Stossel advocates a free market

By Dan Lambert

In his approach to U.S. drug policy, the prison system, and crime, John Stossel prefers to take them all with a grain of salt.

The 19-time Emmy award–winner and Chicago-area native addressed over 100 University students and faculty members Wednesday evening at the inaugural talk of the Milton Friedman Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the U of C College Republicans and the Chicago Society.

Stossel, who had a long career as a consumer reporter for ABC News, is currently a co-anchor of the network’s 20/20 series. Once punched by a WWF wrestler after questioning the sport’s authenticity in 1984, Stossel has gradually transitioned from a consumer reporter attacking big business to one questioning the effectiveness of big government.

In his talk, Stossel advocated minimalist government intervention and said that self-regulation of big business should come from the free market.

Stossel took aim at federal drug policies, arguing that restrictions on drugs in fact lead to higher rates of drug-related crime, police corruption, and a concentration of wealth among criminal gang leaders.

He also criticized the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) practices and said that FDA regulations limit research and scientific innovation.

“By protecting us from bad things, it protects us from good things,” he said.

Stossel pointed to flaws within the U.S. trial system and attacked the tort system, which governs laws about personal injury, as inefficient in reimbursing victims.

“What kind of system is it where it takes the victim 10 to 15 years to get something?” he asked.

He decried the fact that a large portion of financial settlements often end up in the pockets of middlemen, leaving those who truly deserve the compensation empty-handed.

Stossel’s core message was the need for government to allow the free market to serve as the main form of regulation. “The best of life is voluntary. All business is voluntary or else it doesn’t work; it is not a zero-sum game,” he said. “Capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other system.”

Stossel concluded his talk by urging audience members to remain skeptical of increased government regulation.

“America’s founders fought a war for liberty, and we are giving it up, bit by bit,” he said.