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by John Stossel

  With most services, you get to shop around, but rarely can you do that with government-run schools.
    Philadelphia mom Elaine Wells was upset to learn that there were fights every day in the school her son attended. So she walked him over to another school.
    "We went to go enroll and we were told, 'He can't go here!' That was my wake up call," Wells tell me in my latest video.
    She entered her sons in a charter school lottery, hoping to get them into a charter school.
    "You're on pins and needles, hoping and praying," she said. But politicians stack the odds against kids who want to escape government-run schools. Philly rejected 75% of the applicants.
    Wells' kids did eventually manage to get into a charter called Boys' Latin. I'm happy for them. I wish government bureaucrats would let all kids have similar chances.
    Wells was so eager for her sons to attend that she arranged to have one repeat the sixth grade.
    "That was the moment where I most despised Boys' Latin," he told me.
    But the boys' attitude quickly changed, says their mother. "Before Boys' Latin, I would come home and say, 'Read for an hour, read a book,' and their response would be, 'Why? What did we do?' -- like reading was a punishment!"
    But after they started at Boys' Latin, she found books scattered around the house. Suddenly, her boys were reading without her pressuring them.
    She also was surprised to discover her son on the phone at 10 o'clock at night -- talking to a teacher. Boys' Latin teachers often volunteer to help students with homework -- even at night.
    Other differences: Charter students spend more time in school -- from 8 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m., and they have to take Latin.
    "Why?" I asked Boys' Latin co-founder David Hardy. "Nobody speaks Latin."
    "We picked Latin because it was hard," he answered. "Life is hard. In order to be prepared, you have to work hard. We want to get that into the psyche of our students."
    It works. Boys' Latin students do better on most state tests than kids in government-run schools. Hardy says, "We've sent more black boys to college than any high school in Pennsylvania."
    But people who work in government monopolies don't like experiments that show there's a better way to do things. Philadelphia and other cities are rejecting new charter applications. Philadelphia rejected Hardy's plan to open a Girls' Latin.
    "They realize that if we continue to take children away, they won't have jobs," says Hardy.
    Instead of approving more charters, the education establishment just says, "Give us more money."
    But get this: Philadelphia schools already spend $18,400 per child, about half a million dollars per classroom. With that money, they could hire five experienced teachers for every class. But they don't. So, where does all that money go?
    Bureaucracy, says Hardy. "They have a director of special ed and assistant director of special ed... director of high school athletics and an assistant... lot of overhead."
    The establishment's new attack on charter competition is: Charters drain resources from public schools.
    It's a clever argument, but it's a lie. Charter schools are public, too, and Philadelphia, like other cities, gives charters less money than it gives to schools the city government runs. In Philadelphia, charters get only 70% as much. So government schools actually save money when a kid leaves for a charter.
    Even if charters got equal money, says Wells, "you can't tell me that charter schools take funding from public schools! Every parent pays taxes that fund the school system. If I choose for my child to go to a charter school, then that's where my taxes should go!"
    She's right.  So why aren't more charters approved?
    "It would mean a whole lot less union jobs," Hardy says. "The unions are not going to be for that."
    It's not just unions. Education bureaucrats love working in a monopoly where they are basically guaranteed jobs. Bad charter schools close, but government-run schools almost never do -- no matter how badly they treat kids.
    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

    John Paul Wright, professor at University of Cincinnati, and Matthew DeLisi professor at Iowa State University have penned a powerful article titled "What Criminologists Don't Say, and Why," in City Journal, Summer 2017. There is significant bias among criminologists. The reason for that bias is that political leanings of academic criminologists are liberal. Liberal criminologists outnumber their conservative counterparts by a ratio of 30-to-1. Ideology almost perfectly predicts the position of criminologists on issues from gun control to capital punishment to harsh sentencing. Liberal criminologists march in step for gun control, oppose punitive prison sentences, and are vehemently against the death penalty.
    In 2012, the National Academy of Sciences commissioned a study on the growth of incarceration. It showed that from 1928 until 1960, crime rates rose slowly each year. After the 1960s, crime rates exploded to unprecedented levels of violence until the 1990s. Prior to 1980, only 40% of individuals arrested for murder were sentenced to prison and those that were served an average of five years. In 1981, less than 10% of those arrested for sexual assault were sentenced to prison. Those who were sentenced served an average of 3.4 years. Liberal criminologists probably believe that light sentencing for murderers and rapists is just.
    If criminologists have the guts to even talk about a race-crime connection, it's behind closed doors and in guarded language. Any discussion about race and crime sets one up for accusations of racism and that can mean the destruction of one's professional career. Wright and DeLisi say that liberal criminologists avoid discussing even explicit racist examples of black-on-white crime such as flash-mob assaults, "polar bear hunting" and the "knockout game." These are cases where black youth seek out white people to physically attack.
    According to Wright and DeLisi: "Disproportionate black involvement in violent crime represents the elephant in the room amid the current controversy over policing in the United States. Homicide numbers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Supplementary Homicide Reports, 1976-2005 indicate that young African-American males account for homicide victims at levels that are ten to 20 times greater than their proportion of the population and account for homicide offenders at levels that are 15 to 35 times greater than their proportion of the population. The black-white gap in armed-robbery offending has historically ranged between ten to one and 15 to one. For all racial groups, violent crime is strongly intraracial, and the intraracial dynamic is most pronounced among blacks." That means the primary victims of black crime are other black people. In more than 90% of homicides, for example, both the victim and the perpetrator are black.
    Between 1991 and 2017, the nationwide violent crime rate fell from 758 cases to 382 cases per 100,000 people. Despite the evidence that higher incarceration reduces crime rates, many criminologists argue that "mass incarceration" has actually "took minority men out of their neighborhoods, stripped them of voting rights, destabilized families, and sapped already-paltry economic resources from struggling communities." Wright and DeLisi say that "Such claims could seem plausible only if one believes -- contrary to evidence and common sense -- that career criminals contribute positively to their neighborhoods, enjoy stable and functional families, vote, and work. What they did, in reality, was to prey on their neighbors."
    Crime is a major problem for the black community. But in addition to incarcerating those who prey on the black community, what can be done? The answer is easy, though implementation poses a challenge. We should re-adopt the values and practices of our ancestors. Black families of yesteryear were mainly two-parent and stable, even during slavery. Black people didn't tolerate property destruction. There were few school fights. Disrespect and assaults on teachers were virtually unknown. These are now all too common. The strong character of black people is responsible for the great progress made from emancipation to today. Find a 70-, 80- or 90-year-old black person and ask him whether today's conduct among black youth would have been tolerated yesteryear. I guarantee you that no will be their answer.
    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
    On Labor Day, did you celebrate workers? More likely, you made it a day of rest.
    Fine. It's good to have a choice.
    I didn't have a choice about joining a union when I was hired by CBS and then ABC. They told me that if I wanted to work, I had to pay dues to AFTRA (the American Federation of TV and Radio Artists). "I'm not an 'artist'!" I complained. "I don't want to pay a middleman, and I don't want some actor setting my working conditions."
    "Too bad," was the answer. "This is a union shop."
    Today, 28 states no longer force workers to join unions. Last year, the Supreme Court declared that unions forcing government workers to pay dues is unconstitutional. After that, hundreds of thousands of workers stopped paying union dues. Good. Unions tend to be enemies of workplace innovation and individual choice.
    Also, some of their leaders are thieves. Last week, the FBI raided homes of United Auto Workers leaders. The investigation, begun by the Obama administration, suggests Fiat Chrysler Automobiles paid union leaders millions in bribes to stay "fat, dumb and happy," as prosecutors put it, instead of protecting union members' interests.
    Yet, this week, Elizabeth Warren (now the clear Democratic presidential frontrunner), said that "more than ever, America needs a strong labor movement."
    This is a popular argument, fueled by the media's bashing of President Donald Trump and anyone else who supports markets. A recent Gallup poll found labor unions now have a 64% favorability rating -- the highest in 16 years.
    Warren went on to say that America needs unions because "the playing field today is tilted against working families."
    That's utter nonsense. The playing field is better for working families today because the animal spirits of capitalism create more wealth and opportunities in spite of unions.
    Of course, unions were once needed. More than 100 years ago, the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company got the National Guard to send men with machine guns into tents occupied by strikers. They killed at least 20 people, including children and wives of miners who were burned alive.
    Today, however, violence is more likely to be initiated by unions.
    When I worked for ABC, delivery trucks for the New York Daily News were attacked with sticks, stones and fire on the first day of a strike. Some drivers were beaten.
    Not satisfied with attacking the company and threatening violence against "scabs" who want to work, union protestors threatened newsstands that continued to sell the Daily News. Protestors seized copies of the paper and set them on fire.
    Police did little to quell the violence.
    No wonder many companies prefer to work with nonunion labor.
    The legally mandated bureaucracy, and all the lawyers surrounding labor disputes, is another infuriating obstacle to anyone who just wants to work out a contract or get a project done.
    One-size-fits-all union contracts aren't great for all workers, either. They make it tough for individuals to have their own way.
    If the union at your workplace says everyone works an eight-hour day, you can't make your own deal to work a 12-hour day with higher pay. You and your boss might prefer that, but you don't get the option. The union might even call you a troublemaker, saying you put pressure on everyone to work longer hours.
    In a pure free market, every entity -- whether individual or a group of individuals -- is able to make whatever contracts they like, so long as the other party agrees.
    That system would include you getting to decide whether you want to join a union or remain a free individual operator.
    More controversially, it would also include the right of business owners to fire people for trying to organize unions.
    In a true free market, workers and management are both allowed to be tough negotiators and make demands. But neither side should have the right to get the government to dictate the terms of a contract.
    Keep government out of it, so long as people stick to their contracts and refrain from violence.
    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

        Why does most of Africa stay poor while other parts of the world prosper?
        People blame things like climate, the history of colonialism, racism, etc.
        But I say Senegalese businesswoman Magatte Wade gives the right explanation: too many rules.
        "Once you hire someone, good luck getting rid of them for any reason," Wade complains. Her government must approve every firing.
        "Then the tax code is so complicated... worth at least two or three truckloads of paper."
        Wade started a lip balm company. Some of her ingredients are not made in Senegal, so she imports them. To "protect" Senegalese manufacturers, the government makes importing ingredients expensive.
        "Some have a 70% import tariff on them!" she says.
        President Donald Trump now threatens similar taxes on imports from China.
        In Africa, people sometimes escape such taxes by paying bribes. We hear a lot about African corruption.
        "People complain about corruption as if corruption is a root problem," says Wade. "I say no. Corruption is a natural consequence of stupid, senseless, idiot laws."
        She says there would be just as much corruption in the U.S. if taxes and regulations here made it as difficult to do business as Senegal does.
        "The only way to fix corruption is to simplify," advises Wade.
        Wade's business has survived because she was fortunate enough to find a helpful bureaucrat who pointed out a loophole.
        "I went to see the head of customs, and we started looking together," recounts Wade." Looking through the volumes of crushing regulations, they "found a clause in one of the binders saying if you're exporting 80% of your products, and if you've been in business for two years, you can ask for an exemption."
        Most people are "clueless" about these obstacles, she says, especially those in academia, Hollywood and the news media. "They have such a strong anti-capitalism bias."
        To raise awareness about why economic freedom creates prosperity but regulation prevents it, Wade and the Foundation for Economic Education made a documentary titled "Made in Mekhe."
        In it, she asks: "Why is it that a couple decades ago, China was at the same level as most African countries? Countries like Singapore made it. Hong Kong made it. Even a place like Dubai -- bare land of desert sand -- all of a sudden, Dubai (is) one of the financial centers of the world! You're like, what? What happened here?"
        She says booming places like those understood that they wouldn't create prosperity unless they made it easy for business to operate.
        But international aid organizations have a different solution. Wade says they often make Africa's problems worse by adding rules. The U.N.'s "Sustainable Development" goals include things like "inclusive and equitable quality education," "climate change" and "gender equality."
        "We have chains around our necks! No one is seeing it. Then they want to come talk to me about inequality! We need greater economic freedom!"
        Governments send $50 billion a year to Africa, and businesses offer Africa free goods.
        TOMS Shoes promotes itself by sending a pair of shoes to Africa for every pair you buy.
        Wade says: "I know it came from a good place. I get it. But can you just think further down the road?"
        She points out that a result of TOMS "charity" is that African shoemakers go out of business. "You can't compete with free!"
        But donation promotion has become trendy among Western businesses, says Wade. "Now you're seeing it with tampons, seeing it with soap, with everything!"
        Africa becomes dependent instead of self-sustaining. It would be better, says Wade, if Westerners simply encouraged African governments to stop strangling their own entrepreneurs.
        "If I have a job then, guess what? My malnutrition problem goes poof! Even access to clean water goes poof," says Wade. Instead, "the business climate sucks so much that people like me can't do that work of creating companies and jobs."
        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

        The New York Times has begun a major initiative, the "1619 Project," to observe the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe American history so that slavery and the contributions of black Americans explain who we are as a nation. Nikole Hannah-Jones, staff writer for The New York Times Magazine wrote the lead article, "America Wasn't a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One." She writes, "Without the idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different -- it might not be a democracy at all."
        There are several challenges one can make about Hannah-Jones' article, but I'm going to focus on the article's most serious error, namely that the nation's founders intended for us to be a democracy. That error is shared by too many Americans. The word democracy appears nowhere in the two most fundamental founding documents of our nation -- the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Instead of a democracy, the Constitution's Article IV, Section 4, declares, "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." Think about it and ask yourself whether our Pledge of Allegiance says to "the democracy for which it stands" or to "the republic for which it stands." Is Julia Ward Howe's popular Civil War song titled "The Battle Hymn of the Democracy" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"?
        The founders had utter contempt for democracy. James Madison, the acknowledged father of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist Paper No. 10, 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, delegate 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 said: "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall observed, "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."
        The U.S. Constitution is replete with anti-majority rule, undemocratic provisions. One provision, heavily criticized, is the Electoral College. In their wisdom, the framers gave us the Electoral College so that in presidential elections, heavily populated states could not run roughshod over sparsely populated states. In order to amend the Constitution, it requires a two-thirds vote of both Houses, or two-thirds of state legislatures, to propose an amendment, and requires three-fourths of state legislatures for ratification. Part of the reason for having a bicameral Congress is that it places another obstacle to majority rule. Fifty-one senators can block the wishes of 435 representatives and 49 senators. The president, with a veto, can thwart the will of all 535 members of Congress. It takes a two-thirds vote, not just a majority, of both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto.
        In addition to not understanding our Constitution, Hannah-Jones' article, like in most discussions of black history, fails to acknowledge that black Americans have made the greatest gains, over some of the highest hurdles in the shortest span of time than any other racial group in mankind's history. The evidence: If black Americans were thought of as a nation with our own gross domestic product, we'd rank among the 20 wealthiest nations. It was a black American, Gen. Colin Powell, who headed the world's mightiest military. A few black Americans are among the world's wealthiest. Black Americans are among the world's most famous personalities.
        The significance of this is that in 1865, neither a slave nor a slave owner would have believed that such progress would be possible in less than a century and a half, if ever. As such, it speaks to the intestinal fortitude of a people. Just as importantly, it speaks to the greatness of a nation within which such progress was possible, progress that would have been impossible anywhere else. The challenge before us is how those gains can be extended to a large percentage of black people for whom they appear elusive.
        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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