2018-08-28 14:30:00

“Gouging” becomes an issue every hurricane season. After big storms, some people raise prices. Then politicians and the media freak out. Both demand tougher laws against “gouging.”

But Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman says, “the gougers deserve a medal” because they take risks to bring in goods that people desperately need.

Annelise Kofod, Erika Lewis, and Maggie Hroncich are students who get that.

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2018-09-04 13:45:00

Hearings begin today for President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh.

John Stossel wonders whether Kavanaugh will be good for liberty.

Yes, says Ilya Shaprio, the Cato Institute’s senior fellow in constitutional studies, Kavanaugh disagrees with libertarians on national security. But on just about every other issue, Kavanaugh would likely advance liberty.

Shapiro notes that Kavanaugh is one of the best judges in the country at opposing government regulation on individuals and companies. As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh tried to strike down lots of regulations: net neutrality, EPA admissions rules, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He didn’t always succeed, but he argued that they were all bureaucratic overreaches.

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2018-09-11 13:45:00

If you live in one of 65 U.S. cities, you’ve probably seen electric scooters.

To unlock one, you just use an app on your phone. It costs one dollar to unlock and 15-cents a minute after that. You go where you need to go, and then just leave the scooter anywhere. The scooter stays there until someone else rents it. It has a GPS which allows riders to locate them and prevents theft.

John Stossel tested one in Washington, D.C. He wonders if this is the next revolution in urban travel.

Yet some cities have banned electric scooters

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2019-01-08 14:45:00

Ten states plus Washington, D.C., have legalized pot for adults.

In several states, it’s been legal now for five years. How has it worked out?

John Stossel visited legal weed stores in California and talked with people on the street.

Almost unanimously, people said that legalization has worked well.

But Paul Chabot, a drug warrior who served in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, disagrees. Years ago, he told Stossel that legalization would create all kinds of problems. He hasn’t changed his mind.

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2019-01-08 14:23:00

Ten states plus Washington, D.C., have legalized pot for adults.

In several states, it’s been legal now for five years. How has it worked out?

John Stossel visited legal weed stores in California and talked with people on the street.

Almost unanimously, people said that legalization has worked well.

“See any disasters? Seems pretty alright to me,” one man told Stossel.

One woman added: “There’s a dispensary around the corner from my house and it’s actually probably cleaned up the corner.”

“Why would it clean up the corner?” Stossel asked.

“They have a lot of security … they really paid attention to who’s on the sidewalk, who’s interacting with their customers. They’re actually pretty much a class act.”

But Paul Chabot, a drug warrior who served in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, disagrees. Years ago, he told Stossel that legalization would create all kinds of problems. He hasn’t changed his mind.

Chabot tells Stossel that “Colorado youth have an 85% higher marijuana use rate than the rest of the country.”

But Stossel pointed out that a New England Journal of Medicine study says that teen use actually dropped slightly after legalization.

On the other hand, data on marijuana-linked traffic fatalities is mixed.

Chabot tells Stossel that “pot driving fatalities in Colorado are up 151%.” But that statistic is misleading because many of those people may not have been high while driving. The 151% includes anyone who tests positive for marijuana after an accident, even though traces of marijuana stay in a person’s system for weeks. A more stringent measure that more reliably predicts whether someone was high at the time of an accident indicates cannabis-related accidents are up 84 percent.

That’s still an increase. But the total numbers are low—just 35 accidents in 2017. More study is needed.

Marijuana is not harmless, but Stossel notes that the drug war usually does more harm than the drug itself. Banning marijuana drives sales into a black market, where criminals make the profit. Driving sales underground also deprives consumers of the quality and safety testing now provided by competitive legal markets. It doesn’t stop teenagers from using the drug. A study before legalization found that teens said marijuana was easier to buy than alcohol. A black market leads dealers to sell in schools and may even increase marijuana’s use.

America once tried banning alcohol. That, like the drug war, created organized crime, and much more violence.

“Prohibition hasn’t worked,” Stossel tells Chabot.

“Just because something doesn’t work doesn’t mean that we end it … doesn’t mean we quit,” Chabot replies.

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2019-01-02 15:00:00

Asian Americans are suing Harvard for illegally discriminating against them.

The lawsuit forced Harvard to release admissions data which reveal that admitted Asian applicants score 22 points higher on the SAT than whites and 63 points higher than blacks.

Harvard admits to using race as a factor in admissions for the sake of diversity. But the school says it does so without any hard quotas or race-based points system—that they merely consider it informally. Past Supreme Courts have allowed that.

But the Asian Americans suing Harvard argue that the university gives them artificially low personality ratings to keep their admissions rate down. They say Harvard treats Asian Americans as “boring little grade grubbers.”

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2019-01-02 14:40:00

Asian Americans are suing Harvard for illegally discriminating against them.

The lawsuit forced Harvard to release admissions data which reveal that admitted Asian applicants score 22 points higher on the SAT than whites and 63 points higher than blacks.

Harvard admits to using race as a factor in admissions for the sake of diversity. But the school says it does so without any hard quotas or race-based points system—that they merely consider it informally. Past Supreme Courts have allowed that.

But the Asian Americans suing Harvard argue that the university gives them artificially low personality ratings to keep their admissions rate down. They say Harvard treats Asian Americans as “boring little grade grubbers.”

Harvard’s data show that a typical Asian applicant is less than half as likely to get a good personality rating in Harvard’s admissions process than a typical black applicant.

Lee Cheng of the Asian American Legal Foundation says the data show clear, systematic discrimination based on race.

“Harvard didn’t just use race as one of many factors. It was the determinative factor,” Cheng tells Stossel.

Many experts say that Harvard’s case may reach the Supreme Court. If it does, then the court—with President Trump’s new appointees—might strike down all college racial preferences. Ending racial preferences would increase the share of Asian and white students in colleges, but decrease the share of black and hispanic students.

Harry Holzer, an economist and Harvard Alum who studies affirmative action, says that would be a big mistake.

“When you have a long history of discrimination based on race, you have to take race into account,” Holzer tells Stossel.

But Cheng says Harvard’s preferences don’t help disadvantaged people.

“Race based affirmative action helps rich people….70 percent of the students of every ethnic group at Harvard come from the top 20 percent of family income,” Cheng tells Stossel.

Holzer responds: “It’s okay….Race in America matters at any level of income.”

But Cheng responds that when wealthy people use race to get a leg up, poor whites and poor Asians get hurt.

He first became passionate about racial discrimination when he faced it in high school. San Francisco had a strict racial quota for admission to the Lowell public magnet high school. Because there were many Chinese kids in the area, Cheng and other Chinese Americans had to score higher than kids of other races.

“I was just shocked,” Cheng tells Stossel. “I was just taught in civics and history that in America everybody was supposed to be equal under the law.”

Cheng got in, but he says he saw many of his friends get left behind because of racial preferences.

“The kids who were negatively affected … were the kids of the dishwashers and the seamstresses and who lived in Chinatown, who were very poor.”

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2019-01-02 05:01:00

For years, I’ve heard American leftists say Sweden is proof that socialism works, that it doesn’t have to turn out as badly as the Soviet Union or Cuba or Venezuela did.

But that’s not what Swedish historian Johan Norberg says in a new documentary and Stossel TV video.

“Sweden is not socialist—because the government doesn’t own the means of production. To see that, you have to go to Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea,” says Norberg.

“We did have a period in the 1970s and 1980s when we had something that resembled socialism: a big government that taxed and spent heavily. And that’s the period in Swedish history when our economy was going south.”

Per capita GDP fell. Sweden’s growth fell behind other countries. Inflation increased.

Even socialistic Swedes complained about the high taxes.

Astrid Lindgren, author of the popular Pippi Longstocking children’s books, discovered that she was losing money by being popular. She had to pay a tax of 102 percent on any new book she sold.

“She wrote this angry essay about a witch who was mean and vicious—but not as vicious as the Swedish tax authorities,” says Norberg.

Yet even those high taxes did not bring in enough money to fund Sweden’s big welfare state.

“People couldn’t get the pension that they thought they depended on for the future,” recounts Norberg. “At that point the Swedish population just said, enough, we can’t do this.”

Sweden then reduced government’s role.

They cut public spending, privatized the national rail network, abolished certain government monopolies, eliminated inheritance taxes, and sold state-owned businesses like the maker of Absolut vodka.

They also reduced pension promises “so that it wasn’t as unsustainable,” adds Norberg.

As a result, says Norberg, his “impoverished peasant nation developed into one of the world’s richest countries.”

He acknowledges that Sweden, in some areas, has a big government: “We do have a bigger welfare state than the U.S., higher taxes than the U.S., but in other areas, when it comes to free markets, when it comes to competition, when it comes to free trade, Sweden is actually more free market.”

Sweden’s free market is not burdened by the U.S.’s excessive regulations, special-interest subsidies, and crony bailouts. That allows it to fund Sweden’s big welfare programs.

“Today our taxes pay for pensions—you (in the U.S.) call it Social Security—for 18-month paid parental leave, government-paid childcare for working families,” says Norberg.

But Sweden’s government doesn’t run all those programs. “Having the government manage all of these things didn’t work well.”

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One morn I traveled with my chums,

The weather warm and dry,

Our conversation turned lighthearted,

Time merrily drifted by.

 

We enjoyed some pleasant miles,

And deemed ourselves alone,

Then noticed far behind us,

A hastily pursuing form.

 

He gained on us rapidly,

Few moments had but passed,

Till we found him intently staring,

As he came abreast of us at last.

 

He motioned me pull over,

My heart it nearly died,

After considering our situation,

I reluctantly complied.

 

He strode deliberately towards me,

Affected my befuddled brain,

Sensed my fear and loathing,

Seemingly enjoyed our obvious disdain.

 

It emboldened his demeanor,

His deadly weapon in full view,

I felt his power o’er me,

Suddenly unsure of what to do.

 

Woeful tales heard in my youth,

Through my memory ran,

My anxiety was on the rise,

Of the dreaded Highwayman.

 

He queried my identity,

And our final destination,

Then explained our detainment,

Which multiplied our consternation.

 

As I and my fellow travelers,

Considered some quick escape,

He firmly demanded tribute,

And we recognized our fate.

 

Gazed I into his rapacious eyes,

Resistance briefly contemplated,

But realizing his force was greater,

I peacefully capitulated.

 

With arrogant laugh and sneer,

He exited in quite a hurry,

Made off with his ill-gotten gain,

Out hunting further quarry.

 

His departure left us wondering,

Could have we successfully ran?

Is there some unknown refuge,

From the dreaded Highwayman?

 

Aye, this yarn is sad but true,

An example of modern tyranny,

When out on yonder roam,

Beware of this well-traveled treachery.

 

So, hearken! my fellow denizen,

Pray you shan’t see what we all saw,

When we heeded not the Highwayman,

Nor his odious seatbelt law.

2018-12-19 05:01:00

It’s bad enough when leftists smear capitalism. I hate it more when capitalists do it, too.

I’d hoped for more from the world’s current richest man, Jeff Bezos.

I love the service he created. Amazon lets me buy Christmas gifts right from my couch. Its prices are so low that the Fed chairman says Amazon probably lowered America’s inflation rate.

Entrepreneur Jeff Bezos is a hero. He created lots of jobs and better service, and he and his investors pay billions in taxes.

So I got angry when I saw Sen. Bernie Sanders’ opportunistic fundraising letters condemning Bezos because some of his workers are eligible for food stamps. “In ten seconds,” whined Sanders, Bezos makes “more money than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year.”

Well, at least Bezos will stand up for himself and the free market system that created his wealth, right?

At first, he did. Amazon called the criticisms “inaccurate” and “misleading.” It’s not the company’s fault that some workers qualify for handouts. More people would collect them if Amazon did not hire. By creating jobs, Bezos gives workers better choices.

But the anti-capitalist media don’t report that. They called Amazon a “sweatshop” and “cutthroat corporate jungle.”

So Amazon, to my disappointment, caved.

The company announced it would pay all its workers at least $15 per hour. MSNBC anchors grinned with glee.

Of course, the higher wage will be good for workers who still have jobs.

But what progressives don’t understand is that entry-level workers will be shut out. Poor people’s lives are made worse when laws meant to protect them price them out of jobs.

Those unhired workers are just as real, even if they’re harder to see.

My recent video on this features a restaurant manager who understands that she only got the opportunity to work because when she was a teenager, her boss could pay her much less. Had a higher minimum wage existed then, her labor would not have been worth it to the restaurant, and she would never have gotten a chance to work her way up the ladder.

“Minimum wage jobs are an entry-level job to get someone some experience,” says California restaurant manager Merv Crist. “Raise that high enough, you cut people out of the market completely!”

That’s not compassionate. Yet progressives talk as if a higher minimum wage lifts everyone.

At least Amazon is just one company, and Bezos just one CEO. If he wants to pay his workers more, fine. Amazon will attract better job applicants.

Beginners, kids, the disabled, etc. will still have other choices. They can get jobs elsewhere. Bezos was still a man to like.

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