Myth, Lie, Or Nasty Behavior?

Friend of Reason and self-described government-subsidized rich bastard John Stossel will be treating tonight's 20/20 audience to a cornucopia of falsehoods and piggish antics. Littering, urban sprawl, loudmouthed jackassery, farmer welfare—which ones are myths and which ones are nasty behaviors? Click here to find out, and watch tonight's show for a special Mystery Myth.

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  • Semolina||

    That's 10 p.m. Eastern, by the way. Since program times are, quite inexplicably, nearly impossible to find on the actual ABC News site.

  • ||

    "If you took the average price of a bottle of water, a gallon would cost nearly $7."

    But if you were to purchase water the way you purchase gas, by the gallon, it isn't $7, it's less than $1 (where I live it is, at least).

    some good points in this essay, but my impression of Stossel is that he's like a terrible sinner that becomes a born-again: now that he's seen the light, he's going to flail around with any tortured logic at hand to make you see his point

    half the essay seems to be arguments against government intrusions, the other half that the government isn't intruding adequately to regulate nasty behavior, like noisy clubs

    an explicit acknowledgement that gov't intrusion has a time and a place would go a long way to strengthening his argument in my eyes. if people don't like the restrictions on growth in Portland, OR, they should either lobby to change the local laws or move to another city

    truly exercising our freedom of association at the appropriate level (in my opinion, at the municipality level) would allow people to live in acceptable situations/ subsocieties of the USA, while returning more power to the people, devolving it away from the state and national level.

    Stossel's anecdotes would do well to be backed up by statistical analysis

    his statement that Alaska gets more "pork" dollars than any other state relies upon who is defining which projects are pork

  • ||

    Yeah true enough about the water example, but he did a good job busting Don Young's balls about those bridges. And now farm subsidies - nice. Wow. They didn't like being called "welfare queens." He should show them his Reason cover.

  • ||

    they didn't like being called welfare QUEENS because of the homosexual implication was my take

    they didn't seem to see anything wrong with taking gov't money

  • ||

    My God, did you check out that old farmer. "I got mine, it's coming out of your pocket, and you can't do a damn thing about it." Come to think of it, that would make a great campaign slogan for Tom Harkin...

  • ||

    Drats. Just missed this, unfortunately, though the link seems to give a pretty good rundown (except for the Mystery Myth!). Most of them seem pretty uncontroversial, though noise pollution and plain old littering haven't gotten a lot of press play lately...

    Favorite call-and-response: "But is open space disappearing in America? No, that's a total myth. More than 95 percent of the country is still undeveloped." And is that percentage going up or down? Sorry, just an old scientist's annoyance at the confusion of a single value with a rate of change. This also doesn't seem to address _urban_ sprawl, which I have always assumed to mean the particular growth pattern of dense environments where people move for educational/occupational/hedonistic reasons.

    Favorite myth: Am I the only one who finds it funny that Stossel is debunking..."sharing"? I mean, sure, he's mounting a defense of private property, and the section begins by explaining that sharing is good sometimes (in moderation!), but did they have to title the myth "Sharing Would Make the World a Better Place"? I really hope he had some other title in mind and was simply outvoted by the producers. "And remember kids, don't take sharing too far..."

    Anon

  • ||

    exactly right about open space disappearing or not, Anon

    I meant to say something on that in my first post, but completely forgot

  • Gimme Back My Dog||

    Anon,

    Did he make a distinction between forced and voluntary sharing? I have no problem with the latter, but the former is pure evil.

  • ||

    I like his politics, but how can anyone respect his tactics? Anyone that howled for Rather to go over the fraudmemos but doesn't howl for the same over Stossel's genfoods piece is a hypocrite.

  • Warren||

    plunge,
    What genfoods piece? My googling finds an organic food piece he appologized for. Is that what you're talking about? No question Stossel could be better, but he's all we've got.

  • Xmas||

    About "Open Space".

    It's a funny thing, that open space. In Massachusetts, there is a lot of sprawl around Boston. More and more houses are being built but more and more zoning regulations are restricting the type of growth.

    That said, most of what we Massachusetts residents consider "open space" is really private property that's been undeveloped. We don't seem to connect those old stone walls that zig zag through our woods to farm boundaries. All those natural woodlands are really fairly young, the result of unused farmland and pastures going back to the wild.

  • Semolina||

    Did he make a distinction between forced and voluntary sharing?

    He didn't explicitly make the distinction, but the point was implicit in his presentation, which was more about the tragedy of the commons than anything else.

  • ||

    That farming bit reminded me of the old Bloom County cartoon where Opus decided to be a farmer. Milo gave him a farmers' aptitude test, where you had to be able to say the following two sentences without laughing:

    "Keep them flat-footed goombahs in Washington outta my business. Hurry up with my federal bailout check."

    Opus, to his credit, never made it past the word "up."

  • Franklin Harris||

    Worst... Stossel... EVER!

  • ||

    In Massachusetts, there is a lot of sprawl around Boston.

    Looks like joe has failed in his mission...

  • ||

    Looks like joe has failed in his mission...

    Ahh, there are always evil forces arrayed to keep the virtuous from fulfilling their missions.

  • Semolina||

    Worst... Stossel... EVER!

    Could you elaborate?

    While I didn't find it to be any sort of mind-blowing, life-altering experience, it seemed to be typical Stossel in typically fine form -- calling out bullshit as bullshit, and presenting essentially libertarian views in the form of what other people know as "common sense."

  • Franklin Harris||

    Could you elaborate?

    Sure. I learned that John Stossel doesn't like litter and noise and that litter and noise are really, really annoying. In half of the program, Stossel comes across as just as much of a complainer as the people who think gasoline prices are at an all-time high.

  • ||

    If the problems associated with sprawl and open space loss were about the physical occupation of all, or most, of the land in the United States by buildings, Stossel would have a point.

    But it's not, and he doesn't. Humanity would drop like flies from disease and hunger long before we even got close to 50% physical occupation. Sprawl is an issue because of the way the sprawly communities function - that is, in ways that promote pollution, drive up housing and transportation costs, and promote economic and physical decay in metropolitan centers. Open space loss is an issue because of the loss of habitat (only 5% of America's land area has been lost to development, but over 90% of California's weltands have been filled, paved over, or drained), because of the loss of access to large wild ranges, because of the impact on community character (what does it matter to the kids in my town if Kasas is 99% unbuilt, if there aren't any woods for the kids in my town to play in?), and because of the pollution/elimination of water supplies (great, Alaska's empty. I still wish the aquifiers in eastern Massachusetts weren't drying up from impervious-surface-induced lack of recharge).

  • ||

    "In Massachusetts, there is a lot of sprawl around Boston.

    Looks like joe has failed in his mission..."

    Like the rest of the country, eastern Massachusetts has seen sprawl as the dominanty style of development for the past five decades. Efforts to do something about in earnest date back to the 1990s.

    It's also interesting to note that the period when Massachusetts saw the greatest level of sprawl development is also the period that it developed an affordable housing crisis. That'll happen when the government mandates that only the most expensive, lowest density style of housing can be built.

  • ||

    One "Nasty Behavior" involved loud noise outside nightclubs in New York. I wonder why this is suddenly an issue. Perhaps it could have something to do with indoor smoking bans forcing smoking drinkers outside, instead of keeping both kinds of air pollution safely inside.

    Maybe his next special will talk about that.

  • ||

    It's also interesting to note that the period when Massachusetts saw the greatest level of sprawl development is also the period that it developed an affordable housing crisis. That'll happen when the government mandates that only the most expensive, lowest density style of housing can be built.

    Amen!

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