“Silent Cal” Coolidge

Although Coolidge was known to be a skilled and effective public speaker, in private he was a man of few words and was therefore commonly referred to as “Silent Cal.” A possibly apocryphal story has it that Dorothy Parker, seated next to him at a dinner, said to him, “Mr. Coolidge, I’ve made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you.” His famous reply: “You lose.” It was also Parker who, upon learning that Coolidge had died, reportedly remarked, “How can they tell?” — Wikipedia

A friend of mine, noted for his monosyllabic email replies, finally prompted me to look up Calvin Coolidge in Wikipedia. The famous anecdote above is also substantially repeated on the White House “Our Presidents” web page.

Coolidge was an outspoken advocate of Civil Rights (to the extent Coolidge, who could be an effective orator in public, could ever be said to be “outspoken.”) As Vice-President, Coolidge stepped in to complete the presidential term of Warren Harding, who had died in office, and Coolidge was elected President in his own right in 1924. He declined to run for a full second term of office in 1928, one year before the market crash of 1929. Of Coolidge’s successor Herbert Hoover, Wikipedia reports:

“Coolidge had been reluctant to choose Hoover as his successor; on one occasion he remarked that ‘for six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad’.”

Coolidge was also responsible for the quote “After all, the chief business of the American people is business.” His hands-off attitude toward the “Roaring Twenties” US economy was very popular with the business community. Decades later, the Reagan Administration picked up Coolidge as kind of a poster child for laissez-faire economics. Coming, as Coolidge’s administration had done, on the eve of America’s Great Depression, many critics believed Coolidge policies contributed to the decade-long collapse of the United States economic model before World War II. The controversy rages to this day as the United States tries to figure out who and what was really responsible for the Crash of 2008 – our worst economic meltdown since the 1930’s.

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Fw: Three Presidents did it

A lot of emotional emails are circulating right now about illegal immigration and the deportation of Mexican nationals. I recently received one. It pointed out that presidents Hoover, Truman, and Eisenhower all deported hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals. “The program was called ‘Operation Wetback’. It was done so WWII and Korean Veterans would have a better chance at jobs.”

That reminded me that there’s an extra element to this picture the emails weren’t telling us. I should know, because I experienced it first-hand. I turned that email around with the following anecdote.

Here’s something else very interesting that very few people know. It’s also a true story. It’s also about giving Americans a better chance for jobs.

After the Bracero program ended in 1964, a citrus growers association made a concerted effort to recruit college students to help with the summer fruit harvests in Southern California. At San Jose State College in 1966, I was one of many students who visited the recruitment booth to ask what kinds of summer jobs were available.

We were told frankly that the work was picking citrus, and pickers were paid by the basket. It was hard work, yes, but certainly nothing that physically fit young college students like us couldn’t handle. Why, even some much older workers were earning upwards of $50 a day (a lot of money for a student, in those days). And we were promised dormitories, hot meals and hot showers, evenings to ourselves, and free time to make interesting social connections after hours.

With no other job prospects in sight, I signed up. So did my friends Rich and Mike. We reported to old barracks near a lemon orchard in Oxnard, California. The work was so hard we had hardly energy to eat, shower and go to sleep after work, let alone socialize. The regular farm workers were willing to talk with us because they were curious why we would come to this place. We never saw any college students during our stay. The pay was 50 cents per bushel basket.

Basket tallies in the following daily summaries are approximate.

  • Day 1: Alex picks about 5 baskets, Rich 3, Mike about 2
  • Day 2: Alex picks 7 baskets, Rich 4. Mike stops trying, but hangs around in the orchard, just picking the single biggest lemon out of each tree.

“Hey, Meester!
“How many baskets you pick today?”
“Hey, Meester!
“You know you gonna starve!”

  • Day 3: Rich stops trying. Everybody waits for Alex to cave in. He picks 10 baskets, but is too tired to eat dinner.
  • Day 4: Alex quits 1st thing in the AM. We all go to the powers that be to resign. Our paychecks don’t even cover the bus fare back home.

It turned out we three were apparently the only college students the Association ever signed up for their program. I read a newspaper blurb some time later that they abandoned the college recruitment program. It was a total failure. They were never able to find American citizens willing and able to do this kind of work.

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Economy in Review with Typos

How many typos can you spot in the following news summary? (with apologies to Vanguard) — 

The U.S. trade deceit widened in November, hitting its highest level in more than a year amid then-record oil prices. In other economic news, the chairman of the Federal Reserve said the Fed is prepared to make additional interest rate cuts to simulate growth. For the weak, the S&P 500 Index fell 0.8% to 1,401. The yield of the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 6 basis points to 3.82%.

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Vanguard Economic Week in Review

Vanguard Economic Week in Review

This week’s economic reports painted a picture of generally robust
expansion in the U.S. economy. Analysts are setting their sights on
next Tuesday’s meeting of the Federal Reserve Board’s Open Market
Committee (FOMC), which should provide insight into the committee’s
response to recent signs of inflationary pressures.

OK, Let’s see if I’ve got this right, then. The next step: we wait for a meeting for an insight into a response.

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Vanguard Economic Week in Review

“The biggest surprise of the week was the Commerce Department’s report
on new orders for manufactured durable goods–long-lasting products
that include a broad range of items such as farm machinery and personal
computers …”

At last: somebody finally bought something!

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