John Stossel

Some of you think you went to the polls yesterday to pick someone to run America.

"Who do you want to have run this country?" Chris Matthews asked repeatedly on MSNBC.

"One of these guys is going to be running the country," said Michael Goodwin of the New York Daily News.

Really? Run the country?

"That has to be a joke -- or a misunderstanding," said George Mason University economist Walter Williams on my recent TV special, "John Stossel's Politically Incorrect Guide to Politics".

Williams pointed out that the White House doesn't govern what happens in your house. And a president certainly cannot control the economy. We, all of us, run the country.

"Politicians have immense power to do harm to the economy. But they have very little power to do good," Williams says.

The failure to understand this is at the root of many of our problems.

"Most of life is outside the government sector," says David Boaz of the Cato Institute. "Most change in America doesn't come from politicians. It comes from people inventing things and creating. The telephone, the telegraph, the computer, all those things didn't come from government. Our world is going to get better and better, as long as we keep the politicians from screwing it up."

It's easy to find examples of government screwing up what it should have left alone.

Take farming. Every year politicians promise to save the family farm, and this year, Congress passed another $300-billion farm bill. More subsidies after generations of subsidies. John McCain opposed the bill, saying that it will "do more harm than good." But Barack Obama and most of Congress supported it.

"Small farms are important," Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Texas, told me.

"I don't think we want anybody in this country to starve," Rep. Randy Kuhl, a Republican from New York, added.

People would starve?

"They go out of business, and then they'd be forced to move elsewhere and find different jobs," Kuhl replied.

That's not starving. That's finding a different job.

"But if they don't have a job, then they're going to starve."


He and others in Congress also claim that subsidies "insure a food supply for this nation."

That's more nonsense.

It's the free market that "insures" the food supply. You may not know that most farmers get no subsidies. Growers of apples, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, cauliflower, grapes, lemons, limes, lettuce, onions, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapples, potatoes, spinach, squash, tangerines, tomatoes and dozens of other crops are on their own. There's no cabbage crisis or pineapple panic.

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate