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By John Stossel

Venezuela descends into chaos. Its people, once the wealthiest in Latin America, starve. Even The New York Times runs headlines like "Dying Infants and No Medicine."

My Venezuelan-born friend Kenny says his relatives are speaking differently. Cousins who once answered "Fine" or "Good" when asked, "How are you?" now say, "We're eating."

Eating is a big deal in the country that's given birth to jokes about a "Venezuelan diet." A survey by three universities found 75 percent of Venezuelans lost an average 19 pounds this year.

So are American celebrities who championed Venezuela's "people's revolution" embarrassed? Will they admit they were wrong?

"No," says linguist and political writer Noam Chomsky. "I was right."


Actor Sean Penn met with Hugo Chavez several times and claimed Chavez did "incredible things for the 80 percent of the people that are very poor."

Oliver Stone made a film that fawned over Chavez and Latin American socialism. Chavez joined Stone in Venice for the film's premiere.

Michael Moore praised Chavez for eliminating "75 percent of extreme poverty."

Hello?! In Venezuela, Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, created  extreme poverty.

Chomsky, whose anti-capitalist teachings have inspired millions of American college students, praised Chavez's "sharp poverty reduction, probably the greatest in the Americas." Chavez returned the compliment by holding up Chomsky's book during a speech at the U.N., making it a best-seller.

Is Chomsky embarrassed by that today? "No," he wrote me. He praised Chavez "in 2006. Here's the situation as of two years later." He linked to a 2008 article by a writer of Oliver Stone's movie who said, "Venezuela has seen a remarkable reduction in poverty."

I asked him, "Should you now say to the students who've learned from you, 'Socialism, in practice, often wrecks people's lives'?" Chomsky replied, "I never described Chavez's state capitalist government as 'socialist' or even hinted at such an absurdity. It was quite remote from socialism. Private capitalism remained ... Capitalists were free to undermine the economy in all sorts of ways, like massive export of capital."

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by Walter E. Williams

In 1798, Thomas Malthus wrote "An Essay on the Principle of Population." He predicted that mankind's birthrate would outstrip our ability to grow food and would lead to mass starvation. Malthus' wrong predictions did not deter Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich from making a similar prediction. In his 1968 best-seller, "The Population Bomb," which has sold more than 2 million copies, Ehrlich warned: "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now." This hoax resulted in billions of dollars being spent to fight overpopulation.

According to the standard understanding of the term, human overpopulation occurs when the ecological footprint of a human population in a specific geographical location exceeds the carrying capacity of the place occupied by that group. Let's look at one aspect of that description -- namely, population density. Let's put you, the reader, to a test. See whether you can tell which country is richer and which is poorer just by knowing two countries' population density.

North Korea's population density is 518 people per square mile, whereas South Korea's is more than double that, at 1,261 people per square mile. Hong Kong's population density is 16,444, whereas Somalia's is 36. Congo has 75 people per square mile, whereas Singapore has 18,513. Looking at the gross domestic products of these countries, one would have to be a lunatic to believe that smaller population density leads to greater riches. Here are some GDP data expressed in millions of U.S. dollars: North Korea ($17,396), South Korea ($1,411,246), Hong Kong ($320,668), Somalia ($5,707), Congo ($41,615) and Singapore ($296,967).

The overpopulation hoax has led to horrible population control programs. The United Nations Population Fund has helped governments deny women the right to choose the number and spacing of their children. Overpopulation concerns led China to enact a brutal one-child policy. Forced sterilization is a method of population control in some countries. Nearly a quarter-million Peruvian women were sterilized. Our government, through the U.N. Population Fund, is involved in "population moderation" programs around the world, including in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand, Egypt, Turkey, Ethiopia and Colombia.

The entire premise behind population control is based on the faulty logic that humans are not valuable resources. The fact of business is that humans are what the late Julian L. Simon called the ultimate resource. That fact becomes apparent by pondering this question: Why is it that Gen. George Washington did not have cellphones to communicate with his troops and rocket launchers to sink British ships anchored in New York Harbor? Surely, all of the physical resources -- such as aluminum alloys, copper, iron ore and chemical propellants -- necessary to build cellphones and rocket launchers were around during Washington's time. In fact, they were around at the time of the cave man. There is only one answer for why cellphones, rocket launchers and millions of other things are around today but were not around yesteryear. The growth in human knowledge, human ingenuity, job specialization and trade led to industrialization, which, coupled with personal liberty and private property rights, made it possible. Human beings are valuable resources, and the more we have of them the better.

The greatest threat to mankind's prosperity is government, not population growth. For example, Zimbabwe was agriculturally rich but, with government interference, was reduced to the brink of mass starvation. Any country faced with massive government interference can be brought to starvation. Blaming poverty on overpopulation not only lets governments off the hook but also encourages the enactment of harmful, inhumane policies.

Today's poverty has little to do with overpopulation. The most commonly held characteristics of non-poor countries are greater personal liberty, private property rights, the rule of law and an economic system closer to capitalism than to communism. That's the recipe for prosperity.

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

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Fluid Market - Rent your stuff!

Fluid Market is an app created by a Denver based company less than a year ago (July 2016). They’ve already got over 10,000 active users and are introducing their business to the Colorado Springs area.

Fluid Market allows users to post items for rent. You can post tools, cars, furniture, whatever you like. Renters reserve your product through the app. Payments are handled by Fluid Market, who takes a 20% fee. If you rented out anything out Monday through Sunday, you’ll get paid the following Wednesday via your credit or debit card account.

Fluid Market also insures rented items against damage (not normal wear and tear or damage due to age). They even provide liability insurance on car rentals.

Item sharing/renting is a great way to put your seldom used items to work. It can also save you having to buy an expensive tool that might only need once in a year or more, or maybe you need some extra lawn furniture for a party, folding table for an event. Now you can rent from one of your neighbors.

You'll find the Fluid Market app on iTunes and at the Google Play store. You can visit them on the web at and on Facebook at

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by Walter E. Williams

Millions of people love Apple computers and wouldn't be caught using a PC. By contrast, there are many millions of PC users who feel the same way about Apple computers. Many men like double-breasted suits, but I wouldn't be caught dead in one. Some people swear by Cadillac cars, but my favorite is Mercedes-Benz.

Despite these strongly held preferences, there's no conflict. We never see Apple computer lovers picketing firms that serve PC lovers. Mercedes-Benz lovers don't battle Cadillac lovers. In free markets, people with strong differences in preferences get along and often are good friends. The reason is simple. If you like double-breasted suits and I like single-breasted suits, we get what we want.

Contrast the harmony that emerges when there's market allocation with the discord when there's government allocation. For example, some parents want their children to say a morning prayer in school. Other parents are offended by that idea. Both parents have a right to their tastes, but these parental differences have given rise to conflict.

Why is there conflict? The answer is simple. Schools are run by government. Thus, there are going to be either prayers in school or no prayers in school. That means parents who want their children to say prayers in school will have to enter into conflict with parents who do not want prayers in school. The stakes are high. If one parent wins, it comes at the expense of another parent. The losing parents have their preferences ignored. Or they must send their children to a private school that has morning prayers and pay that school's tuition plus property taxes to support a public school for which they have little use.

The liberty-oriented solution to the school prayer issue is simple. We should acknowledge the fact that though there is public financing of primary and secondary education, it doesn't follow that there should be public production of education. Just as there is public financing of M1 Abrams main battle tanks and F/A-18 fighter jets, it in no way follows that there should be government production of those weapons. They are produced privately. There's no government tank and fighter jet factory.

The same principle should apply to education. If state and local authorities annually spend $15,000 per student, they could simply give each parent a voucher of that amount that could only be used for education. That way, the parent would be free to choose. If you wanted to send your children to a school that does not have morning prayers, you would be free to do so. And I could send my children to a school that does. As a result, you and I would not have to fight. We could be friends, play tennis and have a beer or two together.

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by John Stossel

The New York Times' hostility to industry gets worse every day.

Last week, the Times ran a big picture of a bay in Alaska with the headline "In Reversal, E.P.A. Eases Path for a Mine Near Alaska's Bristol Bay."

While this was just another of their stories about how Donald Trump will poison America, it caught my eye because of the big photo and because I once reported on that mine.

Attempted mine, I should say. No holes have been dug.

I reported on Pebble Mine because the EPA rejected the mine even before its environmental impact statement was submitted.

The Obama EPA squashed Pebble like it squashed the Keystone XL pipeline. It just said no.

This shocked CEO Tom Collier. He's a Democrat who managed environment policy for Al Gore and Bill Clinton. He was convinced Pebble could be developed safely and assumed EPA regulators would follow their own rules. They didn't.

"They killed this project before any science was done, and there are memos that show that!" Collier complained.

I'm skeptical when sources say things like that, but in this case, there are documents that reveal collusion between the EPA and Pebble's political opponents.

One of America's richest environmental groups (they collect more than $10 million per month) is the Natural Resources Defense Council. Their website claims "Science empowers NRDC's work," but the NRDC is run by lawyers, not scientists, and many are anti-progress activists upset about "corporate greed."

NRDC spokesman Bob Deans told me that the NRDC isn't anti-progress -- it just wants the "right" kind: "Wind turbines, solar panels ... this is what the future needs."

"But we also need copper and gold," I said.

"Well, that's right," he replied. "But we have to weigh those risks."

"Are there some  mines where NRDC says, 'Go ahead!'?" I asked.

After thinking for a while, he said, "It's not up to us to greenlight mines."

I asked, "Are there any you don't complain about?"

"Sure," he told me. He said he'd send us names. He never did.

Unfortunately, there's a revolving door between groups like the NRDC and the EPA.