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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No, They Can't: Why Government Fails - But Individuals Succeed (audiobook) by John Stossel

Libertarianism thought delivered painlessly by nice guy Stossel

Published April 10, 2012 by Simon and Schuster Audio.
Read by the author, John Stossel
Duration: 9 hours, 14 minutes

The title of this audiobook, No, They Can't is a play on the 2008 campaign slogan of then-candidate Obama, "Yes We Can!" Stossel, of course, is the TV consumer reporter turned anchor of ABC's 20/20 who now hosts a weekly show of Fox Business News and a series on one-hour specials on Fox News. He has won nineteen Emmy Awards. He begins his book with an explanation of why he left ABC after more than 20 years and how the culture of ABC made it very uncomfortable for him to explore stories in any way except the tried and true politically correct way.

The premise of the this audiobook is that the entire thought process behind that campaign slogan is wrong  - the government cannot do a lot of the things that people want it to do, and even if everyone agreed it should give those things a try, it would do a very poor job of them because government is inefficient at almost everything it does.

Stossel is an outspoken but soft-spoken Libertarian and he makes a very thoughtful presentation of Libertarian thought on a variety of topics. He generally starts with a variation on this phrase: "Intuition tells me...but reality has taught me..." and presents a commonly held belief (like minimum wage laws helping younger workers) and then presents research that shows that that belief is incorrect (many have no skills and having to pay them more than they are worth means they are unlikely to be hired in the first place).

Stossel covers a variety of topics including free trade, how federal regulations can help the businesses they are intended to regulate, food police, government-provided health insurance, the "nanny state" government, gun control and lots more. The strength of the audiobook is not the ideas (they are fairly standard Libertarian fare) but the way that Stossel presents them. Stossel is inherently likable and he has done a lot of thinking and research to present his arguments in clear, everyday language. His "Intuition tells me...but reality has taught me..." format acknowledges the logic of people that disagree with him and then he lays out his arguments with his nice guy style.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

Reviewed on May 30, 2012.

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