2019-02-26 14:45:00

The U.S. sugar program is “Stalin-style price controls,” Ross Marchand of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance tells John Stossel.

The U.S. government uses a complex system of loans, domestic quotas, and limits on how much sugar we can import. The goal is to control the price of sugar.

Stossel calls it “welfare for the rich.” Economists say the program costs consumers billions a year. And yet the sugar industry makes videos that say “it costs taxpayers nothing.”

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2019-02-13 05:01:00

There must be a better way to keep kids interested in school than drugging them.

Today, one in five school-age boys is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Many are given drugs that are supposed to help them pay attention.

“I was the rowdy kid, the bad kid,” says Cade Summers in my latest video. “They really pressured my parents to put me on ADHD medication… Adderall, Ritalin. It was like I had been lobotomized. My parents said, ‘This is not our son.'”

They sent him to different schools; he hated them all.

Then he heard about the Academy of Thought and Industry, a private school in Austin, Texas, that has a different way of teaching.

To raise the $20,000 tuition, Summers got a job at a coffee shop. He had to get up at 3 a.m. every day to open the shop. “I would get the bacon frying, get the breakfast items ready.”

That’s a lot of work for a kid who hated school, but his drive doesn’t surprise the man who started Thought and Industry, Michael Strong. He tells parents that kids learn better by doing actual work.

“Teens need responsibility. Ben Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison started their careers at the age of 12 or 13,” he says.

I pointed out that today people would call that “abusive child labor.” Strong answered: “I worked as a teen. I loved it. Teens very often want to work.”

At his school, students get Fridays off to work on their own projects. There are no lectures. Instead students read things and then discuss them.

It’s different from schools Strong attended—and hated.

Too often, says Strong, “school is 13 years of how to be passive, dependent…. Sit still, read, listen to your elders, repeat…aim, aim, aim, and never get stuff done.”

By contrast, at Strong’s schools (there are now two, with more on the way) teachers tell students, “Try to start a business in one day.”

Most of those businesses fail, of course, but Strong says: “I want students to go out there and get stuff done, fail, get up, try again. That’s how we become creators, entrepreneurs. We want them to do what they love, now.”

Cade Summers says the possibility of making money made him much more interested in school. He tried to start a marketing business. “We got to create a project and immediately start feeling the rewards of it,” says Summers.

Other students we interviewed were into things like music festivals, costume design, and computer programming. They got to study the fields they were passionate about.

A few of the student businesses succeed. Dorian Domi started a music business at the Academy. Today, his music festival, Austin Terror Fest, brings in tens of thousands of dollars.

Other students launched a website for an American Idol finalist. The finalist used the students’ work “for about nine months,” says Strong. “Then he fired the team—a high school team—and got a better team. That was a great experience for my students—to get fired by a client…. Do that several times and that’s how you get better at getting stuff done.”

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2019-02-12 15:00:00

3 million kids (mostly boys) are given medication that’s supposed to make them sit still and focus.

But what if schools, not kids, are the problem?

One former public school student, Cade Summers, tells John Stossel that he hated the effect of the drugs–that it was like he had been “lobotomized.”

Cade’s parents took him off the “attention deficit” drugs and sent him to other schools. But Cade hated them all. “I would come home and I would sometimes just cry,” Cade tells Stossel.

Then he heard of a new type of school in Austin, Texas. It promised to let kids discuss ideas, and to do real-world work.

But the school, the Academy of Thought and Industry, is a private school that charges tuition.

So Cade started getting up at 3 a.m. to work in a coffee shop to help pay the tuition.

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2019-02-12 15:00:00

3 million kids (mostly boys) are given medication that’s supposed to make them sit still and focus.

But what if schools, not kids, are the problem?

One former public school student, Cade Summers, tells John Stossel that he hated the effect of the drugs–that it was like he had been “lobotomized.”

Cade’s parents took him off the “attention deficit” drugs and sent him to other schools. But Cade hated them all. “I would come home and I would sometimes just cry,” Cade tells Stossel.

Then he heard of a new type of school in Austin, Texas. It promised to let kids discuss ideas, and to do real-world work.

But the school, the Academy of Thought and Industry, is a private school that charges tuition.

So Cade started getting up at 3 a.m. to work in a coffee shop to help pay the tuition.

What kind of school could possibly be worth that to a kid?

The school’s founder, Michael Strong, says kids learn best when they are given actual responsibility, real life work. “Teens need responsibility…Ben Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, started their careers at the age of 12 or 13,” he points out.

Nowadays people consider that abusive child labor, Stossel notes.

“I worked as a teen,” Strong replies. “I loved it. Teens very often want to work.”

Strong’s schools do many things differently. Students get Fridays off to work on their own projects. School starts at 10 a.m. There are no lectures–instead students read, and then discuss what they read.

That’s different from schools Strong once attended–and hated.

“School is 13 years of how to be passive, how to be dependent,” Strong tells Stossel.

“School is about aim, aim, aim, aim, aim, and never get stuff done. So I want students who just go out there and get stuff done, fail, get up, try again. That’s how we become creators, entrepreneurs…We want them to do what they love now.”

For Cade, that meant doing a marketing internship Fridays, where he did actual work.

When he completed Strong’s school, he got a job right away–at a tech startup that normally requires a college degree.

Another Academy graduate runs a successful metal music festival called “Austin Terror Fest.”

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2019-02-05 14:40:00

San Francisco is one of America’s richest cities, yet it has a major problem with homelessness and crime. An average of 85 cars are broken into daily, yet fewer than 2 percent lead to arrests.

The homeless themselves are often harassed. “They run around and they shout at themselves,” one man who usually sleeps on the streets told our crew. “They make it bad for people like us that hang out with a sign.”

Since store owners can’t rely on city cops for help, some have hired private police to patrol their stores. There used to be hundreds of these private cops citiwide—and then the city’s police union complained. There are fewer than 10 left.

San Francisco’s politicians have promised to help the homeless going back decades. In 1982, Mayor Dianne Feinstein bragged about creating “a thousands units right here in the Tenderloin.” In 2002, Mayor Willie Brown said “you gotta do something about it.” In 2008, Mayor Gavin Newsom boasted about moving “6,860 human beings off the street.” In 2018, San Francisco passed a new local tax to help pay for homeless services.

Why have the results been so lackluster? One reason: San Francisco has the nation’s highest rents.

Laura Foote runs the non-profit “YIMBY Action,” which stands for “yes in my backyard.” The organization promotes policies that encourage more housing construction as a way to bring down prices.

Many San Francisco residents object to this mission.

“I would hate it,” one woman told John Stossel.

“I think it’d be really congested,” said another.

“Let me build,” said developer John Dennis. He spent years trying to get permission to replace a graffiti-covered, long-defunct meat-packing plant with a 60-unit building. He eventually got permission—but it took 4 years.

“And all that time, we’re paying property taxes and we’re paying for maintenance of the building,” Dennis told Stossel.

“I’ll never do another project here,” he says.

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2019-02-05 14:45:00

San Francisco is one of America’s richest cities, yet it has a major problem with homelessness and crime. An average of 85 cars are broken into daily, yet fewer than 2 percent lead to arrests.

The homeless themselves are often harassed. “They run around and they shout at themselves,” one man who usually sleeps on the streets told our crew. “They make it bad for people like us that hang out with a sign.”

Since store owners can’t rely on city cops for help, some have hired private police to patrol their stores. There used to be hundreds of these private cops citiwide—and then the city’s police union complained. There are fewer than 10 left.

San Francisco’s politicians have promised to help the homeless going back decades. In 1982, Mayor Dianne Feinstein bragged about creating “a thousands units right here in the Tenderloin.” In 2002, Mayor Willie Brown said “you gotta do something about it.” In 2008, Mayor Gavin Newsom boasted about moving “6,860 human beings off the street.” In 2018, San Francisco passed a new local tax to help pay for homeless services.

Why have the results been so lackluster? One reason: San Francisco has the nation’s highest rents

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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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2019-01-30 05:01:00

Sunday is the Super Bowl.

I look forward to playing poker and watching. It’s easy to do both because in a three-hour-plus NFL game there are just 11 minutes of actual football action.

So we’ll have plenty of time to watch Atlanta politicians take credit for the stadium that will host the game. Atlanta’s former mayor calls it “simply the best facility in the world.”

But politicians aren’t likely to talk about what I explain in my latest video—how taxpayers were forced to donate more than $700 million to the owner of Atlanta’s football team, billionaire Arthur Blank, to get him to build the stadium.

In addition to the subsidies, the Falcons get all the money from parking, restaurants, and merchandise sales. Sweet deal.

But not an unusual one. Some NFL teams collect even more in government subsidies than it cost to build their stadiums.

So taxpayers, most of whom never attend a game, subsidize billionaires.

Seems like a scam.

I don’t fault Blank for grabbing the money. I like the guy. He made our lives better by founding Home Depot. We’re both stutterers who donate money to AIS, a stuttering treatment program.

Since politicians give money away, Blank’s shareholders would consider him irresponsible not to take it.

The problem is that politicians give away your money in the first place.

I understand why they do it.

They like going to games and telling voters, “I brought the team to our town!”

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her cronies recently funneled $750 million of taxpayer money to the owners of the Oakland Raiders to get them to move the team to Vegas.

Reporter Jon Ralston asked her, “Why should there be one cent of public money when you have two guys who could pay for this themselves?”

The mayor replied lamely, “I think it really is a benefit to us that really could spill over into something.”
Spill over into…something. Politicians always claim giving taxpayer money to team owners will “spill over” to the whole community.

They call their handouts investments—a “terrific investment,” as the mayor of Atlanta put it.

But it’s not a good investment. It’s a bad one.

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2018-12-18 14:15:00

Leaked emails show some Google engineers blaming their company for Trump’s 2016 win, suggesting that the site should censor outlets like The Daily Caller and Breitbart.

Google says the company never did that, but for many people, it raises the question: could Google executives flip an election?

“Google’s senior management was heavily in favor of Hillary Clinton,” The Creepy Line writer Peter Schweizer tells John Stossel. “Their ability to manipulate the algorithm is something that they’ve demonstrated the ability to do in the past…and the evidence from academics who monitored 2016 was clearly that they did.”

Schweizer’s film features psychologist Robert Epstein, whose research claimed that people rated Google’s top search results in 2016 as more positive to Hilary Clinton than to Donald Trump.

Stossel says that it doesn’t prove that Google’s results were biased. It may just be that major media outlets ran more positive headlines about Clinton, and since Google’s results rely on the major media, that would bring more positive Clinton headlines, even without any bias on Google’s part.

Even if Google’s search algorithm is fair, major social media outlets do manipulate us by determining what we can not see.

The film plays a clip of psychologist Jordan Peterson, who points out: “They’re not using unbiased algorithms to do things like search for unacceptable content on twitter and on YouTube and on Facebook–those aren’t unbiased at all. They’re built specifically to filter out whatever’s bad.”

Stossel notes that Google and Facebook employ human content monitors, some of whom despise conservatives, to determine what is “bad.”

Peterson himself has reason to worry. After he criticized a Canadian law that would mandate use of people’s preferred pronouns (like “ze” or “xir”), Google briefly shut down Peterson’s YouTube channel. They even blocked him from his own Gmail account.

“That’s a real problem,” says Peterson. “You come to rely on these things and when the plug is pulled suddenly then that puts a big hole in your life.”

Stossel wonders: what can consumers do about possible social media manipulation or censorship? One speaker in Schweizer’s film says, “delete your accounts!” Stossel tells Schweizer: “I don’t want to delete my accounts–and you can’t, without cutting yourself off from much of the best of the world.”

Schweizer admits that it’s a challenge, but says he’s switched to Google’s competitors.

For simple searches, Schweizer uses DuckDuckGo.com instead of Google.

For email, Schweizer uses the encrypted service ProtonMail.com, based in Switzerland, rather than Gmail.

The web browser Brave provides an alternative to Google’s Chrome. Brave was founded by Brendan Eich, who created the browser Firefox but was then forced to leave his own company because he once donated to a ballot proposition against gay marriage.

But most people won’t switch. Stossel hasn’t switched. He wonders if a few individuals switching will change much.

“That’s all we have? A pathetic act that won’t make any difference?” he asks.

Schweizer replies: “If people make clear to Google that they don’t like their manipulation, and they don’t like their invasion of privacy … they will be forced to make changes. That’s part of the reason we love and support the market the way we do.”

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2019-01-29 14:45:00

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is home to the Atlanta Falcons and the site of this year’s Super Bowl. Costing $1.5 billion, it’s one of the most expensive stadiums in America.

The owner of Atlanta’s football team, billionaire Arthur Blank, persuaded Atlanta officials to force taxpayers to pay for more than $700 million in subsidies for his stadium.

John Stossel says he understands why politicians subsidize stadiums. “They like going to games, and like telling voters, ‘I brought a team to our town!'” says Stossel.

He also understands why billionaires take the money, “if politicians are giving money away, Blank’s partners would consider him irresponsible not to take it.”

And when it comes to already-rich people getting poorer people to fund their stadiums, Atlanta is not unusual. The Oakland Raiders got $750 million of taxpayer money to move the Raiders to Las Vegas.

“In the last two decades…taxpayers across the country have spent nearly $7 billion on [NFL] stadiums,” according to a Huffington Post article

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2019-01-29 14:25:00

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is home to the Atlanta Falcons and the site of this year’s Super Bowl. Costing $1.5 billion, it’s one of the most expensive stadiums in America.

The owner of Atlanta’s football team, billionaire Arthur Blank, persuaded Atlanta officials to force taxpayers to pay for more than $700 million in subsidies for his stadium.

John Stossel says he understands why politicians subsidize stadiums. “They like going to games, and like telling voters, ‘I brought a team to our town!'” says Stossel.

He also understands why billionaires take the money, “if politicians are giving money away, Blank’s partners would consider him irresponsible not to take it.”

And when it comes to already-rich people getting poorer people to fund their stadiums, Atlanta is not unusual. The Oakland Raiders got $750 million of taxpayer money to move the Raiders to Las Vegas.

“In the last two decades…taxpayers across the country have spent nearly $7 billion on [NFL] stadiums,” according to a Huffington Post article.

In fact “12 teams … actually turned a profit on stadium subsidies alone,” according to a Fox News report.

Politicians claim their subsidies are “an investment.” They argue the economic benefits a stadium will bring a city outweigh the cost. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said, “It really is a benefit to us that really could spill over into something.”

Stossel says this “spillover is bunk.” Numerous economic studies have shown that stadiums are a bad investment for taxpayers.

One by George Mason University concludes, “Despite the many millions of dollars spent on professional sports, little or none of that money makes its way back to the taxpayers who subsidize professional sports teams.” In fact “… sports teams may actually hurt economic growth.”

Economist J.C. Bradbury points out that while money spent at football games is the “seen benefit, the unseen cost is that those people would otherwise be spending their money elsewhere in the local communities. At the local bar there’s one less bartender. There was one less waitress hired at another restaurant. A movie theater that had one less theater full.”

Stossel reminds everyone, “When politicians brag about their stadium and the many economic benefits, let’s also remember all the jobs they destroyed and taxpayer money they squandered.”

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