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by Walter E. Williams

       It's nearly impossible to have even a short conversation with a college administrator, politician or chief executive without the words diversity and inclusion dropping from their lips. Diversity and inclusion appear to be the end-all and be-all of their existence. So, I thought I'd begin this discussion by first looking up the definition of diversity.
        According to the Oxford Dictionary, diversity is "the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc." The definition gratuitously adds, "equality and diversity should be supported for their own sake." The standard definition given for inclusion is involvement and empowerment where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized.
        Here's my question to those who are wedded to diversity and inclusion: Are people better off the less they have in common with one another? For example, women are less likely to be able to march 12.4 miles in five hours with an 83-pound assault load. They are also less likely to be able to crawl, sprint, negotiate obstacles and move a wounded comrade weighing 165 pounds while carrying that load. Would anyone argue that a military outfit would benefit from diversity by including soldiers who can and those who cannot march 12 miles in five hours while carrying an 83-pound load?
        You say, "Williams, the military is an exception!" What about language? The International Civil Aviation Organization has decreed that all air traffic controllers and flight crew members engaged in or in contact with international flights must be proficient in the English language as a general spoken medium. According to UNESCO, there are about 7,000 languages in the world. The International Civil Aviation Organization could promote language inclusiveness by requiring language rotation. Some years, Cebuano (of the Malayo-Polynesian language family) and in other years Kinyarwanda (of the Niger-Congo language family) could be the language of pilots and air traffic controllers. Keep in mind that it is claimed that the great benefit of diversity and inclusiveness is that it promotes and fosters a sense of belonging. It values and practices respect for the differences in the talents, beliefs, backgrounds and ways of living of its members.
        Another issue is what should be done when people who should know better praise nondiversity and noninclusiveness? Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse L. Jackson said, "I applaud commissioner Adam Silver's commitment to diversity and inclusion within the NBA." During the 2018-2019 season, more than 33% of NBA teams had head coaches of color. The number of assistant head coaches of color was over 42%. The number of black NBA players was 82%. In the face of these statistics, Oris Stuart, the NBA's chief diversity and inclusion officer said, "Diversity, inclusion and equality are central to every aspect of our game and our business." I would like for Jesse Jackson and others who claim that there's racial diversity and inclusiveness in professional basketball to make their case. The same question can be asked about professional football where 70% of NFL players are black, and 9% of team head coaches are black. The thornier question and challenge is what can be done to make profession!
 al basketball and football look more like the American population?
        Most of the diversity and inclusiveness insanity has its roots in academia. An example is a paper titled "Equilibrium Grade Inflation with Implications for Female Interest in STEM Majors," written by Naval Postgraduate School professor Thomas Ahn, Duke University economics professor Peter Arcidiacono, Duke University researcher Amy Hopson, and James R. Thomas of the Federal Trade Commission. The authors argue that science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs at colleges and universities lacking female enrollment can be attributed largely to harsh grading policies in these fields. Their solution to increase the number of women's involvement in STEM is to standardize grading curves, in order to grade less "harshly." The insanity of this approach is to not only weaken standards for women but to weaken standards across the board. This is more evidence that George Orwell was absolutely right when he said, "There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual cou!
 ld believe them."
        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

        Reporters complain about business. We overlook the constant improvements in our lives made possible by greedy businesses competing for your money. Think about how our access to entertainment has improved.
        "When I was a kid," says Sean Malone in a new video for the Foundation for Economic Education, "my TV broadcast options were PBS, Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS. Depending on the weather, it was hit or miss whether or not they were even watchable."
        1977 brought the first video rental store. "We literally had to rent a VCR along with two or three movies we could get on VHS from Blockbuster," Malone reminds us, pointing out how much changed. "Now just about anything I've ever wanted to watch is available at the click of a button."
        Here's a short version I released this week of the FEE video. It wasn't government or big movie studios that made the amazing array of new options available. They dragged their feet. Malone points out that "the astounding wealth of home entertainment options we have today are the result of entrepreneurial start-ups, like Blockbuster."
        Blockbuster letting people watch movies whenever we wanted was a big improvement. But people are ingrates about the things capitalism makes possible. In the 1990s, people complained that Blockbuster's chokehold on video entertainment was so strong that the company would be able to censor anything it didn't like.
        Special sanitized versions of movies were distributed through Blockbuster. How would we ever get to see the movies as they were originally intended? Clearly, Blockbuster was a monopoly. Government should regulate "Big Videotape" and break up the Blockbuster monopoly!
        Government didn't. Yet Blockbuster is now bankrupt. Its competitors offered so many better things.
        That's something to think about now when people call Facebook and Google monopolies. A few years ago, people claimed Netflix had a monopoly.
        But without government suppressing competition, Netflix had no way to maintain its temporary hold on the streaming market. Other companies caught up fast. Customers decide which businesses succeed and which ones fail.
        This is why centrally planning an economy doesn't work. "Politicians and bureaucrats don't know what people are going to value," explains Malone. "They pick winners and losers based on what they want or what they think is going to earn them the most important allies."
        Blockbuster's demise began when it charged a man named Reed Hastings $40 in late fees. That annoyed him so much, he started a subscription-based, mail-order movie rental company he called Netflix.
        Then, Netflix made movies available online.
        Now we have instant access to more entertainment than ever through Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc., all for a fraction of the cost of the original Netflix.
        Still, we complain. That's how it is with capitalism, and it's a wonderful thing. While we complain, entrepreneurs like Hastings invent faster, easier ways to get us what we want. Many offer us options we never knew we wanted, putting old giants out of business.
        There is an economics lesson in that. When entrepreneurs face competition, they often lose, but the fights make life better for us consumers.
        This process of old things being replaced by new and better ones was dubbed "creative destruction" by economist Joseph Schumpeter. We see creative destruction in every industry.
        The first flip phone cost $1,000 and couldn't do the things we expect phones to do today. Competition drove further innovation. We got the Blackberry, and then the iPhone.
        What amazing things will businesses come up with next?
        Malone's video points out that the best way to find out is to keep government and central planning out of the mix.
        Once government wades in with regulations, it tends to freeze the current model in place, assuming it's the best way to do things.
        But the best way to do things is one that we haven't even thought of yet, produced by the endless creative process called competition.
        John Stossel is the 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

    Criminal activity imposes huge costs on black residents in low-income neighborhoods of cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, St. Louis, Philadelphia and many others. Thousands of black Americans were murdered in 2019. Over 90% of the time, the perpetrator was also black. Leftists and social justice warriors charge that what blacks have to fear most is being shot and killed by police, but the numbers don't add up. For several years, The Washington Post has been documenting police shootings in America. Last year, 933 people were shot and killed by police. Twenty-three percent (212) of people shot and killed were black; 35% (331) were white; 16% (155) were Hispanic and 201 were of other or unknown races. The high homicide rate within the black community doesn't begin to tell the full tragedy.
    Crime imposes a hefty tax on people who can least afford it. They are the law-abiding residents of black neighborhoods. Residents must bear the time cost and other costs of having to shop outside of their neighborhoods. Supermarkets that are abundant in low-crime neighborhoods are absent or scarce in high-crime, low-income neighborhoods. Because of the paucity of supermarkets and other big-box stores in these neighborhoods, some "experts" and academicians have labeled them as "food deserts." That's the ridiculous suggestion that white supermarket merchants and big-box store owners don't like green dollars coming out of black hands. The true villains of the piece are the criminals who make some businesses unprofitable. By the way, these are equal opportunity criminals. They will victimize a black-owned business just as they would victimize a white-owned business. The high crime rates in many black neighborhoods have the effect of outlawing economic growth and opportunities.
    In low-crime neighborhoods, FedEx, UPS and other delivery companies routinely leave packages containing valuable merchandise on a doorstep if no one is home. That saves the expense of redelivery and saves recipients the expense of having to go pick up the packages. In high-crime neighborhoods, delivery companies leaving packages at the door or supermarkets leaving goods outside unattended would be equivalent to economic suicide. Fearing robberies, taxi drivers, including black drivers, often refuse to accept telephone calls for home pickups and frequently pass prospective black customers who hail them on the street. Plus, there's the insult associated with not being able to receive pizzas or other deliveries on the same terms as people in other neighborhoods.
    Another often-overlooked impact of crime is lower property values. Homes that wouldn't fetch $10,000, $20,000 or $40,000 suddenly fetch hundreds of thousands when large numbers of middle- and upper-income people purchase formerly run-down properties and fix them up. This is called gentrification, where wealthier, predominantly white, people bid higher rental prices thus forcing out low-income residents. As a result of gentrification, there is greater police protection and other neighborhood amenities increase.
    Many make the erroneous assumption that black people don't care about crime. But black people strongly disapprove of the day-to-day violence that's all too common in their communities. What compounds that problem is a deep mistrust of police in poor black neighborhoods. This distrust, along with fear of reprisals by black criminals, causes an atmosphere of noncooperation with the police. It creates the "stop snitching" principle. This principle of snitches being worse than criminals themselves only exacerbates the crime problem in black communities by giving aid and comfort to the true enemies of the community -- those who prey on the community and have little fear of being brought to justice. In some cities, less than 10% of murderers are ever charged.
    For decades, the problems of blacks could be laid at the feet of racial discrimination. Our ancestors started a civil rights struggle and won. Today, the most devastating problems of blacks are entirely self-inflicted such as high illegitimacy, family breakdown and unsafe communities. These problems have little to do with civil rights. But as long as blacks buy into the notion that white racism is the source of their problems, the solutions will be elusive forever.
    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

    People who want to work should be allowed to work. That includes people who once went to jail.
    With President Donald Trump's support, Congress spends your money giving ex-cons "employment assistance."
    Why bother? State laws often make such employment impossible.
    Courtney Haveman had an alcohol problem. When she was 19, she got a DUI. Then she took a swing at a security guard. "I made dumb decisions," she admits in my new video. "Served three days in jail."
    Eight years later, and now sober, Courtney enrolled in beauty school. Such schools invite applicants to "turn your interest in beauty into a rewarding career."
    The schools do provide good careers -- to owners of cosmetology schools. In Pennsylvania, where Courtney applied, they typically charge $6,000 tuition and require 1,000 hours of courses.
    All that training is required by the state to work.
    Courtney had worked in a salon and wanted to do more.  Unfortunately, "doing more" requires not just serving customers well, but getting permission from bureaucrats.
    Byzantine state laws demand you get a state-approved license before you may become a hairdresser, tour guide, travel agent, house painter and all sorts of other jobs where customer happiness should be the guide.
    So after taking hundreds of hours of cosmetology courses, Courtney paid more to apply for a Pennsylvania cosmetology license.
    Pennsylvania then told her she couldn't do cosmetology there because she has a criminal record.
    The bureaucrats said she could appeal. She could prove she has good moral character.
    "I sent letters, and people in my 12-step program wrote letters on my behalf, character letters," she says.
    The result?
    "They sent me a rejection letter that said, 'Sorry. You lack the good moral character requirement'," says Courtney. "One time in my life that I felt like a productive member of society, I was proud of myself... people were proud of me, and then it was just like, you're not good enough still."
    This is wrong.
    Courtney did her time -- all three days of it. She should be allowed the "second chance" that politicians keep promising former prisoners. Her arrest was eight years ago. She then got sober. Now she sponsors other women in AA. She has a toddler to support.
    But Pennsylvania says, to protect "public health and safety," she may not practice cosmetology.
    The rule doesn't "protect" anyone. Barbers don't have to prove they have "good moral character."
    Courtney is allowed to work as an "assistant."
    "I'm allowed to touch clients, just not allowed to do what I went to school to do!" says Courtney.
    She shampoos customers' hair and has intimate contact with them. She's just not allowed to do facials, makeup, waxing -- the work she trained for. "Our government makes it extremely difficult for people like me," she says.
    "People can't just be kicked out of society," says Institute for Justice lawyer Andrew Ward. He took Courtney's case for free because he believes that the cosmetology law is unconstitutional. "Everyone has a right... to pursue their own happiness... a right to engage in any of the common occupations of life."
    Who benefits from restrictive licensing laws?
    "It's certainly convenient," says Ward, "that established players have a law that gets to keep new people, that would compete with them, out."
    Right. Cosmetology boards are dominated by people who run beauty schools. They benefit by making it hard for newcomers to compete for customers by offering better service.
    The established schools and salons lobby legislators, demanding stringent "safety" requirements. It's "accidental" that they limit competition.
    Courtney says, "Years of my life have been wasted." She paid to train for a job she is not allowed to do.
    State licensing rules like Pennsylvania's cosmetology rule don't protect public health. They don't help customers.
    They crush the little guy and limit competition.
    Get rid of them.
    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 John Stossel

        Congressional hearings were created to educate lawmakers so they have knowledge before they pass bills or impeach a president.
        Not today. Today, hardly any education happens.
        During the President Trump impeachment "testimony," legislators tried to score points. At least five times, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., shut down criticism by shouting, "Gentleman is not recognized!"
        I get that politicians are eager for "face time" in front of a larger audience, but I assumed they would at least try to learn things. Nope.
        Maybe they don't want to ask real questions because they fear looking as dumb as then-Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, did at a hearing on Facebook. He asked Mark Zuckerberg, "How do you sustain a business model in which users don't pay for your service?"
        "We run ads," smirked Zuckerberg. "I see," said Hatch.
        What's obvious to most people somehow eludes the oblivious "experts" in Congress.
        At another Facebook hearing, Congress grilled Zuckerberg about his plan to launch an electronic currency called Libra. Zuckerberg said, "I actually don't know if Libra is going to work, but I believe it's important to try new things."
        He was right. But instead of asking about technological or economic implications of the idea, Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, asked Zuckerberg, of the companies partnering with him, "how many are headed by women?"
        "Congressman, I do not know the answer," replied Zuckerberg.
        "How many of them are minorities?" asked Green. "Are there any members of the LGBTQ+ community?"
        Green doesn't want to learn anything. He wants to sneer and score points.
        Politicians' sloppy ignorance is extraordinary. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, grilled Google CEO Sundar Pichai about iPhones, citing a story about his granddaughter using one, leading Pichai to explain, "Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company."
        Today's posturing is not what the founders had in mind when they invented hearings in 1789.
        George Mason said members of Congress "possess inquisitorial powers" to "inspect the Conduct of public offices."
        Yes! Investigate government.
        But today, they are more likely to threaten CEOs and bully opponents.
        "Are you stupid?" then-Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said to one witness. They want to showboat, not learn. Often, they ask questions even when they know the answers.
        "Ms. DeVos, have you ever taken out a student loan?" asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. "Have any of your children had to borrow money?"
        Warren knows that DeVos is a billionaire, but she wanted to score points with her fans.
        One of the louder showboaters today is self-proclaimed socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. She asked Wells Fargo boss Tim Sloan, "Why was the bank involved in the caging of children?"
        "We weren't," replied Sloan.
        Some of today's hearings are useful in that we get to see how absurd and ignorant our representatives can be.
        During a hearing on military personnel being stationed on the island of Guam, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, said, "My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it would tip over and capsize." Really. He said that.
        Then there was the time Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., chair of the House Financial Services Committee, summoned bank CEOs to Washington and demanded, "What are you guys doing to help us with this student loan debt?!"
        "We stopped making student loans in 2007," Bank of America's Brian Moynihan told her.
        "We actually ended student lending in 2009," added Citigroup's Michael Corbat.
        "When the government took over student lending in 2010 ... we stopped doing all student lending," explained Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase.
        The Chair of the Financial Services Committee didn't even know that her own party kicked bankers out of the student loan business, insisting that government take over?! Apparently not. She is so eager to blame business for government's mistakes that she didn't research her own topic.
        The more I watch politicians, the more I hate them.
        Let's give them less power.
        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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