The Reason Big Business Will Absolutely “Quit” The GOP Is The Same Reason Bill O’Reilly No Longer Works At Fox News

Hey, remember Bill O’Reilly? Bill sure wishes most of us did remember him. But, for most of America, O’Reilly sits in the “Whatever happened to?” heap and not anywhere near the top. The reason most people don’t even think about O’Reilly any more as a “choice” in the news-entertainment marketplace is exactly the same reason that all America’s Big Businesses are now turning their backs on the Republican Party over the violently anti-democratic voting laws its members have drawn up all over the country, starting with Georgia. In a consumer-driven, free market economy — that, itself, relies on a stable, genuinely democratic political environment to cash flow it — anything that causes those consumers to stop consuming products & services is bad for business. If those causes are potentially long-lasting (more to the point, if the EFFECTS those causes cause are likely long-lasting), it’s entirely in Big Businesses long term interests either to remove or mitigate those causes as quickly (and cheaply) as possible. But, Big Business also knows it has a secondary problem to contend with: branding and co-branding. Just as Fox News saw clearly that continuing to co-brand with Bill O’Reilly had to end, so, too, will America’s Big Businesses see that they can no longer “co-brand” with the GOP.

O’Reilly, remember, had a history of sexually intimidating female co-workers (though the word in his mind was probably “seducing”). This happened. And, famously, this. This did, too.

Meanwhile, a paradigm that had actually shifted years before was finally recognized by America’s Big Businesses — at least the ones who advertised on Bill O’Reilly’s top-rated Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor”. As Time pointed out on April 6, 2017, ” …companies that advertise on The O’Reilly Factor have seen intense pressure on social media to stop running ads on the show. Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai were the first companies to pull their spots…”. Seeing the positive response those two big companies got, more of O’Reilly’s sponsors, their “integrity” having been fluffed, either pulled their ads from O’Reilly’s shows or (in the case of My Pillow, thought about it). Consider for a moment, what this really meant.

This was not one decision made in one boardroom that changed things, it was one decision being made in MULTIPLE boardrooms that changed things — because it all flowed from the same key data point: the majority of buying decisions in American households (especially the larger buying decisions) were being made by WOMEN. Appeal to the women in American households and your chances of making or keeping those households as customers increased. However, lose them as customers — especially over something like serial sexual harassment allegations — and you’d probably lose them forever. All those boardrooms saw it clearly: they could not advertise on any show having anything to do with Bill O’Reilly a moment longer. They transmitted that new paradigm to the 21st Century Fox Board (they oversee Fox News among other things). The 21st Century Fox Board did the only thing they could do as responsible stewards of their corporate entity: they canned Bill O’Reilly’s ass despite the fact that he was their main cash cow.

That’s freakin’ tectonic! Quietly, in the background, America’s Big Businesses took care of business — yes, out of greed, but also out of greed that recognized it needed to be on the right side of history. That happens from time to time; it’s like a broken analog clock being right twice a day. While crony capitalism has made a mess and a mockery of American capitalism — a thing which Team Biden, we hope, will begin to rectify in ways large, small and permanent — actual capitalism has, out of sheer survival instinct, worked as a kind of shifting ballast. That precedent is being repeated right here, right now in Georgia. While Coca Cola, Delta and Home Depot among many others had hoped to avoid getting dragged into American politics, if you donate money to legislators who want to legislate away our democracy — from a minority position — that fact now officially binds you together in the public’s consciousness. In other words, America understands that if you donate money to a politician, we can now take it for a fact that you AGREE with what that politician is trying to do. If the politician to whom you give money actively seeks to take away a customer’s VOTING RIGHTS, then that customer — and every other customer — will assume YOU also seek to take away your customer’s voting rights. If you can live with that — go ahead. Try it on. It won’t fit how you think it will.

Big business, if it’s to endure, must think strategically — in the longest terms possible. What’s good for the next quarter or two may be toxic to every quarter beyond. Living for today at tomorrow’s expense is how businesses die. This behavior doesn’t require a soul; only a survival instinct. Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky nailed this dynamic tension in his brilliant screenplay “Network” where — 25 years before it came to be — he envisioned the corrupting journey our news media would take from being respected, respectable news organizations to being entertainment companies with a little news thrown in. He saw Fox News coming from a million miles away. In Chayefsky’s Nostradoumus-like imagining, a weary news anchor named Howard Beale (who works for an imaginary 4th network called UBS — this was well before anything like Fox existed) becomes an unlikely populist icon/Jeremiah who taps into America’s latent rage; they’re all “mad as hell” and are “not going to take it anymore!” The UBS board, torn between keeping their integrity — albeit as the 4th place network and finally justifying themselves to UBS’s shareholders by making a little money for a change, choose the latter of course. But, Howard Beale is less than compliant. The silly man has begun to believe his own hype about being a “Jeremiah”. In this scene, UBS Chairman of the Board (played brilliantly by Ned Beatty) reads the riot act (and a few other acts) to Howard Bealed (Peter Finch who won an Oscar for his wonderful performance but died of a heart attack before actually winning the thing!).

It is one of the best pieces of screenwriting EVER. Fight me, if you dare…

Most of the corporations mentioned are no longer players — or even playing, some of them. They’ve been replaced by Amazon and China. But, aside from that? Almost every single word applies.

Bill O’Reilly was not accorded the kindness of such a “sit-down” with Rupert Murdoch. That’s how far gone, O’Reilly was. America’s Big Businesses have officially put the Republican Party on notice.

The GOP now finds itself sitting in the chair Howard Beale sat in while Ned Beatty rails at them. Remember what happens to Howard Beale in the movie? Spoiler Alert: it’s the very same thing that’s going to happen to the GOP. No one will mourn them. Hell, no one will even bother to make the funeral.

The world will be too busy trying to make a buck.

Fact: There Is No Conservative Solution To A Crisis Conservatism Caused

If I was to continue the alliteration, I’d say: Ka-ching!” That’s because it’s so on the money. We are in a crisis… no, we’re in a storm of crises. If only we had just one crisis to deal with this second, it’d be bad enough. But Donald Trump and the Republican Party have brought us to a place where we now face multiple crises on multiple fronts — and all because they are trying desperately to hold onto power that was never legitimately theirs.

Conservatives aren’t criminals and conservatism itself isn’t the “enemy”. Conservative greed is the enemy — as is everything that’s flowed from that greed like, say, their willingness to compromise themselves with Russia. Conservativism’s problem is it’s unsaleable to the majority of Americans. When more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats. That’s just a stone cold fact. Hell, even Donald Trump knows it. The whole point of voter suppression (up to and including hobbling the Post Office) is to stop more people from voting because of how most of them will vote.

Conservatives could have seen their diminishing place in our politics and done something respectable — like find a rock solid place in it. The truth is, progressives like me do need a counterweight if only to keep us honest. But that counterweight needs to be honest, too. And, right now, conservatism can’t claim a lick of honesty.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism. There’s everything wrong with crony capitalism. The Republican Party just proved that point for all eternity.

Crony capitalism is the conservative fix for everything. It doesn’t matter what the problem is — or whether it ever gets solved — so long as the right amount of money lands in their pocket along the way. The rich get richer while everyone else grows more impoverished, trapped and angrier. But the money that runs capitalism runs both ways.

An economy built on consumers and their confidence will die without them. More specifically, the giant corporations fattening themselves by selling products to American consumers rely on those consumers’ ability and willingness to buy. Problem 1: if those consumers are too broke to buy your products, you’re dead. Problem 2: if those consumers refuse to buy your products because they hate what you stand for, you’re deader than dead.

Here’s the tell: On April 19, 2017, Fox News canned Bill O’Reilly. At the time, O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” was Fox News’ top-rated show and its biggest cash cow. O’Reilly wasn’t a “journalist” and didn’t have to play by “journalistic rules” (as if Fox ever has!) but his appearance on a news network gave the utter claptrap that was his stock in trade the “sheen” of news. O’Reilly allowed Fox News to have it both ways. And then, suddenly, that music stopped.

Women did it.

It’s simply a fact: women make the majority of buying decisions in American households. They do the majority of the grocery shopping. They buy the majority of the clothing for their households. They work, they run carpools, they buy cars and gasoline and because they’re now increasingly the principle earners in more and more American households, if they suddenly decide to cancel culture a product? That product will be cancelled, no going back.

All those big corporations whose products women regularly buy? They got the memo. Not wanting to be cancelled, they told the 21st Century Fox Board that they would no longer advertise their products on Bill O’Reilly’s show. They did not want their brands associated with Bill O’Reilly’s brand. For the Fox board, it wasn’t a hard decision. They fired Bill O’Reilly (for reasons they could have/should have fired him years before).

When the marketplace spoke loudly enough, the money reacted. And the marketplace reacted to the economic power of the women within it. Those women are now taking political power with two hands. I’m going to generalize here — male that I am: female biology dictates communal decision-making over unilateral decision-making. No woman would ever say “I alone can fix it” because (here I go generalizing again about women) she knows that no woman can bear and rear a child alone. It really does take at least one other person to help at some point or neither baby nor mama will survive. It really does take a village to raise a child. It takes a village to almost everything — especially in a democracy.

It’s just a stone cold fact: no one can do anything “alone”.

That’s the petard on which conservatism is now hanging itself. Their belief that they alone could “fix” it.

This absolutely a problem of conservatism’s making. Conservatism made it because they were greedy. The way out can’t possibly be more greed.

The way out isn’t some middle option either. Anything that doesn’t put the full weight and potential of the American government at the disposal of We The People has no business being in the discussion. We can smell it’s greed from here.

Even doing everything perfectly will not guarantee that we get a free ride of some kind that magically returns our lives to how they were pre-pandemic. But the results will be exponentially better than what we’re doing to ourselves now. We’re in the process of learning (playing the part of lab rats) how Universal Basic Income works — and how it bolsters and builds an economy rather than undermining it (as conservatives insist, their parsimony cranked up high). We’re learning the lesson that health insurance is not the same thing as health CARE and that literally everyone needs to be included in a universal health CARE system because (in a world where pandemics might now be regular occurrences) we can only ever be as healthy as the least healthy person among us.

Pandemics begin with one person and spread from there.

We’re learning that human decency is, in fact, more important than money. As all those corporations are learning quickly, decency must be part of everyone’s brand going forth. It’s not going to be an option.

The Black Death killed feudalism. It turned an oppressive economic system upside down — giving labor an upper hand it never had before. The result was the guilds, a growing middle class, the birth of capitalism and, finally, the industrial revolution.

We won’t know if this pandemic has the same century-long impacts. We’ll be long dead when those histories get written. But, I bet we get a taste. We’ve already gotten one.

History will judge some of us very harshly. Conservatism won’t be blamed for causing America to nearly collapse but it will be seen as being on the wrong side. I’m not sure, really, how conservatism will eventually get back on our “right” side. What will it take for us to trust their motives again? We’d be foolish to accept their claims of rehabilitation on faith.

I’m absolutely certain nothing conservatives say can help rescue America from what conservatives have done to America. I’m almost as certain conservatives can’t help rescue themselves from what they’ve done to themselves.

I hope they understand if some of us refuse to lend them a hand when they beg for one.

How “Democracy Of The Marketplace” Works: You Vote With Your Dollars

In America, for better or (mostly) worse, money talks and everything else just sits quietly and listens.

Hell, we’re so stupid about money that we even put it (profit incentive) at the heart of our healthcare system — and we can’t figure out why our system is now the most expensive healthcare system on earth…

Until we fix that problem — money and greed and how they’re screwing up our Democracy — we’ll have to play by money’s rules. So long as the good or service isn’t already monopolized like cable TV used to be, and so long as there’s legitimate choice between legitimately competitive companies offering the same product (unlike old school mattress shopping, for example, with all its bullshitty obfuscations meant to prevent comparative shopping), the marketplace does offer its own form of democratic process. Let’s call it “The Democracy Of The Marketplace”.

I desperately need a widget. Turns out there are three widgets on the market from three different widget-makers. I’m going to have to make a choice. My money therefore will “vote” for one of the three products. That company will get my dollars while the others languish without it and, I expect, quickly go out of business. As if.

But — this being a marketplace — if a million of me do the exact same thing — and most of the widget market goes to one of the three companies, the two also-rans will have to strategize quickly or widget-maker #1 will come looking to finish them off because, from a business-bottom-line point of view, competition is expensive. So — what inspires the “me’s” of the marketplace to vote one way vs the other?

My Jewish family used to chuckle at all the other Jewish families happily driving around in their BMW’s & Merceds Benz’s — luxury cars now made by factories and companies that, during the war, built the very death machines that murdered the relatives of those very Jews. Oy.

And then we bought an Audi. Ya know? Those Germans? They make a good product. And these Germans weren’t those Germans. That’s how we got there, my family. That’s how a product “overcame our resistance” (sales training lingo). All our Jewish families voted with our dollars and our votes said “Germany, we forgive you”.

Take that however you want. It’s simply the Democracy Of The Marketplace. Even Genocide can be accommodated.

That power cuts both ways however. When enough people “rise up” against a product and refuse to buy it, that product goes away — and, often, the company that made it. That, too, is the Democracy Of The Marketplace in action.

Sometimes the Democracy Of The Marketplace speaks quietly but powerfully — without even knowing. Remember Bill O’Reilly? Used to be the top cash cow at Fox News — despite accusations of serial sexual harassment. But, then, something changed. A tipping point. Women became openly outraged at O’Reilly’s behavior and his company’s failure to do anything about it. They went directly at O’Reilly’s sponsors. They stopped buying their products because the sale of those products was helping, in part, to pay Bill O’Reilly’s salary. They decided to STOP voting for Bill with their dollars.

The sponsors are Big Companies of course that rely on selling lots of products to lots of people in order to stay in business. Scale’s important to them. When these Big Companies take a hit, it’s automatically big (it must be if they perceive it as a “hit” to their bottom line). They need to address the cause of that hit. In their case, they were losing significant sales because their products had been co-branded with a man their customers hated.

As “branding” goes — and branding is everything these days — that’s like busting a cap in your own head.

The 21st Century Fox board of directors saw it clearly: their advertisers would no longer support Bill O’Reilly’s show. If Fox News wanted to carry it, they’d have to pay for pretty much the whole thing (except for their smaller sponsors) by themselves. That ain’t their business model. No one’s that indispensable — not even cash cow Bill O’Reilly to Fox News.

Money talks. Fine. My money will not vote for any company that co-brands with racists. I am trying to get as much of my money as I can away from companies that co-brand in ANY way with Donald Trump. It’s a simple fact — a teeny-tiny part of every dollar I spend with, say, Verizon or Home Depot, will end up in the coffers of some Political Action Committee meant to achieve some political end the Big Company wants.

As Bill O’Reilly can tell you — there’s a tipping point in there somewhere. Cross it at your peril.

Too many Captains Of Industry turned out to be pirates. We need to punish the pirates and inspire more captains with a conscience. We need to vote for those companies and their products — even if they cost a few dollars more.

Don’t measure the cost difference only in dollars and cents. There’s another cost element that’s part of the equation — one’s “soul”.

Given a choice between widget A (made and sold by people whose values I share and applaud) and widget B (made by racists, rapists, corrupt polluters and treason enablers), my hard-earned dollar will leap from my pocket to widget A. That’s how certain my vote will be.