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by John Stossel

   No, President Trump, it's not true that if you tax imported steel, we "will have protection for the first time in a long while."
    The opposite is true. If you raise tariffs on steel and aluminum, you punish consumers.
    Yes, such tariffs also punish Chinese producers and protect some American businesses and workers, but the tariffs will hurt many more Americans.
    They'll hurt every business that makes things from steel or aluminum. They'll hurt most everyone who buys anything. Tariffs are taxes, and they don't just affect inanimate metal objects. They punish people.
    Even if China "dumps" products -- sells below their manufacturing cost -- that just means that China hurts its people and gives us discounts. We win. We get products. All the Chinese get is paper with pictures of American presidents printed on it.
    What can they do with those? Either buy our products, or invest in America. Either way, we win.
    Did we learn nothing from what happened when President George W. Bush raised steel tariffs? The trade barriers protected 1,000 jobs. But they destroyed 200,000 other jobs. Bush wisely withdrew the tariffs.
    Trade only happens when both sides think they are better off for making the trade. Win-win, or it doesn't happen. Trade is always good because it is voluntary.
    Adam Smith figured that out more than 200 years ago.
    But when Trump thinks about trade, he just sees downsides. "Before NAFTA (lowered trade barriers), there were 285,000 autoworkers in Michigan," he says. "Today, that number is only 160,000!"
    Trump is right about the jobs numbers. But autoworker jobs disappeared because of automation, not trade. Robots replaced some workers.
    But thanks to trade, most of those workers found other, often superior, jobs. Total American sales of cars and car parts are up.
    It's shortsighted to look at costs or trade without acknowledging the even larger benefits.
    NAFTA made today's avocado craze possible. American avocados are scarce in winter, but Mexico grows them year-round. Today, American producers sell about as much avocado as they did before NAFTA, but thanks to trade, avocados cost less than they would otherwise, and Americans eat four times as many of them.
    Trade makes iPhones affordable, too.
    Apple buys minerals from 63 countries. It ships those minerals to 34 different countries for processing.
    Apple could do more of that in the United States, but every place offers different skills. Turkey and China are good at smelting. Digging through rock is cheaper in Mongolia, and so on.
    This doesn't cut the U.S. out of the process. The highest-paying jobs are those held by techies who design the software and program the phone. Most of those jobs are in the USA. It's foolish to "protect" old-fashioned jobs by robbing new workers of better jobs.
    The U.S. shouldn't cling to expensive, outdated ways of producing things. We should adapt to the new jobs that America does better -- high-end machinery, energy, and intellectual property like movies, music, medicine, internet startups, etc.
    Not only do Americans make more money doing those things, also they are safer in those better jobs. Do you want your kids to work in factories? That's often dangerous and physically demanding work. I bet you'd prefer they take the new jobs.
    Yes, trade hurts some Americans. Some without new skills, or the right training, will struggle.
    But many, many more are better off -- much better off -- because of trade.
    On my Twitter feed, Trump supporters trash me for writing that. They like it when the president talks "tough" about foreigners. It helps politicians to sound like they're getting tough on something, and trade is a popular target.
    "There has never been a trade deal as bad as NAFTA," said Trump. He promises to "fix" it and, as always, he sounds confident. But his plan is not the answer.
    The ideal NAFTA reform would be elimination of tariffs -- no government involvement in trade at all.
    We'd all be richer if that happened.
    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 liberal-created failure that goes entirely ignored is the left's harmful agenda for society's most vulnerable people -- the mentally ill. Eastern State Hospital, built in 1773 in Williamsburg, Virginia, was the first public hospital in America for the care and treatment of the mentally ill. Many more followed. Much of the motivation to build more mental institutions was to provide a remedy for the maltreatment of mentally ill people in our prisons. According to professor William Gronfein at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, by 1955 there were nearly 560,000 patients housed in state mental institutions across the nation. By 1977, the population of mental institutions had dropped to about 160,000 patients.
    Starting in the 1970s, advocates for closing mental hospitals argued that because of the availability of new psychotropic drugs, people with mental illness could live among the rest of the population in an unrestrained natural setting. According to a 2013 Wall Street Journal article by Dr. E. Fuller Torrey, founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center, titled "Fifty Years of Failing America's Mentally Ill" (http://tinyurl.com/y9l8ujww), shutting down mental hospitals didn't turn out the way advocates promised. Several studies summarized by the Treatment Advocacy Center show that untreated mentally ill are responsible for 10 percent of homicides (and a higher percentage of the mass killings). They are 20 percent of jail and prison inmates and more than 30 percent of the homeless.
    We often encounter these severely mentally ill individuals camped out in libraries, parks, hospital emergency rooms and train stations and sleeping in cardboard boxes. They annoy passers-by with their sometimes intimidating panhandling. The disgusting quality of life of many of the mentally ill makes a mockery of the lofty predictions made by the advocates of shutting down mental institutions and transferring their function to community mental health centers, or CMHCs. Torrey writes: "The evidence is overwhelming that this federal experiment has failed, as seen most recently in the mass shootings by mentally ill individuals in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., and Tucson, Ariz. It is time for the federal government to get out of this business and return the responsibility, and funds, to the states."
    Getting the federal government out of the mental health business may be easier said than done. A 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Olmstead v. L.C. held that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals with mental disabilities have the right to live in an integrated community setting rather than in institutions. The U.S. Department of Justice defined an integrated setting as one "that enables individuals with disabilities to interact with non-disabled persons to the fullest extent possible." Though some mentally ill people may have benefited from this ruling, many others were harmed -- not to mention the public, which must put up with the behavior of the mentally ill.
    Torrey says it has now become politically correct to claim that this federal program failed because not enough centers were funded and not enough money was spent. But that's not true. Torrey says: "Altogether, the annual total public funds for the support and treatment of mentally ill individuals is now more than $140 billion. The equivalent expenditure in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy proposed the CMHC program was $1 billion, or about $10 billion in today's dollars. Even allowing for the increase in U.S. population, what we are getting for this 14-fold increase in spending is a disgrace."
    The dollar cost of this liberal vision of deinstitutionalization of mentally ill people is a relatively small part of the burden placed on society. Many innocent people have been assaulted, robbed and murdered by mentally ill people. Businesspeople and their customers have had to cope with the nuisance created by the mentally ill. The police response to misbehavior and crime committed by the mentally ill is to arrest them. Thus, they are put in jeopardy of mistreatment by hardened criminals in the nation's jails and prisons. Worst of all is the fact that the liberals who engineered the shutting down of mental institutions have never been held accountable for their folly.
    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

   Sunday, Hollywood sycophants give out Oscars.
    But they will miss some of the better performances of the year because Academy Awards just go to movie actors. They leave out political actors.
    That's not right. Politicians deceive and manipulate people just as much as actors do. Some of their performances deserve recognition.
    So, I created the Stosscars to fill the gap. Here are this year's awards:
    Best Performance by a Rich Elitist goes to Nancy Pelosi. In her eagerness to trash Republican tax cuts, she said this about $1,000 bonuses: "The crumbs that they are giving to workers to kind of put the schmooze on is so pathetic."
    The award for Best Performance by a Democrat goes to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. After California legalized marijuana, the DA announced he would drop 3,000 misdemeanor marijuana convictions and reduce the penalties for thousands of felony convictions, and the poor guys sitting in jail would not have to petition to get the relief: "People will not have to hire attorneys. They will never have to come to our courts. We believe it's the right thing to do."
    The Stosscar for Best Performance by the President goes to the speech in which Donald Trump said, "We have cut 22 burdensome regulations for every one new rule."
    It's not clear that this is true, but the thought behind it is great. Any reduction in regulations will increase Americans' freedom and prosperity.
    On the other hand, President Trump chose Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be attorney general. Sessions wins the award for Worst Praise of Abusive Government. He said this about asset forfeiture: "I love that program. We had so much fun doing that, taking drug dealers' money."
    Fun? Police grabbed billions of dollars, mostly from people who never got trials. That's a crime, not good government, but both political parties supported it.
    Still, it wasn't even the Worst Result of Bipartisanship. Senators Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell win that Stosscar for their recent budget deal.
    Schumer called it, "The first real sprout of bipartisanship." McConnell thanked "my friend the Democratic leader" and said he hoped "we can build on this bipartisan momentum."
    Please don't! That deal added billions of dollars to our unsustainable debt and cut almost nothing.
    Does any politician ever say "no" to more government?
    One did. Sen. Rand Paul wins the Stosscar for Best Defense of the Constitution. Paul demanded the NSA and FBI get warrants before they listen to Americans' phone calls picked up during surveillance of foreigners.
    "Do we really want all of our phone calls recorded ... (I)f you are not perfectly accurate in recording your phone calls, you can go to prison? ... (F)or Americans, the Constitution should be in order."
    Unfortunately, the Constitution bores most Americans. So domestic spying continues.
    This year's Stosscar for Best Democrat on Free Speech goes to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Despite denouncing good people like Charles Murray, she said of them: "It's dangerous to suppress speech. First, suppression can backfire. Instead of shutting up individuals with disgusting views, it becomes a launching pad to national attention. ... Suppression suggests weakness. It makes it sound like we're afraid that we can't defeat evil ideas with good ideas."
    Good point. The way to fight bad ideas is with good ideas. Unfortunately, Warren's ideas are usually not good ideas.
    Finally, the Stosscar for Worst Performance by a President. The winner is ... President Trump -- for bragging like a narcissistic child in tweet after tweet.
    Don't misunderstand. The Stosscar judges love his tweeting, but some bragging is so repulsive it deserves an award. Samples:
    Trump tweeted that he was: "not smart, but genius ... and a very stable genius at that!"
    "Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news -- it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017."
    Give me a break. He still hasn't even done anything that affected aviation.
    Many presidential tweets deserve awards. But as happens at the Stosscars every year, we're out of time.
    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

If your workplace is a union shop, are you forced  to pay union dues? Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about that.
        When I worked at CBS and ABC, I was ordered to join the American Federation of Radio and TV Artists. That union had won a vote that gave them the right to speak for all reporters. I said, "I'm no 'artist.' I'm a reporter! I won't join!" But my bosses said they couldn't pay me unless I did.
        In right-to-work states, unions can't force people to join. But only 28 states are right to work. Aging socialist bureaucracies like New York state are not among them.
        But now the Supreme Court may say that no government worker, in any state, can be forced to pay a union.
        "If we lose this case, the entire public sector will be right to work," warns Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, the big government employees union.
        That outcome would thrill Rebecca Friedrichs. She's the teacher who filed the right-to-work lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court two years ago.
        Friedrichs got mad at the California Teachers Association during the last recession. Good teachers at her school were about to be laid off. She'd tried to protect them by getting all teachers to agree to a slight pay cut.
        "All America was taking a pay cut then," she told me. "Why should we be any different?"
        But her union wouldn't even allow her to survey other teachers. "They told me, Rebecca, don't worry about those teachers who were about to lose jobs. ... We're going to give them a seminar on how to get unemployment benefits."
        That was one thing that made Friedrichs angry enough to sue the Teachers Association. Three years later, the Supreme Court agreed to hear her case.
        Supreme Court watchers predicted that she would win. Union cheerleaders were pessimistic. Chris Hayes of MSNBC said that Friedrich's case might "decimate the way that public sector unions function."
        But shortly before the justices voted, Antonin Scalia died.
        "That was the most devastating day," says Friedrichs. Without Scalia's vote, the Court deadlocked 4 to 4.
        Now a new suit has been filed by government worker Mark Janus. With Neil Gorsuch now the ninth justice, unions are worried.
        In fact, they are so worried that AFSCME representative Steven Kreisberg agreed to do one of my YouTube interviews.
        "Our members ... want their union to have power," he said. "It's (Janus') right to dissent and not be a member of our union. He only has to pay the fees that are used to represent him."
        But what's the point of dissenting from the union if you still have to pay? Janus doesn't want to be forced to pay for something he doesn't agree with.
        Kreisberg replied, "I'm not sure if he doesn't agree with it, or just simply doesn't want to pay because he'd like to get those services for free."
        That's an argument a free-market advocate can understand: It's not fair if people freeload off others' work -- getting benefits others fund. But who judges what is a "benefit"?
        "If I saw their representation as a benefit, I could agree with that, but I don't," Friedrichs said. "The benefits aren't worth the moral costs."
        Kreisberg responded, "That sounds like the words of a right-wing activist, not the words of a teacher."
        Janus's lawsuit points out that Thomas Jefferson wrote, "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."
        Kreisberg had a quick answer to that: "Thomas Jefferson had no sense of 21st-century labor relations."
        That's probably true. But some principles are eternal, like deciding what to do with your own money and not being forced to fund speech with which you disagree.
        The justices will announce their ruling sometime this summer. I hope that they'll side with Jefferson. Forcing people to pay for what we don't want is tyranny.
        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 recent article in The Guardian dons the foreboding title "Robots will destroy our jobs -- and we're not ready for it." The article claims, "For every job created by robotic automation, several more will be eliminated entirely. ... This disruption will have a devastating impact on our workforce." According to an article in MIT Technology Review, business researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States.
    If technology is destroying jobs faster than it's creating them, it is the first time in human history that it's done so. Actually, the number of jobs is unlimited, for the simple reason that human wants are unlimited -- or they don't frequently reveal their bounds. People always want more of something that will create a job for someone. To suggest that there are a finite number of jobs commits an error known as the "lump of labor fallacy." That fallacy suggests that when automation or technology eliminates a job, there's nothing that people want that would create employment for the person displaced by the automation. In other words, all human wants have been satisfied.
    Let's look at a few examples. In 1790, farmers were 90 percent of the U.S. labor force. By 1900, only about 41 percent of our workers were employed in agriculture. Today less than 3 percent of Americans are employed in agriculture. And it's a good thing. If 90 percent or 41 percent of our labor force were still employed in agriculture, where in the world would we find the workforce to produce all those goods and services that weren't around in 1790 or 1900, such as cars, aircraft, TVs, computers, aircraft carriers, etc.? Indeed, if technology had not destroyed all of those agricultural jobs, we would be a much, much poorer nation.
    What about the claim that our manufacturing jobs are going to China -- a claim that's fueling the Trump administration to impose trade barriers? It is true that between 2001 and 2013, 3.2 million jobs were outsourced to China. However, in the same time frame, China lost about 4.5 million manufacturing jobs, compared with the loss of 3.1 million in the U.S. Job loss is the trend among the top 10 manufacturing countries, which produce 75 percent of the world's manufacturing output (the U.S., Japan, Germany, China, Britain, France, Italy, South Korea, Canada and Mexico). Only Italy has managed not to lose factory jobs since 2000. Nonetheless, the U.S. remains a major force in global manufacturing.
    Because of automation, the U.S. worker is now three times as productive as in 1980 and twice as productive as in 2000. It's productivity gains, rather than outsourcing and imports, that explain most of our manufacturing job loss.
    If our manufacturing sector were its own economy and had its own gross domestic product, it would be the seventh-largest in the world. Total manufacturing value could be as high as $5.5 trillion. In other words, about 17 percent of global manufacturing activity happens in the United States, and America dominates advanced manufacturing. According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, U.S. manufacturing employs a large percentage of the workers who are trained in fields related to science, technology, engineering and math. It employs 37 percent of architectural and engineering workers and 16 percent of life, physical and social scientists.
    Economist Joseph Schumpeter described this process of technological change. He called it "creative destruction." Technology and innovation destroy some jobs while creating many others. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. labor force in 1950 was 62 million. By 2000, it was 79 million, and it's projected to reach 192 million by 2050. Though the "creative destruction" process works hardships on some people who lose their jobs and are forced to take lower-paying jobs, any attempt to impede the process would make all of us worse off.
    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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