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by John Stossel

        For years, I've heard American leftists say Sweden is proof that socialism works, that it doesn't have to turn out as badly as the Soviet Union or Cuba or Venezuela did.
        But that's not what Swedish historian Johan Norberg says in a new documentary and Stossel TV video.
        "Sweden is (SET ITAL)not(END ITAL) socialist -- because the government doesn't own the means of production. To see that, you have to go to Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea," says Norberg.
        "We did have a period in the 1970s and 1980s when we had something that resembled socialism: a big government that taxed and spent heavily. And that's the period in Swedish history when our economy was going south."
        Per capita GDP fell. Sweden's growth fell behind other countries. Inflation increased.
        Even socialistic Swedes complained about the high taxes.
        Astrid Lindgren, author of the popular Pippi Longstocking children's books, discovered that she was losing money by being popular. She had to pay a tax of 102 percent on any new book she sold.
        "She wrote this angry essay about a witch who was mean and vicious -- but not as vicious as the Swedish tax authorities," says Norberg.
        Yet even those high taxes did not bring in enough money to fund Sweden's big welfare state.
        "People couldn't get the pension that they thought they depended on for the future," recounts Norberg. "At that point the Swedish population just said, enough, we can't do this."
        Sweden then reduced government's role.
        They cut public spending, privatized the national rail network, abolished certain government monopolies, eliminated inheritance taxes and sold state-owned businesses like the maker of Absolut vodka.
        They also reduced pension promises "so that it wasn't as unsustainable," adds Norberg.
        As a result, says Norberg, his "impoverished peasant nation developed into one of the world's richest countries."
        He acknowledges that Sweden, in some areas, has a big government: "We do have a bigger welfare state than the U.S., higher taxes than the U.S., but in other areas, when it comes to free markets, when it comes to competition, when it comes to free trade, Sweden is actually (SET ITAL)more(END ITAL) free market."
        Sweden's free market is not burdened by the U.S.'s excessive regulations, special-interest subsidies and crony bailouts. That allows it to fund Sweden's big welfare programs.
        "Today our taxes pay for pensions -- you (in the U.S.) call it Social Security -- for 18-month paid parental leave, government-paid childcare for working families," says Norberg.
        But Sweden's government doesn't run all those programs. "Having the government manage all of these things didn't work well."
        So they privatized.
        "We realized in Sweden that with these government monopolies, we don't get the innovation that we get when we have competition," says Norberg.
        Sweden switched to a school voucher system. That allows parents to pick their kids' school and forced schools to compete for the voucher money.
        "One result that we've seen is not just that the private schools are better," says Norberg, "but even public schools in the vicinity of private schools often improve, because they have to."
        Sweden also partially privatized its retirement system. In America, the Cato Institute proposed something similar. President George W. Bush supported the idea but didn't explain it well. He dropped the idea when politicians complained that privatizing Social Security scared voters.
        Swedes were frightened by the idea at first, too, says Norberg, "But when they realized that the alternative was that the whole pension system would collapse, they thought that this was much better than doing nothing."
        So Sweden supports its welfare state with private pensions, school choice and fewer regulations, and in international economic-freedom comparisons, Sweden often earns a higher ranking than the U.S.
        Next time you hear democratic socialists talk about how socialist Sweden is, remind them that the big welfare state is funded by Swedes' free market practices, not their socialist ones.
        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

        Malcolm X was a Muslim minister and human rights activist. Born in 1925, he met his death at the hands of an assassin in 1965. Malcolm X was a courageous advocate for black civil rights, but unlike Martin Luther King, he was not that forgiving of whites for their crimes against black Americans. He did not eschew violence as a tool to achieve civil and human rights. His black and white detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. Despite the controversy, he has been called one of the greatest and most influential black Americans.
        Many black Americans have great respect for Malcolm X. Many schools bear his name, and many streets have been renamed in honor of him, both at home and abroad. But while black Americans honor Malcolm X, one of his basic teachings goes largely ignored. I think it's an important lesson, so I will quote a large part of it.
        Malcolm X said: "The worst enemy that the Negro have is this white man that runs around here drooling at the mouth professing to love Negros and calling himself a liberal, and it is following these white liberals that has perpetuated problems that Negros have. If the Negro wasn't taken, tricked or deceived by the white liberal, then Negros would get together and solve our own problems. I only cite these things to show you that in America, the history of the white liberal has been nothing but a series of trickery designed to make Negros think that the white liberal was going to solve our problems. Our problems will never be solved by the white man."
        There's a historical tidbit that those much younger than I (almost 83 years old) are ignorant of. In black history, we have been called -- and called ourselves -- several different names. Among the more respectable have been "colored," "Negro," "black," "Afro-American" and "African-American." I recall when Mrs. Viola Meekins, when I was a student at Stoddart-Fleisher Junior High School in the late 1940s, had our class go page by page through a textbook and correct each instance in which Negro was printed with a lowercase "n." In Malcolm X's day, and mine, Negro was a proud name and not used derisively by blacks as it is today.
        Malcolm X was absolutely right about our finding solutions to our own problems. The most devastating problems that black people face today have absolutely nothing to do with our history of slavery and discrimination. Chief among them is the breakdown of the black family, wherein 75 percent of blacks are born to single, often young, mothers. In some cities and neighborhoods, the percentage of out-of-wedlock births is over 80. Actually, "breakdown" is the wrong term; the black family doesn't form in the first place. This is entirely new among blacks.
        According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year only 11 percent of black children were born to unwed mothers. As late as 1950, female-headed households constituted only 18 percent of the black population. Today it's close to 70 percent. In much earlier times, during the late 1800s, there were only slight differences between the black family structure and those of other ethnic groups. In New York City in 1925, 85 percent of kin-related black households were two-parent households. Welfare has encouraged young women to have children out of wedlock. The social stigma once associated with unwed pregnancy is all but gone. Plus, "shotgun" weddings are a thing of the past. That was when male members of a girl's family made the boy who got her pregnant live up to his responsibilities.
        The high crime rates in so many black communities impose huge personal costs and have turned once-thriving communities into economic wastelands. The Ku Klux Klan couldn't sabotage chances for black academic excellence more effectively than the public school system in most cities. Politics and white liberals will not solve these and other problems. As Malcolm X said, "our problems will never be solved by the white man."
        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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And Peace Online

by John Stossel

        My New Year's resolution: Make a careful distinction between speech and violence.
        America's First Amendment says "yes" to most speech, including speech that criticizes, insults -- even speech that promotes hate. But the law applies only to government.
        Private organizations can ban hate speech if they choose.
        I can write columns saying nasty things about you -- if newspapers, websites and my distributor are willing to run them. But the law says I can't tell people to go beat you up. At the point that speech becomes a direct incitement to violence, the law says "no."
        That's pretty clear.
        Then there's Gavin McInnes.
        McInnes is a political commentator who takes pride in provoking the politically correct.
        He makes nasty jokes that I wish no one would make, like, "Mexico sucks 'cause of Mexicans."
        At Stossel TV, we posted this video about him.
        A few months ago, McInnes was invited to speak at a New York City Republican club. Before he even spoke, protesters vandalized the building.
        In the speech, he held up a sword and told the audience to respect the example set by a Japanese 17-year-old, Otoya Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi had stabbed a socialist politician while he was giving a speech.
        After McInnes's speech, Antifa protesters confronted his followers, who call themselves the Proud Boys. Some Proud Boys looked eager to fight and brutally beat several Antifa protesters.
        So is McInnes to blame? Did he incite violence by bringing up Yamaguchi? By saying "Western culture is the best"? By praising "violence in self-defense"? Or is he just a proud American urging his followers to defend themselves?
        Should he be banned from the airwaves and social media?
        McInnes renounced the Proud Boys after the street fight and says he won't be their leader.
        Nevertheless, CRTV dropped McInnes's show "Get Off My Lawn."
        Facebook banned many Proud Boys accounts and eventually McInnes himself. He was also banned by PayPal and Amazon.
        Before the fight, he'd been banned by Twitter. He was temporarily kicked off YouTube, supposedly for copyright violation, though critics say YouTube is more aggressive about enforcing copyright rules if people posting the material are controversial.
        I understand the censors' impulse to clamp down on speech that could lead to violence. But here's why I think that approach is backward.
        When I was a kid, homophobia was normal. Not only was gay marriage forbidden, gay sex was sometimes illegal. Police would even beat gay men for sport.
        Today, most Americans' attitudes are very different. What made that happen was open speech.
        People watched gay characters on TV and came to like some of them. Bigots expressed hate, but people who heard them thought about what they said, and most rejected it.
        Life changed dramatically for gays in America in a relatively short time. Free and open debate helped make that happen.
        Speech can provoke violence, yes, but the greater danger is people losing interest in talking -- giving up on arguments altogether. Then people often go "settle this outside."
        So while social media platforms can exclude McInnes if they want to, it's better if they don't.
        The more we get accustomed to settling our disagreements with words, even offensive words, the less we need to settle disputes with fists and swords.
        Will Americans become nicer now that people like McInnes are banned by Twitter? I doubt it.
        To avoid political censors, some right-wingers fled recently to a Twitter-like platform called Gab. Gab prides itself on letting people say whatever they like. A company that hosted Gab on its servers banned Gab, so Gab relocated to another host.
        Around the same time, one Gab executive says someone tried to blow up his parents' propane grill, probably to punish him for permitting "hate speech" on Gab.
        I don't know where to draw the line on what speech is inappropriate for a given private venue.
        But I know that the answer to hateful speech is more speech.
        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


        Much is made about observed differences between sexes and among races. The nation's academic and legal elite try to sell us on the notion that men and women and people of all races should be proportionally represented in socio-economic characteristics. They make statements such as "Though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32 percent of the US population, they (constituted) 56 percent of all incarcerated people in 2015" and "20 percent of Congress is women. Only 5 percent of CEOs are."
        These differences are frequently referred to as disparities. Legal professionals, judges, politicians, academics and others often operate under the assumption that we are all equal. Therefore, inequalities and disparities are seen as probative of injustice. Thus, government must intervene, find the cause and engineer a policy or law to eliminate the injustice. Such a vision borders on lunacy. There's no evidence anywhere or at any time in human history that shows that but for some kind of social injustice, people would be proportionally represented across a range of socio-economic attributes by race and sex.
        Indeed, if there is a dominant feature of mankind, it's that we differ significantly over a host of socio-economic characteristics by race, sex, ethnicity and nationality. The differences have little or nothing to do with any sort of social injustice or unfair treatment. Let's examine some racial, ethnic and sex disparities with an eye toward identifying the injustice involved. We might also ponder what kind of policy recommendation is necessary to correct the disparity.
        Jews constitute no more than 3 percent of the U.S. population but are 35 percent of American Nobel Prize winners. As of 2017, Nobel Prizes had been awarded to 902 individuals worldwide. Though Jews are less than 2 percent of the world's population, 203, or 22.5 percent, of the Nobel Prizes were awarded to Jews. Proportionality would have created 18 Jewish Nobel laureates instead of an "unfair" 203. What should Congress and the United Nations do to "correct" such a disparity? Should the Nobel committees be charged with racism?
        Jews are not the only people taking more than their "fair share" of things. Blacks are 13 percent of the U.S. population but, in some seasons, have been as high as 84 percent of NBA players. Compounding that "injustice," blacks are the highest-paid basketball players and win nearly all of the MVP prizes. Blacks are also guilty of taking 67 percent, an "unfair" share, of professional football jobs. Blacks are in the top salary category in every offensive and defensive position except quarterback. But let's not lull ourselves into complacency. How often do you see a black NFL kicker or punter?
        Laotian, Samoan and Vietnamese women have the highest cervical cancer rates in the United States. The Pima Indians of Arizona have the highest reported prevalence of diabetes of any population in the world. Tay-Sachs disease favors Ashkenazi Jews. Cystic fibrosis haunts white people. Blacks of West African ethnic origin have the highest incidence of sickle cell anemia. The prevalence of prostate cancer is lower in men of South Asian ethnicity than in the general population. Black American men have the highest prostate cancer rates of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. Black males are also 30 percent likelier to die from heart disease than white men.
        There are some highly fatal sex disparities. An Australian study found that sharks are nine times likelier to attack and kill men than they are women. Another disturbing sex disparity is that despite the fact that men are 50 percent of the U.S. population and so are women, men are struck by lightning six times as often as women. Of those killed by lightning, 82 percent are men.
        There are loads of other disparities based upon physical characteristics, but it would take a fool to believe that we are all equal and any difference between us is a result of some kind of social injustice that begs for a societal remedy. The only kind of equality consistent with liberty is equality before the law -- which doesn't require that people be in fact equal.
        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 Walter E. Williams

      Among the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's responsibilities are approval and regulation of pharmaceutical drugs. In short, its responsibility is to ensure the safety and effectiveness of drugs. In the performance of this task, FDA officials can make two types of errors -- statistically known as the type I error and type II error. With respect to the FDA, a type I error is the rejection or delayed approval of a drug that is safe and effective -- erring on the side of over-caution -- and a type II error is the approval of a drug that has unanticipated dangerous side effects, or erring on the side of under-caution.
        Let's examine the incentives of FDA officials. If FDA officials err on the side of under-caution and approve a drug that has unanticipated dangerous side effects, the victims of their mistake will be highly visible. There may be congressional hearings, embarrassment to the agency and officials fired.
        It's an entirely different story if FDA officials err on the side of over-caution and either disapprove or delay the approval of a drug that is both safe and effective. In that case, the victims will be invisible. They will have no idea that their suffering could have been eliminated, or in the case of death, their loved ones will have no idea why they died. Their suffering and/or death will be chalked up to the state of medicine rather than the status of an FDA drug application. Their doctor will simply tell them there's nothing more that can be done to help them. The FDA officials go scot-free.
        Let's look at some of the history of the FDA's erring on the side of over-caution. Beta blockers reduce the risk of secondary heart attacks and were widely used in Europe during the mid-1970s. The FDA imposed a moratorium on approvals of beta blockers in the U.S. because of their carcinogenicity in animals. Finally, in 1981, the FDA approved the first such drug, boasting that it might save up to 17,000 lives per year. That means that as many as 100,000 people died from secondary heart attacks waiting for FDA approval. (http://tinyurl.com/ydxpvd54). Those people are in the "invisible graveyard," a term to describe people who would have lived but died because the cure that could have saved them was bottled up in the FDA's regulatory process.
        Today, the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute is leading the battle to bring some sanity and compassion to the drug approval process. It recently published a paper by Mark Flatten, titled "Studied to Death: FDA Overcaution Brings Deadly Consequences." Flatten examined the FDA's approval process and made some important recommendations. Flatten criticized some FDA practices, saying, "Instead of having to prove a new treatment is safe for its intended use, the FDA now reviews drugs based on how they might be used by doctors to treat individual patients, effectively substituting the judgment of agency regulators for that of practicing medical professionals." He added: "Instead of proving a drug achieves the medically beneficial results that its makers claim, the FDA requires proof the new treatment will improve long-term outcomes. So it is no longer enough, for instance, to prove a new drug will reduce blood glucose levels for diabetics. Drugmakers must show, somehow, that this !
 will make patients live longer."
        One Goldwater Institute suggestion is to allow drugs approved in certain other countries, such as Canada and the European Union, to receive nearly automatic U.S. approval. After all, those countries have drug regulatory structures similar to that in the U.S. Why should treatments approved in those countries not be available here?
        The Goldwater Institute is also calling for a bill to restore free speech in medicine. It thinks Congress should allow drug manufacturers to provide information about "off-label use." This is a common practice in which doctors prescribe FDA-approved drugs to treat conditions other than those the FDA originally approved them for after new beneficial uses arise.
        Strong evidence of FDA over-caution bias comes in the 1974 words of then-FDA Commissioner Alexander M. Schmidt: "In all of FDA's history, I am unable to find a single instance where a congressional committee investigated the failure of FDA to approve a new drug."
        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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