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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 For example, "Tens of thousands of them will die" if Obamacare is repealed.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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Hi Taylor - My wife and I are considering moving out of a big city because everything is just so expensive. At the same time, I’m worried we’ll make a lot less money in a smaller town and it’ll just even out. We both have college educations and have experience with administrative work and management. Is there any way to predict how this will work out? - Forrest

Hey Forrest - Welcome to the conundrum that so many millennials are facing. Some people thrive when they move from high-cost living to a more affordable area, while others encounter a whole new set of challenges. Here are a few indicators to help you understand how small-town living might treat you.

     1. Housing. This particular living cost is important for a few different reasons. The most obvious is how much money you can save on your rent or mortgage by moving to a smaller town or a more rural area. Housing and rental prices are also important because they can help you gauge population growth. As much as you want to save money on your living arrangement, a shockingly low price could be a sign that more people are going than coming in that particular area. People who leave cities hastily and head for a region with the cheapest housing are usually the ones who have the most difficulty finding good jobs. Keep that in mind before springing for an awesome mansion in the middle of nowhere.

     2. Adjacent industries. I’m sure you’ll check job availability before you pack up and head to a new town, and I’d encourage you to research the biggest employers in the surrounding counties as well. When a nearby district has lots of jobs in education, government or medicine, that usually helps sustain a variety of other businesses. If an area mostly employs people in a specific trade like mining or forestry, that might limit the open positions. Finding a city or county with an assortment of industries will make a big difference in your job search.

     3. Competition. This isn’t particularly easy to figure out, but you should give some thought to what the professional competition will be like in a given area. Does your work history give you experience that will translate to jobs in a smaller market? In some cases, working as a legal secretary in a Manhattan firm will make you an appealing candidate for a variety of jobs. Meanwhile, some employers won’t care that you’ve worked for fancy companies in the past. As you look for work you’re qualified for and interested in, focus on jobs you’ll be better suited for than someone without your experience.

I believe you can find work when you leave the big city for smaller pastures. As long as you have a strategy in place, you should be able to land a job and enjoy living someplace where your dollars go further. Good luck to you and your wife, Forrest!
--
Taylor J Kovar, CEO
Kovar Capital

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by Walter E. Williams

    Poverty is no mystery, and it's easily avoidable. The poverty line that the Census Bureau used in 2016 for a single person was an income of $12,486 that year. For a two-person household, it was $16,072, and for a four-person household, it was $24,755. To beat those poverty thresholds is fairly simple. Here's the road map: Complete high school; get a job, any kind of a job; get married before having children; and be a law-abiding citizen.
    How about some numbers? A single person taking a minimum wage job would earn an annual income of $15,080. A married couple would earn $30,160. By the way, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 4 percent of hourly workers in 2016 were paid the minimum wage. That means that over 96 percent of workers earned more than the minimum wage. Not surprising is the fact that among both black and white married couples, the poverty rate is in the single digits. Most poverty is in female-headed households.
    Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign garnered considerable appeal from millennials. These young people see socialism as superior to free market capitalism. Capitalism doesn't do well in popularity polls, despite the fact that it has eliminated many of mankind's worst problems, such as pestilence and gross hunger and poverty. One of the reasons is that capitalism is always evaluated against the nonexistent, non-realizable utopias of socialism or communism. Any earthly system, when compared with a utopia, will not fare well. Indeed, socialism sounds good but, when practiced, leads to disaster. Those disasters have been experienced in countries such as the USSR, China, most African nations and, most recently, Venezuela. When these disasters are pointed out, the excuse is inadequacies of socialist leaders rather than socialism itself. For the ordinary person, free market capitalism, with all of its warts, is superior to any system yet devised to deal with our ev!
eryday needs and desires.
    Here are a couple of questions: Does an act clearly immoral when done privately become moral when done collectively? Does legality or majority consensus establish morality? Before you answer, consider that slavery was legal; South African apartheid was legal; the horrendous Stalinist, Nazi and Maoist purges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality or a majority consensus cannot establish morality.
    You might ask, "If you're so smart, Williams, what establishes morality?" That's easy, and you tell me when I make the wrong step. My initial premise is that we own ourselves. You are your private property, and I am mine. Self-ownership reveals what's moral and immoral. Rape is immoral because it violates private property. So is murder and any other initiation of violence. Most people probably agree with me that rape and murder are immoral, but what about theft? Some Americans would have a problem deciding whether theft is moral or immoral.
    Let's first define what theft is. A fairly good working definition of theft is the taking by force of one person's property and the giving of it to another to whom it does not belong. Most Americans think that doing that is OK as long as it's done by government. We think that it is OK for Congress to take the earnings of one American to give to another American in the form of agricultural subsidies, business bailouts, aid for higher education, food stamps, welfare and other such activities that make up at least two-thirds of the federal budget. If I took some of your earnings to give to a poor person, I'd go to jail. If a congressman did the same thing, he'd be praised.
    People tend to love a powerful government. Quite naturally, a big, powerful government tends to draw into it people with bloated egos, people who think they know more than everyone else and have little hesitance in coercing their fellow man. Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek explained why corruption is rife in government: "In government, the scum rises to the top."
    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

   Union protestors and celebrity advocates have decided that waiters' tips aren't big enough.
    They are upset that in 43 states, tipped workers can be paid a lower minimum wage, as low as $2.13 an hour.
    Not fair! say celebrities like Jane Fonda, who recorded commercials saying, "That's barely enough to buy a large cup of coffee!"
    As usual, those who want the government to decide that workers must be paid more insist that "women and minorities" are hurt by the market.
    But waitress Alcieli Felipe is a minority and a woman. She says the celebrities and politicians should butt out.
    Thanks to tips, Felipe says in my new internet video, she makes "$25 an hour. By the end of the year, $48,000 to $50,000."
    She understands that if government raises the minimum, "It'll be harder for restaurants to keep the same amount of employees ... (T)he busboy will be cut."
    She's right.
    Minimum wage laws don't just raise salaries without cost. If they did, why not set the minimum at $100 an hour?
    Every time a minimum is raised, somebody loses something. "In the (San Francisco) Bay Area, you've got a 14 percent increase in restaurant closures for each dollar increase in the minimum wage," says Michael Saltsman of the Employment Policy Institute.
    Activists are unmoved. "The problem with tips is that they're very inconsistent," University of Buffalo law professor Nicole Hallett told me. Hallett is one of those activist professors who gets students to join her in "social justice" protests.
    "I simply don't believe that increasing the minimum wage for tipped workers will lead to a reduction in the restaurant workforce," she said. "Studies have shown that restaurants have been able to bear those costs."
    I pointed out that last time New York raised its minimum, the city lost 270 restaurants.
    "Restaurants always close," she replied.
    "Restaurants don't always close," responds Saltsman. "Yeah, there's turnover in the industry, but what we're doing now to an industry where there's low profit margins, jacking up restaurant closures ... Something's not right."
    The media rarely focus on those closings. We can't interview people who are never hired; we don't know who they are. Instead, activists lead reporters to workers who talk about struggling to pay rent.
    "Forty-six percent of tipped workers nationwide rely on public benefits" like food stamps, Hallett told me.
    I pointed out that many tipped workers are eligible for benefits because they don't report tip income to the government.
    She didn't dispute that. "Many restaurants and restaurant workers don't report 100 percent of their income," she acknowledged.
    Hallett and other higher-minimum activists also claim that tipping should be discouraged because it causes sexual harassment. Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Jane Fonda and 12 other actresses wrote a letter urging New York's governor to increase the minimum wage, claiming that "relying on tips creates a more permissive work environment where customers feel entitled to abuse women in exchange for 'service.'"
    Tipping causes customers to abuse women?
    Saltsman says research using federal data doesn't support that. "Data shows some of the states that have gone down this path that the activists want, changing their tipping system, actually have a higher rate of sexual harassment."
    When I pointed that out to Hallett, she replied, "Sexual harassment is complicated; no single policy is going to eliminate that problem."
    So raising the minimum won't reduce sexual harassment but will raise prices, will force some restaurants to either fire workers or close and will reduce tip income.
    This is supposed to help restaurant workers?
    Many object to being "helped." When Maine voters increased the minimum, so many restaurant workers protested that the politicians reversed the decision.
    Alcieli Felipe doesn't want the government "helping" her either: "We are fine. Who are those people? Have they worked in the restaurant industry?"
    Most haven't.
    I'm a free market guy. I wonder, "Why should there be any minimum? Why can't the employer and employee make whatever deal they want?"
    "That policy has been rejected," Hallett told me, "rejected for the last hundred years. We're not in that world."
    Unfortunately, we aren't. We live in a world where activists and government "protect" workers right out of their jobs.
    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 John Stossel

While self-proclaimed "democratic socialists" win Democratic primaries in America, actual socialists in Cuba are finally backing away from some of the ideas that kept Cubans poor.
    Sunday, Cuba's National Assembly approved a draft of a new constitution that recognizes a right to own private property. That's progress. Would Senator Bernie Sanders and celebrity-of-the-moment Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez approve? I'm not sure.
    Instead of saying that "communism" is the purpose of the state, Cuba will now say that "socialism" is the basis of the economy.
    That's an ambiguous difference, but "socialism" tends to mean a larger private sector.
    Cuba's new leaders also say they welcome foreign investment. Maybe this will bring some prosperity to the long-suffering Cuban population.
    It may bring more freedom, too. The new draft says a criminal defendant is innocent until proven guilty. That's progress. It also sets term limits on presidents -- no more than two consecutive five-year terms. Fidel Castro ruled for 50 years.
    The new Cuba may also permit gay marriage. The draft defines marriage as being between two individuals, not necessarily a man and a woman. That's a big step for a country that recently locked gay people up in "work" camps.
    On the other hand, the state-run newspaper says Cuba "will never return to capitalism." And while some open speech is permitted, crackdowns against dissidents, even ones who just sing angry rock songs, continue.
    Still, the U.S. should be happy about the changes, and the last thing we should do when we want to encourage free market changes in a country is slap an embargo on it.
    Yet some conservatives want to do that, and President Trump reversed some of President Obama's "Cuba opening."
    This is a bad idea. Nothing gets a population accustomed to decentralized, nongovernmental commercial activity like commercial activity.
    The more we restrict trade, the more we drive a country's population into the hands of the state.
    If you can't sell your products to American customers, you might just work for your country's corrupt state-run enterprises. Instead of having casual contact with customers who live outside your country's political system, that system becomes all you know. Your idea of what's possible shrinks.
    Embargoes favored by the right are just one wrong approach. The left does everyone an injustice by praising Cuban communism. I live in New York, where my socialist-leaning mayor, Bill de Blasio, was so enamored of Cuba that he honeymooned there.
    Bernie Sanders acknowledges that the Cuban economy is "a disaster" but says at least they have health care and education -- as if we don't.
    American socialists are economically clueless. But conservative embargo advocates are just as bad.
    Democratic congressional candidate David Richardson of Florida, who plans to visit Havana as part of his campaign, has the right idea.
    "A half-century of isolation did not achieve progress for the everyday Cuban," he told the Tampa Bay Times. "I fully support a position of engagement with Cuban civil society ... Rolling back travel and trade restrictions has changed the lives of the Cuban people, helped private Cuban entrepreneurs, and strengthened the connection between the residents of Little Havana and Havana."
    That's a good thing.
    Embargoes are not only bad for Cuba, they are bad for Americans who are less free to pick which people and companies to work with.
    Partial embargoes in the form of tariffs are also bad. Adding tariffs is like imposing an embargo on ourselves.
    Trump defenders argue that his tariffs are a short-term tactic meant to shock other countries into lowering their own trade barriers.
    The ideal is "no (trade) barriers ... no subsidies," said Trump. "Ultimately, that's what you want." I hope he succeeds, but I'm skeptical. So far, his tariffs have just brought nasty retaliation.
    Not everyone agrees that the Smoot-Hawley Tariff caused the Great Depression, but tariffs have awful economic consequences. Smoot-Hawley certainly prolonged the Depression and made it worse.
    Less trade means less prosperity. It doesn't matter whether trade restrictions are imposed by conservatives or by communists.
    Let goods flow.
    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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