Ben Stein's Diary

The Bueller Next to Me

Why the GOP is losing the tax argument.

By 12.5.12

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Tuesday
Here I am in Scottsdale, again. I had a strange flight over on Southwest. A man named Bueller sat next to me. He could not stop talking to me, even when I was clearly sleeping. He was a pleasant fellow, good looking, intelligent, but why talk to someone who is sleeping? He was wildly jacked up over the fact that he was sitting next to a character from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and his name is Bueller. Plus, he had some idea about texting.

Plus, and this really upset me, he said he was shocked that I did not have my own jet. For the millionth time, I AM NOT RICH!!!! I am a hard-working guy but I am not rich. I wish I were but I am not. Plus, I am not a particularly good person. I never claimed to be, and I am a devil around flirty, pretty women. So, just get it straight. NOT RICH. NOT A SAINT.

However, I do not wake up the passengers flying next to me if they are sleeping. At least not intentionally.

I went to a hotel in Scottsdale. It was a depressing, grim place. Plus, it did not have working Internet. I was tired. I was disgusted. I was extremely down about my pal B. Not in a mood to put up with that nonsense. So, I checked out and went to the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, which was HEAVEN.

Lit with spectacular Christmas lights, an immense tree, happy kids ice skating, just a riot of holiday cheer. My mood improved immensely. As Bob Bartley often said, we humans are highly influenced by our surroundings. It was funny when he said it because our offices at 22 Cortlandt Street could not have been more barren, uninspiring, and just plain dismal. Bob knew it was funny.

So, I watched the kids ice skating, and felt happy. A plump woman told me her son used to trick or treat at my house in Beverly Hills and she remembered how I had the huge lawn taped off from the kids. Of course, I don't have a huge lawn and I have never had it taped off. Well, as my father used to say, if a man comes up to you on the street and tells you he is a fish, you don't need to demand to see his gills. I think that's a quote from Kafka, but it could be from someone else.

I sat at the beautiful outdoor bar and had a soda. I visited with two lovely women from a huge Minneapolis tech company who were visiting Scottsdale. They absolutely could not have been more pleasant. We talked about famous natives of the Upper Midwest, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Joe McCarthy. They were total delights. I like Midwesterners very much, almost as much as Southerners.

I wandered back to my room, which is cheery and airy. I felt happy until I started to think about my Grand Old Party.

How did we ever get into the position of fighting like madmen to keep taxes low on billionaires? How can we possibly win if our position is to sacrifice the welfare of poor and lower middle class people to make sure we keep the taxes of very wealthy people low? Let's see: Obama is for keeping almost all entitlements and raising taxes on the rich (his definition of rich is insane but that's another story). Our GOP position is low taxes on the rich and cut entitlements and medical care for the poor. Hmmm, which is a winning position?

My old boss, Mr. Nixon, used to say, "Honesty may not be the best policy but it's worth trying once in a while."

So, Let's be honest: the ultra-rich do not need ultra-low taxes. The poor have a moral claim on the generosity of the nation if they are genuinely in need. Might we just try to align ourselves with the morally right position for fiscal policy?

Yes, government spends insanely too much. Yes, government is criminally wasteful. But the nation is racing towards bankruptcy. Do we right the course by taking from the very rich -- while searching like Sherlock Holmes for waste to cut? Why not? I'd like to see the party win the next election and being the party of the billionaires does not help us.

Oh, well. Time to sleep. 

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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.