The free market is under attack! It's always under attack.
THE DEBATE: Stossel sees why people are skeptical of free markets. Markets lead to big wealth disparities. At first glance, they are all about rich people getting richer at the expense of the poor. President Obama gets big applause by mocking those of us who say the free market can fix all sorts of problems.
But it HAS worked! Thanks to free market reforms around the world, worldwide extreme poverty was halved between just 2002 and 2010. 500 million people have lifted themselves out of poverty in just the last five years. It's not more rules that make life better for people... it's free markets! Freedom allows people to prosper, even the poor. That's because the rising tide of prosperity lifts all boats.
UN-RAISIN-ABLE: For over 60 years the Raisin Administrative Committee has ordered raisin farmers to give the government a major share of their crop. This stash of raisins is supposed to keep prices stable. It's a terrible policy that survives because politicians say it protects the food supply-- but that's a scam! Most farmers go along with it... but one farmer, Marvin Horne, said no when the bureaucrats demanded almost half of his crop. The government fined him $650,000 and now he owes 1.2 million pounds of raisins.
CAPITALISM AND OUR KIDS: When Stossel was a kid, selling lemonade was how you learned about capitalism but Stossel couldn't sell lemonade legally outside Fox's offices in New York City.
It's not just New York, this month in Portland Oregon a 11-year-old climbed trees to pick mistletoe. She then tried to sell it so she could help pay for her braces. Authorities told her "you may not sell mistletoe to people on the street! It's illegal!" Then the authorities told her: "You can beg... That's legal".
CREATING PROSPERITY: Hong Kong has no natural resources. It's just a rock and has no democracy. Yet Hong Kong went from third world to first world in just 50 years. It happened because Hong Kong's limited government allowed people to try capitalism.
Stossel tried to open a business in Calcutta, but quickly gave up. Government there is so hostile to markets that they have a thousand rules. People who want to obey the rules line up to deal with a bureaucrat.
STOSSEL'S TAKE: In America we're becoming more like India because we keep passing more rules. America's piles of regulations make practicing capitalism very difficult ... and it's getting worse. Hopefully, someday, American politicians too will figure out that it's not more rules that make life better for people. It's free markets, the freedom that allows people to experiment that lets people prosper. Even the poor.