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by Walter E. Williams

        Frederic Bastiat, a French economist and member of the French National Assembly, lived from 1801 to 1850. He had great admiration for our country, except for our two faults -- slavery and tariffs. He said: "Look at the United States. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain: the protection of every person's liberty and property." If Bastiat were alive today, he would not have that same level of admiration. The U.S. has become what he fought against for most of his short life.


        Bastiat observed that "when plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." You might ask, "What did Bastiat mean by 'plunder'?" Plunder is when someone forcibly takes the property of another. That's private plunder. What he truly railed against was legalized plunder, and he told us how to identify it. He said: "See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime."


        That could describe today's American laws. We enthusiastically demand that the U.S. Congress forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another American. You say: "Williams, that's insulting. It's no less than saying that we Americans support a form of slavery!" What then should we call it when two-thirds to three-quarters of a $4 trillion-plus federal budget can be described as Congress taking the property of one American and giving it to another to whom it does not belong? Where do you think Congress gets the billions upon billions of dollars for business and farmer handouts? What about the billions handed out for Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, housing allowances and thousands of other handouts? There's no Santa Claus or tooth fairy giving Congress the money, and members of Congress are not spending their own money. The only way Congress can give one American $1 is to first take it from another American.


        What if I privately took the property of one American to give to another American to help him out? I'm guessing and hoping you'd call it theft and seek to jail me. When Congress does the same thing, it's still theft. The only difference is that it's legalized theft. However, legality alone does not establish morality. Slavery was legal; was it moral? Nazi, Stalinist and Maoist purges were legal, but were they moral?


        Some argue that Congress gets its authority to bypass its enumerated powers from the general welfare clause. There are a host of proofs that the Framers had no such intention. James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution," wrote, "If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one." Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Our tenet ever was ... that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated." Rep. William Drayton of South Carolina asked in 1828, "If Congress can determine what constitutes the general welfare and can appropriate money for its advancement, where is the limitation to carrying into execution whatever can be effected by money?"


        What about our nation's future? Alexis de Tocqueville is said to have predicted, "The American republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money." We long ago began ignoring Bastiat's warning when the federal government was just a tiny fraction of gross domestic product -- 3 percent, as opposed to today's 20 percent: "If you don't take care, what begins by being an exception tends to become general, to multiply itself, and to develop into a veritable system."


        Moral Americans are increasingly confronted with Bastiat's dilemma: "When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law."


        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

        There must be a better way to keep kids interested in school than drugging them.
        Today, 1 in 5 school-age boys is diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Many are given drugs that are supposed to help them pay attention.
        "I was the rowdy kid, the bad kid," says Cade Summers in my latest video. "They really pressured my parents to put me on ADHD medication... Adderall, Ritalin. It was like I had been lobotomized. My parents said, 'This is not our son.'"
        They sent him to different schools; he hated them all.
        Then he heard about the Academy of Thought and Industry, a private school in Austin, Texas, that has a different way of teaching.
        To raise the $20,000 tuition, Summers got a job at a coffee shop. He had to get up at 3 a.m. every day to open the shop. "I would get the bacon frying, get the breakfast items ready."
        That's a lot of work for a kid who hated school, but his drive doesn't surprise the man who started Thought and Industry, Michael Strong. He tells parents that kids learn better by doing actual work.
        "Teens need responsibility. Ben Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison started their careers at the age of 12 or 13," he says.
        I pointed out that today people would call that "abusive child labor." Strong answered: "I worked as a teen. I loved it. Teens very often want to work."
        At his school, students get Fridays off to work on their own projects. There are no lectures. Instead students read things and then discuss them.
        It's different from schools Strong attended -- and hated.
        Too often, says Strong, "school is 13 years of how to be passive, dependent. ... Sit still, read, listen to your elders, repeat... aim, aim, aim, and never get stuff done."
        By contrast, at Strong's schools (there are now two, with more on the way) teachers tell students, "Try to start a business in one day."
        Most of those businesses fail, of course, but Strong says: "I want students to go out there and get stuff done, fail, get up, try again. That's how we become creators, entrepreneurs. We want them to do what they love, now."
        Cade Summers says the possibility of making money made him much more interested in school. He tried to start a marketing business. "We got to create a project and immediately start feeling the rewards of it," says Summers.
        Other students we interviewed were into things like music festivals, costume design and computer programming. They got to study the fields they were passionate about.
        A few of the student businesses succeed. Dorian Domi started a music business at the Academy. Today, his music festival, Austin Terror Fest, brings in tens of thousands of dollars.
        Other students launched a website for an "American Idol" finalist. The finalist used the students' work "for about nine months," says Strong. "Then he fired the team -- a high school team -- and got a better team. That was a great experience for my students -- to get fired by a client... Do that several times and that's how you get better at getting stuff done."
        So companies are eager to hire Strong's students. Summers got a marketing job right after he graduated.
        Strong is proud of students like Summers who flourish at Thought and Industry after struggling at regular schools. He described one who, in New Jersey's public schools, "needed a full-time aide. He was costing the state an enormous amount of money. He came to our school, he did not need an aide."
        It's true. We interviewed that student. He told us: "In middle school, elementary school, I was incredibly socially isolated... Coming here is just healing."
        The key for him, and many, was following his (SET ITAL)own(END ITAL) interests, rather than following orders.
        That's what motivated Cade Summers to get up at 3 a.m. to work in that coffee shop.
        "It was me choosing my life," he says.
        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 Taylor Kovar

Hi Taylor - I’ve been setting aside money that I want to put into stocks… but I’ve recently realized I have no idea how to do that! I’ve done a little research but it’s mostly made my head spin, so I’m hoping you might have some advice for a beginner. What’s the best way to get started? - Mindy

Hey Mindy - There’s a ton of info out there, isn’t there? I’ve spent countless hours investing in and researching the stock market, and there are still times when I’m left scratching my head. There are a lot of different ways to approach this market, so I’ll give you a few general concepts that I find useful.

1. Don’t day trade. I strongly, strongly advise you to stay away from this practice. While a few people have enough experience and insider knowledge to make day trading work, the vast majority of people end up losing money this way. It can be fun and exciting and you might hit a big winner, but doesn’t that sound the same as playing roulette in Las Vegas? I don’t recommend this type of investing to anyone, let alone someone who’s just getting started. The stock market should be used as a tool to grow your money, not as a get-rich-quick scheme.

2. Know who you’re investing in. You don’t need to know them personally, but, at the very least, you should know a few things about the company of which you’re becoming a shareholder. It’s easy to get excited about hot tips coming from so-called experts, but you don’t know exactly what motivates these experts to give those tips, nor do you know if they’re actually experts. If you do your own research and learn about well-run companies working in blossoming markets, you can make educated decisions that are more likely to pay off. It’s best to buy shares in a company you like; that way you won’t be overly tempted to sell too quickly.

3. Don’t overdo it. I keep about a third of my investment capital in the stock market. Every broker everywhere will tell you about the importance of a diversified portfolio, and I think that applies to your overall investing strategy. Don’t put all your savings into stocks, and instead keep it to a moderate portion of your funds. This is a safer way to spread out your money and allows you to take advantage of other investment opportunities that offer benefits Wall Street can’t match. I’ve noticed that this approach helps people resist over managing their shares, which can be a dangerous and costly habit. 

 The stock market is a great tool for people who can show restraint and make informed decisions. Asking questions is a great way to start, Mindy, so keep up the good work!

Taylor Kovar, KovarCapital.com

 

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by Walter E. Williams

    Suppose I declare that I am a king. Should you be required to address me as "Your Majesty"? You say, "Williams, that's lunacy! You can't prove such nonsense." You're wrong. It's proved by my declaration. It's no different from a person born with XY chromosomes declaring that he is a woman. The XY sex determination system is the sex determination system found in humans and most other mammals. Females typically have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX) and are called the homogametic sex. Males typically have two different kinds of sex chromosomes (XY) and are called the heterogametic sex.

    Governments are beginning to ignore biology and permit people to make their sex optional. Sex can be changed on one's birth certificate, passport, Social Security card and driver's license. In New York, intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual's preferred name, pronoun or title is a violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. If a person born with XY chromosomes asserts that he is a woman, then repeatedly addressing the person by the name on his birth certificate, referring to the person as "him" or addressing him as "Mister" violates the law and subjects the villain to heavy penalties. The law requires acknowledgment that sex is optional rather than a biological determination.

    Do the people who support the optionality of sex also support the optionality of age? My birth certificate shows 1936 as my year of birth. Age cutoffs exclude me from many jobs, such as police officer, service member and firefighter. If one can change his sex on his birth certificate according to how he feels, why not his age? I think I'll petition to change my year of birth to 1972.

    Super Bowl LIII made history. For the first time, there were two male dancers working out with a cheerleading squad -- in this case, with the Los Angeles Rams' squad. Men being on the field with female squads is not new. They've helped the women with stunts. But Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies danced with the female cheerleaders and performed all the same moves. It's nice to see cheerleader barriers fall, but there's another form of rampant cheerleader discrimination that needs to be addressed. I don't think I've ever seen a full-figured older female cheerleader for any professional sports team. Most appear to be younger than 30 and don't look as if they weigh more than 120 pounds.

    There are other forms of discrimination in sports. There's a sensible argument that can be made for segregating sexes in football, boxing, basketball and ice hockey. Men are typically stronger and bigger than women, so integrating sports such as football, boxing, basketball and ice hockey would lead to disproportionate injury and possibly death to women. But what about sports in which there's no contact, such as tennis, bowling, billiards and swimming? Why should there be men's teams and women's teams? Why aren't feminists protesting against this kind of sports segregation? After all, feminists have ignored the huge strength, aggressiveness and competitiveness differences between men and women in their demands that women be assigned to military combat units.

    Refusing to acknowledge chromosomal differences and giving people the right to declare their sex can lead to opportunities heretofore nonexistent. For example, the men's fastest 100-meter speed is 9.58 seconds. The women's record is 10.49 seconds. What if a male sprinter with 10-second speed claimed womanhood, ran in the women's event and won the gold? A lower bar to achieving fame and fortune exists in women's basketball. It would take only a few tall men who claim they are women to dominate the game.

    Suppose a college honored the right of its students to free themselves from biological determinism and allowed those with XY chromosomes to play on teams formerly designated as XX teams. What if an "unenlightened" women's basketball team refused to play against a team with a starting five consisting of 6-foot-6-inch, 200-plus-pound XYers? The NCAA should have a rule stating that refusal to play a mixed-chromosome team leads to forfeiture of the game. It's no different from a team of white players refusing to play another because it has black players.

    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

    San Francisco is one of the richest cities it the world. It's given us music, technology and elegant architecture. 

    Now it gives us filthy homeless encampments. 

    One urban planner told me, "I just returned from the Tenderloin (a section of San Francisco). It's worse than slums of India, Haiti, Africa!" 

    So I went to San Francisco to make a video about that. 

    I've never seen slums in Africa, but I've seen them in Haiti and India. 

    What I saw in San Francisco looked similar. As one local resident put it, "There's shit everywhere. It's just a mess out here." 

    There's also lots of mental illness. One man told us, "Vampires are real. I'm paranoid as hell." San Francisco authorities mostly leave the mentally ill to fend for themselves on the street. 

    Other vagrants complain about them. "They make it bad for people like us that hang out with a sign," one beggar told us. 

    San Francisco is a pretty good place to "hang out with a sign." People are rarely arrested for vagrancy, aggressive panhandling or going to the bathroom in front of people's homes. In 2015, there were 60,491 complaints to police, but only 125 people were arrested. 

    Public drug use is generally ignored. One woman told us, "It's nasty seeing people shoot up -- right in front of you. Police don't do anything about it! They'll get somebody for drinking a beer but walk right past people using needles." 

    Each day in San Francisco, an average of 85 cars are broken into. 

    "Inside Edition" ran a test to see how long stereo equipment would last in a parked car. Their test car was quickly broken into. Then the camera crew discovered that their own car had been busted into as well. 

    Some store owners hire private police to protect their stores. But San Francisco's police union has complained about the competition. Now there are only a dozen private cops left, and street people dominate neighborhoods. 

    We followed one private cop, who asked street people, "Do you need any type of homeless outreach services?" 

    Most say no. "They love the freedom of not having to follow the rules," said the cop. 

    And San Francisco is generous. It offers street people food stamps, free shelter, train tickets and $70 a month in cash. 

    "They're always offering resources," one man dressed as Santa told us. "San Francisco's just a good place to hang out." 

    So every week, new people arrive. 

    Some residents want the city to get tougher with people living on the streets. 

    "Get them to the point where they have to make a decision between jail and rehab," one told us. "Other cities do it, but for some reason, San Francisco doesn't have the political will." 

    For decades, San Francisco's politicians promised to fix the homeless problem. 

    When Sen. Dianne Feinstein was mayor, she proudly announced that she was putting the homeless in hotels: "A thousand units, right here in the Tenderloin!" 

    When California Governor Gavin Newsom was mayor of San Francisco, he bragged, "We have already moved 6,860 human beings." 

    Last year, former Mayor Mark Farrell said, "We need to fund programs like Homeward Bound." 

    But the extra funding hasn't worked. 

    One reason is that even if someone did want to get off the street and rent an apartment, there aren't many available. 

    San Francisco is filled with two- and three-story buildings, and in most neighborhoods, putting up a taller building is illegal. Even where zoning laws allow it, California regulations make construction so difficult that many builders won't even try. 

    For years, developer John Dennis has been trying to convert an old meatpacking plant into an apartment building -- but it has taken him four years just to get permission to build. 

    "And all that time, we're paying property taxes and paying for maintenance," says Dennis. "I will do no more projects in San Francisco." 

    People in San Francisco often claim to be concerned about helping the poor. But their many laws make life much tougher for the poor. 

    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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