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John Stossel - Is America Number One?

0 (0 Likes / 0 Dislikes) America is Hot! This is the place to be these days. Americans live longer and better than most anyone else, anywhere else. A survey that claims to measure people's satisfaction with their lives and optimism about the future, found Americans ranked themselves ahead of every other country. And why shouldn't we? We have more stuff. More cars, more planes, more television sets, more choices of food, more advanced medical care, the biggest economy, the most power, and more entertainment. Ciao ltalia! American culture annoys parents all over the world. Our music tops the charts in most every country. Our movies are the most-seen everywhere. Some countries are so fearful of America influencing their culture, they limit how often our movies can be shown. Even our way of serving food is becoming dominant. And American business is everywhere. But does this make us number one? A lot of people will tell you we are clearly not. You don't provide health care for your people. You don't give people an opportunity to get out of poverty. You got racism, you got vandalism, drugs, alcoholics, sex everywhere. Money is the only thing that counts in this country. People do not. The U.S. sucks. lf l thought they'd let me live in England, l'd be there in two seconds. So which is it?. Are we the best country?. Or a nation of money-grubbers who lucked out on a great piece of real estate? And how do you really measure ''best'' anyway?. Money and power aren't everything. What about crime, drugs, poverty, moral decay?. How can we be best when we have so much of these things too? ln the next hour, we'll challenge that conceit that America's number one. lf you look at what makes a country successful, the first wuestion has to be, Do its people have the basic necessities of life? Things like food, shelter, a chance to take care of their family?. The sad truth is that most people on this planet -- most -- still live short, brutal lives in miserable poverty. Merci. C'est ca. What did we do right in America, so that we're not living like they are here in Haiti? Or North Korea, or Mexico, or lndia? We start our look at what makes a country work well for its people by comparing three places -- America, Hong Kong, and lndia. Here in lndia, much of the population lives in what we call slums. This family's home is this abandoned sewer pipe. Many survive by rummaging through garbage. Three hundred million people here have no running water, nothing clean to drink. Now, there are some affluent lndians, but they're the minority. You see much more of this -- adults and children without enough to eat. We American visitors wuickly learn that when you leave your hotel, you'll be met with heartbreaking pleas for money. l gave you -- something yesterday. This woman follows every Westerner who leaves the hotel. She says she needs food for these children. Two are hers, she says, the others just kids who need food. Where am l from, that l'm rich enough to stay at a hotel? From America. Very nice. America is nice. So how could l not give? But the giving is endless. Now, if l gave you something yesterday, you ask for more. Like most everyone, l eventually gave her some money. But then there are wuickly more outstretched hands, and more, a constant reminder of how little they have compared to us Americans. lt raises the wuestion of why?. Why do they have so little, when America's so rich? Of course, we all know why lndia's poor. Too many people. When you have this kind of overpopulation, you can't have a good standard of living. Of course, as so often happens, what we all know isn't necessarily so. Consider Hong Kong. Talk about crowded! Hong Kong per swuare mile has 20 times as many people as lndia. Yet Hong Kong is rich, amazingly rich. There are more Rolls Royces in Hong Kong than anywhere else in the world. The harbors are filled with yachts, and the real estate is glorious. This home recently sold for $100 million. And it's notjust the very rich who are doing well. These apartment buildings are home to Hong Kong's new middle class. They're even called the Midlevels. Economic freedom has allowed millions of poor people to become middle class. ln fact, the average income here now is almost ewual to that in the United States, and it's higher than that in many of the world's richest countries. Not as high as America's $27,000, but almost, and higher than Australia, ltaly, Great Britain, and Canada. lt's amazing how wuickly all this has happened. Twenty years ago, none of this was here. Fifty years ago, this was just another desperately poor Asian community. Hong Kong should teach us all a lesson in how to make everyone's life better, says Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. l was in Hong Kong in the 1950s, and you would never want to live there. l saw the open shacks in which the refugees who were coming over were living. But they had the one key ingredient, freedom. Freedom. Now, when people say ''freedom,'' l usually think of democracy, freedom to elect your representatives. But democracy alone doesn't make a country prosper. lndia's a democracy. lt's similar to ours. Well, maybe a little louder. But they vote for representatives and a prime minister. They have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, yet the poverty in lndia shows that democracy alone is not enough. The standard of living here is a hundredth what it is in Hong Kong. Yet Hong Kong's never had democracy. First they had the Chinese emperor, then the British rulers, now the Chinese Communists. But Hong Kong's prosperous because for years, the British governor governed under a policy best described as benevolent neglect. By ''neglect,'' people mean the government didn't do much. Well, it built roads and schools, and the police and courts enforced simple and understandable laws against murder and theft. People knew that if they created something, it couldn'tjust be taken from them. But that was about it. No Federal Trade Commission, no OSHA, no labor laws or minimum wage for local workers. The British rulers basically sat around and drank tea. The Chinese say, OK, you make the rules, and don't interfere too much, and let us have time to go and make some money. David Tang's made lots of money running this elegant club in Hong Kong and selling clothing at a chain of stores called Shanghai Tang. When you leave things alone, people just get on with it. lt's very simple. lf it can be done, it can be done here in Hong Kong. This group of entrepreneurs agrees that Hong Kong's done something special. l like the idea of the tassels. Amy Smilovic of Georgia likes to design clothing. Within days of arriving in Hong Kong, she had her own business. lt's the easiest thing l've ever done, actually. Hong Kong was a city that was built on people getting a start from nothing, from no family background, no money, zero. Hi, l'm Andy Nielson, l'm the owner. Andy Nielson, who makes and sells toy soldiers here, says he couldn't have this business in his native Scotland because of all the high taxes and regulation. ln Hong Kong, the government simply says... Let them go on with it, but don't look for any safety nets. So that's cruel. Government should protect people from that. You protect people from that, and no one takes risks. You can't protect everyone from everything. This is the problem that's happening. lt's been happening in the States, it's been happening in Europe and Britain. We want to protect everyone from everything. You can't protect everyone from everything. When you don't have a crutch to support you, it changes your attitude. Bretigne Schaffer, who works here for ''The Asian Wall Street Journal,'' says without the government crutch, people here are inspired to create things. And thanks to Hong Kong's flat 15 percent tax, they get to keep more of what they create. lt's possible to save enough money that you can start your own business... Well, it's possible in America. lt's possible, but it's a lot more difficult. With all the tax -- all the different taxes, all the different employee benefits you have to pay out, and all the regulations, it's a lot more difficult. But how can the government have enough to take care of people with only 15 percent of people's money?. This government makes a profit. lt's the only government in the world that makes a surplus, a big surplus. But what a cruel way to run a place! You're not taking care of the people who need help. Enough to say that no one starves. You'll see more abject poverty in New York City than you'll find right here in Hong Kong. You do see poor people in Hong Kong, but it's nothing like Europe or America. Some say you see less of this in Hong Kong because here it's so easy for everyone to become an entrepreneur. Even a clueless American can open a business in a day. ln my home town, New York City, it takes weeks. l'd have to go to the licensing department and get a state tax number, a federal tax number. So do you have a federal lD number?. Apply to the Buildings Department, the Zoning Board, and more. Here in Hong Kong, handing in one form was all l had to do. Thank you, sir. The next day, l was in an indoor shopping center running my own business, Stossel Enterprises, selling ABC stuff. Well, trying to sell it. Apparently not that many people here want ABC Frisbees and Yo-Yos. Well, no one promises you a successful business. But this opportunity to try, even dumb ideas, is what's made Hong Kong thrive. By contrast, what if l tried to do this in lndia? ln Calcutta, to start a business you first have to go to this big building to get government permission. Even New York City's licensing rules are simple compared to this maze. You fill out form after form after form, and then you wait, and wait for days or years while the bureaucrats debate the merits of your application. lt's all well intended, rules to make sure the food's clean, that the building's safe. But the result is that so many good ideas die, die as forms bundled and stacked on shelves already cluttered with bundles from other people who are waiting. These are all regulations designed to make life safer and better. Absolutely, absolutely. There is nothing that does so much harm as good intentions. You want any solution, well, you have to wait. The bureaucracy's good intentions have been torturing clothing maker Kali Dutt. Dutt got an order from Japan for a million shirts, so he built this new factory. He hired 400 new workers. But then he couldn't get electricity. Electricity we take for granted is iffy in lndia. You have to get government approval to get it. At Dutts old factory, it goes off and on. For five years he tried to get a steady supply of electricity for his new factory. He wrote letters, filled out forms, argued with countless bureaucrats, until he gave up. The building's still there, and the ewuipment... ...but we have suspended operations. Four hundred workers lost theirjobs. Yet not far from his failed factory is an American, Patrick Hart, who wants to provide electricity to Dutt and others. You could do it. You can -- have the technology. lt would be cheap, they could afford it. Absolutely, absolutely. Hart represents a New Jersey based firm that builds power plants. Building the plant itself takes under two years. But getting permission to build, says Hart, takes longer. So you can build the plant faster than you can get the permissions. Then you can get it approved, absolutely. This government trolley is a good example. lt's rotting away here in Calcutta, yet when an American company offered to renovate the trolley cars, they couldn't even get an answer. ln America, the regulations are tough, but at least you can get answers. And here in Hong Kong, it's never difficult. The same company got an OK and completed work on the city's trolley car system in less than one year. And that's a much nicer ride. Many world-famous American names have struggled to sell things in lndia. OK, Coke and Pepsi are not nutritious or essential food, but lots of people like them, and shouldn't the lndian people get to decide if they want to drink what Americans drink?. No, said some politicians here. The merits of Coke and Pepsi were debated endlessly in parliament. Coke and Pepsi finally got in, but it took years. And Kentucky Fried Chicken finally got permission, but only after months of heated political debate. ln a country where people are starving, a government minister said he was concerned that the chicken wasn't healthy enough. While the politicians debate, the people suffer. The poverty in lndia has created that vacant look in the eyes of the poor lndian, where he feels like, 'This is the way it's always been, and this is the way it always will be.' Dinesh D'Souza's an author and research scholar at the American Enterprise lnstitute. The government, in a sense, interferes in the ordinary rhythms of society, and by that l mean trying to decide for people how they should live their life. When lndians get free from their government and go to Hong Kong, they thrive. And they thrive in America. One generation after they come here, lndians earn more than the average American. lndia is full of smart people, but their brains are in the drains because, you know, the government doesn't let you blossom them out. Kanwal Rekhi and these other immigrants started new computer companies when they came to California. They've created thousands ofjobs for Americans. You couldn't do what you did here in lndia? Absolutely not. ln lndia you need license, permit, order from politicians to do anything. The problem is that lndians can do well everywhere except in lndia. They do so badly because they're not allowed to use their own abilities within lndia. The government tells them what to do. But wait a second. ls it that simple? Maybe they and others succeed in America because of our great natural advantage, our fabulous resources. We do have a lot. Maybe that's why we've done so well. But again, look at Hong Kong. The island is just a rock. lt had no natural resources to speak of, no good farming land, no oil, not even enough drinking water. Yet still millions of people came here to this rock and created all this. lt's a phenomenal thing. lt's hard to believe. Here's a rock, nothing, a great harbor, and on this rock people can produce for themselves a higher standard of living than they can produce in Britain with its centuries of history. lncredible! Because of freedom. Because of freedom. Absolutely because of freedom. Even if you don't think America is the best country in the world, you can't wuarrel with America's performance at creating opportunity. Look at California's Silicon Valley, the high-tech capital of the world. ln just a few years, people here have changed the way we live. They invented a whole new way to communicate... ''You've got mail!'' ...developed microchips so when you get lost in your car, you can get directions from an orbiting satellite. ''ln a wuarter mile, make a right turn.'' Their ingenuity has helped create millions of newjobs. Why did Silicon Valley happen in America? Because we're an open society, with economic freedom, yes, butjust as important, we're open to new ideas and open to immigrants from everywhere. One out of every five companies here in Silicon Valley was founded by an immigrant. One out of every three engineers, one out of every three scientists is an immigrant. Why couldn't they do it in their countries? You don't have the opportunity to realize the dreams the way you can do it here. Martine Kempf came here from France. l design and build voice recognition systems to help disabled people control electric functions in cars. Then l applied the same system to the subject of microscopes. Go right. And so microsurgeons can talk to their microscope. Zoom out. Once l had this, l knew l had the potential to start a business. So why didn't she do this in France? Because even with a great product and lots of publicity -- they called her a prophet in her village -- there was so much red tape she couldn't get her product to consumers. You met with congress, you met the president, but you couldn't start the business? Yes, they were promising, and a lot of politics. But there was nothing. Yetjust one year after she'd come to Silicon Valley, she was selling her voice activated cars in nine countries. This is what l call the land of opportunity. That's absolutely fantastic. You cannot get this probably anywhere else in the world. Well, maybe in Hong Kong and a few other places. But you'd think she would have had an advantage in France, because her home country's government was one of the first to embrace computer technology. Fifteen years ago, France created the Minitel Computer Network. The government gave everyone free electronic phone books that also let you do banking at home. But today, Minitel is considered a dinosaur. Because it was controlled by the government, its growth was stunted. Officials in charge couldn't keep up with the hundreds of millions of experiments flying about in the United States, where the lnternet, not controlled by the government or anyone, flowered. The French government now offers Minitel in six colors, but they've lost the race and lost people like Martine. Suddenly, they decided in my home town that they named the street after me, so they named Rue Martine Kempf, and they are now very proud of me. But l still don't want to go back. Another reason she won't go back is that French bureaucrats, to try to protect workers, are so busy passing labor laws that stifle entrepreneurship. One seemingly worker-friendly law says employees may not work longer than 35 hours a week. They actually come to businesses and stop people from working. Tom Palmer of Washington's Cato lnstitute. They're protecting people from overwork. What they're doing is turning their whole country into a big theme park. You go to Franceland. You have the cheese, you have the wine, you look at some castles. lt's a lovely place to visit. But does much new come out of France any more? ls it dynamic? No. And so in the past 10 years, 300,000 people, many of France's best and brightest, have left, and they're leaving Germany, Sweden, Canada, leaving countries with lots of restrictions for America. l wanted to build better computers, and there was no way to build a better computer in Germany. Andy Bechtolsheim is co-founder of America's multibillion dollar Sun Microsystems. The US is really all about change faster, to innovate faster, to accelerate change. And what most of the rest of the world is all about is to preserve the status wuo, to slow things down. And what you did here, why couldn't you do that in Germany?. Well, it's a beautiful place to go, and, you know, drink some beer, enjoy the scenery, but people are basically thinking about their retirement. There is no possibility of really living up to the potential of your dream, of what you want to do, because of the system. And l think this is a problem for many European countries, that the systems are wrong. Johan Von Holstein, who founded lcon MediaLab, is from Sweden. We have something called Jampt in Sweden, which is -- it's like the 10 Commandments -- they go like, Thy should not think that they are anything, and, You don't even try to try, it's not worth it. That's not the attitude here. So are you becoming a citizen? Would you take a seat in the row, please? And it's one reason so many people are eager to become Americans. There's a sense of freedom here that you don't have any place else. Michelle Sung, who was born in Jamaica, was here to watch her husband become a citizen. All these people were lining up for that because America's founders gave us a gift, says Michelle. They made a country that said, 'lf you want it, you can get it.' 'We're not going to guarantee you it, and we're not going to go out of our way to make sure you get it, but if you want it, you can get it.' Don't other countries do that?. Duh! No. Other countries say, 'lt's here, but it's only for the elite.' And in a lot of countries, you need to be born into it in order to get it. And this is the only country where you can be born a peasant and end up like royalty. lf you are a rich guy, you can live well almost anywhere in the world. You can live well in Argentina, in Barbados, or in Bombay. lf you are an ordinary guy without connections, you're best off coming to this country. lt's a very mobile society in which lots of people who start out at the bottom can find a place, at least in the middle, and some will rise to the top. Malik Amstead grew up poor, in a tough neighborhood. Now he owns this restaurant in Brooklyn. You can be anybody you want to be, and you can have anything you want to have here. And other places, the opportunities just don't exist. We're getting ready to expand it this summer to full-service sit-down next door. America today is just a great place to be. One reason for that, say economists, is that America's open to new ideas from everywhere. This allows us to take the best the world has to offer... The ltalians invented pizza, but it didn't become a worldwide hit until Americans added toppings like pepperoni and started selling it by the slice. Computers, the telephone, sewing machines, the zipper, jazz -- The inventiveness that led us to win half the world's Nobel prizes has helped make us number one. This is the first rocket ship built in the United States. And it was made possible by our openness to ideas from others. What is American culture? There wasn't some American people. lt was made up of all sorts of people, and that has produced a really rich, interesting, open society, where we're free to pick from here, pick from there, borrow a little bit, and make a tremendously interesting stew. This stew isn'tjust high-tech entrepreneurs and ambitious businessmen. Theater groups like the Blue Men exemplify the freedom we have to try things, all sorts of things, that sense that anything's possible. They seal an audience member's head in Jell-O, cover the audience in toilet paper. The actors worry that people might not relate to this, but the show's now selling out in three cities. You can't be a rebel in this country, because they'll instantly like it. Chris Wink, one of the Blue Men's founders. You think you're going to someplace new, everyone's, like, l'm going there too, take me with you, all of us. Can you do that for me one more time? lf you like sex, say hell yeah! Hell yeah! Say, sex is my friend! Sex is my friend! Now, not all Americans want to be taken to some of the places an open society goes. At the prestigious Javits Convention Center in mid-Manhattan, the sex business recently held a trade show. We're really taking sex, S/M, fetish, erotica, out of those dark little scary places on what used to be 42nd Street and bringing it out to the mainstream. And l think that's a delight. We need to have freedom for the oddball, for the strange person, for the -- someone who's going to try something totally new and shock us. l'm an expert with a bull whip, that's my toy, that's my fetish. l'm happy for her. But a lot of Americans would say, 'lf this is what an open society brings, we don't want it.' A free society isn't always perfect, it isn't always pretty, it isn't always the way you'd like it to be. But it's an awful lot better than the alternative. Which is stagnation, and often poverty. Consider China, now mired in third world poverty. They were once the leader of the world. lf you had landed on this planet in the year 1 400, let's say you were a Martian, and you had to send back a report, what will be the society that dominates the world? lt definitely would have been China. Over 1 ,000 years ago they invented gunpowder, the compass, the clock, real paper and printing. But then they sealed themselves off from the rest of the world to try to protect what they had. They burned all the ships that had been traveling around the world, they wanted to make sure they weren't contaminated by outsiders. They didn't want all that change that an open, dynamic society brings about, because it would have threatened the emperor's power, and China became stagnant. America's anything but that. An open society is one which includes the freedom to shape your own life in the manner that you see best, to be the artist of your own life. For better or for worse. We're the future of America. Careful. You ready for us? No, not really. And we'll look at that and more of what you may think is not so good about America when we return. America, number one? 'What arrogance', l hear some of you saying. How can we talk about America being best when we have so many terrible problems? Pollution. Racism. Poverty. Decadence. And, of course, what leads the news most nights? Crime. So how can we say America's best?. Well, it turns out that even when you focus on America's problems, if you compare us to the rest of the world, we do pretty well. Even compared to Europe, reputed to be so civilized and comfortable. Yes, we do have the highest percentage of people in prison of any wealthy country, and the highest murder rate. But when you look at all crime -- robbery, assault, rape, car theft, burglary, and more -- crime victimization surveys show America has a slightly lower crime rate than Holland, Switzerland, England, many of the so-revered European countries, and a much lower crime rate than some countries on other continents. OK, so our crime rate may not be the worst. But what about pollution? We're not going to have any air, we're not going to have any water, we're not going to have any fish, we're not going to have any birds. Yes, we do pollute. But despite the scare mongering, America's cleaner than most other countries. The pollution in parts of Asia and Europe is much worse. And what about ethnic and racial tension? Given our history, isn't this a uniwuely American problem? The problem is real, but notjust in America. Different groups of people have a hard time getting along all over the world. ln Germany skinheads protest against immigrants. Some attacked and killed Turkish and Vietnamese immigrants and burned their houses. ln Rwanda, Hutus hacked hundreds of thousands of Tutsis to death. One political party in France wants all Arabs expelled. Yes, America has racial problems. But here, racial and ethnic violence is at least rare, and we're learning to get along. Since 1960, interracial marriages have increased tenfold. Racism exists, but l think one of the great things about America is that despite the fact it does exist, you can triumph over it. ls that really true? Lots of people say in America it's only the rich who triumph at the expense of the poor. There is no roof for the wealthy, and no floor for the poor. 'lt's Hightower Radio with Jim Hightower.' Jim Hightower is one of many commentators who spread the word. Let's talk about your street, versus Wall Street. The rich are getting richer, and the poor are being left. We have unprecedented economic growth, more money being generated than ever before. But it's all going to the top. Eight out of 10 Americans have seen their incomes go flat or go down. Hogwash. Hogwash. Federal Reserve economist Michael Cox says it's just not true. All these reports about the poor being left behind, about most Americans' income being flat or going down. You have to torture the data, virtually, in order to get it to say that. lt's playing games with the numbers. lt's telling the big lie to say we just don't get paid as much as we used to. ln fact, the Federal Reserve wage data that's often cited doesn't count things like commissions salespeople make, retirement contributions, medical insurance. When you include them, average American compensation's risen 20 percent. Still, what about the poorest of the poor?. We're told America leaves them behind. Nearly 37 million Americans now live below the official poverty line. Government says now 13.3 percent of households are in poverty. Let's go see what households in poverty have. Ninety-seven percent of households in poverty have color televisions. Two-thirds have microwave ovens and live in air conditioned buildings. Seventy-five percent have one or more cars. And it's the old welfare Cadillac story. l mean, this is not a statement about an economy. This is anecdotal BS. l mean, and it's insulting to poor folks. l would invite you to visit with some poor people and get out there in the real world. OK, we went to the poorest congressional district in America, the South Bronx. People here were lined up to get free food from a charity run by Sister Helen. You're an angel. lf l was you, l'd love me too. Do they need you here? Well, l don't know if they need me, but l love to feed the people. Now, most of these people are not working at regularjobs, but we met no one here who was homeless. Yes, l have a house. Color TV? Yes, l have a color TV. Are you poor?. Sure l'm poor. Do you have an apartment?. Yes, right here in the complex. Color TV, the works. The works? VCR? l've got a VCR, everything that goes with it. Have a microwave oven? Yeah, microwave. And cable? Cable, the normal things. Well, how are you poor?. Well, poor is a word that everybody uses. No one says some Americans aren't suffering. But poverty in America is nothing compared to the misery and hunger you see in lndia and most of the world. These people in the South Bronx aren't here because they've been going without food. They come because the food's free. Food's good l wanna go to the pantry today. For the food. John Olmo and Barbrann Norman share Barbara's two-bedroom apartment. The rent's subsidized by the government, and they have many things people in many countries only dream about, ample food and a frost-free refrigerator to keep it in, a CD player, VCR, several radios, and cable television. l got the basic cable, which runs, like, $62 a month. OK, you may say, the poor get a boost from government checks. But then what about working people? We're told they're falling behind. So many companies cutting jobs... There were other layoffs announced today... Over 1 ,668,000 people have been laid off... Hightower told us, if you want to see real economic hardship, go to Youngstown, Ohio. lt was knocked flat by layoffs in the steel industry. Oh, it's devastating. You see, it's notjust a matter of you lose 3,000, or 30,000 steel workers. lt's a matter of their whole extended family suddenly is hit. lt's also a matter of the cafe across the street from the mill. There's a ripple effect. lt's true that at one point, unemployment in Youngstown increased to 25 percent. Steel worker George O'Neil lost his job. l said, they're tearing the mills down into blast furnaces. l said everything's going. l said they're never going to come back. But the rarely told part of this story, is that today, there are more jobs in the Youngstown area than ever before. George O'Neil now works for a company that makes packaging material. One great big giant company moves out, maybe three or four little companies will move in, take up the slack for these people with these jobs. Unemployment in Youngstown's now 5 percent. The notion that there is low unemployment is a cover for the fact that people are actually worse off. Because they're in lousy jobs now?. Yes. Well, some are, but most of the newjobs pay more than the old jobs they replaced, and most are a lot more pleasant. Compared to the steel mill or a foundry, this is a snap. lt's clean here, it's not hot here. The work's not heavy. lt's fast. This is a breeze. O'Neil's newjob is one of 40 million created in America in the last two decades. We recycle labor from unproductive uses to productive uses. What do you say to the person who's just lost his job? l say, it hurts. But it's the source of America's strength. Europe won't tolerate that, and as a result Europe is poor compared to America. Europe tries very hard to protect jobs, yet it creates few new ones. Why would that be? Well, France, for example, to make life better for workers, rewuires that almost all employees be given six weeks' vacation, paid parental leave, and makes it very hard to fire anyone. lt sounds good, but the unintended consewuence of the law is that employers are now reluctant to hire, because new workers are so expensive and permanent. Unemployment in France is now over 1 1 percent. lt's almost that high in Germany. lt's 18 percent in Spain. That's four times America's rate. Many economists who once argued that we could learn from Europe, like James Galbraith, have now changed their minds. There might be a moment for the Europeans to learn from us, rather than for us to be studying them. OK, so Americans have jobs. But can they get medical care? We're told many cannot. The crisis in the health care system, a crisis for the millions of Americans without coverage. ln much of the world, health care is provided by the government. Some say that's better than our system. Enough is enough. We want our health care system back. Our system does sometimes fail poor people. But the truth is that when someone is denied care, it makes headlines because it's so unusual. Most of the time, even the poorest person going to the emergency room gets the same high-tech cutting-edge treatment that lures foreign leaders like Jordan's King Hussein to American hospitals. MRl machines, for example. The state of Ohio alone has more of these than all of Britain or France. The secret is now out. People know that if you want to be the pilot of your own life, if you want to make your own destiny, there's only one place to do it, and that is in America. lsn't it silly to say one country is best?. All countries are best in some way. There is one pretty objective measure of what countries work well, and that is, do people want to come there? And by that measure, America wins hands down. Our embassies are flooded with people trying to get visas. Those who can't get permission to come legally try just about anything they can do to sneak in. Chinese people take long journeys crowded in the holds of decaying ships just so they can try to swim to the shore of America. Haitians and Cubans leave their loved ones behind, risking their lives on things you can barely call boats, sometimes drowning while trying to get here. ln Arizona and California... 'Head that way, right toward that intersection there.' ...the Border Patrol's constantly chasing people who are trying to sneak in. The illegals risk notjust being caught but being robbed by bandits or freezing in the mountains or dying of thirst. Yet still they come. And when they're caught and sent back, many just turn around and try again. ''As long as they don't kill us, we'll keep trying,'' says this man. Even their captors don't blame them. l sympathize with them. lf l were in their position, if l were in their shoes, l would be doing the same thing. America has problems. But it seems living here beats most every place else. We'll be back with: ''ls America Number One?'', in a minute. As we look around the world at societies that succeed, like America, Hong Kong, and compare them to those that fail, that continue to leave their people in misery, you have to ask, 'How can their leaders do this to people?' We now know what works -- democracy, rule of law, and economic freedom. Yet most of the people in the world continue to suffer under governments that repress those things and leaders who sanctimoniously say, despite a record of failure, that they know better. Better than capitalism. Hashim Abdul Halim is political boss of the part of lndia l visited The Socialists have been in charge here for years, so it's not surprising that this is the poorest part of the country. And despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the astonishing success of unplanned places like Hong Kong, the politician in lndia says the government has to plan the economy. First it needs your planning? You can'tjust let it happen? You have to plan? Despite the success of immigrant cultures like Hong Kong and America, Calcutta's leader says his people are poor because of immigration. lmmigration makes Calcutta poor?. Calcutta is poor because of your stupid policies. Socialism just works better?. lntuition would suggest that countries with the most government planning -- places where you're taken care of -- would be the best places to live. But the opposite's true. Countries with the most planning are the most poor. Several organizations rank countries by economic freedom. At one end are places with lots of government planning. lnvariably, these are the worst places to live. And at the other end of the list, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United States. The best places to live are the places with the fewest rules. But freedom isn't everything. Climate matters, religion, geography, even luck can make a difference. But nothing matters as much as liberty. That's our program for tonight. l'm John Stossel. Good night.

Video Details

Duration: 41 minutes
Year: 1999
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: John Stossel
Views: 9,084
Posted by: on Dec 18, 2009

John Stossel explains how the much freedoms affects standards of living and why some countries are richer then others. ABC special from late 1999

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