John Stossel Takes on Myths, Lies and Nasty Behavior


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."