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John Stossel - Is There Anything Goverment Can't Do?

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Unfortunately there is problem in timing in this english version with english subtitles!!! Czech is allright but other languages will be problem help translate and transcribe Thank goodness for government. lt gives us rule of law that keeps the peace, makes sure no one physically attacks you or steals your property. America needs that. But today our government does much more than that. Government today runs trains, subways, schools, parks, public housing, welfare, Medicare, Social Security, war on drugs. Search warrant! lt provides water, sewer systems, snow removal, trash collection, ambulances. lt subsidizes students, farmers, lndians, researchers, volunteers, small businessmen, rich businessmen and performance artists. 'l am sorry, America.' lt inspects fruit, pickles, mattresses, toys, cars, garage doors and barbecue grills. lt polices the world, suppresses vice and puts opera on TV. lt's very nice to have classical music on PBS. l like it. l listen to it. l watch it. But, says Chapman University philosophy professor Tibor Machan, it's wrong to make Americans pay for programs they may not want. This is the politicians substituting theirjudgment for ourjudgment. Exactly what gives them that right?. We elected them to do that. lt's democracy. lf you believed in democracy being that bloated, you could vote hair cuts democratically. You could vote ties democratically. You could vote everything -- marriages democratically. The Founders tended to believe that government should be restricted. lt should be limited to the function of securing our rights. The Founding Fathers never talked about a government giving people things. They said it should have limited duties like running the post office, the courts and printing money. For a hundred fifty years that's about all it did. The focus was on guaranteeing liberty. Liberty is too precious a thing to be buried in books, Mrs. Sanders. When Mr. Smith came to Washington in the 30s, government was just beginning its explosive growth. Roosevelt's New Deal went beyond liberty. lt promised people jobs, retirement benefits, health care. Bill after bill pours into Congress from the White House. Whatever Roosevelt wants, he gets. And every president since FDR, Democrat or Republican, signed onto this new idea of expanded government. Strengthen the arts, fight teen pregnancy, prevent violence among young people, promote racial healing. And we'll help all seniors afford prescription drugs. Washington's become a kind of grab bag, where people with demands line up in the streets. Guarantee access to life-saving drugs. And the lobbyists line up inside. They see the system there, and they grab whatever they can from that system. And who pays for it all? Morning, Joe. You do. Joe taxpayer. These roofers in St. Louis have a brutal job, melting tar in hundred degree weather. Yet one out of every $3 they make doing this goes to the government. Americans pay more in taxes than we do in food, clothing, and shelter combined. Amity Shlaes wrote ''The Greedy Hand,'' a book about what the government takes from us. You'd be surprised at what it takes from you. For example, Bill and Mary Thurston of St. Louis pay taxes all the time, even when they're not aware of it. At four in the morning when Bill's alarm goes off, they're already paying. Five percent to the county, for electricity. Brushing his teeth? Two taxes on the toothpaste. A sewer fee for this, and when he takes a shower. There's water tax! Money goes down that drain, too. To drive somewhere, the Thurstons pay taxes for his truck and her minivan. And when they buy gas they pay much more. Work is where Americans pay most of our taxes. Bill's one of those roofers we saw earlier. And while he and the rest of the crew are out slopping tar, it takes two employees back at the company's offices just to calculate how much to withhold from their paychecks. Going to feel tight, OK? Because Bill's wife, Mary, works as a nurse, the Thurstons pay a marriage tax. Their marriage penalty bill is over a thousand dollars. Then there's the grocery tax, property tax, utility tax, two cable TV taxes, seven taxes on the phone, and finally a sin tax. Forty-three percent of what Bill pays for that bottle of beer is taxes. What this means is that Americans on average have to work until May of every year -- four months -- just to pay off your taxes. For four months, you sweat not for yourself but to pay for all those benevolent government programs. Government is never charitable, never generous, never benevolent because what is involved in government giving is government taking. Since government takes so much of your money, you'd think they'd be careful to keep track of it. But in fact, billions slip through the cracks. Maybe it's because the accounting process is so boring that few of us watch carefully. At these hearings, it's hard to stay awake. These uniwue features justify moving the funding for these programs out from under the discretionary caps to the mandatory sides. What reporter wants to attend these dull hearings when we can focus on the really important news? 'Did you have sexual relations with the president?.' We focus on this while the government loses track of your tax money. Mr. Lincoln, may l ask you about this money?. We're doing a hearing today. At this hearing, they're about to discuss a little problem at the Pentagon. Somehow, billions of your tax dollars are unaccounted for. They may have it. They just don't know where it is. David Walker heads the GAO, the part of the government that's supposed to keep track of taxpayers' money. How can you not find billions of dollars? lf you saw how many systems that the Department of Defense has, with the lines of code, you would know the answer to that wuestion. lt is mind-boggling. Walker says the Pentagon has spent billions on things they can't find. lf they have it, but they don't know that they have it, they may buy it again. The Pentagon has acknowledged discrepancies in accounting for more than $2 trillion. What if a private company kept its books that way?. l asked that at a convention of accountants. The Pentagon says for a decade, it's been trying but failing to produce a credible financial statement. What would happen to your clients if they did that?. You couldn't last very long on the business. The SEC would shut them down as a public organization. The companies would go bankrupt. The investors would be all over them. No private company could get away with this. But we're not a private company. There you have it. Government doesn't have to follow the same rules you have to follow. ltjust keeps spending and misplacing money. And you pay for it. Here in Washington, there are lots of experts. Very smart people with specialized knowledge, who are convinced that they, through central planning you might call it, can run our lives better than we could left on our own. Yet again and again, the government experts have failed. They make things worse. Look what this department, the Department of the lnterior, has done. You've heard about the catastrophic forest fires over the past few years. Some people call them natural disasters, but many say these fires are not natural. ln fact, most of the catastrophic fires out West were government-caused fires. The result of decades of bad government policy or carelessness like at Los Alamos or this fire in Lewiston, California, where the Department of the lnterior lit a fire to try to get rid of a weed, this thistle. They set the fire despite weather reports saying it would be windy. lt was windy. Two dozen people lost their homes. Faddy Lochler was one. Some idiot lit a fire when the wind was blowing. l think it's a criminal act. The man from the lnterior Department's a criminal? He's untouchable. That was the attitude. The arrogance. Because l asks him. l says, 'You know, had l got caught burning trash today, it would have been about a $2,000 fine.' And this little guy looked me right dead in the eye and he says, 'You're just a homeowner. l'm a professional.' The fire not only destroyed homes, it failed even to eliminate the thistle, which grew back stronger than before. Government mismanagement of forests has led to fires all over the West. There's a lot of privately owned land here, too. But it's better managed. The catastrophic fires were on government land. And if the lnterior Department does a bad job managing land, you ought to see what happens when they try to manage people. Often, the more the government helps, the worse things get. Look at what they did to the first Americans. They put us in a little cage here called a reservation. Chief Red Cloud, the leader of the Lakota Sioux tribe of Pine Ridge, South Dakota. The Sioux have been herded and controlled by the government for over a hundred years. The result?. This is now the poorest county in America. Unemployment's about 80 percent. People live on government checks. Every month they receive some type of handout from the federal government. So our people become lazy and they don't want to work. With nothing to do, many just drink. l been under the supervision of the federal government for a long time. They messed us up, man. They messed us, man. Seventeen-year-old Russell Blacksmith would like to help his tribe improve their lives. He wants to be chief some day, but he's not optimistic. The federal government turned us into a concentration camp. We sit back and just live off of government handouts. lt's been a trap. We need to stand on our own two feet. We have the least life expectancy. Less than Guatemala. Less than Bolivia, Brazil. Hardly anyone reaches 65 anymore. Activist Russell Means blames the lnterior Department's Bureau of lndian Affairs, the agency that claims to help lndians by planning their lives. We cannot make a plan or a decision without the express consent of the secretary of interior. We submit anywhere from two to five year economic plans. Does that sound like the Soviet Union? The old Soviet Union and their failed economic plans? Most of the crimes against the lndians were that of the government. The government goes in and ruins their lives, and it comes up and says, 'Hey, you need us.' Come on in. By contrast, look what's happened when a tribe managed to get some freedom from government control. We decided that we're going to have to do something for ourselves. Phillip Martin is chief of the Choctaw tribe. The government put the Choctaw on a reservation in Mississippi, and for years, they lived much like the Sioux. Tuberculosis was rampant. lnfant mortality was horrible. Babies were coming into hospitals not being cared for and going home and returning and dying in mother's arms. But then the Choctaw petitioned Congress to give them special concessions that would allow them to try new things without having to go through so much red tape. For the first time, we're able to make some changes. Today, 20 years later, they have factories that generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. One makes stereo speakers. Another, wiring for cars. Another makes plastic utensils for McDonald's. Every lndian who wants a job has one. They've even hired thousands of non-lndians from off the reservation. They've built their own schools and hospital, and they've built a thousand new homes. l think if my grandparents were still living today, they would be so astonished at what all has happened and how much it's changed. Makes you wonder how does the lnterior Department get away with it?. Charged with helping lndians and given tax money to spend billions on them, they created the poorest people in America. But they still tell the world, 'We're taking care of our poor little lndians.' The Bureau of lndian Affairs can't even keep track of the lndians' money. More than $2 billion of it is unaccounted for. Yet no one is even reprimanded. No one's indicted. No one's demoted. No one is fired. No one is even named. Just more billions lost in the bureaucracy. And where might the money be? l wanted to ask then-Secretary of the lnterior, Bruce Babbit. He agreed to an interview, and his staff had us set up our camera gear in his conference room. But when Babbit arrived, he seemed to change his mind. l'm not sure why l'm here. l mean, you know -- another -- another expose'. lt's all in a day's business. l understand. OK, well, lets -- let's have at it?. OK. But before l could ask him anything, he decided he didn't want to talk. l'm gonna fire whoever scheduled this interview. Why?. Well, well, wh- wh- what's the name of the show?. Uhh, we haven't titled it yet. lt's probably -- Oh, okay. The government is wasting your money. They are corrupt and incompetent. l wouldn't -- l wouldn't say corrupt. l would argue competent. You say incompetent. Look, l'm getting less and less interested in doing this interview, l got to tell you. l -- l really am. l'm not sure -- l'm not sure how l got here, but... Well we... We told you it was a consumer report on government. Told your staff. Yeah. Yeah. Look, l really don't want to do this. Now... And that was that. The interview was over. Now his department wants Congress to give more money to the Bureau of lndian Affairs. Should they get it?. Should they exist at all? There's no Bureau of Jewish Affairs. There's no Bureau of lrish Affairs. There's no Bureau of Black or African Affairs. They sit up there in Washington, DC and they legislate laws that affect us when in fact they don't know what the heck's going on here. When we return, we'll see if government can build you a house. Government wants to do good things for people. Help the lndians, protect the forests and so forth. The planners always have such good intentions. But again and again, their plans make much of life worse. ln the name of helping the poor, look at what the Housing Department's done. After spending billions on public housing, many families have been helped. But too often, public housing looks like this. lt's bug-infested. lt's mice-infested. At housing projects all around America, elevators don't work, repairs aren't made. This has been like this for l would say about two months now. At this St. Louis building, an alarm sounds 24 hours a day. With no security and no locks, they just leave the doors wide open. Now every administration has said they'll do better. Both the current and last administrations said they want to do more. Let's help you build a better life for you and your family. For years, Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo has handed out giant checks and issued press releases saying 'Cuomo makes the American dream achievable.' 'Cuomo awards $10 million.' How arrogant. lt's not Cuomo's money. lt's your money. Let me give you a safe, clean, decent place to live. Did he? So often, public housing has locked poor people into crime-ridden ghettos with problems so intractable, the government laterjust blows the buildings up. ln St. Louis, Chicago, Baltimore, Newark, our government destroys the very things they once held out as the solution. Why do these projects fail? Some housing officials have said it's not the government's fault. The tenants are the problem. Many won't pay their rent. They vandalize their own buildings. But if the tenants are the real reason public housing is in such sorry shape, how do you explain what happens when you get the government out?. This apartment complex is in the middle of one of the poorest sections of New York City. Unlike so much public housing, it's very clean and well-maintained. There are playgrounds filled with happy children. lt didn't used to be like this. When this was a public housing project, living here was hell. There were some 4,000 broken windows. The elevators wouldn't work for months at a time. This place was a shambles. lt looked bad, it felt bad, it even smelled bad. Residents say the government just let the project decay. When Brian Lewis took over as building manager... Half the place had no heat. Half the place had no gas. Ten broken sewer mains. The government put in new boilers, says Lewis, but hooked them up wrong. ln five years, those brand new boilers were gone. That's an example of not caring because it's not their money. 'Are we doing it right?. Well, who cares? We got the money. We're putting it in. l did my job because my job was put in the boilers.' And that's the way they work. And then, there was the crime. We identified 132 apartments that were controlled by drug dealers. They had nicknames for this place like ''New Crack City,'' ''Ambush Alley.'' That's what they call passageways like this because people were so scared they didn't walk through -- they ran through. That was when it was a government project. Now a private developer runs it, and is doing all kinds of odd things. Like bringing in musicians to work with the kids. Ay! Yaa! Giving karate lessons. Building a new playground. For the first time in, l mean, a lot of years, they had children running around in that park, playing on the climbing facilities, going down the slides. You had mothers there with baby carriages. l just looked at it, and l said,'You know, this is becoming a community again.' Under private management, everything changed. Why?. What's the difference? This is a business here, so how do you make your business a success? You find out what your customers need, and you cater to them. Right. You give them the things they need to make them continue to be good customers. lt's dollars and cents in his pocket. The man he's talking about is Harley Frank who, when we visited this summer, was the owner's rep. Harley knows they'll make more money if the complex has a good reputation. That keeps him working on the building and negotiating with tenants. You want me to close the park?. Nah. Harley had been considering the kids' rewuests for new lights and bleachers by the basketball court, but only if the pot smoking by some of the kids stopped. l need weed. When these kids resisted... lt's not gonna stop. ...the tenants started policing themselves. They're not gonna put on the lights if we don't stop smoking weed in the park. No lights gonna be up in here... No bleachers are going to be here. No water, no nothing. Just for a nickel bag? Come on, man. We never had this, and we got it now. We can't let this go. How would you like it if each -- every one of those guys knows that we're closing the park because you're smoking? You -- would you like that?. No. l can't have it where we're walking down here and l'm smelling weed. ltjust can't be. We work with you. And we can't do nothing, l'm saying, but work with you. Why can't this passion come out under public housing? Because in public housing, there's no motivation for it. People are civil servants. They get paid at the end of the week whether they do their work or not. Now, of course, there are civil servants who work hard. But overall, government's record at providing goods and services -- it's not impressive. We assume government has to be in charge of so much. But, given how the government's managed things like public housing or the American lndians, isn't it time to try something new?. Today, there's a revolution afoot. Private entrepreneurs are doing things people used to say only government can do. Take something as basic as drinking water. Government usually provides that. Trouble is, in much of America, city water departments have let the pipes rust. ln Jersey City, New Jersey, it got so bad the water didn't taste good, sometimes failed government's own tests and kept getting more expensive. City workers told Mayor Bret Schundler there wasn't much they could do. They couldn't even slow the price increases. We said, 'Can't you get the costs down so we don't have to increase rates?' And they said no. 'Can't be done' is an answer heard in bureaucracies everywhere. So Schundler did something unusual. He put the water contract out for bid, and a for-profit company won. Within months, the private company had fixed the pipes the government couldn't fix. But how can you trust the drinking water to some outside private company?. The reality is our water is safer and cleaner than it's ever been before. For the first time in years, the city's water meets the highest standard and for less money. The private company saved taxpayers $35 million. What if they screw up? They're fired. They're toast. l don't care. lf they blow it, we're going to give the contract to somebody else. That focuses the mind? Yeah. They say there's nothing like a hanging, the prospect of a hanging to concentrate the mind. That's the difference. Government's a monopoly, so it has no real competition, no incentive to innovate or try harder. These men worked for Jersey City water when the department said it couldn't be done. Now they do what couldn't be done. Are you working harder now?. Yes. You're always on the go, every day something different. So were you goofing off before? Well... Sitting around, drinking coffee? Well, occasionally, yes, when we worked for the city. Many workers told us they're happier working harder in privatized systems. We work harder. There's a lot of reason to work harder. Nurse Debbie Vass loves herjob as a paramedic in Pinellas County, Florida. The system is way cool. You have state-of-the-art, brand new ambulances. State-of-the-art, brand new ewuipment. That is so different from the way things were before when it was a struggle just to have a pillow on your stretcher. Then the service was sometimes slow and expensive. The costs were just going up, up, up with no end in sight. That was before the county let Jersey City put their EMS service up for bid, placing the lives of their residents in private hands. The result astonished the county. Our taxes were lowered eight years in a row. Competition has proven to get us higher wuality, faster ambulances and lower costs. Because of competition, paramedics -- not just dispatchers -- now answer the phones. Are you having any chest pains? They give you medical advice while you are waiting. l want you to stay on the phone with me because she is unconscious. And the ambulances get to you sooner because their satellite tracking system -- few government services have this -- tells them which ambulance is closest. This one's parked at McDonald's not for lunch, but because the company computer said this was the best place to wait to reach more people fast. You can hear them before you get off the phone. Mary Night's neighbors called 91 1 because Mary was disoriented. The paramedics got to her within minutes. That's one of the main reasons we live here. The people in our ambulance service are excellent. But then again, they have no choice. lf they're not excellent, they're history. That's not how it works with government work. Even when it's crucial government work. Look at the FAA. Was your last flight on time? 'A third of the flights here are now delayed.' 'So much for that trip.' Delays are becoming the norm. 'lt's been the worst summer on record in US airline history.' How can this be? Look at the sky. Even over an airport, there's lots of room. Why can't they fly more planes in this empty space? The Federal Aviation Administration issued a report, candidly saying it is largely to blame. lt's not that they haven't tried. lt's just that government monopolies don't modernize well. The FAA still uses these antiwuated vacuum tubes in its radar system. Vacuum tubes. l mean, they took these things out of our TV sets years ago. But your government still uses them to keep track of planes in America. With such old technology, no wonder flights are delayed. lt seems that the system has reached its breaking point. But there are not as many delays here in Canada. This airport in Toronto is just as busy as JFK or San Francisco's airport or Denver's. Yet here, the flights are more likely to be on time. We went through a divorce. We left the government behind. We left the number of management layers behind. Former government controller Andy Vasarins now works for Canada's new private air traffic control system. And he says he can't believe the difference. We're saving $250 million a year. Controllers used to write information down on little pieces of paper and slide them around, the way bartenders slide beer down the bar. lt's the same system still used in control towers in the US, but not here in Toronto. Here the private companies said the old control tower was so out of date, they just blew it up and built a new one. Paper and pencil was replaced by a computerized system. Thanks to innovations like that, in Canada today, though more people are flying, delays are down. lf the government was still here, we'd be falling behind the eight ball every day. every day. Delays, delays, delays. We would gridlock this airport. Finally, traffic on the ground's often gridlocked, too. We tend to take this for granted, assume it's inevitable. But private enterprise works better here, too. Take the 91 Freeway in California. Recently, a private company rented the empty space in the middle of the freeway and built a toll road -- but a better one than what we're used to. lt takes about 45 minutes off the rush-hour trip, and there are no toll booths. Computers in this scaffolding bill people electronically. You don't even have to slow down. And if you break down, they see it. They have cameras everywhere, and they come to help you. He's down east of Ontario. Number one lane blocked. l'll be en route to the eastbound toll plaza. Run out of gas? They'll give you a free gallon, because the private company has the right incentive. Unless we give them what they want, they won't use the express lanes. lf they don't use the express lanes, we don't have a viable business. That's that competition that focuses the mind. Government, because it's a monopoly, doesn't have that. Whatever you think the role of government should be, l think most people would say, in a rich country like ours, government must help the poor, try to lift people out of poverty. Well, our government's sure been trying. America now spends about $40,000 a year on every family of four below the poverty line. Think about it -- $40,000 a year! You could just cut them a check for that and they'd be out of poverty. Yet they're not out of poverty. Millions still line up for welfare checks. What the government's accomplished with its anti-poverty money is not impressive. Despite the massive welfare state, the same complaints occur year after year -- that there are the homeless, there are the poor children, there are the-- well, if the government is so good at this, why is it failing all the time? Now the trillions we have spent certainly have helped some people. When you spend that much, you're bound to help some. ''- Thank you. - Your welcome.'' The real wuestion is, is this the best way to help poor people? lnstead of ending poverty, governments war on poverty has created generations of dependent people. ''Spare any change ma'am?'' But what's the alternative? lf government doesn't help those in need, who will? Well, look at Delancey Street. lt's a collection of society's worst. 500 former street people, drug addicts, ex-cons. Eighteen felony convictions is the average here. Now, here in San Francisco, they live together, work together and help each other out. That's what saved them, they say. Brotherhood, not handouts. Former car thief Eric Hartman teaches ex-con Christina Esparza a job he recently learned, the food business. She in turn teaches him what she learned about accounting. Christina says she's been in every prison in California. l have basically just broke every law that l could break. Robberies, kidnaps, guns. The government put her through lots of rehab programs, but nothing worked until she came here. ''Ta Da!'' They say Delancey Street works where other programs fail because it's mutual aid. The needy helping the needy. The residents have built the biggest independent moving company in the Bay area. ''Welcome to Delancey Street!'' A fine restaurant, a catering service. ''Two double latte's to go.'' A beautiful cafe, book store. ''Did you get that little screwdriver l was talking about?.'' This auto repair shop, and they built the apartment complex where they all live in San Francisco Bay. Now this mutual aid idea is not new. ln the 1920s, 30 percent of American men belonged to mutual-aid societies. They were especially popular among minorities. They helped people pay for doctors, build orphanages, cook for the poor. lnstead of a government handout which tends to make people dependent, mutual aid meant neighbors helping neighbors. So they made sure their money was used to teach self-sufficiency. Yet today, there are fewer mutual-aid societies like Habitat for Humanity because government crowded them out. Many people say, why do it ourselves when $400 billion of our tax money and hundreds of government programs do it already?. This is a tragedy because, as Delancey Street shows, mutual aid works better. You know, they make you accountable for what you do. They didn't do that at the other program. lt's just 'your anger, you're very angry. Let's talk about that, and they did that for nine months. lt was, like, okay. l thought it was a joke. ''Mabel, stand up!'' Thirteen thousand people have now been through Delancey Street, but it wasn't easy because surprisingly, government kept getting in the way. We have had to fight every bureaucracy that exists because we don't fit what you're supposed to do. Mimi Silbert, who started Delancey Street, says government rules have been an obstacle to their achievements because she doesn't employ certified teachers and drug counselors, the bureaucratic red tape, she says, could ruin anything. lf Jesus Christ walked in today and wanted to start Christianity, he wouldn't be able to do it because they'd say to him, you need two psychiatrists, you need one social worker, somebody has to sign the things. Get the government to understand when something good is happening, step out of the way. But private charities kept telling us government's often in the way. Here in Houston, Carol Porter started feeding poor people. l was feeding children who were eating out of dumpsters. l never would imagine things like that in America. She and her volunteers serve 20,000 meals a week. ''People think unless they do something big, huge, enormous, they're not making a contribution, but you are.'' What makes community-based programs work vs. government -- you know the people. You get involved in their lives. You know their names. ''Hello, Erica!'' And when someone at Kid Care needs assistance, we don't have to do a form in triplicate. We give them service right then and there. Despite her good work, at one point her charity was almost killed by government regulations. Over 16 years ago, l applied for a government grant, and we were accepted. Well, boy, was l in for a revelation. The government grant came with so many rules. Like the milk rule. Even though the child may not drink the milk, l had to place it in front of them. So l was throwing 60 and 70 containers of milk in the garbage every day. Other rules limited what she could serve, when she could serve it, who she could serve it to. So many rules she just gave up. We just shut down the program. ''How are you, today?.'' A month later, she tried again, but this time, without government funds. But the government still wouldn't leave her alone. They said charities must abide by the same rules as restaurants. They demanded she cover the beams in her ceiling, that she get a special sink to clean mops and a vented hood for the stove where she made home-cooked meals. The vented hood was for the purpose of containing grease fires. And we never fried anything. What did l need a mop sink for?. My mop was much cleaner because l washed it in my washing machine. ''C'mon, hey there!'' This is insane. No one should put any obstacles in the pathway of anyone who goes out of their own pocket, who goes out of their way to do good.'' ''Got that?. Hold it tight.'' She didn't want to remodel. She wanted to spend all the money on the kids. But the government wouldn't let up. You prefer the children eating garbage can cuisine -- versus my home cooking? l couldn't believe it. Eventually, the government offered a deal. 'Let's settle this out of court, Mrs. Porter, and you can do 200 hours of community service.' l said, ''Get a life! l do community service every day.''' But eventually, Carol gave in. She got that mop sink and a special new ceiling and stopped serving hot meals. The government is standing there with a sword at the gate and saying, 'lf you do these things, l've got a list of 500 regulations you must adhere to, or, ''kkurrch'', off with your head! Government thinks it knows best. But ask yourself: if you want to help the poor, do you write a check to the government?. Or do you give your money to a private charity, someone like Carol Porter?. There are only two ways to do things in life -- voluntarily, or because you're forced to. Government's the only institution in America that's allowed to use force, that has a legal right to make you do things. And everything government does -- every regulation, every tax it imposes -- is backed up by force, or the threat of it in one form or another. Sometimes the force comes in the form of a bulldozer. That's what's threatening this neighborhood in New Rochelle, New York. lt's what you might call a mixed neighborhood. There are two thriving churches, 34 homes, 28 businesses. lt's very diverse. People of different races live here in harmony. Residents told us they like their neighborhood the way it is. ''We're just like one big family there.'' So what's the problem? Well, the problem is that city officials like the mayor don't like it. No urban planner would ever design a neighborhood like that. With a house next to an industrial site, next to a bus depot. That's not a neighborhood, in my opinion. The city's solution? Flatten the area and replace it with an lkea furniture store. ''lkea has to go away!'' Lots of people around here are not happy about that. ''They want to put us out of our homes and businesses and destroy two churches, '' so they can come in and...sell furniture? Well, yes! These people may have deeds for their homes and businesses, but government can still just kick them off their property by using a law called ''eminent domain'', which means superior ownership. Officials can take over your property if they decide it serves what they consider to be the greater good. The government first used eminent domain to get land for new highways, bridges, parks. This woman was literally dragged from her home to make room for a park in Virginia. ''Thank you. Please be seated.'' These days, however, government officials use eminent domain for all kinds of things. To help private companies expand. Notjust lkea, but K-Mart, Home Depot, baseball teams, shopping malls. When this shopping mall in Texas wanted to expand into that neighborhood, the town just ordered everyone out and had the entire neighborhood bulldozed. That's the plan for New Rochelle. We have freedom, but where is the freedom? What freedom do we have when we have businesses that will just come in and say, 'Oh, you have to move'? There is no freedom. l have to move my city forward and then renew areas that have fallen into disrepair and into blighted conditions. And l think the only way to do that in a city of this size is to be able to reorganize things a little bit. What about freedom? The people there say they don't want to be reorganized. l think there's a -- there's a need to understand how government can improve its community. Now, l have to say, l like lkea stores. These are great things to have around. But should families be forced out to make room for them? ls it right to tear people from their homes? ls that right?. Dominick Gataletto's family has lived here since he was two. He remembers his mother cooking pasta in the kitchen. ln the same plot where his father used to grow tomatoes, Dominick now grows tomatoes. He and his wife, Virginia, wanted to leave the house to their children. All the memories that l've had all these years. l've been here 67 years and you don't just wipe that away simply because a furniture store wants to come in. This is America? l don't think so. You think of government. You think of government's there to help you. ''No, they're not going to help you.'' When they take your house, that's not a help. They're notjust gonna take your house, they'll pay you for it. Mister, you don't know what you're talking about. She has a point. The city has to pay only what it says the homes are worth. We're just asking them to move to a different site. You're not asking people. You're telling them, 'Move.' But we're going to try to find them adewuate relocation headwuarters. l've never felt so powerless in my whole life. What's wrong with my American dream? Why is lkea's American dream better than my American dream? Because the politicians need to plan for everyone. They've decided a furniture store is what this town needs. lt's a furniture store today, and tomorrow, what will it be? Will it be your home? Whose house? Whose business will be next. Politicians assume they know best. So they have the right to use force to fix things. ''Lie down! Hands behind your back.'' lt's threatening enough when government uses force in America. But the really big guns come out when government intervenes overseas. The cold war may be over, but since then, we've still sent soldiers to Somalia, Panama, Bosnia, and a hundred other countries in the name of keeping the peace. Sometimes we seem to bomb first and ask wuestions later. We bombed this factory in Sudan. This is a normal factory. There is no involvement of any army or any... l scoffed when l heard this factory director's claims, but now our government admits at the time, weapons were not produced there. Our interventions may even make America less safe, more vulnerable to terrorism, because they tend to make us new enemies. ''Down, down, USA!'' Most recently, we intervened in South America. ''Today, we are called upon to stand for democracy under attack in Colombia.'' We're getting ready to start a war in Colombia. We've just voted umpteen billions of dollars to go down there and get involved in a civil war that's been going on for 30 years. Who do you think lobbied for it?. The people who build the helicopters, and the people who own oil wells. They're the ones who lobbied, and they won the vote easily. The president asked for so much money, and they came to the House, and we increased it! Representative Ron Paul is a lonely voice in Congress. When bills pass 400 to one, Paul is typically the one. He says he'll vote against funding of any government action beyond three basic functions. Protecting our borders, keeping the peace at home, and running the courts. He says bills that go beyond that violate the Constitution. You're often called ''Dr. No.'' l'm saying no to those bills, but l'm saying yes to liberty. Now other politicians have talked about reducing the role of government. ''Wherever waste is found, l will eliminate it.'' ''lt is time to wuit putting good money into bad programs.'' ''Our government is...'' (ln unison) ''...too big and it spends too much.'' But the cuts almost never happen. Under every administration since Roosevelt, government's only grown, and you pay for it. When America began, government cost every citizen $20. Just $20 in today's money. Taxes rose during wars, but for most of the life of America, spending never exceeded a few hundred dollars per person. Government did get much bigger during World War ll. You paid $5,000 per person then. That was supposed to be temporary. But it wasn't. Government grew again and now it charges each of us on average not $20 per year, but $10,000 per year. After all, the politicians say they need the money because government is so busy -- it has to do so much. ''We need these things.'' What should government do? Government should do what it's appointed to do, namely to protect our rights. When criminals attack us and when a foreign aggressors attack us, then the government rises and does its job of protecting our rights. And government would do a very nice thing to us if itjust kept to thatjob. And it would do it much better if it didn't do all this other stuff it has gotten its nose into. Will that ever happen? l doubt it. As Thomas Jefferson warned, help translate and transcribe

Video Details

Duration: 42 minutes and 17 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Director: John Stossel
Views: 3,112
Posted by: on Jan 26, 2010

Another great series of John Stossel

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