Nov 23, 2018
John Stossel- Enemy of Capitalism: Capitalists, Single-Payer, Sweden Not a Socialist Success, The Pension Bomb, Israel the Startup Nation, Mental Health Crisis.
Enemy of Capitalism: Capitalists
Senator Bernie Sanders recently came up with a new business to attack: Amazon. Sanders said Amazon didn't pay its workers enough and because of that, many qualified for government assistance
At first, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos defended his company. That was the right thing to do, says John Stossel. He notes: "It’s not companies' fault that some workers qualify for handouts. More people would collect them if Amazon were not hiring. By creating jobs, Bezos gives workers better choices." But the media rarely mention that. Instead, they bombarded Amazon with negative coverage. So Bezos caved. He declared that all Amazon workers would now all be paid $15 an hour or more. That higher wage sounds good to most people, but Stossel point out that while the higher minimum is good for workers who have jobs now, it can shut out beginners. Kelsey Holder (now Kelsey Turner) started working at age 13, for minimum wage, at Mossman's Coffee Shops and Catering Company in Bakersfield, California. By the time Stossel interviewed her in 2010, she was making $20 an hour. She told him: "For being only 13 ... minimum wage was fine. If you work hard, you can make more, it's just you have to prove yourself." The skills she learned through work -- even at minimum wage -- served her well. Kelsie is now the restaurant's manager. Had the minimum wage been higher when she started, she may never have gotten that opportunity. When Amazon sets a high minimum wage at their own company, Stossel notes, at least unskilled workers can find jobs at other companies. But Amazon did not stop there. It has also begun lobbying for the government to force all its competitors to pay a higher minimum wage. That could help Amazon, Stossel says: "Amazon’s already replacing workers with robots. Bezos knows a higher minimum wage will hurt his competitors more than it hurts him." Amazon often tries to get favors from government. It didn’t just announce a second headquarters. It started a competition to see which politicians would give it the largest tax incentives. "Give me a break," Stossel says. "Politicians shouldn’t pander to companies, and companies shouldn’t pander to politicians. I wish Bezos would stick to innovating, not scheming with politicians to get special breaks. Some of the worst enemies of capitalism are capitalists." Published on Nov 13, 2018
Democrats just won control of the House of Representatives. One of their big issues, single-payer health care, in which government pays all health care costs. Canada, Norway, and England have versions of single-payer. Chris Pope, of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal, tells John Stossel that the results aren’t as great as progressives claim. “ In England there is rarely a week that goes by without a crisis or another in the healthcare system being part of the news. This year there was a crisis in emergency room care. People left in the hallways for hours and hours. “ When Stossel asks if single-payer isn’t the solution, what is? Pope suggest more competition between hospitals, and adds "We currently have a system based on employers picking which healthcare plan is good for employees. If we move towards a healthcare system where individuals were more responsible for shopping around. People would choose a better system.” Under our current system, government and insurance spend 7 out of 8 health care dollars for us. Pope says "the question is, do we improve on the healthcare system by empowering consumers, or do we basically just say, 'This is the government plan. Deal with it.'” Published on Nov 11, 2018.
Sweden Not a Socialist Success
Democratic socialists in the United States point to Sweden as a socialist success. But Swedish historian Johan Norberg says, "Sweden is not socialist.
Norberg hosts a documentary called "Sweden: Lessons for America?" in which he notes that in Sweden, "government doesn't own the means of production. To see that you have to go to Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea." John Stossel asks Norberg why so many Americans think Sweden is Socialist. Norberg answers, "we did have a period in the 1970s and 1980s when we had something that resembled socialism: a big government that taxed and spent heavily." But in his documentary, he explains that big government led to problems: "our economy was in crisis, inflation reached 10%, and for a brief period interest rates soared to 500 percent. At that point the Swedish population just said, 'Enough, we can't do this'" Norberg tells Stossel. Sweden cut public spending, privatized the national rail network, abolished certain government monopolies, eliminated inheritance taxes, sold state-owned businesses, and switched to a school voucher system. They also "lowered taxes and reformed the pension system," adds Norberg. So Stossel asks why we keep hearing "that Sweden is this socialist paradise." Norberg answers: "We do have a bigger welfare state than the U.S. and higher taxes than the U.S. But in other areas, when it comes to free markets, when it comes to competition, when it comes to free trade, Sweden is actually more free market." He's right, according to the Heritage Foundation's Economic Freedom Rankings. Sweden ranks higher than the U.S. Norberg also tells Stossel that Sweden's tax system may surprise Americans. "This is the dirty little secret … We don't take from the rich and give to the poor. We squeeze the poor, because rich people might leave." Even people who earn below average income pay up to 60% in taxes. Stossel asks: what lessons should Americans take from Sweden? "You can't turn your backs [on] the creation of wealth," warns Norberg. "Sweden: Lessons for America?" airs on PBS on October 29th at 7 p.m. Eastern. You can also watch it at freetochoose.tv. Published on Oct 23, 2018.
The Pension Bomb
Published on Oct 21, 2018
State and local governments face a $5 trillion dollar unfunded pension liability. In other words, politicians promised workers $5 trillion in retirement benefits, but government doesn’t have the money.
John Stossel asks, how this could happen? City Journal Contributing Editor Daniel DiSalvo tells him, because “nobody was paying attention." Politicians keep promising government workers better pension benefits, but don’t set aside the money to pay for them. DiSalvo says that’s because “both parties, Democrats and Republicans have incentives to short the pension fund… For Democrats, if we cannot put as much in, we can free up more money for greater public spending on public programs. If we're Republicans, we probably want to say cut taxes." City Journal Senior Editor Steve Malanga adds, "5 years from now, 10 years from now, they're gonna have a problem. But 10 years from now somebody else is in office.” So someone will have to pay the bill. When Stossel asks Malanga for a solution, he answers “reduce the level of benefits ... put more of the contributions towards paying off the debt, and go to individual accounts,” like 401k's, what most people in the private sector have. So far, neither politicians nor the unions are willing to accept this. Stossel warns: one day, no matter what the promise, we simply won’t be able to keep it.
Published on Oct 19, 2018
Israel is known as "startup nation". That's because "Israel has the highest concentration of startups per capita in the entire world," says David Blumberg of Blumberg Capital.
Stossel TV producer Naomi Brockwell went to Israel to find out why. Blumberg tells Brockwell, Israel took "advice of economists from the University of Chicago, MIT, following in the Milton Friedman school of thought ... [they] basically said 'Israel you have to free the entrepreneurs'." So Israel got "rid of taxes and tariffs and stupid red tape," according to Blumberg. The result was creation of remarkable wealth and opportunity for people in that tiny country.
Mental Health Crisis
Published on Oct 1, 2018
Government fails the seriously mentally ill. DJ Jaffe, a Contributor to City Journal, tells John Stossel that New York City mental health officials focus on the wrong things. “Ask any cop what we need, he's going to say, 'we need more hospitals, easier civil commitment so that when I bring somebody they're admitted. We need to keep them on their medications so they don't deteriorate.’ But when I go to a mental health conference, they go, ‘well, we have to educate the public. We have to fight stigma.'"
NYC's government spends $230 million a year on a program for the mentally ill called, "Thrive NYC.” Mayor se Blasio appointed his wife to run it. Instead of addressing serious mental illness, Jaffe says 80% of the funding goes to much less serious problems like stigma, anxiety and loneliness. "Blurring the lines between various mild mental disorders such as anxiety or mild depression and Schizophrenia is not a bug. It's a feature of the program,” says Stephen Eide, a Contributing Editor at City Journal. "The program is supposed to do that because it believes that the only way that New Yorkers will support improvements to mental illness policy is if they are convinced that everybody has a mental illness." Jaffe says Thrive NYC’s $230 million could provide housing and basic treatment to more than half the seriously mentally ill and homeless people in the city. Instead, they dig into dumpsters and languish in jails. Eide adds, "We tend to think of ourselves as a very compassionate society. But a century from now, when people look at the situation with the seriously mentally ill, they're going to look back on us and wonder how compassionate we really were."