Ukraine farm land is special

I’m back home after a week in Ukraine. I was one of three American speakers at a no-till conference hosted and sponsored by a large agriculture business/farming company, Agro-Soyuz. The farm has 50,000 acres of crop land, plus hogs and a dairy.  The operation is located near Dnipropetrovsk, a city of a million people.

Ukraine is slightly bigger than Texas. It is a major player in global agriculture, and positioned to become more important. This country is the largest entirely in Europe and has 17% of the best soil in the world (USA and Russia each have just over 20%). They have a high potential for increased food production: huge farms, deep topsoil, good climate. Rainfall is limiting (20 inches at Agro-Soyuz) but continuous no-till with crop rotation and cover crops can probably double crop yields (wheat, corn, sunflowers, canola and more).

Politically, it is in our best interest to totally support Ukraine and keep them independent of Russia’s influence. Putin would like nothing better than to take over Ukraine, which until 1991 was part of the USSR.

I read that President Obama is committing $7 Billion to improve the electric power system. With concerns about blackouts and brownouts during this record heat wave, it sure makes sense to invest in the electric grid and construction and expansion of power generating plants. But then I read further. He doesn’t want to want to invest $7 Billion here, he wants to invest it in Africa.

The President announced that he wants to shut down the coal industry, both here and around the world. More than 40% of electricity is generated from coal, and I doubt you want to cut back 40% to help the President. If we can’t even persuade China and Russia to return an American spy, do you think we can convince them to quit burning coal?

Back to Africa. I’m glad the President is visiting three countries there. We need to stay on friendly terms and help them develop. But the big question is, will he let them burn coal? If they can only spend that $7 Billion on solar panels and wind machines they will be sorely disappointed. Already Europe refuses to let hungry Africans eat genetically modified foods, so these Africans may be on the verge of telling us outsiders to go home and leave them alone.

In other news, the Senate passed a 5-year “Free Food Bill,” but the House turned it down. You may know it as the “Farm Bill”, but when 80% of the money is for food stamps, it deserves a different name. And free food is the part of the bill they are arguing over. Democrats want to hand out more of it to people who aren’t working; Republicans want to put ‘em to work and let them buy their own food.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“Who hasn’t pictured Odessa on the Black Sea? Russia and Turkey have been fighting over this for a thousand years.” DT #2520, Sept. 2, 1934
“I run my ranch, you run your ranch. What you do with yours has nothing to do with me.”
 WA #552, July 23, 1933

Educational frills and consequences

COLUMBUS: Last week a bunch of students at a high-priced college wrote an article complaining about having to work as interns this summer without getting paid for it.  And our local newspaper published it.

It seems they (or their parents) invested 2 or 3 years in a college education that has reached the point where someone figures it is safe to let ‘em hold a job, but that’s all. No salary. They can work for the “experience.” And if they don’t want the job, there’ll be ten other students ready to take it.

These students took all their classes in things like anthropology, sociology, fashion, and music appreciation, then they wonder why they can’t land high paying internships like their fellow students in engineering and computer science. Now, instead of kicking themselves for choosing the wrong college or the wrong major, they have decided do what many red-blooded Americans do today: hire a lawyer and sue the employers.

A lawsuit will sure go a long way toward getting them really good job offers after graduation, won’t it. Well, it will give some work for the lawyers, even if they aren’t paid either.

I heard a successful businessman named Jim Rogers (no relation) on television last month. He said young folks today need to learn how to produce something, real goods like lumber, wheat, cotton, oil. Learn how to drive a tractor. Learn how to weld. He was not advising against college, far from it. But learn how to do something you can make a living at.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

 “This modern education gag sure got me licked. All the kids I know, either mine or anybody’s, none of ‘em can write so you can read it, none of ‘em can spell. They can’t figure and they don’t know geography, but they are always taking some of the darndest things: drama, dancing, sociology, Latin, Greek art. The things they go in for runs on by the hour. Everybody has swimming pools, but nobody has a plain old geography….
They got another gag called credits. If you do anything thirty minutes twice a week, why you get some certain credit. Maybe it’s lamp shade tinting, maybe it’s singing, or a thing called music appreciation…. Some of ‘em you get more credits than for others. If a thing is particularly useless, why it gives you more credits….
Of course you can’t go out and get a job on it, but these old professors value it mighty highly. Some day we will find that we can educate our broods for about one-tenth the price and learn ‘em something they might accidently use after they escaped.”
 WA #501, July 31, 1932

 “In our days, the young folks that were fortunate enough to go to college looked forward to graduation with a great expectancy. They felt they would step out into the world and that there was a definite notch awaiting them. There was jobs, there was positions, and all things being equal, you were given a little edge…. That was what might be called the Golden Period.” WA #624, Dec. 9, 1934

Nuts take over in Connecticut and DC

COLUMBUS: Over the years, state legislatures have been known to pass bills that defy science and common sense. Well, last week the Connecticut legislature took a swipe at History.

They passed a bill that says: forget the Wright Brothers, this is the home of the first airplane. It was piloted in 1901 by a fellow named Gustave Whitehead. They said, “Don’t be misled by history or any other unreliable source. Here’s the place where the first airplane took off.” This is by unanimous vote of the state legislature of Connecticut. Connecticut has been made the official site of the first airplane flight. Any airplane taking off from any other site was not official.

So the Connecticut legislature has booted Orville and Wilbur out of the history books in favor of Gus. Don’t be surprised if next week they pass another bill claiming that old Gus also flew across the Atlantic two years before Lindbergh. Connecticut has historically been known as the Nutmeg State. From now on, we can leave off the meg.

A young fellow with the National Security Agency said today that the NSA knows exactly who we talk to on the phone and for how long, and a lot of folks are shocked. But it’s no surprise; back in the old days of party line phones there was always one nosy neighbor who did the same thing. In fact, if the NSA is serious about preventing terrorist attacks, they should require that all phones be on a party line. That way there are no secret attacks. Think of the Boston Marathon bombers. No sooner would an Islamic terrorist hang up the phone and go out the front door than he would be clobbered over the head by a rolling pin and a broom.

These revelations about the NSA keeping phone records and emails can come in handy for us men the next time a wife or teenager complains, “Nobody ever listens to me!”

President Obama has named Susan Rice the new head of the NSA. Do we really want a person in charge of protecting our security who asks no questions and spouts whatever words are put in front of her? I guess when the leaders of Iran and North Korea tell her, “We don’t have any nuclear weapons,” she’ll take their word for it.

Our President met with the president of China this weekend in Santa Monica. Computer hacking and cyber stealing was a major topic for Obama. As he began to read aloud from his prepared script, the Chinese president interrupted, “Don’t bother, I already saw it. All 7 drafts.”

The government announced they will sell the General Motors stock purchased four years ago. In that time, the stock market has almost doubled. But being a typical government operation, us taxpayers will lose $10 Billion on the deal.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“You could transfer Congress over to run Standard Oil or General Motors, and they would have both things bankrupt in two years.” 
WA #307, Nov. 11, 1928