Is the Economy recovering (Part 2)? And Waters of the US rule by EPA

The recent economic news out of Washington was disturbing. The government announced what most people already suspected, that the U.S. economy went backwards in the first three months of 2015. The Gross Domestic Product lost ground. The President responded to the bad news, saying that declines in winter are not a surprise because for the last ten or so years our winters have been colder with more snow. Naturally, caused by global warming.

In my previous Weekly Comments (May 17), I asked: is the economy recovering? It was answered last week, kind of, in an official poll. Only 40 percent of Americans feel the recession is over. That’s all. However, most economists and the Federal Reserve say the other 60 percent are wrong and that we have gained steadily since the snow melted. Good times are ahead. We’ve heard optimistic opinions before, and I sure hope these economists are right.

All the Republican candidates for President were in Oklahoma recently. That kept the Governor busy for a few days, but they have all cleared out by now. I rather doubt that any of ‘em will be back before the election, even the nominee. Probably no Democrat candidates either.

Gov. Fallin has been dealing with floods; a month ago it was severe drought, but drought has disappeared from the state. Same for Texas. Meanwhile, California is wondering, what’s the Lord got against us? Last winter most of the snow that rightfully belongs to California wound up in Boston. And now, when Texas and Oklahoma would have gladly given half their rain to California, they got none.

I’ll be in Oklahoma this week, speaking at the national convention of ecological engineers in Stillwater.  Yes, they are real engineers. It’s not a made-up name, like domestic engineer. In case you’re wondering, the difference between ecological engineers and traditional environmentalists is that ecological engineers develop solutions that work for both sides, not just one side.

Probably every farmer and rancher in the country would say they wish an ecological engineer was running the EPA instead of the environmentalist, Gina McCarthy. She ramrodded through the Waters of the U.S. rule, which is totally one-sided against agriculture as farmers see it. Administrator McCarthy, said the new rule “will not add to or expand the scope of waters historically protected” by the previous EPA rule. Which raises an obvious question: why spend taxpayers’ dollars preparing, lobbying, and arguing over a new rule if it doesn’t change anything.  Are farmers and ranchers riled up over nothing? They see the new rule as an attempt by the government to control all water, including farm ponds, ditches, drain tile, and dry gulches. Despite denials by the EPA, farmers think it should be called the “Lands of the U.S.” rule because the government wants to control what they can do on their land.

Historic quote by Will Rogers: (advice to speakers)

“Another Decoration Day [Memorial Day] has passed and Mr. Abraham Lincoln’s 300-word Gettysburg Address was not dethroned. I would try and imitate its brevity if nothing else… Yours for shorter and better speeches.” DT #268, May 31, 1927

Question: Is the Economy Recovering?

Since the economy bottomed out about six years ago, the lingering question has been: Is it recovering?  The answer depends on who you ask.

President Obama would say, “Of course it’s recovering. I ended the recession, job growth is steady with unemployment approaching 5%, consumers have more money to spend because of Obamacare and lower gas prices, interest rates for buying a home are low, and the stock market is in record territory.”

Others in Washington, mainly Republicans, would counter, “It’s the worst recovery from an economic downturn since the Great Depression. Employment is stagnant, wages are stagnant, and consumers are not spending because they expect the economy to continue muddling along.”

So what’s your opinion? Yes, I know I’m the one that’s supposed to provide the answers, or at least an opinion. But whether the economy is good, or not so good, seems to depend on the individual. One man, or one woman, or one family.  You may say the economy is a bummer, and your neighbor may think it’s going full steam.

This week President Obama said the wealthy and highly paid folks are “Society’s Lottery Winners” and they should be happy to pay more taxes. That description did not sit well. One thing those men and women have in common is they did not become successful by playing the lottery. Maybe a dozen or so did. But usually it’s hard work, taking risks, a bright idea, determination, a persuasive personality, and other characteristics you all recognize. That is what allows them to take advantage of their opportunities to succeed.

Suppose a person with world class skill in one area expands that talent to become a syndicated newspaper columnist, movie star, radio commentator, and professional speaker. Does that make him one of “Society’s Lottery Winners?”

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“(President) Roosevelt wants recovery to start at the bottom. In other words, by a system of high taxes, he wants business to help the little fellow to get started and get some work, and then pay business back by buying things when he’s at work. Business says, ‘Let everybody alone. Let business alone, and quit monkeying with us, and we’ll get everything going for you, and if we prosper, naturally the worker will prosper.’ That’s exactly what business says, and they’re justified from their angle in saying that. One wants recovery to start from the bottom, and the other wants it to start from the top. I don’t know which is right. I’ve never heard of anybody suggesting that they might start it in the middle, so I hereby make that suggestion. To start recovery halfway between the two, because it’s the middle class that does everything anyhow.” Radio, June 9, 1935

Adding excitement to the Presidential debates

Are you getting excited about the 2016 Presidential election campaign? Well, neither is anyone else. Except maybe the candidates and a few commentators.

Regardless, with only 17 months to the election, the Democrats and Republicans have announced a schedule of debates. The Democrats will hold six, with the first one in Iowa in early September, at an undisclosed location. It’s undisclosed because they don’t want hordes of fans lining up weeks in advance. I propose they hold it in the showroom of a John Deere dealer in Dubuque, next to a gas station that sells ethanol and biodiesel. That’ll help get the farm vote.

The big question is, who will be onstage with Hillary Clinton?  It may be just her and a couple of empty chairs. Of course, the Democrats will round up someone to sit there, likely Bernie Sanders of Vermont. And maybe the Governor of Maryland, but I forget his name.

The Republicans say they will hold 9 debates. They’ll need 6 of ‘em just to introduce all the candidates. Their first debate will be in Cleveland in August. Because of expected high demand they will use the Browns football stadium. It holds 70,000, which should be enough seats… for the candidates. Spectators can bring lawn chairs and sit on the field.

I have an idea to help the Democrats draw some viewers. (Does anyone really want to watch 90 minutes of Mrs. Clinton not answering questions?)  I suggest they invite a couple of the Republicans to join their debate. How about Carly Fiorina, Dr. Carson and Donald Trump? They might get lost among all the Republicans, but up there with Clinton, those debates could outdraw the World Series. Might even stir up memories of Lincoln-Douglas.

In California, the water shortage is getting worse. The snowpack, what there was of it, has mostly melted. Do you remember that Gov. Brown ordered whole cities to reduce water use by 25 percent? Well, in the first month the reduction was only 4%, so he’s going to get serious. Swimming pools may only be refilled with water from the bathtub. The new status symbol in Hollywood is a brown lawn.

Whether the governor will reduce the water flowing freely to the ocean, I’ve got my doubts. Near as I can tell, that reduction has been zero percent.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

          “Debates don’t settle nothing, but they are entertaining.” WA #637, March 10, 1935