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.
Astronomical housing costs, suffocating traffic congestion, and pollution take a heavy toll on our quality of life. Are these problems the inescapable consequences of modern life or the results of poor government policies? Proponents of "smart growth" seek to correct them by replacing suburban living with high-density, urban living and public transit. Others seeks to extend and expand current public and private systems. But how smart are these and other approaches? Would market-based alternatives be preferable to create sustainable communities? Urban economists Randal O'Toole and Daniel Klein discussed innovative "smarter growth" solutions for affordable housing, transportation, land use, and the quality of life in our communities.
Why has Africa, despite its rich history, cultures, and abundant resources, largely remained in the grip of dictatorship, starvation, genocide and war? How can this tragic legacy of colonialism, socialism, and plutocracy be replaced with the welfare of economic liberalization, individual rights, and the Rule of Law? Based on his new book, "Africa in Chaos," award-winning economist George Ayittey will examine the record of American statism and the revolution for free-market societies.
George B. N. Ayittey
Professor of Economics, American University
Author, Africa in Chaos and Africa Betrayed
David J. Theroux
Founder and President, The Independent Institute
Economics is never the "dismal science" when discussed by Nobel Laureate economist Gary S. Becker and his wife, the historian Guity Nashat Becker. In this Independent Policy Forum and based on their book, The Economics of Life: From Baseball to Affirmative Action to Immigration, How Real-World Issues Affect Our Everyday Life, the Beckers will examine the "war on drugs," healthcare, education, marriage and divorce, the homeless, immigration, corporate leadership, religion, baseball, affirmative action, the minimum wage, Social Security, crime, and much more.
With his numerous books, articles and essays about politics, war and social disorder under his belt, it was only a matter of time until P.J. O'Rourke found his way to the subject of his new book, "Eat the Rich." In "Parliament of Whores," he lampooned the entire U.S. government. "All the Troubles in the World" attacked the pandemic worries of the politically correct; and this time it's the economy, stupid! What is wealth and how do we get it? Or as he asks, "Why do some places prosper and thrive while others just stink?"
As most people (along with many "experts") try to fathom the volatility of financial markets and the complexities of global economies, the man who Time magazine has called "one of America's most hilarious and provocative writers" brings it all into perspective. Who else but P.J. could provide this primer on Wall Street: "In order to understand the stock market we have to realize that, like anything enormous and inert, it's fundamentally stable, and like anything emotion-driven, it's volatile as hell."
But he doesn't stop there. Embarking from Wall Street, P.J. takes us on a hilarious and enlightening worldwide tour of the foibles of governments from Russia to Tanzania, from Albania to Shanghai, and from Hong Kong to Havana, and revisits college economics courses, counteracting them with his own version of Econ 101.
The result is the world's only astute, comprehensive and comic presentation of the basic principles of economics that will truly make you laugh on purpose.
P. J. ORourke
Bestselling Author, Humorist and Political Satirist
Although America's founders attempted to build a Republic on the twin pillars of strict limits on the power of central government and strict protections of individual rights, these pillars have been eroded away. Now, at the close of the twentieth century, bestselling author, scholar and social commentator, Charles Murray, wants to restore them for all Americans. In his new book, What It Means to Be a Libertarian, he offers a radical blueprint for overhauling our dysfunctional government and replacing it with a system that safeguards human freedom and fosters human happiness.
In this special Independent Policy Forum, Charles Murray will invoke a more consistent version of the Founders' ideals and craft a clear, workable alternative to our current government. He will explain that the sprawling, costly and intrusive government that Americans have come to accept as an inevitable part of modern life is not inevitable. He will encourage Americans to liberate themselves from ingrained misconceptions of what government is and urge us to consider instead what it ought to be.
In this insightful yet very personal talk, Charles Murray will paint a vivid portrait of life in a genuinely free society. Imagine, for example, a federal government that is not just smaller, but small with an executive branch trimmed down to the White House, and radically smaller departments of state, defense, justice and environmental protection. Imagine a Congress so limited in power it spends only a few months of each year in session. Imagine a society in which the government's role is once again to prevent people from initiating the use of force, leaving them otherwise free, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, "to regulate their own pursuit of industry and improvement."
Charles Murray will craft a workable alternative to our current government that would lead to greater individual fulfillment, stronger families, more vital communities, more wealth and less poverty, a richer culture and better care for the less fortunate.
While the White House and Congress tinker with the rate of growth of government spending and whether the welfare stste is better administered at the federal or state level, eminent legal scholar and author Richard Epstein now challenges the very roots of runaway liability and the regulatory-welfare state.
In his widely acclaimed new book, Simple Rules for a Complex World, Epstein presents a new legal framework to restore a Jeffersonian society based on individual rights, freedom to choose and the Rule of Law. In so doing, Epstein articulates six principles rooted in common law to guide law and public policy in complex times:
(1) "Individual Self-Ownership" all individuals rightfully own themselves.
(2) "First Possession" individuals have a right to own property and almost everything should be privately owned.
(3) "Voluntary Exchange" individuals are free to contract with others for peaceful purposes.
(4) "Protecting the Things that Are Yours" tort law provides the most effective way to protect individuals from theft, fraud, rape, and murder.
(5) "Necessity" private property rights may be violated only in extreme cases of emergency.
(6) "Takings" in any case of government abridgment of private property rights, through regulation or seizure, the government must justly compensate the owner financially.
At this Independent Policy Forum, Richard Epstein will employ these principles to critique the thousands of burdensome and counterproductive regulations, taxes and other government policies. He will address taxes and income redistribution, labor laws, and employment discrimination, environmental regulations, product liability laws, rent controls, zoning, and much more.
Since publication of this highly acclaimed 1985 book, Takings, Richard Epstein has become widely regarded as the preeminent legal contrarian of our time, challenging the philosophies of liberals and conservatives alike. His path-breaking scholarship and penetrating analyses have launched a quiet revolution, earning him the respect of even his staunchest critics. With the escalating anti-political sentiment of the public and the growing demand to de-bureaucratize and and de-politicize American life, Epstein's powerful and learned call for devolution, tort reform, economic liberalization and privatization could not be more timely.