John Stossel's show on 20/20 last night was a must see... I'll summarize each of the points, but here's the full story from ABCNews.com (and accessible here as well) if you've got the time... (and I noticed that it doesn't follow the transcript exactly, which is unfortunate because Lou Dobbs shows himself to be a complete moron):
John Stossel's "Myths, Lies and Nasty Behavior"
Think Gas Is More Expensive, Urban Sprawl Is Bad? Think Again
— - Here's my latest list of things you may have been led to believe are true -- but aren't. I'm also including some nasty behaviors that are more than just annoying, they cost us all money.
I hope this will give you a different perspective about your money, your neighbors and your politicians.
No. 10 -- NASTY BEHAVIOR -- Littering
Summary: Littering's bad, okay? People say they're against littering, but many people do it anyway and don't get caught.
No. 9 -- NASTY BEHAVIOR: Extra Cell Phone Fees
Summary: Cell Phones are cheaper today than ever, although the government's fees are becoming a larger share of the costs. Instead of complaining to the cell phone companies, talk to your government reps (from city hall to the feds). He gives the example of Baltimore, MD which tacks on $7.00 per cell phone line. Thanks, Baltimore!!
No. 8 -- NASTY BEHAVIOR -- Noise
Summary: Noise is bad... people are inconsiderate and think others should have to "deal with it."
No. 7 -- MYTH -- Gas Prices Are Higher Than Ever
Summary: Gas is cheaper when you adjust for inflation. Compare price of gas to other products and this becomes apparent, especially when you consider the cost of extracting, refining, and distribution involved.
No. 6 -- NASTY BEHAVIOR -- Congress' Pork Barrel Spending
Summary: Say hello tho the Ketchican bridge! Many on the Left view Stossel as a right-winger, but he's clearly a libertarian. This one proves it. He excoriates Sen. Don Young for the "bridge to nowhere."
No. 5 -- NASTY BEHAVIOR -- Welfare for Farmers
This one was GREAT. Summary: Subsidies HAVE GOT TO STOP. If you can't turn a profit, you shouldn't be in business. He also shows how those receiving subsidies are actually doing pretty well (living in NYC apartments next door to the Spielbergs, for example).
No. 4 -- MYTH: Outsourcing Is Bad for American Workers
Summary: People who are against outsourcing haven't researched the subject. Stossel interviews a couple that were recommended to him by the AFL-CIO and it turns out that outsourcing has benefitted one of them greatly (since she landed a more challenging and (financially and emotionally rewarding job as a secretary). Stossel examines the other economic benefits derived from the outsourcing of a Levi plant in Tennessee and the outsourcing of programmers in California.
The best part is that Lou Dobbs shows that he needs to go back to high school, during this exchange with Stossel (paraphrased by me, since it's not in the ABCNews.com post):
STOSSEL: Many of the companies that we've interviewed who have outsourced have told us that they've become more successful since outsourcing, even expanding their businesses here in the US and hiring more people. Isn't that proof that outsourcing is good?
DOBBS: If a company can't be successful with American workers, then they shouldn't be in business.
WHAT?!?!? So, Dobbs solution is for companies to just shut their doors and deliver ZERO ECONOMIC BENEFITS? (Frankly, I wonder if much of the criticism of outsourcing isn't due to the destination of many of the jobs (China, India, Asia, etc). If these jobs were heading to Britain, Canada, or Australia, would there be this much furor? And you can't use the "jobs going to Commie China" canard here, since India is closer to our economic system (now) than many European countries. No, there something else going on here...
I could characterize Dobbs statement thusly:
If a white, middle class American can't have the job, no one should.
No. 3 -- MYTH: Public Schools for Poor Kids, Not Politicians' Kids
Summary: Stossel goes after opponents to school vouchers that (hypocritically) send their kids to the most exclusive of private schools. He hits Jesse Jackson Jr especially hard, who attended private schools himself and plans on sending his own children to the same.
No. 2 -- MYTH -- Urban Sprawl Is Ruining America
Summary: He examines the economic cost of "smart growth" in Portland, Oregon. While it sounds nice, the housing prices in Portland have skyrocketed, leaving many poor people without the opportunity to live in Portland. (Frankly, I think this is one of the reasons by some for promoting smart growth.)
Portland's great if you're rich. But if you're not, you may be squeezed out. Land prices went way up after land where building is permitted was limited. That's why smart growth is dumb.
I told Kunstler "smart growth" is destroying the lives of poor people, that he's basically telling low-income people who want back yards that they can't have one.
"Well, you can't have everything," Kunstler said.
Read the whole thing...
MYTH No. 1 Sharing Would Make the World a Better Place
Summary: Ownership is better than sharing, since owners have a vested interest in maintaining the property. He compares public restrooms to private restrooms, public fishing waters to private fishing waters, and even the poaching of elephants on public lands to authorized hunting of elephants on private lands. A must read...
Why do we have so many catastrophic forest fires? Did you know that most of them are on government land -- land we share? The feds own only a third of the forests, but they have most of the forest fires. Private forests are less likely to burn, because the livelihood of "greedy" timber companies depends on having healthy trees. But the government, managing land we all share, is less careful.
The experiment in a high school class is great... and I wish and hope that more teachers are giving their students this lesson on public vs private ownership.
In related news (H/T to Hugh Hewitt), more college students are studying economics than ever... Let's just hope that Ricardo and Smith play a prominent role in their studies. (If it doesn't include those two, can it even be considered "economics"?)
This is good news, as new graduates entering the workforce and politics will have a better understanding of how the world works... While the concept of a rigid and planned economy is tempting to some, it has been demonstrated (often cruelly) to be an abject failure. As Hayek pointed out, the millions of decisions on a daily basis that comprise a free market economy are significantly better than the decisions of a handful of bureaucrats (or 535 elected representatives). While the prospect of this is scary to some, especially those that distrut the wisdom of the people (ie referring to them as sheeple, stupid, etc, etc), the results speak for themselves.
ARC: St Wendeler