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by Walter E. Williams

        With the continuing hysteria about Donald Trump's presidency, a few questions come to mind. The first: Can a bad man become a good president? The second: Does one's being a good man guarantee he'll be a good president? Third: Does having a good president require a good man? Is there any evidence of Lord Acton's argument that "great men are almost always bad men"?
        I think former President Jimmy Carter was a good man who became a weak and bad president, both in domestic matters and in foreign affairs. President Bill Clinton was a bad man who became a reasonably good president in domestic and foreign matters. But then there was that impeachment issue that greatly tarnished his presidency.
        What about our current president? I think Trump's personal behavior prior to his presidency is not something we'd call high character. We might put him down as a bad man, but what about his presidency? I think that he'd qualify for this description: a bad man but good president. The average reader might ask, "Williams, what's your evidence?" In a recent letter to me, Stephen Moore, a George Mason University graduate and a distinguished visiting fellow for the Project for Economic Growth at The Heritage Foundation, put together a list of President Trump's achievements. I recognize the possibility that they will be seen as horrible, maybe treasonous, by the nation's leftists.
        Trump has appointed Neil Gorsuch and nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Both men have stellar judicial qualifications and a deep respect for the U.S. Constitution. In addition, Trump has nominated more than two dozen lower court judges who have similar respect for our Constitution and are not likely to make laws from the bench.
        Trump has shepherded through Congress the largest personal and corporate tax cuts since the Reagan administration. His administration has created a 35 percent reduction in regulations. Those reductions, including the rollback of costly Environmental Protection Agency regulations, have led to the biggest energy boom in history, making the U.S. the world's No. 1 energy producer and thus ending our dependence on Middle Eastern oil producers.
        The Trump administration has ended the Obamacare mandate and reformed the very costly Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Helping with these economic matters is free marketer Larry Kudlow, whom Trump appointed as director of the National Economic Council. As a result of the gross domestic product's growth spurt, caused by tax cuts and deregulation, unemployment is less than 4 percent. Black unemployment is hovering around the all-time low at 6.6 percent. In fact, it's estimated that there are 6 million more jobs than workers. Also on the domestic front, the Trump administration is trying to push through sweeping prison and sentencing reforms.
        President Trump has also made important gains in international affairs. He's gotten us out of the Paris climate accord. Aside from the fact that the agreement imposed costs and special disadvantages on the U.S., the Paris agreement should have been presented as a treaty to the U.S. Senate. Trump also got us out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- the Iranian nuclear deal. Aside from Iran's violation of both the letter and the spirit of the agreement, it, too, should have been presented before the U.S. Senate for approval. President Barack Obama did not present either the Paris climate accord or the Iranian nuclear deal for Senate approval. He knew neither would have passed muster and instead used his executive powers.
        Also on the international front, Trump has gotten North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un to the bargaining table to negotiate denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. He's gotten our NATO allies to cough up more money for their own defense. Trump is rebuilding our military strength, which is beginning to put the fear of God into our adversaries.
        The bottom line is that President Donald Trump does not have the personal character that we would want our children to imitate but has turned out to be a good president, save his grossly misguided international trade policies.
        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

    Social Security is running out of money.
    You may not believe that, but it's a fact.
    That FICA money taken from your paycheck was not saved for you in a "trust fund." Politicians misled us. They spent every penny the moment it came in.
    This started as soon as they created Social Security. They assumed that FICA payments from young workers would cover the cost of sending checks to older people. After all, at the time, most Americans died before they reached 65.
    Now, however, people keep living longer. There just aren't enough young people to cover my Social Security checks.
    So Social Security is going broke. This year, the program went into the red for the first time.
    Presidents routinely promise to fix this problem.
    George W. Bush said he'd "strengthen and save" Social Security. Barack Obama said he'd "safeguard" it, and Donald Trump said that he'll "save" it.
    But none has done anything to save it.
    "There is a plan out there to save it, but it requires some tough choices," says Heritage Foundation budget analyst Romina Boccia.
    Heritage proposes cutting payments to rich people and raising the retirement age to 70.
    Good luck with that. Seniors vote. Most vote against politicians who suggest cutting benefits.
    This summer, interviewing people for my new video about Social Security's coming bankruptcy, was the first time I had heard the majority of such a group say they were aware there is a problem. One said, "We're already at a trillion dollars (deficit) ... (I)t's almost like a big Ponzi scheme."
    Actually, more like a pyramid scheme. Ponzi schemes secretly take your money. But the Social Security trick is written into the law -- there for anyone who bothers to look.
    Social Security isn't the only hard choice ahead of us. Medicare will run out of money in just eight years. At that point, benefits will automatically be cut. Social Security hits its wall in 15 years.
    Amazingly, as we approach this disaster, Democrats say -- spend even more.
    Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., proudly announced, "Nearly every Democrat in the United States Senate has voted in favor of expanding Social Security."
    How would they pay for it? "Raise taxes on the wealthy!" is the usual answer.
    I tried that on Boccia: "Just raise taxes on the rich!"
    "There isn't enough money, even that the rich would have," she countered, "to pay for the $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities."
    One partial solution proposed by Heritage and others is to let younger workers put some of their Social Security money into their own personal retirement accounts.
    "Imagine being able to own and control your own retirement dollars," urged Boccia, with genuine excitement. "You could invest it in businesses, grow the economy, whatever rocks your boat."
    If history is any guide, private accounts would almost certainly pay retirees more than Social Security will ever pay.
    "Even a conservative portfolio of stocks and bonds that got you about a 5 percent annual return, you would make many times more," said Boccia.
    She's right. Money in government hands just sits there or gets spent wastefully; it's rarely invested wisely.
    Private accounts have been tried in a few countries. In Chile, the investment they created helped make Chile the richest country in Latin America. (Before, Chile was poorer than most.)
    Yet even after that success, leftists in South America hold street protests against private accounts. They're angry because capitalists get a slice of the pie.
    I told Boccia that I couldn't understand why people in Chile don't loudly cheer private accounts because of the wealth they'd created.
    "We lack gratitude," she replied, "for what the free market provides. That is difficult to wrap your head around. It's easy to think, 'Here is the government. This is where I go.'"
    But eventually, even governments run out of other people's money.
    Like most American politicians, Donald Trump campaigned saying, "I'm not going to cut Social Security ... not going to cut Medicare."
    He and other politicians pretend they're protecting people's futures, but they are not. They're ignoring the inevitable.
    Better to fix old-age programs now -- rather than have them suddenly go bankrupt later.
    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

      During the weekend of Aug. 4-5 (and the preceding Friday night), 12 Chicagoans were shot dead, and 62 others were shot and wounded, the Chicago Tribune reported (https://tinyurl.com/yde7jb83). Before last week's mayhem, 1,718 Chicagoans had been shot since the beginning of the year, and 306 had been murdered. Adding to this tragedy is the fact that Chicago's clearance rate is less than 15 percent. That means that in more than 85 percent of Chicago's homicides, no suspect is charged. Chicago is by no means unique in this lawlessness. Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia, St. Louis and some other major cities share high rates of homicides.
        It's not just shootings and homicides that negatively impact the overwhelmingly law-abiding black residents of these cities. In addition, there are sky-high rates of burglaries, rapes and property destruction. The schools are notoriously bad. City budgets face shortfalls. Residents deal with deteriorating city services. All of this causes mass exoduses from these cities by their most capable people.
        Ordinary decency demands that something be done to address the horrible conditions under which so many black Americans live. White liberals, black politicians and sports figures focus most of their attention on what the police do, but how relevant is that to the overall tragedy? According to Washington Post data, as of July 9, 626 people had been shot and killed by police this year. Of that number, 114 were black. Last year, 987 people were shot and killed by police, of which 223 were black (http://tinyurl.com/ycn77jkj). To put police shootings in a bit of perspective, in Chicago alone in 2017, there were 674 homicides, almost 80 percent of whose victims were black. It would appear that 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.
        Would getting more blacks and Democrats in political office help? It turns out that of the Chicago City Council's 50 aldermen, only one is Republican. One is an independent. Forty-eight aldermen are Democrats, and 19 are black. In fact, most of the cities where large segments of their black citizenry live under horrible conditions have been controlled by Democrats for nearly a half-century, and there are many blacks on the instruments of control, such as chiefs of police, superintendents of schools and members of city councils. If Democratic and black control meant anything, these cities would be paradises.
        How helpful to these desperate black communities are the efforts of so many black politicians to focus on allegations about President Donald Trump's ties to Russia? The leader of the movement to impeach Trump is Rep. Maxine Waters. Her congressional district suffers from high crime rates and failing schools. She, like most other black politicians, claims that she is helping her constituency by doing all she can to fight to get more taxpayer money to her district.
        More money from taxpayers could not fix the problems of these communities. Over the past 50 years, more than $16 trillion has been spent on poverty programs. The majority of those programs have simply made poverty more comfortable by giving poor people more food, health care, housing, etc. What's needed most is to get poor people to change their behavior. Chief among the modifications is reducing female-headed households. Female-headed households produce most of our prison inmates, the highest crime rates and disproportionate numbers of high school dropouts and suicides. These devastating factors are far beyond the capacity of Washington to fix.
        The only people who can fix these problems are black people themselves. Black athletes could be far more productive by going to schools and community centers to encourage constructive behavior and shaming self-destructive behavior. Support should be given to police to stop criminals from preying on communities. Nongovernmental local groups should be encouraged to play greater roles.
        It's a challenge, but keep in mind that black people had the intestinal fortitude to lead the world's greatest civil rights movement through some very dark days from 1865 to 1965. I believe that we're up to the challenge.
        If we wait for Washington to solve our problems, we'll be waiting for a long time.
        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

   Many of the nation's colleges have become a force for evil and a focal point for the destruction of traditional American values. The threat to our future lies in the fact that today's college students are tomorrow's teachers, professors, judges, attorneys, legislators and policymakers. A recent Brookings Institution poll suggests that nearly half of college students believe that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment. Of course, it is. Fifty-one percent of students think that it's acceptable to shout down a speaker with whom they disagree. About 20 percent of students hold that it's acceptable to use violence to prevent a speaker from speaking. Over 50 percent say colleges should prohibit speech and viewpoints that might offend certain people (http://tinyurl.com/yayxt45u). Contempt for the First Amendment and other constitutional guarantees is probably shared by the students' high school teachers, as well as many college professors.
    Brainwashing and indoctrination of young people has produced some predictable results, as shown by a recent Gallup Poll. For the past 18 years, Gallup has asked adults how proud they are to be Americans. This year, only 47 percent say they are "extremely proud," well below the peak of 70 percent in 2003. The least proud to be Americans are nonwhites, young adults and college graduates. The proudest Americans are those older than 50 and those who did not graduate from college. The latter might be explained by their limited exposure to America's academic elite (http://tinyurl.com/y8wapel5).
    Johnetta Benton, a teacher at Hampton Middle School near Atlanta, was recorded telling her sixth-grade students, "America has never been great for minorities." In a tirade, she told her class: "Because Europeans came from Europe ... you are an immigrant. You are an illegal immigrant because you came and just took it. ... You are an immigrant. This is not your country." To exploit young, immature young people this way represents an act of supreme cowardice. The teacher should be fired, but I'm guessing that her colleagues share her sympathies. At the same school, students were given a homework assignment that required them to write a letter asking lawmakers for stricter gun control laws.
    One might be tempted to argue that the growing contempt for liberty and the lack of civility stem from the election of Donald Trump. That's entirely wrong. The lack of civility and indoctrination of our young people have been going on for decades. UCLA history professor Mary Corey told her class: "Capitalism isn't a lie on purpose. It's just a lie." She added that capitalists "are swine. ... They're bastard people." An English professor at Montclair State University, in New Jersey, told his students, "Conservatism champions racism, exploitation and imperialist war." An ethnic studies professor at California State University, Northridge and Pasadena City College teaches that "the role of students and teachers in ethnic studies is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." The University of California, Santa Barbara's school of education emailed its faculty members to ask them to consider classroom options concerning the Iraq War, suggesting they excuse students f!
rom class to attend anti-war events and give them extra credit for writing about it. Rodney Swanson, a UCLA economics professor, told his class, "The United States of America, backed by facts, is the greediest and most selfish country in the world."
    There is little question that colleges stand at the forefront of an attack on America and Western values. Leftists often say that the U.S. is the world's worst country. But here are some empirical facts they might explain. According to a recent Gallup Poll, about 13 percent of the world's adults -- 630 million people -- would like to move to another country. Roughly 138 million would like to live in the U.S. -- making us the No. 1 destination, followed by the U.K., Canada and France (http://tinyurl.com/y8z9pfgo). There's something exceptionally appealing about America and the Western world that leftists choose to ignore or lie about.
    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

  Sen. Bernie Sanders is all over the internet!
    New York Magazine says he is "quietly building a digital media empire."
    Mic.com calls it "one of the most powerful progressive media outfits in America."
    This matters because bettors rank Sanders one of the top four Democratic presidential contenders.
    I resent Sanders' "empire" because it pushes bad ideas, yet his videos are viewed more often than mine. His videos have been seen almost a billion times.
    Some are just recordings of him making noisy speeches, ranting about how Republican policies hurt Americans. For example, "Tens of thousands of them will die" if Obamacare is repealed. (He ignores the fact that more will live if the economy is allowed to grow.)
    Other Sanders videos are edited, produced pieces, much like videos that I make.
    One powerful one begins with a President Trump speech where the president recites the song "The Snake," in which a woman nurses a snake back to health -- only to have it bite her. "You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in!" shouts the president. He was arguing against loose immigration controls.
    But the video cuts to Trump calling criminals "animals," and an "expert" says Trump is using "the same kind of language that the Nazis used."
    The video never mentions that when Trump said "animals," he was talking about MS-13.
    A recurring Sanders video theme is that Trump supporters are "faces of greed" who scheme to get even richer by doing things like abolishing the estate tax.
    Sanders never mentions that the estate tax taxes money that had already been taxed; it's double taxation.
    He could still argue against repealing it, but he ought to be fair.
    Many Sanders videos demand that government make college free.
    His staff interview themselves.
    May Ayad, a Sanders associate media producer, tells us, "It's not just one or two people saying, 'I can't afford to go to college.' This is like the majority of college students in the entire nation!"
    Winn Decker, research intern for the Senate Budget Committee, whines, "Student loans kept me from doing things like purchase a home."
    Sanders staff assistant Terrel Champion tells viewers, "Somebody has to foot the bill. The government should assume that responsibility!"
    There's no mention of how existing government subsidies already raised the price of tuition, enabling it to grow faster than the rate of inflation. There's also not a peep about how Sanders' own wife bankrupted a college in Vermont.
    It's just: Government must pay more!
    Government should take responsibility for your health care, too, says a Sanders video that describes MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi as a "Canadian capitalist" who says, "Nowhere on Earth is there a free health insurance market that works."
    The video looks like a debate between Velshi and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, but it's edited so that Jordon doesn't get to say much.
    It's easy to win an argument if you barely let the other guy speak.
    There's also no mention of the fact that the Urban Institute says Sanders' "Medicare for All" plan would cost the federal government $32 trillion between 2017 and 2026.
    Maybe the biggest theme of Sanders' videos is the wealth gap, which Bernie says "is not only immoral (but) causes suffering for the working families (because) the poor are getting poorer."
    But that's just wrong. The poor are not getting poorer. The wealth gap doesn't cause suffering. Yes, rich people got richer, but the poor and middle class got richer, too. Sanders never acknowledges that.
    Sanders posts a new economically ignorant video most every day.
    He says it would be "easy" to have free health care, free college, a living wage. How will it all be paid for? Simple. Raise taxes.
    One Sanders video shows rich people shouting, "Tax me!" and "I should be paying more!"
    So pay more! No one's stopping you! Just don't demand that everyone else pay more.
    Socialists think government is the solution to every problem. They also pretend that what government provides is free.
    Sanders' videos would be just a joke if millions didn't watch.
    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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