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Enjoying Stossel's book, insights

December 8, 2009 - Lee Smith
John Stossel of ABC News fame (20/20) wrote a book a few years ago called "Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity." I hadn't bought a copy until recently. I like Stossel's approach because he used to be one of the "stupid" people — as a consumer reporter — that he now targets for criticism.

Stossel attacks a wide swath of myths, such as that women earn 78.5 cents on the dollar for every dollar a man earns. He actually takes a look at census data and other research that shows some reasons for the discrepancy, such as the fact that men tend to take more dangerous jobs than women, that women often seek more flexibility in their work hours compared to men, who work longer hours, etc. Stossel also attacks the premise, noting that if businesses can pay women that much less than men, then no men would be working because companies would only hire women.

One of Stossel's insights that I thought was especially important relates to job losses in the United States. Stossel points out that in the 19th century, most people in America worked on farms. Today that figure is less than 2 percent. Yet we don't hear a great hue and cry from politicians or the media to restore these "lost" farm jobs. But when it comes to manufacturing, there is hysteria about "outsourcing" jobs overseas. Stossel makes a strong point: Do parents in the U.S. want their children to grow up to work on an assembly line? Of course not. They want them to be doctors, engineers, computer programmers, etc. Low-cost consumer goods produced overseas lift standards of living in those countries while Americans improve their lives through education. American consumers benefit, allowing them to redirect their discretionary household spending as they see fit.

In any case, I'm recommending the book. Read it and discover the myths you still honor.


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