May 6 2009
Carrie L. Lukas
From pregnancy discrimination laws to doing less for senior citizens, from farming endangered animals to letting athletes do steroids, John Stossel brings us his take on tough subjects in an hour-long report, "You Can't Even Talk About It," airing on "20/20," Friday, May 8 (10:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. Reports include:
America Needs to Do Less for Its Senior Citizens: Stossel reports when Medicare was created, senior citizens did not live as long, and medicine offered fewer wonderful but expensive treatments. Now Medicare is headed towards bankruptcy. Government has promised seniors $34 trillion dollars more than it has funded. It amounts to generational theft, says Andrew Biggs of the American Enterprise Institute. "The government spends around $6 on seniors for every dollar it spends on children, and yet the poverty rate among children is far higher than it is among seniors," he says. Stossel confronts seniors about it. Some say, "we've paid our dues" and "every paycheck, money was deducted." But in fact, today the average Medicare beneficiary collects two to three times more than they paid in. Why do even wealthy seniors feel entitled to have taxpayer-subsidized access to state of the art medical care?
Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuits: To protect pregnant women at work, Congress passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. It makes it illegal to fire, not hire, or to pay a woman less because she is pregnant. Today employers are even warned not to ask in a job interview, "Are you pregnant?" or "Might you start a family?" If the new law was supposed to end discrimination, it has not -- the number of pregnancy discrimination complaints is on the rise. Stossel argues that the law does more harm than good. Carrie Lukas, a pregnant Vice-President of the Independent Women's Forum, says: "Sometimes the laws that are intended to help women like me actually end up hurting women like me. All of a sudden a potential employer is looking at me and thinking... 'she just might turn around and sue us.' That makes it less likely that I'm going to get hired."
The Best Way to Save Many Endangered Species Is to Eat Them: International bans on the trade of rare animal parts (tiger organs, elephant tusks, rhino horns) have been about as successful as the international war on drugs. Wild tigers and many of the world's most prized species are disappearing. Why? Because wherever there is a demand strong enough, market forces overwhelm law enforcement. Terry Anderson of PERK, the Property and Environmental Resource Center, claims that governments have repeatedly failed when they tried to save animals by banning their sale: failed with the Colobus monkey in West Africa... with the alligator in China... and now, with the tiger in Asia. By contrast, does America have a shortage of chickens? No. Because people own them and eat them. Allowing private owners to sell animals for food or tourism saved the Rhino and the elephant in Africa, and the bison in America. Stossel says it could work for other endangered species too, if environmental groups would drop their resistance.
Rescuing Risk Takers: Thrill-seekers hoping to surf the most difficult ocean wave, to bushwhack through treacherous back-country terrain or to catch the biggest ice-water fish sometimes take unnecessary risks, disregarding weather forecasts or warning signs. If they need to be rescued, let's bill them for the cost of the rescue, says Stossel. New Hampshire does that. Stossel confronts the rescued, who say "no," tax dollars should pay.
Let Them Do Steroids: Stossel asks: After years of hand-wringing over steroids in baseball, the Olympics, the Tour de France and other sports, isn't it time to acknowledge that athletes will always be looking for ways to get a competitive edge, and, instead of treating them like children, to let them go ahead and just do it?
Radiating Food Makes It Unsafe to Eat: Last month President Obama told us the fact that 95% of food not inspected by the FDA is "...a hazard to the public health..." But he did not mention that there is one way to make food safe: irradiate it. Irradiation means moving food though a stream of ionized energy -- it's a little like x-raying it, but with more power. The point is to kill bacteria. And it works. Irradiated meat stays fresh twice as long. Irradiated strawberries last up to three weeks on the shelf. But media hype and small scare groups have made people wary of food irradiation. Ruth Kava of the American Council on Science and Health says the anti-irradiation movement is all about ignorant fear of radiation.