John Stossel Gets It Wrong…Again

I should probably be happy that John Stossel has a program on television discussing semi-libertarian views on multiple topics, much like I should be happy that the Paul family is at least vaguely libertarian, making them 200% more libertarian than the rest of the federal government. But the Pauls are not really libertarian: they are anti-gay marriage (translation: bigots), anti-immigration (translation: racists) and pro-state’s rights (translation: not libertarian. A state infringing on individual liberty is just as wrong as the federal government doing so).

Stossel is in fact a libertarian, but that doesn’t make me like him any more than the Pauls. His show consists of staged debates where someone supporting his side gets several minutes to espouse his view on whatever subject matter is being discussed. Another person, representing the opposite view of Stossel (painted as the opposite view of every libertarian) is routinely interrupted mid-sentence, not allowed to complete her argument, and generally talked down to while a loaded audience full of (all white) Stossel supporters cheer him on. The whole thing feels like a bizarro Real Time with Bill Maher, only without the quality comedic writing.

At the end of every Stossel show, John re-affirms his position without ever explaining his argument. He knocks the opposite view point rather than explaining why it’s incorrect. It all comes off as smug libertarian/conservative versus liberal and it’s this type of nonsense that helps prevent wider acceptance of libertarian thought. Stossel isn’t out to educate, he simply panders to people who already agree with him and picks a fight rigged for him to win.

Aggravating me on this occasion is Stossel’s latest show about the “going green” movement. He has a tie-in article on Reason and since his show follows the exact formula I describe above, it’s this article I’ll take further umbrage with

Bryce used to be a left-liberal, but then: “I educated myself about math and physics. I’m a liberal who was mugged by the laws of thermodynamics.”

Stossel immediately positions this as a left versus right scenario, as if being pro-environment is a position exclusive to liberals. Fundamentally, going green(er) is the idea that I am no longer willing, as an individual, to act woefully ignorant of my potential impact on the only habitable celestial body around. I don’t need to vote blue to understand that.

Stossel’s points aren’t completely off the mark. He’s right to criticize that dope Tom Friedman and he’s right to question much of the current alternative energy posturing by our government. But Stossel, like Friedman, makes sure to leave out the stuff that hurts his thesis

Even with subsidies, “renewable” energy today barely makes a dent on our energy needs.

But what if we build more windmills?

“One nuclear power plant in Texas covers about 19 square miles, an area slightly smaller than Manhattan. To produce the same amount of power from wind turbines would require an area the size of Rhode Island. This is energy sprawl.” To produce the same amount of energy with ethanol, another “green” fuel, it would take 24 Rhode Islands to grow enough corn.

So wind and solar energy don’t seem to be the answer. Conveniently left out of his article is Thorium, a material that does have the potential to yield the kind of energy density needed to replace oil while being a safer renewable energy than that from uranium (and therefore qualifying it as “green”). I could assume that Stossel is simply ignorant on the matter, but this isn’t the first time he’s left out some facts about the environment to help make his ultimately incorrect point.

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One Response to John Stossel Gets It Wrong…Again

  1. JC says:

    “To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact”

    This is not one of those times.