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by Walter E. Williams

    The educational achievement of white youngsters is nothing to write home about, but that achieved by blacks is nothing less than disgraceful. Let's look at a recent example of an educational outcome all too common. In 2016, in 13 of Baltimore's 39 high schools, not a single student scored proficient on the state's mathematics exam. In six other high schools, only 1 percent tested proficient in math. In raw numbers, 3,804 Baltimore students took the state's math test, and 14 tested proficient (http://tinyurl.com/y7f56kg2). Citywide, only 15 percent of Baltimore students passed the state's English test.
    Last spring, graduation exercises were held at one Baltimore high school, 90 percent of whose students received the lowest possible math score. Just one student came even close to being proficient. Parents and family members applauded the conferring of diplomas. Some of the students won achievement awards and college scholarships (http://tinyurl.com/ydb3v2ya). Baltimore is by no means unique. It's a small part of the ongoing education disaster for black students across the nation. Baltimore schools are not underfunded. Of the nation's 100 largest school systems, Baltimore schools rank third in spending per pupil (http://tinyurl.com/ybzglbyp).
    Baltimore's black students receive diplomas that attest that they can function at a 12th-grade level when in fact they may not be able to do so at a seventh- or eighth-grade level. These students and their families have little reason to suspect that their diplomas are fraudulent. Thus, if they cannot land a good job, cannot pass a civil service exam, get poor grades in college and flunk out of college, they will attribute their plight to racism. After all, they have a high school diploma, just as a white person has a high school diploma. In their minds, the only explanation for being treated differently is racism.
    Let's look at math. If one graduates from high school without a minimum proficiency in algebra and geometry, he is likely to find whole fields and professions hermetically sealed off to him for life. In many fields and professions, a minimum level of math proficiency is taken for granted.
    Let's look at just one endeavor -- being a fighter jet pilot. There are relatively few black fighter jet pilots. There are stringent physical, character and mental requirements that many blacks can meet. But fighter pilots must also have a strong knowledge of air navigation, aircraft operating procedures, flight theory, fluid mechanics and meteorology. The college majors that help prepare undergraduates for a career as a fighter pilot include mathematics, physical science and engineering.
    What's the NAACP response to educational fraud? At a 2016 meeting, the NAACP's board of directors ratified a resolution that called for a moratorium on charter schools. Among the NAACP's reasons for this were that it wanted charter schools to refrain from "expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate" and "cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious." Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys is a charter school. In 2016, 9 percent of its students scored proficient on the state's math test. This year, over 14 percent did so. It's in the interest of black people for more of our youngsters to attend better schools. However, it's in the interest of the education establishment -- and its handmaidens at the NAACP -- to keep black youngsters in failing public schools.
    Few people bother to ask whether there's a connection between what goes on at predominantly black high schools and observed outcomes. Violence at many predominantly black schools is so routine that security guards are hired to patrol the hallways. The violence includes assaults on teachers. Some have been knocked out, had their jaws broken and required treatment by psychologists for post-traumatic stress disorder. On top of the violence is gross disorder and disrespect for authority.
    The puzzling question for me is: How long will black people accept the educational destruction of black youngsters -- something that only benefits the education establishment?
    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

As Republicans struggle to agree on a tax plan, Democrats and much of the media label each attempt at reform a "gift" to rich people.
    In one sense, they are right. Any tax cut disproportionately favors rich people since the rich pay much more tax.
    But the media and Democrats (is there a difference?) are wrong because they routinely portray rich people as parasites who take from other people.
    Flying Dog Brewery owner Jim Caruso objects to that kind of thinking. He took over a bankrupt brewery and made it successful by inventing new craft beers. I won't buy his beers -- with varieties like blood orange ale -- but enough people like them that Caruso has become relatively rich.
    He's the kind of person Sen. Bernie Sanders rails about. "The top 1 percent," complains Sanders, "earned 85 percent of all new income."
    That sounds unfair. But Caruso doesn't see it that way.
    "My goal in life is to be the best part of your day," he told me. "You will have unequal outcomes (but) we all benefit from that."
    He's right. Caruso provided consumers new choices and created more than 100 jobs.
    But for my YouTube video this week, I pushed back: "The top fraction of earners has half the assets in this country. This ticks people off. They view it as evil."
    "Think about it this way," responded Caruso. "Apple was the first company to be worth $800 billion dollars. I was curious, how much was (Apple founder) Steve Jobs worth in 2011 when he passed away? ... Ten billion dollars! I did some quick calculations..."
    His calculations revealed that because about 2 billion Apple devices were sold, Jobs collected about $5 for each device.
    Isn't your cellphone worth much more to you than $5? Mine is. It must be, since I just paid $800 for a new one. I got a machine worth hundreds of dollars to me, but the inventor got only $5.
    "Steve might have been underpaid," said Caruso. "The feeling tends to be that somebody like Steve Jobs took something away from everybody else ... (but) what did Jobs take? ... (H)e had this idea: Wouldn't it be great to have a thousand songs in your pocket? (He created) one of the most massively important tools for productivity and communication in life!"
    Generally, Jobs got a pass when the media attacked rich people, maybe because reporters liked Apple's products. But other rich Americans are routinely labeled "parasites." Sanders suggests that if some people have billions, the rest of us must have billions less.
    But that's not true, Caruso points out. "It's that zero-sum game mentality: that somehow people who create stuff are taking it from other people. That's simply inaccurate. It's not a zero-sum game. They're creating stuff that didn't exist before."
    He's right. It's not as if there's one pie and when rich people take a big piece, less is left for the rest of us. Billionaires like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, the Koch brothers, etc. got rich only by baking thousands of new pies.
    Entrepreneurs create things; they don't take from others.
    Well, they do take if they conspire with government to get special deals -- subsidies, bailouts, regulations that protect them from competition. But without government force, business people get rich only by selling us things we willingly purchase.
    We get to decide if we'd be better off with the products that creators offer to sell. Producers get to decide whether they can make enough money from those sales to make their efforts worth their while.
    This mutually beneficial exchange is the heart of a market economy.
    Government, on the other hand, only knows how to do two things: make you engage in exchanges you don't want, and prevent you from engaging in exchanges you do want. With every order it issues, government makes the pie a little smaller.
    As long as rich people don't collude with government, they make our lives better.
    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 John Stossel

        Ready for Thanksgiving? Before you eat that turkey, I hope you think about why America has turkeys for you to eat. Most people don't know.
        Everyone's heard about that first Thanksgiving feast -- Pilgrims and Indians sharing the harvest. We like the drawings of it we saw in schoolbooks -- shared bounty.
        Fewer people know that before that first feast, the Pilgrims nearly starved.
        They almost starved because they acted the way some Bernie Sanders fans want people to act. They farmed collectively.
        But communal farming creates what economists call "the tragedy of the commons."
        Think about what happens if a bunch of ranchers hold land in common. Everyone brings cattle to graze. While that sounds nice, it also means every rancher has an incentive to bring lots of cattle to the pasture. They bring cow after cow until the pasture is overgrazed -- destroyed.
        For this week's YouTube video, I repeated an experiment economics teachers sometimes do to demonstrate the tragedy of the commons.
        I assembled a group of people, put coins on the floor in front of them and said, "I'll give you a dollar for each coin you pick up. But if you leave them down there for a minute, I'll give you two bucks per coin, and then three bucks. Each minute the coins increase in value by a dollar."
        If the group waited, they'd make more money.
        Did they wait? No.
        As soon as I said "Go!" everyone frantically grabbed for coins. No one wanted to wait because someone else would have gotten the money.
        Collective action makes people more greedy and short-sighted, not less.
        Then I changed the rules of the game. I divided the floor into segments, so each person had his or her own property. Then we played the game again.
        This time there was no coin-grabbing frenzy. Now patient people anticipated the future.
         "I want to reap the most benefit," said one. "(On the previous test) I wanted it now whereas this is going up, and it's mine."
        Exactly. When you own property, you want to preserve it, to allow it to keep producing good things.
        That beneficial pattern disappears under collectivism, even if the collectivists are nice people. The Pilgrims started out sharing their land. When crops were ready to harvest, they behaved like the people in my experiment.
        Some Pilgrims sneaked out at night and grabbed extra food. Some picked corn before it was fully ready. The result?
        "By the spring," Pilgrim leader William Bradford wrote in his diary, "our food stores were used up and people grew weak and thin. Some swelled with hunger."
        Adding to the problem, when people share the results of your work, some don't work hard. The chance to take advantage of others' joint labor is too tempting. Teenage Pilgrims were especially likely to steal the commune's crops.
        Had the Pilgrims continued communal farming, this Thursday might be known as "Starvation Day" instead of Thanksgiving.
        Fortunately, the Pilgrims were led not by Bernie Sanders fans or other commons-loving socialists, but by Governor Bradford, who wrote that he "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could ... that they might not still thus languish in misery ... After much debate (I) assigned each family a parcel of land ... (T)his had very good success, because it made every hand industrious."
        There's nothing like private ownership to make "every hand industrious."
        The Pilgrims never returned to shared planting. Owning plots of land allowed them to prosper and have feasts like the ones we'll have Thursday.
        Private property became the foundation for building the most prosperous nation in the history of the world, a place where people have individual rights instead of group plans forced on everyone.
        When an entire economy is based on collectivism, like the Soviet Union was, it eventually collapses from inefficiency and misuse of resources.
        So this Thanksgiving, thank private property. Every day, it protects us from the tragedy of the commons.
        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

   A common feature of our time is the extent to which many in our nation have become preoccupied with diversity. But true diversity obsession, almost a mania, is found at our institutions of higher learning. Rather than have a knee-jerk response for or against diversity, I think we should ask just what is diversity and whether it's a good thing. How do we tell whether a college, a department or another unit within a college is diverse or not? What exemptions from diversity are permitted?
    Seeing as college presidents and provosts are the main diversity pushers, we might start with their vision of diversity. Ask your average college president or provost whether he even bothers promoting political diversity among faculty. I'll guarantee that if he is honest -- and even bothers to answer the question -- he will say no. According to a recent study, professors who are registered Democrats outnumber their Republican counterparts by a 12-1 ratio (http://tinyurl.com/gpp4svq). In some departments, such as history, Democratic professors outnumber their Republican counterparts by a 33-1 ratio.
    The fact is that when college presidents and their diversity coterie talk about diversity, they're talking mostly about pleasing mixtures of race. Years ago, they called their agenda affirmative action, racial preferences or racial quotas. Not only did these terms fall out of favor but also voters approved initiatives banning choosing by race. Courts found some of the choosing by race unconstitutional. That meant that the race people had to repackage their agenda. That repackaging became known as diversity. Some race people were bold enough to argue that "diversity" produces educational benefits to all students, including white students. Nobody has bothered to scientifically establish what those benefits are. For example, does a racially diverse student body lead to higher scores on graduate admissions tests, such as the GRE, LSAT and MCAT? By the way, Israel, Japan and South Korea are among the world's least racially diverse nations. In terms of academic achievement, their!
  students run circles around diversity-crazed Americans.
    There is one area of college life where administrators demonstrate utter contempt for diversity, and that's in sports. It is by no means unusual to watch a Saturday afternoon college basketball game and see that the starting five on both teams are black. White players, not to mention Asian players, are underrepresented. Similar underrepresentation is practiced in college football. Where you find whites overrepresented in both sports is on the cheerleading squads, which are mostly composed of white women. If you were to explore this lack of racial diversity in sports with a college president, he might answer, "We look for the best players, and it so happens that blacks dominate." I would totally agree but ask him whether the same policy of choosing the best applies to the college's admissions policy. Of course, the honest answer would be a flat-out no.
    The most important issue related to college diversity obsession is what happens to black students. Black parents should not allow their sons and daughters to fall victim to the diversity hustle, even if the diversity hustler is a black official of the college. Black parents should not allow their sons and daughters to attend a college where they would not be admitted if they were white. A good rule of thumb is not to allow your children to attend a college where their SAT score is 200 or more points below the average of that college. Keep in mind that students are not qualified or unqualified in any absolute sense. There are more than 4,800 colleges -- a college for most anybody. The bottom-line question for black parents and black people in general is: Which is better, a black student's being admitted to an elite college and winding up in the bottom of his class or flunking out or being admitted to a less prestigious college and performing just as well as his white peers a!
nd graduating? I would opt for the latter. You might ask, "Williams, but how will the nation's elite colleges fulfill their racial diversity needs?" My answer is that's their problem.
    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

        Who owns our bodies? I think, we do.

        Therefore, once we're, say, 18, we ought to have the right to rent our bodies to someone else.
        But we don't. Women who do that get arrested. So do their customers.
        I refer to prostitution, of course. Sex work is a better term. Under any name, it's illegal in America, except in eight counties in Nevada.
        Some feminists say sex work must be outlawed because prostitutes are exploited. Julie Bindel of Justice for Women says, "I've interviewed a lot of sex buyers, and they talk about women like they're human toilets or spittoons for men's semen."
        Maybe some men do.
        But does that mean women should not be allowed to rent their bodies?
        "No!" says sex worker Christina Parreira: "I feel more exploited by these supposedly liberal women telling me that I'm being exploited."
        Parreira is a University of Nevada Ph.D. student who, to study prostitutes, became one. She told me, "We don't need protection. We're consenting, adult women."
        For this week's YouTube video, I confront her about sex for money being "shameful, degrading, disgusting."
        "I used to waitress," replies Parreira, "get hit on and provide conversation. That's what I do now, except I'm serving sex, not food."
        She says the 60 sex workers she's interviewed do not say their customers treat them as "spittoons for semen."
        The men "want conversation, companionship ... texting in between their appointments," she says. "They want the girlfriend experience without the girlfriend hassle ... and maybe 20 minutes having sex."
        But Bindel says that sex workers like Christina, who speak to reporters, are atypical.
        "They're so unrepresentative of the majority... Prostitutes are victims," Bindel says, held captive by pimps. "All women on the streets are there because they have no other choice."
        But "they have a choice," I said. "They could work at McDonald's, they..." She replied, "Many say, 'McDonald's is a rubbish job. I'd rather be in the sex trade!'"
        But isn't that the point? No job is perfect, but we let people make choices.
        Some customers and pimps are violent. Some women are forced into the sex trade. But prostitutes who want that trade legalized say legality would reduce violence and sex trafficking by bringing victims out of the shadows.
        "If, God forbid, somebody's going to assault you, (in legal brothels) you can call the cops. You can hit the panic button," Parreira told me. "If you're an illegal worker, you're not going to call the cops because they're going to arrest you!"
        Some of you readers believe it's immoral to rent bodies or body parts, to, as Bindel puts it, treat them as "part of a marketplace."
        But why? Boxers, in effect, rent their bodies to sports promoters. So do football players, dancers, models, etc.
        We let people do dangerous things with their bodies all the time, like driving race cars and climbing mountains.
        Recently, a California appeals court ruled that legalization advocates have a right to challenge California's prostitution ban. During the legal arguments, a judge asked the state's lawyers, "Why should it be illegal to sell something that's legal to give away?"
        That was a good question. The state has no good answer.
        Legalization has already been tried in places like New Zealand. It doesn't make the business perfect, but it helps.
        Sociologist Ronald Weitzer of George Washington University writes, "Statutory regulations vary by country, but a common objective is harm reduction. New Zealand's 2003 law, for instance, gives workers a litany of rights, provides for the licensing and taxing of brothels, and empowers local governments to ... vet the owners, ban offensive signage, and impose safe-sex and other health requirements."
        Studies in the U.S. and Australia show reduced violence and fewer health risks among prostitutes where sex work is legal.
        Economists Lena Edlund and Evelyn Korn add, "Prostitution has an unusual feature: It is well-paid despite being low-skill, labor-intensive, and, one might add, female-dominated."
        We don't have to cheer for prostitution, or think it's nice, to keep government out of it and let participants make up their own minds.
        It's wrong to ban sex workers' options just to make ourselves feel better.
        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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