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by Walter E. Williams

        No decent person can support George Floyd's mistreatment, or the mistreatment of anyone else, at the hands of police officers with the sworn duty to uphold the law. The Minneapolis authorities moved quickly, and Derek Chauvin was fired from the Minneapolis police department, placed under arrest and charged with second-degree murder and other charges. The three officers who were with him were also fired and charged two counts of aiding and abetting -- one for second-degree murder and one for second-degree manslaughter.
        Peaceful protest in any cause is as American as apple pie, but what we saw in the wake of George Floyd's murder is as despicable as anything recently seen in our nation. What makes it worse is the silence and seemly support in many quarters for anarchists who have highjacked the protests to promote their own ends. These are the white liberals and leftists groups like Antifa who could care less about the major problems that exist in black communities and made worse by the rioting and looting.
        "Black Entrepreneurs 2020 Trends: A look at African-American-owned businesses in 2020" is a survey of black-owned businesses. When blacks were asked how they view themselves in the present political climate, most were either "very confident" or "somewhat confident." If that survey were run today, I doubt whether we would get anywhere near the same results. Part of the difference would be from the government's economic shutdown of our nation but most of it would be the result of the recent wanton destruction within black communities. There are videos of legally armed black business owners standing outside their shops to protect them. There are other scenes of black small-business owners in tears over the destruction of businesses that they've put their life's savings into. My question to the white Antifa anarchists, and their fellow black looters, is how does the destruction of black-owned business promote justice for the murder of George Floyd?
        The recent looting and property destruction, as well as the high crime rates in many black neighborhoods, have the effect of a law that outlaws economic growth and opportunities. During the recent mayhem in black communities, stores of many types were looted and destroyed. CVS pharmacy has closed 60 stores in 21 states amid looting and protests. Large stores like Walmart were looted and burned. Many smaller stores and businesses were looted and burned. Who will bear the ultimate cost of the rioting? If you said black people, you are right. Black people must bear the expense and inconvenience to go to suburban shopping malls if they are to avoid the higher prices charged by smaller neighborhood stores that have survived the rioting and looting.
        Even when there is not the kind of social disorder of recent weeks, lawlessness is the hallmark of many black communities. Ultimately, the solution to this lawlessness rests with black people. Given the current political environment, it does not benefit a black or white politician to take those steps necessary to crack down on lawlessness in black communities. That means black people must become intolerant of criminals who make their lives living hell, even if it means taking the law into their own hands.
        That brings me to one of the most disturbing aspects of the rioting and looting. That is the seeming impotence of people whom we elect and pay to enforce the law. That includes governors, mayors and police chiefs who refuse to use their law enforcement powers to protect citizens and their property from criminals. Unfortunately, politicians who call for law and order are often viewed negatively. But that makes little sense. Poor people are more dependent on law and order than anyone else. In the face of high crime or social disorder, wealthier people can afford to purchase alarm systems, buy guard dogs, hire guards and, if things get too bad, move to a gated community. These options are not available to poor people. Their only protection is an orderly society.
        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

        For my internet video this week, my staff showed me clips of violent cops.
        It's not just Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes -- it's the other cops who just watch.
        It's the Buffalo cops who floored a protester and simply walked by as he lay unconscious, bleeding out of his ear. It's a cop in Philadelphia, swinging his baton into protestors, the Atlanta police needlessly tasing two college students, the NYC cops beating a bicyclist and dozens of cases where police lied about what they'd done until bodycams or cellphone cameras revealed the truth.
        None of this justifies looting, arson and violence against other cops.
        But I understand the rage.
        Policing is the rare profession given where employees are given a legal right to use deadly force. Most officers use that power responsibly.
        But America has 800,000 cops. If just a fraction is racist or sadistic, that's a lot of racist and sadistic bullies.
        What can be done about that?
        "The problem is repeat offenders. The system doesn't fire those cops," says Washington Post columnist Radley Balko. "The job of a union is to protect the interest of its members, really at any cost." So, bad cops keep policing.
        The officer who killed George Floyd had 18 complaints filed against him.
        A San Antonio cop was caught challenging prisoners to "take off your cuffs and fight for your freedom!" Then he did it again. Technicalities in his union's contract forced police to reinstate him, twice.
        "There's a strong argument to be made that we need to get rid of police unions entirely," says Balko.
        What's the union's side of the story?
        Cops have a hard job. They must make split-second decisions and act as peacekeepers, baby sitters, marriage counselors and more. They deal with people at the worst time of those people's lives. It may be why officers have a high suicide rate.
        "Unions are there for a reason," says Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. "You have to protect these men and women."
        After two New York City cops drove into a crowd of protesters, I asked Cosme to justify that.
        "Crowds are throwing bricks at them! You get to a state of panic. You can't go forward. Can't go backwards. So you try to get out of the situation!"
        He added, "The police should police themselves."
        "But you don't," I said. "They're not held accountable. Especially union officers. They do it again and again. It gets erased from their records."
        Cosme disagrees. "They are disciplined. ... If you don't have these protections, then no one's going to want to be a police officer."
        But only about half of America's police belong to a union. Where cops are not unionized, says Balko, "there's no shortage of police officers."
        Police unions also make police departments harder to manage.
        In crime-ridden Camden, New Jersey, union cops took so much sick time and family leave that, most days, nearly 30% of the force just didn't show up. So, Camden fired all of them.
        Camden rehired some, but only those willing to go along with new rules that made it easier to fire and discipline.
        The result: Murder went down, and Camden saved money.
        Per-officer costs dropped from $182,168 to $99,605. That allowed Camden to double the size of its force from "bare bones" to "near the highest police presence of any city."
        Extra police allow for community policing -- more people walk the beat, talking to residents.
        Unfortunately, today's protesters rarely mention police unions. Instead, they say: "Defund the police! Fund community programs, like job training."
        But that won't stop crime. America has already spent trillions on job training and other government social engineering that rarely works. Initially, the programs are staffed by well-intended people who want to help. But over time, they become wasteful, ossified bureaucracies, like most government programs.
        We need cops. Police presence does reduce crime.
        But we need cops who can be held responsible for their actions.
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

       While it might not be popular to say in the wake of the recent social disorder, the true plight of black people has little or nothing to do with the police or what has been called "systemic racism." Instead, we need to look at the responsibilities of those running our big cities.
        Some of the most dangerous big cities are: St. Louis, Detroit, Baltimore, Oakland, Chicago, Memphis, Atlanta, Birmingham, Newark, Buffalo and Philadelphia. The most common characteristic of these cities is that for decades, all of them have been run by liberal Democrats. Some cities -- such as Detroit, Buffalo, Newark and Philadelphia -- haven't elected a Republican mayor for more than a half-century. On top of this, in many of these cities, blacks are mayors, often they dominate city councils, and they are chiefs of police and superintendents of schools.
        In 1965, there were no blacks in the U.S. Senate, nor were there any black governors. And only six members of the House of Representatives were black. As of 2019, there is far greater representation in some areas -- 52 House members are black. Nine black Americans have served in the Senate, including Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts, Carol Moseley Braun and Barack Obama of Illinois, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Kamala Harris of California. In recent times, there have been three black state governors. The bottom line is that today's black Americans have significant political power at all levels of government. Yet, what has that meant for a large segment of the black population?
        Democratic-controlled cities have the poorest-quality public education despite their large, and growing, school budgets. Consider Baltimore, Maryland. In 2016, in 13 of Baltimore's 39 high schools, not a single student scored proficient on the state's math exam. In six other high schools, only 1% tested proficient in math. Only 15% of Baltimore students passed the state's English test. That same year in Philadelphia only 19% of eighth-graders scored proficient in math, and 16% were proficient in reading. In Detroit, only 4% of its eighth-graders scored proficient in math, and 7% were proficient in reading. It's the same story of academic disaster in other cities run by Democrats.
        Violent crime and poor education is not the only problem for Democratic-controlled cities. Because of high crime, poor schools and a less pleasant environment, cities are losing their economic base and their most productive people in droves. When World War II ended, the population of Washington, D.C., was about 800,000; today, it's about 700,000. In 1950, Baltimore's population was almost 950,000; today, it's around 590,000. Detroit's 1950 population was close to 1.85 million; today, it's down to 673,000. The population of Camden, New Jersey, in 1950 was nearly 125,000; today it has fallen to 74,000. St. Louis' 1950 population was more than 856,000; today, it's less than 294,000. A similar story of population decline can be found in most of our formerly large and prosperous cities. In some cities, the population decline since 1950 is well over 50%, and that includes Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
        Academic liberals, civil rights advocates and others blamed the exodus on racism -- "white flight" to the suburbs to avoid blacks. But blacks have been fleeing some cities at higher rates than whites. The five cities whose suburbs have the fastest-growing black populations are Miami, Dallas, Washington, Houston and Atlanta. It turns out that blacks, like whites, want better and safer schools for their kids and don't like to be mugged or have their property vandalized. And like white people, if they have the means, black people cannot wait to leave troubled cities.
        White liberals and black politicians focus most of their attention on what the police do, but how relevant is that to the overall tragedy? According to Statista, this year, 172 whites and 88 blacks have died at the hands of police. To put police shootings in a bit of perspective, in Chicago alone in 2020 there have been 1,260 shootings and 256 homicides with blacks being the primary victims. That comes to one shooting victim every three hours and one homicide victim every 15 hours. Three people in Chicago have been killed by police. If one is truly concerned about black deaths, shootings by police should figure way down on one's list -- which is not to excuse bad behavior by some police officers.
        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

        Deaths from COVID-19 are dropping, but we probably can't resume normal life until someone develops a vaccine. Experts say it will take at least 12 to 18 months.
        Why so long?
        Because to make sure a vaccine works, researchers must recruit lots of volunteers and wait for them to get sick.
        First, they inject the volunteers. Half get the test vaccine; half get a placebo. Then, the test subjects resume their normal lives, and researchers watch to see who gets sick.
        For that research to work, there must be enough of the coronavirus around for enough volunteers to get the coronavirus.
        But now COVID-19 cases are declining. Researchers worry that there won't be enough sick people to test it on.
        Fortunately, there's a way to speed testing up, if regulators allow it. It's called a human challenge trial.
        "'Challenge' means that you intentionally expose people to the coronavirus... 'challenging' them with the virus," explains Carson Poltorack in my new video.
        Poltorack is a member of One Day Sooner, a group of mostly healthy young people who volunteered to be infected with the coronavirus. So far, 24,000 people from 100 countries have volunteered. They are willing to risk their lives if it means the world get a vaccine sooner.
        "It's the right thing to do," says Poltorack.
        The idea of a challenge trial is not new. Such trials were used to find treatments for malaria, typhoid, dengue fever and cholera. But there were treatments for those diseases. So far, we have no reliable treatment for COVID-19.
        "People your age do die from COVID," I say to Poltorack.
        "Absolutely." He responds. "I'm 23. The risk of somebody from 18 to 30 is about 3 in 10,000, the same as if you were to donate a kidney."
        Poltorack volunteered after reading a paper where bioethicist Nir Eyal argued that challenge trials would develop a vaccine sooner, without much added risk.
        "We put people through risks in clinical trials all the time," says Eyal.
        Young people are more likely to take such risks. Some volunteer to fight wars. Fighting this pandemic, say One Day Sooner volunteers, is like that.
        One recorded a video where she says it is "maybe the most important thing I will ever do."
        But some doctors say it shouldn't be done.
        "We need to wait," says Dr. Jennifer Miller, bioethics professor at Yale Medical School.
        She says a challenge trial may not save much time. "You have to develop the challenge virus strain... test it in animals... figure out the correct dose. That can take 6 to 18 months."
        Maybe. Virologist Stanley Plotkin, developer of the rubella vaccine, says it could take just two months.
        I argue that the length of time shouldn't matter. "If individuals want to experiment, shouldn't it be their choice?" I ask Miller. "Why doesn't the volunteer get to say, 'I'm an adult. It's my body, I get to make the decision!?'"
        "We have moral limits to what you can do with your freedoms," replies Miller. "We mandate that you wear helmets when you ride bicycles in some states. We say you have to wear a seatbelt for your protection... I'm not sure the added risks to the participants are justified."
        "That's a decision that each individual informed volunteer can make for themselves," says Poltorack, wisely.
        I obviously agree. I asked Poltorack, "One month's difference in the development of a vaccine could save a thousand lives?"
        "No, probably far more than that," he answers. "Probably in the range of tens to hundreds of thousands."
        Some bureaucracies have come around to the idea. Recently, the World Health Organization released a paper on challenge trials. Thirty-five members of Congress wrote the FDA asking it to consider a challenge trial.
        We adults should be allowed to make our own decisions about what we do with our own bodies.
        If some people want to get infected, let them!
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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by Walter E. Williams

        Imagine that you are an unborn spirit in heaven. God condemns you to a life of poverty but will permit you to choose the country in which you will spend your life. Which country would you choose? I would choose the United States of America.
        A recent study by Just Facts, an excellent source of factual information, shows that after accounting for income, charity and noncash welfare benefits such as subsidized health care, housing, food stamps and other assistance programs, "the poorest 20% of Americans consume more goods and services than the national averages for all people in the world's most affluent countries." This includes the majority of countries that are members of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, including its European members. The Just Facts study concludes that if the U.S. "poor" were a nation, then it would be one of the world's richest.
        As early as 2010, 43% of all poor households owned their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a three-bedroom house with one-and-a-half baths, a garage and a porch or patio. Eighty percent of poor households have air conditioning. The typical poor American has more living space than the average non-poor individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens and other cities throughout Europe. Ninety-seven percent of poor households have one or more color televisions -- half of which are connected to cable, satellite or a streaming service. Some 82% of poor families have one or more smartphones. Eighty-nine percent own microwave ovens and more than a third have an automatic dishwasher. Most poor families have a car or truck and 43% own two or more vehicles.
        Most surveys on U.S. poverty are deeply flawed because poor households greatly underreport both their income and noncash benefits such as health care benefits provided by Medicaid, free clinics and the Children's Health Insurance Program, nourishment provided by food stamps, school lunches, school breakfasts, soup kitchens, food pantries, the Women, Infants & Children Program and homeless shelters.
        We hear and read stories such as "Real Wage Growth Is Actually Falling" and "Since 2000 Wage Growth Has Barely Grown." But we should not believe it. Ask yourself, "What is the total compensation that I receive from my employer?" If you included only your money wages, you would be off the mark anywhere between 30% and 38%. Total employee compensation includes mandated employer expenses such as Social Security and Medicare. Other employee benefits include retirement and health care benefits as well as life insurance, short-term and long-term disability insurance, vacation leave, tuition reimbursement and bonuses. There is incentive for people to want more of their compensation in a noncash form simply because of the different tax treatment. The bottom line is that prior to the government shutdown of our economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Americans were becoming richer and richer. The question before us now is how to get back on that path.
        Speaking of the COVID-19 pandemic, Just Facts has a couple of interesting takes in an article by its co-founder James D. Agresti and Dr. Andrew Glen titled "Anxiety From Reactions to Covid-19 Will Destroy At Least Seven Times More Years of Life Than Can Be Saved by Lockdowns."
        Scientific surveys of U.S. residents have found that the mental health of about one-third to one-half of all adults has been substantially compromised by government reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are deaths from non-psychological causes, such as government-mandated and personal decisions to delay medical care, which has postponed tumor removals, cancer screenings, heart surgeries and treatments for other ailments that could lead to early death if not addressed in a timely manner. Interesting and sadly enough, New York state enacted one of the strictest lockdowns in the U.S. but has 22 times the death rate of Florida, which had one of the mildest lockdowns.
        As I pointed out in a recent column, intelligent decision-making requires one to not only pay attention to the benefits of an action but to its costs as well.
        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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