Stossel show on "Atlas"


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John Stossel has announced on his blog that his Fox Business show will finally run its long-planned hour on Atlas Shrugged next week, starting on Thursday, 7 January.

(Apparently it has been on tape for some time, and reports I'd relied upon suggesting otherwise had been inaccurate.)

The weekly "Stossel" shows are followed by a trifecta of repeats on the Fox Business Channel (again, NOT the Fox News Channel):

~ Thursday at 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT

~ Friday at 10 pm ET / 7 pm PT

~ Saturday at 7 pm ET / 4 pm PT

~ Sunday at 11 pm ET / 8 pm PT

At his blog, he's running an Atlas poll ...

[... Fifty-two] years ago, Ayn Rand wrote a novel that describes much of what's happening in America now: explosive growth of government, an increasing number of rules, and more busybody bureaucrats and politicians, like Rand's villain, Wesley Mouch.

On the show, I ask my guests: Who, today, is most like Wesley Mouch? But for now, I’d like to know what YOU think. Who is today's Wesley Mouch?

[Poll choices: Tim Geithner, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi]

Mouch did not just make rules to control businesses. He also colluded with businessmen, like Associated Steel owner Orren Boyle.

Who is today’s Orren Boyle? Is it Jeffrey Immelt? Immelt, the head of [General Electric], serves on Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board ... and GE has received millions in federal grants and billions in loan supports. Or maybe today's Orren Boyle is the United Auto Workers?

Over two hundred comments have been posted already, and he encourages more.

By the way, I can't help but think that his mention of GE is a tweaking of that company's MSNBC channel, whose hosts rarely distinguish genuinely free markets from corporatist fascism, and end up despising both. Stossel keeps these categories distinct at all times.

This man is obviously indefatigable and utterly at ease at the keyboard, as he's often posting three or four provocative and timely blog items per day, 30 December being an example.

We don't know whether a staffer is helping him to write them, but I seriously doubt it. The frank writing style, and his obvious relief at no longer having ABC "suggest" he rein in criticisms of politicos, are quite consistent from post to post. (Help with research on finding the many links he posts is quite likely.)

Edits: The blog page link changed. Many more comments have been posted. And I voted — there being no "all of the above" — for Barney Frank, who could also double for the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

Edited by Greybird
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One note about Stossel's show, for those viewing Fox Business Channel on Time Warner Cable:

That cable company's fees-per-subscriber dispute with News Corporation will NOT keep Fox Business or Fox News from being carried, as those channels are not among those at issue.

It's unlikely that their dispute will last very long into the New Year, as to preventing local Fox broadcast stations and cable channels such as FX from being carried. It's almost certain that this will be resolved well before most of Fox's year-end bowl-game coverage.

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One note about Stossel's show, for those viewing Fox Business Channel on Time Warner Cable:

That cable company's fees-per-subscriber dispute with News Corporation will NOT keep Fox Business or Fox News from being carried, as those channels are not among those at issue.

It's unlikely that their dispute will last very long into the New Year, as to preventing local Fox broadcast stations and cable channels such as FX from being carried. It's almost certain that this will be resolved well before most of Fox's year-end bowl-game coverage.

Does Fox Business Channel have an online site?

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Mr. Thompson: Barack Obama (Obviously)

Wesley Mouch: Larry Summers (Hank Paulson under Bush)

Orrin Boyle: Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman of Goldman Sachs (You may be noticing a trend here)

Dr. Floyd Ferris: John Holdren

Fred Kinnan: Andy Stern

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Does anyone know if the Stossel show is available on the WWW?

Bill P

YouTube has them. Search for “Stossel” and specify in search options to list by upload date, and they get loaded with about a 15 minute delay from the original broadcast.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=videos&search_query=stossel&search_sort=video_date_uploaded&suggested_categories=25%2C27&uni=3

Someone’s been posting older “Stossel in the Classroom” pieces lately, so the new shows aren’t showing first, but you’ll find them.

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It should be starting, here's an appetizer

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It seems they combined two shows into one, half is Atlas Shrugged and half is “The Nanny State”. Looked like the studio audience was different for the two halves. Remember the notorious Happy Days Jump the Shark episode, here they jumped the guppie: the fish pedicure bit was painfully dumb.

John Allison sounded too nervous, Yaron Brooke still sounds like Elmer Fudd, and isn’t Mouch supposed to have the vowel sound of mouse? I did like the cartoon renderings of the characters. Terrible audience questions. Overall impression: a let down.

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Edited by Ninth Doctor
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I think you may be right - that they stitched together two shows - one on Atlas Shrugged and the other on the "Nanny State." Also, there is no interaction between the first set of guests and the second.

I agree that the "fish pedicure" example was not appropriate and distracted from the free market versus regulation issues that it was supposed to illustrate. In principle, they were right, but they could have shown a less bizarre example.

The first part with John Allison and Yaron Brook was better. Brook gave some pretty good responses to some of the hostile (and ignorant) audience questions. Parenthetically, for some reason, the camera twice briefly focused upon one member of the audience, libertarian economist, Mark Skousen. No doubt he would have had some useful things to say, but he was never approached!

Stossel gave a fairly interesting summary at the end of the show on why he thought Atlas Shrugged was both popular and also causing such a hostile reaction from the left. But he just touched the surface of these issues. I think that there are much deeper philosophical reasons why Atlas Shrugged has caused such a extreme hatred from the left. I think they are angry because finally someone questioned the base upon which collectivism stands: altruism. Refute that ethical foundation and the whole structure of collectivism collapses. That is why they hate her with such passion. She has their number - and they know it.

Unfortunately, Stossel never got around to these issues, focusing instead upon similarities between events in the novel and current events. All true, but secondary to its main messages.

So I say that the show was good, but could have been much better. At least it treated Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged with respect and perhaps may cause some viewers who have not read A.S. to go out and do it!

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So I say that the show was good, but could have been much better. At least it treated Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged with respect and perhaps may cause some viewers who have not read A.S. to go out and do it!

The show was middle-brow and superficial.

I wish he would get rid of the audience and turn into Charlie Rose with a Wooden Table and just have good guests.

I think I have had it with his less than brilliant presentations.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I think that there are much deeper philosophical reasons why Atlas Shrugged has caused such a extreme hatred from the left. I think they are angry because finally someone questioned the base upon which collectivism stands: altruism. Refute that ethical foundation and the whole structure of collectivism collapses. That is why they hate her with such passion. She has their number - and they know it.

Yes.

The left at a higher level of philosophic education will be quickly past that and on to the topic of distributive justice. Enter Nozick, the counter. But at the level of the intelligent, but less philosophically versed, the left, especially the American Christian left comes on with "I believe that we are our brother's keeper." I counter with "Government is force, and there are moral rules about the deliberate use of force." (Rand might prefer the response she quotes from Barbara Branden: "In a free society, you will be free to help . . . .") The left at this level will continue in opposition to Rand: "I reject egoism, I reject the virtue of selfishness." I counter that "Whether an action is selfish depends on what type of self you should want to cultivate. Let's see now, . . . "

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I think that there are much deeper philosophical reasons why Atlas Shrugged has caused such a extreme hatred from the left. I think they are angry because finally someone questioned the base upon which collectivism stands: altruism. Refute that ethical foundation and the whole structure of collectivism collapses. That is why they hate her with such passion. She has their number - and they know it.

Yes.

The left at a higher level of philosophic education will be quickly past that and on to the topic of distributive justice. Enter Nozick, the counter. But at the level of the intelligent, but less philosophically versed, the left, especially the American Christian left comes on with "I believe that we are our brother's keeper." I counter with "Government is force, and there are moral rules about the deliberate use of force." (Rand might prefer the response she quotes from Barbara Branden: "In a free society, you will be free to help . . . .") The left at this level will continue in opposition to Rand: "I reject egoism, I reject the virtue of selfishness." I counter that "Whether an action is selfish depends on what type of self you should want to cultivate. Let's see now, . . . "

O.K.,

I would maintain that the issue of distributive justice is based on an extreme application of egalitarianism, which also relies on an altruist foundation (or, at least, it is implied). Obama, for example, often cited "We are our brother's keeper" (emphasis, his) in his speeches. Whether religious or not, the Left has universally embraced altruist ethical formulations without question. The only exception to this, which immediately comes to mind, is an essay by Oscar Wilde ("The Soul of Man under Socialism") in which he rather mischievously stands the usual socialist case on its head, and states that a socialist society will allow all of us the opportunity to pursue our selfish desires.

I have not heard or read anything by a leftist who would openly admit to anything resembling Ellsworth Toohey's "confession" to Peter Keating in The Fountainhead on this issue. It would be rather interesting to read what a leftist intellectual would say about that formulation (the arguments presented, not the literary use of a "confession," or maybe it was a "declaration"). Similarly, I have not seen a leftist critique of Rand's arguments that directly attempts to counter her argument. Usually, they just dismiss her as a vulgar Nietzschean not worthy of consideration. Now, of course, they tend to stick to ad hominem attacks on her character, hoping that will dissuade prospective readers to avoid her books altogether. In this instance, they have overplayed their hand, and have likely caused more people to read her, rather than less.

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Jerry,

I think commitment to altruism works into economic egalitarianism and socialism with great regularity. By the time I was a Senior in high school, I had become a Christian Socialist. I never wavered in my commitment to peaceful democratic process and individual civil liberties, but I had come around to opposing private property due to its allowing people to be selfish. When I became an atheist near the end of Freshman year at college (before reading Rand), I continued with altruism and socialism.

I’m not sure whether people who come to socialism through Marx are basically moved by altruism. I mean positive commitment to altruism—to the moral virtue of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others—not just opposition to greed and selfish individualism, and not just pity or sympathy. I was familiar with some Marx as a young person, as the anti-communist organization with which my father was affiliated tried to educate American youth about the basics of Marxism and its errors. However, Marx did not appeal to me from what I had seen of it, and my road to socialism was purely from Christian altruism.

Jack London’s route to becoming a socialist seems to have been quite different. His route was through Marx, and I’m unsure how much altruism is a factor is such a trajectory.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Note on Atlas

There is something I noticed a long time ago about Atlas Shrugged, which I don’t think anyone has ever mentioned. When Rand wrote that epic, America had been through the Great Depression and the Roosevelt economic policies. Rand’s novel contains projections of future technology, as imagined from where we were in the 1950’s. It contains projections of how uniformly socialistic she thought it likely all the other countries of the world would be in that future. It contains, for the USA, a projection of how she expected the federal government to respond to economic disintegration and regression in that future. In the Atlas story, the decline in the US capital goods industries is due focally to their generative leaders removing themselves from those employments. But Rand knew the Austrian theory of the business cycle. Quite apart from the fictional organized strike among certain business creators, by Austrian lights, economic decline of a mixed economy, the actual US economy, was to be expected over the decades ahead from the 1950’s (unless the governmental factor in the mix were contracted to that of the night-watchman state of classical liberalism).

It would be interesting to examine how much of the government initiatives in the Atlas future were reflections of what the US government had initiated during the Roosevelt years in a really big economic crisis. Compare also what was done in the crisis of 2008-2009 with what was done in the Hoover and Roosevelt years. I have one note on that here. (See also.)

I have no formal education in economics. I read Murray Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression, and I studied thoroughly his Man, Economy, and State. The US government relies on professional economists, such as Christina Romer and Alan Greenspan (both of them Chief Economic Advisors to Presidents—Obama and Ford) who know a great deal more than I about the way macroeconomics works. But as Locke said, we continually need to act under our ignorance and uncertainty. I’m justifiably uncertain of the correctness of my views on political economy—certainty of those with even less economics education than mine is just blustering or bad epistemology—yet laissez faire is what I would bet best.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun
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John Allison made an important point about Rand's belief in rationality and the human mind as the source of all human progress, but not enough time was spend on it. I also believe it would have beneficial for there to have been some sort of explanation for the foundation of her philosophy: her metaphysics. Just a simple explanation of something like "A is A" or "Existence exists" would have sufficed. Obviously there were time constraints that would have prevented a complete explanation, but a short discussion on it would have been more fulfilling than silly sensationalism like a fish pedicure.

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John,

Did you see the level of misrepresentation of Rand's ideas coming from the young men in the audience in their questions and objections?

Do you think a "complete explanation" will get through to them? I don't. Just look. The same misrepresentations keep on repeating.

I think the fish pedicure was a brilliant form to planting the seeds of doubt in a closed mind.

Michael

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John,

Did you see the level of misrepresentation of Rand's ideas coming from the young men in the audience in their questions and objections?

Do you think a "complete explanation" will get through to them? I don't. Just look. The same misrepresentations keep on repeating.

I think the fish pedicure was a brilliant form to planting the seeds of doubt in a closed mind.

Michael

Sadly,the high schools and colleges are mass producing leftists are at a much greater rate than the amount of converts to objectivism via the reading of Rand's works. These young people are the voters and policy makers of the future. The marketing of objectivism needs to be an all out blitz to them.

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I agree about most of the audience questioners and commenter's. The second one with his what about public education should have had a reply.

The woman who noted the taxes and regulation on small business's was the best commenter's.

Other people think Yuron sounds like Elmer Fudd. I find his accent slightly off-putting but not too much.

I am delighted he did not call on Mark Skousen. Skousen's last comments at the Free Minds left a very bad taste in most of the attendees. Skousen would have suggested that everyone join the LDS church.

I was delighted Stossel corrected the one person who mispronounced Rand's first name.

The person who raised about the pronoun cation of Mouch's last name is correct.

Edited by Chris Grieb
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I wouldn't expect much in the way of enlightenment about objectivism from a show like this. These shows rely on ratings for their existence and guess what gets good ratings? Controversy. The producers don't want to educate people - that's boring, they want arguing, yelling, emotional responses, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if the people in the audience were planted in order to create opposing views whether they made sense or not.

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My viewpoint on the Stossel show on Atlas Shrugged:

I think it represents a reasonable treatment at a popular level. Might I or someone else prefer to hear a detailed lecture on epistemology? Probably, for many of us. However, the show did illustrate the fact that there is a coherent, moral basis for capitalism and individual rights. Did that basis get laid out thoroughly and completely - of course not. But perhaps some people were intrigued to learn more. That may be what one can expect from a TV program of this length.

Bill P

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