Life without pipelines

Last week, Vladimir Putin had Russian fighter jets fly over eastern Ukraine in a show of force. President Obama responded defiantly, “We’ll continue to keep some arrows in our quiver.” Arrows? Somehow, that doesn’t seem like a fair fight.

Do you know what a rich guy can buy with $100 million? Well, he might buy half a hockey team. Or get his name put on a football stadium or a new medical center. But there’s a fellow in California that decided to invest $100 million, not to buy or build something, but rather to keep other men from building something. Namely the Keystone XL pipeline. Yes, one rich man, and a handful of environmentalists, convinced President Obama to block construction of that oil pipeline for at least another year.

Here’s a question we should all be asking: after Canada decides to sell their oil to China instead of us, will the same guy and his friends demand that the 3 million miles of existing gas and oil pipelines be plugged? After all, if a new pipeline is unsafe, how could we trust old ones?

What has happened to common sense? This is a time when we should be preparing to sell abundant North American gas and oil to Europe, including Ukraine. We already sell food to most of Europe, why not fuel. If Europe stops buying oil and gas from Russia, how long can Putin last with no exports except caviar and vodka?

Northwestern football players voted last week on whether to join a union. The votes have not been counted, but I’m guessing they voted against. These players are smart, no doubt about it. To get into Northwestern they’ve got to be among the smartest players in the country. But are they the best players? No way. Northwestern is usually close the bottom of the Big Ten, often finishing eleventh. (Figure that one out.) And while players on the top teams in the country, like Alabama and Michigan State, receive scholarships worth $25,000 to $35,000 a year, scholarships at Northwestern are worth $75,000. So, mediocre players are receiving a college education worth two or three times what superior players are receiving at other schools.

If it turns out that the players are unionized employees, Northwestern might even drop football. These players are still smart enough to graduate from Northwestern, but they would have to pay the $75,000 a year themselves. How about playing football for one of those other teams? Most of them aren’t good enough to even ride the bench for top teams.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“After a football game in Lima, Peru, five were killed… Up here we don’t kill our football players. We make coaches out of the smartest ones and send the others to the Legislature.”
 DT #1389, Jan. 5, 1931

Taxes, grazing fees and healthcare

Secretary Sebelius got the healthcare website fixed (finally), then resigned. She was criticized mercilessly when the website was not ready to handle thousands of applicants on October 1. After all, she had since March 2010 to get it designed and running.
Well, not really. Yes, the bill was signed four years ago, but President Obama did not want any rules determined until after the November 2012 election. Computer geeks can build a major website in a few months, but giving them three years would have made it a snap.
The Senate will interview the new nominee. Many questions will be asked: Of the 7.5 million who signed on to healthcare, how many have paid for their insurance? How many of them were previously uninsured? How many of the 7.5 million lost their insurance because of Obamacare?
Who will ask these questions? The nominee, Sylvia Burwell. You better believe she is smart. She won’t accept the job without knowing the starting point. Of course, Senators will ask the same questions, but just for publicity purposes.
I’ve been watching on TV about the rancher in Nevada who refused to pay a fee to the government so his cattle can graze on federal land. In fact he hasn’t paid in twenty years. Ranchers out West have been paying these fees for decades and if fat cattle bring a good price, it’s not a bad deal. Currently they pay about $20 to graze a steer all year.
Have you seen that dry, desolate land in Nevada? I have less sympathy for the rancher than I do the cattle. Asking a cow to walk two miles to find a blade of grass is downright cruelty to animals.
The real argument out West is, why does the government own so much land? In Nevada it’s 85%.  The feds ought to sell half to ranchers or anyone else that wants a patch of it. Keep just enough land for military bases, parks and turtles. It won’t bring much, but might reduce the deficit a smidgen.
I finished my income tax return. I guess I should be proud because, based on news reports, I’m paying the same percentage as Warren Buffett. My return went to the IRS office in Cincinnati. It should be accepted; Lois Lerner retired. And I was careful to claim no deductions for any food items, especially tea.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers: (on taxes)
“The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.”
 WA #17, April 8, 1923 (also WA #99, Nov. 2, 1924)
 “The crime of taxation is not in the taking it, it’s in the way that it’s spent.” DT #1764, March 20, 1932
 “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 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
  “Finding things to tax is becoming quite a problem. You see when taxes first started, (who started ’em anyhow?) Noah must have taken into the ark two taxes, one male and one female, and did they multiply bountifully! Next to guinea pigs, taxes must have been the most prolific of animals.” WA #594, May 13, 1934
 “Say did you read in the papers about a bunch of Women up in British Columbia as a protest against high taxes, sit out in the open naked, and they wouldent put their clothes on? The authorities finally turned a Sprayer that you use on trees, on ’em. That may lead into quite a thing. Woman comes into the tax office nude, saying I won’t pay. Well they can’t search her and get anything. It sounds great. How far is it to British Columbia?” WA #432, April 5, 1931
 “I see by the papers that they are going to do away with all the nuisance taxes. That means that a man can get a marriage license for nothing.” WA #59, Jan. 27, 1924

New way to cut pork in Washington

Joni Ernst is one of five Republican candidates for Senate in Iowa hoping to fill Tom Harkin’s seat. She has a campaign ad that claims she will “cut pork.” That’s not unusual; most Republican candidates say they want to reduce wasteful spending. But she shows in her opening line she is experienced at cutting pork, “I grew up castrating hogs.”

Everyone in Iowa knows exactly what she’s talking about. But TV commentators back East were unaware that castration is a common procedure for the vast majority of baby pigs of the male persuasion. Same for calves and lambs. These TV folks appear shocked that castration could be done by a girl.

We have a few farmers and ranchers in Congress and we would be better off with more of ‘em. And less Ivy League lawyers. You might get a great education at Harvard, but they don’t offer even a single class in how to cut pork.

My cousin, at age five, helped Granddad deliver lambs. If the ewe was having difficulty, she could reach her little hand and arm in there and pull out the baby lamb. And do it again for twins. Granddad appreciated the helping hand (and so did the mama sheep). But Granddad never let on to Grandma about this contribution to her early childhood education.

I read that the U.S. State Department spent $6 Billion that it has no idea where it went. The money just vanished over the last 5 or 6 years. If Mrs. Ernst gets in there, that might be a good place to start, uh, castrating.

(Warning: my connection to Ohio State is showing in this joke.) President Obama gave a speech to University of Michigan students. He told them he was for raising the minimum wage and they applauded wildly. I guess they look forward to a career flipping burgers.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“They have a wonderful class of students (at the Agriculture College at Ames, Iowa). They have a course called Animal Husbandry. I asked a boy what it was and he told me. Here I had followed Cows all my life and didn’t know what it was.”
 WA #172, March 28, 1926