Whatever happened to just going with your gut – following your intuition? We do live, after all, in a free society comprised of many people from different backgrounds, beliefs, and abilities. They should be able to fend for themselves, go with their gut – the only problem is Big Brother government telling us that we can’t and they can.
In his latest book, No They Can’t, John Stossel, fights back against the establishment and this notion.
No They Can’t: Why Government Fails but Individuals Succeed provides a look at why a free market matters in a free world. “The title is a take off on the last Obama campaign,” Stossel said at the Heritage Foundation, in reference to then-presidential candidate Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan, “Yes We Can”.
“Of course we all know he [Obama] wasn’t magic,” Stossel said. He explained that the notion of government as an entity that can provide for people has been embedded into Americans’ intuition. It’s something he warns is wrong. “Intuition works against our side – classical liberalism.”
Stossel explained that over the years, Americans have become dependent on the government. He says that the “they” everyone runs to is the government. “The next time there is a crisis, there will be people saying the government needs to do that.” Stossel argues that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is a perfect example of this. Before TSA effectively took over airport security, airports reviewed bids from contractors providing airport security. He explained that by contracting with private screening companies, airports have the chance to opt out of specific programs. This adds competition and efficiency to the market. “They work faster, the find more stuff… they run contests for screening and customer service,” Stossel said of private companies.
“But the TSA is now an empire,” he said. “Once the government grows, it’s very hard to turn that around.” Even though he recognizes it may be an uphill battle, Stossel says shedding this dependency on the government is necessary for the future. Stossel explained that if you look at history, the market takes care of issues, desires, and needs of the people. The competition, he says, is good. In a free market, “The good stay and grow, and the bad will stop.”
The biggest hurdle, he indicates, is re-training our intuition to one of a classical liberalism – the idea of a limited government where people can work for themselves and not rely on the “they.” “In a free society, things get better on their own,” Stossel said.
Often, people worry about spending – just look at the national deficit and budget crisis. Stossel says that if people worry, they have to understand what needs to be done to fix the problem. He says that they can’t “scream about the cuts” to the budget.
“We do perform miracles every day,” Stossel said. “How did the U.S. become rich?” There are plenty of countries on the planet that have the population and desire to grow. But if you look at many of them, they’re oppressed by governance. “They are poor because of socialism… Free people left alone with rights became rich,” he said.
He asked how we can put our trust in the government. “The government can’t even count votes accurately,” he said. “Individuals succeed. Clubs and charities succeed,” Stossel pointed out. They are available and free because they are left alone.
His book highlights more information on how voluntary networks and entrepreneurs solve problems – but only if given the freedom to do so.
As for the government, it’s evident to him, “No, they can’t. We can.”
Jocelyn Grecko is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia. Jocelyn has spent the past four years in the nation’s capital as a Media Studies undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America. She will graduate in May 2012.
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