Guest Editorials


Hooked on maligning business and causing social unrest

Unless you live in metro Phoenix, you don’t know John Hook.  But you undoubtedly know someone like him in your town.  My condolences.

Hook is a popular news anchor on the local Fox TV station.  Naturally, he is handsome and well-coiffed.  He’s also an unabashed business basher, one of thousands across the nation in the news media, in Hollywood, and in academia.  The results of their business bashing can be seen in the demonstrations against Wall Street and capitalism.  The bashers don’t seem to realize that they run the risk of being bashed themselves if social unrest spreads and turns against them, since they are also part of the capitalist system and have benefited personally from it. 

Hook’s business bashing was front and center in his newscast of Oct. 5.  During a segment on Bank of America, Hook shook his head back and forth in disgust while scolding the bank for raising fees on debit cards and checking accounts.  But he didn’t tell the rest of the story.  He didn’t say what had precipitated the new fees--namely, that large retailers had lobbied Congress to force banks to reduce the card fees that they had to pay to the banks for services rendered. 

Congress, with its typical dislike of market competition and love of crony capitalism, gave the retailers what they wanted, thus forcing banks to make up for the lost revenue elsewhere.  In other words, Congress had engaged in price fixing and a populist masquerade instead of furthering market competition and transparency.

It would have taken 30 seconds for Hook to tell the rest of the story.  But instead of enlightening his audience, he continued with his business bashing by comparing the bank fees to the fees that airlines charge for luggage.  Once again, he failed to tell the rest of the story:  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, average domestic airline fares have fallen by 16% in constant dollars since 1995, even with the baggage fees.  Instead of gouging customers, as Hook had implied, airlines have made flying cheaper. 

During the same period, federal, state and local government spending has increased from $2.63 trillion to $6.3 trillion, due in large part to media Hooksters, er, hucksters, running sob stories about Americans starving in the streets because of evil businesses.

It’s the same anti-business story that has been told in hundreds of movies--films that are less obvious in their bias and thus more effective than Michael Moore’s childish rants.  One of the worst of the genre is The Fugitive, a 1993 film starring Harrison Ford, who plays a doctor falsely convicted of killing his wife, based loosely on a true story.  The action is exciting, and the acting, directing and cinematography are above average. But the film resorts to business bashing of the worst kind. To wit:  At the movie’s climax, Ford finds that a pharmaceutical company was behind the murder of his wife, and he confronts the drug company’s fat-cat executives at a swank corporate social event.  

Talk about twisting the truth!  Pharmaceutical companies save lives, but the movie portrays them as murderers.     

Movies showing the awfulness of conservatives are just as abundant as movies bashing business.  For example, the otherwise excellent film, The Manchurian Candidate, portrays a fictional conservative presidential wannabe as a psychopathic megalomaniac, with overtones of incest thrown in for good measure.  Similarly, the comedic movie, Dave, portrays an obviously Republican president and his chief of staff as ruthless and heartless.  It takes a liberal First Lady and her boyfriend Dave, a stand-in for the president, to set things right and restore funding for free child care.

Such biases are not restricted to America’s shores.  The BBC series, House of Cards, received rave reviews for its portrayal of a fictional conservative Member of Parliament who resorts to murder to get elected Prime Minister.  In an obvious slam against Margaret Thatcher’s attempts to cut the welfare state and restore prosperity, scenes of homeless Londoners are interspersed throughout the film, thus making a link in the uninformed minds of viewers between conservatism and homelessness.

Then there is the 100-to-1 ratio of films about the horrors of the Third Reich versus films about the horrors of the Soviet Union.  This unbalance reveals the propagandistic brilliance of America’s left.  First, they associate the Third Reich with the right-wing, although Hitler’s regime was socialist.  Then they overlook the nationalism and genocide of Stalin’s regime, due largely to the embarrassing fact that many American leftists, including many in FDR’s administration, had thought highly of Soviet communism.  That explains why the left despises and belittles the writing of Ayn Rand, who, as a Russian émigré, knew the truth about communism.

Similarly, there are scores of movies about Joe McCarthy’s communist witch hunts and Dick Nixon’s dirty tricks, but none come to mind about equal or worse transgressions by liberals and progressives.  For example, I know of no film about progressive idol Woodrow Wilson persecuting reporters for sedition because they dared to speak against the control freak.  Similarly, I can’t recall a film about the FDR administration persecuting owners of small businesses, including the horrendous abuse of power in going after the Schechter brothers for supposedly violating the National Recovery Act in running a kosher butcher business in Brooklyn.   

Karl Marx got it half-right when, to paraphrase, he said that capitalists will sell you the rope to hang them.  He should have added that reporters and movie producers will sell leftist agitprop to a gullible public and then wonder why the system that made them prosperous is overthrown.

Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at

Guest Editorials


Scenes of Americans without self-restraint

Four scenes from a recent day:

Scene One:  Wal-Mart’s health and beauty department.  I’m selecting a package of razors from a shelf:  15 Schick double-edge throwaway razors for $5.47.  Nearby, a thirty-something man covered in tattoos exclaims to his equally-tattooed wife, “Oooo, Jenny, look at this!” as he grabs a box from an end-cap display.  “See, it has an Arizona Cardinals logo on it.”  She responds, “That’s awesome.”  He tosses it in their shopping cart and they walk away. 

As I walk by the end-cap display, I see that they were purchasing a fancy Gillette three-edge razor that comes with only one cartridge, for a price of $7.80.  In other words, they paid $7.80 for one razor, and I paid $5.47 for 15 razors, or thirty-six cents apiece.  Replacement cartridges for the Gillette were priced at over three dollars apiece

It would be unkind to say that the man and wife looked like losers, so let me just say that they didn’t look like winners.  It would be a safe bet that I have a lot more money in the bank than they have.  Hmm, I wonder why.

Scene Two:  My home office later in the day.  The phone rings.  It’s a call from a distant business acquaintance in his forties who is looking for financial advice.  Knowing that he has an annual income of over $300,000, I ask him about his net worth.  He shocks me by saying that he has no equity in his sprawling house and less than $100,000 in savings.  To make his situation worse, he still has kids to put through college. 

He has always been a fun guy and a big spender who lives for the moment, enjoying the best wine, best restaurants, best resorts, best cars, and best communications gizmos.  By contrast, the things I enjoy the most are the things that are free--things like taking long walks with my wife.  I’ll have money for old age and he will have little, although his annual income is considerably higher than mine.   Hmm, I wonder why.  

Scene Three:  My home office, right after the foregoing conversation.  I’m reflecting on a nanny that my wife and I had employed when both of us were working and our son was in grade school.  In her early twenties at the time, she was smart, single, and attractive.  She also was always in dire financial straits, due to her love of partying, smoking, paying six dollars apiece for drinks at bars, and dating losers who mooched off her.  Creditors called our house just about every day.  I would advise her to save her money and use her flexible work schedule to get a college degree or learn a trade.  She didn’t take my advice, but she did ask me to delay giving her some of her weekly earnings, because, she said, “If you give all of it to me at one time, I’ll have it spent by the next day.”  No doubt, she is still living on the brink of bankruptcy and getting calls from creditors.  Hmm, I wonder why.

Final Scene:  My family room later that evening.  My wife and I are watching a show called “House Hunters International” on HGTV.  We watch it because it’s more useful than a psychology degree for insights on human nature.  It’s a typical segment.  An American husband and wife of modest means with two small kids are in Italy looking for a vacation home to buy in the $300,000 range.  He says, “We really can’t afford this, but I want to give my family something special.” 

Yeah, moron, give your family a lot of debt and leave them with no safety net in case something unexpected happens, like a costly illness or the loss of a job.  Yeah, that’ll be special.   But don’t worry, your kids can take out student loans to attend college and then demonstrate on Wall Street against the system instead of against the real culprits:  their foolish parents.

The husband and wife look for a house in a dreary Italian town full of old people and graffiti.  There is no sign of industry, no modern retail stores, no supermarket, and apparently no building codes.  The houses are obviously poorly constructed and are clearly money pits requiring a lot of maintenance and repair.  One comes with a cistern, because, as the realtor says, “The water supply isn’t very reliable in the dry months.”  The husband and wife don’t seem to care.  They don’t ask about taxes, utility costs, Italian property laws, or something as mundane as how far they’d have to drive to find a hardware store to buy tools and materials for the inevitable repairs.  Obviously romantics, they picture idyllic vacations in Italy and not the reality of long and expensive trans-Atlantic airplane rides with fidgety kids, long car rides to the dreary town, vacations spent cleaning and repairing the house, or the difficulties of being thousands of miles from the property 48 weeks out of the year.

As my Dad would say if he were still alive, “They’re going to grow old without having a pot to piss in.”  Hmm, I wonder why.

Actually, I don’t have to wonder why.  All of the foregoing people are part of the
large segment of the American population that has no self-restraint.  They live for the moment.  Like Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, they put off worrying about serious matters until tomorrow.  Then when tomorrow comes, they put it off again, ad infinitum.

It would be none of my business how they live, if it were not for the fact that they vote.  When many of them end up without a pot to piss in, they will vote to force people like me to buy pots for them, as is happening now with millions of Americans who have no pots because they have no self-restraint. 

Sorry for the vulgarity, but they can pee up a rope for all I care. 

Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at