Skating to Freedom

A skating rink is just one example of how spontaneous order is more effective than central control for organizational purposes.


My last Fox Business Network TV show airs Friday.

That news pleases some people, like internet trolls who write that they are happy to be "rid of that noted LIAR and falsifier of news" who produces "hit pieces." Another wrote, "Hopefully the cancer came back to finish him off."

To be clear, I'm not ending Stossel because I have cancer. I don't have cancer. I had a small tumor removed, and, best we can tell, it's gone. I didn't even have chemo or radiation.

I'm moving on because I want to create a new libertarian internet-based platform with Reason TV and become an educator with the Charles Koch Institute's new Media and Journalism Fellowship program. I will still make appearances on Fox News.

I had a good time hosting my own show for seven years, trying to find new ways to simplify economics and demonstrate the benefits of free markets.

Unfortunately, economic freedom can be hard to demonstrate. Adam Smith's "invisible hand" is, well, invisible. How do I explain it on TV? Friedrich Hayek's phrase "spontaneous order" is clearer but still hard to show.

I was stumped until I read Rinkonomics: A Window on Spontaneous Order by George Mason University's Dan Klein. That inspired me to rent a skating rink.

Why? Well, imagine you've never seen a rink, and you are the government regulator who approves new businesses.

I tell you: I will flood that arena, freeze the water and then charge people money to strap sharp blades onto their feet and zip around on the ice. I will have few rules. Anyone can skate: young and old, skilled and unskilled.

Most any regulator would resist my bizarre skating idea. Hillary Clinton might say that for my rink to be approved it must have stoplights, skating police and barriers between skilled and unskilled skaters, adults and children. I must have someone with a megaphone direct the skaters to make sure they don't smash into each other.

So, I actually tried that. I rented a rink and bossed people around: "You, turn left, you slow down." Of course, the skaters hated that. And it didn't make skating safer. Some people, responding to my instructions, lost their balance and fell.

There is spontaneous order on a normal skating rink. Skaters make their own decisions. No regulator knows the wishes, skills and immediate intentions of individual skaters better than skaters themselves.

Regulators might say my attempts to direct skaters failed because I'm not a skating "expert." On my TV show, one guest said regulation must be done "by technocrats with expertise."

So I hired an expert, an Olympic skater. She did no better with the megaphone. No "technocrat" has enough expertise to direct the skaters on the ice.

For safety, rinks usually just have a few employees who police reckless skaters and simple rules like "skate counterclockwise." That's enough!

Good thing rinks were invented before the modern regulatory state took over.

Leave people free to make their own choices and a spontaneous order arises. Skaters find their own path. Buyers and sellers adjust to changing prices. Families raise kids. Musicians create jazz.

That's what I've tried to demonstrate on my show.

Control freaks have criticized such spontaneity for at least 2,400 years. Plato warned that music should be simple so that it does not stir up passion. In America, Ladies Home Journal once warned that jazz would lead "to a breaking away from all rules." Lucky America didn't have a Department of Music Safety then or jazz would have been banned.

Over seven years on the Stossel show, I've done all sorts of stunts, trying to explain the benefits of liberty. I've dressed as a Founder and Santa and Uncle Sam, begged for money on Manhattan streets, broken windows, collected signatures on petitions to ban "dangerous" chemicals like dihydrogen monoxide (that's water), stolen things from children, held a racist (that is, affirmative action) bake sale, smashed cars with a sledgehammer (inspired by the "cash for clunkers" government program) and cut the federal budget with a chain saw.

If it helps explain the benefits of freedom, I'll try it.


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  1. That news pleases some people, like internet trolls who write that they are happy to be “rid of that noted LIAR and falsifier of news” who produces “hit pieces.” Another wrote, “Hopefully the cancer came back to finish him off.”

    Bugger them. I have always liked your mustache.

  2. Have I mentioned I like Stossel?

    1. Yes, you have.

      Also, fried chicken.

    2. Would you ride the ‘stache?

    3. I logged in just to mention that you like Stossel.

    4. Damn that man! He’s a FauxKoch&r!

      1. Just kidding! I like him too.

  3. Thank you, John, for all the years of promoting libertarian ideas on your show. I feel grateful for all the work you have done. Best of luck to you in this new endeavor. I know you will succeed. I will check it out for sure. Consider hiring Remy for some comedic flair.

    1. Thanks John Stossel for reporting on Libertarian ideals and how some of America just does not want freedom, free market and free thought.

      You have an interesting perspective being a lefty yourself years ago and being in the media industry. Thank you for detailing some of your encounters with lefties and how they turned on you once you moved toward Libertarianism.

      I still think domestic government surveillance should be on your list of 100 things you hate about government.

      I once had a producer of yours contact me to be on one of your shows. I never did it. It would have been interesting to meet you in person.

  4. Thank you, John, for all the years of promoting libertarian ideas on your show. I feel grateful for all the work you have done. Best of luck to you in this new endeavor. I know you will succeed. I will check it out for sure. Consider hiring Remy for some comedic flair.

  5. An internet platform? Tell me more. One of the few things I was sad about in regards to not having satellite TV anymore was missing out on Stossel’s show. So I’m very excited about this. About time Reason adds an actual libertarian to their ranks.

  6. collected signatures on petitions to ban “dangerous” chemicals like dihydrogen monoxide (that’s water)

    I love you John, but drop the qualifying explanations. If you don’t get the point without them, you’re not going to.

  7. become an educator with the Charles Koch Institute’s new Media and Journalism Fellowship program

    KOCHTOPUS reigns supreme!

    1. I NEW IT!!!1!1!elventy!!1


  8. Internet?

    It will never catch on.

    1. Well certainly not without common sense regulations!

    2. The Internet is just a fad!

      1. LIke those kids with their radio telephones.

      2. And will be no more important than the fax machine

        -Paul Krugman

  9. Best wishes, John! I hope you keep letting us at H&R keep tugging at your mustache.

    1. It’s $100 to touch.

      1. THAT should be Reason’s next fundraiser.

        “Lets see…we are at $1,234,500 right now…only two days in!”

        1. “And that’s just from Warty and SugerFree.”

          1. Sugar. Edit button Reason, AN EDIT BUTTON!

  10. ‘Stachevision, on Reason TV?!!!

  11. A skating rink John? Really do you want Alan Thicke to die? Cause that’s how you get Alan thicke to die

  12. To be clear, I’m not ending Stossel because I have cancer. I don’t have cancer. I had a small tumor removed, and, best we can tell, it’s gone. I didn’t even have chemo or radiation.



  13. Market forces are people making choices, and the people are making choices are quite visible.

    That the general outcome for society is benevolent when very visible individuals are free to make choices for themselves doesn’t seem counterintuitive to me.

    Evolution works this way, too. The fact that altruism is an evolutionary adaptation that confers an advantage in the survival of the fittest isn’t merely like the invisible hand–it is the invisible hand.

    Yes, individuals pursuing their individual interests arrive at altruism. Readers of Adam Smith shouldn’t have expected to find anything else.

    1. “Market forces are people making choices”

      This times a thousand. It’s such a common misconception that market forces are some exogenous force that acts on people. They talk about it like the weather. When I can, I (gently) try to help them understand that the term is just shorthand for people making choices. The more people understand that, the better.

      1. But what about when people make the wrong choices.

        /clever rejoinder

        1. When a person makes a wrong choice it hurts that person, who might learn to make better choices.

          The alternate is for government to make a wrong choice, which hurts many people but doesn’t hurt the government, so the government never, ever learns to make better choices.

      2. This is the answer to the constant claims about corporations “exploiting” workers or consumers. It is based on a belief that a corp can force you to buy their products or that employees can’t change jobs. People make decisions every moment about everything. No one knows what they want better than they do. Imagine a claim that working long hours at night is exploitation: my friend (African-American) many years ago work such hours as a watchman so he could go to school during the day. What the “expert” sees as exploitation, he saw as an opportunity. When given a change to work 4 10-hr days, many people do, without overtime, because they get a 3 day weekend. Exploited by not having overtime? They chose it themselves.

        1. Ten hours at work feels almost exactly like eight, but three day weekends are another 50% longer.

        2. But corporations are exactly the opposite of a free market. They are government created and controlled entities. Their only responsibility is a fiduciary one as opposed to a real person who has many responsibilities including moral and religious ones such as treating people nicely.

    2. This is a really good point. I’ve gotten as far as thinking sociopathy being considered a disorder suggests “all against all” isn’t exactly what life without government would be like. The big problem with society is how essential it is to our survival (one man’s energy being insufficient unless he combines it with others’, in rose wilder lane’s words), but I never really thought about how that would affect and be affected by evolution,which it obviously (once someone else points it out) would. That’s an interesting idea. Thanks

  14. Forget the skating rink, suppose someone came up with an idea for running a network of pipes directly into people’s houses carrying pressurized flammable gas they could use for cooking and heating and hot water – but if there’s a leak on the gas pipe their house could explode into flames. Or a network of wires carrying potentially lethal electricity right into people’s houses. You think that shit would fly if somebody were to propose it today?

    1. Or letting people pilot their own multi-ton vehicles at speeds exceeding a mile a minute. Obviously only government approved experts should be allowed to do that.

    2. Or letting people prepare and serve food to family members without strict portion control and nutritional analysis of the prepared dishes. There is simply no telling what amounts of calories, fat, sodium, etc. is in that food. Government approved regulators must be appointed to ensure the safety of the food being provided to huge numbers of unsuspecting people.

      1. And with animals in the kitchen. Who would be sure that the food was free of dangerous cat hair?

    3. I am amazed we are allowed to pump our own gas. A disaster waiting to happen, and toxic fumes too. Good thing it became standard practice before EPA came along.
      Oh, and don’t let FDA find out how dangerous sex is.

      1. “I am amazed we are allowed to pump our own gas”

        I guess you have never been to NJ

  15. Another wrote, “Hopefully the cancer came back to finish him off.”

    The oh so “tolerant” and “caring” left…

    1. Don’t forget about hate speech. The left is passionate about banning the big meanie hate speech, and NEVER-EVER says anything offensive (except for those with differing opinions–fuck those assholes).


    2. A lot of that smack-talk comes from people who are anonymous on the ‘Net. I’m actually anonymous here, but in most places where I comment I use my real honest-to-God name, and it’s been a good discipline ? I don’t say things to people that I wouldn’t say in real life, ’cause it can come back to haunt me.


    1. It’s a shame Coulton is such a rampant lefty.

      However, I put his song “Want You Gone” to good use on Nov 9th for all the obvious reasons, with all the anticipated reactions.

  16. “To be clear, I’m not ending Stossel because I have cancer. I don’t have cancer. I had a small tumor removed, and, best we can tell, it’s gone. I didn’t even have chemo or radiation”.

    That’s good to hear. When I heard Stossel was ending, I worried that perhaps the cancer returned. Even the big-c can’t jostle the Stossel. Glad to hear he is doing well and will continue to promote freedom.

  17. Legend. Looking forward to the future….

  18. John, good luck with your new skating rink business!

  19. Sad that your show is ending, Mr. Stossel, but I’m glad you will be continuing in your pursuit of Liberty and education!


  20. Good for you!

  21. Liam. I agree that Carl`s bl0g is cool… I just got a great new Honda since getting a cheque for $9458 thiss month and just a little over 10/k this past-munth. without a doubt its the most financially rewarding I’ve ever had. I started this six months/ago and almost immediately started earning at least $75, per hour. go now


  22. Stossel you are the man, best wishes to you.

  23. use of common sense and science on the internewz to explain “stuff”..sorry John, doomed to failure.

  24. Thanks for your service in defending our liberty John! I hope you continue doing it a long time.

    FWIW, I always wanted to see you showing clips from your statist news competitors, who totally ignore the free market and free minds point of view, followed by your view. Just to show their total bias via their ignoring the libertarian point of view. Libertarians get attacked from both the RINOs and Democrats, and I really appreciate your standing up for our freedom, which is what, after all, Made America Great.

    I just hope Trump is a quick study, and learns this. It’d be great if you got an interview with him and asked him what made America great. I’m afraid his answer is what makes America great these days for billionaires, even though all he got for his political donations was the booby prize of Hillary attending his wedding. Of course, that might be a good thing.

  25. Elizabeth. true that Janice`s comment is unimaginable… last saturday I got a top of the range Mazda MX-5 since I been bringin in $9155 this last 5 weeks and-just over, 10k this past month. it’s certainly the most-financialy rewarding I’ve ever had. I began this 10-months ago and almost straight away got at least $69, per-hr. browse this site


  26. pomegranate is a messy fruit.

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