Ben Stein's Diary

Far Away From the Panic

No bloody rioters in Sandpoint, or billionaire traders.

By 8.10.11

Send to Kindle

Tuesday
"Free breathing restored!" as my pal, Phil DeMuth, says. The markets have rallied, staving off fears of impoverishment for a while now. I slept very late, got up, made breakfast for my ailing wife, and then rode my bike all around City Beach here in Sandpoint, Idaho.

I love this town so much I can hardly even start to tell you. It's everything I always dreamed of in a small town: perfect, sweeping lake vistas, immense mountains ringing the lake, a charming downtown, friendly, cheerful young and old people, amazingly fine restaurants.

I am particularly amazed at how many truly beautiful women and girls there are in this town. They just seem to manufacture stunning women here. I suspect it's because they do not have the look of fear, aggression, and tension so many women in my beloved L.A. or my hometown of Washington, D.C. have. They look calm and unafraid.

The women and girls at the Safeway at The Watergate look as if they would just as soon kill you as look at you. They are riding on immense tsunamis of rage and paranoia. (I am not referring to the women from the Watergate complex itself nor to the fabulously kind employees of the Safeway. I am referring to young college age women from nearby schools who look as if they expecting a catastrophe to befall them at any instant.) The women in my neighborhood in Beverly Hills simply never smile. Not ever. NEVER.

But here, the women and girls smile, say, "Hi, Ben," even if they do not know me, and the women who work at the Safeway or Starbucks are genuinely delightful. There is just no fear here. I wonder why.

A mere trip to a restaurant is a gift from on high because of the smiles and laughter of the managers and workers.

Today, a young girl flagged me down as I was riding my bike in the park. "Hey, Ben," she said. "How are you?"

I am sure I did not know her, but I had a pleasant conversation with her. She told me she was 13 and went to The Waldorf School, whatever that is. I told her she should enjoy being young and beautiful, and went on my way.

I drove down along Route  200 to the even smaller town of Priest River to see an old friend. The drive is along the Pendoreille River and meadowlands. The river is wide and empty of boats. The sky was a light, cloudless blue. The hayfield meadows were green and yellow. Almost no cars were on the highway.

On the radio, men and women talked about riots in the U.K. Massive looting. Cities ablaze. Scary. I am extremely glad I am in North Idaho.

A boat trip on the mighty Cobalt to Ivano's Del Lago, a spectacularly great café on the Hope Peninsula across the top of the lake. My wife got off her sickbed to ride to the dinner on the evening waves. Our pals Tim and Penny Farmin came along to guide me and keep us company. I am not at all good boatparking this maniacally powerful craft and Tim's help is always useful. Boats don't have any brakes and it takes them a while to slow down and park. I am getting better at it, little by little.

The view of the setting sun behind the boat along the wake was stupendous, especially with the flag flapping wildly in the wind. This really is the way life is to be led. This is the way I like to live my life.  Others may differ.

We had a great dinner, then came home in partial darkness. I don't know why, but riding in the gloaming in an open boat is simply intoxicating. How good the Lord has been to my little family. I have to beg Him to restore my wife to health.

*****

A LITTLE POSTSCRIPT. I notice that the papers and the Internet talk about the big losses on the stock markets yesterday as being based on "...waves of investor panic..." Nonsense. The selling is done by billionaire traders and immense hedge funds and high frequency traders who seek to make money by selling, then tricking others into selling even more, then covering their shorts  at lower prices. This is not Ma and Pa Kettle calling their broker and selling their 1000 shares of AT&T. It is  cynical, calculated maneuvering by cold, clever people. It isn't illegal, but you buy into it at your peril. These people are not the ordinary investors' friend. They will use any and every excuse and rationale to "explain" their behavior, but it's all about trying to outwit the next guy.

To quote Patton in the movie Patton, it's "… not about dying for your country. It is about making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country." That's the attitude of the traders. They're not bad people. They're just trying to get rich quick, but that's not illegal.  But don't believe this nonsense about Wall Streeters' "panic." They're the bosses and they're not panicked at all. They're making money while YOU are panicked.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
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.