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Ben Stein: Mexican Labor, Hard Work Key to San Diego's Economic Recovery

President Obama, Mitt Romney, Democrats and Republicans lack the answers to bring America out of a recession, economist Ben Stein said Friday. San Diego can be a model for the rest of the nation and use Mexican labor as part of its economic recovery.

In a San Diego visit, Fox News commentator Ben Stein slammed both Republicans and Democrats and said neither party’s presidential candidate has the answers for the American economy.

“I don’t think either of them has the solution to the problem,” Stein said Friday at the San Diego Convention Center. “I don’t think the solution will come out of Washington. The solution will come out of industry initiative, hard work and through the efforts of ordinary citizens.”

Both major parties contributed to the collapse of the economy, Stein told more than 200 local business and political leaders at the South County Economic Development Summit.

“We’re in terrible budgetary and fiscal shape as a result of policies of the past from both parties, believe me, both parties,” he said.

Wearing his signature suit and sneakers, the economist and actor known for his monotone voice was fairly animated in presenting his vision for the economy.


After starting with more than 10 minutes of jokes involving a priest, a rabbi and an economist, being chased by a bear, and how to make a hurricane, Stein got down to business.

The recession began with “all the bad ideas that have always led to a recession”—over-reliance on housing and derivatives, irresponsible lending and allowing Lehman Brothers to fail. Big banks then seized up and refused to make loans, he noted.

The solution: Avoid poor policy that led to the crisis, work hard like previous generations and, for San Diego, seek labor in Mexico.

The last time America’s economy was in such bad shape, during the Great Depression, it took World War II and its aftermath to recover, he said.

No single event or action could spur recovery this time, he said, since war of that magnitude would likely involve nuclear bombs and the end of the world.

Instead of a quick turnaround, it will be a long, slow road back.

“It’s not going to be a sudden, gigantic enormous recovery, but it probably will be a recovery little by little,” he said.

There is still plenty of money and capital in America to improve the economy. The problem Stein said he hears business owners repeat over and over is flat demand and a lack of good workers.

San Diego can “show the way for the rest of the county” together with an enormous supply of good labor a few miles away, he said.

“It’s as if you guys miraculously brought China right next door to you,” Stein said.

“You’ve got American capital, American technology and fantastic labor across the border, and the mixture of these is just a miracle for your area and for the whole North American economy. It’s just an astonishing thing. There’s no other country in the world, no other big industrial country in the world that has this benefit.”

Mexico still has drug cartels and security issues, he said—and illegal immigration is a problem.

“Some [immigrants] cause harm and some of them just work very hard and keep our houses neat and well organized,” he said. “Those problems are little by little being worked on, and having the overwhelming benefit of having the next China right next door greatly outweighs the problems.”

Famous for his role as an economics teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Stein said we can better educate ourselves, but American work ethic has been in steady decline for decades.

“I look at young Americans and I just shake my head,” Stein said. America got to be as rich and powerful and wonderful as it has become through hard work. “That ethic has disappeared in large measure in this country.”

Some things must be avoided in order for economic recovery to take hold.

“We cannot let there be a catastrophe in Europe,” he said.

“We’ve got to get him [Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner] and the president up there to say, ‘We’re not going to let the big banks in Europe fail. If we have to buy their bonds, we’ll buy them, but we’re not going to let them fail.”

The debt crisis should also be seen as a critical threat, Stein said.

Stein took ample time in his speech to praise the American military—“the backbone of this country”—and said America needs to pay its service members more money.

“I’m not saying more aircraft carriers,” he said. “We have to pay people in the military a living wage. It’s an outrage that we don’t. It’s just an outrage."

People such as the military who do for others will get us through, he said.

Stein finished by paraphrasing John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, which he saw as a boy:

“We’ve faced every kind of threat from nuclear war to communism, and we all ask God to go to work for this country, but if we’re going to get it done, we all have to realize one thing: God’s work is our work.”

Jeff Phinney September 22, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Pure Genius coming from a man who thinks Evolution is just a "Theory".
Jane Tanaka MD September 22, 2012 at 02:10 AM
I am a 3rd generation Japanese American and my first generation ancestors in Hawaii were sugar cane laborers working for 50 cents a week. My parents, the second generation, skilled tradespeople in dressmaking and diesel mechanics. They put me through college and medical school, and I am a physician in Ramona now. I am married to a skilled tradesperson, a plumber, and we have survived this 11 year economic downturn by making many sacrifices, and lowering prices for those who need help still in psychiatry and in plumbing. You cant outsource entire sectors of jobs/carreers to outside our country, whether it be China or Mexico. Our kids... some of them would be great doctors, economists, and entertainers... but some of them would also be great landscapers, plumbers, mechanics, dressmakers, industrial workers also. Its not about everyone in the US having desk/computer jobs and not sweating at work... to be a strong cohesive nation we need to realize that the millionaire entrepeneur is interdependent with the farm worker picking avocados. We need to support each other and respect each other , be willing to pay for products made in America, and keep our jobs here.
Batman September 22, 2012 at 02:45 AM
He's right. It is only a theory.
Chris September 22, 2012 at 03:05 AM
"...it took World War II and its aftermath to recover." If Mexico is the answer...LET'S GO TO WAR AGAINST MEXICO!! We will annex the land for tourism--make a bigass Disney style theme park where the current inhabitants can earn an American wage and pay American income tax and actually contribute to the American welfare system for once. They will be American citizens so there will be no boarder fence, therefore no boarder jumpers, therefore no needless deaths in the desert. They can open more taco shops(hey, I really love good burritos) and legally work as domestics. Stein's right. It is a win win for everybody.
Jeff Phinney September 22, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Guess again, batboy.
Marcus Boyd September 22, 2012 at 04:15 AM
- “I don’t think the solution will come out of Washington. The solution will come out of industry initiative, hard work and through the efforts of ordinary citizens.” Then - after ordinary citizens come to the solution - Washington, and the corporations that run it, will tax it - then markup it up significantly - then sell it back to us, which will then - crash the delusional markets - then poverty rises - then we do again, and again, and again. INSANITY: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein
Libi Uremovic September 22, 2012 at 12:31 PM
"...and, for San Diego, seek labor in Mexico...." but we don't have a shortage of labor, we have a shortage of jobs...
Libi Uremovic September 22, 2012 at 01:15 PM
"...“I look at young Americans and I just shake my head,” Stein said....'' our generation has pillaged the country and you've got the nerve to 'shake your head' at the kids? fk you ben stein the problems in this country come from 40 years of poor choices by the boomers and old people...40 years of gluttony and sloth by the people that now want to sit down because 'they deserve it'... we will get out of our children exactly what we put into them...and in the last 40 years that hasn't been much...
Batman September 22, 2012 at 01:48 PM
He's right. It is only a theory, and a weak one at that.
Jon Hall September 22, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Hmmmmmm --- Patrons on this side of the border raking in the cash --- Peons on the other side doing the work ... Sounds a lot like the British Empire Ben ...
Richard Cannon September 22, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Ben Stein by the numbers. 1. Mexico should be our labor pool rather than lazy, unqualified Americans. 2. Not bailing out a corrupt financial instituion was a bad thing. 3. We should buy Europe's debt with our huge reserve of cash. 4. American will have a slow recovery. This guy is a prophet and a genius...in his own mind.
Komfort September 22, 2012 at 02:48 PM
"Stein said we can better educate ourselves, but American work ethic has been in steady decline for decades. “I look at young Americans and I just shake my head,” Stein said. America got to be as rich and powerful and wonderful as it has become through hard work. “That ethic has disappeared in large measure in this country.”" compared to "we will get out of our children exactly what we put into them...and in the last 40 years that hasn't been much." Looks like you both said the same thing, libi.
Shorebird September 22, 2012 at 02:54 PM
No more outsourcing or hiring outside of our borders for jobs to be done here. Put America and American citizens back to work.
Shorebird September 22, 2012 at 03:03 PM
and Libi, I am not in agreement with you on this one. I started working when I was 12 yrs old, mowing lawns, cleaning house, babysitting. At 16 I went to work at Walker Scott downtown and at 22 went to work for BofA. Attended Pasadena City College nights for 4 yrs earned my certification in International Banking Law. I paid into Social Security for 50 years. Do not tell me I sat on my ass for forty years. I worked hard and was paid less per hour than men doing the same job. Oh, I also became a single mom and raised a child by myself. A fine hardworking American citizen. We have not sat on our asses. Sloth and" whatever" come from the country clubbers>Dont put a blanket blame on "old people". Shame on you
Kay Kardian-Porter September 22, 2012 at 03:24 PM
In one sense Stein is correct..our young people today walking around with their Ipods, cell phones, etc...they do not even have an idea as to what or why our ecconomy is in trouble. You walk down a street and you see most of them young and some who are not so young looking down texting etc...they do not look at the beauty or the sadness that is out there. They have no idea...basic is not taught to them while they are young. Simple things like taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, cleaning their rooms, they are not even aware of the outcome. They want the high paying jobs and they don't even have common sense to figure out simple things in life. Not all of them but most of our young ones are just waiting for the next text. Untill parents start teaching their children the basics instead of awarding them with high tech mechines and not helping each other it will only get worse. Technelogy is a great thing that happend to this country and without it some of us cannot accomplish task that our grandfathers did automatically. I was one of the people that was caught in the transition from typing on a normal typewriter to learning the computer in the workplace. It did make my work easer I will admit. Our America was built on hard working people. We need to teach our young generation the value of what our America is and not to take it for granted. Somewhere that got lost.
Jeff Phinney September 22, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Once again, thank you for letting us in on your lack of understanding with regard to the Universe and reality.
Marcus Boyd September 22, 2012 at 03:52 PM
I'm very disappointed in the way 'old people' for the past 30-40 years, have indeed 'sat on their butts', and even voted to allow politicians to remove nearly all the subjects that were available to 'old people' when they were in high school. Subjects such as Art, Science, Drama, Music, Physical Education and even LEARNING HOW TO DRIVE has been stripped from public education. Face it, the voting public has allowed the public school system to be dummied-down so much that, as a nation, we are no longer creating or inventing, we are only educating kids enough to service us - for what we already have - or buy from China. We must rebuild K-12 schools! That is how to fix this mess, and it won't be overnight, and can't be left to the same politicians who are planning - in advance - to build prisons for when kindergarteners turn 18. Am I off base, or does what I said ring true to you too?
Tom Yarnall September 22, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Well said, Jane. Blood, sweat and tears is the foundation of our country.
Tom Yarnall September 22, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Kay, I don't understand how you, and many others, put our young citizens in the same pot. If interested, I could introduce you to many in my sphere that are not dumbed down phone freaks. When you start generalizing you lose sight of reality. Things tend to run away with their self. Your message was the word of the day when television came to be.Were you a member of that generation?
Jamie Edmonds September 22, 2012 at 07:15 PM
People still give Ben Stein the time of day, let alone give him credit for cogent thought? Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NiNGK3y5Ypg
Libi Uremovic September 22, 2012 at 11:53 PM
that's you individually, but as a nation the results of the last 40 years is a massive debt, crumbling infrastructure, and horrible eduction system... in 1970 american kids were 10 steps ahead of the rest of the world, now the world is 10 steps ahead of them... women joined the workforce in mass, but instead of having more wealth we as a nation have a pile of debt.....the math just doesn't add up...
Shorebird September 24, 2012 at 06:50 PM
just sayin Be sure to read to the bottom or you will miss the message... 1. There will be no special bilingual programs in the schools. 2. All ballots will be in this nation's language. 3. All government business will be conducted in our language. 4. Non-residents will NOT have the right to vote no matter how long they are here. 5. Non-citizens will NEVER be able to hold political office. 6. Foreigners will not be a burden to the taxpayers. No welfare, no food stamps, no health care, or other government assistance programs. Any burden will be deported. 7. Foreigners can invest in this country, but it must be an amount at least equal to 40,000 times the daily minimum wage. 8. If foreigners come here and buy land... options will be restricted. Certain parcels including waterfront property are reserved for citizens naturally born into this country. 9. Foreigners may have NO protests; NO demonstrations, NO waving of a foreign flag, no political organizing, NO bad-mouthing our president or his policies. These will lead to deportation. 10. If you do come to this country illegally, you will be actively hunted and, when caught, sent to jail until your deportation can be arranged. All assets will be taken from you. Too strict? The above laws are current immigration laws of MEXICO !
John Haupt September 28, 2012 at 06:05 AM
What a racist! Exploit Mexicans. If it weren't for the culture of this country rotting from within, we should be so lucky to have a vibrant economy such as Mexico's.. If the demand for illegal drugs here ceased or were legalized, the cartels would be selling churros at the border crossings. Was there a Mexican plot to sell toxic derivatives worldwide causing the economic mess we live in? (Clue-look in the mirror).
Jimmy Sanders September 28, 2012 at 12:49 PM
We should be so lucky to have a vibrant economy such as Mexico's? Well that does answer a burning question. I was wondering why thousands upon thousands U.S. Citizens are swimming the Rio Grande to find work down south and send money back to North Dakota.
John Haupt September 29, 2012 at 05:53 AM
Not everyone swimming across the Rio Grande is Mexican. In fact, check Forbes ranking of billionaires (sept 2012) and you'll find the richest man in the world is a philanthropic Mexican. Check out the biography of Carlos Slim who has more money than either Bill & Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet. I understand he may be looking for a gardener.....
Batman September 29, 2012 at 06:50 AM
Very true. Only about 60% of illegal aliens coming into the USA are Mexican. The rest are coming from all over the world, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. And they are not just swimming the Rio Grande. They are coming in through the airports also, and have been for decades. The "9-11 Truth" organization insists there was a conspiracy within our own government to destroy the World Trade Center. I believe there was too. Just look at all the politicians and bureaucrats who have insisted on leaving the borders open - they are the culprits. Every administration that has failed to secure the border has contributed to the coming terrorist attack also, which will likely dwarf 9-11-01. Many believe it will happen on or right after the election. Yes, even George W. is responsible. Oh, and Charles Darwin was a very brilliant man, but evolution is still just a theory.
helen December 13, 2012 at 09:01 AM
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Shorebird December 13, 2012 at 11:14 PM
this is total crap and how you weren't censored is beyond me.

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