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by John Stossel

    People who want to work should be allowed to work. That includes people who once went to jail.
    With President Donald Trump's support, Congress spends your money giving ex-cons "employment assistance."
    Why bother? State laws often make such employment impossible.
    Courtney Haveman had an alcohol problem. When she was 19, she got a DUI. Then she took a swing at a security guard. "I made dumb decisions," she admits in my new video. "Served three days in jail."
    Eight years later, and now sober, Courtney enrolled in beauty school. Such schools invite applicants to "turn your interest in beauty into a rewarding career."
    The schools do provide good careers -- to owners of cosmetology schools. In Pennsylvania, where Courtney applied, they typically charge $6,000 tuition and require 1,000 hours of courses.
    All that training is required by the state to work.
    Courtney had worked in a salon and wanted to do more.  Unfortunately, "doing more" requires not just serving customers well, but getting permission from bureaucrats.
    Byzantine state laws demand you get a state-approved license before you may become a hairdresser, tour guide, travel agent, house painter and all sorts of other jobs where customer happiness should be the guide.
    So after taking hundreds of hours of cosmetology courses, Courtney paid more to apply for a Pennsylvania cosmetology license.
    Pennsylvania then told her she couldn't do cosmetology there because she has a criminal record.
    The bureaucrats said she could appeal. She could prove she has good moral character.
    "I sent letters, and people in my 12-step program wrote letters on my behalf, character letters," she says.
    The result?
    "They sent me a rejection letter that said, 'Sorry. You lack the good moral character requirement'," says Courtney. "One time in my life that I felt like a productive member of society, I was proud of myself... people were proud of me, and then it was just like, you're not good enough still."
    This is wrong.
    Courtney did her time -- all three days of it. She should be allowed the "second chance" that politicians keep promising former prisoners. Her arrest was eight years ago. She then got sober. Now she sponsors other women in AA. She has a toddler to support.
    But Pennsylvania says, to protect "public health and safety," she may not practice cosmetology.
    The rule doesn't "protect" anyone. Barbers don't have to prove they have "good moral character."
    Courtney is allowed to work as an "assistant."
    "I'm allowed to touch clients, just not allowed to do what I went to school to do!" says Courtney.
    She shampoos customers' hair and has intimate contact with them. She's just not allowed to do facials, makeup, waxing -- the work she trained for. "Our government makes it extremely difficult for people like me," she says.
    "People can't just be kicked out of society," says Institute for Justice lawyer Andrew Ward. He took Courtney's case for free because he believes that the cosmetology law is unconstitutional. "Everyone has a right... to pursue their own happiness... a right to engage in any of the common occupations of life."
    Who benefits from restrictive licensing laws?
    "It's certainly convenient," says Ward, "that established players have a law that gets to keep new people, that would compete with them, out."
    Right. Cosmetology boards are dominated by people who run beauty schools. They benefit by making it hard for newcomers to compete for customers by offering better service.
    The established schools and salons lobby legislators, demanding stringent "safety" requirements. It's "accidental" that they limit competition.
    Courtney says, "Years of my life have been wasted." She paid to train for a job she is not allowed to do.
    State licensing rules like Pennsylvania's cosmetology rule don't protect public health. They don't help customers.
    They crush the little guy and limit competition.
    Get rid of 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 John Stossel

        Congressional hearings were created to educate lawmakers so they have knowledge before they pass bills or impeach a president.
        Not today. Today, hardly any education happens.
        During the President Trump impeachment "testimony," legislators tried to score points. At least five times, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., shut down criticism by shouting, "Gentleman is not recognized!"
        I get that politicians are eager for "face time" in front of a larger audience, but I assumed they would at least try to learn things. Nope.
        Maybe they don't want to ask real questions because they fear looking as dumb as then-Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, did at a hearing on Facebook. He asked Mark Zuckerberg, "How do you sustain a business model in which users don't pay for your service?"
        "We run ads," smirked Zuckerberg. "I see," said Hatch.
        What's obvious to most people somehow eludes the oblivious "experts" in Congress.
        At another Facebook hearing, Congress grilled Zuckerberg about his plan to launch an electronic currency called Libra. Zuckerberg said, "I actually don't know if Libra is going to work, but I believe it's important to try new things."
        He was right. But instead of asking about technological or economic implications of the idea, Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, asked Zuckerberg, of the companies partnering with him, "how many are headed by women?"
        "Congressman, I do not know the answer," replied Zuckerberg.
        "How many of them are minorities?" asked Green. "Are there any members of the LGBTQ+ community?"
        Green doesn't want to learn anything. He wants to sneer and score points.
        Politicians' sloppy ignorance is extraordinary. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, grilled Google CEO Sundar Pichai about iPhones, citing a story about his granddaughter using one, leading Pichai to explain, "Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company."
        Today's posturing is not what the founders had in mind when they invented hearings in 1789.
        George Mason said members of Congress "possess inquisitorial powers" to "inspect the Conduct of public offices."
        Yes! Investigate government.
        But today, they are more likely to threaten CEOs and bully opponents.
        "Are you stupid?" then-Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said to one witness. They want to showboat, not learn. Often, they ask questions even when they know the answers.
        "Ms. DeVos, have you ever taken out a student loan?" asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. "Have any of your children had to borrow money?"
        Warren knows that DeVos is a billionaire, but she wanted to score points with her fans.
        One of the louder showboaters today is self-proclaimed socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. She asked Wells Fargo boss Tim Sloan, "Why was the bank involved in the caging of children?"
        "We weren't," replied Sloan.
        Some of today's hearings are useful in that we get to see how absurd and ignorant our representatives can be.
        During a hearing on military personnel being stationed on the island of Guam, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Georgia, said, "My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it would tip over and capsize." Really. He said that.
        Then there was the time Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., chair of the House Financial Services Committee, summoned bank CEOs to Washington and demanded, "What are you guys doing to help us with this student loan debt?!"
        "We stopped making student loans in 2007," Bank of America's Brian Moynihan told her.
        "We actually ended student lending in 2009," added Citigroup's Michael Corbat.
        "When the government took over student lending in 2010 ... we stopped doing all student lending," explained Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase.
        The Chair of the Financial Services Committee didn't even know that her own party kicked bankers out of the student loan business, insisting that government take over?! Apparently not. She is so eager to blame business for government's mistakes that she didn't research her own topic.
        The more I watch politicians, the more I hate them.
        Let's give them less power.
        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 voter may dislike a black, homosexual or female candidate, but it's not likely that he would openly admit it. However, diversity-crazed leftist/progressive Democrats have openly condemned the physical characteristics of some of their 2020 presidential candidates. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are be leading the polls despite the fact that they have been condemned as old white men. While Pete Buttigieg is homosexual, something that pleases diversity crazies, he is also a white man, young and religious. With Kamala Harris' departure from the race, the Democratic field has lost one of its persons of color. Another, Senator Cory Booker, stands at 2% in the polls; his days are numbered. That means the only Democratic candidates polling high are those condemned as old white people -- two men and one woman, Elizabeth Warren.
        LaTosha Brown, the co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said she was initially eager for Joe Biden to enter the race but now has second thoughts. Brown said: "I'm over white men running the country. I don't know if him (sic) getting in changes the field. He has name recognition, but his strength is also his weakness." Former presidential candidate Howard Dean lamented, "If we have two old white guys at the top of this ticket, we will lose." The newest entry into the presidential sweepstakes, Michael Bloomberg, had to apologize for what some see as his diversity insensitiveness namely that of calling fellow presidential candidate Cory Booker "well-spoken" in a TV interview. The New Jersey senator said he was "taken aback" by what he saw as Bloomberg's racist "trope."
        Michael Moore gave us his racist warning: "Two-thirds of all white guys voted for Trump. That means anytime you see three white guys walking at you, down the street toward you, two of them voted for Trump. You need to move over to the other sidewalk because these are not good people that are walking toward you. You should be afraid of them."
        This is the new racism, much of it learned and taught at our nation's colleges. George Orwell said, "Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them." The stupid ideas about inclusion and diversity originate with academics on college campuses. If their ideas didn't infect the rest of society, they might be a source of entertainment. But these cancerous ideas have infected society. Statements such as "I'm over white men running the country," or "If we have two old white guys at the top of this ticket, we will lose" are examples of that cancer.
        Last year, Philip Carl Salzman wrote "The War Against White People" in Minding the Campus. He declared: "Anti-white hate is now mainstream American culture. Not just by racial extremists such as Black Lives Matter, for whom statements such as "all lives matter" or "blue lives matter" are racist. Our highest leaders sing the same song."
        When Barack Obama was campaigning for the presidency in 2008, he said of working-class white voters, "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Hillary Clinton claimed that half of Donald Trump's supporters were "a basket of deplorables" who were "racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic -- you name it." Do you think Clinton was talking about Trump's black, Asian and Hispanic supporters? No, she was talking about millions of Trump's white supporters.
        Then there's Sarah Jeong, a member of The New York Times editorial board and graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard Law School. She expressed publicly many anti-white opinions. Among them are: "The world could get by just fine with zero white people." "Dumbass f---ing white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants." It's "kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men." I guarantee you that The New York Times would have fired any employee making similar statements about black, Hispanic or homosexual people.
        The bottom line is that the new racism, born in academia, is just as ugly as the old racism.
        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 Walter E. Williams

        Colleges have been around for centuries. College students have also been around for centuries. Yet, college administrators assume that today's students have needs that were unknown to their predecessors. Those needs include diversity and equity personnel, with massive budgets to accommodate.

        According to Minding the Campus, Penn State University's Office of Vice Provost for Educational Equity employs 66 staff members. The University of Michigan currently employs a diversity staff of 93 full-time diversity administrators, officers, directors, vice provosts, deans, consultants, specialists, investigators, managers, executive assistants, administrative assistants, analysts and coordinators. Amherst College, with a student body of 1,800 students employs 19 diversity people. Top college diversity bureaucrats earn salaries six figures, in some cases approaching $500,000 per year. In the case of the University of Michigan, a quarter (26) of their diversity officers earn annual salaries of more than $100,000. If you add generous fringe benefits and other expenses, you could easily be talking about $13 million a year in diversity costs. The Economist reports that University of California, Berkeley, has 175 diversity bureaucrats.

        Diversity officials are a growing part of a college bureaucracy structure that outnumbers faculty by 2 to 2.5 depending on the college. According to "The Campus Diversity Swarm," an article from Mark Pulliam, a contributing editor at Law and Liberty, which appeared in the City Journal (10/10/2018), diversity people assist in the cultivation of imaginary grievances of an ever-growing number of "oppressed" groups. Pulliam writes: "The mission of campus diversity officers is self-perpetuating. Affirmative action (i.e., racial and ethnic preferences in admissions) leads to grievance studies. Increased recognition of LGBTQ rights requires ever-greater accommodation by the rest of the student body. Protecting 'vulnerable' groups from 'hate speech' and 'microaggressions' requires speech codes and bias-response teams (staffed by diversocrats). Complaints must be investigated and adjudicated (by diversocrats). Fighting 'toxic masculinity' and combating an imaginary epidemic of campu!

 s sexual assault necessitate consent protocols, training, and hearing procedures -- more work for an always-growing diversocrat cadre. Each newly recognized problem leads to a call for more programs and staffing."

        Campus diversity people have developed their own professional organization -- the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. They hold annual conferences -- the last one in Philadelphia. The NADOHE has developed standards for professional practice and a political agenda, plus a Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, which is published by the American Psychological Association.

        One wonders just how far spineless college administrators will go when it comes to caving in to the demands of campus snowflakes who have been taught that they must be protected against words, events and deeds that do not fully conform to their extremely limited, narrow-minded beliefs built on sheer delusion. Generosity demands that we forgive these precious snowflakes and hope that they eventually grow up. The real problem is with people assumed to be grown-ups -- college professors and administrators -- who serve their self-interest by tolerating and giving aid and comfort to our aberrant youth. Unless the cycle of promoting and nursing imaginary grievances is ended, diversity bureaucracies will take over our colleges and universities, supplanting altogether the goal of higher education.

        "Diversity" is the highest goal of students and professors who openly detest those with whom they disagree. These people support the very antithesis of higher education with their withering attacks on free speech. Both in and out of academia, the content of a man's character is no longer as important as the color of his skin, his sex, his sexual preferences or his political loyalties. That's a vision that spells tragedy for our nation.

        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 learned three new things this year that made my life better!

        I share them with you here, hoping they make your 2020 easier.

        My "life hacks" are about popcorn, iPhones and butter.

        Weird? Maybe. Now I report on how politicians wreck just about everything, but at ABC's show "20/20," I was a consumer reporter. My latest video returns to that beat.

        None of these ideas requires buying stuff or spending more money. The first will save you some. The tips:

        1. Popcorn: For years, I bought packages of microwavable popcorn. They were an improvement over pouring raw kernels into a pot, adding the right amount of oil, waiting for it to pop, shaking the pot and so forth. Then you have to clean the pot and grease splatter.

        Microwave bags make popping corn easier, but the packages cost about $6, and sometimes the popcorn smells bad.

        I've also tried special popcorn-making devices, but they cost money, too, and you still have to clean the device.

        It turns out we don't have to do any of that! Just put raw kernels (about a quarter cup) into a paper bag (a lunch bag is fine), put the bag in the microwave, set it to full power and wait for the corn to pop.

        When the popping slows, take the bag out.

        That's it! It works. You can eat the popcorn right out of the bag -- nothing to clean! Add butter to taste. Try it.

        2. Faster texting: Do you have an iPhone? (I've found this trick works on most iPhones and some Androids.)

        Writing emails and texts, I get frustrated when I can't get the cursor to go exactly where I want it to be. It jumps to the start or end of a word or sentence when I want to change something in the middle.

        Instead, just hold down the space bar. (It works with other keys, too, but some do different things when held down -- space bar is simplest.) Do that, and you can put the cursor exactly where you want it. When I show people this, they smile and laugh! The space bar is a big time-saver and frustration-avoider.

        3. Butter: I hate hard butter from the refrigerator. Try to spread it and it tears the bread. In the past, I've put it in the microwave to soften it. Then some of it turns to liquid.

        But now I know Swe can leave butter out! The USDA says that "butter and margarine are safe at room temp."

        How can this be? Butter is dairy, and we don't leave milk out.

        But because of the way butter is made, and the salt inside, butter is safe to leave on the counter for several days. Really. Google it, if you don't believe me.

        There are limits. It's best to keep butter covered, and if you leave it out too long, it will get rancid.

        But with those caveats, it's fine to leave a stick on the counter. You get great, easy-to-spread butter. The only downside is that you'll probably eat much more of it.

        Soft butter, easier texting and simpler popcorn -- my gifts to you for 2020.

        Happy New Year.

        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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