No They Can’t by John Stossel

Typically, I prefer to read public policy books that focus on one topic. I made an exception with Fox Business Network host John Stossel’s new book, No They Can’t: Why Government Fails-But Individuals Succeed.

The book serves as a good primer on libertarian policy (Stossel probably being the most recognizable libertarian in the media). Stossel tackles government spending, regulations, health care, the drug war, military adventurism, education, and political correctness. If you’re already familiar with (or like me, embrace) libertarian views to public policy questions, then nothing in the book will be a real surprise.

Stossel’s strongest chapters are the economic chapters. He explains how outsourcing actually creates jobs because companies are using their resources more efficiently. He talks about how government’s good intentions lead to terrible consequences (such as the 2008 economic meltdown). He also cites a great example of socialism’s abject failure, as tried during the Colonial days.

I was most disappointed with his chapter on health care. I didn’t find any disagreement with him, but the book could have used a better explanation of why patients would be better off financially under a truly free market system. He cites the hypothetical example of grocery insurance and food costs. Why not cite the actual impact third-party health insurance has on raising out-of-pocket costs? Why not cite how “community rating” policies drive up the cost of insurance premiums?

Nevertheless, for anyone not familiar with libertarian policies, this book is as good a starting point as you’ll find. It’s not the end-all be-all for libertarianism, but hopefully would spur readers’ interest in exploring more substantive analysis of public policy from a libertarian perspective.

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