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Ben Stein's Disaster Plan: Stash Cash, Buy Vacation Home

Reported by Judy - September 17, 2005

Ben Stein may know how to sell books about getting rich to the average Joe and Jane Six-Pack, but he knows nothing about those average folks live. He proved that yet again on Saturday (Sept. 17, 2005) on "Cavuto on Business."

One of the regular panelists on this so-called financial show, Stein was supposed to be discussing Cavuto's claim that cutting taxes would be a good way to pay for repairing the damage from Katrina.
Instead of debating how to pay for the rebuilding plan, Stein questioned the necessity of it.

Stein: "I question the whole idea of throwing so much money at this problem. I mean, $60 billion has just been thrown out the window with as far as I can tell, close to zero accountability. I love Mr. Bush. He's a compassionate, strong man. But he is compassionate to a fault here.

"I don't see why the taxi driver in San Francisco, the steel worker in Gary, should have to pay out of their paychecks to rebuild casinos, highways, high-end restaurants in the tourist, French Quarter of New Orleans. I say yes, help the very poorest amongst us, the most destitute among us, but let's not have the federal government just throwing money at the problems of the middle and upper middle class."

Charles Payne, from WallStreet.com, interjected that "taking from the rich and giving to the poor, that's really not the solution" and that "everyone benefits from tax cuts." And he said that the spending in the Gulf region would not be throwing money away, because the highways, casinos, and restaurants would generate jobs for the poor.

Stein argued that middle and upper middle class people should pay for those investments themselves but "for the very poor, yes, the rich should pay. I disagree with you on that. I do think the rich have a duty to the poor." Less you think Stein is going soft here, I suspect what Stein is saying is that we should keep the rich rich, so that they can help the poor.

Leigh Gallagher, from Smart Money, urged the federal government to cut taxes for entrepreneurs in the area. "Nobody will rebuild an area faster than aggressive, self-interested entrepreneurs," she said.

Cavuto agree, saying that Republicans "proved" during the Reagan years and the early years of the Bush administration that "tax cuts generate revenue." Never mind the fact that the nation cut taxes under Ronald Reagan and then built up big deficits and the only way we got rid of them was when President Clinton raised taxes. Yeah, that's right, we got rid of annual deficits by raising taxes and actually paid down the national debt that had been accumulating since the days of George Washington, more or less. Never mind that George Bush tried to cut taxes and raise more money but only ended up with the biggest deficits in history. Despite all that, Cavuto and Fox News are still pushing the "cut taxes to get more revenue" lie.

Stein made his real mark on the show at the end, when Cavuto asked him how people can prepare for a disaster such as Katrina. He suggested, and I swear I am not kidding here, that you have a lot of liquid assets ready (i.e. spare cash hidden in the house), have a second home in another part of the country not subject to the same type of natural disaster as your other home, and make arrangements with a stock broker to get money to you in an emergency.

Even Cavuto pointed out that not everyone can afford a second home, but Stein was undeterred:

"I'm not saying everyone can do it, but everyone can take a couple thousand dollars, and put it in a safe place so that when a disaster strikes and the ATM's don't work, he or she will have enough money to go out and buy food even at gouging prices. Anyone can have a car that he keeps in a high, dry spot, and you're wrong by the way, millions, and tens of millions, have a second home."

So that's it. If those people in the Super Dome would just have kept a couple thousand in cash stashed in a safe spot in their home, they would have been able to take a taxi to their welfare Cadillac, which was in a high, dry spot, and then could easily have motored to their second home in say, Phoenix or the Rocky Mountains, and been able to watch the looting on TV in the comfort of their own homes.

No wonder Republicans are all rich. They're just plain smarter than the rest of us.

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