25 Years of Weekly Comments.  Starting Year 26.

25 years ago, August 22, 1997, I wrote my first “Weekly Comments.” My goal has always been to write in the style and philosophy of Will Rogers. Of course, it’s impossible to duplicate Will.

Weekly Comments #1 was emailed to 6 people. In 25 years, I’ve only lost 3 of ‘em.  Here’s #1:

“That UPS strike was settled just in time. They got a rush order to haul 25 million pounds of raw hamburger back to Columbus, Nebraska. Seems odd that in a country with millions of people going to bed hungry they couldn’t find enough poor folks that would swear not to eat any of it raw, if we just allowed ‘em to take home enough for a few meals.

“If those trucks slow down as they pass through Lincoln, the Cornhusker football players may hijack a few million pounds just for a midnight snack.

“Now that UPS drivers are delivering new textbooks to schools on time, the teachers are reconsidering whether they want to work at current salaries. I understand they have a new goal — to make as much as the truckers. I asked my UPS delivery man about that today and he said he can understand their view. He said, ‘I sure felt teachers were underpaid before I quit teaching.’”

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

          “A person learns in two ways: one is reading, the other is associating with smarter people.” WA #147, Oct. 4, 1925

 Starting Year 26, Weekly Comments #1124…

Today, August 21, 2022, you have plenty of good, healthy hamburger to choose from. The only shortage may be finding enough cash to buy it with.

In the Southwest (mainly California, Nevada and Arizona), the “shortage” they’re concerned about isn’t cash and it isn’t hamburger.  They are running out of water. Yes, water. Lake Mead (behind Hoover Dam) is so low the organized crime syndicates in Las Vegas are worried; every few days another skeleton appears on the dry lakebed. With DNA identification, the perpetrators could be tracked down. A hit man might say, “Boss, I swear I dumped him where the water was at least 150 feet deep.” Well, the lake is down about 170 feet. (Recent storms only added a foot or two.)

Both Lake Mead and Lake Powell, which is farther upstream on the Colorado River, are at about 25% of capacity. Together they provide water for 40 million people and electricity for 6 million. If the water level drops a few more feet, it will be below the inlets for the turbines. Meaning no electricity generated.

The new “Inflation Reduction Act” won’t provide any water, but it might help keep the lights on. Do you think a hundred Billion dollars’ worth of solar and wind generation can be constructed in a year? Only risk is, all the Electric Vehicles being sold with huge tax credits might use up the additional solar and wind energy, with none left over to replace the hydropower from the dried-up dams.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“Water ain’t gold in the West, water is diamonds and platinum.” WA #562, Oct. 1, 1933

        “Don’t miss seeing the building of Boulder Dam. It’s the biggest thing that’s ever been done with water since Noah made the flood look foolish. You know how big the Grand Canyon is. Well, they just stop up one end of it and make the water come out through a drinking fountain… It’s called the ‘Hoover Dam’ now. The dam is entirely between Nevada and Arizona. All California gets out of it is the water.” DT #1900, Sept. 6, 1932

Weekly Comments (early edition): California vs. Florida

California Governor Newsom launched a TV ad a few weeks ago inviting people in Florida to move to California. So far, no one has accepted Newsom’s invitation, even with the free use of a U-Haul.

Naturally, Florida Governor DeSantis had to respond with his own TV ad showcasing the advantages of Florida over California.

You may wonder if such a little “tug of war” between these two states has ever occurred. Well, Will Rogers provided a mock debate 96 years ago, in an article, over 5000 words, for the Saturday Evening Post, May 29, 1926. Here is a small sample of that Florida vs. California “debate.”

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“A Debate Held Before the Prevaricators’ Club of America between: Florida in This Corner and California in This Corner. Both are Members of the Club.

FLA.: Florida passed a law whereby state income tax was free here.

CAL.: We in California make no appeal to tax dodgers. If a man is not patriotic enough to help maintain the state in which he resides, we don’t want him in California.

FLA.: Florida is the second largest state east of the Mississippi.

CAL.: Say, what do we care about east of the Mississippi? Why don’t you come out west of the Mississippi, where states are states and men marry governors?

FLA.: We have 3,000,000 acres of Everglades, and when they are drained they will support 3,000,000 people.

CAL.: California has 20,000,000 acres of mountains, and when they are leveled out they will support the whole of India, with the Chinese nation invited as weekend guests. I know you may ask, ‘Who is going to flatten the mountains?’ Why, the same fellow that drains the Everglades… They can’t drain their Everglades, as there is nowhere to put the water. If they drain them into the ocean, why, that will raise the ocean higher than the land.

FLA.: Lots of people think that Florida is low, but we have a point in Highlands County which is some 310 feet high.

CAL.: Why, Florida is so low it’s the only country in the world where you have to climb a ladder to get into the ocean.

FLA.: We have $15,000,000 worth of fish in the waters bordering on Florida.

CAL.: Of course, they don’t say they have SOLD these 15,000,000, but they have them there in case some buyer comes along and wants $15,000,000 worth of uncaught fish.

FLA.: We are known for our oranges.

CAL.: I will admit there is a bootleg variety of orange that thrives up to the size of a green plum on the banks of your swamps; but as for being called an orange, that is only done, of course, through a sense of humor. We take Florida oranges to California, dry them and use them for golf balls. As for taste, they resemble the green persimmon.

FLA.: Our oranges alone in 1924 brought us in $15,000,000.

CAL.: That would just about pay for the labels on the ones we shipped.”

Will Rogers closed the “debate” with an “interrupter” who insisted that neither Florida nor California were top states. The interrupter proceeded to explain that the top state was in fact… Oklahoma.

(I’m sending this early because this weekend I will be in… Oklahoma. The folks in Claremore and Oologah always have a special day of remembrance, honoring Will Rogers and (pilot) Wiley Post who died Aug. 15, 1935, when their plane lost engine power and crashed at Point Barrow, Alaska. The main event is a “Fly-In” on Saturday morning when about a hundred small planes will land on a grass strip at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch at Oologah. Because it will be really hot, my Wiley Post (Carl Potter) decided we should drive instead of fly, for safety.)

Correction in last weeks comments: The Feds plan to hire 87,000 new IRS agents, not 180,000. This still doubles the current number. Surprisingly, they will be armed. So, if Republicans take over, those 87,000 could be reassigned to Border Patrol.

China threatening Taiwan; Inflation Reduction; and the IRS

Thanks to Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, we are learning more about the true intentions of the Communist Party in mainland China. They intend to take over Taiwan, as they did with Hong Kong. If they succeed, would Singapore be next? Or South Korea? Or even an old enemy, Japan?

Why do the Communists want Taiwan?  But 24 million people in Taiwan never want to be part of China. Before, during and after World War II, Communists slowly took control of mainland China, murdering millions in the process. The existing leaders, under Chiang Kai-shek, moved the government to Formosa (now Taiwan) in 1949. They escaped Communism. So why, 73 productive years later, would Taiwan citizens want to go under Communist rule? The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is $34,000 per person compared to only $12,000 for a person in China. (Singapore’s GDP is 6 times China’s; the GDP of South Korea and Japan is similar to Taiwan’s, and Hong Kong’s GDP, considered separately, is 4 times greater per person than the China average.)

Why does the future of Taiwan matter to us? One word: CHIPS. As in advanced semiconductor chip manufacturing. Of course, that’s not the only reason. But Taiwan accounts for more than 90% of the world’s most advanced chip manufacturing according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. The SIA report continues, “While potential loss of life is the biggest worry, it’s hard to overstate the importance of Taiwan to the U.S. and the global tech landscape. Most of the advanced chips required for military defense systems and corporate computing services are made in Taiwan.” We are already short of chips for ordinary items: automobiles, trucks, farm tractors, and kitchen appliances.

Somebody had better inform the President. No matter how many millions he and Hunter might lose of their Communist China investments, we need to support Taiwan 100%. And do it immediately. If China takes over Taiwan it will be a horrible disruption of global business. And similar to Ukraine, we hate to let a “free” friendly country be taken over by Communists.

Today, Democrat Senators passed the $700 Billion inflationary “Inflation Reduction Act,” thanks to a tie-breaking vote by VP Kamala Harris. The House Democrats will pass it in a few days and President Biden will immediately sign it. The Act has several items in it, so each Democrat can find one or two to brag about and every Republican can identify several to complain about. Unless I missed it, there is nothing in the bill to increase production of oil and gas (to reduce energy costs), or relax regulations that could allow twice as many trucks access to California ports (reducing supply chain problems) and allow pilots older than 65 (to help reduce cancelled flights). Or sourcing raw materials for EV batteries from here or friendly countries instead of China.

One item got my attention. The bill includes hiring 180,000 new IRS agents, doubling the current number. The IRS will receive a million applications, mostly from unemployed grads from expensive universities with student loans of at least $150,000. The main requirement for IRS agents is knowing how to add and subtract on a calculator. The IRS has limited office space available, so most applicants are hoping they will get a new computer and can work from their home (or more likely their parents’ home).

The President claims no one making under $400,000 will be affected. My rough calculation indicates that each IRS agent will have about 15 tax returns over $400,000 to audit. Even if the number is 20 or 25, how long will that take? My guess is that after finishing those audits in a couple of months, the agents will spend the rest of the year auditing those of us with lower incomes.

The jobs report for July was great: 520,000 new jobs filled. The government was expecting only 150,000. They were shocked that 370,000 people had to go back to work to buy food, gas and school supplies. I guess those 370,000 aren’t convinced the new “Inflation Reduction Act” will reduce inflation any time soon. And a call from one of those IRS agents could quickly inflate their tax bill.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“If you know your Chinese, there is quite a big communistic hold in certain parts of China. The influence is growing rapidly.” WA #520, Dec. 11, 1932

“My old friend Arthur Brisbane accused me good-naturedly of being worried over this ‘inflation.’ I wasn’t worried. I was just ‘confused.’ There is quite a difference. When you are worried you know what you are worried about, but when you are ‘confused’ it’s when you don’t know enough about a thing to be worried.” DT #2096, April 23, 1933