Federal Budget, Tunnels and Facebook

Congress passed a Budget. The total is $1.3 Trillion for discretionary items only. Actually it is a Republican budget plus a Democrat budget. They totally ignored the Taxpayer budget. That’s why it is so high. The total budget bill is 2200 pages, or over half a billion dollars per page. To save a bundle, next time limit it to 500 pages.

To get an extra $60 Billion for our military, President Trump had to accept an extra $100 Billion or so for things he didn’t want. He wanted $25 Billion for the Mexico Wall, and only got $1.6 Billion. Of course he campaigned on the idea that Mexico would pay for it. Maybe he can use a billion to bribe Mexican officials to put up the Wall themselves.  That’s how things get done down there, bribery. If we could figure out how to intercept all the drug money and other payments headed south of the border, we wouldn’t need bribery.

While Trump got $1.6 Billion to build a 1900-mile Wall, Sen. Schumer got $1.0 Billion for a 2-mile tunnel connecting New York City to New Jersey. Frankly I don’t know why he needed the money; the Governors of both states already promised a total of $11 Billion. If you can’t drill a hole under the Hudson River big enough for a train to go through for $11 Billion maybe they need other ideas.

I understand that 200,000 New Jerseyites insist on working in New York. Maybe they should just move to New York. Or have the government give each one a rowboat. Think how many boats you could buy for a billion dollars.

If 200,000 Americans decided to work in England, would we be expected to build a tunnel under the Atlantic Ocean?

Facebook is in trouble because an outfit called Cambridge Analytics “analyzed” data from Facebook posts in 2016 to skew the election in favor of Trump. When asked where they got the idea they said, “From Obama in 2012.”

I don’t know about you, but if they analyzed everything I put on Facebook they would conclude I am mighty confused. Does he live in Oklahoma or Ohio or California or West Virginia? Is he really old enough to comment on politics in the 1930s? Is he a comedian, an engineer, a rancher, or deranged?

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“The Budget is a mythical beanbag. Congress votes mythical beans into it and then tries to reach in a pull real beans out.” DT #2047, Feb. 24, 1933

“We will never get anywhere with our finances till we pass a law saying that every time we appropriate something, we got to pass another bill along with it, stating where the money is coming from.” DT #1733, Feb. 12, 1932

The Trump Tariff; Will Rogers views

President Trump wants to put a tariff on imported steel and aluminum. Whether you are for it or against it mainly depends on whether a steel or aluminum mill is located in your area.

In recent years we have eliminated most tariffs, claiming that free trade is better for the country and the world. President Trump prefers fair trade and puts up numbers showing that we have lost billions in trade imbalance with China, Mexico, Canada and other countries.

The “Mother of all Tariff” bills was Smoot-Hawley, which passed in June 1930. Reed Smoot , Utah Senator, and Willis Hawley, Oregon Congressmen, pushed through a bill that put  tariffs on 20,000 imports. There was a lot of horse trading and arm twisting before it got in the final form. What was the effect on the economy? Most economists say it made the Great Depression worse because other countries retaliated. Others say the tariffs had little effect because international trade accounted for less than ten percent of our Gross National Product during the 1930s.

The “Trump Tariff” looks like an opening salvo aimed at other countries to persuade them to stop dumping steel and aluminum here below cost. Will it work? Can Trump close the deal? Regardless, if you are planning to buy a product with a lot of steel or aluminum in it, you may want to make your own deal pronto. If you wonder what groups likely suffer the most from tariffs, at the top of the list will be American farmers.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers on tariffs, including Smoot-Hawley:

“The tariff is an instrument invented for the benefit of those who ‘make’ to be used against those who ‘buy.’ As there is more buyers than there is makers, it is a document of the minority. But what a minority.” DT #912, June 28, 1929

“The Senate is still arguing over the tariff, this time with the President. The law says he can change various duties if he sees fit. Well, the Senate says that gives him too much authority, that they themselves are the ones that are really competent to do that.” DT #989, Sept. 26, 1929

“They didn’t pass the tariff bill, for the thing wasn’t any good. Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don’t hurt anybody. It’s when they do something is when they become dangerous.” DT #1038, Nov. 22, 1929

“Mr. (Henry) Ford issued a statement last week that this new tariff bill, if passed, will be the worst thing in the world for all of us. You see a lot of manufacturing establishments try to cover up their own business ability by having the Government protect them against somebody that handles their business better than they do.  We won’t see the real effects of this till we have all these other Countries passing restrictive tariffs against us. You can’t stop the other fellow from shipping his goods to us without him doing something to get even… Some of the smartest and most conscientious men in our National life have been divided on the tariff question. It’s not all Politics; a lot of it is a matter of real opinion, based on a long study. All Democrats don’t agree on it and no two Republicans have exactly the same opinion on it. So let’s give the old boys the benefit of the breaks… Arguing tariff is sorter like arguing religion. There just ain’t any answer. If a business thrives under a protective tariff, that don’t mean that it has been a good thing. It may have thrived because it made the people of America pay more for the object than they should have, so a few have got rich at the cost of the many. There is never any way of estimating the damage done by a tariff, that is, how much other countries retaliate in different ways.”   WA #388, June 1, 1930

“Seven hundred legislators [Congress] have done what no other 700 men in the world could have done. They have succeeded in making a tariff bill that no one in the700 thinks is any good, and yet they will pass it.” DT #1208, June 9, 1930

“Congress passed the Tariff Bill.  They know it was a lot of hooey but they went right on and passed it just the same.  The Tariff Bill is going to be great for everybody who don’t buy anything or don’t eat anything.  Now it is bound to do you good if you don’t buy or eat and that is the only one it is going to be any good for.” Radio, June 15, 1930

Preventing school massacres ; Will Rogers on guns

The school massacre in Florida continues to draw attention. Everyone has one goal: prevent future school killings.

A good friend in Oklahoma who is also a safety expert, Carl Potter of Tulsa, laid out a complete plan to secure school buildings similar to the way a lot of federal government buildings are protected. While most commentators are focused on banning certain guns, Carl’s plan would work against any weapon.

Carl asked me, “What would Will Rogers say about guns and shootings?”

I’ll get to Will’s comments, but first here are a few of my own observations. Money is a major issue. Teachers already say they are underpaid and have few supplies. What would a school district cut to pay for security? If the bulk of local property taxes already go to schools, will these folks gladly pay more? Will states increase their sales tax?

If all the schools become secure, what is the next target? Colleges? Shopping centers? Parades? Sensible prevention is the key. Incompetence and silly rules allowed Cruz, and several previous mass murderers, to get guns and keep them. For young folks, it starts with parents. If they can’t control a dangerous offspring and separate him from guns, knives and other weapons, then the police and mental health professionals should step in. There is no perfect solution. These “crazies” are always easy to identify…after the murders. And they will find new ways around security measures or bans on certain guns.

Ok, Carl, here are a few of Will Rogers comments on guns and killings. His comments were often in a lighter vein, but still had a subtle, serious message. Will wrote about guns, murders and automatic weapons. (Note that automatic weapons were common during Prohibition (1920s) but were later banned by Congress at different times, including 1986.)

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“Nowadays the so-called bad man is either an escaped Lunatic or thick-headed [drug] fiend or somebody full of terrible liquor… Still these addle brains can go and buy a gun any place they want to. You know what has been the cause of the big increase in murders? It’s been the manufacture of the automatic pistol. It’s alright to have it invented, but it should never have been allowed outside the Army. If you are going to sell guns to everybody, let’s fix it so the party behind the gun will be at least a clear-headed, skilled marksman instead of a drunken amateur.”  WA #145, Sept. 20, 1925

“When the judgement day comes, civilization will have an alibi ‘I never took a human life, I only sold the fellow the gun to take it with.’” DT #926, July 15, 1929

“Passed through Chicago today. It was raining bad and practically all the shootings were confined to indoors. A few who had raincoats were outside plugging away at each other.” DT #339, Aug. 23, 1927

“Yesterday another New York catastrophe happened in one of the hourly shooting [disturbances] which are held on the Public Streets. An innocent bystander was shot. You just stand around in New York long enough and be innocent, and someone will shoot you. That really was quite an event to shoot an innocent person in New York City. It takes better shooting than you think. You know policemen in New York are never taught to aim; they are instructed just to shoot up the street. No matter who they hit it will be someone that should have been hit before. They very seldom hit the one originally intended, but they most always get a worse one.” WA #129, May 31, 1925

“I tell you the world owes women a terrible lot, and one of our greatest debts to them is for shooting some of the men. If we can just improve their marksmanship we can improve civilization. You give a woman a gun and let her practice with it as much as she does with a powder puff (you never saw one miss their nose, even in the dark) and this will be a better world to live in. People think there is a lot of shooting going on in the United States nowadays, but I tell you there is not half as much as there ought to be. About every fourth fellow you meet nowadays ought to be shot.” WA #175, Apr. 18, 1926

“The fuss raised over Prohibition has done twice as much harm as the drinking has. The drys wanted it in the Constitution and they got it in there.  The wets wanted to drink and they got it.  So what is all this shooting about anyhow?  It is in the Constitution and it is going to stay there as long as there is a bottle left. I have told Prohibition jokes on both sides of this question all over the country, in every town hall and every hay barn and in lots of the churches all over the country I have spoke in, and people have laughed at the little jokes, and then they would go right out the next day and elect a dry.” Radio, June 8, 1930