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by Taylor Kovar (KovarCapital.com)

Hey Taylor: Have you heard of the Buy It for Life movement? My friends keep talking about it, and it seems like it’s just about buying expensive things. Can you explain? - Liza

Hey Liza: I’m happy to explain this “movement,” though it seems like you’ve pretty much got it figured out. The idea is to buy expensive things that will last as a means of avoiding constant replacements and repairs that really add up. Great in theory, but does it actually work in practice?

For some products, this is a no brainer, especially with bigger purchases. Always pay more for good home renovations, a decent vehicle, maybe a computer if you need it for work. Now, when I say “always pay more,” I’m not suggesting you have to pay for the most expensive brand on the market. However, anytime you go with the cheapest option for something like a new roof or a new laptop, you can expect to be shopping for a replacement sooner than you’d like.

My issue with the Buy It for Life idea is that it doesn’t stop at big-ticket items. There’s an expensive option for every type of purchase, and that isn’t always necessary. I bought a cheap sleeping bag in a pinch 15 years ago and it’s still holding up just fine; I own a few second-hand tools that cost very little and still work great; I’ve had friends pick up roadside couches that have then stayed with them for years.

The point is, if you see yourself as part of a movement and get too enamored with buying expensive things, I guarantee you’ll spend unnecessarily. You’ll start paying more for accessories you don’t actually need, like coffee makers that also toast your bread and salt shakers made of crystal. Sure, you’ll have a durable salt shaker, but you might not be able to afford the salt that goes in it.

Are some smaller items worth the extra money? Absolutely. Durable jackets, sturdy mattresses, quality knives and dozens of other household items can make great one-time buys that will save you money in the long run. If you know you’re going to use something forever, go ahead and spend a little extra. That said, I would encourage you to think long and hard before handing over your cash. Don’t make big purchases if you’re about to move, and don’t buy something you don’t actually need. A good, expensive cooler might last forever, but what’s the point if it’s never going to leave your garage?

Those are my thoughts on the Buy It for Life concept. It’s important to buy quality products, but it’s just as important to avoid overspending. Keep shopping smart and thanks for writing in!

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by Walter E. Williams

        The ugliness that we have recently witnessed including rioting, billions of dollars of property destruction, assaults, murders and grossly stupid claims about our nation has its origins on college campuses. Two websites, College Reform and College Fix, report on the despicable teachings on college campuses across the nation. Let us look at some of it.

        In response to Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson's tweeting that he supports "citizen soldiers" in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Tressie McMillan Cottom, a black professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's School of Information and Library Science declared that "they have deputized all white people to murder us."

         Jesse A. Goldberg, professor in the English department at Auburn University who teaches classes in African American literature, American literature and composition wrote a now-deleted post on Twitter, "f--- every cop. Every single one." Goldberg added, "The only ethical choice for any cop to make at this point is to refuse to do their job and quit."

        Eddie Glaude Jr., a Princeton University professor and chairman of the Department of African American Studies said that when it comes to policing in America "Black people still live under the slave codes." Glaude's tweet came in response to news that Jacob Blake was handcuffed to his hospital bed after being shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Glaude added:

        "Placing shackles around the feet of Jacob Blake amounted to a physical reminder that he was still, no matter the protests, a n----r in the eyes of these policemen."

        New School professor Richard Wolff has called for the abolition of grades. He claims they are not only unfair to students, but also that they are a means of propping up capitalism, and as such, academia would be better off doing away with grading entirely. He went on to say: "Grading takes up much of my time that could be better spent on teaching or otherwise directly interacting with students." Administering grades to students has "little educational payoff" and "disrespects (students) as thinking people."

        Wichita Falls, Texas, station KFDX-TV reported that Midwestern State University far-left philosophy professor Nathan Jun wrote on Facebook, "I want the entire world to burn until the last cop is strangled with the intestines of the last capitalist, who is strangled in turn with the intestines of the last politician."

        Vanderbilt University scientist Heather Caslin Findley says that "white supremacy, racism, and prejudice" are perpetuated by the concept of "academic freedom." She added, "I hope there are a lot of circles in academia having a serious conversation on how 'academic freedom' upholds white supremacy, racism, and prejudice." Findley also addressed past violent riots, writing that she was initially opposed to the 2015 Baltimore riots and was worried for the police officers but changed her mind. She said: "I was scared for the fires, for the rioting, for the storefronts that would need to be rebuilt. That was my 'protest differently,' 'all lives matter,' and 'blue lives matter' moment. I was wrong and I was called out."

        In the wake of financial problems, many colleges are crying broke and want government bailouts, but they have enough money to hire costly diversity people. For example, University of Pennsylvania pays its chief diversity officer more than $580,000 a year. University of Michigan pays it vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer $385,000 per year. Other universities around the country pay their chief diversity officers annual salaries of $200,000 and up.

        Many university professors do not buy into the gross academic deception that has become part and parcel of today's college education today. They are too busy with their own research to get involved with campus politics. Rather than being on the committees that run the university, they concede the turf to those who are willing to take the time. Often those who are willing to take the time are not necessarily the most talented people but people with a political agenda to change what has been traditional college education. But all is not lost. Taxpayers, parents and donors who foot the bill can have a significant impact if they would stop being lazy and find out what is going on at our colleges. And, if they do not like what they see, they can snap their pocketbooks shut.

        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

        Donald Trump will probably lose the election.

        As I write, The Economist says he has only an 8% chance of winning.

        Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight, which came closest to predicting Trump's win in 2016 and has the best track record among modelers, gives Trump just a 12% chance.

        But people who "put money where their mouths are" give Trump a better chance: 37%.

        That's according to ElectionBettingOdds.com, the website I created with Maxim Lott.  It tracks multiple betting sites around the world.

        Though 61%-37% seems like a giant lead for Joe Biden, 37% means Trump is likely to win one-third of the time.

        Four years ago, most bettors were wrong about Trump and Brexit. I assume they learned from that and adjusted their 2020 bets.

        But since bettors were wrong in 2016, why trust betting odds now?

        Because betting is a better predictor than polls, pundits, statistical models and everything else.

        ElectionBettingOdds.com has tracked hundreds of races. When bettors think a candidate has a 37% chance -- they really do win roughly that often.

        A research scientist at Amazon concluded that in the last presidential election, ElectionBettingOdds.com beat all other existing public prediction models except for Nate Silver's polls-plus model.

        Silver says: "Betting markets are populated by people with a sophomoric knowledge of politics... Traders are emotionally invested in political outcomes." Also, "Markets (are) not super liquid... way different than sports where you have a much more sophisticated player base and more liquidity."

        But our site takes odds from betting sites in Europe, the U.S. and a cryptocurrency-based exchange. More than $200 million has been bet.

        As Silver says in his excellent book, "The Signal and the Noise," "A lot of smart people have failed miserably when they thought they could beat the market."

        Overall, bettors have the best track record. Last election, The New York Times' "expert model" had Hillary Clinton ahead 85% to 15%. The Princeton Election Consortium gave Clinton a 99% chance. (Now they give Biden 98.2%.)

        Daily Kos had Clinton at 92%. Huffington Post had 98%. Those two stopped operating after that embarrassment.

        Silver is one modeler who's often beaten the market. In 2016, he gave Trump the highest odds, and in 2018, he was the most confident that Democrats would win the House.

        On the other hand, his FiveThirtyEight model was confident Democrats would win Florida's and Indiana's Senate races, making Democrats 70% favorites in both states. But Republicans won. Bettors were closer to predicting the actual results.

        Bettors do well because they consider many things not easily captured by polls and statistical models.

        How many mail-in ballots do not get counted? In the New York state primary this year, 20% were disqualified for irregularities.

        FiveThirtyEight "built in an extra layer of uncertainty this year because of the possibility that the pandemic will disrupt usual turnout patterns." But bettors believe it's not enough.

        Bettors also consider the possibility that polls are wrong in some new way.   

        In 2016, polls showed Clinton well ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, but pollsters hadn't questioned enough voters without college degrees. Who knows what mistakes pollsters are making now? 

        Betting sites' track records also do well because bettors invest their own money.  That focuses the mind.

        Today, bettors make other interesting predictions:

        They say there's a 56% chance a COVID-19 vaccine will be approved by March 31, and a 22% chance that Trump will pardon himself during his first term.

        They give 50/50 odds that this year be the hottest year on record.

        The Kansas City Chiefs (17%) and Baltimore Ravens (13%) have the best chance to win the Super Bowl, but since their total is only 30%, some other team is likely to win.

        Back to politics, ElectionBettingOdds.com's Senate map predicts Democrats will retake the senate, and might even sweep every contested state.

        If that happens, Democrats would have the power to end the filibuster, pack the Supreme Court and pass their whole agenda with simple majorities.

        As a libertarian, I sure hope that doesn't happen.

        I'll keep watching the odds at ElectionBettingOdds.com. They update every 5 minutes.

        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 John Stossel

       When COVID-19 hit, I quarantined in Eastern Massachusetts.
        Biking around the woods, I noticed something strange.
        There are two campgrounds near my house. One is full. Lots of people pitch tents or park trailers at a place called Maurice's.
        A short bike ride away is a much bigger campground that's almost entirely empty.
        Why? It's the topic of my new video.
        The empty campground is run by the state.
        It has great facilities: a new paved road, new bathrooms, etc. Signs direct people to campsites, even to group camping, but there are almost no people. Dozens of picnic tables are turned upside-down.
        What a shame. This would be a great place to spend time during the pandemic.
        I asked one of the few people camping, "Why is this place so empty?"
        "Everything is sold out," he responded.
        Indeed, signs do say, "Camp is Full." But the camp is the opposite of full.
        "I think it's so empty because of COVID," said another camper.
        "Why would COVID-19 make it empty?" I ask. "It's camping! You got lots of room."
        She agreed, saying she's also wondered about that.
        We asked the Massachusetts Department of Parks why its camp was largely empty. They didn't respond. We kept calling and emailing until, nine days later, someone told us that they'd "had difficulties hiring seasonal employees."
        Really?! This summer, Massachusetts had the highest unemployment rate in America. The state offers to pay workers up to $25 an hour, including benefits. Yet, they can't find people who'd work outdoors in a beautiful place in the summer?
        Maurice's Campground managed to hire enough staff. They have to because Maurice's is privately owned. If they don't please customers, then they can't stay in business. "If there was no staff, we were the staff," says owner John Gauthier.
        Gauthier innovates. Sometimes campers have helped clean the camp or staff the office. To save water, he charges customers 25 cents for six minutes in the shower. At the state camp, water is free; campers can waste all they want.
        The government bought the property in 2019 for $3.6 million. Last year, the camp's revenue fell thousands short of its operating costs. Now it loses even more money because it's largely empty.
        Such clear demonstrations of the difference between public and private are everywhere. But few people realize the reason why.
        Recently, The New York Times published an op-ed by "Sex in the City" actress Cynthia Nixon about her dismay over seeing her kids' public school's "chaotic ... and profoundly unsafe approach to reopening." By contrast, her Netflix production company was totally ready.
        She's become a politician, so she blames "underfunding." She doesn't mention that New York's government-run schools spend more than $20,000 per student.
        Her production company was ready because it's private. The bosses spend their own money. Spend it well, and they profit. Spend it badly, and they're out of work. That focuses the mind.
        Governments spend other people's money. No one spends other people's money as carefully as we spend our own.
        The owner of Maurice's Campground tries harder, and because of that, he serves many more campers than the taxpayer-subsidized camp.
        "It's kind of unfair," I say to Gauthier. "You have to compete against the government, which is losing all this money."
        He answers, "Yeah, it's not a great scenario, but what can we do?"
        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

        During slavery, many black women, often in a forcible union with a white man, bore mixed-race children. Based on their percentage of white blood, they were deemed "mulattos," "quadroons," "octoroons" or even "hexadecaroons." Depending on skin color, they could pass as white and avoid the gross racial discrimination suffered by their darker skinned brothers and sisters. This was portrayed in a 1949 motion picture titled "Pinky" that highlighted "passing" for white.
        Now the tables have been turned with some white women claiming they are black. For years, Rachel Dolezal claimed that she was black. As a result of her deception, she became president of the Spokane, Washington, office of the NAACP and an instructor of Africana studies at Eastern Washington University. Her two white parents outed her.
        Just recently, Jessica Krug, George Washington University professor of history, who for years claimed that she was black, confessed that she was white. Her faculty bio listed her as a scholar in African American history, imperialism and colonialism. Krug, in a fit of contrition, apologized for her "continued appropriation of a black Caribbean identity." She confessed: "I am not a culture vulture. I am a culture leech." After Krug's confession, she resigned from the GWU faculty.
        An Indianapolis activist for Black Lives Matter, Satchuel Paigelyn Cole, born to two white parents, has admitted to pretending to be black for years. CV Vitolo-Haddad, a graduate student at UW's School of Journalism and Mass Communications, after faking her race, has resigned from her teaching position and stepped down as co-president of the school's chapter of the Teaching Assistants' Association. One cannot be sure about race these days because of "blackfishing," a trend in which people alter their appearance to present themselves as black.
        Dolezal, Krug, Cole and others are not the only white women who have benefited from racial fakery. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, sometimes called "Pocahontas," claimed that she was of Cherokee Indian ancestry. That helped her land a job at diversity-hungry Harvard University as a professor of law and was paid $400,000 to teach two courses. She described herself as a minority in the Harvard Law School directory and claimed that her great-grandfather was Cherokee. Not only was her great-grandfather not a Cherokee as she claimed but he was a white man who boasted of shooting a Cherokee Indian.
        By the way, if as it has now become acceptable to call oneself a woman, when one has the anatomical equipment of a male, then why isn't it okay to claim that one is black, Latino or Asian when one is really Caucasian? According to the U.S. Bureau of Census, people self-identify their race or ethnicity.
        Personally, I do not hold Dolezal, Krug, Cole, Warren or other undiscovered university professors at fault for racial fakery. I am guilty of the same during my troubled time in the Army. In 1960, landing in Incheon harbor in Korea, I tried to fake my race. Arriving soldiers were required to fill out a form containing information such as blood type, religion and next of kin. I checked off "Caucasian" where it asked for race. A chief warrant officer, in charge of inspecting the forms noticed the entry and told me I should have checked off Negro. I told him that if I put down "Negro," I would get the worst job over there. The warrant officer probably changed the designation.
        Some years ago, I declared myself a springbok trapped in a human body. A springbok is a highly agile, cute, deer-like animal that resides in southern and southwestern African. Some people suggested that I suffered from a condition known as species dysphoria, in which one thinks he is a wild animal trapped in a human body. Species dysphoria is similar to gender dysphoria, a condition in which a person believes he is a woman trapped in a male body or a man trapped in a female body.
        Psychological counseling was recommended, which, in my opinion, is nothing less than animal phobia. One might ask, "Williams, why in the world would you want to call yourself a springbok?" The reason is quite simple. There is nothing in the Internal Revenue Code that says springboks have a federal tax obligation. If IRS officials were to demand that a springbok pay taxes, they could be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution and reported to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
        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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