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Common Sense With John Stossel (ABC, 10-11 p.m.): The information and advice found in this program is the kind Americans used to get across the back fence - advice on things like dealing with bill collectors and streamlining the morning rush hour in the home.

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John Stossel reports on such everyday problems faced by many people and offers some common-sense answers - helpful facts that too often tend to lie buried in research.

One subject covered is children whose fathers are not present and involved in family life. Those kids may face difficulties, say the experts. Besides getting comments from the specialists, Stossel observes the lifestyle of a single mother and her young son and discovers that she now believes marriage is more important than she thought when she had Josh.

The same real-life approach is brought to a range of other topics during the show.


America, 200 Years and Counting (PBS, 10-11 p.m.): At the heart of the issue being debated by the revolutionary 104th Congress is the relationship of the government to the individual. This special looks at the ancient problem at the community level - through the eyes of people and groups in places like West Virginia, New Hampshire, and Idaho.

The production visits Morganstown, W. Va., for instance, a town that simply decided to "fold up" their local government. In New Hampshire, which has no income tax, the program examines how nonpublic funds are raised to provide for the poor.

Affirmative action, welfare reform, and other trendy issues are covered, many of them being debated in Congress and most of them raising the implicit question of what part citizens feel government should play in their lives. During the show, several well-known Americans make statements about the role of government in our lives.

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The host is Dave Iverson of Wisconsin Public Television.

Please check local listings for these programs.

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