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Random Thoughts on a lot of things...

ITEM — The push is on for a second stimulus package because the Federal Reserve says the jobless rate may hit 10.1 percent this year and go even higher through 2011.

COMMENT — That’s because nobody appears to be checking on what’s being done with the money already distributed. Banks took their bail out and used it to shore up their reserves instead of making loans, and governments are using stimulus money to fill their shortfalls. I heard Gov. Rendell say how grateful he was for the stimulus money because he could restore Medicaid payments. Since when was Medicaid a “shovel ready” job opportunity, which is what the stimulus money was supposed to be for.

ITEM — Boeing has purchased a rear fuselage plant in Charleston, S.C., and says if unions don’t agree to a long-term contract with a no-strike clause, it will start building the Dreamliner or future planes there. Machinists Union president Tom Wroblewski said he wouldn’t give up the power to strike but will negotiate with Boeing in exchange for “huge tradeoffs.”

COMMENT — The arrogance and greed of the Boeing unions is what drove Boeing to move its headquarters to Chicago. Smart mouths like Wroblewski may find that the huge tradeoff he’ll get is a chance to move to South Carolina to keep his job.

ITEM — Counties that supported Obama for president last year have been given twice as much money out of the $787 billion stimulus package as those that voted for his Republican opponent, John McCain. The 872 counties that were for Obama received about $69 per person on average. The 2,234 that were for McCain received about $34. States for Obama got about 20 percent more than those that were for McCain. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said there was no politics involved.

COMMENT — Of course not, any more than politics was involved in our Legislature okaying a $26 million new state of the art ferry terminal in Anacortes, which is in Skagit County, the home of Senate Transportation Committee chair Mary Margaret Haugen.

ITEM — The Pentagon has reassured troops that it won’t ban tobacco products in war zones. Prospects of a military wide ban arose after the Department of Defense asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to follow the recommendations of a study by health authorities that the use and sale of tobacco be prohibited on military bases and new officers and enlisted personnel be tobacco free. The concern was for the health of the troops and the cost of their care for tobacco-caused problems.

COMMENT — A study whose stated goal is “Any tobacco use while in uniform should be prohibited” will probably drive more personnel out of reenlistment than anything else. And how would they punish a serviceman or woman caught smoking out of the war zone? Send them to a war zone? Send them home? Bust them? Lock them up?

ITEM — Both of the health care bills being considered by Congress are real budget busters that would raise, not lower, federal spending, warns the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. President Obama has demanded a cost lowering bill before the Aug. 7 recess and it’s up in the air at this writing. Lawmakers, faced with mounting criticism of the lousy job they’ve done as details leak out on the bills few have yet to read, are asking for more time.

COMMENT — I’m for requiring all members of Congress and their staffs to enroll in any new government-run health plan rather than be allowed to remain in the generous one available to them now. If the new plan is good enough for the rest of us, then it ought to be good enough for them too.

(Adele Ferguson can be reached at PO Box 69, Hansville WA 98340.)

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