Stossel's Viewer Mail

As 20/20 co-anchor, John Stossel is known for his "Give Me a Break" reports. These short commentaries take a skeptical look at current events -- from pop culture controversies to censorship and government regulations. Past segments have specifically dealt with topics as varied as "Gaydar," stem-cell research and the shopping habits of teens.

You can learn more about Stossel's viewpoints in his book, "Give Me a Break," in which he recounts his career as a reporter while offering his thoughts on the role he thinks government should play in society.

And if you have an opinion about one of Stossel's reports, log on to his message board and discuss the issues raised each week on 20/20. Fans and foes of the show are also invited to send Stossel an e-mail that may be quoted in his weekly e-mail newsletter unless you note otherwise.

Your Letters: Nov. 18

Responses to the segment "Sex: Myths, Lies and Straight Talk"

"Your show on sex indicates desperation. When desperate for ratings, throw some sex in. You have the ability to do better than that. Take 20/20 back to the quality show it was. You can do it." -- Jim Young

"Fascinating that your producer obviously thinks 'culture' and sex are synonymous. Are sex stories what you're going to be doing the rest of your tenure at ABC? It sure does get wearisome (not having it but hearing about it … )" -- Andrea, NYC

And there was more mail about TV critic Ron Aldridge's criticism of Stossel's story on rich people in California, who got taxpayers to fund stem cell research. Alridge called the report "… an embarrassing display of shallowness and stupidity at a high level of American journalism," and went on to say: "John, let's give you a little Civics 101 lesson. See, government, by necessity, often takes on projects that are costly and that serve the greater public interest … allow me to let you in on a little secret about 'your' tax dollars. Pssst, they aren't YOUR tax dollars. They never were. From the minute you punched in on the job, those dollars were the property of whatever governing body was entitled to them by law. You never EARNED that money. It was the price you paid for the privilege of working. It's just that the government gave you a break by not collecting in advance … "

Some of you responded:

"The implicit argument about who owns tax dollars is that if you didn't have government, no one would enjoy the security without which wealth cannot be produced. Therefore, government owns whatever is produced and we should be grateful when they let us use some of it. Food is necessary to life, and without farmers there'd be no food, so should we therefore conclude that farmers should own everything and we should be grateful when they let us use some of it?" -- Tom Palmer, Washington, DC.

"Mr. Arlidge seems to subscribe to the theory that the government owns everything except what it allows you to keep. That view is not consistent with the intentions of the founding fathers as expounded in the documents that form the foundation of this country and its government. I share your philosophy regarding the role of government. I did not read or view your essay on the California proposition to support embryonic stem cell research with state funds. I thought California was broke. I am sure if the government gets involved it will screw things up with pork barrel politics, affirmative action, and non-scientific decision making."

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