Weekly Comments Archive
Archived Issue
Sunday, January 12, 2014
ISSUE #786
A bridge, a beach, and $50,000/yr for everyone

Good news from the South Pole. Within hours of Janet Yellen being approved as Chair of the Federal Reserve, she and the climate change scientists melted the ice enough for the stuck ship to escape and sail to warmer waters.

Because the Antarctic trip was a total failure, these scientists have asked for a new and bigger grant: a million dollars a year for as long as it takes. This time they plan to charter a boat to Fiji. And to prove the perils of climate change, they commit to live there on the beach until the water rises and covers the islands. Now, brother, that’s dedication.

Do you remember a few years ago, the “Bridge to Nowhere?” Well, in New Jersey they have a bridge to somewhere, but no way to get on it. For four days last September, somebody in the Governor’s office closed some lanes to the George Washington Bridge to do a “traffic study.” (The study concluded that when you reduce the number of lanes on a bridge into New York City, traffic backs up in New Jersey.)

When Gov. Christy heard that it was not really a “study”, but a political prank, he immediately fired the ones responsible. Well, not everyone believed the Governor, including Attorney General Eric Holder, “We’ve got to get to the bottom of this traffic jam scandal. The best fifty lawyers in the Justice Dept. are immediately assigned to investigate this outrageous act. Top priority.” When a journalist asked Mr. Holder how this scandal compares to the IRS scandal, and the Benghazi attack, he was shocked, “This is MUCH more important; in those two incidents, nobody got fired.”

Colorado legalized the sale of marijuana starting on January 1, and they expect to take in $67 million in tax revenue. Some of you might remember that in 1933, President Roosevelt did something similar with beer, kinda bringing Prohibition to a halt. I don’t know whether marijuana will be a paying proposition for Colorado, but here was “my” comment on Roosevelt: “Roosevelt says, ‘Let ‘em drink.’ That’s all. ‘Let ‘em drink.’ And he collected $10 million in revenue in the first two weeks, and if he’d had good beer he’d have paid the national debt by now.”

Have you read about these historic events? A hundred years ago this week, Henry Ford raised wages to $5.00 a day for his assembly line workers to keep good workers from leaving, improving the quality of the Model T cars. Exactly fifty years later, in 1964, President Johnson started the “War on Poverty” to reduce the number of poverty-stricken folks. Today we have more people in poverty, (the rate has stayed around 12 to 15%) and food stamp usage has increased from less than a million people to over 45 million in 50 yrs.

President Obama announced a “War on Income Inequality.” He didn’t call it war but that’s what it is. Median income in this country is about $50,000 a year, so his goal is for all of us to make $50,000. He can start with himself, then convince Congressmen, the Supreme Court, and everyone who works for the government to work for $50,000. Interestingly, this announcement comes a hundred years after Ford pretty much doubled wages in his factory, greatly increasing income inequality compared to other workers. His heart is in the right place, but President Obama has as much chance of leveling out incomes as LBJ did in eliminating poverty. Or of Fiji sinking into the Pacific.

Historic quote by Will Rogers:
“We’ll hold the distinction of being the only nation in the history of the world that ever went to the poor house in an automobile.”
 Radio, Oct. 18, 1931.


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