Skip to comments.Stossel: Fight Back
Posted on 04/01/2004 4:30:04 AM PST by Shane
Stossel: Fight Back Don't Let Big Brother Take Your Freedom Paige McKenzie, NewsMax.com Wednesday, March 31, 2004 PALM BEACH, Fla. John Stossel wants you to stop being afraid. Remember what you were afraid of last year? Or five years ago? Probably not, but if enough other people were scared of the same thing, then somewhere in Washington, D.C., there could be a new government agency to protect you. And your tax money is helping to pay for it.
Stossel, anchorman of ABC's "20/20" and author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media," urged a group in South Florida to fight their fears, and the agents who are using it to steal our freedom.
Remember the dead-eyed look of the people in the Soviet Union? he asked. Thats the same look of people who live in a bureaucratic state.
Americans, said Stossel, have allowed themselves to become a nation afflicted with Chicken Little syndrome, as he writes in his new best seller, promoted at the event.
Deluded by the myth of protection, we have become willing pawns in a joint partnership by the media, the trial lawyers and big-government politicians to perpetuate a cycle of fear that works to their benefit, as Stossel explained.
And you thought the French were wimps.
The media use fear to panic the people, politicians use it to pander, and the trial lawyers promise to make somebody pay, all in the name of junk science fostered on the public by people with their own political agendas.
No one seems willing to question political celebrities, such as Gloria Steinem and Naomi Wolf, Stossel has noted, when they throw out false statistics.
The junk science promotes panic and bankrupts companies, which costs thousands of jobs and takes our tax money by giving fame to bureaucrats who go on to build their own little government empires, Stossel writes in his book. This is the damage that results when people refuse to accept that association is not causation.
Stossel gave credit at the event to reporters for being fairly smart about art, culture and similar subjects. But reporters are not knowledgeable on matters of science and free markets, he said.
They hate the businesses, which pay you, and they love the government, which takes a third to a half of your income. Ive never been able to make sense of this.
Stossel writes that reporters see patterns where there are none and ignore the political agendas of those claiming scientific discoveries, and that the statistical noise of junk science gets reported over and over again, while the truth rarely does.
When media report false information, the public demands action and politicians pander, he writes.
Remember crack babies and poisonous, leaking silicone breast implants? Myths of junk science. Stossel writes about a horrifying story of one woman who became so terrified she took a razor to her own breasts.
By the time someone reports how wrong the junk science was, Stossel explained to the crowd, lawyers have gotten rich bankrupting good companies that made products that extend our lives. And theres a new regulatory agency to protect us.
Why do we assume government workers are what we need to make us safe? Stossel asks in his book. If you think government employees do things better, visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles.
Capitalism, Not Bureaucracy, Protects the Poor
In the meantime, what we should fear most is happening more freedom is lost to pages and pages of new regulations, restricting the innovators who improve our lives, and were no safer than we were.
We dont know how many lives would be saved if we let the innovators innovate freely, Stossel told his audience. Why must the FDA be a police agency .... Why couldnt it be an informational agency? We would learn more, and save more lives.
In reality, said Stossel, the big-government bureaucrats do the most harm, and the free market protects us most.
Its the poor people who get squeezed out by the rules, Stossel said. Freedom protects the poor and the ignorant. The ruthless competition of a free market protects us better than the government. Markets police themselves. The good companies thrive, the bad ones atrophy. For the most part, in a free society, word gets out.
When you interfere with the market, the hidden unseen consequences are worse than the benefits. ... Government regulation has nasty, unlimited side effects.
As an example, Stossel has cited that 98 percent of incumbent politicians get re-elected and campaign finance reform has made it even more difficult for challengers to raise enough money to run against them.
Though politicians are always preaching about helping the poor, the way we could really help the poor is with the system that is vilified by the elites free-market capitalism.
In fact, Stossel said in his speech, the free market works even in places you normally wouldnt think it would, and cites the government sponsored Public Broadcasting System as an example.
Theres no consumer reporting on PBS because the timid bureaucrats who run it are too afraid of offending someone. But you will find consumer reporting on commercial stations.
He noted that today the government is about 40 percent of the economy. This is not what the founding fathers had in mind.
In Give Me a Break, he writes, Today government runs trains, subways, schools, parks, public housing, welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and a war on drugs. It subsidizes students, farmers, ranchers, Indians, researchers, volunteers, small businessmen, rich businessmen, and artists.
It polices the world and at home polices our speech, jobs, schools, sports, and bedrooms. Maybe if it werent doing all those things badly it would do a better job doing what it should do: like protect us from terrorists. The one thing the Constitution mandates it has to do.
According to Stossel, when America began government cost every citizen $20 (in todays money) a year. Now the government costs every adult and child an average of $10,000 a year. Americans pay more in taxes than we do for food, clothing and shelter combined.
But so many Americans always seem to want government do more, thinking that it should even protect us from ourselves.
Witness the hype over the American obesity epidemic. Stossel, a libertarian, also makes this argument about the drug war and prostitution.
Theres no end to what government should do if its job is to protect us from ourselves. Patrick Henry didnt say give me absolute safety or give me death, Stossel observed, which drew choruses of laughter from the Palm Beach attendees.
Stossel told NewsMax that he considered the Department of Agriculture to be the worst government agency. He cites lots of evidence in Give Me a Break. For example, in 1900 America had 6 million farms, and the DOA employed 3,000 people. Today there are 2 million farms, but the DOA employs 100,000 people.
Among the alphabet soup of government agencies, he also notes that the Environmental Protection Agency has shut down entire towns all because of potential risks from junk-science dangers and that the Transportation Security Administration really stands for Thousands Standing Around.
What would it have done for the economy to allow private companies to handle airport security? Instead we take more of taxpayers money to pay unionized bureaucrats.
Lawyers Looting America
Aside from government bureaucracy, Stossel told NewsMax that trial lawyers are the biggest threat to Americas freedom.
They are looting America, he said.
He didnt always believe that. In fact, he thought they were protecting people, he said.
But after 20-some years and almost as many Emmys reporting on consumer scams and the efforts of regulatory agencies and trial lawyers to protect the scammees, Stossel finally realized something.
I learned they werent making people safer, they were making themselves rich. Most of the money goes to the lawyers. Thats disgusting. Repulsive, he told the Palm Beach crowd. Trial lawyers are the invisible fist in America.
He cited the example of suits against vaccine companies that were making vaccines to save lives. Thanks to lawsuits, we now have four vaccine companies instead of 20, Stossel said.
Now in this age of terrorism and potential bioterrorism, are we safer with four vaccine companies instead of 20?
He noted that this is how trial lawyer and former Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards made his money suing companies to protect people from mythical dangers and ending up with a large portion, if not most, of the money.
The lawyers fight, then shake hands on their way to the bank, he writes in his book. What kind of victim-compensation system is that? It takes ... years to get your money and the lawyers take most if it?
With attorneys sometimes getting up to $330,000 an hour, Stossel writes that the civil judicial system has become its own industry destroying other entire industries with shakedown lawsuits adding costs to products, driving up insurance rates, and taking away freedom you cant get your burger or steak cooked the way you want.
In Give Me a Break, Stossel reports on the junk science of secondhand smoke and the entire tobacco-suit fiasco, and quotes Michael Horowitz of the Hudson Institute. It is the foulest, rankest scandal I have seen in 20 years in Washington.
And, Stossel continues, Harvard Law School economist Kip Viscusi has noted, What the state calculations dont take into account is that smokers dont live as long as non-smokers. In other words, the gruesome truth is that smokers save America money because they die sooner, thereby collecting less in Social Security and pension money.
Stossel writes, Destructive litigation is a particularly American problem. ... We are the only advanced country in which I can sue you, wreck your life, be wrong, and then just walk away. Its the reason Americans file some 90 million lawsuits a year one every three seconds.
Though the book has rapidly become a best seller, Stossel says its not winning him any points with his colleagues.
Theres an anchor over at ABC who wont speak to me anymore. He turns the other way when he sees me in the hallway, he told event attendees good-naturedly.
Stossel says theyve labeled him a conservative, even though hes a libertarian and liberal on many issues.
The media say conservative the way they say that child molester, he told his audience. Today everything I do is censored by two producers and two lawyers. As a consumer reporter I was only censored once.
And since he's stopped promoting bigger government and become a fan of capitalism, Stossel said he's also stopped winning Emmys.
However, he is grateful, he said, that ABC continues to let him report his stories in spite of the fact that many at the network disagree with him.
Stossel told NewsMax he doesn't think he's making much headway in exposing the evils of big government. I dont think Im having much effect. Im not optimistic. Thomas Jefferson said its the natural progress of things for government to grow and liberty to yield, and thats what's happening.
He also told us, Were less free than we've ever been for most of the history of America.
Stossel asked his audience: When did we become so wimpy? Why are we giving up on the freedom that makes this country possible?
Today our lives are being extended because of the freedom were now so afraid of. I would urge you to fight for that freedom.
The Scottish Jurist and Historian Sir Alex Fraser Tyler published a collection of lectures in 1801. He advanced a theory of democracy based on historical observation:
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can exist only until voters discover that they can vote themselves largeses from the public treasury. From that time on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.Is Sir Tyler correct? Where are we are in Sir Tyler's progression?
"The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage."
I also have this one by P.J. O'Rourke:
"Freedom is not empowerment. Empowerment is what the Serbs have in Bosnia. Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered. It's not entitlement. An entitlement is what people on welfare get, and how free are they? It's not an endlessly expanding list of rights - the 'right' to education, the 'right' to health care, the 'right' to food and housing. That's not freedom, that's dependency. Those aren't rights, those are the rations of slavery - hay and a barn for human cattle."
Is he still employed?
AMENDMENT XIX (Proposed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.) The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. (should have been "gender") Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Oh how I love the ladies and can't live without them.
But ladies, most of you do not have the temperment to live free and exert your the rights of liberty.
Subsequently, the ladies are 50% of the voters of which, weak, pandering male politicians pander to the ladies inherent need for socialism.
Is Sir Tyler correct? Where are we are in Sir Tyler's progression?
I have always held the firm belief that immigrants were the driving force in keeping the thirst for liberty alive and well in the United States. The fact that they could come here and through trial and effort become full partners in the American Dream continually renewed the spirit of the country. So, even when we celebrated our Bicentennial, the average age of great civilizations, the US was still the shining example of liberty and opportunity in the world.
Today we have emphasis on group identity, Afro-American, Asian-American, Hispanic, etc. The group identity is used to drive dependency. Dependency chokes the spirit of individual responsibility which is the backbone of liberty. The "American" needs to come first in everyone's identity or we will continue to slide toward some form of totalitarianism. Our true freedom will be lost.
The case against these terrorists was handed to the government on a silver platter multiple times, and they did nothing. This confirms Stossel's views, and hardly supports "the other side of the argument."
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