Huntsman Post

John Stossel, Fox Commentator, Talks of the Benefits of a Free Market


Fox News commentator, John Stossel spoke to a full house at USU in April..

Photos by Sterling Morris

By Steve Eaton

Four years ago the candidate Barack Obama’s slogan, “Yes, We Can!” may have proved motivational across the country for some, but it didn’t seem to be doing much for the crowd that turned out to hear Fox News commentator John Stossel explain why he thinks “No, They Can’t!” is a more truthful catch phrase.

Mr. Stossel’s free-market ideas that he promotes on his television program, “Stossel,” and in his latest book, “No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails But Individuals Succeed,” seemed to be a message that was welcomed by a standing-room only crowd at the Eccles Conference Center in April 2012. Mr. Stossel was a guest of Utah State University, the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, The Project on Liberty and American Constitutionalism, the Institute of Political Economy, and the Department of Political Science in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Mr. Stossel is a recipient of 19 Emmy Awards, the George Polk Award for Outstanding Local Reporting, and the George Foster Peabody Award. The Princeton graduate has served as an anchor on ABC’s “20/20” and now hosts “Stossel”—a Fox Business Network show that highlights various political and economic issues from a libertarian viewpoint.

Mr. Stossell said he recognizes that people instinctively turn to government to solve their problems and said that may be because people don’t trust businesses to be looking out for their best interests.

He cited several examples of areas where government has failed to do things as efficiently as private enterprise.

“Free markets work, and yet they are vilified in every university that I visit, every newsroom I’ve worked in,” he said. “People just don’t like business. They like it to some extent, but they don’t trust it; they think you will cheat. They want regulation. They want controls. What’s that about? I’m trying to understand.”

He said that initially he used to be a consumer reporter and often advocated for government solutions to right the wrongs he reported on. His ideas have evolved over time, however. He’s discovered defending businesses is not as popular as his previous approach,conser he said.

Someone came up to him on the street in New York City and asked him, “Are you John Stossell?”

He said he was.

“I hope you die soon,” the man said.

Mr. Stossel said it could be because people think he’s a conservative, and to be a conservative in Manhattan where he lives, he said, is about as popular as being a child molester.

“I’m a lousy conservative because I’m a Libertarian,” he said. “I think homosexuality is just fine. I think drugs should be legal. I think prostitution, sex work should be legal. I’m skeptical about nation building.”

He said that some people just don’t like the fact that he says businesses are good.

“It makes people uncomfortable that some people have more than others, but it’s a byproduct of freedom,” he said. “If we are to be free, then that will happen. We should say that’s fine because the rich people don’t sit on that money; even the shallow ones do something with it that eventually does some good.”

He said that some people think of business as a zero-sum game.

“It’s not like there’s a pie and Bill Gates took a big chunk and we have less,” he said. “Bill Gates made thousands of new pies to get rich. The way to get rich in a society is to serve your customers well because the transaction doesn’t happen unless you both think you win.”

Click here to view John Stossel's speech.