’20/20′ co-anchor John Stossel points out government flaws

Katie Greenwald

Prostitution, illegal drugs and flag burning should be legal because the government should butt out of people’s personal lives, said John Stossel.

Stossel, the author of the book Give Me a Break and co-anchor on “20/20,” spoke at the Student Center Ballroom last night.

He began his career as a consumer reporter but realized he was leading consumers in the wrong direction.

People urged him to write stories on products that kill one or two people a year, such as Bic lighters. But Stossel decided to educate consumers of the items that kill by larger numbers and stop scaring Americans out of buying products with small risks.

He called that practice murder by statistics.

One example Stossel gave was the fact that airplane crashes take one day off the average life while automobile crashes take 180 days off the average life.

He said because the media covers airplane crashes more than automobile crashes, the public becomes afraid to fly.

“More people drive to grandma’s house and that kills people,” Stossel said.

Stossel also spoke on his desire to rid America of the strict policies implemented by the Food and Drug Administration, which take up to 15 years to approve medicine.

He said FDA regulations should be voluntary, not mandatory.

“By protecting us from bad things, the government will protect us from the good things too,” Stossel said.

He said every time it takes 15 years to approve medicine that saves 10,000 people per year, 150,000 people were killed during the 15 years the medicine wasn’t approved.

But Stossel said that’s not in the news because there isn’t a sad picture to go along with it.

He also said warnings on medicine labels don’t protect consumers from harm.

While holding up an insert from a birth control package, he said, “It’s so long even the doctor doesn’t read it. You wouldn’t want the pill anymore if you read it.”

This is just one example Stossel gave about why he believes the government should stay out of Americans’ lives more.

He added that he’s not an anarchist, and he believes in some government.

He said the first 150 years, the government used 5 percent of national income and prospered. Now it takes 40 percent, and he said there are big problems.

Contact financial reporter Katie Greenwald at [email protected].