# 300, December 11, 2003
COLUMBUS: This argument France, Germany and Russia are having with us over our $18 Billion to rebuild Iraq reminds me of a story from years ago called “The Little Red Hen and the Wheat”. Some of you remember it, and I bet Barbara Bush used to read it to little George W. and his baby brothers.
See, this red hen lived in a barnyard with her chicks, along with a cat, a goose and a fat little pig. One day the hen found some wheat seeds and wanted help planting them. But the cat and the goose and the pig were lazy and said, “No, we won’t help”, so the hen sowed the grain herself. Soon the wheat needed to be watered, and again the three made excuses to get out of helping the red hen. The same thing happened when it was time to hoe, and then to reap, to haul it to the mill, and finally to make the flour into bread and bake it. The cat, goose and pig all said, “No, we can’t help.”
When the loaf was ready to take from the oven the hen asked, “Who is going to help eat this bread?” Now all three said, “Yes, we’re here for you.” But the little red hen said, “No, the chicks and I will eat it.” Then the last line of the story says, “the little red hen sang as she cut the thick slices for her chicks, and not a crumb was left for the French, German and Russian companies.”
I changed that last line, …but that’s the way George remembers it.
Europe says we are violating international law if we don’t let their companies bid. But President Bush reminded them it was our $18 Billion they wanted to bid on. If Europe puts up a few Billion, he’ll let ’em bid on that.
I ain’t sure how we’ll make out. The way things are going, Haliburton will win all the bids, and it’ll end up costing us at least $30 Billion instead of 18. Then they’re liable to turn around and subcontract all the work to Europe for 10.
If we want to save money maybe we should immediately turn Iraq over to Wal-Mart. They’ll cut the price of gas for our troops from $2.75 down to $1.25, they’ll make friends with the majority of Iraqis with their “Low Prices, Always”, and they’ll even win over the opposition by hiring them at night to clean the stores.
Earlier this week our President took the tariff off imported steel. He put it on two years ago, and now he takes it off. That satisfied the Europeans and confused the Democrats. Howard Dean was for tariffs, and Al Gore was against them, but Al endorsed him anyway. Dean wasn’t sure if the endorsement would help him or hurt him. But it should guarantee him a tie in Florida.
Be sure to get your flu shot. Of course, there’s a shortage of the vaccine, so you may have to go to Canada to get it, or maybe Europe. Folks are complaining about the drug companies charging more here than anywhere. But don’t expect them to lower our prices. They’re more likely to raise ’em everywhere else. If you thought Europe didn’t like us now, wait till they start paying the same for drugs as we do.
Of course, we could just tell these drug companies to lower their prices everywhere. Tell ’em to cancel their research on new drugs, and we’ll take our chances on what they already have developed.
Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
“The tariff is an instrument invented for the benefit of those who make to be used against those who buy. As there is more buys than there is makes, it is a document of the minority. But what a minority.” DT #912, June 28, 1929
“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