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No, They Can't: Why Government Fails-But Individuals Succeed Hardcover – April 10, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 314 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Excellent...No They Can't  shed[s] light on how nonsensical government…is way beyond what our constitution allows.” --Sarah Palin


“As an introduction to a way of looking at the world, No, They Can't is superb.  In about 300 highly readable pages, Mr. Stossel whips through countless topics, explaining for each why libertarians think the government does more harm than good.” --The Washington Times

"I love No They Can't.  This book sends a message that people need to read.”--Senator Mike Lee

"One of the nation's most recognized advocates of free-markets and individualism, Stossel argues that we have to become reality-based skeptics and embrace facts rather than feel-good rhetoric and politically popular policies that simply don't work.”--David Harsanyi, Human Events


“Is there anything for a reader already on the capitalist side to learn from yet another one of these books? Yes there is.” --Future of Capitalism

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author John Stossel hosts his own one-hour weekly Fox Business Network show, Stossel, and a series of one-hour specials on Fox News. He also appears regularly Tuesdays on The O’Reilly Factor and on other Fox News shows.During three decades in journalism, Stossel has received numerous honors and awards. He is a nineteen-time Emmy winner, and a five-time honoree for excellence in consumer reporting by the National Press Club. His two previous books spent twenty weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Threshold Editions; 3.10.2012 edition (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451640943
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451640946
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (314 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #391,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Stossel has a gift for presenting issues in a clear, forthright manner that is top rate. He uses logic, and thinks things through, and he explains his opinion in ways that appeal to the head as well as the heart. I can't say that I agree with him on every issue, but it's vitally refreshing to read a book of political stances that uses intelligent thinking. The only negative criticism that I can make is that in several chapters he reiterates examples from his previous book that I read (and loved), 'Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity' rather than offering new ones. I would give this new book a 4.5 on that basis, but since that's not possible, I'm rounding it up to a 5. On its own, it definitely rates such.
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Format: Hardcover
Mr. Stossel's book turns out to be quite well done; I learned from it even though I've read lots of other pro-capitalist and pro-free market books. Two of the best pieces of content are charts. One shows the decline in workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers between 1933 and 2005. The chart shows that "before regulation, deaths dropped just as fast." Or, as Mr. Stossel puts it, the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration "made no difference" in workplace fatalities.

The second chart, from the Cato Institute, shows the "inflation-adjusted cost of a complete K-12 education, and percent change in achievement of 17-year-olds, since 1970." Costs have gone way up, while reading and math scores, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, have been essentially flat.

Another eye-opener in the book's chapter on education is about how what Mr. Stossel calls government schools "are now more racially segregated than private schools." He writes, "University of Arkansas education professor Jay Greene examined a national sample of school classrooms and found that public schools were significantly more likely to be almost entirely white or entirely minority. In another study, he looked at who sat with whom in school lunchrooms. At private schools, students of different races were more likely to sit together."

I also appreciated the dose of skepticism from Mr. Stossel about his colleagues in the television news industry: "Emmys are silly awards that the liberal media give to people who confirm their anticapitalist attitudes. I won nineteen Emmys before I moved to Fox. I don't win them anymore."

Mr.
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Format: Audio CD
Anyone who is acquainted with John Stossel's past work will find "No They Can't" familiar. Government intervention does not appear to make workplaces, homes, streets, or the world safer. Government intervention has not made schools, food, health care, or the whole economy work better. Government intervention has not made businesses more honest or life "fair". Government policies often backfire and have unintended consequences. Public officials do not know how to "plan a society", no one can- the world is too complex. Government programs come to us at exceedingly high costs. The costs of government programs are heading towards unbearable "insane" levels. Privatization and competition work in subtle ways that benefit everyone (unequally). Those who persist in advocating a large and active government do so through demagoguery, fear mongering, misinformation...

The facts in this book are generally accurate. Of course, not every argument in this book is strictly factual; there are some value-laden elements. And generally speaking Stossel values individual liberty. Stossel is highly consistent in his defense of individualism/Libertarianism, and this puts him at odds with Conservatives and in sympathy with Welfare State Liberals (on wars-national defense). As such, most potential readers will find something to disagree with here, but this should makes this book a more interesting read. So this book should benefit most anyone interested in economics or public policy. The cost (in terms of money and reading time) is also reasonable.
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Format: Hardcover
What you should know about this book. It IS different from your typical pro-capitalism book; it is not a conservative rant; it is primarily about economics.

Most of all, Stossel has considerable charm as a writer and knows how to get his point across. The subject of this book is economics from an Austrian point of view, applied to today's economic scene. Stossel knows that free market economics is a hard sell, because its effects are somewhat indirect and not always visible. Every time he introduces a subject, he acknowledges that the tendency to rely on government appeals to common sense, while the viewpoint he is promoting seems like a vote against progress and the redress of social injustices.

Herein lies his skill as a communicator. He is perhaps the most effective spokesperson for the free market view, and this book - to those who actually read it - is very convincing. Unlike angry, hyperbolic conservatives, he always includes the arguments of those whose views are more widely believed - and taught in schools - the progressive, pro-government position. And then he explains the complexities of economics.

Expressed in the briefest possible form; these are the complexities inherent in classical (or Austrian) economics: the fact that every attempt to stack the economic deck in favor of some group or some disadvantaged minority has unseen side effects that hurt us all. That last sentence sounds abstract and theoretical, but that's only because I lack Stossel's ability to use specific examples and explain this law of unintended consequences in a clear, step-by-step manner. Telling personal anecdotes, he comes across as a humble but principled guy - almost like the hero of a Frank Capra movie.
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