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by John Stossel

        The Iowa Caucus, the real start of the 2020 presidential primaries, is next week. Who's favored to win? Sadly, as I write this, the smart money says it's the candidate who's promised Americans the most "free" stuff.
        Six months ago, my staff and I tallied the candidates' promises. All wanted to give away trillions -- or more accurately, wanted government to tax you and spend your money on the candidates' schemes.
        At that point, Senator Kamala Harris led. Fortunately, her promises did not bring her sustained support, and she dropped out.
        Unfortunately, now the other candidates are making even more promises.
        So, it's time for a new contest.
        My new video ranks the current leading candidates by how much of your money they promise to spend. We divide the promises into four categories:
        Education
        Joe Biden would make community college free, cut student loans in half, increase Pell Grants and modernize schools.
        Added to his previous campaign promises, he'd increase federal spending by $157 billion per year.
        Elizabeth Warren would spend much more. She wants government to "provide universal child care for every baby in this country age 0 to 5, universal pre-K for every child, raise the wages of every childcare worker and preschool teacher in America, provide for universal tuition-free college, put $50 billion into historically black colleges and universities... and cancel student loan debt for 95% of the people."
        She'd outspend Biden -- but not Bernie Sanders.
        Sanders would forgive all student loans -- even for the rich. He also demands that government give everyone child care and pre-K.
        Mayor Pete Buttigieg also promises free child care, more pay for teachers, more career education, free college and Pell Grants, plus the refinancing of student debt.
        Good try, Pete, but Sanders "wins" in the education category, with nearly $300 billion in promises.
        Climate
        All the Democrats pretend they will do something useful about climate change. Biden would spend $170 billion per year, Buttigieg $150 billion to $200 billion and Warren $300 billion. Sanders "wins" this category, too, by promising more than $1 trillion.
        Health Care
        Even the "moderate," Biden, now wants to "build out Obamacare" and to cover people here illegally.
        So does Buttigieg -- but he'd spend twice as much on it.
        Warren complains the Buttigieg plan "costs so much less" than her plan. She'd spend $2 trillion a year.
        Sanders is again the biggest spender. He'd spend $3 trillion of your money on his "Medicare for All" plan.
        Welfare
        In this category, Biden, to his credit, plans no new spending.
        But Buttigieg has been cranking out lots of new promises, like $45 billion for "affordable housing" and $27 billion to expand Social Security payments beyond what people paid in.
        Warren would also spend more on "affordable housing" and give kids more food stamps.
        Sanders "wins" again. He promises to guarantee everyone a job, provide "housing for all" and give more people food stamps.
        Miscellaneous
        Then there's spending that doesn't neatly fit into major categories, like Biden's plans for new foreign aid for Central America, Sanders' high-speed internet, Buttigieg's expanding national service programs like the Peace Corps and Warren's plan to force government to buy only American-made products.
        Finally, we found a spending category that Sanders doesn't win. With $130 billion in new plans, Biden wins the "miscellaneous" round.
        And what about that incumbent Republican?
        Donald Trump once talked about "cutting waste," but government spending rose more than half a trillion dollars during his first three years.
        Now Trump wants $267 billion in new spending for things like infrastructure and "access to high-quality, affordable childcare."
        At least Trump wants to spend less than the Democrats.
        Biden and Buttigieg would double Trump's increase. Warren would quadruple it. She'd increase spending by almost $3 trillion.
        But Bernie Sanders blows them all out of the water, with nearly $5 trillion in proposed new spending!
        "I'm not denying we're going to spend a lot of money," he admits.
        He'll probably win in Iowa next week. Whoever wins... taxpayers lose.
        John Stossel is the 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

        During President Donald J. Trump's impeachment trial, we'll hear a lot of talk about our rules for governing. One frequent claim is that our nation is a democracy. If we've become a democracy, it would represent a deep betrayal of our founders, who saw democracy as another form of tyranny. In fact, the word democracy appears nowhere in our nation's two most fundamental documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The founders laid the ground rules for a republic as written in the Constitution's Article IV, Section 4, which guarantees "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government."
        John Adams captured the essence of the difference between a democracy and republic when he said, "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." Contrast the framers' vision of a republic with that of a democracy. In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent power. The restraint is upon the individual instead of the government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.
        Here are a few quotations that demonstrate the contempt that our founders held for a democracy. James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 10, wrote that in a pure democracy, "there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual."
        At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said that "in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy." Alexander Hamilton agreed, saying: "We are now forming a republican government. (Liberty) is found not in "the extremes of democracy but in moderate governments. ... If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy."
        John Adams reminded us: "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
        John Marshall, the highly respected fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court observed, "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."
        Thomas Paine said, "A Democracy is the vilest form of Government there is."
        The framers gave us a Constitution replete with undemocratic mechanisms. One constitutional provision that has come in for recent criticism is the Electoral College. In their wisdom, the framers gave us the Electoral College as a means of deciding presidential elections. That means heavily populated states can't run roughshod over small, less-populated states.
        Were we to choose the president and vice president under a popular vote, the outcome of presidential races would always be decided by a few highly populated states, namely California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania, which contain 134.3 million people, or 41% of our population. Presidential candidates could safely ignore the interests of the citizens of Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Delaware. Why? They have only 5.58 million Americans, or 1.7% of the U.S. population. We would no longer be a government "of the people." Instead, our government would be put in power by and accountable to the leaders and citizens of a few highly populated states. It would be the kind of tyranny the framers feared.
        It's Congress that poses the greatest threat to our liberties. The framers' distrust is seen in the negative language of our Bill of Rights such as: Congress "shall not abridge, infringe, deny, disparage, and shall not be violated, nor be denied." When we die and if at our next destination we see anything like a Bill of Rights, we know that we're in hell because a Bill of Rights in heaven would suggest that God couldn't be trusted.
        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

       It's nearly impossible to have even a short conversation with a college administrator, politician or chief executive without the words diversity and inclusion dropping from their lips. Diversity and inclusion appear to be the end-all and be-all of their existence. So, I thought I'd begin this discussion by first looking up the definition of diversity.
        According to the Oxford Dictionary, diversity is "the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc." The definition gratuitously adds, "equality and diversity should be supported for their own sake." The standard definition given for inclusion is involvement and empowerment where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized.
        Here's my question to those who are wedded to diversity and inclusion: Are people better off the less they have in common with one another? For example, women are less likely to be able to march 12.4 miles in five hours with an 83-pound assault load. They are also less likely to be able to crawl, sprint, negotiate obstacles and move a wounded comrade weighing 165 pounds while carrying that load. Would anyone argue that a military outfit would benefit from diversity by including soldiers who can and those who cannot march 12 miles in five hours while carrying an 83-pound load?
        You say, "Williams, the military is an exception!" What about language? The International Civil Aviation Organization has decreed that all air traffic controllers and flight crew members engaged in or in contact with international flights must be proficient in the English language as a general spoken medium. According to UNESCO, there are about 7,000 languages in the world. The International Civil Aviation Organization could promote language inclusiveness by requiring language rotation. Some years, Cebuano (of the Malayo-Polynesian language family) and in other years Kinyarwanda (of the Niger-Congo language family) could be the language of pilots and air traffic controllers. Keep in mind that it is claimed that the great benefit of diversity and inclusiveness is that it promotes and fosters a sense of belonging. It values and practices respect for the differences in the talents, beliefs, backgrounds and ways of living of its members.
        Another issue is what should be done when people who should know better praise nondiversity and noninclusiveness? Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse L. Jackson said, "I applaud commissioner Adam Silver's commitment to diversity and inclusion within the NBA." During the 2018-2019 season, more than 33% of NBA teams had head coaches of color. The number of assistant head coaches of color was over 42%. The number of black NBA players was 82%. In the face of these statistics, Oris Stuart, the NBA's chief diversity and inclusion officer said, "Diversity, inclusion and equality are central to every aspect of our game and our business." I would like for Jesse Jackson and others who claim that there's racial diversity and inclusiveness in professional basketball to make their case. The same question can be asked about professional football where 70% of NFL players are black, and 9% of team head coaches are black. The thornier question and challenge is what can be done to make profession!
 al basketball and football look more like the American population?
        Most of the diversity and inclusiveness insanity has its roots in academia. An example is a paper titled "Equilibrium Grade Inflation with Implications for Female Interest in STEM Majors," written by Naval Postgraduate School professor Thomas Ahn, Duke University economics professor Peter Arcidiacono, Duke University researcher Amy Hopson, and James R. Thomas of the Federal Trade Commission. The authors argue that science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs at colleges and universities lacking female enrollment can be attributed largely to harsh grading policies in these fields. Their solution to increase the number of women's involvement in STEM is to standardize grading curves, in order to grade less "harshly." The insanity of this approach is to not only weaken standards for women but to weaken standards across the board. This is more evidence that George Orwell was absolutely right when he said, "There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual cou!
 ld believe them."
        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

        Reporters complain about business. We overlook the constant improvements in our lives made possible by greedy businesses competing for your money. Think about how our access to entertainment has improved.
        "When I was a kid," says Sean Malone in a new video for the Foundation for Economic Education, "my TV broadcast options were PBS, Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS. Depending on the weather, it was hit or miss whether or not they were even watchable."
        1977 brought the first video rental store. "We literally had to rent a VCR along with two or three movies we could get on VHS from Blockbuster," Malone reminds us, pointing out how much changed. "Now just about anything I've ever wanted to watch is available at the click of a button."
        Here's a short version I released this week of the FEE video. It wasn't government or big movie studios that made the amazing array of new options available. They dragged their feet. Malone points out that "the astounding wealth of home entertainment options we have today are the result of entrepreneurial start-ups, like Blockbuster."
        Blockbuster letting people watch movies whenever we wanted was a big improvement. But people are ingrates about the things capitalism makes possible. In the 1990s, people complained that Blockbuster's chokehold on video entertainment was so strong that the company would be able to censor anything it didn't like.
        Special sanitized versions of movies were distributed through Blockbuster. How would we ever get to see the movies as they were originally intended? Clearly, Blockbuster was a monopoly. Government should regulate "Big Videotape" and break up the Blockbuster monopoly!
        Government didn't. Yet Blockbuster is now bankrupt. Its competitors offered so many better things.
        That's something to think about now when people call Facebook and Google monopolies. A few years ago, people claimed Netflix had a monopoly.
        But without government suppressing competition, Netflix had no way to maintain its temporary hold on the streaming market. Other companies caught up fast. Customers decide which businesses succeed and which ones fail.
        This is why centrally planning an economy doesn't work. "Politicians and bureaucrats don't know what people are going to value," explains Malone. "They pick winners and losers based on what they want or what they think is going to earn them the most important allies."
        Blockbuster's demise began when it charged a man named Reed Hastings $40 in late fees. That annoyed him so much, he started a subscription-based, mail-order movie rental company he called Netflix.
        Then, Netflix made movies available online.
        Now we have instant access to more entertainment than ever through Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc., all for a fraction of the cost of the original Netflix.
        Still, we complain. That's how it is with capitalism, and it's a wonderful thing. While we complain, entrepreneurs like Hastings invent faster, easier ways to get us what we want. Many offer us options we never knew we wanted, putting old giants out of business.
        There is an economics lesson in that. When entrepreneurs face competition, they often lose, but the fights make life better for us consumers.
        This process of old things being replaced by new and better ones was dubbed "creative destruction" by economist Joseph Schumpeter. We see creative destruction in every industry.
        The first flip phone cost $1,000 and couldn't do the things we expect phones to do today. Competition drove further innovation. We got the Blackberry, and then the iPhone.
        What amazing things will businesses come up with next?
        Malone's video points out that the best way to find out is to keep government and central planning out of the mix.
        Once government wades in with regulations, it tends to freeze the current model in place, assuming it's the best way to do things.
        But the best way to do things is one that we haven't even thought of yet, produced by the endless creative process called competition.
        John Stossel is the 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

    Criminal activity imposes huge costs on black residents in low-income neighborhoods of cities such as Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, St. Louis, Philadelphia and many others. Thousands of black Americans were murdered in 2019. Over 90% of the time, the perpetrator was also black. Leftists and social justice warriors charge that what blacks have to fear most is being shot and killed by police, but the numbers don't add up. For several years, The Washington Post has been documenting police shootings in America. Last year, 933 people were shot and killed by police. Twenty-three percent (212) of people shot and killed were black; 35% (331) were white; 16% (155) were Hispanic and 201 were of other or unknown races. The high homicide rate within the black community doesn't begin to tell the full tragedy.
    Crime imposes a hefty tax on people who can least afford it. They are the law-abiding residents of black neighborhoods. Residents must bear the time cost and other costs of having to shop outside of their neighborhoods. Supermarkets that are abundant in low-crime neighborhoods are absent or scarce in high-crime, low-income neighborhoods. Because of the paucity of supermarkets and other big-box stores in these neighborhoods, some "experts" and academicians have labeled them as "food deserts." That's the ridiculous suggestion that white supermarket merchants and big-box store owners don't like green dollars coming out of black hands. The true villains of the piece are the criminals who make some businesses unprofitable. By the way, these are equal opportunity criminals. They will victimize a black-owned business just as they would victimize a white-owned business. The high crime rates in many black neighborhoods have the effect of outlawing economic growth and opportunities.
    In low-crime neighborhoods, FedEx, UPS and other delivery companies routinely leave packages containing valuable merchandise on a doorstep if no one is home. That saves the expense of redelivery and saves recipients the expense of having to go pick up the packages. In high-crime neighborhoods, delivery companies leaving packages at the door or supermarkets leaving goods outside unattended would be equivalent to economic suicide. Fearing robberies, taxi drivers, including black drivers, often refuse to accept telephone calls for home pickups and frequently pass prospective black customers who hail them on the street. Plus, there's the insult associated with not being able to receive pizzas or other deliveries on the same terms as people in other neighborhoods.
    Another often-overlooked impact of crime is lower property values. Homes that wouldn't fetch $10,000, $20,000 or $40,000 suddenly fetch hundreds of thousands when large numbers of middle- and upper-income people purchase formerly run-down properties and fix them up. This is called gentrification, where wealthier, predominantly white, people bid higher rental prices thus forcing out low-income residents. As a result of gentrification, there is greater police protection and other neighborhood amenities increase.
    Many make the erroneous assumption that black people don't care about crime. But black people strongly disapprove of the day-to-day violence that's all too common in their communities. What compounds that problem is a deep mistrust of police in poor black neighborhoods. This distrust, along with fear of reprisals by black criminals, causes an atmosphere of noncooperation with the police. It creates the "stop snitching" principle. This principle of snitches being worse than criminals themselves only exacerbates the crime problem in black communities by giving aid and comfort to the true enemies of the community -- those who prey on the community and have little fear of being brought to justice. In some cities, less than 10% of murderers are ever charged.
    For decades, the problems of blacks could be laid at the feet of racial discrimination. Our ancestors started a civil rights struggle and won. Today, the most devastating problems of blacks are entirely self-inflicted such as high illegitimacy, family breakdown and unsafe communities. These problems have little to do with civil rights. But as long as blacks buy into the notion that white racism is the source of their problems, the solutions will be elusive forever.
    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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