It’s fall. Young people, and some not so young, are heading back to school.
They will learn subjects I never even knew would exist back when I entered Columbia in 1962 and then Yale Law School in 1967. They’ll learn about the internet and programming and space travel.
We studied Adam Smith and Karl Marx. It seems incredible now to recall this, but in 1962 Marxism as an alternative means of creating prosperity was actually taken seriously. ''All history is the history of class struggle,'' said Marx, and we freshmen (no women in class then) read it and were actually a bit excited about it.
It seemed to explain so much.
Now, it’s consigned to ''the ash heap of history,'' as Ronald Reagan so aptly said.
No one but a few violent and insane demonstrators believes that Marxism is anything but a fig leaf for the most brutal forms of repression and dictatorship.
Even in beautiful Cuba, Marxism, which bankrupted the island and turned it into a horrible prison yet seemed impossibly entrenched, is being challenged.
The pusillanimous Biden regime does nothing to help. But no matter how long it takes, the challenge against a Marxist-Bolshevik dictatorship will succeed.
Marxism, and any form of deep repression, cannot last forever. It just goes too deeply against what man is — a creature that longs to be free.
However, to go back to early days in higher education, I had a class in economics taught by a genius named C. Lowell Harriss.
He taught us the fundamentals of money and banking. His lectures were so compelling that I took four different courses from him. I still in many ways live off the wisdom that he implanted in my wet young brain.
One of the many brilliant notions he put in my head was that we all live off capital. It can be financial capital, such as inherited money.
It can be agricultural capital. It can be human capital, such as knowledge of how to repair an air conditioner or file a motion in court.
But we must have some form of capital to live.
Now, as I am a ''senior citizen,'' I see this more emphatically than ever. We seniors are often too old and too tired to work.
I live to work. I would rather be imprisoned than not work.
Part of my human capital, and part of all of our human capital, should be good work habits — and that includes affection for work.
Work, I will tell you in my heart’s blood, gives a reason for living, pride in oneself, and a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
But probably the most useful item that Professor Harriss put in my cerebrum was that when bad economic conditions hit — and we know they can — or when we get too tired to work (which, I hope, does not happen to my readers), we need to have savings.
That’s not just important — it’s life or death. I have seen too many friends driven to deep depression and even suicide by not having savings when bad times hit.
If I were a teacher of economics at a college — and I have done that at Pepperdine, University of California at Santa Cruz, and American University—I would start out every term by telling my students:
"No matter what else you learn here at school, please absorb this basic truth: You must, must, must have savings.
''Some of it can be in illiquid forms, like real estate. Some of it should and must be in ownership of common stocks, which represent ownership of America, a basic of human life.
''And some of it should be in cash or cash equivalents. But you must have it and you must start saving the moment you start working.
''And keep saving all of your life. As basic as it sounds, you must, must, must save. When bad times hit; When time passes; There is no substitute for savings. You must have savings.
''If I tell you nothing else ever, that’s enough.''
This column originally published in September's Newsmax Magazine.
Ben Stein is a writer, an actor, and a lawyer who served as a speechwriter in the Nixon administration as the Watergate scandal unfolded. He began his unlikely road to stardom when director John Hughes hired him as the numbingly dull economics teacher in the urban comedy, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Read more more reports from Ben Stein — Click Here Now.
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