Jewish World Review August 27, 2001 / 8 Elul, 5761

Bill O'Reilly

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Summertime -- and the livin' ain't easy -- AS summer winds down, America finds itself in a rather dubious place. The economy is terrible, the public-school system isn't much better, and Gary Condit is a household name.

It's morning in America; can I go back to sleep?

Let's start at the top with President Bush. The polls show that most Americans who are not intoxicated with liberal ideology want Mr. Bush to succeed. That's because he comes off as a nice guy.

But I also believe that most Americans are not fully confident that the president will be effective, because he is not exactly a George Patton type leader. He doesn't look you in the eye and make you want to charge machine gun nests. He looks you in the eye, grins, and the golf cart pulls up.

So can Mr. Bush and his people stave off a long, debilitating recession? Nobody knows.

Much was made of the president taking a month-long vacation, but have you noticed that Vice President Cheney has simply vanished? Where is this guy? Is he home on the range in Wyoming? Is he at a spa with Al Gore? Won't you come home, Dick Cheney, won't you come home? (Sung to the tune of "Bill Bailey.")

Meantime, Alan Greenspan is in charge of the economy, and every time he leaves his house the stock market goes down another hundred points. Is it time for Alan to retire? Yes, as a matter of fact, it is.

The shaky economy is, by far, the most important issue in America today, but the collapsing public school system is second. And it's not all about poor academic skills. According to a study by the Josephson Institute of Ethics in California, 68 percent of the 8,600 students surveyed said they had punched somebody within the past year. And girls are equally represented in that group!

The author of the study, Michael Josephson, says that in addition to being violent, students are lying, stealing and cheating in record numbers. And many don't feel bad about it.

According to Josephson, the public school system has completely abdicated its responsibility to teach "moral" behavior. He believes the fear of lawsuits and the absence of a moral consensus by faculty members has sent a message of permissiveness to many students. But I think there is another significant contributing factor to the moral relativism that permeates many school systems.

Students constantly see bad behavior being rewarded. The more brutal you are in the professional wrestling ring, the more popular and wealthy you become. The more conniving you are in the "Survivor" TV series, the more chance you have of winning a million bucks. And the sexier you are on "Dawson's Creek," the more in demand you become both on and off the air.

Bad behavior is rewarded all throughout the media, and the words of a few teachers and parents cannot counter the shoddy behavior blitz the kids experience every day.

Why should students not cheat? Why restrain from hitting someone? Where is the incentive to behave?

Few of our elected leaders will address those questions, preferring instead to jack up your taxes by spending more and more money on "education." That sounds good, of course, but money can't buy love or a conscience.

What the public school system needs are mandatory courses in Judeo-Christian ethics, the principles on which this country was founded.

But don't let the ACLU hear that. They'll sue.

America is still a great country, but we are in a bit of trouble in the summer of 2001. If a long-term recession kicks in, watch out . We are used to having it our way, materially speaking, and if that is threatened, our society will not react well.

As for the kids, I feel bad for them. They are living in a time when powerful forces are eroding traditional values. They all know who Monica Lewinsky is, who Gary Condit is, who Eminem is. But don't ask about the works of Mother Teresa in your civics class. There may be a bit of religious philosophy in her profile. And that's far too much controversy for our public school system to handle. For as the song says, "don't know much about history ... " Or morality issues, either.

JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, The O'Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad, and The Completely Ridiculous in American Life. Comments by clicking here.


08/20/01: The rap on rap
08/13/01: The truth hurts
08/06/01: Amnesty for illegals: Bush's political investment
07/30/01: The big picture on Condit-Levy
07/24/01: Silence of the Shams
07/16/01: Condit, Kennedy and cable news
07/09/01: Heather needs a childhood: The unnecessary loss of innocence
07/02/01: What would have happened if Steven Spielberg had recut "Schindler's List" for German audiences so they wouldn't be confronted with "emotional issues"?
06/25/01: Freak dancing
06/18/01: Work or die
06/11/01: Soundbite nation
06/04/01: Paying through the nose
05/29/01: Graduation Day 2001
05/21/01: Accepting the unacceptable
05/14/01: The Clinton legacy
05/07/01: Kerrey's ordeal
04/27/01: Is the party over?
04/20/01: Racism in public education
04/16/01: The fleecing of America
04/10/01: People who need perspective
04/03/01: Dubya's bottom line --- and ours
03/27/01: Don't tell, don't ask
03/20/01: Greenspan with envy
03/13/01: Clinton and Jackson
03/07/01: All that's left in America
02/27/01: The Letterman experience
02/20/01: Bread and circuses
02/06/01: How the Clintons do it
01/30/01: The Bush dilemma
01/24/01: I have been investigating Jackson's finances for the past two years
01/17/01: Sifting Ashcroft's record

© 2001 Creators Syndicate