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We need to sell more rhino horns, quickly.

by John Stossel



That may be the only way to save rhinos from extinction. Today, rhinos vanish because poachers kill them for their horns. Businesses turn their horns into ornaments or quack health potions.

Some horns sell for $300,000. No wonder poachers risk their lives for one. How do you fight an incentive that strong?

Flood the market!

That's a solution suggested by Matthew Markus.

Markus's biotech company can make artificial rhino horn in a laboratory that's virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.

Put enough of that lab-grown horn on the market and supply and demand will bring the price way down.

Then poachers won't risk getting killed trying to steal real rhino horn.

"One way to devalue something is to create a lot of it," said Markus. "When things are abundant, people don't kill."

South Africa tried a mild version of this solution once. For 20 years, they made it legal to own rhinos and sell their horns.

Poaching dropped because legal rhino farming took away the poachers' incentive. Rhino farmers bred rhinos and protected them. Once in a while, they'd put rhinos to sleep with tranquilizer darts and saw off their horns. The horns grow back. The rhino population quadrupled.

Win-win.

But animal welfare activists are never happy with any solution that involves profiting from nature. South Africa banned sales of rhino horn again. Poaching rose 9,000 percent from 2007 to 2014, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Now South Africa is considering legalization again, but they will have to fight the NGOs.

Some, like Humane Society International, even oppose sale of that artificial horn. They asked the U.S. government to block a shipment of a sample of rhino DNA that might have created better artificial horn.

I confronted the Humane Society's spokeswoman about that. Our interview will be one of the first videos for my new project: "Stossel on Reason." I will post videos weekly on Facebook, Twitter and Reason TV. We start this week.

In this first story, the Humane Society's Masha Kalinina passionately argues against re-legalizing rhino farming and the sale of artificial horn.

"This is dangerous! Absolutely dangerous for rhinos and their survival," she says. "This is greenwashing an illegal activity. ... The problem is that people still see animals as commodities, natural resources for their use!"

Yes. And why is that a problem? I eat eggs and chicken, and I drink milk. More chickens and cows are alive because people like me pay for them or what they produce.

Kalinina replied: "Are we really going to farm every single animal on this planet so we can continue endlessly supplying this bloodlust and thirst of people to consume wildlife products?"

Give me a break. Farming isn't "bloodlust."

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by Walter E. Williams

Too many people believe that slavery is a "peculiar institution." That's what Kenneth Stampp called slavery in his book, "Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South." But slavery is by no means peculiar, odd or unusual. It was common among ancient peoples such as the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites, Greeks, Persians, Armenians and many others. Large numbers of Christians were enslaved during the Ottoman wars in Europe. White slaves were common in Europe from the Dark Ages to the Middle Ages. It was only after A.D. 1600 that Europeans joined with Arabs and Africans and started the Atlantic slave trade. As David P. Forsythe wrote in his book, "The Globalist," "The fact remained that at the beginning of the nineteenth century an estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom."

While slavery constitutes one of the grossest encroachments on human liberty, it is by no means unique or restricted to the Western world or United States, as many liberal academics would have us believe. Much of their indoctrination of our young people, at all levels of education, paints our nation's founders as racist adherents to slavery, but the story is not so simple.

At the time of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, slaves were about 40 percent of the population of the Southern colonies. Apportionment in the House of Representatives and the number of electoral votes each state would have in presidential elections would be based upon population. Southern delegates to the convention wanted slaves to be counted as one person. Northern delegates to the convention, and those opposed to slavery, wanted only free persons of each state to be counted for the purposes of apportionment in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. The compromise reached was that each slave would be counted as only three-fifths of a person.

Many criticize this compromise as proof of racism. My question to these grossly uninformed critics is whether they would have found it more preferable for slaves to be counted as whole persons. Slaves counted as whole persons would have given slaveholding Southern states much more political power. Or, would the critics of the founders prefer that the Northern delegates not compromise and not allow slaves to be counted at all. If they did, it is likely that the Constitution would have not been ratified. Thus, the question emerges is whether blacks would be better off with Northern states having gone their way and Southern states having gone theirs, resulting in no U.S. Constitution and no Union? Unlike today's pseudointellectuals, black abolitionist Frederick Douglass understood the compromise, saying that the three-fifths clause was "a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding states" that deprived them of "two-fifths of their natural basis of representation."

Douglass' vision was shared by Patrick Henry and others. Henry said, expressing the reality of the three-fifths compromise, "As much as I deplore slavery, I see that prudence forbids its abolition." With this union, Congress at least had the power to abolish slave trade by 1808. According to delegate James Wilson, many believed the anti-slave-trade clause laid "the foundation for banishing slavery out of this country." Many of the founders abhorred slavery. Their statements can be read on my website, walterewilliams.com.

The most unique aspect of slavery in the Western world was the moral outrage against it, which began to emerge in the 18th century and led to massive elimination efforts. It was Britain's military sea power that put an end to the slave trade. And our country fought a costly war that brought an end to slavery. Unfortunately, these facts about slavery are not in the lessons taught in our schools and colleges. Instead, there is gross misrepresentation and suggestion that slavery was a uniquely American practice.

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

President Donald Trump drives people crazy.

Especially those in the media.

They hate him so much, they leap on every anti-Trump rumor.

The Federalist's Jordyn Pair points out that the press repeatedly told us that a dozen Trump administration members were about to be fired, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and strategists Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner.

Months later, all still work for or with the administration.

I actually wish Sessions had  been fired, but Trump's staff reshufflings are no more frequent than those of other administrations, including President Obama's. The media so desperately want something bad to happen, to prove Trump's unqualified, that they blow stuff up.

New York Times writers are so upset by Trump's rants against them that they act like he's a Venezuelan dictator who will shut them down. (Wait, don't Times socialists like Venezuelan dictators?)

"Independent Press Is Under Siege as Freedom Rings" was one recent headline.

The evidence?

"The First Amendment," wrote the normally sensible media columnist Jim Rutenberg, "is under near-daily assault from the highest levels of the government."

The "assault" cited was Trump's tweeting out a fake wrestling video, which depicted, as Rutenberg put it, "himself tackling and beating a figure with a CNN logo superimposed."

So what? The video, like professional wrestling, was childish and unpresidential. But it doesn't put the press "under siege." It's a lame joke.

Rutenberg goes on to ask how we can feel good about Independence Day and press freedom "when the president lashes out at The Washington Post by making a veiled threat against the business interests of its owner, Jeff Bezos, suggesting that his other company, Amazon, is a tax avoider. (Where have we seen that sort of thing before -- Russia maybe?)"

Hello? In Russia, Putin probably murdered  reporters. Trump merely suggested that Bezos dodges taxes.

I threw that at Rutenberg. He emailed back, "That wasn't a reference to murder (but) to executive authority using tax code to squelch free-speech." In Russia, media that criticized Putin were raided and accused of tax fraud.

But Trump hasn't done any of that. There's speculation that he will block a Time Warner merger, but hasn't done it.

Another annoying Times headline: "The Network Against the Leader of the Free World."

The story complained about Trumps "denunciations (of CNN) in stinging tweets and slashing speeches."

Poor CNN. Except the story also quoted the company's president bragging about viewership that's "the highest in the network's history." For some reason, it didn't mention that CNN's audience is still less than half that of Fox.

But my main objection to that story's headline is the phrase "Leader of the Free World."

The line first appeared in The New York Times when I was 1 year old. An economist argued that the U.S., the "leader of the free world," should lead the fight against Communism.

That made sense. The U.S. was and is the world's wealthiest and most powerful country.

But no president is "leader of the free world." Does President Trump lead Japan? Iceland? Does he lead you?

He's not my leader. The president leads one of three branches of government. He's commander in chief of the armed services. He's not "leader of the free world."

The media obsess about Trump's speeches, tweets and narcissistic behavior as if he were king of the world. But even the president is just one man in a very large bureaucracy.

There are legitimate reasons to worry about what Trump might do. I worry that he'll start a trade war. Or a shooting war. There's plenty to worry about.

So why make things up?

If you worry that Trump will destroy your way of life, the smartest thing to do is to decrease the power of all presidents: Shrink the executive branch back to the humble role it had when the founders wrote the Constitution.

Make sure Congress passes declarations of war before the U.S. goes to war. Don't let any president rule through executive orders. Make sure Congress passes laws instead of letting federal agencies write rules.

A president's job is to execute laws. The fewer and simpler those laws, the easier it will be to prevent crazy things from happening.

John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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By Walter E. Williams

There are political movements to push the federal minimum hourly wage to $15. Raising the minimum wage has popular support among Americans. Their reasons include fighting poverty, preventing worker exploitation and providing a living wage. For the most part, the intentions behind the support for raising the minimum wage are decent. But when we evaluate public policy, the effect of the policy is far more important than intentions. So let's examine the effects of increases in minimum wages.

The average wage for a cashier is around $10 an hour, about $21,000 a year. That's no great shakes, but it's an honest job for full- or part-time workers and retirees wanting to earn some extra cash. In anticipation of a $15-an-hour wage becoming federal law, many firms are beginning the automation process to economize on their labor usage.

Panera Bread, a counter-serve cafe chain, anticipates replacing most of its cashiers with kiosks. McDonald's is rolling out self-service kiosks that allow customers to order and pay for their food without ever having to interact with a human. Momentum Machines has developed a meat-flipping robot, which can turn out 360 hamburgers an hour. These and other measures are direct responses to rising labor costs and expectations of higher minimum wages.

Here's my question to supporters of higher minimum wages: How compassionate is it to create legislation that destroys an earning opportunity? Again, making $21,000 a year as a cashier is no great shakes, but it's better than going on welfare, needing unemployment compensation or idleness. Why would anybody work for $21,000 a year if he had a higher-paying alternative? Obviously, the $21,000-a-year job is his best known opportunity. How compassionate is it to call for a government policy that destroys a person's best opportunity? I say it's cruel.

San Francisco might give us some evidence for what a $15 minimum wage does. According to the East Bay Times, about 60 restaurants around the Bay Area closed between September and January. A recent study by Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Dara Lee Luca of Mathematica Policy Research calculated that for every $1 hike in the minimum hourly wage, there is a 14 percent increase in the likelihood that a restaurant rated 3 1/2 stars on Yelp will go out of business. Fresno Bee reporter Jeremy Bagott says that even some of San Francisco's best restaurants fall prey to higher minimum wages. One saw its profit margins fall from 8.5 percent in 2012 to 1.5 percent by 2015 (http://tinyurl.com/y6wy3gne). Most restaurants are thought to require profit margins between 3 and 5 percent to survive.

Some think that it's greed that motivates businessmen to seek substitutes for labor, such as kiosks, as wages rise. But don't blame businessmen; just look in the mirror. Suppose both McDonald's and Burger King are faced with higher labor costs as a result of higher minimum wages. McDonald's lowers its labor costs by installing kiosks and laying off workers, but Burger King decides to not automate but instead keep the same amount of labor. To cover its higher labor costs, Burger King must charge higher prices for its meals, whereas McDonald's gets by while charging lower prices. Which restaurant do you think people will patronize? I'm guessing McDonald's. What customers want is an important part of a company's decision-making.

But there are other actors to whom companies are beholden. They are the companies' investors, who are looking for returns on their investments. If one company responds appropriately to higher labor costs, it will produce a higher investor return than one that does not. That means "buy" signals for the stock of a company that responds properly and "sell" signals for the stock of one that does not, as well as possible outside takeover attempts for the latter.

The best way to help low-wage workers earn higher wages is to make them more productive, and that's not accomplished simply by saying they are more productive by mandating higher wages.

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 Walter E. Williams

Is there no limit to the level of disgusting behavior on college campuses that parents, taxpayers, donors and legislators will accept? Colleges have become islands of intolerance, and as with fish, the rot begins at the head. Let's examine some recent episodes representative of a general trend and ask ourselves why we should tolerate it plus pay for it.

Students at Evergreen State College harassed biology professor Bret Weinstein because he refused to leave campus, challenging the school's decision to ask white people to leave campus for a day of diversity programming. The profanity-laced threats against the faculty and president can be seen on a YouTube video titled "Student takeover of Evergreen State College" (http://tinyurl.com/yah2eo3p).

What about administrators permitting students to conduct racially segregated graduation ceremonies, which many colleges have done, including Ivy League ones such as Columbia and Harvard universities? Permitting racially segregated graduation ceremonies makes a mockery of the idols of diversity, multiculturalism and inclusion, which so many college administrators worship. Or is tribalism part and parcel of diversity?

Trinity College sociology professor Johnny Eric Williams recently called white people "inhuman assholes." In the wake of the Alexandria, Virginia, shooting at a congressional baseball practice, Williams tweeted, "It is past time for the racially oppressed to do what people who believe themselves to be 'white' will not do, put (an) end to the vectors of their destructive mythology of whiteness and their white supremacy system. #LetThemF---ingDie"

June Chu, dean of Pierson College at Yale University, recently resigned after having been placed on leave because of offensive Yelp reviews she had posted. One of her reviews described customers at a local restaurant as "white trash" and "low class folk"; another review praised a movie theater for its lack of "sketchy crowds." In another review of a movie theater, she complained about the "barely educated morons trying to manage snack orders for the obese."

Harvey Mansfield, a distinguished Harvard University professor who has taught at the school for 55 years, is not hopeful about the future of American universities. In a College Fix interview, Mansfield said, "No, I'm not very optimistic about the future of higher education, at least in the form it is now with universities under the control of politically correct faculties and administrators" (http://tinyurl.com/y7qadxlz). Once America's pride, universities, he says, are no longer a marketplace of ideas or bastions of free speech. Universities have become "bubbles of decadent liberalism" that teach students to look for offense when first examining an idea.

Who is to blame for the decline of American universities? Mansfield argues that it is a combination of administrators, students and faculties. He puts most of the blame on faculty members, some of whom are cowed by deans and presidents who don't want their professors to make trouble. I agree with Mansfield's assessment in part. Many university faculty members are hostile to free speech and open questioning of ideas. A large portion of today's faculty and administrators were once the hippies of the 1960s, and many have contempt for the U.S. Constitution and the values of personal liberty. The primary blame for the incivility and downright stupidity we see on university campuses lies with the universities' trustees. Every board of trustees has fiduciary responsibility for the governance of a university, shaping its broad policies. Unfortunately, most trustees are wealthy businessmen who are busy and aren't interested in spending time on university matters. They become trustees for the prestige it brings, and as such, they are little more than yes men for the university president and provost. If trustees want better knowledge about university goings-on, they should hire a campus ombudsman who is independent of the administration and accountable only to the board of trustees.