ABC's John Stossel is headed for Fox News, perhaps the only "news" outlet in America that won't immediately take a hit to its credibility by bringing him on.
That Stossel would feel at home at Fox should come as no surprise based on his performance as an ABC employee. Who could forget, for example, Stossel's post-Katrina column "In defense of price-gouging"?
You're probably thinking that Stossel was making a theoretical argument that high prices can be helpful in discouraging frivilous consumption. Surely Stossel wasn't actually saying that in water-scarce post-Katrina Louisianna, those stores that were lucky enough to have bottled water should charge those who were in danger of dying of dehydration $20 for a bottle?
But that's exactly what Stossel was saying:
Consider this scenario: You are thirsty -- worried that your baby is going to become dehydrated. You find a store that's open, and the storeowner thinks it's immoral to take advantage of your distress, so he won't charge you a dime more than he charged last week. But you can't buy water from him. It's sold out.
You continue on your quest, and finally find that dreaded monster, the price gouger. He offers a bottle of water that cost $1 last week at an "outrageous" price -- say $20. You pay it to survive the disaster.
You resent the price gouger. But if he hadn't demanded $20, he'd have been out of water. It was the price gouger's "exploitation" that saved your child.
It saved her because people look out for their own interests. Before you got to the water seller, other people did. At $1 a bottle, they stocked up. At $20 a bottle, they bought more cautiously. By charging $20, the price gouger makes sure his water goes to those who really need it.
The people the softheaded politicians think are cruelest are doing the most to help. Assuming the demand for bottled water was going to go up, they bought a lot of it, planning to resell it at a steep profit. If they hadn't done that, that water would not have been available for the people who need it the most.
Ah, no. By charging $20, the price gouger makes sure his water goes to those who can pay $20. That isn't the same as "the people who need it the most" on a random Tuesday in Des Moines. When talking about post-Katrina New Orleans, where many people no longer possessed anything more than the shirt on their back, it is simply obscene to equate the people who could afford to pay $20 for a bottle of water with the people who most needed water.
That John Stossel doesn't understand a basic thing like the difference between needing something and being able to pay grossly inflated rates for it tells you pretty much everything you need to know about him. Come to think of it, he just might actually drag Fox down a bit.
Here's a bit more: