I'm skeptical. I don't know how much effect Reagan's military buildup had versus rock and roll, but I bet ordinary consumer goods had an ever bigger effect. People trapped behind communist lines wanted the stuff we had. When I was in Red Square before the fall of communism, I sold my Nikes and jeans to eager buyers.
People want choices, and you can't indoctrinate that out of them.
Which leads me to the most destructive myth about history: the idea that if we are to prosper, government must make smart plans for us. I was taught that in college, and despite the failure of the Soviet Union, many government leaders still believe it.
It's no coincidence that the countries with the least economic freedom, according to the Heritage Foundation -- Cuba, Zimbabwe, North Korea -- are the worst places to live. They not only lack freedom, they are also poor.
Who's at the top of the economic freedom list? Hong Kong. (The United States is ninth.) Hong Kong has low taxes, and as I demonstrated in an ABC special years ago, they make it easy to become an entrepreneur. I got permission to open a business there in one day. In my hometown, New York City, it takes months.
Hong Kong doesn't even have democracy, but because its rulers protected people's personal safety and property and left them otherwise free, Hong Kong thrived. In 50 years, it went from horrible poverty to income levels that are among the highest in world. Prosperity, thanks to economic freedom.
We should try that here.
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