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Wednesday, August 01, 2001 ISSUE #191
 

SACRAMENTO, Calif.: I’m out here in northern California, seeing if I can help the Governor scrape up some more electricity. I stumbled across one answer to his problem: Raisins.

After wandering around the Capitol Saturday afternoon I headed south in the San Joaquin Valley, looking over the farms down around Stockton, Modesto and Merced. They got hay, corn, cotton, wheat, tomatoes, almonds, nectarines, plums, peaches, dairy cows, cattle, sheep and goats... almost anything you can name, you add water to it, and it’ll grow here.

But the commodity they have more of than they can possibly get shut of is raisins.

Of course they start out as grapes, but after the pickers eat their fill, what’s left over they turn into wine and raisins.

When premium wine is $40, that’s where they make their profits. But they just announced the Grand Champion wine of all California this year is one that only brings $6 a bottle. So wine ranks up there with all those San Jose dot.coms for profit potential. If you can get the best for $6, why pay more.

That leaves Raisins. This state normally produces 40 percent of all the world’s supply of raisins, but in the last two years it’s grown closer to 110 percent. And the price has shriveled to 45 cents.

So if Governor Davis can trade raisins for electricity, he can redeem himself to the farmers and voters. Maybe he can send a few trainloads to Florida... sell them as miniature prunes, and take kilowatts in return. General Mills could add another scoop to their cereal without overloading the box, or cutting into Tiger Woods’ share. Instead of a banana, eat a box of raisins... that’ll help without putting any of our other US farmers out of work.

Modesto has a big sign across Main Street proclaiming to be home to "Water, Wealth, Contentment, and Health". Their Congressman is cutting into their contentment, but they still have the other three to fall back on. Mr. Condit is keeping quiet at a time when his raisin growers need him most.

Engineers are holding a convention this week in the huge Sacramento Convention Center. A fellow needs one of those electronic GPS map devices, just to find the shortest distance between two committees.

The engineering students held a competition on a street near the Capitol. It’s a thing called a Quarter-scale Tractor Pull. Now quarter horses have been around a long time, but these quarter-scale tractors are pretty new. The crowds got excited just like for the full-size tractor pulls at your county fairs. The winner was designed and built at Kansas State University.

At the White House, Jimmy Carter gave President Bush a new plan to improve elections. It’s a good plan, and will cost us less than the lawyers’ bills for the last election. But he wants to make a holiday out of Election Day. Personally, I think everybody should be required to work that day, even if you’re sick. If you want more folks to vote, don’t give ‘em an excuse to stay in bed all day, or go on a 4-day vacation trip.

I compliment him for letting convicted felons vote after they have served their time. That way, more candidates can vote for themselves. Here’s another good one: he wants the news media to remain quiet until after the polls close. To make it even better, why not require the candidates to remain quiet for at least a month before the polls open.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

"I'm broadcasting from Sacramento, California; that's our capital out here, a beautiful state capital located in the civilized end of the state.

It's one of the old cities founded during the gold rush days. They used to use gold for money at one time in this country, but now it's the only thing you can't use for money.

(We’ve) got a legislature here. In fact, we got quite a few of them here in the hall – always an undesirable element pert near anywhere you go.

We're up here with a movie company, and the legislature, as I say, they're here, and people can't hardly tell which is which. We're up here making a comedy to try and put over on the people, and they're up here working on one to try to put over on the same people. Their comedy is going to have a little drama in it. For anytime you stick a couple of hundred million dollars on a state in taxes, why you're getting into tragedy then." Radio broadcast, May 19, 1935

"I was up in Sacramento last week. They wanted me to address the legislature, but I didn't get to do it. But it wouldn't have done much – there's nothing much you could do about a legislature.

I mean it wouldn't have done much good to address them. It's almost hopeless, and just about all you can do is just pay 'em and then hope for the best.

Funny joke on them though. They run out of money Wednesday, and they're not getting anything now, so they're getting just about what they're worth." Radio broadcast, May 26, 1935


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