Wheat From Chaff

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Senator Al Franken sends me an electronic newsletter periodically, letting me know what he’s up to. It’s the digital equivalent of the Franking Privilege. Let’s see how he’s been doing, shall we?

“What Will Comcast-Time Warner Deal Mean For Your Cable Bill?” The Senator is worried that Comcast is getting too big, that consumers will have fewer choices, higher costs and poorer service. He wants a Senate hearing to jaw-jaw about it, the implication being maybe government should block the deal so consumers would have more choice and the free market competition would force competitors to provide better service at lower cost. Great theory, Senator, except the City Council has already pre-empted you by granting Comcast a monopoly on cable television service in this city. Not seeing a federal problem here nor a federal power to regulate it. You’re wasting your time holding hearings.

“Helping Alleviate the Propane Shortage.” It’s cold, more people are using propane for home heat, increased demand is forcing prices up which people complained about to Senator Franken and he passed along those complaints. In response, the administration ordered pipeline operators to divert propane shipments and also relaxed trucking regulations so propane delivery truck drivers could drive longer hours. In other words, there are no more cubic feet of propane than before you butted into the free market, but you helped relocate the shortage while making the highways less safe. Looks as if the government intervened to make things worse.

“Protecting Minnesotans Right to Privacy.” Senator Franken wrote: “I believe Americans have a fundamental right to privacy, and that right includes the ability to control who is getting your personal information and who it’s being shared with.” I was excited to read that – finally, a Democrat who thinks the NSA is overstepping its bounds and Obama-care is a data privacy disaster. But no, he’s worried that somebody wearing Google Glass can run a facial recognition app that will identify strangers on the street and search the web for information about that person such as phone number, address and possibly dating preferences. Geez, Al, my brain runs a facial recognition app 24/7 and when it sees somebody it recognizes, my memory searches for their phone number and address while my GayDar detects dating preferences. The difference is the Google system is far more reliable than my aging brain. Not really seeing an Article I power here, I suggest you concentrate on oversight duties by protecting Minnesotans’ fundamental right to privacy . . . from the government.

“Farm Bill is Finally Law.” Yes, Comrade, we have a new Trillion Dollar Five Year Plan to Increase Agricultural Production. And I’m certain it will work as well as any of its predecessors to funnel money into winners’ pockets while shucking money from losers. It’s too early to tell who will be the winners. What we know for sure is the American taxpayer will be $1,000,000,000,000.00 poorer at the end of it. On the other hand, being just 83 miles from Eau Claire won’t affect my milk price anymore, so that’s a step in the right direction. I’m reserving judgment on the new plan until we see just how good or bad it turns out to be.

Joe Doakes

Since I started blogging, I can’t read through politicians’ communications without tearing ’em apart, either.


4 thoughts on “Wheat From Chaff

  1. I’m worried that government is getting too big, offering fewer choices, and costing taxpayers too much money. When can Al schedule a hearing?

  2. Well, guys, if you think that Franken’s newsletters are laughable, you should read Paul Rosenthal’s! And, he’s supposed to be a small business owner. Sheesh!

  3. It’s worth noting that the cost of agricultural supports and “cheap food” also is a large portion of our annual healthcare cost–the Cooper Institute (Ken Cooper, Aerobics) once estimated that 55% of our healthcare costs were due to poor diet, smoking, and lack of exercise. If it’s even 5% of our healthcare costs, that’s another $100 billion annually.

    Then you’ve got the fertilizer pollution “dead zones” at the mouth of every river that goes through corn country that kill off fisheries–yes, we’re exchanging shrimp and oysters for gasohol–and whatever that costs. (average consumption of fish: 15 lbs/person–if you can get 15% more at $10/lb, we’re talking another billion dollars annually)

    Then you’ve got the lowering of water tables due to corn likker plants, which often end up drilling new wells for all their neighbors, and we are talking some serious costs to the farm bill that don’t show up on the federal budget.

  4. Thanks to the harsh winter, I got the refill this month that I’d usually not need until next Sept. Thanks to the shortage, (@ $3/ gal), the early refill cost about $1000. (Un)Fortunately, the our provider was able to do a complete refill. Until recently, they would only do partial refills to keep the supply up. @$3/ gal., I would have preferred a lesser amount to get me through the heating season, and then get a complete refill next fall when the price was (hopefully) back to normal.

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