2020-07-01 04:30:22

Protesters say America’s criminal justice system is unfair.

It is.

Courts are so jammed that innocent people plead guilty to avoid waiting years for a trial. Lawyers help rich people get special treatment. A jail stay is just as likely to teach you crime as it is to help you get a new start. Overcrowded prisons cost a fortune and increase suffering for both prisoners and guards.

There’s one simple solution to most of these problems: End the war on drugs.

Our government has spent trillions of dollars trying to stop drug use.

It hasn’t worked. More people now use more drugs than before the “war” began.

What drug prohibition did do is exactly what alcohol prohibition did a hundred years ago: increase conflict between police and citizens.

“It pitted police against the communities that they serve,” says neuroscientist Carl Hart in my new video. Hart, former chair of Columbia University’s Psychology department, grew up in a tough Miami neighborhood where he watched crack cocaine wreck lives. When he started researching drugs, he assumed that research would confirm the damage drugs did.

But “one problem kept cropping up,” he says in his soon-to-be-released book, Drug Use For Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, “the evidence did not support the hypothesis. No one else’s evidence did either.”

After 20 years of research, he concluded, “I was wrong.” Now, he says, our drug laws do more harm than drugs.

Because drug sales are illegal, profits from selling drugs are huge. Since sellers can’t rely on law enforcement to protect their property, they buy guns and form gangs.

Cigarettes harm people, too, but there are no violent cigarette gangs—no cigarette shootings—even though nicotine is more addictive than heroin, says our government. That’s because tobacco is legal. Likewise, there are no longer violent liquor gangs. They vanished when prohibition ended.

But what about the opioid epidemic? Lots of Americans die from overdoses!

Hart blames the drug war for that, too. Yes, opioids are legal, but their sale is tightly restricted.

“If drugs were over the counter, there would be fewer deaths?” I asked.

“Of course,” he responds. “People die from opioids because they get tainted opioids….That would go away if we didn’t have this war on drugs. Imagine if the only subject of any conversation about driving automobiles was fatal car crashes….So it is with the opioid epidemic.”

Drugs do harm many people, but in real life, replies Hart, “I know tons of people who do drugs; they are public officials, captains of industry, and they’re doing well. Drugs, including nicotine and heroin, make people feel better. That’s why they are used.”

President Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex. America’s drug war funds a prison-industrial complex. Hart says his years inside the well-funded research side of that complex showed him that any research not in support of the “tough-on-drugs” ideology is routinely dismissed to “keep outrage stoked” and funds coming in.

America locks up more than 2 million Americans. That’s a higher percentage of our citizens, disproportionately black citizens, than any other country in the world.

“In every country with a more permissive drug regime, all outcomes are better,” says Hart. Countries like Switzerland and Portugal, where drugs are decriminalized, “don’t have these problems that we have with drug overdoses.”

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drug use. Instead of punishing drug users, they offer medical help. Deaths from overdoses dropped sharply. In 2017, Portugal had only 4 deaths per million people. The United States had 217 per million.

“In a society, you will have people who misbehave, says Hart. “But that doesn’t mean you should punish all of us because someone can’t handle this activity.”

He’s right. It’s time to end the drug war.

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2020-06-24 04:30:52

StosselTV

Do you say what you think? That’s risky! You may get fired!

You’ve probably heard about a New York Times editor resigning after approving an opinion piece by Senator Tom Cotton that suggested the military to step in to end riots.

Many Times reporters tweeted out the same alarmist wording, “Running this puts Black NY Times staffers in danger.”

Really? How?

In my new video, Robby Soave, a Reason magazine editor who writes about young radicals, explains, “They only claim it because that’s their tactic for seizing power in the workplace.”

They learned this tactic from so-called woke professors and fellow activists at expensive colleges, says Soave.

Last year, Harvard students demanded that law professor Ron Sullivan resign as a resident dean. Why? He’d agreed to be part of Harvey Weinstein’s legal defense team.

A female student said, “I don’t feel safe!” although Sullivan had been a dean for many years. Sullivan resigned.

At UCLA, business school lecturer Gordon Klein rejected a request to give black students different treatment on their final exam because of George Floyd’s death. Klein pointed out that since the class was online, he had no way of knowing which students were black. He also told students: “remember that MLK famously said that people should not be evaluated based on the color of their skin.”

The activist group Color of Change (which once demanded that I be fired) launched a petition to have Klein “terminated for his extremely insensitive, dismissive, and woefully racist response.” UCLA quickly caved. Klein is on mandatory leave.

Now that many former college radicals have jobs at elite media companies, they demand that newspapers not say certain things.

When, in response to looting during George Floyd protests, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran the insensitive headline, “Buildings Matter, Too,” 44 staff members claimed that “puts our lives at risk.” Their letter didn’t give any evidence as to how it threatened their lives (in fact, today both blacks and whites are safer than ever), but they won. The editor resigned.

A week later, young activists at NBC news tried to silence The Federalist, a respected conservative site that NBC labelled as “far-right.” The Federalist had published a column that said, correctly, that the media falsely claimed that violent riots were peaceful. But the column did contain a mistake. It quoted a government official saying tear gas was not used, when it had been used.

NBC then ran an article bragging that Google blocked The Federalist‘s ads after an “NBC news verification unit” brought The Federalist‘s “racism” to Google’s attention. NBC’s reporter even thanked left-wing activist groups for their “collaboration.”

But NBC was wrong. Google didn’t cut off The Federalist. Google merely threatened that if The Federalist didn’t police its comments section.

It was one time when the activist mob’s smears failed. But they keep trying to kill all sorts of expression.

Some now even want the children’s TV show Paw Patrol canceled because it suggests law enforcement is noble.

When activists decide that certain words or arguments are “offensive,” no one must use those words.

But “we’re supposed to occasionally offend each other,” says Soave, “because you might be wrong. We have to have a conversation about it. We have to challenge dogma. What if we were still with the principle that you couldn’t speak out against the King?! That’s the history of the Middle Ages.”

That’s when authorities arrested Galileo for daring to say that the earth revolved around the sun.

“That’s the condition that all humans lived under until just the last 300 years, and it was a much less happy place,” says Soave. “Then we came to an idea that we improve society by having frank and sometimes difficult conversations about policy issues, philosophy, about how we’re going to get along and live together.”

Life has been much better since people acquired the right to speak freely.

Elite colleges spread the idea that speech can be a form of violence. “Words are like bullets!” they say.

But words are words; bullets are bullets. We must keep them apart.

When entitled leftists declare themselves the sole arbiters of truth, it’s crucial that we all speak up for free speech.

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2020-06-17 04:30:25

For my internet video this week, my staff showed me clips of violent cops.

It’s not just Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes—it’s the other cops who just watch.

It’s the Buffalo cops who floored a protester and simply walked by as he lay unconscious, bleeding out of his ear. It’s a cop in Philadelphia, swinging his baton into protestors, the Atlanta police needlessly tasing two college students, the NYC cops beating a bicyclist, and dozens of cases where police lied about what they’d done until bodycams or cellphone cameras revealed the truth.

None of this justifies looting, arson, and violence against other cops.

But I understand the rage.

Policing is the rare profession given where employees are given a legal right to use deadly force. Most officers use that power responsibly.

But America has 800,000 cops. If just a fraction is racist or sadistic, that’s a lot of racist and sadistic bullies.

What can be done about that?

“The problem is repeat offenders. The system doesn’t fire those cops,” says Washington Post columnist Radley Balko. “The job of a union is to protect the interest of its members, really at any cost.” So, bad cops keep policing.

The officer who killed George Floyd had 18 complaints filed against him.

A San Antonio cop was caught challenging prisoners to “take off your cuffs and fight for your freedom!” Then he did it again. Technicalities in his union’s contract forced police to reinstate him, twice.

“There’s a strong argument to be made that we need to get rid of police unions entirely,” says Balko.

What’s the union’s side of the story?

Cops have a hard job. They must make split-second decisions and act as peacekeepers, baby sitters, marriage counselors, and more. They deal with people at the worst time of those people’s lives. It may be why officers have a high suicide rate.

“Unions are there for a reason,” says Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. “You have to protect these men and women.”

After two New York City cops drove into a crowd of protesters, I asked Cosme to justify that.

“Crowds are throwing bricks at them! You get to a state of panic. You can’t go forward. Can’t go backwards. So you try to get out of the situation!”

He added, “The police should police themselves.”

“But you don’t,” I said. “They’re not held accountable. Especially union officers. They do it again and again. It gets erased from their records.”

Cosme disagrees. “They are disciplined….If you don’t have these protections, then no one’s going to want to be a police officer.”

But only about half of America’s police belong to a union. Where cops are not unionized, says Balko, “there’s no shortage of police officers.”

Police unions also make police departments harder to manage.

In crime-ridden Camden, New Jersey, union cops took so much sick time and family leave that, most days, nearly 30 percent of the force just didn’t show up. So, Camden fired all of them.

Camden rehired some, but only those willing to go along with new rules that made it easier to fire and discipline.

The result: Murder went down, and Camden saved money.

Per-officer costs dropped from $182,168 to $99,605. That allowed Camden to double the size of its force from “bare bones” to “near the highest police presence of any city.”

Extra police allow for community policing—more people walk the beat, talking to residents.

Unfortunately, today’s protesters rarely mention police unions. Instead, they say: “Defund the police! Fund community programs, like job training.”

But that won’t stop crime. America has already spent trillions on job training and other government social engineering that rarely works. Initially, the programs are staffed by well-intended people who want to help. But over time, they become wasteful, ossified bureaucracies, like most government programs.

We need cops. Police presence does reduce crime.

But we need cops who can be held responsible for their actions.

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2020-06-10 04:30:08

Deaths from COVID-19 are dropping, but we probably can’t resume normal life until someone develops a vaccine. Experts say it will take at least 12 to 18 months.

Why so long?

Because to make sure a vaccine works, researchers must recruit lots of volunteers and wait for them to get sick.

First, they inject the volunteers. Half get the test vaccine; half get a placebo. Then, the test subjects resume their normal lives, and researchers watch to see who gets sick.

For that research to work, there must be enough of the coronavirus around for enough volunteers to get the coronavirus.

But now COVID-19 cases are declining. Researchers worry that there won’t be enough sick people to test it on.

Fortunately, there’s a way to speed testing up, if regulators allow it. It’s called a human challenge trial.

“‘Challenge’ means that you intentionally expose people to the coronavirus…’challenging’ them with the virus,” explains Carson Poltorack in my new video.

Poltorack is a member of One Day Sooner, a group of mostly healthy young people who volunteered to be infected with the coronavirus. So far, 24,000 people from 100 countries have volunteered. They are willing to risk their lives if it means the world get a vaccine sooner.

“It’s the right thing to do,” says Poltorack.

The idea of a challenge trial is not new. Such trials were used to find treatments for malaria, typhoid, dengue fever, and cholera. But there were treatments for those diseases. So far, we have no reliable treatment for COVID-19.

“People your age do die from COVID,” I say to Poltorack.

“Absolutely.” He responds. “I’m 23. The risk of somebody from 18 to 30 is about 3 in 10,000, the same as if you were to donate a kidney.”

Poltorack volunteered after reading a paper where bioethicist Nir Eyal argued that challenge trials would develop a vaccine sooner, without much added risk.

“We put people through risks in clinical trials all the time,” says Eyal.

Young people are more likely to take such risks. Some volunteer to fight wars. Fighting this pandemic, say One Day Sooner volunteers, is like that.

One recorded a video where she says it is “maybe the most important thing I will ever do.”

But some doctors say it shouldn’t be done.

“We need to wait,” says Dr. Jennifer Miller, bioethics professor at Yale Medical School.

She says a challenge trial may not save much time. “You have to develop the challenge virus strain…test it in animals…figure out the correct dose. That can take 6 to 18 months.”

Maybe. Virologist Stanley Plotkin, developer of the rubella vaccine, says it could take just two months.

I argue that the length of time shouldn’t matter. “If individuals want to experiment, shouldn’t it be their choice?” I ask Miller. “Why doesn’t the volunteer get to say, ‘I’m an adult. It’s my body, I get to make the decision!?'”

“We have moral limits to what you can do with your freedoms,” replies Miller. “We mandate that you wear helmets when you ride bicycles in some states. We say you have to wear a seatbelt for your protection…I’m not sure the added risks to the participants are justified.”

“That’s a decision that each individual informed volunteer can make for themselves,” says Poltorack, wisely.

I obviously agree. I asked Poltorack, “One month’s difference in the development of a vaccine could save a thousand lives?”

“No, probably far more than that,” he answers. “Probably in the range of tens to hundreds of thousands.”

Some bureaucracies have come around to the idea. Recently, the World Health Organization released a paper on challenge trials. Thirty-five members of Congress wrote the FDA asking it to consider a challenge trial.

We adults should be allowed to make our own decisions about what we do with our own bodies.

If some people want to get infected, let them!

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2020-06-03 04:45:58

“No justice, no peace!” they shout. Then they break windows.

It makes me furious.

But then I watch the video of the Minneapolis cop kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, while Floyd repeatedly says, “I can’t breathe,” and three other officers just watch.

Then I see the video of the woman in Central Park calling 911, claiming, “An African-American man is threatening me!” But that was a racist lie.

Christian Cooper just asked her to leash her dog. We’re supposed to leash our dogs in that section of Central Park.

But Amy Cooper didn’t leash her dog. She frantically called 911, claiming she was under threat. She knew that by telling the police “an African American man is threatening me,” she’d probably get a more aggressive response.

The left-wing New Yorker (she donated to Democratic campaigns) was careful to use that pointless, yet politically correct, term for black. Even though she’s a racist.

Watching things like that should help me sympathize with the people rioting last night.

So should my friend Fabian’s experience. When Fabian was 20, he bought his first car, a luxury edition Infiniti J30 Sedan. He’d saved up for it working as an airplane technician, transporting U.S. soldiers to war zones around the world.

Then, while pumping gas back in NYC, police officers approached him, demanding his license and registration.

He produced the documents and showed them that the car was registered in his name. But Fabian is black, and the police would not believe that the car belonged to him. They arrested him and charged him with grand theft auto.

He sat in jail for two days.

Finally, a judge dismissed the case—using the same documentation Fabian had showed the police. They released him—without any apology.

The trauma still haunts him. Fabian says it evokes a sense of helplessness—a fear that “anytime there’s an encounter with law enforcement, getting arrested or even death could be the outcome.”

Yet, as I watch protesters (even two lawyers were arrested) throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers, and I see opportunistic young people looting stores, and my privileged left-wing white friends say things like, “the looting of our society by unrestrained capitalism is worse!” I get even more furious.

This country, and capitalism, has done more good things for disadvantaged people of all races than any society, ever.

Fabian, despite his terrible experience, says that living as a black man in America is a gift. He came here as a teen from Jamaica. America, he says, gave him opportunity he would never have had elsewhere.

Now, he’s a capitalist who owns things. He smiles as he says he sees “a cultural black renaissance: promotion of black education, ownership, and acquiring assets as a top priority.”

America, he says, is the land of opportunity.

Even if some cops are racist bullies.

Yet, so much that is exceptional about America is drowned out by the loudest voices on the extremes.

On one side, we have an “unraveling” president, as George Will puts it, an angry bully “banging his spoon on his highchair.”

On the other side are the leftists who defend the violence and looting, like the masked antifa children who want to destroy capitalism.

On Twitter, I watched video of a group driving around in a Mercedes-Benz, passing out bricks (for protesters to throw). I applaud the young black woman who called them “stupid” and tossed the brick back into their car, yelling: “This white b— giving a group of black men a brick to throw! You know that s— could get them killed!”

It could. No one wins in these clashes.

I assume there is less racism in America than there once was, but there’s no way to prove that. Even if there were, Malcolm X wrote, “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress.”

But I think that’s the wrong way to think about it.

George Floyd’s killer was arrested and other cops who abused their power were fired. In the past, police officers were never prosecuted.

For years in America, the percentage of interracial marriage has steadily increased. That suggests progress.

Burning police stations and looting stores won’t speed that progress. It sets us back.

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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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