Thursday, June 7, 2012

No, They Can't


A book review

John Stossel has written another book.  I have enjoyed his previous books immensely, and have been looking forward to reading this one.

Mr. Stossel is a journalist, formerly of ABC’s 20/20. I remember watching 20/20 when I was a kid, solely for his “Give Me A Break” segments.  Though I didn’t realize it at the time, the views he espoused were, and are many of the same views I hold dear to this day.  He, along with Larry Elder, shaped my understanding a great deal, and lead me to believe that small ‘l’ libertarianism(H/T Mitch Berg) is the political philosophy that is most beneficial to the largest number of people. 

The libertarian philosophy is one that states individual freedom is better than government interference almost every time. 

What Mr. Stossel has done in his book, No, They Can’t, is taken thoughts and ideas most people think make intuitive sense, and systematically dismantles them, one by one.

Examples include:

“A new stadium will act as a giant jobs program.”  Spoiler: no, it won’t.  John Stossel takes this example, and rips it to shreds with the classic broken window fallacy, among others.

“Government makes life fairer.”  Oh, there’s that fair word again!  Another handy dismemberment here as well.

“Without government, there would be no reliable safety standards.”  Don’t mind me, I’ll just be laughing in the corner.

As I was reading through the book, I really enjoyed it.  Most of his points were not new to me, but the arguments against the items were great.  Sometimes I have a hard time verbalizing my dissent of a particular idea, and I got a lot of good thoughts from this book.

The only issue I had with this book is sometimes Mr. Stossel assumes you know and understand at least a little about the philosophy behind his points.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it lets him go more in depth on topics that need more discourse.  However, that does take the beginner out of the equation, which is a problem.  Preaching to the choir is a great thing, giving us more ammunition against the people that truly don’t get it, but a person that is just dipping their toes into the water of libertarianism may be a bit confused.

All of that to say, if you have a basic understanding of the topics at hand, you will really enjoy this book.  I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to see government shrink, and wants to be able to hold their own in a political discussion or otherwise.

5/5 Looney lefties

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