Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA380 April 6, 1930
THE TARIFF IS PASSED
Well all I know is just what I read in the daily prints. Well sir what do you think happened? You couldent guess in a million years. The United States Senate passed the Tariff Bill. Everlasting life, and perpetual motion are the only other two things now that we have to look forward to, and after this, we can really look forward to them with more hope.
Of course Tariff has been to a Politician about what a bone is to a Dog, and fixed jury is to a Los Angeles Culprit. It’s not only his bread and butter, but it’s his desert and toothpick. Any President with Political knowledge always fights shy of the Tariff coming up during his Administration. They tried their best to drag Roosevelt into it, and he just took a well worn elm Club and wrapped it over any friend or foe’s head who suggested that his Administration get tangled up with that yellow fever.1
That’s where he got the reputation of the “Man with the Big Stick.” It was for hammering on Guys who wanted some Tariff gravy.
Coolidge was another they tried to land. Say that little red-headed Yankee dident cut his political teeth on a District of Columbia License Plate. He knew the tariff was Jamica Ginger, and would paralyze anybody that libated on it. So when Mr. Hoover come along, the old Political Boy’s mouth just watered. They said here is some new money in the game. Here is a fellow that learned his Politics feeding the Armenians.
Well they dident even let Mr. Hoover get elected till they started working on him. They got ahold of him during the heat of the Campaign, and got him to promise that if elected he would revise the Tarriff. Now if he had only known it he dident have to do this. Nobody was pressing him for Tarriff action but the Politicians themselves. Of course they made him think that it meant his election, but my goodness he was so far out in front that he couldent have been beaten with a Tammany Hall voting maching at every booth. He was in the bag the hour he was nominated. But he was foolishly made to announce, “If elected I will hold a Special Session of Congress, and revise the Tarriff to help the Farmer.”
Now there is another thing, that extra session of Congress. That’s just about as much misery to a President as the Tarriff. Why call ’em in Extra session, why call ’em in regular session? Here he was borrowing all this trouble for no reason at all.
The present Tarriff Bill originated in January 29, just exactly 14 months ago. It passed the House of Representatives on the last of May, last year, or less than four months from the day it went in there. The House then kissed it goodbye and sent it to the Senate. That was last June, now its pretty near next June.
Well they wore out that special session with it, and finally Mr. Hoover had to let ’em go home to think up some new rates and come back in time for the regular session. They took up the debate right where they had left off and never missed a word. That’s nine months those Birds have argued and debated over that Bill, and there is not one man in five hundred that you meet that know or care what in the world it’s all about.
The best prosperity the country had ever had was under the Bill that this one replaces. But it must be changed. Factories wasent closing. Manufacturing was paying a fine dividend. But Uncle Joe says, “My boys are kinder kicking on some little competition that is creeping in.2
It’s not much, but we better nip it while it’s young, and they have been mighty liberal with you Lads here during your various Campaigns, so we better give ’em some returns on their contributions.”
Well “Uncle Joe” took it to heart so much, that he just swallowed his pride and went into the Senate himself, says “Here I will show you Boys how to make a Bill.” He found out early that Reed Smoot was born, weaned, brought up, and turned loose just with one sole purpose in view, that was to get a higher Tarrieff on Sugar.3
The day there is a Bill passed to make it unlawful and punishable by death to extract the juice from the Utah Beet, that day will Reed be made a Mormon Prophet, and buried by the side of Brigham Young.4
Well Uncle Joe says to himself, “I am going to do for every Article Manufactured in Pennsylvania what Reed does for Sugar.” So he says, “Reed I’ll help you on sugar if you will help me on 1645 other Nick Nacks that are made up my way.” Now you would think that would be an unfair trade wouldent you? But not with Smoot. You get him his sugar, and you can bring in your articles by the million and he will O.K. your raise on ’em.
Of course there was no vote trading done during all this time. Who said there was anyhow? Well he ought to be ashamed of himself for slandering a fine bunch of men, if he said it. Seven Democrats traded themselves out of their Party. Bourssard of Louisiana stuck with his sugar too.5
Doc Copeland of N.Y. left the policies of Jefferson to string with the Doctrine of the best Treasurer the United States had before Andy Mellon.6
Key Pittman of Nevada, Lord knows what they manufacture up his way outside of Divorces.7
I guess the Sugar Beets has got over the line from Utah or else Smoot did him a favor in his early career.
Sam Bratton of New Mex., where the sheep vote, joined the Republicans to get a higher rate on Navajo Blankets made in Brooklyn.8
Kendrick, a Cowman, Sheridan, from Wyoming, joined the sheepherders.9
Trammell of Florida stayed in the Republican column, to offset Fletcher of Jacksonville who evidentally Uncle Joe couldent come to terms with.10
The final vote was 53 to 31. Fourteen months of steady Oratory to change something that was already going good.
1For Theodore Roosevelt see WA 326:N 2.
2For Joseph R. Grundy see WA 332:N 3.
3For Reed Smoot see WA 336:N 14.
4For Brigham Young see WA 352:N 1.
5Edwin Sidney Broussard, Democratic United States senator from Louisiana from 1921 to 1933.
6Royal Samuel Copeland, physician and former New York City heath commissioner; Democratic United States senator from New York from 1923 until his death in 1938. For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 334:N 4.
7Key Pittman, Democratic United States senator from Nevada from 1913 until his death in 1940.
8Same Gilbert Bratton, Democratic United States senator from New Mexico from 1925 to 1933.
9Kendrick (see WA 352:N 3) operated a large cattle and sheep ranch near Sheridan, Wyoming.
10Park Trammell, Democratic United States senator from Florida from 1917 until his death in 1936. Duncan Upshaw Fletcher, Democratic United States senator from Florida from 1909 until his death in 1936.
WA381 April 13, 1930
COUNTING NOW IN STYLE
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. When a man comes around to our House nowadays or you get a letter you don’t know if it’s a Census Taker, a Literary Digest Poll Vote or a Bootlegger.
This is the year of the census. We take a tally. That’s what we used to call it when I was on a ranch and we counted cattle. In other words we run ’em by us and see how many we got. Well, Uncle Sam takes a tally every ten years, and it’s a good thing, not that it means much to anybody to know how many other people there are. But it’s an Old Spanish Custom, and it does give work to the ones that count and that’s what we got to do this year is to do something that will give everybody something to do.
California is sure excited over this census. Most places just take it as a matter of fact, but not out here. These Babies take it as a business. They have instructed every one of us on just what assumed names to give to the different Census takers, and when we have registered under every name we can think of then not to forget to use our right one. That’s how far they are going out here. They are all excited over the fact that the more votes we show we have the more Congressmen we will be allowed in the next Congress.
Well of all the silly arguments. Who wants more Congressmen? But they seem to think the more we have the more loot we will get from the National Treasury in the way of appropriations. Then the more we can advertise what we have out here the better they think it will make us. I don’t know about that. There ain’t much quality in numbers. But there is not an Editorial out here that don’t tell us how valuable it is to register all we can.
The Literary Digest poll is causing a lot of talk. It’s staying wet a little longer than I thought. That might be on account of the most of the drys can’t write. But I think when the old back country gets going good they will throw the thing the other way.
It’s given the Preachers something new to talk about anyway. They are getting out now and working like it was a regular election. I just heard a Couple of them over the Radio tonight.
Well, it’s a funny thing that a so-called busy Nation can take so much time to argue all this over something that can’t be changed now, no matter what happened. This is no election time, and all this talk will be for nothing. But we are that way. We can get more excited over something that can’t be done anything about. The Bootlegger is with us and like the Sunday Automobile accidents it just looks like both will be with us from some time.
The old Conference over in London is being slipped Oxygen between gasps. I don’t want to brag but when I went there and heard the King make his opening and then I come home, why I think I didn’t miss a thing. Here is all these poor newspaper men over there all this time. There was four hundred visiting correspondents there, just waiting day after day to find out something, and all this misunderstanding could have easily been found out at home before they left, for none of them have changed. We wanted Parity and we were never going to get it. Italy wanted equality with France and they were never going to get it. So these were things that should have been threshed out before anyone ever left. That is seen if it would be possible to fix such things.
I have always claimed that any International Conference does more harm than good, for they engender more hate than good will. It’s hatreds formed at Conferences that causes the next war. If I don’t meet you and have any business dealings with you, I think you are perhaps O.K., but the minute I meet you day after day and both of us are trying to do the best we can towards our own, why that just shows up our shortcomings, and we go home knowing the other fellow’s weaknesses.
I tell you when you commence to talking war you are on a pretty ticklish subject, and that’s all that disarmament is. It’s just talk about wars.
You can’t discuss Battleships without discussing what they are to each other in battle. Why the London Conference, I was there and heard them for two weeks, and when they had each discussed Publicly their needs why there wasent a Navy afloat that would have been adequate for them. Everybody got up and got to talking about the amount of Coast line they had. Why you had no idea that there was anywhere that there was so much ocean front. Here out here I had been putting what little money I had in Ocean Frontage, for the sole reason that there was only so much of it and no more, and that they wasent making any more, then when I hear Nation after Nation arise and announce the amount of coast line they had, it sure was discouraging to me.
I tell you this old thing of telling another nation how to defend itself is bad dope. Every man protects himself according to his own needs and his best methods. But we did have a mighty fine bunch of men over there and we can always rest assured that they did all they could.
Say old Wall Street is picking up again. The Boys must have saved up and started to contributing again. They always did say that the heart of the American people was sound, in fact it was sounder than most of the stocks that the sound heart bought. I will always believe that Mr. Hoover pulled that Gang through a pretty tough place.
Anybody that wouldent have come to their help like he did might have left them in worse shape than they would have wished to admit. That rallying all those business men around him, while it looked kinder funny at that time, I believe it had a fine effect. Just to see those men’s pictures in the papers make us feel like we have something. So I still believe that Herbert will come through in fine shape, and I won nothing but two beach lots.
WA382 April 20, 1930
DISSERTATION ON LEGS
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. You know one of the most welcome things that has hit us in many a moon is the return of the long dresses. It had to come but it was a long time doing it. You see according to law, fashions must change every year, sometimes every month, and in order to change dresses styles, you have to either go up or down, the crossways change don’t count, or show much. So if you can only change one way or the other and you have been going one way for years why it stands to reason that the worm must turn sometimes, even if it’s a silk worm. Well skirts had just gone so high there wasent anything to ’em, and the material people put up a howl. Men had just about lost interest in ’em, or below ’em.
It was just legs, legs, legs. The whole country had gone legs. Every imaginable shape, size, contour, was on free exhibition. Legs were one parade. Well you can get tired of anything if it’s dished up to you morning noon and night. We will watch an Elephant parading quicker than we will anything, and I doubt if even they could hold our attention if we couldent turn without having an eye full of elephant legs all the time.
They first showed us their calves. Well that looked fairly promising, and we seemed enough shocked to add spice to our views. But when they just practically overnight yanked another foot off their apparel and we woke up one morning with thousand of knees staring us in the face, why there is where I will always think they overstepped and took in too much territory. A knee is pliable but not what you would call gorgeous. There is 120 million people in this Country with knees, that adds up 240 million knees, subtracting the He knees, and figureing on a fifty percent male calf crop, that leaves 120 million She knees.
Now almost every part of the human anatomy has gained fame in some way or another. We speak of beautiful arms, necks, heads, feet, Body hands, nose, eyes and ears, but do you know out of 120 million knees we have never heard a word about a one of them only two belonging to little Anne Pennington.1
Now aint that strange? Of all the knees in the world there has only been one pair that rose to the distinction of ever being spoken of.
You read of some Girl imported from Europe to join Ziegy’s Follies and it tells of her legs, but there is never anything outstanding about her knees.2
The reason is they have a practical and not landscape value, in other words there had to be a joint somewhere for locomotion purposes and in order to get the joint in they had to break the line of the limb on the way down, that meant leaving some bumps there that it was practically impossible to get rid of. You see an ugly leg is just as apt to have a fair looking knee as a good looking leg is, that is if there was such a thing as a good-looking knee.
Now I was just telling you just now about Anne’s knee’s. I know Anne’s knees pretty well. I was in the show with them for years. We both had our little meal tickets. I had my chewing Gum and my rope and Anne had her knees. If I appeared without my rope there would have been a row, and if Anne had appeared without hers there would have been a Riot. When she wanted to disguise herself and not be recognized in public she used to cover up her knees and no one ever knew her. Hers kinder blended into the leg, they dident protrude.
Most people’s knees are practically knots, but little Anne’s were symetrical. I used to do a dance with her in the Follies and I could black up some nights, or send in a double, and let him do it for me, and I would never be missed. For when Annes knee’s were on the stage why your audience never looked up. But when the feminine world, or the dress designers who perhaps did it, thought “Why if Anne can startle the world with hers, why we will show ’em some knees.”
And Brother they did, some knees and How, and why? It was just old bumpy knees to the right of us, exposed joints to the left of us, volleyed and rattled.
Well to be honest with you the idea just dident get over. Women made a mistake, like everybody else makes the same mistake when they are allowed to much kneeway. They always spoil a good thing by going to far, and that’s what they did when they showed us their knees. We would have thought much more of ’em, both morally and artistically if they had just kept ’em covered. So they had to do something, nobody was looking at ’em any more, and they was tired of looking at themselves. So they had to do something radical so some genius conceived the idea of not only covering the knee up but the whole thing again, and you would be surprised how much better they look. You see short dresses was made for certain figures, but fashion decrees that everybody be fashionable, so that means there is going to be folks try and keep up with fashions that while they might be financially able, are physically unfit, their purse is good but their build is bad. Now with long skirts that will all be remedied. Every girl gets an even break till she hits the beach. So long skirts mean democracy, there is no privalge classes. Society is not rated on its curves as it has been. You got to get by with your head now instead of underpinning.
Defects are hid now and not made exhibits. The biglegged Girl and the skinnylegged one are coming back. That’s going to cut out a lot of this fool reducing too. That was what was the matter with the prosperity of this country, people wasent eating and buying enough. Course they can hide their legs for a few years now, and we grow up a new generation that never saw them why that will mean that they can take another whirl at the old exposure stuff. But We hope it don’t come during our generation, for we have seen enough legs and knees to tide us over the balance of our existence. You watch the marriages pick up now. Concealment will beat exposure anytime.
1For Anne Pennington see WA 355:N 2.
2For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 336:N 3.