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ABC News 20/20 John Stossel's Politically Incorrect Guide to Politics


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Editorial Reviews

There's tremendous excitement about this year's election. People say that their candidate will fix America. Senator Barack Obama has inspired idol worship that's usually lavished on rock stars. At the Republican convention, one man told John Stossel that Senator John McCain was like ''Superman.'' Stossel says, ''Give me a break,'' politicians' ''fixes'' often have unintended consequences that are worse than the original problem. Do we really need a president to plan our lives, to direct us? Or does most of life work best when you are in charge?

Reports include:
-Spontaneous Order: Most of life is governed by spontaneous order. It regulates how we choose our jobs, hobbies, lovers, recreation and most of the rest of our lives. It runs most of the economy. When Stossel tries to ''govern'' a skating rink filled with expert and beginner skaters (he shouts orders with a bullhorn), skaters hate it. Some fall. A politician observing the problem might say: ''We need to elect a more expert leader.'' Stossel tries that by giving the bullhorn to Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano. But he does no better.

-New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina: After a disaster, people desperately want government help. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is a fulltime specialist in disaster relief. Why do they so often disappoint? Stossel compares Wal-Mart's and FEMA's response to hurricane Katrina. He investigates why Wal-Mart delivered water to people while FEMA bureaucrats dithered.

-Campaign Finance Reform: Campaign finance law, like all our government's laws, is subject to a still more powerful law: the law of unintended consequences. Stossel reports that campaign finance reform has actually made it harder for the little guy to have his voice heard. For all its complications, what has ''reform'' accomplished?

-Farm Subsidies: ABC News talks to Maurice Wilder, who's been America's single largest recipient of farm subsidies. Our farm policy was supposed to save small farmers and small towns. Instead, Stossel says it fuels the expansion of industrial mega-farms and the depopulation of rural America.

-Who will run America?: Listening to the media and the political class, one would think the election is about who will ''run America.'' But Stossel says politicians don't run the country. What happens in the White House matters less than what happens in your house.

Anchor: John Stossel
Airdate: 10/17/2008

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