Sunday, September 11, 2005

Re-evaluating John Stossel

Freeman (aka libertarian critter) takes exception to my appraisal of TV reporter John Stossel as “one of the best messengers we free-marketeers have got.” There are problems with Stossel, freeman says. And I agree. I probably should have written that Stossel is the only messenger we free-marketeers have got in mainstream television media. Or maybe I should have described him as Sherlock Holmes once described Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard — “the best of a bad lot.”

Anyway, this reminds me of a system Samuel Edward Konkin III used in his newsletters to rate the value of books, lectures, etc. to hardcore Libertarian Leftists. His Agorist Ratings went like this: -1 = statist; 0 = non-libertarian; 1 = mixed at best; 2 = mostly partyarch (political) but redeeming features; 3 = mostly libertarian; 4 = counter-economic and/or hardcore libertarian; 5 = pure agorist.

Using this system, SEK3 rated (depending on his mood, for his ratings shifted somewhat from newsletter to newsletter) Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson a 4.5, Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action a 4.9, Rose Wilder Lane’s The Discovery of Freedom a 4.5, David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom a 2.9, most books by Harry Browne a 4, and most everything by Thomas Sowell somewhere between 1 and 2. (I’d personally rate Friedman higher, by the way. Keeping in mind his preference for utilitarianism over natural rights, I’d still give him at least a 3.4, agorically speaking.)

So, on Sam’s old Agorist Ratings scale, I’d place John Stossel’s Give Me a Break at 2.6. I liked it. I had a good time reading it. And if I were trying to convince my wishy-washy Starbucks barista of the benefits of markets over the State, I’d hand him lightweight Stossel rather than the heavier Mises or Rothbard, just to get him started. But that’s me.

If I remember to do so, I may begin using SEK3’s Agorist Ratings on this blog, when appropriate.

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At 12:48 PM, Blogger freeman said...

Thanks for pointing out SEK3's Agorist rating system. It looks like a useful way to evaluate books and whatnot.


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