Bill O’Reilly makes about 10 million a year as a sanctimonious hot head. Despite my misgivings he’s still a ten times better source of news than ABC, NBC or CBS.
Early in the Iraq War when Marines were getting blown up right and left at check points, Peter Jennings of ABC reported that Marines allegedly fired warning shots before shooting occupants of an approaching truck who would not yield to commands. Switching to NBC I experienced the same insulting allegedly rhetoric suggesting Marines were lying to us.
Our soldiers were over there getting killed protecting America and the mainstream anchors, without any proof, assumed they were lying to us.
I switched to FOX News which reported the story without using the epithet allegedly and I haven’t watched the networks sense. Normally I don’t mind O’Reilly’s arrogant self-righteous delivery. He has pioneered a new style of journalism, opinionated in the image of Howard Stern but with more deference to public sensibilities.
That said his continued assault on the oil companies is getting old. Daily he rails against demagoguery then indulges it for his purposes.
According to O’Reilly oil companies are making obscene profits and his laments are only providing ammunition for government politicians wanting to take us further into socialism. The windfall profits tax on the oil companies has thankfully been blocked by Republicans, but O’Reilly is charging them partisan and obstructionist to which I applaud the obstructionists.
O’Reilly has recently penned in his column, The oil companies will continue to make more profit than any business in the history of mankind.
The hyperbolic tone is meant to be emotional. When we analyze the statement, however, what should we expect?
Oil is one of the largest industries in the Nation and we are in a growing economy (despite reports to the contrary). Aren’t the biggest American corporations supposed to have the largest profits? Would we prefer these profits to be obtained in some other country?
How really big are these profits? An objective look reveals Microsoft, Google, IBM, GE, and others have a greater profit when measured in terms of percentage of revenue.
General Motors lost 39 billion, almost as much as Exxon Mobil made. Why don’t we hear politicians scream about obscene losses? If you want to fear something, the 39 billion dollar loss at GM is a much bigger threat to any of us than is Exxon Mobil’s 40 billion dollar profit.
O’Reilly goes on to explain his tough love plan to fix gas prices:
1) All American made vehicles must get 30MPG by 2010 or pay a major tax surcharge to the government.
2) Oil and commodity speculators must put up 50% of their transactions in cash. That would weed out some of the gamblers who are manipulating the market.
3) American oil companies must supply the federal government with a written explanation every time they raise the price of gas and oil.
4) Americans would be asked to cut back at least 10% on leisure driving and not to buy gas at all on Mondays.
Great, a 39 billion dollar loss at GM isn’t enough to motivate automakers so O’Reilly wants some pinhead in government to mandate more regulations. Watch for unintended consequences.
Next get the speculators.
Speculators provide a valuable service. By anticipating price increases they curtail usage now for impending scarcities in the future (Walter Williams 101). If speculators are wrong they lose a lot of money when things cool down, if they are right society benefits by having less scarcity of the particular commodity in the future.
High oil prices result from worldwide demand competing for the same resources. Expecting government bureaucrats to fix the price of oil and mange speculators is like asking a five year old to take over his kindergarten class and lecture his teacher. If bureaucrats were that smart they would be speculators, not bureaucrats.
Early in Bill Clinton’s Presidency he signed a bill to attack wages over one million dollars (only for CEOs, he conveniently exempted actors and athletes). The result was stock options, Enron, and WorldCom. Unintended consequences.
What was the increased tax for to begin with anyway? Why on earth was Bill Clinton qualified to know what a CEO ought to make? This is standard socialist politics. Legislate to subjugate the brightest minds in the private sector to insure government’s power is not threatened.
Now the bureaucrats want to regulate CEO pay because of stock options which were a work around to attract talent because of bad policy by the bureaucrats to begin with. Sheeesh!
As if bureaucracy does not already provide enough hostility for business, O’Reilly suggests some sort of written document be required to raise prices, as if that is going to have some real effect in the market. Moronic.
As for asking Americans to cut back, $4.50 a gallon will accomplish that better than any government sponsored pledge could ever hope to.
Bill O’Reilly is an aggressive guy with some intellectual prowess, but like the actors and athletes that Bill Clinton so notably exempted from his million dollar salary cap, O’Reilly does not have the direct experience of building a business, dealing with its intricacies and the economic realities which challenge it.
He is a valuable cog in a complicated machine called Newscorp designed and built by some other man. Like so many of our legislators at Capitol Hill, Bill O’Reilly has learned facts from books, but has not experienced firsthand how pressures beyond your own control force you to make decisions to insure the health and well being of the enterprise for which you are responsible.
It is an enviable position to make 10 million dollars a year by just talking into a television camera while others contend with all the details that make it possible for that television camera to operate. His station insulates Mr. O’Reilly from the economic realities all business owners need to confront.
Perhaps a windfall tax on his salary would equip the pugnacious pontificator the objectivity CEO’s and us lowly business owners need to develop to guarantee the health of our enterprise, the future employment of our people, and the uninterrupted supply of our goods and services to the market.
Copyright 2008 Jim Pontillo