Libertarian pundit John Stossel closed Spring Fling weekend to a full house on Sunday afternoon in the Mandela Room.
Stossel, a former correspondent for “20/20” and current host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network, stopped at Binghamton University as a part of his tour promoting his latest book, “No, They Can’t.” Stossel discussed his book as well as a number of other topics.
With more than 300 people in attendance, the Emmy-winning journalist spoke about the economy, government involvement in health care, natural gas extraction and more. The first 100 people in line received free “Stossel Staches” courtesy of the College Republicans, who hosted and co-sponsored the event with the College Democrats and the College Libertarians.
“I should also say I’m weirded out by these mustaches,” Stossel said.
Stossel told the audience that he considers himself to be a “lousy conservative.”
“I’m a libertarian,” Stossel said. “I think homosexuality is fine. I think drugs should be legal. I think prostitution should be legal.”
Before the event, Stossel told Pipe Dream he hoped students would walk away from his presentation knowing that our intuition is faulty.
“Our intuition is that central planning and more government will make our lives better,” Stossel said. “And I wrote ‘No, They Can’t’ because what I’ve learned in 43 years of reporting is they can’t, they don’t. They’re just putting us deeper into debt and making things worse. We should know the subtitle is key. Government fails but individuals succeed if they’ll just leave us alone.”
Stossel also discussed his view that spending is one of the U.S. government’s biggest problems.
“We’re in big trouble because we’re spending ourselves broke and we keep passing the spiderwebs of rules so that we can’t draw our way out,” Stossel told Pipe Dream.
His solution is simple: limit the government.
“The founders had it right: fewer rules, government to keep us safe, some pollution control rules and freedom,” he said.
During the presentation, Stossel said that government should stay out of the way of private enterprise.
“The government is like someone who jumps in front of a parade and pretends they’ve led the parade,” Stossel said. “Things get better without government. People were lifting themselves out of poverty in this country, then government stopped the progress and took credit for it.”
Throughout his presentation, Stossel made use of PowerPoint and video. He had several graphs that explained how different kinds of fear take days off human life.
“If you’re below the poverty line in America, your life is seven to 10 years shorter,” Stossel said.
Stossel also mentioned the recent Greek Life scandal that brought BU onto the pages of The New York Times.
“At this school, there was a fear of hazing,” Stossel said. “In my opinion, it was an overreaction. We worry about the wrong stuff.”
During the question-and-answer portion of the afternoon, Scott Sommer, a member of BTV and a junior majoring in cinema, asked Stossel for advice for their new daily morning and nightly news shows.
“Just go do it, try stuff,” Stossel said. “Learn what you’re good at. The best training for it is to write for your school paper.”
Frederick Sung, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said he was a fan of Stossel prior to event, and enjoyed hearing what he had to say.
“It was typical of what he would have done,” Sung said. “It was everything I expected. I thought a lot of what he said made sense. I’m a fan of his, but I disagree with a lot of what he believes. But, I thought it was a good presentation.”
Tara-Marie Lynch, president of the College Republicans, said she was pleased with the event’s turnout and thought Stossel was well-received by the audience.
“Many students enjoyed that Mr. Stossel tailored his speech to Binghamton University, touching on controversial issues like hazing and fracking,” said Lynch, a senior triple-majoring in economics, political science and international political economy.