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by John Stossel

The United States was born when the Founding Fathers seceded from England.

    So why do so many people now see secession as a terrible thing?

    Recently, people in Catalonia voted to break away from Spain -- not to declare war on Spain or refuse to trade with Spain, just to control their own affairs.

    The Spanish government said they must not even vote. They sent police to shut down polling places and beat protestors into staying off the streets.

    Governments never want to give up power.

    The European Union was offended and American politicians shocked when the United Kingdom voted to exit the EU (Brexit). Pundits declared Britain's move a terrible mistake.

    But local governments can be more responsive to the needs of constituents.     No government is perfect. But keeping government close to home, keeping it local, makes it easier to keep an eye on it.

    The powerful prefer one big central government. Some want the whole world to answer to one government.

    President Ulysses S. Grant fantasized about countries becoming "one nation, so that armies and navies are no longer necessary."

    President Harry Truman wanted a World Court. Just as American disputes are settled by our Supreme Court, he said, "There is not a difficulty in the whole world that cannot be settled in exactly the same way in a world court."

    But central authorities aren't the best way to solve our problems. Competition is.

    In the U.S., state governments behave not because their politicians are noble, but because people can "vote with their feet" -- move to other states.

    If taxes get too high in New York, you can move Florida.

    As California tortures businesses, Californians move to Arizona and Texas.

    The more governments from which you can choose, the easier it is to benefit from competition between them.

    All Americans, however, must obey rules set by Washington, D.C.

    But what if most people in a state reject those rules and demand the right to govern themselves?

    There have been several secession movements in California -- a plan to break California up into smaller states, a push to make Northern California a breakaway state called Jefferson, and now the "Yes California" movement that wants to make California a separate country.

    Calexit's proponents say Californians shouldn't have to answer to that evil President Trump.

    If Calexit ever happened, I suppose conservative parts of the state would vote to separate from the leftists who dominate Sacramento. Maybe we'd end up with three countries where there used to be one.

    When I look at how badly Washington, D.C., governs, the idea of secession doesn't scare me.

    After the Cold War, Czechoslovakia split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic. "Tensions between Czechs and Slovaks have disappeared," writes Marian Tupy, a Cato Institute analyst born in Czechoslovakia. "Czechs no longer subsidize their poorer cousins in the east, while Slovaks no longer blame their problems on their 'big brother' in the west. Everyone has won."

    Secession frightens some Americans because they associate it with slavery. Preserving that despicable practice was one reason southern states wanted to break away.

    But obviously, one can favor secession without supporting slavery. Even some abolitionists, anti-slavery activists in the 19th century, supported the right to secede.

    More recently, some black neighborhoods on the outskirts of Boston argued for turning the Greater Roxbury area into a new city called Mandela. They say it would be more responsive to locals' needs.

    In New York City, Republicans on Staten Island sometimes argue for breaking away from the Democrats who mismanage the rest of New York. During the Obama administration, some Texans wanted a vote on "Texit."

    None of those things is likely to happen, but I'm wary of any government that hates the idea of people escaping its influence.

    President Trump weighed in on Catalonian independence. He's against it. "I would like to see Spain continue to be united," said the president.

    It's easy to love a big central government when you're in charge of one. Also, national governments can inspire proud nationalist sentiments.

    But Catalans smarting from police batons probably feel differently.

    I say, let people go their own way.

    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

Let's throw out a few numbers so we can put in perspective the NFL players taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem. Many say they are protesting against police treatment of blacks and racial discrimination. We might ask just how much sense their protest makes.

According to The Washington Post, 737 people have been shot and killed by police this year in the United States. Of that number, there were 329 whites, 165 blacks, 112 Hispanics, 24 members of other races and 107 people whose race was unknown (http://tinyurl.com/zyz2tpq). In Illinois, home to one of our most dangerous cities -- Chicago -- 18 people have been shot and killed by police this year. In the city itself, police have shot and killed 10 people and shot and wounded 10 others. Somebody should ask the kneeling black NFL players why they are protesting this kind of killing in the Windy City and ignoring other sources of black death.

Here are the Chicago numbers for the ignored deaths. So far in 2017, there have been 533 murders and 2,880 shootings. On average, a person is shot every two hours and 17 minutes and murdered every 12 1/2 hours (http://tinyurl.com/o36cqfc). In 2016, when Colin Kaepernick started taking a knee, Chicago witnessed 806 murders and 4,379 shootings. It turns out that most of the murder victims are black. Adding to the tragedy is the fact that Chicago has a 12.7 percent murder clearance rate. That means that when a black person is murdered, his perpetrator is found and charged with his murder less than 13 percent of the time.

Similar statistics regarding police killing blacks versus blacks killing blacks apply to many of our predominantly black urban centers, such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, St. Louis and Oakland. Many Americans, including me, see the black NFL player protest of police brutality as pathetic, useless showboating. Seeing as these players have made no open protest against the thousands of blacks being murdered and maimed by blacks, they must view it as trivial in comparison with the police killings. Most of the police killings fit into the category of justified homicide.

NFL players are not by themselves. How much condemnation do black politicians, civil rights leaders and liberal whites give to the wanton black homicides in our cities? When have you heard them condemning the very low clearance rate, whereby most black murderers get away with murder? Do you believe they would be just as silent if it were the Ku Klux Klan committing the murders?

What's to blame for this mayhem? If you ask an intellectual, a leftist or an academic in a sociology or psychology department, he will tell you that it is caused by poverty, discrimination and a lack of opportunities. But the black murder rate and other crime statistics in the 1940s and '50s were not nearly so high as they are now. I wonder whether your intellectual, leftist or academic would explain that we had less black poverty, less racial discrimination and far greater opportunities for blacks during earlier periods than we do today. He'd have to be an unrepentant idiot to make such an utterance.

So what can be done? Black people need to find new heroes. Right now, at least in terms of the support given, their heroes are criminals such as Baltimore's Freddie Gray, Ferguson's Michael Brown and Florida's Trayvon Martin. Black support tends to go toward the criminals in the community rather than to the overwhelming number of people in the community who are law-abiding. That needs to end. What also needs to end is the lack of respect for and cooperation with police officers. Some police are crooked, but black people are likelier to be victims of violent confrontations with police officers than whites simply because blacks commit more violent crimes than whites per capita.

For a race of people, these crime statistics are by no means flattering, but if something good is to be done about it, we cannot fall prey to the blame games that black politicians, black NFL players, civil rights leaders and white liberals want to play. If their vision is accepted, we can expect little improvement of the status quo.

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

The hurricane devastation is severe. What should the federal government do?
    Give us lots of money, say many.
    Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, demanded $150 billion -- just for Texas.
    So far, Congress has agreed to $15 billion in hurricane relief. But more will come.
    Few Americans will object. The House vote for the first $7.9 billion was 419-3.
    But let's take a breath. Why is rebuilding the federal government's responsibility?
    Clearly, only the feds can send in the military and some other first responders. After Hurricane Irma, 13,000 National Guard soldiers from 22 states helped rescue and evacuate people. That's the kind of emergency response we expect from the federal government.
    But rebuilding after storms?
    Washington, D.C., has no money of its own. Anything it spends comes from states. And states and local governments know better than Washington how relief money might best be used. (Though Puerto Rico may be an exception, since its government is, as one entrepreneur put it, "inept and riddled with corruption.")
    The idea that the federal government must lead in rebuilding is only a recent phenomenon, says the Cato Institute's Chris Edwards.
    "Prior to recent decades," he writes, "private charitable groups and businesses have been central to disaster response."
    In 1906, the massive San Francisco earthquake and fire that followed destroyed 80 percent of the city. Yet that tragedy "is remembered not just for the terrible destruction it caused, but also for the remarkably rapid rebuilding ... (The) population recovered to pre-quake levels within just three years, and residents quickly rebuilt about 20,000 buildings."
    The rebuilding was quick because it wasn't done by a cumbersome government bureaucracy. Rich people and companies donated labor and goods. "Johnson and Johnson quickly loaded rail cars full of donated medical supplies and sent them to San Francisco," writes Edwards.
    Also, "90 percent of San Francisco residents had fire insurance."
    Today in America, even people who live on the edges of oceans don't buy insurance. "Why pay?" many think. "There probably won't be a problem, and if there is, government will step in."
    The more the federal government intervenes, the more people come to rely on handouts.
    Just seven years after the San Francisco earthquake, the Midwest was hit with a huge disaster now called the Great Easter Flood. Eleven states flooded. Rising water and tornadoes killed 600 people.
    Many storm victims "refused disaster relief, to the point of hiding from aid workers," writes historian Trudy Bell. Even mayors turned away outside aid, and would then "boast that they had refused it." Why? "Because cultural norms against being seen as accepting charity were more powerful than the physical imperatives of health, welfare and recovery."
    Those norms have changed.
    That's one reason why private charity is also better than government aid. Charities are less likely to fund freeloaders.
    After Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans, Habitat for Humanity built 70 homes -- quickly. Even the mayor admitted that charities did what his government didn't.
    "Private sector does it better and quicker," he told me. "Not a lot of rules and regulations."
    Part of this year's post-hurricane effort from Congress is a $7 billion grant to the Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Fund.
    "Community Development" sounds nice, but HUD has squandered millions of dollars. HUD bureaucrats often give money to sketchy developers who just vanish.
    The Washington Post reports, "In at least 55 cases, developers drew HUD money but left behind only barren lots."
    Federal bureaucrats are the last people who ought to fund rebuilding. It would be cruel to cut people off unexpectedly in the middle of a crisis, but when the crisis is past, let's debate better ways of doing things.
    As Daniel Rothschild of the Mercatus Center puts it, "Unfortunately, the scale of major disasters leads many people to conclude that only governments have the resources to deal with the aftermath. This could not be further from the truth. What makes sustainable rebound possible is the rebuilding of communities and the organizations that support them: businesses, civic groups, religious communities and nonprofits."
    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

A third threat to free speech at University of California, Berkeley has led to more censorship than political rioters or college administrators. 

    It's the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

    Berkeley is expensive. Out of state students must pay $60,000 a year. But for five years, Berkeley generously posted 20,000 of its professors' lectures online. Anyone could watch them for free. 

    Then government regulators stepped in. 

    The Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates, "No qualified individual with a disability shall ... be denied the benefits of ... services." 

    As with most laws, people can spend years debating what terms like "denied," "benefits" and "services" mean. 

    President Obama's eager regulators, in response to a complaint from activists, decided that Berkeley's videos violated the ADA. The Justice Department sent the school a threatening letter: "Berkeley is in violation of title II ... (T)he Attorney General may initiate a lawsuit." 

    What Berkeley had done wrong, said the government, was failing to caption the videos for the hearing impaired. The ADA makes it illegal to "deny" deaf people services available to others. 

    Equality is a noble goal, but closed captioning is expensive. 

    Computers are learning to turn speech into text, but so far they're not good at it. A speech-to-text program transcribed a Harvard lecturer's comment "on our campus" as "hot Kampen good." 

    Captions that meet government's standards must be typed out by a person who listens to each word. Captioning Berkley's 20,000 lectures would cost millions. The school decided that, to be safe, it would just stop offering its videos. The administration even removed the existing videos from its website. 

    So now, instead of some deaf people struggling to understand university lectures, no one gets to hear them. 

    Politicians mean well when they pass rules like the ADA, but every regulation has unintended consequences. Most are bad. 

    In this case, fortunately, an angry entrepreneur came to the rescue. Jeremy Kauffman hates to see valuable things disappear, so right before Berkeley deleted its website, Kauffman copied the videos and posted them on his website, called LBRY (as in Library). 

    He says the Berkeley videos are just the start of what LBRY has planned. He wants the site to be YouTube -- but without the content restrictions. 

    LBRY uses a new technology that operates like Bitcoin. It's "decentralized," meaning videos posted are stored on thousands of computers around the world. That makes it nearly impossible for governments -- or even Kauffman himself -- to remove them. 

    "LBRY is designed to be much more decentralized, much more controlled by users" and "absolutely freer," Kauffman explains in a video I posted this week. 

    He acknowledges that with no censorship, his invention may end up hosting videos of bad things -- beheadings, child porn, who knows what else. But he argues that if he creates a system with censorship, "it allows us to keep the bad stuff out, which is great, but it also allows dictatorial regimes to keep content off. Do we want to make videos available to the people in Turkey, Iran and China? We say yes." 

    LBRY will let users flag videos depicting illegal actions. Those videos may no longer be shown on LBRY. However, other websites can show the illegal content using LBRY's technology, and Kauffman can't stop that. 

    Kauffman says he won't remove the Berkeley videos from his site even if he's sued because there aren't captions for deaf people. 

    "Is that a reason that content shouldn't be available to everyone?" asks Kauffman. 

    Government is force whether it is deliberately doing something cruel or just trying to solve one group's problems by imposing restrictions on others. "Do you want to put a gun to someone's face and say 'Caption those videos'? It's absurd." 

    It is absurd. What government does is often absurd. 

    Thank goodness for the internet and for people like Kauffman, someone willing to spend his own money to keep information free. 

    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

Our college-age population consists mostly of 18- to 30-year-olds, and likewise our armed forces. I wonder whether they shared common responses to the 2016 presidential election. Many college administrators provided students with therapy dogs, play dough, coloring books, bubbles, videos of frolicking kittens and puppies, and soft music. They even canceled classes and postponed exams so that their 18- to 30-year-old snowflakes could better cope with the election results. There are numerous internet photos and videos of these youngsters screaming and in outright grief and panic. Here's my question: Were our military leaders as accommodating as college administrators? Did commanding officers of our aircraft carriers provide their young people with therapy dogs, play dough, crayons and coloring books, and soft music? Were sea training exercises canceled? Were similar accommodations ordered by commanders of our special forces, such as the Army Rangers, Navy SEALs and Delta Force?

I'm guessing and hoping that our military leaders, unlike many college administrators, have not lost their minds. That brings me to this column's title: "Not a Day Care." That's the title of a new book written by Dr. Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Piper reminds us that today's law students are tomorrow's lawyers and judges. Based on what they are taught, there's no mystery why lawyers and judges seek to legislate from the bench. Students who want to rid college curricula of dead old white men such as Plato, Aristotle, Voltaire and Kant will be on tomorrow's school boards or be professors. This doesn't bode well for our nation's future.

Many colleges have become hotbeds of what might be labeled as enlightened racism. Students at the University of California, Berkeley created "safe spaces" for people of color. Resident advisers at Scripps College posted two signs to educate students about "emotional labor," one aimed at white students and one for "people of color and marginalized backgrounds." University of Michigan students demanded a "designated space on central campus for Black students and students of color to organize and do social justice work." That was after the university caved to student demands and spent $10 million to build a multicultural center.

In Chapter 6, Piper discusses an attack by a Muslim Somali student at Ohio State University. Fortunately, he was shot dead by police officers before he could add to his toll of 11 injured students. The Islamic State group praised him and called him one of its soldiers. The administration responded to the incident by inviting Nathan Lean, author of "The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims," to lecture about Islamophobia. A few days after the attack, protesters gathered on campus to read the names of people of color killed by police in the previous two months. The Muslim Somali student made the list, going from a terrorist to a victim virtually overnight. Piper asks whether it is possible to imagine President Franklin D. Roosevelt taking to the radio waves after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to announce a forum on diversity and prejudice.

Among the many other ugly things going on at our universities is the withering attack on free speech. Diversity is the highest goal of students and professors who openly detest those with whom they disagree. The content of a man's character is no longer as important as the color of his skin or his sex or his political loyalties. This intolerance has won such respectability that even politicians have little shame expressing it. In 2014, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo basically told people who disagreed with him to leave the state. He said people who defend traditional marriage, are pro-life and are anti-gun control "have no place in the state of New York." That's progressive ideological fascism that ought to be put down by freedom-loving Americans.

Dr. Everett Piper's "Not a Day Care" is a short but powerful book by a university president who is not afraid to maintain civility and common sense, traits all too rare among today's university administrators.

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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