John Stossel, co-anchor of ABC’s “20/20” gave a presentation last Thursday about the positive effects of free-market capitalism. He discussed potential solutions to corporate scandal, the lag in FDA approvals of drugs, drug-related violence and a few others.
The purpose of Stossel’s lecture was to argue that free-market capitalism can solve a variety of the world’s problems and those without answers would be solved by humans over time via human ingenuity. Human ingenuity is the belief that humans are equipped with the knowledge and resources to solve any problem that may arise.
The idea of pure capitalism – laissez-faire – as being the ultimate problem-solver is his opinion and can be refuted. The resonating quality of his lecture does not lie in his stance on particular issues, but rather his acknowledgement of the media’s tendencies to focus on “panic issues.”
Stossel discussed the current and past panic issues and how they govern the media’s attention. His talk showed how the media would rather run a panic story on how BIC lighters kill four Americans every four years as opposed to focusing on the millions that die every year from smoking.
John Stossel has been in the reporting field for more than 25 years and has seen the panic issues come and go first hand. These panic issues are raised and perpetuated by the media and tend to scare Americans into believing that these issues pose a major threat to the American way of life. These issues, when broadcasted, generally do not yet have solution. They cause average Americans to panic and concern themselves with things out of their control.
I remember the overwhelming amount of media attention that the “killer bee scare” received and how it led my parents to drastically reduce my Nickelodeon time and increase my CNN time so I could learn which bees to avoid when I played outside. The killer bee scare proved to be grossly exaggerated in that few, if any, deaths were reported. The scientific proof is still pending, but I am almost positive that my lack of time watching “GUTS” and “Legends of the Hidden Temple” have attributed to my shorter-than-average stature and lack of hand-eye coordination.
Recent issues that I can recall are the search for weapons of mass destruction, the Y2K problem and even historical issues like the Red Scare. These panic issues have gone through American lives like drunken one-night stands; there is a carnal and instinctive interest that night, which is disproved with sober reasoning the next morning as you try to leave the room before your partner awakes.
Stossel’s lecture was effective because it aimed to bring attention to historical media fallacies as he urged people not to panic about the current potential myths but rather to take into account multiple perspectives and not draw drastic doomsday conclusions. Stossel pointed out that the current panic attributed to the global warming threat is unwarranted; it is true that global warming exists, but the potential positive and/or negative effects have yet to be predicted.
Stossel suggests in his book, Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity, that if the world is warming we must simply adjust to it. He points out that farmers in Siberia farmed for hundreds of years until the area became barren and, as a result, the farmers moved south. It is human nature to adjust to any problem, as human ingenuity has demonstrated throughout history, so chill out.
Americans should let the scientists and experts decipher the effects of warming before the average American starts buying hybrid vehicles and engaging in other forms of “consumer masturbation,” in which consumers generate an inflated sense of self-worth by disregarding normal market demand and purchasing goods based on their egotistical humanitarian effort to make a difference.