Many of us know Ben Stein from his role as the teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off or as host and contestant on Win Ben Stein's Money, which ran on Comedy Central for seven years. But Mr. Stein has also worked as a university professor, a poverty lawyer, a trade lawyer, a White House lawyer, and speechwriter for Richard Nixon.
He's an economist and author of more than a dozen books -- including his newest, Yes, You Can Time the Market, which he co-authored with Phil Demuth. David and Tom Gardner recently played "Buy, Sell, or Hold?" with him.
Tom: Buy, sell, or hold reality television?
Stein: I think reality television is here for a while because the scripts of dramas and sitcoms have gotten so stale and predictable.
David: Someone is trying to create a reality television channel -- have you seen that?
Stein: No, I haven't seen that, but I think it's a great idea and I suspect someone is going to make a lot of money on it.
Tom: What sort of lurid details would a reality show based on Ben Stein feature?
Stein: It would probably feature my obsessive love for my dog Bridgett, who I'm so madly in love with it's insane. And the fact that my wife and my lives are dominated by our two dogs and four cats.
David: This next one is for Ben Stein the lawyer -- buy, sell, or hold capital punishment?
Stein: I think probably buy, but with extreme caution. I think there are just too many mistakes being made until we can decide. Well... I'll say hold, I'll just say hold. Until we can decide to dedicate a really substantial fraction of the national wealth to providing adequate legal defense to people in capital cases, let's not have any more capital punishment.
Tom: Her company recently released earnings. She is still under investigation by the SEC. Buy, sell, or hold Martha Stewart?
Stein: Oh, sell Martha Stewart. I think she hasn't really learned the lesson of what she did wrong. She is a terribly capable, intelligent, hard-working woman, but she hasn't really learned or confessed to what she did wrong. Until she fesses up and says, "I've made a mistake and I've learned my lesson from it," I wouldn't want to come near her.
David: We talked about this earlier, that you served in the Nixon White House. Buy, sell, or hold the likelihood that Ben Stein is Deep Throat?
Stein: There was no Deep Throat, I'm sure of it. I certainly wasn't. At the time Deep Throat was operating, I was a hippie in the woods of Santa Cruz, Calif. -- so it wasn't me. And I don't think there was any Deep Throat. I think it was somebody Bob Woodward made up in one of his more imaginative moments, but that's just an opinion.
Tom: Buy, sell, or hold the investor who puts $10,000 into the stock market today at its present P/E with a plan for holding it 25 years?
Stein: I'd say buy that. In 25 years, he'll make money -- I don't know if it will be much less than 25 years. But in 25 years, he will make money. Unless there is nuclear war. In that case, he won't have to worry about it.
David: Last one: Buy, sell, or hold the guy that comes up to you and says, "Bueller, Bueller."
Stein: I have to buy them because they are my fans, but sometimes they are a bit of a pest, but I always grin and bear it. The only ones I really hate are the ones who want me to put down my bags at the airport and pose for a picture with them when I'm rushing to a plane.
Tom: Ben Stein, the actor, author, lawyer, economist, and game show host -- thank you for joining us on The Motley Fool Radio Show.
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