John Stossel - Politically Correct History

John Stossel – Politically Correct History

what built the middle-class unions I'm told but union leaders office tell me when I confront them about some of the bad things unions do we built the middle class they say here's the head of Wisconsin's firefighters union the middle class would not be where it is today without the unions and the unions also claims they help minorities here's a sample of my interview with the head of New York City's 34,000 member Transit Union you discount the extremely positive impact that the trade union movement has had in this country launching people into the middle class and particularly african-americans and Latinos but that's just not true say Tom woods and Damon Ruth woods is the author of 33 questions about American history you're not supposed to ask Damon root rights for Reason magazine both of studied history and were shocked at how much of what they learned in school turned out to be wrong like what well the Union question for one I mean what do we get on unions other than propaganda and I say this as a razor they they raised us all up with all these rules well if if the Union mythology were correct history wouldn't have turned out the way it did so from roughly the Civil War up through 1900 wages are rising consistently and yet 3% of the labor force was unionized so obviously the union's can't take credit for this American workers got the eight-hour day much sooner than their much more heavily unionized counterparts in Europe did they had higher wages so but the union's say they got the eight-hour day only because of unions well this is not correct and for for reasons that we'll get to when we talk about workplace safety I think about my own father's case now my father was a teamster but he drove a forklift for a living for 15 years now imagine if he had had to stack pallets with his bare hands instead of with a forklift how much could they possibly have paid him a dollar 50 but it's because of the capitalists act of say and investing in equipment that makes my father more productive that makes it even plausible that he could earn a decent way and you're saying union rules might have prevented the introduction of the forklift well sure I mean though that either through featherbedding or work rules or through the taxes on corporations that most of these unions seem to want a favor that would have would have prevented this healthy outcome from occurring and Damon they made the union's say they they made the workplace safer what unions claim credit for a lot of things one of the things they also say is that they've been this unalloyed force for good a progressive wonderful force in American history when in fact if you look at the actual history of organized labor it their success their rise to power came at the expense of disadvantaged groups particularly african-americans as you mentioned the beginning the 1935 the Wagner Act National Labor Relations Act they call it the magna carta of Labor originally contained a clause forbidding unions from discriminating against black members and that was taken out at the insistence of the American Federation of Labor so this idea that unions have been this wonderful force for racial equality is simply wrong and the AFL's president in support of the bill lamented colored labor is being sought to demoralize wage rates the unions pushed for something called the davis-bacon Act and 1931 which Herbert who we're still stuck with today and the davis-bacon Act was in response in Long Island there was a veteran's hospital being built and the contractor brought in a group of black construction workers from the south and the union's freaked out about this they said this is colored labor it's depressing the white man's working wage they went to the representative bacon here in New York he and he got this bill passed and what this does is it sets wages is called the prevailing wage it's the local union wage so if you're a black person unions are discriminatory the racist they won't let you win or they they treat you badly what you can do to compete is you can work your own business you could which you could also work for a lower wage and that's what many African Americans did at the time and the davis-bacon act goes into effect and now it's illegal for them to compete against organized labor on federal projects the safer workplace question well that sounds superficially plausible right may their wicked capitalists who want you know steel beams falling on your head and thankfully don't care or being right yeah they couldn't care less but the long and the short of it is if we were to in reduce American safety standards into Bangladesh right now would that turn Bangladesh into a utopia or would it throw everything first say the Union yeah because no one would be working that I'll be sitting in their huts doing nothing it shows that there is a limit to workplace safety and that limit is the wealth of the society and as the society becomes wealthier as we invest in more capital equipment as the workers become more productive and their wages increase they can begin to opt for taking some of that increased wage in the form of safer workplaces and as we've seen government tries to take credit for all these advances when the wealth that the market creates is what makes it possible without that we would all be in Bangladesh and a good example of that is OSHA the head of OSHA under President Clinton was fond of holding up this chart that showed how workplace injuries it steadily dropped since OSHA began but then somebody charted it before OSHA and found it was dropping at the same rate the slope of the line is the same things get better because of free markets right they create more wealth and make it possible for us to opt for safer workplace environments and in fact most workplace injuries are caused either by people getting in traffic fatalities on the highways or another another worker punches you in the face it's not what most people think is that you know you're sitting there and you know you get your leg gets caught in the grinder and we're eating sausages made out of some guy's leg that is not what most of them are caused by I'm relieved to hear that because I eat sausage let's move on to another myth the New Deal FDR's New Deal solved the Great Depression I think most people think that we had a depression he spent all this money all these programs lifted us out well I don't blame them for thinking that it's the propaganda the shove down their throats 24 hours a day the president company excepted of course so the answer to this is just to look to his own people I mean look at Henry Morgenthau who was his Treasury secretary said in 1939 after he'd just seen the unemployment statistics showing unemployment at just about 20% said well we've done everything that the experts tells it we have tried spending money we are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work and so it turns out we still get double-digit unemployment during the 30s we have numerous years where net capital investment is negative we've got what's called regime uncertainty because a lot of businessmen wonder with an administration like this I don't want to risk my capital right now so I'm gonna hold back from investing we've got this this year are you talking Roosevelt or Obama now yeah let's see there you go because that's the real parallel here and yet today the FDR gets the credit for solving the depression it's it's astonishing that he would get this credit and the the record as I said with his own people pointing out that it's been a failure what what more would it require for us to concede this let's move on to you made a comment about Hoover did nothing and then Roosevelt saved us Hoover didn't do nothing Hoover increased spending Hoover is the opposite of laissez-faire Hoover he doubles government spending there's a public work spending spree the who what we call the Hoover Dam which which was completed under FDR but was started under Hoover Hoover creates the reconstruction Finance Corporation which essentially is giving bailouts to banks into government projects we have this graph of spending under Hoover and before Hoover and it would been pretty flat for the years before Hoover Hoover comes to power that's the yellow he increases spending 50% this idea that he's lays a fair just absurd and you mentioned the Hoover Dam that's a good example it was a big stimulus product project and of course it was done under him it's the Hoover Dam and even today it's still celebrated by advocates of big spending as an example of the wonderful things government should do it's a project of national significance we've got those projects on the menu right now and we've got to figure out whether or not we are still a country that can think this big and I think they're winning in the marketplace of ideas the advocates of big spending they most people think economies won't take care of themselves government has to control it and yet here we have the greatest examples of the opposite with the Great Depression and the current situation me for somebody to think that this was caused by the free market when you have Fannie and Freddie have all these regulations you have the federal are pumping the system with with cheap credit making it seem like the best thing you can do is buy five investment properties interest only and have no job you know that's not the free market at work that's crony capitalism at its at its worst many Americans know so little about history a Marist Poll ask people what country did the United States declare independence from 26% we're not sure that's a problem but another problem is that what people think they do know is often wrong and there are plenty examples of that in this book the believing brains from ghosts and gods to politics and conspiracies it's a new book from science historian Michael Shermer and for this show we're just talking history myths so what are some one of the myths of history is that history somehow unfolds in this beautiful coordinated lockstep logical fashion which only makes sense after the fact so I talked about the hindsight bias for example that after an event you can look back and trace the causal chain like why didn't push act on that August 9th memo that Condoleezza Rice got that al Qaeda will strike you know in United States soil well because that was one of about 2,000 pieces of information that came to the State Department but I'm just here about that one right so we remember the hits we forget the misses we noticed the events after the fact but not before so history in fact is chaotic its contingent its accidental things weird things happen like I have a whole discussion of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand that triggered the first world war the this was a conspiracy by Serbian nationalists that wanted independence from Austria Hungary Hungarian Empire and Franz Ferdinand was going to Syria to give the speech and they plotted it all out and they had everything lined up but nothing went right that one guy didn't get the right weapon another guy chickened out a third guy missed and a fourth guy his gun jammed the fifth guy threw the hanger native bounced off the back of the car and went underneath the car behind him it blew up some people are injured the Franz Ferdinand was fine he drove off gave a speech turning around drove back to the hospital and he's going down the same Boulevard and the last assassin is sitting there despondent on the curb eating a sandwich and here he comes and he goes oh thank you Mary shoots him that's how history really unfolds it's chaotic its contingent and but after the fact we look back and try to find some secret hidden organization there your book subtitle is how we construct beliefs and reinforce them as truths right so the way it works is that our beliefs come first the reasons for beliefs come second how we were raised what culture forces our peer groups and mentors teachers and so forth shape our beliefs and then after the fact we go in search of evidence to support them you write that it's a myth that the founding fathers were believing Christians yes I thought they were well in a way they're sort of Dias liberal Christians they had a kind of a general belief in a creator but nothing like modern evangelical Christians who would like to back into history modern beliefs about Christianity that's another one of these great myths that the founding fathers were like us modern evangelical Christians know that wasn't the case at all and how do you know that's not the case well we have their letters we have their original Diaries we know what they believe because they told us what they believed but in God We Trust has been on the currency since the 1850s the beautiful thing about the Constitution and the American experiment was that our founders were in fact scientists they were natural philosophers they practice science they could talk about the American experiment with democracy and it's like a scientific experiment where they said look we don't know how to govern nobody does so let's set it up in a way that can constantly change and collect new data and rerun the experiment they're called elections so every four years we'll throw the bums out and bring some new bums in and we'll try and tweak the variables we'll try this tax rate in that legal system and and then we'll change it if it doesn't go well well science works that like that way we run an experiment we collect data we see how it goes we rerun it we tweak the variables because we don't know the truth nobody does with a capital T truth we just trying to provisionally understand how the world works so I really think democracy and science are actually pretty closely related that's in that sense and I should tell the audience you're wearing this pin that's a skeptic he runs a magazine called skeptic which covers a lot of this yeah I have stolen stories from that's why well here another myth you say that humans years ago native peoples were just naturally peace-loving and lived an eco harmony the environment wellness Western Europeans came and messed it up capitalism corrupted them the myth of the noble savage this is one of the deepest historical myths that has actually deep social policy implications if you believe that people before civilization lived in peaceful harmony they never fought it means our nature is infinitely flexible peaceful loving kind altruistic we don't have this dark side because it's only brought about through imperialism and capitalism and colonialism and all the evils of Western civilization that is one of these great myths have been around for decades since the 60s archaeologically we now know that long before Europeans came to America the Native Americans were very tribal and warlike way more than we ever were as Europeans that the percentage of the males who died for example in conflicts was way higher than it is even in the 20th century we have artifacts we have arrowheads Spears inside human skeletons they killed each other we even had cannibalism examples we know that they divorced in most of New England before the first European came here they were destroying their environment they were doing everything people do because that's what we do we expand out and we use resources and before we understood the consequent long-term consequences of that that's what people do so they are like us they're not noble savages and so that's another ways great myths again that has political implications if you believe that you're gonna engineer social policy from the top down and say look we can end crime by by taxing more and giving more money to the poor because we know that that that poverty leads to criminality no we actually know that there's a whole other set of causes that you have to assume that there is some human nature to us you

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33 thoughts on “John Stossel – Politically Correct History

  1. Three markets always work our children don't know this they want communism socialism that's why I think we have to close the colleges this is getting very serious

  2. Clinton only showing the chart after osha is so typical. Doing same shit w climate change today and everything else. So easy to manipulate numbers to the masses.


  4. Hmm when I was 12 year s old (half way through my 60s now) my Dad turned and looked at me and said " In the future union s will start to go away as companies with start to offer more money, paid vacations and health insurance". Geeze my Pa had it right in some way s but his trade is still union. Peace to all you Tin (Benders) Bangers out there!


  6. Unions are a protection racket writ large. No more and no less. Try being a small business in NYC and having a private, non union trash service and see how long your windows stay unbroken, and your car stays unstolen.

  7. Unions launched the middle class??? Ha! What a crock of 100% horse sh*t! All unions ever did was keep the employees who excel down by making everybody exactly equal. I worked for the union 2 times and all they did was take money out of my pocket. Total scam!

  8. "Subsidizing community activists to find solutions to problems? These people have every incentive to exacerbate the problem to the fullest; because achieving calm would mean the end of their careers" — Thomas Sowell in Intellectuals in Society. Activists have NO interest in actually helping people; they use the plight of real victims to cash in the Politically Correct Gravy-Train of Government grants and Corporate Sponsorships.

  9. 12:35 Or we can be like the Democrats and try anything and everything to destroy, discredit our opposition, and when the Mueller report doesn't work, now we can go back and demand the IRS release Trump's tax return, and when that doesn't work (insert yet an another endless means to invalidate a legal election cycle, and when someone's name who rhymes with Diden actually does what Trump only talks about: touching woman the same party of MeToo turn a blind eye and help him. It is all political theater. If the Democrats thought gaining and holding power could be done with mass child porn parties and child sacrifices the same people, Schiff, Pelosi, people like Rachel Maddow would be front and center gleefully participating and demanding YOU do to by court order and laws that criminalize YOU if you don't participate. They are all authoritarians who are against Freedom of Choice, Freedom of Thought, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religious Autonomy, and yes Freedom in General.

    Vote Democrat because you hate Freedom and you love Child Porn and Child Sacrifices, and Gang Violence, and Human Trafficking, and Child Grooming Gangs and importing illegal voters so you can newly mint them citizens without even passing an amendment to do so. Wait, how about a Democrat sponsored amendment to give Birthright Citizenship to everyone in the whole wide world. You can be born anywhere and you are a US citizen. Why bother moving to the US? you can vote in the US election right where you are. You could be in China, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, or the homeland of Borat and vote for President in 2020. Would it surprise you if that did happen the world would re-elect Trump. That is what would happen since you see, many people around the world like how Trump does it, and they know supporting Trump means supporting their own nationalist goals. So nations like Poland would vote and overwhelmingly vote for Trump to be president. Then the World Mandate would show Democrats they are Treasonous against Human Freedom itself. Did I mention the Democrats literally hate Freedom unless it is freedom granted to you by the good grace of Democrat controlled government and policies. Then it is good freedom and you should bow before them in thanks to your secular masters.

  10. In God We Trust didn't start on the coinsge until 1864, not the 1850s. It wasn't on all the coins til 1909 and wasn't a law til 1955.

  11. The new deal made things worse. WWII simply covered up the fact that it was failing by actually lifting us out of the depression.

  12. The "skeptic" fails to recognize that the Framers knew that a written contract was their aim to guard against changes such as Skeptic says was planned — it was not.

  13. The Unions came about because of racism in the first place. In the time just before the Civil War white Northern labor was protected by politicians of both parties like David Wilmot and James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln and the North was used to that protection of their free white labor. Like David Wilmot introduced a law in the senate to try to make slavery illegal in any new territories or states. He himself flat out said that the reason was because he wanted to protect white Pennsylvania labor. It had nothing to do with being opposed to slavery and everything to do with him not wanting any labor competition in the new states. Well when slavery was abolished that also eliminated the fugitive slave acts which meant that the newly freed slaves could travel in the North and undermine that Northern labor that had been protected for decades and they did so. Thomas Sowell has talked about how his grandfather made a killing in the North in the late 19th century and then overnight they lost everything that they had gained. How did they loose it? The people who were used to their labor being protected for decades were demanding a solution and the solution was to come up with something that you had to be an approved member of to work in that state. That is why to this day it is the Northern states that are really big on labor unions.

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