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by Walter E. Williams

       Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, seeking to represent New York's 14th Congressional District, has called for the abolition of the Electoral College. Her argument came on the heels of the Senate's confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. She was lamenting the fact that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, nominated by George W. Bush, and Justices Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, nominated by Donald Trump, were court appointments made by presidents who lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College vote.
        Hillary Clinton has long been a critic of the Electoral College. Just recently, she wrote in The Atlantic, "You won't be surprised to hear that I passionately believe it's time to abolish the Electoral College."
        Subjecting presidential elections to the popular vote sounds eminently fair to Americans who have been miseducated by public schools and universities. Worse yet, the call to eliminate the Electoral College reflects an underlying contempt for our Constitution and its protections for personal liberty. Regarding miseducation, the founder of the Russian Communist Party, Vladimir Lenin, said, "Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted." His immediate successor, Josef Stalin, added, "Education is a weapon whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed."
        A large part of Americans' miseducation is the often heard claim that we are a democracy. The word "democracy" appears nowhere in the two most fundamental documents of our nation -- the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. In fact, our Constitution -- in Article 4, Section 4 -- guarantees "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." The Founding Fathers had utter contempt for democracy. James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 10, said that in a pure democracy, "there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party or an obnoxious individual." At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Virginia Gov. Edmund Randolph said that "in tracing these evils to their origin, every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy." John Adams wrote: "Remember Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a Democracy Yet, that did not commit suicide." At the Constitutional Convention,!
  Alexander Hamilton said: "We are now forming a republican government. Real 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."
        For those too dense to understand these arguments, ask yourselves: Does the Pledge of Allegiance say "to the democracy for which it stands" or "to the republic for which it stands"? Did Julia Ward Howe make a mistake in titling her Civil War song "Battle Hymn of the Republic"? Should she have titled it "Battle Hymn of the Democracy"?
        The Founders saw our nation as being composed of sovereign states that voluntarily sought to join a union under the condition that each state admitted would be coequal with every other state. The Electoral College method of choosing the president and vice president guarantees that each state, whether large or small in area or population, has some voice in selecting the nation's leaders. 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. They would be states such as California, Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania, which contain 134.3 million people, or 41 percent 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 percent 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.
        Political satirist H.L. Mencken said, "The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic."
        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


        Gloria Alvarez, the young woman from Guatemala I wrote about last week, just got blocked by Facebook. Why? Because she criticizes socialism.
        After Alvarez joined me in my American studio to make a video we titled "Socialism Fails Every Time," she flew to Mexico City to make a speech.
        A few days later she wrote me that "some leftist 'students' posted on a fanpage called 'Marxist and Leninist Memes': 'BOYCOTT Gloria Alvarez in our University! We won't let her in!'"
        So Alvarez posted (in Spanish) on her own Facebook page: "My dear Mexican socialists intolerants: Thank you! for trying to boycott my event... showing that panic that you have for the debate of ideas. Given yours are so bad, that only with bullets they can be obeyed just like in Venezuela and Nicaragua. You demonstrate once again that you are the intolerant ones against freedom."
        She ended her riff with a wise defense of free speech: "Where words are exchanged, bullets are no longer exchanged."
        Then her account was blocked.
        "You recently posted something that violates Facebook policies," wrote Facebook.
        What violated Facebook policies? Was it calling the people who demanded that she not be allowed to speak "socialists intolerants" whose ideas "are so bad that only with bullets they can be obeyed"?
        When social media companies block you, the reason is often mysterious.
        Facebook did say, "For more information, visit the Help Center... (U)nderstand Facebook's Community Standards." Good luck getting an explanation that way.
        Alvarez suspects she was blocked because her opponents, boycott advocates, complained about her. Leftists are good at launching campaigns to shut people up.
        Fortunately, Alvarez has connections. A few days later she wrote, "a friend of mine that has a cousin working on Facebook Latin America (helped) me to unblock my page this morning."
        Good.
        Except, most of us don't have a friend whose cousin works for Facebook.
        Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media platforms promote themselves as sites that enhance communication, not censor it.
        I shouldn't use the word "censor." When a private company blocks someone, it's called editing. Companies edit to increase civil communication, improve the quality of discussion, delete threats and lies, etc. Editing helps make their sites more pleasant places to visit.
        Censorship and the First Amendment apply to governments. America's Founders feared government censorship because government can use force, and we have just one government.
        But if Facebook blocks me, I still can communicate via Twitter, my YouTube videos or Instagram.
        But wait. Facebook bought Instagram. And Google bought YouTube. If these big companies edit me out, it will be hard to reach people.
        Conservatives claim social media companies are quicker to censor conservative speech. That's probably true. The people who work for social media companies lean left. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted that, telling CNN, "We need to constantly show that we are not adding our own bias, which I fully admit is more left-leaning."
        That's why conservative sites like PragerU have been limited by YouTube. Restricting Prager University's videos is absurd. The site has millions of followers. It offers dignified lectures on conservative philosophy. They explain things my Princeton professors never taught me.
        The lectures violate neither YouTube's standards nor Facebook's standards. But recently, PragerU discovered that some of its Facebook videos were watched by no one. Zero people.
        Facebook later apologized, saying someone flagged PragerU's videos as "hate speech," and at least one Facebook human "content monitor" agreed. He was being "retrained," said Facebook.
        Good luck with that.
        Right-winger Alex Jones was banned by all major social media platforms. Milo Yiannopoulos was banned by Twitter.
        But I haven't seen enough data to convince me that the sites actively limit conservative speech alone. Facebook just deleted 800 political pages, including some that criticize police brutality.
        Leftist Glenn Greenwald tweeted after that purge, "Those who demanded Facebook & other Silicon Valley giants censor political content ... are finding that content that they themselves support & like end up being repressed. That's what has happened to every censorship advocate in history."
        The best answer to speech we don't like is: more speech.
        I like being able to hear numerous opinions -- even if I disagree with them.
        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 widely anticipated textbook, "Universal Economics," has just been published by Liberty Fund. Its authors are two noted UCLA economists, the late Armen A. Alchian and William R. Allen. Editor Jerry L. Jordan was their student and later became a member of President Ronald Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, as well as the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Professor Alchian was probably the greatest microeconomic theorist of the 20th century, while Professor Allen's genius was in the area of international trade and the history of economic thought. Both were tenacious mentors of mine during my student days at UCLA in the mid-1960s and early '70s.
    "Universal Economics'" 680 pages, not including its glossary and index, reflect a friendly chat I had with Professor Alchian during one of the UCLA economics department's weekly faculty/graduate student coffee hour, in which he said, "Williams, the true test of whether someone understands his subject is whether he can explain it to someone who doesn't know a darn thing about it." That's precisely what "Universal Economics" does -- explain economics in a way that anyone can understand. There's no economic jargon, just a tiny bit of simple mathematics and a few graphs.
    Chapter 1 introduces the fundamental issue that faces all of mankind -- scarcity. How does one know whether things are scarce? That's easy. When human wants exceed the means to satisfy those wants, we say that there's scarcity. The bounds to human wants do not frequently reveal themselves; however, the means to satisfy those wants are indeed limited. Thus, scarcity creates conflict issues -- namely, what things will be produced, how will they be produced, when will they be produced and who will get them? Analyzing those issues represents the heart of microeconomics.
    Alchian and Allen want your study of economics to be "interesting and enjoyable." They caution: "You'll be brainwashed -- in the 'desirable' sense of removing erroneous beliefs. You will begin to suspect that a vast majority of what people popularly believe about economic events is at least misleading and often wrong." The authors give a long list of erroneous beliefs that people hold. Here's a tiny sample: Employers pay for employer-provided insurance; larger incomes for some people require smaller incomes for others; minimum wage legislation helps the unskilled and minorities; foreign imports reduce the number of domestic jobs; "equal pay for equal work" laws aid women, minorities and the young; labor unions protect the natural brotherhood and collective well-being of workers against their natural enemies, employers; and we cannot compete in a world in which most foreign wages are lower than wages paid to domestic workers.
    One of Professor Alchian's major contributions to economic science is in the area of property rights and its effect on the outcomes observed. The essence of private property rights contains three components: the owner's right to make decisions about the uses of what's deemed his property; his right to acquire, keep and dispose of his property; and his right to enjoy the income, as well as bear losses, resulting from his decisions. If one or more of those three elements is missing, private property rights are not present. Private property rights also restrain one from interfering with other people's rights. Private property rights have long been seen as vital to personal liberty. James Madison, in an 1829 speech at the Virginia Constitutional Convention, said: "It is sufficiently obvious that persons and property are the two great subjects on which governments are to act and that the rights of persons and the rights of property are the objects for the protection of which gov!
ernment was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated."
    At the end of many of "Universal Economics'" 42 chapters, there's a section named "Questions and Meditations." Here's my guarantee: If you know and can understand those questions and answers, you will be better trained than the average economist teaching or working in Washington, D.C.
    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

    Socialism is hot.
    Famous actors recently made a commercial proclaiming that "democratic socialism" creates some of the best parts of America. It's "your kids' public school" (says Susan Sarandon), the "interstate highway system" (Rosario Dawson), "public libraries" (Jay Ferguson), "EMTs" (Ethan Embry), "workers who plow our streets" (Max Carver) and "scientists" (Danny DeVito).
    Wow. I guess every popular thing government does is socialism.
    The celebrities conclude: "We can do better when we do them together."
    There is sometimes truth to that, but the movie stars don't know that America's first highways were built by capitalist contractors. They also probably didn't notice that the more popular parts of government -- public schools, EMTs, snow plowing, libraries, etc. -- are largely locally funded.
    "They should wake up," says Gloria Alvarez. She is from Guatemala and says, "I've seen the impact of socialism. My father escaped Cuba. My grandfather suffered under Communists in Hungary before escaping."
    This week I turn my video channel over to Alvarez so she can give her perspective on democratic socialism's new popularity.
    "As a child, I was taught to mock socialism," she says, "but democratic socialism sounded OK. It made sense that government should take care of the economy. Then I watched democratic socialism fail in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Chile, Nicaragua and Uruguay. I learned that every time a country started down the socialist path, it fails."
    But every time a country tries it, even just a little of it, people applaud.
    When Castro came to power, people cheered because he was going to help the poor and make everyone equal.
    But governments can't plan things efficiently without the prices and constant individual decision-making that free markets provide.
    The result in Cuba was economic stagnation and horrible loss of freedom.
    Cuban refugees who now live in Miami's "Little Havana" neighborhood warn Americans about socialist promises.
    Michel Ibarra told Alvarez, "You don't see any future. Everything is stagnated. Health care, education -- nowadays they're in ruins."
    Venezuela didn't learn from Cuba's problems. They voted in Hugo Chavez when he said that "capitalism is the realm of injustice" and promised wealth would be distributed equally.
    But when there was no more money left to take from rich people, he did what many governments (including our own) do: He printed more.
    That's caused inflation approaching 1 million percent.
    When business owners raised prices to try to keep up, Chavez and his successor just seized many of them.
    Again, Venezuelans applauded. Taking from the rich is popular. Ramon Muchacho, a former mayor in Caracas, told Alvarez that when Chavez seized businesses, people were "clapping so hard. They were like, 'Oh, finally there is somebody here making social justice!'"
    But government grabbing private businesses creates shortages. Governments aren't good at running supermarkets. One Venezuelan refugee told Alvarez, "It's like the apocalypse. No food. No medicine."
    But in the U.S., socialism still holds appeal.
    "Plenty of (socialist) countries are nothing like Venezuela," says comedian John Oliver.
    "When I talk about democratic socialism, I am not looking at Venezuela," says Sen. Bernie Sanders, "not looking at Cuba. I'm looking at countries like Denmark, like Sweden."
    So many American politicians now cite Denmark as a socialist paradise that Denmark's prime minister felt compelled to go on TV to say, "Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy."
    Exactly. Socialism, democratic or tyrannical, means government owns or controls businesses.
    In Scandinavia, business is largely left alone. Governments don't even set a minimum wage. Economic freedom rankings give Scandinavian countries high scores on property rights and business freedom.
    Those countries do have big welfare programs, but they are funded by thriving free enterprise.
    In addition, many cut back on their welfare programs after they discovered they were unsustainable or discouraged work.
    Think about that the next time you hear celebrities saying "Sweden" and praising socialism.
    As one Venezuelan refugee told Alvarez, "You don't need the government to dictate how to live your life, how much money you should make, how your family should be treated."
    Increased government control rarely helps people. It wrecks economies. It wrecks lives.
    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 Barack Obama's first education secretary, Arne Duncan, gave a speech on the 45th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where, in 1965, state troopers beat and tear-gassed hundreds of peaceful civil rights marchers who were demanding voting rights. Later that year, as a result of widespread support across the nation, the U.S. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. Secretary Duncan titled his speech "Crossing the Next Bridge." Duncan told the crowd that black students "are more than three times as likely to be expelled as their white peers," adding that Martin Luther King would be "dismayed."
        Gail Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and her special assistant and counselor, Alison Somin, have written an important article in the Texas Review of Law & Politics, titled "The Department of Education's Obama-Era Initiative on Racial Disparities in School Discipline" (Spring 2018). The article is about the departments of Education and Justice's "disparate impact" vision, wherein they see racial discrimination as the factor that explains why black male students face suspension and expulsion more often than other students.
        Faced with threats from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, schools have instituted new disciplinary policies. For example, after the public school district in Oklahoma City was investigated by the OCR, there was a 42.5 percent decrease in the number of suspensions. According to an article in The Oklahoman, one teacher said, "Students are yelling, cursing, hitting and screaming at teachers and nothing is being done but teachers are being told to teach and ignore the behaviors." According to Chalkbeat, new high school teachers left one school because they didn't feel safe. There have been cases in which students have assaulted teachers and returned to school the next day.
        Many of the complaints about black student behavior are coming from black teachers. I doubt whether they could be accused of racial discrimination against black students. The first vice president of the St. Paul, Minnesota, chapter of the NAACP said it's "very disturbing" that the school district would retaliate against a black teacher "for simply voicing the concern" that when black students are not held accountable for misbehaving, they are set up for failure in life.
        An article in Education Week earlier this year, titled "When Students Assault Teachers, Effects Can Be Lasting," discusses the widespread assaults of teachers across the country: "In the 2015-16 school year, 5.8 percent of the nation's 3.8 million teachers were physically attacked by a student. Almost 10 percent were threatened with injury, according to federal education data" (http://tinyurl.com/y7ndtyom).
        Measures that propose harsh punishment for students who assault teachers have not been successful. In North Carolina, a bill was introduced that proposed that students 16 or older could be charged with a felony if they assaulted a teacher. It was opposed by children's advocacy and disability rights groups. In Minnesota, a 2016 bill would have required school boards to automatically expel a student who threatened or inflicted bodily harm on a teacher for up to a year. It, too, was opposed, even in light of the fact that teachers have suffered serious bodily harm, such as the case in which a high school student slammed a teacher into a concrete wall and then squeezed his throat. That teacher ended up with a traumatic brain injury.
        There are plenty of visuals of assaults on teachers. Here's a tiny sample: Florida's Seminole Middle School (http://tinyurl.com/yc2tmchd), Pennsylvania's Cheltenham High School (http://tinyurl.com/ydf8rajf), Illinois' Rich Central High School (http://tinyurl.com/yah3bjey). Byongook Moon, a professor in the criminal justice department at the University of Texas at San Antonio, says that according to his study of 1,600 teachers, about 44 percent of teachers who had been victims of physical assault said that being attacked had a negative impact on their job performance. Nearly 30 percent said they could no longer trust the student who had attacked them, and 27 percent said they thought of quitting their teaching career afterward.
        My question is: Is there any reason whatsoever for adults to tolerate this kind of behavior from our young people?
        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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