In an American Public Media Marketplace commentary, P.J. O’Rourke accurately identifies concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement when he states, “people are right about the sins of the financial system and right about the evil of government supporting and subsidizing this malfeasance.” But he runs off the rails when he claims that Occupiers also “believe in the Zero Sum Fallacy — the idea that there is a fixed amount of the good things in life.”
Where did O’Rourke get the idea that even one Occupier, much less Occupiers as a whole, believe the ludicrous Zero Sum Fallacy. Probably FOX, maybe lazy mainstream media but certainly not a General Assembly at any Occupy site.
I don’t think what Occupiers are saying is all that hard to understand … if you actually talk to enough of them. Of course they are very hard to understand if their opinions go through a right-wing filter that strains hearsay and false assumptions down to witty irrelevant sound bites.
Even worse, O’Rourke goes on to illustrate his misunderstanding of Occupier concerns about economic justice by this condescending interchange with his 13-year-old daughter: “all I (P.J.) hear, ‘That’s not fair,’ she says. ‘That’s not fair! That’s not fair!’ And one day I snapped, and I said, ‘Honey, you’re cute, that’s not fair. Your family is pretty well off, that’s not fair. You were born in America, that’s not fair. Darling, you had better get down on your knees and pray things don’t start getting fair for you.’”
Granted, Kai Ryssdal asked a remarkably stupid question, “If the 1% had less, would the 99% be better off?”, so a stupid answer can be expected. Except, O’Rourke is a brilliant political satirist, he should do better. Satire is just mediocre standup unless it’s point is a significant truth, preferably a truth embarrassing to the powerful. O’Rourke would have done himself a big favor if he’d listened carefully to Robert Reich answer the same question the day before: “With all due respect that’s exactly the wrong question. It plays into the false idea that the economy is a giant zero-sum game.” O’Rourke and Reich both see the falsehood, but Reich knew it was the banksters who act like the economy is zero-sum, not the protestors.
Ironically, modern economic history demonstrates that the wealthy will be better off when the less wealthy are better off since A Rising Middle Class Tide Raises All Boats.
O’Rourke’s quick wit is well suited for … ummm … wait … hmmm … wait … don’t tell me … oh yeah, well suited for ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’ but this commentary demonstrated the danger of a clever mind speaking from a position of comfort about uncomfortable realities.
– Iron Filing