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Sunday, April 25, 2010 ISSUE #600

Cloud over Wall Street is not from a volcano 
#600   April 25, 2010

    COLUMBUS: While the ash cloud hangs over Europe, another cloud hangs over Wall Street. In Europe everyone knows the Iceland volcano is to blame, but in New York we’re not sure if the blame belongs to Goldman Sachs, the SEC, Congress or our own ignorance.
    Rather than keeping an eye on Wall Street, the S-E-C was watching S-E-X tapes. Now, it’s hard to blame those men, given the option of spending eight hours a day looking at Bernie Madoff, Barnie Frank, Chris Dodd and Lloyd Blankfein. Washington is blaming the brokers and bankers, but really it was Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae propping up loans to people they knew could never pay it back.
    Earth Day was April 22. For forty years, we’ve been spending one day a year caring for our land and water. The one-day celebration of our environment is a wonderful idea. But some of my farmer friends reminded me that they take care of the Earth every day of the year. So you tend your own little patch of ground, and be thankful that a farmer is taking care of a few hundred acres, or even thousands of acres, of farm and ranch land.
    Farmers are mighty happy this spring. Weather has been good in the Corn Belt and Great Plains and planting is way ahead of schedule. Farmers would welcome a day or two of rain just so they can get some rest.
    In Arizona the Governor signed a bill that says illegal immigrants are illegal in Arizona. Seems reasonable, but a lot of folks say the bill is illegal, and that illegal immigrants in Arizona are not illegal. I’m no lawyer, but even a high-paid shyster lawyer would have a tough time proving that illegal is legal. Maybe the half million illegal immigrants in Arizona should go back home where they would be legal. Or take their chances in New Mexico.
    Concerning the problem with Wall Street and the big banks, it was mortgages that caused the housing bubble in the first place. If people bought a house to live in, and not to make twenty percent a year, they wouldn’t care so much what it’s worth. It’s home. Live in it thirty or forty years and you get your money’s worth even if it goes to zero.
    The government should stop encouraging big mortgages, especially for us old folks. When you reach 60, or maybe even 55, cut off the tax deduction for mortgages. By the time you get within sight of retirement, you ought to pay off your debts and be ready to live off of interest instead of paying it.
    (Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to duck before some of my old mortgage-afflicted friends shoot me.)   

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
    "After Wall Street had been dead for a couple of years....(a government investigation) will find out exactly what everyone else already knows: the deceased died from overgorging while the gorging was gorgeous."
DT #1783, April 11, 1932
    "Did you read that Senate Wall Street investigation? ... Twenty-four thousand patriotic Americans was all betting against the country. And we used to arrest men for just saying something against it." DT #1793, April 22,1932
    "You know it's too bad everybody was so busy getting in on it, that no one had time to investigate Wall Street before 1929, when the horse was being stolen." DT #1796, April 26, 1932

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