Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄
It's my blog, so I'm free to feel smug and righteous as I like. Today, I'll target Ben Stein, mostly because a few days ago he said:
The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. I say “generally” because there are exceptions. But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work. They are people who create either little utility or negative utility on the job. Again, there are powerful exceptions and I know some, but when employers are looking to lay off, they lay off the least productive or the most negative. To assure that a worker is not one of them, he should learn how to work and how to get along -- not always easy.
Something was amiss though, and that's this: a little business editorial he wrote in 2009 for the NYT that said, among other things:
NOT long ago, a woman in California called me for advice. She is divorced, with two children, and has a series of interlocking financial problems.
She lives in a lovely home in a stylish inland enclave. It has an interest- only mortgage of about $2.2 million that requires a payment of $12,000 a month, very roughly. It was last appraised at $2.7 million, but who knows if it’s now worth anything remotely close to that price.
The woman, whom I’ve known since she was a teenager, has no job or other remunerative employment. She has a former husband, an entrepreneur whose business has suffered recently. He pays her $20,000 a month, of which roughly half is alimony and half child support. The alimony is scheduled to stop this summer.
She has a wealthy beau who pays her credit card bills and other incidentals, but she is thinking of telling him she is through with him. She has no savings and has refinanced her home repeatedly, always adding to indebtedness and then putting the money into a shop she owns that has never come close to earning a dime. Now she is up all night worrying about money. “Terrified,” as she put it. She wanted me to tell her what to do.
What could I say? I did the best I could, but I had to tell her that she was on very thin ice.
Ever since, I’ve been thinking of the troubles of this sweet woman, consumed with worry about money.
And all of this is compounded again because my handsome son, age 21, a student, has just married a lovely young woman, 20. You may have seen on television the pudgy, aging face of their sole means of support.
Yes kids, Ben Stein thinks unemployed people in the worst recession in US history since the Depression are, on the whole, lazy grumpy people who deserve no benefits (we just extended them, thankfully).
But last year, he knew a sweet woman who doesn't work, living off her ex- husband in a 2 million dollar home receiving $20,000 a month. She has a current "beau" who'd been paying her credit card debt and incidentals. And there's his son, recently married and with no other support but his father. These are sad tales of desperate Americans.
Of course, all this is a product of a recession caused by subprimes he said would "blow over and the people who buy now, in due time, will be glad they did."
Let's also not forget that he "starred" and "wrote" the Creationism documentary that failed by almost every observable metric.
Like Bill Kristol, this guy has a staggering habit of being wrong and unhelpful, on everything. The fact that he still gets paid for his opinion or presence is staggering.
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