In his column in today’s Gannett papers, “‘Pessimism porn’ sure to provide ratings for media,” John Stossel discusses optimism and pessimism. Stossel says news media love bad news; bad news sells. Stossel admits hyping bad news himself. But now he has become an optimist; he has come to recognize that nothing really bad ever happens. He gives examples:
- Population explosion
- New Ice Age
- Acid rain
Somehow humanity survived and flourishes, Stossel observes. Our lives keep improving. But old habits die hard; Stossel slips. He warns us about overreaching politicians, about incomprehensible regulations and unsustainable national debt.
Pundits and politicians, Tom Reed for one, love to decry national debt. The debt has grown to 17 trillion Stossel writes. But Stossel hasn’t noticed that whatever the amount of the national debt, nothing bad happens. On the question of the national debt, Stossel and his fellows remain pessimists; just wait, they warn us.
Stossel also warns about government regulations, regulations that threaten to crush innovation. Stossel admits that so far agile innovators have been able to keep one jump ahead of slow-moving regulators. But disaster threatens, he warns; unless we stop making regulations, doom can’t be far off.
Can Stossel have it both ways? Is it true that no threat to our well-being possibly has adverse consequences except government regulations and national debt? In the course of his article, Stossel mentions the extreme right, Koch funded, Mercator Center. Perhaps his nascent optimism is colored by the need to reflect the Mercator Center’s propaganda line.
© William Hungerford – May 2014