2019-01-23 05:01:00

It’s School Choice Week.

School choice is a noble cause. In much of America, parents have little or no control over where their kids attend school. Local governments assign schools by ZIP code.

Having choice is better. Whether it’s vouchers, scholarships, charters, private schools, or just having options among public schools, choice makes some schools better because educators have to compete for parents’ trust. Competition makes most everything better.

So we need competition among ideas, too.

There isn’t a lot of that in America’s schools.

In many places, every kid is taught:

—America is largely cruel and unfair, especially to minorities.

—Political leaders must manage most of life.

—Under capitalism, rich people prosper by exploiting the poor.

To give students another perspective, I started a charity that offers teachers free study guides, sample lessons, and videos that introduce students to free market ideas: Stossel in the Classroom.

Most of the videos are versions of my reporting for Stossel TV, Fox, and ABC News, specially edited for students.

In these videos, kids hear from people in parts of the world where markets are not as free and people suffer because of it. After watching, one high school student told us that he now understood that America is “the rare place where you can write the script of your own life.”

That idea is important to kids, who don’t always feel that they’re in control of their lives.

One student, Gabriel Miller, told us, “When I originally went to school, it was all taught from one side: This country is horrible; because you are a minority you can’t make it. It made me dislike the country. But after the videos were shown, I felt ashamed for what I initially believed.”

He then enlisted in the National Guard. “I wanted to give back for, not only giving my family so much opportunity, but also to protect, defend and serve the people in the United States.”

“We never really thought like this before,” his classmate Diony Perez told us. “We’re taught that the government is… responsible for us and we have to trust them in doing everything for us.”

After watching videos about entrepreneurs, Perez decided he didn’t want government to take charge of his life. Instead, he started his own business. His company delivers cars to customers without them having to step foot in a dealership.

Students say certain ideas in the videos stand out because they are different from the anti-market messages they usually hear in school.

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2019-01-22 16:45:00

It’s school choice week. Many kids don’t have choice in where they go to school. The school choice movement is trying to give them that opportunity.

Of course, having choice when it comes to what kids learn is important too.

Many schools teach kids that capitalism hurts people.

So John Stossel started a charity called Stossel in the Classroom. It offers teachers free videos that introduce kids to free market ideas. Students rarely hear about these ideas in school.

Graduates from Queens Technical High School in New York City who watched the videos while they were in high school explained that the videos were different from what they were used to.

“They really opened up my mind to think differently” said Xiomara Inga. Antonio Parada added the videos “changed the way that I viewed the world.”

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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.

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2019-01-22 16:45:00

It’s school choice week. Many kids don’t have choice in where they go to school. The school choice movement is trying to give them that opportunity.

Of course, having choice when it comes to what kids learn is important too.

Many schools teach kids that capitalism hurts people.

So John Stossel started a charity called Stossel in the Classroom. It offers teachers free videos that introduce kids to free market ideas. Students rarely hear about these ideas in school.

Graduates from Queens Technical High School in New York City who watched the videos while they were in high school explained that the videos were different from what they were used to.

“They really opened up my mind to think differently” said Xiomara Inga. Antonio Parada added the videos “changed the way that I viewed the world.”

Gabriel Miller was so inspired by videos about the founding of America, he decided to enlist in the National Guard. He explains, “We are taught that this country is horrible.” But after watching the videos, “I felt ashamed for what I initially believed…[so] I wanted to give back.”

Diony Perez was inspired to open his own business, an auto leasing company called Familia Motor Group. “The Stossel videos helped me become more of an entrepreneur,” Diony said.

Other students explained that certain videos like “The Unintended Consequences …” and “The Evil Rich” stuck with them. Johann Astudillo learned about unintended consequences from a video about minimum wage, “minimum wage increase priced out young people from getting jobs into the market.”

Victoria Guerrero learned that most rich people get rich by providing some benefit to society. “If it wasn’t for Steve Jobs … our life would not be as easy as it is today.”

Stossel says he is glad his charity helps students understand free market ideas.

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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.

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2019-01-16 05:01:00

This government shutdown is now longer than any in history. The media keep using the word “crisis.”

“Shutdown sows chaos, confusion and anxiety!” says The Washington Post. “Pain spreads widely.”

The New York Times headlined, it’s all “just too much!”

But wait. Looking around America, I see people going about their business—families eating in restaurants, employees going to work, children playing in playgrounds, etc. I have to ask: Where’s the crisis?

Pundits talk as if government is the most important part of America, but it isn’t.

We need some government, limited government. But most of life, the best of life, goes on without government, many of the best parts in spite of government.

Of course, the shutdown is a big deal to the 800,000 people who aren’t being paid. But they will get paid. Government workers always do—after shutdowns.

Columnist Paul Krugman calls this shutdown, “Trump’s big libertarian experiment.” But it’s not libertarian. Government’s excessive rules are still in effect, and eventually government workers will be paid for not working. That makes this a most un-libertarian experiment.

But there are lessons to be learned.

During a shutdown when Barack Obama was president, government officials were so eager to make a point by inconveniencing people that they even stopped visitors from entering public parks.

Trump’s administration isn’t doing that, so PBS found a new crisis: “Trash cans spilling… (P)ark services can’t clean up the mess until Congress and the president reach a spending deal,” reported NewsHour.

But volunteers appeared to pick up some of the trash.

Given a chance, private citizens often step in to do things government says only government can do.

The Washington Post ran a front-page headline about farmers “reeling… because they aren’t receiving government support checks.”

But why do farmers even get “support checks”?

One justification is “saving family farms.” But the money goes to big farms.

Government doesn’t need to “guarantee the food supply,” another justification for subsidies. Most fruit and vegetable farmers get no subsidies, yet there are no shortages of peaches, plums, green beans, etc.

Subsidies are a scam created by politicians who get money from wheat, cotton, corn, and soybean agribusinesses. Those farmers should suck it up and live without subsidies, too.

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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.

First, there’s The Road to Serfdom. In it, Friedrich Hayek explains why government intervention in the economy leads to serfdom. He explains why no central planner can allocate resources as well as individuals can.

Stossel says this is a great book for your socialist friends—if they are willing to read it.

They might not be, Stossel says, because the language is old. Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics is more current. Sowell explains that trade is not a zero-sum game—it’s not as if one country wins and another loses. Both sides benefit. Stossel suggests that someone should give Sowell’s book to our President.

Another myth-busting book is The Myth of the Robber Barons. Historian Burton Folsom explains that Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller didn’t get rich by robbing people. They got rich by creating better things.

Another good book that covers basic economics is Free to Choose, by Milton and Rose Friedman.

Stossel also briefly mentions a bonus book by a former clueless, lefty, big-government loving reporter who finally woke up to the benefits of markets. That book is Give Me a Break.

Prefer fiction? Stossel recommends two classics, Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, and Animal Farm, by George Orwell.

Any of these books, Stossel says, would make a great Christmas gift.

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2019-01-15 16:15:00

The government shutdown is now longer than any in history. The media say it’s a “crisis.”

The Washington Post talks talks about the “shutdown’s pain.” The New York Times says it’s “just too much.”

John Stossel says: wait a second. Looking around America, everything seems pretty normal. Life goes on. Kids still play and learn, adults still work, stock prices have actually increased during the shutdown. It’s hardly the end of the world.

But he adds that the government shutdown is still a problem. For some 400,000 furloughed workers, and another 400,000 working without pay for now, the shutdown hurts.

But while New York Times columnist Paul Krugman calls it “Trump’s big libertarian experiment,” Stossel notes that the shutdown is not libertarian. Government’s rules are still in effect, and soon workers will be paid for not working. Stossel calls that an un-libertarian experiment.

Libertarians want to permanently cut government, not shut down parts for a few weeks and then pay the workers anyway.

There are lessons to be learned from the shutdown.

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2019-01-15 16:15:00

The government shutdown is now longer than any in history. The media say it’s a “crisis.”

The Washington Post talks talks about the “shutdown’s pain.” The New York Times says it’s “just too much.”

John Stossel says: wait a second. Looking around America, everything seems pretty normal. Life goes on. Kids still play and learn, adults still work, stock prices have actually increased during the shutdown. It’s hardly the end of the world.

But he adds that the government shutdown is still a problem. For some 400,000 furloughed workers, and another 400,000 working without pay for now, the shutdown hurts.

But while New York Times columnist Paul Krugman calls it “Trump’s big libertarian experiment,” Stossel notes that the shutdown is not libertarian. Government’s rules are still in effect, and soon workers will be paid for not working. Stossel calls that an un-libertarian experiment.

Libertarians want to permanently cut government, not shut down parts for a few weeks and then pay the workers anyway.

There are lessons to be learned from the shutdown.

Government stopped collecting trash and cleaning up public parks in DC, so volunteers stepped in to pick up trash. Without so much government, Stossel says, private citizens will often step in to do things government workers used to do.

Stossel says the shutdown highlights where some government waste can be trimmed.

Farmers don’t get their “support” checks during the shutdown. But Stossel asks–why should they get checks at all? While the big subsidies go to grain and corn farmers, most fruit and vegetable farmers get no subsidies. They survive without them. Other farmers could, too.

FDA inspection of food has stopped during the shutdown. Paul Krugman asks smugly, “does contaminated food smell like freedom?”

But Stossel notes that the main reason food is safe isn’t government. It’s competition. Companies worry about their reputation. Just ask Chipotle, Stossel says. Their stock fell by more than half after food poisoning incidents at their stores; since then they have instituted far more food inspection than government requires.

Most food producers already do that. Beef carcasses undergo hot steam rinses, and microbiological testing goes well beyond what government requires. Market competition protects us better than rule-bound government bureaucrats.

Stossel says most of government could be done away with or privatized.

Even airport security. TSA workers aren’t getting paid. But some airports (San Francisco, Orlando, Kansas City, and 19 others) privatized security. Those workers are still getting paid. They also do a better job. A leaked TSA study found that the private security agents, in test runs, are much better at detecting weapons in bags than the TSA. A congressional report found they are also faster at processing passengers.

Stossel says that while politicians bicker about $5.7 billion in wall funding (much less than 1 percent of the federal budget) what they really should worry about is that America’s debt will soon reach $22 trillion because government squanders money on useless things.

At union protests, government workers say “We are essential!”

But based on the above, Stossel says: Give us a break.

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2019-01-09 05:01:00

Ten states and Washington, D.C., have now legalized adult use of marijuana.

Supporters of America’s long war on drugs said legalization would create disaster. Has it? No.

Colorado and Washington offer the longest points of comparison because weed has been legal in those states now for five years.

More people in Colorado tried marijuana after legalization, but that’s not a surprise.

Colorado’s crime rate did rise a bit. But many things influence crime rates. Washington state’s violent crime rate rose a little but slightly less than the national average.

In California, people I interviewed said legalization made the streets safer. “It’s cleaned up the corner,” said one woman. Marijuana stores “have a lot of security (and) pay attention to who’s on the sidewalk.”

Sounds good to me.

But drug warriors are not convinced. Paul Chabot, a former anti-drug policy advisor for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, tells me that legalization has been a disaster.

“Colorado youth have an 85 percent higher marijuana use rate than the rest of the country,” he says in my new video on marijuana legalization.

But he is wrong. Federal and state surveys and The New England Journal of Medicine report that teen marijuana use dropped a little in Colorado. Maybe there’s something about legal businesses, with the dreary name “dispensaries,” that makes weed less sexy to kids.

But there is bad news: The driving death rate increased in Colorado and Washington after legalization. But the data isn’t clear—driving deaths are up even more in some neighboring states like Idaho, where weed is still banned.

Chabot says, “Pot driving fatalities in Colorado are up 151 percent!”

That’s true, but that statistic is misleading because traces of marijuana stay in a person’s system for a long time. Some of those people may have used marijuana weeks before.

A more stringent measure that may indicate whether someone was actually high at the time of an accident suggests an increase of 84 percent.

That’s terrible, but the numbers of accidents are so small—35 in all of Colorado in 2017, up from 19 in 2014—it’s hard to draw conclusions. That deserves more study.

If anti-drug warriors like Chabot want to look seriously at the statistics, they should also include the harm done by drug prohibition itself.

It’s nearly impossible to overdose on pot. But banning marijuana drives sales into the black market, where criminals do the selling. And criminals are more likely to settle their disagreements with guns.

They don’t perform the reliable quality controls that legal drug sellers must do to please their customers.

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2018-08-14 15:45:00

Today is the 83rd anniversary of Social Security, and this year it went into the red. In the long run, it has a shortfall of $32 trillion.

John Stossel says that the program is unsustainable. Young people shouldn’t expect it to cover their retirement.

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2018-08-21 14:10:00

Bernie Sanders is all over the internet. His videos are everywhere and, unfortunately, millions watch.

How have his socialist ideas reached so many people? John Stossel explores.

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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.

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