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by Walter E. Williams

    The favorite leftist tool for the attack on our nation's founding is that slavery was sanctioned. They argue that the founders disregarded the promises of our Declaration of Independence "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." These very ignorant people, both in and out of academia, want us to believe that slavery is unusual, as historian Kenneth Stampp suggested in his book, "Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South." But slavery is by no means peculiar, odd, unusual or unique to the U.S.
    As University of Nebraska-Lincoln political science professor David P. Forsythe wrote in his book, "The Globalist," "The fact remained that at the beginning of the nineteenth century an estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom." Slavery was common among ancient peoples -- Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites, Greeks, Persians, Armenians and many others. Large numbers of Christians were enslaved during the Ottoman wars in Europe. White slaves were common in Europe from the Dark Ages to the Middle Ages. It was only during the 17th century that the Atlantic slave trade began with Europeans assisted by Arabs and Africans.
    Slavery is one of the most horrible injustices. It posed such a moral dilemma at our 1787 Constitutional Convention that it threatened to scuttle the attempt to create a union between the 13 colonies. Let's look at some of the debate. George Washington, in a letter to Pennsylvania delegate Robert Morris, wrote, "There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it." In a Constitutional Convention speech, James Madison said, "We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man." In James Madison's records of the Convention he wrote, "(The Convention) thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be property in men."
    John Jay, in a letter to R. Lushington: "It is much to be wished that slavery may be abolished. The honour of the States, as well as justice and humanity, in my opinion, loudly call upon them to emancipate these unhappy people. To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused." Patrick Henry said, "I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be offered to abolish this lamentable evil." George Mason said, "The augmentation of slaves weakens the states; and such a trade is diabolical in itself, and disgraceful to mankind."
    Northern delegates to the Convention, and others who opposed slavery, wanted to count only free people of each state to determine representation in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. Southern delegates wanted to count slaves just as any other person. That would have given slave states greater representation in the House and the Electoral College. If slaveholding states could not have counted slaves at all, the Constitution would not have been ratified and there would not be a union. The compromise was for slaves to be counted as three-fifths of a person when deciding representation in the House of Representatives and Electoral College.
    My question for those who condemn the Three-Fifths Compromise is: Would blacks have been better off if northern convention delegates stuck to their guns, not compromising, and a union had never been formed? To get a union, the northern delegates begrudgingly accepted slavery. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass understood the compromise, saying that the three-fifths clause was "a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding states" that deprived them of "two-fifths of their natural basis of representation."
    Here's my hypothesis about people who use slavery to trash the founders: They have contempt for our constitutional guarantees of liberty. Slavery is merely a convenient moral posturing tool they use in their attempt to reduce respect for our Constitution.
    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 don't feel safe," says a Harvard student in a video.
    What threatens her? The dean of her Harvard dormitory, law professor Ronald Sullivan, agreed to be part of accused sexual harasser Harvey Weinstein's legal defense team.
    Sullivan and his wife were deans of the dormitory for years, but no matter. Now the professor is apparently an evil threat.
    A group calling itself "Our Harvard Can Do Better" demanded Sullivan be removed from his dean job.
    Sullivan is black, but black activists joined the protest, too. On the videotape, one says, "Dean Sullivan told me to my face that I should view his representation of Harvey Weinstein as a good thing because that representation will trickle down to black men like me who constantly face an unjust justice system."
    Seems reasonable to me. But the privileged Harvard students laugh and clap when the protester goes on to say, "F--- that!"
    Colleges don't show much courage when pushed by student activists. Harvard administrators removed Sullivan and his wife from the residence hall.
    Do the students really "feel unsafe"?
    "They're lying," says Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz in my newest video. "Anybody who says they feel unsafe in the presence of a lawyer and his wife are looking you in the eye and committing the equivalent of perjury. They don't feel unsafe. They've learned the language of the new McCarthyism."
    In other words, people call themselves "victims," knowing they can get results they want by saying they are traumatized by the presence of their enemies. Schools and other businesses, wanting to avoid protracted fights and accusations of sexism, racism or "insensitivity," rush to comply with activists' wishes.
    Dershowitz is mad about what's happened at his school: "The mantra of the day is 'We feel unsafe.' Well, that's just too bad! Learn to deal with it. You're going to have to live in the real world in which your neighbors, friends, relatives are going to disagree with you. If you start using the criteria of 'unsafe' in your life, you're going to be a failure."
    Worse, he adds, "You're going to impose restrictions on the rest of us."
    I told Dershowitz that the students protesting Sullivan were mostly young women. Some had been sexually assaulted. Isn't it reasonable that they not be reminded of that?
    "No, it's not reasonable not to want to face the reality that due process requires that everybody be represented," replied Dershowitz.
    Harvard didn't fire Sullivan from his professor job, only his dean job.
    So I said to Dershowitz: "Don't students have a right to say, 'Look, we're living with this guy. He creeps us out because of what he does. Get somebody else'?"
    "If they could say that," replied Dershowitz, "they could say it about somebody who supports Donald Trump for president, somebody who is a Muslim, who's gay, who's Jewish, you name it."
    Sullivan, who like Dershowitz has defended clients considered monsters by the general public, has long argued, "For the rights of all of us... to be protected, we have to live in a system where we vigorously, vigorously defend the guilty."
    "You get the right to counsel no matter how despicable you are thought to be," explains Dershowitz. "These students would have fired John Adams. They would have not allowed him to come to the Constitutional Convention or write the Declaration of Independence because he defended the people who were accused of the Boston Massacre."
    The new McCarthyism requires that everyone bow to demands of "victims." That's a lot of people.
    On the videotape, one student says she worries not just about her own safety, but the well-being of "survivors, transgender and gender nonconforming people, BGLTQ people, undocumented, DACAmented and TPS people, indigenous people, first generation low-income people..."
    I don't even know what some of those words mean.
    Most of us want to protect genuine victims. But it makes little sense that America, a country where even poor people live longer and better lives than almost anyone in history, has become a place where spoiled children paying $60,000 tuition consider themselves "victims."
    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

    Presidential contenders are in a battle to out give one another. Senator Elizabeth Warren proposes a whopping $50,000 per student college loan forgiveness. Senator Bernie Sanders proposes free health care for all Americans plus illegal aliens. Most Democratic presidential candidates promise free stuff that includes free college, universal income, "Medicare for All" and debt forgiveness.
    Their socialist predecessors made promises too. "Freedom and Bread" was the slogan used by Adolf Hitler during the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi) campaign against president Paul von Hindenburg. Hitler even promised, "In the Third Reich every German girl will find a husband." Stalin promised a great socialist-Marxist society that included better food and better worker conditions. China's Mao Zedong promised democratic constitutionalism and the dream that "farmers have land to till." These, and other promises, gave Mao the broad political support he needed to win leadership of the entire country in 1949.
    Socialism promises a utopia that sounds good, but those promises are never realized. It most often results in massive human suffering. Capitalism fails miserably when compared with a heaven or utopia promised by socialism. But any earthly system is going to come up short in such a comparison. Mankind must make choices among alternative economic systems that actually exist. It turns out that for the common man capitalism, with all of its alleged shortcomings, is superior to any system yet devised to deal with his everyday needs and desires. By most any measure of human well-being, people who live in countries toward the capitalistic end of the economic spectrum are far better off than their fellow men who live in countries toward the socialist end. Why?
    Capitalism, or what some call free markets, is relatively new in human history. Prior to capitalism, the way individuals amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. With the rise of capitalism, it became possible to amass great wealth by serving and pleasing your fellow man. Capitalists seek to discover what people want and produce and market it as efficiently as possible as a means to profit. A historical example of this process would be John D. Rockefeller, whose successful marketing drove kerosene prices down from 58 cents a gallon in 1865 to 7 cents in 1900. Henry Ford became rich by producing cars for the common man. Both Ford's and Rockefeller's personal benefits pale in comparison to the benefits received by the common man who had cheaper kerosene and cheaper and more convenient transportation. There are literally thousands of examples of how mankind's life ha been made better by those in the pursuit of profits. Here's my question !
to you: Are the people who, by their actions, created unprecedented convenience, longer life expectancy and a more pleasant life for the ordinary person -- and became wealthy in the process -- deserving of all the scorn and ridicule heaped upon them by intellectuals and political hustlers today?
    In many intellectual and political circles, the pursuit of profits is seen as evil. However, this pursuit forces entrepreneurs to find ways to either please people efficiently or go bankrupt. Of course, they could mess up and avoid bankruptcy if they can get government to bail them out or give them protection against competition.
    Nonprofit organizations have an easier time of it. As a matter of fact, people tend to be the most displeased with services received from public schools, motor vehicle departments and other government agencies. Nonprofits can operate whether they please people or not. That's because they derive their compensation through taxes. I'm sure that we'd be less satisfied with supermarkets if they had the power to take our money through taxes, as opposed to being forced to find ways to get us to voluntarily give them our money.
    By the way, I'm not making an outright condemnation of socialism. I run my household on the Marxist principle, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." That system works when you can remember the names of all involved.
    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

    Look at the dollar bills in your wallet. They say they are "legal tender for all debts."
    But are they? What makes them valuable? What makes them worth anything?
    Each bill says, "In God We Trust." But God won't guarantee their value.
    The $20 bill depicts the White House. Congress is on $50s. But neither guarantees the value of our dollars.
    I wouldn't trust them if they did. I don't trust politicians, generally, but I especially don't trust them with money. Since President Richard Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard, the dollar has lost 80 percent of its value.
    So what makes money trustworthy?
    A new PBS documentary, "In Money We Trust?" points out that money is only useful if people agree that it can be trusted.
    I made a short version of the documentary.
    To earn trust, money should be "reliable, like a clock," says Forbes magazine publisher Steve Forbes. "It has to be fixed in value: 60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute. Imagine if that floated each day. That would make life chaotic."
    Throughout history, people needed a way to assign a fixed value to money.
    "The best mechanism for this would be some kind of commodity that's permanent, easily transported, easily understood by everyone. And that medium was, of course, gold," says anthropologist Jack Weatherford in the documentary.
    But gold isn't the only thing to which people have pegged the value of money. They've also linked it to things such as silver, crops and salt. Salt-based trade is where we got the word "salary."
    But gold created "a kind of mobility in people's lives that they never had before," says Weatherford.
    But gold is heavy -- hard to carry around. That limited trade.
    So people created banks.
    "The Knights Templar developed a system where they said, 'Well, you can just deposit your money here with us and then, when you need some, withdraw it from your account,'" explains economist Nathan Lewis. "This enabled the peasants to travel Europe without being in danger of being robbed."
    That meant people could engage in more trade.
    "You could ... sell a bond in London," says Lewis, "and build a railroad in India."
    The increased trade made the world much richer.
    In the United States, the first secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton, fixed the dollar to gold and silver. The whole world came to trust the dollar as a reliable indicator of value.
    But governments like to enrich themselves by debasing currency, making it appear the government has more wealth than it really does -- spreading the same wealth over more units of currency.
    The evil emperor Nero did it in ancient Rome, says Weatherford. "They would call in all the coins, melt them down, reissue them -- of course, with his picture on them," but with less gold in each coin. Rome's decline was tied to the decrease in the trustworthiness of its currency.
    "When you change the value of money, you're stealing property," says Forbes.
    That happened in Germany after World War I. The victorious nations demanded that Germany pay for the cost of the war. So, Germany just printed more bills. That created massive inflation. That inflation helped elect Hitler.
    Governments rarely resist the temptation to print more currency.
    During the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt confiscated private supplies of gold.
    Without a clear legal peg of each dollar to a specific amount of gold, the government could print more currency. That only added to the financial instability.
    After World War II, governments returned to gold-based currency. "Those two decades," says Lewis, "were the most successful economically of any time."
    The documentary argues that a return to the gold standard is what's needed to have reliable money.
    Today, most economists disagree.
    But "In Money We Trust?" will give you a new appreciation for how important it is that we get this right.
    As technologist George Gilder concludes in the documentary, "All this is the struggle for trust."
    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

        Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics at Ohio University Richard Vedder's new book, "Restoring the Promise," published by the Independent Institute based in Oakland, California, is about the crisis in higher education. He summarizes the three major problems faced by America's colleges and universities. First, our universities "are vastly too expensive, often costing twice as much per student compared with institutions in other industrialized democracies." Second, though there are some important exceptions, students "on average are learning relatively little, spend little time in academic preparation and in some disciplines are indoctrinated by highly subjective ideology." Third, "there is a mismatch between student occupational expectations after graduation and labor market realities." College graduates often find themselves employed as baristas, retail clerks and taxi drivers.
        The extraordinary high college cost not only saddles students with debt, it causes them to defer activities such as getting married and starting a family, buying a home and saving for retirement. Research done by the New York Federal Reserve Banks and the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that each dollar of federal aid to college leads to a tuition increase of 60 cents.
        For the high cost of college, what do students learn? A seminal study, "Academically Adrift," by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, after surveying 2,300 students at various colleges, argues that very little improvement in critical reasoning skills occurs in college. Adult literacy is falling among college graduates. Large proportions of college graduates do not know simple facts, such as the half-century in which the Civil War occurred. There are some exceptions to this academic incompetency, most notably in technical areas such as engineering, nursing, architecture and accounting, where colleges teach vocationally useful material. Vedder says that student ineptitude is not surprising since they spend little time in classrooms and studying. It's even less surprising when one considers student high school preparation. According to 2010 and 2013 NAEP test scores, only 37% of 12th-graders were proficient in reading, 25% in math, 12% in history, 20% in geography and 24% in civics.
        What happens when many of these students graduate saddled with debt? The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in an October 2018 report, finds that many students are underemployed, filling jobs that can be done with a high school education. More than one-third of currently working college graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree, such as flight attendants, janitors and salesmen. In addition to this kind of resource misallocation, 40% or more college students fail to graduate in six years. It is not unreasonable to ask whether college attendance was a wise use of these students' time and the resources of their parents and taxpayers.
        Vedder has several important ideas for higher education reform. First, we should put an end to the university monopoly on certifying educational and vocational competency. Non-college organizations could package academic courses and award degrees based upon external examinations.
        Regarding financial aid, colleges should be forced to share in covering loan defaults, namely they need to have some skin in the game. More importantly, Vedder says that we should end or revise the federal student aid program.
        Vedder ends "Restoring the Promise" with a number of proposals with which I agree:
        --College administrative staff often exceeds the teaching staff. Vedder says, "I doubt there is a major campus in America where you couldn't eliminate very conservatively 10 percent of the administrative payroll (in dollar terms) without materially impacting academic performance."
        --Reevaluate academic tenure. Tenure is an employment benefit that has costs, and faculty members should be forced to make tradeoffs between it and other forms of university compensation.
        --Colleges of education, with their overall poor academic quality, are an embarrassment on most campuses and should be eliminated.
        --End speech codes on college campuses by using the University of Chicago Principles on free speech.
        --Require a core curriculum that incorporates civic and cultural literacy.
        --The most important measure of academic reforms is to make university governing boards independent and meaningful. In my opinion, most academic governing boards are little more than yes men for the president and provost.
        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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