Comedian Bill Maher is one of my favorite television hosts. Not because I find his material particularly funny, but because he found his niche in taking political satire (e.g. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah) out of the realm of satire and into the realm we all live in. Reality.
Maher’s penchant for humorous, but blunt and honest commentary on the political issues and political figures of the day were skillfully honed from the standup comedy circuit, to his defunct ABC late night show Politically Incorrect, to his current HBO platform, Real Time with Bill Maher.
Maher is more of a political agnostic who leans liberal, much like I am a political agnostic who lean libertarian. I like Maher because I identify with his political pragmatism, such as he displayed in this clip from his appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience:
In that clip, Maher perfectly diagnoses the fallacy of free healthcare as espoused by Senator Bernie Sanders and his progressive followers. He correctly points out that programs like “Medicare for All” are unrealistic and that people should take responsibility for their own health to prevent contracting chronic and expensive health conditions like type 2 diabetes and most forms of heart disease.
In his most recent (as of this writing) segment of his show called New Rules, Maher perfectly encapsulates the current zeitgeist caused by the COVID-19 pandemic response and the economic upheaval it caused by correctly pointing out that “we are NOT in this together”.
To summarize Maher’s monologue with my own interpretation of it added to it, Maher appears to say something that comports with an empirical observation that I often share with friends and fellow patrons at my neighborhood bar and grill…
That the people who suffer during economic “hard times” are almost always the same groups.
Single people (women in particular, especially if they have children) and/or those who work in the service industry (restaurants, bars, hotels, travel, etc.).
As Maher points out, no one aspires to be a DoorDash or GrubHub delivery person or an Uber driver. Performing one of these functions as a “side hustle” or “extra gig” out of financial necessity vs. doing so to make extra money for a specific goal (vacation, rainy day fund, down payment on a house, etc.), relegates the term to a sad euphemism vs. being something to be proud of.
As Maher eloquently points out, the phrase “we are all in this together” (and I’m guilty of using this phrase, which I will not use again), is the new “thank you for your service”. Many of the people who readily use such platitudes are not usually the same people bearing the burdens.
I don’t necessarily agree with Maher’s characterization here, but I do recognize the salient point it makes, even if it does not and should not apply to most people. I think most people convey these platitudes from a place of sincerity rather than condescension. However, Maher is right in that the person delivering the food or driving the Uber in this economy and during this pandemic are not necessarily in the same relatively comfortable position as the person who ordered the food or called for the ride. Again, the same people tend to feel the pain more than others when certain economic conditions are prevalent.
Is this a matter of personal choices in life?
However, while I may not be in total agreement with Maher here, I appreciate that he said what he said. Brutal honesty, in my humble opinion, is preferable to comfortable platitudes, even if the platitudes are sincere.
I appreciate Maher because he often takes the politicians and political pundits on both sides of the aisle to task. We need more of that.
Shoutout to Joe Rogan, too…
-The Rational Ram