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No, They Can't: Why Government Fails-But Individuals Succeed [Kindle Edition]

John Stossel
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"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

Product Description

The government is not a neutral arbiter of truth. It never has been. It never will be. Doubt everything. John Stossel does. A self-described skeptic, he has dismantled society’s sacred cows with unerring common sense. Now he debunks the most sacred of them all: our intuition and belief that government can solve our problems. In No, They Can’t, the New York Times bestselling author and Fox News commentator insists that we discard that idea of the “perfect” government—left or right—and retrain our brain to look only at the facts, to rethink our lives as independent individuals—and fast.

With characteristic tenacity, John Stossel outlines and exposes the fallacies and facts of the most pressing issues of today’s social and political climate—and shows how our intuitions about them are, frankly, wrong:

• the unreliable marriage between big business, the media, and unions

• the myth of tax breaks and the ignorance of their advocates

• why “central planners” never create more jobs and how government never really will

• why free trade works—without government Interference

• federal regulations and the trouble they create for consumers

• the harm caused to the disabled by government protection of the disabled

• the problems (social and economic) generated by minimum-wage laws

• the destructive daydreams of “health insurance for everyone”

• bad food vs. good food and the government’s intrusive, unwelcome nanny sensibilities

• the dumbing down of public education and teachers’ unions

• how gun control actually increases crime

. . . and more myth-busting realities of why the American people must wrest our lives back from a government stranglehold.

Stossel also reveals how his unyielding desire to educate the public with the truth caused an irreparable rift with ABC (nobody wanted to hear the point-by- point facts of ObamaCare), and why he left his long-running stint for a new, uncensored forum with Fox. He lays out his ideas for education innovation as well and, finally, makes it perfectly clear why government action is the least effective and desirable fantasy to hang on to. As Stossel says, “It’s not about electing the right people. It’s about narrowing responsibilities.” No, They Can’t is an irrefutable first step toward that goal.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 982 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Threshold Editions; Reprint edition (April 10 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon & Schuster Canada, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005GG0N2I
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #377,140 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stossel on politics May 28 2012
By Kroket
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"No They Can't" is John Stossel's reply to Barack Obama's "Yes We Can" slogan when he ran for president in 2008. Stossel has had a distinguished career as a one-man consumer advocate on ABC's 20/20 and now on Fox News, exposing all kinds of frauds and misconceptions. This book has more to do with politics and springs forth from his libertarian political philosophy. Though Stossel started originally on the left political spectrum, admiring Ralph Nader initially, he gradually moved to the right yet kept his consumer advocacy leanings. In this book he examines misconceptions people have about the limits of what government can do and he leans toward the conclusion that most problems can better be solved by free market forces rather than the government.

This book is particularly timely, while government policies are becoming increasingly erratic and irresponsible. Anyone who has followed the financial developments of the last couple of years, with the subprime mortgages, the housing bubble, the bailouts, the rising debts of not just the US government but also the Eurozone, must be wondering how long this can last. Are we heading for a financial disaster, and if so, is there still time to avert it? In a recent interview about his book with Peter Robinson on "Uncommon Knowledge," Stossel expressed the hope that "No They Can't" would be adopted by the Tea Partiers. If so, the book may well have an impact on this year's US election.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading Aug. 30 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book should be required reading in high school. It shows how America achieved greatness, how it is losing it, and how to repair the damage. Lots of clear examples and a masterful display of rational thinking written in a very readable form by a very knowledgeable man. This book is not an attack on a political party, although there is lots of blame to go around , it is an attack on a system that has run amok, growing government to a size that is unsustainable. You will find yourself referring this book to your friends and family.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stossel to the rescue Sept. 7 2013
By Mickey
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Once again Stossel slays the dragon of political correctness, exposing the fallacies, myths and idiocies that pass for receive wisdoms among the ranks of 'progressive' Americans
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book June 2 2014
By dennyp
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
My wife and I played it on a trip from Canada to California. Very interesting and well well worth it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  293 reviews
100 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kudos! April 13 2012
By Christine Krukowski - Published on
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.
139 of 160 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Except for the Defense Chapter April 10 2012
By Ira E. Stoll - Published on
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. Stossel is a libertarian, not a conservative, so there's a chapter on why drugs should be legal and a chapter on why America's defense budget should be downsized. The drug legalization chapter is, at least, mostly well argued.

The chapter on defense is a disappointment, especially in contrast to the high quality of the rest of the book. "The 9/11 attacks were largely a failure of government," Mr. Stossel writes. "Part of the failure was America's interventionist foreign policy, which needlessly made enemies." He clarifies: "I do not argue here that our military actions abroad are the reason we were attacked on 9/11. We were attacked by religious fanatics. But our military presence in so many countries wins the fanatics support."

America's foreign policy may make some enemies, but it also makes some friends, a fact that Mr. Stossel fails to acknowledge, so far as I can tell. And "religious fanatics" is a weirdly imprecise phrase to use to describe the terrorists, who weren't, after all, fanatically religious Christians or Jews, but rather adherents of militant Islamism. These radical Islamists also have attacked in Bali, Indonesia, and in Madrid, Spain. Neither Indonesia or Spain have America's level of overseas bases. And the militant Islamists attacked a Jewish community center in Argentina and a Jewish school in France. How is America's interventionist foreign policy to blame for that?

Mr. Stossel declares "no one in authority has proposed 'massive defense cuts.' What Romney calls 'massive cuts' are reductions in planned spending increases." That's inaccurate. President Obama's defense secretary, Leon Panetta, a veteran of the Clinton administration, describes the cuts as "devastating" and writes that the result would be "the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in its history." President Obama's own budget, available for download from the White House Web site, projects not spending increases for defense but cuts -- to $572 billion in 2015 from $716 billion in 2012. That is a $144 billion cut, or about 20%, in numbers that do not take into account the erosion of inflation.

At one point in the book, Mr. Stossel writes, "I don't presume to know the 'right' amount to spend on defense." Later in the book, he sheds his lack of presumption and writes, "I propose cutting defense spending to $243 billion."

Another part of Mr. Stossel's argument for defense cuts is that "our current spending, adjusted for inflation, is greater than it was during the Cold War." While this is true in some technical sense, the American economy and the rest of the government have grown even more rapidly than the defense budget has, so using this argument to target single out defense spending for reduction is problematic. A visit back to the historical tables of President Obama's own budget, available for download from the White House Web site, confirms that in 1960, national defense spending was 52.2% of federal outlays and 9.4% of GDP; in 2012 it is 18.9% of federal outlays and 4.6% of GDP. By those two measures, we're spending less than half as much on defense now as we were during the Cold War.

Mr. Stossel belittles the threat of Iran with nuclear weapons on the grounds that Iran is "an ocean and a continent away." But that's little reassurance when Iran could put missiles in Venezuela or a place a bomb in a suitcase or a plane bound for an American city.

I've dwelled on the failings of the single chapter devoted to defense policy, but don't let that deter you from buying or reading the book. It's an accessible and clearly written defense of free markets and economic freedom that comes at a time when we sure can use it. In fact, one reason I'm glad our defense budget is as large as it is is that it keeps America and lots of other places around the world free so that people like Mr. Stossel can continue to criticize the government and defend individual liberty. There aren't many out there who do it better.
67 of 79 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes, that's right April 10 2012
By D. W. MacKenzie - Published on
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.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stossel is a great communicator May 6 2012
By Tyro - Published on
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.

It's easy to beat on guys like Stossel, because they come across as uncaring, biased, or backward. We've all been taught about "greedy businessmen," and raised on stories of the achievements of legislators. Trouble is, most of these stories are distortions, and the chaos caused by mountains of regulations, growing authoritarianism, and a culture that guarantees safety at the expense of dynamism and creativity - well, that other story is almost never told. Who talks about the failure of communism? And yet it's a HUGE subject, clearly the greatest disaster of the 20th century.

To me, Stossel is a hero, not only because he represents what I consider the more rational, factually-grounded view of policy (fiscal conservatism), but because he honestly wants to get his message across to those who DON'T understand it. While his views are always seen as "establishment" views, they are extremely unpopular with the moneyed and educated class in the US, the UK, and continental Europe.

I hope the quality of this book guarantees it a long shelf life.
22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's the Constitution Stupid! April 23 2012
By SIB Modeler - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Readers will find this book informative, but easy to digest. John Stossel touches on an entire gambit of popular topics including education, unions, food police, health care, drugs and a variety of everyday issues that have been made much worse by government intrusion over the past few decades. Libertarians and conservatives will definitely agree with the arguments made in each chapter. Progressives will definitely not agree, but may at least give pause to some of the facts and real life examples he presents. More importantly it may be helpful to independents, moderates, those with mixed points of view and also readers who may be undecided. The book will help them look at these problems in a new light and realize that government isn't always the answer.

I liked the book and the ideas presented, but John falls just short of how this mess will eventually be cleaned up. He points out that "free markets" are a powerful force, but eventually the "world market" will act on the USA whether we like it or not. We can't keep creating new laws and spending more dollars because sooner or later no country in the world will loan us more money. We can't change this by writing 100,000 new laws to undo the 100,000 previous laws. We can't solve the problem by just voting for one particular party. The USA is on a collision course with bankruptcy and we are not going to solve this problem with 2800 pages of health care regulations or taxing the rich. John mentions the Constitution, but he doesn't make the connection with using it to solve the problem. The Constitution is all about limiting the role of government. A few short sentences can carry immense power and obliterate 100,000 regulations.

What the USA needs is a Bill of Rights for the 21st century! We need to restrain government by writing down these limitations on 10 sheets of paper to obliterate the 100,000 regulations. John Stossels' book could have summed up all the "No, They Can't" complaints into Constitutional amendments that prevent the country from going down the wrong path. Congress should be working on these rules not enormous 2800 page laws. Here are some "solutions" based on the "problems" that John Stossel raises in his book:

1. A balanced budget amendment.
2. Term limits (5 terms for congressmen and 2 terms for senators).
3. A right to work amendment, so that no one is forced to join a union.
4. An employer's rights amendment to prohibit unions from demanding binding arbitration, destroying employer's property and dictating where businesses can be located.
5. An amendment to limit the role of the EPA such that they must balance the protection of the environment with the rights of the employer to conduct business
6. A right for the individual to consume any food or drug as long as they do not create an immediate hazard to public safety.
7. Revise the 16th amendment to require a simple uniform flat tax rate on all incomes with no deductions and no preferences so that everyone pays their fair share!
8. Prohibition against all hiring quotas as well as discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or disability.
9. A requirement to show proof of identity at all elections so that only citizens can vote.
10. Finally, a SIMPLE ONE PAGE health care amendment that provides all citizens, rich or poor, with "life threatening catastrophic" insurance coverage via a flat rate tax, so everyone chips in ..... with clearly defined controls on government to provide the coverage within spending caps using competitive bidding to private insurance companies .... and without the ability to deficit spend or run the program into bankruptcy. Anything beyond an emergency or life threatening condition like routine checkups, or maintenance prescriptions or elective surgery is left to the free market and or private insurance. No one will die on the street and everyone will take care of their own body in their own way.

Update August 2013 - I wrote this review back in early 2012. Mark Levin has come out with a new book called the Liberty Amendments. Thank God someone is helping to work on solutions.
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