John Stossel Corresponds With Viewers

You feedback is important to us. John Stossel includes a sampling of message board comments and e-mails from 20/20 viewers in his weekly e-mail (To subscribe, click here.)

He addresses some of the comments below.

I wanted to let you guys know you that you're doing a GREAT job. ... I teach Spanish and Sign Language now and the only extra credit I allow is for my students to watch "20/20" and translate one of the segments into their perspective language.

-Mark Bauman, Los Angeles

Watching Mr. Stossel's piece on modern art. Let the libel suits begin! Was Stossel so puny in high school that even the art students beat him up? Is he now exacting the type of revenge reserved for whiny journalists who have nothing better to do than make easy money on facile, meritless "reporting?" Why not gather a bunch of monkeys in a room full of typewriters, so we can all thank Stossel for the knowledge that Shakespeare was a sham as well?

Or does Stossel simply want to cement the ignorance of the American public, so we can all enjoy the fine ABC shows like "Hope and Faith", one of the benchmarks of modern American culture. Stossel's brand of incredulous reportage has devolved into the pathetic, reactionary thoughts of a jaded philistine. I certainly don't expect any kind of response to this e-mail, though my righteous indignation demands one. --Kurt Dahlke

I gasped when I heard the button of your "Real Deal" report on the abstract art market. Civilized societies have always included art amongst the schools of thought and civility. It is a sad truth in the United States that the importance of art has taken a back-seat to other disciplines. To hear your criticism of government support of the art world re-affirms my disgust with the corporate media, and disappoints a life-long supporter of Barbara Walters and Hugh Downs. I am thankful to have those rich people supporting the world of art, our future will be brighter because of it.


Leigh Boone

I'm thankful rich people support the world of art too. Why do you assume government has to fund it?!!! Government is force. Let the arts flourish in the voluntary sector. The following is discussion from my message board about it:

Re: RE: Art as Wasted Tax Dollars? I guess we know where John is politically!

Harpcat (Aug. 18, 2005 1:16 p.m.): Wow, I am amazed that having an opinion that varies from yours puts a human being automatically in "someone's pocket." It is so much easier to level accusations, apply labels, and call someone a "liar" than it is to reply in a thoughtful way to the points that a person makes.

Dreamer_71 (Aug. 22, 2005 12:22 a.m.): Stossel certainly gets more than his fair share of ad hominems on this board, especially by obsessive people with anger management problems who assume he is an ultra-conservative for not toeing the liberal-speak line.

Oops, looks like I just did an ad hominem myself.

KitoKaelin (Aug. 19, 2005 11:18 a.m.): Yeah! We should go back to the good old days of the 18th century! Strictly following the letter of the law in the original Constitution! Just imagine: no income tax! No welfare! No Social Security! And if you want some art, you can just force your slaves to make it for you.

JoJo8739 (Aug. 19, 2005 04:34 p.m.): I would be delighted if there were no income tax, no welfare, and no Social Security. If I wanted some art, I'd take all the money I saved from being ripped off by those programs and pay an artist.

Dorado2200 (Aug. 20, 2005 07:48 a.m.): "If you want some art, you can just force your slaves to make it for you" is exactly the thinking behind public art. Public art is funded with money that is forcibly taken from citizens.

theprez8686 (Aug. 24, 2005 02:39 p.m.): Ummm ... if I'm not mistaken, kitokaelin, the 13th Amendment outlaws slavery and the 16th Amendment (much to my dismay) gives Congress the power to levy income taxes so I'm not sure how following the written rule of the Constitution conflicts with either banning slavery or taxing income. You may want to actually try reading the Constitution before criticizing.

And as for the 18th century (which you seem to imply was so evil and horrible), you'll forgive me if I think some good things came of it -- namely the establishment of our free Republic, the first to recognize the rights of the individual above the right of the state. As much as you may dislike them, and despite the personal failings that SOME of them had (slavery as one example), America's Founding Fathers were generally some pretty smart, enlightened men with some major accomplishments in government, economics, and science. I'm sorry if that conflicts with your agenda.

KitoKaelin (Aug. 22, 2005 3:45 p.m.): Is there a part of the Constitution about giving corporations massive tax subsidies?

Dorado2200 (Aug. 23, 2005 07:53 a.m.): Nope. And there isn't a part that says corporations, whose shareholders already pay income tax, should be subject to their own special taxes either.

traceyver (Aug. 6, 2005 12:15 p.m.): I hate to say it, but I wonder if he [Stossel] is "on the take" at times. At times, I believe Stossel has conservative politicians in his pocket. Why in the world would he end the art segment sound[ing] like he was griping about politicians who say they don't have enough money but have money for museums to show this kind of art work? Art funding has already been cut enough without Stossel giving anyone another reason to vote for some politician that cares about nothing but corporations. Shame on him!

KitoKaelin (Aug. 8, 2005 8:26 p.m.): "I don't know if he personally is on the take, or if it's ABC in general on the take. The do spread a LOT of misinformation that helps their advertisers. And they spread a LOT of right-wing propaganda.

Theprez8686: (Aug. 15, 2005 5:57 p.m.): I don't know Tracy. Perhaps it's because America's Founding Fathers never once listed giving away taxpayer money to artists and/or art galleries as a function of the federal government?...Article I, Section 8, paragraph 8 of the Constitution reads as follows: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

Feel free to check the Constitution yourself. It's there. I'm not sure how John Stossel asking the federal government to abide by its own Constitution is somehow a Republican or Democrat matter unless you believe that holding a government accountable to its own written law is somehow now a political issue.

Jojo8739 (Aug. 19, 2005 4:36 p.m.): Wait a minute ... since when is the right wing anti-government? Bush is a bigger government spender than Clinton was. (I refer to his pork-laden agricultural and transportation bills.) If the government really was smaller and less powerful, there would be no incentive for big business to get into bed with it in the first place. They'd actually have to make money by treating their customers and employees better than their competition. And anti-art? If the government doesn't confiscate taxpayer dollars and pay me to sit around and play with puppies all day, is it right wing "anti-puppy" propaganda? I think you should pay closer attention to prez's comments about the rightful role of government. Just because you don't see the government as the means to pay for something, doesn't mean you are against that thing. In fact, the last thing I'd want is to have the government get involved in a cause I was passionate about -- they'd just bungle it up!

BadDogla (Aug. 20, 2005 9:03 p.m.): I disagree with all the "public" spending Bush's administration is doing, but he's not corrupt. You libs don't even know what it means to be honest. Truth is a concept beyond you. Hatred is all you know.

I want to know: How hard to teachers really work? In my community, they all complain about how many hours they work, how hard they work, etc. But they get summers off, they get extra money for working football games, and other extracurricular activities, I believe. Also, school lets out at 3:00. Planning periods are during lunch times and after 3. Try and reach a teacher during lunch or after 3:00. It's a joke. I put two children through elementary, middle, and high school, and the older they got and the more they advanced, the less I was able to reach a teacher. By 3:00 the parking lot is empty…. My daughter and son tell me they have had teachers who regularly came to class hung over, or stoned. And they go to a "good" school -- not a metro or inner city school. It's time to bust the "teaching" myth and find out what they really do with their time. Not a popular subject, I know, and one that you would no doubt get tons of backlash for -- but a lot of us parents want to know -- what's really going on?

-Cheryl Stone, Greenbrier, Tenn.

We're actually trying to find out what's going on. It's among the issues I'm going to look at this fall in an hour long special on education. Over the past 30 years, America has doubled educational spending, but test scores have remained flat. What if we had a free market in education?

Competition is extremely fierce for the limited number of positions available in medical schools. A major deciding factor in the admission process is the student's score on the Medical College Admission Test. It came to our attention that there is a medical school applicant who is taking next week's MCAT and will be receiving double time to write the test and also will be provided with an individual who will read questions aloud to him during the test. We assume he will be provided separate quarters so as not to disturb other test-takers. Should students with accommodated test-scores (i.e. SAT, MCAT, LSAT, GMAT) albeit due to "learning disabilities," be admitted to superior learning institutions versus students who test under standard conditions? I understand that a mere asterisk is placed next to their score without explanation. It is probably taboo for the institutions to probe into the reasons for the asterisk.

-Arlene O.E. Perry and Dr. Michael S. Perry

An asterisk does appear next to the score of a student who took the MCAT as a student with a disability. The LSAT, a test for law school admissions, also flags it. However, the other big tests, like the SAT, ACT (both used for undergraduate admissions) or the GMAT and GRE (used for graduate school), do not flag. The school has no way of knowing if the kid took the test in record time, or endless hours.

Last year, 65,000 students applied to take the specialized SAT -- and 86 percent were approved. Both Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell would have qualified for extra time because they both suffered from dyslexia. Stephen Hawking has Lou Gehrig's disease, and that would have qualified him. Albert Einstein also had "learning disabilities" that might have qualified him for one of these special tests.

I keep getting these ubiquitous e-mails giving me everything from candy bars to $1 million. I mostly get the ones telling me they have free computer or play station and all I have to do is submit my Zip code first, then e-mail address, etc. I would like to know if anyone has ever gotten a free computer.

--Dean Baldino

We looked into this by going to one of those Web sites -- a site that is virtually identical to other pop-up and spam letter that advertises free computers that we received. After entering a valid e-mail address, name, phone number, address, we were taken to survey questions that were basically a series of advertisements. Then we were told that we had to select two "offers" below and the computer would be ours. Those two offers directed us to online credit card applications -- that's the rub. These "free computer" ads tend to be just a misleading way of signing you up for a credit card.

Thank you so much for the story on the boom car noise. I am being driven out of my mind and home with these boom cars. It's just not right.


Its amazing how people can be so inconsiderate and self-centered. Where is civility?


We had a young man who frequently drove through our neighborhood in his "rag top" Jeep with speakers booming away. One summer day, I was in my car and happened to pull up next to this young man at a stoplight. As usual, his "music" was blasting -- all the more annoying because he had removed the top from the Jeep. I just happened to have a very dramatic orchestral piece playing on my car radio (which I usually keep turned down to a civilized level). While I opened both windows on the side of my car that faced him, I turned the radio and all four speakers up to maximum volume and left it that way until the light changed. He got quite agitated, glaring at me and finally squealed his tires as he pulled out as soon as the light turned green. It was a small victory for me, but I have noticed that he seldom drives through our neighborhood anymore.

--Bette Lynn Gardner, Tunkhannock, Pa.

Hello. FYI: Chicago does not enforce motorcycle noise, or speeding laws regarding motorcycles. I live on the outer drive and for decades people up and down the drive have complained about being awakened at 2, 3, and 4 a.m. with loud motorcycles zooming first up and then later down the drive gain and again and again. No one will do anything about it. The police give it a pass. We are all going crazy and are sleepless in Chicago.

--Meryl Dann, Chicago

I have to tell you that I usually agree with your segments on "20/20", and for the most part I did agree with tonight's segment on boys and their boom cars. But I have to tell you, that if that is the worst thing they do, then what is the harm? I am a 45-year-old mother of three and I absolutely love my sporty Grand Am with its Monsoon stereo system! I blare it very loud quite frequently. I buy a car for its stereo system. Let the kids be kids. If that is the worst thing they are doing, then what is the harm? (my son and I are courteous around our neighbors but on the highway, WATCH OUT!)

--Pam Boring, Plainfield, Ill.

Today I spent over an hour with a crying 79-year-old landlord, telling her that everything will turn out ok, even though I know it will cost her tens of thousands of dollars to resolve the issue and in truth can cost her life, because at her age the stress level can be just too much.

This lady, who lived through the Holocaust and worked in sweatshops to make ends meet, decided to sell her house. The problem is that she has rented an apartment in her two-family home to a young couple with a baby, who don't think they have to pay rent, because, according to them, they "have a lot of other expenses." The landlord consulted an attorney about eviction and the attorney informed her that it will take up to one year for the process, during which time the tenants do not have to pay rent.. If they go to the Housing Department and complain about living conditions (even if there is nothing wrong with the living conditions) she will not be able to evict them at all, because then it will be treated as retaliatory eviction.


And the regulations were supposed to help people...

Get your facts straight John. Size 14, even 16, is really an average size for women today. Your last comment was insulting -- commenting on these "Big Women." To make a comment like that really lowered my respect for you. You must think it's normal to be like those skinny little Hollywood type women who have to puke after they eat a carrot stick for fear they may become a size 1. Give me a beak, John!

--Laura Jacobson

What is with kids having peanut allergies these days? I never heard of this until recently and now it's so prevalent. What's going on here? Is it over-protective parents or a real concern?

--Suzanne Hooker

I think it's a real concern. One of my kids can't breathe (and must immediately get a shot of adrenaline, or she'll die) if she touches even a small amount of peanuts, or peanut butter. Fluffernutter sent her to the hospital last time.

People can't tell the difference in between the vodkas. In fact, in the casino, when serving free drinks to people gambling, very seldom do we pour anything but our house vodka. Even when something else is requested.

--M. E.

I suspected that.

I find your reporting at times amusing, other times annoying. As an attorney (yes I know, you hit us hard) I found several years ago a "special" on free speech fascinating that you hosted, and how people, who claim to be pro-First Amendment, shouted down others at a college campus who they did not agree with. That had and has a powerful resonating message with me.

As for annoying, well I'll leave you with this, and forgive the paraphrasing from Socrates Defense (I'd like to think all people of the press would adhere to this):

"God has specially appointed me to this city, as thought it were a large thoroughbred horse which, because of its great size is inclined to be lazy and needs the stimulation of some stinging fly. It seems to me that God has long attached me to this city to perform the office of such a fly, and all day long I never cease to settle here, there, and everywhere, rousing, persuading, reproving, everyone of you. You will not easily find another like me gentlemen."

Keep on "stinging,"

John Martin

PS: Why do lawyers get all the bad raps anyway? Did you ever think how people address me? They say "It's THE lawyer" Does anyone care that jury trials are down? That the number of filings of lawsuits in general last I checked are down? Lawyers are demonized. And why? Since when did a profession become a characterization? Do you refer to your neighbor as "the pest control guy?"

If he's a "pest control guy," I might. But the difference is that pest control guy can't come enter my house if I don't invite him. You lawyers get bad raps because you intrude into my life against my will. You use force. You do some good, but, often, much more harm. If the number of lawsuits is down (if it is, bet it's a short-term dip), I'm thrilled.

I'd like to know more about your knee operation. I thought I heard you say something about cartilage regenerating itself. What doctor did the operation and is there a name for it? How are you doing now? Can you participate in sports?


Rose Argetsinger

The operation is called microfracture surgery. Mine was done by Dr. David Altcheck. After nine weeks on crutches, I'm still doing rehab. Very frustrating.

John, I just finished your book [ORDER HERE] in three days. This was truly a great experience.

-Jacque Lahaie, Alpharetta, Ga.

Glad you liked it. There'll be more "Give Me a Break"-like stories in Friday's "Myth" show!

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