NYT’s Economic Pollyanna: Tighten Your Belts

Dean Baker nails the New York TimesBen Stein again for “telling people that it is important to save money in order to protect themselves against the sort of downturn that the economy is now seeing.” Baker writes (Beat the Press, 10/26/08) that while it’s obvious “people should try to put some money aside, most people get paid less than Mr. Stein and do much better work”:

Does anyone remember back in July when Stein told readers “we’re dodging the worst“? How about the great piece from a bit over a year ago telling us about the “Chicken Littles” who were getting so worried over the problems in the subprime mortgage market?

Yeah, it’s a good idea for people to save money, but most people have to work for a living. They have to perform on their jobs. The dishwashers can’t break the dishes day after day and still have a job. The cab drivers can’t get into accidents day after day and still be allowed to drive a cab.

It is only people like Ben Stein who have the right to completely mess up on their job all the time and still collect a paycheck, and indeed, a paycheck that is far higher than that received by the vast majority of people who actually do their job.

Basically, Baker finds it “a bit hard to see someone like this lecturing people who work for a living on the virtues of saving.” But then, these days this sort of incompetence seems almost to be an advantage in gaining a big media venue for one’s opinions.