2019-12-11 05:30:44

Congress and the media obsess endlessly over whether President Donald Trump should be impeached.

Both ignore $23 trillion of bigger problems.

That’s how deep in debt the federal government is now, and because they keep spending much more than they could ever hope to collect in taxes, that number will only go up. It’s increasing by $1 trillion a year.

“Shut up, Stossel,” you say. “You’ve been crying wolf about America’s debt for years, but we’re doing great!”

You have a point. For many years, I’ve predicted that government, to fund freebies both parties want, would print boatloads of money. That would cause massive inflation. I bought silver coins so I might afford a loaf of bread while the rest of you haul suitcases full of nearly worthless paper currency to the bakery—or go hungry!

Clearly, that inflation crisis hasn’t happened.

Thanks to Trump’s contempt for the “deep state’s” love of endless regulation, businesses are hiring and stock prices are up. America is doing great.

But while our deficits haven’t yet created a crisis, they will. You can stretch a rubber band farther and farther. Eventually, it will snap back—or break.

We can’t pay off our increasing debt—unless we’re willing to tell the government to stop stationing soldiers in 80 countries, stop sending checks to poor people and old people, and stop paying for “free” health care for people like me. If the government did stop, the public would revolt.

Voters scream if there’s even talk of cuts to Medicare or Social Security. But the programs are unsustainable. Social Security was meant to help the minority of people who outlive their savings. When Social Security was created, most Americans didn’t even reach age 65. Now it’s an “entitlement” for everyone.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health care spending account for about half of the federal budget, and because we old people rudely refuse to die, these “entitlements” consistently grow faster than the tax revenues meant to fund them.

Anyone serious about giving our kids a future has to be willing to make big cuts to those programs, or at least privatize them and let individuals make our own decisions with our own money. But good luck to any politician who proposes that.

By contrast, voters don’t get stirred up as we just quietly sink farther and farther into debt. So politicians demand even more spending.

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said appropriations bills won’t get passed by the end of the year unless Republicans agree to spend “significant resources” on fighting the opioid epidemic, gun violence, child care, violence against women, election security, infrastructure, etc.

“With a Democratic House consumed with impeachment, there is very little appetite for the sorts of common-sense fiscal policies that could rein in our out-of-control deficits and debt,” says Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

That implies that if Republicans were in charge, they would restore fiscal order. But there’s little evidence of that. Republicans talk about spending cuts and “responsibility” but rarely cut anything.

Democrats want new social programs. Neither party wants to reduce the military budget. Trump wants his wall and tariffs. Farmers, once proud independent capitalists who criticized welfare, now get 40 percent of their income from the government.

“The federal budget is on an unsustainable path,” says Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

No matter who you vote for and no matter what speeches they make, none of them is doing anything to put us on a sustainable course. It’s too bad.

Fortunately, thanks to the inventiveness of American entrepreneurs, our economy keeps creating new wealth for politicians to grab.

That might mean Congress wouldn’t have to cut spending for America to gradually grow our way out of this terrible debt. All they’d need to do is make sure spending goes up slower than the rate of inflation.

They won’t even do that.

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2019-11-27 05:01:00

Families will argue this Thanksgiving.

Such arguments have a long tradition.

The Pilgrims had clashing ideas about how to organize their settlement in the New World. The resolution of that debate made the first Thanksgiving possible.

The Pilgrims were religious, united by faith and a powerful desire to start anew, away from religious persecution in the Old World. Each member of the community professed a desire to labor together, on behalf of the whole settlement.

In other words: socialism.

But when they tried that, the Pilgrims almost starved.

Their collective farming—the whole community deciding when and how much to plant, when to harvest, who would do the work—was an inefficient disaster.

“By the spring,” Pilgrim leader William Bradford wrote in his diary, “our food stores were used up and people grew weak and thin. Some swelled with hunger… So they began to think how…they might not still thus languish in misery.”

His answer: divide the commune into parcels and assign each Pilgrim family its own property. As Bradford put it, they “set corn every man for his own particular…. Assigned every family a parcel of land.”

Private property protects us from what economists call the tragedy of the commons. The “commons” is a shared resource. That means it’s really owned by no one, and no one person has much incentive to protect it or develop it.

The Pilgrims’ simple change to private ownership, wrote Bradford, “made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” Soon they had so much plenty that they could share food with the natives.

The Indians weren’t socialists, either. They had property rules of their own. That helped them grow enough so they had plenty, even during cold winters.

When property rights are tossed aside, even for the sake of religious fellowship or in the name of the working class, people just don’t work as hard.

Why farm all day—or invent new ways of farming—when everyone else will get an equal share?

You may not intend to be a slacker, but suddenly, reasons to stay in bed seem more compelling than they did when your own livelihood and family were dependent on your own efforts.

Pilgrim teenagers were especially lazy. Some claimed they were too sick to work. Some stole the commune’s crops, picking corn at night, before it was ready.

But once Bradford created private lots, the Pilgrims worked hard. They could have sat around arguing about who should do how much work, whether English tribes or Indian ones were culturally superior, and what God would decree if She/He set rules for farming.

None of that would have yielded the bounty that a simple division of land into private lots did.

When people respect property rights, they also interact more peacefully.

At this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, if people start arguing about how society should be run, try being a peacemaker by suggesting that everyone should get to decide what to do with their own property.

If your uncle wants government to tax imports or thinks police should seize people’s marijuana, tell him that he doesn’t have to smoke weed or buy Chinese products, but he should keep his hands off other people’s property.

If your niece says everyone loves socialism now, remind her she has enough trouble managing her own life without telling the rest of the world what to do. When families don’t agree, they certainly shouldn’t try to run millions of other people’s lives.

In America today, religious groups practice different rites but usually don’t demand that government ban others’ practices. Private schools set curricula without nasty public fights. Businesses stock shelves without politicians fighting about which products they should carry.

All those systems work pretty well. That’s because they are private.

In most of our lives, private ownership makes political arguments unnecessary.

I’m thankful for that.

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2019-11-13 05:30:00

Governments create problems. Then they complain about them.

“A public health crisis exists,” says Kentucky’s government, citing a report that found “a shortage of ambulance providers.”

Local TV stations report on “people waiting hours for medical transportation.”

“Six-year-old Kyler Truesdell fell off his motorcycle,” reported Channel 12 news. “The local hospital told (his mother) he should be transported to Cincinnati Children’s to check for internal injuries.” But there was no ambulance available. Kyler had to wait two hours.

Yet Kyler’s cousin, Hannah Howe, runs an ambulance service in Ohio, just a few minutes away. “We would’ve (taken him) for free,” she says in my new video. “But it would’ve been illegal.”

It would be illegal because of something called certificate of need (CON) laws.

Kentucky and three other states require businesses to get a CON certificate before they are allowed to run an ambulance service. Certificates go only to businesses that bureaucrats deem “necessary.”

CON laws are supposed to prevent “oversupply” of essential services like, well, ambulances. If there are “too many” ambulance companies, some might cut corners or go out of business. Then patients would suffer, say the bureaucrats.

Of course, Kentucky patients already suffer, waiting.

It raises the question: If there’s demand, then who are politicians to say that a business is unnecessary?

Phillip Truesdell, Hannah’s father, often takes patients to hospitals in Kentucky, “I drop them off (but) I can’t go back and get them!” he told me. “Who gives the big man the right to say, ‘You can’t work here’?!”

Government.

Phillip and Hannah applied for a CON certificate and waited 11 months for a response. Then they learned that their application was being protested by existing ambulance providers.

Of course it was. Businesses don’t like competition.

“We go to court, these three ambulance services showed up,” recounts Howe.

“They hammered her, treated her like she was a criminal,” says Truesdell. “Do you know what you’re going to do to this company?!…To this town?!”

“It wasn’t anything to do with us being physically able to do it. (They) just came through like the big dog not trying to let anybody else on the porch,” says Howe.

Three other ambulance companies also applied for permission to operate in Kentucky. They were rejected, too.

Truesdell and Howe were lucky to find the Pacific Legal Foundation, a law firm that fights for Americans’ right to earn a living.

Pacific Legal lawyer Anastasia Boden explains: “Traditionally we allow consumers to decide what’s necessary. Existing operators are never going to say more businesses are necessary.”

One Kentucky ambulance provider who opposed the new applications sent me a statement that says “saturating a community with more EMS agencies than it can…support (leads) all agencies to become watered down.”

Boden replies: “That’s just absurd. We now recognize that competition leads to efficient outcomes.”

It’s not just ambulance companies and people waiting for ambulances who are hurt by CON laws. Thirty-five states demand that businesses such as medical imaging companies, hospitals, and even moving companies get CON certificates before they are allowed to open.

Boden warns: “Once you get these laws on the books, it’s very hard to get them off. Monopolies like their monopoly. This started back in the ’70s with the federal government.”

But the feds, amazingly, wised up and repealed the mandate in 1987, saying things like, “CON laws raise considerable competitive concerns (and) consumers benefit from lower prices when provider markets are more competitive.”

Unfortunately, politicians in Kentucky and many other states haven’t wised up.

When Virginia tried to abolish its CON law, local hospitals spent $200,000 on ads claiming competition will force hospitals to close. Somehow, hospitals operate just fine in states without CON laws. But the Virginia scare campaign worked. The state still has a CON law.

In health care, and all fields, it’s better to see what competition can do rather than letting the government and its cronies decide what to allow.

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2019-11-12 14:45:54

Want to start a business? Imagine having to get your competitors’ permission first.

John Stossel points out that in 35 states, laws block new businesses from operating unless they get their competitors’ permission. One such law prevents Phillip Truesdell from operating ambulances in Kentucky.

“You’re going to tell me that I’m not fit to work in your town?” he asks.

He and his daughter Hannah Howe run Legacy Medical Transport, an ambulance service, in Ohio.

When they tried to expand into Kentucky, which is just a few minutes away from them, they learned it would be illegal.

It’s illegal due to Certificate of Need laws, also called “CON” laws. In Kentucky and three other states, you have to get a Certificate of Need to run an ambulance service.

Truesdell doesn’t think this is right.

He tells Stossel, “Anybody that draws breath ought to be allowed to work. Who gives the big man the right to say, ‘You can’t work here?'”

“The government. The law,” Stossel responds.

Then “Kentucky ought to change that law,” says Truesdell.

To do that, he and his daughter are working with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which filed a lawsuit with the goal of getting CON laws declared unconstitutional.

Kentucky authorities and established companies resist. One ambulance provider told us, “When saturating a community with more [Emergency Medical Services] than it can financially support, all agencies become watered down.”

Truesdell’s attorney, Anastasia Boden, calls that “absurd.” She tells Stossel, “It is an abuse of government power to restrict somebody’s right to earn a living. [It’s] just as a handout to the other businesses.”

“It’s not a handout. It’s protecting a vital service,” Stossel pushes back.

“It’s protecting a vital service for the current operators only,” she responds.

Boden says we need competition, “because competition has been the driving force of innovation, lower prices, and better services.”

Stossel agrees: “Competition works! CON laws are a bad deal for both consumers and entrepreneurs. No one should have to ask permission to compete.”

The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

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2019-11-06 05:30:05

House members summoned Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to Washington, D.C., and grilled him—harshly—about his plan to create a new currency, Libra.

“Why should we trust you?!” asked Rep. Mike Doyle (D–Pa.).

I liked it when Zuckerberg said, “I actually don’t know if Libra’s going to work, but I believe that it’s important to try new things.”

He was right. That’s very important.

The Libra would make it easier to transfer money anywhere in the world. It also promises stability. Its value would be based on a basket of currencies from different countries, which would protect Libra owners from inflation in any one country.

It’s an idea that deserves a try.

But it may never be tried because the clueless politicians’ threats of punitive regulation scared off many of its supporters.

Politicians want to crack down on Libra “because they’re threatened by it,” says tech reporter Naomi Brockwell in my new video. “This is going to be competition for the U.S. dollar. Government doesn’t like competition.”

Governments also like to control any money that we might use.

“Want to send money to Russia to a family member; it’s going to be censored. You want to send money to a relief effort in Venezuela; it’s going to be censored,” says Brockwell. But if you use a cryptocurrency like Libra or Bitcoin, “your money will get through. That’s an incredibly powerful tool that gives people the freedom to spend their money where they want to spend it.”

Bitcoin is harder to stop than a currency like Libra would be because Bitcoin doesn’t emanate from one company or government mint. There’s no one owner of Bitcoin or most other cryptocurrencies.

“It is the first currency that is decentralized,” Brockwell points out. “That’s why it’s still around, because they haven’t been able to have these hearings, haven’t been able to call the CEO of Bitcoin and say, ‘cease and desist!’ There is no server to unplug, no company to shut down, no CEO to throw in jail, so it persists! That’s really exciting.”

Digital currencies “live” on thousands of individuals’ computers, so no government can stop them by pressuring any one company.

That’s a reason they’re valuable.

When Bitcoin started, it was worth virtually nothing. But two years ago, the price of one bitcoin reached $19,891. Then it crashed to $3,192. As I write, the price is $9,390.

That volatility deters many people from using Bitcoin as money, but to those of us who don’t trust governments, Brockwell points out: “It is the only suitable money for free people.”

Of course, many disagree.

“I think it’s a gigantic classic pump and dump scheme,” says investor Peter Schiff. “There’s nothing to give Bitcoin value.”

It’s “a bubble,” vulnerable to attacks from governments. “They can get banks and financial institutions to make it very difficult for Americans to use it.”

Schiff doesn’t claim we should count on dollar bills because he doesn’t trust politicians either. He suggests people buy gold to hedge against politicians’ irresponsibility.

“Gold has worked for thousands of years,” says Schiff. Unlike Bitcoin, “gold has actual value. A huge industry needs gold: jewelry…consumer electronics, aerospace, and medicine.”

I’ve hedged against the dollar by buying both gold and Bitcoin. My Bitcoin investment did better. But Schiff says I’m a fool if I don’t sell it now.

I don’t know which way prices will move. But I know that it’s good to have alternatives to government-created currencies. The dollar’s value is only backed by politicians’ promises. I sure won’t trust those.

Even when currency is stable, government can use its power over currency to censor people.

“The government decided that they didn’t want WikiLeaks to receive donations, so they froze transactions,” observes Brockwell. But they couldn’t stop Bitcoin.

She says government has had “a monopoly on the money supply for a very long time, and now consumers finally have a choice. You can send bitcoin peer-to-peer to someone on the other side of the world almost instantly at very low cost, and it can’t be censored. That’s incredibly powerful.”

It is.

Alternatives to government monopolies are very good things.

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2019-11-05 13:15:51

Facebook proposed a new digital currency called “Libra.” It would be backed by several different existing currencies.

The Libra might be better than the dollar, tech reporter Naomi Brockwell and investor Peter Schiff tell John Stossel. It’s easy to send online. If a government currency has a lot of inflation, Libra holders will be largely protected from that.

But politicians oppose Libra. “Why, with all of your problems, should we trust you?” one congressman asked Mark Zuckerberg in a hearing.

“They’re threatened by it,” Brockwell tells Stossel.

Politicians may succeed in killing Libra. Paypal, Mastercard, and other companies were going to work with Facebook on the project, but they’ve bailed because they’re scared of regulation.

That’s why it’s good that Bitcoin exists, says Brockwell. Bitcoin, unlike Libra, can’t be stopped so easily.

“It is the first currency we’ve ever seen that is decentralized,” Brockwell tells Stossel.

“They can’t shut it down,” Stossel responds.

“Exactly. That’s why it’s still around, because they haven’t been able to have these hearings. They haven’t been able to call on the CEO of Bitcoin and say, ‘You’d better cease and desist.’…There is no server to unplug. There is no company to shut down, no CEO to throw in jail, so it persists. That’s really exciting.”

Bitcoin is mostly safe from government because it “lives” on thousands of individuals’ computers, so no government can stop it by pressuring any one company.

But investor Peter Schiff says Bitcoin is a “bubble.” He recommends investing in gold.

“Gold has worked for thousands of years. Bitcoin’s only been around for ten,” Schiff argues. “Gold has actual value. There’s a huge industry that needs gold. Jewelry…you have it in consumer electronics and aerospace and medicine.”

Stossel says: “I don’t presume to know which way prices will move. But I do know that it’s good to have alternatives to dollars.”

The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

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2019-10-30 04:01:30

Four years ago, the media were talking about a “Libertarian Moment.”

I had high hopes!

Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) ran for president, promising to “take our country back from special interests.” But his campaign never took off.

He “shouldn’t even be on the stage,” said Donald Trump at a Republican presidential debate.

Paul quit his presidential campaign after doing poorly in Iowa.

In my new video, Paul reflects on that, saying, “Either the people aren’t ready or perhaps the people in the Republican primary aren’t ready.”

But Paul says, “We may be winning the hearts and minds of people who aren’t in Washington.”

Really?

The current deficit is a record $984 billion, and since Trump was elected, federal spending rose half a trillion dollars.

But Paul says progress has been made, in that Trump has introduced some market competition in health care, cut taxes, cut regulations, appointed better judges, and promises to get us out of foreign wars. Paul tweeted that Trump is “the first president to understand what is our national interest.”

“But he hasn’t pulled us out of anywhere,” I said.

“Compare it to George W. Bush, who got us involved everywhere,” answered Paul. “Or President Obama, who sent 100,000 troops to Afghanistan. The rhetoric of President Trump has been a relief.”

The problem, says Paul, is that, “When the president has said anything about it…immediately Republican and the Democrat leaders get together and pass a resolution saying it would be precipitous to leave Afghanistan.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) did recently make a speech about “the danger of a precipitous withdrawal.”

“Really?” replies Paul. “After 19 years? Precipitous?”

America went into Afghanistan to take out the killers behind the Sept. 11 attacks. We succeeded. So why are we still there?

Paul complains, “Intervention after intervention hasn’t had the intended consequence. We’ve got more chaos.”

In Iraq, America took out Saddam Hussein, but that has left a power vacuum and continued violence.

In Libya, we helped get rid of Moammar Gadhafi, but Libya’s “government” is now run by armed gangs that torture civilians.

In Syria, we armed rebels to fight Bashar Assad. But many of our weapons ended up in the hands of Al Qaeda, and Assad is still in power.

“Every time we think we’re going to get more stability or less terrorism,” says Paul, “we end up getting more chaos and more terrorism.”

Recently, Trump moved 50 troops from northern Syria. His action received widespread condemnation from people Paul calls the “war hawk caucus.”

Lindsey Graham said it was “the most screwed-up decision I’ve seen since I’ve been in Congress.” That’s saying something; Graham has been in Congress for 24 years and has seen several screwed-up wars and failed domestic programs.

But Graham almost always seems to want more war.

Paul acknowledges that four years ago, he wanted to arm the Kurds who are now in harm’s way and give them their own country. In promoting American withdrawal, hasn’t he betrayed the Kurds?

“When I refer to the Kurds having a homeland, they kind of do. They have a section of Iraq,” responded Paul, saying he never proposed creating a Kurdish country in Syria. In any case, “Fifty or 2,000 American soldiers are nothing more than a target for bad people to kill.”

I don’t know whether Paul is right about Syria, but I’m glad Paul speaks out.

We need a strong military. But we should use it sparingly, only when we know it benefits our defense.

If we go to war, Congress must vote to declare that war. That’s what the Constitution requires. Congress hasn’t done that since 1942. That’s wrong. It allows politicians to hide their deadly mistakes.

“It’s a very complicated war over there,” says Paul. “They’re four or five different countries involved in it. The people who live there know better. We can’t know enough about these problems. And unless you want to put 100,000 troops in there and fight Assad, Russia, Turkey…we ought to rethink whether we should get involved in these wars to begin with.”

In both foreign and domestic policy, government plans usually fail.

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2019-10-29 12:20:22

Just three years ago, Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) ran for president and people talked about a “libertarian moment.” What happened? 

There has been some useful deregulation, but the size of government grew, spending grew sharply, and so did deficits.

John Stossel asks Paul what went wrong. 

Paul explains that neither Republicans nor Democrats were ready. But he points out that there is good news as well.

He cites President Donald Trump’s adoption of some of Paul’s free-market health care reform ideas, tax cuts, regulation cuts, judicial appointments, and progress on ending foreign wars.

“But he hasn’t pulled out of anywhere,” Stossel pushes back.

“Compare it though to George W. Bush…who got us involved everywhere. Or President Obama, who sent 100,000 troops to Afghanistan. The rhetoric of President Trump has been a relief,” Paul says.

Paul adds: “Has it happened yet? No, but I continue to push.”

It’s good, says Stossel, that Sen. Paul reminds Americans that the best plans of those who take us to war often go bad.  

In Iraq, America took out Saddam Hussein, but the people who replaced him (ISIS, for a while) were worse.

In Libya, America got rid of dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi, but now torture and slave markets operate in the power vacuum left behind.

In Syria, America armed rebels to fight Assad. But often our weapons ended up in Al Qaeda’s hands. 

Now Trump’s removed some troops from northern Syria. Lindsey Graham calls that “the most screwed up decision I’ve seen since I’ve been in Congress.”

Rand defends it: “I promise you—50 soldiers, or 2,000 American soldiers, are nothing more than a target for bad people to kill or maim, which will get us drug into a bigger war.”

The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

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2019-10-23 04:30:12

Student loan debt keeps growing.

There is a better solution than the ones politicians offer, which stick the taxpayer or the loan lenders with the whole bill.

It’s called an “income share agreement.”

Investors give money to a college, and the college then gives a free or partially free education to some students. When those students graduate, they pay the college a certain percentage of their future income.

It’s a way “for the school to say to students, ‘You’re only going to pay us if we help you succeed,'” explains Beth Akers, co-author of the book Game of Loans.

Andrew Hoyler was thrilled when Purdue University got him an ISA loan. Now he’s a professional pilot, and he’ll pay Purdue 8 percent of his income for 104 months.

“After that 104-month term ends, if you still owe money, it’s forgiven, forgotten, you don’t owe another penny,” he says in my latest video. “Now, if I find myself in a six-figure job tomorrow, there’s a chance that I’ll pay back far more than I took out.”

Hoyler wouldn’t mind that, he says, because of “the security of knowing that I’ll never (have to) pay back more than I can afford.”

What students pay depends partly on what they study.

On a $10,000 ISA, English majors must pay 4.58 percent of their income for 116 months. Math majors, because they are more likely to get higher-paying jobs, pay just 3.96 percent for 96 months.

“It conveys information to the student about how lucrative a different major’s going to be,” says Akers. “Some think that’s unfair, but really that’s just a way (investors) can recapture the money that they’ve put up.”

“It may also sway students away from majors that don’t have job prospects,” says Hoyler. ISA recipients learn “not only what a career may pay, but how stable it may be, what the future is like.”

“We should invest in students the same way that we invest in startups,” says Akers. “Share equity.”

With one difference: The college picks the student, so investors don’t have a direct relationship with the student.

Purdue ISA recipient Paul Larora told me, “We don’t know who the investor is, but I’d love to give him a hug or buy him a beer!”

“The institutions are saying, ‘If I’m operating as the middleman, I can make sure that no one’s taking advantage of my students,'” explains Akers.

Sadly, many politicians would rather have the government handle student loans and charge all students the same rate.

President Barack Obama signed a student debt relief bill that he claimed would “cut out private middlemen,” meaning banks. He said that “would save taxpayers $68 billion!” It didn’t. Costs to taxpayers increased.

Some politicians are so clueless that they still blame banks.

In one hearing, Rep. Maxine Waters (D–Calif.), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, demanded JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon tell her, “What are you guys doing to help us with this student loan debt?”

“We stopped doing all student lending,” responded Dimon, pointing out that “the government took over student lending in 2010.”

Instead of forcing banks out of the loan business, we should get government out of it. Banks are in the business of assessing loan risk.

If actual private lenders, people with skin in the game, made loans, then they’d care about being paid back.

They’d tell students which majors might lead to higher-paying careers and warn them that studying sociology, art history, or gender studies may make it tough to get out of debt.

But with the government charging the same rate to everyone, students don’t have much incentive to think about that.

The Brookings Institution found that 28 percent of students don’t even know they have a loan.

The market would make better judgments and stop students from starting their adult lives under a burden they may never escape.

Yet some people still call ISAs “predatory” because investors hope for profit. They say ISA makes students “indentured servants.”

Larora had a good answer to that, which is also serious advice: “If you don’t have a job, you’re not paying anything! Where’s the servitude in that?”

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2019-10-15 12:40:16

Lately, we’ve been hearing that men and women are biologically the same.

A BBC video claims, “There seems to be no purely male brains versus female brains.”

“Seems like we’re just not that different after all,” echoes HuffPost.

Politically correct corporations act as if that were true. When Google engineer James Damore merely suggested that biological differences might explain why half the people in tech are not women, he was fired.

Professor Gina Rippon recently wrote a book that confirms the popular narrative. “New neuroscience that shatters the myth of the female brain” is the subtitle.

Rippon tells Stossel it’s important to tell people that that men’s and women’s brains are the same, so people don’t mindlessly follow gender stereotypes.

Stossel pushes back, “It’s not natural that in school, more boys want to play football and more girls want to do ballet? I want to run and bang into people.”

Rippon responds: “Well, I think actually girls might want to run and bang into people, but because there’s an image that girls don’t do that, they’re stopped from doing that.”

That’s popular to say, but Stossel has covered research that shows big innate differences. In one experiment, students were blindfolded and then walked through the maze of tunnels. They were then asked which direction they’d moved. Men had a much better sense of that than women.

In another experiment, students were left in a cluttered room to wait. Later, women were much better at remembering all kinds of details about that room. Men were more likely to say: “I dunno, some stuff.”

Of course, the students may already have been molded by a sexist society, Stossel notes. But newborns also show gender differences. Boys tend to look longer at objects, like tractor parts, while infant girls stared more at faces.

Stossel asks Rippon about that, who responds: “If you look very closely at the data, a third of the girls actually seem to respond more to the tractor parts than the boys.”

“A third,” Stossel repeats.

“A third,” Rippon replies.

“But two-thirds didn’t!” Stossel retorts.

Rippon says the study should be redone. “Do it again with a bigger set of newborns [and] a better controlled set of stimuli.”

Evolutionary psychologist Diana Fleischman says there’s overwhelming evidence of biological differences.

“Cultures around the world show very similar differences between men and women,” she points out. “Men are more likely to seek status, women are more likely to take care of children. Women are more likely to stay in the home. Men are more likely to do dangerous, aggressive things like go to war.”

Stossel pushes back: “Because we men have been socialized: ‘Work’s important!’ And you women have been told by your mothers, ‘Take care of the kids.'”

“Why would you see that across every culture in the world?” Fleischman responds.

“Even if you look at nonhuman animals…monkeys…they don’t have culture, yet there’s still these very large differences between males and females,” she adds. In those species, too, males focus on war and status, while females nurture children.

Among scientists, these differences are well-accepted, Stossel notes. The journal Neuroscience cited 70 studies that found differences.

Stossel asked Gina about some of the most obvious mental differences.

“I stutter. Most stutterers are boys. It’s not a brain difference?”

“Yeah, yeah. There are those kinds of brain differences and I’m definitely not a brain difference denier,” Rippon replied.

“It’s kind of how you’ve been presented by much of the media,” Stossel responds.

The journal Nature, for example, ran an uncritical review of her book headlined, “Neurosexism: the myth that men and women have different brains.”

The Guardian summarized her book with: “Are there any significant differences based on sex alone? The answer, she says, is no.”

“Perhaps they haven’t read the book,” Rippon says.

Fleishman argues: “Gina Rippon seems to be a sex difference denier depending on kind of what audience that she’s talking to.”

In her speeches, Rippon does say things like: “They’re thinking there’s differences between men and women. People like me stand up and say ‘actually no, there’s not.'”

“It’s an incredibly alluring message,” Fleischman says. “It’s really sad that it’s not right.”

Rippon worries that talk of sex difference will increase sexism, but Fleischman notes that minimizing sex differences can hurt people, too, by pushing them into fields they’re not naturally suited for. Politicians pass laws to force “equality.”

“Saying that men and women have different aptitudes isn’t sexism. It’s actually a statement about the true nature of the world,” Fleischman says. “If we keep saying that those differences in what men and women choose to do are because of sexism, nobody’s going to end up happy with what they’re doing, and we’re going to keep making laws to remedy what’s actually just the result of freedom.”

The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

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