2018-12-12 05:01:00

Struggling to find gifts to get for loved ones? How about a book?

I just made a video about some books that shaped my thinking.

First, Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom recounts how government trying to centrally plan an economy often leads to tyranny.

Government shouldn’t intervene, wrote Hayek, because a free market, like a school of fish or a flock of birds, creates a spontaneous order. No central planner will allocate resources as efficiently as individuals do themselves.

For arguing that, Hayek was ridiculed. But years later, even defenders of socialism conceded that he was right.

With “democratic socialism” newly popular and celebrities like Jim Carrey saying, “We have to say yes to socialism—to the word and everything!” today is a great time to give Road to Serfdom to your socialist friends.

If only they’d read it…

Of course, Road to Serfdom is written in old-fashioned language that some people find tough going. A simpler, more America-focused book from which to learn about economics is Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics.

Sowell writes in plain English, without graphs or equations. Not only will Sowell educate your socialist friends, he’ll show Donald Trump fans why free trade is good.

Two even easier-to-read introductions to economics and free market philosophy are the cartoon-filled Libertarianism for Beginners by Todd Seavey and Give Me a Break, written by an ignorant anti-business reporter (me) who finally discovered the benefits of markets.

But promoting those would be self-serving (Todd helps me write this column) so I won’t even mention those fine books. I’ll move on.

Prefer fiction?

How about Animal Farm for the animals in your family? George Orwell describes how farm animals revolt against an abusive human master—only to end up ruled by new tyrants, the pigs.

Animal Farm was meant to be an allegory for the Russian revolution turning into Soviet tyranny, but it could just as easily apply to today’s America if populists get their way.

Another fun read is Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. It’s long—more than a thousand pages—but easy reading because the novel pulls you along, describing how cultural bias against capitalism and love of big government grows.

Rand depicts creeping government oppression so convincingly that it feels like she’s describing America today.

Rand argues that government isn’t just inefficient; it’s evil because it violates property rights and tells people how to live their lives. Government is like a looter or burglar, she wrote.

Today’s media, by contrast, call capitalists looters and burglars. Years ago, the media called the most successful of them “robber barons.”

A book by Burton W. Folsom, Myth of the Robber Barons, debunks those myths. It explains that capitalists such as John D. Rockefeller and Cornelius Vanderbilt were neither robbers nor barons. They were not born rich, and they did not get rich by robbing people. They got rich by creating better things.

Rockefeller lowered the price of kerosene so much that it allowed poor people to read at night.

He probably even “saved the whales.” That’s because once Rockefeller made oil cheap, killing whales to get whale oil was no longer profitable. Bet your kids won’t learn that in environmental studies class.

“Robber baron” Cornelius Vanderbilt didn’t rob people. He made steamship travel faster and cheaper. It was jealous competitors who called him a “robber baron” because he charged lower prices than they did. The ignorant media picked up the term, and it stuck.

Finally, another great introduction to freedom is the book Free to Choose, in which Milton and Rose Friedman explain how limiting government creates prosperity.

Friedman reportedly joked that if you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.

In the TV series accompanying Free to Choose he argued, “We somehow or other have to find a way to prevent government from continuing to grow and continuing to take over more and more control over our lives.”

Well, we’ve failed at that!

But at Stossel TV, we won’t quit trying. Those books should help.

I hope my columns help a little bit, too. Happy holidays!

Source link

2018-12-11 14:15:00

Holiday season is here. To help your friends or family learn about liberty, why not give them a book?

John Stossel has some ideas.

Click here for full text and downloadable versions.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Like us on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.
Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.

The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

Source link

2018-07-04 04:01:00

We celebrate the Fourth of July because that’s the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, 242 years ago. You might call July 4 America’s birthday.

The Declaration didn’t just declare our independence from Britain; it vowed to create a government that respected all people’s rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

It said nothing about patriotism. Or making America “great.”

America became great because the Declaration (and the Constitution that followed) set down rules that kept government small and out of the way. That let creative individuals flourish.

When the Declaration was signed, the founders didn’t know what America would look like. They knew, though, that they were sick of being bossed around by the British king, so they worried about government having too much power.

Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues wrote the Declaration to assert that our “natural rights” could not be taken away by any government, and to set the stage for the creation of a government through which people could rule themselves.

At the time, America was considered a backwater. Just a few years later, America had become the most prosperous, and probably the freest, country in the world.

The Fourth of July is not about barbecues, fireworks, or even patriotism. It’s about that idea: that people have the right to rule themselves.

Ironically, government has grown so much since the founding that you might not even be able to buy fireworks where you live. In much of America they are now illegal because government officials have declared them to be too dangerous.

Yet the Declaration and Constitution weren’t written to make government provide for public safety. The founders assumed that was something adults would do for themselves. The founding documents are about freedom—about limiting what government can do.

“Trust no man with too much government power,” wrote Jefferson. “(B)ind them with the chains of the Constitution.”

It’s good that the Declaration and Constitution have those “chains.” No matter how insistent the state’s busybodies get, they may not arbitrarily search our homes or jail us. We have a right to bear arms, to practice whatever religions we choose, to exercise free speech and more.

Growing government has eroded some of our freedoms, but we still have more freedoms than most countries in the world.

Consider the country we declared independence from, Great Britain. Authorities there recently locked up a man merely because he made a Facebook live video outside a courthouse. He wanted to draw attention to child abusers on trial, but Britain’s government puts limits on what reporters may cover. England has no First Amendment.

Some people who write critical things on Facebook or Twitter get visits from police.

Great Britain also has no Second Amendment, and has far more restrictions on guns than we have. That hasn’t stopped crime. London had more murders than New York City this spring.

Now London’s mayor wants “knife control.” Really.

One British police department even bragged about its “weapon sweep” that confiscated “scissors and pliers.” But don’t worry, tweeted the Regents Police Agency, they were “safely disposed and taken off the streets.”

Source link

2018-07-10 13:56:00

Warren Farrell, author of The Boy Crisis, was once associated with the feminist movement. Then he changed his views. “I don’t agree with the part of feminism that says, ‘Men are the oppressors and women are the oppressed,'” Farrell tells Maxim Lott, a senior producer of Stossel on Reason.

For example, men die five years earlier than women, have more dangerous jobs, and are often passed over for custody. Boys are two times more likely than girls to commit suicide. Boys are 29 percent less likely to get a college degree than girls.

So why do men earn more and have more influence in government and business? A big reason, Farrell argues, is that men are filling social expectations to become the family breadwinner.

“Our dads and our grandpas, they made sacrifices…to make more money, and then the feminist movement turned all of that sacrifice on the part of men against men,” Farrell says.

Both sexes struggle, but Farrell thinks the feminist movement’s single-sided focus on women’s inequalities has led to an atmosphere that harms boys. A dramatic increase in fatherless households—which Farrell believes is largely responsible for boys’ problems—goes ignored.

Study after study finds that having both a mother and father is best, at least for straight families. (Gay families may do just as well; Farrell notes that the overall evidence is inconclusive.) “Even when we control for the amount of money a father and mother earn, children with dads still do much better,” Farrell notes.

The rate of fatherless households has increased partly because of welfare programs that “tear the family apart by giving the money to mothers when fathers are absent,” Farrell argues, “and not giving money to mothers when fathers are present.”

Why would fatherless households hurt boys more than girls? “Boys tend to not have as many skills at developing friendships, at developing emotional connections,” Farrell says. “So when the family connection breaks apart, it affects them more profoundly than it does their sisters.”

Farrell says fathers are critical for several non-intuitive reasons. One is roughhousing, which teaches kids boundaries. Fathers roughhouse more than mothers, and when they do, “the father is creating a bond with the child, so the children don’t mind discipline….The discipline is the price they pay for more fun with dad.”

Many people think that mothers tend to be better parents because women are, on average, more empathetic and pay more attention to a child’s needs. But Farrell says this by itself is not enough, because “an empathetic parent does not create an empathetic child. An empathetic parent is someone who’s always thinking of the children’s needs, which teaches the children to always have his or her needs thought of.”

Requiring a child to think of others’ needs is what actually build empathy, Farrell says.

Finally, Farrell says that mothers are more likely to express their love for a child by doing things like homework for the kid. They’re more likely to engage in “helicopter parenting,” which leads to overly dependent kids.

What’s the solution to “the Boy Crisis”? Farrell says that society should offer more respect to men who focus on fathering rather than career success. He wishes there were more men in classrooms, and that schools would bring back things like recess.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Like us on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.
Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.

The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

Source link

2018-07-17 13:26:00

Have you used a plastic straw lately? Did you feel guilty? Celebrities and activists hope so! They want us all to #stopsucking.

Politicians took notice. Seattle recently banned plastic straws, and other places are considering similar bans.

Companies are also getting in on the trend; Starbucks recently decided to phase out plastic straws in all its stores by 2020. Other companies like American Airlines, Sea World, and Royal Caribbean are planning to ban plastic straws.

In our latest video, Stossel TV contributor Kristin Tate, author of How Do I Tax Thee, examines what a straw ban would accomplish.

Angela Logomasini, a senior fellow at Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Tate that “the idea that you’re going to ban straws and save the world is ridiculous.”

Plastic pollution in the ocean is a real problem, but only about 1 percent of it comes from the U.S. Of that 1 percent, only a tiny fraction comes from plastic straws.

How can that be? Celebrities tell us Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day. “Polluting water and killing sea life,” according to actor Adrian Grenier.

The 500 million number is repeatedly used by the media. But it comes from a nine-year-old’s school project. The real number is much less—closer to 175 million.

Still, radio talk show host Ethan Bearman told Tate: “If we can reduce something that is easy, that is polluting the environment, that gets stuck in turtles’ noses and causes damage to the environment, let’s do that.” Bearman is loose with the word “easy.” He argues “we could easily” replace plastic straws with paper ones or other reusable options like metal or bamboo.

When Tate told Bearman that paper straws are eight times more expensive to make, Bearman replied: “I don’t see that as being a huge difference in the price.”

Logomasini says: “This is what environmentalists say about every policy they put out. A few cents here, a few cents there. Eventually, it begins to be a burden.” She added: “Banning straws isn’t going to do anything for the environment. So what they’re just trying to do is take away my freedom for nothing in return.”

Tate added: “As the environment has become cleaner, that’s become a specialty of the environmental movement: Spend your money on feel-good policies that make no real difference.”

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Like us on Facebook.

Follow us on Twitter.

Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.

The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

Source link

2018-07-18 04:01:00

Want to sip a refreshing beverage this summer?

If environmental zealots and sycophants get their way, you won’t be allowed to sip it through a plastic straw.

Actress Nina Nelson and other celebrities made a video claiming that plastic straws kill sea life: “In the USA alone, over 500 million straws are being used every single day, most of which are going into our oceans.”

“I will stop sucking,” vowed the celebrities.

In obedient response, Seattle banned plastic straws, and other places plan to follow. Starbucks, Hyatt, and Hilton are all abandoning straws.

Katy Tang, of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, says, “We are no longer going to allow for plastic straws here.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio agrees: “Their time has come and gone.”

But before politicians ban things in the name of saving the world, I wish they’d take the trouble to actually study what good the ban would do.

Plastic garbage in oceans is a genuine problem. But most of the pollution comes from Asia. A small amount does come from America, but only a tiny fraction of that is plastic straws.

Banning straws “might make some politicians feel good,” says the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Angela Logomasini in this week’s Stossel TV video, “but it won’t actually accomplish anything good.”

But what about that scary “500 million” figure that celebrities, politicians and news anchors constantly cite? It turns out that number came from a 10-year-old who, for a school project, telephoned some straw makers.

Because the boy is cute, the media put him on TV. Now the media, environmental activists, and politicians (Is there a difference?) repeat “500 million straws used daily… many end up in oceans,” as if it were just fact. The real number is much lower.

Still, activists like talk show host Ethan Bearman tell us, “If we can reduce something that easy—something that gets stuck in turtles’ noses and damages the environment—let’s do that. Sometimes, we do need a little gentle guiding hand from government.”

But government’s guiding hand is neither “little” nor “gentle.” Government action is force. In this case, the politicians will either ban straws or order us to replace plastic straws with more expensive ones made of paper or bamboo.

Bearman calls that an advantage, telling us, “Plastic doesn’t actually biodegrade, unlike paper, which breaks down into other components.”

But that’s exactly the problem. Paper straws don’t only break down in dumps, they also break down while you’re using them. They get soggy. They leak.

“That’s the beauty of plastic. It’s enduring,” says Logomasini.

She also points out that paper and bamboo straws aren’t environmentally pristine. “Paper products take more energy and effort to produce. And paper doesn’t degrade in a landfill, either. Everything (in landfills) is essentially mummified.”

Source link

2018-07-25 04:01:00

While self-proclaimed “democratic socialists” win Democratic primaries in America, actual socialists in Cuba are finally backing away from some of the ideas that kept Cubans poor.

Sunday, Cuba’s National Assembly approved a draft of a new constitution that recognizes a right to own private property. That’s progress. Would Senator Bernie Sanders and celebrity-of-the-moment Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez approve? I’m not sure.

Instead of saying that “communism” is the purpose of the state, Cuba will now say that “socialism” is the basis of the economy.

That’s an ambiguous difference, but “socialism” tends to mean a larger private sector.

Cuba’s new leaders also say they welcome foreign investment. Maybe this will bring some prosperity to the long-suffering Cuban population.

It may bring more freedom, too. The new draft says a criminal defendant is innocent until proven guilty. That’s progress. It also sets term limits on presidents—no more than two consecutive five-year terms. Fidel Castro ruled for 50 years.

The new Cuba may also permit gay marriage. The draft defines marriage as being between two individuals, not necessarily a man and a woman. That’s a big step for a country that recently locked gay people up in “work” camps.

On the other hand, the state-run newspaper says Cuba “will never return to capitalism.” And while some open speech is permitted, crackdowns against dissidents, even ones who just sing angry rock songs, continue.

Still, the U.S. should be happy about the changes, and the last thing we should do when we want to encourage free market changes in a country is slap an embargo on it.

Yet some conservatives want to do that, and President Trump reversed some of President Obama’s “Cuba opening.”

This is a bad idea. Nothing gets a population accustomed to decentralized, nongovernmental commercial activity like commercial activity.

The more we restrict trade, the more we drive a country’s population into the hands of the state.

If you can’t sell your products to American customers, you might just work for your country’s corrupt state-run enterprises. Instead of having casual contact with customers who live outside your country’s political system, that system becomes all you know. Your idea of what’s possible shrinks.

Embargoes favored by the right are just one wrong approach. The left does everyone an injustice by praising Cuban communism. I live in New York, where my socialist-leaning mayor, Bill de Blasio, was so enamored of Cuba that he honeymooned there.

Bernie Sanders acknowledges that the Cuban economy is “a disaster” but says at least they have health care and education—as if we don’t.

American socialists are economically clueless. But conservative embargo advocates are just as bad.

Democratic congressional candidate David Richardson of Florida, who plans to visit Havana as part of his campaign, has the right idea.

“A half-century of isolation did not achieve progress for the everyday Cuban,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “I fully support a position of engagement with Cuban civil society…. Rolling back travel and trade restrictions has changed the lives of the Cuban people, helped private Cuban entrepreneurs, and strengthened the connection between the residents of Little Havana and Havana.”

Source link

2018-07-31 13:45:00

Celebrities, union activists, and politicians demand that the government raise the minimum wage for restaurant workers. They are upset that in 43 states, tipped workers can be paid a lower minimum wage than other workers. The logic behind the lower minimum is that the tips make up the difference.

That’s not good enough for people like Buffalo University law professor Nicole Hallett. She tells John Stossel that, “the problem with tips is that they’re very inconsistent.” She wants to “require restaurant owners to pay the same hourly wage that all other employers have to pay.”

But many restaurant workers like the current system. Waitress Alcieli Felipe tells John Stossel, “don’t change the rules on tips…. If you raise the minimum wage, it’ll be harder for restaurants to keep the same amount of employees.” She works at Lido, a restaurant in Harlem, and says, with tips, she makes $25 an hour, “by the end of the year I made around 48 to 50,000 dollars.”

Nevertheless, several cities and states have increased the tipped minimum wage. This had unintended consequences. Michael Saltsman, Research Director at Employment Policies Institute tells Stossel, “in the Bay Area you’ve got a 14 percent increase in restaurant closures for each dollar increase in the minimum wage.” The year after New York increased its tipped minimum wage, the city lost 270 restaurants.

Many higher-minimum activists also say that tipping encourages sexual harassment. Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Jane Fonda, and 12 other actresses wrote a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging him to increase the minimum, claiming, “relying on tips creates a more permissive work environment where customers feel entitled to abuse women in exchange for ‘service.'”

But Saltsman says federal data doesn’t support that. Data shows some of the states that have gone down this path that the activists want, changing their tipping system, actually have a higher rate of sexual harassment.”

When Stossel pointed that out to Professor Hallett, she replied, “sexual harassment is a very complicated problem, and no single policy is going to eliminate that problem.”

Waitress Felipe resents the activists monkeying around with her wages—she doesn’t want the law changed, “just keep as it is, we are fine. Who are those people, have they worked in the restaurant industry?”

Many haven’t. Many have no idea how popular tips are with restaurant workers. When Maine voters increased the minimum wage, restaurant workers protested and got the politicians to reverse the decision.

Stossel asks, “Why should there be any minimum? Why can’t the employer and the employee make whatever deal they want?”

Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Like us on Facebook.

Follow us on Twitter.

Subscribe to our podcast at iTunes.

The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

Source link

2018-08-01 04:01:00

Union protestors and celebrity advocates have decided that waiters’ tips aren’t big enough.

They are upset that in 43 states, tipped workers can be paid a lower minimum wage, as low as $2.13 an hour.

Not fair! say celebrities like Jane Fonda, who recorded commercials saying, “That’s barely enough to buy a large cup of coffee!”

As usual, those who want the government to decide that workers must be paid more insist that “women and minorities” are hurt by the market.

But waitress Alcieli Felipe is a minority and a woman. She says the celebrities and politicians should butt out.

Thanks to tips, Felipe says in my new internet video, she makes “$25 an hour. By the end of the year, $48,000 to $50,000.”

She understands that if government raises the minimum, “It’ll be harder for restaurants to keep the same amount of employees… (T)he busboy will be cut.”

She’s right.

Minimum wage laws don’t just raise salaries without cost. If they did, why not set the minimum at $100 an hour?

Every time a minimum is raised, somebody loses something. “In the (San Francisco) Bay Area, you’ve got a 14 percent increase in restaurant closures for each dollar increase in the minimum wage,” says Michael Saltsman of the Employment Policy Institute.

Activists are unmoved. “The problem with tips is that they’re very inconsistent,” University of Buffalo law professor Nicole Hallett told me. Hallett is one of those activist professors who gets students to join her in “social justice” protests.

“I simply don’t believe that increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers will lead to a reduction in the restaurant workforce,” she said. “Studies have shown that restaurants have been able to bear those costs.”

I pointed out that last time New York raised its minimum, the city lost 270 restaurants.

“Restaurants always close,” she replied.

“Restaurants don’t always close,” responds Saltsman. “Yeah, there’s turnover in the industry, but what we’re doing now to an industry where there’s low profit margins, jacking up restaurant closures… Something’s not right.”

The media rarely focus on those closings. We can’t interview people who are never hired; we don’t know who they are. Instead, activists lead reporters to workers who talk about struggling to pay rent.

“Forty-six percent of tipped workers nationwide rely on public benefits” like food stamps, Hallett told me.

I pointed out that many tipped workers are eligible for benefits because they don’t report tip income to the government.

She didn’t dispute that. “Many restaurants and restaurant workers don’t report 100 percent of their income,” she acknowledged.

Hallett and other higher-minimum activists also claim that tipping should be discouraged because it causes sexual harassment. Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Jane Fonda, and 12 other actresses wrote a letter urging New York’s governor to increase the minimum wage, claiming that “relying on tips creates a more permissive work environment where customers feel entitled to abuse women in exchange for ‘service.'”

Tipping causes customers to abuse women?

Saltsman says research using federal data doesn’t support that. “Data shows some of the states that have gone down this path that the activists want, changing their tipping system, actually have a higher rate of sexual harassment.”

When I pointed that out to Hallett, she replied, “Sexual harassment is complicated; no single policy is going to eliminate that problem.”

So raising the minimum won’t reduce sexual harassment but will raise prices, will force some restaurants to either fire workers or close, and will reduce tip income.

This is supposed to help restaurant workers?

Many object to being “helped.” When Maine voters increased the minimum, so many restaurant workers protested that the politicians reversed the decision.

Alcieli Felipe doesn’t want the government “helping” her either: “We are fine. Who are those people? Have they worked in the restaurant industry?”

Most haven’t.

I’m a free market guy. I wonder, “Why should there be any minimum? Why can’t the employer and employee make whatever deal they want?”

“That policy has been rejected,” Hallett told me, “rejected for the last hundred years. We’re not in that world.”

Unfortunately, we aren’t. We live in a world where activists and government “protect” workers right out of their jobs.

Source link

2018-08-09 16:30:00

Sen. Bernie Sanders is all over the internet!

New York Magazine says he is “quietly building a digital media empire.”

Mic.com calls it “one of the most powerful progressive media outfits in America.”

This matters because bettors rank Sanders one of the top four Democratic presidential contenders.

I resent Sanders’ “empire” because it pushes bad ideas, yet his videos are viewed more often than mine. His videos have been seen almost a billion times.

Some are just recordings of him making noisy speeches, ranting about how Republican policies hurt Americans. For example, “Tens of thousands of them will die” if Obamacare is repealed. (He ignores the fact that more will live if the economy is allowed to grow.)

Other Sanders videos are edited, produced pieces, much like videos that I make.

One powerful one begins with a President Trump speech where the president recites the song “The Snake,” in which a woman nurses a snake back to health—only to have it bite her. “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in!” shouts the president. He was arguing against loose immigration controls.

But the video cuts to Trump calling criminals “animals,” and an “expert” says Trump is using “the same kind of language that the Nazis used.”

The video never mentions that when Trump said “animals,” he was talking about MS-13.

A recurring Sanders video theme is that Trump supporters are “faces of greed” who scheme to get even richer by doing things like abolishing the estate tax.

Sanders never mentions that the estate tax taxes money that had already been taxed; it’s double taxation.

He could still argue against repealing it, but he ought to be fair.

Many Sanders videos demand that government make college free.

His staff interview themselves.

May Ayad, a Sanders associate media producer, tells us, “It’s not just one or two people saying, ‘I can’t afford to go to college.’ This is like the majority of college students in the entire nation!”

Winn Decker, research intern for the Senate Budget Committee, whines, “Student loans kept me from doing things like purchase a home.”

Sanders staff assistant Terrel Champion tells viewers, “Somebody has to foot the bill. The government should assume that responsibility!”

Source link