2018-09-25 14:20:00

Dave Rubin is a popular YouTube host who was once on the left. He worked for The Young Turks TV show.

But Rubin tells John Stossel how he gradually changed his mind and became a classical liberal. For that, Rubin lost friends and gets protested at college campuses.

While many leftists are so angry at Rubin that they will no longer talk to him, conservatives are eager to talk. Rubin says that surprised him because, “I’m pro-choice. Most of them are pro-life. I’m against the death penalty, most of them are for the death penalty.”

Stossel had a similar experience. “When I went from left to libertarian, the right was willing to argue,” he tells Rubin.

Why would that be? Rubin speculates that it comes down to treating people as individuals rather than groups. “If you believe in the individual, then you fundamentally understand that individuals are different. So you are willing to sit down with someone different than you,” he says.

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2018-10-03 04:01:00

They live on the street, often foraging through dumpsters. Some threaten us. Occasionally, they assault people.

Thousands of mentally ill people cycle in and out of hospital emergency rooms. They strain our medical system, scare the public, and sometimes harm themselves.

Most, says DJ Jaffe, are schizophrenic or bipolar and have stopped taking their medication.

Jaffe gave up a successful advertising career to try to improve the way America deals with such people.

“John Hinckley shot President Reagan because he knew, not thought, knew that was the best way to get a date with Jodie Foster,” Jaffe tells me in my latest internet video collaboration with City Journal.

Years ago, such people were locked up in mental hospitals. That protected the public, but the asylums were horrible, overcrowded places, where sick people rarely got good treatment.

“We decided we would largely replace that system with mental health care in the community,” says Stephen Eide, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Community treatment made sense. Care would be easier and cheaper in the patients’ own neighborhoods. Patients would be closer to their families, who could visit.

But community treatment never really happened. Politicians didn’t fund it. Neighborhood mental health facilities were not popular with their constituents.

Many mentally ill people now end up in prison. “Prison is no place for somebody with schizophrenia,” says Eide. “However, that’s where they’re going to remain.

Today, more seriously mentally ill people are locked up in Los Angeles County Jail, Cook County Jail, and New York’s Rikers Island jail than in any mental hospital.

In jail, they barely get treatment. As a result, they stay in jail longer than other inmates.

“They get abused and victimized and thrown in solitary, and they can’t visit their families,” says Jaffe. “It’s a horrific place to be.”

America has some high-quality mental hospitals, but they don’t have enough money to give the extended treatment that most seriously ill people need.

Jaffe says, “It’s become harder to get into Bellevue (a New York City mental hospital) than Harvard. If you’re well enough to walk into a hospital and ask for care, they’re going to say you’re not sick enough to need it.”

Hospitals often practice what Jaffe calls “treating and streeting.” The police call it “catch and release.”

Jaffe says that a big part of the problem is that governments, instead of treating the sickest people, often offer “something for everyone.”

That’s a line from Chirlane McCray, wife of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. De Blasio named his wife director of the city’s program to combat mental illness. McCray promised to spend “almost a billion dollars” on “54 initiatives.”

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2018-10-09 14:15:00

Socialism has become cool in America, under the nice name “democratic socialism.”

Gloria Álvarez ‏knows better, because she’s from Latin America and studied socialism there. She says: Watch out! Socialism has a clear track record of wrecking every country that implements it.

Cuba tried socialism. Things got so bad that tens of thousands fled the island on dangerous, makeshift rafts. Others paid lots of money to be allowed to leave.

Álvarez interviews people who fled. One man told her that in Cuba: “You don’t see any future. Everything is stagnated…health care, education, nowadays they’re in ruins.”

Another said: “My father [a doctor] had to sell illegal meats out of his ambulance…because Cuban doctors earn less than 1% of American doctors.”

Because of his experience with socialism, that man is now running as a libertarian for a Florida State House seat.

He adds: “I tell my Venezuelan friends, we warned you guys!”

After Cuba, Venezuela became immersed in socialism. For a while, things seemed to work OK thanks to the country’s oil wealth; Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, and used to be the richest country in Latin America.

Celebrities like Michael Moore and Sean Penn visited Hugo Chavez and praised his socialism.

Venezuelans were happy, too. A former mayor in Venezuela’s capital city told Álvarez: “People were clapping so hard. They were like, ‘Oh, finally there is somebody here making social justice.'”

But eventually socialism led to a mismanagement of the economy that was so bad that money started to run out. The government just printed more. So much more that it led to million-percent inflation.

Life savings were wiped out.

When businesses raised prices to try to keep up with inflation, Chavez and his successor, President Maduro, banned that.

When businesses did it anyway, they were seized by the government. This tragic video shows a shopkeeper pleading as his business is taken away. It wasn’t a one-time thing; more than 30,000 businesses were confiscated.

Now, millions starve. The average Venezuelan has lost 24 pounds. More than 2 million people have fled the country.

“It’s like the apocalypse. It’s no food. No medicine,” one Venezuelan told Álvarez.

But some still defend socialism, saying that what happened there “isn’t real socialism.” Bernie Sanders says: “when I talk about Socialism I am not looking at Venezuela, I’m not looking at Cuba. I’m looking at countries like Denmark, like Sweden.”

But Denmark’s prime minister says that’s a mistake: “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy,” he clarifies.

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2018-10-09 14:15:00

Socialism has become cool in America, under the nice name “democratic socialism.”

Gloria Álvarez ‏knows better, because she’s from Latin America and studied socialism there. She says: Watch out! Socialism has a clear track record of wrecking every country that implements it.

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2018-10-10 04:01:00

Socialism is hot.

Famous actors recently made a commercial proclaiming that “democratic socialism” creates some of the best parts of America. It’s “your kids’ public school” (says Susan Sarandon), the “interstate highway system” (Rosario Dawson), “public libraries” (Jay Ferguson), “EMTs” (Ethan Embry), “workers who plow our streets” (Max Carver), and “scientists” (Danny DeVito).

Wow. I guess every popular thing government does is socialism.

The celebrities conclude: “We can do better when we do them together.”

There is sometimes truth to that, but the movie stars don’t know that America’s first highways were built by capitalist contractors. They also probably didn’t notice that the more popular parts of government—public schools, EMTs, snow plowing, libraries, etc.—are largely locally funded.

“They should wake up,” says Gloria Alvarez. She is from Guatemala and says, “I’ve seen the impact of socialism. My father escaped Cuba. My grandfather suffered under Communists in Hungary before escaping.”

This week I turn my video channel over to Alvarez so she can give her perspective on democratic socialism’s new popularity.

“As a child, I was taught to mock socialism,” she says, “but democratic socialism sounded OK. It made sense that government should take care of the economy. Then I watched democratic socialism fail in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Chile, Nicaragua, and Uruguay. I learned that every time a country started down the socialist path, it fails.”

But every time a country tries it, even just a little of it, people applaud.

When Castro came to power, people cheered because he was going to help the poor and make everyone equal.

But governments can’t plan things efficiently without the prices and constant individual decision-making that free markets provide.

The result in Cuba was economic stagnation and horrible loss of freedom.

Cuban refugees who now live in Miami’s “Little Havana” neighborhood warn Americans about socialist promises.

Michel Ibarra told Alvarez, “You don’t see any future. Everything is stagnated. Health care, education—nowadays they’re in ruins.”

Venezuela didn’t learn from Cuba’s problems. They voted in Hugo Chavez when he said that “capitalism is the realm of injustice” and promised wealth would be distributed equally.

But when there was no more money left to take from rich people, he did what many governments (including our own) do: He printed more.

That’s caused inflation approaching 1 million percent.

When business owners raised prices to try to keep up, Chavez and his successor just seized many of them.

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2018-10-17 04:01:00

Gloria Alvarez, the young woman from Guatemala I wrote about last week, just got blocked by Facebook. Why? Because she criticizes socialism.

After Alvarez joined me in my American studio to make a video we titled “Socialism Fails Every Time,” she flew to Mexico City to make a speech.

A few days later she wrote me that “some leftist ‘students’ posted on a fanpage called ‘Marxist and Leninist Memes’: ‘BOYCOTT Gloria Alvarez in our University! We won’t let her in!'”

So Alvarez posted (in Spanish) on her own Facebook page: “My dear Mexican socialists intolerants: Thank you! for trying to boycott my event… showing that panic that you have for the debate of ideas. Given yours are so bad, that only with bullets they can be obeyed just like in Venezuela and Nicaragua. You demonstrate once again that you are the intolerant ones against freedom.”

She ended her riff with a wise defense of free speech: “Where words are exchanged, bullets are no longer exchanged.”

Then her account was blocked.

“You recently posted something that violates Facebook policies,” wrote Facebook.

What violated Facebook policies? Was it calling the people who demanded that she not be allowed to speak “socialists intolerants” whose ideas “are so bad that only with bullets they can be obeyed”?

When social media companies block you, the reason is often mysterious.

Facebook did say, “For more information, visit the Help Center… (U)nderstand Facebook’s Community Standards.” Good luck getting an explanation that way.

Alvarez suspects she was blocked because her opponents, boycott advocates, complained about her. Leftists are good at launching campaigns to shut people up.

Fortunately, Alvarez has connections. A few days later she wrote, “a friend of mine that has a cousin working on Facebook Latin America (helped) me to unblock my page this morning.”

Good.

Except, most of us don’t have a friend whose cousin works for Facebook.

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other social media platforms promote themselves as sites that enhance communication, not censor it.

I shouldn’t use the word “censor.” When a private company blocks someone, it’s called editing. Companies edit to increase civil communication, improve the quality of discussion, delete threats and lies, etc. Editing helps make their sites more pleasant places to visit.

Censorship and the First Amendment apply to governments. America’s Founders feared government censorship because government can use force, and we have just one government.

But if Facebook blocks me, I still can communicate via Twitter, my YouTube videos, or Instagram.

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2018-10-17 14:10:00

In New York, Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo wants to raise taxes.

But John Stossel interviews an interesting candidate with a different plan–Libertarian Larry Sharpe. He proposes alternative ways to raise money.

One idea is to lease naming rights on public infrastructure.

“The Triborough Bridge could be called the Staples Bridge, or the Apple Bridge,” Sharpe explains to Stossel. “Hundreds of thousands of vehicles pass by, and see that big sign. That’s valuable!”

Most people we asked on the street didn’t like his idea. “I definitely wouldn’t want to rename something after some sort of corporation,” one man told us.

Sharpe says it’s necessary, “You can shake your fist and say ‘this doesn’t sound good’ if you want to. And you’re going to wind up in a place where the tax burden is insanely high.” That, he points out, would lead to more businesses and people leaving New York.

Although Sharpe is the Libertarian candidate, he’s doing well for a third-party. A recent poll has him getting 13 percent of the vote. And after survey respondents hear his campaign pitch, that number goes up to 25 percent.

Stossel thinks the reasons for his success may be that he speaks well, campaigns constantly, and–unlike most libertarians–doesn’t propose cutting existing government programs. He only wants to stop creating new ones. Sharpe also talks positively about unions.

“There are [rail] systems out there…that are both safe and unionized, so we keep the unions happy and our workers safe,” Sharpe told Stossel.

“Why do you want to keep the unions happy?” Stossel responded. “Unions can be destructive.”

“They can be, absolutely,” Sharpe said. “[But] unions are part of our First Amendment. It’s people getting together saying they won’t do X until you do Y. Nothing wrong with that at all.”

“It raises prices,” Stossel pushed back.

“Fine, that’s okay,” Sharpe said. “It is what it is. Collective bargaining is fine. My issue with the unions has always been, are you forcing me to be in a union? Are you forcing unionized labor? If you’re forcing it, I’m libertarian, I have a problem with that. But you’re voluntarily doing it? I don’t have a problem at all.”

He assures Stossel that he’d prevent any new government programs.

“You do know what party I am part of, right?” Sharpe asks. “Libertarians believe that you should be as conservative or as liberal as you want to be as long as you don’t want to force yourself on others.”

Stossel is glad that there’s a small-government candidate running for office who actually draws enthusiastic crowds.

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2018-10-17 14:15:00

In New York, Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo wants to raise taxes.

But John Stossel interviews an interesting candidate with a different plan–Libertarian Larry Sharpe. He proposes alternative ways to raise money.

One idea is to lease naming rights on public infrastructure.

“The Triborough Bridge could be called the Staples Bridge, or the Apple Bridge,” Sharpe explains to Stossel. “Hundreds of thousands of vehicles pass by, and see that big sign. That’s valuable!”

Most people we asked on the street didn’t like his idea. “I definitely wouldn’t want to rename something after some sort of corporation,” one man told us.

Sharpe says it’s necessary, “You can shake your fist and say ‘this doesn’t sound good’ if you want to. And you’re going to wind up in a place where the tax burden is insanely high.” That, he points out, would lead to more businesses and people leaving New York.

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2018-10-23 14:35:00

Democratic socialists in the United States point to Sweden as a socialist success. But Swedish historian Johan Norberg says, “Sweden is not socialist.”

Norberg hosts a documentary called Sweden: Lessons for America?, in which he notes that in Sweden, “government doesn’t own the means of production. To see that you have to go to Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea.”

John Stossel asks Norberg why so many Americans think Sweden is socialist. Norberg answers, “We did have a period in the 1970s and 1980s when we had something that resembled socialism: a big government that taxed and spent heavily.”

But big government led to problems. “Our economy was in crisis, inflation reached 10 percent, and for a brief period interest rates soared to 500 percent. At that point the Swedish population just said, ‘Enough, we can’t do this,'” Norberg says.

Sweden cut public spending, privatized the national rail network, abolished certain government monopolies, eliminated inheritance taxes, sold state-owned businesses, and switched to a school voucher system. It also “lowered taxes and reformed the pension system,” adds Norberg.

So Stossel asks why we keep hearing “that Sweden is this socialist paradise.”

Norberg answers: “We do have a bigger welfare state than the U.S. and higher taxes than the U.S. But in other areas, when it comes to free markets, when it comes to competition, when it comes to free trade, Sweden is actually more free market.”

He’s right, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Rankings. Sweden ranks higher than the U.S.

Norberg also tells Stossel that Sweden’s tax system may surprise Americans. “This is the dirty little secret….We don’t take from the rich and give to the poor. We squeeze the poor, because rich people might leave.”

Even people who earn below average income pay up to 60 percent in taxes.

Stossel asks: What lessons should Americans take from Sweden?

“You can’t turn your backs [on] the creation of wealth,” warns Norberg.

Sweden: Lessons for America? airs on PBS on October 29th at 7 p.m. Eastern. You can also watch it at freetochoose.tv.

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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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2018-10-23 14:35:00

Democratic socialists in the United States point to Sweden as a socialist success. But Swedish historian Johan Norberg says, “Sweden is not socialist.”

Norberg hosts a documentary called Sweden: Lessons for America?, in which he notes that in Sweden, “government doesn’t own the means of production. To see that you have to go to Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea.”

John Stossel asks Norberg why so many Americans think Sweden is socialist. Norberg answers, “We did have a period in the 1970s and 1980s when we had something that resembled socialism: a big government that taxed and spent heavily.”

But big government led to problems. “Our economy was in crisis, inflation reached 10 percent, and for a brief period interest rates soared to 500 percent. At that point the Swedish population just said, ‘Enough, we can’t do this,'” Norberg says.

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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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