- He's frustrated that the top 300 thousand wage earners in the US earn more than the bottom 200 million and that 1% of the people in the US own 50% of the assets in the country (agreed, the trick is how to change that appropriately);
- He holds great concern about the unbridled power of Hedge Funds and their subsequent influence on the US economy (he lost me there as I don't even truly believe in economics as a genre);
- Martin Luther King, Jr, is the man he respects most from the 20th century (could well be my choice as well);
- He's thrilled a woman and a black man are running for President, but wishes the man was Colin Powel (agreed) and the woman was Condi Rice (likely better than Hillary, but I'm not sure how much better);
- His new movie "Expelled" challenges the educational world's approach to Darwinism with Intelligent Design (in a way that is beyond me, but I've yet to see the movie) and he fielded a couple questions on it from both sides (that dripped with emotion from the asker in ways that were also beyond me);
- When asked about the impact on families of jail sentences for non-violent drug offenders, Stein turned it, and postulated perhaps it was the drug use itself hurting the families moreso than the prison sentences (agreed), but went on to say he'd likely favor eliminating criminal penalties for posession of small quantities of drugs (I disagree in the vast majority of cases) ...
All in all, a highly entertaining eclectic session that was less like a stuffy executive lecture and more like idle chatter on long a road trip between thinking friends who actually read the newspaper ... An afternoon well spent.
Then, I met Ben.
I'd been invited to the reception and wanted to meet Stein, but am a bit of an anti-social hobbit and it was a Friday afternoon and I wasn't sure I'd actually get to talk to him, so I was waivering about heading over to the Fleming Museum for the event. I decided to check on the car so I headed back to where it was illegally cloaked -- and Stein, Fogel, and DeWitt emerged from Ira Allen's side door! Opportunity knocks!
I adjusted my pace so our perpendicular paths would cross as they came off the stairs and made eye contact with Ben Stein as he stepped onto the bricked walk.
"Mr. Stein, thank you for you time today," I said. "I really enjoyed your remarks. It was a highly entertaining, interesting afternoon.
"Thank you," he said with a big smile, extending his hand to shake mine. "And what is your name?" he asked.
"I'm Jonathan Billings," I said.
"Billings?" He asked and stopped his stride as our hand shake broke and we commenced walking again. "Is this your building?"
"Ah, no", I said with a laugh as we stood just outside UVM's Billings' Student Center. Born of a different mother. "This one belongs to UVM."
A bit of laughter, mutual headnods, and we each continued on our way. Priceless ... To top it off, the cloaking device worked perfectly and the little bluc car was safe and sound (and ticket free) when I returned to it.
Haha! All in all, a most enjoyable afternoon. Thanks again, Dann!