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by John Stossel

"How many once-in-a-lifetime storms will it take," demands "The Daily Show" comic Trevor Noah, "until everyone admits man-made climate change is real?!"

His audience roars its approval.

When Hurricane Irma hit, so-called friends admonished me, "Look what your fossil fuels have done! Will you finally admit you are wrong?"

No. It's the alarmists who are wrong -- on so many levels.

First, two big storms don't mean much.

The global warming activists must know that because when Donald Trump joked about a lack of warming on a snowy day, they lectured us about how "weather is not climate -- one snowstorm is irrelevant to long-term climate."

They were right then. But now that bad weather has come, they change their tune.

Time magazine reported confidently, "Climate change makes the hurricane season worse."

But Irma and Harvey came after a record 12 years without any Category 3-5 storms. Over those 12 years, did Time say the absence of storms proved climate change fear exaggerated? No. Of course not.

It seems logical that warmer water may make storms worse, but there's no proof of that.

The government's own National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says neither its models "nor our analyses of trends in Atlantic hurricane and tropical storm counts over the past 120-plus years support the notion that greenhouse gas-induced warming leads to large increases in either tropical storm or overall hurricane numbers."

As Irma approached, The Washington Post ran an even dumber headline: "Irma and Harvey Should Kill Any Doubt That Climate Change Is Real."

That's phrased to make any skeptic look ridiculous.

Of course climate change is real! Climate changes -- it always has and always will. For the past 300 years, since "the little ice age," the globe warmed about three degrees. The warming started well before man emitted much carbon.

So the real unanswered questions are:
    1. Will climate change become a crisis? (We face immediate crises now: poverty, terrorism, a $20 trillion debt, rebuilding after the hurricanes)
    2. Is there anything we can do about it? (No. Not now; the science isn't there yet.)
    3. Did man's burning fossil fuels increase the warming? (Probably. But we don't know how much.)

I resent how the alarmists mix these questions, pretending all the science is settled. Notice how Trevor Noah, above, tossed out the words "man-made," as if all climate change is man-made?

OK, he's just a comic, but New York Times writers constantly yammer about "human-caused" and "man-made" climate change, too.

Politicians (and ex-politicians like Al Gore) are eager to exploit our fears by calling for more spending and regulation in the name of fighting deadly but preventable climate change -- as if feeble efforts like the Paris climate accord would have made the tiniest difference. They wouldn't. It's all for show.

A video I made about this seems to have struck a chord. It got more than a million views over the weekend.

Some people reacted with anger online: "the scientific community suggest that humans are contributing to the warming of the planet. Isn't (it) at least a little reckless to put a finger in each ear and say 'Nuh uh! LALALALALALALALALA!'"

That would be reckless. But no one advocates that. We already spend a fortune on subsidies, mandates and climate research. The real questions are outlined above.

A calmer commenter wrote, "Don't forget the hurricanes of the past. 1926 Miami, 1935 Keys, 1947 West Palm Beach, Donna 1961. People act like hurricanes like these have never happened."

Right. And he left out Galveston's hurricane in 1900, which killed as many as 12,000 people.

One commenter added, "It's called El Nino and La Nina. We will be entering El Nino again (and) so seeing storms actually form. It shifts back and forth every 7-10 years or so. Do schools not teach these things?"

Climate fluctuates, and humans don't have too much to say about it.

Maybe someday humans will be gone. The storms will continue. But at least there'll be less hot air.

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

Many blacks and their white liberal allies demand the removal of statues of Confederate generals and the Confederate battle flag, and they are working up steam to destroy the images of Gens. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee and President Jefferson Davis from Stone Mountain in Georgia. Allow me to speculate as to the whys of this statue removal craze, which we might call statucide.

To understand it, we need a review of the promises black and white liberals have been making for decades. In 1940, the black poverty rate was 87 percent. By 1960, it had fallen to 47 percent. During that interval, blacks were politically impotent. There were no anti-poverty programs or affirmative action programs. Nonetheless, this poverty reduction exceeded that in any other 20-year interval. But the black leadership argued that more was necessary. They said that broad advancement could not be made unless blacks gained political power.

Fifty years ago, there were fewer than 1,000 black elected officials nationwide. According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, by 2011 there were roughly 10,500 black elected officials, not to mention a black president. But what were the fruits of greater political power? The greatest black poverty, poorest education, highest crime rates and greatest family instability are in cities such as Detroit, St. Louis, Oakland, Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Philadelphia and Buffalo. The most common characteristic of these predominantly black cities is that for decades, all of them have been run by Democratic and presumably liberal politicians. Plus, in most cases, blacks have been mayors, chiefs of police, school superintendents and principals and have dominated city councils.

During the 1960s, black and white liberals called for more money to be spent on anti-poverty programs. Since the Lyndon Johnson administration's War on Poverty programs, U.S. taxpayers have forked over $22 trillion for anti-poverty programs. Adjusted for inflation, that's three times the cost of all U.S. military wars since the American Revolution. Despite that spending, the socio-economic condition for many blacks has worsened. In 1940, 86 percent of black children were born inside marriage, and the black illegitimacy rate was about 15 percent. Today, only 35 percent of black children are born inside marriage, and the illegitimacy rate hovers around 75 percent.

The visions of black civil rights leaders and their white liberal allies didn't quite pan out. Greater political power and massive anti-poverty spending produced little. The failure of political power and the failure of massive welfare spending to produce nirvana led to the expectation that if only there were a black president, everything would become better for blacks. I cannot think of a single black socio-economic statistic that improved during the two terms of the Barack Obama administration. Some have become tragically worse, such as the black homicide victimization rate. For example, on average in Chicago, one person is shot every two hours, 15 minutes, and a person is murdered every 12 1/2 hours.

So more political power hasn't worked. Massive poverty spending hasn't worked. Electing a black president hasn't worked. What should black leaders and their white liberal allies now turn their attention to in order to improve the socio-economic condition for blacks? It appears to be nearly unanimous that attention should be turned to the removal of Confederate statues. It's not only Confederate statue removal but Confederate names of schools and streets. Even the Council on American-Islamic Relations agrees. It just passed a resolution calling for the removal of all Confederate memorials, flags, street names and symbols from public spaces and property.

By the way, does the statue of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman qualify for removal? He once explained his reluctance to enlist former slaves, writing, "I am honest in my belief that it is not fair to our men to count negroes as equals ... (but) is not a negro as good as a white man to stop a bullet?" It's difficult to determine where this purging of the nation's history should end.

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

I just got new glasses -- without going to an optometrist. 

It's another innovation made possible by the internet. 

Going to an optometrist can be a pain. You have to leave work, get to an optometrist's office, sit in a waiting room and then pay an average of $95 (in my town). But I got a prescription for just $50 -- without leaving my computer. 

This is possible thanks to a company called Opternative ("optometry alternative"). The company claims its online test is just as good as an in-person eye exam. 

I was skeptical. It's over the internet! How can a computer replicate what optometrists do in their offices with impressive-looking machines? 

"This is the beauty of technology," answered Dick Carpenter, director of strategic research for the libertarian law firm the Institute for Justice. 

Carpenter researched Opternative's test and concludes that it is just as good as an in-person exam. "Sometimes better, some research has indicated." 

Here's how it works: First, you answer some medical questions. 

Then, while holding your cellphone, you follow prompts on the phone while looking at your computer screen, selecting which lines look sharper, or which numbers you see. 

One day later, they send you a prescription. Mine exactly matched the prescription I got from my ophthalmologist, a medical doctor who charges much more. 

Fast, cheap, and easy.  

So naturally, optometrists want this alternative banned. "This is really foolhardy and really dangerous," said former American Optometric Association president Andrea Thau on "Good Morning America." 

She wouldn't do an interview with me. Nor would anyone else from her Association -- despite our sending them emails for a month. 

I assume they knew I'd mock them for trying to ban the competition. Which they are trying to do. They wrote the FDA that the at-home test "should be taken off the market." 

What they're really saying is that patients should not have the right to make any choices in their own vision care. 

The optometrists are bottleneckers. "Bottleneckers: Gaming the Government for Power and Private Profit" is the title of Dick Carpenter's new book. He studies how established professionals use government to limit competition. 

Cosmetologists get laws passed that force hair-braiders to spend $5,000 on useless courses and tests. Restaurants limit food trucks. Established florists ban newcomers.     Optometrists want to ban Opternative's test.

Bottleneckers like them have clout in legislatures because their lobbyists give politicians money. They persuaded 13 states to draft bills that would ban at-home tests. 

In South Carolina, then-Governor Nikki Haley vetoed the ban, correctly calling it anti-competitive. But the legislators were beholden to the optometrists' lobby; they overrode her veto. 

The optometrists say that a home test is too risky because no doctor is there to look for diseases. I confronted Opternative's spokesman about that. He said the test's questionnaire filters out sick people by asking questions like: "Any health conditions? ... pregnancy, nursing, diabetes ... Any medication that affects your vision? ... Sertraline, Amitriptyline...?" 

Obviously, a questionnaire is not as good as a doctor. But it does screen out some people. Opternative rejected me the first time I tried. I then lied about my age to test their service. 

I don't recommend lying on medical forms. But a cheap internet prescription is not much of a threat to public health. Barbers claim an unlicensed barber might give you a bad haircut or cut you. 

Florists say an unlicensed flower arranger might spoil your wedding. 

The optometrists at least have a better argument: The at-home eye test might miss a disease. 

But I say we consumers should get to choose what risks we take. 

I choose to go to an ophthalmologist because I can afford it, and at my age, I want a glaucoma test. 

But many young people don't want to spend that money. And many people just don't have time. That's probably why lots of Americans never go to any eye doctor, ever. Opternative at least gives them an alternative -- a way to get a prescription without going to a doctor. 

It's good to have a choice. 

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. COPYRIGHT 2017 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

 

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by John Stossel

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is upset about "price gouging" during hurricane Harvey. Some stores raised prices to $99 for a case of bottled water -- $5 for a gallon of gas. "These are things you can't do in Texas," he says. "There are significant penalties if you price gouge in a crisis like this."

There sure are: $20,000 per "gouge" -- $200,000 if the "victim" is a senior citizen.

Texas, a state that I thought understood capitalism, punishes people who practice it.

Prices should rise during emergencies. Price changes save lives. That's because prices aren't just money -- they are information.

Price changes tell suppliers what their customers want most, maybe chainsaws more than blankets, water more than flashlights.
 
"Quit your witch hunt," economist Don Boudreaux wrote Paxton. "Government intervention is often justified as a means of correcting 'market failure.' But by enforcing prohibitions on 'price gouging' your office causes market failure."

Boudreaux is right.

Suppose a disaster devastates your town, and your local store is not allowed to raise the price of bottled water. People rush to buy all the water they can get. The store sells out. Only the first customers get what they need.

The storeowner has no incentive to risk life and limb restocking his store. He wants to get to safety, too. So he closes his store.

But if the owner can charge $99 for a case of water, you will buy less water, and other customers get what they need. More importantly, entrepreneurs have an incentive to move heaven and earth to bring water to the disaster area. They soon do, and the price drops again.

That's economics -- supply and demand. It works pretty well.

Politicians often try to outlaw that. When Uber appeared and used "surge pricing" during busy times, my dumb mayor tried to ban Uber. The ban didn't stick, fortunately. Seeing people pay higher prices inspires more Uber drivers to leave home to offer people rides, and it causes customers to try other alternatives at busy times. When prices float, there are no shortages.

Since Texas' attorney general doesn't seem to understand that, Boudreaux tries to educate him:

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By Walter E. William

Earlier this month, The New York Times ran an article titled "U.S. Rights Unit Shifts to Study Antiwhite Bias" on its front page. The article says that President Donald Trump's Justice Department's civil rights division is going to investigate and sue universities whose affirmative action admissions policies discriminate against white applicants. This is an out-and-out lie. The truth is that the U.S. departments of Justice and Education plan to investigate racial bias in admissions at Harvard and other elite institutions where Asian-Americans are held to far higher standards than other applicants. This type of practice was used during the first half of the 20th century to limit the number of Jews at Harvard and other Ivy League schools.

Drs. Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Radford documented discrimination against Asians in their 2009 award-winning book, "No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life." Their research demonstrated that, when controlling for other variables, Asian students faced considerable odds against their admission. To be admitted to elite colleges, Asians needed SAT scores 140 points higher than whites, 270 points higher than Hispanics and 450 points higher than blacks. An Asian applicant with an SAT score of 1500 (out of a possible 1600 on the old SAT) had the same chance of being admitted as a white student with a 1360 score, a Latino with a 1230 and a black student with a 1050 score. Another way of looking at it is that among applicants who had the highest SAT scores (within the 1400-1600 range), 77 percent of blacks were admitted, 48 percent of Hispanics, 40 percent of whites and only 30 percent of Asians.

The case of Austin Jia is typical of what happens to Asian students. In 2015, Jia graduated from high school and had a nearly perfect score of 2340 out of 2400 possible points on the new SAT. His GPA was 4.42, and he had taken 11 Advanced Placement courses in high school. He had been on his school's debate team, been the tennis team's captain and played the violin in the all-state orchestra. His applications for admission were rejected at Harvard, Princeton and Columbia universities, as well as at the University of Pennsylvania. Jia said that his rejection was particularly disturbing when certain classmates who had lower scores but were not Asian-American like him were admitted to those Ivy League schools.

California universities present an interesting case. At one time, they also discriminated against Asians in admissions, but now it's a different story. As of 2008, Asians made up 40 percent of the students enrolled at UCLA and 43 percent at the University of California, Berkeley. Last school year, 42 percent of students at Caltech were Asian. You might ask what accounts for the high numbers. It turns out that in 1996, Proposition 209 (also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative) was approved by California voters. The measure amended the state constitution to prohibit state governmental institutions from considering race, sex or ethnicity in the areas of public employment, public contracting and public education.

The experience of California, where racially discriminatory admissions policy has been reduced, suggests that if Ivy League universities were prohibited from using race as a factor in admissions, the Asian-American admissions rate would rise while the percentages of white, black and Hispanic students would fall. Diversity-crazed college administrators would throw a hissy fit. By the way, diversity-crazed administrators are willing accomplices in the nearly total lack of racial diversity on their basketball teams. It's not unusual to watch games in which there's not a single white, Hispanic or Asian player.

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz says, "The idea of discriminating against Asians in order to make room for other minorities doesn't seem right as a matter of principle." Dershowitz is absolutely right, but he goes astray when he argues that investigating discrimination against whites raises a different set of questions. He says, "Generically, whites have not been the subject of historic discrimination." Dershowitz's vision fails to see people as humans, because what human is deserving of racial discrimination?

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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