Ben Stein’s Diary

Ben Stein's Diary

Feeling the Heat

By 5.15.14

Tuesday
We are having a super heat wave here in L.A. That’s rare. We have a mild climate and heat like this is a stunner. I did the only thing I could do, which was to lie in bed in my air-cooled Garage Mahal with Julie and JoJo while Alex did some charity work.

It was pretty close to perfect lying there with those hounds. I get more pleasure from my Julie and my JoJo than from virtually anything else in life. It is supernatural.

After a couple of hours of sleep, I got up and wrote about the trend toward “Thoughtcrime” in American law. That’s punishing people for their thoughts and private conversations, not for any action. That’s what’s being done to Donald Sterling and it’s terrifying. Pure Stalinist, National Socialist thought control.

My pal, Phil DeMuth, reminded me at lunch today that in Eurasia, under IngSoc, there were no laws. The Thought Police could punish anything. That’s where we are heading.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Big Data Medicine

By 5.13.14

Monday
Just back from an exhausting speaking tour. Just harrowingly tiring. But I did have an experience that I thought was so interesting in the world of economics that I want to share it with you.

On Thursday, in Philadelphia, I spoke to a company group organized by an entity called Global Healthcare Exchange. It was part of my work, but in prepping for it, I delved back into the land of Supply and Demand curves and how they are affected by the staggering power of the Internet and what we like to call Big Data — in this case, massive stockpiles of information about drugs, medical supplies, the costs of these things, the records of various suppliers, the records of providers and of patients.

What I learned might be called a subhead of Lord Kelvin’s aphorism that “There is no science without measurement.” In this case, we might say that “There is no chance for healthcare we can afford except measurement.”

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Ben Stein's Diary

Punished for His Thoughts

By 5.1.14

Thursday
So, here I am, still in Denver, a lovely city, but too high up.

Herewith, a few lowly thoughts about Mr. Donald Sterling, his private conversations with his mistress, the media lynching of him, and the actions of the NBA sanctioning him severely for those private thoughts and comments.

“It’s a slippery slope,” said billionaire sports club owner Mark Cuban when asked about the sanctions. I am not sure what he meant, but he’s right.

Sterling is being punished for his thoughts. He is being punished for actions that make the NBA look bad even though they were not actions at all, but thoughts.

As far as I have been able to determine, the NBA code of conduct allows sanctions for actions. I don’t see anything that allows sanctions for thoughts. So, where does the authority for that come from?

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Ben Stein's Diary

I Hate, Hate, Hate Racism

By 4.30.14

Tuesday
Up around noon in Greenville to prepare for my trip. Tommy, Kitty, and Coco joined my driver and friend, Bob Noah, at the Nosedive, where I had a simply fabulous cheeseburger and egg.

Then, off to Charlotte, fast asleep in the back of Bob’s fabulous Toyota Camry, as smooth riding a car as there is. I have driven a Bentley and I have driven the Camry and the Camry is ten times the car that the Bentley is.

I bid farewell to Bob and went to the US Air counter. Shock! They had me in a bulkhead seat, which I hate, and which I had not reserved.

The men at the ticket counter were utterly unhelpful, but the man at Gate B6, Ron, asked a man to switch seats with me and the man kindly did. When I thanked him and insisted that he tell me his favorite charity so that I could donate to it, Ron cried with thanks.

Memo to US Air: this is how you make a lifetime customer.

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Ben Stein's Diary

Disasters and the Enemies of Freedom

By 4.22.14

Monday
So, as usual, I spent a large part of the day in my office reading and writing and then lying in bed thinking with my poor old brain.

Often I make lists of who were the most beautiful dogs I ever owned or the men and women of the highest character, but tonight, after reading about the foreign and domestic policy catastrophes of the last several decades, I tried a different approach:

I asked the search engine in my brain this question: What have been the greatest triumphs of mankind in the last century and what have been the worst calamities? Such were my grim searches in the recesses of my mind.

In America, surely by far the greatest triumph has been the liberation of the colored men and women of this country. An entire ethnic group that had dwelt in cruel oppression in a large part of the nation has been set free. A people in bondage within a free country, the African-American people, have been given every single right that white people have under law and then some.

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Ben Stein's Diary

A Nightmare Presidency

By From the April 2014 issue

Monday

This is a bad morning. I was greeted by a headline in the New York Times that said Defense Secretary “Chuck Mullet” Hagel was planning to submit a budget to Congress to cut the size of the military to a level not seen since 1940, before the U.S. entered World War II.

The article went on to say that the Pentagon realized that this would be an inadequate force for even very small wars and certainly would not allow the U.S. to police the world and keep control of contingencies like a North Korean attack on the South or a Chinese attack on Japan or an Iranian assault on Saudi Arabia or a Russian invasion of the Ukraine. 

The Defense Department officials further said that because U.S. forces would be stretched so thin, the U.S. could not win wars quickly and there would be more casualties in any future war.

So, in other words, the President (of course it’s not Hagel…he’s just a bobble head for Obama and his ultra-leftists) is deliberately disarming America to the point where he cannot guarantee his ability to defend the nation.

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Ben Stein's Diary

On the Road to Napa

By 4.9.14

Tuesday
Here I am in the Napa Valley at a hotel called the Carneros Inn.

Yesterday, I went to LAX to catch the plane to SFO. In the waiting area, I saw an astonishingly beautiful young redhead. The sun was shining through her auburn tresses and she looked like an angel. By one of those coincidences that rarely happens, she sat next to me in seat 6F.

She was even more lovely close up. She turned out to work for a super luxury brand called Burberry, heading a staff of personal shoppers who help well-to-do men and women buy things at Burberry. We had a great talk and I just could not believe how beautiful she was. A goddess. And down to earth and talkative. Just a dream.

She’s engaged to a successful businessman and I wish her well.

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Lois Wallace, RIP

By 4.7.14

Sunday
Dies irae.

I have been fighting a generally low feeling for some time now. I awake dizzy and depressed. I sleep long hours in the day in my office, on a bed with my dogs. We all lie there fast asleep and then I get up and check my e-mails, pay bills, and go back to bed. This morning, I felt particularly bad. I don’t want to pretend I can tell the future, but let’s just say I had a creepy feeling.

Sure enough, when I got up at about 1:15 to check my e-mails, there was disaster in black and white. My literary agent and dear friend, Lois Wallace, died on Friday night, said the e-mail from her colleague, Jeff. I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach while being electrocuted.

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Poverty and Income Inequality

By 4.4.14

Thursday
I spent almost all day lying in bed listening to old Big Band music. I have not been well, and this is perfect therapy. I just let my mind run free to go down freeways and alleyways and this is where I came out....

At the intersection of Income Inequality and Poverty.

Here is what my mind dredged up.

There is an immense amount of income inequality here and everywhere. I am not sure why that is a bad thing. Some people will just be better students, harder working, more clever, more ruthless than other people. Some people will have better family connections than others. Some people will have richer parents than others. Unless we want to do away with property rights — a surefire route to dictatorship — we will have a lot of men and women who are rich by inheritance. Frankly, I feel sorry for them.

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Saved By a Friend

By 4.2.14

Sunday
A few nights ago, a dear friend who happens to be an inmate at a prison in a Southwestern state saved my sanity. It was such a God-shot, such a blessing, a miracle, that I feel as if I should share it.

I had been on a long trip. On one of the many horrible airplane flights of the trip or in an endless TSA line at the world’s worst airport, Dulles, not Dallas, Dulles, or in some fetid hotel room, I had caught a vile ’flu. I was in a daze, irritable, wheezing, coughing, exhausted.

But here was the problem. I had an enormous — I mean eight inches high — stack of bills that I had to pay. I own a lot of things and employ a lot of people, and there are insurance bills and tax bills and HOA bills and boat loan bills and it never ends.

So, I was sitting in my office at home paying the bills, feeling ever sicker, noticing that my loving bride had forgotten to give me many bills that now would have a late fee, and I was feeling CRAZY. Beleaguered. Under siege. Crazy. Plus, I had ordered some chicken and it was an hour late.

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