User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
by Walter E. Williams

The largest threat to our prosperity is government spending that far exceeds the authority enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Federal spending in 2017 will top $4 trillion. Social Security, at $1 trillion, will take up most of it. Medicare ($582 billion) and Medicaid ($404 billion) are the next-largest expenditures. Other federal social spending includes food stamps, unemployment compensation, child nutrition, child tax credits, supplemental security income and student loans, all of which total roughly $550 billion. Social spending by Congress consumes about two-thirds of the federal budget.

Where do you think Congress gets the resources for such spending? It's not the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. The only way Congress can give one American a dollar is to use threats, intimidation and coercion to confiscate that dollar from another American. Congress forcibly uses one American to serve the purposes of another American. We might ask ourselves: What standard of morality justifies the forcible use of one American to serve the purposes of another American? By the way, the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another is a fairly good working definition of slavery.

Today's Americans have little appreciation for how their values reflect a contempt for those of our Founding Fathers. You ask, "Williams, what do you mean by such a statement?" In 1794, Congress appropriated $15,000 to help French refugees who had fled from insurrection in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution," stood on the floor of the House to object, saying, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article in the federal Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." Most federal spending today is on "objects of benevolence." Madison also said, "Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government."

No doubt some congressmen, academics, hustlers and ignorant people will argue that the general welfare clause of the U.S. Constitution authorizes today's spending. That is simply unadulterated nonsense. Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Congress (has) not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but (is) restrained to those specifically enumerated." Madison wrote that "if Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one." In other words, the general welfare clause authorized Congress to spend money only to carry out the powers and duties specifically enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 and elsewhere in the Constitution, not to meet the infinite needs of the general welfare.

We cannot blame politicians for the spending that places our nation in peril. Politicians are doing precisely what the American people elect them to office to do -- namely, use the power of their office to take the rightful property of other Americans and deliver it to them. It would be political suicide for a president or a congressman to argue as Madison did that Congress has no right to expend "on objects of benevolence" the money of its constituents and that "charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government." It's unreasonable of us to expect any politician to sabotage his career by living up to his oath of office to uphold and defend our Constitution. That means that if we are to save our nation from the economic and social chaos that awaits us, we the people must have a moral reawakening and eschew what is no less than legalized theft, the taking from one American for the benefit of another.

I know that some people will say, "Williams, I agree with most of what you say, but not when it comes to Social Security. Social Security is my money I had taken out of my pay for retirement." If you think that, you've been duped. The only way you get a Social Security check is for Congress to take the earnings of a worker. Explanation of your duping can be found on my website, in a 2010 article I wrote titled "Washington's Lies" (http://tinyurl.com/yd4lh8gg).

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.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
by John Stossel

"How many once-in-a-lifetime storms will it take," demands "The Daily Show" comic Trevor Noah, "until everyone admits man-made climate change is real?!"

His audience roars its approval.

When Hurricane Irma hit, so-called friends admonished me, "Look what your fossil fuels have done! Will you finally admit you are wrong?"

No. It's the alarmists who are wrong -- on so many levels.

First, two big storms don't mean much.

The global warming activists must know that because when Donald Trump joked about a lack of warming on a snowy day, they lectured us about how "weather is not climate -- one snowstorm is irrelevant to long-term climate."

They were right then. But now that bad weather has come, they change their tune.

Time magazine reported confidently, "Climate change makes the hurricane season worse."

But Irma and Harvey came after a record 12 years without any Category 3-5 storms. Over those 12 years, did Time say the absence of storms proved climate change fear exaggerated? No. Of course not.

It seems logical that warmer water may make storms worse, but there's no proof of that.

The government's own National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says neither its models "nor our analyses of trends in Atlantic hurricane and tropical storm counts over the past 120-plus years support the notion that greenhouse gas-induced warming leads to large increases in either tropical storm or overall hurricane numbers."

As Irma approached, The Washington Post ran an even dumber headline: "Irma and Harvey Should Kill Any Doubt That Climate Change Is Real."

That's phrased to make any skeptic look ridiculous.

Of course climate change is real! Climate changes -- it always has and always will. For the past 300 years, since "the little ice age," the globe warmed about three degrees. The warming started well before man emitted much carbon.

So the real unanswered questions are:
    1. Will climate change become a crisis? (We face immediate crises now: poverty, terrorism, a $20 trillion debt, rebuilding after the hurricanes)
    2. Is there anything we can do about it? (No. Not now; the science isn't there yet.)
    3. Did man's burning fossil fuels increase the warming? (Probably. But we don't know how much.)

I resent how the alarmists mix these questions, pretending all the science is settled. Notice how Trevor Noah, above, tossed out the words "man-made," as if all climate change is man-made?

OK, he's just a comic, but New York Times writers constantly yammer about "human-caused" and "man-made" climate change, too.

Politicians (and ex-politicians like Al Gore) are eager to exploit our fears by calling for more spending and regulation in the name of fighting deadly but preventable climate change -- as if feeble efforts like the Paris climate accord would have made the tiniest difference. They wouldn't. It's all for show.

A video I made about this seems to have struck a chord. It got more than a million views over the weekend.

Some people reacted with anger online: "the scientific community suggest that humans are contributing to the warming of the planet. Isn't (it) at least a little reckless to put a finger in each ear and say 'Nuh uh! LALALALALALALALALA!'"

That would be reckless. But no one advocates that. We already spend a fortune on subsidies, mandates and climate research. The real questions are outlined above.

A calmer commenter wrote, "Don't forget the hurricanes of the past. 1926 Miami, 1935 Keys, 1947 West Palm Beach, Donna 1961. People act like hurricanes like these have never happened."

Right. And he left out Galveston's hurricane in 1900, which killed as many as 12,000 people.

One commenter added, "It's called El Nino and La Nina. We will be entering El Nino again (and) so seeing storms actually form. It shifts back and forth every 7-10 years or so. Do schools not teach these things?"

Climate fluctuates, and humans don't have too much to say about it.

Maybe someday humans will be gone. The storms will continue. But at least there'll be less hot air.

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.
COPYRIGHT 2017 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

User Rating: 5 / 5

Star ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar ActiveStar Active
by Walter E. Williams

Many blacks and their white liberal allies demand the removal of statues of Confederate generals and the Confederate battle flag, and they are working up steam to destroy the images of Gens. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee and President Jefferson Davis from Stone Mountain in Georgia. Allow me to speculate as to the whys of this statue removal craze, which we might call statucide.

To understand it, we need a review of the promises black and white liberals have been making for decades. In 1940, the black poverty rate was 87 percent. By 1960, it had fallen to 47 percent. During that interval, blacks were politically impotent. There were no anti-poverty programs or affirmative action programs. Nonetheless, this poverty reduction exceeded that in any other 20-year interval. But the black leadership argued that more was necessary. They said that broad advancement could not be made unless blacks gained political power.

Fifty years ago, there were fewer than 1,000 black elected officials nationwide. According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, by 2011 there were roughly 10,500 black elected officials, not to mention a black president. But what were the fruits of greater political power? The greatest black poverty, poorest education, highest crime rates and greatest family instability are in cities such as Detroit, St. Louis, Oakland, Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Buffalo. The most common characteristic of these predominantly black cities is that for decades, all of them have been run by Democratic and presumably liberal politicians. Plus, in most cases, blacks have been mayors, chiefs of police, school superintendents and principals and have dominated city councils.

During the 1960s, black and white liberals called for more money to be spent on anti-poverty programs. Since the Lyndon Johnson administration's War on Poverty programs, U.S. taxpayers have forked over $22 trillion for anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, that's three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Despite that spending, the socio-economic condition for many blacks has worsened. In 1940, 86 percent of black children were born inside marriage, and the black illegitimacy rate was about 15 percent. Today, only 35 percent of black children are born inside marriage, and the illegitimacy rate hovers around 75 percent.

The visions of black civil rights leaders and their white liberal allies didn't quite pan out. Greater political power and massive anti-poverty spending produced little. The failure of political power and the failure of massive welfare spending to produce nirvana led to the expectation that if only there were a black president, everything would become better for blacks. I cannot think of a single black socio-economic statistic that improved during the two terms of the Barack Obama administration. Some have become tragically worse, such as the black homicide victimization rate. For example, on average in Chicago, one person is shot every two hours, 15 minutes, and a person is murdered every 12 1/2 hours.

So more political power hasn't worked. Massive poverty spending hasn't worked. Electing a black president hasn't worked. What should black leaders and their white liberal allies now turn their attention to in order to improve the socio-economic condition for blacks? It appears to be nearly unanimous that attention should be turned to the removal of Confederate statues. It's not only Confederate statue removal but Confederate names of schools and streets. Even the Council on American-Islamic Relations agrees. It just passed a resolution calling for the removal of all Confederate memorials, flags, street names and symbols from public spaces and property.

By the way, does the statue of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman qualify for removal? He once explained his reluctance to enlist former slaves, writing, "I am honest in my belief that it is not fair to our men to count negroes as equals ... (but) is not a negro as good as a white man to stop a bullet?" It's difficult to determine where this purging of the nation's history should end.

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.

COPYRIGHT 2017 CREATORS.COM

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
by John Stossel

I just got new glasses -- without going to an optometrist. 

It's another innovation made possible by the internet. 

Going to an optometrist can be a pain. You have to leave work, get to an optometrist's office, sit in a waiting room and then pay an average of $95 (in my town). But I got a prescription for just $50 -- without leaving my computer. 

This is possible thanks to a company called Opternative ("optometry alternative"). The company claims its online test is just as good as an in-person eye exam. 

I was skeptical. It's over the internet! How can a computer replicate what optometrists do in their offices with impressive-looking machines? 

"This is the beauty of technology," answered Dick Carpenter, director of strategic research for the libertarian law firm the Institute for Justice. 

Carpenter researched Opternative's test and concludes that it is just as good as an in-person exam. "Sometimes better, some research has indicated." 

Here's how it works: First, you answer some medical questions. 

Then, while holding your cellphone, you follow prompts on the phone while looking at your computer screen, selecting which lines look sharper, or which numbers you see. 

One day later, they send you a prescription. Mine exactly matched the prescription I got from my ophthalmologist, a medical doctor who charges much more. 

Fast, cheap, and easy.  

So naturally, optometrists want this alternative banned. "This is really foolhardy and really dangerous," said former American Optometric Association president Andrea Thau on "Good Morning America." 

She wouldn't do an interview with me. Nor would anyone else from her Association -- despite our sending them emails for a month. 

I assume they knew I'd mock them for trying to ban the competition. Which they are trying to do. They wrote the FDA that the at-home test "should be taken off the market." 

What they're really saying is that patients should not have the right to make any choices in their own vision care. 

The optometrists are bottleneckers. "Bottleneckers: Gaming the Government for Power and Private Profit" is the title of Dick Carpenter's new book. He studies how established professionals use government to limit competition. 

Cosmetologists get laws passed that force hair-braiders to spend $5,000 on useless courses and tests. Restaurants limit food trucks. Established florists ban newcomers.     Optometrists want to ban Opternative's test.

Bottleneckers like them have clout in legislatures because their lobbyists give politicians money. They persuaded 13 states to draft bills that would ban at-home tests. 

In South Carolina, then-Governor Nikki Haley vetoed the ban, correctly calling it anti-competitive. But the legislators were beholden to the optometrists' lobby; they overrode her veto. 

The optometrists say that a home test is too risky because no doctor is there to look for diseases. I confronted Opternative's spokesman about that. He said the test's questionnaire filters out sick people by asking questions like: "Any health conditions? ... pregnancy, nursing, diabetes ... Any medication that affects your vision? ... Sertraline, Amitriptyline...?" 

Obviously, a questionnaire is not as good as a doctor. But it does screen out some people. Opternative rejected me the first time I tried. I then lied about my age to test their service. 

I don't recommend lying on medical forms. But a cheap internet prescription is not much of a threat to public health. Barbers claim an unlicensed barber might give you a bad haircut or cut you. 

Florists say an unlicensed flower arranger might spoil your wedding. 

The optometrists at least have a better argument: The at-home eye test might miss a disease. 

But I say we consumers should get to choose what risks we take. 

I choose to go to an ophthalmologist because I can afford it, and at my age, I want a glaucoma test. 

But many young people don't want to spend that money. And many people just don't have time. That's probably why lots of Americans never go to any eye doctor, ever. Opternative at least gives them an alternative -- a way to get a prescription without going to a doctor. 

It's good to have a choice. 

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. COPYRIGHT 2017 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

 

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
by John Stossel

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is upset about "price gouging" during hurricane Harvey. Some stores raised prices to $99 for a case of bottled water -- $5 for a gallon of gas. "These are things you can't do in Texas," he says. "There are significant penalties if you price gouge in a crisis like this."

There sure are: $20,000 per "gouge" -- $200,000 if the "victim" is a senior citizen.

Texas, a state that I thought understood capitalism, punishes people who practice it.

Prices should rise during emergencies. Price changes save lives. That's because prices aren't just money -- they are information.

Price changes tell suppliers what their customers want most, maybe chainsaws more than blankets, water more than flashlights.
 
"Quit your witch hunt," economist Don Boudreaux wrote Paxton. "Government intervention is often justified as a means of correcting 'market failure.' But by enforcing prohibitions on 'price gouging' your office causes market failure."

Boudreaux is right.

Suppose a disaster devastates your town, and your local store is not allowed to raise the price of bottled water. People rush to buy all the water they can get. The store sells out. Only the first customers get what they need.

The storeowner has no incentive to risk life and limb restocking his store. He wants to get to safety, too. So he closes his store.

But if the owner can charge $99 for a case of water, you will buy less water, and other customers get what they need. More importantly, entrepreneurs have an incentive to move heaven and earth to bring water to the disaster area. They soon do, and the price drops again.

That's economics -- supply and demand. It works pretty well.

Politicians often try to outlaw that. When Uber appeared and used "surge pricing" during busy times, my dumb mayor tried to ban Uber. The ban didn't stick, fortunately. Seeing people pay higher prices inspires more Uber drivers to leave home to offer people rides, and it causes customers to try other alternatives at busy times. When prices float, there are no shortages.

Since Texas' attorney general doesn't seem to understand that, Boudreaux tries to educate him: