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by Walter E. Williams

    A recent article in The Guardian dons the foreboding title "Robots will destroy our jobs -- and we're not ready for it." The article claims, "For every job created by robotic automation, several more will be eliminated entirely. ... This disruption will have a devastating impact on our workforce." According to an article in MIT Technology Review, business researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States.
    If technology is destroying jobs faster than it's creating them, it is the first time in human history that it's done so. Actually, the number of jobs is unlimited, for the simple reason that human wants are unlimited -- or they don't frequently reveal their bounds. People always want more of something that will create a job for someone. To suggest that there are a finite number of jobs commits an error known as the "lump of labor fallacy." That fallacy suggests that when automation or technology eliminates a job, there's nothing that people want that would create employment for the person displaced by the automation. In other words, all human wants have been satisfied.
    Let's look at a few examples. In 1790, farmers were 90 percent of the U.S. labor force. By 1900, only about 41 percent of our workers were employed in agriculture. Today less than 3 percent of Americans are employed in agriculture. And it's a good thing. If 90 percent or 41 percent of our labor force were still employed in agriculture, where in the world would we find the workforce to produce all those goods and services that weren't around in 1790 or 1900, such as cars, aircraft, TVs, computers, aircraft carriers, etc.? Indeed, if technology had not destroyed all of those agricultural jobs, we would be a much, much poorer nation.
    What about the claim that our manufacturing jobs are going to China -- a claim that's fueling the Trump administration to impose trade barriers? It is true that between 2001 and 2013, 3.2 million jobs were outsourced to China. However, in the same time frame, China lost about 4.5 million manufacturing jobs, compared with the loss of 3.1 million in the U.S. Job loss is the trend among the top 10 manufacturing countries, which produce 75 percent of the world's manufacturing output (the U.S., Japan, Germany, China, Britain, France, Italy, South Korea, Canada and Mexico). Only Italy has managed not to lose factory jobs since 2000. Nonetheless, the U.S. remains a major force in global manufacturing.
    Because of automation, the U.S. worker is now three times as productive as in 1980 and twice as productive as in 2000. It's productivity gains, rather than outsourcing and imports, that explain most of our manufacturing job loss.
    If our manufacturing sector were its own economy and had its own gross domestic product, it would be the seventh-largest in the world. Total manufacturing value could be as high as $5.5 trillion. In other words, about 17 percent of global manufacturing activity happens in the United States, and America dominates advanced manufacturing. According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, U.S. manufacturing employs a large percentage of the workers who are trained in fields related to science, technology, engineering and math. It employs 37 percent of architectural and engineering workers and 16 percent of life, physical and social scientists.
    Economist Joseph Schumpeter described this process of technological change. He called it "creative destruction." Technology and innovation destroy some jobs while creating many others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. labor force in 1950 was 62 million. By 2000, it was 79 million, and it's projected to reach 192 million by 2050. Though the "creative destruction" process works hardships on some people who lose their jobs and are forced to take lower-paying jobs, any attempt to impede the process would make all of us worse off.
    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

        Carter G. Woodson, noted scholar, historian and educator, created "Negro History Week" in 1926, which became Black History Month in 1976. Woodson chose February because it coincided with the birthdays of black abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln. Americans should be proud of the tremendous gains made since emancipation. Black Americans, as a group, have made the greatest gains, over some of the highest hurdles, in a shorter span of time than any other racial group in mankind's history.

        What's the evidence? If one totaled black income and thought of us as a separate nation with our own gross domestic product, black Americans would rank among the world's 20 richest nations. It was a black American, Colin Powell, who, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, headed the world's mightiest military. There are a few black Americans who are among the world's richest and most famous personalities. The significance of these achievements is that in 1865, neither a former slave nor a former slave owner would have believed that such gains would be possible in a little over a century. As such, it speaks well of the intestinal fortitude of a people. Just as importantly, it speaks well of a nation in which such gains were possible. Those gains would have been impossible anywhere other than the U.S.

        Putting greater emphasis on black successes in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds is far superior to focusing on grievances and victimhood. Doing so might teach us some things that could help us today. Black education today is a major problem. Let's look at some islands of success from yesteryear, when there was far greater racial discrimination and blacks were much poorer.

        From the late 1800s to 1950, some black schools were models of academic achievement. Black students at Washington's racially segregated Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, as early as 1899, outscored white students in the District of Columbia schools on citywide tests. Dr. Thomas Sowell's research in "Education: Assumptions Versus History" documents similar excellence at Baltimore's Frederick Douglass High School, Atlanta's Booker T. Washington High School, Brooklyn's Albany Avenue School, New Orleans' McDonogh 35 High School and others. These excelling students weren't solely members of the black elite; most had parents who were manual laborers, domestic servants, porters and maintenance men. Academic excellence was obtained with skimpy school budgets, run-down buildings, hand-me-down textbooks and often 40 or 50 students in a class.

        Alumni of these schools include Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice (Frederick Douglass), Gen. Benjamin Davis, Dr. Charles Drew, a blood plasma innovator, Robert C. Weaver, the first black Cabinet member, Sen. Edward Brooke, William Hastie, the first black federal judge (Dunbar), and Nobel laureate Martin Luther King Jr. (Booker T. Washington). These examples of pioneering success raise questions about today's arguments about what's needed for black academic success. Education experts and civil rights advocates argue that for black academic excellence to occur, there must be racial integration, small classes, big budgets and modern facilities. But earlier black academic successes put a lie to that argument.

        In contrast with yesteryear, at today's Frederick Douglass High School, only 9 percent of students test proficient in English, and only 3 percent do in math. At Paul Laurence Dunbar, 12 percent of pupils are proficient in reading, and 5 percent are proficient in math. At Booker T. Washington, the percentages are 20 in English and 18 in math. In addition to low academic achievement, there's a level of violence and disrespect to teachers and staff that could not have been imagined, much less tolerated, at these schools during the late 1800s and the first half of the 20th century.

        Many black political leaders are around my age, 81, such as Rep. Maxine Waters, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Jesse Jackson. Their parents and other authorities would have never accepted the grossly disrespectful, violent behavior that has become the norm at many black schools. Their silence and support of the status quo makes a mockery of black history celebrations and represents a betrayal of epic proportions to the blood, sweat and tears of our ancestors in their struggle to make today's educational opportunities available.

        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

    Kids who attend New York City's Success Academy charter schools do remarkably well.

        "We are No. 1 in student achievement in the state," says founder Eva Moskowitz, "outperforming all the wealthy suburbs."

        They do. Although they teach mostly poor kids, 95 percent pass the state math test, and 84 percent pass the English test. Pass rates at government run schools are 38 and 41 percent. How does Success Academy do it?

        For one thing, she keeps kids in class longer. Middle schoolers stay until 4:30 p.m.

        Is that too much stress for kids, I ask?

        "China and India are not worrying about the length of the school day," she replied. "We have to toughen up."

        From what I saw, "toughening up" doesn't make kids hate school. Many told me they "look forward" to going to Success Academy in the morning. One called school "rockin' awesome!"

        "Kids like succeeding," explains Moskowitz.

        Despite this success, or because of it, the education establishment hates Moskowitz.

        When she tries to open new schools, activists protest. New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio complained, "It's time for Eva Moskowitz to stop having the run of the place!"

        "Why do they hate you?" I asked.

        "What we prove is that there's nothing wrong with the children," she replied. "There is something wrong with a system, a monopolistic system that is not allowing kids to succeed."

        Mayor de Blasio got his political start as a socialist, has praised Cuba and Venezuela, and isn't fond of competition. To protect New York City's taxi industry, he tried to block Uber and Lyft.

        He doesn't understand that competition helps more people than it hurts.

        Some specific criticisms of charters like Success Academy:

        Criticism No. 1. They are "a scam," says "Young Turks" TV commentator Nomiki Konst, "better funded -- by these hedge funders -- and they're performing worse than underfunded schools."

        But Konst is wrong. Charters like Success Academy do more with less. New York City's regular public schools get $20,000 per pupil.

        "I only get $14,500," says Moskowitz.

        Criticism No. 2. They get better results because they just accept better students. They skim the cream off the top.

        "Simply not true," replied Moskowitz. "We admit by random lottery."

        That's also true. But one educator who watched my YouTube video on Success Academy emailed me with Criticism No. 3: "Only certain parents enter lotteries. You don't have the homeless kids, foster kids, kids whose parents are in jail."

        Fair point. I asked Moskowitz about that.

        "Most of our kids are from very poor families," she replied. "Yet they significantly outperform kids from suburbs ... where the average household income is eight or nine times what our families earn."

        And even some homeless kids flourish at her schools, she says. "About 1 in 10 of our scholars are homeless, yet 97 percent of them passed the state math exams and 84 percent passed reading."

        Criticism No. 4: Charters kick out problem kids or "counsel them out." They demand so many meetings with parents that parents eventually withdraw their kids.

        But "our retention rate's higher than the city schools'!" answered Moskowitz. She's right. Only 10 percent of kids leave her schools, while 13 percent leave regular schools before completion.

        Criticism No. 5: Some charters turn out to be worse than government-run schools. That's true. But the beauty of choice (a market) is that the good schools grow while inferior ones close. For years, bad government schools never  closed.

        In her new book, "The Education of Eva Moskowitz," she explains that she's a Democrat who didn't always believe in school choice.

        "I was blinded, I think, by a belief that big government was a good thing."

        Now she knows better.

        Many families also now know charters may be better. Parents line up for lotteries where government rations out the small number of admissions. Kids who don't get picked sometimes cry.

        It's cruel and unnecessary for government to limit choice this way, but many politicians have an investment in maintaining the power of bureaucrats and teacher unions.

        Thankfully, some kids will have better lives because people like Eva Moskowitz fight the 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

        President Donald Trump reportedly asked why the U.S. is "having all these people from shithole countries come here." I think he could have used better language, but it's a question that should be asked and answered. I have a few questions for my fellow Americans to consider. How many Norwegians have illegally entered our nation, committed crimes and burdened our prison and welfare systems? I might ask the same question about Finnish, Swedish, Welsh, Icelanders, Greenlanders and New Zealanders. The bulk of our immigration problem is with people who enter our country criminally from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East. It's illegal immigrants from those countries who have committed crimes and burdened our criminal justice and welfare systems. A large number of immigrants who are here illegally -- perhaps the majority are law-abiding in other respects -- have fled oppressive, brutal and corrupt regimes to seek a better life in America.
        In the debate about illegal immigration, there are questions that are not explicitly asked but can be answered with a straight "yes" or "no": Does everyone in the world have a right to live in the U.S.? Do Americans have a right to decide who and under what conditions a person may enter our country? Should we permit foreigners landing at our airports to ignore U.S. border control laws just as some ignore our laws at our southern border? The reason those questions are not asked is that one would be deemed an idiot for saying that everyone in the world has a right to live in our country, that Americans don't have a right to decide who lives in our country and that foreigners landing at our airports have a right to just ignore U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.
        Immigration today, even when legal, is different from the immigration of yesteryear. People who came here in the 19th century and most of the 20th century came here to learn our language, learn our customs and become Americans. Years ago, there was a guarantee that immigrants came here to work, because there was no welfare system; they worked, begged or starved. Today, there is no such assurance. Because of our welfare state, immigrants can come here and live off taxpaying Americans.
        There is another difference between today and yesteryear. Today, Americans are taught multiculturalism throughout their primary, secondary and college education. They are taught that one culture is no better or worse than another. To believe otherwise is criticized at best as Eurocentrism and at worst as racism. As a result, some immigrant groups seek to bring to our country the cultural values whose failures have led to the poverty, corruption and human rights violations in their home countries that caused them to flee. As the fallout from President Trump's indelicate remarks demonstrates, too many Americans are afraid and unwilling to ask which immigrant groups have become a burden to our nation and which have made a contribution to the greatness of America.
        Very unfortunate for our nation is that we have political groups that seek to use illegal immigration for their own benefit. They've created sanctuary cities and states that openly harbor criminals -- people who have broken our laws. The whole concept of sanctuary cities is to give aid, comfort and sympathy to people who have broken our laws. Supporters want to prevent them from having to hide and live in fear of discovery. I'd ask whether, for the sake of equality before the law, we should apply the sanctuary concept to Americans who have broken other laws, such as robbers and tax evaders.
        We should not fall prey to people who criticize our efforts to combat illegal immigration and who pompously say, "We're a nation of immigrants!" The debate is not over immigration. The debate is over illegal immigration. My sentiments on immigrants who are here legally and who want to become Americans are expressed by the sentiments in Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus," which is on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty and in part says, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
        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

       Is America the world's freest country? Sadly, no.
        When researchers first started doing detailed international comparisons, the USA came in second or third. This year, however, we ranked 17th.
        The comparison I cite is the newly released Human Freedom Index, compiled by the Fraser and Cato Institutes. They compared economic freedoms such as freedom to trade, amount of regulations and tax levels, plus personal freedoms such as women's rights and religious freedom.
        Their new report concludes that the world's freest countries are now:
        1. Switzerland.
        2. Hong Kong.
        3. New Zealand.
        4. Ireland.
        5. Australia.
        "The United States used to have one of the freest economies in the world," Index co-author Ian Vasquez says. "It used to be a two, three or four, and then government started to grow (and) spend more."
        Republicans and Democrats, under Presidents Bush and Obama, voted for increases in spending and regulation. Obama tried to make tax increases sound harmless. "Those who are more fortunate are going to have to pay a little bit more."
        The result was that we fell farther from the top of the freedom ranking. Switzerland now takes first place. It has comparatively little regulation, low taxes, a free press and personal freedoms such as same-sex marriage.
        A good ranking matters, not just because freedom itself is a good thing, but because economic freedom allows people to prosper.
        Consider the story of Hong Kong, No. 2 on the overall freedom list (but No. 1 in economic freedom). In just 50 years, people in Hong Kong went from being among the poorest in the world to among the richest.
        Prosperity happened because Hong Kong's government puts few obstacles in the way of trying new things. It took me just a few hours to get legal permission to open a business in Hong Kong. In New York, it took months. In India, I didn't even try -- it would have taken years.
        That's a reason India stays poor. Bureaucrats have the power to review and reject most any new idea. Fewer new ideas get tried.
        The absolute worst places to live are countries that lack both economic and personal freedom.
        Those are the places at the bottom of the freedom ranking:
        155. Egypt.
        156. Yemen.
        157. Libya.
        158. Venezuela.
        159. Syria.
        (Totalitarian North Korea wasn't ranked because the researchers couldn't get accurate information.)
        Syria ranked so low mostly because of the war. You aren't free if you worry you might be killed.
        Second-to-last place Venezuela was once the richest country in Latin America. Then socialists promised to spread the wealth.
        The next three: Libya, Yemen, Egypt -- well, the Arab Spring didn't turn out as well as some hoped.
        On the top of the list, I wasn't surprised to see New Zealand and Australia. They always do well.
        But Ireland? I associate Ireland with poverty. For 150 years after English rulers caused the Potato Famine, Irish people left Ireland to search for a better life.
        But Ireland recently changed, says Vasquez.
        "They reduced taxes ... spending, reduced regulations. They opened up to trade."
        Now people want to live there.
        You can read the full freedom rankings on the Cato Institute's and Fraser Institute's websites. If you plan to move or start a business in another country, the Freedom Index is a good guide.
        Greece is beautiful, but it ranks 60th, mostly because the country lacks economic freedom. China got richer, but because personal freedom is so limited, China ranks 130th.
        How do you summarize a free country? I asked Vasquez.
        "You can lead your life any way you want as long as you respect the equal rights of others, he answered. You (decide) what job you want to take, what kinds of things you want to do, who you want to marry, what you want to do on your free time, where you want to live."
        I suggested that countries don't regulate your free time, but Vasquez set me straight.
        "They do." Some countries, he says, "regulate everything!"
        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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