John Stossel
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Fourteen states have banned fish pedicures, claiming they are unsafe, and other local governments have proposed bans. OK, compared to the assault on entrepreneurship described in "Atlas Shrugged," this is sort of a dumb example, but look -- I work in television -- dumb examples can make good points.

The bureaucrats say the fish can't be sterilized without killing them. They say customers will get infections. People could die! It's not safe! And it's cruel to the fish!

Has anyone died? Can you refer me to someone who got an infection? Anyone? The bureaucrats' answer is always no. But it's better to be cautious, they say.

In fact, the free market sorts such things out far more efficiently than bureaucrats. It's just not good business to hurt your customers. My 30 years of consumer reporting taught me that businesses rarely do this, and -- here's the market's self-regulation -- those that do don't stay in business long. That's not a perfect system, but it's much better than central planning. Had today's bureaucrats been in charge decades ago, they would have banned things like aspirin, cars and airplanes.

Sadly, they are in charge now. That makes the "Atlas" message important today.

Although Rand idolizes businessman in the abstract, "Atlas Shrugged" makes clear that she (like Adam Smith) understood that they are not natural friends of free markets. They are often first in line for privileges bestowed by the state. That's called "crony capitalism," and that's what Orren Boyle practices in "Atlas." After my "Atlas Shrugged" show, I plan a show on that subject. Suggestions invited.

I don't want to be controlled by business any more than I want to be regulated by Nancy Pelosi or Wesley Mouch.

I want the freedom to make my own choices.

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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 >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate