Economics

What We Don't Know Can Hurt Us

Setting the historical record straight

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"It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us into trouble. It's the things we know that just ain't so."

That famous line, attributed to many authors but apparently said by humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw (aka Josh Billings), applies to history as much as anything.

What liberates oppressed people? I was taught it's often American power. Just the threat of our military buildup defeated the Soviet Union, and our troops in the Middle East will create islands of freedom.

Unlikely, says historian Thaddeus Russell, author of A Renegade History of the United States.

"As a matter of fact," Russell told me, "in general American military intervention has increased anti-Americanism and hardened repressive regimes. On the other hand, American popular culture—what was often called the worst of our culture in many cases—has actually done more for liberation and our national security than anything that the 82nd Airborne could do."

I told him that I thought that the Soviet Union collapsed because the Soviets spent so much trying to keep pace with Ronald Reagan's military buildup

On the contrary, Russell said, "it collapsed from within. … People simply walked away from the ideology of communism. And that began especially when American popular culture—jazz and rock and roll—began infiltrating those countries after World War II."

I demanded evidence.

"American soldiers brought jazz during World War II to the eastern front. Soviet soldiers brought it back. Eastern European soldiers brought it and spread it across those countries. … Stalin was hysterical about this."

The authorities were particularly concerned about young people performing and enjoying sensual music.

"Any regime at all depends on social order to maintain its power. Social order and sensuality, pleasures of the body, are often at odds. Stalin and his commissars understood that."

American authorities 30 years earlier also feared the sensuality of black music, said Russell, attacking it "as primitive jungle music that was bringing down American youth. Stalin and his commissars across Eastern Europe said exactly the same things with the same words later."

Then rock and roll came.

"That was even more threatening," Russell said. "By the 1980s, disco and rock were enormously popular throughout the communist world."

The communists realized they had to relax the rules or risk losing everything, but it was too late. One of the most amazing and significant spectacles was Bruce Springsteen's concert in East Germany in 1988, when a crowd of 160,000 people who lived behind the Iron Curtain sang "Born in the USA."

I'm skeptical. I don't know how much effect Reagan's military buildup had versus rock and roll, but I bet ordinary consumer goods had an ever bigger effect. People trapped behind communist lines wanted the stuff we had. When I was in Red Square before the fall of communism, I sold my Nikes and jeans to eager buyers.

People want choices, and you can't indoctrinate that out of them.

Which leads me to the most destructive myth about history: the idea that if we are to prosper, government must make smart plans for us. I was taught that in college, and despite the failure of the Soviet Union, many government leaders still believe it.

It's no coincidence that the countries with the least economic freedom, according to the Heritage Foundation—Cuba, Zimbabwe, North Korea—are the worst places to live. They not only lack freedom, they are also poor.

Who's at the top of the economic freedom list? Hong Kong. (The United States is ninth.) Hong Kong has low taxes, and as I demonstrated in an ABC special years ago, they make it easy to become an entrepreneur. I got permission to open a business there in one day. In my hometown, New York City, it takes months.

Hong Kong doesn't even have democracy, but because its rulers protected people's personal safety and property and left them otherwise free, Hong Kong thrived. In 50 years, it went from horrible poverty to income levels that are among the highest in world. Prosperity, thanks to economic freedom.

We should try that here.

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 2011 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS, INC.
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  1. Social order and sensuality, pleasures of the body, are often at odds.

    Tell that to those among us who touch themselves at the thought of central planning.

    1. I resemble that remark!

    2. Oh dear. How else to explain the thrill running up Chris Mathews’s leg?

  2. American authorities 30 years earlier also feared the sensuality of black music, said Russell, attacking it “as primitive jungle music that was bringing down American youth. Stalin and his commissars across Eastern Europe said exactly the same things with the same words later.”

    Progressives

    They got the racism and “for the children” parts down. All they lacked were some concentration/reeducation camps.

  3. Hong Kong shmong kong. A liberal friend is upset over J.K. Rowling’s fortune. She went from single mother on the dole to the Harry Potter franchise fortune. Only a liberal could be upset by that.

    1. BUt…BUt…if it wasn’t for welfare, Rowling would have died of aids sucking street-side cock instead of creating/sustaining a lot of jobs through the peddling of satantic tales of witchcraft. Why, she owes her government everything! TAX THE WITCH. TAX THE WITCH!!!!!!!!!

      1. Maybe my friend isn’t aware of Rowling’s humble beginnings, and is blinded by wealth that was accumulated through peaceful, voluntary exchanges. The horror, the horror…

      2. So Drax the Drivel it sounds like Rowling is damned if she did and damned if she didn’t. Too bad there can’t be an asshole tax. Then you would owe the government everything.

    2. She went from single mother on the dole to the Harry Potter franchise fortune. Only a liberal could be upset by that.

      Nope….I’m pretty F’ing upset about it too! If I hadn’t been drinking so much maybe I would have written a story about the Trolls, fairies and hobbits I deal with routinely and could have retired to my own private island as well!

    3. Only a liberal could be upset by that.

      Liberals don’t care about wealth creation, jobs, investment, etc. They care about redistribution. That’s why your liberal friend is upset. Nevermind, of course, the hundreds of jobs that woman created and/or sustained (booksellers, I’m looking at you) through the simple, creative act of writing. Amazing.

      1. Not to mention all the movies that were spawned. Pretty neat example actually of how wealth is a product of creativity and not stolen from others in some zero sum game. A lot of liberal types don’t understand this.

        1. Pretty neat example actually of how wealth is a product of creativity and not stolen from others in some zero sum game.

          Well it’s obvious that you don’t understand economics.

          1. Well, Keynesian economics, anyway.

          2. I don’t get it. I know I’m an idiot, but why in this particular case?

      2. To a Progressive Liberal, money happens. It floats down out of the sky during the redistribution after confiscation from the productive class.

        Just happens, that’s all.

        1. What exactly have the moneyed elites in this country produced in the last, oh, say 10 years?

          1. Houses, cars, airplanes, more productive agriculture, software, horrible movies (I’m looking at you Mr. Bay), televisions, computers, books, glues, electricity…. ad infinitum.

            Or wait no you are right… the permanent rich just conspire against the proletariat and swim around in their money like Scrooge McDuck.

            1. No points for the people who manufactured those things? They’re just pig slop who deserve no rights to you guys.

              Talk about the “right people in charge.” I shouldn’t even have to argue on the point that you lick wealthy cock. The entire worldview is so slavish and vulgar it makes normal people vomit.

              The wealthy will be fine. They are not the victims of anything.

              1. “No points for the people who manufactured those things? They’re just pig slop who deserve no rights to you guys.”

                Not as many as points as the ones that go to the people that think up these and fund these ideas no.

            2. Damnit… replied to a sock puppet.

              1. Sockpuppet? What do you call people who will never, ever argue in favor of a tax increase on the wealthy because a) they’re by definition good and virtuous because they’re wealthy and b) our tax policy should be based on your moral assessment of people? Sockpuppeting is too weak a word. They could use a few good men like you… do their bidding and ask no questions. The more money they get to stuff in a mattress, the better it is for you. They promise. Someday your ship will come in, when they decide it’s time. After they have just a little bit more of a share of our planet. Sorry, their planet.

                1. And who are you, Robin Hood? All that Big Government, surely it has produced something good, eh? Better grades? The end of poverty? Fewer wars?

                  oh, right. Money well spent, that.

                  1. Contrary to popular opinion, Robin Hood did not steal from the rich, he stole from the government. The taxes were so high they impoverished people, Robin Hood robbed the tax collectors and returned the money to the people who had earned it.

                    Tony is certainly no Robin Hood.

                2. Tony, what level of confiscation should the wealthy experience of their income and property each year?

                  50%? 67%? 75%? 100%?

                3. Re: Tony,

                  What do you call people who will never, ever argue in favor of a tax increase on the wealthy because a) they’re by definition good and virtuous because they’re wealthy and b) our tax policy should be based on your moral assessment of people?

                  I don’t know because I have never made such arguments.

                  I ahve argued that taxation is theft, as BOTH are the forcefull and violent taking of property.

                4. yer dumb

                5. “a) they’re by definition good and virtuous because they’re wealthy”

                  I like that definition better than the default progressive one that all their wealth is ill-gotten.

                  ” b) our tax policy should be based on your moral assessment of people?”

                  No we should base it on your moral assesments….

                  1. Shorter Tony: “MONEY COMES FROM ELVES AND WORMHOLES!”

                6. “What do you call people who will never, ever argue in favor of a tax increase on the wealthy because a) they’re by definition good and virtuous because they’re wealthy and b) our tax policy should be based on your moral assessment of people?”

                  Neither Tony, we need a flat Tax of 15% Top to bottom nothing back NO redistribution. Give people motivation and opportunity, not hand outs.

                  If you think you “doing people good” by handing them money or “breaks” cause they are “disadvantaged” or “poor” than your sadly mistaken. The only thing that does is cause people to live to the “standard” YOU set by how much $$ you give them. Once again Tony you fail at human nature, and economics on every level.

                  Want to make it a better world create a business and hire 5 people.

  4. “As a matter of fact,” Russell told me, “in general American military intervention has increased anti-Americanism and hardened repressive regimes. On the other hand, American popular culture?what was often called the worst of our culture in many cases?has actually done more for liberation and our national security than anything that the 82nd Airborne could do.”

    Uh oh, where’s Shikha Dalmia?

    1. has actually done more for liberation and our national security than anything that the 82nd Airborne could do.”

      Tell it to the Dutch.

      1. Market Garden was an abysmal failure btw. Fucking Monty.

  5. Springsteen, jazz, and Nikes?

    Bullshit! It was the Gipper who single-handedly defeated the Russkies.

    1. He was our only president they feared. Maybe Ike too.

      1. This is why his worm-ridden skeleton should be our next president. At the least, our enemies will know that America is objectively insane for exhuming a corpse and worshipping it like a Black Jesus Harvard Professor.

        1. Not worship, but respect for a man who was hated by Castro, the USSR, East Germany, Ghadafi, and American leftists.

          1. So we’re respecting his bleached corpse now?

            The point is that if we prop that sack of bones in the oval office and call it our president, only the most delusional acid-tripping glue-eating mouth-breathers would consider testing the verfied insanity of the poorly educated United States. Then again…Bush 2: The Search for Cheney’s Oil was objectively worse than a corpse that would not do anything, so maybe this isn’t such a hot idea.

        2. Weekend at Bernie’s was a fine film.

        3. Dead Reagan for President.

          Stealin’ Lewis Black’s material, eh ?

          1. Was wondering when someone would catch on.

            I like Lewis Black, but his most recent special (I think) degenerated into a tirade against those evil billionaires getting bailed out by the government during the 2008 crisis that completely ignored the effect of the government’s policies themselves. But he’s from Baltimore, so…I’m not surprised. Damn it Lewis…I guess I just have to watch more Doug Stanhope and Adam Carrola stand up now.

            1. Lewis Black is an admitted socialist. Why would any sane person listen to him?

              1. His rants can be pretty funny when they are bashing stupid things like the superbowl half-time show, the general stupidity inherent in our bought and sold government, or the fact that Clinton got a (gasp) BJ and too many people lost their shit over it. Plus, I’ve never admitted to possessing sanity which seems to coincide with fiscally-conservative/socially-liberaltolerant(it’s a word now) thinking if the mainstream media has its way.

                1. I too love his non-political rants. (Autumn? First you’re cold, then you’re sweating. That’s not a season, that’s malaria!)
                  Oh, and Clinton got in trouble for lying under oath. What he lied about is irrelevant.

                  1. I know why Clinton got in trouble…I just..and especially then, couldn’t muster enough shit to give about it. It’s a problem that’s inherent in the system, and powerful men getting some ugly ass because of it, lying about getting said ass, and getting away with lying about said ass is one of the most minor offenses that this system perpetually generates. I’d take more Clinton-style fat-girl fucking lies over more “those goddamned brown people hate our freedoms and they have* weapons of mass destruction*” lies any day of the imperfect week. If the system let Clinton get away with it, it’s not my fault for a lack of shit-giving. Clinton got away with it, because the game is rigged. The same bullshit would have happened had Bush 2 been smart enough to fuck some interns on the side but dumb enough to lie about it.

                    *Whoops, they don’t
                    **A nice broad term that might eventually describe machine guns, hand-guns, and slingshots. This datum will never stop moving.

                    1. If W tricked the Dems in Congress into “declaring” war, and he is considered the dumbest president ever, what does that say about the Dems?

                    2. Like I said : “It’s a problem that’s inherent in the system…”

                    3. “If W tricked the Dems in Congress into “declaring” war, and he is considered the dumbest president ever, what does that say about the Dems?”

                      Word

            2. But he’s from Baltimore, so…I’m not surprised.

              He and Ben Stein are a product of the same town: Silver Spring, MD. Only a couple years between them and they went to different high schools, but they were immersed in the same local culture.

              1. I should add that Silver Spring is a DC suburb.

          2. I’ve been pimping for Zombie Nixon for a while now.

        4. Drax, that is the best idea I have heard in years.

          ‘Those fuckers are crazy’

          Anywhere on the planet you hear that, you wont have to guess who they are talking about. Nobody messes with K-Razy.

  6. A number of things brought down the USSR, but an arms race (esp. strategic missile defense) was part of it, and counted for more than music. Also Reagan talking the Saudis into pumping more oil to keep prices down and deprive the Soviets of oil revenue.

    1. Most historical events have many causes. Western military spending, western culture, the failure in Afghanistan, and general failure of the Communist economy all contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

      1. I for one believe it is the PR campaign released by hollywood in the form of “action movies.” The soviets soon realized that they could not hope to fight against the dozens of ‘roided musclemen. The terminator was actually a hidden message to the ruskies about our newest and most super secret cyborg super soldiers.

    2. Re: PapayaSF,

      A number of things brought down the USSR, but an arms race (esp. strategic missile defense) was part of it, and counted for more than music.

      No, what Stossel presents makes sense, case in point:

      North Korea is pretty well armed (not that their soldiers are well fed and fit, but still, bullets are bullets); the regime has NOT fallen: Why?

      The answer why the North Korean regime has not fallen despite worse economic conditions that befell the Soviet Union is that NK is almost totally CLOSED to cultural influences from the exterior, whereas such thing was almost impossible in the Eastern Block.

      It would have been possible to still have a Soviet Union today if the Soviet government had decided to totally close the borders to all external influence and convert the Soviet Union into a prison, like NK and Cuba. That was true during the Stalin years but not later; there was then more cultural influence from Western sources influencing people in the Eastern Block than what was possible for other imprisoned societies.

      1. Can you hear me now?

        1. not if the regime executes people for owning short wave radios

          1. Where are the cheapest shortwave radios, and who can rent us a C-130?

      2. On the contrary, Russell said, “it collapsed from within. … People simply walked away from the ideology of communism. And that began especially when American popular culture?jazz and rock and roll?began infiltrating those countries after World War II.”

        Apparently, even the open repressive societies take almost a half century to succumb to it.

      3. North Korea has not fallen because the United States believes Red China is supporting and subsidizing them, and the United States is unwilling to antagonize Red China.

        It’s nearly the exact same reason why we lost the Vietnam War to the Vietnamese Communists (except back then we were also scared of the U.S.S.R.).

        1. By the way, North Korea’s continued existence puts the lie to the claim that it’s Western cultural inroads that destroy totalitarian societies. If that were true, North Korea would have collapsed by now.

          1. How’s that? What Western cultural inroads have made their way into North Korea?

  7. Who’s at the top of the economic freedom list? Hong Kong. (The United States is ninth.) Hong Kong has low taxes, and as I demonstrated in an ABC special years ago, they make it easy to become an entrepreneur. I got permission to open a business there in one day. In my hometown, New York City, it takes months.

    How can you have freedom if it doesn’t take months to get things done. Waiting periods for guns waiting periods for businesses…its all part of making life better for the people.

    1. Quit fucking spoofing me.

      It’s a shame about the Soviet Union. They had the right ideas.

      1. Re: Tony,

        It’s a shame about the Soviet Union. They had the right ideas.

        Quit spoofing the spoofer that spoofs Tony!

        1. It’s spoofs all the way down.

          1. The whole spoof and nothing but the spoof.

            1. ….and that’s the spoof!

            2. Tony is a symbol upon whom we project all of our anxieties and fears. And vomit.

      2. It would have worked if the right people were in charge.

        1. SPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOF!

          1. SPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!

            1. Don’t try to bend the spoof. That’s impossible.

              1. I can bend a spoof with my mind.

  8. The Soviets didn’t fear Reagan.

    They knew they were dying and a negotiated Detente was better than the humiliation of a withering death.

    Its like asking for a draw in chess in the hope that resignation is avoided.

    1. The soviet apologists in American academia feared him. I had a professor who was certain Ronnie would launch the missles. And that we would run out of water by the year 2000.

      1. And that we would run out of water by the year 2000.

        Only a leftist would worry about running out of something that literally falls from the sky.

        1. and is always pure

          1. because water is impossible to clean.

    2. And Gorby was pretty fucking anxious to sign a treaty with RR. I think that after Carter, Reagan was a shock to the Soviets.

  9. “Hong Kong doesn’t even have democracy…”

    One the most persistent myths today is that Democracy = Freedom.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    1. Republicanism, on the other hand, is a completely different story, but the shitheads in positions of influence will never admit to it

      1. What, like the People’s Republic of China? Or a banana republic?

        Republic doesn’t mean shit, except “not a kingdom or empire”. A dictatorship can a republic.

        Now, a liberal, constitutional, democratic republic is nice. But the nice attributes are all the modifiers there, which are all related.

    2. This. Although the Chinese are much more leanient about personal freedoms in Hong Kong lest they kill the goose that lay the golden eggs.

      1. Tell that to the descendants of the 38,000,000 to 45,000,000 Chinese who were deliberately starved to death during the Great Leap Forward, 1959-1963.

        1. The Great Leap Forward did not include Hong Kong, since HK was British then, and it has its own Basic Law now, separate from the PRC. And yes, it is the goose that lays the golden egg, so the PRC will not screw with it.

    3. It’s a myth in the sense that democracy is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for freedom. There is, however, quite a lot of correlation between democracy and freedom. Hong Kong is an exception. There is also Singapore (although they do criminalize homosexuality, porn, and make the US look very lenient on drug dealing… I mean, mandatory death penalty for 500g of marijuana?).

      On average, democracy is still more likely to give your freedom. It’s flawed, sure, but if you don’t trust democratic government, you should have even less faith in a dictatorship.

      1. Democracies tend to commit suicide. Either through foriegn adventures (Athens), voting in a dictator (Germany, many others), or spending itself to death (us).

  10. Good observations. Seems to me it’s a balance I’d call the umbrella theory. Popular culture in a free society – these can thrive and become beacons for others because the military acts as an umbrella to keep the bad guys from raining on the party. In a similar way, that’s the answer to the current troubles: use the military to keep the insurgent violence down so the institutions, economy, and culture have time to build up.

  11. Thank you , Donna Summer, thank you…

  12. The two points about HK, that they have low business taxes and regulation, are key to a prosperous society. No matter how seemingly inconsequential, every regulation has a cost to business. Every government incurred cost contributes to overhead, and reduces the ability to compete against businesses from other countries, as well as reduces the ability of owners to provide higher pay and better benefits. Each one should be considered carefully, and only added if absolutely necessary. There is no way around that, and it’s the main reason why I don’t understand liberals love for taxes and regulation of business.

    1. What the hell do you want, a repeat of the 19th century? ‘shudders’

  13. Reason #745 why I can’t wait for the Boomers to die/become invalid/generally stop speaking and writing:

    their constant carping about how their contributions to Western Culture were the driving force behind global geopolitical changes in the 20th century.

    1. Fuck off! We invented sex, drugs, rock and roll, and the fatherless family. Now gimme mine!

      1. “…and the fatherless family…”

        Ah, you’ve got to love the results of policies fueled by the publically educated sense that all men are potentially bloodthirsty wife-beating baby-raping demons. And if you don’t believe this, just poll your peers on how uncomfortable they feel when they see a father(presumably) hold his child’s hand in public. What once was the routine behavior of a parent is now potential evidence of a pedophile. And this of course says nothing of divorce laws, single-parent welfare, etc.

        1. Funny you should mention that. I distinctly remember some PSA-lite on Nickelodeon back in the swinging 80s reminding kids that they were allowed to say no to adults touching them. The example they used? What appeared to be 3-year-old gets passed from his mom to another male family member then flipping shit. I can’t say for certain that the man was intended to be dad, uncle, whatever, but in ways I feel now that this exemplified the then-new, subtle message to millenial rugrats and their soccer moms that ALL adult males are to be feared and mistrusted.

          1. Funny YOU should mention it…
            We recently moved. Pulling into the new neighborhood recently I see two women walking towards me, but I can’t immediately, from a distance, in the slanting sun, tell if it’s two young moms or possibly two teen girls. So I just kept my eyes straight ahead and didn’t acknowledge them as I drove by. I’d rather risk two adults thinking I’m a snooty guy, too good to wave hi, than risk two teens running home saying the bad man waved at them.

            1. I’ve added about half a mile to the route I run and that extension takes me right by a park with a playground. I keep my eyes focused on a spot about 8 feet directly in front of me and don’t acknowledge anyone the entire time I’m near that area. Not taking the chance of someone losing their mind that a stranger looked in the same direction as their precious little snowflake.

              Our society is truly insane.

              1. Isn’t there a rule or a protocol in the military service that says any eye contact between a man and a woman that lasts more than two seconds is discouraged lest it be misinterpreted?

              2. Either our society is, or you. Lose the pedo mustache and you should be fine.

              3. SFC B|7.28.11 @ 2:06PM|#

                I’ve added about half a mile to the route I run and that extension takes me right by a park with a playground. I keep my eyes focused on a spot about 8 feet directly in front of me and don’t acknowledge anyone the entire time I’m near that area. Not taking the chance of someone losing their mind that a stranger looked in the same direction as their precious little snowflake.

                Our society is truly insane.

                Yeah, society is insane [backs away quietly, and quickly, looking for a safe exit]

      2. We would have also accepted the more direct, “We mattered!!”

    2. their constant carping about how their contributions to Western Culture were the driving force behind global geopolitical changes in the 20th century.

      Where/when did they ever claim that? (Hint: They didn’t.) Their “contributions” to American culture were the driving force behind American cultural and political changes in the latter 20th century and they rightfully lay claim to that. Which is not to say that those contributions and changes were good ones. Most of them were bad and they explain why, now that the Boomers are running the show, the country is so screwed up. I am one of them, BTW.

      1. I agree…as a group, we Boomers suck.

        1. I’m certainly embarassed by my peers.

          1. The ‘me’ generation. These are losers who brought us hippies, Bill Clinton, and the leisure suit. They claim responsibility for the computer boom and the internet, a la’ Al Gore, when all that came of the Apollo program. This is the original bed-wetter generation. They are the bozos who started the cattle drive into the psychiatrist’s office and made it a status symbol (Along with screwing your neighbors spouse). With the greatest generation dying off like flies, we are running out of adults in a hurry. The 60 something’s from the ‘me’ generation don’t qualify. Considering they invented ‘Depends’ it becomes all too clear. Soon they all will be back in diapers, a fitting end for them.

        2. I agree…as a group, we Boomers suck.

          I don’t know what boomers are anymore. It seems the demarcation keeps creeping forward. There was a time I was *not* considered a boomer.

          1. born 1946 to 1964

  14. But, the plutocracy and roads and corporations.

    1. But, the plutocracy and roads and corporations

      Nothing empowers the plutocracy like the government!

      1. LIES! We just need the Right People in charge! This time it will work!

        1. Why do you hate the poor?

  15. it’s the main reason why I don’t understand liberals love for taxes and regulation of business.

    Something about children, and corporate jets, I believe.

    1. The children will eat the lead-painted corporate jets from China unless we raise the debt ceiling and tax the rich.

  16. Interesting I should read that bit about Hong Kong after just having read about a ski equipment company relocating from Vermont to Oregon because the business climate is better in OR. And the fucking idiot libtard hipster Vermonters are all upset at the company instead of being upset at their ridiculous politicians.

    1. Well Kristen, they’re upset because they are entitled to every dollar that greedy company can fool the rubes into giving it. Now some of them will have to find new work or move to Oregon to keep their jobs (presumably). That said, I’m surprised Oregon is more business friendly than Vermont. I thought both were on the same side of the statist coin, one polluted by New England degeneration, the other by the miasma wafting out of California.

      1. Apparently OR is better, though their minimum wage is fairly high. But their taxes are much better for business, especially when you’re selling stuff that may be bought by tourists (VT soaks its tourists dry). The Mercatus freedom rankings give a basic rundown.

      2. BTW, they could have moved next door to NH and done even better economically, but perhaps the workforce in NH isn’t up to snuff (maybe Manchester, but the rest of the state is not that populous)

      3. OR is the redneck cousin of CA and WA.

        They’re a blue state by national standards, but red by west coast standards

        1. “Hippies with guns,” and I say this with all affection and admiration. My time in Oregon has never been anything but happily spent, and most of that has been due to the caliber of people there. Also, have you noticed that when you cross the State line from California, the road improves significantly? The quality of the road noise changes markedly! Yet California is supposed to be the State where the auto is king. Yeah, right.

          I love California, the State where I was born and have lived for nearly all of my life so far. I am determined not to be taxed, regulated, or otherwise hounded away to somewhere else. But if I had to leave California, I could be happy in Oregon.

    2. or maybe the company president is from oregon, which is more likely.

    3. “Vermonters are all upset at the company instead of being upset at their ridiculous politicians.
      reply to this ”

      Vermont is one of the most screwed up states in the east. High taxes, low wages, high property costs, and “social justice” types on every corner.

      The only thing they have going for them is the gun laws keep crime low.

  17. OM, I suspect the reason the NORKs are still standing isn’t the regrettable lack of Lady Gaga and Cosmopolitan.

    I suspect it has to do with an appetite for brutality that exceeds that of the Soviets, having a much smaller country to control, having a very large and powerful sponsor state, and perhaps cultural/historical context that provides a better footing for absolute totalitarianism.

    I don’t doubt that exposure to foreign cultures isn’t helpful to totalitarian regimes, but there are plenty of nasty, backwards places out there, including the Islamist states, that manage to survive exposure to Western “decadence”.

    As somebody noted above, the argument that rock ‘n’ roll had very much to do with the fall of the Soviet Union smacks of baby boomer narcissism.

    1. our defining characteristic

    2. Not wanting to be repetitive but I posted this late yesterday to your comment on the Bollywood story regarding the role played by rnr in the fall of eastern European communism so you may not have seen it:

      “R.C.: I think Tony Judt discusses this in “Post-war” (which is a pretty good read). And historian Larry Schweikart made a video called Rockin the Wall: he has a website by the name (no spaces; .com).”

    3. Yep.

      The military buildup worked because it destroyed the confidence of the ruling elite that they would be able to keep pace with the US. I doubt the Russian people would have overcome a real crackdown in response to the unrest. Look at how easily they are already sliding back into an authoritarian government, with very little resistance.

      1. Look at how easily they are already sliding back into an authoritarian government, with very little resistance.

        This could apply just as well to Uncle Sam’s locked down nanny-state that has long since buried its novel founding doctrine in endless debt-fueled fecal matter.

    4. As somebody noted above, the argument that rock ‘n’ roll had very much to do with the fall of the Soviet Union smacks of baby boomer narcissism.

      No, really, the Soviet Union fell because they were essentially Rick rolled. Sounds plausible to me.

    5. “…the argument that rock ‘n’ roll had very much to do with the fall of the Soviet Union smacks of baby boomer narcissism.”

      Except that many in the former Soviet Union believe this as well. Rock ‘n’ Roll (and western culture in general) may not have been the most important factor, but it perhaps created a basis by which ordinary citizens began questioning official govt. propaganda and a push for greater openness.

    6. “As somebody noted above, the argument that rock ‘n’ roll had very much to do with the fall of the Soviet Union smacks of baby boomer narcissism.”

      Maybe so, but I recently saw a film documentary that, through coverage of news reports of the era and more recent eyewitness interviews, makes a pretty good case that rock-n-roll in general, and the Beatles specifically, had a lot to do with the downfall of the Iron Curtain regime: “How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin.” If you haven’t seen it, I recommend that you do so at your earliest convenience. The argument may be right or it may be wrong, but although it is audacious it is not out of left field. There is substantiation that is at least worth considering. I think you can find the film on YouTube; not sure about NetFlix.

  18. alt-text “and the East champions should be determined…”

  19. When, O when, are we going to give credit to “Storm Squirters II” for bringing freedom and democracy to the world?
    Porn – is there anything it can’t do???

    1. NOT “BACK DOOR SLUTS 9”!!!!!!!!

  20. Didn’t read it…but John Stossel “debunking”? Come on.

  21. There was some special I saw a year or so ago about the Beatles being part of the Soviet cultural change in the late 60s early 70s. How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin, or something like that.

  22. “Didn’t read it”

    I salute you. We don’t need to listen to anything that counters are dogma, we know we’re right!

    1. “counters are dogma”

      I like it.

      I have now read the article. As suspected, there is no debunking going on, as far as I can tell.

      1. …as far as I can tell.

        There’s your problem right there.

        1. ballsack,

          Show me the debunking. All I see is bunking piled on top of more bunking. Or, more like, obviousness added to the incomplete.

  23. I doubt that American GIs (or for that matter, British or French troops) brought jazz to the eastern front, since the British, Americans, and French didn’t fight on the Eastern Front.

    Furthermore, the amount of Western cultural influence on Soviet people during the 20 or 30 years after World War II was severely limited. Stalin went as far to put Soviet people who had been prisoners of the Germans into labor camps and kept them there into the 1950s just for having been exposed to non-Soviet influences, called “anti-Soviet” influences. It was part of the extensively enforced Article 51.

    So I doubt that Western jazz, or any other expression of Western liberated culture had much influence on Soviet thinking (or anti-Soviet thinking) until around the 1980s. Maybe in Czechoslovakia or other Soviet satellite countries, but not in the U.S.S.R. proper. Our economic policies did the U.S.S.R. in, that and the wheat shortages for 70 years and the ultimate disappearance of bread from the state stores.

    1. Article 58, not Article 51.

    2. Re: Bill,

      I doubt that American GIs (or for that matter, British or French troops) brought jazz to the eastern front, since the British, Americans, and French didn’t fight on the Eastern Front.

      The two fronts reached each other by April 1945, Bill. The Americans reached as far into the East as Czechoslovakia.

      Furthermore, the amount of Western cultural influence on Soviet people during the 20 or 30 years after World War II was severely limited.

      Perhaps. And? The Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991, 37 years after the death of Stalin.

      1. And at what point were the Western Allies fighting on the Eastern Front?

        1. When the Eastern Front was in Germany?

          1. Uh, actually, no.

      2. And the incarceration of former Soviet troops in the gulag for no less than 8-year sentences didn’t serve to intimidate the Soviet people for another 20 years? Really?

        1. The survivors of the siege of Leningrad would have been happy with an 8 year prison sentence. After being cut off from the gov’t for over 2 years, once the siege was lifted, the survivors were killed. They had thought for themselves for over 2 years.

          1. Well, yes, no doubt it was better to have been a POW in the hands of the Germans, then to have your own people put you in prison for an 8-year minimum than to have your own people just kill you on the spot after 900 days of being starved by the Nazis.

            1. Talk about evil vs. evil. The Germans could have defeated Russia – the people in the territory they initially overran considered the German army to be liberators. Imagine if the Germans had taken advantage of the locals’ offer to help. Instead, the stupidity of racism led the Germans to kill as many people as possible. If only the war on the Eastern Front had gone one for another year or two.

    3. “So I doubt that Western jazz, or any other expression of Western liberated culture had much influence on Soviet thinking (or anti-Soviet thinking) until around the 1980s.”

      You’d be wrong. Bootlegged Beatles albums, for example, started appearing in the 60s.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzaYMOc1EWU

      1. And their impact on Bolshevik culture was ____?

        1. Way to move that bar Bill. It’s not a question of how western culture affected ‘soviet culture’, but rather, did western culture have an affect on those living in the USSR before the 80s. The answer? Yes it did.

          There was a significant black market for smuggled Rock & Roll LPs as early as, at least, the 1960s. As the video, which you I’m sure did not watch, suggests, this injection of ‘western culture’ (ie the Beatles) through the black market played a significant role in ending the Soviet Union.

          1. Well, it’s exactly how Western culture affected Soviet culture; that was the whole thrust of the claim.

            And talk about moving the bar. The guy cited in the article was talking about jazz in the post-World War II period, and you’ve changed it to rock ‘n’ roll a generation later. How do you sleep at night, having expressed such hypocrisy?

            1. “And talk about moving the bar. The guy cited in the article was talking about jazz in the post-World War II period, and you’ve changed it to rock ‘n’ roll a generation later. How do you sleep at night, having expressed such hypocrisy?”

              Bullshit. I was responding to your quote:

              “So I doubt that Western jazz, OR ANY OTHER EXPRESSION OF WESTERN LIBERATED CULTURE HAD MUCH INFLUENCE ON SOVIET THINKING (OR ANTI-SOVIET THINKING) UNTIL
              AROUND THE 1980S,”

              No hypocrisy on my part at all. Did western culture have any influnce inside the Soviet Union before the 1980s? The answer is clearly it did.

              1. I remain awestruck at the facile way you’ve hijacked this thread.

                1. Perfect. I’ll take that response as a confession that your claim that western culture had no affect on the Soviet Union until the 1980s was actually… bullshit.

        1. Did you read the article you linked to?

          “…the Soviet government tolerated, and even promoted other groups, like the Beatles, Deep Purple, T-Rex, Slate, Sweet, Rolling Stones. It released bootleg versions of their songs, on Soviet records, without naming the bands. And it played up the anti-imperialist and lefty lyrics in the songs.”

          Well, the guy was a Soviet citizen, even though he somehow got to relocate to the West, so I suppose he would know better than me.

          1. There were some limited official releases of Beatles later on, but only after years of their music being officially banned.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..re=related

  24. that and the wheat shortages for 70 years and the ultimate disappearance of bread from the state stores.

    And they have more farmland than we have land. I’ve read two books written by people who escaped the Soviet Union. Our liberals bear a striking resemblence to the Soviets.

    1. Prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, Russia was a net exporter of wheat. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the former Russia was a net importer of wheat every year until the U.S.S.R. collapsed.

      1. But think of the damage to Gaia that was averted.

    2. I don’t think that is true. George Friedman of STRATFOR a private global intelligence company:

      “The most important aspect of the United States is not simply its sheer size, but the size of its usable land. Russia and China may both be similar-sized in absolute terms, but the vast majority of Russian and Chinese land is useless for agriculture, habitation or development. In contrast, courtesy of the Midwest, the United States boasts the world’s largest contiguous mass of arable land ? and that mass does not include the hardly inconsequential chunks of usable territory on both the West and East coasts.”
      http://www.stratfor.com/weekly….._recession

  25. F-Reagan….F-Nike….F-Jazz…it was the Velvet Underground that killed the commies….hasn’t anyone read ‘Declaration of Independents’?

    1. ‘Declaration of Independents’?

      Is that a book? Who wrote it?

    2. Finally, someone other than Jonathan Richman gives the Velvet Underground their due!

      “How in the world were they makin’ that sound/Velvet Underground?”

  26. What did the Soviets have to fear?

    The myriad of Nuclear Freeze Marches and demonstrations with a million or more thronged in New York, London and Paris and West Berlin?

    The “awesome” us military which was routed from Lebanon and looked oh so formidable in “taking” Grenada?

    The military spending of the Reagan administration, which was less than the Carter administration’s projected defense budgets?

    What did we do in the aftermath of the September 1, 2003, shooting down of the KAL flight?

    Yeah, the facts get in the way of the narratives of the american exceptionalists and the neocons and the national greatness conservatives and the war party.

  27. Always enjoy Stossel’s columns. But if I might note something–people want choices, yes. But what gave them the information to know there are choices out there, so Russians knew what Nikes and Levi’s were and therefore desired them–our culture. Which leaked in as noted here.
    Interesting article on reason about Bollywood and the Middle East for further musings on the subject if you like.

  28. It doesn’t put to lie that western culture has that affect on societies. North Korea is a very closed society, but the regime, for all its strength, might not last long after Kim Jong Il. And your absolutely right on the China aspect. I believe something around 90% of what little trade North Korea has is with China. North Korea is essentially a crazy buffer state against the US occupied South Korea.

  29. “The people know the president, but do they know his opponent?”

    Reality?

  30. Stossel just called me cheap? I’m not the millionaire who flaunts his free golf cart.

  31. But was the no tax pledge notarized?

  32. Oh, because of Norquist’s pledge the Republicans can’t look like idiots? That’s some powerful pledging.

  33. I’m voting for that addict.

  34. I don’t think you can drive a bus to Greece.

  35. Stossel: If you understand the debt ceiling debate, get a life.

  36. Surely it wasn’t Gretchen who turned Grover gay.

  37. Well, the Democrats would raise revenue by selling lemonade, but the coppers keep shutting their stand down.

  38. He’s right, when the feds seize marijuana they should turn around and sell it and use the revenue to fund entitlements.

  39. MAYBE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD JUST SELL ITSELF ON THE STREET CORNER TO MAKE MONEY.

    1. The pay is better on K St and Wall St.

  40. Coins and military? Those are two vastly different levels of cuts. Leading with the coin thing was odd.

  41. How do I know Stossel isn’t using the European style of using commas as decimal points?

  42. GIVE ME A BREAK! He said it. That means you have to take a shot. Of heroin.

  43. Parodying eliminationist rhetoric is eliminationist.

  44. So this is where David Wallace went after Dunder Mifflin folded.

  45. Oh great, spending disorder, hold up the presses, we’re not quite ready to publish the new DSM yet.

  46. Does he have children’s birthday wrapping paper folded up in his breast pocket?

  47. Hayek? Road to Serfdom? We already know Stossel loves giant prop blackboards, how long until he starts scrawling conspiracy theories on them with giant prop chalk?

  48. Social justice is neither.

  49. I prefer to be social in justice. I like to gab during jury duty.

  50. You answer them with a punch in the face, John. Their right to not get punched in the face ends at your swinging fist.

  51. Budget surpluses are immoral. Yet another immorality from Bill Clinton.

    1. I did not have equilibrium with that budget.

  52. BREAKING NEWS:

    Nothing happening in the House of Representatives.

    1. In related news, John Boehner dry fires when masturbating.

  53. NO, YOU’RE OUT OF ORDER

  54. “Nothing never was accomplished.”

    Pritchard, Alabama ushered in the singularity, apparently.

  55. Prichard’s sign-on-a-stick making business took off, however.

  56. This whole discussion of failing state economies is Greek to me.

  57. Malanga has huge ears. I’m sorry if this is now all you can see when watching him, but it had to be said.

    1. One would think this would lower his speaking voice.

  58. It is funding your IRA if you declare bankruptcy.

  59. The debt is coming from inside the house.

  60. Breaking News: White guys laughing about business with a golf course on Fox News.

  61. This guy’s from the Manhattan Institute? I seem to recall another Manhattan project designed to destroy society.

  62. Hopefully he uses the electric chainsaw to cut his giant novelty scissors.

  63. Is it possible that ABC just couldn’t afford the liability insurance for John Stossel’s props any longer?

    1. They should have sold more Magic Mesh.

  64. Ha, Facebook Eric gets it.

  65. What’s different? Blackish man in the White House, that’s what!

  66. I yell out my window at 3 million government workers every morning to stay home, big deal Stossel.

  67. Raise the roof or risk lameness.

  68. How about if government workers just take a mustache trimming instead of a haircut? What does that buy us?

    1. A big drop in revenue from mustache rides.

  69. Bogeyman vs Bogeyman: Grover Norquist vs. ACORN

  70. Norquist is talking death panels, isn’t he?

  71. Greg from Cabot is not an actor. And I’m pretty sure he missed a button on his flannel shirt.

  72. Actually, they took that $2.2T.

  73. Ha, I honestly can’t say who would apologize first: Bush or Obama.

  74. Without a Department of Education, what would the Education Secretary do? You’re not thinking things through, Stoss.

  75. Support our troops with bumper stickers and bumper stickers alone?

  76. Ending the war on drugs will give us the tools to dull that pain.

  77. Into the drama too, let go, life is it?

  78. What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us.Do not know when unexpected disaster, one’s life is very short very short.

  79. What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us.Do not know when unexpected disaster, one’s life is very short very short.

  80. Hong Kong makes an interesting case: Prosperity doesn’t require democracy, just freedom. Which would suggest that prosperity in the U.S. has much to do with the freedoms guaranteed in our constitution, and less to do with our right to elect a new set of clowns every few years. Reference our current economic predicament.

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