Fact Check

Ben Stein: Bail Out Detroit - Now

Ben Stein wrote an editorial advocating a government bailout of the Big Three U.S. automakers?

Published Dec 16, 2008

Claim:   Ben Stein wrote an editorial advocating a government bailout of the Big Three U.S. automakers.


Example:   [Stein, December 2008]

Usually this column is about finance. It usually is an attempt to help the reader make money and have a more comfortable life. I am well aware that I have made a lot of mistakes and that in the short run many of my suggestions have turned out badly. Believe me, I am sorry. I still believe that in the long run the investment ideas will do well, but I am terribly sad that people's hopes have been disappointed in the short run.
My best guess is that we are in a panic of sellers and market manipulators and that we will recover within a few years, but I base this on history. We may have moved into a new phase where history is irrelevant. I would be surprised if that were so, since it's never been true before, but one never knows.

However, today, let's talk about the American auto companies. They need a bailout from us taxpayers, and they have to get it yesterday. Here's why:

[Rest of article here.]


Origins:   Ben Stein, a lawyer by training, has also served as a speechwriter for President Richard M. Nixon, has to date authored sixteen books (both novels

and non-fiction efforts), and continues to write editorials and columns for a number of publications. He is perhaps best known to the world at large, however, for his in-front-of-the-camera work as the dreadfully dull economics teacher in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off (and his similar role as the monotonic science teacher Mr. Cantwell on the TV series The Wonder Years) and as the keenly competitive host of the Comedy Central game show Win Ben Stein's Money.

Mr. Stein offers occasional commentaries published by a variety of on-line news outlets, and the item referenced above is based on one such commentary, entitled "Bail Out Detroit — Now" and published on the Yahoo! Finance site on 9 December 2008. His editorial advocates a government bailout of the troubled "Big Three" U.S. automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler), a position he had previously expressed to CBS News in response to the question, "What economic problem should be the government's top priority?":

America's Big Three automakers — GM, Ford and Chrysler — are not so big any more. They are on the ropes, in urgent danger of simply running out of cash.

Their executives and the unions who represent their workers, are pleading for a massive bailout from us, the taxpayers. President-elect Obama agrees with them.

Now there are plenty of good reasons to say no. After all, the Big Three have made every mistake in the book: far too lush employee contracts, poorly designed and poorly built cars that often burn too much gasoline.

Meanwhile, the Asian and German automakers with plants in the southern U.S. do a far better job at making cars people want to drive.

Mr. Bush, egged on by his own Dr. Evil, Henry Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury, is saying that Uncle Sam will not agree to a bailout. And in a way, I sympathize with President Bush and Secretary Paulson.

Still, the Obama team and the Democrats have this one right: The taxpayers just have to save Detroit.

Additional information:

    Ben Stein biography Ben Stein biography

Last updated:   19 December 2008


    Stein, Ben.   "Bail Out Detroit — Now."

    Yahoo! Finance.   9 December 2008.

    CBS News.   "Ben Stein Votes 'Yes' on Big Three Bailout."

    16 November 2008.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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