Sunday, January 6, 2008

Ben Stein's Commentaries

I've long been a fan of Ben Stein whether it is his deadpan delivery in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" or his display of intellectual prowess on "Win Ben Stein's Money." He has degrees in economics and law and was a speechwriter and lawyer for Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. These days you can catch him some Sunday mornings doing commentaries for CBS Sunday Morning, which may be my favorite TV show.

I always look forward to his commentaries. Probably because I find that I agree with him on most things. He has this uncanny ability to put what I'm thinking into words. Of course, he does it much more eloquently than I could whether it is a thank you to veterans, the Christmas season, or the arrest of Senator Larry Craig. (Seriously, don't the police have better things to do than hang out in men's rooms looking for ambiguous "signs" of homosexuality? And shame on the Republican legislators for their gutless response.)

This morning (Sunday, January 6, 2008) he put into words a common thought of mine. That is, that presidential candidates and politicians in general have a very inflated opinion of their own importance and ability to affect people's lives. Like I said, Mr. Stein was much more eloquent and less blunt than I just was. Most positive things in most people's lives (in fact, most things in most people's lives) occur in spite of the best efforts of politicians and not because of them. In Stein's view, the only people whose lives are really affected by politician's promises are the poorest Americans who actually depend on government programs. The only thing that really affects all of us is the ability of politicians to declare war. I agree. I've often felt that the U.S. President gets both too much credit and too much blame for the state of the economy. In fact, I believe that the U.S. economy is so huge that most effects of political meddling, good or bad, aren't seen until many years after the President who implemented them is out of office.

As for our day to day lives, it is our daily decisions and actions that determine the quality of our lives and not the politicians. I think they have more power to screw up our lives than they do to improve them. That's why I'd like to see even fewer laws, and a drastically smaller Federal government. If this is ever going to be a reality, people need to stop voting based on promises or the ability of the local politician to "bring home the bacon."

The transcripts of Stein's commentaries are posted on his website and videos of them can be found on the website for CBS News Sunday Morning. Unfortunately, Mr. Stein appears to be three months behind on his transcripts and the video is not yet posted. When the transcript or video for this morning's commentary is posted, I urge you to check it out.

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