Ben Stein's Diary

Dearly Beloved

Here's what's been happening this side of the cliff.

By 12.31.12

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It is Friday night, very late, here in Beverly Hills. I think I’ll just keep you posted on what’s going on.

I was up late last night, as I am almost every night, watching a documentary about World War II and the incredible heroism of the American GI’s, sailors, Marines, pilots, Merchant Marine in aid of saving the world from the scourge of Nazi racism and murder and militarist, racist Japan. Everyone in America worked together to win the war -- blacks and whites, men and women, north and south, east and west -- all worked together. Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, old and young -- all toiled together.

Now, we cannot get any meaningful cooperation in Washington to get the deficit under control. I hope I am wrong, but what I see is this: There is a bad spirit of no compromise on both sides: the leftists do not want any cuts in entitlements; the GOP does not want to raise taxes at all.

I sympathize with both sides. Poor people do need help from the rich. That’s just common morality. It is also common sense that when men and women get dependent on government help, they stop working and become long-term dependent. That is what is happening right now all over America and it is desperately harmful. We want a fast-growing, powerful America. But we won't get it with a large population that lives in idle dependency. So, I see where the wish to cut spending on entitlements comes from. 

However, a basic fact: The rich and the very rich can and must pay more taxes. They are not really rich if they cannot afford to pay more tax. I know many rich people who genuinely think they should not have to pay ANY tax. That’s a deeply unfortunate attitude. The tax system is largely about transferring wealth from the rich to the poor, and I have no problem with that as long as the money does not go to building a tyrannical, dictatorial government, or, again, an immense dependent, violent, drug-addicted, passive class.

Plus, the sad fact is that we will go broke if we do not raise taxes and rein in spending drastically. We are racing towards national calamity as the result of a fundamental, immense bias towards spending money we simply print. This way lies disaster.

I keep thinking that a good spirit, an attitude of gratitude for America, would save a lot of problems. But instead we get hatred and no compromise. Well, there is always prayer. I do laugh a lot, though, when I recall Mr. Obama saying in 2008 that he would end “partisan bickering.” Nice try. Actually, now that I think of it, I don't recall his trying at all. Did I miss that?

I had Fox in the morning and then came home, had a nap, and then took a lovely family from Canada who are visiting me out to Malibu. They were awed by the sunset, as well they should have been. Blue and gray and red and yellow and orange exploded across the seascape. It was a miracle. The sunset through the palms and cedars next to our house was breathtaking.

We had stopped at a Pavilions Grocery to buy some roasted chicken. A simply beautiful fairly young (maybe 40) young woman smiled at me. I talked to her for a few minutes.

She told me she was named Ferrari, like the car. She is from Malibu but she’s been traveling the world for the past few years with her husband, who is a guitarist for an Irish rock band. She is, she said, a writer, but she didn’t really write. She worked with crystal and she had just gotten in a huge shipment.

“Really?” I asked her. “Do you make jewelry out of it?”

“I like to work with metaphysical minerals,” she said. “I love to tap their spiritual powers to make beauty.”

Okay. Well, as we used to say, “Keep coming back. It works if you work it.”

At our home in Malibu, I took a long nap with my Julie Goodgirl. Then we had our roasted chicken, stuffing, peas, and cupcakes. It took no time at all to make and was delicious. Pre-made food is getting better day by day. The Pavilions Cornbread Stuffing is heavenly.

Then my guests and I did the dishes. I don’t have an electric dishwasher in Malibu so I do the dishes by hand. It takes no time at all and I LOVE doing it. It reminds me of my Pop working his way through Williams washing dishes. In a frat that did not take Jews. He didn’t mind at all. He was just happy to have a job. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s important.

The Vissers, my super-fabulous guests, not only helped me wash the dishes, but dried them, and then Nancy Visser, the super-beautiful mom, swept up the whole house with a broom. Then Mike and his daughters put every single loose CD into its jewel box. I hadn’t even suggested it or mentioned it.

These people are amazing. I have never met anyone like them. They are Dutch. The Dutch are an astonishing people: smart, great-looking, hard-working, good-natured. Small wonder the British had so much trouble with them in the Transvaal.

Then, a long drive back under the full moon. I talked to the Visser kids about what life was like when I grew up in segregated Maryland. No blacks in our schools. No Jews going to St. Albans. No Jews in Spring Valley. No Jews at the Chevy Chase Club. I wonder if that has changed.… Does the Chevy Chase Club have Jews? I wonder. Probably not many.

The Vissers were just gobsmacked about life in white America during my childhood. They couldn’t believe it had happened.

“I can’t believe it changed,” I said. “We grew up thinking we Jews would always be second-class citizens, always looking up at the White Gentiles. We grew up thinking the blacks, whom we called ‘colored,’ would always be treated terribly.

"I used to think that if I awakened one morning and were ‘colored’ I might as well be dead. That was how badly blacks were kept down. Now, it is a bright day for hard-working, well-disciplined, bright blacks. The world is their oyster. So, some great things have happened in my lifetime. They get wildly preferred treatment in schools, jobs, anywhere they look. Big change."

Of course, the whole social fabric of the country has fallen apart, too. No, that’s not right. Just a large part of the social fabric has fallen apart. I wonder what part integration had in that, if any. I keep thinking there is some connection, but it’s hard to see what integrating a school district in Neshoba County, Mississippi, has to do with a 25-year old in Beverly Hills who spends all day in a Barcalounger watching sports instead of working. Did the white upper-middle-class child learn from the welfare dependent blacks? No, that's not it. There have been ne'er-do-well well-to-do kids forever. There is just a breakdown of discipline everywhere. That's how I see it, anyway. I certainly see it in myself.

Where did it come from? The natural decline of great societies? The fraud of deficit spending? Anyway, more on this at another time. It is too big to go into all at once.

I also told the Vissers about how we avoided nuclear war during the Cold War, and that was a miracle. The only world leader who ever actually wanted a nuclear war was Castro -- and he never had the Bomb. What a wacky guy he was. He actually tried to goad Khrushchev into bombing the USA from Cuba even if it brought nuclear disaster to Cuba. What a psycho. I read that he’s calmed down now. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I can throw him.

Speaking of worries...Ahmadinejad wants nuclear war and he will have a bomb and he hates Jews as much as Hitler did. Well, maybe not that much, but a lot. Terrifying that Mr. Obama does so little about it. None so blind as those who will not see. 

I am now about to go to sleep. I am ruminating about what a friend told me about how prisoners in American prisons ask for Bibles and Bible study and they get it and it helps them. I believe the late Chuck Colson told me that some time ago. He was a good friend.

But kids in public schools cannot come near the Bible in school, also a taxpayer-funded entity. What dopes the Supreme Court were to take God out of schools. Why did they have to do that? What was the point? RN never liked Earl Warren. Great insight on RN's part.

What a dismal history the Court has on so many vital issues. Still, God save this honorable court! as they say in court.

I am going down to Rancho Mirage tomorrow and I will write more from there. The moon is amazingly bright tonight.

Lunch with an amazingly smart man I often work with. His wife, a Puerto Rican woman, recently had a heart transplant of the heart of a 20-year-old Jewish woman who died in a car crash. "Isn't it something," the brilliant colleague asked. "The races fight and argue, but that Jewish woman's heart works perfectly fine in my wife's Puerto Rican body and keeps her alive. Why don't we pay more attention to that ? We really are all the same if we allow ourselves to be."

The man also told me an astonishing statistic: 47 percent of Detroit's adult population are illiterate. Obviously, they are mostly black, since Detroit is almost all black. This is a horrifying crisis.

Why isn't something being done about this? Or is it just too late?

On the way down to Rancho Mirage with the Vissers I received a series of angry e-mails from a woman whose son's life I had saved. It's really true:

No good deed goes unpunished.

We stopped at the Bob's Big Boy in Calimesa for some fabulous sandwiches. A group of eight of us had a fine dinner for about $100. At the Beverly Hills Hotel near my home, one glass of

orange juice is $16.

The moon out here tonight is breathtaking through the palms. Some day I will go off my own cardiac cliff and I won't see the moon any longer. For now, I am happy that I have my big wifey with me.

The best thing in life is to have a good woman to love me, and I do.

So, until I go off that cardiac cliff, I have the best that life can throw at me: the love of my wife, the love of my life.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.