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by John Stossel

        We have a choice!
        Next presidential election, we don't have to decide between two big-spending candidates, neither of whom has expressed much interest in limited government.
        Now, we have a third serious choice. This week, Dr. Jo Jorgensen, a psychology lecturer at Clemson University, won the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination.
        OK, I won't delude myself -- a libertarian is unlikely to become president. But Jorgensen's platform is a refreshing change.
        She correctly points out that government "is too big, too bossy, too nosy, and way too intrusive."
        Of course, many candidates say that when running for office.
        President Donald Trump said it, but once he was elected, he increased spending by half a trillion dollars, created a new military branch designed to protect U.S. interests in space, imposed tariffs and demanded more funds for "infrastructure" and "building a giant wall."
        Joe Biden wants to spend $532 billion more, increasing spending on things like education, climate and health care.
        By contrast, Jorgensen says government should do less and spend less.
        She's right. The founders' insistence on limited government is what made America prosperous.
        Jorgensen noticed how our big and cumbersome government slowed our response to the coronavirus.
        "We had about 60 American companies making testing kits and the FDA only approved two," she said in the final Libertarian Party debate. "What the president should have done was use the Emergency Powers Act and say, 'FDA, you only have to prove safety, not efficacy. Get these kits out there.'"
        If some tests don't work, the free market will weed that out, says Jorgensen. "If you are a large drug company, you don't want to put out a drug or testing kit that doesn't work -- you'll go bankrupt."
        Trump supported the latest multitrillion-dollar stimulus bill, saying, it "will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation's families and workers." Biden called for another stimulus -- "a hell of a lot bigger."
        Jorgensen wouldn't sign either bill. "Let the people keep their money," she says. "Let them decide who should stay in business and who shouldn't."
        She points out that government is not as good as individuals at deciding where money should go. "Government money usually goes to their friends and special interests and lobbyists."
        America's most popular government program is probably Social Security. Created to help the minority of Americans who lived past age 65 at that time, it's now an unsustainable handout to most older people. Social Security is going broke because people my age just keep living longer. Sorry. We won't volunteer to die.
        Jorgensen would save social security by offering everyone "an immediate opt-out," something like the Cato Institute's 6.2% solution, which would let individuals invest 6.2% of their payroll tax into a private retirement account.
        While phasing the program out, she says seniors would be paid back what they've put in. "Sell those government assets, mineral rights, water rights, buildings downtown," she says. "Give that money to seniors."
        Finally, Jorgensen would end "these needless wars that caused the injuries or deaths of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers... and the waste of trillions of tax dollars." She'd "make America one giant Switzerland, armed and neutral... no American military personnel stationed in foreign countries. No foreign aid. No loan guarantees."
        This is not pacificism, she says, "I am proposing an American military force ready and able to defend the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii and all U.S. territories against foreign attackers."
        But like most libertarians, she doesn't want America involved in foreign wars.
        As the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate, Dr. Jorgensen will be on the ballot in most states. Voters will have a real choice this November.
        Libertarian ideas are very different from those held by today's Democrats and Republicans. Instead of lusting for more money and power, her party proposes a government that keeps the peace and, mostly, leaves people alone.
        Sounds good to me.
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

        Is it important to have racial or sexual diversity in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic? Heather Mac Donald suggests that some think it might be in her City Journal article "Should Identity Politics Dictate Vaccine Research?" The funding priorities of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control suggests that they think diversity is an important input in making headway in the fight against the coronavirus. On April 20, NIH and CDC announced the availability of grants to increase the "diversity" of biomedical research labs. For example, academic virology researchers studying respiratory failure could receive hundreds of thousands more taxpayer dollars if they could find a woman or a minority to add to their project. High school students and college students are eligible for the program even though they cannot contribute anything of value. No scientific justification for the new diversity hire is needed. The scientists must promise to mentor the!
  new hire, which will take time away from their research with no offsetting gain.
        Mac Donald has written another article on academic insanity "The Therapeutic Campus" bearing the subtitle: "Why are college students seeking mental-health services in record numbers?" Many colleges have created safe spaces where students can be sheltered from reality and not have their feelings hurt by others exercising their free speech rights. Yale University has created a safe space that would be the envy of most other universities. They have named it the Good Life Center. Mac Donald says it has "a sandbox, essential oils, massage, and mental-health workshops," and that "the center unites the most powerful forces in higher education today: the feminization of the university, therapeutic culture, identity politics, and the vast student-services bureaucracy."
        George Mason University has a Center for the Advancement of Well-Being, headed by a chief well-being officer. At George Mason, well-being refers to social justice and "building a life of vitality, purpose, resilience, and engagement," the Center's chief well-being officer told The Chronicle of Higher Education. By the way, a George Mason University student can minor in well-being as a part of his college education.
        New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in justifying his draconian coronavirus measures, said during a press conference: "This is about saving lives. If everything we do saves just one life, I'll be happy."
        Cuomo knows that many Americans buy into such a seemingly caring statement that would be easily revealed as utter nonsense if one had just a modicum of economic knowledge. If one looked at only the benefits of an action, he would do anything because everything has a benefit. Prudent decision-making requires one to compare benefits to costs. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that in 2019 36,120 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Virtually all those lives could have been saved with a mandated 5 mph speed limit. Those saved lives are the benefit. Fortunately, when we consider the costs and inconvenience of setting a 5 mph speed limit, we rightly conclude that saving those 36,120 lives isn't worth it.
        There are other news tidbits about politicians drunk with power that we Americans have given them. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told city residents who disobeyed her stay-at-home order: "We will arrest you and we will take you to jail. Period. We're not playing games." Meanwhile, in violation of her own stay-at-home order, Lightfoot slipped out and got her hair done. She explained her decision, "I take my personal hygiene very seriously."
        Ventura County, California, health director Dr. Robert Levin said that his department would forcibly remove COVID-19 infected people from their own homes and put them "into other kinds of housing that we have available." Facing stiff criticism, Levin later explained: "I either misspoke or it was misinterpreted. I'll take the blame of having misspoke."
        The biggest casualty from the COVID-19 pandemic has nothing to do with the disease. It's the power we've given to politicians and bureaucrats. The question is how we recover our freedoms.
        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. Williams

       Black politicians, civil rights leaders and their white liberal advocates have little or no interest in doing anything effective to deal with what's no less than an education crisis among black students. In city after city with large black populations, such as Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., less than 10% of students test proficient in reading and math. For example, in 2016, in 13 Baltimore high schools, not a single student tested proficient in math. In six other high schools, only 1% tested proficient in math. Citywide, only 15% of Baltimore students passed the state's English test. Despite these academic deficiencies, about 70% of the students graduate and are conferred a high school diploma.
        Ballou High School is in Washington, D.C. Five percent of its students test proficient in reading and 1% test proficient in math. In 2017, all 189 students in Ballou High School's senior class applied to college. All 189 members of the graduating class of 2017 were accepted to universities. In November 2017, an investigation showed that half of Ballou's 2017 graduates had more than three months of unexcused absences. One in five of the graduating class was absent more than present, therefore missing more than 90 days of school.
        Examples of academic underachievement can be seen at predominantly black public schools across the nation, but that's only part of the story. The strangest part of this is that poor academic performance is accepted and tolerated by black politicians, civil rights organizations and white liberals. Poor performance is often blamed on finances; however, the poorest performing schools have the highest per pupil spending. New York, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore rank among the nation's highest in per pupil educational spending.
        The underachievement story is compounded by the gross dishonesty of colleges that admit many of these students. I cannot imagine that students who are not proficient in reading and math can do real college work. In a futile attempt to make up for 12 years of rotten education, colleges put these students in remedial courses. They also design courses with little or no true academic content. Colleges have their own agendas. They want the money that comes from admitting these students. Also, they want to make their diversity and multiculturalism administrators happy.
        Poor black education is not preordained. Dr. Thomas Sowell has examined schools in New York City and student performance on the NY State English Language Arts Test in 2016-17. Thirty percent of Brooklyn's William Floyd elementary school third graders scored well below proficient in English and language arts, but at Success Academy charter school in the same building, only one did. At William Floyd, 36% were below proficient, with 24% being proficient and none testing above proficient. By contrast, at Success Academy, only 17% of third graders were below proficient, with 70% being proficient and 11% being above proficient. Among Success Academy's fourth graders, 51% and 43%, respectively, scored proficient and above proficient, while their William Floyd counterparts scored 23% and 6%, respectively. Similar high performance can be found in some other Manhattan charter schools such as KIPP Infinity Middle School.
        Liberals tell us that racial integration is a necessary condition for black academic excellence. Public charter schools such as those mentioned above belie that vision. Sowell points out that only 39% of students in all New York state schools who were recently tested scored at the "proficient" level in math, but 100% of the students at the Crown Heights Success Academy tested proficient where blacks and Hispanics constitute 90% of the student body.
        There's little question that many charter schools provide superior educational opportunities for black youngsters. The New York Times wrote, "Over 100,000 students in hundreds of the city's charter schools are doing well on state tests, and tens of thousands of children are on waiting lists for spots." But here's New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's take on charter schools, expressing the interests of the education establishment: "Get away from high-stakes testing, get away from charter schools. No federal funding for charter schools."
        Black people cannot afford to buy into any attack on education alternatives. Charter schools across the nation offer a way out of the educational abyss.
        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 government has closed most schools.
        So, more parents are teaching kids at home.
        That upsets the government school monopoly.
        Education "experts" say parents lack the expertise to teach their kids.
        Without state schooling, "learning losses... could well be catastrophic," says The New York Times. Home schooling "will set back a generation of children," according to a Washington Post column. Harvard Magazine's "Risks of Homeschooling" article quotes a professor who calls for a "presumptive ban."
        The professional education establishment actually tried to ban it 98 years ago. Then, they tried to ban private schools, too! But the Supreme Court stopped them, writing, "a child is not the mere creature of the state."
        I wish the state would remember that.
        Anyway, the educator's complaints about home schooling "setting back a generation" are bunk.
        Eleven of 14 peer-reviewed studies found home schooling has positive effects on achievement.
        In my new video, education researcher Corey DeAngelis explains, "Children who are home-schooled get much better academic and social results than kids in government schools."
        Even though they are more likely to be poor, "Home-schoolers score 30% higher on SAT tests." They also do better in college, and they are less likely to drink or do drugs.
        "Mass home schooling during this pandemic," says DeAngelis, "may actually be a blessing."
        Debbie Dabin, a mom in Utah, is one of many parents who started home schooling this spring and now is "definitely considering home schooling" next year.
        Dabin bought teaching materials over the internet from a company called "The Good and the Beautiful." Her son likes the lessons better than what he got in school. "It's great," Dabin says. "He likes the activities; he wants to do them."
        Before the pandemic, he'd told his mom he hated school.
        I hated school, too. Classes were boring. Listening to lectures is a poor way to learn, and unnecessary today.
        In addition to home-school teaching programs, there are also free internet games that teach things like math, reading and writing, while customizing the speed of lessons to each learner's needs.
        Sites like Education.com teach math by letting kids adjust pizza toppings.
        For older kids, YouTube channels like TED-Ed and Khan Academy offer "free educational videos from the world's foremost experts on civics, history, mathematics," adds DeAngelis.
        "Not good enough!" say "experts."
        Michael Rebell, a professor at Teachers College at Columbia University, worries that if parents home-school, "There's no guarantee that kids are learning democratic values, civic knowledge."
        "Were they learning that in their regular schools?" I asked.
        "Well... it's in the curriculum," he responded.
        So what? The Nation's Report Card, the government's biggest nationwide test, reveals that government-school students don't know much about history or civics.
        One question asked fourth graders, "Which country was the leading communist nation during the Cold War?" Only 21% answered the Soviet Union. More said France or Germany. American students did worse than if they had guessed randomly.
        Another question: "America fought Hitler and Germany in which war?" More picked the Civil War than World War II.
        Nevertheless, said Rebell, home schooling is still worse because "there's no effective regulation to know what's going on."
        "You sound like you think -- because there's regulation, that makes something happen," I said.
        "I do," he replied. "Where there's no regulation, that's a worse situation."
        But "no regulation" is the wrong way to think about it. There is plenty of regulation. It just comes from legislators and families instead of education bureaucrats.
        If this pandemic steers more parents away from state schools, that's probably a good thing.
        Philosopher John Stuart Mill warned: "State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another... which pleases the predominant power in the government (and) establishes a despotism over the mind."
        A silver lining to this pandemic is that now more parents are learning about their options (SET ITAL)outside(END ITAL) the government system.
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

    Former Barack Obama adviser Rahm Emanuel, during a recent interview, reminded us of his 2008 financial crisis quotation, "Never allow a crisis to go to waste." The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a wonderful opportunity for those of us who want greater control over our lives. Sadly, too many Americans have already taken the bait. We've allowed politicians and bureaucrats to dictate to us what's an essential business and what isn't, who has access to hospitals and who hasn't, and a host of minor and major dictates.
    Leftist politicians who want to get into our pocketbooks are beginning to argue that the COVID-19 pandemic is the best argument for a wealth tax. Let's first define a wealth tax. A wealth tax is applicable to and levied on a variety of accumulated assets that include cash, money market funds, real property, trust funds, owner-occupied housing and other wealth accumulations. Assume a taxpayer earns $150,000 a year and falls in the 32% tax bracket. That individual's income tax liability for the year will be 32% x $150,000 or $48,800. Say the taxpayer has a net worth of $500,000 consisting of a business or home and the government imposes a wealth tax of 32%, the person's tax liability is $160,000.
    The problem with most politicians is when they enact a law, they seldom ask, "Then what?" They assume a world of what economists call zero elasticity wherein people behave after a tax is imposed just as they behaved before the tax was imposed and the only difference is that more money comes into the government's tax coffers. The long-term effect of a wealth tax is that people will try to avoid it by not accumulating as much wealth or concealing the wealth they accumulate.
    A wealth tax has become increasingly attractive because it lends itself to demagoguery about the significant wealth disparity in the United States. The Federal Reserve reports that, in 2018, the wealthiest 10% of Americans owned 70% of the country's wealth, and the richest 1% owned 32% of the wealth. That fact gave Democratic presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren incentives to propose a wealth tax as a part of their campaign rhetoric. Leftists lament that multibillionaires such as Charles Koch, Warren Buffett, Larry Ellison and Sheldon Adelson have not made charitable efforts to address the coronavirus crisis.
    My questions to these political leeches are: To whom does the billionaire's wealth belong? And how did they accumulate such wealth?
    Did they accumulate their great wealth by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man, as has been the case throughout most of human history? No, they accumulated great wealth by serving and pleasing their fellow man in the pursuit of profits. Unfortunately, demagoguery and lack of understanding has led to "profit" becoming a dirty word. Profit is a payment to entrepreneurs just as wages are payments to labor, interest to capital and rent to land. In order to earn profits in free markets, entrepreneurs must identify and satisfy human wants in a way that economizes on society's scarce resources.
    Here's a question for you. Which entities produce greater consumer satisfaction: for-profit enterprises such as supermarkets, computer makers and clothing stores, or nonprofit entities such as public schools, post offices and motor vehicle departments? I'm guessing you'll answer the former. Their survival depends on pleasing ordinary people. Public schools, post offices and motor vehicle departments' survival are not strictly tied to pleasing people but rather on politicians and the ability of government to impose taxes.
    Some advocates of wealth taxes and other forms of taxation might argue that they are temporary measures to get us over the COVID-19 crisis. Do not buy that argument. The great Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman once said, "Nothing is more permanent than a temporary government program." The telephone tax was levied on wealthy Americans with telephones in 1898 to help fund the Spanish-American War. That tax was repealed over 100 years later in 2006. One of the objectives of the World War II withholding tax was to bring faster revenues to fight the war. The withholding of taxes is still with us blinding Americans on the taxes they pay. Let us not allow a crisis to bamboozle us again.
    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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