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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Megan Poe
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My name is Megan Poe and I’m an English (writing concentration) and Philosophy double major at Northern. My concurrent experience with being published in and interning for literary magazines has landed...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

ABC anchor speaks on Americans’ rights

The majority of the federal regulations placed on private businesses do more harm than good, and may actually hinder the operation of a free-market economy, said John Stossel, co-anchor of ABC’s “20/20.”

Stossel spoke at NMU on Wednesday and drew a standing-room-only crowd to Jamrich 102, a room with a seating capacity of 487 people.

A Princeton graduate with a B.A. in psychology, Stossel left college with the belief that government played an important role in protecting the people and policing what he viewed as money-hungry capitalists.

“But then I watched the policemen work,” Stossel said. “It took me too many years to see the damage that they cause, but I now conclude that all the well-intended regulation helps some, but hurts many more.”

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One example Stossel gave of unnecessary government regulation is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It now takes 15 years for a drug to gain approval from the FDA and become legalized, he said, and those years can be valuable time for some people.

Stossel mentioned a theoretical scenario in which a new FDA-approved heart drug could save 14,000 American lives each year.

“Nobody at the press conference [would stand] up to say, ‘That’s great, but didn’t that also mean that you killed 14,000 people last year? And the year before?'” Stossel said.

He argued that people should be given the choice to take whatever medication they want, without having to break the law or wait for over a decade for the release of a drug.

“Whose choice is it, anyway? In this free society, don’t we own our own bodies? Shouldn’t it be our choice what risks we take?” he said. “Patrick Henry never said, ‘Give me absolute safety or give me death.’ Why do we give government the power to say, ‘No. You can’t put that in your body’?

“The government, by protecting us from bad things, protects us from good things, like innovation,” he said. “And that kills more people than it saves, by 100-fold.”

Businesses will often end up trying to please the government so much that they begin to fail in other, more important areas, Stossel said.

“Companies and creators spend their energy not trying to make a more interesting product or a better one,” Stossel said. “All the energy is spent trying to manipulate Washington or manipulate Lansing. It strangles the juice of an economy and the innovation that makes our lives better.”

Stossel also spoke about the current war on drugs in the United States. He said that while he doesn’t know if it has had any positive effects, he clearly sees the drawbacks. Drug crime, according to Stossel, actually stems from drug laws.

“Ninety-nine percent (of drug crime) is because the drugs are illegal,” he said. “The sellers can’t rely on the police to protect their private property, so they arm themselves and form gangs. The buyers steal to pay the high prices. The laws cause the drug crimes.”

While Stossel does not personally condone drug use, he said that all drugs, from heroin to methamphetamines, should be legalized.

Stossel, who defines himself as a libertarian, holds a wide range of views that aren’t always broadly accepted. His distaste for government and universal healthcare place him at odds with mainstream liberals, but he is unable to call himself a conservative, either.

“I’m a lousy conservative. I think drugs should be legal. I think prostitution should be legal,” he said. “I think homosexuality is fine. I’m not sure if it was a good idea to go into Iraq.”

Stossel, who has won 19 Emmy Awards in his career, even took a moment to apply his libertarian philosophy to current NMU issues, such as a possible smoking ban that could leave students unable to smoke in their own cars.

“You can’t smoke in your own car unless the windows are up, because the little bit of smoke that leaks out would hurt someone?” Stossel said. “I (should) like smoking bans because I don’t like smoke and I don’t smoke, but don’t minorities have some rights in America?”

Stossel, who was brought to campus by the NMU Economics Department and the Office of the Provost, concluded his speech by saying that nothing in history has improved people’s lives more than business.

“What I’ve learned from reporting is that America’s heroes are not [politicians] in Lansing and Washington who want to run your lives,” he said. “America’s heroes are free people like you. If you make something work a little better or sell it for a penny cheaper or get it to someone a second sooner, you make America richer and you save lives. And I hope you fight for that freedom that made America possible.”

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