The enemy, in his own words

He said it best himself: God is real because tides go in, tides go out and Bill O’Reilly needs to believe there was a divine reason for his birth. Clearly Bill’s ego is so big he is inexorably impelled to disregard the moon.

He is the kind of enemy you want. You don’t wish for his total destruction, like you would with the Taliban; you want Bill to tell you what the powers that be want you to think. He’s a cog in the machinary of democracy: a witless, self-serving and moderately deranged cloddish cog, but an essential cog nonetheless. His opposition to you is invigorating.

I can love certain enemies. I’m a bit like Jesus in that respect.

As a good papist, Bill has the gumption to judge people who ask the world’s governments to uphold the better bits in the Bible. (The stuff that didn’t deal with God-sanctioned atrocities and hell for people who aren’t gullible or infantile enough to believe in fairies.) If you haven’t seen it yet, you gotta read this shit. Like, totally.

Because of that shit, I’m using Bill as the primary subject for my horribly biased study of the anti-#occupy propagandists. Don’t worry, he’s a big boy; he can take it.

To paraphrase the column with more fairness than Bill’s host network would: the occupy protesters say they’re regular folks, like you ‘n me – but they’re not, and they want our stuff. Also, communism is evil and inefficient. To wit: “Generally speaking, these ‘Occupy Wall Street’ are just bored morons who want handouts.”

Who didn’t see that one coming?

My favourite part of this septic carbuncle is Bill’s brainless defence of the Platonic ideal of capitalism; the kind of capitalism I’m cool with – capitalism that rewards hard work. Unlike Bill, I’m not deluded (or malicious) enough to confuse dictionary capitalism with the current system. Dictionary capitalism expired with crony capitalism. Here’s what Bill said:

If you work hard and do well in your job, you will usually prosper, providing you practice patience. If you don’t work hard and smart, you will be out on your keister, unless a union saves you. Some believe that this survival of the fittest system is unfair because all people are not born with equal aptitude. And that’s true. Capitalism is not fair to everyone. But it gives the largest amount of folks the best chance to succeed because there are many different routes to prosperity, and some disinterested bureaucrat isn’t standing around calling the economic shots.

Can you just feel the sophisticated moral philosophizing that went into that? The utilitarians and consequentialists would be proud. Actually no, they wouldn’t be. They’d probably be exasperated and deeply troubled. George Carlin said the smart Americans call the cliché Bill is invoking ‘the American dream’ because you’d have to be asleep to believe it.

Here’s the sentence that opens the paragraph I just quoted:

 The American economic system is a meritocracy.

How can any reasonable person meaningfully call the system that makes Paris Hilton worthy of media attention meritocratic? Old money is not merit. If Bill wanted to be consistent with his ‘merit’ line, he would say that all of a person’s wealth should be bequeathed to charity when they die, rather than their prodigal squirts. Otherwise, where’s the freaking merit?

Profits are not merit. You’d have to be pretty damn Machiavellian to confuse corporate monopolies with anything resembling ‘merit’. The only kratia-derived English word pertaining to offering corporations the implicit goal of unfettered market domination is plutocracy. This modernizes the aristocracy satirized in The Prince (by Machiavelli) and takes it to an absurd extreme.

The point is that meritocracy, or any other label O’Reilly wants to surreptitiously ascribe to neoliberal economics does not equate democracy. It doesn’t sex the idea up either. It just makes the system sound like plain old oligarchy – you know, the Soviet thing.

I thought America’s founding fathers fought for democracy. I don’t remember meritocracy coming up in my basic reading on American history; but I did commit to memory this nugget of wisdom from Thomas Jefferson:

And with the laborers of England generally, does not the moral coercion of want subject their will as despotically to that of their employer, as the physical constraint does the soldier, the seaman, or the slave?

Here Mr Jefferson almost sounds like a Marxist. For the record, Mr Jefferson disliked Christianity too – he was a man of science and a deist, and probably would have been an atheist had he not died 33 years before Darwin published Origin of Species. Thomas Jefferson was a great man and a great thinker.

The irony is that the majority of conservative politicians pushing the ‘economic survival of the fittest’ platitude in the U.S. are creationist-flavoured Christians. (Not Bill, he believes in evolution because the Pope tells him to.) Ironically, on the opposite end of the bell curve, you have the Darwinian gunners like Richard Dawkins saying ‘survival of the fittest’ is profoundly immoral and as an enlightened species, we should be transcending it. That’s also what modern medicine does.

But I digress. Let’s return to Bill:

But the “Occupy Wall Street” protestors want those bureaucrats. They believe that governments have a moral obligation to provide a measure of success and education to everyone, no matter what the cost. This, of course, is impossible.

Wow, where do I begin?

I don’t think anyone is arguing that success shouldn’t have to be earned. That’s the definition of success – you earn it. I’m just wondering how a professed meritocrat like Bill O’Reilly expects the fourteen year old daughter of drug-addicted parents to earn herself a decent education. Some say that education is a basic, non-negotiable human right. It seems to follow then, that in wealthier nations, public education should reflect that in quality.

I agree that admission into higher education should be based solely on merit, but how can anyone expect to gauge the merit of people too young (we call them ‘children’) to have developed cerebrums yet? That’s why you educate the little bastards – so they have a chance to demonstrate their merit when they’re old enough to apply for higher education.

Apparently in America, your life is only sacred and deserving of rights if you’re still an embryo.

Teenage dropouts lose 1.8 IQ points every year of education they miss (from this study. Oh no, science!). And not incidentally, a lot of common criminals are not educated – most have low IQs. Put simply, schooling significantly reduces the probability of incarceration in America (according to this 2003 study – more science!). When you raise the standards of education and make it compulsory, you lower crime rates. Clearly not all dropouts turn into criminals, and some do quite well, but that’s not the point. What you’re aiming to do is give everyone a decent shot at giving something back.

But obviously that would be a waste of taxpayer dollars, according to Bill, anyway.

If you want a meritocratic economy, fine. But you won’t find that in America – real merit is not rewarded in America. Too many extremely talented college graduates are unable to find employment. I suppose that’s to be expected in a society that seriously considers creationists as viable presidential candidates. Wait, the unemployed talent thing happens here too. My mistake.

Here’s a couple of common sense questions I’ve got: without educated citizens, what’s the point of democracy? Do the rich really want stupid people agglomerating and calling the shots? Didn’t they learn anything from the Bush presidency? How are entrepreneurs supposed to drive the economy if they don’t know enough math to understand their balance sheets? Or enough science to make a useful product?

You’d think the bombastic author of Pinheads and Patriots would have mustered up the patriotism to read his nation’s own Declaration of Independence (again wrought by the inimitable Thomas Jefferson):

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

I suppose Bill occupies the ‘pinhead’ moiety of the dichotomy he examines.

If you want to equate happiness with profits, that’s your bag. I do it too, to a degree. It doesn’t change the fact that Mr Jefferson wrote that the inalienable rights afforded to the American people include ‘life’ (presumably not dying of starvation) and the right to ‘pursue’ something; how are you supposed to pursue anything if you have thyroid cancer and you can’t afford surgery? What about if you’ve got Parkinson’s, the unregulated bank lost your money and your family are all dead because they had no health insurance? (And when they died, their employers cashed in on ‘dead peasant’ plans, leaving you with nothing but funeral bills.) I thought rights were rights – not things to be earned.

Bill O’Reilly aims to spur the possessive paranoid monkey minds of his readers with his trademark contumely and feeble reasoning. His whole argument is encapsulated in the line “they want our stuff”. (“Dey took err jerbs!”) For those of us more amenable to appeals to human solidarity, Bill’s boorish melodrama makes for febrile reading. Well, only if you try to take him seriously.

The ‘stuff’ these folks want are food, healthcare, education and the jobs that all those ‘job creators’ are supposed to be busying themselves creating. How dare those poor people. And how dare President Obama decide that maybe it’d be more reasonable to tax people who can live without some of their money at a higher rate. The nerve! The Audacity of Hope!

Unlike the Fox-bolstered pinheads who ran against him, President Obama appears to have actually read at least the first sentence of the United States’ Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Apparently that maneuver can make you unelectable over there.

(Note the ‘W’ in ‘Welfare’ is indeed capitalized. I bet that really messes with the Republican Party candidates.)

Living in a safe, affluent society is not a free ride. If such a milieu were a universal right, millions of children born in third world countries wouldn’t die hungry every year. If Bill O’Reilly were serious, he would want to pay his taxes for the rights of those children to be protected. If he wants to be chauvinistic and only want those rights protected for Americans, what’s his problem with his tax dollars doing that? As Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world wrote in a much-reviled August 21 New York Times op-ed:

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Warren Buffett is a smart man, go read him here. I like Warren Buffett. He’s an agnostic who talks about ‘shared sacrifice’ – a nice contrast to the Christians like Bill who talk about ‘self-interest’.

If you think you know economics and wealth-building better than the chairman of Berkshire-Hathaway, you’re an idiot. If you think Warren Buffett is a communist, you should seriously consider sitting the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) to see if you’re qualified to apply for a disability support pension – but only if you’re not an American.

What did Bill O’Reilly have to say about Warren Buffett not being wrong? He threatened that if tax rates went up, he’d cancel his show and fire his employees. Oh no. Don’t do it Bill. We’d undoubtedly miss your candid sweaty belligerence.

Context is important here; the #occupy movement has gone global. Down here in Melbourne, Australia, our regressive morons are sounding suspiciously like authoritarian apologists for the police brutality that rocked our CBD twice in the last week. Tim Blair described the city council’s first shameful malapropism gleefully as a ‘hippie toss‘. I had to do some digging on Blair to find out whether or not he was taking the piss. (Hippies in 2011? Really? Where?!) He wasn’t. He isn’t that smart, but he is that sadistic. Expect more from me on this vulgarian.

I don’t want to say unequivocally that Australia is better than America, do you want to know what my favourite dextral dickhead had to say on the #occupy protesters?

They are not trying to destroy capitalism, but to make it better. They are attacking the unfairness at the heart of a dysfunctional global financial system, and the lack of accountability of the people who run it, many of whom are ethically challenged.

That isolated quote seems to suggest Miranda Devine and I can agree on something. See? I really am like Jesus.

I’m watching the protean #occupy movement through its detractors. Madame Devine’s eerie dalliance with rationality notwithstanding, the deluge of idiotic paroxysms from the world’s regressives indicates the protesters are on the right track. The whole thing reminds me of the inspiring ideals that drove the American and French revolutions. Here, on this blog, I’d like to state that I’m with the occupiers. There are literally thousands of us, and we are legion.

And sod Bill O’Reilly.

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