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Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media...

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Working as a correspondent for 20/20 and Good Morning America, John Stossel confronted dozens of scam artists: from hacks who worked out of their basements to some of America's most powerful executives and leading politicians. His efforts shut down countless crooks -- both famous and obscure. Then he realized what the real problem was. In Give Me a Break, Stossel takes on t Working as a correspondent for 20/20 and Good Morning America, John Stossel confronted dozens of scam artists: from hacks who worked out of their basements to some of America's most powerful executives and leading politicians. His efforts shut down countless crooks -- both famous and obscure. Then he realized what the real problem was. In Give Me a Break, Stossel takes on the regulators, lawyers, and politicians who thrive on our hysteria about risk and deceive the public in the name of safety. Drawing on his vast professional experience (as well as some personal ones), Stossel presents an engaging, witty, and thought-provoking argument about the beneficial powers of the free market and free speech.

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Working as a correspondent for 20/20 and Good Morning America, John Stossel confronted dozens of scam artists: from hacks who worked out of their basements to some of America's most powerful executives and leading politicians. His efforts shut down countless crooks -- both famous and obscure. Then he realized what the real problem was. In Give Me a Break, Stossel takes on t Working as a correspondent for 20/20 and Good Morning America, John Stossel confronted dozens of scam artists: from hacks who worked out of their basements to some of America's most powerful executives and leading politicians. His efforts shut down countless crooks -- both famous and obscure. Then he realized what the real problem was. In Give Me a Break, Stossel takes on the regulators, lawyers, and politicians who thrive on our hysteria about risk and deceive the public in the name of safety. Drawing on his vast professional experience (as well as some personal ones), Stossel presents an engaging, witty, and thought-provoking argument about the beneficial powers of the free market and free speech.

30 review for Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media...

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    This is another situation where a "thinking" person starts out buying the standard line...the standard way of thinking and sets out to participate in it. Mr. Stossel was a consumer reporter for some time. he recounts here his intro into journalism, broadcast journalism, move to ABC and move to 20/20. (Since this book he has moved from ABC to Fox Network). After some years of exposing conmen/conpeople, debunking false product claims etc. he found himself becoming more and more aware that in spite This is another situation where a "thinking" person starts out buying the standard line...the standard way of thinking and sets out to participate in it. Mr. Stossel was a consumer reporter for some time. he recounts here his intro into journalism, broadcast journalism, move to ABC and move to 20/20. (Since this book he has moved from ABC to Fox Network). After some years of exposing conmen/conpeople, debunking false product claims etc. he found himself becoming more and more aware that in spite of all the "new safety regulations" and government regulators the only thing being accomplished was the tying of peoples hands. From the series of small businesses "put out of business" not because they were unsafe but because regulations were now being used by "established business" and services to end competition (a small company running "small bus" type vans that got people to work faster than the city bus line and without the long wait, put out of business when the bus driver's union complained...or the two old ladies in North Carolina who were knitting mittens in their home and selling them to "get by" who were out out of business, "because they couldn't legally run a business from their home) to the little old ladie who was so short she was endangered by the airbag in her car and could not legally have it removed or disconnected. She finally had to get the help of her congressman. Good book that ought to scare us and ought to provoke us to scream that the regulators be shut down...but it won't. When Mr. Stossel (after a 3 year battle) finally got a program (or report) okayed (Scaring Ourselves) on the regulation mess and (as he says) he naively thought after he got an enormous positive response to the program that people would demand the return of their freedom. They/we didn't. As I said good book, read it, think about it...just think.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Siegmund

    Very well written and an eye opener. Stats to support his claims as he uses his ability as a report to showcase the widen spread abuses of our governmwnt system.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Johnrh

    Oh these libertine Libertarians. Will they never stop chanting for individual rights and self-responsibility? What does Stossel think this is, a free country? His book Give Me a Break : How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media... by John Stossel (Feb 1, 2005) seems to speculate that it could be, or at least should be, or maybe once was. This investigative reporter and former host of ABC's 20/20 TV program has spent decades delving into the skul Oh these libertine Libertarians. Will they never stop chanting for individual rights and self-responsibility? What does Stossel think this is, a free country? His book Give Me a Break : How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media... by John Stossel (Feb 1, 2005) seems to speculate that it could be, or at least should be, or maybe once was. This investigative reporter and former host of ABC's 20/20 TV program has spent decades delving into the skulduggery of government and private enterprise alike. Listen to him and you'd think both rich and poor want every handout they can get, and the federal government is more than willing to be just the one to give it to them. Stossel covers a lot of bases in this book and weaves them in with many anecdotes about his personal reporting experiences. Over-regulation, nannie state, vulture lawyers, super rich, junk science, OSHA, the FDA, free markets, cut the waste, free speech, and on and on and on. Each chapter starts with a quote from a famous person. One that says it all for me: "Liberty means responsibility. That's why most men dread it." George Bernard Shaw. And: "The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain." Thomas Jefferson. (Doesn't that seem exactly where we're headed, if we haven't already arrived.) This book is easy reading and highly informative. I recommend it. C'mon Americans! Take your country, your LIVES, and your MINDS back!! Related links for John Stossel: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/stosselvideo http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Stossel/ http://www.foxbusiness.com/on-air/stossel/index.html

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eric Parsons

    John Stossel and I certainly do not agree on everything, but I wouldn't have known that had he not directly shared a couple things we differ on. That's okay; reasonable minds can disagree reasonably (or maybe not, given today's climate and what he went through by speaking some observations). What he and I agree on, though, would make for a nice evening chat or a running email. Stossel tackles some holy grail issues for the American left and pulls no punches--too much government interference is st John Stossel and I certainly do not agree on everything, but I wouldn't have known that had he not directly shared a couple things we differ on. That's okay; reasonable minds can disagree reasonably (or maybe not, given today's climate and what he went through by speaking some observations). What he and I agree on, though, would make for a nice evening chat or a running email. Stossel tackles some holy grail issues for the American left and pulls no punches--too much government interference is stifling, it's okay that some people have more than others, and so on--and I can only imagine how those who oppose just seethe with anger. I was amused and was able to fly through this one pretty quickly. What surprised me, however, is that this book is already 14 years old. I would have thought it was written last year, so perhaps I was simply not as observant a decade ago, or certain folks are just much louder. At any rate, Stossel uses data to prove his points--and even admits when he has been wrong, including a slight blunder on live TV--and I can already hear the left saying "don't confuse me with facts!" I would be interested in an updated version, too, though I'm not sure it's coming any time soon.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shauna

    I think I liked this book because 1)I could relate to his observations about the news business, and 2) I'm more of a libertarian in my beliefs than conservative. He had great things to say about the free markets, our litigious society, the war on drugs, etc. I found his changing beliefs amusing, since like most TV news employees, he was staunchly left, but found himself moving towards the right. The difference is, he admitted it, and then people decided to dislike him. If you're exposing big bus I think I liked this book because 1)I could relate to his observations about the news business, and 2) I'm more of a libertarian in my beliefs than conservative. He had great things to say about the free markets, our litigious society, the war on drugs, etc. I found his changing beliefs amusing, since like most TV news employees, he was staunchly left, but found himself moving towards the right. The difference is, he admitted it, and then people decided to dislike him. If you're exposing big businesses as scammers and cheats, that's popular, but if you show that corporations actually benefit our country by employing people and making products that we want and need, then you're a tool of The Man.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wakefield Tolbert

    "Gimme a BREAK, baby doll!" I don't usually have time for tapping out reviews of the kinds of books I enjoy, but this one had to be mentioned with something a little more substantive than a hearty "like" or thumbs-up. So, behold, my review of John Stossel's "Give Me a Break": This is a thoroughly enjoyable book, in the PJ O'Rourke tradition that humor is the best medicine (the only at the moment!?) for the hilarious horrors and pitfalls of being, well, "governed". H L Mencken once said democracy i "Gimme a BREAK, baby doll!" I don't usually have time for tapping out reviews of the kinds of books I enjoy, but this one had to be mentioned with something a little more substantive than a hearty "like" or thumbs-up. So, behold, my review of John Stossel's "Give Me a Break": This is a thoroughly enjoyable book, in the PJ O'Rourke tradition that humor is the best medicine (the only at the moment!?) for the hilarious horrors and pitfalls of being, well, "governed". H L Mencken once said democracy is the worship of jackals by jackasses, and John Stossel has located a hell of a lot of both, it seems, looking to the marble walls of Washington for answers to life's not-so-funny questions. Not that we've never heard these accusations of the stupidity and vulgar complacency of modern "government" by other people than former ABC correspondent John Stossel. The Libertarians have warned for over 50 years that a day would come when, after treating liberal ideas about government being some kind of "fix all" as "just so" methods to help with every woe and misfortune in the world, the payday for all this largess would come back to haunt. Both for personal freedom, and our wallets. And as many before Stossel pointed out, like the much-derided (in the universities, not in real life) Classical Economists, the bills are high--more than was squeezed from Middle Age peasants and a lot less value to our industries, our safety, and self-respect at that. If paradise on Earth is not to be found at upwards of 40% (and growing) of the GNP gobbled by local, state and Federal taxes, Nirvana is simply not to be had. Stossel wonders aloud why hard heads in government at all levels don't get the message that our civilization might function better with LESS government grinding around in the wheels of our industry and lives rather than more. Instinctively, we know that government is not to be some kind of giant piƱata, ready to burst open from majoritarian pressures to supposedly yield answers on everything from Cosmic Justice among the sexes and the workplace, "free" health care and other fantasies--all the way to what happens when hot coffee hits the groin while driving. So it goes. However, be that as it may, I enjoyed Stossel's book because he does a masterful job at organizing for our viewing pleasure (and humor) merely SOME of the most glaring trends in government interference and utter (deliberate!?) incompetence in government, in what my wife and I have always called "governance by deliberate skulduggery". Whether the concern is $300K outhouses on the taxpayer dime, or telling you not to salt your turnips, Nanny government has an answer you won't always enjoy hearing about, but must accept. Or ELSE. In other words, either out of malice, or incompetence, or just plain ideological skulduggery to some ancient fatuous (mostly liberal) notions about the malleability of human nature, government is still trying to win our hearts by picking our pockets. Ever promising, further, the good times are just around the corner without worrying about nuisances like jobs, personal responsibility, accountability, and not cradling hot java between your legs. Perhaps its not ether or, but all the above. Ideology and malice and incompetence are, after all, powerful antidotes to common sense. I wish Stossel had spent a little more time on WHY he thinks government behaves this way and why so many people are throwing verbal brick bats at him, demanding this and that along with his termination from ABC, etc. But one step at a time. Stossel does hint that it is mostly UNenlightened self-interest of a dirty type (speaking of "greed") that keeps many politicians and lawyers and their pundits busy making rules for the rest of us and making owning a business a personal journey into the Abyss. Stossel fondly recounts the days when he was actually hailed as a hero in the old muckraking sense by men like Ralph Nader, only to later catch absolute hell for piddling errors like the episode with so-called "organic" veggies, etc, etc. No one thought of him as amateur then when at the same time he stuck his arms in lions' mouths and other gags to keep ratings flowing. What was of interest to me at the time I first read the book (twice by now) was not so much his arguments with the predictable loonies over the fate of mother earth, the indoctrination of schoolkids with hateful and bizarre rhetoric about greenhouse baloney, or even the maddening support the rich top hat lawyers give and GET from big government and all their tobacco tears along with corporate jets, etc. Rather, it was the sudden shift in attitude some big government and bureaucracy workers and their many supporters in the environmental and legal realms took (the Left especially) when he shifted his critical lenses from small time jewelry hucksters to the hallowed halls of big time government. Stossel's book also demonstrates, via his crucifixion among "mainstream" publications (and their calls for his utter torment for small mistakes and his attacks on the machinery of government), that it is after all NOT an urban legend that the major media are generally liberal. They most certainly ARE judging from their silence on the topics he brings up, and their responses to his attacks on their favorite governmental heroes. As well as their more droll notions about what it means to truly be a ..."progressive." The major media hide behind thin veils of alleged 'objectivity', call themselves moderates, and label anything that favors open markets and freedom-preaching as being "right wing." Ditto the universities and liberal feminists whom he tried to get an audience with only to find them holding to laughable notions about gender, etc. Or course, then there are the Phunny Pharm Far Left organizations that sing paeans to objectivity and "Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting" that Stossel pointed out do nothing of the kind when the truth really needs to be tested on the grindstone of hard, thorough, and honest investigatory journalism. Thus for example groups like FAIR, websites such as the avuncular Bill Moyers' TomPaine.com, left wing outlets like The Nation, and others, took pedantic cheap shots at Stossel over a minor error he made regarding a hippy-dippy organic food flap, and testing for bacteria and pesticides. Actually, not really so much over some minor errors on reporting that it was NOT true that "organic foods" contain "no" or "little" pesticides or dangerous bacteria (Stossel explained a slight methodological error he made between himself and the staff that was to do the testing on produce), but rather due to his uncovering of the TRUTH that "organic foods" are, overall, NOT healthier than ones raised on the large industrial farms (and they are not, as any real epidemiologist can tell you). Stossel was, on the whole, vindicated on this issue too--whether they liked it or not. My, the magical powers of illumination cast upon politicians' and pundits blank or evasive responses, before the camera's unforgiving eye. Enjoy. See also this same review in slightly different format--and many more turgid ponderings--at my personal blog at: http://wakepedia.blogspot.com/2004/04...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    I fully respect John Stossel as the ABC 20/20 news correspondent who constantly did the consumer warnings breakdown on TV. Through this book, I understand how that is such a stressful job, especially for someone who, like me, has struggled with st-st-stammering. This book is a reflection upon this gentleman's career. As I have observed, another reviewer notes "He writes in short declarative sentences and he breaks his material down into easily digest[i]ble little pieces," and it is "like a pep-ra I fully respect John Stossel as the ABC 20/20 news correspondent who constantly did the consumer warnings breakdown on TV. Through this book, I understand how that is such a stressful job, especially for someone who, like me, has struggled with st-st-stammering. This book is a reflection upon this gentleman's career. As I have observed, another reviewer notes "He writes in short declarative sentences and he breaks his material down into easily digest[i]ble little pieces," and it is "like a pep-rally in a book," which must have made me impatient and upset as a reader used to analysing Greek and Chinese literature. (If you don't know the story, I hid in the restroom during my junior year pep rally when I could get away with it because pep rallies make me more anxious than eager.) I ~roughly~ finished it, as I think I got all the interesting nuggets about public vs. private sector economics out of it for now...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dave Ives

    Good book. Interesting and easy to read, not too boring. A couple areas started to drag down but mainly a read that moves along nicely. I enjoyed the fresh perspective. Instead of the usual 'government is all-knowing and the best at everything' John says the opposite ... gov is usually the problem and therefore we need less ... of it (gov). He started off as a liberal journalist with the prevailing attitude that gov is a benevolent "mother" overlooking all her children (citizens) and only has yo Good book. Interesting and easy to read, not too boring. A couple areas started to drag down but mainly a read that moves along nicely. I enjoyed the fresh perspective. Instead of the usual 'government is all-knowing and the best at everything' John says the opposite ... gov is usually the problem and therefore we need less ... of it (gov). He started off as a liberal journalist with the prevailing attitude that gov is a benevolent "mother" overlooking all her children (citizens) and only has your best interests in mind. BUt, after years of personally witnessing the opposite in real life situations, John came to the conclusion ... in most instances, gov is the problem.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Drew Fridley

    I found myself agreeing with a lot of what he says because they are common sense. Much of it sounds good I'm heory but I'm not sure how it would turn out in practice. He makes me think in different ways at least. Nice thought experiments. I do not agree with all of his philosophy though. Saying that government loopholes are there and while he doesn't want to use them, but that he would be stupid not to, does not make him an inspirational person to me. I'm more of a "Be the change you want to see I found myself agreeing with a lot of what he says because they are common sense. Much of it sounds good I'm heory but I'm not sure how it would turn out in practice. He makes me think in different ways at least. Nice thought experiments. I do not agree with all of his philosophy though. Saying that government loopholes are there and while he doesn't want to use them, but that he would be stupid not to, does not make him an inspirational person to me. I'm more of a "Be the change you want to see in the world" kinda guy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kent Williams

    This book provides insights into the career and personal political philosophy of John Stossel. I enjoy his books because he points out many real-world examples of how government regulations, no matter how well-intended, typically do more harm than good. It's a good read for those interested in libertarianism from a more pragmatic standpoint.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Omar El-mohri

    A fresh view into the relation between government, business and people. Makes you think and rethink of what we were thinking obvious.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    My father-in-law gave me this book to read, and I thought it was pretty interesting. I like Stossel as a TV reporter, and I think he's got some pretty good takes in his book. It's an easy read, but I think he kind of gets hung up on a lot of the same pitfalls that has kept Libertarianism out of the mainstream. He kind of contradicts himself in ways. At one point he asserts that FDA regulations have stifled innovation and held up medicines that could have saved the lives of "fat people." Then, 50 My father-in-law gave me this book to read, and I thought it was pretty interesting. I like Stossel as a TV reporter, and I think he's got some pretty good takes in his book. It's an easy read, but I think he kind of gets hung up on a lot of the same pitfalls that has kept Libertarianism out of the mainstream. He kind of contradicts himself in ways. At one point he asserts that FDA regulations have stifled innovation and held up medicines that could have saved the lives of "fat people." Then, 50 or so pages later, he laments that "fat people" should be allowed to choose to be fat and the government shouldn't intervene and levy higher taxes on unhealthy foods. Both arguments are valid and make lots of sense. But side by side, they make Stossel look like he's grasping at straws. He also comes off as kind of bitter. Like he sees himself as some martyr, who was lauded as a consumer reporter, and then cast down when he started reporting on government overreach. Honestly, I've never really seen much negative said about the guy. Overall, it's a easily digested book and Stossel has a lot of solid ideas. It's worth reading, but be prepared to kind of scratch your head at some of his logic.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This book is just like his 20/20 specials. Stossel's message is well-illustrated with lots of stories. He skewers those on the political left (e.g. Ralph Nader and Democrats) and sometimes the right as well (Donald Trump and big corporations). It's very much a libertarian take in favor of free markets and limited government, and I'm inclined to agree with many of his points. But I'd love to hear an articulate response from another viewpoint. In any case, even if you disagree with his arguments, This book is just like his 20/20 specials. Stossel's message is well-illustrated with lots of stories. He skewers those on the political left (e.g. Ralph Nader and Democrats) and sometimes the right as well (Donald Trump and big corporations). It's very much a libertarian take in favor of free markets and limited government, and I'm inclined to agree with many of his points. But I'd love to hear an articulate response from another viewpoint. In any case, even if you disagree with his arguments, the material is thought provoking. I've come to believe that American society is like a drunkard riding a horse. In some seasons, we fall off one side of the horse in favor of free markets and deregulation. Then there are abuses of the system (e.g., the 1929 stock market crash or the recent sub-prime mortgage debacle), and we fall off the other side in favor of more government intervention and regulation. May God grant us wisdom to find the golden mean between government regulation and free markets. I fear that sometimes Stossel's measuring rod is based solely on costs, i.e., free markets are good because they keep the prices down. But cost isn't the only measuring rod. Sometimes the government, because it doesn't have to concern itself with making a profit, can promote social goods that don't make economic sense. Take for example NIH's desire to do research and develop treatments for diseases that are rare, such as progeria, or diseases that afflict populations outside the U.S. For-profit companies typically won't do that kind of work because there's not enough of a profit incentive. Also, while Stossel points out many of the unintended bad consequences caused by government regulation, it's an interesting thought experiment to ponder all the disasters that were prevented because of government regulation. Because these are all hypothetical, there are no dramatic stories to air about government graft. Another point to ponder is that limited government is needed because as Dan Ariely and behavioral economists have shown us, people are predictably irrational. We make all kinds of predictably irrational mistakes that call into question our ability to control our own decision making. For example, we predictably make irrational decisions, fall prey to "influence" techniques, make decisions based on how questions are worded, etc. Government regulation helps to police this area and protect us. All of this leads me to conclude that we need to test our policies. We all have intuitions about how things work or should work, but our intuitions are often wrong. So the most sensible approach is to do a test run of different policies (perhaps in different regions), determine their measurable effects, and then evaluate the results in order to choose the policy with the most desirable outcomes. The book Supercrunchers by Ian Ayres makes a good case for this approach.

  14. 5 out of 5

    John Bruni

    This is a very interesting book. While I don't agree with everything Stossel says, he definitely puts your beliefs through a hard workout. He even turned me around on a few things. What I find most interesting about him is that unlike other news correspondents who write books, he actually calls himself out on the times he was wrong or made a mistake. He knows he is fallible, and he's willing to change his beliefs if he's provided with evidence. That's a sign of a true thinker. A true skeptic. Th This is a very interesting book. While I don't agree with everything Stossel says, he definitely puts your beliefs through a hard workout. He even turned me around on a few things. What I find most interesting about him is that unlike other news correspondents who write books, he actually calls himself out on the times he was wrong or made a mistake. He knows he is fallible, and he's willing to change his beliefs if he's provided with evidence. That's a sign of a true thinker. A true skeptic. This is required reading for anyone interested in the media. The thing he excels at is breaking down popularly held "knowledge" and showing that they were myths all along. It doesn't matter if the news is wrong and they later correct themselves: what they say first is what people will go to their graves believing. I'm with him when he says we need waaaaaaaaay less regulation. I agree that we need more self-sufficient people in this world. I'm not surprised when he says organic food is more wasteful than (and it's just as good as) than the processed stuff. We certainly have too much government in our lives, and he even suggests that our electoral system should be changed. (If I were a Democrat, for example, and the rest of the country elects Republicans to the White House and Congress, do I really have to live by their rules? Rules I don't believe in? Rules that would go against my rugged American individuality?) I'm not too fond of his take on the good corporations do, though. I agree that they must have satisfied (ie. return) customers, but having worked at a corporation for quite some time, I've seen evidence that it's not true. My company, for example, focuses everything on getting new business, not fixing broken infrastructure. The way they figure it, it's too much of a hassle for customers to switch providers, so they won't do it. And they're right. The people who complain to me today and threaten to take their business elsewhere are usually still complaining days, weeks and years later. So I'm not sure about how much power I want to leave corporations with, but I do agree, at least, that we need to relax a lot of government involvement with them. Agree or disagree, if you like a good mental workout, you should read this book. I feel I've been getting complacent in some of my reading, and this book challenged me. I'm a lot sharper for having read it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    Catching this one on audio in the car right now, and, boy, I am really coming to appreciate John Stossel. I'm on the chapter about the Nanny State right now- over regulation by the government strangling our choices & freedoms in the name of "consumer safety." Yah, thanks Big Brother... Great read! ------ Excellent book. Actually has me rethinking my positions on drug legalization & voluntary prostitution. He makes some pretty convincing arguments for both, though an error on one comment t Catching this one on audio in the car right now, and, boy, I am really coming to appreciate John Stossel. I'm on the chapter about the Nanny State right now- over regulation by the government strangling our choices & freedoms in the name of "consumer safety." Yah, thanks Big Brother... Great read! ------ Excellent book. Actually has me rethinking my positions on drug legalization & voluntary prostitution. He makes some pretty convincing arguments for both, though an error on one comment that "No one robs stores for Marlboros." Or something close to that. Yes, John, convenience stores get robbed all the time for their cigarettes. He even makes an interesting case against organics that made me prick up my ears. Considering I had to spend more time than I would have liked perusing the Organics Consumers (Communists) Assn. website for a recent green article and he used them in one section of the book, I found their less than forthcoming way of answering his questions interesting, to say the least. Though for my part, I could never tell the difference between the taste of a friggin' organic veggie & a conventional one. I just prefer less chemicals & more small farms. But now I think I'm coming around to the belief I'd rather buy from small, local farmers, whether they grow organically or not. A must read!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    The book starts like a memoir -- Stossel recounts his early career as a consumer advocate on television and his slide into what he later comes to know as a classic liberal philosophy. But he quickly drops the biographical angle and devotes most of the book to the subjects he covered as a libertarian television reporter working the defacto liberal new york media environment. Not having to battle the network producers and lawyers gives him the opportunity to be a little freer with his words. Still The book starts like a memoir -- Stossel recounts his early career as a consumer advocate on television and his slide into what he later comes to know as a classic liberal philosophy. But he quickly drops the biographical angle and devotes most of the book to the subjects he covered as a libertarian television reporter working the defacto liberal new york media environment. Not having to battle the network producers and lawyers gives him the opportunity to be a little freer with his words. Still, Stossel's book reads like a long television segment. He writes in short declarative sentences and he breaks his material down into easily digestable little pieces. For that reason, I'm halfway tempted to recommend this book for anyone looking to learn a little bit about classic liberal thought and the apparently odd notion that the government isn't necessarily suited to do all things. Then again, I was already familiar with most of the issues and thinkers he references. For me, the read was more like a pep-rally in a book. But hey, it worked. I'm all fired up.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    I read this book about 6 years ago about a year after it first came out. I saw this in the library for sale section last week and picked it up for 50 cents remembering that it was a great book. My parents were religious 20/20 watchers and my favorite part was always Stossel's "Give me a Break" section. This book chronicles how he went from a respected consumer reporter to a not well liked libertarian because he saw that government was wasting so much. If you are jaded by today's liberal media or w I read this book about 6 years ago about a year after it first came out. I saw this in the library for sale section last week and picked it up for 50 cents remembering that it was a great book. My parents were religious 20/20 watchers and my favorite part was always Stossel's "Give me a Break" section. This book chronicles how he went from a respected consumer reporter to a not well liked libertarian because he saw that government was wasting so much. If you are jaded by today's liberal media or what our government is doing, then this is the book for you. Stossel discovered that after he would expose a company of cheating, the government would swoop down and add more regulations that would only make things more complicated and actually hurt consumers. Even though it was written almost a decade ago, the message still rings true. I'm definitely going to try to get his latest book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kev Reilly

    Being John Stossel's first book, this read is half autobiographical & half debunking myths/facts (& shaming fraudsters). I didn't know that Stossel was a stutterer (ok, at the time of writing this I'm a 27 year old who has only known of the man for a year) but one would assume the trait would have shown itself by now. Stossel is blunt in his honesty about his stuttering, his boss who he 'hated' to let him fix it & his mistakes on ABC's 20/20. Another interesting part of the book is Sto Being John Stossel's first book, this read is half autobiographical & half debunking myths/facts (& shaming fraudsters). I didn't know that Stossel was a stutterer (ok, at the time of writing this I'm a 27 year old who has only known of the man for a year) but one would assume the trait would have shown itself by now. Stossel is blunt in his honesty about his stuttering, his boss who he 'hated' to let him fix it & his mistakes on ABC's 20/20. Another interesting part of the book is Stossel's story of his change from being a left wing "big government" advocate to eventually a libertarian (& those he lost on the way). The topics & conclusions in the book are well-researched (some for over a decade) & almost all were featured on Stossel's TV shows. An interesting book that should change your opinion on at least some aspects of the public vs. private sector debate...

  19. 5 out of 5

    melydia

    This is a quick read. I enjoyed Stossel's conversational tone and his no-nonsense way of addressing the issues. And in general I agree that government needs to shrink, lawsuits need to be reduced, and there's no virtue in being a victim. His anecdotes were a mixture of humorous and maddening, as most stories of government stupidity are. Unfortunately, I don't see this book as convincing anyone with firmer beliefs than the most tenuous of fence-sitters. As a reporter, Stossel knows how to break d This is a quick read. I enjoyed Stossel's conversational tone and his no-nonsense way of addressing the issues. And in general I agree that government needs to shrink, lawsuits need to be reduced, and there's no virtue in being a victim. His anecdotes were a mixture of humorous and maddening, as most stories of government stupidity are. Unfortunately, I don't see this book as convincing anyone with firmer beliefs than the most tenuous of fence-sitters. As a reporter, Stossel knows how to break down complex issues into bite-sized chunks. Unfortunately, that means his evidence is a collection of soundbites from interviews rather than papers and studies you can go look up yourself. Interviews are a good source of information, but I am always wary of nonfiction books lacking a bibliography or at least a "further reading" section.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Justin Tapp

    tossel is great and unique. Check out his website. He is from the opposite economic spectrum from Krugman, readily quoting Milton Friedman and Frederick Von Hayek. His book is about journalism, and so many of the myths we believe in because of bad journalism and good lawyers. Here are some of Stossel's "truths": Large amounts of vitamin C don't help fight off any diseases, silicone breast implants never were harmful, there's no such thing as a "crack baby," and cutting your salt intake won't hel tossel is great and unique. Check out his website. He is from the opposite economic spectrum from Krugman, readily quoting Milton Friedman and Frederick Von Hayek. His book is about journalism, and so many of the myths we believe in because of bad journalism and good lawyers. Here are some of Stossel's "truths": Large amounts of vitamin C don't help fight off any diseases, silicone breast implants never were harmful, there's no such thing as a "crack baby," and cutting your salt intake won't help prevent heart disease. Those are all covered in just 10 pages in the book. This book is an eye-opening, mind-freeing must-read. You may not agree with him, but you'll have to know your facts well to disagree with Stossel. This book stirred long-dormant Libertarian feelings in my soul.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Norbert

    Every politician should read the book. How so many people can have such a misconception on how government programs result in just the opposite of their intentions. How many people feel that rich people are always the bad guys, but who do you work for, a homeless person or a rich guy? Instead of blaming others maybe people should blame themselves. Why do people believe lies? Because it's what they want to hear. Maybe, just maybe, we should stop thinking like Liberals or Conservatives and start th Every politician should read the book. How so many people can have such a misconception on how government programs result in just the opposite of their intentions. How many people feel that rich people are always the bad guys, but who do you work for, a homeless person or a rich guy? Instead of blaming others maybe people should blame themselves. Why do people believe lies? Because it's what they want to hear. Maybe, just maybe, we should stop thinking like Liberals or Conservatives and start thinking like Americans. I recommend the book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    First published in 2004, Give Me A Break... now seems a little dated. What isn't dated is Stossel's logical, rational, fact-based methodology for exposing the lies, damned lies and statistics that politicians and government bureaucrats use to brainwash us. He cites example and after example of how our freedoms continue to erode at the hands of idiots and morons. If you sense something has gone utterly wrong in the United States of America and you're looking to understand the whats and the whys, First published in 2004, Give Me A Break... now seems a little dated. What isn't dated is Stossel's logical, rational, fact-based methodology for exposing the lies, damned lies and statistics that politicians and government bureaucrats use to brainwash us. He cites example and after example of how our freedoms continue to erode at the hands of idiots and morons. If you sense something has gone utterly wrong in the United States of America and you're looking to understand the whats and the whys, this book is a great place to start.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This book was passed to me by a friend who found it interesting. I will admit a bias toward John Stossel and his libertarian ideas when I read this book. So of course I enjoyed it and agree with most of what he said. Some of the facts and figures are probably outdated, and obviously he doesn't still work for ABC (which this book mostly talks about his time with said network). However, his theories continue to make sense.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    My only complaint about this book is the title. Citing the "liberal" media in the title will only serve to alienate a number of people who might otherwise have read and enjoyed this book. This is not about liberal politics and/or media, but rather a discussion of the "flip side" of the stories we see on the news. Very enlightening, and written in a conversational manner that makes this a very quick read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kylie Towers

    I listened to this on my way home for the holidays. It was entertaining and interesting. He appealed to my old school conservatism without alienating the liberalism I've come to embrace in the last 7 years. Lots of little "ah ha" and "ohhh..." moments that I wanted to remember to mention to other people, but of course forgot most of them the minute I finished the last cd. Not as good as Andy Rooney, but not too bad.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    You will recognize John Stossel as a consumer advocate, now 20-20 lead anchor. He has turned Libertarian (wanting limited government). He explains how in every walk of life, when the gov't gets involved, all incentive to innovate and improve is gone. The country does better with unfettered capitalism. The free market could solve problems but people don't want to wait for that. Instead, we get bigger bureaucracy and higher government spending.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chad Lamb

    Great contribution from Stossel on what's wrong with our culture. He's a libertarian and sees much of the intrusion of the federal government as silly, unnecessary and sometimes dangerous. I particularly liked the discussion of private charities, who are raising money for various causes effectively on their own, and how the fed just shuts them down or butts them out for one reason or another. Scary stuff. I think this brings up great points every American should read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dreepa

    This book started as a history of how Stossel got his start and his early years as a consumer reporter and then how he saw the same fraud in public companies in the government. But when he exposed that he was then seen as a bad person. Funny actually. I didn't really gain much political knowledge but do think that people who trust 'big government' to solve every problem should read this book to get an understanding where he comes from.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    I enjoyed this very much. He has an easy reading style, and is plainly passionate about his subject. He gave a lot of interesting examples from his work as a reporter. I can see why some love him and some hate him. I disagree with a couple points, but mostly he makes sense: corporations need to have light shone on what they're doing, but government is no cure and frequently makes things worse.

  30. 5 out of 5

    David Robins

    Somewhat a story about how John Stossel became a libertarian (but not an anarchist! no, never that!), and how the liberals that fawned over his consumer product reporting turned on him when he went after the state and special interests such as unions. Some good libertarian principles in the book, such as ownership of one's own body, but someone needs to tell him that if violence is bad, then it makes no sense to preserve any part of a violent state.

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