Fred Skolnik

Talking Points

Bill O'Reilly has given us another of his takes on American life. This one, on March 28, was inspired by President Obama's falling poll numbers. The problem this time, according to Bill, are Obama's strange ideas about equality:

"Equality" is what is hurting President Obama. The left has seized that word to push its progressive agenda. We have income equality, marriage equality, gender equality, and on and on. So instead of solving real problems, the president is living in a world of theory and is shocked when someone like Putin upsets his idealistic vision. The truth is there will never be equality in this world, it's impossible. I will never have physical equality with Shaquille O'Neal, he's bigger and stronger than I am by nature. I will never be as smart as Einstein, as talented as Mozart, or as kind as Mother Teresa. President Obama has spent five years trying to social engineer this nation and convince the world to act in harmony. In doing so, he has neglected to fix the economy or set up effective deterrents to villains like Putin. The only path to social justice is building a strong country that can provide opportunity, and economically only the private sector can make that happen. We have become a weaker country on President Obama's watch. Most Americans know that, and so do all the villains of the world.

You are almost there, Bill, but the problem isn't that Shaquille O'Neal is bigger and stronger than everyone. The problem is that Shaquille O'Neal makes ten or thirty or fifty times more money than an Einstein or a Mozart and that a Bill O'Reilly makes ten or thirty or fifty times more money than a cleaning woman and that an executive in the dog food industry makes ten or thirty or fifty times more money than a teacher or a nurse. The problem is that we have created an insane social order where people are rewarded for the economic value of their work instead of for its social value. Yes, I know. We don't want none of that pinko socialism stuff here. This is a capitalist country and that's what made America great, so great that the gap between the rich and the poor is greater than anywhere in the Western World. There has never been a time when poor people lived well in America and there has never been a time when there weren't a great many of them.

Bill thinks we should leave it to the private sector – free enterprise – to provide economic opportunity and make the country strong, that is, do what it has never done before, for whenever the private sector has been unleashed and left to its own devices, as in the 1920s or the Bush years, what it has produced is an overheated economy, running on pure greed, that has exploded in its face. Nor has it ever dealt equitably with the working population. It was only government regulation and the unremitting pressure of the labor unions that brought America's sweatshops to an end (transferred now to Southeast Asia). In fact, if it was up to Bill O'Reilly's hallowed free enterprisers we would still have child labor and the 16-hour workday in America.

Certainly Obama isn't governing America very well. Who can? America's problem is not its politicians but its people. The poorest people in America are African American: over half live in dire poverty or working class poverty in families with incomes of less than $35,000 a year and a quarter live on food stamps. Their condition is a direct result of the way they have been treated by white people. It is, after all, white people who created the ghettoes and the inner cities, denied African Americans a decent education and decent employment, destroyed black families, consigned black children to lives of poverty and crime. And this after 250 years of slave labor. What exactly is free enterprise and the private sector about to do for them?

The values and character of the American people are the source of America's social and economic problems. Obamacare is a perfect example of how the worship of an economic system makes American health care so difficult to reform. The Affordable Care Act runs to something like 20,000 pages. Israel's 1995 Health Insurance Law runs to fewer that 100. It is very simple: the Government is the payer, the Sick Funds (nonprofit medical organizations) are the providers, and everyone is covered, with monthly payments averaging around 5% of gross income and supplementary insurance costing around $65 a month. This is socialized medicine, a concept that one might say took all of Obama's 20,000 pages to get around under a system that has been costing America approximately 20,000 lives a year as a direct result of inadequate health care (according to doctors' estimates). The inability of Americans to utter the word socialism has cost more American lives than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bill O'Reilly likes to talk about safety nets and people pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and achieving the American Dream through hard work. As most of the poor people who work hard do not get anywhere in America, this is Bill's own idealistic vision, though a little less generous than Obama's. As for his safety net, the only thing I have ever heard him say about it is that the government should clamp down on welfare payments and food stamps because there are too many chiselers in the system. Thus, in a macabre reversal of Justice Holmes' famous remark that he would rather see a hundred guilty men go free than one innocent man go to jail, Bill, it seems, would rather see a hundred Americans go hungry than one American get a free ride. Keep talking, Bill.

Fred Skolnik © 2014