Economics

Free to Choose

Why did America prosper while most of the world remains poor?

|

America's current struggles notwithstanding, life here is pretty good. We have a standard of living that's the envy of most of the world.

Why did that happen? Prosperity isn't the norm. Throughout history and throughout the world, poverty has been the norm. Most of the world still lives in dire poverty. Of the 6 billion people on earth, perhaps 1 billion have something close to our standard of living. Why did America prosper when most of the people of the world are still poor?

Milton Friedman taught me the answer. More than any other American, Friedman, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976, clearly warned the world about the unintended consequences of big government.

"We've become increasingly dependent on government," said Friedman. "We've surrendered power to government; nobody has taken it from us. It's our doing. The results—monumental government spending, much of it wasted, little of it going to the people whom we would like to see helped."

That's from Friedman's PBS TV series Free to Choose, which aired 30 years ago and became the basis of his No. 1 bestseller by the same name.

The title says a lot. If we are free to make our own choices, we prosper. That was a new idea to many back then. At the time—when inflation and interest rates were in double digits and unemployment approached 10 percent—people thought a wise government could ensure economic growth, guarantee full employment, and eliminate poverty. Friedman explained that the opposite was true, that bigger government had brought us "burdensome taxes, high inflation, a welfare system under which neither those who receive help nor those who pay for it are satisfied. Trying to do good with other people's money simply has not worked."

No, it hasn't. So why, 30 years later, is America doing so much more of it?

Because people still have not learned Friedman's lesson.

Because of that, I give money to a charity that offers teachers free copies of some of my TV news videos that explain the benefits of free markets. The video most popular in high schools is one in which I ask students, "When so many nations remain poor, why did America become prosperous?" Many answer, "Because we have democracy." Yet India has democracy, and India has been poor for years. "India is overpopulated," they say. They don't know that India has the same population density as New Jersey.

Other students suggest that America prospered because of our natural resources. But Hong Kong has no natural resources. It's basically a rock. It is also more densely populated than India. Yet, in just 50 years, Hong Kong went from poverty to American levels of wealth.

How? In Free to Choose, Friedman explained that it was the free market. Overlooking the amazing Hong Kong skyline, he said: "This miracle hasn't been achieved by government action—by someone sitting in one of those tall buildings and telling people what to do. It's been achieved by allowing the market to work."

Walking down a crowded street, he added, "They are free to buy from whom they want, to sell to whom they want, to work for whom they want. Sometimes it looks like chaos, and so it is, but underneath it's highly organized by the impersonal forces of a free marketplace."

At the time of his series, India was a symbol of enlightened central planning.

"India has tremendous economic and human potential," Friedman commented. "The human tragedy is that in India that potential has been stifled by the straightjacket imposed by an all-wise and paternalistic government. Central planning has condemned India's masses to poverty and misery." What counted most for Friedman was that people should be free to try innovative ideas and succeed … or fail.

"The free market enables people … to trade with whomever they want; to buy in the cheapest market around the world; to sell in the dearest. … (B)ut most important of all: If they fail, they bear the cost."

"Most important of all." It's clear what he would have thought of today's government bailouts.

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS, INC.
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Advertisement

NEXT: Levelling the Playing Field Against Fringey McMoneypants

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. OMFG! Stossel AND Friedman on the same page? AWESOME!

    1. Yeah, gave me a s__t-fit too.

  2. I think that he might have been for a bailout of the banks.
    Most “free market economists” were recently

      1. “were, recently.”

        ?

        1. sorry..

          until recently against bailouts but for some strange reason suddely thought that bailouts were absolutely neccessary to save the investment banks.

          1. until recently against bailouts but for some strange reason suddely thought that bailouts were absolutely neccessary to save the investment banks.

            And why were investment banks for important to save than liquor stores or casinos?

            1. Because moneys like to cherry fandango octopus.

              1. I lol’d.

  3. Your economic model is outdated.
    You will be assimilated.
    Pass the tofu.

    1. Also…the Science is settled…ON EVERYTHING.

      Report to the nearest reineducation[Said in a Ned Flanders-esque voice] center for your state-mandated (and complimentary!)indoctrination enema.

  4. “The free market enables people … to trade with whomever they want; to buy in the cheapest market around the world; to sell in the dearest. … (B)ut most important of all: If they fail, they bear the cost.”

    Unless, of course:

    * Buying the cheapest does not mean paying people less for the “same” work. People are entitled to a “living wage.”
    * Trading with whoever you want does not mean trading with people the government does not like.
    * Selling does not include the sale of stuff the government finds “distastefull”, especially if it happens to be a) forbiden or b) very similar to what other protected industries sell.

    Besides the above, you can pretty much do what you want . . . in other places except here.

    1. Stop fucking up the free market OM. Seeee!!!!! It IS libertarians fault! see, see, see, see?!?

  5. I don’t have Fox Business Channel.

    Should I . . . DEMAND IT?!?

  6. Prosperity comes at the expense of somebody else. We should be ashamed.

    1. Welcome to the real world.

      1. Actually that’s not even real world. All free market transactions occur because both buyer and seller feel they’ll be better off and almost always are (and those who are not have the option of legal recourse, a legitimate function of gov’t, if needed, but most often it’s not). Free markets lead to thriving because nearly every transaction is win-win.

      2. The idea that one person’s prosperity comes at the expense of another is grounded in faulty zero-sum thinking. One man’s prosperity is opportunity for others.

  7. * Selling does not include the sale of stuff the government finds “distastefull”

    Or that could make me fat, or consume more electricity than some unkempt hippie believes I’m entitled to(or works in a dimmer), or could spread the menacing health effects of fifth-hand smoke….

    1. Just wait Chipotle. They’ll be coming for your delicious 5-lb 5000 calorie burritos next. When they do, the revolution begins.

  8. Buying the cheapest does not mean paying people less for the “same” work. People are entitled to a “living wage.”

    People are entitled to a living wage? By what right?

    If you don’t like what you’re paid to do a job, you’re free to take another. There might be a reason why one is not worth a “living wage” to an employer. And, I suspect, that given the alternative of losing money on a employee by paying more than he’s worth, the employer would simply let the employee go.

    But don’t worry. Unemployment offers a living wage.

    1. The folks on Morning Joe were lamenting the possibilty that Congress won’t approve another extention of unemployment benefits. It will mean people now will lose their benefits after only being out of work for 90 weeks.

      1. The folks on Morning Joe can go suck the ROn Jeremy’s ball sack.

    2. People are entitled to a living wage? By what right?

      wooooooosh

  9. Obamacare will ultimately fail because Americans across all political and demographic lines want to be able to choose their own Doctor, and to choose the best available medical care for themselves and their family. But there is a paradox, why do they normally cede their rights without a fight and allow the government to act without their consent?

    1. People cede their rights all the time, yes, even you. Many rights are ceded to the private sector. Don’t get me started. Also, people don’t have a clue about choosing medical care so they let someone else choose it for them. Happens all the time with no government involvement.

      1. I knew Norm Cash. Norm Cash was a friend of mine. And by your comments, I can tell you, normcash, that you are not Norm Cash.

        And “many rights are ceded to the private sector” = you are also an idiot.

      2. I guess I didn’t make myself clear. On a normal day, the government makes decisions without my consent. These decisions are also made without the consent of the majority of Americans. The question is why, in an age driven by a public that demands free choice, they don’t seem to notice or object to government without consent of the governed?

        1. These decisions are also made without the consent of the majority of Americans.

          Moreover, these are the same decisions that have led the U.S. government to kill cranky religious nuts in sandy parts of the world for specious reasons, and yet, when the suicide bombers come to exact revenge, it will be the dimwitted citizens that are held accountable.

          It’s hilarious, they make choices like ousting democratically elected presidents, and then they have to scare the shit out of their own tax-payers because of their fuck-ups and the inevitable backlash.

          1. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I think the U.S. is the only country in the world that plays this game.

            Governments have at least two means at their disposal to control a population, domestic or foreign. The first is propaganda, what we like to call advertising or public relations, the second is law, force, coercion, or whatever your preferred nomenclature is for Authority.

            Here in the U.S., we have developed the most sophisticated propaganda in the World and a Constitution which limits Authority, so our leaders rely on propaganda almost exclusively and the public obeys for the most part, just by watching TV and attending public schools. In Russia, a country that I’ve visited, the government simply tells people what to do and they do it. Few really believe Russian propaganda since it is crude and transparent.

            When the Neoconservatives invade a country and “Bring Democracy” to it they use a double whammy of Authority, then Propaganda to subdue the population. This one-two punch improves the economy of that nation, and allows the people of that nation to live in freedom. A freedom supervised and guaranteed by the U.S. military.

            Our Leaders the Neoconservatives and their counterparts in the Democrat party like President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Defense Secretary Bill Gates, are smarter, more moral people than Niccolo Machiavelli who wrote about five hundred years ago that you cannot give the people of a captured country a republic, if they are not used to having one. If they were ruled by a Prince before they will want a Prince now.

            But then Machiavelli was probably kidding.

      3. normcash|6.10.10 @ 2:15PM|#
        “People cede their rights all the time, yes, even you. Many rights are ceded to the private sector…”

        Cite, please.
        I’ll bet you have no idea what a “right” is.

    2. Perhaps it starts with rational ignorance. Knowledge is a scarce commodity. Sometimes the only way for its consumer to know that he needs to know is when the adverse effects become evident.

      1. Excellent answer! Thanks for hipping me!

        This also explains why I can never get the managers at the big corporations I have worked for to give me a performance review higher than 3.5, I am in their “rationally ignorant” opinion a “slow worker” because I am thoughtful and deliberate in my analysis and resist working unpaid overtime. They seek workers who produce something fast with a minimum of cost and a maximum of profit, values like quality of work never cross their transoms.

  10. Okay, this must be seen–the conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories.

    1. America’s oldest enemy strikes again?

      1. Man, i was just shouting at some Redcaots yesterday. I was all “dont tread on me” and they were all like “quarter us” and i was all li….

        1. Ah, the Third Amendment. My favorite.

        2. wylie FTW!

    2. “Obama”

      Because, when he started his evil plan to infiltrate the White House he needed to choose an Anglo sounding name to fool all of the bible clutching honkies…Barack Obama is all he could come up with though.

      1. Sorry about the longish sentence above, but I am reading this William Gibson novel right now, and his sentences are loooong, it is almost as if the period key on his keyboard broke, and he replaced the small stationary black dots with the jumping streaked dot that is the comma,

        Dammit.

        1. Broken keys happen. Consider it an opportunity rather than a problem.

      2. Barack Obama is all he could come up with though.

        It was supposed to be Barry O’Bammy, but his PR guy screwed up.

    3. No. BP is Barack’s Patroleum.

      1. I was going to suggest Barack’s Pussy, but then Michelle showed me how she keeps his Vag in her purse.

        1. Wearing a vag that she keeps in a jar by the door.

          Who is it for?

    4. I like the scare quotes around “Obama”. Nice touch.

      1. It has occurred to me that the birth certificate nonsense might stem from Obama’s desire to suppress the truth about his real family name: Osama! Run for the hills!

        Unfortunately, I see flaws in that theory already. Drat!

        1. Flaws in a theory haven’t stopped people before.

    5. The pattern-seeking tendency of the human mind never ceases to amaze.

    6. Why do I get the feeling that this guy is probably involved in the LaRouche movement?

  11. At best, it can only be the runner up to the Time Cube.

  12. “John Popper on why America stonselled.”

    I like my version of the headline better.

  13. Let me be clear. The time of freedom of choice has passed.

    1. The time of freedom or choice has passed.

      ftfy, Oh Savior.

      1. The Lord tasked me with instructing you on WHY Freedom is now Verboten.

        See, the free-market didn’t work. And so, because Freedom has also failed, you’ll really enjoy the authoritarian replacement we have in the works.

        1. You know what hasn’t worked? The giant parasite sucking on the neck of the Golden Goose. See, the Goose doesn’t actually have an infinite supply of blood to give.

  14. If it wasn’t for us you americans would all be speaking sioux

    1. Dude, it’s hard enough making students learn some dumbass language like french or spanglish. Now you want them to learn a tongue that’s been dead longer than latin?

      (Yes, you win the internets if you can correct anything in that screed.)

      1. It’s not a dead tongue.

        Directions for beginning to speak or read Lakota/Dakota:

        http://www.alliance2k.org/daklang1/daklang1.html

        1. so “winning the internets” wasn’t sufficient to set off your sarcasmometer?

          Cmon, Chief Skids with Marx.

    2. As someone familiar with Lakota culture, I’d be very, very happy about that.

      1. So between the greenies and the lakota, we’ll be shitting in a ditch and eating bark in no time.

        1. Do we get free buffalo steaks like our nature-loving predecessors did?

          1. No, but you get two free drink tickets at the casino.

          2. If you can catch them like our pre-horse predecessors did.

    3. Funny, you don’t look Siouxish.

      1. Now, *that’s* funny!

  15. Contributing factors to America’s prosperity and world dominance:

    Two gigantic oceans on either side, and friendly neighbors.

    Vast natural resources handed down by God’s great beneficence (i.e., smallpox and the conquering of the natives).

    The destruction of our only industrial competitors in the 1940s.

    Protracted dick contest with the Soviet Union.

    I don’t think the free market had much to do with it.

    1. Re: Tony,

      Contributing factors to America’s prosperity and world dominance:

      Two gigantic oceans on either side, and friendly neighbors.

      Vast natural resources handed down by God’s great beneficence (i.e., smallpox and the conquering of the natives).

      The destruction of our only industrial competitors in the 1940s.

      Protracted dick contest with the Soviet Union.

      I don’t think the free market had much to do with it.

      Except for the dick-sizing contest, you pretty much described Mexico as well. Yet the US is far more prosperous, Mexico had a socialist/fascist regime since the 20’s. Care to explain yourself?

      1. Way to kick gay ass, OM.

      2. Vast natural resources handed down by God’s great beneficence (i.e., smallpox and the conquering of the natives).

        Africa. The Soviet Union. Communist China.

        And Soviet Union had the benefit of being in a protracted dick contest with the United States. The Soviet Union, by Tony’s logic, should be the most powerful economy on the planet.

      3. As an Indian who has been living in the US for 10 years, I can attest to Stossel’s observations.

        The left in this country is taking it down the same path unfortunately.

    2. To add:

      Only one really nasty, damaging war in American territory over our history. Most of the rest of the world has suffered several.

      The world has used the dollar as its reserve currency since the 1940s.

      To subtract:

      Protracted dick contest with the Soviet Union.

      If anything, that made us poorer by diverting too many resources to military/security matters, as well as getting a bunch of our young people killed fighting communism.

      I don’t think the free market had much to do with it.

      Indeed, we’ve never had one.

      1. “If anything, that made us poorer by diverting too many resources to military/security matters, as well as getting a bunch of our young people killed fighting communism.”

        Hmmm, if leftists think that getting people killed makes you better off, that explains a lot — Communism’s penchant for mass murder, the disdain of less bloodthirsty leftists for the wealthy, the DNC’s giant Aztec-themed mass human sacrifice they have planned for 2012 (yes, they can’t tell the difference between Mayans and Aztecs.)

    3. I don’t think the free market had much to do with it.

      Oh, really???

    4. Re: Tony,

      I don’t think the free market had much to do with it.

      You’re right, the choices I have in computers and underwear and food all exist thanks to the fact the US has access to two seas.

      Makes sense.

      1. Without the Atlantic, we’d all be reduced to wearing thonged banana hammocks.

    5. Still trying to perpetuate the thoroughly debunked “genocide through smallpox” myth, eh?

      1. It’s not a myth. These stories were passed down through the “oral tradition”. It’s as good as documented fact.

        1. Um, right. The CIA brought AIDS to the blacks too.

          1. it wasn’t deliberate – but it was indeed smallpox and a few other diseases that killed the vast majority of the Injuns, leaving the few remaining survivors easy to defeat (since there were few of them).

    6. Of course you don’t (think the free market…) Tony. Most Americans come here or are raised with the idea we can bust ass and get ahead. The far left lives in a loser fantasy world where all the well to do people inherited their relative wealth or got it from taking it away from someone else. Look at what that leftist mis-education has done to our black population which is largely unable to escape the loser training they get in large cities. That is what the left has in store for all of us.

    7. Re “Tony”:

      Contributing factors to America’s prosperity and world dominance:

      The NFL-AFL merger

      Fins on Cadillacs

      Drive-in movies

      Apple pie

      Nerds!!

      /I, too, can pull random facts out of my @zz and troll them in a hostile environment so later I can return, read the responses, and pound my junk at my own cleverosity.

    8. Tony|6.10.10 @ 1:15PM|#
      “The destruction of our only industrial competitors in the 1940s.”

      Yep, we bombed hell out of the English industrial plant, didn’t we?
      Actually, the post war English experiment in egalitarianism and the English unions did far more than *any* bombing campaign could have.

    9. Tony, please explain how South Korea, for several decades was one of the poorest countries in Asia during the Syngman Rhee years, and when he died, the South Korean economy endured what was called the, “Miracle on the Han,” where over the course of not even a generation they became one of the richest countries in the world. please, you have some explaining to do, as they only possess

      1) one ocean
      2) almost no valuable natural resources
      3) several very nasty neighbors (one they are still technically at war with)
      4) unlike the U.S. most of the Korean continent was devastated after BOTH WWII and the Korean War

      According to your brilliant exegesis, North, not South Korea, should be the most prosperous on the planet you fucktard

      1. And us covering their DMZ, fucktard.

      2. Maybe because S. Korea receives major economic and military assistance and special access to the US market?

        Oh, while you’re at it, why don’t you tell us about the Somalian economic miracle that’s been happening?

    10. Tony’s wrong that the free market had nothing to do with it

      But these things did indeed help alot. Yous guys have got to at least admit that. Indeed it may be one of the things that help off-set all the non-free-market policies we’ve had in the past.

      And important note: one of the biggest things that has made wealth so widespread in America was our homesteading system, and the fact in general that most people in the country could own some land, or in other words that land ownership was so widespread. Land, real estate, is one of the most important resources there is. Everybody owned/owns a piece of this country, they each get their share. Look at other countries. Millions of people, not one of them owns a square foot. But a few well-connected, royalty or government agents own humoungous tracts of land. Huge slums, holding millions of people, with hundreds of thousands of shanty houses, but not one of the residents of those shacks legally owns it. That those countries have such widespread poverty is not a coincidence.

      A good book on this topic is Who Owns the World by… some guy. It came out recently.

    11. Tony – Eat the Rich by P.J. O’Rourke. Explains it all and gives examples.

  16. Contributing factors to America’s prosperity and world dominance:

    Two gigantic oceans on either side, and friendly neighbors.

    Vast natural resources handed down by God’s great beneficence (i.e., smallpox and the conquering of the natives).

    The destruction of our only industrial competitors in the 1940s.

    Protracted dick contest with the Soviet Union.

    I don’t think the free market had much to do with it.

    Explain Taiwan and India.

    1. One problem with all of the socialist crap coming down the pike these days is that we are a commercial nation down to our little toes. It goes very much against our grain to toss aside all of that for. . what was it we’re supposed to be getting for giving up our strong economy?

      1. Security…

        And a pony.

    2. include with that Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Korea, West Germany

    3. India? NAFTA. They are prospering off American jobs.
      Taiwan? The American Navy.

  17. I’m just warming up. Have you heard the reports that my Justice Dept. is considering blocking BP’s quarterly dividend? How do you love me now, Britain?

    1. We are not amused.

  18. Because government grew significantly during that period.

    Next story.

  19. The always awesome Danial Henniger today.

    Now government’s inefficiency has become indefensible and its fantastic costs, its oceanic spending, a clear and present danger.

    Re-read Barack Obama’s nomination-acceptance speech in Denver, an amazing compendium of promises ending with: “America, we cannot turn back (applause) not with so much work to be done; not with so many children to educate, and so many veterans to care for; not with an economy to fix, and cities to rebuild, and farms to save; not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend.”

    The speaker of those words can’t stop the oil, but his language shows how indiscriminate faith in government omnipotence has become, and how incapable the believers are of targeting discrete goals, rather than vapor-filled clouds such as “saving the planet” or “mending lives.”

    This truly is the land of Oz.

  20. “…people thought a wise government …”

    Government has flashes of ‘wisdom’, but normally it’s at best mediocre and when it makes mistakes, those mistakes are magnified and more difficult to correct. This easily offsets any ‘wise’ actions it takes.

  21. Not much left of Tony’s asinine assertion that prosperity couldn’t possibly come from human endeavor, but try this:

    The destruction of our only industrial competitors in the 1940s.

    Umm, we were already the dominant industrial power by 1940.

    Protracted dick contest with the Soviet Union.

    Odd, then, that the height of the Cold War was marked by inflation and prolonged bear markets.

    1. The depths of Tony’s stupidity never fail to amaze me. Mexico had those same advantages. In fact they had more. Mexico has more natural resources than the US has. Yet, Mexico has never had a free market economy. It has instead had a series of first merchantilist and later socialist keptocracies. And things haven’t worked out so well for Mexico.

      1. Mexico had the disadvantage early in its history as an independent nation to lose a war and half its territory to its”friendly neighbor” to the north. This shattered the Mexican government and society for decades.

        1. Eric in the far north|6.10.10 @ 4:38PM|#
          “This shattered the Mexican government and society for decades.”

          And those decades would be, oh, 150 years ago, right?

        2. Mexican government was shattered BEFORE even the secession of Texas. Actually, the death throes of early Mexican liberty were what caused the whole 1848 war in the first place.

          The whole of history between 1821 and 1848 is frought with coup d’etats and rebellions. From Agustin de Iturbide, the “Emperor of Mexico” (1821), to the rebellion of Guadalupe Victoria (1824, also the year they wrote their most libertarian constitution), to the coup of Vicente Guerrero (1829), to the coup of Anastasio Bustamante (1830), to the agreement of Zavaleta where Pedraza was handed the presidency by a triumvirate (1832), to the subsequent proclamation of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and his resulting abolishment of Mexican Congress in 1835.

          Mexico was never, EVER a stable country to begin with. Came pre-shattered.

  22. Tony is even more remarkably stupid and profoundly blinkered than I could have ever imagined.

  23. I don’t know if Tony deliberately trolls here, but any leftie seriously needs to talk to people who grew up in India like me.

    Heck I have witnessed the remarkable change due to partial freeing of economy since the 90s. So, yes I have seen the evidence that free market leads to general prosperity.

  24. What we need is another Marshall Plan to get us back on top. Of course, we’d also need another World War…

  25. What we need is another Marshall Plan to get us back on top.

    I’m pretty sure that’s how the Chinese view their purchases of our T-Bills. As a subsidy designed to prop up a structurally damaged but still necessary customer.

  26. I really like Stossel’s pieces. They always make a good point in an accessible way. But would it be possible to change either their length or the page format, so as not to break the last paragraph off and put it on a different page?

    1. Of course it would. I’m pretty sure they do it for the ad revenue.

  27. “India is overpopulated,” they say. They don’t know that India has the same population density as New Jersey.
    And India is almost as shitty a place to live as New Jersey.

    1. EY!

      New Jersey rocks the shit.

    2. And then there’s poor Monaco at 43,830.568 people per sq/Mi.
      You can either turn the page or contribute to the Monaco Relief Fund!

  28. You must be joking poor. America became rich because our global competitors were involved in numerous conflicts which made them poor.(sound familar) The majority of americans prior to the second world war were living in poverty while a few prospered during the depression.

    The greatest things the USA had were cheap land,cheap labor and abundant natural resources.
    The mandate of education for all made USA different and allowed a middle class to flourish. The Erie Canal,the land grant colleges,the railroads,the modern communication systems,the internet all came with either government subsidy or direct goverment funds but you can pretend in you comic book Ayn Rand fantasy that it was rugged individualism(just do not open a history book)

    1. Republican’t|6.10.10 @ 5:09PM|#
      “You must be joking poor. America became rich because our global competitors were involved in numerous conflicts which made them poor.(sound familar) The majority of americans prior to the second world war were living in poverty while a few prospered during the depression.”
      I see history isn’t one of your strengths. Or you’re a run of the mill lefty ignoramus. Compared to anywhere in the world, the US was rich beyond imagining even during the depression.

      “The greatest things the USA had were cheap land,cheap labor and abundant natural resources.”
      Which, I guess, suggests why China is the economic super-power, while the US languishes.

      “Erie Canal,the land grant colleges,the railroads,the modern communication systems,the internet all came with either government subsidy or direct goverment funds but you can pretend in you comic book Ayn Rand fantasy that it was rugged individualism(just do not open a history book)”
      Uh, the railroads did *not* come from government funds. As regards the others, you’re cherry picking.
      But I’m sure your comic-book collection is justification for your ignorance.

  29. “Why did America prosper while most of the world remains poor?”

    Capitalism.

    And I mean real capitalism, not this poor excuse for it we have been living in, where things such as retirement, health care, agriculture, oil, and schooling are subsidized and overregulated by government.

  30. TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT…..TO ALL THE COMMUNIST IN THE IG,FBI,CIA,AND U.S. Senators and the left wing media outlets.///// VERY QUIETLY Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, CITIZENSHIP CASE REACHES THE SUPREME COURT ;;;GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.///For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.
    Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama
    AP – WASHINGTON D.C. –
    In a move certain to fuel the debate over Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama qualifications for the presidency, the group “Americans for Freedom of Information” has Released copies of President Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, college transcripts from Occidental College . Released today, the transcript school indicates that , underMmslim Barack Hussein Obama, the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia as an undergraduate. The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suit brought by the group in the Superior Court of California. The transcript shows that Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship program. To qualify, for the scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship.
    This document would seem to provide the smoking gun that many of Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, detractors have been seeking. Along with the evidence that he was first born in Kenya and there is no record of him ever applying for US citizenship, this is looking pretty grim. The news has created a firestorm at the White House as the release casts increasing doubt about legitimacy and qualification to serve as President article titled, Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama Eligibility Questioned,”Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama leading some to speculate that the story may overshadow economic issues on Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, first official visit to the U.K. In a related matter, under growing pressure from several groups, Justice Antonin Scalia announced that the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear arguments concerning Obama’s legal eligibility to serve as President in a case brought by Leo Donofrio of New Jersey . This lawsuit claims Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama, dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. Donofrio’s case is just one of 18 suits brought by citizens demanding proof of citizenshMmslim Barack Hussein Obama,citizenship or qualification to serve as president.

    Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation of Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama campaign spending. This study estimates that Obama has spent upwards of $950,000 in campaign funds in the past year with eleven law firms in 12 states for legal resources to block disclosure of any of his personal records. Mr. Kreep indicated that the investigation is still ongoing but that the final report will be provided to the U..S. Attorney general, Eric Holder. Mr. Holder has refused to comment on the matter…

    LET OTHER FOLKS KNOW THIS NEWS, THE MEDIA WON’T !

    Subject: RE: Issue of Passport?

    While I’ve little interest in getting in the middle of the Obama birth issue, Paul Hollrah over at FSM did so yesterday and believes the issue can be resolved by Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama answering one simple question: What passport did he use when he was shuttling between New York , Jakarta , and Karachi ?

    So how did a young man who arrived in New York in early June 1981, without the price of a hotel room in his pocket, suddenly come up with the price of a round-the-world trip just a month later?

    And once he was on a plane, shuttling between New York , Jakarta , and Karachi , what passport was he offering when he passed through Customs and Immigration?

    The American people not only deserve to have answers to these questions, they must have answers. It makes the debate over citizensh Mmslim Barack Hussein Obamaip a rather short and simple one.

    Q: Did he travel to Pakistan in 1981, at age 20?
    A : Yes, by his own admission.

    Q: What passport did he travel under?
    A: There are only three possibilities.
    1) He traveled with a U.S. .. Passport,
    2) He traveled with a British passport, or
    3) He traveled with an Indonesia passport.

    Q: Is it possible that Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama traveled with a U.S. Passport in 1981?
    A: No. It is not possible. Pakistan was on the U.S. .. State Department’s “no travel” list in 1981.

    Conclusion: When Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama went to Pakistan in 1981 he was traveling either with a British passport or an Indonesian passport.

    If he were traveling with a British passport that would provide proof that he was born in Kenya on August 4, 1961, not in Hawaii as he claims. And if he were traveling with an Indonesian passport that would tend to prove that he relinquished whatever previous citizenship he held, British or American, prior to being adopted by his Indonesian step-father in 1967.

    Whatever the truth of the matter, the American people need to know how he managed to become a “natural born” American citizen between 1981 and 2008..

    Given the destructive nature of his plans for America, as illustrated by his speech before Congress and the disastrous spending plan he has presented to Congress, the sooner we learn the truth of all this, the better.

    If you Don’t care that Your President Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama is not a natural born Citizen and in Violation of the Constitution, then Delete this, and then lower your American Flag to half-staff, because the U.S. Constitution is already on life-support, and won’t survive much longer.

    If you do care then Forward this to as many patriotic Americans as you can, because our country is being looted and ransacked! the commander

    1. If you Don’t care that Your President Mmslim Barack Hussein Obama is not a natural born Citizen and in Violation of the Constitution

      I don’t.

      then Delete this

      Wish I could.

    2. COMMANDER|6.10.10 @ 8:03PM|#
      “TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT…../////;;; ///”

      After you read the headline, there’s not much left to explain, is there?

    3. He is not a british citizen on the grounds that he isn’t a british citizen.

    4. God you are what makes people not take us seriously. Quit being ignorant you fuck, you can’t even spell shit right you podunk dumbass.

    5. Commander, stepped up to meth didja…

  31. Okay, what I want to know is how to find the video of Stossel talking to students he mentions?

  32. If you missed Stossel tonight, then you missed a very good episode.

    The guy brought on to refute the ideas of Friedman had his ass handed to him by a thirteen year old girl. Also, fox advertised the spankin’ brand* new show featuring your friend and mine…Judge Napolitano.

    Judge will be on saturdays at ten pm.

    *not new to us who have seen his online episodes, but now he’s on cable

  33. When that 13 year old girl was asking her question, all I could think was “gee, I wonder just how condescending a human being can be? I think we might be about to find out…”

    1. The thing is, I think the kid was smart enough to deserve an honest answer, he just wasn’t smart enough to give one.

      Just some mumbo-jumbo hand waving about “social justice”, whatever the hell that is.

      1. I think that describes the situation perfectly. I used to have moments like that with guest speakers in school, and I got in trouble more than once pressing for a “real” answer. I’m sure plenty of people here have had the same experience.

  34. I noticed only one prima-facia specious argument in this whole article…the one about New Jersey. Of course the whole British invested Honk Kong argument stinks to high hell as well. Can anyone who is more versed in economics perhaps suggest what the most compelling competing arguments/ economic philiosphy(ies) would be here? (By philosophy I guess I mean theory or school.)

  35. We seem to be forgetting about the role that *guns* have played in our economic development.
    As in: “I really want your arable farmland, Central America.” Said United Fruit. “Sell me your food cheap or I’ll install some dicta — oops too late.”
    Or
    “Your copper at my prices, plus my Pinochet. A win-win.”
    My current fave is “Buy my subsidized rice instead of selling your own at true market value, Carribean Nations.”
    Our military dominence (sp?) allows us to write economic treaties and rules any way we see fit.

    And China has a severly regulated economy, and is in the process of kicking our asses, becasue they are playing our own game better than we are.

    1. It’s true; our government does bad things, and some corporations have also done bad things, primarily by getting involved with government.

      Most of the people engaging in discussion here are probably aware of the US’s foreign policy blunders and worthless agricultural subsidies and would love to see the government stop doing such things.

  36. Because we had fair trade and not free trade. We created a middle class which in turn created the largest consumer market in the world because they had a decent paying job. You can only do business with people that have money! Do you get it yet John. Maybe one day you will figure out that you cannot do business with people that don’t have any money!

    1. savetheusa|6.11.10 @ 10:27AM|#
      “Because we had fair trade and not free trade….”

      Which is an out-and-out lie.

    2. “you cannot do business with people that don’t have any money!”

      Sure you can: You trade them resources (materials, IOUs, money, etc.) for work. You get your product made; they get something to trade for finished goods, or to invest in their own projects.

      You don’t need the Beneficent Ones to come in and give everyone money to play with before they can start the game.

      Also, trade is only fair when the parties involved negotiate as close to their desired buying/selling price as possible. When the Beneficent Ones decide the price of a product, one of the parties will get the shaft, while the other will be (coincidentally) the friend of those in power.

      You do of course need property rights (with teeth), so that people can hold on to and build upon what they earn. Much of the world lacks these. Some here seem to wish we did, as well.

  37. Amen. Just finished this book a few days ago. It’s sad how what’s really best for our country isn’t done because of politics and special interests. Reform is gonna happen eventually though because SS and medicare are not sustainable

  38. Me not notice US has 5% of world population but consume 25% of world resources.

    Me say that because free market and independence from government and corporations.

    Me not notice government and corporation seize resources from around world to consume. Me think they just appear like magic.

    Me congratulate self-reliance.

    Me like freedom!

  39. Me Libertarian|6.11.10 @ 11:35AM|#
    “Me not notice government and corporation seize resources from around world to consume. Me think they just appear like magic.”

    You need to find a brain transplant; lies wrapped in infantile speech patterns suggest an infantile mind.

    1. Moustache-Man not say anything about Monroe Doctrine, so Monroe Doctrine not exist or have anything to do with how me live.

      Moustache-Man not say anything about IMF or World Bank lending and development policies, so me know that have nothing to do with how me live.

      Moustache-Man not say anything about sweatshops in Asia filling my Wal-Mart, so me congratulate free market and forget all about people who pay price I don’t pay.

      Moustache-Man not say anything about 700 military bases around the world, so me know they just a funny coincidence to my standard of living. Me know free market do it all.

      Freedom good. Me very free.

      1. I guess you somehow think that repeating tired lies and innuendos in that infantile grammar makes them either ‘new’ or believable?
        Do you think worn-out brain-dead argument gets better that way?

        1. Me think things not true that can find easy many ways.

          Freedom from knowing things is freedom too!

          Me very, very free.

      2. You’re wasting time here with subtlety. Libertarians and Objectivists are range-of-the-moment consumers who rebel at the least encroachment of their indulgences. If you ask them to actually consider the long-term you’ll find that freedom from consequences that aren’t obvious or immediate is the freedom they seek.

        1. HERETICS!

          How dare they, with their Maypole and their Merry-the-round and foot-the-ball!

          Why, LORD GOD GOVERNMENT will show them the way, na dif they don’t obey, its Inquisition for them!

      3. “Moustache-Man not say anything about 700 military bases around the world”

        Do you really think that the government’s taking trillions of dollars from Americans to fund those bases actually makes us more prosperous somehow?

  40. What nonsense! History clearly shows that the attributes which make nations prosperous are vast natural resources, large populations, and centrally-planned economies. That is the reason why Russia, India, and Nigeria are the world’s richest nations.

    1. Don’t forget me!

  41. Folks seem to forget that the government spends 70% of its money on three things: Defense, Social Security, and Medicare. Government fundamentally takes money from the rich and gives it to the poor and middle classes to spend.

    Folks like Stossell think that government spending is done by some remote entity with no connection to the people, when the money is given directly to the people for them so spend as they wish.

    In other words, Stossell is continuing to spread conservative gospel, which is all about lower taxes so the rich can keep their own money, as the expense of the rest of us.

    Last year, the top 1% earned 20% of the income. They used to pay 70% marginal tax rates. Now they pay in the 30’s.

    Ignore conservatives if you want to actually understand something.

    1. “Government fundamentally takes money from the rich and gives it to the poor and middle classes to spend.”

      So you admit this is just one big Robin Hood complex. Excellent.

      Now, show how today’s captains of industry are the same as the robber barons of feudal Europe (as in, deserving of having their wealth forcibly taken because it isn’t rightfully theirs), and you’ll almost have a point. (To go all the way, you’ll need to show how libertarianism endorses a system where such robber barons are allowed to operate.)

      Annnnd… go.

      1. I think the big banks and hedge funds rival the robber barons of old. At the peak of the crisis, Wall St. was taking in 35-40% of the profits of the U.S. economy and giving them to a very few, at the expense of the very many (homeowners). Banks create no value, they merely take a fee for transferring value among parties. Due to the bailouts and housing price declines, let’s say $2-4 trillion thus far was shifted from the poor to the bondholders and stockholders of the big banks, who should have been wiped out.

        So we now have a system in which the overhanging debt on the homeowners and middle class remains, while the value of the assets (homes) has tanked. Rather than bail out the poor by writing down mortgages, we bail out the stockholders and bondholders of the banks.

        When we nationalize a few of the big banks, breakup the investment banks, and forcibly write-down the mortgages say 30% across the board, then we’ll be ready for the economy to expand again. Economists Stiglitz, Roubini, and Ferguson have all argued for debt reduction. Otherwise, we’ll be doing stimulus spending like Japan, taking 10-15 years to get out of this mess while consumers pay down their debts, which they never should have been allowed to assume under appropriate credit policies at the banks.

        1. I think the big banks and hedge funds rival the robber barons of old. At the peak of the crisis, Wall St. was taking in 35-40% of the profits of the U.S. economy and giving them to a very few, at the expense of the very many (homeowners).

          The banks didn’t issue themselves a bailout. Also, you’re combining the bailouts with the decrease in housing prices, but they’re two separate issues. The former is the government taking trillions in taxpayer money and “redistributing” it according to their whims. You can’t (quite) blame the banks for taking what the robbers gave them. The latter is a case of lenders and borrowers foolishly entering into contracts the borrowers couldn’t afford. That’s their right, their decision, and their mistake. Unless some willing charity comes along, both parties will, quite rightly, fail. The taxpayers weren’t exactly willing, so to issue the bailout was tantamount to theft on the part of the government.

          Banks create no value, they merely take a fee for transferring value among parties.

          That, along with safely storing value, is apparently a service people value. They don’t do labor, so if you’re operating on that theory of value, I can see the problem.

          So we now have a system in which the overhanging debt on the homeowners and middle class remains, while the value of the assets (homes) has tanked. Rather than bail out the poor by writing down mortgages, we bail out the stockholders and bondholders of the banks.

          The assets tanking was a known risk. We shouldn’t bail the banks out, and we shouldn’t bail out the homeowners, either.

          consumers pay down their debts, which they never should have been allowed to assume under appropriate credit policies at the banks.

          Consumers should be allowed to assume whatever debt they and their lenders can reach agreement on. Though the question remains, why did the banks make such loans in the first place? Whether they expected the bailouts the first time, they certainly will next time, so they will in the future engage in the same risky, theft subsidized, behavior.

          Yeah, tl;dr

  42. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

  43. Except of course the military, nuclear and oil industry bailouts, banking etc… Friedman and Stossel both don’t seem to question central planning and big government there…

  44. Stossel has become a right-winger alright.

    The truth is that we ALL (liberals, libertarians, conservatives) do want limited government intervention.

    However, to a conservative that means LESS IRS agents AUDITING their TAXES and NO EPA/Bank Regulators/etc so that they can ROB PEOPLE BLIND with a CONTRACT. AND HEAVY Government interference in Drug Enforcement, Enforcing Religious views, and throwing the little guy in jail for any little thing and pardoning the big guy.

    To a Liberal, less government interference means legalize drugs, allow one to marry anyone they want, and HEAVY Government interference in business people that defraud people and pollute.

    I don’t know what Libertarians want.

    1. ROB PEOPLE BLIND with a CONTRACT In case you didn’t know, a contract is a legally binding agreement between two parties. I.E. You give me $100.00 and I will clean your carpets to your satisfaction, or I will lend you X dollars at X percent interest for X number of years so you can enjoy your brand new car. If you don’t like, or can’t afford the contract, don’t sign it, and find a better one. Live within your means.

  45. So,

    Liberals consider WAR on DRUGS, War in general, Anti-Abortion movement, Anti-Gay, as a SPECIAL INTEREST

    Conservatives consider Pro-Choice, Gay tolerance, Anti-War, and decriminization of drugs to save civil liberties (and civil liberties) in general a SPECIAL INTEREST.

    My definition of a SPECIAL INTEREST:
    a derogatory term for an INTEREST that ONE is NOT E-SPECIALLY interested in.

    That’s why we can’t get along or agree on ANYTHING.

  46. You forget,the population of western Europe, Canada, Japan and many other countries with greater socialized programs than the U.S. also consider themselves prosperous.

    prescienceblog.com

  47. the people who are lazy and want the government to take care of them hate the free market. the people who work hard and live in their means and save there money want the free market. you must have no pride or shame if you want the government to take care of you. if you dont like the free market you must be a lazy piece of shit that wants the government to take care of you. you guys are a bunch on pussies

    1. Compulsive anti-state pimp drivel

  48. Came across your blog when I was searching bing I have found the bit of info that
    I found to be quite useful. You can visit my site about

  49. John Stossel is such a phony windbag!

    One point John Stossel MYSTERIOUSLY fails to mention in his boundless enthusiasm for the free market is that Hong Kong’s denizens enjoy universal state-paid health care (since long before they were annexed by Red China). They seem to like it, too.

    One of the bases for India’s recent industrial growth was availability of domestic savings for investment. Curiously enough, this ensued from a period when all or most banks were owned by the state, in Indira Gandhi’s time. The Indian government ordered a top-down policy of expanding bank branches into the remotest villages. Consequently, sources of savings were tapped that the banks had ignored while they were privately owned. Consequently India’s current growth is the result of pinko socialist government policies.

    As for Friedman, much of what he wrote is true, but he completely omitted any fact or reasoning that did not favor his compulsive free-market ideology, and thus produces an exceedingly one-sided impression. He chose to be a propagandist for free-market solutions at any cost, completely disregarding the scholar’s moral duty of objectivity. Many examples can be cited of his obsessive & blatant partiality. Some truly outrageous specimens are recounted in “Not So Free to Choose. The Political Economy of Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan”, by Elton Rayack, Prager, New York 1987.

    For example his claim that state intervention in the economy prevents growth is utterly false, as is shown empirically in this book by comparing growth rates of different countries. His claim that Japan first became industrialized thanks to free-enterprise policies is a joke. His account of Chilean economic growth completely ignores the essential role played by state firms in starting up new economic activities to encourage private capital to invest in the same sectors. Once the business was a going concern thanks to government initiative, the state firm was privatized.

    Almost none of his claims in “Free to Choose” and other books is backed up by any historical example. He cites no figures. It is ideology in chemically pure form.

    Propaganda hacks pimping for the corporate oligarchy, e.g. John Stossel, repeat ad nauseam right-wing clich?s that have been proved false a thousand times over.

  50. The rest of the world you probably mean me, cause I am poor man.

  51. In Free To Choose, Friedman demonstrates why and how markets work, why minimum wage statutes do harm instead of aiding unskilled labor (they price entry level or “training positions” out of the market) and why America has prospered since the Great Depression. It would be interesting to hear Friedman’s take on the recent economic meltdown, Liberty directory and threat of a global recession.

  52. is america still prospering? i think not.

  53. Folks, free speech is one of the best things ever and also ability to have a free choice.

  54. Hey there, i visit your written content it really is very much excellent and that i carry reliable information through the blog site and that i point the majority of the people have to get this information thus you should promote much more information therefore we read more plus much more info through your blog site i noticed to the individuals regarding your website therefore they furthermore stop by and acquire garden greenhouses. Thank you so much

  55. great article i loved reading every line

  56. Great blog post very interesting

  57. The best blog post in a while

  58. the best way to send ee text

  59. the best p,lae check it ce to host your websitout

  60. Although it is not brand name,wholesale lingerie can be very sexy. Most companies offer a variety of lingerie including bridal lingerie, chemise, thongs, bras, garters, corsets, panties, and others. Wholesale lingerie companies generally provide products for resale businesses. Some companies will not sell to you unless you give them proof that you have a business.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.