P.J. O'Rourke, a Member of the Board of Advisors for the Independent Institute, is Americas leading political humorist and the best-selling author of over twenty books. He spoke at an event held on February 13, 2014 at the Independent institute in Oakland, CA.
Full Video of The Independent Institutes 2011 25th Anniversary Gala for Liberty held November 15, 2011. Part 1: Introductory Remarks and Tribute to Robert Higgs Part 2: Tribute to Mario Vargas Llosa Part 3: History of The Independent Institute and Fund for the Future Part 4: Tribute to Lech Walesa Part 5: Special Tributes, Sponsors, and Credits
What is fundamentally wrong with government today? Since 2001, despite low inflation, federal spending has increased by a massive 28.8%, creating the largest deficits in U.S. history and the highest rate of government growth since the "guns-and-butter" presidencies of Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson. At the same time, federal agencies have been given new powers to secretly search anyone's property and intercept phone, Internet, and other communications, as well as inspect health and financial records. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, economist and historian Robert Higgs alone predicted this explosion of government power, as politicians have again taken full advantage of a frightened American public.
At this special Independent Policy Forum based on his new book, Against Leviathan, Dr. Higgs will present an unflinchingly critical analysis of the abuse of government power, including pork, the welfare state, protectionism, trampling on the Bill of Rights, and governmental responses to a continuing stream of "crises," including foreign wars, both hot and cold. Dr. Higgs combines an economist's analytical scrutiny, an historian's respect for the facts, and a refusal to accept the standard excuses and cruelties of government officialdom.
Senior Fellow in Political Economy for The Independent Institute and Editor of the Institute's quarterly journal, The Independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy
Author, Against Leviathan: Government Power and a Free Society
When pioneering television journalist John Stossel joined ABC-TV's "20/20" in 1981, his peers and an admiring public hailed him as a crusading consumer reporter. His hard-hitting, in-your-face exposes of con artists and corporate liars and crooks won him 19 Emmys and an avid following. But, could the use of government power and the Nanny State be the biggest scam of all?
In his new book, Give Me a Break, Stossel takes on a herd of sacred cows and examines how in the name of the "public interest," ambitious politicians and bureaucrats, intellectually lazy and opportunistic reporters, scaremongers, and predatory lawyers make life worse, especially for those most disadvantaged.
In this event John Stossel explained how his investigations of government waste, fraud and abuse; welfare for the rich; victimless crimes; self-serving interest groups; and sensationalist-media hyping (while ignoring real risks) reveal the crucial need to protect the civil and economic liberties of all people.
John Stossel, author of Give Me a Break. is co-anchor of ABC's "20/20." He also hosts ABC's "John Stossel Specials" for ABC television and radio, and ABCNews.com. In addition to having received 19 Emmy Awards, he has been honored five times for excellence in consumer reporting by the National Press Club. Among his other awards are the George Polk Award for Outstanding Local Reporting and the George Foster Peabody Award.
David J. Theroux is Founder and President of the Independent Institute.
To outsiders, its initials once stood for No Such Agency. To its employees, they stood for Never Say Anything. Today the public knows that the ultra-secret National Security Agency manages the nations spy satellites, but few know exactly why the NSA is the most powerful U.S. intelligence agencyor its roles in the Cold War, the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and Echelon, the worldwide NSA spying operation that, many charge, is illegally monitoring innocent citizens. No outsider knows more about the NSA than investigative journalist James Bamford, who began to research it before most members of Congress had even heard of it. In this talk, Mr. Bamford explained why he believes the NSA is a dangerous, two-edged sword.
Although comedian George Carlin's infamous routine, "Seven Words You Can't Say on TV," has become outdated, today many ideas are considered too 'politically incorrect' to discuss in polite society. According to popular Los Angeles talk-radio host Larry Elder, many sacred cows- about racism and sexism, health care, welfare, education, the family, drug laws, the media, crime, gun control, and more- are soft-headed distortions that have worsened America's social problems. If "the truth shall make you free," then, says Elder, these myths need a serious reality check- before we forget what truth and freedom look like. Larry Elder discussed what's really wrong with America and how a free people, rather than an intrusive government, can fix it.
Has Hollywood the American dream factory become Hollywood the American nightmare factory? Is most of Hollywood just self-destructive as it ridicules censorship of TV violence, and in survey after survey, large majorities are registering a distaste for the entertainment industry's torrent of nihilistic, violent, and degrading work. Voting with their money, the public has largely turned such projects into financial ruin, while those films, TV, and other programs that embody values of individual achievement and humaneness are increasingly proving to be the real economic success stories.
For example, of the 1,100 films released since 1983, the average rating of the most financially successful film was PG, despite the predominance of R-rated films. In a recent Parents magazine pool, 72% rated TV as fair, poor, or terrible , and according to Gallup, only 3% of Americans believe TV conveys positive values, whereas 58% say they are often offended.
Employing meticulous research in American popular culture, Michael Medved, will draw upon his best-selling book, Hollywood vs. America, to present a comprehensive and devastating critique of why movies, popular music, and television have become dominated by brutality and a hatred for civility. Combining a passionate concern for the intellectual precision, Michael Medved will discuss how an industry can ignore the message of the market and lose touch with its audiences and the values of a free society.
In his talk, he will describe the Three Big Lies of Hollywood that have created this situation. Is Hollywood's self-destructive conduct rooted in a "political correctness" that scorns conventional America? Has an artistic disdain for "mere" commercial considerations blinded an industry into becoming prey to every peer pressure, arrogance, and emotional insecurity, and crackpot crusade to purge society?
Michael Medved and Hollywood vs. America are transforming the debate over popular culture, calling the bluff of a cynical media. Rejecting censorship as a dangerous offshoot of the assault on values, Medved demonstrates how public pressures can instead produce powerful results in bringing Hollywood into a business and cultural arena where beauty is not ridiculed; men, women, and children are not brutalize, and cruelty is not exalted.