John Stossel

If You Want Real “Social Justice,” Support Free Markets and Small Government

Originally posted at Mitchell’s blog International Liberty.


Since almost everybody wants a society that is just, that presumably means we all favor “social justice.”

But in the American political system, the phrase has been adopted by those who favor bigger government and more intervention. Sort of the way “solidarity” and “social” are code words for statism in Europe.

Leftists think that this phrase gives them the moral high ground, but shouldn’t we judge “social justice” by outcomes rather than intentions?

Is statism really compassionate if it actually winds up lining the pockets of wealthy insiders?

Is statism really compassionate when it gives people an excuse to be stingy, as we see in Europe?

Is statism really compassionate when it means less long-run growth and lower living standards for ordinary people?

The answers to those questions probably depend on one’s definition of a just society.

VIDEO: Alfonzo Rachel on Libertarians

I’ve long held that, to be effective politically, conservatives and libertarians (or center-right independents) need to find common ground, and that if libertarians want to see policy and political change, it needs to be an inside job.

While this video isn’t surprising, it’s sad to me to see an outspoken conservative like Alfonzo Rachel divisively deriding libertarians as the 2012 cycle begins to pick up. It’s the kind of stuff that makes me want to stay home on Election Day.

Consider this an open thread.

John Stossel’s Politically Incorrect Guide to Politics

See Video

The first of six videos, John Stossel does an excellent job of explaining why government interference and central planning does more harm than good.

“Most of life works best, when you are in charge. Maybe the government should do… nothing.”  John Stossel


Here’s why everything you’ve been told about urban planning and land-use policy is wrong

John Stossel

Michael Hamilton is a libertarian writer living in Washington, D.C. His main interests are economics, drug legalization, immigration, and land-use policy.

John Stossel is a libertarian television host on the Fox Business Channel. He uses his eponymous show and syndicated columns to cover consumer interest stories and explain sometimes-complex regulatory and economic issues to his audience from a libertarian perspective. Typical segments and columns cover the nanny state, the war on drugs, crony capitalism, and the like. I’m a fan of his work and, as a fellow libertarian, we agree on a broad range of issues. But his most recent post, “Let People Live Where They Choose,” doesn’t meet the same standards.

In it, Stossel says the Highway Trust Fund—paid for by gas taxes and fees for heavy vehicles—has been raided to pay for mass transit instead of maintaining freeways and roads. He thinks this is a bad idea, as “‘mass’ transit carries few passengers, while nearby roads are congested,” and the trust fund itself is nearly depleted.

Stossel thinks the poor state of the trust fund is just a small example of a greater effort on the part of urban planners and regulators to force freedom-loving suburbanites to live in cramped, urban areas—the very areas lefties love so much.

His version of the story sounds like an obvious case of overreach that libertarians should oppose. However, Stossel’s framing suggests that he might not know as much about land use regulation and transit as he claims.

Today in Liberty: 288,000 jobs added in June, Obama’s new monarchy, federal “privacy” board not interested in privacy

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” — Declaration of Independence.

— June jobs report: The economy added 288,000 jobs in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the unemployment rate dropped from 6.3 percent to 6.1 percent. Economists had projected 215,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate would hold steady. The labor participation rate — the percentage of Americans working or looking for work — was unchanged at 62.8 percent, maintaining a 35-year low.

Today in Liberty: Keystone XL dealt a blow, Obamacare alternative endorsed by FreedomWorks, Thomas Sowell on Ted Cruz

“Many unions have contracts with employers that are based on a multiple of the prevailing minimum wage. If the minimum wage goes up, union salaries go up by a similar percentage.” — Neal Boortz

— Keystone XL hits a road block not named Obama: The Lancaster County District Court has shot down a 2012 state law that would have sped up the regulatory process to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. “TransCanada now must secure approval for the pipeline route from the state’s utility regulators — a step the 2012 Nebraska law sought to circumvent,” notes Zack Colman of the Washington Examiner. “Judge Stephanie Stacy said [Gov. Dave] Heineman’s move to approve the revised pipeline plan, as the law allowed, was unconstitutional because it wrested control of oil pipeline decisions from the state regulatory body, the Nebraska Public Service Commission. As such, Stacy ruled the law null and void.”

Hey Ann, the War on (Some) Drugs IS a Welfare Program

Ann Coulter

According to Ann Coulter, libertarians are “pussies” for wanting to end the war on (some) drugs and for agreeing with the Left on certain social issues such as gay marriage. Coulter was a guest on Stossel at the Students for Liberty Conference.

Coulter elaborated:

We’re living in a country that is 70-percent socailist, the government takes 60 percent of your money. They are taking care of your health care, of your pensions. They’re telling you who you can hire, what the regulations will be. And you want to suck up to your little liberal friends and say, ‘Oh, but we want to legalize pot.’ You know, if you were a little more manly you would tell the liberals what your position on employment discrimination is. How about that? But it’s always ‘We want to legalize pot.’


Liberals want to destroy the family so that you will have one loyalty and that is to the government.

Honesty in politics?

I was sitting at home Saturday night and Stossel was on Fox Business Channel.  I watched.  What a shock!  A libertarian watched Stossel!

However, I witnessed something I never would have thought I would see, and that was honesty from a pro-regulation lobbyist.

The segment in question was about a proposal which would require taxis in Washington D.C. to have a medallion system like New York.  For the record, per Stossel’s segment, a NYC medallion costs around $1 million per pop. A lobbyist in favor of medallions in D.C. said on Stossel’s show that it was in fact about squeezing out the little guy.

Many of us who are anti-regulation cite how more regulations make it more difficult for the small operator to function.  As a small business owner myself, I can tell you that more and more government regulations only make life more difficult.  I am currently seeking two full time employees, but only because of a profound need.  I would seek out four or five employees if it weren’t for the spectre of ObamaCare - to say nothing of other regulations out there - that could make my life even more difficult and thereby override the benefit of more employees.

The lobbyist’s candor, that the measure he proposed and that a D.C. councilman actually introduced was really about squeezing out the small businessman was unique.  However, it’s not really a shock for many of the pro-liberty movement.  It was a shock for me though.

While I will often cite the problems of regulations and how they impact the small businessman, I never really thought there was as much of a concerted effort to break the small businessman as there apparently is.  Oh sure, I figured Walmart supported an employer mandate because it would hurt Target, but I didn’t really think they gave a damn about the mom and pop store.

Now, I have to step back and rethink that.

Stossel takes on absurd laws and regulations

In a special on Fox News last week, John Stossel looked at some of bans and onerous laws that Nanny Staters have put in place; on everything from lemonade stands to raw milk to taxi services. In may seem a little ridiculous to complain about these things, but Americans are becoming increasingly at risk by dumb laws and regulations put in place by federal, state, and local governments:

John Stossel on the real state of our Union

As you can imagine, there wasn’t much in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address that would please libertarians. John Stossel notes that much of what the president said is in fact anathema to those of us that believe in limited government, and offers some of what he would have said if he were in Obama’s shoes:

Our debt has passed $15 trillion. It will reach Greek levels in just 10 years.

But if we make reasonable cuts to what government spends, our economy can grow us out of our debt. Cutting doesn’t just make economic sense, it is also the moral thing to do. Government is best which governs least.

We’ll start by closing the Department of Education, which saves $100 billion a year. It’s insane to take money from states only to launder it through Washington and then return it to states.

Next, we’ll close the Department of Housing and Urban Development. That saves $41 billion. We had plenty of housing in America before a department was created.

Then we eliminate the Commerce Department: $9 billion. A government that can’t count votes accurately should not try to negotiate trade. We will eliminate all corporate welfare and all subsidies. That means agriculture subsidies, green energy subsidies, ethanol subsidies and so on. None of it is needed.

I propose selling Amtrak. Why is government in the transportation business? Let private companies compete to run the trains.

And we must finally stop one of the biggest assaults on freedom and our pocketbook: the war on drugs. I used drugs. It’s immoral to imprison people who do what I did and now laugh about.

Still, all these cuts combined will only dent our deficit. We must cut Medicare, Social Security and the military.

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