Ben Stein on life, debt and American culture

Filed in Uncategorized by on February 29, 2008 0 Comments

Remember Ben Stein, the boring teacher in the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”? Or, maybe you remember him from his seven-year stint as the host of the Emmy award-winning game show, “Win Ben Stein’s Money.”

Stein’s experience extends far beyond Hollywood. He’s a former speech writer for Presidents Ford and Nixon and did legal work for Nixon during the Watergate years. He writes frequently for a number of publications including the Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and he’s authored more than a dozen books.

He gave a speech recently at the Commonwealth Club of California titled “How Not to Ruin Your Life,” and you can hear it on Word for Word. The self-proclaimed Eisenhower Republican talked about what he sees are the major problems facing the world today, from burdening future generations with debt to the vacuous nature of popular media. He also expressed concern that Americans care more about getting rich than each other.  During his speech, he said:

“People say to me all the time … this is a big country where money is a God and this is how things are. It can’t be improved this is just the way it is, and I say it’s got to be improved because we’re not a nation of shared ethnicity or blood. We’re of many different blood lines. What holds us together is not being Greeks or Jews or Germans or Irish or Italians or African-Americans or Hispanics or Asians. It’s ethical principles. It’s teaching community, hard work, study, respect for elders. If we don’t have those things society can not hold it together.”

Is Ben Stein right? Have Americans lost their sense of brotherhood and sisterhood? Do people care more about making money than giving back to their communities? If you catch his comments on Word for Word, what do you think about his ideas about the education crisis and popular media? Is Stein onto something or do you think he has an outdated view of society?

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Larissa Anderson

Producer, Word for Word

MPR | APM

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