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Wendy Reuer, Published April 11 2012

Ben Stein heralds people as North Dakota’s greatest resource

FARGO – Sure, North Dakota may have a wealth of oil, mineral and agricultural commodities keeping its economy healthy, but what Ben Stein says is the state’s richest – and most sustainable – resource is its people.

“People who will work hard, stand on their own two feet and not expect to have anything done for them,” the famed economist, attorney and actor said Wednesday in describing the state’s workforce.

Stein, the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s Global Business Connections Conference, said the mindset of North Dakotans who are willing to work for their goals and save their money is the frame of mind needed nationwide. More than that, the North Dakota sense of family is also needed.

“This whole state is like a family; people take care of each other,” Stein said. “That’s the spirit that has been lost in the whole country.”

Stein was not suggesting an increase in social programs. “There is a large population out there that just refuses to work.” Rather, he said the best way to help others is to help them help themselves.

In his famous gravelly monotone, Stein relayed his fears for the U.S. economy that continues to sluggishly crawl out from the shroud of a recession.

He said he is also concerned about the U.S. education system, telling anecdotal jokes to demonstrate a lack of knowledge about world and U.S. history he has seen.

When asked how today’s political climate will affect the economy, Stein said he doesn’t think either party has offered any feasible solutions.

Stein, who is known to follow Republican party lines, said former President Bill Clinton left office with the country in good financial standing.

“Mr. (George W.) Bush, who I worked for, who I campaigned for, threw it all way,” Stein said.

Stein ended his nearly hourlong talk by quoting a portion of President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech, in which he told citizens to move forward and ask for blessings at the same time, to do the work.

“(North Dakotans) are doing that,” Stein said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530

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