The Sunday Business section of the New York Times is a gift that keeps on giving. We've already mentioned Gret-Gret's fabulous rave. And next up we've got Ben Stein's column.
In case you haven't been paying attention, Stein is the kind of Republican commentator the Times loves to love. The kind that lets people write things like, well, this:
"When a card-carrying Republican gets fired up about greedy executives and the wealth gap, that means our current state of economic stratification is baaaad, y'all."
You get the point. They might as well call the column "Even Republican Ben Stein says…" because that's the point of the whole thing.
Yesterday's column was actually more sober than many recent efforts. Ben takes a look at the recent wave of stock buybacks and considers them a bad sign for the economy. He's got a number of reasons for thinking this—some kookier than others—but the main one seems to be that he takes the buybacks as a sign that businesses have run out of other ideas for spending money. Now, this no doubt partly explains some of the buyback wave. But it's also plausible that corporate boards have simply become more shareholder friendly and are pushing more cash back to shareholders in reaction to all the negative publicity from recent corporate scandals.
But that's more of a quibble than anything more serious. What really caught our eye was the sweetness at the end of his column. After writing about the joy of his wife after her gave her a big diamond ring, Ben writes:
In a few days it will be Valentine’s Day. Don’t mortgage your future, but if the last few years have been good to you and if you have given what you should to charity, make the investment in your spouse or significant other.
The return in her happiness, as far as I can tell, is beyond counting — and tax free.
When you’re out of town, when you’re under the ground, that stone will still be there on her finger — and in a way, you will be, too.
Shoot. If "even Ben Stein" is getting all warm around the heart region, maybe we can too. And we apologize now for getting all sincere on you for the second time in one day.
It’s a Great Country, Especially if You’re Rich [New York Times]