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Posts By Author » John Stossel

Policing America
  23 Jul 2014     12:10 am

I want the police to be better armed than the bad guys, but what exactly does that mean today?
Apparently it means the Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security equip even the tiniest rural police departments with massive military vehicles, body armor and grenade launchers. The equipment is surplus from the long wars we fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To a hammer, everything resembles a nail. SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams were once used only in emergencies such as riots or robberies where hostages were taken. But today there are more …

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Who’ll Build the Roads?
  16 Jul 2014     12:10 am

“Tea party members don’t think there’s a federal role in transportation!” complained Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, last week, near the site of a $5.8 million highway project.
If only most tea party members were that radical.

While Brown and other big-government folks worry that Republicans will cut spending, Republicans debate adding another $10.5 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to keep it going another year — without deciding how to reform it.
Now, there’s no doubt some roads and bridges need work. But too little transportation money spent by government goes to building …

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Important Slow News
  9 Jul 2014     12:01 am

Wars, plane crashes, mass murder — it’s easy to report news that happens suddenly. Reporters do a good job covering that. But we do a bad job telling you about what’s really changing in the world, because we miss the stories that happen slowly. These are usually the more important stories.

Recently, President Barack Obama was mocked for saying: “The world is less violent than it has ever been. It is healthier than it has ever been. It is more tolerant than it has ever been. It is better fed than …

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“Crapitalism!”
  2 Jul 2014     12:10 am

There’s capitalism, and then there’s “crapitalism” — crony capitalism.
Capitalism is great because it lets entrepreneurs raise money so they can scale up and get their products and services to more people. If there is free competition, innovators with the best ideas raise the most money, and the best and cheapest products spread far and wide.

But it’s crapitalism when politicians give your tax money and other special privileges to businesses that are “most deserving of help.” Often those businesses turn out to be run by politicians’ cronies.
Many government agencies feed this …

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Omission Control
  25 Jun 2014     12:10 am

Reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s story sounds familiar to me: A major network got tired of her reports criticizing government. She no longer works there.
The CBS correspondent reported on Fast and Furious, the shifting explanation for the Benghazi, Libya, attacks and the bungled rollout of the Obamacare website.

“But as time went on, it was harder to get stories on,” she says. “There are people who simply would rather just avoid the headache of going after powers that be because of the pushback that comes with it, which has become very organized and …

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Here Comes Tomorrow
  18 Jun 2014     12:10 am

Ray Kurzweil — inventor of things like machines that turn text into speech — has popularized the idea that we are rapidly approaching “the singularity,” the point at which machines not only think for themselves but develop intellectually faster than we. At that point, maybe we no longer talk about “human history.”

It will be “machine progress,” with us along for the ride — if machines keep us around. Maybe they’ll keep us in a zoo, like we do with our monkey ancestors.
Scientists and ethicists are beginning to wrestle with the …

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Libertarians Versus Conservatives
  11 Jun 2014     12:10 am

Both libertarians and conservatives want to keep America safe. We differ on how best to do that. Most libertarians believe our attempts to create or support democracy around the world have made us new enemies, and done harm as well as good. We want less military spending.

Some conservatives respond to that by calling us isolationists, but we’re not. I want to participate in the world; I just don’t want to run it. I’m glad Americans trade with other countries — trade both goods and people. It’s great we sell foreigners …

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Popular Nonsense
  4 Jun 2014     12:10 am

“Young people are exploited!” “Income mobility is down!” “Poor people are locked into poverty!” Those are samples of popular nonsense peddled today.

Leftist economist Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” has been No. 1 on best-seller lists for weeks (with 400 pages of statistics, I assume “Capital” is bought more often than it is read). Piketty argues that investments grow faster than wages and so the rich get richer far faster than everyone else. He says we should impose a wealth tax and 80 percent taxes on rich people’s …

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Eat Without Fear
  28 May 2014     12:10 am

It’s easy to scare people about what’s in their food, but the danger is almost never real. And the fear itself kills.
Take the panic over genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Ninety percent of all corn grown in America is genetically modified now. That means it grew from a seed that scientists altered by playing with its genes. The new genes may make corn grow faster, or they may make it less appetizing to bugs so farmers can use fewer pesticides.

This upsets some people. GMOs are “unnatural,” they say. A scene …

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Good News
  21 May 2014     12:10 am

Are you worried about the future?
It’s hard not to be. If you watch the news, you mostly see violence, disasters, danger. Some in my business call it “fear porn” or “pessimism porn.” People like the stuff; it makes them feel alive and informed.

Of course, it’s our job to tell you about problems. If a plane crashes — or disappears — that’s news. The fact that millions of planes arrive safely is a miracle, but it’s not news.
So we soak in disasters — and warnings about the next one: bird flu, …

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Marriage: It’s Complicated
  14 May 2014     12:10 am

It’s wedding season! More Americans get married in June than in other months. Why June? The timing seems pretty arbitrary if you look up its history.
Some claim it’s because June was named after Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage.

Others say it’s because in the 1500s, people took their annual bath in May, which meant they probably smelled best around this time of year. (Be thankful for modern times.)
A third and more plausible explanation: If a bride got pregnant in June, she wouldn’t be too big during summer to help with …

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Offensive Speech
  7 May 2014     12:10 am

Last week, when the NBA banned racist team owner Donald Sterling, some said: “What about free speech? Can’t a guy say what he thinks anymore?”
The answer: yes, you can. But the free market may punish you. In America today, the market punishes racists aggressively.

This punishment is not “censorship.” Censorship is something only governments can do. Writers complain that editors censor what they write. But that’s not censorship; that’s editing.
It’s fine if the NBA — or any private group — wants to censor speech on its own property. People who attend …

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American Dreaming
  30 Apr 2014     12:10 am

Did you know that I started Facebook? Really! Well, sort of …
When I was in college at all-male Princeton, I tried to make money by adding photos to a snarky guide to neighboring girls’ schools. The guide had been a profitable publishing success, and my idea was simply to add the girls’ pictures. Schools like Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, Vassar, etc., already published those pictures, so all I had to do was get permission from administrators at those schools. Surprisingly, they gave it to me.

Unfortunately for me and my “Face Book,” …

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Privacy, Please
  23 Apr 2014     12:10 am

Scarlett Johansson left nude photos of herself on her computer. A hacker grabbed them and sent them to gossip websites.
A Pennsylvania high school issued laptop computers to students and then remotely activated the laptops’ cameras to watch the students when they were away from school.

On my computer, a program called Disconnect reveals that my favorite websites spy on me and track what I like to read, what I browse, what I buy.
Privacy is almost a thing of the past.
As I explain on my show this week, I follow the advice …

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Earth Daze
  16 Apr 2014     12:10 am

“The heavens reek, the waters below are foul … we are in a crisis of survival.” That’s how Walter Cronkite and CBS hyped the first Earth Day, back in 1970. Somehow we’ve survived since then, and most of life got better, although I never hear that from the worrywarts.

Of course, some things got better because of government: We passed environmental rules that got most of the filth out of the air and sewage out of lakes and rivers. Great — but now we’re told that we’re in big trouble because …

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Taxing Life Away
  9 Apr 2014     12:10 am

It’s tax time. I’m too scared to do my taxes. I’m sure I’ll get something wrong and my enemies in government will persecute — no, I mean prosecute — me. So I hired Bob.

Bob’s my accountant. I like Bob, but I don’t like that I have to have an accountant. I don’t want to spend time keeping records and talking to Bob about boring things I don’t understand, and I really don’t want to pay Bob. But I have to.
What a waste. Once, I calculated what I could do with …

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Gambling and Government
  2 Apr 2014     12:10 am

Did you fill out a March Madness bracket this year? In many states, if you put money in a pool, that’s illegal!
The NCAA website warns, “Fans should enjoy … filling out a bracket just for the fun of it, not … the amount of money they could possibly win.”

Give me a break. Americans bet more money on March Madness this year than on the Super Bowl. Politicians can’t quite make up their minds about gambling: They approve certain casinos and promote state lotteries but crack down on sports bets and …

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Bullies Rule
  26 Mar 2014     12:10 am

We’re told government protects us, but protectors quickly become bullies.
Take the Food and Drug Administration. It seems like the most helpful part of government: It supervises testing to make sure greedy drug companies don’t sell us dangerous stuff.

The FDA’s first big success was stopping thalidomide, a drug that prevented the nausea of morning sickness. It was approved first in Europe, where some mothers who took it proceeded to give birth to children with no arms and legs.
The FDA didn’t discover the problems with thalidomide. It was just slow. The drug …

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Spring Clean Government
  19 Mar 2014     12:10 am

Spring cleaning is a healthy tradition. If only politicians did it!
They don’t.
When Barack Obama ran for president, he promised to clean house, “I’m not a Democrat who believes that we can or should defend every government program just because it’s there. There are some that don’t work.”

I cheered when I heard that! But politicians always say they’ll get rid of waste. Then, once in power, they spend more. Obama sure has.
“We just need to cut back!” said Obama, the candidate. He promised to end “waste at the Economic Development Agency and …

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War on Women
  12 Mar 2014     12:10 am

You’ve probably heard that Democratic Party leaders decided that a way to win votes this November is to shout loudly that Republicans wage “war on women.” Politico calls this a “proven, persuasive argument.”

Give me a break. The idea of a conservative “war on women” is as silly as propaganda I was taught in college: Aside from sex organs, genders are exactly equal, said my leftist professors, and any admission of differences between men and women is oppressive.
I was taught that the only reason boys and girls behave differently is because …

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