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by Walter E. Williams

  A frequent point I have made in past columns has been about the educational travesty happening on many college campuses. Some people have labeled my observations and concerns as trivial, unimportant and cherry-picking. While the spring semester awaits us, let's ask ourselves whether we'd like to see repeats of last year's antics.
    An excellent source for college news is Campus Reform, a conservative website operated by the Leadership Institute (https://www.campusreform.org). Its reporters are college students. Here is a tiny sample of last year's bizarre stories.
    Donna Riley, a professor at Purdue University's School of Engineering Education, published an article in the most recent issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Engineering Education, positing that academic rigor is a "dirty deed" that upholds "white male heterosexual privilege." Riley added that "scientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing." Would you hire an engineering education graduate who has little mastery of the rigor of engineering? What does Riley's vision, if actually practiced by her colleagues, do to the worth of degrees in engineering education from Purdue held by female and black students?
    Sympathizing with Riley's vision is Rochelle Gutierrez, a math education professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In her recent book, she says the ability to solve algebra and geometry problems perpetuates "unearned privilege" among whites. Educators must be aware of the "politics that mathematics brings" in society. She thinks that "on many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness." After all, she adds, "who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White." What's worse is that the university's interim provost, John Wilkin, sanctioned her vision, telling Fox News that Gutierrez is an established and admired scholar who has been published in many peer-reviewed publications. I hope that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's black students don't have the same admiration and stay away from her classes.
    Last February, a California State University, Fullerton professor assaulted a CSUF Republicans member during a demonstration against President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration. The students identified the assailant as Eric Canin, an anthropology professor. Fortunately, the school had the good sense to later suspend Canin after confirming the allegations through an internal investigation.
    Last month, the presidents of 13 San Antonio colleges declared in an op-ed written by Ric Baser, president of the Higher Education Council of San Antonio, and signed by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and 12 other members of the HECSA that "hate speech" and "inappropriate messages" should not be treated as free speech on college campuses. Their vision should be seen as tyranny. The true test of one's commitment to free speech doesn't come when he permits people to be free to make statements that he does not find offensive. The true test of one's commitment to free speech comes when he permits people to make statements he does deem offensive.
    Last year, University of Georgia professor Rick Watson adopted a policy allowing students to select their own grade if they "feel unduly stressed" by their actual grade in the class. Benjamin Ayers, dean of the school's Terry College of Business, released a statement condemning Watson's pick-your-own-grade policy, calling it "inappropriate." He added: "Rest assured that this ill-advised proposal will not be implemented in any Terry classroom. The University of Georgia upholds strict guidelines and academic policies to promote a culture of academic rigor, integrity, and honesty." Ayers' response gives us hope that not all is lost in terms of academic honesty.
    Other campus good news is a report on the resignation of George Ciccariello-Maher, a white Drexel University professor who tweeted last winter, "All I Want For Christmas is White Genocide." He said that he resigned from his tenured position because threats against him and his family had become "unsustainable." If conservative students made such threats, they, too, could benefit from learning the principles of free speech.
    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

Store owner Kamal Saleh was just hit with thousands of dollars in fines.
    His crime? He sold three cigars for $8.89. "Too cheap!" say New York City bureaucrats. "The cigars should have cost 11 cents more."
    Politicians want you to spend more for tobacco.
    They decided this after anti-smoking crusader Dr. Kurt Ribisl told the Centers for Disease Control, "Higher prices will deter children from smoking."
    A pit of socialist micromanagers called the New York City Council quickly embraced the idea. "It's also being considered very seriously in a number of jurisdictions in California," Ribisl told me.
    When health totalitarians make suggestions, leftist politicians jump.
    Ribisl also told the CDC, "Very cheap (tobacco) products should no longer be available." So for my YouTube video this week, I asked him, "Why do you get to decide?!"
    "No, I'm not deciding," he insisted. "I'm a person who studies these policies. I'll let the policymakers decide."
    OK, I sighed, "Why do the politicians get to decide?"
    "Cigarettes are the most lethal product ever introduced," he replied.
    That may be true, although few people realize that half the people who smoke do not die from tobacco-related illness.
    Fatty foods, swimming pools and cars also kill lots of people. Maybe the health police will raise their prices next.
    But so far, it's just tobacco. At Ribisl's urging, New York City adopted price floors and taxes to bring the price of a pack of cigarettes to $13 a pack.
    "People still have the ability to buy it, if they so choose," he said.
    "Just not poor people," I told him. "You're screwing poor people."
    "We see much higher smoking rates among poor people," answered Ribisl. "We need policies that are going to reduce tobacco use among poor people."
    I think all people should get to decide for themselves, but Ribisl wants to engineer "a transition toward thinking more about healthy food and beverage."
    At the CDC, Ribisl suggested that it should also be government policy to "reduce the number of tobacco stores."
    That seems cruel to store owners like Kamal Saleh, but Ribisl said, "We're not interested in putting stores out of business ... They're going to find new products to sell."
    Really? How does he know?
    New York already has a blizzard of regulations that put little stores out of business.
    Tobacco sales regulations alone go on for 47 pages -- confusing pages filled with fine print like: "the price floor for any package of cigars that contains more than one cigar and that has been delivered to a retail dealer in a package described by subdivision a of section 17-704 shall be computed by multiplying the number of cigars in the package by $1.75 and adding $6.25 to the total."
    The 47 pages are just for tobacco sales. "For food, refrigeration, deliveries and everything else, the administrative code could be thousands of pages," says lawyer Andrew Tilem.
    Tilem defends store owners who get fined. Many can barely afford to pay him. Sometimes they pay in "fish and paper plates and tortillas." Those who can't afford to hire a lawyer may just go out of business.
    City Council meddlers, who often complain about "big business," don't notice that their own rules make the big businesses bigger.
    "The big guy can hire lawyers," says Tilem. "It's the little guy who's trying to pinch his pennies and make a dollar that has the biggest problem."
    Playing devil's advocate, I tell him, the government just wants to protect people's health.
    "I'm not a smoking advocate," Tilem replied, "but I think in this country ... people have the right to do the wrong thing."
    We should.
    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

        We are a nation of 325 million people. We have a bit of control over the behavior of our 535 elected representatives in Congress, the president and the vice president. But there are seven unelected people who have life-and-death control over our economy and hence our lives -- the seven governors of the Federal Reserve Board. The Federal Reserve Board controls our money supply. Its governors are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate and serve 14-year staggered terms. They have the power to cripple an economy, as they did during the late 1920s and early 1930s. Their inept monetary policy threw the economy into the Great Depression, during which real output in the United States fell nearly 30 percent and the unemployment rate soared as high as nearly 25 percent.
        The most often stated cause of the Great Depression is the October 1929 stock market crash. Little is further from the truth. The Great Depression was caused by a massive government failure led by the Federal Reserve's rapid 25 percent contraction of the money supply. The next government failure was the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which increased U.S. tariffs by more than 50 percent. Those failures were compounded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal legislation. Leftists love to praise New Deal interventionist legislation. But FDR's very own treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, saw the folly of the New Deal, writing: "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. ... We have never made good on our promises. ... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... and an enormous debt to boot!" The bottom line is that the Federal Reserve Board, the Smoot-Hawle!
 y tariffs and Roosevelt's New Deal policies turned what would have been a two, three- or four-year sharp downturn into a 16-year affair.
        Here's my question never asked about the Federal Reserve Act of 1913: How much sense does it make for us to give seven unelected people life-and-death control over our economy and hence our lives?
        While you're pondering that question, consider another: Should we give the government, through the Federal Communications Commission, control over the internet? During the Clinton administration, along with the help of a Republican-dominated Congress, the visionary 1996 Telecommunications Act declared it "the policy of the United States" that internet service providers and websites be "unfettered by Federal or State regulation." The act sought "to promote competition and reduce regulation in order to secure lower prices and higher quality services for American telecommunications consumers and encourage the rapid deployment of new telecommunications technologies."
        In 2015, the Obama White House pressured the FCC to create the Open Internet Order, which has been branded by its advocates as net neutrality. This move overthrew the spirit of the Telecommunications Act. It represents creeping FCC jurisdiction, as its traditional areas of regulation -- such as broadcast media and telecommunications -- have been transformed by the internet, or at least diminished in importance. Fortunately, it's being challenged by the new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, who has announced he will repeal the FCC's heavy-handed 2015 internet regulations.
        The United States has been the world leader in the development of internet technology precisely because it has been relatively unfettered by federal and state regulation. The best thing that the U.S. Congress can do for internet entrepreneurs and internet consumers is to send the FCC out to pasture as it did with the Civil Aeronautics Board, which regulated the airline industry, and the Interstate Commerce Commission, which regulated the trucking industry. When we got rid of those regulatory agencies, we saw a greater number of competitors, and consumers paid lower prices. Giving the FCC the same medicine would allow our high-tech industry to maintain its world leadership position.
        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

President Trump is up 3 percent!
    I refer to the betting odds. Gamblers (mostly in Europe because political bets are legal there) now give the president a 53 percent chance of finishing his first term.
    That's it -- they barely think he'll complete four years. This must seem wrong to Trump supporters, but when Trump won the presidency, the odds were significantly lower -- many people thought he wouldn't finish one term.
    "He can't take the criticism! He'll get mad and quit! He'll get bored and quit! He'll return to making money! He'll be impeached! Assassinated! He'll get so angry that he has a stroke!"
    I live in New York City, so I heard (and hear) all that and more.
    Still, I thought the people saying he'd be gone in less than four years were wrong. So, I took bets from friends. So far, it looks like I'm winning.
    You can follow the odds at ElectionBettingOdds.com, a site created by my associate Maxim Lott. He doesn't create the numbers -- just translates the bets into odds Americans can understand.
    I know you Trump fans mock the betting odds. I read your comments on Facebook and Twitter: "Stossel the Fool, your website got Trump's election wrong! Why trust your site now?"
    Here's why: Betting odds are more reliable predictors of future events than polls, pundits and everything else.
    True, before Trump won, gamblers gave him only a 20 percent chance. But 20 percent isn't nothing, and by election night ElectionBettingOdds.com recognized the truth faster than the TV commentators did.
    As I write, the bettors predict that in this year's congressional elections, Republicans will hold the Senate but lose the House.
    In 2020, who will be elected president? Trump leads, but oddsmakers give him just a 29 percent chance.
    His biggest competition among Democrats is, surprisingly, California Senator Kamala Harris. She has a 7 percent chance. Then Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. (Hillary Clinton ranks even lower: just 2 percent.)
    His biggest rival overall is Vice President Mike Pence, at 8 percent.
    Yes, it's too early to predict this November's results, let alone 2020's. But watching the odds change is fun (they update every five minutes), and gamblers are the best guide.
    Of course, I want a libertarian to win.
    For my YouTube video this week, I asked Libertarian Party chairman Nick Sarwark, "Why bother competing? Last election, even though so many people hated both the Democrat and Republican, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson got less than 4 percent of the vote."
    "We tripled all previous records," he replied. "In the 45-year history of the Libertarian Party, we've never had that kind of support."
    Not good enough, I said.
    "Success is a long-term thing," Sarwark assured me. "More people are seeing that when you elect Republicans you don't get the sort of small government they run on. If you elect Democrats, you don't get civil liberties. ... Both parties are fighting over the ability to take your tax money and give it to their corporate special interest friends."
    But those two corrupt major parties keep winning!
    "We're growing and they're dying," replied Sarwark. "Voter registration identity with Republicans and Democrats is dropping. Voter registration identity with Libertarians is the only party that's growing."
    Some Libertarians claim the party would have done better in 2016 had Gary Johnson been a better candidate. Some complained, "He's too low-key. He sounded like he was stoned."
    "No one has the perfect combination of credibility, experience, purity of message," replied Sarwalk. "He was the best candidate the delegates could have picked. And we had the best success that we've ever had."
    Win or lose, he added, Libertarians will remind Americans about basic principles we have in common: "The rights of the individual, the right to free speech, to keep and bear arms, limitations on the powers of government. We want a right to live our life and pursue happiness any way we choose -- as long as we don't hurt other people and don't take their stuff. And the two old political parties, that's not what they're about. They're about taking power and controlling you."
    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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    John Stossel is off this week. The following column is by Bernard Goldberg.

 

    The stock market is booming. Consumer confidence is soaring. The unemployment rate is falling. The economy is getting more robust every day. And President Donald Trump's approval ratings have just hit a new low.

    Congratulations, Trump. You are the president of a loyal base whose members adore you. The bad news, Mr. President, is that almost no one else does.

    According to a new CNN poll, just 35 percent of Americans approve of the way the president is handling his job. Fifty-nine percent disapprove. The poll was taken before Congress passed the new tax law, so he may get a bump in the next round of polls. But it's unlikely to be more than just a bump. The economy is already barreling ahead -- and that hasn't done much for his approval numbers. 

    So what's going on? I'm not exactly going out on a limb to suggest his low approval numbers have a lot to do with his tweeting, his bluster and his pettiness. In short, a lot of Americans think he's temperamentally unfit for office. 

    But you don't have to admire this president, or even like him, to acknowledge the obvious: that more than a few journalists -- like most other liberal Democrats -- won't rest until he's out of office. 

    Trump thinks they just make stuff up to hurt him -- or at least that's what he says. Who knows if he actually believes it. His loyal base believes it and that may be all he needs to keep the "fake news" narrative going. 

    But here's another explanation: Contrary to popular belief, journalists are only human and so, from time to time, they make mistakes. 

    But mistakes, if they're really just that and not something more nefarious, should go in both directions. Funny, but when reporters make mistakes about this president, they all seem to go in just one direction -- the anti-Trump direction.

    If these were simply honest errors, some of them, just by chance, would help the president. But they don't. So what should we make of it?

    To say journalists have a liberal bias and detest this president isn't exactly breaking news. When it comes to Donald Trump, a lot of journalists figure if the sun rose in the east today, he must have done something wrong and they're going to prove it. So they let their journalistic instincts lapse; they let their guardrails down. Instead of being skeptics, they become gullible patsies, taking in all sorts of later discredited information peddled by anonymous sources -- as long as it makes the president look bad.

    They put out false information about collusion with the Russians, for example, because they want to believe that he conspired with his pal Vladimir Putin to rig the election. Collusion, after all, could lead to impeachment, the holy grail.

    And if, heaven forbid, you criticize them for sloppiness or for going overboard, you're accused to being a Trump sycophant who wants to put a stake through the heart of the First Amendment and democracy itself. 

    But how would these same journalists respond if it were Barack Obama or President Hillary Clinton who was under investigation by a special prosecutor who loaded up his team with Republican donors? How would they react if a lead FBI investigator texted his mistress that candidate Clinton "is a (expletive) idiot" and that they needed an "insurance policy" in case she somehow won the election? 

    We know how they'd react: They'd say the deck was stacked against the Democrat. They'd be outraged. And for good reason. 

    Yes, Donald Trump, with his egocentricities, his thin skin, his unnecessary quarrels with critics, and a lot more, gives the media plenty of ammunition to use against him. It's as if he's saying, "I just loaded the gun for you reporters who hate me; here it is; ready, aim, shoot me."

    Still, there are times when I wonder why he wastes so much time and energy beating up on the press when, thanks to their not so hidden contempt for him, they do such a good job beating up on themselves. 

COPYRIGHT 2017 BERNARD GOLDBERG

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