LOS ANGELES – Former actor and game show host Ben Stein said earlier this week that the main reason people are poor in America is because they want to be.
“My humble observation is that most long-term poverty is caused by self-sabotage by individuals,” he said. “Drug use. Drunkenness. Having children without a family structure. Gambling. Poor work habits. Disastrously unfortunate appearance.
“These are some of the elements of freedom available to those in poverty, and for some people it’s a fair trade-off,” he added.
The conservative commentator, known for his roles in films such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Ghostbusters II,” claimed that wealth inequality was a good thing, and anyone who says differently was simply jealous of billionaires. “[Billionaires] fund symphonies and ballets and schools for inner city kids,” he explained. “We want for there to be a high number of rich people who function as a brake on government just as the nobles did on the crown in long ago England.”
Stein, who also guest starred on episodes of “Charles in Charge” and “The Wonder Years” in addition to serving as a speechwriter for President Nixon, claimed that poor people had chosen to be poor so as to avoid having to work, and he lamented all the unwarranted media attention being given to those comfortably nestled within America’s safety net. “Yes, the government designates many tens of millions as poor, but they almost always have indoor plumbing,” he said. “They get food stamps. They get free medical care. They get vouchers for many of the needs of life.”
“With all that free stuff, who wouldn’t want to be poor?”