I'm Ben Stein, And I've Erred Financially

Comedian Ben Stein speaks at the Republican National Convention in the First Union Center in Philadelphia Monday, July 31, 2000. AP

Feeling bad about some of your recent financial choices? You have plenty of company including our Contributor Ben Stein:


These days I spend even more time than usual beating myself up.

I'm supposed to know a lot about economics and finance. And I guess compared to some people and my dogs I do. But I still have made major money mistakes lately.

I have a lot more real estate than I should have. When prices were skyrocketing that was mighty sweet. Not so much now.

I have a lot more stock than I probably should have. A year and a half ago, that looked smart. Now we have some stock market days that turn my stomach.

How could I have made so many idiotic mistakes? How am I ever going to explain myself to my son that his inheritance disappeared? How will I ever pay for my livelihood when I'm older and grayer?

But I have some consolation! Yes, I lost money. But I didn't lose billions the way the top dogs at some banks did.

I didn't get paid a salary of tens of millions only to drive my company up to the gates of bankruptcy the way some of the sharpest minds on Wall Street did.

I didn't borrow tens of billions from my depositors and lose it in subprime mortgages.

I didn't make my stockholders pay me bonuses and options worth hundreds of millions - only to lead my stockholders to ruin.

We should all take these lessons to heart. It's a rare guy or gal (except for the ones in the oil business) who isn't feeling some pain right about now.

And many of us feel we did something stupid and a lot of dopey things about money but how much can we blame our little selves if the smartest guys in the room - living gods on Wall Street - blew tens of billions on an investment that never really made much sense?

So relax. We all make mistakes and we'll probably make them again. The smart ones among us go forward from there to tomorrow. The fools think we can get yesterday back. We can't.
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