The Dust Bowl

By Lloyd the Idiot

Ken Burns’  The Dust Bowl aired over the last two nights on PBS (yes, I watch PBS, but I still don’t want my taxes paying for it).  It was, not surprising, a compelling documentary as Burns’ films usually are.  Burns portrayed FDR literally as a savior of the downtrodden Dust Bowl farmers and their families, which, again, is not particularly surprising given Burns’ strong Democratic ties.  I have to admit it, though, it did give me a greater appreciation for the safety net we now have —  particularly when you hear the stories of those who otherwise would have starved to death without the New Deal programs. 

As a granchild of one of them, the film also gave me a great apprecation for the “Okies” who migrated to California.  Although my grandfather often referred to himself as one, I never knew that it was such a perjorative term nor did I know of the mistreatment they received from their fellow Americans.  Californians were not a particularly welcoming bunch in the ’30s and ’40s.


  • Robert says:

    You should read “The Grapes of Wrath”. Same topic. “The Grapes of Wrath” was instrumental in earning Steinbeck the Nobel Prize, and as you read it you quickly understand why.

  • Jonathan Weintraub says:

    Couple of questions:

    How do you propose to finance projects like this, if not though tax dollars?
    What other government work products or programs would you eliminate?

    Perhaps you’d like to lead the TC Real Government Reform Commission.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Lloyd, my brother in law in Salinas was born in a tent city there, after his family of Okies migrated. His stories are fascinating, and his mother was an amazing woman.

    Jonathan, that’s the ticket–TC will now be in charge of the fed. That should fix everything!

  • Jonathan Weintraub says:

    I don’t understand your point Barbara,

    For the most part, in spite of any “smoothing” by Tom Julia, the GRC simply says:

    “That’s outright waste!, The government shouldn’t be doing that. Let the private sector handle it.”

    That’s exactly the same argument that Lloyd is making. Have you been sleeping through GRC meetings, again?

  • David Dickinson says:

    I too watched most of it and, like Lloyd, like PBS but don’t like the tax funds going to it.

    To Jonathan’s point on tax dollars, tax dollars are the way to fund programs like this. But keep in mind the income tax rate in 1936 was 4%, the national debt was about 35% of GDP (now over 100%), and total federal debt was $34B (now $16T)….and this is with Depression-era spending.

    I think liberals misunderstand conservatives on this point. All taxes are not evil. All debt is not bad. All public assistance is not unwarranted. It is the degree to which we have gone and the depths of our financial situation we are in now that are the problems…with no end in sight.

    And the pedal is to the floor as we head to the fiscal cliff in our ’66 T-bird

  • David Dickinson says:

    And to wax poetic for a moment…

    I used to live in California and would spend time walking the Monterey Peninsula. Steinbeck’s former little red house is on 11th street in Pacific Grove. His family members still owned it (at least, in the 90s they did). Every year there was a Steinbeck festival down on Cannery Row. One year there was a woman, quite elderly at the time, who was a piece of living history. Back in the day, she would attend parties with Steinbeck and Doc Watson in Watson’s laboratory, which was open on Steinbeck’s Feb 27 birthday. She sat there and narrated the actual events.

    The Salinas valley is still the salad bowl of America. At one point, I had a 155-mile 1-way commute from the peninsula to San Luis Obispo every day and would drive Hwy 101 through the valley as dawn broke and watch the throngs of workers take to the fields.

    Although separated by decades, I got a strong sense of all the people and places Steinbeck describes in his books.

    And on Cannery Row you can go to Calista’s (still in business?) and order a beer milkshake. I did once. They had no idea what I was talking about, but served it anyway. I wouldn’t recommend it. It doesn’t taste very good.

    But I never read the Grapes of Wrath (a title Steinbeck did not like). Sounds like a Christmas present this year.

  • As to Grapes of Wrath, Burns suggests he stole the idea from a woman who was living among the migrants and had sent journal entries to a NY editor.

  • Jonathan Weintraub says:

    DD says:

    I think liberals misunderstand conservatives on this point. All taxes are not evil. All debt is not bad. All public assistance is not unwarranted. It is the degree to which we have gone and the depths of our financial situation we are in now that are the problems…with no end in sight.

    There is a logical fallacy here. A very specific question is on the table, whether public broadcasting, soup to nuts, is a government function that serves the citizenry. There’s nothing to “misunderstand” because the specific question wasn’t addressed.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    I’ve toured that area of CA with my sister and her husband, and read my Steinbeck (personal favorite, East of Eden). It is wonderful how much of that history is still evident in the area.

    Jonathan, did you have a point in there anywhere, other than your habitual waspishness and passive/aggressive posture of control? Nice touch, with “sleeping again”. Here’s hoping you have something to feel thankful for–I always feel as if there is nothing in life that you actually like. Many happy returns of the holiday to you and David.

  • David Dickinson says:

    Keep getting TC server errors. Sorry if this is repeated.

    Jonathan, I thought you were talking about Dust Bowl assistance and not PBS.

    In PBS’s case, cut federal assitance completely.

  • Jonathan Weintraub says:


    I re-read your comment and did see that you said:

    To Jonathan’s point on tax dollars, tax dollars are the way to fund programs like this.

    That seems to be a break from the Republican attempt to de-fund PBS. Do you support continued funding of public broadcasting?

  • Jonathan Weintraub says:

    Thanks DD,

    Your comment was ambiguous. I didn’t understand what “program” referred to. Now it’s crystal clear.

  • David Dickinson says:

    Jonathan, what do you think of the Kevin Clash incident?

    I’m actually interested in your opinion. I won’t comment, just listening.

  • Jonathan Weintraub says:


    I didn’t know anything about it until you brought it up, and still don’t know much. I’d like to see a timeline. Regarding this thread, and the broader issue of government/institutional reform, the most important question is whether the institution (PBS) will protect their stars, as we saw with the Catholic church’s behavior in the priest sex abuse scandal, and the Penn State Jerry Sandusky scandal.

    In this case, for whatever reason, Clash resigned. It doesn’t appear that PBS tried to cover up the revelation. It doesn’t appear that PBS tried to protect him. I can’t say that for certain without further evidence of who knew what, when.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    DD and Llpyd: I like PBS, I just do not want to pay anything for it.


  • Barbara Munsey says:

    We’ve donated to the local affiliates over the years, when it fit our budget, but not this year. Funny, the nonprofit which does the merchandizing could probably fund the whole shebang! That would seem to me to be the best move–people who buy the products fund…the products.

  • Liberal Anthropologist says:

    PBS corporate doesn’t need the money if they structured their deals properly with the content providers. SOME affiliates may need money to survive. The system as a whole could decide to cover that or the local governments in those areas as a local choice. We are talking about a few dozen affiliates at most that would even need that.

    The federal government is not needed.

  • Linda B. says:

    There are also the options of grants from private foundations, conducting telethons, etc. So people who want to support the programming can do so without forcing everyone to.

    And Eric, I have supported public radio in the past, so don’t give me any “I like it, I just don’t want to pay for it” BS. Wouldn’t be surprised if Lloyd and DD have contributed individually as well.

  • Ed Myers says:

    I don’t want to pay for the gold plated military either. Each party shoves taxpayer money at their ideological pets.

  • Elder Berry says:

    The core question is, does EVERY single thing have a value only in dollars to some of you people? Are some things not worthwhile and worth supporting just for their own sake?

    PBS helped me educate and enlighten my kids and it educates and enlightens me almost every day. It tells me about things that the commercial media would NEVER bother with. That does not mean that those things, like art and science and history and music and dance and poetry and unbiased world news, are not important.

    How about we make the DoD a for-profit enterprise. Make them ask for donations for the next bomber or drone.

    The reason Ken Burns could make his Dust Bowl documentary 80 years after the fact was that he could rely to a huge extent on photos and film that came from GOVERNMENT FUNDED WPA programs. The whole nation would have known not much at all about the Dust Bowl had it not been for the WPA artists. Without their images and words, it would have been just one more Depression era quiet crisis among poor people who could be easily ignored.

    By the way, if you think the federal government is not needed then you are living in the wrong country. The Founding Fathers went to the trouble of having a whole second constitutional convention just so that we’d have a strong federal government here in the US

    Barbara Munsey in Great Britain people have to pay a fee to the government just to have a TV, that fee funds the public BBC. Is that what you recommend.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    elderberry, given the troubles the beeb has been having come to light, no wonder some of my Brit acquaintances resent that fee mightily.

    They tax everything in the UK for a lot of goofy policies–it’s why, during the year the entire island was covered with snow (Copenhagen, we’re MELTING! RILLLLLY!!!) elderly pensioners were riding buses all day to stay warm–because they can’t afford to heat their homes adequately.

    But that Birmingham policy in the national healthcare should take care of that eventually, right?

    Yes, oh yes, let’s DO pretend to be British, for the sake of national television!

    Elderberry, did you miss the part where we have donated? Did you also miss the part where I pointed out that since they make BILLIONS in marketing the CDs, DVDs, toys, games, clothing, bath and beach toys, etc, that maybe they could stand on their own quite well? Remember, the rich should be doing MORE–what do the execs of the various corps and nonprofits make, that could be helping local affiliates keep the lights on if those resources were adequately redistributed in-house?

    Go eat some more heirloom humanely raised and slaughtered organic turkey–you sound like your tryptophan levels are low.

  • AFF says:

    So many fallacies in one wordburger. But by all means, feel free to eat the offal while watching pay-for-view cage fighting.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Yep aff, that’s exactly what we watch, 24/7/365. fer shure.

    No extreme assumptions at all. You RULE. (or you should–then the whole world would be perfect, right?–why don’t you go have some turkey too, hon?)

  • Linda B says:

    Yes, some things are worth supporting just for their own sake. When you’re not already $16 trillion in debt. (Do you know that translates to $52K per person? I’d rather my taxes go toward paying down my share.)

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Linda, they’re lucky you consider it YOUR SHARE. A far more generous and responsible position than considered by many.

    (which may be part of how the elderberries and the affs keep running it up–theirs to decide, and all)

  • Cato the Elder says:

    Barb, you’re so selfish. You’re lucky they allow you to keep any of their income at all.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Yep, just another selfish mouthbreather who watches cage matches on the magic box all the livelong day. I ain’t outraged enough to pay attention, like them smart stickers for the backs of them electric cars and such–too broke, too.

    Gotta go–somebody’s bleedin on the teevee

  • Ed Myers says:

    Barb, do you have earned income that requires you to pay income tax? Or does your lifestyle get subsidized by the monetary generosity of others? I’m trying to figure out how to translate the snark into policy preferences.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    Nice snark while criticizing snark, oh filer of hobby lawsuits! lol

    With what is coming in my husband’s company because of Obamacare, he says it will be cheaper for me not to work next year!

    Be sure and check with the original snarkers here, to see how many benefit from tax deferrals, etc., ‘kay?

    Now, back to them cage fights…

  • Ed Myers says:

    Barb, you let your husband say that you are so unproductive than you can’t carry your health insurance costs? Lol. Our loved ones say the silliest things.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    No dear, the way it’s structured, if I (or my daughter) am NOT on an employer’s health plan, there’s a penalty for being included in the family plan available at his place. Which is also going up, in both deductible and copay.

    Interesting, in that if everyone is somehow supposed to be insured through any offering of their own employer, why even offer a family plan? I can see the issue where they had people getting a physical, and doing a sliding scale of copay/etc based on the results, but this seems to be disincentivizing family coverage. Brave new world.

    Nice snark, Mr. Myers. Semms you like it just fine, as long as it’s you doing the snarking. Lo-o-o-o-ve those double standards! 😀

  • Barb, the reason they do not understand the impact of Obamacare is because none of them or their elected representatives read or gained the slightest understanding of it before blindly supporting it. Doubtless when the whole thing collapses they will be using the same excuse… “I never would have voted for it or supported it if I knew THAT was in there!”

    I just want to know how many of the liberals here have been voluntarily paying the Clinton tax rates over the past dozen years so as not to be “subsidized” by their fellow taxpayers… leading by example to make sure they are paying their “fair share”, and if not, why not?.

    I keep asking the question and hear not a peep from any of them. The real answer? None of them. Why? They only believe in taking other peoples money… because they are virtuous they get a pass on their hypocrisy, it is only those who disagree with them, who really believe the government already takes and spends too much, who must be punished.

  • Cato the Elder says:

    Silly Barb, nobody has a family anymore. Get with the progressive program!

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    TDP, the tax aspect coming with the sunset of the cuts is another thing we have to prepare for, along with the fact that no matter what we choose, the cost of healthcare for the family IS going to more than double.

    Everything is a matter of choices, and glib Ed the hobby-litigator doesn’t know what we’re obligated for, what we’re planning for, or anything else. Work does have a cost, as many people learn early in FAMILY life when they have to balance the cost of both partners working against child care, transportation, parking etc for two, and so on. My husband was appalled when he brought home the material on next year’s health plans—the week after the election. All the folks busy chanting their one-dimensional slogans are just part of the bread-and-circuses noise. Reality bites, and will bite everybody as things “progress”.

    Cato, I’m not with the program (unless it’s a 24-7 fight channel–I loves me some mindless violence whilst drinking my Brawndo!)

  • edmundburkenator says:

    If only one could convert blog-vitriol into healthcare savings…

  • EB, no amount of your vitriol could be converted into health care savings because there will be no “savings” in any event. How is it more efficient to have an emergency room treat three hundred patients a day instead of five hundred? Same overhead… you’re not going to tear the hospital down… or will you, now that marginal losses have been converted into unsustainable losses?

    What happens when all that low-class business is transferred to private practices and a huge chunk of those general practitioners retire or choose a another specialty in disgust?

    You see, the problem with you government loving masterminds is that you seem to forget that for every one of you schemers there are a hundred innovative Americans devising a means to overcome your master plans. It is a dynamic country inhabited by dynamic people, it is not some static laboratory where you can expect a caged rat in the form of a general practitioner to continue to running in the wheel no matter how much you interfere with his liberty, which is why every time the masterminds steal a bit more of it in the name of “affordability”, “savings” or “simplification” what we always end up with is runaway cost, higher taxation and complexity… all three perfectly epitomized by the ACA.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    eb, I like the vitriol of the sniffy “you people put a price on everything, and some things are just priceless”…unless it is family choices–how many “empowered women” make that choice to provide their own daycare, and save on the travel, taxes, etc by staying at home when they’re young, and are blasted by the same preachy sniffers for choosing “wrong”? Those women aren’t “productive”, I bet–lol!

    The very same anointed hate like the fumes of hell’s brimstone any big box store, but work tirelessly for big box government.

    Go figure.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Those last two posts alone could generate healthcare for a small town! TDP get on your entrepreneurial horse and start fashioning a vitriol converter!

  • EB, have you been paying the Clinton tax rates over the past twelve years? Just think how much we would have “saved” if you and your liberal friends had been praticing what you preach.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    TDB, that line of argument is why it’s hard to take you seriously.

    To effect change on a bad system (and I think we both agree our tax system is in need of reform), you don’t distort it (well, any more than it is already distorted).

    And… you would get all the spillover benefits of Sesame Street!

    I’m sure some of my “liberal friends” — and conservative friends — would put in more if they could somehow earmark their Clinton-level overage. Most people don’t mind paying more if they have a certain degree of confidence in those spending it and to which services the monies flow.

  • Barbara Munsey says:

    eb, do you take Ed, aff and elderberry completely seriously? No exaggeration, no deflection, no projection, just their own correct sweet reasonableness?

    if so, should you be taken as seriously as you seem to expect?

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Barbara, I don’t take anyone’s vitriol seriously all the time.

    Even mine.

    And I don’t “expect” anything — although it may “seem” I do to you.

  • Linda B. says:

    “Most people don’t mind paying more if they have a certain degree of confidence in those spending it and to which services the monies flow.”

    Ah, there’s the rub.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Some call it the rub, some call it elections. It depends on who won the last rub.

  • So what you are saying, EB, is that when it comes to exercising your free will and NOT doing as you claim everybody else should be doing, the “election” is your excuse… that because your people were not in charge you felt no obligation to help reduce the debt unless you have some way of earmarking the extra funds toward your favorite cause. So despite your constant cries that you have not been paying your fair share you continue not to do so when it is well within your power.

    On the other hand I and half the other folks do not have the luxury of exercising our free will to restrain the growth of government when your people are in charge because if we don’t pay according to your edict we get thrown in jail. If we don’t want to pay for government funded abortions or handouts to illegal residents, that’s just tough luck. If we don’t buy health insurance even if we do not need it, you punish us. How convenient for the statists. If the election goes our way you reserve the right to choose selfishness, but if not… we can’t.

    Bottom line? You’re a hypocrite, but thanks at least for trying to answer the question… the earmark thing was cute.

  • Ben Dover says:

    “If we don’t buy health insurance even if we do not need it, you punish us.”

    TDP – Help me understand something: You don’t buy health insurance – fine. You don’t see doctors regularly because you’re smarter than everyone else and a cheap bastard to boot – fine. You consume a diet that’s high in fat, and drink in excess – fine. You smoke a pack a day, and don’t exercise – fine. One day, your fat ass is driving over to a 7/11 for some smokes and a beef jerky stick, and BOOM, you have a coronary right on the sidewalk by the RedBox machine. Paramedics (government funded, of course) transport your lard-laden ass to the hospital where you undergo quadruple bypass surgery and carotid stenting. Just for fun, the hospital also gives you an enema (evidently they’ve determined that you are completely full of shit).

    Anyway, your stay at the hospital ends and you are released – there are all kinds of restrictions on your diet – there’s home-bound PT, and numerous follow-up visits with the cardiac care folks, and prescriptions, etc., etc., etc. Your bill is a whopping $180K. You can’t pay because you don’t have insurance. What happens in this scenario? How does your bill get paid? What is your responsibility in this situation? Who picks up your tab? And, if the above doesn’t entirely apply to your specific lifestyle and circumstances, just go with the flow and do a little role playing, if you don’t mind. I’d like to know how, with America’s growing obesity issue, we deal with people who won’t get, or can’t afford conventional health insurance. Thanks.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Reason 489 to not take you seriously…

    First, I’m reducing the debt by voting for people that can add and subtract rather than the ideologues you prefer. The Republican Party used to be able to add and subtract, but sadly they no longer can do it. They are data averse.

    Second, you get to pay for abortions and handouts and, what I think was described above as a gold-plated military. Along with everyone else.

    You don’t get your way in total. Others don’t get their way in total.

    Our government happens that way.

    Third, while there is a difference between a pragmatist and a hypocrite. There is little difference between you and an absolutist, and absolutists have been unhappy throughout the entire American experiment.

    And you will continue to be unhappy. Thankfully.

  • EB… If I am Warren Buffet, Bill Gates or Obambi… scratch that one, he lives off the public dole, but if I am one of the first two, why do I need insurance?

    I buy major medical insurance with a 10k deductible because that meets my needs… it pays everything over ten grand and I can easily make up the difference. Under the Unaffordable Care Act I will be taxed for having a policy that does not meet minimum larded-up requirements even though I can and ALWAYS HAVE paid all my medical bills. Just because somebody does not have insurance does not necessarily mean that they do not or cannot pay their own way. Maybe YOU and the other fair share-avoiding leftists think that way, but responsible citizens pay their bills and insure to their needs.

    What really cracks me up is that the overwhelming bulk of the people you claim to be feeding off the rest of us will still be doing so under UCA… they don’t have insurance because they cannot afford it and thanks to an economy that will continue in decline they still will not be able to afford it and will escape tax penalization. The only difference is that they will be crowding YOUR doctor’s offices instead of the emergency room and he will advise his son not to take over the practice but go into cosmetic surgery instead as the now under-funded hospital closes down.

    All the people currently paying will continue to pay, only they will be paying more for less, the only exception being the young who will be paying about eight times as much as at present while continuing to consume the least amount of services. All those Obama Zombies are in for a rude shock in a couple years if they are fortunate enough to get their first pay check.

    As the floodgates for the freeloaders are opened even wider the cost for those actually paying, already projected to be three times what we were told when your liars voted for the unread legislation, will rise algebraically, thus services to the unproductive (meaning low tax-paying retirees) will be rationed. It UCA was a prescription for failure from the beginning and failure is exactly what we will get.

  • That’s all just pap EB, you’re just a typical cheapskate liberal struggling for excuses to legitimize your own selfishness. It’s called transference… attributing to others what you know in your own heart to be true about yourself. You could have been paying more over the past twelve years as you and Ed Azner cried about the evil Bush tax cuts, those payment would have gone directly to reducing the deficit caused by the profligate spending you so desire, yet you didn’t and won’t do it. “Oh gee, my side lost the election and my required taxes are going down despite my belief that if anything they should be going up… what can I do? I guess I have no choice, I’ll have to pay less along with everybody else. Yes, I could just calculate the tax due under the Clinton rates and stroke the check, it would be accepted by the IRS without question and go directly to deficit reduction, but for some reason I just can’t bring myself to do it. I hate these tax cut things, I really do.”

    What a load of crap. Half the members of the Cabinet, including the Treasury Secretary of all people,were exposed as tax cheats and I have no doubt you probably deduct every last scrap of old underwear dumped in the Goodwill bin just as Hillary did.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    “you’re just a typical cheapskate”

    Transference know thyself. I really do think you mean projection though (I differ to Barbara on this).

    By the way, this raving lunatic version of you is way more entertaining than the tiresome long-winded version of you.

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