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No, They Can't: Why Government Fails-But Individuals Succeed

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  802 ratings  ·  120 reviews
New York Times bestselling journalist John Stossel shows how the expansion of government control is destructive for American society.Emmy Award-winning journalist John Stossel is a self-proclaimed skeptic, attacking society'ssacred cows. Now, he dismantles the most sacred of them all: the notion that government action is the best way to solve a problem. From the myth that ...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Threshold Editions
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Atlas Shrugged by Ayn RandThe Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek1984 by George OrwellEconomics in One Lesson by Henry HazlittThe Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
Best Libertarian Books
83rd out of 212 books — 162 voters
Shadowbosses by Mallory FactorLeave Us Alone by Grover G. NorquistThe Baseball Economist by J.C. BradburyPower Hungry by Robert BryceThe Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjørn Lomborg
John Stossel Show Reads
11th out of 63 books — 6 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,471)
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SusanwithaGoodBook
The BEST non fiction book I've read in long time. I love John Stossel - have since I was in high school. He and Brit Hume were my favorites when I was young. They were the only ones on ABC that made sense to me. Such voices of reason. I loved this book because it explains how many of the things we're told or taught are just plain wrong, and how we hurt ourselves and those we claim to help with our faulty thinking. I'm a libertarian by nature, so I knew Stossel's views lined up with mine in many ...more
Peter A
I am getting old. That's a good thing because I have the advantage of having watched government for a long time. At one point I thought, incorrectly, that government could solve problems. And I thought I knew everything. Both observations were incorrect. Government throws money at problems. That rarely solves the problems but can sometimes ameliorate the suffering of some individuals involved. That's a good thing...sometimes. When there is too much money, it has a corrosive, corrupting effect. W ...more
Craig
Fantastic book that helped me get a firmer grasp on how libertarians see the world. And frankly, Stossel may just win me to their cause. I especially loved his discussions on education, gun control, and drug legalization. Concerning the latter, I'm not totally convinced that the libertarian view is the right one, but I'm much more conflicted about it now, which means I'm having to take a good hard look at what my own beliefs are. I appreciate that in any book.

Two things that kept a star off of m
...more
Stefani
If you're a liberal, you'll hate this book. If you are an open-minded conservative (like I was so many years ago when I read his first two books), it will make you think. If you are a libertarian, this is a book for you. Government is not the solution to our problems... government IS the problem... and it's high time we shrink it down to size.
Dale
Libertarianism thought delivered painlessly by nice guy Stossel

Published April 10, 2012 by Simon and Schuster Audio.
Read by the author, John Stossel
Duration: 9 hours, 14 minutes


The title of this audiobook, No, They Can't , is a play on the 2008 campaign slogan of then-candidate Obama, "Yes We Can!" Stossel, of course, is the TV consumer reporter turned anchor of ABC's 20/20 who now hosts a weekly show of Fox Business News and a series on one-hour specials on Fox News. He has won nineteen Emmy A
...more
Karen
I think I need to switch to the libertarian party. I identify with nearly everything they espouse. Specifically, very limited government!

I agree wholeheartedly with Stossel's views stated so well here. I've even come to accept and agree with his suggested cuts to social security and medicare, so they can be privatized and made better by free market competition.

I have two sons who are active duty military. I would love to see them come home to the states and stop policing the world. Yes. Cut mil
...more
Shea Mastison
"I can go to a foreign country, stick a piece of plastic in the wall, and cash will come out. I can give that same piece of plastic to a stranger who doesn't even speak my language--and he'll rent me a car for a week. When I get home, Visa or MasterCard will send me the accounting--correct to the penny. That's capitalism! I just take it for granted.

Government, by contrast, can't even count votes accurately."

John Stossel is the rare libertarian in the mainstream media. Using his position as a we
...more
Oren
It was an interesting read and certainly introduced new ways of thinking to me that I haven't thought of before. The book is also funny and entertaining, especially when Stossel attacks those that make claims that he disagrees with.

Unfortunately, Stossel takes very strong stances on many issues but will only give brief, over-simplistic justifications for many of those stances, without ever going into why the other side's logical support is wrong. Many times he'll make a claim and use logic to su
...more
Malin Friess
Five Stars! Five Stars! No they Can't (an obvious shot at Obama's Yes We Can) makes the strong argument why government fails (so make it smaller) and individuals achieve.

Stossel quit his job at ABC after he found that he couldn't do journalism like he wanted to do. Even though he disagree's much with Fox News (on gay marriage, military spending, legalization of drugs, etc) he took a position with them. He claims the Fox News is more open minded and educated that the other stations.

Stossel is of
...more
Jeff
A remarkably good, fun read from this libertarian refugee from the mainstream media. Each individual topic starts with "What intuition tempts us to believe:", followed by "What reality taught me:". It's a great way to introduce each subject, and state why government's efforts to improve things so frequently doesn't have the desired result. Here's one example from the book:
What intuition tempts us to believe: It's tyrants who want to censor.
What reality taught me: We should fear the tyranny of th
...more
Johnrh
This is libertarian John Stossel’s retort to the big government political slogan “Yes We Can”. It is his latest book for individual freedom of choice and against overbearing government. Stossel was a consumer reporter on ABC network and its 20/20 investigative show for a couple of decades. Since becoming more conservative and sanely libertarian he has been on the Fox News network and has his own show on Fox Business Network.

Although a libertarian in the Ron Paul vein, supporting legalization of
...more
Elizabeth
I've been politically indecisive for ages. I couldn't find a niche. Unfortunately, I still have no niche. I remain Independent. However, this book solidified and articulated a lot of my vague political opinions. I wouldn't call myself a Libertarian necessarily (Mainly because of the party's stance on abortion).

But I certainly agree free markets make more sense. And deregulation. Especially privatizing public schools. That's an excellent idea. No more teacher unions. I find it highly disturbing w
...more
Roger Miller
This book has literally changed my life. I am 48 soon to be 49 and all my life I have voted republican because I was fearful of wasting my vote. Best quote of the book is; I am a libertarian in part because I see the false choice offered by both political left and right; government control of the economy-or government control of our personal lives. This book has put resolve into my heart to waste the rest of my votes, if for no other reason than to explain it is in response to the false choice t ...more
Sheryl Tribble
Lightweight in the sense of an easy read that covers a lot of territory. Not a lot of info on any one thing, but a nice place to start if someone's curious about the libertarian perspective.
John
This book is an awesome exploration of the shortfalls of government. Stossel is my favorite journalist, and every time I read one of his books (or watch one of his TV specials, for that matter) it makes me feel ten times smarter. NO, THEY CAN'T is basically a cross between THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO CAPITALISM and something written by Ron Paul. But this book did one thing for me that Ron Paul was never able to do...cause me to start identifying myself as Libertarian! Stossel tackles a lo ...more
Dwayne Roberts
A good read, certainly indignance-raising. The only errors I noticed were minor (such as calling Ayn Rand a libertarian). The book doesn't delve into why independence, smaller government, absence of force, etc. is virtuous; it assumes, as does the Declaration of Independence, that they are self-evident. The book promotes a foreign policy that is, in my opinion, a little isolationist, although Stossel himself admits his unsurity, pondering where to draw the line. Quite interesting to me was his c ...more
Corey A. Jones
A must read for anyone who is interested in free markets and the welfare of our country. Stossel has an amazing way of presenting his arguements without it feeling like a "Right vs. Left" showdown. It just feels like he's presenting information. His points are very convincing and he doesn't make fun of those who disagree. The facts seem to be on his side. Now I'm wondering if I might be for legalizing heroin and prostitution. He's certainly got me questioning some of my views.

I did the audio ver
...more
Michael
I'm not really sure why I continue to read books like this... They generally make me pretty depressed about the state of the American economy. That being said, I really enjoyed the book. Stossel offers some common-sense solutions to fixing America's fiscal problems, and does so in an entertaining way. I especially enjoyed the chapters on free speech, public education, and ending the drug war. If any of my friends ask for a primer on libertarian solutions to some of the bigger problems facing Ame ...more
Dan Bitting
This should be required reading for all Americans, including Presidents and political candidates. I disagree with Stossel on several topics in the book, but completely agree that government is NOT the solution. If government is ineffective and inefficient, what makes us think more will be better? Part of the problem is that those who can shrink the size of the government are unwilling to shrink the size of their power, and they go hand-in-hand. We need politicians with political will or we will ...more
Joseph
No They Can't takes a balanced libertarian view on business and government, detailing the inefficiencies and inherent ability to encourage corruption when left to its own devices without oversight or competition. The book equally criticizes the rise of the Tea Party movement, giving rationale for their creation yet illustrating the ease by which demagoguery blunts their message, and socialist-leaning progressives showing the well-meaning ideology that resonates with many but tends to succumb to ...more
Terry Cornell
Required reading for anyone before they're allowed to vote! Well, Stossel and libertarians would frown on this additional regulation and the bureaucracy needed to enforce it. Excellent work on big government and why it's doomed to fail. There's something in this book for anyone whether liberal, conservative, independent, etc. Made me reconsider my thoughts on defense spending, still disagree with most of his thoughts on legalizing drugs.
Christa Pettis
If my friends have ever wondered why I am a libertarian (I side with 100% of Ron Paul's opinions, so I do identify as pro-life which is not on the Libertarian platform...), this is one of two books I would recommend. The other book being Liberty Defined by Ron Paul.

I would have given it 4.5 stars, if I had that option, because John Stossel writes EXACTLY the way he talks...so I had his voice in my head the whole time I was reading. ;)
Mary
Fantastic read calling out some of the problems with conventional wisdom about the way things work, and essentially highlighting Stossel's journey into Libertarianism after starting out his career as a liberal news media guy. His style is concise and factual. You'll be able to fact check pretty much everything he says, and I love his tendency to point to his own former ways of thinking and what changed his mind.
Richard Ward
Listened to the audio version, read by the author. Great introduction to libertarianism. I'm already a libertarian, so I didn't need convincing, but I really believe this book could win some hearts. It's written in a friendly style, easy to read. If you think that libertarians only care about legalizing pot, you'll learn that there's a lot more to us than that. If you're a conservative or a liberal who can't stand to see hamburger made out of your favorite sacred cow, be warned: Stossel pulls no ...more
Karla Kelsch
Whether you're liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, Independent or Libertarian, everyone should read this book. Although I don't necessarily agree with everything Stossel says, I do like the way he presented the information. I didn't feel like any agenda was being shoved down my throat. I definitely view government is a whole new light....I'd say I've been enlightened by this book.
Robert Chapman
This book kept me thinking, which as I have said in other reviews is the sign of a good book. I found I went back and forth between total agreement with Stossel on many points to outright dismay at some other points of view.

For example, the idea that providing medical care costs far more than it should due to medical insurance makes total sense. The premise being that when we don't have to shop for the best price as we know the given procedure is covered by insurance, we don't care what the real
...more
John Stone
Great economic theory presented to make perfect sense of his Libertarian views. Stossel explains the failures in both parties and aptly dubs our current crony capitalist system "Crap-italism". I wished he could provide a clear, progressive plan to return our economy to less dependence on government with the same clarity he presents his Libertarian economic views.
Amy Young
A friend asked me to read this book in light of a discussion we had on legalization of some drugs. I'll be honest that prior to reading this book I couldn't have articulated very clearly what a libertarian believed. I have to give it to Stossel, he's got me thinking about things differently. And you know what, I may be changing my mind on drug laws.
Angel Alejandro
It's a good book, we are shown that the vast majorities of goverment regulations are does not help people "au contraire" it damages them.
It shows that the individuals can solve more problems towards the public by free markets and self interest that bureacrats thousand of miles away.
Read it . you wont regret it.
Jesse
Taken as a whole, it was a worthwhile read. There were some parts in the book where the author makes some bold assumptions without giving much reasoning as to why. Ultimately, the book shed a Libertarian's philosophy on the way the government should be handled and he did get a good job getting his opinion across.
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