Constitutional debate in US and Egypt

I just returned from three days (Aug. 13-15) at a big farm show put on by Penn State University. They have some wonderful agriculture tucked in between the mountain ranges in that part of the state. The valley where that university sits must be two or three miles wide and they grow some good looking corn and soybeans and alfalfa. It’s not just because of the football team that it’s called Happy Valley.

I also stopped off in West Virginia for a little celebration on Friday. The valleys in that Mountain State may not be as wide as Pennsylvania’s, but the folks are just as happy.

With all this road travel, I got to listen quite a bit to the radio. There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Constitution. We used to talk about changing the Constitution, but now the talk is about whether the various branches of our government have changed the way they interpret the Constitution without bothering to ask the people whether they actually want the Constitution changed. Sometimes our judges, Congress and the President go off in a different direction, and kinda dare anyone to prove the direction they are taking is not covered by the Constitution. Lawyers have been arguing over the Constitution for over 200 years, and they’ll probably go another 200 without ever coming to unanimous agreement. At least we do most of our arguing with words and not guns.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has killed Christians and burned churches. And they aren’t any friendlier with Muslims they happen to disagree with. As I reported a month ago, when Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected, he immediately changed policies. It would be like a person getting elected here, and immediately adopting Communist policies. Although you hate to see anyone killed over politics, just imagine if 20 percent of Americans took to the streets, fully armed, and demanded that the U.S. become Communistic. The big majority of Egyptians who do not favor the brutal Sharia law are determined to put down the Brotherhood protests and protect their own place in the 21st century. We had better hope they prevail, or the entire Middle East may revert to the 11th century.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

(Concerning changes to the Constitution)… “One side says, ‘We got where we are as a great nation by this set of laws that we are living under, so why change them! Let the Constitution alone.’ And that’s mighty good logic, too. But here’s something they forget. They can rightfully say, you or I, that we got where we are by these laws, but there’s lots of folks that haven’t got anywhere under ‘em. And the prospects ain’t any too bright for ‘em to get any further. So they might not be averse to some small change in the Constitution. They might say, ‘Yes, give us what you’ve got, and we’ll say it’s a perfect Constitution, too.’ So it all goes back to, just how good has the Constitution been to you? And nobody can answer that question but yourself. I would say that to the big majority over a long course of years, it’s been a mighty fine old document, and any person will think mighty serious before he’ll vote for any change in the Constitution.” Radio, June 9, 1935

Is SNAP beyond our control?

You may have read in the newspaper lately, unless your newspaper folded, that Americans are facing starvation. What? Did a famine strike the Midwest? Were crops and cattle decimated by floods and pestilence of Biblical proportions? Will relief agencies in Congo and Ethiopia and China start collecting food to send to America?

Well, no. But it looks like a catastrophe when you see that 47 million Americans are eating on food stamps, almost double from five years ago. And one in every four children.

Now before you jump me for being cruel and uncaring, I have no doubt probably 20 million are truly deserving. They are temporarily on hard times and need a lift for a few months till they get back on their feet. And many are not able to work and deserve all the charity and assistance we can offer.

I happened to catch a program about food stamps (actually called Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP) on Fox News. Yes, even a taxpaying Democrat can learn a little from watching something besides NBC, CBS and CNN.

These news folks investigated the recent doubling of food stamps, to dig up a cause.
Well, it turns out there’s two big reasons, besides more people being out of work. First, there’s more able bodied people who see the government dole as a way to get out of work and still eat 3 meals a day. They spend their days (and nights) doing whatever they please. Surfing, fishing, drinking, chasing girls. That last one leads, unfortunately, to more babies on food stamps.

Second, there’s a whole boatload of people working for the USDA’s Nutrition division, which is 80 percent of the entire Agriculture budget, who spend their time rounding up unsuspecting folks and foisting food stamps on ‘em. These employees have replaced life insurance salesmen as civilization’s top annoyers. You accidently sit down beside one of them on a bus, before you can get off at the next stop he’ll have your signature on the dotted line, applying for nutritional assistance. You would think they was getting a commission.

An interview with one might go like this: How many people did you help find a job and get off SNAP? “None. That’s not my job. ”
Do you ask people about their assets? “No, they could own a nice house, and drive a new car, but if their income is low, they deserve free food.”
Do you think SNAP use will double again in five years? “I hope so. If I go over my quota, I can earn free trips and a plaque. And if I double my quota, wahoo, I might get promoted. ”

Well, I got carried away. But that’s what happens when the Congress (the joke factory) is off for the month, and the President goes to Martha’s Vineyard. Bet they’re eating well.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“Folks don’t like to be told they are living off the government…  When I 
(talked on the radio) about taking government money about a dozen people sent me the following article. It’s from Fort Gay, West Virginia: ‘Mose Maynard, 84 years old, and his wife, 90, and a widowed daughter and her four children are living in a cave. They were removed to a house in town and given government relief. $3.50 a week for food was supplied them, but they went back to the hills. Said he wouldent live on government money, they always lived without it, and they would continue it.’  We haven’t got enough with that spirit. We talk more independence than we practice.” WA #647, May 19, 1935

 “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 vacation, and you could have put all he and Mary both had in a Ford truck.” DT#281, June 15, 1927

Should a bucket brigade replace Keystone pipeline?

President Obama announced a “grand bargain.” The White House switchboard lit up with calls from women, “Where’s the sale?”  They were disappointed to hear that no prices have been reduced, only tax rates for big companies.

The President wants more Americans to find work. Republicans want more Americans to find work. But they don’t agree on how it should happen. The economy is crawling along with only a few people finding work, and most of those new jobs are part time.

The Keystone pipeline is still being debated. Republicans want it because it would add about a million barrels a day of North American oil. President Obama and most Democrats oppose it, saying it would only add 50 permanent jobs to the oil industry. “That’s not a jobs plan,” says the president. Well, of course it’s not a jobs plan, it’s an energy plan.

If the goal is to add jobs, forget about the pipeline. Set up a bucket brigade. Can you picture a million people standing next to each other from Canada to Houston? They would need a whole lot of 5-gal buckets, but the oil would get there. Except for what spilled. You would say, that’s stupid. Well, how about hauling the oil in 55-gal barrels in Ford pickup trucks? That would take more people than a pipeline. And it might give work to a bunch of former bank tellers who were replaced by ATMs.

Back to that 50 jobs. Our oil refineries currently handle about 18 million barrels a day. Here’s a math problem for you: if 50 workers can refine 1 million barrels, how many does it take to refine 18 million? 900? Does the President really believe that only 900 are employed in our oil refineries?

Congress has left town and the President is heading out soon for vacation. Congress will be out for five weeks. The President is always off somewhere speaking, so what difference does it make if he’s in Martha’s Vineyard, or Chattanooga or Warrensburg, Missouri? He had better follow his own advice and avoid travel to any Muslim country. We don’t want to risk getting the President kidnapped by al-Qaeda. To get him back might take more than a grand bargain.

 Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“Our President (Coolidge) 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

“Congress adjourned last Monday, and business jumped up like it’s been shot. Honest, the whole thing… everything went up. Everybody’s feeling better. If they had adjourned before they’d met, I expect we’d have been the most prosperous nation in the world.” Radio, June 24, 1934