Book Report: Culture Warrior by Bill O’Reilly

I’ve decided to start posting book reports – my thoughts and feelings about books I’ve read recently.  I’ll warn you though.  I’m a slow reader (I have bad eyes), so these may be infrequent.  For the most part, I oughta be a founding member of the Book on CD club.  And now that I spend more time commuting, maybe I’ll up my averages.  We’ll see how things come out in the wash.

First book review, “Culture Warrior”…

Book: Culture Warrior
Author:  Bill O’Reilly
Topic:  The Culture War in America

Bill O’Reilly believes (and so do I) that there is a war raging in the United States to define the prevailing value system in our country. 

On the one side there are “traditionalists”.   Traditionalists typically feel that the United States is a noble country that is well-founded, is predominately good, and is an overwhelmingly positive influence in the world.  By and large, they like things in America the way they’ve been for a long time, and advocate maintaining more traditional ways.  This group is trypically religious (in a traditional sense – many Christians and Jews), typically deeply respects the military, consider themselves to be “salt of the earth”, want the government to leave them alone to succeed, and are mostly conservative in their political persuasion – both socially and economically. 

On the other side there are “secular progressives”.  SP’s (as O’Reilly calls them) typically feel that the US is a misguided country that has gone off the rails.  They would be inclined to use words like “imperialist” and “oppressive” to describe the country, and feel that many of the world’s ills are America’s fault.  For the most part, they desire broad, sweeping social and economic change.  This group is also religious (but in the more-modern sense of worshipping tolerance and no-exceptions-privacy and other progressive concepts – little use for God, a lot of use for rights and what people deserve).  They typically feel the military is corrupt – even unnecessary in today’s age of global community – and should be dramatically downsized, consider themselves “enlightened”, want the government to be expanded so that it can provide them with equality and success, look forward to a world government/community, and are mostly liberal in their political persuasion.  Bill descibes what SP’s believe as “San Francisco Values“.

Both groups would claim that they represent the way America should be.  Both would claim the “correct” interpretation of the founding fathers’ intetions, with one significant difference.  Traditionalists would want to change very little about the conventional wisdom on this interpretation, where SP’s would claim that we’ve interpetted them wrongly all along.  For instance, the traditionalist would interpret the religious freedom clause in the 1st ammendment to mean that the government should not impose itself on the religious practice of its citizens.  SP’s believe that there is a wall of separation between church and state that forbids any public expression of religious.  Exactly opposing views. 

Another example…  Traditionalists would interpret the 2nd ammendment to mean that the average citizen has the right to keep the government in check by bearing arms – a fundamental distrust of government and the power it could have over the average person.  SP’s believe that guns are bad and should be outlawed, that government is good and should be trusted, that the 2nd ammendment was poorly conceived and should be overturned. 

Last example…  Traditionalists believe that the government has an obligation to provide freedom and opportunity, but that success and prosperity comes from the hard work of the individual – that the individual is responsible for himself.  SP’s believe that the government has an obligation to actually provide success and prosperity (this is the only fair thing to do) – that the government is responsible for people, not they themselves.

O’Reilly, in his book, describes his own role in the culture war, calling himself a “traditional warrior”.  He calls out a number of individuals and organizations in the US which he claims are secular progressive in their thinking, but who claim to be neutral or unbiased.  In so doing, he hopes to expose them for who they really are, and to raise the general public’s interest and awareness in the topic at hand.  Seems unlikely, given how apathetic the aversage person is, but kudos to him for standing up for what he believes and trying to make some noise about it.

One thing I didn’t like about the book was that it felt slow-moving to me.  I generally keep on top of current events and politics, so very little of the book was news to me.  Also, he seemed to beat points to death a bit – repeating concepts over and over.  I imagine both these things are by-products of his targeting a generaly ignorant (to the issues) and apathetic audience.

So, if you’re already neck-deep in the culture war, you probably don’t need to read this book.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about but want to, you should definitely check it out.  If you don’t know about any of this stuff and don’t care to, definitely pass this one by – it’ll bore you (but I find that sad).  If you think everything I’ve said in this post is total crap, then don’t bother reading the book – it’ll just anger you. 

Has anyone else read this one?

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About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Christ. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long journey, learning to swim with the current of God's love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
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19 Responses to Book Report: Culture Warrior by Bill O’Reilly

  1. Neva says:

    I haven’t read this book, and I’m unlikely to do so, largely because I don’t care for O’Reilly. I find it interesting that you applaud him for identifying groups that he feels claim to be unbiased while promoting progressive ideas. Personally, I’ve always felt that O’Reilly is very guilty of that sort of behaviour, claiming to be fair and unbiased (Is it his show that claims to be a “no spin zone”?) while promoting a strongly conservative viewpoint and vilifying anyone who disagrees with him. Based on your review of this book and O’Reilly’s viewpoints that you’ve presented and linked to in the past, I feel that he’s largely engaged in finding the most extreme examples of progressive/liberal groups out there and then generalizing those beliefs to all liberals to convince his readers/listeners that all liberals are the same as those extremists and thus are a threat to traditional American values. I would argue that he’s had some success in this endeavor given that, during our discussion of extreme liberal values, I tried to present a more moderate viewpoint that I believe is indicative of a larger number of liberals and was told that you were only interested in discussing the extreme viewpoints. I will repeat the point I was trying to make in that conversation: Does it truly matter if a small number of extremists belive something when the majority of even liberals will not support them in it?

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  2. Brad Bull says:

    I have not read the book either, and agree with Neva that most liberals do not believe what Bill claims they do.

    I have also finished reading what I consider a fascinating book “Why the Christian Right Is Wrong: A Minister’s Manifesto for Taking Back Your Faith, Your Flag, Your Future” by Rev. Robin Meyers. I would highly recommend it as their is a large movement of Christians who are trying to take their religion back from the ultra-right.

    As to culture warrior.

    RE: By and large, they like things in America the way they’ve been for a long time, and advocate maintaining more traditional ways.

    Slavery, female oppression, Jim Crow, Child labor exploitation…. Many things in this country have had to change to bring us where we are today. Questioning the status quo is the best way to progress. It is odd that you applaud traditionalists for “a fundamental distrust of government and the power it could have over the average person” but lambast sp’s for “feel that the US is a misguided country that has gone off the rails”

    RE: SP’s believe that the government has an obligation to actually provide success and prosperity

    This is very untrue. Their is a large difference between providing food and medical care and handing out success and prosperity.

    As far as gun control, most mainstream liberals only support a 7 day waiting period and outlawing fully automatic guns (machine guns). This is not unfair or an extreme position.

    I would agree with your first paragraph that many traditionalists feel that as Americans they are superior to other people (oddly a very unchristian attitude).

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  3. Bill Woessner says:

    I think the “war” is really a false dichotomy promulgated by politicians and the media. After all, it’s a lot easier to recruit people to “your side” when there are only two sides.

    My personal theory is that the VAST majority of Americans are libertarian and only a small fraction of Americans are “traditionalists” or “social progressives”. However, the “traditionalists” and the “social progressives” are really fired up (and, therefore, loud) about their issues. The average American’s main issue is “leave me alone” and it’s hard to get riled up about that.

    My complementary theory is that Americans are extremely reactionary. When things go wrong, they’ll take extreme measures to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The Great Depression led to the Social Security. The rise of the Soviet Union led to McCarthyism. The civil rights movement gave us Affirmative Action. 9/11 led to two wars and the Patriot Act.

    All of these examples are pretty far afield of the libertarian center. But at the time, they all seemed perfectly reasonable. Given the circumstance of the particular crisis, the extreme action, whether it be socialist, conservative, populist or other, was allowed to prevail. This does not alter my believe that the vast majority of Americans are libertarian.

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  4. Brad Bull says:

    Bill,
    Interesting. I have personally wondered if I was actually libertarian in my views. I have to say that I agree with just about everything you said with one exception.

    I do think affimative action was needed. I think it is needed only temporarily. And I am unsure if we still need it or if it is time to get rid of it.

    Also, as we have previously discussed, I support social security. However, I do agree with you that it was an extreme reaction to the great depression.

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  5. Bill Woessner says:

    Affirmative action… I think affirmative action was driven by good intentions. But cramming social change down people’s throats is a really good way to make them resentful. In retrospect, I find it hard to tell if affirmative action has done any good at all. In fact, a convincing argument can be made that affirmative action did a lot more harm than good in the form of damage to race relations. But that’s neither here nor there.

    My point was that I don’t believe the American political center views affirmative action as a good policy. And it goes back to my belief that the political center is strongly libertarian. From a libertarian standpoint, the idea that minorities should be given preferential treatment is ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as the idea that people should be judged by the color of their skin.

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  6. Neva says:

    I would like to add one small observation as a corollary to the idea that the majority of Americans are “leave me alone” libertarians. This viewpoint tends to hold when it comes to not wanting taxes, regulations, restrictions, etc. However, when a disaster occurs (eg hurricane, earthquake, etc), then the majority of people seem to want the government to step in and take care of people. People want to be left alone when it comes to impositions, but they want to be taken care of when something bad happens. You can’t have the latter without sacrificing some of the former.

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  7. Jeff Block says:

    Bill, you bring up excellent points. I want to echo Brad’s kudos, as well as make a couple comments…

    > The vast majority of Americans are libertarian.

    I agree. I do think that only a small fraction of the country are rabid proponents of anything. Most are apathetic and distracted by the details of their lives. (From “dancing with the stars” to just surviving the day at work.) Few think much about politics or about social change.

    But having said that, I think it’s hard to argue that the fringes are at war over their very different views of how the country should be. That’s what O’Reilly’s book and this post are talking about.

    > Does it truly matter if a small number of extremists belive something when the majority of even liberals will not support them in it?

    Well, that depends. If that “small group” gets its act together and influences / manipulates the larger, more apathetic majority, then yes. A classic example would be the way activist judges are trying to make gay marriage the law of the land through the courts, totally circumventing the legislative process, because they know that those initiatives NEVER win at the polls. Another great example was in 1992 when Michael Newdow demanded that the words “under God” be taken out of the pledge of allegiance because they offended him as an atheist – a classic example of a person representing an extremely small segment of society demanding that all of society be changed for him. The recent past is repleat with examples like this where the majority is expected to change to accomodate the minority.

    So, I’m confused how you’d say that small minorities don’t have real power in the US (an adaptation of your words, but a fair assessment of what you’re saying, no?), when in my view minorities have more power in the US than they do anywhere else in the world by a long shot. (Not just ethnic or racial minorities, but the power of one man/woman to make a different in the lives of many.)

    > > RE: By and large, they like things in America the way they’ve been for a long time, and advocate maintaining more traditional ways.

    > Slavery, female oppression, Jim Crow, Child labor exploitation

    Yes, Brad, I was saying that I think we should bring back those things. Of course that was my point. Thanks for clearing it up for everyone.

    It’s not that traditionalists are against all change, just change they consider harmful. That’s the point I’m making in summarizing O’Reilly’s view of the “culture war”. One side thinks that (just to give an example) changing the definition of marriage would be a good change. The other side thinks that the definition of marriage is fine the way it is, and shouldn’t be changed. Another example, traditionalists think that the judicial system should continue to rely on punishment (that fits the crime) as a significant part of administering justice. Secular progressives, by and large, feel that there should be less punishment and more rehabilitation – leading to things like probation-and-counseling-only sentences for child pretators, which happened again just over the weekend in Missouri.

    > > RE: SP’s believe that the government has an obligation to actually provide success and prosperity

    > This is very untrue. Their is a large difference between providing food and medical care and handing out success and prosperity.

    Of course there is. The secular progressive tenant is that it is unfair that some have so much and others have to little, so it’s the government’s responsibility to take more from those who have a lot and give it to those who have little, so that their is greater equity in society. Would you agree with that concept?

    > As far as gun control, most mainstream liberals only support a 7 day waiting period and outlawing fully automatic guns (machine guns). This is not unfair or an extreme position.

    No it isn’t, and in fact, I would agree with that position. It’s anecdotal, but it sure seems like I hear a lot of liberals talk about wanting to go much farther than this.

    > I would agree with your first paragraph that many traditionalists feel that as Americans they are superior to other people (oddly a very unchristian attitude).

    I think the extremists at both ends feel that they have the answers and that those who disagree with them are inferior.

    Last question…

    Both Brad and Neva have stated categorically that you don’t at all like Bill O’Reilly, and emphatically declared him a well-biased conservative in independent’s clothing. I’m curious, how often have either of you watched his show? Have either of you read anything he’s ever written?

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  8. Jeff Block says:

    Neva and I crossed streams…

    To her point about people’s being all “leave me alone” in the good times and “take care of me” in the bad times…

    This is that entitlement attitude I’ve talked so much about… We have been engraining in the average American over the last 100 years that they deserve to have whatever they want, whether they need it or not (consumerism). Then credit cards and the like destroyed the principle of delayed gratification (if I wnat it, I should get it NOW). Then, we said that if you can’t cut it on your own, we’ll help you — which led to doing things for people. On and on…

    As a result, we shouldn’t be surprised when people (in times of disaster) feel that they should be taken care of, and don’t consider it to be their responsibility to dig out of a hole (whether financial or physical or whatever), like they did 100 years ago.

    There are other complicating factors like how busy poeple are, technology, etc, but this plays a large role. 100 years ago, the neighborhood would band together when something went wrong, and although it would be tough, they’d make it through. Today, far too many people want to sit in the lazyboy and scream, “Where’s the government?!”

    It’s a selfishness / self-absorbtion that we’re feeding with some of our policies (like the social security system and others) and philosophies (like consumerism).

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  9. Neva says:

    To address your latter point first, Jeff… This is something I’ve been wondering for a while on this blog. You talk about capitalism as this great driving force which should be allowed to control markets rather than allowing government subsidization and regulation. How does this fit with your view that rabid consumerism is one of the big causes of the sense of entitlement in society? Isn’t that a direct result of capitalism in action? Companies make more money when people spend more money, and if it’s money they don’t have, that’s okay because other companies can exist to make money off loaning people money they don’t have. Consumerism (which you criticise) is a major driving force of capitalism (which you laud). I’m just curious how you reconcile this or if I’m completely misunderstanding your point.

    Now to what we’re actually talking about. I was specifically thinking about a disaster on the scale of Katrina. The whole neighborhood was trashed. How can you take in your neighbor when your house is every bit as flooded as theirs? Obviously charitable organizations played a huge part in caring for those people and their needs after the fact, but who should be responsible for organizing mass evacuations on that scale if not the government?
    Now whether this is a good or bad thing is a separate issue. I was just adding a caveat to Bill’s premise that most people don’t want anything from the government. I think that’s only true when things are going well.

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  10. Neva says:

    Yes, I stated that I don’t care for O’Reilly, so it is very fair to ask what familiarity I have with him and his material. Obviously, I haven’t listened to him nearly as much as you have. (Then again, I’d doubt that you’re that familiar with NPR, which didn’t stop you from calling for its abolishment. We all have our preferences of what we prefer to listen to, so that’s a moot point, really.)
    Anyway, before they switched the university shuttle system to city buses, the chartered shuttles had radios, which the drivers were free to set to anything they wanted to listen to all day. At least one of these drivers tended to listen to conservative talk radio. I rode these shuttles for at least 45 minutes a day, often more, for the first several years of my graduate career. Of course, not all of this time was O’Reilly’s show, and I couldn’t concretely tell you which bits were or were not. (I might be able to remember a bit better if I knew whether he was the one who claimed to be a “no spin zone”. The irony of that phrase stuck in my head.) However, if I am remembering correctly, I recall finding him very abrasive with a tendency to cut off his callers or disregard their opinions in order to return to his list of talking points. It’s very easy to sound like you’re always right when you don’t give the other person a chance to respond and have a research department on hand to back up your points, which the average caller does not have on the spot. It’s also easy to convince people you’re always right when you speak loudly and are dismissive and insulting to everyone who disagrees with you.
    As I said, though, I was not specifically listening to O’Reilly, so it’s possible that I have him confused with someone else whose show was aired on the same station. That being said, since he seemed to be your primary source on this blog, I have looked at his website some since we started these discussions. I am also assuming that a lot of what you say is paraphrased from him, given that he is often your major source. None of this has done much to change my initial opinion of him as someone who gets by on fast-talking, exaggeration, and fear-mongering to convince moderate conservatives that the liberal threat is much larger than it is and needs to be fought more aggressively to preserve their way of life.

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  11. Brad Bull says:

    Jeff,
    I agree with you that minorities (ethnic or by belief) have more power in this country than anywhere esle in the world. This is not a bad thing and it does not mean they have more power than the majority, but we need to be very careful about lumping every minority issue/viewpoint together.
    As we have discussed before, I don’t think majority rule should apply to issues like homosexual relationships, slavery, civil rights and women’s rights to name a few.

    RE:> > RE: By and large, they like things in America the way they’ve been for a long time, and advocate maintaining more traditional ways.

    >> Slavery, female oppression, Jim Crow, Child labor exploitation

    >Yes, Brad, I was saying that I think we should bring back those things. Of course that was my point. Thanks for clearing it up for everyone.

    You always play the sarcasm card when this comes up. You said you are only against changes that you think would cause harm. How would legalizing gay marriage harm anyone? How would rehabiliting criminals harm anyone? How does helping the poor harm anyone (I know you will go into taxes and decreased work motivation, but I am talking about the pittance of help we have been giving for the last 60 years during the best economic booms of our country).

    RE: The secular progressive tenant is that it is unfair that some have so much and others have to little, so it’s the government’s responsibility to take more from those who have a lot and give it to those who have little, so that their is greater equity in society. Would you agree with that concept?

    Yes, except for the unfair part. and the greater equality part. I would charaterize their belief as the rich have an obligation, through the government, to provide a minimum lifestyle to the poor.

    Jeff,
    A victim of natural disaster seeking shelter and water is not inflicted with a sense of entitlement. Seeking assistance to get their house rebuilt is not a sense of entitlement (I know I couldn’t rebuild my house by myself).

    RE:As a result, we shouldn’t be surprised when people (in times of disaster) feel that they should be taken care of, and don’t consider it to be their responsibility to dig out of a hole (whether financial or physical or whatever), like they did 100 years ago.

    This is one of the greatest achievements of our time. Not your contention that people feel they “should” be taken care of, which is very debatable, but that they are assisted and helped up on their feet again.

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  12. Brad Bull says:

    Oh yeah, O’Reilly. I have only listened to him a few times at the gym, but your book report was concise enough. He is far right in the mind of most people I have discussed this with. This includes people who are openly far right and identify him as one of their own.

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  13. Jeff Block says:

    Neva, awesome thoughts… I too will take them in reverse order…

    Re: Katrina…

    Of course the government can and should play a role in helping a town recover from a disaster like Katrina. Here is my perspective… When disaster strikes, the sphere of help should be as small and personal as possible. In other words, the neighborhood and church help first, government second. And even then, the more local the government, the better. Local first, state, then federal, etc.

    It’s just far too hard and far too many things go wrong to have a gigantic beurocratic apparatus like the federal government step in unless absolutely necessary. (For the record, I do feel that Katrina was big enough and severe enough to warrant federal involvement.)

    I guess I just want to make sure people take responsibility for their own lives as best as they can. I fear we are making it easier and easier for people to blame others for their problems, expect others to do for them what they can do for themselves, etc. I don’t want to see us abdicate our personal responsibilities as citizens, that’s all.

    I’m also suggesting that we should think as small as possible when it comes to government. Sometimes things have to be done on a large scale, but I don’t want to default to that. “Practical and the smaller the better” is my motto for government, not “the government is evil”, but also not “the government is responsible for me” either. I don’t think that either you or Brad believe that “the government is responsible for people”, but there are definitely those who do. Too many people. We saw it during Katrina, we see it all the time. Surely neither of you would refute that point?

    Re: Capitalism and Consumerism…

    What a great question. Here’s my thinking…

    Capitalism is by far and away the best economic system going, because it rewards ambition and inginuity. It’s the only system available in which people can build something out of nothing. In socialist systems, you have what you’re born into, period. You can’t change your status, people aren’t free to pursue their dreams, the worst aspects of laziness in the human nature are exaggerated.

    To be fair, capitalism exaggerates other negative aspects of human nature – mainly greed, which is driven by the consumerism inherant in the capitalistic model (as you rightly point out). That’s why I’m in favor of regulated capitalism … controlled capitalism. Just as with our government, we need checks and balances in our economy. So, contrary to what people might think about me, I’m strongly in favor of anti-trust laws, of limited regulation, etc. I just want to make sure that a balance stays in play.

    Consumerism isn’t an economic system, it’s a philosophical by-product of an economic system – namely capitalism. I consider consumerism to be a necessary evil … which is far less harmful than the byproducts of other economic systems. So, I tolerate consumerism, because I’m not willing to give up the benefits of capitalism as a whole, and because I believe the byproducts that would come with other systems would be far worse.

    At the same time, I believe on a personal and a community level, we need to fight against (or you might say, “rise above”) consumerism. One of the ways I think we could do this is to teach our kids (maybe even as a formal part of public education) the value of saving and investing, as well as how to do it. I believe this is a huge missing piece of education in general.

    I hope that makes sense.

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  14. Jeff Block says:

    Re: Balanced news sources…

    I used to listen to far more liberal / progressive talk radio / news sources than I do these days, simply because my life has gotten so hectic. I very much enjoyed trying to get a balanced perspective. However, I’m just so busy lately that I’ve gotten out of that habit. Howver, you’ve prompted me to get back into the habit. So, I now have NPR and the Chicago “progressive talk station” preset into my AM dial. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Re: O’Reilly…

    I suspected that the two of you had not really listened to O’Reilly. I have absolutely no interest in “defending” O’Reilly, but I thought I’d share at least a few thoughts on him…

    1) He is aggressive, which I like. However, he absolutely does cut guests off and bloviates too much (doesn’t give them as much chance to speak as I’d like). I agree. This is one of his least attractive traits, in my mind.

    2) He makes a distinction between being a “traditionalist” (which he claims to be) and a “conservative” (he claims to be independent). That’s a pretty fine line, and I’m not sure most would be willing to go with him on it. I understand why he draws a distinction, but I also understand why people don’t buy his line of thinking. I will say, though, that O’Reilly is conservative on some things and liberal on others. For example, he’s in favor of some of the positions on both sides when it comes to the border / immigration. He’s very pro-environment, and talks alot about how Republicans are really missing the boat there. He has been VERY tough on Bush for the Iraq war, and very supportive of the idea that Democrats should have a shot at fixing this mess (to be fair, he’s also been very hard on Democrats when they say “Bush sucks” but have no plan of their own).

    3) O’Reilly is tough on everyone. He makes no bones about his stated purpose for being on the air… To watch powerful people in America, and tell “the folks” (average Americans) what they’re up to. I think he actually does that pretty well.

    4) Neva, you made the point that O’Reilly “seems to be your primary source on this blog”. Just so you know, that’s not true. I do listen to / watch O’Reilly more than any other commentator, so topics he covers leak into my writing fairly easily, but I draw material and information from a LOT of sources. One of the things that takes the longest time in terms of writing many of the entries I write is spending all kinds of time scouring Google searches for information on topics of interest. Just FYI.

    Re: NPR…

    Neva, you made a comment that I had no qualms about calling for the abolition of NPR even though I never listen to it. 1) As I stated, I used to listen to NPR regularly in a search for balanced perspective. 2) I did not call for their abolition, I called for them to have to compete with other private-sector, for-profit stations – and even then, not because of their programming, but because of my pro-capitalism, pro-competition philosophy.

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  15. Neva says:

    Hey, Jeff. I think I’m going to take topics a bit out of order here, but hopefully you can follow.

    As for point 4 above, I apologize for how that came across. I’ve been a bit stressed and crabby the past few days (possibly as a result of a building migraine cycle that had me in for CT scans today, but I intend this as explanation, not excuse, and I still should have been watching what I said more carefully). I think I’ve been less civil and diplomatic here as a result, and I am sorry for that, as I really do enjoy trying to participate in real discussion rather than argument.
    Anyway, I didn’t mean that I think he’s your only source, by any means. I just meant that you cite him fairly often, and usually in connection with topics that I disagree with or don’t think warrant nearly as much attention as they’re being given. And that has influenced/solidified my opinion of him.

    I agree that no economic system is without its drawbacks (Is any human-designed system, really?), and consumerism is definitely one of the problems inherent in capitalism. Not having put a great deal of study into comparitive analysis of economic systems, I can’t really comment on the byproducts of alternative options. I just wanted to point out what I saw as something of a contradiction in your stances, and I’m very glad to see your explanation and that it’s something you’re aware of and have come to terms with in your thinking.
    Far be it from me to ever refuse attempts to educate the public; again, that’s what I plan to make my life’s work. However, I think it may be difficult to add money management to school curriculum because it simply won’t be considered a priority. Illinois required a Consumer Education course in high school that was supposed to cover this sort of information, if I recall correctly. Unfortunately, I have no idea what it was supposed to cover as, when I took it, it was taught by the home ec teacher who used it as an opportunity to 1) flirt with guys on the basketball team because they had to take her class and 2) lose assignments of people she didn’t like and insist they’d never turned them in so she could threaten to fail them and hold power over their ability to graduate. Also, looking back, I suspect some of the “handy tricks” she taught us would probably qualify as income tax fraud. So while I’m all in favor of education, as a general idea, I think that there would need to be accompanying societal changes to convince schools that personal economics were a valuable part of education rather than something to be given to the teacher with the lightest schedule, regardless of qualifications.

    NPR: 1) I’m pleased to hear that you have a history with NPR and are considering giving them a bit more air time; I really do believe that I get better information from them than many commercial sources.
    2) As I tried to explain in my response to your post on NPR, I feel that changing the network to a for-profit model would abolish NPR as it is by removing most of the traits that appeal to me. For aesthetic reasons, I prefer commercial-free radio. More importantly, I like knowing that my news is coming from an organization that is not beholden to shareholders, advertisers, etc. I feel that this results in a new source that is more focused on information and less on entertainment. The fact that NPR does not have to compete and get into the race to sensationalize and appeal to the lowest common denominator is a large part of what I value in it. So, to me, there is very little difference between making it for-profit and abolishing it. I apologize if this was unclear before.

    And now I’m going to go soak and sleep away the last of this migraine and hopefully be a friendlier person in the near future.

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  16. Jeff Block says:

    Thanks, Neva! Your response re: NPR demonstrates a generalization (very broad, but I think very accurate) that can be made about conservative vs. liberal philosophy…

    Both business and government have their pros and cons, good points and bad points, areas in which they excel and areas where they are dangerous. However, the conservative will generally tend to trust business more than government, and the liberal will tend to trust government more than business.

    Our discussions about NPR I think very clearly demonstrate that principle.

    Like

  17. Brad Bull says:

    Jeff,

    RE: When disaster strikes, the sphere of help should be as small and personal as possible. In other words, the neighborhood and church help first, government second. And even then, the more local the government, the better. Local first, state, then federal, etc.

    I thought this was how the system works. Obviously local governments don’t have the money necessary to help in the aftermath of a natural disaster. But in smaller disasters it seems the federal government sends some money and local organizations do all the work. If it is larger they go to state organizations (National Guard, etc.).

    You also point out that capitalism is not a perfect system and has some negative aspects which modifications have helped minimize (anti-trust, etc). You also state that “It’s not that traditionalists are against all change, just change they consider harmful.”
    Would you disagree that SP’s feel exactly the same way?

    Neva,
    If public education could successfully teach savings and investing (which I agree with) would you then support reductions in federal assistance programs (I am assuming Jeff’s goal)?

    Which political affiliation trusts neither business nor government?

    Like

  18. Doug says:

    There is no doubt there is a culture war in America and in much of the West. There is a religious apartide in this country where the godless minority has pushed the country to a level of political correctness that is beyond silly and offensive to all people of faith.

    Like

  19. gio says:

    all of u guys are a bunch of nerds and u guys are annoying with ur big words just keep it simple so other people can understand

    Like

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