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

4.26  ·  Rating Details ·  1,010 Ratings  ·  135 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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Ross Blocher
Oct 16, 2016 Ross Blocher rated it liked it
If you're looking for a quick introduction to the Libertarian viewpoint, this is a good primer and worth considering. "No, They Can't" (an obvious pun on Obama's "Yes We Can") decries government overreach in the economy, business, regulation, health care, workers' rights, diet, safety, censorship, education, the war on drugs, military, and conservation. John Stossel is a long-time television host with a history of exposing scams and challenging common conceptions. He's done some great work on ...more
Peter A
Apr 24, 2012 Peter A rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Dec 03, 2013 SusanwithaGoodBook rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 23, 2012 Craig rated it really liked it
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
Apr 18, 2012 Stefani rated it it was amazing
Shelves: political
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.
May 31, 2012 Dale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 03, 2014 Karen rated it it was amazing
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
Shea Mastison
Mar 21, 2013 Shea Mastison rated it it was amazing
"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
May 22, 2012 Johnrh rated it it was amazing
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
Malin Friess
May 25, 2012 Malin Friess rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 26, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it
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
Roger Miller
Aug 10, 2013 Roger Miller rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Oct 19, 2014 Oren rated it liked it
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
Dwayne Roberts
Mar 12, 2013 Dwayne Roberts rated it liked it
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 ...more
Nov 28, 2012 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, economics
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 ...more
Dan Bitting
Aug 26, 2012 Dan Bitting rated it it was amazing
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
Corey A. Jones
Apr 02, 2013 Corey A. Jones rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 28, 2016 Kendra rated it really liked it
I always knew I had libertarian leanings and this booked sealed the deal! This book confirmed many of my suspicions-and fears. As much as I appreciated this book, at the end I was depressed. How have we derailed from such a great path and how, oh how will we ever get back on track??
Highly recommend to anyone interested in putting their politics under a microscope. He doesn't pull any punches with democrats or republicans so if you feel protective of either party, you may need to prepare a "safe
Dec 19, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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 ...more
Sep 16, 2012 Mary rated it it was amazing
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.
Todd Gutschow
Oct 22, 2015 Todd Gutschow rated it really liked it
Typical of Stossel's libertarian views he circles major issues and offers reasonable solutions. While I don't agree with some libertarian theories you have to admit that the media makes many people feel like the government is the only "nonpartisan" "nonprejudiced" entity that can solve our nation's problems. Individual Americans and the market system are both extraordinarily good at this...the government is definitely not. A great read for those who prefer to think through problems.
Christa Pettis
Aug 02, 2013 Christa Pettis rated it it was amazing
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 I had his voice in my head the whole time I was reading. ;)
Aug 11, 2013 Lee rated it really liked it
Shelves: political-books
This book by Stossel is made up of short bits where he talks about the various aspects of your life that the government is involved in, or that they want to be involved in and why he believes you or private industry is better equipped to deal with it. Told from Stossel’s Libertarian point of view.
Karla Kelsch
Jan 06, 2015 Karla Kelsch rated it it was amazing
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.
Angel Alejandro
Jul 23, 2014 Angel Alejandro rated it it was amazing
Shelves: libertarism
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.
John Stone
Jun 26, 2013 John Stone rated it really liked it
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
Jun 24, 2013 Amy Young rated it liked it
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.
Jan 04, 2013 Jesse rated it really liked it
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.
Keil Hunsaker
Feb 09, 2013 Keil Hunsaker rated it really liked it
I did enjoy this book and agreed with most of it. My one small issue with it, and it isn't really a criticism, is that Stossel writes the same way he talks, so the entire time I was reading this I had John Stossel's voice in my head. Kind of weird but otherwise a good book
Mar 16, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it
I've always liked John Stossel's presentations on 20/20. This book takes those reports to a new level and tells why he broke from ABC's oppressive censoring. His points are presented in the form of what our instincts tell us vs. reality. Good read.
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