On April 22, Providence Academy hosted a guest speaker. John Stossel, journalist of ABC and Fox News fame, spoke to Upper School students and teachers that Tuesday afternoon on a topic he discusses frequently: the free market.
“In a free society, the way to get rich is to give your customers what they want,” said Stossel.
He believes fervently that “most of society works because of spontaneity,” adopting the economist Friedrich Hayek’s idea that a capitalist order is “the result of human action but not human design.”
To this end, Stossel is anti-government regulation; he is usually against bureaucracy that is meant to prevent illegal actions.
“You can’t stop cheating with a licensing bureau,” he said. Stossel, like some other libertarians, is a fan of writer Ayn Rand, known for her philosophy of pure capitalism, among other things.
“[Her] book Atlas Shrugged shows what’s happening now with overregulation,” he said.
During the Q&A, Jacob Sivo ’14 asked Stossel why more libertarians do not hold high office.
“People think it means libertine,” Stossel joked, but added that the two-party system makes third-party victory more difficult. Though the American libertarian faction ‘has grown, it’s still too small,” said Stossel.”When you ask kids your age which is better, socialism or capitalism? Socialism gets about half those kids.”
Stossel said he would love to switch to a more pure system of capitalism, although he acknowledged, “I realize it’s not gonna happen.”
He sees his role as an advocate for libertarian and free market ideals, even though he is pessimistic about their ultimate legal reality.
Stossel agreed with Thomas Jefferson that “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
During his speech, Stossel recalled his old impression of capitalism before he became a conservative: “by and by it’s cruel.” What may seem cruel, Stossel said, is what he thinks is a part of human nature.
“I don’t think everyone can suppress selfishness,” said Stossel. He argued that even people who appear selfless, such as Mother Theresa, “are doing it because it feels good.”
As academia and politics become increasingly intertwined, Stossel offered some advice to conservative students determined to hold on to their beliefs in college.
“And they will be liberal colleges, and people will be sneering at you,” said Stossel. For her beliefs, “my daughter…was drummed out of the [college] prison volunteer program.” Despite what Stossel says is a politically liberal environment, he would advise conservative students at college to do as he has done throughout his career on the right: “Speak up,” said Stossel. “Most of these students have never heard these ideas.”
Providence Academy got Stossel as a speaker at no cost to the school through a connection with the Young America’s Foundation, said Dr. Flanders.