What’s the condition of the country?

The President is giving us the state of the nation, as he sees it. Whether he sees it the way the rest of us see it, I got my doubts.

While the President may mention the lower unemployment rate, the folks who have given up finding work won’t be impressed. The extra 20 million people receiving food stamps will thank him for a full stomach, but would prefer to earn it themselves.

If he points out that Dow Jones has doubled since he became president, stockholders will smile in agreement. But the ones who don’t own stocks will feel cheated because the “rich got richer” and income inequality got worse.

Because income inequality is gaining so much attention, it got me to wondering: If the stock market had dropped by half instead of doubling, would that have increased the income of the middle class and poverty-stricken? Would the economic well being of the vast majority be better than it is compared to five years ago? Not a chance. Not a chance.

Naturally, we want those folks to have more opportunities to increase their income. Maybe the President could offer some assurances that would encourage businesses to hire more people and work ‘em longer. We’ve got millions of young people with hardly any skills; they need a job, any job, where they can show up on time, do what they’re told, work hard, and earn enough respect to get promoted.

Do you suppose our vast supply of natural gas, oil and coal could help put more people to work? And the Keystone pipeline from Canada could add even more oil to boost our economy, and theirs. Canada has been waiting several years for President Obama to make a decision. Canada is patient, but will they wait ‘til 2017? Not a chance.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“The rest of the country knows the condition of the country, for they live in it… but 
(Congress) has no idea what is going on in America. So the President has to tell ‘em.” WA #371, Feb. 2, 1930

 “There is not a single person that knows any more about what (this year) has in store for us than a billy goat. Ten million people have gone without work for three years just listening to ‘big men’ solve their problems.” DT #2000, Jan. 1, 1933

“There is nobody we would rather be partners with in something than Canada.” DT #2376, March 15, 1934

Weekly Comments: Promises, promises, but no water

California is always bragging about the wonderful weather. While the Midwest is freezing cold and snowy, California is warm and sunny. Why I bet you’ve never once seen an advertisement for California where it was raining. And any snow in the picture is way up on a mountaintop in the distance.
Well, here lately California has been wishing they had some rain. Californians sunbathing on the beach look up at the mountains and all they see is bare ground where it’s supposed to be snow capped.
Governor Brown is asking everyone to cut back on their water use by 20 percent. Californians don’t like to cut back on anything, especially water. They might be willing to replace 20 percent of their drinking water with fine wine, but filling the pool or watering the grass, it’s got to be the real thing. Like city folks back East that don’t know where their food comes from, Californians know nothing about the source of their water. They never see water in its raw, unrefined condition. “You mean the water coming out of the spigot used to be rain? Wow!”
President Obama announced he will set up something called “Promise Zones” in five states. That’s all we need is more promises from Washington. We were promised lower deficits, Al-Qaida is on the run, the Benghazi attack was a local demonstration, the end of the recession is near, and you can keep your doctor. Years ago, we were promised that Medicare would cost less than a million dollars a year and Detroit is a city on the rise. How are all those promises working out for you?
In the National Football League, Denver will play Seattle in the Super Bowl. It’s to be played in New Jersey, outdoors, in February. Instead, they should let these two teams from out West go down to Los Angeles and play the game in the Rose Bowl. If it happened to rain, or even snow, during the game, Californians would be thrilled.
Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“They have been hunting water in the West much longer than they have gold. If a wonderful spring come out of a mountainside, men left gold, silver and copper mines to come and grab that spring. Water ain’t gold in the West, water is diamonds and platinum.” 
WA #562, Oct. 1, 1933
    “The government is doing what they can to help ‘em out (with the drought), but even a Democrat can’t make it rain.” DT #2476, July 10, 1934

A bridge, a beach, and $50,000/yr for everyone

Good news from the South Pole. Within hours of Janet Yellen being approved as Chair of the Federal Reserve, she and the climate change scientists melted the ice enough for the stuck ship to escape and sail to warmer waters.

Because the Antarctic trip was a total failure, these scientists have asked for a new and bigger grant: a million dollars a year for as long as it takes. This time they plan to charter a boat to Fiji. And to prove the perils of climate change, they commit to live there on the beach until the water rises and covers the islands. Now, brother, that’s dedication.

Do you remember a few years ago, the “Bridge to Nowhere?” Well, in New Jersey they have a bridge to somewhere, but no way to get on it. For four days last September, somebody in the Governor’s office closed some lanes to the George Washington Bridge to do a “traffic study.” (The study concluded that when you reduce the number of lanes on a bridge into New York City, traffic backs up in New Jersey.)

When Gov. Christy heard that it was not really a “study”, but a political prank, he immediately fired the ones responsible. Well, not everyone believed the Governor, including Attorney General Eric Holder, “We’ve got to get to the bottom of this traffic jam scandal. The best fifty lawyers in the Justice Dept. are immediately assigned to investigate this outrageous act. Top priority.” When a journalist asked Mr. Holder how this scandal compares to the IRS scandal, and the Benghazi attack, he was shocked, “This is MUCH more important; in those two incidents, nobody got fired.”

Colorado legalized the sale of marijuana starting on January 1, and they expect to take in $67 million in tax revenue. Some of you might remember that in 1933, President Roosevelt did something similar with beer, kinda bringing Prohibition to a halt. I don’t know whether marijuana will be a paying proposition for Colorado, but here was “my” comment on Roosevelt: “Roosevelt says, ‘Let ‘em drink.’ That’s all. ‘Let ‘em drink.’ And he collected $10 million in revenue in the first two weeks, and if he’d had good beer he’d have paid the national debt by now.”

Have you read about these historic events? A hundred years ago this week, Henry Ford raised wages to $5.00 a day for his assembly line workers to keep good workers from leaving, improving the quality of the Model T cars. Exactly fifty years later, in 1964, President Johnson started the “War on Poverty” to reduce the number of poverty-stricken folks. Today we have more people in poverty, (the rate has stayed around 12 to 15%) and food stamp usage has increased from less than a million people to over 45 million in 50 yrs.

President Obama announced a “War on Income Inequality.” He didn’t call it war but that’s what it is. Median income in this country is about $50,000 a year, so his goal is for all of us to make $50,000. He can start with himself, then convince Congressmen, the Supreme Court, and everyone who works for the government to work for $50,000. Interestingly, this announcement comes a hundred years after Ford pretty much doubled wages in his factory, greatly increasing income inequality compared to other workers. His heart is in the right place, but President Obama has as much chance of leveling out incomes as LBJ did in eliminating poverty. Or of Fiji sinking into the Pacific.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“We’ll hold the distinction of being the only nation in the history of the world that ever went to the poor house in an automobile.”
 Radio, Oct. 18, 1931.

Optimism rules, except in Antarctica and New York City

#785   Jan. 5, 2014

I read where Mr. Bernanke is optimistic that the economy will continue improving in 2014. But he’s leaving the Federal Reserve, so I doubt anyone will listen to him. Janet Yellen will replace him, and she says she is going to attack global warming and, I guess, let the economy take care of itself.
Dr. Yellen might change her tune when she hears about the ship loaded with global warming scientists that went to Antarctica to show the world how warm it has gotten. Instead of basking in the warm ocean waters, the boat got blocked in by solid ice. They called in icebreakers, three of ‘em, and two of them got stuck, too. Finally a helicopter went in and hauled out the scientists. But their boat and the icebreakers are locked in there, maybe until Yellen and the scientists figure out how to melt the ice.
We’ve had two or three trains that derailed carrying crude oil from Canada, resulting in fires and several deaths. I saw a television news broadcaster kinda pleading, “Why can’t we come up with another way to transport oil?”
The New York Times announced two major findings. First, the killing of our Ambassador and three others in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, was because an anti-Muslim video really upset a handful of peace-loving Libyans. (They did not indicate whether President Obama or Secretary Clinton should have removed all personnel from Benghazi weeks before the spontaneous attack.)  Second, Eric Snowden’s leaks should go unpunished, even though they cost us a hundred million dollars and set back our national security twenty years. Snowden claims he is a whistleblower, but a true whistleblower is one who sees that something is wrong and notifies his superiors, not a traitor who shares a whole boatload of national secrets with an enemy.
I’ll have to dig up some old issues of the New York Times to see if they supported the humanitarian efforts of John Dillinger, Al Capone and the Dalton Gang.
President Obama returned to Washington with his two daughters. I read that he let the First Lady stay another week or two as a special birthday present. I’ve got to wonder how much his ‘gift’ will cost the rest of us. But I bet she’ll order up an immediate first class return trip on Air Force One if she gets wind that a surprise trip to D.C. is planned by a certain Danish Prime Minister. Actually I hope she enjoys celebrating her 50th birthday in Hawaii. There’s about a hundred million of us in frigid sections of the mainland that would love to go help her blow out the candles.
New York City elected a new mayor, Bill DeBlasio. He says he wants to get rid of income inequality. He didn’t say precisely whether he wants the rich to move out of town, or for poor immigrants to go away. Either way would do it. Look at Detroit.
DeBlasio also wants to rid the city of horses. The horse-drawn carriages that tourists love to ride in Central Park will be replaced by electric carts. Yep, that’s sure to attract more tourists.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:
“With New Year’s comes predictions of our leading men. This year they will read as follows, all of them: ‘I am an optimist, and always have been, but we must be assured of no inflation and a fair return on our investment. If the government will just lay off us everything will be fine.’ Now watch and see how far this misses it.”
 DT #2618, Dec. 26, 1934
 “A man that don’t love a horse, there’s something the matter with him. If he has no sympathy for the man that does love horses then there is something worse the matter with him.”