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by Walter E. Williams

    What do you think of the proposition that no black youngsters should be saved from educational rot until all can be saved? Black people cannot afford to accept such a proposition. Actions by the education establishment, black and white liberal politicians, and some civil rights organizations appear to support the proposition. Let's look at it with the help of some data developed by my friend and colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell.
    The Nation's Report Card for 2017 showed the following reading scores for fourth-graders in New York state's public schools: Thirty-two percent scored below basic, with 32 percent scoring basic, 27 percent scoring proficient and 9 percent scoring advanced. When it came to black fourth-graders in the state, 19 percent scored proficient, and 3 percent scored advanced (http://tinyurl.com/y85a4phm).
    Dr. Sowell compared 2016-17 scores on the New York state ELA test. Thirty percent of Brooklyn's William Floyd elementary school third-graders scored well below proficient in English and language arts, but at a Success Academy charter school in the same building, only one did. At William Floyd, 36 percent were below proficient, with 24 percent being proficient and none being above proficient. By contrast, at Success Academy, only 17 percent of third-graders were below proficient, with 70 percent being proficient and 11 percent being above proficient. Among Success Academy's fourth-graders, 51 percent and 43 percent, respectively, scored proficient and above proficient, while their William Floyd counterparts scored 23 percent and 6 percent, respectively, proficient and above proficient. It's worthwhile stressing that William Floyd and this Success Academy location have the same address.
    Similar high performance can be found in the Manhattan charter school KIPP Infinity Middle School among its sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders when compared with that of students at New Design Middle School, a public school at the same location. Liberals believe integration is a necessary condition for black academic excellence. Public charter schools such as those mentioned above belie that vision. Sowell points out that only 39 percent of students in all New York state schools who were recently tested scored at the "proficient" level in math, but 100 percent of the students at the Crown Heights Success Academy tested proficient. Blacks and Hispanics constitute 90 percent of the students in that Success Academy.
    There's little question that charter schools provide superior educational opportunities for black youngsters. In a story The New York Times ran about charter schools earlier this month, "With Democratic Wins, Charter Schools Face a Backlash in N.Y. and Other States," John Liu, an incoming Democratic state senator from Queens, said New York City should "get rid of" large charter school networks. State Sen.-elect Julia Salazar, D-Brooklyn, said, "I'm not interested in privatizing our public schools." The New York Times went on to say, "Over 100,000 students in hundreds of the city's charter schools are doing well on state tests, and tens of thousands of children are on waiting lists for spots."
    One would think that black politicians and civil rights organizations would support charter schools. To the contrary, they want to saddle charter schools with procedures that make so many public schools a failure. For example, the NAACP demands that charter schools "cease expelling students that public schools have a duty to educate." It wants charter schools to "cease to perpetuate de facto segregation of the highest performing children from those whose aspirations may be high but whose talents are not yet as obvious." Most importantly, it wants charter schools to come under the control of teachers unions.
    Charter schools have an advantage that some call "selection bias." Because charter schools require parents to apply or enter lotteries for their children's admission, they attract more students who have engaged parents and students who are higher-achieving and better behaved.
    Many in the teaching establishment who are against parental alternatives want alternatives for themselves. In Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, 25 percent of public-school teachers send their children to private schools. In Philadelphia, 44 percent of teachers do so. In Cincinnati, it's 41 percent. In Chicago, 39 percent do, and in Rochester, New York, it's 38 percent. This demonstrates the dishonesty, hypocrisy and arrogance of the elite. Their position is, "One thing for thee and another for me."
    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

        E-cigarettes let people get a hit of nicotine without burning tobacco.
        Avoiding burning tobacco is the single greatest preventative health measure human beings can take, given the diseases conventional cigarettes cause.
        Unfortunately, our government and media now act as if vaping e-cigarettes is the health crisis.
        "Your kids are not an experiment! Protect them from e-cigarettes," warns former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy in a CDC PSA.
        My former employer, ABC News, which never finds a risk it doesn't hype, has run more than a dozen scare stores on vaping. A "Nightline" reporter warned about kids "addicted to nicotine before they even graduate from middle school!"
        Yet compared to regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes are "extraordinarily less harmful," says Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. In my new newest video she says, "We should really be encouraging people to use vaping."
        Calling vaping safer than smoking doesn't mean the risks are zero. Vapor contains harmful chemicals, too. But scientists say it's far less harmful than smoking. If smokers switched to e-cigarettes, that would save millions of lives.
        Nicotine is what makes both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes addictive. But nicotine itself isn't that bad. Like caffeine, it's a stimulant.
        "On the spectrum of drugs that you can become addicted to," says Minton, "nicotine and caffeine are very similar."
        The big health risks come from the 7,000 other chemicals generated by burning tobacco leaves.
        By contrast, e-cigarette smoke is mostly just flavored vapor, which is less likely to harm anyone.
        It doesn't even smell as bad as cigarettes. "Somebody who's vaping a huge cloud of Vanilla Cherry Blast, or whatever they're vaping, is way more pleasant than standing next to somebody exhaling smoke from a combustible cigarette," observed Minton.
        Full disclosure, Minton's think tank received some money from companies that make e-cigarettes. Nevertheless, she's right. Vaping is a much safer alternative.
        "While there are a few lunatics who say e-cigarettes are more harmful -- based on zero evidence -- every legitimate scientist who's investigated this issue has said, 'We don't know all the risks, but we can say they are less harmful than smoking.'"
        Nonetheless, America's health police have gone to war against vaping.
        Some cities want to ban vaping. The CDC funds ads that say, "Young people should never use these kinds of products!"
        But kids will. Kids experiment with all sorts of things. Far better that they vape than smoke.
        Actually, CDC data show kids had been vaping a little less since 2014, but recently there was a spike.
        "The only explanation I can come up with," said Minton, "is that the CDC and FDA have advertised these products by talking about them so much! The CDC telling children you shouldn't do this is not necessarily going to make many of them say no. Maybe it makes it more attractive to them."
        Minton acknowledges that it's bad if kids become addicted to nicotine but says that's a risk worth taking.
        "Do we want children to become addicted to anything? No. But keeping a small percent of teenagers from trying e-cigarettes is not worth sacrificing adults whose lives could be saved."
        About half of teens who take up regular cigarettes will never quit. About a third of those users will die from smoking-related illnesses. Smoking is America's leading preventable cause of death.
        So banning alternatives is not a wise move for public health. Minton points to the example of snus, a moist tobacco chew popular in Sweden. Snus is not completely harmless, so the rest of Europe banned it. But "Sweden currently has the lowest smoking and lung cancer rates of any EU country."
        Banning snus in Europe was a public health tragedy. Now the U.S. is doing something similar with e-cigarettes.
        Minton says that in "states that enacted (age restrictions) on e-cigarettes, teenage smoking rates go up because when teens who want to do something like smoking can't get ahold of e-cigarettes, they just go to smoking."
        Thanks to government's paranoid warnings and media hype, Americans who might make the rational choice to pick e-cigarettes over burning tobacco are now more likely to be killed by conventional cigarettes.
        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 Ed Duffy

I’ve never bought into the hype that China would soon become the world's global economic super power. They don’t innovate, they steal. They inflate their numbers by building highways nobody drives on to cities nobody lives in. It’s a sham designed to promote buy-in for statism. It’s a lie that western fans of big government are happy to repeat and promote. 

However, reality is not on their side. Free markets work better than central control, every time. China (also N. Korea and Venezuela) has announced that it will soon begin using a new social credit system. Every citizen will be issued a card, or perhaps in the future an implanted chip or tattoo, that is linked to their profile. They will be rewarded for activities and choices the state likes and punished for those the state does not. Of course the state has a lot more punishment than it has reward, so I expect it will be a lot of stick and very little carrot. Basically, they’ve announced a rigid system for taking what free market dynamics exist in China’s economy, out of it. 

This is the socialist/communist/progressive goal. They don’t believe in free market dynamics or people running around making their own choices all willy nilly. They honestly believe a small group of true believers would do a much better job determining the best resource allocation and behavior for everyone. Never mind that it has repeatedly been proven untrue. 

This is a great experiment. China says they’ll have their system completely up and running by the end of 2020. One of two things will happen. China’s economy and individual quality of life will plummet faster than it is now, or I’m completely wrong and they’ll build the perfect society for the future that we’ll all happily adopt. 

I hope the western press pays attention and honestly reports on what’s going on in China over the next several years. But you have to check numerous sources and read between the lines. It’s not just that writers have bias, they also have bosses and editors and people they’re trying to impress by showing how well they can parrot and paraphrase what they’ve been told. Business news gives you good information, not so much for the opinions, but for the data. Pundits tell you what people think they think. Cash flow shows you what they’re actually doing. Follow the money. 

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by John Stossel

       When we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I will give thanks for property rights.
        Property rights allow each individual or family to do what we want with our small piece of the world without having to answer to the whole community.
        On Thanksgiving, we'll probably be told to think of America as one big family -- and for some people, government is the head of that family. That idea warms the hearts of America's new "democratic socialists."
        But thinking like that nearly destroyed this nation before it began.
        The Pilgrims at Plymouth didn't share a feast with Indians after arriving in 1620 because America was so filled with bounty.
        Instead, the Pilgrims nearly starved to death. They'd tried to farm collectively -- the entire community owning all the land and sharing everything, like socialists. Gov. William Bradford wrote, "By the spring, our food stores were used up and people grew weak and thin. Some swelled with hunger."
        Then, writes Bradford, "After much debate (I) assigned each family a parcel of land... (T)his had very good success, because it made every hand industrious."
        Crop production increased because workers reaped direct benefits of their own effort. They stopped hoping someone else would do the hard work.
        It's not that the Pilgrims were lazy or weak. They'd risked their lives to cross an ocean to try to build a community from scratch. But in tiny, often imperceptible ways, we each do a less efficient job, and pay less attention to the task at hand, if we think the whole community is responsible for that task.
        The Pilgrims were the same people after their switch from collective to individual farming -- from socialism to capitalism, as it were -- but after the switch, they thrived. That led to the first Thanksgiving in 1623.
        The bounty for which we give thanks this week was made possible by that early course correction to private property.
        I worry that, 400 years later, we've turned into ingrates. Instead of celebrating individual producers, Americans give thanks to a gigantic government for handouts.
        It's not just the poor who get a helping hand. Middle- and even upper-class Americans have been taught to expect government to guarantee health insurance programs, dispense our retirement income, run our schools and provide security.
        We do things as a single, unanimous unit that could be done better by private individuals and the voluntary groups we form. Why?
        I think the idea of everyone pulling together under the warm umbrella of wise political leaders, as if all 330 million Americans sat around the same dinner table, makes people feel cozy and safe.
        But it's a dangerous illusion.
        It's hard enough to get a real family to agree on things for the holidays. Children fight. Tastes differ. Not everyone wants to hear the same music.
        On a small scale like that, we know each other well enough to forgive slights such as an uncle knocking over the gravy boat or the kids playing loud music.
        But trying to do that with 330 million strangers is a formula for disaster.
        The result of pretending we're one big household that can manage everything collectively is more than $20 trillion of debt and a million complicated laws. Then we fight about who should be in charge of it all.
        Collective farming nearly starved the Pilgrims. It also starved tens of millions in the Soviet Union and in Communist China. And it's not just a farming problem.
        Doing anything collectively, especially if you do it involuntarily, is a bad, inefficient idea.
        Government can force everyone into the same centrally-dictated plan, but in doing so it stifles individual initiative and drive. Economists call it the "tragedy of the commons," and it happens whether the individual's goal is to make food, build houses or invent a better running shoe.
        This holiday, I'll be thankful that the Pilgrims were smart enough to stop doing things the hard way. Modern America should learn from that.
        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 of today's incivility and contempt for personal liberty has its roots on college campuses, and most of the uncivil and contemptuous are people with college backgrounds. Let's look at a few highly publicized recent examples of incivility and attacks on free speech.
    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, were accosted and harassed by a deranged left-wing mob as they were leaving a dinner at Georgetown University. Sen. McConnell was harassed by protesters at Reagan National Airport, as well as at several venues in Kentucky. Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife were harassed at a Washington, D.C., restaurant. Afterward, a group called Smash Racism DC wrote: "No -- you can't eat in peace -- your politics are an attack on all of us. You're (sic) votes are a death wish. Your votes are hate crimes." Other members of Congress -- such as Andy Harris, Susan Collins and Rand Paul -- have been physically attacked or harassed by leftists. Most recent is the case of Fox News political commentator Tucker Carlson. A leftist group showed up at his house at night, damaging his front door and chanting, "Tucker Carlson, we will fight! We know where you sleep at night!" "Racist scumbag, leave town!"
    Mayhem against people with different points of view is excused as just deserts for what is seen as hate speech. Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray discovered this when he was shouted down at Middlebury College and the professor escorting him was sent to the hospital with injuries. Students at the University of California, Berkeley shut down a controversial speaker and caused riot damage estimated at $100,000. Protesters at both UCLA and Claremont McKenna College disrupted scheduled lectures by Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald.
    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has discovered so-called bias response teams on hundreds of American college campuses. Bias response teams report to campus officials -- and sometimes to law enforcement officers -- speech that may cause "alarm, anger, or fear" or that might otherwise offend. Drawing pictures or cartoons that belittle people because of their beliefs or political affiliation can be reported as hate speech. Universities expressly set their sights on prohibiting constitutionally protected speech (http://tinyurl.com/y7jo75dg). As FIRE reported in 2017, hundreds of universities nationwide now maintain Orwellian systems that ask students to report -- often anonymously -- their neighbors, friends and professors for any instances of supposed biased speech and expression.
    A recent Brookings Institution poll found that nearly half of college students believe that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment. That's nonsense; it is. Fifty-one percent of college students think they have a right to shout down a speaker with whom they disagree. Nineteen percent of students think that it's acceptable to use violence to prevent a speaker from speaking. Over 50 percent agree that colleges should prohibit speech and viewpoints that might offend certain people (http://tinyurl.com/yayxt45u). One shouldn't be surprised at all if these visions are taught and held by many of their professors. Colleges once taught and promoted an understanding of Western culture. Today many professors and the college bureaucracy teach students that they're victims of Western culture and values.
    Benjamin Franklin wrote, "Whoever would overthrow the Liberty of a Nation, must begin by subduing the Freeness of Speech." Much later, Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said, "Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime." From the Nazis to Stalinists to Maoists, tyrants have always started out supporting free speech, just as American leftists did during the 1960s. Their support for free speech is easy to understand. Speech is vital for the realization of their goals of command, control and confiscation. The right to say what they please is their tool for indoctrination, propagandizing and proselytization. Once the leftists gain control, as they have at many universities, free speech becomes a liability and must be suppressed. This is increasingly the case on university campuses. Much of the off-campus incivility we see today is the fruit of what a college education has done to our youth.
    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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