Work and Life: Be Ready for Both - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Work and Life: Be Ready for Both

This is a letter I composed to the recent high school graduate son of a very close relative.

My dear boy,

I am about to tell you some advice that could save your life.

In this world, the best thing you can have is health. The second-best thing is a wonderful spouse. These two are largely out of your control.

The next best is capital. You want to be a capitalist. You want to put a roof over your head and feed your family by the adroit manipulation of capital. You do not want to be a roofer or a house painter or a cotton chopper. You want to make money with your labor and your capital.

The easiest, surest way to capital is through education. You want to learn accountancy or plumbing or even better, law or medicine, by acquiring education. Education is capital.

In America, this is largely free through the public-school system which will, for a nominal cost, teach you these skills. With them, you get a vastly higher wage and do more interesting work than if you were unskilled labor.

You can even learn rudimentary business skills and start a window washing business (for example) and become a capitalist making money off the poorly paid labor of others too lazy and shiftless to learn any skills at all. As a capitalist, you have more money, a higher standard of living, and the respect of your fellows. And the capital can all be in your head.

CAPITAL. That’s what life is all about. It can also be spiritual capital, knowing how to worship God.

But you must acquire capital. That is as basic as anything can be.

Ben Stein
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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.
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