Ben Stein: No meetings on the table


I didn’t write this, Ben Stein did. But, I feel it is an important opinion piece. Many of us have probably had these thoughts, but Mr. Stein makes them cogent. Here is the introduction to the article from the American Spectator with a link to the complete story.

Personally, I don’t get it. We have the disgraced CEO of General Motors, with his company now majority-owned by the U.S. government being paid an obscene severance package worth more than $8 million dollars while the administration is denying everyday businessmen an opportunity to head to Vegas, Miami Beach or Camelback Resort for their business meetings because it “sounds” expensive.

This in turn hurts hotel operators, maids, barmen, drivers, restaurant workers and a litany of others, all in the name of restraining excessive spending.

The current administration is continuing along its misguided path and hurting the little people while they reward the multi-millionaires and their friends. It’s a heck of a way to run a country.

As you read this Congress is still tampering with blacklists for meetings and conventions. I find this amazing when the leader of the Senate represents Las Vegas.

Here’s Ben Stein.

No Meetings on the Table

by Ben Stein

I was saddened to read in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago an article about how the federal government is clamping down on business meetings. The Department of Agriculture in particular is telling its employees not to have meetings if they can video conference, and especially, no matter what, not to go to resort towns like Las Vegas for meetings. This, so the government people say, shows respect for the taxpayers.

A few humble thoughts:

The idea of this, the most profligate administration in history by far, saying it is showing restraint by avoiding a few business meetings is like Genghis Khan saying he is a good guy for only pillaging 99 days out of 100. It would be funny if it were not so sad.

Second, it really tells volumes that this administration, with its vaunted smart advisers, thinks a business meeting is a bad, wasteful thing.

Are the meetings of Congress a waste? They are business meetings. Are the meetings of the Supreme Court wasteful? They are business meetings.

Business meetings involving travel are vital business and productivity tools for maximizing knowledge, the essence of human capital. They are the best possible way for new ways of adapting and adopting to be brought to bear. A business meeting is as valuable a business tool as a computer and maybe more so.

Perhaps more to the point, business meetings did not contribute to the credit bubble that caused this recession. Business meetings and travel did not cause the bursting of that bubble.


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  • Terry Evitts

    Ben Stein is a game show host and a Republican shill. Why are his views being pimped here?

  • SirWired

    The Dept. of Agriculture is simply doing nothing more than being politically aware. If you are in government, being politically aware is necessary.

    For starters, video conferencing works quite well and is much cheaper than physical travel, as long as it is a quality telepresence setup as opposed to just a webcam on a desk.

    The reality is that the taxpayers would be furious, rightly or wrongly, if a govt. agency sent a bunch of employees to Vegas, Camelback, etc., it would be a PR disaster.

    In addition, govt. travel is not a subsidy program for the travel industry. Yes, cutting back on travel means less money for the travel industry, but stimulating the travel industry isn’t the job of the budget of random govt. agencies. Random comments about the fiscal discipline, or lack thereof of the current administration are completely irrelevant.


  • jonathan

    Those of us who live in the “black-listed” cities are having second thoughts about our vote last November, especially those of us who are “temporarily” laid off because of lack of tourism.

  • Scott

    @ Sir Wired

    These are not wholly separate issues, but everyone will (is!) pay the price for the reductions in business travel, let alone those of us that actually work in the transportation and tourism fields.

    This is the very basis of a stimulus, realizing that spending money goes through many industries and does a lot of good. Choking off spending is not a good thing for the economy. This is not a new lesson.

  • Mia

    The only “cogent” thought I read here was in the comments, to wit: “In addition, govt. travel is not a subsidy program for the travel industry.”

    Would the poster please explain why he thinks a change whereby government workers are encouraged to be less wasteful and more efficient is a bad thing? I, too, am part of the travel industry, but I don’t understand that analysis at all.

    I’ll reserve judgment, but from my current perspective it looks a lot like whining and moaning because Life has no guarantees instead of learning how to adapt to change and evolve.

    While I agree with Mr. Stein that “BUSINESS MEETINGS HAD ZERO TO DO WITH CAUSING THIS RECESSION” (although I’m not sure why he felt the need to yell), I suspect we’d disagree sharply on the real culprit. I’d enjoy the debate, though, and would also like to challenge his “most profligate administration” accusation with a few real-world examples of the prior administration’s reckless, wild and wasteful antics.