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Jewish World Review July 21, 2000 / 18 Tamuz, 5760

Michelle Malkin

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Consumer Reports

Score another one for TV execs who want to keep us brain-dead -- TELL-ALL TRANSVESTITES. Half-naked soap opera stars. Vapid morning gabfests. Egomaniacal, one-name talk show hosts. Welcome to daytime TV. From sunrise to sundown, flipping through the channels is a truly stultifying experience. Too bad boob-tube executives passed up a rare opportunity to give the afternoon airwaves a much-needed intellectual jolt.

Daily Variety reports that a daytime talk pilot deal involving "20/20" and ABC News correspondent John Stossel was scratched last week. For the past five years, Stossel has attacked junk science, corporate welfare, the litigation craze, and America's culture of victimology. He defends greed and legalized prostitution, pokes fun at the gullibility of his own colleagues, and cheerfully ridicules his own shortcomings along the way.

Witty, dogged, and thorough, Stossel's prime-time investigative reports and commentaries illuminate two bedrock principles: the virtues of personal and economic liberty.

Stossel didn't start out as a free-market ideologue. As a consumer affairs correspondent for the ABC newsmagazine, "20/20," Stossel zealously attacked corporate targets, fomented environmental alarmism, and advocated a large role for federal regulation. "But after watching the regulators work," he told The Oregonian a few years ago, "I have come to believe that markets are magical and the best protectors of the consumer. It is my job to explain the beauties of the free market."

And he does it convincingly.

In his widely-watched special, "Is America Number One?", Stossel traveled the world comparing the quality of life in countries with free and not-so-free markets. Stossel concluded that centrally-planned economies tend to be the most wretched ones in which to live and work. "Intuition would suggest that countries with the most government planning -- places where you're taken care of -- would be the best places to live," Stossel mused. "But the opposite's true. Countries with the most planning are the most poor."

What makes Stossel's work so effective is that he doesn't merely tell. He shows – in exhaustive, exasperating detail. "In Calcutta, to start a business you first have to go to this big building to get government permission," Stossel noted as he trekked through the Indian bureaucracy to illustrate the death grip of regulation. "You fill out form after form after form, and then you wait, and wait for days or years while the bureaucrats debate the merits of your application."

The camera pans across a dusty government office with paperwork stacked to the ceiling.

"It's all well intended, rules to make sure the food's clean, that the building's safe," Stossel allows. "But the result is that so many good ideas die, die as forms are bundled and stacked on shelves already cluttered with bundles from other people who are waiting." Stossel shares the plight of one clothing maker in India who built a new factory for 400 employees, but waited five years for government approval to get electricity. He was forced to close the factory because of the bureaucratic inertia.

"Calcutta is poor because of your stupid policies," Stossel pointed out in a confrontation with an Indian official. "No. That's not right. We have risen on the ladder. We have not gone down," the technocrat sputters. "Socialism just works better?" Stossel asked sarcastically. "A hundred times," the deluded Indian says.

Stossel's philosophy is unapologetically libertarian. His reports underscore not only the harm of government intervention in economic affairs, but in personal affairs as well. In another remarkable special for ABC last year, Stossel critically examined a plethora of Nanny State regulations – from helmet laws to Drug War edicts -- designed to protect people against themselves.

"We want freedom for what we do, but we want safety, and we're happy with the laws that affect other people. But I think we've given up quite a lot of liberty without thinking about it," Stossel observed in a TV interview. "America is supposed to be about liberty. Patrick Henry didn't say, 'Give me safety or give me death.' And yet we keep giving it up and not complaining."

Stossel would have brought humor, style, and intellectual enlightenment to the wasteland of daytime TV. Rosie and Oprah and Katie and Bryant and the cast of General Hospital can all rest easier now. It's back to our regularly scheduled, fact-free, brain-dead programming.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


07/17/00: Can somebody say McStupid?
07/12/00: Beware of Ugly Building Syndrome
07/10/00: The miracle of a lead pencil
07/07/00: Partying on the people’s dime
06/29/00: When "Indians" exploit their own
06/23/00: Kids in a public school daze
06/21/00: Fed up with Fannie and Freddie
06/19/00: D.C.'s gag order for Christians
06/16/00: Dads, daughters, and PETA's spoilsports
06/13/00: Tune out Eminem's pitiful "poetry"
06/07/00: "Pained" Dem leader Torricelli deserves to feel some; Why hasn't he?
06/05/00: Tom Green's hidden health-care lesson
06/01/00: Farming out the pork
05/30/00: The perils of medical quackery
05/26/00: Awarding medals by race is a disgrace
05/22/00: Have Simon & Schuster execs lost their minds!?
05/17/00: Sports plebes vs. plutocrats
05/15/00: Whitewashing Red China's record
05/12/00: Our mothers' hands
05/08/00: Focus on the real Waco
05/05/00: An Internet victim's sad story
05/03/00: Phony pooh-bahs of journalism
05/01/00: Zoo tragedy triggers dumb reaction
04/24/00: Ecoterrorists on the loose
04/19/00: Beware of Elian's psychobabblers
04/17/00: The truth about Erin Brockovich
04/13/00: In defense of an armed citizenry
04/10/00: Playing hardball with taxpayers
04/06/00: Read W.'s lips: More new spending
04/04/00: The liberal media-in-training
03/31/00: Sticking it to the children
03/28/00: Declaring war on HOV lanes
03/22/00: Clinton and the Echo Boomers
03/17/00: Is Bush a Liddy Dole Republican?
03/13/00: Katie and the politics of disease
03/10/00: Maria H, Granny D, and the media Z's
03/07/00: Bubba Van Winkle wakes up
03/03/00: Double standard for day traders?
02/28/00: Sluts and nuts --- and our daughters
02/24/00: Zoning out religious freedom
02/15/00: The Baby Brain Boondoggle
02/10/00: Buddhist temple untouchables
02/08/00: CDC: Caught Devouring Cash
02/04/00: Hillary's poisoned poster child
02/01/00: Corporate welfare on ice
01/28/00: The silly sound of silence
01/26/00: The Old Media meltdown
01/20/00: The pied pipers of KidCare
01/18/00: Our imperious judiciary
01/14/00: Tune out Columbine chorus
01/12/00: Dying to be an American
01/10/00: Time for smokers' revolt?
12/30/99: Reading, writing, PlayStation?
12/27/99: Fight money-grubbing mallrats
12/23/99: Christmas for Cornilous Pixley
12/20/99: Who will help the Hmong?
12/16/99: Shame on corn-fed politicians
12/13/99: EPA vs. the American Dream
12/09/99: Look behind the Pokemon curtain
12/06/99: Amateur hour in Seattle
11/30/99: Stop the Ritalin racketeers
11/23/99: Welfare for a sports fatcat
11/19/99: Jeb Bush's political ploy of the week
11/16/99: Ben & Jerry serve up junk science
11/12/99: A monumental waste of our veterans' resources
11/10/99: Tax-and-spend schizophrenia
11/05/99: Spooky Guy Haunts the Capital
11/02/99: Mourning the loss of the last Liberty Tree
10/27/99: AOL goes AWOL on parents
10/22/99: The persecution of Harry Potter
10/20/99: Don't doctor the law
10/14/99: The trouble with kids today
10/12/99: Pro-animal, pro-abortion, anti-speech?
10/07/99: Beltway press corps needs more skunks
09/30/99: ESPN overlooks athlete of faith, grace, and guts
09/27/99: Personal freedom going up in smoke
09/15/99: Farewell, "Miss" America
09/10/99: Will George W. work for a color-blind America?
09/03/99: Feminization of gun debate drowns out sober analysis
08/27/99: America is abundant land of equal-opportunity insult
08/10/99: Protect the next generation from diversity do-goodism
08/04/99: Sweepstakes vs. state lottery: double standards on gambling
07/21/99: "True-life tales from the Thin Red Line" (or "Honor those who sacrificed their lives for peace")
07/21/99: Reading, 'Riting, and Raunchiness?
07/14/99: Journalists' group-think is not unity
06/30/99: July Fourth programming for the Springer generation
06/25/99: Speechless in Seattle
06/15/99: Making a biblical argument against federal death taxes

© 2000, Creators Syndicate