A Consumer Report on Government
from the publisher
ABCNEWS' John Stossel conducts a "consumer report" on
government and exposes programs that swindle and rules that make
In John Stossel Goes to Washington, Stossel looks at a
typical St. Louis family and their tax burden--about $1 out of
every $3 they earn--and talks to tax expert Amity
Shlaes. "We Americans pay more in taxes than we do in
food, clothing and shelter combined," Shlaes says. Stossel
says government can't even keep track of much of the money.
Much of what government does do, Stossel argues, it does
poorly. The Interior Department spent billions to help American
Indians, yet they are still the poorest people in America.
Billions more have been spent on public housing, but instead of
living in safe homes, low-income families often end up in
dilapidated, unsafe buildings.
Charities complain that government rules make it tougher to
help people. Today, "if Jesus Christ wanted to start
Christianity, he wouldn't be able to do it," says Mimi
Silbert, who runs a mutual aid network in San Francisco,
"because there are too many regulations."
You've got to see this hard-core libertarian indictment of
Here's what MediaNomics has to say:
Few in the media show as much disdain for big government as
they do big corporations such as Microsoft or the tobacco
companies. "My colleagues are quite comfortable with big
government," ABCís John Stossel explained to a questioner
in an online chat on January 29. "But to be fair," he
added, "they DO often report on government waste."
Network correspondents sometimes do report on government waste,
but not like Stossel. The maverick ABC reporterís January 27
prime-time special, Mr. Stossel Goes to Washington, offered
viewers a comprehensive look at the factual case against big
government: workers who labor at tough jobs only to have the
government take a third of their income in high taxes; gigantic
agencies such as the Pentagon that canít account for trillions
of dollars; anecdotes of how private charities are thwarted by
senseless government rule-making; and stories about how
mismanagement by the Interior Department office thatís supposed
to help Native Americans has wasted money and actually hurt tribes
such as the Sioux in South Dakota.
The Lakota Sioux tribe has been under the control of the Bureau
of Indian Affairs for more than 100 years, Stossel reported.
"The result? This is now the poorest county in America.
Unemploymentís about 80%. People live on government
checks," he stated. "With nothing to do, many just
drink." Under the governmentís care, the average life
expectancy for the Lakota Sioux has declined to below that of poor
3rd World nations such as Guatemala, Bolivia and Brazil, according
to a Native American activist. But when Stossel arranged to
interview then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt about the
Bureauís poor performance, including the misallocation of more
than $2 billion, the Secretary stalked out of the room rather than
defend his department.
"Iím gonna fire whoever scheduled this interview,"
Babbitt told Stossel.
Taken together, the message of the Stossel special was plain:
big government takes too much of your money, wastes an awful lot
of it, and usually isnít held accountable for mistakes or
mismanagement. Although it was produced months ago, the show also
contained an important message to consider as Congress begins
contemplating a new federal entitlement for senior citizensí
prescription drugs: the private sector almost always produces
better results ó and private programs cost less.
For one example, Stossel went to Jersey City, New Jersey, where
decaying water pipes were fouling the cityís water supply at the
same time costs were rising. So Mayor Bret Schundler ended the
city governmentís monopolistic control of the water system,
turning the system over to a private company. "For the first
time in years," Stossel reported, "the cityís water
meets the highest standard and for less money. The private company
saved taxpayers $35 million." In another segment, Stossel
showed how a decaying public housing project, once infested with
drug dealers, was transformed into a neat, decent place to live
when control was placed in the hands of a private developer.
Stosselís is a lonely voice. On his ABC online chat, he
admitted that heís "been hassled and sneered at by
some" of his colleagues, but he reminded fans that "it
is the ABC network and its executives that allow me to put this
program on the air. Many of them donít agree with my point of
view, but they believe itís an argument that deserves to be
A fair and balanced media would, in its day-to-day reporting,
disseminate the facts which undermine the cause of big government
alongside the opinions of those who wish to expand it further.
Kudos to ABCís John Stossel for revealing the other side of the
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