CPAC 2019 just ended, and my major takeaway was not President Trump groping an American flag or babbling about there being, “NO COLLUSION!”. A throwback from years ago, Glenn Beck, emerged from the wilderness to give his take on scary socialism. Again.
For those that have forgotten, Glenn Beck used to be a commentator on cable news and radio. He made a career out of standing in front of chalkboards and crying, which is bizarrely somewhat admirable.
Look at this clip from his old show, where he breaks down how then-President Obama was a radical extremist. He draws connecting lines and posts up pictures, moving from one idea to another, giving little time to actually process the nonsense.
Glenn Beck’s philosophy boils down to a conspiracy theory: any attempt to use government action to do nearly anything is part of a Marxist plot to destroy the good, Christian, American family. Healthcare? Well, that’s just a Marxist plot. Taking care of the environment? Well, that’s also a Marxist plot. Anything that involves doing anything for anyone other than yourself is a Marxist plot. Jon Stewart did a fantastic job breaking him down for us:
But all of that was quite a long time ago. Maybe Beck has changed in some way. I heard a year ago that he didn’t like Trump, so perhaps he had some kind of epiphany. Wrong! Here, Beck explains why income and wealth inequality is not only overblown, but it’s actually a good thing:
In the speech, Beck explains Democratic Socialism like your elderly distant relative who never studied politics in his life, but because he absorbed decades of pseudo-intellectual talk radio and cable shows (like Glenn Beck’s), he believes himself to be a seasoned expert. He equates Democratic Socialism with “Equality of Outcome”, and contrasts that with capitalism’s “Inequality of Outcome”. Equality of Outcome as a colloquial term refers to economic systems that rewards everyone the same amount, regardless of their contribution. A common example of this in American life would be all the kids on a little league baseball team collecting a trophy just for being on the field. The concept brings up thoughts of starving Russians waiting in breadlines for working 10 hour work shifts in the factory. Glenn Beck seems to think that the Democratic Party is into that. In fact, he probably thinks every waffling, do-nothing corporate Democrat is a Communistic ideologue hellbent on recreating the Soviet Union, or Venezuela, or China. In reality, most Democratic politicians have little to no ideology. They’re biggest concern is money, and their reelection. And I realize this is anecdotal, but no Bernie Sanders voter I’ve ever known has ever talked up “Equality of Outcome”. Beck would probably tell me that that’s all a front, though.
In his hypothesis, Glenn Beck uses “Inequality of Outcome” to describe America, and its supposed free market system. Inequality of Outcome is… a word he just made up for the purposes of his argument. But I understand that he’s referring to “Equality of Opportunity”, which is colloquially known to be when everyone in society has the same chance to succeed in life as everyone else. Which I think is great: if we lived in a society where everyone starts on the same playing field, where the most successful people are the ones who work the hardest, then I would be fine with that. I’m sorry to inform Beck that this merit-based economy does not exist in America, and never has.
Looking at the data above (and yes, unlike Beck, I am using facts and numbers) you can see that Americans have had a staggering level of productivity. As a workforce, we are certainly not lazy. And look at the levels rising together during the years right after World War 2. Yet our hourly compensation has drastically stagnated since the 80s. This is not merit-based. Specific government policies that benefit the wealthy and corporate power were put in place, not unlike the years leading up to the Great Depression. People like to call it trickle-down economics. After the recession a few years ago, the American economy slowly recovered, but the jobs that have now emerged have become low-paying customer service jobs with little to no benefits. I cannot tell you how many workers my age have to balance their bartending gigs with barista shifts on the weekends just to make ends meet. More people are employed, sure, but they are also in poverty.
Glenn Beck seems to think in overly simplistic terms. If good things happen to you, you deserve it and earned it. If bad things happen to you, it’s your fault and you deserve it. If you are a billionaire with three yachts… well, you’ve obviously earned every penny (despite the data that shows that a disproportionate number of wealthy individuals inherited their wealth).
Unfortunately, a large percentage of America’s population agrees with Beck. Nowadays they’ve graduated to even more malicious voices like Alex Jones and Tucker Carlson. Perhaps when they say something ridiculous, I’ll write about that too.