone else to pick up the tab, less than 85% agreed. Since these high earners pay about half of all income taxes, maybe the next poll should ask what percent of our total tax bill those folks should cover.

Standard & Poor’s didn’t need a poll to decide that our credit rating is about to get worse. They announced what plenty of folks already knew, that if the government keeps spending 40% more than it is taking in, even China will stop loaning us money.
Gas prices hit $3.90 in Ohio. I hope they are lower where you live. President Obama said on the radio this weekend that presidents do not have “a silver bullet that can bring down gas prices.” He also said he feels our pain, but I’m not so sure because when his limousine pulls up to the gas pump, it’s not his credit card that they use. It’s ours.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“The Literary Digest is taking a poll to see how many people there are in the United States who are interested in politics that can write their name. Up to now there has been about a third more Republicans that can write than Democrats. Course, when election day comes and all you have to do is make your mark, why I think the Democratic total will pick up. Republicans have to learn to write on account of signing checks, but Democrats never have to be bothered with that.” 
DT #695, Oct. 18, 1928

Falling asleep at wrong time is nothing new

April 17, 2011

COLUMBUS: Let’s see if I got this straight. Republicans voted to reduce the deficit by cutting  $400,000,000,000 a year from the budget using Congressman Ryan’s plan. Then President Obama announced a plan to reduce the deficit by raising taxes, but he didn’t say how much they would raise.
The deficit is $1,600,000,000,000. If what I learned in fourth grade arithmetic is still in order, and we subtract $400,000,000,000 in the Republican plan, that leaves $1,200,000,000,000 in added taxes favored by the Democrats. The Republicans have told what they want to cut, so now it’s up to the Democrats to tell what taxes they want to add, and persuade taxpayers to send it in. If you’re wondering about your share, on average it’s the same as last year plus 40 percent.
But when you leave out the half that don’t earn enough to pay anything, well, for the rest of us, the government will just ask, “How much did you make?” Whatever you answer, they’ll say, “Send it in.”
During President Obama’s speech on reducing the deficit, we all saw the video of Vice-President Biden sleeping.  It was a boring speech, mainly on raising taxes. The only real budget reduction he offered was when he said, “I’ll cut the Vice-President’s salary in half.”  That’s when Joe woke up.
The same idea ought to work on the air traffic controllers.
Of course these are not the only men that ever went to sleep on the job. Those of us celebrating Easter this week will remember that Jesus took his disciples into a garden and said, “Stay here and keep watch.” But instead of keeping watch they fell asleep. It was while he was praying, and right after he had fed them a big Supper.
Air traffic controllers have a tough job, except in the middle of the night. The solution for one that dozes off at 3:00 a.m. with no airplanes in sight is a Taser. Just let him nap until he’s needed, then if he doesn’t answer the incoming pilot, he gets Tasered.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“Diary of a United States Senate trying to find $2,000,000,000 that they have already spent but didn’t have.
Monday – Soak the rich.
Tuesday – Begin hearing from the rich. Tuesday afternoon – Decide to give the rich a chance to get richer.
Wednesday – Tax Wall Street stock sales.
Thursday – Get word from Wall Street, “Lay off us or you will get no campaign contributions.” Thursday afternoon – Decide “We was wrong about Wall Street.”
Friday – Soak the little fellow.
Saturday – Find out there is no little fellow. He has been soaked till he is drowned.
Sunday – Meditate.
Next week – Same procedure, only more talk and less results.” 
DT #1806, May 8, 1932

Government (dis)organization and income taxes

April 10, 2011

COLUMBUS: If a man running a huge company with a board of directors treated their employees the same way the President and Congress treated theirs, they would be fired, or maybe hung. When you keep an entire workforce on pins and needles just because you can’t decide which 1% or 2% to let go, it’s no surprise if their productivity may have slipped a bit.

If the President and Harry Reid and Speaker Pelosi had proposed the same budget last September (when the argument should have been decided), do you suppose the Republicans would have voted for it? If I remember correctly, it was Mr. Reid who at the time said no budget bill could get passed in the Senate because the Republicans would be against it. Well, I always admitted: I’m not a member of any organized political party… I’m a Democrat.

The National Football League owners and players are going through the same kind of foolishness. Eventually they’ll agree on the same deal they could have signed in February.

I’m mighty glad those government employees will be back at work this week. Meanwhile Congress and the President will begin another battle, over raising the amount of money we can borrow from China. We’re $14,000,000,000,000 in the hole. That’s a huge hole and the President wants to dig it deeper. Then there’s the little issue of approving a budget for the new year, starting in October. For those of us who are dutifully submitting our income taxes this week, it’s kinda discouraging to see where some of it goes. But it sure beats having no income.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:(on income taxes)

“If your Income Taxes go to help out the less fortunate, there could be no legitimate kick against it in the world. This is becoming the richest, and the poorest Country in the world.”  WA #421, Jan. 18, 1931

“It’s increased taxes on incomes of over one hundred thousand net where the money should come from to supply work (to the unemployed).” DT #1449, March 16, 1931

“Our financial ills will never be settled till you fix it so every man will pay an income tax on what he earns, be it a farm, grocery store or municipal or government bonds.” DT #2068,  March 21, 1933

“It’s a great country but you can’t live in it for nothing.” DT #2343, Feb. 5, 1934

“Lord, the money we do spend on government.  And it’s not a bit better government that we got for one-third the money twenty years ago.” WA #483, March 27,1932

“There’s no income tax in Russia, but there’s no income. Hitler ain’t got no sales tax but he ain’t selling anything. (With) Mussolini you don’t have to pay a poll tax to vote in Italy, but nobody votes.” Radio, April 7, 1935

#648 April 3, 2011

When Will knows more economics than Congress, the country is in deep trouble

COLUMBUS: I learned a new word this week. “Muffin top” is another word for fat. Another term we’re learning more about is macro-economics, which means “a whole lot of money”. See, our government is spending 3700 Billion dollars this year, and 1700 Billion of it is added to a credit card. That’s macro-economics.

President Obama says cutting this 3700 Billion dollar budget by 10 Billion is “reasonable”. Senator Schumer says any cut greater than 30 Billion is “extreme”. Congressman Ryan of Wisconsin wants to cut $400 Billion a year, and Lord knows what words Democrats will use to describe that cut. (Probably some of the same ones they use on the Wisconsin Governor.)

It’s hard to take some of these boys serious.  When 40 percent of the money you are spending is borrowed, and you call a 1 percent cut “extreme” it makes us wonder how you ever got past eighth grade. First, you need to cut the “muffin top” out of the budget.

Then move on to some of the lean. When the only booming housing and real estate market in the whole country is around Washington, DC, it is time to turn loose a bunch of federal folks. They are good people, smart people, and they can go back where they came from, start a business or get a job, and make a useful contribution to the country.

General Electric is criticized because they paid no taxes on a $14 Billion profit last year. They are following the tax laws, but GE employs a thousand people just to find the loopholes. I imagine that same bunch also spends a bit of time figuring out ways to reduce their personal taxes, too. You can’t blame them. But if the laws were changed to eliminate these corporate taxes, instead of accountants GE could hire a thousand engineers and produce something worthwhile. If you add up all the various taxes GE and their employees pay, you might not worry about the taxes they don’t pay.

On Saturday night, while some of you were in Detroit watching Charley Sheen, I was in Columbus for Jeanne Robertson’s Comedy with Class show. For Charley, the audience booed, walked out early and demanded their money back. For Jeanne, we were too busy laughing to even think about leaving early. You can see Charley in reruns of Two and a Half Men. You can see Jeanne on YouTube. She’s so tall you’ll think her show should be One and a Half Women.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“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

“The crime of taxation is not in the taking it, it’s in the way that it’s spent.” DT #1764, March 20, 1932