The plural of anecdote

Ben Stein does some serious economic research:

2. The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. I say “generally” because there are exceptions. But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work. They are people who create either little utility or negative utility on the job. Again, there are powerful exceptions and I know some, but when employers are looking to lay off, they lay off the least productive or the most negative. To assure that a worker is not one of them, he should learn how to work and how to get along — not always easy.

In fairness, Stein has a a simple solution to this problem: worker re-education camps.

(This brings to mind an idea I have long had: that high schools and colleges should have a course on “how to get along” and “how to do a day’s work.” This would include showing up in clean clothes, smelling well, having had a good breakfast, dressed in a businesslike way, calling the other employees “sir” or “ma’am” and not talking back. This would include a teaching of the fact that the employee is not there for amusement, but to help the employer make money and to get a job done. It would include the idea that once you are at work, you are not at play. It is an idea whose time has come.)

This nut had a semi-regular column gig at the liberal New York Times for a while.

(via Felix Salmon)






183 replies
  1. 1
    Kryptik says:

    Lets take away their means of survival, that’ll be damn well sure to force them into a job, post haste! So what if the job won’t be enough to even keep a family of four in a small cramped apartment? They’ll be employed dammit, and the only reason they’re in that apartment is because they’re all so fucking lazy to begin with, why else would they have gotten fired!

    ….don’t you just LOVE the compassion that oozes from those railing against Welfare and Unemployment Benefits?

  2. 2
    mellowjohn says:

    The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are all too frequently people over 50 and with high salaries.
    fixed.

  3. 3
    Punchy says:

    as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed

    So pompous-ass Stein really mingles among the homeless and peeps in line at the unemployment office with a clipboard and an official survey? Methinks he sees Negros on his telly and attempts to connect the darkie spots accordingly.

  4. 4
    Glenn Beck's Chalkboard says:

    I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work.

    Pretty funny, coming from a guy whose main claim to fame is as an actor playing an oblivious teacher making Laffer Curve jokes in a classic high school slacker movie thirty years ago.

    Oh, wait — did Ben Stein figure that because he played an economics teacher, he actually understood economics?

  5. 5
    OldK says:

    “Smelling well?”
    How does my ability to perceive scents affect my employability at normal desk jobs? Maybe Stein should focus more on the fundamentals, like basic writing, and less on squishy liberal stuff like “adulthood skills”.
    I suppose there’s a good chance Stein had it right, but an editor screwed it up.

  6. 6
    El Cid says:

    Ben Stein is correct. Just because counts of payrolls compared to the available working population seems to indicate a ratio of 4 or 5 members of the latter to each example of the former, it doesn’t mean that lazy broke shits get off scot-free from creating their own jobs through telekinesis or wishing with lamps or spontaneous economic generation.

    C’mon, people, some day you libruls have to let people take responsibility for their own choice to lack supernatural abilities.

  7. 7
    pharniel says:

    i figured out ben stien was a pompus asshole after watching ‘win ben stien’s money’ where he was the sorest looser ever.

  8. 8
    4tehlulz says:

    @Punchy: He can’t be racist; he does commercials with Shaq!!

  9. 9
    mistermix says:

    This is funny:

    Next, because this recession hit employment so hard, but also hit home values so hard, many of my friends, who thought they were rolling in real estate equity, find themselves without work and also upside down on their homes, with lofty mortgages to pay, and no ability to sell their homes.

    So he’s saying his friends are assholes with bad work habits.

  10. 10
    Nick says:

    Again, there are powerful exceptions and I know some, but when employers are looking to lay off, they lay off the least productive or the most negative.

    Shorter Stein: “The unemployed are lazy, except the ones I know (they really are, but I can’t say it outside cause I need all the friends I can)”

    No shit, there were people who said the very same thing to me when I was unemployed and looking for work; “Oh, the unemployed just don’t want to work, they’re lazy…but not you Nick, you’re the exception”

    yeah ok

  11. 11
    D. Mason says:

    I will only speak to the second part, since you disagree I guess you haven’t experienced the kind of entry level employees hitting the workforce. It’s fucking pathetic how hard it is to get college-educated 20 somethings to stop texting and do their goddamn jobs to a minimal expectation.

  12. 12
    QuaintIrene says:

    Lets take away their means of survival, that’ll be damn well sure t

    Exactly. Cause we all know the best way to teach someone to swim is to row them out to the middle of a lake and throw ’em overboard. If they have to, they’ll just as heck find a way not to drown.

    I think this is another definition of the ‘modern conservatism.’ Always finding new ways to tell the poor/unemployed that it’s the their own f*cking fault.

    Why do I doubt that Ben Stein knows this legion of out-of-work folks?

  13. 13
    Elisabeth says:

    What a f*cking obnoxious ass.

  14. 14
    cmorenc says:

    @DougJ

    Stein has a a simple solution to this problem: worker re-education camps

    Someone should point out that we already have (and have long had) worker re-education camps in this country. Only they’re called “Community Colleges”, and they generally train people to be nurses, EMTs, auto mecanics, HVAC repair/installation techs, etc, or any other kind of technical skill that is supposedly in demand by employers instead of whatever the prospective student was doing before that wasn’t sufficient for their own needs and ambitions.

  15. 15
    JasonF says:

    @Glenn Beck’s Chalkboard: You picked out the exact same quote that struck me when I read the article. I got to that sentence and immediatley thought, “Well, Stein is certainly an expert on people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work.”

    To be fair to Stein, he has a Bachelor’s in economics and worked in the Nixon and Ford White Houses, albeit as a speechwriter. So he’s not completely alien to politics and economics, though you couldn’t tell it by reading his stuff.

  16. 16
    ChrisS says:

    Not bad for a guy that’s made a shit ton of money not actually doing work for 40 years.

    Work harder you fucking ingrates!

    2007: 2006 was our best year. However, because of previous debts and restructuring costs, there will be no bonuses or raises this year. The company’s future is strong.

    2008: There will be no bonuses or raises this year because the company is undergoing market shifts resulting in lost revenue.

    2009: We’re putting together a management philosophy, mission statement, new website to drive new revenue, and implementing some benefits restructuring. Unfortunately, because of necessary investments to remain competitive, there will be no bonuses or raises this year. And we have to trim the workforce through early retirement and not filling positions. You’ll have to increase productivity.

    2010: You, you, you and uh, you lot over there, the new folks, pack your shit.

    Mr. CEO, you saved the company 10% of net revenue through your difficult, but necessary, decisions. Here’s a 100,000 shares of preferred stock, a 22% salary increase, and a $5,000,000 retention bonus. Please don’t leave.

    2011: I’ve been offered a new position with another company.

    Obviously, it’s the fault of the guy making $10/hr making cold calls all day.

  17. 17
    Little Dreamer says:

    What? We’re supposed to call people in the workplace “sir” and “ma’am” now? Uh, no! I’ve NEVER seen this done, and what Ben Stein wants is to take away people’s individuality and turn them into robots who make little trouble for him and his moneyed pals.

  18. 18
    JITC says:

    Yes, the problem is lazy mean people. Of course! It couldn’t possibly be that for every job there are 5 job seekers. No that’s not it. It’s those lazy unpleasant people.

    I actually heard on the show To the Point yesterday (I believe it’s nationally syndicated) someone say the problem is all those people not willing to take low paying jobs. He postulated this ridiculous situation: Take a factory with 3 openings for a jobs that pay $50k. If only, he said, job applicants would walk in and say, “you know, I’d do this job for $20k” then the employer would say “ok! Now that I know people will do this job for $20k, then i can hire SIX people at $20k each.”

    That commentator was obviously smoking crack. This is a fantasy scenario. No one would ask for a lower salary. If pigs flew and it happened, the company would just hire 3 people at the lower salary and pocket the savings. This guy was serious.

    Here’s a link to the show: http://www.kcrw.com/news/progr.....t-of-work_

  19. 19
    TJ says:

    Ooo! Do the campsters get little red books, “The Thoughts of Chairman Welch” to carry around too?

  20. 20
    El Cid says:

    Krugman & Delong take on the latest fraudulent idiocy of preening, vastly over-rated fop Niall “Empire!” Ferguson, an expert on economic history who literally has either no idea what data he’s looking at or how to follow timelines or no idea what fractions mean, or maybe no understanding of any of those things. But he has that nice British accent and an imperious (see?) air.

    You know, when your expert on centuries of economic history can do no better than Amity Schlaes, maybe someone should hit the books again.

  21. 21
    Mako says:

    Short bald men make less money than the tall hirsute.
    What is needed, obviously, is a course to teach tall. And hair.

  22. 22
    DougJ says:

    @mistermix:

    Yes, and I’m assuming the ranks of the unemployed that he’s surveyed is some subset of his friends.

  23. 23
    Vince CA says:

    Actually, I am lazy and have a difficult personality and am under-employed right now. ZOMG! Ben, you’re right!

    What a turd. I’m so happy that I can count as a member of my friends someone who won Ben Stein’s money.

  24. 24
    eemom says:

    unspeakable.

    I just heard a caller on CSpan, a poor lady from Indiana who said she had worked hard and voted Republican all her life, trying to hold back tears as she explained to that idiot Van Susteren how her life has fallen apart since she’s been out of work. She lamented how “my Republican party” and “my Senator Lugar” have betrayed her and said she is “switching her vote” in November.

    Hopefully there are more like her out there who will finally wise the fuck up about who’s on their side.

  25. 25
    MattF says:

    I used to think Stein was just a run-of-the-mill asshole, but his role in making this movie changed my mind. The story of why he got fired from the NYT is also edifying, in an unpleasant way.

  26. 26
    QDC says:

    @El Cid:

    I think the argument is that there would be more job openings if the prospective hires smelled better.

  27. 27
    Tom says:

    smelling well

    We can’t have workers who lack basics in identifying common scents.

  28. 28
    scav says:

    “overbearing and unpleasant personalities” — sounds rather like every VP and CEO I ever encountered: practically a job description. And that lot seem to be getting bonuses. and I doubt they’ve ever sirred or ma’amed anybody in their lives.

  29. 29
    Tancrudo says:

    @OldK: It’s so you can detect the aroma of failure wafting down the hallway and blame it on someone else before anybody notices it was you.

  30. 30
    ChrisS says:

    Take a factory with 3 openings for a jobs that pay $50k

    One of the nice things is that as far as I’ve seen companies rarely if ever make their salary ranges known to potential job seekers. Some hide it (like in my profession) by describing the classification (Scientist III or Technician I) and desired number of years experience. Most people apply for a position and, if they desperately want/need the job, will take whatever salary is offered.

    Our office manager and regional VP is a trust-fund schmuck that spends 50% of his day bullshitting with his best buddy in the office (a guy that actually does a pile of work), 20% wandering the cubes and letting everyone know how smart he is, and 15% answering emails, and 5% planning fishing trips and vacations. Of course he makes three times as much money as the average employee, so it makes sense to Ben Stein, that the new kid making $35k with $50k in student loans, is wearing jeans to work every day is the problem employee.

    Isn’t this just another rant, “Oh you kids don’t know how good you have it these days … back in my day we used to have kiss the boss on the cheeks every morning and fetch his coffee for a quarter an hour …”

  31. 31
    Kristine says:

    I will only speak to the second part, since you disagree I guess you haven’t experienced the kind of entry level employees hitting the workforce. It’s fucking pathetic how hard it is to get college-educated 20 somethings to stop texting and do their goddamn jobs to a minimal expectation.

    *********
    OTOH, I work in Big Pharma, and the drive and focus of the 20-somethings I see still boggles me, and I have watched it up close and personal for years. They start interning in their teens, build up a work history, get hired by a company for which they interned, then start moving up the ladder. One guy who interned in my department years ago is now a DVP. Others have moved on to other companies, but what I’m trying to say is that they all seemed focused, driven, and sure of what they wanted. They’re pharmacists and engineers, for the most part. The business majors and sales folks, I’m not so familiar with.

  32. 32
    Downpuppy says:

    @OldK: I take him at his word : The stench of illness, not uncleanliness, is the problem. The lazy unemployed should hit the links, lose their chronic diseases, & the smell of wellness will lead to success.

  33. 33
    RedKitten says:

    Yeah, there are definitely some people out there who are practically unhireable (like the one I interviewed once who showed up a half-hour late, chewing gum and wearing sweatpants). But if Stein thinks that the entire unemployment problem will be solved with new suits and some interview skills, he’s delusional.

  34. 34
    DougJ says:

    @D. Mason:

    But why “sir” and “ma’am”, for example? Unless you’re working a low-level service job, I don’t think that usage is appropriate.

  35. 35
    Punchy says:

    It’s fucking pathetic how hard it is to get college-educated 20 somethings to stop texting and do their goddamn jobs to a minimal expectation.

    Says a guy posting comments on a non-work-related blog during standard work hours….

  36. 36
    El Cid says:

    @QDC: Keynesian economists have corrupted the free market in economic ideas by continually ignoring — not just ignoring, but pretending like no such thing ever existed — the scent-based nature of productivity.

    People these days don’t even realize that the crash of 1929 was entirely explicable by a terrible outbreak of gas passing among workers who had begun to eat their rotting meats and spoiled vegetables and drinking their questionable water without even carefully measuring their hourly digestive processes.

    No nation can survive such a retrocession in its olfactory production base.

  37. 37
    flukebucket says:

    @QDC:

    Definitely. A little soap and some deodorant would cut the unemployment rate in half.

    “you know, I’d do this job for $20k” then the employer would say “ok! Now that I know people will do this job for $20k, then i can hire SIX people at $20k each.”

    Quite possibly the dumbest fucking thing I have ever seen in writing.

  38. 38
    kc says:

    @mistermix:

    So he’s saying his friends are assholes with bad work habits

    Didn’t he, not so long ago, say much the same thing about his own son?

  39. 39
    BenA says:

    @eemom:
    What percentage of the unemployeed are registered voters? What percentage of registered voters are currently worried about being unemployeed? I’ve said it before.. it’s like the Republican party doesn’t even want to pick up some seats in Novemember.

  40. 40
    Erik Vanderhoff says:

    Now get off my lawn and pull up your goddamn pants, you fucking hippies!

  41. 41
    Elisabeth says:

    @eemom:

    I heard a caller on the Republican line yesterday (from GA, I believe) who labeled himself a Southern Christian Conservative who was seriously reconsidering his party affiliation because he felt his wealthy representatives were out of touch with folks like him. I doubt he’s headed to liberal territory but at least he’s doing some thinking.

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    What makes it even better is the column that Stein wrote last year whining about having to support his lazy, unmotivated son:

    I wish I could teach that work ethic to those close to me. I wish I could teach them that money is a scarce good, worth fighting for and protecting. But I very much fear that my son, more up-to-date than I am in almost every way, is more of a modern-day American than I am. To hustle and scuffle for a deal is something he cannot even imagine. To not be able to eat at any restaurant he feels like eating at is just not on his wavelength. Of course, that’s my fault. (I have learned that everything bad that happens anywhere is my fault.) And I hope to be able to leave him well enough provided for to ease his eventual transition into some form of self-sufficiency.

    So apparently the problem is that everyone who is unemployed was as badly raised and educated as Stein’s son.

  43. 43
    vtr says:

    breathtaking

  44. 44
    clone12 says:

    having had a good breakfast

    Let them eat cake, obviously.

  45. 45
    VOR says:

    Ben Stein was a featured speaker at my company’s user conference last year. I should mention up front that the crowd at the conference is probably 40-50% non-US, with attendees from around the world.

    Stein opened by telling the crowd how he woke up every morning and thanked god he was an American because we were the greatest country on earth. He told the audience Global Warming was a myth. He told a lengthy joke which revolved around the airplane being Brazilian. I kept thinking about the 30 people from Brazil I met the previous day.

    After it was mercifully over I ran into one of my Swedish colleagues who told me how mortified she was, how upset her customer was. I heard similar things from other attendees. I have no idea who Ben Stein thought he was talking to, but it certainly wasn’t the crowd who attended.

  46. 46
    demo woman says:

    @MattF: Thanks for the link.

    NYT spokeswoman Catherine Mathis confirmed this, telling Gawker that “Ben Stein’s fine work for us as a columnist for Sunday Business had to end, we told him, after we learned that he had become a commercial spokesman for FreeScore, a financial services company”

    Stein’s fine work led to an article bemoaning the fact that his friend had lost her house because she could not afford to keep it with only $200,000 in alimony.

  47. 47

    Again, there are powerful exceptions and I know some

    Can I take you to a restaurant/it’s got glass tables/you can watch yourself while you are eating…

  48. 48
    El Cid says:

    @flukebucket: That employer should really hold out to hire 120 people at $1,000 a year, unless someone comes along promising to work for $0 a year if they can sleep on the warehouse floor and eat out of the vending machines.

  49. 49
    El Cid says:

    @VOR: Why would your company deal with people who aren’t Real Americans?

  50. 50
    p.a. says:

    I’m Ben Stein and I am a SERIOUS PERSON. am so am so am so am so am so am so am so am so am so am so am so am so am so am so am so…

    Maybe we do need to elect Palin. This country may need to hit rock-bottom, like a skid-row alcoholic, to purge this shit from its system.

  51. 51

    @Little Dreamer: The whole thing reeks of his lordship demanding the serfs know their damn place. That attitude–the stark delineation of haves and have-nots–is a huge part of the appeal for Today’s Conservative Thinkers.

    You don’t want to be one of those smelly lazy disagreeably mouthy people who’s always talking about her “needs” or her “life” or something, do you? No, sir! You’re not here to bother your betters–sorry, your employers–with reminders you’re human or anything. Stifle all your interests and amusements and get back to work! We’re not paying you to use that brain for yourself, goddammit! Know Your Place!

  52. 52
    jayjaybear says:

    Is there anyone who worked in the Nixon White House (with the possible exception of John Dean (and Gerald Ford)) who didn’t turn out to be a huge asshole?

  53. 53

    @p.a.: Thank you for the flashback to 1999, Green Party. Blecch.

  54. 54
    D. Mason says:

    @Kristine:

    Well the areas I experienced this most heavily in were in tech fields (I know, geeks love cell phones but damn, do your job), sales and in Banking. The worst example I experienced was as I was trying to get a car loan through my bank. I had already been approved by the delearships preferred bank and was expecting a quick easy trip to get a lower interest rate. I sat across from the 25ish year old loan officer as he seemed frustrated by my very presence, annoyed at entering the extremely limited info needed to apply for the loan (it’s the bank I do my checking at they have 90% of it on file already) and he literally rolled his eyes when I interrupted his texting to bring attention to the paperwork faxed into him by the dealership after it sat in the tray for over 5 mins. I was embarrassed to be trying to do business with this clown and sickened by the Masters degree hanging on his wall. I never found out if I could have negotiated a lower rate from them than the credit union that approved me first but I met my loan officer there and he was at least respectful and I feel ok with paying them more to be treated like a customer instead of an inconvenience. I honestly think some colleges do need courses on how to do a day’s work.

  55. 55
    zoe kentucky in pittsburgh says:

    Sounds like the typical Republican talking point these days–don’t extend unemployment benefits to the unemployed because they’re lazy, smelly undeserving people. I’m not sure where they came up with this line of argument, it really seems like a big mistake for them to seem so judgmental and unsympathetic in a time when so many people are scared, angry and hurting. It really is bizarre, it’s one of those moments where they can’t seem to help showing how they really feel about “ordinary” (non-wealthy) Americans– they really don’t give a shit.

    Considering the high unemployment/underemployment rate this should offend most people who know someone who is unemployed– friends, former co-workers, family members, neighbors, etc. Forget that these people were gainfully employed before the recession/depression, many have families to support, and that the 60% payout of unemployment barely covers their expenses. Unemployment is keeping millions of people from falling off the cliff financially and the GOP seems eager to push them over it. WTF?

  56. 56
    New Yorker says:

    Of course. I mean, I have a Bachelors (3.44 GPA), an MBA (3.67), and have experience successfully running a multi-million dollar calling campaign for that anonymous company Verizon. The reason I’m working 2 part-time jobs, one of which is a high school-level job, is because I’m lazy, unpleasant, and don’t know how to do a day’s work.

    BTW, I consider myself relatively fortunate. No kids, no mortgage, help from my dad, and with the opportunity to leave the NY area for a job at a moments notice (I wouldn’t even have to break a lease).

  57. 57
    PattyP says:

    @QuaintIrene:

    A guy I recently dated claims his father did exactly that when teaching him how to swim. And now that guy – a conservative idealogue who thinks he’s right about everything – got canned in March (quite possibly for stealing money and merchandise from his employer), got and lost two more jobs since then, was evicted from his apartment, and is now dependent on the alcoholic stripper he was screwing while we dated and was one of the main reasons I dumped him.

    OTOH, he IS clean-cut and always smells fresh. It’s a mystery why he can’t find and keep decent employment! ;-)

  58. 58
    shortstop says:

    Going into a meeting and reading quickly, so sorry if I’m repeating an earlier comment, but didn’t Stein write a piece a year or two ago about how he had to support his totally shiftless son and daughter-in-law in their acquisition of all sorts of crap they didn’t need and refused to jettison from their lifestyle? And he whined about how they were holding his wallet captive as though he had no power to say no?

  59. 59
    TomG says:

    After “Expelled”, there’s nothing you can say that would convince me to listen to Ben Stein – even to mock. The man knows absolutely NOTHING. And he can’t be retrained.

  60. 60
    Little Dreamer says:

    @JITC:

    Gosh, I don’t know how I’m going to see through all these tears I’m crying over those poor CEO’s.

  61. 61
    BubbaDave says:

    Much as I hate agreeing with anything an epic douchenozzle like Ben Stein says, some sort of “work acculturation” classes would have a huge value for a lot of lower-income folks. For better or worse, most business culture is white middle-class culture, and people from outside the white middle class can need help learning the norms many of us take for granted. (Yes, I’m thinking of the receptionist who came in to work one day with a low-cut blouse and feather boa, and the accounting clerk whose short skirt/no underwear combination finally forced our office manager to give her some advice, and the driver who couldn’t figure out why people objected to his wife-beater shirt/tattoo sleeves combination.)

    Obviously, that’s not a solution to our current five-candidates-per-job-opening unemployment, but it is a good way to help make sure any recovery helps reach as many people as possible.

  62. 62
    scav says:

    @D. Mason: um, you met those people in a college environment? They’re usually the ones berating you for the unrealistic demands the class places upon them: don’t you know they are the ones paying for the education and should get exactly what they want? Is college really the the front line on potty training people now?

  63. 63
    ABS says:

    Is there anyone who worked in the Nixon White House (with the possible exception of John Dean (and Gerald Ford)) who didn’t turn out to be a huge asshole?

    Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

  64. 64
    Little Dreamer says:

    @zoe kentucky in pittsburgh: And on top of that, conservatives don’t seem to care so much about the national deficit so much as they do keeping their tax cuts, according to something I saw on MSNBC yesterday. This is all about IGMFY!

  65. 65
    twiffer says:

    fuck ben stein. fuck him with a tetanus encrusted, rusty railroad spike.

    we’ve had about 4 or 5 rounds of layoffs at my employer. co-workers of mine have been laid off. want to know one of the rounds? everyone who had a work-from-home arrangement and did not live within an hour’s drive of a major office. in other words, the people who were so fucking good at their job that special arrangements had been made to keep them employed. yeah, those fucking slackers.

    ben stein is a moron and doesn’t have a clue what the hell he’s talking about.

  66. 66
    adolphus says:

    ” It’s fucking pathetic how hard it is to get college-educated 20 somethings to stop texting and do their goddamn jobs to a minimal expectation.”

    Says a guy posting comments on a non-work-related blog during standard work hours….

    Speaking as a guy posting comments from his home and not at work, but who spent a lot time hiring and supervising interns and entry level staff for 15-20 years, I think there is a point to be made about how prepared SOME 20-somethings are for the work environment and yes I think it has gotten worse in the time that I have been doing this (since the early 90’s). I don’t blame the recession or high rates of unemployment on the job skills of small segment of the population, but if there are 5 applicants for every job opening maybe brushing up on your interview and work skills isn’t the worst thing you could do with your time. And, yes this is anecdotal, but a shrinking number of young, fresh-graduates are learning these skills. I found myself in the aughts having to give training sessions on how to dress for work that I just didn’t have to do 10 years ago.

    I will, however, divorce this point totally from Ben Stein’s scapegoating of perceived poor employee skills for unemployment. I make this point to encourage people to think critically about themselves in a work environment. I suspect he is doing it to caricature the unemployed so he doesn’t have to fret his pretty little head about them and go back to being rich, white, and Republican with a light heart.

  67. 67
    Paris says:

    So what explains a company laying off 100 engineers because we couldn’t continue funding development for new products and applications due to the fact that the banks stopped lending?

  68. 68
    MattR says:

    @cmorenc: I am pretty sure you are referrting to techinical schools and not community colleges.

    @D. Mason: And you have never seen that same behavior or similar from older workers? Or from 20-30 year old workers fifteen years ago before cell phones and texting? Having customer service representatives more interested in their own life than in the customer standing in front of them is a time honored tradition.

  69. 69
    FoxinSocks says:

    First of all, as many have said, f— Ben Stein.

    Second, as I have mentioned before, when a number of people were recently laid off at my mother’s work, they laid off almost everyone in the top ten of sales, including the lady at #1. Why? Because these people had good benefits and made more than the newer employees, whose wages have been slashed.

    Many businesses no longer view experience and good performance as an asset, rather, people are seen as interchangeable, so if they’re too expensive, simply replace them with someone cheaper and companies think you’ll get the same result.

    The woman who was #1 in sales at my mother’s work, she was replaced by someone making almost minimum wage. Sales plummeted, but the company can’t seem to figure out why, because one salesperson is as good as the other. They really don’t get it, and it’s because they have the same arrogant, out-of-touch attitude that Ben Stein has.

  70. 70
    Corner Stone says:

    @PattyP:

    and was one of the main reasons I dumped him.

    “one of”?
    You needed more?

  71. 71
    Hugin & Munin says:

    You cam always tell a dickhead because they, of course, only deal with personal matters in a de minimus fashion, while everyone else is a slacker who wastes valuable company time.

  72. 72
    The Moar You Know says:

    Gauleiter Stein is ready to be fitted for his new armband and leather boots, sounds like.

  73. 73
    El Cid says:

    Since someone brought up Moynihan (who suggested black families significantly trapped themselves into a culture of poverty) and the need to acculturate people to work, back during the Clinton administration there were several public-private partnerships which brought manufacturing jobs into inner cities.

    Despite the years and years and years of exploring all the cultural reasons why such a huge proportion of young black men were unemployed — including the temptations of welfare — when these jobs became available, local unemployment rates of young African Americans plummeted as did crime as well. It didn’t even take generations of cultural adaptation and transition.

    There were all sorts of views on how lazy and shiftless were poor rural white Southerners by 19th century Northern observers and how unsuited to industry they were compared to their Yankee betters, and then when manufacturers up North realized they could get away from their labor unions by fleeing to the impoverished, anti-union, violently authoritarian South, why, all of a sudden there was an enormous new productive labor force springing up alongside each new mill where earlier there had been none.

    It’s amazing how strongly an effect the presence of decent jobs has on people’s willingness to work.

  74. 74
    Bob L says:

    That pretty funny an actor lecturing everyone on work ethic. That’s a profession not exactly noted for a willingness to do the 9 to 5 grind or working and playing well with others.

  75. 75
    Albatrossity says:

    The comments on that article are even more deluded! Here’s a scary one:

    If you didn’t hear Rush today, you missed a lot. I noticed you mentioned the “ruling class.” He literally spent the full three hours on the article. I have never heard him so greatly influenced by one article–it was great radio! I have been thinking about it all day, and there is one conclusion. There are two distinct Americas, and something is gonna give. It is that simple–these two entirely opposite factions cannot, nor will not coexist. It makes the 60’s look like child’s play.

  76. 76
    frankdawg says:

    This “man” needs to be kicked in the nuts – hard – repeatedly. I have hated BS for a long time & mute him whenever he appears on Sunday Morning.

    Sadly, scum like him, clinging to daddys coattails to get a career, will always find someone that will pay him to spout this sort of shit because it reinforces their ignorant belief that GOD has chosen to smile on them because they are superior to you and me.

    We really are returning to the 18th Century.

  77. 77
    JasonF says:

    Is there anyone who worked in the Nixon White House (with the possible exception of John Dean (and Gerald Ford)) who didn’t turn out to be a huge asshole?

    Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams

  78. 78
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Shorter* Ben Stein:
    The Peasants are Revolting!

    [*yes, yes, I know – how much shorter can the man get?]

  79. 79
    wasabi gasp says:

    There is no more free Xanax in the siesta lounge.

  80. 80
    ChrisS says:

    You know if I had 100 employees and I had to lay off 10 of them and all of them smelled good and came to work on time and called me sir, I still have to lay off 10 of them.

    It’s a called a recession, you jack wagon.

    Here’s a little scenario, Ben. Country A ships a couple of hundred million jobs overseas in the 1970s and 1980s as part of a grand plan to improve the economy. More people would then be available for high skill level jobs, so goes the theory. The profits, made from effectively cutting labor costs to pret-neer zero, would be reinvested in the country through job-retraining and education for the losers (i.e., the people who lost their jobs) and greater investment by the winners (i.e., people who profited from shipping the jobs overseas).

    What happened is that the people that profited bought a bunch of media outlets and told everyone that they needed lower taxes to really get the investment started. The taxes were cut. Then they said they really needed fewer regulations and taxes were still high. Regulations were axed and taxes were cut. Then they said that they couldn’t do anything because of the financial rules and taxes were still too high. Then investment really got going in technology. And the bubble popped. But the wealthy still had great gobs of money that they had to do something with, so they started loaning to people to buy houses with and then betting on who paid up. Then that bubble popped.

    So now Country A is full of people making less money per year than their parents and 5% are making more now and own more than at any other time in history. But the problem is that there are too many regulations and taxes are too high. The end.

  81. 81
    Remember November says:

    I liked him better when you could win money off him. Why doesn’t he go back to that..or has he got too much dry eyez…..

  82. 82
    PeakVT says:

    Stein has a a simple solution to this problem: worker re-education camps.

    What about the re-education camps for the sociopaths in the finance industry? You know, the people that are paid extravagantly to subtract value from the economy. They could use some re-education, I think. Perhaps after finishing with that group we could send lousy financial pundits there…

  83. 83
    liberty60 says:

    I think its ironic that the workers who best exemplify Stein’s bright, energetic, can-do attitude are illegal aliens.

  84. 84
    SB Jules says:

    A good friend of mine went to grammar school with Ben Stein. He says Ben was insufferable then too.

  85. 85
    El Cid says:

    @ChrisS:

    But the problem is that there are too many regulations and taxes are too high.

    Right. But also the deficit and inflation. Also too.

  86. 86
    Mike in NC says:

    Maybe we do need to elect Palin. This country may need to hit rock-bottom, like a skid-row alcoholic, to purge this shit from its system.

    She would appoint a sack of shit like Ben Stein to be her Secretary of the Treasury.

  87. 87
    Mnemosyne says:

    I can’t remember who said it, but I remember someone making the point that not everyone is suited to work a service job. Back in the days when we had lots of manufacturing jobs, it didn’t matter if you were a misanthrope who didn’t like having to talk to people — you went to work, ran your machine, and came home, and your boss was actually happy to have someone who wasn’t constantly chitchatting with their co-workers.

    Now we’ve switched over to a primarily service economy and people who would have been perfectly fine working a job that didn’t require human contact are forced to do jobs that they just aren’t suited for.

  88. 88
    PeakVT says:

    @p.a.: Real-world people get hurt when we send Republicans to the White House, and they generally aren’t the ones who voted the dipshits in. Just ask the Iraqis.

    Executive positions are just too powerful to use as a means to express voter discontent.

  89. 89
    Ash Can says:

    @D. Mason: Leaving aside the fact that your post is a prime example in support of DougJ’s fundamental point, the fact is this: If one of a company’s new hires is a slacker, it’s the new hire’s fault. If many of a company’s new hires are slackers, it’s the company’s fault, specifically the people involved in the company’s hiring process. And if the company ignores this and/or tries to shift the blame to technological gadgetry/permissive society/irresponsible parents/blue jeans/whatever, said company might as well have a big orange “X” spray painted on the front of its building, because it ain’t long for this world.

  90. 90
    p.a. says:

    Maybe we do need to elect Palin. This country may need to hit rock-bottom, like a skid-row alcoholic, to purge this shit from its system.

    I posted the above earlier, but I’m reconsidering. If 8 years of George W. Bush wasn’t rock bottom, and if that didn’t kill the conservative brand, what the fuck can??? Conservatism can’t fail; it can only be failed.

  91. 91
    New Yorker says:

    @El Cid:

    Yup. Is Detroit overwhelmed by unemployment and crime because its population is lazy and shiftless….or because the “Big Three” ran themselves into the ground through incompetent management over the years and destroyed the employment base of that city?

    According to the right, it’s laziness.

  92. 92
    catclub says:

    @FoxinSocks:
    The Circuit City sales model for success!

    Fire the best salespeople.

    I bet I have the wrong chain name.

  93. 93
    El Cid says:

    @New Yorker: If we had only gave more advice to Detroit residents on better bathing and deodorant techniques, there would still have been a sprawling auto industry there.

  94. 94
    NonyNony says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    What makes it even better is the column that Stein wrote last year whining about having to support his lazy, unmotivated son:

    Ah-ha! I think you’ve found the source of Stein’s “research” – he’s been watching his son and his son’s friends who have also moved back in with their parents.

    I will say that the “plight” of the upper-middle class unemployed is a far different reality than those of us who actually have to work for a living and don’t have parents who have had a history of making 7 figures we can move in with. That Stein would extrapolate his privileged son’s attitude into everyone who is unemployed is just the kind of lazy analysis I’ve come to expect from the hack.

  95. 95
    artem1s says:

    @JITC:

    Take a factory Goldman Sachs with 3 openings for a jobs that pay $50k $1M bonuses each year. If only, he said, job applicants would walk in and say, “you know, I’d do this job for $20k” then the employer Goldman Sachs would say “ok! Now that I know people will do this job for $20k, then i can hire SIX people150 people at $20k each.”

    fixt

  96. 96
    D. Mason says:

    @scav:

    No. I met them in a post college environment, you know, after they graduated(sans work ethic). I didn’t graduate from college and I have a work ethic. I don’t claim to be the perfect employee mind you, I’m more vocal with disagreements than some bosses like but I’ve never been fired or written up. My experiences have been from both a co-worker perspective and from a customer/client perspective. Sure it’s anecdotal but I notice a big difference between most employees my own age or younger and employees from previous generations.

    As far as college being the front line on potty training.. As much as college costs if that’s what the students need that’s what they should get. Really though, comparing the idea that college should impart some work ethic to potty training is a bit silly.

  97. 97
    El Cid says:

    @catclub: Circuit City’s only mistake was that they thought they could import Chinese labor at 35 cents an hour to replace their best staff.

  98. 98

    “Persons who use the adverbial well when it is not called for brand themselves as not only ignorant but pretentious”
    Mrs. Miller Grade 11 English teacher ( back around 196… oh never mind)

  99. 99
    Steeplejack says:

    @flukebucket:

    Amen. Nobody who’s not still living at home with Mom and Dad can live on $20,000 a year. Even if you pay only minimal taxes (Social Security withholding, etc.), you’re netting, what, $18,000? Which is $1,500 a month. Good luck housing and feeding yourself on that.*

    &#151
    &#042 I’m excluding weird just-out-of-school situations, e.g., “I live in Bug Guts, GA, I share the double-wide with three roommates, and I walk to my job at the Li’l General. I never knew there are so many ways to prepare ramen noodles. I’m actually saving money.”

  100. 100
    PattyP says:

    @Corner Stone:

    No, it’s just that all the reasons pretty much came about at the same time. LOL.

  101. 101
    Steeplejack says:

    @jayjaybear:

    Hell, even John Dean was an asshole before he had his “road to Damascus” conversion.

  102. 102
    The Modern Serf says:

    @TheNickronomicon: Well Said.

  103. 103
    D. Mason says:

    @MattR:

    Hey, I’m not that old and surely haven’t worked in every field/industry or worked with every employee in America. I acknowledge that anecdotes are not proof but personal experience must also count for something. I’ve done business with older people and younger people in the same environments and sometimes the same establishments. The difference is quite striking to me. No I didn’t work with them or do business with them when they were younger and yes I have had the same kinds of bad experiences with older employees. I still notice a difference wherever I work or do business.

  104. 104
    Keith G says:

    Probabaly a dying thread by now, but let me add a view developed during 20+ yrs in ed/social work:

    We have a growing reservoir who have stepped off the “good citizen” development track and can not get back on. Many have made mistakes and /or a serious lapse in judgment, have learned their lesson, and and are quite able to be a good citizen, but our new society makes that very difficult.

    Mistakes are now chiseled into data bases and will be noted forever. Is society wants to go hard core on folks who screw up, then they need to think about ways to get these folks back onto the rolls as tax paying citizens. Many I know are ready, willing and able, but left out.

  105. 105
    Nick says:

    Stein has a a simple solution to this problem: worker re-education camps.

    Well have those, they’re called college. Too bad the only people who can afford to go are those who don’t need it and spend their time there hitting up the bars and bongs because they already have jobs lined up after they “graduate”

    In a healthy dose of optimism, Obama and Congress has made paying for it a lot easier.

  106. 106
    Stooleo says:

    Ben Stein suffers from Samaritrophia.

    From the incomparable Kurt Vonnegut

    “Samaritrophia,” then is hysterical indifference to the troubles of those less
    fortunate than oneself. … Screw you, Jack. I’ve got mine!

  107. 107
    Hugin & Munin says:

    D. Mason: Yes, personal experience is great for war stories. It’s that you think that your personal experience actually means something broader that makes you a dickhead.

    Just in case you missed the point of the tile of the thread.

  108. 108
    Stillwater says:

    Re-education camps? Stein must have mis-spoke, since these would clearly be ‘propaganda and indoctrination camps’ designed to turn people into Obama worshipping fascosocia1ists. Or, maybe that was simply last year’s immutable core conservative principle.

  109. 109
    jenniebee says:

    Uh-oh, Stein went off script with this one:

    This would include a teaching of the fact that the employee is not there for amusement, but to help the employer make money and to get a job done.

    Doesn’t he know that in Reagan’s America, employees are never hired because an employer has work for them to do and that that employer actually makes money off that employee’s labor. To suggest otherwise is to acknowledge that supply follows demand and that the rich don’t create jobs as a reward for having their taxes lowered.

    No, Ben, if you want to create your ideal workforce, you absolutely can’t teach potential employees that they only collect a fraction of the value that they create on the job, or that before they are hired to create a product, their employer has already identified a job that he needs done. Stick with the script that has worked so well for so long: the rich create jobs out of whole cloth with whatever extra money they have lying around, and they do it as a little thank you gift to the People for voting to reduce taxes and deregulate. Anybody who says otherwise is an ungrateful, lazy slob who is oppressing these poor, generous, virtuous* rich people.

    *George Soros, Hollywood liberals, the fictional characters in Sex and the City, the French, and all the Kennedys (except of course Jackie and that nice Mrs. Schwarzenegger) are the only examples of non-virtuous rich people in all of human history combined, ever.

  110. 110
    Keith G says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    This is such a large problem. Included in that is the notion that there will always be a number of kids who, for whatever reason, are not “cut out” to go immediately to a college setting.

    The blissfully ignorant answer to our workforce problems that folks like Stein like to posit is: “Everyone gets a college diploma.”

    That is logistically, economically, and sociologically not possible. So, then what? They really do not have an answer.

  111. 111
    ChrisS says:

    Productivity and technology advances have increased productivity so drastically that those damn kids fiddling on their spacey pages and mybooks are out producing the old bastards in the 80s and 90s at the same time.

    Just in my line of work, three people can complete the same amount of work it took 10 to do 20 years ago. Excuse me while I destress and play a video game.

  112. 112
    Jennifer says:

    Apparently, thanks to wingnut welfare, Stein has never had to look for work in a recession. I have, in every one that’s come along since I graduated college.

    In the first one, Bush I, I interviewed for a clerical position at a clinic. I didn’t get the job because I was, at age 26, “overqualified” and wouldn’t stay once the economy improved and I could find a better job. Well, no shit. But also, I didn’t need the 3 months of training they were going to put into hiring the 19-year-old semi-literate country girl they hired instead, since they could be sure she’d be a reliable wage slave over the long haul.

    In the 2001 Bush II recession, which never really ended, I went through 9 months of unemployment & finally found a job in my previous profession, which thanks to mergers and consolidations was now paying about 1/2 – 2/3rds less.

    In the 2008 Bush II recession, I happened to be working for someone who looked at the recession as an “opportunity” to turn the employees into slaves. Since he was also a mentally unbalanced asshole and was already skating the wrong side of the law w/r/t employment practices, I said “no thanks, if I’m not going to be paid enough to cover my bills, at least I can do that working for someone who isn’t a crazy asshole.” His company had 15 employees at that point; 8 months later he was down to 2.

    I worked for another sterling example of corporate responsibility in 2009 – this particular company you had to fight with on EVERY PAYCHECK in order to get paid the amount your contract said you were to be paid. After telling them, “what you’re doing is illegal” on multiple occasions, they decided I was “more trouble than I was worth” despite the fact that I was one of their most productive sales people. But they did pay me all the commissions I had coming, probably because they were afraid that they’d lose the lawsuit if they didn’t.

    So in January I started my own business. I’ve been working part-time in a Hallmark store while we get it up and running. And there was a flap there recently: Hallmark gives every other customer a receipt with a $2 off coupon if they go online and complete a survey. Here’s one of the surveys we got back: “The employees were talking too much amongst themselves about things that weren’t related to the store, and I even overheard one of them use a curse word.” This customer rated the service at 5 out of 5. In other words, no complaints about the service, but because I was eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation (and let’s face it, how hard is it to talk and operate a pricing gun at the same time?) and thought I heard a word I don’t like, I’m going to try to fuck up someone’s barely minimum-wage job. No telling what the alleged “curse word” was; I don’t hear anyone running around the Hallmark saying “s*it” or “f**k”, so like I told our manager, “who knows what this person is on about? I say things like “I made a kick-ass dinner last night” all the time – is that cursing? Not unless you’re an idiot who’s looking for some reason to take offense.”

    The slave mentality unfortunately is not restricted to Ben Stein; there are plenty of ordinary shoppers out there who think they aren’t being adequately ass-kissed unless every low-paid employee is being watched by an overseer with a whip. I have to wonder what the hell is wrong with people like this, that they would complain about employees carrying on a conversation while they work. It’s so damned ungenerous, and it’s an attitude that’s spreading.

  113. 113
    CF Oxtrot says:

    Don’t be afraid to ask the more pivotal question of why anyone would want to “work” at a “job” that is basically using this formula:

    Employer + soul-crushing job + desperate “unemployed” person = Rich employer and poor, soul-crushed, newly-“employed” person.

    Arguing about whether Ben “No, I really *AM* this boring!” Stein is correct about “work ethics” is missing the point entirely.

    Why be dogged about job performance when the job delivers nothing more than a paycheck?

    Isn’t work supposed to do something else in addition to income? Such as, provide some measure of self-fulfillment, a test and reward on competence, and a feeling of contributing to one’s community?

    Oh sorry. That’s naive and unAmerican, isn’t it? It’s really just about The Benjamins, isn’t it?

  114. 114
    D. Mason says:

    @Hugin & Munin:

    So that’s what you got eh? I’m a dickhead. Bravo, sir, you have proven yourself the intellectual superior. I am indeed bested by your wit – exposed as the fool I must always be.

    You win one internets.

  115. 115
    PlaneDriver says:

    As a furloughed airline pilot reading Ben Stein’s utter bullshit it makes me cringe. I was made unemployed in part by the fuel speculation in 2008 that caused the airlines to cut back on flying, and their perceived lack of consumer demand for flights (been on one not full lately?)

    Nothing I did could have prevented my becoming unemployed, I couldn’t have worked harder, flown more hours for less money, offered to wash airplanes, offered to serve as a flight attendant, nothing. Even smelling better would not have kept me employed… go figure.

  116. 116
    Douche Baggins says:

    @Mnemosyne @87: This.

    @Hugin: Easy on D. Mason, he’s got a point about incoming workers (Gen Y, Gen X, etc.) — it’s not just his personal experience that these folks work differently than older workers, it’s a known fact in the HR world. I experienced the same thing when I managed three NCG’s (new college graduates): They needed stroking constantly, they dressed inappropriately for business settings (hint: showing off your sizeable muffin top when visiting a Swiss manufacturing company is a faux pas), and they were constantly looking to climb up the corporate ladder. And they were whip-smart, networking-savvy, and willing to learn from mentors, which my 50-year-old employees weren’t nearly as much.

    I spent 8 months unemployed last year after moving my family to Colorado, and I spent a lot of time in social service waiting rooms. And there’s truth to ALL these anecdotes about the unemployed. There are welfare queens AND there are out-of-lucky-duckies. There are the unemployable AND the highly skilled. Some smell good, others smell well, some stink. Many don’t have the basics of employability; as pointed out upstream, many have hardcoded strikes against them for past infractions, and that’s a death sentence in today’s database world.

  117. 117
    shortstop says:

    Maybe we do need to elect Palin. This country may need to hit rock-bottom, like a skid-row alcoholic, to purge this shit from its system.

    I remain skeptical of our ability to a) recognize rock-bottom when we see it and b) do the things that effect a purge. I suspect there is no expiration date on wingers’ ability to blame the poor and random brown people for everything wrong, while prescribing polices that solely benefit an ever-tightening plutocracy as the cure. These guys double down when they’re exposed as wrong and they literally would rather die than admit error.

  118. 118
    Hugin & Munin says:

    D. Mason: Nice that you managed to slip by the part of my remarks that stated why the basis fo your complaint is meaningless and unreliable. So no, calling you a dickhead is decidedly not all that I have got, dickhead.

    So, once more, for the people in the back: Your anecdotes aren’t evidence of anything, dickhead.

  119. 119

    Honestly, there are times when I think that training in how to do grunt work could be a good thing. It’s *not* easy to go in and do scutwork for 8 hours a day, and if I had kids, at the age of 13 or so, I’d start assigning them day-long scutwork chores from time to time. And I’d explain that if they don’t like this, they need to figure out how to be more valuable than a drone. But they need to be able to do this – and it can be done – because sometimes that’s the only way to put food on the table.

    But the contempt Stein feels oozes out, doesn’t it?

  120. 120
    wengler says:

    @ D. Mason

    It’s kind of the same feeling I get when some old guy making three times my salary works at the pace of a sloth and forgets seemingly everything in the world five minutes after he’s told.

    Your generation should be the one apologizing for robbing the future generations blind. We didn’t have a voice when the US government decided slave labor instead of union labor was the future of economy.

  121. 121
    sukabi says:

    if poor personalities and poor work habits were the sole reason for people being unemployed Mr. Monotone would have been forever in a bread line.

  122. 122
    Joy says:

    @Mnemosyne: You beat me to it. I remember the same story by Hilzoy at Washington Monthly. What a frickin hypocrite (I know shocker to everyone).

  123. Excuse me, but WTF does Ben Stein do, anyway? How the fuck does he “create utility?” His sum total of accomplishments seem to be a) having been in a couple of administrations over a generation ago, b) having a small role in a popular movie a generation ago, and c) creating a propaganda movie, widely denounced as a pack of foaming lies, that called scientists Nazis a couple of years ago.

    And I should listen to this guy’s advice why?

  124. 124
    ksmiami says:

    And the funniest part is that it’s guys like Stein that will be the first against the wall if things really deteriorate. I have always said that to be Republican is to check your empathy and goodness at the door.

    p.s. I would never cast aspersions on the less fortunate – what is the matter with these people?????????

  125. 125
    slippy says:

    @D. Mason:

    It’s fucking pathetic how hard it is to get college-educated 20 somethings to stop texting and do their goddamn jobs to a minimal expectation

    Maybe their expectations have been set by watching an entire generations’ hard work and savings flushed down the toilet, and they figure since everyone else is just phoning it in, why not them?

  126. 126
    John Bird says:

    Why is it not surprising that Ben Stein is one of those people who are assholes to service workers?

    You see one of these people holding up the line in front of you so they can bitch out the cashier, you just know you’re looking at someone who’s going to vote Republican and ruin the world for everyone.

    Not that Stein hasn’t already done plenty more in that regard than just voting.

  127. 127
    ChrisS says:

    Excuse me, but WTF does Ben Stein do, anyway?

    He’s the pitchman for a credit-monitoring services company that suckers customers by making them think it’s a free service when they sign up.

  128. 128
    bago says:

    In other words, labor should be well dressed and say “Yes Massa!” Telling management “You have no fucking clue how this works, which is why I am up to my elbows in grease trying to “make part c talk to part d without destroying the entire enterprise because I can engineer my way out of a paper bag” is obviously grounds for termination. Because management shitheels think that productivity is a non-reality based enterprise based on the curves they learned at stanford, and has nothing to do with the scalability of complexity. Not bitter at all about working in advertising, honest.

  129. 129
    bago says:

    I mean jesus de cristo, it’s not like your topology was taking 27 hours a day to process 24 hours worth of data. Twits. We could do it in 5.

  130. 130
    Citizen_X says:

    @ChrisS:

    He’s the pitchman for a credit-monitoring services company that suckers customers by making them think it’s a free service when they sign up.

    ..and that sells you info that’s available free from the government anyway.

  131. 131
    Hugin & Munin says:

    Douche Baggins: The point is not that anecdotes are untrue, it’s tha one cannot derive general trends from them.

    FYI, I actually do work in HR, and despite anecdotes that reflect what you say, my experience is that the easy generalizations are as untrue as those saying that Boomers are lazy money hoovers.

    But think what serves us now are a bunch of petty and baseless intergenerational arguments.

  132. 132
    John Bird says:

    Look, as a twenty-something office worker, I dress appropriately (fairly casual in my office) and use ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ until I’m familiar with my superior.

    When I was in college and working service jobs, I did the same for my customers.

    I worked with plenty of people who did not have the same privileged upbringing in a stable environment that I did who had to learn a lot of proper courtesy on the fly. Mainly, it did not affect their job performance; I never saw anyone get fired because they didn’t say ‘sir’. Considering the utter contempt for courtesy in this culture under the guise of opposing political correctness – and I’d lay blame partially at the feet of the utterly cynical, corrupt, and rude Nixon administration that Stein helped to poison American discourse – I’m not surprised that people have to pick it up.

    But that’s all beside Stein’s point, completely.

    People not being able to find jobs because they won’t kiss some customer or client’s ass is a fantasy of doddering old Nixon-nostalgic coots like Stein. Usually these people aren’t wealthy or anything but they are damn sure they are going to give the worker in front of them shit, because they believe the world is a wretched place where it is legitimate for other people to treat them like crap and so they just pass it along.

    This is one indicator of what is known as an authoritarian personality: the individual believes, wrongly, that deference indicates moral rectitude. Stein, as a Jew who worked for Nixon and his gaggle of antisemitic-enabling crooks, is no doubt familiar with self-harming deference as a means of career advancement.

    You will find these people bothering cashiers, waiters, receptionists, and white-collar workers of all types as well, making their lives hell and your errands take that much longer, because authoritarian personalities feel disrespected constantly.

    As a teenager, I quickly realized that the best thing to do with a tough customer like Stein is to move him along quickly through his personal power trip so that the polite customers behind him can get their business done and go pick up their kids at soccer practice. Stein will die without knowing how to conduct himself politely, no doubt, lecturing as he goes.

  133. 133
    D. Mason says:

    @wengler: I’m not from an older generation, my observations have been about people my age or somewhat younger, not a generation younger.

    @slippy: This is the first reply that hasn’t sounded like bullshit to me and I figure it’s probably correct. I know I’ve seen my older relatives almost put out on the streets because of corporate greed. Still taking pride in the quality of ones work is the only way I’ve ever found to get through a shitty 12 hour shift in a thankless work environment. I guess I’m weird but I know I’m not totally unique in that way.

  134. 134
    Jay C says:

    @zoe kentucky in pittsburgh:

    Unemployment is keeping millions of people from falling off the cliff financially and the GOP seems eager to push them over it. WTF?

    Because of the fundamental assumption that, on the way down, those falling off the cliff will take the time to vent their frustrations at the polling booth, and vote against the party in power (i.e. Dems), and vote Republicans back into (at least) control of Congress.

    Because being in power is all they really care about. Period.

    I wish I could say this was a foolish strategy: but given the fecklessness of the Democrats and the heinous dysfunctions of this country’s media, it probably has a better chance of success than one would think.

  135. 135
    John Bird says:

    @D. Mason:

    I know the job market is tough but it sounds like you, personally, loathe your job and your workplace.

    I can say from personal experience that this is perhaps one of the main things that’s going to motivate you to feel critical and hostile toward your coworkers. Perhaps it’s time to look for alternatives.

  136. 136
    wenchacha says:

    @JITC:

    And what factory actually has three jobs paying $50k? That, in itself, is a freakin’ fantasy!

  137. 137
    New Yorker says:

    @p.a.:

    Exactly. Election Palin isn’t going to convince us that we’ve hit rock bottom. Instead, we’ll just pull a John Belushi (or Layne Staley, or Janis Joplin, or etc. etc.) and OD. And unlike Nikki Sixx, there won’t be a paramedic to bring us back to life.

  138. 138
    Winson Smith says:

    I like Ben’s idea!

    I even have a slogan!

    “Work makes you free”

    That should be over the gates of every workplace in America!

  139. 139
    D. Mason says:

    @John Bird: You are very close to correct there. I did loathe my workplace until I took a sizable pay-cut to get out of there. Still, my observations are not based on a single workplace experience. Some people simply do not know how to conduct themselves in even a semi-professional manner and the only common thread I see is age.

  140. 140
    wenchacha says:

    @ChrisS:

    Nice use of “jack wagon.”

    Thank you for one of the best, albeit brief, in-a-nutshell explanations of wtf happened in the last 30-40 years in this country.

  141. 141
    John Bird says:

    @zoe kentucky in pittsburgh:

    Unemployment is keeping millions of people from falling off the cliff financially and the GOP seems eager to push them over it. WTF?

    They believe in a feel-good philosophy (well, feel-good if you’re employed and guaranteed to remain so, or deluded about your chances) where “economics” backs up the idea that if people continue to receive unemployment, even in a severely depressed labor market, they will stop looking for work.

    Of course, as far as I know, in such times, when people lose their unemployment (pitifully small in the United States and unlikely to happen anyway based on state labor laws), what they actually do is combine households and stop looking for jobs because, barring family privilege, they lose their last lifeline and the income that would allow them to pay for transport, travel, communications and other things that actually help them find work in high-demand places. They move back in with their families and disappear from the numbers.

    But to the Republicans who haven’t been paying attention, the inability to drive, or have a permanent address or phone number, is exactly the sort of motivation that laid off middle-age workers need to get back into the job market and start spending again. Never mind that the economy overall makes serious bank off every dollar dispersed in unemployment, because that money is immediately spent.

  142. 142
    tworivers says:

    This from a guy whose post Nixon White House career has consisted mainly of parlaying his monotonously dreary speaking voice into a C list movie and TV career!

    And he has a platform to spew his ill-informed inanities why?

  143. 143
    Brachiator says:

    @Vince CA:

    What a turd. I’m so happy that I can count as a member of my friends someone who won Ben Stein’s money.

    I propose a new game show, “Kick Ben Stein’s Stupid Ass.”

    The Democrats should run this in a continuous loop, especially in the so-called Red States: “The Republicans think that if you are out of still out of work, you are either lazy or stupid. Or both.”

  144. 144
    John Bird says:

    @D. Mason:

    In my experience, there are a lot of threads in not being able to conduct yourself properly in the workplace:

    1) Social adjustment before starting working life (if you’re skirting Asperger’s, you’ll have trouble)
    2) Past acceptance of previous behavior (that gross loon, young or old, whose current or previous employer accepted their ‘eccentricities’
    3) Dissatisfaction with the job (if you think what you’re doing is neither fun nor worthwhile, you won’t act with pride)

    and others.

    In my experience, people learn how they’re supposed to behave unless (1) stops them, they behave that way unless (2) encourages them to do otherwise, and continue to do so unless (3) changes things. It doesn’t matter whether they’re young or old, and whether they know how to conduct themselves BEFORE they enter the work environment generally has to do with their parents and family life, which most people don’t get to choose.

    Certainly, you have to have encountered that old vet in the workplace who does not feel it necessary to be polite, learn new procedures or tasks, or even dress properly. The crappy job market is dumping these people out of their seats, but it’s completely incidental, as the employer generally chooses to let go any number of people who may be just fine at their jobs.

    Are kids my age (20-something) ruder? Not really, I don’t think. We’re definitely sold an American consumer culture where being rude in public is a measure of status (Trump, Paris Hilton, Wall Street e-mails), but I don’t see it rubbing off on the young any more than the old. Mainly, I see it encouraging anti-feminist behavior in women of all ages and self-interested greed in the population at large, as well as promoting the false 1990s devil of “political correctness” as an argument against civil behavior in public.

    In other words, the only reason I can tell that young people might not have the right feel on how to act minute-to-minute in the workplace is because they are, after all, young people. Stein, I’m sure, got to the “workplace” (and I can’t put enough quotes around that for him) with years of training on how to kiss ass and not offend. I don’t know if that’s exactly the training we want for young, new workers.

  145. 145
    ChrisS says:

    … or have a permanent address or phone number …

    I know, can you believe it? I saw a guy at the unemployment office checking his email on his Blackberry. A Blackberry! I wish I could afford a Blackberry. A bunch of losers soaking up all the taxes I pay.

    [/sarcasm]

  146. 146

    […] Oh, he also hates poor people. Or rather, he thinks they’re poor, or unemployed, because they’re lazy philistines who can’t keep their shit together for the span of a job interview. (via) […]

  147. 147
    goatchowder says:

    The beatings will continue until submission improves.

    Now I understand what rich, elite, urbane, corporate masters-of-the-universe Republicans have in common with the more ordinary redneck contingent of the Confederate Party. They both want a return to slavery.

  148. 148
    Nick says:

    @Brachiator: At lot of people in red states agree with that. Hell, a lot of people in blue states agree.

  149. 149
    John Bird says:

    @Nick:

    Many Americans believe that until they lose their jobs and can’t find new ones. Unfortunately, the population is growing, um, “wiser” by the month.

  150. 150
    Brachiator says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I can’t remember who said it, but I remember someone making the point that not everyone is suited to work a service job. Back in the days when we had lots of manufacturing jobs, it didn’t matter if you were a misanthrope who didn’t like having to talk to people—you went to work, ran your machine, and came home, and your boss was actually happy to have someone who wasn’t constantly chitchatting with their co-workers.

    And yet, the financial services industry appears to be ably to easily accommodate pathological liars and sociopaths. Go figure.

    Now we’ve switched over to a primarily service economy and people who would have been perfectly fine working a job that didn’t require human contact are forced to do jobs that they just aren’t suited for.

    It seems to me that we are beginning to switch over to a “no job” economy. I wonder what the optimum skill set is for this new paradigm.

  151. 151
    Nick says:

    @John Bird:

    Many Americans believe that until they lose their jobs and can’t find new ones. Unfortunately, the population is growing, um, “wiser” by the month.

    not really. the number of jobless isn’t growing, it’s holding steady or very gradually decreasing. The problem is people who were laid off a year ago and are still looking for a job.

    I don’t remember where I read this, might have been at work, but I read that people who are being laid off in the last six months have been getting jobs, but the long term unemployed, because they’ve been unemployed so long, aren’t.

  152. 152
    Death Panel Truck says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Now we’ve switched over to a primarily service economy and people who would have been perfectly fine working a job that didn’t require human contact are forced to do jobs that they just aren’t suited for.

    Misanthrope here. I’d rather beg for quarters on the street than work at McDonald’s. Not because I’m not a hard worker, but because I’d want to murder every asshole who annoyed me.

  153. 153
    JimmytheP says:

    I’m sure that Ben’s solution for the unemployed is for them to sell some of their stock. If that wouldn’t work, maybe they could sell some of their art collection. And, if things get really bad they could part with one of their yachts. Certainly the people with good smelling skills would do that if they were out of work.

  154. 154
    trollhattan says:

    @DougJ:

    On those rare occasions I’m called “sir” I soon find myself having bought a new car.

  155. 155
    trollhattan says:

    @Brachiator:

    Remember the video of Stein mocking Ron Paul’s economics guy as he was predicting the imminent collapse of real estate? That’s one for the highlight reel.

  156. 156
    JAHILL10 says:

    @El Cid: Amen

  157. 157
    cckids says:

    @LongHairedWeirdo:

    Yes, I’ve been in a years-long battle with the spouse–I feel that it does teens a world of good to have a scut job, mainly to drive home the point “you don’t want to do this for the rest of your life”. He feels that they need to concentrate on school, sports, yada, yada. I don’t want them giving up all that by any means, but having to make choices & allocate time well is a basic life skill, in my opinion.

    Also makes you MUCH more likely to be nicer to service people you’ll deal with if you’ve been one at some time.

    I’m winning.

  158. 158
    CPinHI says:

    Ben Stein is an idiot. My favorite bit is “calling other employees ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’.” Where in the world do people do that?? I don’t even call my bosses sir or ma’am. I usually commit the awful sin of calling people that I see everyday by their first names, and I call the real muckety-mucks by their title. If I had an impressive title, I would rather be called that than ma’am.

  159. 159
    cmorenc says:

    @MattR:

    @cmorenc: I am pretty sure you are referrting to techinical schools and not community colleges.

    Here in North Carolina, the “community college” system has become the all-in-one set of public institutions that each typically offer everything from a typical first-two-years of college array of courses (for those preparing to transfer to four-year public colleges) – i.e. what “junior colleges” typically do, to the sorts of technical/artisan trades that “technical schools” typically do. In some cases, these community colleges have retained the name e.g. “Wake Technical Institute”, in some cases they’ve adopted the name “community college”, but in reality they both now do the exact same thing at each institution no matter what the local label, and are all part of a statewide system under a common administrative umbrella. The particular array of course or technical offerings may vary from institution to institution but the nature of that variance has nothing anymore to do with what the particular institution is named (within North Carolina at least).

  160. 160
    AuldBlackJack says:

    The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities. …. But in general, as I survey ….. Again, there are powerful exceptions and I know some…….. To assure that a worker is not one of them, he should learn how to work and how to get along—not always easy.

    Such a talented writer is Stein that I’ll bet he assures his own utility to his employer by doubling as the horoscope writer.

  161. 161
    chaz brown says:

    Stein was perfect in that roll as the teacher in “Ferris Bueller…” Unfortunately, that was the highlight of his acting career. Also unfortunately, he was largely playing himself — a self-involved, under-achieving don’t-give-a-shit sub-human who has so far been able to scratch out a living by pretense. His advice to the unemployed — learn to get along — is ironically sound for those of his ilk — if he hadn’t learned how to do that, he would have starved to death by now. Personally, if my only choice was survival via learning how to fit in, I’d kill myself.

  162. 162
    DellDolly says:

    So, Ben Stein smears people who have been laid off as being “less than”.

    So, they should either improve their attitudes or improve their work performance.

    Then, when people need to be laid off, the same number would need to go – it would just be different people.

    How does that improve the unemployment we’ve got now?

  163. 163
    Bill Murray says:

    @Douche Baggins: Like the previous HR people didn’t say that about people your age.

  164. 164
    Bill Murray says:

    @cckids: Most of us are capable of learning to be courteous without having a scut job, but many areas of our society are aimed at mistreating and laughing at those that are different or “lower” than us on the social scale

  165. 165
    Pete Olski says:

    Think how unpleasant it must have been to work at that Whirlpool factory in Indiana. Whirlpool laid off all 1100 of the disgruntled, anti-social, charmless American employees and shipped their jobs to Mexico and its friendlier work force. Sure, the Mexican wages are dirt cheap, the labor and environmental regulations non-existent. Not a factor in the decision. It’s Johnny’s morose mug versus Pedro’s smiling face.

  166. 166
    JITC says:

    @wenchacha:

    Exactly. That was my first thought when he started with his crazytown spiel.

    Thankfully, the other guest on the show responded with something along the lines of “that’s just ridiculous” and pointed out that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic estimates of 3.2 million available jobs for 15 million unemployed INCLUDED minimum wage jobs and asked how the minimum wage employers could possibly lower wages to create more jobs.

    But as someone pointed out, even if employers did halve wages and double job openings, they would still need the demand to account for all that productivity. They would need raw materials/office space & equipment/electricity/etc. to accommodate the productivity. Not to mention the cost of health and any other benefits (or does this moron believe that it would be “good for the economy” if employers offered lots and lots of low salary jobs with no benefits)?

    It’s galling. They somehow want average Americans to “suck it up” and work for nothing and get fewer and fewer benefits WITHOUT a single reform to health insurance. Premiums are rising ASTRONOMICALLY even during this recession and yet they think people can live on half the salary as before.

    They truly come from a different planet. They must.

  167. 167
    Jim Shirk says:

    What a d**k – and such good Englishing too. Employees ‘smelling well’ indeed – I suppose smelling is a skill good employees have, as opposed to ‘smelling good,’ but I don’t suppose Ben Stein would pass ‘the smell test.’

  168. 168

    @demo woman: I’m glad someone else remembers that piece of shit.

  169. 169
    Rita says:

    So why is this “overbearing and unpleasant personality” employed? This is very mean spirited stupid rhetoric of Conservatives. They don’t play well with others.
    What has happened to moderate intelligent Republicans?

  170. 170

    Sad. I remember when I actually used to respect the guy, who would give common sense advice.
    My recommendation is that his physician screen him for multi-infarct dementia. Either that or put him in the same retirement community with Gore Vidal

  171. 171
    Rita says:

    @Winson Smith: That makes no sense !

  172. 172
    Cacti says:

    So, in short…

    The reason people can’t find new jobs during the worst economic downturn in 70 years is not because there are presently 4-5 job seekers for every open position, but rather…

    They’re lazy and have bad manners and personal hygiene.

  173. 173
    Rita says:

    @El Cid: These people might have been responsible if Bush/Chaney/Rove didn’t bring us the brink of another depression by their stupidity and “war games”( not to mention killing our young people in the service to their country). They didn’t know we were in a recession for over a year as per Press Secretary Dana Perino!

  174. 174
    Silver Owl says:

    I always love to hear arrogant fools trash their customers when the economy is so bad.

    Buying anything from any company associated with such abusive idiocy like Stein is out of the question permanently. Even when the economy improves.

  175. 175
    CalD says:

    In fairness, there really is a certain portion of the population who are basically unemployable. There was a point during the Clinton administration where unemployment was so low that if you were trying to fill any kind of position really, but especially any sort of low-skill or entry level position, you were meeting a lot of those folks because they were pretty much the only people who didn’t have jobs. People started referring to them as 4-percenters, 4% having been the unemployment rate at the time.

    But we’re obviously a long way from that point right now. Seriously, Ben.

  176. 176
    John Bird says:

    @Nick:

    No, job growth is what I meant; note that I said “can’t find new ones”.

  177. 177
    John Bird says:

    @cmorenc:

    Here in North Carolina, the “community college” system has become the all-in-one set of public institutions that each typically offer everything from a typical first-two-years of college array of courses (for those preparing to transfer to four-year public colleges) – i.e. what “junior colleges” typically do, to the sorts of technical/artisan trades that “technical schools” typically do. In some cases, these community colleges have retained the name e.g. “Wake Technical Institute”, in some cases they’ve adopted the name “community college”, but in reality they both now do the exact same thing at each institution no matter what the local label, and are all part of a statewide system under a common administrative umbrella. The particular array of course or technical offerings may vary from institution to institution but the nature of that variance has nothing anymore to do with what the particular institution is named (within North Carolina at least).

    I’ll back this up as 100% true – they’re also excellent schools to start a college career.

  178. 178
    sara says:

    Warning to the Guys: males like Ben Stein (tightfisted, self-righteous bitches) do not get the ladies.

  179. 179

    Remember Bush’s labor secretary, Rosalind Chao? She was quoted in Parade once with a very similar opinion to Stein’s: “Workers today don’t take baths!”
    Now maybe Ben’s son doesn’t, but whose fault is that…?

  180. 180
    Bill H says:

    I hope none of you were watching The Ed Show and his guest, a woman whose unemployment benefits ran out in April. Not an exact quote, but…

    Ed: Will you take any job that is offered to you now?

    Woman: Yes, as long as it’s in my field, administrative services, and as long as it has benefits, you bet I will.

    Oh. My. God.

  181. 181
    jcricket says:

    Did I miss the point where we also talk about how job openings and the unemployed are not evenly distributed?

    There may be tons of unemployed people in one region or industry, and a fair number of openings in another region and/or industry – but you still get high unemployment.

    Oh, and it’s not trivial for most people to move (they own a house, or their family lives there, or their kids go to school,etc.), and most companies won’t hire you from out of town.

    Throw in a growing workforce (i.e. everyone leaving college becomes another person in the job pool) and unless job creation is actually greater than the number of new job seekers each month you actually have a decline in number of jobs available.

    But I’m sure all those lazy union workers and the spics are to blame somehow.

  182. 182
    Pseudonym says:

    But in general, as I survey the ranks of those who are unemployed look in the mirror, I see people who have overbearing and unpleasant personalities and/or who do not know how to do a day’s work. They are people who create either little utility or negative utility on the job.

  183. 183
    Human Being says:

    Blame the victim.

    Makes you feel morally superior.

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