I am still suffering mightily from my Dec. 1, 2022, knee surgery. I never had any idea that my body had so much pain in it.
I go back over and over in my mind to “the war on drugs.” Yes, great to stop human beings dying from illegal drug overdoses. But what a horrible thought to keep us innocent post-op patients from being free from pain.
What about people with cancer? People who are close to death? People who want to be able to communicate with their loved ones but cannot because they are in too much pain to think straight?
I know about this because my poor brain is in these exact straits. It’s also on my mind that I do not want my child and grandchild to be assaulted by drug lords and cartels, who care only about money and not at all about life and love.
On to another subject: How about a war on ignorance about money? I am stunned day after day by people who come up to me at the supermarket and ask questions about money.
How long will the inflation last? How do I choose the right stocks? Should I buy or rent my home? How do I keep from paying taxes that can legitimately be avoided?
These are interesting questions, no doubt. But for my fellow fish fiends at the grocery store to think I know the answers to these questions and can answer them in a few seconds at the checkout line is frightening.
Arithmetic, long-term study, and patience are required to answer these queries in even the most basic ways. For Americans to think I can wave a wand and make the uninformed informed, and capable, is sad.
(And yet there are Americans who really believe that another man or woman can do just that. Those people are the legitimate prey of the unscrupulous.)
Most distressing of all are calls or texts from friends or relatives who are close to homelessness. They want to know how, with one key stroke, they can move to middle-class status. This number is growing, I am sorry to say.
The pandemic of ignorance about money is growing like a house on fire. In my life, in 2023, for the first time, I have friends who are either homeless or on a knife’s edge about that horrible status.
One of them is a cousin who was a prestige law school graduate. He started his working life as an associate at a major law firm on Wall Street. Now, he is a security guard at a Walmart after three suicide attempts.
Another is a drama school graduate from an Ivy League school. These people all have some serious mental health issues, to be sure. But they are intelligent, knowledgeable men and women. They are no more mentally disabled than persons I worked with at important government agencies 50 years ago.
How did they collapse so thoroughly? How much of the issue is lack of education about money itself, and especially the life-or-death importance of acquiring education about saving?
I am keyed up about this because in my family, reckless spending has led to catastrophe. I have seen it in the form of suicide by men and women at least as well educated as I am, but who did not learn to put aside money for what will be in the inevitable risks of economic life.
I had relatives (long before my salad days) who literally jumped from high windows in the crash leading up to the Great Depression. I had an extremely beloved first cousin who ended it all because of a gigantic swing in the oil markets that had previously made him rich enough to buy Bentleys for friends and relatives.
I could list others. But I get sad thinking about it. What I might do instead is start dropping hints about avoiding the dreadful effects of ignorance about money.
I’ll start soon.
Ben Stein is a writer, an actor, and a lawyer who served as a speechwriter in the Nixon administration as the Watergate scandal unfolded. He began his unlikely road to stardom when director John Hughes hired him as the numbingly dull economics teacher in the urban comedy, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Read more more reports from Ben Stein — Click Here Now.
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