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by Walter E. Williams

        Dr. Thomas Sowell has just published "Charter Schools and Their Enemies." He presents actual test scores of students in traditional public schools and charter schools on New York State Education Department's annual English Language Arts test and its Mathematics Test. Sowell gives the results of student tests in charter schools such as KIPP, Success Academy, Explore Schools, Uncommon Schools, Achievement First as well as the traditional New York City public schools. On the English Language Arts test, a majority of charter school students, most of whom were black or Hispanic, tested proficient or above. Their achievement ratio was nearly 5 to 1. On the Mathematics test 68% of charter schools' 161 grade levels had a majority of students testing proficient. In the traditional public schools, 177 grade levels, just 10% had a majority of their student testing proficient.
        In April 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that 57% of black and 54% of Hispanic charter school students passed the statewide ELA compared to 52% of white students statewide. On the state math test, 59% of black students and 57% of Hispanics at city charter schools passed as opposed to 54% of white students statewide.
        Sowell says: "In a realm where educational failure has long been the norm -- schools in low income minority neighborhoods -- this is success, a remarkable success. What is equally remarkable is how unwelcome this success has been in many places. What has been especially remarkable is that it has been the most educationally successful charter schools that seem to have drawn the most hostility, both in words and in deeds." The most common form of that hostility are simple legal limits set on the number of charter schools permitted without regard to whether charter schools are producing good or bad educational outcomes.
        The education establishment, having the nation's most powerful labor union, has the ears of political leaders. They see a huge loss potential if more parents are able to opt out of poorly achieving public schools. For example, in New York City there are more than 50,000 students on waiting lists for admission to charter schools. The per-pupil expenditure tops $20,000 a year. If all the students on the waiting list were able to be admitted to charter schools, that would translate into a billion-dollar loss by the traditional public schools. A substantial decline in traditional public school attendance would mean fewer teachers employed. That would mean declining union dues since most charter school teachers are not union members. Charter schools' rate of growth since the 1990s has been significant. From 2001 to 2016, enrollment at traditional public schools rose 1% while enrollment in public charter schools rose 571%.
        Sowell points out that not all charter schools are successful. Failing charter schools can have their charters revoked, cutting off access to public funds. That is in stark contrast to failing and corrupt traditional public schools that continue to dine at the public trough. Successful charter schools are the real threat to traditional unionized public schools. No charter school in Sowell's study has been more successful than Success Academy charter schools in Harlem, Bedford-Stuyvesant and the South Bronx -- and none has been more viciously attacked in words and in deeds. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio explicitly campaigned against charter schools saying: "I am angry about the privatizers. I am sick and tired of these efforts to privatize a precious thing we need -- public education.
        In another venue, Sowell said: "We keep hearing that "black lives matter," but they seem to matter only when that helps politicians to get votes, or when that slogan helps demagogues demonize the police. The other 99% of black lives destroyed by people who are not police do not seem to attract nearly as much attention in the media."
        At a 2016 meeting, the NAACP's board of directors ratified a resolution that called for a moratorium on charter schools. Among the NAACP's reasons for this were that it wanted charter schools to refrain from "expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate" and "cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious." That is a vision suggesting that no black children receive decent educations until all black children receive decent educations. Black people cannot afford to entertain such a vision and other attacks on educational success.
        Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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by John Stossel

        The online mob came for Harald Uhlig.
        What terrible thing had he done? As I show in my new video, he tweeted that Black Lives Matter "torpedoed itself, with its full-fledged support of #defundthepolice." Instead of defunding, Uhlig suggested, "train them better."
        Hundreds of people then signed a petition to demand that Uhlig, a University of Chicago professor and head of the Journal of Political Economy, resign. Even prominent economists like Janet Yellen and Paul Krugman joined the mob. Krugman called Uhlig "another privileged white man who evidently cannot control his urge to belittle the concerns of those less fortunate."
        But that's just a lie. Uhlig wasn't belittling concerns of anyone less fortunate.
        "There was nothing racist or discriminatory in how he said it," says Reason Magazine editor Robby Soave, who covers the new "woke" protests. "But because he has some different views from the protesters, he must be a racist."
        Uhlig was placed on leave by the journal he ran.
        The new totalitarians demand that no one criticize their view of the world.
        The online mob even attacks its fellow Democrats.
        David Shor, an analyst at Democratic polling firm Civis Analytics, tweeted a study that concluded, "race riots reduced Democratic vote share."
        That study was probably accurate. Obviously, rioting alienates voters.
        But the mob attacked Shor. "Come get your boy," one tweeted.
        His bosses did. Even though Shor issued a groveling apology, he was fired.
        Soave points out, "There's a cruel streak in activism that says, 'If you disagree with me ... you have no right to speak.'"
        "Why are they winning?" I ask. "Their argument is ridiculous."
        "People are afraid to challenge them," explains Soave. "It just takes one employee at one company, to say, 'Here's the law that protects my rights to feel safe and comfortable in this workplace. If you're not making me feel safe and comfortable, I'm going to get you in trouble.'"
        So cowardly corporations cave.
        A Boeing executive was even forced out for opposing women's service in the military -- 30 years ago.
        A Los Angeles soccer team fired a player because his wife posted racist comments.
        Michigan State pushed out a physicist when a twitter mob from its "Graduate Employees Union" labeled him a "scientific racist." What racist thing had the physicist done? He "rejects the idea that scientists should categorically exclude the possibility of average genetic differences among groups," is how a Wall Street Journal column explained it.
        Now "cancel culture" has moved abroad.
        "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling is being smeared as "transphobic." When a tax researcher was fired for saying, "Identifying as a woman does not make a person a woman," Rowling tweeted, incredulously, "Force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?"
        She said she has nothing against trans people, but she's "concerned about the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition."
        The Twitter mob claimed her "hate" was "killing trans people."
        Some staff at Hachette, her publisher, refused to work on her next book. Actors in her "Harry Potter" movies spoke out against her.
        But Rowling didn't back down. "It isn't hate to speak the truth," she tweeted.
        She also mocked a charity that used the phrase "people who menstruate" instead of women, tweeting: "There used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"
        That further incensed the mob. It claimed her "hate ... leads to trans women, especially teens and black trans women, becoming victims of sexual assault."
        But Rowling is the rare person popular enough to be able to resist the mob. Her publisher spoke up for her, saying, "Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of publishing."
        And the University of Chicago stood up to the mob, too. The school, after a 10-day investigation, announced there was "no basis" for taking away Harold Uhlig's job. He's been reinstated.
        That's how these cases should be handled.
        "The solution is to challenge these people," says Soave. "We just have to speak up."
        Those of us who can, must.
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

        Dr. Thomas Sowell has been both a friend and a colleague of mine for over a half-century. On June 30, he will have completed his 90th year of life, and I want to highlight some important features of that life. Sowell was born in Gastonia, North Carolina, in 1930. As part of the great black migration northward during the 1930s and '40s, he and his family moved to Harlem, New York. Sowell attended the prestigious Stuyvesant High School but dropped out. In 1951, he was drafted into the military and assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps where he became a photographer. Photography remains his hobby today.
        After his military tour of duty, Sowell took night classes at Howard University where he was encouraged to apply to Harvard University. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics and graduated magna cum laude in 1958. The next year, he earned a master's degree from Columbia University. Ten years later, Sowell earned a Ph.D. in economics, from the prestigious economics department at the University of Chicago. As Sowell explains in his autobiography, "A Personal Odyssey," for most of his time in college, he considered himself a Marxist. After studying the effects of a variety of government regulations such as the minimum wage law, Sowell concluded that free markets are the best alternative, particularly for disadvantaged people.
        Sowell taught economics at several universities including Howard University, Rutgers, Cornell, Brandeis University, Amherst College and UCLA. Since 1980, he has been a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where he holds the Rose and Milton Friedman fellowship. By the way, Nobel laureates Milton Friedman and George Stigler were two of Sowell's tenacious mentors as a student at the University of Chicago.
        Most of those familiar with Sowell's writings do not have any idea about his early research interests in the history of economic thought. His dissertation, titled "Say's Law and the General Glut Controversy," analyzed the work of French economist Jean-Baptiste Say. His early research in the history of economic thought that appeared in refereed academic journals included writings on Sir Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Karl Marx, Samuel Bailey and Jean Charles Leonard de Sismondi. These and later writings make up his 19 scholarly publications.
        Most academics do not publish that many scholarly articles in a lifetime. And, in addition, Sowell has written 56 books, among them "Say's Law: An Historical Analysis," "Knowledge and Decisions," "A Conflict of Visions," "Late-Talking Children," "Basic Economics," "Discrimination and Disparities" and most recently "Charter Schools and Their Enemies." A full list of his publications can be found on his website.
        Sowell's writings do not end with scholarly publications and books. He has authored 72 essays in periodicals and books, wrote 32 book reviews and was a regular columnist for Creators Syndicate for 25 years, Forbes magazine for eight years, Scripps Howard News Service from 1984 to 1990, and the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner from 1978 to 1980. Sowell has had occasional columns in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Washington Star, Newsweek, The Times (London), Newsday and The Stanford Daily. My colleague not only writes when you and I are asleep or enjoying ourselves, but he might write with two hands.
        Sowell cares about people. He believes that compassionate policy requires dispassionate analysis. He takes seriously the admonition given to physicians, "primum non nocere" (first, do no harm). In many respects, Sowell is an Austrian economist like the great Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek, who often talked about elites and their "pretense of knowledge." These are people who believe that they have the ability and knowledge to organize society in a way better than people left to their own devices -- what Hayek called the fatal conceit. Their vision requires the use of the coercive powers of government.
        In my book, Thomas Sowell is one of the greatest economist-philosophers of our age, and I am proud to say that he is one of my best friends. Sowell demonstrates something that is uniquely American; namely, just because you know where a person ended up in life, you cannot be sure about where he started. Unlike many other societies, an American need not start at the top to get to the top. That is something all Americans should be proud of and jealously guard -- the socioeconomic mobility that comes from a relatively free society.
        Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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by John Stossel

        Protesters say America's criminal justice system is unfair.
        It is.
        Courts are so jammed that innocent people plead guilty to avoid waiting years for a trial. Lawyers help rich people get special treatment. A jail stay is just as likely to teach you crime as it is to help you get a new start. Overcrowded prisons cost a fortune and increase suffering for both prisoners and guards.
        There's one simple solution to most of these problems: End the war on drugs.
        Our government has spent trillions of dollars trying to stop drug use.
        It hasn't worked. More people now use more drugs than before the "war" began.
        What drug prohibition did do is exactly what alcohol prohibition did a hundred years ago: increase conflict between police and citizens.
        "It pitted police against the communities that they serve," says neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart in my new video. Hart, former chair of Columbia University's Psychology department, grew up in a tough Miami neighborhood where he watched crack cocaine wreck lives. When he started researching drugs, he assumed that research would confirm the damage drugs did.
        But "one problem kept cropping up," he says in his soon-to-be-released book, "Drug Use For Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear," "the evidence did not support the hypothesis. No one else's evidence did either."
        After 20 years of research, he concluded, "I was wrong." Now, he says, our drug laws do more harm than drugs.
        Because drug sales are illegal, profits from selling drugs are huge. Since sellers can't rely on law enforcement to protect their property, they buy guns and form gangs.
        Cigarettes harm people, too, but there are no violent cigarette gangs -- no cigarette shootings -- even though nicotine is more addictive than heroin, says our government. That's because tobacco is legal. Likewise, there are no longer violent liquor gangs. They vanished when prohibition ended.
        But what about the opioid epidemic? Lots of Americans die from overdoses!
        Hart blames the drug war for that, too. Yes, opioids are legal, but their sale is tightly restricted.
        "If drugs were over the counter, there would be fewer deaths?" I asked.
        "Of course," he responds. "People die from opioids because they get tainted opioids. ... That would go away if we didn't have this war on drugs. Imagine if the only subject of any conversation about driving automobiles was fatal car crashes. ... So it is with the opioid epidemic."
        Drugs do harm many people, but in real life, replies Hart, "I know tons of people who do drugs; they are public officials, captains of industry, and they're doing well. Drugs, including nicotine and heroin, make people feel better. That's why they are used."
        President Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex. America's drug war funds a prison-industrial complex. Hart says his years inside the well-funded research side of that complex showed him that any research not in support of the "tough-on-drugs" ideology is routinely dismissed to "keep outrage stoked" and funds coming in.
        America locks up more than 2 million Americans. That's a higher percentage of our citizens, disproportionately black citizens, than any other country in the world.
        "In every country with a more permissive drug regime, all outcomes are better," says Hart. Countries like Switzerland and Portugal, where drugs are decriminalized, "don't have these problems that we have with drug overdoses."
        In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drug use. Instead of punishing drug users, they offer medical help. Deaths from overdoses dropped sharply. In 2017, Portugal had only 4 deaths per million people. The United States had 217 per million.
        "In a society, you will have people who misbehave, says Hart. "But that doesn't mean you should punish all of us because someone can't handle this activity."
        He's right. It's time to end the drug war.
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

        No decent person can support George Floyd's mistreatment, or the mistreatment of anyone else, at the hands of police officers with the sworn duty to uphold the law. The Minneapolis authorities moved quickly, and Derek Chauvin was fired from the Minneapolis police department, placed under arrest and charged with second-degree murder and other charges. The three officers who were with him were also fired and charged two counts of aiding and abetting -- one for second-degree murder and one for second-degree manslaughter.
        Peaceful protest in any cause is as American as apple pie, but what we saw in the wake of George Floyd's murder is as despicable as anything recently seen in our nation. What makes it worse is the silence and seemly support in many quarters for anarchists who have highjacked the protests to promote their own ends. These are the white liberals and leftists groups like Antifa who could care less about the major problems that exist in black communities and made worse by the rioting and looting.
        "Black Entrepreneurs 2020 Trends: A look at African-American-owned businesses in 2020" is a survey of black-owned businesses. When blacks were asked how they view themselves in the present political climate, most were either "very confident" or "somewhat confident." If that survey were run today, I doubt whether we would get anywhere near the same results. Part of the difference would be from the government's economic shutdown of our nation but most of it would be the result of the recent wanton destruction within black communities. There are videos of legally armed black business owners standing outside their shops to protect them. There are other scenes of black small-business owners in tears over the destruction of businesses that they've put their life's savings into. My question to the white Antifa anarchists, and their fellow black looters, is how does the destruction of black-owned business promote justice for the murder of George Floyd?
        The recent looting and property destruction, as well as the high crime rates in many black neighborhoods, have the effect of a law that outlaws economic growth and opportunities. During the recent mayhem in black communities, stores of many types were looted and destroyed. CVS pharmacy has closed 60 stores in 21 states amid looting and protests. Large stores like Walmart were looted and burned. Many smaller stores and businesses were looted and burned. Who will bear the ultimate cost of the rioting? If you said black people, you are right. Black people must bear the expense and inconvenience to go to suburban shopping malls if they are to avoid the higher prices charged by smaller neighborhood stores that have survived the rioting and looting.
        Even when there is not the kind of social disorder of recent weeks, lawlessness is the hallmark of many black communities. Ultimately, the solution to this lawlessness rests with black people. Given the current political environment, it does not benefit a black or white politician to take those steps necessary to crack down on lawlessness in black communities. That means black people must become intolerant of criminals who make their lives living hell, even if it means taking the law into their own hands.
        That brings me to one of the most disturbing aspects of the rioting and looting. That is the seeming impotence of people whom we elect and pay to enforce the law. That includes governors, mayors and police chiefs who refuse to use their law enforcement powers to protect citizens and their property from criminals. Unfortunately, politicians who call for law and order are often viewed negatively. But that makes little sense. Poor people are more dependent on law and order than anyone else. In the face of high crime or social disorder, wealthier people can afford to purchase alarm systems, buy guard dogs, hire guards and, if things get too bad, move to a gated community. These options are not available to poor people. Their only protection is an orderly society.
        Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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