John Stossel Takes on Myths, Lies and Nasty Behavior

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ABC News' John Stossel has a new special set to air this Friday on 20/20 (check local listings for details). The subject this time around? Myths, Lies, and Nasty Behavior. Some snippets:

No. 6—NASTY BEHAVIOR—Congress' Pork Barrel Spending
Whether Democrats or Republicans control Congress, one thing never changes. Politicians love to spend your money.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, is a good example. Years ago Congress gave money to the little tourist town of Ketchikan, with only 14,000 residents, for an airport on a nearby island. Ketchikan International has six to eight flights a day, and people get there by taking a short ferry ride—which they love. The scenic ride takes 500 air travelers a day to or from the airport in just seven minutes

Alaska resident Mike Sallee likes the ferry ride. He said, "I think our existing ferry system is just dandy and it doesn't cost $200 million."

The $200 million refers to the fact that Young recently persuaded legislators that Ketchikan needs a bridge to the airport. And Young doesn't want just any bridge. He wants a $200 million bridge—one higher than the Brooklyn Bridge and almost as long as the Golden Gate. Some people here say, why not. They say the ferry schedule's inconvenient, so why not spend everyone else's tax dollars on us?…

No. 5—NASTY BEHAVIOR—Welfare for Farmers
President Bush gave away $83 billion of your money to farmers when he signed the 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act, and Congress applauded him for it. Americans like the idea of supporting family farms, but you'd be surprised to learn where that money goes.

Hundreds of those farmers who benefited from our generosity live in New York City. Some of those farmers who are collecting farm subsidies are pretty well-off. Mike Sonnenfeldt, for example, lives in a building where Steven Spielberg and Steve Martin have apartments.

Sonnenfeldt gets a cotton subsidy from the government. "I bought a piece of property, that got traded for a piece of property … And I'm not sure exactly even why I get it," he said….

No. 3—MYTH: Public Schools for Poor Kids, Not Politicians' Kids
…This is one of those do as I say, not as I do things. Politicans who promote public schools don't always send their kids to them.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has called public education the "cornerstone of our democracy." But when she and her husband lived in the White House, they sent their daughter, Chelsea, to the elite Sidwell Friends private school.

When asked about it, President Clinton told ABC News, "We had to make the decision just for our daughter."

Well, sure he did. All of us want to do that, but not everyone can afford a private school. So what do you do if you're poor and live where the public schools are bad?…

More here.

Read Stossel's tell-all story in the March 2004 Reason: "Confessions of a Welfare Queen: How rich bastards like me rip off taxpayers for millions of dollars."

NEXT: Peaceful 24-Hour Party People

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  1. Uh, I think this will be a re-run. Always good stuff, though.

  2. Stossel rocks. But my fiancee won’t take him seriously because of his moles-stache. I wonder, does the Stossel-stache do more harm than good to the libertarian movement?

  3. I’ll vouch for that ferry ride in Ketchikan. I was there a year and a half ago. It is a nice little ride. Is it inconvenient? Only slightly so. Like most ferries, you plan around their schedule.

  4. If this were a toll bridge, would it ever even come -close- to paying for itself?

    Answer: no.

  5. “I’ll vouch for that ferry ride in Ketchikan. I was there a year and a half ago. It is a nice little ride. Is it inconvenient? Only slightly so.”

    Shit, man, it’s ‘inconvenient’ for me to have to drive myself to work, even if it is only 4 minutes. Where’s my $200,000,000.00 Barrel O’ Pork? 200 mil would make my “commute” much more convenient. I bet I could build my own transport tube (a la the tubes at bank drivethrus) for that much money…and still have some left over to build a motorized trash-taker-outer machine (which is another inconvenience that I’ve had to endure for way, way too long).

    I sure as fuck hope that Stossel remembers to mention that that same cunt of a senator scoffed haughtily at the idea of giving back some of his well-stolen pork to help pay for Katrina reconstruction. Just to show America what a dirty scumfuck he really is. And isn’t the bridge named after him? Jesus. But, see, that’s how these crooks get re-elected (aside from the evil election laws set up to keep incumbents in office, of course): they bring home more and more tax bacon to bribe their homestate folks in exchange for votes.

    Was it DeLay who recently said that we had trimmed all the fat out of the budget?

    I think I’ll go cry my eyes out now, while I write the government their big fat tax check.

  6. Steven: of course not. Why? Because, natural market forces don’t matter when you’re simply stealing the money from everyone else at gunpoint.

  7. Of course it wouldn’t pay for itself. Ketchikan’s airport has like 2 gates. The island that the airport is on is hardly inhabited. The money is bogus and total pork. Hell, they’d have to build the bridge at such a ridiculous height and angle in order to let the cruise ships through that there’s probably a third of the cost. It’s ridiculous. The bridge saves little time, leads to a mostly uninhabited island, and could possibly interfere with cruise lines (which feed LOTS of tourists with real dollars to Ketchikan). The whole thing is idiotic. My skelatives who live there don’t want the thing.

  8. My skelatives who live there don’t want the thing.

    Are “skelatives” really thin and bony relatives?

  9. I always find myself liking Stossel’s politics in the same way I like Bullshit’s politics. Unfortunately, like the Bullshit guys, they sometimes go after easy targets and take on straw man arguments that just make the causes look as dishonest and cheap as the problems and rhetoric they are lampooning. The experts they present are just as interested and biased as the people they are refuting.

  10. what kind of ratings does stossel get on friday evenings? seems like the put him into a bad time slot. better than nothing of course…

  11. Being on ABC on Friday nights, he has to compete with any number of “To Catch a Predator IVXXIII” reruns on Dateline. And libertarian though I am, I admit to ditching Stossel at that time for NBC’s umpteenth “Shooting Perverted Fish in Barrel” Internet expose just for the laughs of watching perps from all walks of life exclaim, “Honestly, I’ve never done anything like this before … ”

    Maybe Stossel can figure out a way to mix an Abscam-type op with hidden camera to give the libertarian cause some cheap, free ratings. Works for NBC …

  12. How come nobody comments on the real Ketchikan problem?

    average annual rainfall is 152 freaking inches!

    That’s four times the rain of Seattle, DC, Baltimore, etc.

    It’s not a warm rain, either.

    Who the hell wants to develop that hole?

  13. “Unfortunately, like the Bullshit guys, they sometimes go after easy targets and take on straw man arguments that just make the causes look as dishonest and cheap as the problems and rhetoric they are lampooning.”

    That’s ridiculous. Stossel has a whole body of work, you pinhead, that is principled in its libertarianism. He’s openly written and spoken about his vision of limited government. The only one going after a “straw man” is you in your apparent off-handed remarks about a man you obviously have never read or heard.

  14. And if you don’t like Stossel’s politics — or at least the spirit of them — then what in Jesus’ shit-stained undies are you doing posting at Reason? Are you aware of the basic libertarian thrust of this magazine?

  15. Somebody needs to chill out.

  16. And if you don’t like Stossel’s politics — or at least the spirit of them — then what in Jesus’ shit-stained undies are you doing posting at Reason? Are you aware of the basic libertarian thrust of this magazine?

    We agree

  17. Somehow, we were forgotten.

  18. I must confess that I don?t understand Stossel?s point about the Clinton?s sending their daughter to a private school. It?s entirely consistent to prefer a private school for your child while also recognizing that public schools provide a definite benefit to society. Wouldn?t it have been worse if Hillary had said ?Let?s get rid of public schools ? my family doesn?t need them, so why should anybody else??

  19. Dan, if I recall correctly, didn’t the Clintons oppose public-school vouchers? That would be the problem–denying poor people the choice that rich people already enjoy.

  20. If you want to create class tension about haves and have-nots, perhaps it would be best not to act like a have. That’s what was wrong with the Clintons’ hypocrisy. Though I don’t blame them, either. It would be worse to send your kid to an inferior school just to score political points. In my opinion, anyway.

  21. “Dan, if I recall correctly, didn’t the Clintons oppose public-school vouchers? That would be the problem–denying poor people the choice that rich people already enjoy.”

    Jennifer;

    IIRC Jimmy Carter sent Amy to public school. Regardless of how she turned out, at least he was willing to subject his child to the same public schools as most everyone else. Hill and Bill are out and out hypocrites.

  22. Dan, if I recall correctly, didn’t the Clintons oppose public-school vouchers? That would be the problem–denying poor people the choice that rich people already enjoy.

    But that?s only assuming that vouchers would allow to poor to enjoy that choice. Many people feel that vouchers would actually just act as subsidies to those who already can afford private schools.

    Either way, that wasn?t Stossel?s point. He didn?t mention vouchers, he seemed to be saying that you couldn?t support public schools unless your child attends one.

  23. Stossel would be much better if he paid attention to actual data instead of a freshman dormroom-like ideology.

  24. “And if you don’t like Stossel’s politics — or at least the spirit of them — then what in Jesus’ shit-stained undies are you doing posting at Reason? Are you aware of the basic libertarian thrust of this magazine?”

    Which begs the question: What ARE those folks doing here, anyway?
    (“joe, M1EK, amazingdrx, juanita, and all the… rest”)

    Oh, yeah, they’re here to attack the views of folks who would normally make up the Reason audience, then accuse those people of trolling… For example, while I often find joe’s comments make a good counter-point, he just as often ends up calling people names and then referring to THEM as the trolls…

  25. It’s a bit silly to expect John Stossel to tow a detailed party line in a one-hour special. He’s trying to get in as much as he can while keeping it interesting. At least it isn’t like all the content free rubbish you see on all the other channels. Also, Stossel is a hell of a lot more reasoned in his approach than Jillette is on Bullshit! which has, at least on one occasion I can think of, been bullshit.

    That having been said, the thing about the Clintons not sending Chelsea to DC public school is pretty questionable. Can you imagine the shit she would have had to endure? I seem to remember that Carter’s kid was one of the most miserable looking children I’ve seen.

  26. 152 freaking inches!

    I like rain, but wow – that’s a lot.

    Anyway, from the wikipedia pictures, it looks like the town is already rather prosperous.

    Which begs the question: What ARE those folks doing here, anyway?
    (“joe, M1EK, amazingdrx, juanita, and all the… rest”)

    This place would be a LOT more boring if everyone just agreed on everything. Counter-arguments are perfectly welcome as far as I’m concerned. Hell, I don’t agree with ~30% of what I read here. That said, ad hominem attacks are kind of annoying — but face it, they put up with a lot of attacks from you guys too.

  27. it looks like the town is already rather prosperous.

    oops, I forgot to finish my thought…

    And therefore Young’s excuse that the town “needs development” seems flimsy.

  28. Jimmy Carter sent Amy to public school. Regardless of how she turned out …

    With a fine arts degree from the Memphis College of Art and getting arrested with Abbie Hoffman – what public school parents want that for their kids? Can’t school privatization advocates use her example to advance their cause? Haw!

  29. I think they settled on a $200 million bridge because a tunnel would have been, er, too expensive.

  30. “That said, ad hominem attacks are kind of annoying — but face it, they put up with a lot of attacks from you guys too.” – Rhywun

    Hmmm… I’d like one example of ad hominem where I fired first. I’m a counter-puncher, by which I mean that reserve the name-calling to point out those who are using it because they’ve run out of logical arguments.

  31. The wise man never resorts to ad hominem attacks. He simply crushes the opposition with the truth and great teeth. Wait, is that right?

  32. PL – Totally agree… Well, except the bit about teeth.

    Which is why I wait until someone goes “ad hom” on me before I say something along the lines of “Only clueless, intellectually bankrupt buffoons resort to ad hominem attacks.” (Irony free of charge.)

  33. I guess I need to e-mail him, but he should address the blatant lies that appear in the naming of bills…

    To wit….
    Community Choice in Real Estate… which is a law designed to prevent banks from offering real estate services (Glass Steagle for Real Estate). The lie is that it doesn’t increase choice, but is purposely designed to prevent choice and limit competition.

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