2020-05-27 04:30:43

We have a choice!

Next presidential election, we don’t have to decide between two big-spending candidates, neither of whom has expressed much interest in limited government.

Now, we have a third serious choice. This week, Jo Jorgensen, a psychology lecturer at Clemson University, won the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination.

OK, I won’t delude myself—a libertarian is unlikely to become president. But Jorgensen’s platform is a refreshing change.

She correctly points out that government “is too big, too bossy, too nosy, and way too intrusive.”

Of course, many candidates say that when running for office.

President Donald Trump said it, but once he was elected, he increased spending by half a trillion dollars, created a new military branch designed to protect U.S. interests in space, imposed tariffs, and demanded more funds for “infrastructure” and “building a giant wall.”

Joe Biden wants to spend $532 billion more, increasing spending on things like education, climate, and health care.

By contrast, Jorgensen says government should do less and spend less.

She’s right. The founders’ insistence on limited government is what made America prosperous.

Jorgensen noticed how our big and cumbersome government slowed our response to the coronavirus.

“We had about 60 American companies making testing kits and the FDA only approved two,” she said in the final Libertarian Party debate. “What the president should have done was use the Emergency Powers Act and say, ‘FDA, you only have to prove safety, not efficacy. Get these kits out there.'”

If some tests don’t work, the free market will weed that out, says Jorgensen. “If you are a large drug company, you don’t want to put out a drug or testing kit that doesn’t work—you’ll go bankrupt.”

Trump supported the latest multitrillion-dollar stimulus bill, saying, it “will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation’s families and workers.” Biden called for another stimulus—”a hell of a lot bigger.”

Jorgensen wouldn’t sign either bill. “Let the people keep their money,” she says. “Let them decide who should stay in business and who shouldn’t.”

She points out that government is not as good as individuals at deciding where money should go. “Government money usually goes to their friends and special interests and lobbyists.”

America’s most popular government program is probably Social Security. Created to help the minority of Americans who lived past age 65 at that time, it’s now an unsustainable handout to most older people. Social Security is going broke because people my age just keep living longer. Sorry. We won’t volunteer to die.

Jorgensen would save social security by offering everyone “an immediate opt-out,” something like the Cato Institute’s 6.2 percent solution, which would let individuals invest 6.2 percent of their payroll tax into a private retirement account.

While phasing the program out, she says seniors would be paid back what they’ve put in. “Sell those government assets, mineral rights, water rights, buildings downtown,” she says. “Give that money to seniors.”

Finally, Jorgensen would end “these needless wars that caused the injuries or deaths of hundreds of thousands of American soldiers…and the waste of trillions of tax dollars.” She’d “make America one giant Switzerland, armed and neutral…no American military personnel stationed in foreign countries. No foreign aid. No loan guarantees.”

This is not pacificism, she says, “I am proposing an American military force ready and able to defend the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and all U.S. territories against foreign attackers.”

But like most libertarians, she doesn’t want America involved in foreign wars.

As the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, Jorgensen will be on the ballot in most states. Voters will have a real choice this November.

Libertarian ideas are very different from those held by today’s Democrats and Republicans. Instead of lusting for more money and power, her party proposes a government that keeps the peace and, mostly, leaves people alone.

Sounds good to me.

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2020-05-20 04:30:51

The government has closed most schools.

So, more parents are teaching kids at home.

That upsets the government school monopoly.

Education “experts” say parents lack the expertise to teach their kids.

Without state schooling, “learning losses…could well be catastrophic,” says The New York Times. Home schooling “will set back a generation of children,” according to a Washington Post column. Harvard magazine’s “Risks of Homeschooling” article quotes a professor who calls for a “presumptive ban.”

The professional education establishment actually tried to ban it 98 years ago. Then, they tried to ban private schools, too! But the Supreme Court stopped them, writing, “the child is not the mere creature of the state.”

I wish the state would remember that.

Anyway, the educator’s complaints about home schooling “setting back a generation” are bunk.

Eleven of 14 peer-reviewed studies found home schooling has positive effects on achievement.

In my new video, education researcher Corey DeAngelis explains, “Children who are home-schooled get much better academic and social results than kids in government schools.”

Even though they are more likely to be poor, “Home-schoolers score 30 percent higher on SAT tests.” They also do better in college, and they are less likely to drink or do drugs.

“Mass home schooling during this pandemic,” says DeAngelis, “may actually be a blessing.”

Debbie Dabin, a mom in Utah, is one of many parents who started home schooling this spring and now is “definitely considering home schooling” next year.

Dabin bought teaching materials over the internet from a company called “The Good and the Beautiful.” Her son likes the lessons better than what he got in school. “It’s great,” Dabin says. “He likes the activities; he wants to do them.”

Before the pandemic, he’d told his mom he hated school.

I hated school, too. Classes were boring. Listening to lectures is a poor way to learn, and unnecessary today.

In addition to home-school teaching programs, there are also free internet games that teach things like math, reading, and writing, while customizing the speed of lessons to each learner’s needs.

Sites like Education.com teach math by letting kids adjust pizza toppings.

For older kids, YouTube channels like TED-Ed and Khan Academy offer “free educational videos from the world’s foremost experts on civics, history, mathematics,” adds DeAngelis.

“Not good enough!” say “experts.”

Michael Rebell, a professor at Teachers College at Columbia University, worries that if parents home-school, “There’s no guarantee that kids are learning democratic values, civic knowledge.”

“Were they learning that in their regular schools?” I asked.

“Well…it’s in the curriculum,” he responded.

So what? The Nation’s Report Card, the government’s biggest nationwide test, reveals that government-school students don’t know much about history or civics.

One question asked fourth graders, “Which country was the leading communist nation during the Cold War?” Only 21 percent answered the Soviet Union. More said France or Germany. American students did worse than if they had guessed randomly.

Another question: “America fought Hitler and Germany in which war?” More picked the Civil War than World War II.

Nevertheless, said Rebell, home schooling is still worse because “there’s no effective regulation to know what’s going on.”

“You sound like you think—because there’s regulation, that makes something happen,” I said.

“I do,” he replied. “Where there’s no regulation, that’s a worse situation.”

But “no regulation” is the wrong way to think about it. There is plenty of regulation. It just comes from legislators and families instead of education bureaucrats.

If this pandemic steers more parents away from state schools, that’s probably a good thing.

Philosopher John Stuart Mill warned: “State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another…which pleases the predominant power in the government (and) establishes a despotism over the mind.”

A silver lining to this pandemic is that now more parents are learning about their options outside the government system.

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2020-05-13 04:30:21

Last Sunday, Mother’s Day, made me think how my mom warned me, as a young teen: “Work hard! Or you’ll freeze in the dark!”

Sometimes, the warning ended, “Or you’ll starve in the cold.”

She grew up during the depression. She and her peers were sensibly worried about freezing in the dark.

The message scared me, and I worked hard in school.

When I got my first job, I always put some pay in a savings account, even when (OK, it was long ago) I made only $132 a week. I feared a bad future, and I wanted to make sure I could support myself.

This wasn’t all good. I’ve probably been too anxious all my life. I missed out on things. I didn’t contribute to charities until I was in my 40s.

But fear of “freezing in the dark” made me persevere. I studied when I didn’t want to. Then I took a job that frightened me.

I’m a stutterer. Stuttering is now among disabilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I wonder, had the ADA been law when I started in TV news, would I have struggled as hard to overcome my stutter? Would I have had the career I’ve had? Probably not.

The TV station wouldn’t have hired me. Once the ADA passed, my stutter makes me a member of a “protected class.” The station, reasonably, would have viewed me as potential poison.

That’s because if they fired me because I didn’t work out, I might sue. I could have accused them of failing to “accommodate the disabled,” as the law requires. Even if I didn’t win, the lawsuit would be expensive. It’s safer for employers to avoid members of “protected classes.”

Far-fetched? Look at the stats:

Before the ADA passed, 59 percent of disabled men had jobs. After it passed, the number fell to 48 percent. Today, fewer than 30 percent have jobs.

Once again, a law that was supposed to help people did the opposite of what politicians intended.

I think about that when I read about today’s $600/week federal unemployment check subsidies for the coronavirus. Added to average $378 state payments, unemployment now often pays better than working.

Incentives matter.

“We have not seen an application in weeks,” says Steve Anthony, CEO of the Anthony Timberlands sawmill in Arkansas. He’s offering jobs that pay $800/week. But in Arkansas, federal and state unemployment benefits reach $1,051/week.

Anthony told my TV producer Maxim Lott, “If Congress elects to extend this $600 unemployment bonus, it will simply support a higher level of unemployment.”

Lott also interviewed Otis Mitchell Jr., who quit his job transporting hospital patients once he learned about the increase in unemployment benefits.

“My little girl is loving it,” said Mitchell, because he has more time to spend with her.

But it’s bad for hospital patients who need transportation.

Shame on the U.S. government for making unemployment pay better than work.

People who lose jobs because government won’t let them work do deserve help. I’m giving more to charities because of that. Charities are able to discriminate—to discern who really needs help while ignoring freeloaders.

But government is a blunt instrument. Its checks go to people whether or not they try to find work or overcome disabilities.

Over time, as people depend on handouts, they often feel that their lives are no longer within their control. They become passive. They don’t push through obstacles. They wait for government help.

Social scientists call this “learned helplessness.”

It’s the struggle to overcome obstacles that that brings fulfillment.

When government programs “take care of us,” they kill off some of the best of life and make us much less productive. They don’t even make people happy.

If we keep giving the state more power over our lives, we will freeze in the dark.

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2020-05-06 04:30:17

Recently, many politicians were in such a hurry to ban plastic bags.

California and Hawaii banned them, then New York. Then Oregon, Connecticut, Maine, and Vermont passed laws against them. More than 400 cities did, too.

Why? Because plastic bags are evil, didn’t you know?

“Look at the damage done by plastic bags! It is everywhere!” complained New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

A Washington state senator cited “videos of animals choked by plastics, tangled in garbage!”

So what should we use instead of plastic? Cloth bags! They’re reusable! “Certainly the way to go!” said New Jersey’s assembly speaker.

But now, suddenly, politicians are canceling their bans. Instead, they’re banning the once praised reusable bags.

It’s because of COVID-19, of course.

Reusable bags already brought bacteria into stores. We’re supposed to wash them, but almost no one does. Studies found reusable bags crawling with dangerous bacteria. After plastic bags were banned in San Francisco, food poisoning deaths increased sharply.

But environmental groups, like Greenpeace, call those disease fears “misinformation.”

“There are no studies or evidence that reusable bags are transmitting viruses,” says Alex Truelove of the Public Interest Research Group, in my new video.

He’s right. There are no human studies, but COVID-19 is so new. Millions of piglets died from swine coronavirus. The agriculture department concluded that reusable feed bags were probably the cause.

Still, even now, some politicians can’t wait to ban plastic again. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh says “as soon as this crisis is over we’ll go back to all paper bags and reusable bags.”

“Politicians are always just looking for something to do,” complains supermarket executive Andrea Catsimatidis.

She points out that paper bags cost five times what plastic costs. “When you’re talking billions of bags, it really adds up!”

And paper bags don’t hold as much. They rip.

Plastic is more convenient. Why must politicians take away what’s convenient?

“Over two-thirds of everything we use is not recycled or composted and ends up in a landfill,” complains Truelove.

So what?

People think America is running out of room for landfills, but that’s not true.

“All America’s trash for the next century would fit in one landfill just 18 miles square,” says environmental economist Ross McKitrick. Landfills take up so little space that “if you look the air you wouldn’t even be able to see where landfills are.”

And modern landfills hardly pollute. They’re surrounded by layers of clay and plastic that keep nasty stuff in the garbage from leaking out.

But what about all that plastic in the ocean?

Plastic bags are sometimes eaten by animals. Some sea turtles mistake the bags for jellyfish and then starve. Islands of floating garbage have formed in the Pacific Ocean.

Green groups have convinced Americans that we are to blame.

But we aren’t! Even if you litter—and today, fewer Americans do—your litter is unlikely to end up in an ocean.

Almost all the plastic in oceans comes from Asia and Africa. Less than 1 percent comes from North America.

In other words, banning plastic bags in America will accomplish roughly…nothing.

What it will do is inconvenience Americans and make some of us sick.

Truelove says, “We should…set an example for the rest of the world.”

“That’s posturing,” replies McKitrick. “The rest of the world isn’t looking to see what you do with your Starbucks cup.

“If we are concerned about other countries’ waste going into their river systems,” he adds, “there are better things we can do. We can share technology with them so they process their waste better. That’s better than imposing on consumers’ tiresome inconveniences in hopes that it will somehow change behavior on the other side of the planet.”

Politicians “looking for something to do” routinely do more harm than good.

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2020-04-22 04:30:26

I’m “social distancing.” I stay away from people.

I do it voluntarily.

There’s a big difference between voluntary—and force.

Government is force. The media want more of that.

“Ten states have no stay-at-home orders!” complains Don Lemon On CNN. “Some governors are still refusing to take action!”

Fox News’ host Steve Hilton agreed. “Shut things down! Everywhere. That includes Utah, Wyoming.”

But wait a second. People in Utah and Wyoming already socially distanced just by living there. Why must Utah and Wyoming have the same stay-at-home rules as New York?

I find it creepy how eager some people are for authorities to boss us around.

That’s the topic of my new video.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, people gathered to protest a “stay-at-home” order. The police arrested a protester and tweeted, “Protesting is a non-essential activity.”

I bet they got a chuckle out of that. But our Constitution guarantees Americans the right to “peaceably assemble” and “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The coronavirus doesn’t override the Constitution.

Protests also erupted in Michigan, where Gov. Gretchen Whitmer imposed some absurd rules. She declared, “All public or private gatherings of any size are prohibited.” Her executive order stopped people from seeing relatives and banned anyone with more than one home to travel between them.

Big-box stores are allowed to stay open, but they must not sell things like carpet, flooring, furniture, garden supplies, paint, etc. So, Walmart stores are open, but some of their shelves have tape blocking certain products.

That’s just dumb.

Gardening and painting can be done far away from other people.

So can exercise. But in California, police chased down and arrested a paddleboarder paddling in the ocean. He was far more than 6 feet away from anyone.

In Encinitas, California, police fined people $1,000 just for sitting in cars to watch the sunset at the beach. Yes, inside their cars. The police said, “We want compliance from everybody (because of) lives that we’re trying to save.”

But it’s not clear that demanding total compliance is the best way to save lives.

Sweden took a near-opposite approach.

Yes, they encouraged older people to stay inside and sick people to stay home. They didn’t want hospitals overwhelmed. But otherwise, Sweden is carrying on almost as normal.

“Closing schools, stringent measures like that, closing borders, you cannot do that for months or years,” said epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Swedish Health Agency. “What we are doing in Sweden we can continue doing for a very long time. I think that’s going to prove to be very important in the long run.”

The long run matters most.

Since a vaccine is probably at least a year away, the Swedes reason that the best protection is what epidemiologists call “herd immunity,” a critical mass of people who get the disease and then are resistant to it.

The hope is that once enough people get COVID-19, there will be enough immunity to prevent mass outbreaks later. Many of the most vulnerable may then be able to avoid ever getting the virus.

The jury is still out on this experiment. More than 1,500 Swedes have died, five times the death rate of neighboring Norway. But if Swedes acquire “herd immunity,” their death rate will be the first to drop.

Other European countries agree that lockdowns are not sustainable.

Last week, Denmark reopened nursery and elementary schools. Germany opened retail stores this week. Norway opens schools next week. Austria reopens shops to people who wear masks on May 1.

That seems smarter than the “absolute shutdown” promoted by so many American authorities. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has threatened to “shut off water and power” to homes of people who do not shelter in place.

Shut off water and power?

Politicians rush to limit our choices in the name of “keeping us safe.” They don’t even want to think about places like Sweden or the argument that leaving us alone might make us safer.

They just like pushing people around.

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2020-04-15 04:30:51

The media tell us China “beat coronavirus.”

I don’t believe it. The Chinese government lies. Derrek Scissors of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) argues that they’ve underreported the number of COVID-19 cases by millions.

Still, it’s possible that China has the virus under control.

But at what cost?

Most of us in America now practice “social distancing.” I’ve barely left my house in a month. I do that voluntarily.

Forty-two states do have some sort of shelter-in-place orders, but most of American’s social distancing is voluntary.

Not so in China. China’s dictators are quick to take extreme measures against whatever they see as a problem. They locked down Wuhan—closed roads to the city, stopped public transit, and banned private cars. Chinese police have even welded people into their homes to keep them inside. They’ve tied people to posts for not wearing face masks.

China spies on every citizen, using more than 200 million cameras and social media tracking. Electronic eavesdropping lets them analyze every person’s political leanings and social interactions. They use that to give everyone a trust score.

Your “trust” score drops if you criticize the government—or the trust score system. You lose points if you do things like play “too many” video games, watch porn, or have friends with low scores.

Then the government punishes you by doing things like slowing your internet speed, keeping your kids out of good schools, or stopping you from getting good jobs.

Now, some Americans say our government should be more like China’s.

“Still no nationwide stay-at-home order!” complains MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow (even though that would be unconstitutional—the 10th Amendment leaves such things to states).

Frightened people push bad law.

“You’re walking toward the communists voluntarily! That scares me,” said Li Schoolland, an immigrant from China I interviewed before the pandemic.

“After I came to the United States I thought, no more politics. I’m in the land of the free!” she recounts. But after she saw some Americans embracing authoritarian ideas, she thought, “No, I have to tell the American people, ‘Don’t let this happen.'”

Schoolland survived China’s Great Leap Forward, Great Famine, and Cultural Revolution. Her parents were doctors, “intellectuals,” which meant they, and she, were sent to horrible work camps where they received communist “re-education.”

I thought this repressive era of communism was over. Starting in the late 1970s, China’s leaders modernized their economy and became a major trading partner with the United States.

But no, “The repression is not over,” says Schoolland. China’s spying on people to create “social trust” scores is an example of it.

“The control of people’s mind, people’s mouth, people’s pen, never stopped.”

That’s something to think about now in America, when so many politicians are eager to do more.

Florida set up checkpoints on highways and planes, requiring people who enter from coronavirus hot spots, like New York and Louisiana, to self-quarantine for 14 days. Travelers must give officials contact information so officials can check up on them.

In Rhode Island, police went door to door, checking on people with New York license plates.

Colorado police handcuffed a man for playing softball with his daughter in a park. Father and daughter were more than 6 feet apart, but the officers clustered together to make their arrest.

California police ordered a group of young men to sit on the ground while they photographed them and fined them $1,000 each because they bought beer at 7-Eleven that was an hour away from their homes.

Of course, in a pandemic, some extreme measures are needed.

But repressive government controls like China’s should not be our role model. The virus began in China and spread farther because their autocrats suppressed information, denied the virus could spread between people, and punished scientists who told the truth. Even people who post opinions about the virus may be locked up in China.

I’m glad I live in America, where I’m free to say anything I want about the virus—or my government.

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2020-04-08 04:30:20

Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump signed the largest stimulus bill in U.S. history: more than $2 trillion.

For once, both Republicans and Democrats agreed. The Senate voted 96-0. The House didn’t even bother with a formal vote.

At the White House, a reporter asked the president, pointing out that the bill includes $25 million for the Kennedy Center, “Shouldn’t that money be going to masks?”

“The Kennedy Center has suffered greatly because nobody can go there,” Trump responded. “They do need some funding. And look—that was a Democrat request. That was not my request. But you got to give them something.”

“Something” they got. The bill includes $25 million for congressional salaries, $50 million for an Institute of Museum and Library Services, and lots of other wasteful things.

Only a few politicians were wary. Rep. Thomas Massie (R–Ky.) complained that he wasn’t even allowed to speak against the bill.

Rep. Alex Mooney (R–W. Va.) asked: “How do you pay for it? Borrow it from China, borrow it from Russia? Are we going to print the money?”

Those are good questions.

Our national debt is already $24 trillion. Now it will jump, percentage-wise, to where Greece’s debt was shortly before unemployment there hit 27 percent.

Greece was bailed out by the European Union. But the United States can’t be bailed out by others.

How will we pay off our debt? That’s the topic of my new video.

There are really three options:

  1. Raise taxes.
  2. Print money.
  3. Default.

Let’s consider each:

  1. Raising taxes on rich people is popular. Even Michael Bloomberg wants “higher taxes on billionaires” like him

But raising taxes on the rich often kills the wealth and jobs some rich people create. And it won’t solve our debt problem. Even if we took all the billionaires’ wealth—reducing their net worth to zero—it would cover only an eighth of our debt.

  1. Some on the left now say, “Don’t worry about debt, just print money!”

This belief, called Modern Monetary Theory, destroys lives.

Zimbabwe’s dictator tried it. Eager to spend more money on wars, higher salaries for government officials, and luxury for himself, he had his government print more money. But that meant more money pursued the same goods. That caused explosive inflation. Soon, a $2 bag of onions cost $30 million Zimbabwean dollars.

The more money the government printed, the more inflation there was. They eventually even issued 100 trillion dollar bills. Today those 100 trillion bills are worth about 40 cents.

Inflation wrecked lives in 1920s Germany, Argentina, and Russia, and in modern-day Venezuela, too.

  1. America could simply refuse to pay our debt. But that would betray everyone who invested in America, and bankrupt Americans who bought Treasury Bonds.

Defaulting on your debt wrecks economies, too. When Argentina defaulted, unemployment rose to 21 percent.

Once you’re deep in debt, no option is good.

How did we get to this point?

Presidents have talked about the dangers of debt for decades. But they didn’t deal with it; they just talked about it.

“We have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children’s future,” warned Ronald Reagan. “We must act today to preserve tomorrow.”

Bill Clinton said, “We’ve got to deal with this big long term debt problem.”

Barack Obama called driving up the national debt “irresponsible” and then proceeded to do exactly that.

Donald Trump complained that Obama “doubled” the nation’s debt. But now, under Trump’s presidency and the new CARES Act, our debt will grow even faster.

This will not end well.

So far, the deficit spending hasn’t done enormous harm. But it will. You can stretch a rubber band only so far, until it breaks.

Our debt will wreck our children’s lives.

Yet, today politicians mostly talk about spending more.

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2020-04-01 04:30:40

Congress passed and the president signed a $2 trillion “stimulus” bill.

“Not enough!” shrieked politicians. They said the government must do more.

They demanded President Donald Trump reactivate the Defense Production Act, a 1950 law that lets government force companies to make things.

Trump hesitated.

That upset lovers of big government. They demanded the president order companies to make respirators, masks, and other desperately needed medical equipment.

CNN’s Alisyn Camerota joined the media mob asking “What’s the holdup!?” Then a White House press reporter confronted Trump at the White House, asking, “Why not use it now?”

The president surprised me by responding: “We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business. Call a person over in Venezuela, ask them, ‘how did nationalization of their businesses work out?’ Not too well.”

No, it didn’t.

Venezuela was once one of the richest countries in Latin America. Now it’s one of the poorest.

That’s because government dictating production leads to less production.

Although Venezuela has more oil in the ground than any other country, once the socialists nationalized the oil industry, production declined. Today, Venezuelans struggle to buy gasoline.

When government orders companies to do things, companies don’t innovate. They’re less able to adjust quickly to market demand. That’s the topic of my new video.

Today, hospitals need more ventilators. But the government doesn’t need to order companies to make more. The private sector is already on it.

Automakers slowed car production and are gearing up their factories to produce ventilators. Other businesses are, too. That’s what businesses do when conditions change; they pivot.

Distillers that once made gin and vodka now make hand sanitizer. The federal government had to waive regulations to allow them to sell it.

Some give it away. It’s not just charity; it’s “goodwill.” They hope customers will remember the good deed, and that’ll lead to profit in the future.

The best catalyst to spur production is simple pursuit of profit. It’s what gets companies to produce new things instantly. Unlike governments, businesses have no guaranteed income. To survive, let alone grow, they must constantly innovate to make sure more money comes in than goes out.

The socialists call that “greed.”

Without question, some tycoons are greedy. They pursue profit to the point that they have more money than they will ever need.

That’s fine. That greed for success drives them to get me what I need.

I assume it’s what inspired Ford to start using 3D printers to make face masks.
The profit motive delivers the goods. Higher prices tell companies what products are most urgently needed.

When our government failed to produce enough coronavirus test kits, private companies filled the gap. Some offered convenient tests you could use at home.

But the government didn’t like it, saying the test hadn’t been approved. The tests were withdrawn.

Government’s rules often make it harder for private actors to help people. In a crisis, America’s unsung heroes are people who overcome that.

Many truck drivers wanted to work overtime to help, but federal law said they must not work more than 11 hours a day. Finally, the government suspended the regulation.

We ought to suspend a lot of these rules permanently. Allow Americans to make our own choices about when we want to work.

In this crisis, businesses are trying all sorts of new things. Supermarkets started offering special “senior hours” so older people can safely get supplies we need.

Musicians are livestreaming concerts.

Restaurants are switching to takeout and delivery.

People have lost jobs, but if businesses are free to adapt, they’ll create many new jobs.

Because demand for deliveries has increased. Amazon is hiring 100,000 new workers. Walmart is hiring 150,000.

The free market adjusts. We don’t need “production acts” to tell us what to do.

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2020-03-25 04:30:38

Coronavirus is frightening.

I’m working from home, practicing “social distancing.” Experts say it’ll help “flatten the curve” so fewer people will be infected simultaneously. Then hospitals won’t be overwhelmed.

But the infection rate grows. Doctors and hospitals may yet be overwhelmed.

It didn’t have to get to this point.

COVID-19 deaths leveled off in South Korea.

That’s because people in Korea could easily find out if they had the disease. There are hundreds of testing locations—even pop-up drive-thru testing centers.

Because Koreans got tested, Korean doctors knew who needed to be isolated and who didn’t. As a result, Korea limited the disease without mass quarantines and shortages.

Not in America. In America, a shortage of COVID-19 tests has made it hard for people to get tested. Even those who show all the symptoms have a difficult time.

Why weren’t there enough tests?

Because our government insists on control of medical innovation.

That’s the topic of my new video.

When the new coronavirus appeared, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made its own tests and insisted that people only use those CDC tests. But the CDC test often gave inaccurate results. Some early versions of the test couldn’t distinguish between the new coronavirus and water.

Private companies might have offered better tests, and more of them, but that wasn’t allowed. The World Health Organization even released information on how to make such tests, but our government still said no. Instead, all tests must go through the government’s cumbersome approval process. That takes months. Or years.

Hundreds of labs had the ability to test for the virus, but they weren’t allowed to test.

As a result, doctors can’t be sure exactly where outbreaks are happening. Instead of quarantining just sick people, state governors are forcing entire states to go on lockdown.

At the same time, many people who show no symptoms do have COVID-19. Without widespread testing, we don’t know who they are, and so the symptomless sick are infecting others.

A few weeks ago, the government finally gave up its monopoly and said it was relaxing the rules. There would be quick “emergency use authorizations” replacing the months- or years-long wait for approval. But even that took so long that few independent tests were approved.

So President Donald Trump waived those rules, too.

Now tests are finally being made. But that delay killed people. It’s still killing people.

Other needlessly repressive rules prevented doctors and hospitals from trying more efficient ways to treat patients.

For example, telemedicine allows doctors and patients to communicate through the internet. When sick people consult doctors from home, they don’t pass on the virus in crowded waiting rooms.

But lawyers and bureaucrats claimed such communications wouldn’t be “secure,” and would violate patients’ privacy.

Only last week did officials announce they would allow doctors to “serve patients through everyday communications technologies.”

Americans shouldn’t have to ask permission to use “everyday” technologies.

Now doctors fear that as more people get sick, hospitals won’t have enough beds for the critically ill.

But the bed shortage is another consequence of bad law. Critical access hospitals in rural areas are not allowed to have more than 25 beds. Trump has now announced that he’s waiving those rules.

In some states, there’s a shortage of doctors or nurses. That, too, is often a product of bad law—state licensing laws that make it illegal for professionals licensed in one state to work in another. Trump said he would waive “license requirements so that the doctors from other states can provide services to states with the greatest need.” Then it turned out that he could only allow that for Medicare; he didn’t have the power to override stupid state licensing rules.

Fortunately, many states finally waived harmful licensing laws on their own.

It’s good that governments finally removed some rules.

But the time that took killed people.

Once COVID-19 passes, America should leave those regulations waived.

And we should repeal many others.

COPYRIGHT 2020 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.
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2020-03-18 04:01:14

“We don’t have any…!” Fill in the blank.

People are stocking up on things, fearing that we will be stuck in our homes, under quarantine, without essential supplies.

Some hoard toilet paper. A popular internet video features someone driving up to what appears to be a drug dealer but is really someone selling toilet paper.

When it became hard to find hand sanitizer in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state would produce its own, made by prison labor.

Yet in-demand items like masks and hand sanitizer can still be found. It’s just that we have to pay an inflated price.

People on social media are outraged by that. They post pictures showing stores charging high prices, like $19.99 for a can of Lysol spray and $22.99 for a 12 oz bottle of Purell.

We’re encouraged to report such high prices to the government because “gouging” is illegal. New York has an online “price gouging complaint form” that people can fill out if they are charged “unconscionably high prices.”

“On my watch, we will not tolerate schemes or frauds designed to turn large profits by exploiting people’s health concerns,” said New York’s economically clueless Attorney General Letitia James. “Some people are looking to prey on others’ anxiety and line their own pockets.”

Well, yes.

People always look for ways to line their own pockets.

But what politicians call “gouging” is just supply and demand. Prices rise and fall all the time.

Most state’s anti-gouging laws never even say exactly what is “unconscionably excessive.” That invites abuse. Vague laws give politicians dangerous power. They can use anti-gouging law to punish any merchant who doesn’t give them money or kiss their rings.

It seems cruel to charge customers more during a crisis, but when there are no laws against sharp price increases, people don’t experience long lines and shortages.

Think about what happens when stores don’t raise their prices: People rush to buy all they can get. The store sells out. Only the first customers get what they want.

But if the store charges more for items in extraordinary demand, people are less likely to hoard. Customers buy what we need and leave some for others.

Prices should rise during emergencies. That’s because prices aren’t just money; they are signals, information. They tell suppliers what their customers want most.

Entrepreneurs then make more of them and work hard to get them to the people who need them most. If “anti-gouging” laws don’t crush these incentives, prices quickly fall to normal levels.

Stossel in the Classroom contest winners explained that in a video.

Last week, some people bought lots of hand sanitizers and masks and then sold them on the internet. One couple boasted that they made over $100,000 reselling Lysol wipes.

They’re not bad people. Their actions allow people desperate for supplies to buy what they need, even if it’s at a higher price.

We’re supposed to stay indoors, so it’s good that we can get these products online. Then we don’t leave home and infect others.

Unfortunately, Amazon, eBay, and Facebook, worried about accusations of “profiteering,” cracked down on resellers. The companies removed listings for masks, hand sanitizers, and disinfectants.

This will only cause more shortages. Bigger profit was what encouraged people to sell online. Now no one gets those products until the market returns to normal.

In China, there was a severe mask shortage. That raised the price of masks and kickstarted production of face masks all around the world. A factory in France hired more people and raised its production of face masks from 170 million a year to half a billion.

The French company didn’t do it only because they want to help people in China. Extra profit motivated them.

Price “gouging” saves lives. In a crisis, we like to think that everyone will volunteer and be altruistic. But it’s not realistic to believe that all will.

If we want more supplies, we ask sellers to risk their money, their safety, and comfort. (Sellers often travel long distances to reach people most in need.) Most sellers won’t do that unless they’ll profit.

Government should dump its anti-price gouging laws and let the free market help those in need.

COPYRIGHT 2020 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.
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