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by Walter E. Williams

        You present to a physician with severe abdominal pain. He examines you and concludes that your ingrown toenails are the cause of your abdominal distress. He prescribes that you soak your feet in warm water but that does not bring relief to your abdominal pain. Then he suggests that you apply antibiotics to your feet. Still no relief. Then the physician suggests that you wear sandals instead of shoes. Still no relief. The point of this story is that your toenails can be treated until the cows come home, but if there is improper diagnosis, then you are still going to have your abdominal pain.
        The former superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, Meria Carstarphen, last year said, "White students are nearly 4.5 grade levels ahead of their black peers within Atlanta Public Schools." In San Francisco, 70% of white students are proficient in math; for black students, it is 12% -- a gap of 58%. In Washington, D.C., 83% of white students scored proficient in reading, as did only 23% of black students -- a gap of 60%. In Philadelphia, 47% of black students scored below basic in math and 42% scored below basic in reading. In Baltimore, 59% of black students scored below basic in math and 49% in reading. In Detroit, 73% of black students scored below basic in math and 56% in reading.
        "Below basic" is the score a student receives when he is unable to demonstrate even partial mastery of knowledge and grade level skills. How much can racism explain this? To do well in school, someone must make a kid do his homework, get a good night's rest, have breakfast and mind the teacher. If these basic family functions are not performed, it makes little difference how much money is put into education the result will be disappointing.
        In 2019, the racial breakdown of high school seniors who took the ACT college entrance exam and met its readiness benchmarks was 62% of Asians, 47% of whites, 23% of Hispanics and 11% of blacks. That helps explain a 2016 study by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce "African Americans: College Majors and Earnings." It found that black college students were highly concentrated in lower-paying and less academically demanding majors like administrative services and social work. They are much less likely than other students to major in science, technology, engineering and math, even though blacks in these fields earned as much as 50% more than blacks who earned a bachelor's degree in art or psychology and social work.
        James D. Agresti, the president and co-founder of Just Facts has just published an article titled "Social Ills That Plague African Americans Coincide with Leftism, Not Racism." Agresti writes: "Among all of the afflictions that disproportionately impact people of color, violence may be the worst. In 2018, blacks comprised 13% of the U.S. population but roughly 53% of the 16,000 murder victims." The clearance rate for murders, where a suspect was identified and charged, declined from 92% in 1960 to 62% in 2018. For example, in Chicago, the clearance rate fell from 96% in 1964 to 45% in 2018. In Baltimore, the 2019 clearance rate was 32%. In 2015, when Baltimore experienced the highest per-capita murder rate in its history, the average homicide suspect had been previously arrested more than nine times. When crimes remain unsolved, it gives criminals free range and black people are their primary victims. By the way, most law enforcement occurs at the local level. The governmen!
 ts at these local levels are typically dominated by Democrats.
        According to statistics about fatherless homes, 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes; 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father figure; 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes; 71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes; and 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions have no father. Furthermore, fatherless boys and girls are twice as likely to drop out of high school and twice as likely to end up in jail. Dr. Thomas Sowell has argued, "The black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly disintegrating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency rescue to a way of life."
        The bottom line is that while every vestige of racial discrimination has not been eliminated, today's discrimination cannot go very far in explaining the problems faced by a large segment of the black community.
        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

        I hear that climate change will destroy much of the world.
        "There will be irreversible damage to the planet!" warns a CNN anchor.
        Joe Biden says he'll spend $500 billion a year to fight what his website calls an "existential threat to life."
        Really?
        I'm a consumer reporter. Over the years, alarmed scientists have passionately warned me about many things that they thought were about to kill Americans.
        "Asbestos in hair dryers, coffee, computer terminals, electric power lines, microwave ovens, cell phones (brain tumors!), electric blankets, computer terminals, herbicides, plastic residue, etc. are causing America's cancer epidemic!"
        If those things don't get us, "West Nile Virus will!" Or SARS, Bird Flu, Ebola, flesh-eating bacteria or "killer bees."
        Experts told me millions would die on Jan. 1, 2000, because computers couldn't handle the switch from 1999. Machines would fail; planes would crash.
        The scientists were well-informed specialists in their fields. They were sincerely alarmed. The more knowledge you have about a threat, the more alarmed you get.
        Yet, mass death didn't happen. COVID-19 has been the only time in my 50 years of reporting that a scare proved true.
        Maybe you accepted the phrase I used above: "America's cancer epidemic." But there is no cancer epidemic. Cancer rates are down. We simply live long enough to get diseases like cancer. But people think there's a cancer epidemic.
        The opposite is true. As we've been exposed to more plastics, pesticides, mysterious chemicals, food additives and new technologies, we live longer than ever!
        That's why I'm skeptical when I'm told: Climate change is a crisis!
        Climate change is real. It's a problem, but I doubt that it's "an existential threat."
        Saying that makes alarmists mad.
        When Marc Morano says it, activists try to prevent him from speaking.
        "They do not want dissent," says Morano, founder of ClimateDepot.com, a website that rebuts much of what climate activists teach in schools.
        "It's an indoctrination that's so complete that by the time (kids) get to high school, they're not even aware that there's any scientific dissent."
        Morano's new movie, "Climate Hustle 2," presents that dissent. My new video this week features his movie.
        Morano argues that politicians use fear of global warming in order to gain power.
        "Climate Hustle 2" features Senator Chuck Schumer shouting: "If we would do more on climate change, we'd have fewer of these hurricanes and other types of storms! Everyone knows that!"
        But everyone doesn't know that. Many scientists refute it. Congress' own hearings include testimony about how our warmer climate has not caused increases in the number of hurricanes or tornadoes. "Climate Hustle 2" includes many examples like that.
        "Why should we believe you?" I ask Morano. "You're getting money from the fossil fuel industry." After all, Daily Kos calls him "Evil Personified" and says ExxonMobil funds him.
         "Not at all," he replies. "I'm paid by about 90% individual contributions from around the country. Why would ExxonMobil give me money (when) they want to appear green?"
        Morano's movie frustrates climate activists by pointing out how hypocritical some are.
        Actor Leonardo DiCaprio says he lives a "green lifestyle... (using) energy-efficient appliances. I drive a hybrid car."
        Then he flies to Europe to attend a party.
        I like watching Morano point out celebrities' hypocrisy, but think one claim in his movie goes too far.
         "Stopping climate change is not about saving the planet," says narrator Kevin Sorbo. "It's about climate elites trying to convince us to accept a future where they call all the shots."
        I push back at Morano: "I think they are genuinely concerned, and they want to save us."
        "Their vision of saving us is putting them in charge," he replies.
        And if they're in charge, he says, they will destroy capitalism.
        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

        The academic achievement gap between black and white students has proven resistant to most educational policy changes. Some say that educational expenditures explain the gap, but is that true? Look at educational per pupil expenditures: Baltimore city ranks fifth in the U.S. for per pupil spending at $15,793. The Detroit Public Schools Community District spends more per student than all but eight of the nation's 100 largest school districts, or $14,259. New York City spends $26,588 per pupil, and Washington, D.C., spends $21,974. There appears to be little relationship between educational expenditures and academic achievement.
        The Nation's Report Card for 2017 showed the following reading scores for fourth-graders in New York state's public schools: Thirty-two percent scored below basic, with 32% scoring basic, 27% scoring proficient and 9% scoring advanced. When it came to black fourth-graders in the state, 19% scored proficient, and 3% scored advanced.
        But what about the performance of students in charter schools? In his recent book, "Charter Schools and Their Enemies," Dr. Thomas Sowell compared 2016-17 scores on the New York state ELA test. Thirty percent of Brooklyn's William Floyd public elementary school third-graders scored well below proficient in English and language arts, but at a Success Academy charter school in the same building, only one did. At William Floyd, 36% of students were below proficient, with 24% being proficient and none being above proficient. By contrast, at Success Academy, only 17% of third-graders were below proficient, with 70% being proficient and 11% being above proficient. Among Success Academy's fourth-graders, 51% and 43%, respectively, scored proficient and above proficient, while their William Floyd counterparts scored 23% and 6%, respectively. It's worthwhile stressing that William Floyd and this Success Academy location have the same address.
        Similar high performance can be found in the Manhattan charter school KIPP Infinity Middle School among its sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders when compared with that of students at New Design Middle School, a public school at the same location. Liberals believe integration is a necessary condition for black academic excellence. Public charter schools such as those mentioned above belie that vision. Sowell points out that only 39% of students in all New York state schools who were recently tested scored at the "proficient" level in math, but 100% of the students at the Crown Heights Success Academy tested proficient. Blacks and Hispanics constitute 90% of the students in that Success Academy.
        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.
        There's little question that many charter schools provide superior educational opportunities for black youngsters. Here is my question: Why do black people, as a group, accept the attack on charter schools?
        John Liu, a Democratic state senator from Queens, said New York City should "get rid of" large charter school networks. State Sen. Julia Salazar, D-Brooklyn, said, "I'm not interested in privatizing our public schools." 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. The New York Times article went on to say, "Over 100,000 students in hundreds of the city's charter schools are doing well on state tests, and tens of thousands of children are on waiting lists for spots."
        One would think that black politicians and civil rights organizations would support charter schools. The success of many charter schools is unwelcome news to traditional public school officials and teachers' unions. To the contrary, they want to saddle charter schools with the same procedures that make so many public schools a failure. For example, the NAACP demands that charter schools "cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate." It wants charter schools to "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." Most importantly, it wants charter schools to come under the control of teachers' unions.
        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

        Yale University has fancy dining halls. They pay no property tax.
        Local restaurants struggle to compete, but their tax burden makes that hard.
        "We basically pay one-third of our rent in taxes!" complains Matt West, manager of Koon Thai Restaurant. "Yale is a money-making machine."
        It is. Many colleges are.
        Yale has a $31 billion endowment. Harvard's is $40 billion. My alma mater, Princeton, has $26 billion.
        Yet, these schools also get government handouts and tax breaks. How government rips-off taxpayers and students by subsidizing colleges is the subject of my video this week.
        Yale owns about a quarter of the town of New Haven, Connecticut, but the school pays little property tax. It even has a golf course that's half tax-exempt.
        Politicians tried to tax the school, but they cannot.
        "It's written into the constitution," complains New Haven Board of Alders President Tyisha Walker-Myers. "They just don't have to pay."
        Now the city is ticketing more cars to try to cover its budget shortfall.
        Everyone else pays more because colleges get tax breaks, government grants, and government loans.
        "De-fund universities!" says Inez Stepman, senior policy analyst at the Independent Women's Forum. "Their entire business model is dependent on the taxpayer."
        I push back: "You make it sound like it's all government money. But people pay their own way."
        She corrects me: "Without that lifeblood of those federal student loans, very few universities would be able to operate. They are dependent on that federal interference."
        They're dependent because they've raised their prices so much. When I went to college, my tuition was $1,950. Now, Princeton charges $53,890.
        After government increased subsidies, colleges raised tuition prices at four times the rate of inflation.
        They spend the money not just on golf courses and fancy foods.  They build new stadiums, first-class swimming pools, media rooms and some even offer students housekeeping.
        Why not spend? Colleges know they will get more money from taxpayers. The federal government is now America's biggest largest provider of student aid.
         "There is no check on the cost of a college degree," says Stepman. "If students had to walk into Wells Fargo for those loans, Wells Fargo would look at whether or not those loans would be paid back. The federal government doesn't ask any of those questions."
        So, money is thrown at students who don't benefit. Today, almost half the students given loans don't graduate in six years.
        Instead, says Stepman, they have "$50 or $60 or $80,000 in debt, without the degree to show for it."
        Taxpayers lose. Students lose. The winners are bloated colleges.
        Colleges say they deserve every loan and tax break because they make "wiser citizens."
        "They're not," says Stepman. "They're making citizens who hate their country."
        I push back again. "Most colleges educate rather than indoctrinate."
        "I wish that were true," replies Stepman. "I was part of the College Republicans... registering voters. I actually had a professor walk up and spit on me. Another called us the 'Nazi Youth.' These are professors!"
        "It's offensive," she adds, "that we take dollars out of mechanics' pockets and put them into the pockets of, largely, middle-class and upper-middle-class students."
        It is offensive.
        But that's what America does.
        Unfortunately, our next president wants to do even more of it.
        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 Corey Friedman

       If you share a snapshot from the voting booth, elections officials might scour your social media pages and offer you a choice: censorship or a criminal charge.
        That's what happened to T. Greg Doucette, who cast his ballot Oct. 15 during early voting at the N.C. Central University School of Law. North Carolina is among 15 states that ban photos of marked ballots. Nine other states maintain unclear or conflicting statutes, according to Ballotpedia.
        After tweeting pictures of his ballot before and after voting -- a riff on the "How it started vs. how it's going" relationship meme -- Doucette said a state board of elections investigator phoned him.
        A criminal defense attorney who specializes in First Amendment law, Doucette knew a federal judge in New Hampshire had ruled that state's ballot-photography ban unconstitutional in 2015. After hearing from other voters who were warned to delete their publicly posted ballot selfies, he was ready to challenge North Carolina's law on free-speech grounds.
        "A good number of folks are sufficiently intimidated that they take it down -- it chills their speech," Doucette said. "They asked me to take it down. I told them, 'No, I'm leaving it up.'"
        He also emailed the investigator a written confession along with the original photos from his smartphone and then tweeted screen captures of his email for good measure. While Doucette counsels his clients to never talk to the police or consent to a search, he's ready for his day in court.
        Ballot-photo bans are ostensibly designed to prevent voter fraud. People who sell their votes or are coerced into voting a certain way could provide proof with the click of a shutter.
        But voters involved in such schemes would be more likely to send photos privately than plaster them on social media. People tell the world which candidates they support, because they're proud of those choices and want to persuade others.
        "If someone wants to post it exclusively for political expression purposes, that's the type of stuff the First Amendment has always protected," Doucette said. "And it should."
        U.S. District Judge Paul Barbadoro agreed, striking down New Hampshire's ballot-selfie ban in August 2015. In a 42-page opinion, Barbadoro described the law as a solution in search of a problem, noting that state officials hadn't received any voter-bribery complaints in 40 years.
        The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Rideout v. Gardner ruling in September 2016.
        "New Hampshire may not impose such a broad restriction on speech by banning ballot selfies in order to combat an unsubstantiated and hypothetical danger," Circuit Judge Sandra L. Lynch wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel. "We repeat the old adage: 'a picture is worth a thousand words.'"
        Since the Rideout case began making headlines, seven states have repealed laws against ballot photos or adopted new laws permitting voters' voluntary disclosure of their ballots.
        North Carolina's statute prohibits recording the image of a voted ballot "for any purpose not otherwise permitted under law." Doucette says that clause could be interpreted to allow ballot selfies as a form of self-expression while banning bribery. Political advocacy is lawful, after all, and voter fraud isn't.
        The State Board of Elections would pull a muscle patting itself on the back for its leniency, but pressuring voters to purge their ballot photos from Facebook is an Orwellian maneuver that raises the specter of selective enforcement. What determines who's let off with a warning and who's charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor? Can we be confident that political preference is never a factor?
        As of this writing, Doucette hasn't been charged despite helping election officials build their case against him. The state seems more eager to hassle first-time voters about their social media posts than to fight a losing battle in court.
        "Since I posted that tweet and the state board called me, that actually creates, in my mind, enough of a conflict where we can preemptively sue the board to ask for a declaratory judgment," Doucette said.
        He's also offering pro bono representation to North Carolina voters charged under the ballot-selfie ban.
        Voting rights and free speech rights are constitutional cousins. You shouldn't have to sacrifice the latter to exercise the former.
        Corey Friedman is an opinion journalist who explores solutions to political conflicts from an independent perspective. Follow him on Twitter @coreywrites. To find out more about Corey Friedman and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.
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