Economics

Recently at Reason.tv: The John Stossel Interview

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Update: Set your Tivos to stun! John Stossel's 20/20 special, Bull— in America, will air on Friday, March 13 (date is tentative; consult your local listings). Based on six segments from Reason.tv and featuring Drew Carey, Stossel will take a long (and libertarian) look at immigration reform, medical marijuana, eminent domain abuse, and much more.

John Stossel is the best-known libertarian in the news media. As the co-anchor of the long-running and immensely popular ABC News program 20/20, auteur of a continuing series of specials on topics ranging from corporate welfare to educational waste to laws criminalizing consensual adult behavior, and author of best-selling books such as Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity, Stossel brings a consistent message of liberty to millions of viewers on a weekly basis.

It wasn't always this way. Born in 1947, Stossel started out as a standard-issue consumer reporter, working in Oregon and New York before joining the staff of Good Morning America and, later, 20/20. He did scare stories about everything from pharmaceutical rip-offs to exploding coffee pots. Then, in the 1980s, he encountered reason, which radically changed his thinking about the benefits of laissez faire in economics and personal lifestyles.

"It was a revelation," he writes in his 2004 memoir, Give Me a Break. "Here were writers who analyzed the benefits of free markets that I witnessed as a reporter. They called themselves libertarians, and their slogan was 'Free Minds and Free Markets.' I wasn't exactly sure what that meant, but what they wrote sure made sense."

Reason.tv caught up with Stossel in January in Los Angeles, where the newsman was filming a special episode of 20/20 based on six Reason.tv documentaries featuring Drew Carey. Among the topics: the desirability of open borders, the need to reform the nation's drug laws, and the case against universal preschool. Ted Balaker, a Reason.tv producer, talked with Stossel about bailout mania, his hopes for the Obama years, and his attempt to educate a generation of school kids with a video series called Stossel in the Classroom.

For an edited transcript of this interview, go here.

For an audio podcast, go here and to embed this video, click here.

NEXT: Announcing the Reason Personal Stimulus Generator! You May Qualify For Up To $350 Billion!

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  1. I’m sure I’m not the only one who hopes Stossel comes up with a 20/20 special devoted to the stimulus package…

  2. “Bull_ (etc) in America” was not on 20/20 last night. Diane Sawyer’s “Children of the Mountains’ Struggle to Survive” was instead.

    Has Stossel finally offended some poohbahs at ABC?

  3. Good interview, I can only hope that John Stossel decides to run for office someday. He advocates libertarian ideas in a very clear and polite manner.

  4. I have a question about this fear of runaway inflation. I understand how it could happen, but hasn’t it already been shown that one of the few things the fed can do right is to keep inflation at a comfortable level by raising interest rates ala Volker(sp)? Do we think they won’t do that again and just let the value of the dollar plummet?

  5. I like John Stossel. I remember my US Gov teacher showed a lot of him in high school and even then in my liberal days he just made sense.

  6. sage,

    Do we think they won’t do that again and just let the value of the dollar plummet?

    They did back in the 70’s. We’d like to think we’ve learned our lesson but inflation works like a hidden tax system. You can borrow money with low inflation money and pay it back with high inflation money. The tax and debt system of the federal government in 70’s relied on this. Given Obama’s fetishism for all policies 70’s, I think this a legitimate concern.

    Moreover, there are a lot of leftist who argue that inflation only hurts the wealthy who save and invest. During the early Clinton administration there was talk briefly of intentional inflating the economy. Robert Riech was a proponent if IIRC.

    Leftist don’t think of economics in terms of having material goods to keep happy and safe, they think of economics in terms of equal distribution. To this end they have no ideological aversion to inflation.

  7. Hmm. OK. I’m too young to know what the 70s was like, but I know that most cars could be bought for four figures rather than five. Let’s hope it doesn’t go from five to six. I’d like to drive something different someday.

  8. Moreover, there are a lot of leftist who argue that inflation only hurts the wealthy who save and invest. During the early Clinton administration there was talk briefly of intentional inflating the economy. Robert Riech was a proponent if IIRC.

    The early Clinton administration? You mean, after the 91 recession? Loosening the supply of money in lean economic times has been a standard policy for generations, employed by policy makers on both the left and the right.

  9. Loosening the supply of money in lean economic times has been a standard policy for generations, employed by policy makers on both the left and the right.

    And what has the effect been on the purchasing power of the dollar?

  10. Zounds sage, I never thought about that!

  11. You should totally write a letter to the Fed. I bet it would blow their minds.

  12. sage,

    Hmm. OK. I’m too young to know what the 70s was like

    By some measures the period of 73-83 was worse than the great depression. It was the only ten year span in American history where standards of living and income (in fixed dollars) dropped. Very bad.

  13. Which is why Bull_ (etc) in America was not on 20/20 last night

  14. Set your Tivos to stun!

    You can also watch all of Stossel’s 20/20 reports on the ABC website. They have RSS feeds, too.

  15. February 14, 2009, 12:31pm

    Update: Set your Tivos to stun! John Stossel’s 20/20 special, Bull— in America, will air on Friday, March 13 (date is tentative; consult your local listings).

    My TiVo can’t bend the space-time continuum to record yesterday’s programs.

  16. Oooooh March 13th. We get two Friday the 13ths this year.

  17. Uh, Warren? There are actually three. Hope you don’t believe in that crap.

  18. Zounds sage, I never thought about that!

    Gee, mac, for your sake I hope Obama’s master plan works out to the nth detail. Then you can be right in addition to being a dickhole.

    But something tells me you’ll just be a dickhole.

  19. Ha! You fucking debtors! In our deflationary depression it is your old debt that is inflating.
    Enjoy those granite counter-tops and last year’s clothes and restaurant meals.

    I propose the government sell student loan non-payers into slavery.I’ll take a few of those kooky hot chicks with Arts degrees please.

  20. Another home run!

  21. I’m sure NBC will devote one of their “Fleecing of America” segments to the stimulus package.
    /sarcasm/
    Fucking waste one dime on Pentagon toilet paper, and they’re all over it.
    But this they wouldn’t touch with Obama’s long dick.

  22. Pay attention to me! I’m IMPORTANT!

    WAAAAAAAH!

  23. As long as Famous Mortimer doesn’t come back, I’ll be happy.

  24. Unemployment over 10%
    Inflation over 10%
    Mortgate rates approaching 15%

    Man I miss the 70’s

  25. I propose the government sell student loan non-payers into slavery.I’ll take a few of those kooky hot chicks with Arts degrees please.

    I’m hoping for some of those MBA candidates. You know, the ones who lost their way on the path to wealth & power? Solvency will be a very powerful aphrodisiac to them, should make for some monster sack sessions.

  26. I dig the Harry Reems look.

  27. I understand how it could happen, but hasn’t it already been shown that one of the few things the fed can do right is to keep inflation at a comfortable level by raising interest rates ala Volker(sp)?

    That would require political will, an ability to take short-term political pain for long-term economic gain. I don’t see any of that in evidence.

    It would also require political capital. I don’t see any reason that Obama/Pelosi/Reid are willing to spend any of their diminishing store of political capital on anything other than massive spending designed to reward and entrench the Democratic party and its special interests.

    Do we think they won’t do that again and just let the value of the dollar plummet?

    I think that is exactly the plan.

  28. Born in 1947? That didn’t seem right; I would have guessed that he was in his 40’s. But that’s what Wikipedia says.

  29. Ve Vork Vunders!

  30. Doesn’t Penn & Teller do a show with the same title and the same premise? Stossel is a phony pantload.

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