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by John Stossel

        Republicans held the Senate! Democrats took the House but by a narrower margin!
        Did I just embarrass myself?
        I write this Election Day morning, before most polling places even opened. I don't know the actual results, of course.
        But I'll pretend I do because I trust the betting odds.
        As of Tuesday morning, ElectionBettingOdds.com, a site I co-founded, says Republicans have an 84 percent chance to hold the Senate and Democrats a 71 percent chance to retake the House.
        Why trust a bunch of gamblers? Because they have the best track record!
        Polls have flaws. Some people lie to pollsters or just give them what they think is the "proper" answer. Others won't even talk to them.
        Pundits are worse. They often let their personal preferences skew their predictions.
        Bettors are more accurate because of something called the "wisdom of crowds." It turns out that an average of many people's estimates is usually more accurate than any one person's views.
        Researchers noticed that while watching the TV series "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Stumped contestants could poll the audience or call a friend.
        The friends, often experts of some kind, got answers right 65 percent of the time. The studio audience included few experts, but the crowd got the answer right 91 percent of the time.
        The crowd that bets on elections online (political betting is legal in Europe and at a small American futures market called PredictIt.com) works hard to get the answers right.
        They look at more than polls. They factor in the latest news, try to sense the mood on the ground and research candidates' campaign tactics.
        They try harder than pundits because their own money is on the line. You've met blowhards who confidently predict things until someone says, "Want to bet?" Then they shut up. People who put their money where their mouths are become more careful.
        Prediction markets, or futures markets, are not new. Stock markets are prediction markets where people bet on companies' future earnings. A hundred years ago, "More money was traded in election markets than in stock markets," says economist Robin Hanson.
        Then, unfortunately, governments in America banned most betting. That deprived Americans of one of the best predictors of future events.
        There were a few exceptions. Fifteen years ago, U.S. officials asked Hanson to create a betting market that might predict future problems.
        "The Department of Defense heard prediction markets were interesting, doing powerful things," says Hanson. "They said, 'Show us it works for stuff we do... (P)redict events in the Middle East.'"
        As usual, some elected officials were horrified by the idea of people betting on things like possible terrorism. Sen. Ron Wyden stood up on the Senate floor to declare such betting "ridiculous and grotesque." The next day, the secretary of Defense declared the project dead.
        So the Pentagon is deprived of predictions that might save lives. It's too bad, because bettors are just, well, better.
        But not perfect. While the betting odds are almost always the best predictors, in the last presidential election they (along with polls and pundits) were wrong about Donald Trump. Bettors gave him only a 20 percent chance.
        I shouldn't say "wrong." Twenty percent just means Trump had a 1 in 5 chance. That's not nothing.
        The betting markets also got Brexit wrong. They gave it a 25 percent chance.
        But in both cases, as election results came in, the betting odds shifted much faster than the TV coverage. It was fun watching anchors try to catch up to what ElectionBettingOdds.com already predicted on my phone.
        As I write, the website says this about specific states:
        Republicans will narrowly win Arizona (51 percent chance) and Missouri (57), and easily win North Dakota (80), Tennessee (80) and Texas (79).
        By the time you read this, say bettors, Democrats will have flipped Nevada (60 percent chance) and held West Virginia (75), Montana (65) and New Jersey (81).
        Republicans will win the Georgia governor's race (64 percent chance), but Scott Walker will lose in Wisconsin (59), and Florida now probably has a new far-left governor (64).
        Were the bettors right?
        I assume some were not. After all, a 60 percent chance of winning means winning only 6 out of 10 times.
        Whatever way it turns out, we'll add the results to the "track record" section at ElectionBettingOdds.com.
        We'll also keep tracking the 2020 presidential race.
        Odds update every five minutes, but Tuesday morning the odds for 2020 were:
        Donald Trump: 36.1 percent
        Kamala Harris: 10.9 percent
        Elizabeth Warren: 5.9 percent
        Tulsi Gabbard: 5.7 percent
        Bernie Sanders: 4.2 percent
        Joe Biden: 4.1 percent
        Unfortunately, I don't see many advocates of restrained government on that list.
        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

      In describing the GOP tax cuts, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that they and bonuses American workers were getting were "crumbs." They were "tax cuts for the rich." Some argued that the tax cuts would reduce revenues. Pelosi predicted, "This thing will explode the deficit." How about some tax facts?
        The argument that tax cuts reduce federal revenues can be disposed of quite easily. According to the Congressional Budget Office, revenues from federal income taxes were $76 billion higher in the first half of this year than they were in the first half of 2017. The Treasury Department says it expects that federal revenues will continue to exceed last year's for the rest of 2018. Despite record federal revenues, 2018 will see a massive deficit, perhaps topping $1 trillion. Our massive deficit is a result not of tax cuts but of profligate congressional spending that outruns rising tax revenues. Grossly false statements about tax cuts' reducing revenue should be put to rest in the wake of federal revenue increases seen with tax cuts during the Kennedy, Reagan and Trump administrations.
        A very disturbing and mostly ignored issue is how absence of skin in the game negatively impacts the political arena. It turns out that 45 percent of American households, nearly 78 million individuals, have no federal income tax obligation. That poses a serious political problem. Americans with no federal income tax obligation become natural constituencies for big-spending politicians. After all, if one doesn't pay federal income taxes, what does he care about big spending? Also, if one doesn't pay federal taxes, why should he be happy about a tax cut? What's in it for him? In fact, those with no skin in the game might see tax cuts as a threat to their handout programs.
        Whenever tax cuts are called for, it's not long before they are called tax cuts for the rich. Let's look at who pays what in federal income taxes. Using IRS data for 2015, the latest year available, the Tax Foundation reports that the top 1 percent of earners made about 21 percent of the nation's income, but their share of federal income taxes was 39 percent. They paid more in income taxes than the bottom 90 percent, who paid 29.4 percent of federal income taxes (http://tinyurl.com/y7t4ljv8).
        In 2015, the top 50 percent of taxpayers paid 97.2 percent of all individual income taxes. Also, the top 1 percent had an income tax rate of 27 percent, while the bottom 50 percent had a tax rate of less than 4 percent. It turns out that 892,420 households -- out of roughly 34 million total households -- paid 39 percent of federal taxes that year. Most Americans have little or no federal income tax obligation, so how in the world is it possible to give a tax cut to them?
        Another part of the Trump tax cuts was with corporate income -- lowering the rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. That, too, has been condemned by the left as a tax cut for the rich. But corporations do not pay taxes. Why? Corporations are legal fictions. Only people pay taxes. If a tax is levied on a corporation, it will have one or more of the following responses in order to remain in business. It will raise the price of its product, lower its dividends to shareholders and/or lay off workers. Thus, only flesh-and-blood people pay taxes. We can think of corporations as tax collectors. Politicians love our ignorance about this. They suggest that corporations, not people, will be taxed. Here's how to see through this charade: Suppose a politician told you, as a homeowner, "I'm not going to tax you. I'm going to tax your land." I hope you wouldn't fall for that jive. Land doesn't pay taxes.
        Getting back to skin in the game, sometimes I wonder whether one should be allowed in the game if he doesn't have any skin in it.
        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 Taylor Kovar

Hi Taylor - I’m trying to convince my two boys - 14 and 16 years old - that time is money. Whenever I say that, we get into frustrating, teenage arguments over semantics and they go back to playing video games. How do I fix this problem while they’re still young? - Deanne

Hey Deanne - Getting teenage boys to care about money is one of life’s great challenges (sorry, Mom and Dad!). It’s going to be an uphill battle, but you should think of ways to show them instead of telling them. One of the ways to do this is to actually make their time more valuable, through an allowance or another sort of rewards system.

    No one is going to believe that their time has monetary value until you prove that to be true. This is a little easier with adults, as an hourly wage is proof that an eight-hour workday equals X number of dollars. With a teenager who might not be working yet, or who just works seasonal jobs and doesn’t have to stay motivated year round, you have to draw the line between time and money for them.

    If you already offer an allowance, make sure your boys are earning it. Instead of paying for chores that are poorly done, pay for a task that’s accomplished well. They’ll want to finish the job as quickly as possible, so you have to set the standard for good work. As they find ways to get chores done right and fast, they’ll start to discover the importance of efficiency, which is at the core of valuing one’s time.

    Beyond bribing, makie them care about long-term goals. Any time they talk about wanting a fancy car or a new gaming console, break down how many hours it would take to earn the money needed to buy that item. Give examples of how the money could be earned, through a regular job or by collecting and recylcing cans and bottles. When they connect the dots between working, earning and buying cool stuff, they’ll start to see how using time wisely can result in getting what they want.

    The biggest hurdle is often teaching responsibility. When we’re teenagers, we don’t want to take responsibility for much. Once we start to see that taking ownership of our time can produce good results, our habits change. Without becoming too much of an authoritarian, find ways to show your kids that taking smart action will produce the best outcome.

    I’m not surprised the boys push back on a figurative statement like “time is money.” If you can find a way to show how quality use of time leads to increased earnings, you’ll probably start to make a little more headway. Good luck, Deanne!
--
Taylor J Kovar, CEO

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by John Stossel

    "Libertarians believe that you should be as conservative or as liberal as you want to be as long as you don't want to force yourself on others," says Larry Sharpe, Libertarian candidate for governor of New York.
    Sharpe is an unusual Libertarian candidate because he's doing well in some polls.
    One found Sharpe getting 13 percent, and after people heard his campaign pitch, 25 percent. That would put him in second place, ahead of the Republican.
    So of course the establishment shuts him out -- he and other third-party candidates weren't allowed in the one gubernatorial debate.
    Sharpe wins fans by arguing that it would be good if individuals make their own decisions without government spending constantly getting in the way.
    "What we understand as libertarians is at the end of every single law is a guy or gal with a gun who's going to put you in a cage; if you don't want to go in that cage, they're going to shoot you. What that means is you should only use the law when there is loss of life, health, limb, property, or liberty... Not because I don't like what you're doing."
    That's refreshing to hear from a politician.
    No new government programs under a Sharpe administration, then?
    "No, no, no, no, no, no," he assures me.
    At least one candidate doesn't want to make government bigger.
    New York faces a $4.4 billion deficit. Current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed raising taxes.
    Sharpe has other ideas.
    "Lease naming rights on our infrastructure," he says in my latest internet video. "The Triborough Bridge could be called the Staples Bridge, or the Apple Bridge."
    My staff asked some New Yorkers what they thought about leasing naming rights to bridges and tunnels. "Bad idea!" said one woman. "It's commercializing!" Most people were opposed.
    I said that to Sharpe.
    "You know what she should do?" he responded. "Start a nonprofit, raise $30 million, she can name it whatever she wants."
    One man said he didn't "want to rename something after some sort of corporation!"
    "Shake your fist and say, 'This doesn't sound good,'" replied Sharpe. "You're going to wind up in a place where the tax burden is insanely high."
    Under our current system, many bridges and other public structures advertise anyway -- but they promote politicians. Gov. Cuomo just named a bridge after his father.
    "An imperial bridge named after our royal family!" said Sharpe with a laugh. "I'm embarrassed."
    We libertarians don't think politicians deserve monuments just because they got elected.
    "Tell you what I'll do," said Sharpe. "(Governor Cuomo's) got $30 million a year? He can keep his name on that bridge and take care of the maintenance."
    Sharpe applies similar thinking to New York's decrepit subway system.
    "We have lines on the MTA right now not being used at night. Home Depot or Google or Amazon or whomever -- they can use these lines... move their freight... They'll pay. Win-win."
    Sharpe's campaign is attracting new people. His rallies draw bigger crowds than minor party candidates normally get.
    "If you're unhappy with the system, you've got to change it," he said on Joe Rogan's podcast.
    For a libertarian, Sharpe surprised me by saying he wouldn't dream of proposing cuts to existing welfare programs. "Pull the rug out from somebody, somebody's going to be afraid," he explains. If voters fear you, they don't vote for you.
    I assume he'd shrink those programs eventually, maybe after other parts of government were reduced and the economy improves as a result.
    He also sounds friendlier to labor unions than most libertarians. "Collective bargaining is fine. My issue with the unions has always been: Are you forcing me? ... I have a problem with (union shop laws). But you're voluntarily doing it? I don't have a problem at all."
    Listening to Sharpe is very different from hearing most Republicans and Democrats.
    "Because no one has any new ideas," he says. "No ideas how to fix anything or do anything right. ... I'm a third party. I have to have ideas or no one will listen to me."
    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

    Democrats are hoping the coming election will give them a majority in the House of Representatives. Republicans and much of our nation dread that prospect. My question is: What would a House majority mean for the Democrats? Let's look at it.
    To control the House of Representatives, Democrats must win at least 218 seats, which many predict as being likely. To control the Senate, Democrats must win enough seats to get to 51, which many predict is unlikely. Let's say the Democrats do take the House. If they were to pass a measure that Republicans in both houses didn't like and President Donald Trump didn't like, either, he could use his veto pen. To override Trump's veto, Democrats would need to meet the U.S. Constitution's requirement that they muster a two-thirds vote in the House of Representatives (290 votes) and a two-thirds vote in the Senate (67 votes). Neither would be likely.
    It's quite a challenge to override a presidential veto. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the veto king, with 635 vetoes. Only nine of them were overridden. President Grover Cleveland vetoed 584 congressional measures and was overridden only seven times. If the House Democrats were to do all that they promise to do and if President Trump were to marshal the guts of Presidents Roosevelt and Cleveland -- both Democrats, I might add -- the next two years would be a sight to behold.
    But wait! Democrats are pushing for the elimination of the Electoral College and having presidents chosen by majority rule. Might they call for the same for all political decisions? That way, it would require only a simple majority vote, rather than two-thirds, to override a presidential veto.
    The Founding Fathers had utter contempt for majority rule. They saw it as a form of tyranny. In addition to requiring a supermajority to override a presidential veto, our Constitution has other anti-majority provisions. Proposing an amendment to the Constitution requires a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress or two-thirds of state legislatures to vote for it. On top of that, it requires three-fourths of state legislatures for ratification of a constitutional amendment. Election of the president is done not by a majority popular vote, much to the disappointment of the left, but by the Electoral College.
    Having two houses of Congress places another obstacle to majority rule. Fifty-one senators can block the wishes of 435 representatives and 49 senators. As mentioned earlier, our Constitution gives the president veto power to thwart the wishes of a majority in each house of Congress. It takes two-thirds in each house of Congress to override the president's veto.
    The Founders recognized that we need government; however, they also recognized that the essence of government is force and that force is evil. To reduce the potential for evil, they thought government should be as small as possible. They intended for us to have a limited republican form of government wherein human rights precede government and there is rule of law. Ordinary citizens and government officials are accountable to the same laws. Government intervenes in civil society only to protect its citizens against force and fraud; it does not intervene in cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange. By contrast, in a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. The law is whatever the government deems it to be. Rights may be granted or taken away.
    For those Americans who see majority rule as sacrosanct, ask yourselves how many of your life choices you would like settled by majority rule. Would you want the kind of car you own to be decided through a democratic process? What about decisions as to where you live, what clothes you purchase, what food you eat, what entertainment you enjoy and what wines you drink? I'm sure that if anyone suggested that these decisions should be subject to a democratic process wherein majority rules, we would deem the person tyrannical.
    James Madison wrote, "Democracies ... have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."
    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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