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John Stossel
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The Battle for the Future


For most of the life of America, and when it grew fastest, government spent just a few hundred dollars per person. Today, the federal government alone spends $10,000. Politicians talk about cuts, but the cuts rarely happen. The political class always needs more.

I see the pressure. All day, Congress listens to people who say they need and deserve help.

The cost of any one program per taxpayer is small, but the benefits are concentrated on well-organized interest groups. It's tough for a weak politician to say no.

But maybe things are changing. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., believes that "more and more people in America are beginning to wake up to the fact that this thing is coming unglued."

I asked Ryan why his colleagues say it's OK to spend more. Are they just stupid? Don't they care? Or are they pandering for votes?

"Pandering could be a part of it," he said. "But ... they believe that the government should be far larger." They are taught that by the progressives who rule academia, like Columbia University Professor Marc Lamont Hill.

"We have to make sure that the most vulnerable people are always protected," Hill says. Everyone benefits when we pay a little bit more to create universal health care. Everyone benefits when we pay a little more to have better public education systems."

Progressives use the word "we" too often. When I argued the that "we" and "government" are not the same, he said, "We always talk about the government like it's this monster in the hills that comes down and hands things out and takes our tax money."

Well, yes.

Those are "libertarian fairytales," Hill says. "In real life, the government is us."

Government is not "us." Well, it's us in the sense that we pay the bills. But it ain't us. It's them, the policy elite and their patrons.

What percent of the economy does Hill think government should be?

"For me, housing, health care and education, in addition to national defense, are things that the government must provide for people. So if that means 20 percent, I'm OK with it. If it means 30 percent, I'm OK with it.

I don't think it'll ever get that big."

Give me a break. It's already at 40 percent!

All that spending is taken from your and my pockets — some in taxes, much in sneakier ways like government borrowing. The national debt — now $13 trillion — simply represents future taxes or the erosion of the dollar.

Yet progressives want us to pay more. One woman activist told our camera, "It costs to live in a civilized society, and we all need to pay our fair share."

Our "fair share" sounds good. Progressives say taking from the rich to help the poor is simply fair.

I put that to Arthur Brooks, who heads the American Enterprise Institute.

"No, the fairest system is the one that rewards the makers in society as opposed to rewarding the takers in society."

Brooks wrote "The Battle," which argues that the fight between free enterprise and big government will shape our future.

"The way that our culture is moving now is toward more redistribution, toward more progressive taxation, exempting more people from paying anything, and loading more of the taxes onto the very top earners in our society."

But it seems "kind" to take it away from wealthier people and give it to those who need it more.

"Actually, it's not," Brooks says. "The government does not create wealth. It uses wealth that's been created by the private sector."

He warns that "Americans are in open rebellion today because the government is threatening to take us from a maker nation into taker nation status."

Americans in "open rebellion"? I'm skeptical. Handouts create fierce constituencies. The tea party movement is wonderful, but it takes strength to say no to government freebies. When I've said to tea partiers, "We should cut Medicare, eliminate agriculture subsidies, kill entire federal agencies," the enthusiasm usually fades from their eyes.

I hope that I am wrong and Brooks is right.

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 <a href="" <>></a>. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at








19 Comments | Post Comment
Tax the rich,
Feed the poor.
"Til there are,
No rich no more.
Then what?
Comment: #1
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed Sep 22, 2010 6:00 AM
John Stossel: Your interviews of statist apologists are priceless -- good thing else they'd try to tax them!
Comment: #2
Posted by:
Wed Sep 22, 2010 8:21 AM
John Stossel: Your interviews of statist apologists are priceless -- good thing else they'd try to tax them!
Comment: #3
Posted by:
Wed Sep 22, 2010 8:21 AM

Please stop backing off these big government folks you get on the air. You do a much better job confronting them than the average journalist (who won't throw anything but softballs) but you could go even harder at them.

I would chop off my right arm to watch you sit a big name down and nail 'em to the wall on the unsustainability of our system and the direction we've pointed it - the administration has called it unsustainable since before the 08 elections. Yet, they are doing more and more of the same unsustainable things... I would love to see you nail 'em to the wall about why, if this is an unsustainable path, do we keep on it. If it's just to 'right the ship', what is the exit strategy? What is the direction when the 'ship is right' that they propose? How is the 'new path' different than the current? What is the endgame vision of their plan? Do they beleive the free market saves us or redistribution of wealth? Do they If they say free market, what taxes, regulations, government beauracracies do they propose cutting back or cutting off? When?

You let them off the hook before they dig themselves the deep hole that will end their careers. Don't let them nancy around the points - NAIL 'EM to their own policies!
Comment: #4
Posted by: Danimal98367
Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:53 AM
When I've said to tea partiers, "We should cut Medicare, eliminate agriculture subsidies, kill entire federal agencies," the enthusiasm usually fades from their eyes.
Good ole "keep your government hands off my medicare" reaction there. Social programs already in place and benefitting "ME" obviously should remain in place, we just don't want new social programs. That's the Tea Party motto.

Still it beats the republican and democrat's new unified motto of "Hey, we're gonna die before we have to pay this off so SPEND SPEND SPEND!".
Comment: #5
Posted by: Nathan H.
Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:24 PM
The first thing you should do when you find yourself in a hole is to, STOP Digging. We are so deep in the hole that daylight bairly shows, I don't see anyway out untill we have hiperinflation and have to knock 2 or 3 zeros off the dollar at 2 0's $1,00 becomes 0.01 dollar with 3 0's 100,00 becomes 1.00 not pritty but it will allow the goverment to pay its bills for 1 cent on the dollar. And if anyone trust's us ever again they will have to be soft in the head.
Comment: #6
Posted by: MaD HaCkER
Thu Sep 23, 2010 11:55 PM
While I do agree that there are takers, your show is much too narrowly focused, even biased. My husband has been unemployed since last September (2009). Yes, he receives unemployment. But, he would gladly take a job because unemployment is only 13.3% of what he was making. Yet, he is in his 60s and that seems to eliminate him from the job pool. He applies for jobs hoping to get a call, just one call. I am self employed and working my tail off to try to keep it together. In my spare time, what do I do? Help him look for jobs! There are job ads out there that specifically state: 1) No more than 7 years experience or 2) If you have been unemployed or are currently unemployed, don't apply. How they get away with it? I guess it isn't against the law.....So, perhaps you should be reporting on age discrimination in the job market rather than categorizing everyone on unemployment as takers that don't want jobs.
I'm continuing to watch your show tonight. I still say your reporting is biased. Pregnant women working in the transit environment are dealing with a completely different environment than pregnant women in a news studio. And, have you looked at life expectancy of the transit workers? Search Google - you'll find that life expectancy of transit workers is lower than other segments of the workforce. I found the information in a couple of seconds.
You have a right to an opinion, but in my eyes you are a complete idiot for not doing background research and passing your own brand of judgement on people from the comfort of your well paying, comfortable job.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Jen
Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:49 PM
“The Battle for the Future” should be seen by many who do not watch Fox news...
Suggestion a CD should be made available, very inexpensively, and then we should use Newt Gingrich's suggestion of the power of ten. Tea Party people would purchase and distribute 10 cds to family, neighbors, friends, colleagues or whomever and encourage each of them, who saw merit in the effort,
to purchase and distribute 10, in a short time almost everyone would have a chance to view this well
put together piece by John Stossel and Fox news…
It would surly open a lot of eyes that we as a nation are on a destructive path……
Comment: #8
Posted by: Bill Voss
Sun Sep 26, 2010 4:48 PM
I watched "The Battte for the Future" late last night (Sunday, Sept 26) and wish my husband could have seen this program too. Will Fox be airing this program again. If so, date and time please.
Judy Fallon
Comment: #9
Posted by: judy fallon
Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:49 AM
Really enjoyed your Battle for the Future.....topic on Welfare was very enlightening withe detail on Europe....also
my favorite subject is pensions wether govt or education....and the abuse fostered by the unions...tenure is
a temptation for the teacher to lose interest in further development and stagnates the system. Very good work
and look forward to more.

P.S. how do we fix it?????????????
Comment: #10
Posted by: victor sungaila
Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:15 AM
In this country, advanced education is not a freebie paid for by the government. In this country, people who go into personal debt to get an advanced education *REQUIRE* a return on that investment. When they are stuck battling for low paying jobs, because that's all there is, they are NOT getting an adequate return on their investment. When there is no return being produced, then you have to question why so many people would ever make such an investment in the first place.The competitiveness of the country stagnates.

My expectation of a REQUIRED return on educational investment is no greater a 'sense of entitlement' than you plunking down 60k on a sports car and expecting the keys and title to be in your hands. My 'sense of entitlement' is no greater than yours. Your ownership of that car is NOT a crapshoot, subjected to other 'variables'. Your return on that investment (ownership of said car) is a FACT. The people who go into 60k of debt for an education REQUIRE the same factual return on their investment, too. Its not supposed to be a crapshoot for them, either.

How many of those college educated people who stayed on unemployment because it paid more actually made that decision because the unemployment check produced a greater return on their educational investment? These people are NOT the inner city welfare leaches, for they HAVE worked to achieve their educated status and have simply not seen the expected returns on account of our queer form of rigged capitalism, yet your program was comparing the two groups as it they were the same. One group made the personal investment and worked for the right, the other group did not.

Your program completely missed one big point, and that was WHY were the job options these people faced so low on the pay scale? Who is behind this "race to the bottom"? Who is behind our new 3rd world pay scales? This was an issue long before Barry Obama came on the scene. That was *the* kingpin issue, and your story never discussed it. If the prospective jobs paid enough that these people got an adequate return on their investment, none of them would have stayed on the unemployment roles. But then again, Investigative reporter Johnny Stossel could not have been able to shine his flashlight on the issue for profit.

Your show was all about people who haven't made that investment in themselves sitting back in judgment against those who DID make that investment, and are now doing whatever is necessary to receive an adequate return on their investment. They are just like you, the sports car buyer, who demanded the keys and title be in your hand.

I'm sure back in the 1800s, there were many immigrants who came here and "set up shop", building a middle class. You lament those days very well in your program. But those immigrants from 1800 did not land here with $50,000 in school debt from Purdue, or $75,000 in school debt from Notre Dame. Those immigrants could never get enough of a return on their investment if they simply set up shop with that kind of personal debt load. What they did to build the middle class would never produce the returns they needed, and the middle class would never have been built in the first place.

Just proof that the world has changed a lot since the business principles of the 1800s - and you, Stossel, need to keep up with whats changed. Getting the "1800s suit" out of the closet doesn't work, because it no longer fits, nor would ANYBODY with a rational head ever expect it to.
Comment: #11
Posted by: ROI is MIA
Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:37 AM
In professional sports, the reward (multi-million dollar player salaries) has become disconnected from the actual work, the actual physical contribution any one sport's figure could ever make to the team.
On Wall Street, the reward (banker pay) has also become disconnected from the actual work done by the firm on behalf of the firm's financial clients. Most of the 'reward' (bonuses) today comes from proprietary trading, or a firm investing (gambling in Wall Street's casinos) on their own behalf rather than making a profit 'the old fashioned way' working on their client's behalf. The reward has been disconnected from the work, and today is based on gambling luck.
According to Libertarian Stossel, neither of these groups appear to be a problem for society, you know, free markets and all that, but college students and people 50 years on the assembly line who DID work and who DID go into debt and who are now being screwed out their rightful return on their investment by our declining wage standard, and whose reward is NOT disconnected from their work, have become the biggest "freeloading problem" facing this country, tearing at its fabric, creating a necessary "battle for the future".
This is the problem with the libertarian view. The sane people connected to work are penalized, and the insane abusers disconnected from work are supported in principle. We can never recover "the good America", that version of America that we all miss, using strictly libertarian principles. But that doesn't stop John from trying.
Comment: #12
Posted by: ROI is MIA
Mon Sep 27, 2010 12:39 PM
Keep up the good work.
Comment: #13
Posted by: John Jr.
Tue Sep 28, 2010 11:43 AM
Bill Voss
“The Battle for the future” should be seen by many who do not watch Fox news... Suggestion it should be made available, very inexpensively, and then we should use Newt Gingrich's suggestion of the power of ten. Tea Party people would purchase and distribute 10 cds to family, neighbors, friends, colleagues or whomever and encourage each of them, who saw merit in the effort, to purchase and distribute 10, in a short time almost everyone would have a chance to view this well put together piece by John Stossel and Fox news… It would surly open a lot of eyes that we as a nation are on a destructive path……

September 26, 2010 at 11:36 am

Comment: #14
Posted by: Bill Voss
Tue Sep 28, 2010 8:05 PM
I would like to purchase a dvd of this program. Please inform me how I can go about it to order one.
Thanks, Kay
Comment: #15
Posted by: KAY GOBER
Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:29 PM
Great program! I would like to purchase a dvd of the battle for our future. How can that happen?
Comment: #16
Posted by: Gene
Tue Oct 5, 2010 3:50 PM
Re: ROI is MIA
"But those immigrants from 1800 did not land here with $50,000 in school debt from Purdue, or $75,000 in school debt from Notre Dame."

People go to Purdue and Notre Dame treating it like a stock market. They think if they go to these Ivy League schools they will find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

It is unfortunate that too many people buy into the marketing efforts of these Institutes. These Universities are like big corporations paying out big bonuses to a few elect Educators in the system, at the expense of the investors (Students).

Parents and Students should get wise, get an affordable quality education at a lower costing institution. When you get into the real world for the first time, everyone starts at the bottom of the ladder, and you work your way up through hard work and opportunity. You don't get the executive job with the corner office just because you graduated from Notre Dame.

Students who choose a higher education should choose wisely. Don't buy into the status quo of Ivy League Schools. Don't treat your education like the Stock Market, expecting to hit it rich based wholly on your investment. You can get buy with a Used Good Car instead of that Shiny New Car.

Especially in today's online era, we don't need Ivy League schools to get our connections and make our mark.

In general, Americans need to be smarter about how they spend their money. Our failure to do so has caused our fears, and so we want someone else to bail us out when we fail. And it is just not money that we fail to manage appropriately these days, but also our time, our family, our friendships, and our mental well being.
Comment: #17
Posted by: No Pot of Gold in ROI
Fri Oct 8, 2010 11:05 AM
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Go to,
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Welcome to the Online Home of Capitalism Version 2.
The new book The Fix – Capitalism Version 2.0 provides direct answers to the most dreadful economic issues our country is facing and provides them in a format the average person can understand. The book demonstrates the principles of “Lovellian Economics” – an emerging school of economics that demonstrates a new way forward for the world economic society that demonstrates the only workable solution for unlimited government spending, fixing Social Security, paying for entitlement programs and retiring our national debt without a single penny of taxpayer money. These new principles and programs provide a sustainable economic approach that permanently ends the threat of future economic recessions, eliminates systemic unemployment and creates a whole new approach to the creation of currency and credit that is superior in every respect to the failures our current commercial banking system and the Federal Reserve System have thrust upon us. The practical outcomes demonstrated in the book include a universal health care program benefit, a universal education program benefit, a new kind of banking system, a safer and more efficient way of purchasing housing, an unlimited source of financing for government spending and a public finance plan that demonstrates a fiscally-responsible plan for retiring the national debt within 16 years and without anyone suffering economic hardship to obtain any of these goals. The Fix represents more than 9 years of research, policy analysis and development that provide an entirely new way of undertaking free-market capitalism and ending the effects of corruption upon government and business at all levels.
As the marketing arm of this project, I contacted the heads of the Social Security Administration, the Congressional Budget Office and the General Accounting Office.

These three departments were presented with all the information necessary for understanding and evaluating this business model.

I was subsequently contacted by the representatives from all three agencies. They told me that they were very impressed with our business model and that they thought we should take the next step.
In order to have our documents scored by the appropriate agencies it is necessary to have either a Congressman or a Senator sponsor our plan. Then, the agencies (the SSA, the CBO and the GAO) would review our materials, would score them and publish their findings.
One Congressman, wishing to remain anonymous, told me in confidence, that the “powers that be” had little interest in seeing a plan like ours succeed and would adjust the scoring process in a manner that would cause the outcome to be unsatisfactory and the model to fail.
Because of this knowledge, and regardless of the value of our business model, he did not want to be part of a failed sponsorship in Washington.

Comment: #18
Posted by: George Ashford
Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:31 PM
I think that "The Battle For The Future" by John Stossel should be required in all economics 101 classes in High Schools across the country. Somehow our students aren't getting this message. John presents it so clearly in this DVD that I don't see how anyone could miss the very clearly explained points so crucial to our future. I would like to know how I can purchase copies of the DVD to at least send to my grandchildren, nieces, & nephews. I receive conservative book offers through different email sites, and would like to see this included. If not through there, is it possible to get this DVD some other way? If so, please send me that information.
Comment: #19
Posted by: Noralee
Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:23 PM
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