A response to Ben Stein

The following annotations are meta-commentary on Ben Stein’s recent article in Forbes.

  1. Speed up the decay of the school system—introduce voucher schemes to divert the money that would otherwise be spent on education, and funnel it into religious organizations. Discourage the teaching of science by introducing mandatory “Creationism” lessons, and putting confusing disclaimers on science textbooks. Send your children to private schools.

  2. Enshrine a thoroughly corrupt electoral system, in which corporations fund the politicians, and the politicians then give the money back to the corporations in exchange for airtime and media space. This will ensure that policy is decided by corporations, not voters. This in turn means that voters will need to turn to the judicial system rather than the legislative system as a means for enacting social reform and policy change.

  3. Make sure tobacco corporations, junk food vendors, biochem multinationals and NRA wingnuts own enough politicians to block any legislation that would reduce the wilful and unnecessary damage to people and society that they cause. This will leave them free to sell single servings of food that contain more than a day’s saturated fat and sodium, load cigarettes with unnecessary levels of addictive nicotine, sell drugs that haven’t been tested for long enough to ensure safety, skip the sale of safe acetaminophen in favor of the more profitable unsafe kind, feed people unnecessarily genetically modified foods, and otherwise screw the public over to increase profits. This will force people who want to do anything about the problem to engage in expensive, vicious and protracted lawsuits. Make sure you portray these people as greedy money-grabbing scumbags, and ignore the fact that a multi-million-dollar settlement is chump change for any major corporation.

  4. Make sure the people who get rich are lawyers, economists and actors. Make sure they’re the kind of cunning Machiavellians who would write fawning letters in praise of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger.

  5. Again, make sure corporations own government and electoral reform is blocked. This will ensure that criminal CEOs get off with a little slap on the wrist, and provide us with an endless supply of robber barons from Bill Gates to Ken Lay.

  6. Pass stupid and vicious anti-drug legislation. Confiscate innocent people’s property, refuse to spend money on drug treatment for addicts, lock up people who smoke pot, and deny people the right to take responsibility for their own choices. Pass legislation which makes it illegal for people to watch the DVD movies they’ve paid for, or lend CDs to a friend. Make sure all these laws are unenforceable. This will encourage disrespect for the law.

  7. Equate sex and violence, as though they were in some way comparable evils. Ignore that sex is a good and natural part of every person’s life, a positive force; treat it like violence, as something that damages people and should be suppressed. That goes double for same-sex sexual activity, of course. Block spending on contraception to try and discourage safe sexual activity and make it more dangerous, maybe that’ll get people to see it as a danger to society.

  8. Prevent gay and lesbian couples in long-term relationships from having children, while encouraging heterosexuals to breed no matter how unfit they are as parents. In fact, why not follow the model of Florida and say that even mixed-gender bisexual couples are unfit to have children? This will make sure there are plenty of divorced heterosexual single parents and children living in broken families, even though there are plenty of stable, loving families who would like to adopt.

  9. Use immigration to import cheap highly educated workers and reduce wages, while at the same time treating foreign countries as a resource to be plundered. This will ensure that the smart people leave foreign countries, and the ones left behind hate us.

  10. Increase the income gap between rich and poor. Sure, it’s bigger in the USA than in any other western nation, but it’s still not big enough. Campaign against redistributive taxation. Encourage tax cuts for rich dead people, ignoring that the “death tax” only hits million-dollar estates, only hits those who fail to take personal responsibility and plan for the passing on of their assets, and above all ignore that the people inheriting huge amounts of wealth did nothing to deserve that wealth in the first place. The sooner we can get rid of inheritance taxes and move to a feudal system of inherited wealth, the better!

  11. Pretend that the failures of the US medical system are caused by some imaginary straw man called “socialized medicine”. This will hopefully pull the wool over Americans’ eyes enough that they won’t notice that every other western nation has a state-run healthcare system that works fine, while in America 40% of people have absolutely no healthcare coverage whatsoever. Tell the people who can’t afford necessary medication and treatment that it would be even more expensive under a state-run healthcare system, or that their taxes would be crippling; most of them haven’t lived and worked abroad, and won’t know that you’re lying outrageously.

  12. Give religion special privileges. Allow religious adherents to mutilate their children’s genitalia. When priests help child rapists and drug dealers evade justice, don’t lock them up—instead, continue to treat them with respect.

  13. Finally, when pontificating about the country’s problems, make sure you focus on the symptoms and ignore the causes. After all, if you’re the kind of rich politician, lawyer or entertainer who benefits from the current system, the last thing you want is change. I mean, you’d hardly be a conservative if you wanted reform, would you?