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Rush Limbaugh

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RUSH: Did you see this story out of Washington? It is an AP story: ‘About one-third of the people living in the nation’s capital are functionally illiterate compared with about one-fifth nationally. Adults are considered functionally illiterate if they have trouble doing such things as comprehending bus schedules, reading maps, and filling out job applications.’ The question I have is: How many of these illiterates in Washington, DC work for the federal government? That’s what I would like to know! ‘The study by the State Education Agency, a quasi-governmental office created by the US Department of Education to distribute federal funds for literacy services, was ordered by the mayor, Anthony Williams, in 2003 as part of his four-year, $4 million adult literacy initiative.’ Now, I know of about a thousand literacy charities out there, adult literacy charities. They’re all over the place, and they’re big in New York — and I want to know: What is actually being done beyond the parties that these people have to raise money?

Beyond that, what does this say about the public education system? You couple this with the dropout rate. One-third in Washington, DC and one-fifth nationally are functionally illiterate — and what is this about using a bus schedule or a map? How about giving them ‘See Dick and Jane run after Spot,’ and whatever and see if they can understand that. Functional illiterate. If you can’t comprehend a bus schedule, read a map or fill out a job application, then you are functionally illiterate. Let’s see.

‘The world’s estimated four billion people who live under the poverty line represent an untapped global market worth $5 trillion in local purchasing power, according to a new report.’ Now, does anybody… Upon hearing that, are you struck by a coincidence or some irony, let’s say? Let me read this again: ‘The world’s estimated four billion people who live under the poverty line represent an untapped global market worth $5 trillion in local purchasing power.’ How are they an untapped market, these four billion people below the poverty line? What, are they rich? On what basis do they represent an untapped global market worth $5 trillion in local purchasing power? Who’s going to give ’em the money to get ’em out of poverty? Because you know why there’s poverty in the world, don’t you? Mass poverty on a mass scale? Poverty in the US is not poverty, by the way, compared to poverty around the world. I’ve seen it. Don’t argue with me about it. You can try to make hay, but you won’t succeed. Poverty here? People here can’t relate to poverty. I don’t care who they are.

The reason there’s poverty is because there’s a lack of distribution of capitalism. Now, I’m going to have to recreate this from memory, and I’m going to get the numbers wrong because I don’t remember them precisely, but I’m going to make the point to you. I had a conversation with a friend of mine two weeks ago who said that he had been to a fund-raiser, function or something with somebody who works with one of the major investment houses. I want to say Merrill Lynch, but I’m not sure if it was Merrill Lynch. This guy was an expert in the energy sector. He said — and this story backs it up — of the world’s six and a half billion people — and this is going to stun you. This is what I mean about poverty. In the case of the world’s six and a half billion people, four and a half to five billion do not have electricity, do not have running water in their homes, do not have automobiles and all this sort of thing. One and a half billion people of the world’s six and a half billion are using all of the energy right now — and of all the people in China right now — what’s the Chinese population, a billion, something like that? Yeah, they’ve reached it, right? In China, the number of people who have automobiles and electricity regularly (in their homes, not where they work, but in their homes), is less than 500,000, but it’s growing rapidly. His point was, ‘If we were ever able to reverse this statistic, this number of people in the world that do not have electricity — and that’s why the places where these people live are an absolute environmental disaster and mess. They don’t have the means to clean up the messes they’re making, and yet that’s what the wackos tell us we should be aiming at is that kind of ‘native lifestyle,’ a pristine lifestyle.

Anyway, imagine if we did get capitalism equally distributed around the world, and the four and a half billion people without electricity, running water, automobiles, all of a sudden got it. Think of the demands on energy around the world! When I heard this, when I heard this story, do you know what my first reaction was? I didn’t articulate it, but my first gut reaction was, ‘My gosh, I’m just going to become the biggest fan of socialism and dictatorship for four and a half billion people because…’ (laughing) I’m kidding! I’m kidding, but stop and think: if this were ever reversed, think of the pressures that there would be on energy development, usage, and this sort of thing. It would lead to more production, there’s no question. Demand would cause there to be more production. There’s no question that would happen, and we’d get all kinds of things changed, where we can drill for oil, and that’s where real ingenuity and entrepreneurship and alternative sources of fuel and alternative fuels would begin. But it wouldn’t happen overnight. If somebody were able to throw a switch — and this story reminded me of it. ‘The world’s estimated four billion people who live under the poverty line represent an untapped global market worth five trillion in local purchasing power.’ Well, fine and dandy, but don’t they have to be given the five trillion before they can spend it? Where’s this going to come from? They don’t have it by definition. They live in poverty. But the point is, if it were somehow just with a snap of the fingers done overnight, there would be all kinds of pressure brought to bear on a number of the areas — especially the energy sector — in this country.

You’d be stunned at the number of people in this world who live over 500 miles from the nearest hospital. You would be stunned! Even in our own hemisphere. That’s why when I hear people talk about poverty in America, I catch myself, because poverty is a relative thing. Relative to our gross domestic product and our per capita income, yeah, we have poverty, but it’s not like poverty around the world. Now, ‘There’s a wealthier, mid-tier group with per capita incomes between $3,000 and $20,000 that represents a global markets worth 12 and a half trillion dollars but they’re better off in general living mainly in cities and are better served.’ So that’s the next group above those who are in abject and dire poverty.

RUSH: Jason in Springfield, Missouri. Nice to have you with us, sir. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Rush. Greetings from the entire Macy family, especially my little brother, Chris Macy. He was sergeant in the Army when you went to Afghanistan.

RUSH: Well, we have eminent respect for all of you and your families, as you well know.

CALLER: Thank you, sir. I wanted to go back to your comments about the functioning illiterate, you know, liberals’ perspective a functioning illiterate is somebody whose illiterate based on their inability to read a map or navigate through a bus schedule, but how did they determine the positive side, the functioning part?

RUSH: I should have thrown that in. A functional illiterate is someone who knows how to go to the welfare office and get a check.

CALLER: (Laughing.) I was curious how they were determining that.

RUSH: Yeah, functional illiterate is somebody who knows how to use every government program to its max.

CALLER: Oh, well, thank you, sir.


RUSH: It’s a serious question. Sort of like, what’s a functional alcoholic? You know, a lot of alcoholics go to work every day. A functional illiterate can get around; can get a driver’s license; can drive a car; can cross the street. A functional illiterate can probably speak. But when it comes time to put the signatures on something, well, even functional illiterates get away with an X if they can find a cosigner and say yes, X is functional illiterate, you know, whatever. Bobby Joe Gene.

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