Watch video of John Stossel’s lecture at Chapman and students’ reactions.
From slamming President Barack Obama’s health care legislation to evoking smatters of laughter at the word federalize, Libertarian broadcast journalist John Stossel found a welcome crowd in a packed Memorial Hall April 23.
The FOX news correspondent, 19-time Emmy Award-winner and previous co-anchor at ABC’s “20/20” dispelled misconceptions about his political philosophies.
His theme revolved around his latest book, “No They Can’t: Why Government Fails … But Individuals Succeed,” which he is promoting on a nationwide tour.
Stossel gained cheers from the crowd by decrying welfare programs and calling for the government to make more budget cuts.
“If someone proposes a cut, he’s called evil – he’s pushing grandma off a cliff,” Stossel said.
The lecture began with President Jim Doti presenting his fellow Libertarian with the President’s Medal.
“I thought it was an excellent presentation of basic libertarian beliefs, values and principles,” Doti wrote in an email after the lecture. “He is definitely an informed, provocative and engaging speaker.”
Doti has awarded the medal to five other recipients, from General William Lyon, retired chief of Air Force Reserve, in 2004 to California television personality Huell Howser last semester.
Doti wrote he chose Stossel for his contributions to investigative reporting.
“I don’t think he has shaped my political leanings as much as he has given me food for thought about the merits of my leanings,” Doti wrote.
Chancellor Daniele Struppa’s office set up the lecture through an acquaintance, although Struppa declined, as a matter of policy, to say whether or not Stossel was compensated for the appearance.
“I am not an economist, but I enjoyed the talk,” Struppa wrote. “I thought he was funny and described clearly and simply the key point of libertarian philosophy: small and unobtrusive government.”
One of Stossel’s key points was his belief that private businesses work more efficiently than those run by the government. He used airport screeners as one example.
“A private screener knows that if he doesn’t do a good job, he’ll get fired,” Stossel said. “A government screener never gets fired.”
Patrick Ryan, a senior accounting and financing major at Cal State Fullerton, said he agreed with Stossel’s condemnation of too many welfare programs.
“People want to be taken care of,” Ryan said. “And we’re kind of used to trusting authority.”
Although most of the audience consisted of local middle-aged and older citizens who punctuated the lecture with frequent applause, students from Chapman and other local universities cheered hardest for Stossel’s liberal social beliefs.
“I’m a Libertarian, so I think homosexuality is fine,” Stossel said. “I think people own their own bodies and should use the drugs they want. And I’m not fond of foreign interference.”
Marlene Bronson, a Tustin resident, business owner and student at Irvine Valley College, said drugs should be decriminalized but not legalized. She picked apart Stossel’s examples of other countries, including the Netherlands, in which drugs such as marijuana have successfully been incorporated into a law-abiding society.
“Their marijuana is not as potent as it is in California,” Bronson said. “We’re definitely a trial state for the drug being legal. I’m not against it being legal for medical purposes only, but there are no FDA guidelines.”