Bill O'Reilly's Economics
This article addresses the boot-strap republican ideology which blames the poor for being poor.
Although I don't make a habit of wasting my time responding to big mouths like Bill O'Reilly, unfortunately he is watched, and agreed with, by millions of Americans and I feel compelled to respond because this topic is one that has been distorted by Pollyannaish Liberals as well as boot-strap Conservatives.
For those who did not see the interview on which this essay is predicated, you can watch a short MPEG at the following link: http://thebluesite.com/video/rangelonoreillysept272005.mpg
Even if you think him a fool O'Reilly's "factoring" is highly relevant to all Americans right now. Beginning with the most numerous of us, the middle-exponentially-shrinking-class, O'Reilly's barren flounced views are indicative of the treatment you are sure to receive when the current attack on this class has been completed. Don't expect patriotic love or even mercy from his ilk. Their lunatic idea of patriotism is to crush you and your family with their so called "economic competition."
Secondly, if you are one of the 38 million Americans already among the exponentially-growing poor (more than 10% of the population) you are soon to be the walking dead, as witnessed by the Neocon regime's handling of Hurricane Katrina. And as for the minority of upper-crust, I suggest your next real estate investment be a bunker because that is the only place you will be "free" from the violence, disease, and general mayhem, not to mention the guns of August, that accompanies massive poverty in the midst of decadence and luxury. So it behooves every one of us to stop hiding behind jingoist mantras, bumper stickers, and cute little made-in-china flags and take a critical look at the economic ties that bind.
In his October 7th 2005 broadcast' O'Reilly claimed that the poor exist because "there will always be some people who refuse to compete in a capitalist market." It is obvious to the critical-minded that O'Reilly appeals to the lowest common denominator in his broadcasted tirades but this comment is beneath his usual paternalistic demagoguery. After all, even the father of capitalism himself, Adam Smith, in his famous "On Wealth of Nations" had to concede that the capitalist system lived only by "virtue" of what he called the "noble lie."
This enormous caveat to capitalism devastates the legitimacy of any social contract the capitalist state has with its citizens as Smith's lie is no less than state-sponsored propaganda which normalizes a fallacious belief that everyone within the society will succeed if only they work hard enough; i.e. If you do not succeed then you are not trying. Ironically, this belief system has now back-fired as it has fostered materialism, arrogant consumption, and the all-American feeling of entitlement which threatens the entire globe with destruction.
Of course the very pillars of our economy are witness to this lie; for example: It is widely claimed by economic "experts" that a healthy GDP depends on unemployment which is built into an optimal economic model at about 4%. That is 14 million American adults out of work which affects their children, and spouses, as well as their communities. This is not just preferable but necessary and acceptable. Of course that figure is climbing and will become "optimal" at a much higher percentage.
Another contemporary example of the "noble lie" is the dictum of "supply and demand" which is also another way of saying "some won't get what they need to survive" thus creating what we Americans call "value." Note the term is not "supply and want" or "supply and need" leaving open a vacuum for equivocation and conjecture by the apologists of the system. What this is saying is that capitalist markets depend on scarcity. A scarcity of X-boxes or Game Cubes is one thing (preferable in my opinion) but a scarcity of food, utilities, oil, clothing, or medicine and health care, is quite another. What O'Reilly does not incorporate in his "fair and balanced" view is that the same people his ilk call lazy, unwilling to compete, or racially inferior comprise the market force necessary to prop-up the pyramid scam that they are invested in. However, O'Reilly's statement is not entirely without merit. As pathetically reductio ad absurdum as his comment is, it reveals the true economic relationship of Americans to each other as well as foreign nations.
Capitalism is not, and has never been, based in fair competition and a level "playing field." It stems from greed and is synonymous with racism, cousin to the "noble lie," as it requires a slave class. But, as most people are kind and fair-minded, it also requires a reason/excuse, other than naked greed, for the poverty it imposes on this class i.e. the "ignoble lie." This has been especially true here in America where the "moral majority" would never allow this to occur without an evil soma.
Capitalism is also synonymous with imperialism for the same reason. In nations where democratic values are fostered, the public, and especially the rich, can stand only so much unsightly poverty before it becomes too uncomfortable for their conscience, or politics, to bare; enter the military industrial complex, CIA, and lying mouth pieces like Bush and O'Reilly. And where is the philanthropy so lauded by the Neocons?
The libertarian and communitarian ideologies share a common notion that government shouldn't tax the wealthy and give to the poor as this quells the spirit of giving in the community and is tantamount to theft. So where is the philanthropy in our society? America is the wealthiest, most technologically advanced, and, supposedly, morally superior nation in history so how is it that, even with the government's 217 billion dollars spent in the war on poverty last year alone, 10% of us are living in squalor? Could it be that poverty is built into the system and no amount of taxation or charity will fix the situation until the system is changed?
O'Reilly claims that Bush spends more on entitlements for the poor then did Clinton, comparing apples to apples, which first and most obviously, is a hypocritical policy for a republican and secondly, his increased expenditures went to hegemonic religions thus enslaving the needy to their historic agents of mind control.
Capitalism/racism/imperialism is not an innocent bystander, it is not an isolated function, it is not ambivalent or objective, it's the economy stupid! It is not the only alternative to communism. It is what causes that sense of something wrong on both the right and the left. By stating that the cultural economic method by which Americans should abide is a competition, Bill O'Reilly is admitting to all of the latter. He declares himself as your enemy. But instead of owning up to the intentional creation and perpetuation of losers, the poor, that his competitive and materialistic ilk need to support their life-styles, he cops-out and claims that they are not losers who now lack the educational, technological, financial, and political means to compete, but that they merely choose not to compete.
Even if all of my assertions were untrue, how can citizens compete with their jobs leaving the country by the droves, pathetically under-funded schools, soaring costs of secondary education, corporate criminals violating every rule in the book and "off-shoring" our nation's wealth, privatization of public goods created out of cooperation then handed over to CEOs who have found it to be more profitable to destroy these constructs then to provide services, corrupt politicians changing the rules in favor of corporate monopolies and these monopolies exploiting the communities they are based in while price-gouging the public, Neocons spending money hand over fist while giving tax breaks to the rich and an overbearing tax burden on the middle class and poor, and a media monopoly supporting the entire scam?
What is so intrinsically good about competition? It obviously breeds corruption. Is it naive to want an economy based in cooperation and community, in development instead of constant and cancerous growth? If the means of survival is based in lies and competition, what incentive is there to play by the rules set for us by those who break them or to quietly starve to death when we have lost? Survivors of Hurricane Katrina are concerned that rich developers are planning to turn New Orleans into a casino resort town but what's the difference?
O'Reilly recently called for the assignation of a foreign head of state (making him a terrorist) for not playing fair. Should he expect no less?
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