JLF Triangle Blog

Stossel: “It’s not government that keeps E. coli to a minimum. It’s competition.”

John Stossel writes here about the food police and their cries over the “fiscal cliff,” which they say will make the food supply dangerous. He refers specifically to a publication called the Food Poisoning Bulletin.

But that’s bunk. It’s not government that keeps E. coli to a minimum. It’s competition. Tyson Foods, Perdue and McDonald’s have brands to maintain — and customers to lose. Ask Jack in the Box. It lost millions after a food-poisoning scandal.

Fear of getting a bad reputation makes food producers even more careful than government requires.


Stossel is a liberal-turned-libertarian who recently spoke with Carolina Journal Radio’s Mitch Kokai.

Kokai: I understand you started out with a different philosophical approach, then had a light-bulb moment and embraced a more libertarian perspective.

Stossel: Slower than a light bulb moment. I was a garden-variety liberal. At Princeton they taught me that we can solve poverty, that we now know what works, and these wise people in Washington can set up programs that will end poverty. In this rich country, there’s no excuse for it. But then I, in my first reporting job in Portland, Ore., I watched these poverty programs fail and build up these poverty pimps — building little empires for them.

Then I became a consumer reporter, and I was mad that people were getting ripped off. And I watched — and I’d say, “We’ve got to have a law, regulation.” And I got regulations. And they came in and licensed TV repairmen because of a story I did. But five years later, I saw that the cheating didn’t change. There’s always some. And now there was this new bureaucracy, and the immigrant was in trouble if he opened a TV repair shop because he didn’t have a license. He didn’t know how to get a license. All this other money had to be spent gaming the system. It kept making things worse.

And so it was very slow for me. I was stupider than most of your listeners. But, eventually, I discovered Reasonmagazine and, wow, I found I had a movement and people who really understood this.

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