Economist Ben Stein’s resume is all over the map — lawyer, teacher, speech writer for presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, columnist for The Wall Street Journal, The American Spectator and Newsmax, commentator for Fox News, CBS Sunday Morning and CNN and author or co-author of 30 books.

But he also has another claim to fame few economists can boast of. As David Breneman, president of The Society of the Four Arts, said in his introduction to Stein’s talk Tuesday at the Four Arts “he’s considered one of the great humorists of the political economy and how life works in this nation.”

Who but a comedian would have parodied a dull economics teacher in the 1986 film "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?"

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Can't see the clip? Watch Ben Stein's famous scene in the movie here.

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Stein’s sense of humor was very much evident in a talk that warmed up the audience with a stream of jokes.

But after that he got down to business, and a grim business it was.

After cataloguing ills ranging from slavery to the 2008 economic meltdown that the United States has survived, only to see new problems crop up, he concluded “What have we learned? Things are very uncertain.”

Then he launched into what he sees as the most pressing problems confronting the nation today.

First on his list was the deficit. “It’s getting out of control,” he said.

He had harsh words for President Donald Trump’s tax cuts.

“You cannot expect to cut taxes drastically and expect to have more revenue,” he said. “It can’t be done. It’s the Republican answer to the Green New Deal. It’s a childish fantasy.”

As for the Democrats’ Green New Deal and Medicare for All proposals, if they were enacted “we will be bankrupt instantly,” Stein said.

Come to that, “we’re bankrupt right now” if we add up all the country owes in bond payments, Medicare, Social Security and other benefits, he said.

Beyond the economic unsustainability of the Green New Deal, Stein claimed enforcing the plan would put the nation on “a straight line to dictatorship.”

He’s also fearful of inflation. “We’re pumping money into this economy at an alarming rate,” he said.

If inflation takes off, there’s no remedy in sight for a couple of reasons, he said. The country can’t cut expenditures without infuriating the left and we need to spend more on defense. If the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, the nation risks plunging into recession.

“We are living in a Pollyannaish best of all possible worlds but it can’t go on,” he said.

Stein also raised red flags about the U.S. education system, for which he said the country pays more and gets less than other developed nations, and loosening marijuana laws.

His pal tycoon Warren Buffett says the country will get through these problems just as it has the ones that preceded them, Stein said.

“But will we?” he asked. “At some point does our luck run out?”

Nevertheless, he said, he’s grateful to be living in the United States, which he called “the best place that’s ever been.”

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jsjostrom@pbdailynews.com

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This story originally published to palmbeachdailynews.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network.