February 17, 2009

Ben Stein: Nothing wrong with private jets and Las Vegas trips

Posted: 09:18 AM ET

by Ben Stein

In Biblical times, the Pharisees were a class of people who claimed superior religious and sacred status by virtue of their modest living and supposed lack of ostentation. Jesus railed against them as hypocrites because while they claimed to be humble, they really engaged in the worst possible sin: spiritual pride.

This subject comes to mind because of the New Phariseeism taking place in Washington under President Obama (and during the waning days of George W. Bush). Please understand that I like Obama and wish him success in his endeavors, especially in keeping this nation safe and prosperous. And I do not share the contempt that many in this country have for Congress.

But in the recent behavior of some of Obama's colleagues - especially those in the Treasury and Congress - we are seeing some extremely naive Pharisaical acts and attitudes that could cause real harm.

(Read More of Stein's commentary HERE)

Filed under: Ben Stein • Economy

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CARLOTA   February 17th, 2009 10:20 am ET

Larry, I am really upset with members of the republican party. Its as if they are trying to set President Obama up for failure. First they said the stimulus bill was too large; Now they are saying its not large enough. Republicans have had 8 years to get it right and failed. Now they need to either help the President or get out of his way. This is not the time for old tired gotcha republican politcal games. People are suffering and republicans do not care!!!!!

sean brizendine   February 17th, 2009 11:39 am ET

larry i agree with ben stein after reading his article on private planes and vegas trips because frankly congess is no better it shows we are all part of the same hypocrisy.
"sean in santa rosa"

albert from ca   February 17th, 2009 2:19 pm ET

Larry..feel badly for the Pres & Democrats..McCain & his collegues want hm to FAIL..this is so UnAmerican ! heard they are making a stimulus pkg of their own..disgusting,,Hooray for Sens Spector, Snowe & Collins !they will never lose their jobs..wait until next election..many Repubs will be gone from Senate/House....why did many Americans vote Repub 2 times for GWBush? we knew Gore/Kerry would have been much all of us have lost our retirement funds, etc....they knew this was coming for 8 yrs..what did they do? hide ! horrible Cheney, Bush, Rove, Rice, Rumsfeld...hope for the best & pray! will listen tonight to former Pres B Clinton...

rose   February 17th, 2009 3:09 pm ET

I wasnt bothered by Wells Fargo Las Vegas outings. Wells Fargo was financially sound before it took over the failed bank. The taxpayers are NOT in danger of losing the TARP money loaned to Wells Fargo. The interest will surely be paid on time and the principal repaid in a reasonable fashion.

Merril Lynch, on the other hand, had no business passing out money like halloween candy.

Vern   February 17th, 2009 5:42 pm ET

In a phrase in which Mr. Stein is familar with, he's "right on the money" regarding the comments from congressional members. Congress has indulged themselves in free trips, meetings and the like for years. Although the CEO's and corporate executives can show better tact in planning and executing large functions, parties, trips during times of "red markets" versus "black markets", they are a private business and therefore need to answer to their shareholders AND employees; that's been lacking recently!

John Hanley   February 17th, 2009 5:43 pm ET

I would enncourage all those of the privileged class to take all the trips they like so long as they reach into their pockets, take out their personal check book and pay for it themselves. We certainly need to support the working people of Las Vegas. But for those who are using company money or tax money to pay for these junkets, I say stay right where you are. Modern technology allows you to have video conferences around the world right in the comfort of your own office or boardroom. This way you can sleep in your own bed and eat your meals at your own table. If you are accepting tax money, you do not have the right to use it for these purposes.

atsegga   February 17th, 2009 6:07 pm ET

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Sara Emerson   February 17th, 2009 8:19 pm ET

Can Stein ever talk without mentioning religion? The man is not as smart as people want think he is. He is just another republican fundi who has no concept of reality.

Kelli from Tampa   February 17th, 2009 8:56 pm ET

There is a problem with folks who received bail out $ partying with our money in Vegas. They were doing illegal things with bail out money for God's sake. Illegal drugs and most hard working American's do not want to pay for Wall Street Execs prostitutes! What is Stein nuts or just a luxury addicted financial sociopath like the rest?

Kelli from Tampa   February 17th, 2009 9:11 pm ET

I just read Stein's full blog- and yes he is a luxury addicted financial sociopath like the rest.

maria   February 17th, 2009 11:03 pm ET

I'ts ridiculous for Ben Stein to say that the New Pariseeism is taking place in Washington under Pres. Obama. Pres. Obama is straight, and honest with everyone of us, and Pres. Obama is not a hippocrite at all. He is a really a strong ,wise , honest, God fearing man, and he is walking in his calling.

it's pride and greed that has kept Stein from seeing the truth, I listen to Mr. Stein on t.v., and I know he wanted to vote for Pres. Obama even though he couldn't get the courage to say it, and it's the $ he has that is controlling his decision's, and thoughts. A lot of Republican's know Pres. Obama is right in what he has done, and it's the greed of the $ that is keeping them all from switching parties.

It shows that Pres. Obama is a real strong and wise man ,and a good role model for all men and women to follow after, and Ben should learn by watching him. Pres. Obama is a very mature young man.

Yes, Pres. Obama had to regulate the system, and just because it started with him doesn't mean Pres. Obama is a pharisee. Ben is just using religion as a scape goat for his own $ advantage, and
he is one person that would stay with his party because it really affects him. I wonder if Ben likes to share his $ with the poor, and down and out. He needs to go to a local shelter and give to people that don't have, and share his wealth or could it be his pride that he wouldn't consider it ?

tom marshall   March 2nd, 2009 9:26 pm ET

Please tell me I am wrong!! “Regular banking institutions” are required to keep roughly one dollar for every ten dollars they lend out. “Investment bank corporations” (i.e. Merril Lynch, Goldman Sax) kept roughly one dollar for every thirty to forty dollars they lent out. If they have a default rate of fifty percent, that would mean fifteen to twenty dollars lent out for every dollar held in reserve by those “investment bank corporations are valued at zero. For arguments sake, if the total held by financial institutions were 1 trillion dollars, that would mean fifteen to twenty trillion dollars if defaulted assets. How and who make that up, so they do not go into bankruptcy? I would think the real looming economic disaster. P.S. What about the credit default swaps that go with the fifteen or twenty trillion?

Gail   March 2nd, 2009 9:31 pm ET

I have an idea! Let those that received bailouts know that irresponsible spending (trips, luxury bonus's, etc) needs to end. Check out their accounting methods and you will find the flaws in how they are spending "our" money in the bail out.

Matthew   March 3rd, 2009 1:01 am ET

Ben is completely right on this one. I don't understand why the government can't require AIG, Citi and B of A to not pay for the naked Credit Default Swaps as a condition for helping them plus mark to market may have to be relaxed in the case of the assets these companies intend to hold on a long term basis.

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