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Brett Emison
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Is John Stossel A Closet Socialist?

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John Stossel has branded himself a die-hard libertarian and conservative host on the Fox Business channel. But is he really a closet socialist?

Stossel is no fan of trial lawyers or the American civil justice system established by our Founding Fathers and protected under the Constitution. He’s called lawyers "liars" and "parasites". He’s accused lawyers and American civil justice system of making us less safe. (He’s wrong about that. Take, for instance, what cars would be like without the American civil justice system.)

John Stossel has been called out by others as a hypocrite, as dishonest, and as a liar. FAIR.org described Stossel’s "selective editing and other unethical tactics" as no different than "any other tabloid TV entertainer." According to CityFile.com, Stossel has "admitted to making a number of serious mistakes in the past, he’s been sued in connection with his reporting, and the ‘research’ he’s used to prop up his arguments has been routinely debunked by leading academics."

And now Stossel is at it again, arguing for a world without lawyers and erosion of our fundamental constitutional liberty.

Stossel claims to be a die hard libertarian and conservative business host on the Fox Business channel, but is he really a closet socialist? In his most recent report, he argues for a European-style civil justice system. Stossel claims the European civil justice system — rather than the American system created by our founders and protected under the 7th Amendment to the Constitution — would save up to $1,800 per person.

Stossel failed to provide a citation or authority for his $1,800 per person number (and is most likely making it up), but the more fundamental problem is that he failed to acknowledge the policy and political factors leading to and permitting the European-style tort system: heavy government regulation of business and universal health care.

European-style tort systems permit individuals and businesses to avoid personal and corporate responsibility because European governments have accepted this responsibility through a European-style socialist structure of massive regulation, higher taxes, and government sponsored universal health care.

Is this what Stossel wants? I thought Americans and capitalists encouraged personal and corporate responsibility. I thought Americans and capitalists encouraged the market to consider all costs and factors — including factors like safety, responsibility and accountability.

Here, in the U.S., what happens if Stossel gets his way and we live in a world without lawyers and without the protection of civil justice and the 7th Amendment?

Tort "reforms" like those suggested by Stossel have the perverse effect of bloating federal and state governments, resulting in additional regulations, and raising taxes for ordinary people.

Imagine someone is injured by a defective product, a drunk driver, or some other negligent actor. When individuals or corporations avoid responsibility and accountability, who bears that cost? Who makes sure the brain damaged child receives the care and treatment she needs for the rest of her life? Who provides the rehabilitation and followup care for the paralyzed mother? Who provides care for the orphaned children?

When "tort reform" bails out irresponsible individuals and corporations, tax payers end up with the bill. Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid pays for the medical care that should be born by the responsible party. Welfare, food stamps and other government assistance pays for housing, shelter, transportation and other basic needs that should be born by the responsible party. Many victims are left to financial ruin, bankruptcy and poverty because the responsible party avoids responsibility and accountability.

For these reasons, leading conservatives across the country have rejected tort reforms and the erosion of liberty suggested by Stossel.

For the true story about the importance of the American civil justice system, check out the HBO documentary film Hot Coffee premiering on June 27.

The 7th Amendment and the American civil justice system is the ultimate lynch pin for all other constitutional rights and freedoms. What is your remedy if someone violates your constitutional rights to free speech, to religious freedom, to keep and bear arms, to contract, etc.? These are civil law (or civil justice) claims in which you take the bad actor to court in order to have your rights protected. What happens when access to courts is limited? What happens when you can’t bring even a meritorious lawsuit because of the risk of financial ruin under a European loser pays system? What happens when access to court is so lopsided that the average person cannot gain access? What happens when powerful lobbyists control the courts like they control other branches of government?

What constitutional rights are you willing to give up for $1,800?

More on John Stossel:

Conservative Support of the American Civil Justice System (via Andrew Cochran at the 7th Amendment Advocate):

(c) Copyright 2011 Brett A. Emison

4 Comments

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    Great piece and a terrific resource for journalists and politicians to start protecting the justice system and stopp trying to destroy it. Keep up the good work. Tort reform is bad for America and those who support it are either misguided or unpatriotic. You are right, Stossel should move to Russia. They have no lawsuits and few lawyers. And Fox News would fit right in with Pravda.

  2. Walter says:
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  3. Walter says:
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  4. Christopher Barnes says:
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    You really made me think. thanks for showing how necessary our rights to go to trial are. Great piece. They should stand you up against Stossel. :-)