O'REILLY: Americans and money - That is the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo.
There is no question that economic issues will be foremost in the upcoming presidential election. That's why Hillary Clinton's decision not to debate Bernie Sanders on Fox News is a major mistake for her. Sanders, as you know, wants to blow up capitalism because he says it's a corrupt system. The Vermont senator admires socialism whereby the government calls the shots in the private marketplace.
A debate with Sanders on Fox News would give Secretary Clinton a major opportunity to smash that theory to stick up for capitalism and perhaps persuade some voters she is not an ardent leftist. But again, Mrs. Clinton has refused the debate even though she said this back in 2008:
CLINTON: Honestly, I just believe this is the most important job in the world. It’s the toughest job in the world. You should be willing to campaign for every vote. You should be willing to debate anytime, anywhere.
Now on to you. A new poll by the Associated Press says that two thirds of American adults would have difficulty coming up with money to cover a one thousand dollar emergency expense.
75% of Americans making less than $50,000 dollars a year say they would have trouble with that.
67% of those making between $50-100,000 say the same thing.
Even for the country's wealthiest citizens households making more than $100,000 a year, 38% say they would have difficulty coming up with a thousand bucks to pay an emergency expense. Stunning.
And it all goes back to the change in how Americans view money.
In 1965 the poverty rate was 17% in America. In 2014, nearly 50 years later, the poverty rate was 15%. Obviously not a big improvement.
But here's the key - 50 years ago, personal disposable income, money you have on hand to spend, was just $14,000 dollars. In 2015 it was $38,000 dollars. A vast improvement in spending power.
The problem is that we spend it all. We don't save. We're not frugal. We want immediate gratification.
Now for those viewers who understand American culture, the studies are not shocking. My parents were children when the Great Depression hit and that scared the heck out of them as my grandparents had to struggle to put food on the table. The depression kids carried on a tradition that money was never to be wasted.
Then World War two hit and millions of Americans were forced to fight for their lives. The suffering was tremendous but our military prevailed and most civilians did what they could to help the military. They weren't thinking much about money. There was a greater cause.
Now I grew up in Levittown, New York - a suburb 25 miles east of New York City. The housing in Levittown was cheap, especially to vets who got low cost mortgages. Very few of us in the neighborhood had anything. It was very working class. In my house we ate fish sticks, tuna, hot dogs, Spaghetti-os.
My parents never had a new car. Our house did not have air conditioning. It was like India there in August.
That kind of upbringing meant that all financial transactions were scrutinized. No appetizers when we went to the local Italian restaurant.
And college was out of reach for some of my friends. My father saved so my sister and I could go. Money was not to be wasted ever. That values system is deeply rooted in me. I do not waste money. I would rather give it to charity.
I don't want a plate from Cape Cod. I don't want a Bentley. I don't want very much on the material side at all. But I realize that most Americans are different. They want stuff -- especially younger Americans. And many of them feel they are entitled. They should be provided with the things they desire.
A recent study by Harvard University says that 51% of young Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 do not support capitalism. Just 42% buy into the system we have had since 1776.
And in a Gallup poll, 35% of Americans now have a positive view of socialism.60% say capitalism is the way to go.
Talking Points submits to you that those who want socialism have no blanking idea what that system really means. Bernie Sanders likes to point to Sweden, a nation of nine million people, most of whom look exactly the same. It is easy for the government of Sweden to provide cradle to grave entitlements while taking the majority of what people earn to support that system.
But here in America, that would lead to disaster. We are simply too big a county to be told what we can earn and what we can do with what we have.
In China, which has nearly one and a half billion citizens, they have to impose communism and socialism.
You go to prison or worse if you defy the government mandate. And to keep the educated population in check, the Chinese government allows capitalism in places like Shanghai and Hong Kong.
It goes against the nature of most people to tell them how to live their lives. Some Americans freely choose to serve the public by teaching in law enforcement or in local politics. That's a good thing but you will not get wealthy there.
It is also a good thing to use your talents to expand your income. That's what I did at one point my father encouraged me to join the Teamsters Union. I did not take his advice, preferring to go to college, then to study abroad, then to go to grad school. But I paid for most of that myself by painting houses, driving a cab, and teaching swimming. Nobody gave me anything nor did I seek that.
The harder I worked, the more money I made, and I saved a lot of that money so I could invest and build wealth.
Are you hearing that, Bernie Sanders?
So capitalism certainly worked for me and I don't want Sanders or anyone else taking more than half my earnings to use for dubious social experiments and handouts to those who are not in need.
Right now about half my income is paid in taxes. This country has been good to me -- but don’t take more than 50%. That's it. I don't want to live in a socialist nation.
Summing up, Hillary Clinton had a huge opportunity to re-enforce that capitalism has made America the most prosperous nation on earth, giving opportunity to billions of people over the years who are willing to work hard. But the Secretary is soft on capitalism even though she has taken huge advantage of it herself.
As for regular folks, we all should wise up and practice financial responsibility. We don't need half of the stuff we buy. So save, then invest conservatively, and build some protection for yourself. The cold truth is that American politicians promise stuff they never can deliver But we the people can control our financial well-being to some extent. We just have to be smart about it.