|Tuesday, February 26, 2002||ISSUE #219|
ADA, Ohio: Have you heard about the disappearing glaciers in the tropics? If you didn't know there are glaciers on the equator, it may surprise you even more to find out there aren't as many now as a hundred years ago.
A professor and geologist named Lonnie Thompson has been measuring and studying these ice caps all over the globe for thirty years, and he's figured out that some of 'em have been around for 700,000 years. He's drilled way down in the ice, and he's learned more exciting ancient history than you can dig out of the diaries of Mae West and Joan Collins combined.
The problem is, these tropical glaciers are melting. Dr. Thompson says even the ice on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa may disappear in twenty years. He's one of the top twenty scientists according to Time and CNN, and the only geologist in the bunch, so he must know.
He says he's going to Alaska next, where they say the permafrost is melting. He plans to drill a few holes to check it out, and if he accidently strikes oil, he'll study it for awhile because the oil has been around longer than the ice.
I'm here in the metropolis of Ada for a farm meeting. This time of year, you go to about any country town and hang around for a day or two, you're gonna run into a meeting of farmers. They're tired of hearing about the low prices of corn, wheat, and soybeans, so the big issue is the new Farm Bill that Congress is arguing over. Normally it's the Democrats vs. Republicans, but on this one it's more like the North against the South.
The Senate favors the North, and the House favors the South. That seems kinda peculiar till you realize Tom Harkin from Iowa and Richard Lugar from Indiana run the Ag. Committee in the Senate, and Congressmen Combest and Stenholm of Texas run the same bunch in the House. They are all fine men, and they have the best interests of the country at heart, especially their part of the country.
They pretty much agree on how much the average size farmer should get to help him through the rough years (which is about 9 out of every 10), but the argument is on the big farms. The North wants a maximum payment of around $125,000, and the South wants a higher limit of about $250,000.
Now to some of you folks, either one of those may seem excessive. But if you realize these fellows may have over five million in capital tied up in the farm, and the payment is the difference between losing money and a small profit on the investment... well, would you want to trade places when the loans come due?
Now mind you, these figures are for single farmers. If they're married, the maximum payment is doubled. So a wife could mean an extra $100,000 to $200,000. The odds are pretty good she'll be worth it.
For the single farm woman who has been successfully operating the farm alone for years, whether a new husband would be worth that much, I've got my doubts.
Why, he could spend more than that a year on toys. You know, toys like a new pickup truck and horse trailer, a big combine, or a crop dustin' airplane.
President Bush announced he is reforming welfare. From now on at least 70 percent of those receiving government checks must work 40 hours a week. That's for welfare recipients. He didn't say how long he expects government employees to work
He's got a special plan for unmarried mothers on welfare. He wants to pay them more if they get married. Now, off hand that seems like a fine idea. But some of these big women's organizations have come out against it. They claim there aren't enough men to go around as it is, at least ones worthy of marrying, and they fear the pool will totally dry up if these single moms start offering cash incentives.
You might say, why not match up these mothers with the single farmers. The problem is for every single man with a few thousand acres, there's a few thousand of these women.
Of course most of these folks getting our assistance, they don't want a handout, they want a job. The farmers...well, they would much prefer getting more for their crops and nothing from Congress.
Have you seen the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue? Well, fellows, if you're done looking at the pictures, there's an interesting article on the Gauchos in Argentina. It's easy to find... go to the centerfold, then back up a few pages.
That's all folks, I've got to get back to my reading.
Historic quote from Will Rogers:
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