RUSH: Anita in Newport Coast, California. I paused there because I’ve never heard of Newport Coast. Welcome to the program.
CALLER: Thank you, Rush. I’ve been listening to you for 20 years and you have helped me to keep my sanity in these hard times.
RUSH: Well, I’m losing mine.
CALLER: Don’t do that, please, we need you. I’m calling with sort of a different take on things, and I’d be interested in your opinion. But basically I don’t think America has ever graduated from high school. And the reason I’m saying that is because when I was in high school, the athletes and the cheerleaders and the class clowns were absolutely the most popular, nothing they could do was wrong, ever. And kids who really studied and worked their tails off to get those good grades, they were classified as geeks and ostracized from the group in general.
RUSH: Well, I was in neither group.
CALLER: Today what I see is that the athletes and the actors are making these millions of dollars a year, and no one ever says anything about that negatively, and yet it’s the kids who studied and worked their tails off and then worked their tails off for years in the corporate structure or through their own personal undertakings and business to rise to the top, and so now they’re finally experiencing some of the fruits of their labor, and it’s all wrong, they can’t make it. The brainy ones still have no right to the fruits of their labor. And I just wonder what you think about that.
RUSH: Well, I’ve dealt with this theory in a number of different ways over the course of my star-studded career here. It’s come at me in the form of we pay athletes way too much and we don’t pay teachers enough and so forth, and to understand the wealth that athletes and actors earn, you have to really understand basic market economics. I’m not saying you don’t, but the reason that they’re very seldom vilified is because very few of them take political stands. I guarantee you the athletes that have, the first chance the sports media has to go after ’em, they do. Lenny Dykstra —
CALLER: I’m not saying that they don’t deserve what they make, but I’m suggesting that there’s a double standard. Because there’s also competition in the marketplace for those positions and the cream always, you know, does rise to the top.
RUSH: It’s real simple to understand what they earn. Are you talking about attitudinally, the way we look at these people, the way we celebrate them —
CALLER: Yes, I am.
RUSH: — even though many of them are reprobates, and the people that are really worthwhile, that have great character, we kind of scorn, is that what you mean? That’s why the high school analogy?
RUSH: Like the brain-dead cheerleader and the idiotic, you know, 40 IQ quarterback —
CALLER: They have skills and it’s okay to appreciate those skills, but there’s a certain skill set that we don’t appreciate, that skill set not only in high school —
RUSH: Yeah, but it’s so rare —
CALLER: — you follow it up, the trail through the corporate trail, these people that get to the top, they’re brilliant people and they’ve worked their tails off and yet they’re not given any credit for that.
RUSH: Oh, some of them are. Some of them are, but that skill set, when you’re talking about athletes particularly, that skill set is so rare. We have a population of 300 million people, and how many in this country are qualified to play at the major league level? I mean, it’s not very many. It’s under 1,500, 2,000.
CALLER: But I think the same argument could be made for the CEO that rises to the top of the ladder.
RUSH: Well, now you’re bringing politics into this.
CALLER: Well, that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m not doing a very good job of it, obviously.
RUSH: Politics hasn’t infected the world of sports unless somebody in the world of sports takes a political position. But you probably don’t know that Michael Jordan’s a Democrat. And I guarantee you, you have no idea how Tiger Woods votes.
CALLER: That’s right.
RUSH: Well, there’s a reason for that. If they go public with their political views they’ve automatically alienated half the country, and when it comes to selling their endorsed products — look, hang on. This is a good question. I gotta take a break. Can you hang on through the break?
RUSH: All right, we’ll be back and continue this.
RUSH: We’re back here with Anita in Newport Coast, California. I know exactly what you’re talking about, the idolization of people who do certain things, athletes, entertainers. I’ve tried to understand this. It’s even gone beyond that now. Just the pursuit of fame. Look at all of these social network websites — Facebook, MyButt, MySpace… Everybody wants to cash in on this fame, even if it’s just for 15 minutes, they are willing to give up every personal bit of information about themselves, pictures and all kinds of things. And as it relates to, you know, athletes, I do think that it boils down to how rare the skill set is and the fact that everybody wishes they could do it that well. Everybody who plays golf, and I’m telling you, everybody, wishes they could play it like any PGA Tour pro does, anybody. Everybody wishes that they could be Brett Favre. It’s just one of these things that almost you live your life vicariously through these people.
CALLER: Well, I agree with that, but I guess it’s still — these people are on the popularity bandwagon, and the point I’m trying to make is that the skill set, what the people have — what executives have to do to rise to the top of their organizations — or even the small entrepreneur, to build a business — that what they have to go through requires a skill set, and some of these, especially with the larger companies, that go —
RUSH: Yeah, but we don’t see ’em do it.
CALLER: — 20 years into their career —
RUSH: We don’t see ’em do it, we don’t see them do it. We don’t see the CEO making the wonderful, brilliant decisions that grow his company. We don’t see it. Now, in one case we do. And guess what? He’s a superstar, his name is Steve Jobs.
RUSH: Steve Jobs is considered that company. Everybody thinks he does everything. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett. If we see what they do, if we see the results of what they do, then we lionize ’em. But a lot of CEOs — plus, you know, these people have been demonized politically by the Democrat Party for I don’t know how long, and they have pay czars slapped against on them.
You know, Hitler loved movie stars. I don’t know how many people know this, but his — he had a very close relationship with his propaganda guy, Goebbels, and Goebbels was making all the movies. I mean, Hitler even put up with Jewish movie stars, he forgave them everything, he forgave them their politics, he forgave them their religion because he knew they were no threat. They were easily led, they were very malleable. Actors and athletes were exempted from the military under Hitler. And Mao did the same thing, and Stalin did the same thing. The skill set of a CEO, the skill set of a Jobs or of a Buffett, those kind of skills are very dangerous to the powerful elites in government because those people get things done, they are very competent, they have to operate under different rules than government does. And so they’re just naturally lionized. You’re never going to escape the politicization of corporate CEOs. For crying out loud, look it — they’ve got pay czars on them now. They’re demonized. These are greedy capitalists. So they have been demonized by politics and that’s one of the reasons why they are viewed as suspects.
CALLER: And that’s so very scary.
RUSH: It is. I like your analogy, that we haven’t gotten out of high school yet.
CALLER: Well, that’s how I see it. It’s the popular version of the unpopular and who were the popular. And it hasn’t changed.
RUSH: Well, now, see, I don’t belong to any of the two groups that you talked about. When I was in high school, I wasn’t a big athlete and I wasn’t a nerd. I just didn’t want to be there.
CALLER: (laughing) That’s why you’re still exceptional.
RUSH: (laughing) Well, thank you, but, you know, it is an interesting psychological question, and it deserves more than a ten-minute answer to your call, it really is. But I understand the point you’re making very well. It’s just I’ve run out of time and yet I have to go to our hard break. This one doesn’t afloat. Thanks very much, Anita, for the call.