Ben Stein and NYT ‘Get Really Seriously Wrong’

Stating quite succinctly how “there is an ongoing issue about whether global warming deniers should be treated seriously by the media, given that they have about as much scientific support for their position as the flat-Earth crew,” economist Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 7/11/09) notes how the July 11 “New York Times goes them one better in finding a global warming ignorer”:

Apparently, Ben Stein has never heard about global warming. How else can someone interpret this paragraph:

I don’t believe we need to do something radical about energy, but even assuming that we do, why do it right now? Do we need to take one of the few sectors that is working like clockwork through the recession–oil refining–and wring its neck by making it pay for pollution “cap and trade” credits? Why attack a healthy industry when so many other sectors are ill? What is all of this anger at Big Oil, which has not done anything blameworthy, all about? Why endlessly beat up the companies that keep the country going?

He then goes on to complain about the Obama administration’s efforts to change the laws on foreclosures. This would be a good idea, except the Obama administration is not working to change the laws on foreclosure.

Baker explains that “Stein is opposed to this plan because he is worried that it will further discourage mortgage lending,” even though “there is no problem of mortgage lending at present. Mortgage rates are near historic lows and the Mortgage Bankers Association applications index indicates that few people are having trouble getting mortgages.” Baker is impressed with how, “once again, Ben Stein distinguishes himself by how many things he can get really seriously wrong in a relatively short column.”