John Stossel, Fox Business Network personality and author of “The New York Times” bestseller “No They Can’t: Why Government Fails-But Individuals Succeed,” spoke to a crowded lecture hall of more than 100 people at Stony Brook University’s Javits Center on Wednesday, April 24. The event was held by the Stony Brook College Republicans as a part of their Harold Simmons Lecture Series.
Stossel is an American consumer reporter, investigative journalist, author, and libertarian columnist. He has written three other books: “Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity,” “Give Me A Break” and “Shopping Smart” and is currently the host of “Stossel” on Fox Business News.
“I wrote this book in response to Obama’s ‘Yes We Can,’” said Stossel. “And we can, but they can’t.”
Stossel, like most libertarians, believes that government should take a back seat and put trust back in American citizens to stimulate the economy, stating that “There is nothing the private sector does that the government can do better.”
“After 9/11, we all wanted something done,” said Stossel. “The government took over and we got the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which costs 10 times what previous screeners cost.”
The TSA has come under fire since the agency’s introduction of intensive full-body pat-downs in 2004 and more recently for allowing passengers to bring small knives and sporting goods on flights.
According to Stossel, incentives make a difference. He insisted that the private companies responsible for airport security prior to the TSA were “faster, nicer and better at their jobs.”
“Privatization is better because if you aren’t good, you get fired,” said Stossel. He argues that the problem with the current system is that “the government can’t get fired. It’s spontaneous order that people don’t instinctively get.”
As a libertarian, Stossel also advocates the idea of a free market, which focuses on the distribution of the costs of goods and services coordinated by supply and demand, which are unaffected by government control.
“You don’t need to be an expert to have the market do better,” said Stossel. “A free market would take care of all the complicated stuff, too. Things just get better on their own in a free society.”
“Capitalism is vilified,” said Stossel. “Even on this campus, there’s a socialist club. Being a conservative in Manhattan is like being a child molester. But I’m a libertarian.”
The reason for said vilification, according to Stossel, is what he calls “wealth envy.” However, he argues that business is voluntary and that there are no wins and loses. The only way business owners will succeed is by serving customers well.
According to Stossel, good capitalism means no privileges, no subsidies and no bailouts. “Let them do well if they’re good, and fail if they’re bad.”
“We resent rich people and these so-called ‘greedy enterprises,’” said Stossel, but he argues that these are the people who are bringing us advanced technologies in computers and medicine. “Their innovations are bringing us computers, robotic arms, and fresh fruit in the winter, but we take it all for granted.”
“I was a Republican for 41 years,” said Michael McDermott, who represented the Libertarian Party on New York’s 3rd Congressional District ballot in 2012. “Most people are libertarian—more socially liberal and economically conservative—they just don’t know it yet.”
Louisa Borriello, member of the Rockville Center Tea Party, agreed with Stossel that government is beginning to encroach too heavily on people’s private lives. “Our rights come from God”, said Borriello, “not government.”
“Please,” said Stossel, “fight for the liberty that made America possible.”