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Ben Stein: ‘Regular Folks Don’t Know Much About the Economy… or How Trade Works’

This article first appeared in the Guardian:

Ben Stein, writer, economist, actor and Republican, has seen a lot of elections but none like this. “It has been an extremely strange year,” says the 71-year-old who got his start as a speechwriter for Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

Stein has never voted for a Democrat, but he is appalled by Trump’s anti-free trade rhetoric that he says could lead to a trade war. Hillary Clinton probably has a better grasp of things, Stein thinks. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is “willfully ignorant”.

“I have seen a lot of elections and I have never seen anything like this. It seems to me it is a testament to the complete collapse of education that people can have such preposterous policies as an end to free trade and think that’s going to help America. It’s just startling that: a) the candidates know so little and; b) that the voters have not been better informed about this. The American education system is in a state of freefall collapse so that certainly explains a lot,” he says.

[…]

In terms of raising tax on the rich, frankly, I think that’s a good idea. The rich in this country are really, really rich. And they can pay more tax. Whether that’s going to be enough to substantially affect the deficit is very, very questionable. I applaud Mr Sanders for wanting to seriously raise rates on the rich. That is something that should happen. If he did it, there would be a lot of yelling and screaming but I don’t think the deficit would be affected very much.

[…]

I don’t think the regular folks – of course, I don’t know that many regular folks – but I don’t think the regular folks know much about the economy or about how trade works. If the regular folks think that China came along in the middle of the night and stole all their jobs, then nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just nonsense. I think Trump is popular because he says: I am going to go to China and get those jobs back. But he is not going to be able to do that. And any attempt to try would be a disaster.

You can read the rest of the story here.

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