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The Heritage Foundation Luncheon on Friday, December 12 spear headed Jim DeMint, President of The Heritage Foundation, as Master of Ceremonies. Prior to the luncheon a panel discussion had taken place during which time DeMint and Michael Needham, Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Action for America, discussed “A Bold Agenda for a Better America, Taking on the 114th Congress.” See Part 1 for write up.
John Stossel, Fox Business Network Host and Commentator, gave the keynote luncheon address. Prior to Stossel’s remarks, Governor-elect Rauner offered some special remarks of his own. Introduced by Illinois native Steven Moore, Rauner was described by Moore as not a criminal, as knowing economics, as not being owned by any one, and believing that Chicago could be a great city and the next Hong Kong if he succeeds.
Bruce Rauner spoke about restoring the American dream for Illinoisans. Said Rauner: “It’s not how much we spend, but how and why we are spending the money we do.” Rauner intends to take on the core elements of the spending process to eliminate waste and fraud. In speaking about his agenda, Rauner expressed high aspirations. Rauner’s agenda items include: 1) Ethics reform; 2) substantial tax reform; and 3) school choice. Noted by Rauner was that for years Illinoisans had elected individuals based on promises, only to discover later on that many had turned out to be unprincipled and even corrupt For success to happen Rauner needs a big team effort. An invitation was extended to attend Rauner’s inauguration in Springfield on January 12, 2015.
President Jim DeMint introduced John Stossel. DeMint, in explaining why John Stossel had been chosen to speak at The Chicago Heritage Foundation event, noted: Stossel is despised by Democrats who are suspicious of free market and capitalism, and not particularly popular with conservatives because he believes in personal freedom, but as an advocate of the Free Market System, Stossel is in step with The Heritage Foundation. Having started his career in viewing the marketplace as a cruel place where you need intervention by government and lawyers to protect people, after watching regulators work Stossel came to the realization that the free market provides the protectors of the consumer.
Agile and looking younger than his chronological age of 67, John Stossel bounded onto the stage, and positioning himself behind the podium, he quipped, unapologetic for being a Libertarian: “Born and raised in Illinois, I escaped Illinois, but you didn’t.” Born in Chicago Heights, Illinois, Stossel is a graduate of New Trier High School. Although a stutterer early in life, Stossel over time conquered this speech problem which could have derailed his career.
John Stossel spoke of being trained as a liberal consumer reporter. Believing rules were needed because life was complex, Stossel whole heartedly endorsed regulations, only to watch them fail. As to the The Department of Consumer Affairs, Stossel spoke about licensing requirement for repair shops. Licensing, however, didn’t protect customers. 30 years later repair shops, despite being licensed, were still fooling consumers and not giving consumers what they were promised to expect.
Stossel believes in invisible spontaneous order to help people organize their lives. Simply put, spontaneous order is what happens when you leave people alone, when entrepreneurs see the desires of people and then provide for them. Admittedly, many Americans believe central planning works best. To illustrate why competition works (free market) much better than government, and how it is better and more productive than relying on a handful of elites in some distant bureaucracy, Stossel spoke of communist-era automobile disasters. The East German Trabant, with its sputtering two-stroke engine and resinated paper-mache bodywork, barely deserved the devotion lavished on it by that country’s frustrated car-lovers, yet it was the best car a planned economy could produce and mediocre at best! Consider also the Yugo built in Soviet-bloc Yugoslavia, which earned the reputation of being the worst car in history.
And what about OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association), the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of safety and health legislation. OSHA would make people safe. Trumpeted was how fatalities had dropped since the beginning of OSHA? “Not so,” said Stossel. Free people will make the adjustments needed when an accident happens, treating accidents as free market problems without government interference.
Consider also the “War of Poverty.” Poverty was decreasing even before the War on Poverty began. The programs established to decrease poverty only encouraged and taught people to be dependent and remain in poverty. And what about wars fought in other countries to protect this nation? In prior generations government would shrink after wars ended, but not anymore.
Stossel, in looking back over the years and the many issues he confronted as a consumer reporter, expressed embarrassment that it took him 15 years before he really woke up to the fact that almost everything government attempts to do makes it worse. As Stossel tells it: His work as a correspondent for 20/20 and a consumer reporter for “Good Morning America” stems back to 1981. Stossel was named co-anchor of 20/20 in May of 2003, where eight to 10 million people watched his program weekly. Stossel’s discovery ofReason while co-anchoring 20/20 — a libertarian monthly print magazine covering politics, culture, and ideas — was cited by Stossel as the impetus that channeled his movement toward embracing Libertarian beliefs. In October of 2009 Stossel left his long-time employment at ABC News to join the Fox Business Channel and Fox News Channel. He presently hosts a weekly news show on Fox Business and regularly provides analysis on various Fox News programs, including a weekly appearance on The O’Reilly Factor. Additionally, Stossel writes a Fox News Blog, “John Stossel’s Take,” and has been a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist since February of 2011. His article appear in online publications such as Newsmax, Reason, and Townhall. To Stossel’s credit, he has received 19 Emmy Awards and has been honored five times for excellence in consumer reporting by the National Press Club.
John Stossel, as a believer in the free market system, is reaching out to high school and college students through his DVDs. His new Economics DVD, published this year, “The Power of Markets vs the failure of Regulation,” uses segments from recent shows to compare and contrast resource allocation based on market decisions with the actual effects of allocation caused by government regulation of the market. His first DVD, published in 2011 is titled “Making Economics Come Alive” with John Stossel. Both of the Economics DVDs are designed for high school and college students and sell for $19.95. Both can be ordered for a special price of $29.95.
In working with high school students, Stossel asks this question: There are 7 billion people in the world. 2 billion of them live on a buck or two a day. Why do we do well and others live in poverty? Responses from students: 1) Because we are a democracy, 2) Because we have lots of resources, and 3) Because of over population.
Stossel then inquires students to think about India noting, “While India is overpopulated, so is New Jersey. What about Hong Kong? It isn’t a democracy, and it has no natural resources, yet in 50 years it went from the third worst city to the first in the world. Why? Because Hong Kong honors a rule of law that dictates not to kill or steal from each other. Hong Kong also has economic freedom. It is free people left alone that made Hong Kong rich.”
In Hong Kong it’s possible to open a business in only one day. In India it would take a year to do so. Stossel then related about trying to open a lemonade stand in NYC. He gave up after 60 days. There is a teachable moral: If and when fewer people are unable to open businesses because of imposed restrictions and rules, more people will remain poor.
In closing, Stossel indicated there were two ways to do business: by force or voluntary. But for business to flourish both parties must win. It is economic freedom that brings prosperity. Big government makes us poor and makes us less (we become smaller). On a positive note Stossel added this thought: “Despite all the controls, this nation has continued to proper and grow despite government restrictions.”
The Question and Answer session offered several comments worth noting .
- How can big government be trusted when government can’t even count votes correctly?
- Stossel’s defined the EPA as standing for ENOUGH PROTECTION ALREADY.
- The first thing Stossel would like to see Rauner do is for Rauner to embarrass the stranglehold control of unions.
Stossel has written three books. His most recent book, “No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails – But individuals Succeed”, was published on April 10, 2012. Read here a review of the book. The book can be purchased at Amazon.com. Stossel’s first book, “Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media”, published in 2005, is an autobiography that documents Stossel’s career and philosophical transition from liberalism to libertarianism.
DeMint’s closing remarks looked ahead to 2016. Of importance: 1) to preserve those things we know work, 2) to recognize the importance of informed and engaged citizens, 3) to look back at programs that lifted people out of poverty, and 4) to create an environment so people with wrong ideas will do the right things
[Originally published at Illinois Review]