Riots in America?

Ben Stein predicts record unemployment will result in Greece like violence in the streets


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," May 16, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Unresolved Problem" segment tonight, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics about 36 percent of Americans who could be in the workforce are not. Some of them can't find jobs. Others have stopped looking.

But obviously these people need to live somehow. And many of them get by on government entitlements, so if those entitlements are cut back as they will have to be and they have been in places like Greece, some believe there's going to be violence here in the USA.

And one of those is Ben Stein who joins us now from Los Angeles. So that's what it is, right? You're -- you're looking into the future, prognosticating seeing that this massive amount of people is dependent on some government assistance to even eat. And if that's cut back they are going to get violent. Is that's what you're saying?

BEN STEIN, ECONOMIST: What I'm saying is that every single problem we see in Greece is coming our way. Huge deficits are going to be difficulty at some point, selling our bonds. There is going to have to be some austerity. People are not going to like it. And some people will riot.

We've already seen riots in our sister city of Oakland. We don't know exactly what those people are rioting about. But we do know they were rioting over alleged mistreatment by the government. Now, there is no reason that if austerity becomes a rule of life in America that that won't happen everywhere.

O'REILLY: Well, I don't -- you know, we don't like to do speculation here.

STEIN: Ok. Well, we won't do speculation. No, no we won't do speculation.

O'REILLY: No, no but I'm actually agreeing with you.

STEIN: Oh ok.

O'REILLY: Ok, I don't like to do hypotheticals and I don't like to do speculation. But a few weeks ago we reported that about half of the American population now is on some kind, is receiving some kind of assistance. Now, some of that has been earned, Social Security.


STEIN: Yes. Medicare.

O'REILLY: That's been earned.

STEIN: Right.

O'REILLY: So that's -- those people have a right to get that government check. But if they reorganize and they won't for the people who are of a certain age that will never happen in America.

STEIN: Right.

O'REILLY: But if they -- if they say to the people under 40, for example, we're going to have to change Medicare how it goes, you might have to be a little older. The Social Security the same thing. I don't know if that's going to do it.

But if they start to cut back food stamps and they start to cut back other direct payments to people who aren't in the workforce, then I think you're right. Then I think there's going to be a lot of trouble. Because the occupiers and the far left cranks and kooks on certain cable networks we won't mention they're going to whip these crowds up, they're going to whip them up. You're getting hosed, O'Reilly is taking your money, Ben Stein is taking your money, you got to get to their houses --

STEIN: I saw that segment about you last night on MSNBC.

O'REILLY: Well, they do that every night. They've got nothing else to report about than our high ratings.


O'REILLY: But that's right. They'll whip them up into an indignation that somehow they are getting hosed. Because the media can do that in this country. They can really, really whip people up. Look at Trayvon Martin we just covered, look how they whipped people up there.

STEIN: Right but my -- my point is -- and I don't think we should be smug here in America. Mr. and Mrs. America sitting by our televisions and watching the riots in Greece or Spain or Italy and saying oh it can't happen here in glorious peaceful America. It absolutely can happen there.

There a lot of young people especially who don't have jobs. Who are very angry, have nothing better to do who would like to riot. Rioting is fun for them. And they can be provoked into doing it at a drop of the hat.

O'REILLY: All right, now what do you do because it's inevitable -- it is inevitable that if Mitt Romney wins the election in November I expect that there's going to be a huge cut in government spending. That this is going to come very, very quickly. Particularly if the Republicans control the Senate and the House. It's going to be totally reorganized. Romney is going to have to do it. Do you expect this to come very, very quickly?

STEIN: I don't expect Romney to win. I'd like him to win. I will vote for him. But I think Obama is a far more formidable campaigner. And contrary to your friend and mine Dick Morris who just appeared, Obama will swamp him in terms of money raising. But if Romney does win and I hope he does, of course there will be drastic cut backs in government spending.

And the people will be whipped up by a frenzy by people at MSNBC and elsewhere. At least that's my prediction. And there will be riot -- there will be rioting in the streets and they won't even need MSNBC. They will be whipped up into a frenzy by their local friends and family.

And they will go out and riot and we'll see things like we saw in Greece here in America. And then -- and then I don't know what we do. I am old enough to remember, you are too young to know when we had rioting during the 60's. It was a very uncomfortable situation.

O'REILLY: Well, it is. And once you start to have anarchy, then you have the Kent states and then you have the authorities have to come out and there is always mistakes made. My final question is, Barack Obama is a smart man. You would say that right? He is a smart man?

STEIN: No, I wouldn't say that.

O'REILLY: You wouldn't even say is he a smart man, huh?

STEIN: I would say he's a smart man. I don't -- I don't think he's a -- I mean, he's not in the same league of presidential genius as Nixon, for example. But he's -- but he's smarter than the average bear as they say.

O'REILLY: Ok that's all I'm saying. Don't you think he understands that if you build an entitlement society like they have in Western Europe, particularly in Greece and if you build that kind of society, where 36 percent of the workforce isn't working, that you are sitting on a powder keg. Do you think he understands it?

STEIN: I think he understands it, but I don't think he understands that there is going to be a problem after he leaves office. He is like the French King Louie the 15th. After deluge, he'll get the voters lined up with the entitlements and it will be the next guy's problem after him.

O'REILLY: All right, Ben Stein everybody, thank you.

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