Saturday, July 28, 2007

ABC 20/20 - Is America #1? with John Stossel





America is viewed throughout the world as the #1 country. It dominates culturally, militarily, and economically. Why? Is it luck? Does America's location and resources make it the best place in the world to create wealth? In "Is America #One?", John Stossel makes the case that of all the factors that affect the success of a nation, nothing matters as much as economic liberty. He travels around the globe and compares the quality of life in the U.S. with two examples that have wide disparities in terms of wealth and freedom; India and Hong Kong.

India suffers pervasive poverty levels and very high unemployment. There are wealthy people in India, but they are the minority. Most people in India do not have the opportunity to earn even enough to feed and support themselves or their family. Begging is common in the streets throughout the country. Why? Many people state that it is because India is extremely populated. But when you look at Hong Kong, a city that has 20 times more people per square mile as compared to India and virtually no natural resources, you find a booming economy. People in Hong Kong have nearly the same income per capita as America, and it's wealthier than resource rich countries such as Canada and Australia. In the 1950's, Hong Kong was a small, poverty ridden city much like most cities in India today. Since then the characteristic that allow Hong Kong to succeed while India failed is Freedom.

America and Hong Kong have high degrees of economic freedom which has enabled economic development through the promotion of entrepreneurship in the countries. Laissez-faire polices allow productive businesses to form far easier in Hong Kong than in restrictive countries like India. To open a business, it takes only a day in Hong Kong for the paperwork to be processed, a few weeks in the U.S., but in India it can take up to a few years to meet the restrictions imposed by decades of rule by its socialist government. Hong Kong and America's relatively free markets that provide producers an easier time of entering and competing in the market creates more jobs for everyone while countries like India with strong restrictions enforced by the government stifle sustainable poverty elimination by preventing economic growth.

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