Ben Stein’s Diary

Ben Stein's Diary

What Happened?

By 7.7.14

Saturday, July 5, 2014
Still here in Sandpoint, Idaho, and it is too darned hot. It’s often hot in the middle of continents in summer and this is no exception. The real problem is the humidity though. We left D.C. to escape the humidity. It was unbearable, like being in a steam room with your suit and tie on. We do not have much humidity in L.A., but we sure have plenty of it here in North Idaho this summer.

However, it’s all fine. There are hundreds of friendly people out on City Beach, many wanting to say hello and pose for pictures with this old fellow. There is incredibly tasty kettle corn. And there is Lake Pendoreille, limitless cool blue expanse of water, blue sky, clouds, and mountain forests. My brilliant, world-traveling sister, called me to report on her just concluded trip to Tanzania. She generously noted that while it was beautiful, it was no more beautiful than North Idaho, and then added, “No place is.”

Ben Stein's Diary

They’re Planting Stories in the Press

By 7.5.14

July 4, 2014

Someone’s got it in for me.
They’re planting stories in the press.
Whoever it is, I wish they’d cut it out quick.
But when they will, I can only guess.
They say I shot a man named Gray,
And took his wife to Italy.
She inherited a million bucks,

And when she died,
It came to me.
I can’t help it if I’m lucky.
People see me all the time and they just can’t remember how to act.
Their minds are filled with big ideas, images, and distorted facts…
Idiot wind blowing every time you move your mouth
Blowing down the back roads heading south.
Idiot wind blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot babe
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.…

The ultimate genius, Bob Dylan, of course.

Ben Stein's Diary

Drinking It All In

By 6.26.14

I am in Malibu. This is my first day off in a long, long time. It has been an extremely busy spring for me. This has included speaking and visiting my son and his family, including beautiful Kitten (daughter-in-law) and Coco, granddaughter. It has taken me to all corners of the nation. I have been in some of the worst hotels I could ever have imagined, and some of the best.

Oddly enough, the worst hotels, by far, were in cities where the people in the audiences were the friendliest. In a few cities, like Orlando, Houston, and, above all, Charlotte, I had great hotel rooms and lovely, jocular audiences.

Just very recently, I had the best audience I have ever had in my life in Charlotte, and a super room at the Ritz Carlton. That Charlotte audience, of well-to-do businessmen, medical people, businesswomen, lawyers, were so alert and hip I was inwardly crying with happiness. They got all of my jokes, got all the historical allusions. I just totally loved my time with them and I was floating when I was done.

Ben Stein's Diary

Making Friends and Enemies

By From the June 2014 issue


Almost every day I run into some kindly soul who asks me if I am still doing Win Ben Stein’s Money. The answer is no. I haven’t been doing it for about fourteen years. The kindly inquiring soul then usually asks what I am doing if I am not doing a TV show.

I say that I write for two magazines regularly, appear every week on Fox News and once every several weeks on CBS Sunday Morning, and write speeches and travel an astonishing amount to deliver them. Usually, I am extremely exhausted after I give a few speeches on the road so then I have to rest for a good long while. I lie in bed with Julie, and I am happy.

Ben Stein's Diary

My Father Was My Foundation

By 6.13.14

Father’s Day is upon us, and so, naturally, I am thinking of my father. I am thinking of him in particular about the subject of employment. Very recently, a friend lost his job through no fault of his own. He is terrified of what his parents may say to him when he tells them. I keep telling him that losing a job with no fault is not a moral issue, but it does no good.

In the meantime, I am thinking about how it is now Summer. And I got almost every summer job I ever had — in my youth teenage and college age children worked in the summer instead of going on safari as they do now — through my father’s connections. My mother helped a lot, too.

Ben Stein's Diary

The Real Economic Problem

By 6.10.14

I see that the high muckety-mucks of monetary and fiscal policy are in an uproar about Federal Reserve policy. Is there too much money being shoveled into the economy? Is there too little? If the Fed decides to reverse course and tighten money, what is the best means to do it? Interest rate rises? Reverse repurchase agreements with banks? (I won’t bore you with what those are. I’m not sure myself anyway.)

But as to me, I don’t see a lot of inflation except in luxury goods and groceries, and who needs groceries, so let’s not worry about that.

And I am not wildly concerned about unemployment. As far as I can tell, almost anyone with minimal skills and a willingness to pick up and move to North Dakota or Midland, Texas, can get a job. The real problem is an acute shortage of skilled, energetic workers except in very rare cases.

Ben Stein's Diary

Women With the Headdresses On

By 6.9.14

Now, this is amazing. Here I am in a nightclub called The Bank. It is at Bellagio, a fab hotel on The Strip. I am here to speak to a successful group of life and disability and annuity insurance people. They have rented out this space for a fine meal of chicken and beef, and I am getting pictures with all of them.

I am also being brought Diet Cokes by a server who is as beautiful as any human being on this earth except for my wife. Her name is Candace and she is simply breath taking. She was a sociology major in college, but she found out that through the workings of the market, she, with her unique beauty, could do better serving drinks at “bottle clubs” in Vegas. Well, that’s the workings of the free society. There are a lot of sociologists, not much money to be made in the field, and people won’t pay much to hear about sociology, I guess.

On the other hand, we pitiful men will pay to be hovered over by a staggeringly beautiful young woman bringing drinks. So, that’s the market, once again.

Ben Stein's Diary

The Issue Is the Taliban Five

By 6.7.14

Exhibit A in the case for why I don’t ever want to be President: The fiendishly difficult case of Bowe Bergdahl.

Was he a deserter? Did he go over to the Taliban and in so doing cost the lives of six or more men who were seeking to rescue him from what they thought was a kidnaping? Had he turned out to hate America and have a rooting interest in the terrorists, as he apparently said in an e-mail? Did he actually get along well with his supposed captors, playing soccer with them and even carrying a weapon around them as has been reported ?

And what about his parents, openly cheering on the Taliban and condemning America and speaking Arabic and praising Allah — as President Obama embraced them in the Rose Garden?

Or was he a brave soldier captured while evacuating his bowels, as the Taliban say, who suffered terribly in his captivity, and was President Obama using his powers as Commander in Chief to rescue a devoted American soldier under the rubric of “leave none behind”?

Ben Stein's Diary

Crashing Into My Wall

By 6.2.14

A leisurely swim in my wonderful pool in Beverly Hills after a leisurely afternoon sleeping with my dogs. I showered, got dressed, and looked for my wife to tell her I was going out for a few minutes. When I finally found her, in her office, she was talking to a middle-aged man and woman I had never seen before. I asked her what was going on.

“These nice people crashed their car into our wall and they kindly knocked on our door to give us their information,” said my wife. “Don’t yell at them.”

It turned out that the man, who was apparently driving, had turned his car 90 degrees straight off Carmelita to go up over the curb, go across about a five or six foot grassy strip, cross the sidewalk, and then crash into our wall — a structure of plaster buttressed by cinder blocks with steel bars going through them. They had hit it so hard that they had made a hole — two holes — big enough for a small child to crawl through — right into our pool. I had been swimming in that pool maybe five minutes before they hit the wall.

Ben Stein's Diary

The Heart of the Matter

By From the May 2014 issue


I have always loved West Texas. I came here for the first time about ten years ago for a speech. The benefactors of the event had a reception for me at the Midland Country Club (or maybe it was the Petroleum Club in Midland). I was moseying around the pool and munching chips when a beautiful, middle-aged, blue-eyed woman with an immense diamond ring called out to me.

“Your father-in-law was the handsomest man I ever saw in my life. I went to high school with him in Prescott, Arkansas, before World War II and I had the maddest crush on him,” she said in a beautiful Southern accent.