Ben Stein Watch: May 11, 2008

Ben Stein admits this week to having a "febrile brain". Does that mean he has meningitis? I’m not sure that would necessarily explain much, but maybe it helps us a little way along the road to understanding why the NYT continues to publish his silly conspiracy theories – perhaps he’s just too sick to be fired.

In any case, here are a few of the random ideas clustered in this week’s column, plus one which I made up.

  • Ben Stein is a "dog fancier".
  • Ben Stein wants his son to be a hedge fund manager, or maybe a laid-off widower in Lima, Ohio.
  • Hedge fund managers "can plunge world markets into turmoil".
  • According to "Econ 101", the high price of oil should lead inexorably to – wait for it – a lower price of oil.
  • Oil companies "are at the mercy of the traders, as we all are".
  • Traders were also responsible for the bubble in Miami beach condos.
  • Hedge-fund managers are all members of the Global Darwinist Conspiracy, an elite secret society devoted to destroying the planet by any means necessary.

But wait, he’s not done yet. As a grand finalé Stein gets out his crystal ball and tells us what will burst the oil-and-gas bubble:

How will the bubble end? When the crafty old guy with the German short-haired pointers is recovering from his gunshot wounds and wakes up, calls in his associates and says, “Boys, it’s time to sell.” The word flies from the Bentley dealer to the yacht harbor, and, pretty soon, light Brent crude is in full meltdown.

Yeah, "light Brent crude", that famous benchmark. I think it’s related to West Brent Intermediate.

This is all just Stein spinning his wheels. He’s a broken record at this point: anything that Ben Stein doesn’t like (lower stock prices, higher gas prices) must be the fault of Hank Paulson and/or his friends on Wall Street and in the hedge-fund industry. If it weren’t for their evil machinations, then whenever the price of oil rose, new supplies of oil would automagically appear, thanks to the fairy godmother that is Adam Smith’s invisible hand. But like all doers of dastardly deeds, Paulson and his peccant pals will have their comeuppance sooner or later.

I suspect that even meningitic freelancers can be fired from the NYT if they literally copy-and-paste their columns, submitting exactly the same copy that they filed a few weeks earlier. This is then my newest hope, that Stein will forget what he’s already written, and hand in an old column by mistake. But maybe that would only cause the NYT to take even more pity on him than they already have.

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