User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
by John Stossel

        House members summoned Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to Washington, D.C., and grilled him -- harshly -- about his plan to create a new currency, Libra.
        "Why should we trust you?!" asked Congressman Mike Doyle.
        I liked it when Zuckerberg said, "I actually don't know if Libra's going to work, but I believe that it's important to try new things."
        He was right. That's very important.
        The Libra would make it easier to transfer money anywhere in the world. It also promises stability. Its value would be based on a basket of currencies from different countries, which would protect Libra owners from inflation in any one country.
        It's an idea that deserves a try.
        But it may never be tried because the clueless politicians' threats of punitive regulation scared off many of its supporters.
        Politicians want to crack down on Libra "because they're threatened by it," says tech reporter Naomi Brockwell in my new video. "This is going to be competition for the U.S. dollar. Government doesn't like competition."
        Governments also like to control any money that we might use.
        "Want to send money to Russia to a family member; it's going to be censored. You want to send money to a relief effort in Venezuela; it's going to be censored," says Brockwell. But if you use a cryptocurrency like Libra or Bitcoin, "your money will get through. That's an incredibly powerful tool that gives people the freedom to spend their money where they want to spend it."
        Bitcoin is harder to stop than a currency like Libra would be because Bitcoin doesn't emanate from one company or government mint. There's no one owner of Bitcoin or most other cryptocurrencies.
        "It is the first currency that is decentralized," Brockwell points out. "That's why it's still around, because they haven't been able to have these hearings, haven't been able to call the CEO of Bitcoin and say, 'cease and desist!' There is no server to unplug, no company to shut down, no CEO to throw in jail, so it persists! That's really exciting."
        Digital currencies "live" on thousands of individuals' computers, so no government can stop them by pressuring any one company.
        That's a reason they're valuable.
        When Bitcoin started, it was worth virtually nothing. But two years ago, the price of one bitcoin reached $19,891. Then it crashed to $3,192. As I write, the price is $9,390.
        That volatility deters many people from using Bitcoin as money, but to those of us who don't trust governments, Brockwell points out: "It is the only suitable money for free people."
        Of course, many disagree.
        "I think it's a gigantic classic pump and dump scheme," says investor Peter Schiff. "There's nothing to give Bitcoin value."
        It's "a bubble," vulnerable to attacks from governments. "They can get banks and financial institutions to make it very difficult for Americans to use it."
        Schiff doesn't claim we should count on dollar bills because he doesn't trust politicians either. He suggests people buy gold to hedge against politicians' irresponsibility.
        "Gold has worked for thousands of years," says Schiff. Unlike Bitcoin, "gold has actual value. A huge industry needs gold: jewelry ... consumer electronics, aerospace and medicine."
        I've hedged against the dollar by buying both gold and Bitcoin. My Bitcoin investment did better. But Schiff says I'm a fool if I don't sell it now.
        I don't know which way prices will move. But I know that it's good to have alternatives to government-created currencies. The dollar's value is only backed by politicians' promises. I sure won't trust those.
        Even when currency is stable, government can use its power over currency to censor people.
        "The government decided that they didn't want WikiLeaks to receive donations, so they froze transactions," observes Brockwell. But they couldn't stop Bitcoin.
        She says government has had "a monopoly on the money supply for a very long time, and now consumers finally have a choice. You can send bitcoin peer-to-peer to someone on the other side of the world almost instantly at very low cost, and it can't be censored. That's incredibly powerful."
        It is.
        Alternatives to government monopolies are very good things.
        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 2019 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
by Walter E. Williams

    Jews have been awarded 40% of the Nobel Prizes in economics, 30% of those in medicine, 25% in physics, 20% in chemistry, 15% in literature and 10% of the Nobel Peace Prizes. Since the beginning of the 20th century, there have been just over 900 Nobel Prizes awarded. Since Jews are only 2% of the world's population, instead having 22% of Nobel Prizes, 206, they should have won only two, according to the proportionality vision of justice. There's an even greater domestic violation of the proportionality vision. Jews are less than 3% of the U.S. population but 35% of American Nobel Prize winners. Several questions come to mind. Does the disproportionately high number of Jewish winners explain why there are so few black or Hispanic Nobel Prize winners? Who's to blame for ethnic disproportionality among Nobel Prize winners, and what can be done to promote social justice?
    Proportionality injustice doesn't end with the Nobel Prize. Blacks are about 13% of the U.S. population but close to 70% of the players in the National Football League. Blacks are greatly overrepresented among star players and highly paid players. While the disproportionality injustice runs in favor of black players in general, they are all but nonexistent among the league's field goal kickers and punters. Perhaps the only reason why football team owners are not charged with hiring discrimination is that the same people who hire quarterbacks and running backs also hire field goal kickers and punters. Proportionality and diversity injustice is worse in the National Basketball Association, with blacks being over 80% of the players. Plus, it's not uncommon to watch college basketball games and see that 90 to 100% of the starting five players are black.
    Most readers know that I teach economics at George Mason University and have done so for nearly 40 years. However, that doesn't mean the field of economics doesn't have its problems. Many see economics as neither a welcoming nor a supportive profession for women or blacks. Former Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen, in addressing a Brookings Institution audience said: "Within the economics profession, women and minorities are significantly underrepresented. And data compiled by the American Economic Association's Committees on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession and the Status of Minority Groups in the profession show that there has been little or no progress in recent decades. Women today make up only about 30 percent of Ph.D. students. Within academia, their representation drops the higher up one goes in the career ladder. The share of Ph.D.s awarded to African Americans is low; and it has declined slightly in recent decades." Yellen says that diversity i!
n economics is a matter of "basic justice."
    Had I been in the audience, I would have asked Yellen whether there's basic justice in the nursing field, where less than 10% of nurses are men. What about the gross lack of proportionality in incarceration? According to 2015 figures released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the overall U.S. prison and jail population is 90.6% male and 9.4% female. The only way that I see to remedy such a gross disproportionality injustice is to either incarcerate more female prisoners or release male prisoners.
    Back to Janet Yellen: It is pathetic and professionally incompetent that she can ignore decades of research -- some of it by female researchers -- that shoots down the idea that disparities prove discrimination. Moreover, if one carries the notion that disparities prove discrimination far enough, they'd look like true fools. According to a study conducted by Bond University in Australia, sharks are nine times likelier to attack and kill men than they are women. Despite the fact that men are 50% of the population, and so are women, men are struck by lightning six times as often as women. Of those killed by lightning, 82% are men. One can only wonder what social justice warriors would do about these and many other disproportionalities.
    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 2019 CREATORS.COM

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
by Walter E. Williams

        Gun control did not become politically acceptable until the Gun Control Act of 1968 signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The law's primary focus was to regulate commerce in firearms by prohibiting interstate firearms transfers except among licensed manufacturers, dealers and importers. Today's gun control advocates have gone much further, calling for an outright ban of what they call assault rifles such as the AR-15. By the way, AR stands for ArmaLite Rifle, which is manufactured by Colt Manufacturing Co. As for being a military assault weapon, our soldiers would be laughed off the battlefield carrying AR-15s.
        Let's look at some FBI statistics on homicide and then you can decide how many homicides would be prevented by a ban on rifles. The FBI lists murder victims by weapon from 2014 to 2018 in their 2018 report on Crime in the United States. It turns out that slightly over 2% (297) out of a total of 14,123 homicides were committed with rifles. A total of 1,515 or 11% of homicides were committed by knives. Four hundred and forty-three people were murdered with a hammer, club or some other bludgeoning instrument. Six hundred seventy-two people were murdered by a hand, foot or fist. Handguns accounted for the most murders -- 6,603.
        What these statistics point out clearly is that the so-called assault weapons ban and mandatory buyback plan that 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke and others call for, will do little or nothing to bring down homicides. More homicides could be prevented by advocating for knife control, hammer control and feet and fist control.
        Gun controllers' belief that "easy" gun availability is our problem ignores U.S. history. Guns were far more readily available yesteryear. One could mail order a gun from Sears or walk into a hardware store or a pawnshop to make a purchase. With truly easy gun availability throughout our history, there was nowhere near the mayhem and mass murder that we see today. Here's my question to all those who want restrictions placed on gun sales: Were the firearms of yesteryear better behaved than those same firearms are today? That's really a silly question; guns are inanimate objects and have no capacity to act. Our problem is a widespread decline in moral values that has nothing to do with guns. That decline includes disrespect for those in authority, disrespect for oneself, little accountability for anti-social behavior and a scuttling of religious teachings that reinforce moral values.
        Let's examine some elements of this decline.
        If any American who passed away before 1960 were to return to today's America, they would not believe the kind of personal behavior acceptable today. They wouldn't believe that youngsters could get away with cursing at and assaulting teachers. They wouldn't believe that cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis and Baltimore hire hundreds of school police officers and that in some schools, students must go through metal detectors. During my own primary and secondary schooling in Philadelphia, from 1942 to 1954, the only time we saw a policeman in school was during an assembly period where we had to listen to a boring lecture from Officer Friendly on safety. Our ancestors also wouldn't believe that we're now debating whether teachers should be armed.
        Americans who call for stricter and stricter gun control know that getting rid of rifles will do little or nothing for the nation's homicide rate. Their calls for more restrictive gun laws are part of a larger strategy to outlaw gun ownership altogether. You have to wonder what these people have in store for us when they've eliminated our means to defend ourselves.
        Venezuela dictator Nicolas Maduro banned private gun ownership in 2012. The result is that Venezuelans had no way to protect themselves from criminals and government troops who preyed upon them. After Fidel Castro's demand for gun confiscation, he said, "Armas para que?" ("Guns, for what?") Cubans later found out.
        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 2019 CREATORS.COM

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
by John Stossel

    Four years ago, the media were talking about a "Libertarian Moment."
    I had high hopes!
    Sen. Rand Paul ran for president, promising to "take our country back from special interests." But his campaign never took off.
    He "shouldn't even be on the stage," said Donald Trump at a Republican presidential debate.
    Paul quit his presidential campaign after doing poorly in Iowa.
    In my new video, Paul reflects on that, saying, "Either the people aren't ready or perhaps the people in the Republican primary aren't ready."
    But Paul says, "We may be winning the hearts and minds of people who aren't in Washington."
    Really?
    The current deficit is a record $984 billion, and since Trump was elected, federal spending rose half a trillion dollars.
    But Paul says progress has been made, in that Trump has introduced some market competition in health care, cut taxes, cut regulations, appointed better judges and promises to get us out of foreign wars. Paul tweeted that Trump is "the first president to understand what is our national interest."
    "But he hasn't pulled us out of anywhere," I said.
    "Compare it to George W. Bush, who got us involved everywhere," answered Paul. "Or President Obama, who sent 100,000 troops to Afghanistan. The rhetoric of President Trump has been a relief."
    The problem, says Paul, is that, "When the president has said anything about it ... immediately Republican and the Democrat leaders get together and pass a resolution saying it would be precipitous to leave Afghanistan."
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did recently make a speech about "the danger of a precipitous withdrawal."
    "Really?" replies Paul. "After 19 years? Precipitous?"
    America went into Afghanistan to take out the killers behind the Sept. 11 attacks. We succeeded. So why are we still there?
    Paul complains, "Intervention after intervention hasn't had the intended consequence. We've got more chaos."
    In Iraq, America took out Saddam Hussein, but that has left a power vacuum and continued violence.
    In Libya, we helped get rid of Moammar Gadhafi, but Libya's "government" is now run by armed gangs that torture civilians.
    In Syria, we armed rebels to fight Bashar Assad. But many of our weapons ended up in the hands of al-Qaida, and Assad is still in power.
    "Every time we think we're going to get more stability or less terrorism," says Paul, "we end up getting more chaos and more terrorism."
    Recently, Trump moved 50 troops from northern Syria. His action received widespread condemnation from people Paul calls the "war hawk caucus."
    Lindsey Graham said it was "the most screwed-up decision I've seen since I've been in Congress." That's saying something; Graham has been in Congress for 24 years and has seen several screwed-up wars and failed domestic programs.
    But Graham almost always seems to want (SET ITAL)more(END ITAL) war.
    Paul acknowledges that four years ago, he wanted to arm the Kurds who are now in harm's way and give them their own country. In promoting American withdrawal, hasn't he betrayed the Kurds?
    "When I refer to the Kurds having a homeland, they kind of do. They have a section of Iraq," responded Paul, saying he never proposed creating a Kurdish country in Syria. In any case, "Fifty or 2,000 American soldiers are nothing more than a target for bad people to kill."
    I don't know whether Paul is right about Syria, but I'm glad Paul speaks out.
    We need a strong military. But we should use it sparingly, only when we know it benefits our defense.
    If we go to war, Congress must vote to declare that war. That's what the Constitution requires. Congress hasn't done that since 1942. That's wrong. It allows politicians to hide their deadly mistakes.
    "It's a very complicated war over there," says Paul. "They're four or five different countries involved in it. The people who live there know better. We can't know enough about these problems. And unless you want to put 100,000 troops in there and fight Assad, Russia, Turkey ... we ought to rethink whether we should get involved in these wars to begin with."
    In both foreign and domestic policy, government plans usually fail.
    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 2019 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

User Rating: 0 / 5

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive
by Walter E. Williams

        Last week, U.S. Attorney General William Barr told a University of Notre Dame Law School audience that attacks on religious liberty have contributed to a moral decline that's in part manifested by increases in suicides, mental illness and drug addiction. Barr said that our moral decline is not random but "organized destruction." Namely that "Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values."
        The attorney general is absolutely correct. Whether we have the stomach to own up to it or not, we have become an immoral people left with little more than the pretense of morality. The left's attack on religion is just the tiny tip of the iceberg in our nation's moral decline. You say: "That's a pretty heavy charge, Williams. You'd better be prepared to back it up with evidence!" I'll try with a few questions for you to answer.
        Do you believe that it is moral and just for one person to be forcibly used to serve the purposes of another? And, if that person does not peaceably submit to such use, do you believe that there should be the initiation of force against him? Neither question is complex and can be answered by either a yes or no. For me the answer is no to both questions. I bet that nearly every college professor, politician or even minister could not give a simple yes or no response.
        A no answer, translated to public policy, would slash the federal budget by no less than two-thirds to three-quarters. After all most federal spending consist of taking the earnings of one American to give to another American in the form of farm subsidies, business bailouts, aid to higher education, welfare and food stamps. Keep in mind that Congress has no resources of its own. Plus there's no Santa Claus or tooth fairy that gives Congress resources. Thus, the only way that Congress can give one American a dollar is to first, through intimidation and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American.
        Such actions by the U.S. Congress should offend any sense of moral decency. If you're a Christian or a Jew, you should be against the notion of one American living at the expense of some other American. When God gave Moses the Eighth Commandment -- "Thou shalt not steal" -- I am sure that He did not mean thou shalt not steal unless there is a majority vote in the U.S. Congress. By the way, I do not take this position because I don't believe in helping our fellow man. I believe that helping those in need by reaching into one's own pocket to do is praiseworthy and laudable. But helping one's fellow man in need by reaching into somebody else's pockets to do so is worthy of condemnation.
        We must own up to the fact that laws and regulations alone cannot produce a civilized society. Morality is society's first line of defense against uncivilized behavior. Religious teachings, one way of inculcating morality, have been under siege in our country for well over a half a century. In the name of not being judgmental and the vision that one lifestyle or set of values is just as good as another, traditional moral absolutes have been abandoned as guiding principles. We no longer hold people accountable for their behavior and we accept excuses. The moral problems Attorney General William Barr mentioned in his speech, plus murder, mayhem and other forms of anti-social behavior, will continue until we regain our moral footing.
        In 1798, John Adams, a leading Founding Father and our second president said: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." I am all too afraid that a historian, writing a few hundred years from now, will note that the liberty American enjoyed was simply a historical curiosity. Then it all returned to mankind's normal state of affairs -- arbitrary abuse and control by the powerful elite.
        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 2019 CREATORS.COM