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By Taylor Kovar

Hi Taylor - I’m planning to buy a house soon but not sure exactly when it’ll happen. In the meantime, is renters insurance worth it? Any tips on what I should look for? -Skylar

Hey Skylar - If you live in a building, you should have some type of insurance protecting your possessions and peace of mind. Renters insurance is fairly inexpensive and the alternative - losing precious, valuable items - can cost a whole lot. As far as what to look for, here are three factors to think about.

     1. Coverage type. You’ll have to choose between actual cash value and replacement value, and this can significantly affect the cost of your policy. If keeping the cost low is your top priority, go with cash value and you’ll get reimbursed for lost items with depreciation and usage factored in. Your TVs and couches won’t get you as much as what you paid for them, but you’ll definitely get something. If you pay a little more on your premium and go with replacement value, your possessions get replaced with new items at an equivalent market price. The choice depends on what you own and what’s available in your budget. I’d probably tend toward cash value to avoid paying too much each month, but you have to think about what matters to you and the risks you might be susceptible to. 

     2. Option to bundle. If you already have car insurance, get on the horn with your current insurance agent and see what they can offer. Insurers love to bundle for existing clients and you can usually get decent coverage at a nominal cost. Start with your current auto or life insurance provider and then see what other companies have to offer. This is probably the best place to start, even if it isn’t the final solution.

     3. Know what’s covered. Renters insurance can leave people in the lurch when they don’t read the fine print. If you live in Houston and your insurance won’t cover damage from flooding, that’s a big hole in your plan. In some cases you have to buy separate policies for specific natural disasters, so you can’t just assume your policy covers against weather patterns and events common to your area. You might have to pay more or find a company with a more inclusive policy. It would be nice if insurance was more straightforward, but it’s unfortunately up to you to do the work and find the right coverage.

You never know when you’ll need it, and that means you need to be covered at all times. Change your policy once you finally buy a house and take advantage of renters insurance now. Good luck, Skylar!
--
Taylor J Kovar, CEO
Kovar Capital

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by John Stossel

    America needs single-payer health care, say progressives. That's a system where government pays doctors and hospitals, and no sick person has to worry about having enough money to pay for care. After all, they say, "Health care is a "right!"
    "Who pays for it?" asks Chris Pope, "And that's really not a rights question."
    Pope studies health care systems for the Manhattan Institute. In my newest video, Pope explains that although many Americans think that Canada and most of Europe have single-payer systems, that's not really true.
    "In Germany, employers provide most of the health care ... just as they do in the United States," he says. France and Switzerland also offer multiple options, public and private, and most people buy private health insurance. Some of the Swiss government subsidies are similar to those of Obamacare.
    But Canada, England, Norway, Cuba and a few other countries do have genuine single-payer. I'm constantly told that it works well -- people get good care and never have to worry about a bill. They spend less on health care and live longer.
    Pope says that claim is naive.
    They do live longer in many of those countries, but it's not because they get superior health care; it's because fewer of them are fat; fewer crash cars; and they shoot each other less often. "Take out (obesity), car accidents and gun violence, the difference in life expectancy disappears entirely," Pope says.
    Also, government-run systems save money by freeloading off American innovation. American drug companies, funded by American customers, fund most of the world's research and development of pharmaceuticals. New drugs and devices are expensive, so oftentimes in Britain, says Pope, "whenever a new drug comes on the market that can save lives, the government just doesn't have the funds to pay for it."
    Patients, accustomed to accepting whatever government hands out, don't even know about advances available elsewhere.
    Single-payer systems also save money by rationing care. Hence the long waiting times for treatments declared "nonessential" in Canada, Britain and, for that matter, at American veterans hospitals. The VA's problems are similar to what's happened in Britain's National Health Service.
    "In England," says Pope, "rarely a week goes by without a crisis or another in the health care system being part of the news. This year, there was a crisis in emergency room care -- people left in hallways for hours and hours."
    Critics of U.S. health care say waiting in line is better than getting no care, which is what happens to Americans who cannot afford to pay.
    But is that true? Pope points out that America already has "over a trillion dollars a year in public spending, really, to provide health care to people who don't afford it." Also, American emergency rooms treat anyone who comes in.
    By contrast, single-payer means taxpayers' funds are spent on everyone -- even people who can afford to pay for their own care. That means there's less left for the truly needy. The affluent often escape government's waiting lines and treatment limits by buying private health insurance.
    In Britain, millions of people purchase private insurance, says Pope.
    At least they still have that option.
    In America, Sen. Bernie Sanders says gleefully that he wants to put private insurance companies "out of business."
    Hearing that, Pope replied, "makes you wonder whether this is more about spite than it is about improving people's health."
    All of this doesn't mean the system in the U.S. should stay as it is.
    Government already does too much here. People say America has free-market health care, but we don't, and we haven't since World War II. Government and government-subsidized insurance companies currently spend most of America's health dollars. If politicians here really want to improve things, they should try letting the market function.
    Let hospitals compete. Right now, state laws won't even allow new private hospitals unless a regional board -- often made up of people affiliated with already-existing hospitals -- declares a "need" for a new one and it is registered with the American Hospital Association.
    Let insurance companies compete for your business. American tax laws push workers to employer-funded coverage. Equalize the tax law and more individuals would pick the coverage best suited for them.
    Pope says, "If we move towards a health care system where individuals were more responsible for shopping around ... people would choose a better system."
    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 Walter E. Williams

    According to a recent report in The New York Times, Health and Human Services Department officials have been circulating a proposal to define sex. Their memo says, "Sex means a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth." They add, "The sex listed on a person's birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person's sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence." I think the latter statement lacks complete rigor. It's chromosomes, not what's on a birth certificate, that determine one's sex. Therefore, if a fetus has XX chromosomes, a female is born, and if a fetus has XY chromosomes, a male is born.
    What's an open-and-shut case in biology can become confused in the political/social arena, particularly when one's sex is referred to as one's gender. By the way, before modern times, the term gender was used solely when referring to the grammar of some languages, such as French, in which nouns and pronouns are masculine, feminine or neuter and require words syntactically associated with them. Gender has become completely disassociated with biological reasoning. For example, in the past when a person signed up for a Facebook account, "male" and "female" were the only options. In 2014, Facebook introduced 50 gender options, including intersex, gender nonconforming, non-binary and androgynous (http://tinyurl.com/y9sb3a3j).
    In addition to the muddying of waters about one's sex, race has become muddied. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has long claimed that she has Native American heritage. Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania saw her as making a contribution to their law schools' racial diversity agenda by being on their faculties. Recently, many doubted her heritage and lampooned and harangued the Massachusetts Democrat as "Pocahontas." (She also has been dubbed Lieawatha.) Warren's recent effort to settle the issue through DNA analysis blew up in her face. She is only between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.
    This new liberal agenda allowing flexibility in determining one's identity was used by Rachel Dolezal to land a job as president of the Spokane, Washington, office of the NAACP and to become a professor of Africana studies at Eastern Washington University. Dolezal was born Caucasian but chose to be a black person; she was outed by her white parents. The NAACP defended Dolezal, saying, "One's racial identity is not a qualifying criteria (sic) or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership." By the way, as far as Dolezal is concerned, she's still a black person. She has a new legal name, Nkechi Amare Diallo, which means "gift of God" in Ibo.
    You might ask, "Williams, what's the problem? This is America, and people are whomever they say they are." Here's something for you to consider: For males between the ages of 17 and 21 to pass the Army's fitness test, they must do 35 pushups, do 47 situps and run 2 miles in 16 minutes, 36 seconds. Females in the same age group pass the fitness test by doing 13 pushups, doing 47 situps and running 2 miles in 19 minutes, 42 seconds (http://tinyurl.com/yaphmzl). Would it be OK for males who cannot meet the male requirement to claim that they are females?
    Suppose a man is convicted and sentenced to a 10-year term at California State Prison, Corcoran. Should he be able to claim that he is a woman and be allowed to serve out his sentence at the California Institution for Women? Before the U.S. Supreme Court is the case Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard. The plaintiffs allege that the university's admissions office discriminates against those of Asian descent. Those Asian students, with off-the-charts SAT scores, could have easily avoided anti-Asian discrimination simply by claiming that they were black or Hispanic. Who at Harvard would have dared challenge their racial claim? After all, it's politically incorrect on college campuses to suggest that one's skin color, one's eye shape or the sound of one's voice indicates his or her race.
    With privileges being determined by race and sex, we need something like South Africa's apartheid-era Population Registration Act of 1950 to define in clear terms who belongs to what race and what sex and thereby prevent race and sex fraud.
    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

        Republicans held the Senate! Democrats took the House but by a narrower margin!
        Did I just embarrass myself?
        I write this Election Day morning, before most polling places even opened. I don't know the actual results, of course.
        But I'll pretend I do because I trust the betting odds.
        As of Tuesday morning, ElectionBettingOdds.com, a site I co-founded, says Republicans have an 84 percent chance to hold the Senate and Democrats a 71 percent chance to retake the House.
        Why trust a bunch of gamblers? Because they have the best track record!
        Polls have flaws. Some people lie to pollsters or just give them what they think is the "proper" answer. Others won't even talk to them.
        Pundits are worse. They often let their personal preferences skew their predictions.
        Bettors are more accurate because of something called the "wisdom of crowds." It turns out that an average of many people's estimates is usually more accurate than any one person's views.
        Researchers noticed that while watching the TV series "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Stumped contestants could poll the audience or call a friend.
        The friends, often experts of some kind, got answers right 65 percent of the time. The studio audience included few experts, but the crowd got the answer right 91 percent of the time.
        The crowd that bets on elections online (political betting is legal in Europe and at a small American futures market called PredictIt.com) works hard to get the answers right.
        They look at more than polls. They factor in the latest news, try to sense the mood on the ground and research candidates' campaign tactics.
        They try harder than pundits because their own money is on the line. You've met blowhards who confidently predict things until someone says, "Want to bet?" Then they shut up. People who put their money where their mouths are become more careful.
        Prediction markets, or futures markets, are not new. Stock markets are prediction markets where people bet on companies' future earnings. A hundred years ago, "More money was traded in election markets than in stock markets," says economist Robin Hanson.
        Then, unfortunately, governments in America banned most betting. That deprived Americans of one of the best predictors of future events.
        There were a few exceptions. Fifteen years ago, U.S. officials asked Hanson to create a betting market that might predict future problems.
        "The Department of Defense heard prediction markets were interesting, doing powerful things," says Hanson. "They said, 'Show us it works for stuff we do... (P)redict events in the Middle East.'"
        As usual, some elected officials were horrified by the idea of people betting on things like possible terrorism. Sen. Ron Wyden stood up on the Senate floor to declare such betting "ridiculous and grotesque." The next day, the secretary of Defense declared the project dead.
        So the Pentagon is deprived of predictions that might save lives. It's too bad, because bettors are just, well, better.
        But not perfect. While the betting odds are almost always the best predictors, in the last presidential election they (along with polls and pundits) were wrong about Donald Trump. Bettors gave him only a 20 percent chance.
        I shouldn't say "wrong." Twenty percent just means Trump had a 1 in 5 chance. That's not nothing.
        The betting markets also got Brexit wrong. They gave it a 25 percent chance.
        But in both cases, as election results came in, the betting odds shifted much faster than the TV coverage. It was fun watching anchors try to catch up to what ElectionBettingOdds.com already predicted on my phone.
        As I write, the website says this about specific states:
        Republicans will narrowly win Arizona (51 percent chance) and Missouri (57), and easily win North Dakota (80), Tennessee (80) and Texas (79).
        By the time you read this, say bettors, Democrats will have flipped Nevada (60 percent chance) and held West Virginia (75), Montana (65) and New Jersey (81).
        Republicans will win the Georgia governor's race (64 percent chance), but Scott Walker will lose in Wisconsin (59), and Florida now probably has a new far-left governor (64).
        Were the bettors right?
        I assume some were not. After all, a 60 percent chance of winning means winning only 6 out of 10 times.
        Whatever way it turns out, we'll add the results to the "track record" section at ElectionBettingOdds.com.
        We'll also keep tracking the 2020 presidential race.
        Odds update every five minutes, but Tuesday morning the odds for 2020 were:
        Donald Trump: 36.1 percent
        Kamala Harris: 10.9 percent
        Elizabeth Warren: 5.9 percent
        Tulsi Gabbard: 5.7 percent
        Bernie Sanders: 4.2 percent
        Joe Biden: 4.1 percent
        Unfortunately, I don't see many advocates of restrained government on that list.
        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 Walter E. Williams

      In describing the GOP tax cuts, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that they and bonuses American workers were getting were "crumbs." They were "tax cuts for the rich." Some argued that the tax cuts would reduce revenues. Pelosi predicted, "This thing will explode the deficit." How about some tax facts?
        The argument that tax cuts reduce federal revenues can be disposed of quite easily. According to the Congressional Budget Office, revenues from federal income taxes were $76 billion higher in the first half of this year than they were in the first half of 2017. The Treasury Department says it expects that federal revenues will continue to exceed last year's for the rest of 2018. Despite record federal revenues, 2018 will see a massive deficit, perhaps topping $1 trillion. Our massive deficit is a result not of tax cuts but of profligate congressional spending that outruns rising tax revenues. Grossly false statements about tax cuts' reducing revenue should be put to rest in the wake of federal revenue increases seen with tax cuts during the Kennedy, Reagan and Trump administrations.
        A very disturbing and mostly ignored issue is how absence of skin in the game negatively impacts the political arena. It turns out that 45 percent of American households, nearly 78 million individuals, have no federal income tax obligation. That poses a serious political problem. Americans with no federal income tax obligation become natural constituencies for big-spending politicians. After all, if one doesn't pay federal income taxes, what does he care about big spending? Also, if one doesn't pay federal taxes, why should he be happy about a tax cut? What's in it for him? In fact, those with no skin in the game might see tax cuts as a threat to their handout programs.
        Whenever tax cuts are called for, it's not long before they are called tax cuts for the rich. Let's look at who pays what in federal income taxes. Using IRS data for 2015, the latest year available, the Tax Foundation reports that the top 1 percent of earners made about 21 percent of the nation's income, but their share of federal income taxes was 39 percent. They paid more in income taxes than the bottom 90 percent, who paid 29.4 percent of federal income taxes (http://tinyurl.com/y7t4ljv8).
        In 2015, the top 50 percent of taxpayers paid 97.2 percent of all individual income taxes. Also, the top 1 percent had an income tax rate of 27 percent, while the bottom 50 percent had a tax rate of less than 4 percent. It turns out that 892,420 households -- out of roughly 34 million total households -- paid 39 percent of federal taxes that year. Most Americans have little or no federal income tax obligation, so how in the world is it possible to give a tax cut to them?
        Another part of the Trump tax cuts was with corporate income -- lowering the rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. That, too, has been condemned by the left as a tax cut for the rich. But corporations do not pay taxes. Why? Corporations are legal fictions. Only people pay taxes. If a tax is levied on a corporation, it will have one or more of the following responses in order to remain in business. It will raise the price of its product, lower its dividends to shareholders and/or lay off workers. Thus, only flesh-and-blood people pay taxes. We can think of corporations as tax collectors. Politicians love our ignorance about this. They suggest that corporations, not people, will be taxed. Here's how to see through this charade: Suppose a politician told you, as a homeowner, "I'm not going to tax you. I'm going to tax your land." I hope you wouldn't fall for that jive. Land doesn't pay taxes.
        Getting back to skin in the game, sometimes I wonder whether one should be allowed in the game if he doesn't have any skin in it.
        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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