Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ben Stein on How to Make Money

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw

One of the best things about reading Ben Stein's column in the New York Times business section on Sunday is that you don't have to listen to Ben's voice.  (I shouldn't make fun of Ben. I don't want to win his money; I want to win his job.)  This morning we have a faux-cynical take on wealth distribution, and how to make money.  Now I disagree a little bit with him:  I think you can learn critical and thinking skills studying either "African feminism in the 19th century" (his phrase, not mine) or "Bulgarian poetry", but he's probably right that professional specialization in either of them is not going to be hugely remunerative.  (Personally, if I were looking at a lawyer's resume, I'd take a great African feminism major over a mediocre finance major any day.  Also, in fairness to Ben, he concedes you can be happy doing a less remunerative job as long as "you just stop thinking that everyone is supposed to make the same wage.")

But I digress.  The point of this post was to highlight one piece of Ben's positive advice, which is that you have a better chance of making it into the elite 1% of the population that earns 20% of the total income "by working in fields in which you can fix your wages, preferably with the government's help.  These include law, where you need a license to practice, and thereby can lift yourself out of working for free-market wages."  Which explains why unemployable history majors like me went to law school.

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