Bill Clinton on Why We Don't Really Want Freedom

... a lot of the Asian societies that are doing very well now have low crime rates and high economic growth rates, partly because they have very coherent societies with strong units where the unit is more important than the individual, whether it's the family unit or the work unit or the community unit.

My own view is that you can go to the extreme in either direction. And when we got organized as a country and we wrote a fairly radical Constitution with a radical Bill of Rights, giving a radical amount of individual freedom to Americans, it was assumed that the Americans who had that freedom would used it responsibly. That is, when we set up this country, abuse of people by government was a big problem. So if you read the Constitution, it's rooted in the desire to limit the ability of government's ability to mess with you, because that was a huge problem. It can still be a huge problem. But it assumed that people would basically be raised in coherent families, in coherent communities, and they would work for the common good, as well as for the individual welfare.

What's happened in America today is, too many people live in areas where there's no family structure, no community structure, and no work structure. And so there's a lot of irresponsibility. And so a lot of people say there's too much personal freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it. That's what we did in the announcement I made last weekend on the public housing projects, about how we're going to have weapon sweeps and more things like that to try to make people safer in their communities. So that's my answer to you. We can have -- the more personal freedom a society has, the more personal responsibility a society needs, and the more strength you need out of your institutions -- family, community and work.

-- Bill Clinton, President of the United States, on MTV's "Enough Is Enough."