Easter Sunday. The Baltimore Bridge Disaster. What if… 

Weekly Comments:  Easter Sunday. The Baltimore Bridge Disaster. What if… 

The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore killed 6 workers who were filling potholes in the overnight hours. The six were immigrants from Central America. They had lived and worked and raised their families in Baltimore for many years.

You might be surprised how much construction and repair work is done on highways overnight when lanes can be blocked without major traffic interruptions.

Other bridges have collapsed with more loss of life. A ship hit a pier of the Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay in 1980, killing 35. In 2002, a barge hit a pier on an I-40 bridge in Oklahoma, killing 14 motorists.

The Silver Bridge across the Ohio River at Pt. Pleasant, West Virginia collapsed a few days before Christmas in 1967, killing 46 people. (Caused by a single corroded eyebar.) Somewhat ironically, a few minutes after I heard the News about the Key Bridge disaster, I drove across the replacement bridge from Ohio into West Virginia.

Beyond the tragic loss of life in Baltimore (which could have been far worse during the day), the financial cost of a closed harbor and rebuilding the bridge will likely be over a billion dollars. This raises a “What if” question. Why didn’t anyone ask a risk management question, “What if a really big boat hits a pier?” And “What can be done to make sure those piers are protected?”

In Tampa Bay, the piers of the new bridge are fully protected. Why didn’t Maryland officials notice that their Key Bridge, opened in 1977, needed similar protection?

I hope engineers and political leaders are asking questions about hundreds of vulnerable bridges across the country. Protective structures can be designed and installed. Do it in memory of those 6 workers, and all others who perished in bridge collapses. We have Billions left in the trillion-dollar Infrastructure Act. Can you think of a better purpose, including construction of the new Key Bridge?

Happy Easter. Like Will Rogers, I was born and raised a Methodist. And I’ve stayed one my whole life so far. On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Faith in life after death improves our life on Earth.

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“The Lord put all these millions of people over the earth… They all agree on one thing, whether Christian, Heathen, or Mohammedan, and that is that the better lives you live, the better you will finish.” WA#136, July 19, 1925

“Us ignorant people laugh at spiritualists, but when they die they go mighty peaceful and happy, which after all is about all there is to living, is to go away satisfied.” DT #1232, July 7, 1930

“If you live right, death is a Joke to you as far as fear is concerned…Death knows no Denomination. Death draws no color line.” WA #128, My 24, 1925

Border Invasion in Texas. Confiscation in New York. End of Democracy. Less Labor.

What do a couple hundred young male illegal immigrants do when they tear down a border fence and come up against twenty US soldiers? Do they attack? Or do they retreat so they won’t get shot?

Last week they attacked. The soldiers (Texas National Guard) were unarmed and were overrun. The illegal immigrants rushed the border wall where the Border Patrol let them through, processed them, and turned them loose into the country to go anywhere they desire.

That’s our immigration policy today. Tear through razor wire, beat up soldiers, then plead asylum and get a free ride to the state of your choice. If it’s a sanctuary state or city, you are free to commit crimes and still not get deported.

Meanwhile in New York, the Attorney General Letitia James has a U-Haul packed and ready to move into the Penthouse at Trump Tower. And she has plans for her new winter home in Palm Beach, Florida, the $18 million Mar-a-Lago.

President Biden and VP Harris are campaigning across the country. Their main theme is a warning that if the Republican Donald Trump is elected president again it will be the “end of democracy.”

I guess the “end of democracy” would mean citizens may not get to vote for the candidate of their choice for President. That seems to be the reason Democrats in a few states are determined to remove Trump from the ballot and prevent Third Party candidates, including Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., from getting on the ballot. And they are cheering for prosecutors in Georgia, Florida and New York to convict their main opponent of multiple felonies so he will be in jail before the November election. Yes, that’s their plan to prevent Trump from ending democracy.

Does it seem odd that President Biden is determined that by 2032, we can only buy Electric Vehicles? By then he will be 89 and driving around Delaware in his ’67 Corvette. If he can afford the gas. By 2050, the U.S. would resemble Cuba in the 1990s where all the cars were 1950s models. Biden’s dream will become a nightmare where EVs are parked because there’s not enough electricity from solar and wind to charge the batteries. And the cars and trucks we want to drive will be parked because gasoline and diesel are either regulated out of business or are taxed so high no one can afford to drive anywhere. Did someone mention a Bloodbath in the auto industry?

Senator Bernie Sanders came up with a plan to raise wages and salaries by at least 25% with a 32-hour work week. Actually, it would not raise income at all, only the hourly rate. You would run out of money faster because you would have 3-day weekends to spend it shopping, vacationing, and going to ball games and Taylor Swift concerts. While Sen. Sanders is contemplating a 32-hour work week and a $20 minimum wage, perhaps he should consider this question:  How many hours per week will a robot work?

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

“One of the evils of democracy is you have to put up with the man you elect whether you want him or not. That’s why we call it democracy.” DT#1953, Nov. 7, 1932

An Idea from Ireland to Improve our Election for President

Since it is St. Patrick’s weekend, I decided to go to Ireland.

You might say I have family connections. Robert Rogers, Will’s great granddad, left Ireland in 1800 and immigrated to America (legally). He wound up in the western part of Virginia, now West Virginia. He fell in love and married Lucy Cordery, a half-blood Cherokee.

Ok, that’s the Will Rogers family connection to Ireland. For myself, my mom, Hazel Lowther, grew up a few miles from Ireland.

I can see that you may be confused. The “Ireland” I visited this weekend is a wonderful little community in the middle of West Virginia. It is a few miles south of Weston and the popular Stonewall Jackson Lake Resort.

Every year Ireland hosts the “Irish Spring Festival” which typically starts on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day and ends with the Vernal Equinox, the beginning of Spring. Dozens of activities for everyone from 8 to 80 (or more accurately from a few months to 105). Includes a costume contest, Irish Road Bowling, square dancing, a 5K race/walk, duck race, Bingo, and Gospel Sing.

Tonight, I want to highlight their election of a King and Queen because it gave me an idea how to add interest and value to our national election for President. I read a prediction that more than $3 Billion will be spent on the Biden vs. Trump election. And usually, the one who raises the most money is the one who wins. Not always, but if you don’t believe me, ask George Soros.

The Irish Spring Festival lines up 3 candidates for King and 3 for Queen and you vote by donating in the name of your favorite candidate(s). The man and woman with the most money are crowned King and Queen for a year. This year more than $7000 total was collected and all of that money, 100 percent, goes to the upkeep and improvements on the Ireland Community Building.

Now, that’s a pittance compared to $3 Billion, but after the 2024 election is over, I bet your community won’t get even a dollar of it. It will all go to advertisers and consultants.

So, my idea is that each candidate for President (Trump, Biden, and third-party candidates) would have an official bank account to collect all the “votes.” The “votes” could be cash, check or credit card, even Bitcoin. Anyone could freely contribute a dollar, or hundreds or thousands, kinda like we do now.

With no money for advertising, the candidates would have to earn their time on TV and radio news and talk shows by having common sense ideas for the betterment of the country. They could be interviewed for newspaper articles. We would have televised debates. Instead of only 2 or 3, they would be held every two weeks starting after Labor Day. Now, we don’t have all the details worked out, but you get the idea.

At midnight Election Day, November 5th, the one with the most votes (money contributed) would be declared President.

Here’s the best part, regardless of whether your favorite candidate won or lost. The (estimated) $3,000,000,000 will be divided up across the country. Communities and neighborhoods would write a proposal for a local need. For example, the Ireland community might request $50,000 for new and bigger kitchen equipment because they serve thousands of meals during the Festival and other events during the year. Cities would not be allowed to apply, but neighborhoods in a city could request money for local needs, such as a new roof for the elementary school. Folks would be expected to volunteer their labor, bringing the neighborhood closer together for a common cause.

Will Rogers came up with a plan for electing the President. His was based on a lottery. I feel about my plan the same way Will did about his after he shared it on his national radio show, May 5, 1935, “I’ve looked the whole plan over, and I can’t find a flaw in it myself because I haven’t showed it to anybody else. The poor would be for it and the rich would be for it and the candidates would be for it. The main thing is it would give a national election the thing they lack now, which is dignity and prestige.”

Historic quote by Will Rogers:

        “Well, today is the seventeenth of Ireland. Of all the nationalities that have helped to root the Indians out over here, the Irish are the only ones that have made enough impression on everybody till they celebrate their birthday.” DT#1450, March 17, 1931

The Real State of the Union

President Biden gave an emotional campaign speech Thursday night, marketed as the “State of the Union.” It was a strong speech, demonstrating that he still has stamina and a loud voice. His focus was to appeal to the many diverse components of the Democrat Party. His only reference to Republicans was to note how well off they are because of Bidenomics. He chided them and rich Democrats for not wanting to pay more income taxes, a “fair share,” except for the Biden family.

Senator Katie Britt of Alabama gave the rebuttal speech. She was also emotional. Her speech, like every “rebuttal” to a State of the Union speech, was prepared and rehearsed. Her main appeal was to young women and families. She defended sports for girls and women. Unlike some, she can define “woman.”

So, what is the real “state of the union?” What does the average American face each day, each week, each month?

As Will Rogers wrote in 1930, “the rest of the country know the condition of the country, for they live in it and are a part of it.”

Most Americans feel the effects of rapid inflation, up about 18% since January 2021. Wages have not kept up.

A trip to the grocery store for eggs, hamburger, bread, cereal, fruit, tomatoes and ice cream shows how the dollar has shrunk. You can’t blame the farmer or the food processor for “shrinkflation.” A pound of hamburger is still a pound. A dozen eggs is still 12.

Now, when it comes to ice cream, most of us can remember when the most common package was a half-gallon. About 20 years ago that package shrunk to 1.75 quarts, and then to 1.5. We can’t blame that on Biden.

Gasoline is about $3.50 a gallon. Mortgage rates are up almost 60% since 2019 making it harder for young families to buy a house. And rent is higher, making it harder to save for a down payment. No wonder more young adults are still living at home with their parents.

The huge surge in illegal immigration has increased crime and added billions to the cost of social programs, including education. We welcome about a million immigrants a year who arrive legally, mostly based on merit. Starting with his campaign for President in 2019, Biden has encouraged illegal immigration, totaling over 8 million since he took office. Biden got flak Thursday night from liberals, not for mispronouncing Laken Riley’s name, but for calling her apparent killer an “illegal.” They prefer “undocumented.” Or, even crazier, a “newcomer.” Based on evidence, the Venezuelan who had already committed other crimes, should have been called a “murderer.”

This week I’ll be helping with a big 2-day agriculture event, the annual Conservation Tillage & Technology Conference, in Ada, Ohio. The emphasis will be on helping farmers increase crop yields while reducing costs of inputs and improving water quality and soil health. Farmers plant in the Spring without knowing how much their Fall harvest per acre will be worth. Ag economists expect this to be a rough year with lower prices expected for corn and soybeans. As one wise farmer said for 2024, “The most efficient Farmers are the ones who will lose the least.”

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“A liberal is a man who wants to use his own ideas on things in preference to generations who, he knows, know more than he does.” WA #8, Feb. 4, 1923

“A conservative [Republican] is a man who has plenty of money and doesn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t always have plenty of money. A Democrat is a fellow who never had any, but doesn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t have some.” WA #326, March 26, 1933

Weekly Comments: Meat in New York. Murder by Immigrants. Biden’s State of the Union.

Americans have been fortunate to pay less for food than any other country. We are blessed with good soil, smart farmers, abundant energy, and an “agricultural system” that gets food from “farm to fork” efficiently.

The percentage of our income spent on food has been declining constantly for decades. Until now. Yes, we are now spending over 11% on food, the most in 30 years.

In New York, Attorney General Letitia James is determined that her state residents will pay even higher prices, especially for meat. As you know, she succeeded in attacking Donald Trump’s family business. Most New Yorkers didn’t care because they don’t like him. (That $400 million ruling might be overturned in Federal Court on appeal.)

Now Attorney General James has moved on to tackling JBS, the big meat supplier. Why? Is the quality of their meat substandard? Are they ripping off consumers? No, she attacked JBS because they are not reducing their “carbon footprint” fast enough to suit her. The fact is that American farmers are producing more pounds of meat per ‘unit of carbon’ (whatever that is) than ever before. She says JBS promised to have a carbon footprint of zero by 2040 and she doesn’t believe they can do it.

You probably know that animals on our farms and ranches eat grass, corn and other plants to produce meat. Plants “inhale” carbon dioxide from the air and “exhale” oxygen. Without plants, we would die from a lack of oxygen.

Leticia James is wrong if she thinks a person standing at the meat case selecting T-bone steaks for a big family celebration is going to suddenly change their mind because the climate might be warmer in 15 years. And they definitely will not buy a dozen boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes instead. Given a choice, most Americans, including New Yorkers, prefer to consume their corn after it has been processed into meat, not Flakes.

As you know, Laken Riley, a nursing student, was murdered in Athens, Georgia by an illegal immigrant. He had already committed other crimes and was still roaming freely around the country because of sanctuary cities. Instead of demanding an end to sanctuary status for criminal immigrants, most Democrat office holders say that one murder (Laken’s) is not a reason to change policies. I happen to have three granddaughters attending three different universities. How many more such murders by a criminal immigrant will it take for Democrats to change their minds?

As Will Rogers wrote, “There is nothing as easy as denouncing. It don’t take much to see that something is wrong, but it does take some eyesight to see what will put it right again.” (WA #657, July 28, 1935). Let’s hope there are enough leaders with good ‘eyesight’ and common sense to eliminate sanctuaries for illegal immigrants.

President Biden will deliver a State of the Union speech this Thursday. Here is Will Rogers on this speech in 1930, “One of the few stipulated duties of the President is that every once in a while, he delivers a message to Congress to tell them the ‘Condition of the Country.’ This message as I say is to Congress, the rest of the country know the condition of the country, for they live in it and are a part of it. But the Senators and Congressmen being in Washington all the time have no idea what is going on in America. So the President has to tell ’em.” (WA #371, Feb. 2, 1930)

President Biden has been advised to keep it short because he doesn’t have much to brag about. Don’t be surprised if he runs out of accomplishments in 10 minutes, but spends an hour bragging about what he intends to do when he’s re-elected.

Breaking News! Nikki Haley won her first GOP Primary election, in Washington, DC tonight. I’m guessing that five Republicans cast votes and she got three of ‘em.

And earlier today, the great basketball player for Iowa, Caitlin Clark set a new major college scoring record, passing Pete Maravich’s 3667 in 3 years at LSU.