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by Walter E. Williams

    Here's a suggestion. How about setting up some high school rifle clubs? Students would bring their own rifles to school, store them with the team coach and, after classes, collect them for practice. You say: "Williams, you must be crazy! To prevent gun violence, we must do all we can to keep guns out of the hands of kids."

    There's a problem with this reasoning. Prior to the 1960s, many public high schools had shooting clubs. In New York City, shooting clubs were started at Boys, Curtis, Commercial, Manual Training and Stuyvesant high schools. Students carried their rifles to school on the subway and turned them over to their homeroom or gym teacher. Rifles were retrieved after school for target practice. In some rural areas across the nation, there was a long tradition of high school students hunting before classes and storing their rifles in the trunks of their cars, parked on school grounds, during the school day.

    Today, any school principal permitting rifles clubs or allowing rifles on school grounds would be fired, possibly imprisoned. Here's my question: Have .30-30 caliber Winchesters and .22 caliber rifles changed to become more violent? If indeed rifles have become more violent, what can be done to pacify them? Will rifle psychiatric counseling help to stop these weapons from committing gun violence? You say: "Williams, that's lunacy! Guns are inanimate objects and as such cannot act." You're right. Only people can act. That means that we ought to abandon the phrase "gun violence" because guns cannot act and hence cannot be violent.

    If guns haven't changed, it must be that people, and what's considered acceptable behavior, have changed. Violence with guns is just a tiny example. What explains a lot of what we see today is growing cultural deviancy. Twenty-nine percent of white children, 53% of Hispanic children and 73% of black children are born to unmarried women. The absence of a husband and father in the home is a strong contributing factor to poverty, school failure, crime, drug abuse, emotional disturbance and a host of other social problems. By the way, the low marriage rate among blacks is relatively new. Census data shows that a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults from 1890 to 1940. According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year only 11% of black children and 3% of white children were born to unwed mothers.

    In 1954, I graduated from Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin High School, the city's poorest school. During those days, there were no school policemen. Today, close to 400 police patrol Philadelphia schools. According to federal education data, in the 2015-16 school year, 5.8% of the nation's 3.8 million teachers were physically attacked by a student. Almost 10% were threatened with injury.

    Other forms of cultural deviancy are found in the music accepted today that advocates murder, rape and other vile acts. In previous generations, people were held responsible for their behavior. Today, society at large pays for irresponsible behavior. Years ago, there was little tolerance for the crude behavior and language that are accepted today. To see men sitting while a woman was standing on a public conveyance was once unthinkable. Children addressing adults by their first name, and their use of foul language in the presence of, and often to, teachers and other adults was unacceptable.

    A society's first line of defense is not the law or the criminal justice system but customs, traditions and moral values. These behavioral norms, mostly imparted by example, word-of-mouth and religious teachings, represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error. Police and laws can never replace these restraints on personal conduct. At best, the police and criminal justice system are the last desperate line of defense for a civilized society. Today's true tragedy is that most people think what we see today has always been so. As such, today's Americans accept behavior that our parents and grandparents never would have accepted.

    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 Walter E. Willaims

   The First Amendment to our Constitution was proposed by the 1788 Virginia ratification convention during its narrow 89 to 79 vote to ratify the Constitution. Virginia's resolution held that the free exercise of religion, right to assembly and free speech could not be canceled, abridged or restrained. These Madisonian principles were eventually ratified by the states on March 1, 1792.
    Gettysburg College professor Allen C. Guelzo, in his article "Free Speech and Its Present Crisis," appearing in the autumn 2018 edition of City Journal, explores the trials and tribulations associated with the First Amendment. The early attempts to suppress free speech were signed into law by President John Adams and became known as the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Later attempts to suppress free speech came during the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln and his generals attacked newspapers and suspended habeas corpus. It wasn't until 1919, in the case of Abrams v. United States, when the U.S. Supreme Court finally and unambiguously prohibited any kind of censorship.
    Today, there is growing contempt for free speech, most of which is found on the nation's college and university campuses. Guelzo cites the free speech vision of Princeton University professor Carolyn Rouse, who is chairperson of the department of Anthropology. Rouse shared her vision on speech during last year's Constitution Day lecture. She called free speech a political illusion, a baseless ruse to enable people to "say whatever they want, in any context, with no social, economic, legal or political repercussions." As an example, she says that a climate change skeptic has no right to make "claims about climate change, as if all the science discovered over the last X-number of centuries were irrelevant."
    Rouse is by no means unique in her contempt for our First Amendment rights. Faculty leaders of the University of California consider certain statements racist microagressions: "America is a melting pot"; "America is the land of opportunity"; "Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough"; and "There is only one race, the human race." The latter statement is seen as denying the individual as a racial/cultural being. Then there's "I believe the most qualified person should get the job." That's "racist" speech because it gives the impression that "people of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race." Other seemingly innocuous statements deemed unacceptable are: "When I look at you, I don't see color," or "Affirmative action is racist." Perhaps worst of all is, "Where are you from, or where were you born?"
    We should reject any restriction on free speech. We might ask ourselves, "What's the true test of one's commitment to free speech?" It does not come when people permit others to say or publish ideas with which they agree. The true test of one's commitment to free speech comes when others are permitted to say and publish ideas they deem offensive.
    The test for one's commitment to freedom of association is similar. Christian Americans have been hounded for their refusal to cater same-sex weddings. For those who support such attacks, we might ask them whether they would seek prosecution of the owner of a Jewish delicatessen who refused to provide services for a neo-Nazi affair. Should a black catering company be forced to cater a Ku Klux Klan affair? Should the NAACP be forced to open its membership to racist skinheads? Should the Congressional Black Caucus be forced to open its membership to white members of Congress? The true test of a person's commitment to freedom of association does not come when he permits people to associate in ways he finds acceptable. It comes when he permits people to voluntarily associate in ways he deems offensive.
    I am afraid that too many of my fellow Americans are hostile to the principles of liberty. Most people want liberty for themselves. I differ. I want liberty for me and liberty for my fellow man.
    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

    The city of Dunedin, Florida, wants Jim Ficken's home.
    Ficken's mom died, so he went to South Carolina to take care of her estate. He asked a friend to look after his house.
    But then the friend died, and no one cut Ficken's grass. When it grew to 10 inches, Dunedin officials started fining him $500 a day.
    The fine is now about $30,000.
    "I was shocked," Ficken says in my latest video. City officials say they will foreclose on his home if he doesn't pay the fine, and Ficken doesn't have that much money.
    "Do you have $30,000 lying around?!" he asked me.
    "The city has gone nuclear!" complains his lawyer, Ari Bargil. "$500 per day for the violation of having tall grass. ... They could have done what their own ordinances permit them to do: hire a lawn service to come out and mow the grass. Then send Jim a bill for 150 bucks. But they didn't do that."
    Why not? Bargil and Ficken say it's because Dunedin's officials just want money.
    Dunedin's politicians wouldn't talk to us. Instead, they spent $25,000 on a public relations firm that told reporters, "Dunedin has no desire to impose large fines... (only to) ensure that Dunedin is a high-quality community."
    The cost of "high quality" keeps going up.
    Eleven years ago, Dunedin fined people $34,000. Today, they want about that much from Ficken alone. Last year Dunedin collected $1.3 million in fines from residents.
    "It's pretty apparent that code enforcement is a major cash cow for the city," says Bargil.
    "I got violated for a lawn mower in my yard!" says one resident who has been fined $32,000. "They violated me for a hole the size of a quarter in my stucco ... They find people they can pick on ... and they keep picking on them."
    She started crying as she recounted: "I can't tell you how many sleepless nights I've had because of the city of Dunedin. Just try to think of what to say to them, just to have them leave me alone."
    "The city is just a bunch of bullies, and they expect people not to stand up to 'em because to stand up to 'em requires expensive legal help," says Ficken.
    Ficken managed to get expensive legal help for free from the Institute for Justice, a law firm that defends individuals abused by governments.
    All across the country, "private citizens are being essentially extorted by their governments and fined incredible amounts of money for really, really small violations," says Bargil.
    You can be fined for not trimming plants, the way Ficken was, but you can also be fined for trimming too much. A city in North Carolina fined a local church $100 per branch ($4,000) for excessive tree-pruning.
    And in places such as Dunedin, if you can't pay a fine, they'll take your home.
    "The city attorney of Dunedin last year sought permission to foreclose on 18 properties," says Bargil.
    That violates the Eighth Amendment, says the Institute for Justice. The Amendment not only protects us from "cruel and unusual punishment" but also from "excessive fines."
    The Founding Fathers, says Bargil, "recognized that the ability to fine is the ability to cripple. It's one of the ways, other than incarceration, that government can really oppress."
    If governments can oppress, they usually will.
    We should be grateful for the Eighth Amendment's protection against excessive fines.
    And what's more excessive than politicians taking your home because you didn't cut your grass?
    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 Taylor Kovar, KovarCapital.com
Hi Taylor - I’m a 20 year old college student looking to save via investing. I’m trying to think long term and wondering what’s the best way to save/invest $100 each month. - Rose


Hey Rose -  Glad to hear you’re getting an early jump on investing. At 20 years old, $100/month will really start to add up as the years go by.

There are a lot of good ways to invest your money, so you need to think about what will be personally fulfilling while still getting the job done. When I say personally fulfilling, I mean what types of investments will keep you interested so you don’t get impatient and move your money or do something foolish. Some people love watching the stock market jump around, and they have no problem buying a bunch of shares and never get the itch to sell and buy something else. Other people need to see what their money is doing, and shares of companies don’t quite accomplish that.

If you are someone who likes the idea of buying stocks, earning dividends, and trusting that the market will continue to climb, I’d save that $100 for about a year and then make one big purchase of stock in a company you like. That might mean you buy something that’s $80 per share or something that’s around $5 per share, as long as it’s a company with a proven track record and a product you appreciate.

If that doesn’t float your boat, you can look into something like peer-to-peer lending, where you help sponsor personal and business loans and then get reimbursed along with interest. This makes the lending process a little more real and can produce pretty solid returns. You also don’t need a huge amount of money to get started because you’re part of a crowdsourcing effort.

As you look at investing options, keep service fees in mind. Ideally, you want to invest enough that you’re not losing too big a percentage of your funds to trading fees. Some companies take a percentage of your investment, while others charge per transaction. If you’re buying $100 worth of shares each month and getting charged $9.99 per trade, you’re losing 10% of your investment capital, which is a good chunk. Trading less regularly and in bigger amounts will help offset these costs. Whatever platform you end up using, don’t overlook the expenses you may be charged.

The most important thing is putting aside that $100 each month. If you keep doing that, you’re already investing in cash, and with a solid cash reserve a lot of investing options become available. Keep at it and good luck!

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by Walter E. Williams

        Western civilization was founded on a set of philosophies that focus strongly on the sanctity of individuals and their power of logic and reason. This belief led to a desire to trust things that could be proven to be true or legitimate, from government to science. Judeo-Christian morality has formed the basis of most Western notions of ethics and behavioral standards. Thus, the attack on Western civilization must begin with the attack on the church and Christian values, and, just as important, the family unit must be undermined. The reason why the church, Christian values and family are targets of the left is they want people's loyalty and allegiance to be to the state. The church, Christianity and the family stand in the way. Let's look at some of the left's agenda.
        Joe Biden, criticizing sexual assault, said, "This is English jurisprudential culture, a white man's culture," adding, "It's got to change." The Western world's culture isn't perfect but women fare better under it than any other culture. Just ask yourself: If you're a feminist, in which countries would you like to live? Would it be Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, China or countries on the African continent, north or south of the Sahara? In those countries, women encounter all kinds of liberty restrictions plus in at least 30 countries on the African continent, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, female genital mutilation is practiced. You might ask Joe Biden what part of the "white man's culture" needs to be changed.
        The greatest efforts to downplay the achievements of Western civilization start at our colleges and universities. An American Council of Trustees and Alumni 2016 study reported that "the overwhelming majority of America's most prestigious institutions do not require even the students who major in history to take a single course on United States history or government." Because of this ignorance, our young people fall easy prey to charlatans, quacks and liars who wish to downgrade our founders and the American achievement.
         In 2012, 2014 and 2015, an ACTA-commissioned survey of college graduates found that less than 20% could accurately identify the effect of the Emancipation Proclamation. Less than half could identify George Washington as the American general at Yorktown. One-third of college graduates were unaware that FDR introduced the New Deal. Over one-third of the college graduates surveyed could not place the American Civil War in its correct 20-year time frame. Nearly half of the college graduates could not identify correctly the term lengths of U.S. senators and representatives.
        The left in our country often suggests that people who stand up for Western civilization are supporting a racial hierarchy. The fact is that the history of the world is one of arbitrary tyrannical abuse and control. Poverty has been the standard fare for a vast majority of mankind. America became the exception to what life was like. That exceptionalism inspired imitators, and our vision of freedom and liberty spread to what has become known as the Western world.
        Many do not appreciate the fact that freedom and competition in both the marketplace and idea arena unleashed a level of entrepreneurism, risk-taking and creativity heretofore unknown to mankind. Look at the marketplace of ideas. The Nobel Prize has been awarded to 860 people since its inception in 1901. The prizewinner distribution: Americans (375), United Kingdom (131) Germany (108), France (69) and Sweden (32); that's 83% of Nobel Prizes won. The large majority of other Nobel winners are mostly westerners. I might add that Japan has 27 Nobel Prize winners, but their first winner was awarded in 1949, after WWII led Japan to became more westernized.
        There's a reason why the West leads the world in terms of scientific innovation, wealth and military might and it has little to do with genetics. Instead, it's the environment of freedom, both in the market for goods and in the idea marketplace. Rigorous competition brings out the best in mankind. Leftists and would-be tyrants find Western values offensive.
        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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