2018-10-23 14:35:00

Democratic socialists in the United States point to Sweden as a socialist success. But Swedish historian Johan Norberg says, “Sweden is not socialist.”

Norberg hosts a documentary called Sweden: Lessons for America?, in which he notes that in Sweden, “government doesn’t own the means of production. To see that you have to go to Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea.”

John Stossel asks Norberg why so many Americans think Sweden is socialist. Norberg answers, “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.”

But big government led to problems. “Our economy was in crisis, inflation reached 10 percent, and for a brief period interest rates soared to 500 percent. At that point the Swedish population just said, ‘Enough, we can’t do this,'” Norberg says.

Sweden cut public spending, privatized the national rail network, abolished certain government monopolies, eliminated inheritance taxes, sold state-owned businesses, and switched to a school voucher system. It also “lowered taxes and reformed the pension system,” adds Norberg.

So Stossel asks why we keep hearing “that Sweden is this socialist paradise.”

Norberg answers: “We do have a bigger welfare state than the U.S. and 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.”

He’s right, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Rankings. Sweden ranks higher than the U.S.

Norberg also tells Stossel that Sweden’s tax system may surprise Americans. “This is the dirty little secret….We don’t take from the rich and give to the poor. We squeeze the poor, because rich people might leave.”

Even people who earn below average income pay up to 60 percent in taxes.

Stossel asks: What lessons should Americans take from Sweden?

“You can’t turn your backs [on] the creation of wealth,” warns Norberg.

Sweden: Lessons for America? airs on PBS on October 29th at 7 p.m. Eastern. You can also watch it at freetochoose.tv.

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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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The tragedy in Paris last Friday has regrettably been employed as a catalyst for renewed calls by governments in western Europe and even in the United States for more curtailment of personal liberties. Those who accept the trade of liberty for safety have argued in favor of less liberty. They want government to have more authority to intrude upon the daily lives of more innocent people. Their targets are the freedoms of speech and travel and the right to privacy. Their goal is public safety, but their thinking is flawed.

The clash between liberty and safety is as old as the republic itself. The United States was quite literally conceived in liberty. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson painstakingly listed the ills and evils of the British government’s administration of the Colonies. There were no complaints about the absence of public safety; rather, Jefferson’s “long train of abuses” cataloged the British government’s interference with the colonists’ personal liberties.

What has made the declaration so enduring and unique in world history is its unambiguous embrace of the natural law as its explanation of the origin of our rights. The British king thought he reigned by the will of God—the so-called divine right of kings.

Jefferson, influenced by the British philosopher and political theorist John Locke, turned that belief on its head. He argued that our liberties are natural, even inalienable, because they stem from our humanity, which is a gift from God. How could the same God have given us natural, inalienable personal freedoms and also have given the king the natural right to interfere with those freedoms?

The declaration’s answer is the profound rejection of the moral legitimacy of any government that lacks the consent of the governed, as well as its articulation of the Judeo-Christian ethic of valuing human life and its acceptance of the belief that humans possess inalienable rights “endowed by their Creator.”

Notwithstanding the values of the Declaration of Independence, big government and petty tyranny reared their ugly heads almost at the start of the republic. In 1798, the same generation—in some cases the same human beings—that wrote in the First Amendment that “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech” also enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts, which punished speech critical of the government. Abraham Lincoln locked people up for speaking out against the Civil War. Woodrow Wilson locked people up for singing German beer hall songs during World War I. FDR locked people up just for being Japanese-Americans in World War II. All of this was later condemned by courts or Congresses—and surely by enlightened public opinion.

It is in times of fear—whether generated by outside forces or fomented by the government itself— when we need to be most vigilant about our liberties. When people are afraid, it is human nature to accept the curtailment of liberties, whether it be with speech or travel or privacy, if they become convinced that the curtailment will somehow keep them safe.

But if Jefferson and all the history and tradition of American cultural and legal thought have been correct, these liberties are natural rights, integral to all rational people. I can sacrifice my liberties, but I cannot sacrifice yours. Personal liberty is subject only to due process, not majoritarianism. Stated differently, we can only morally and legally and constitutionally lose our personal liberties when our personal behavior has been adjudicated as criminal by a jury after a fair trial; we can’t lose them by a majority vote of our neighbors or a majority vote of our representatives in government or a presidential executive order.

Moreover, the Paris killings, the Fort Hood massacre, and the Boston Marathon killings are all examples of the counterintuitive argument that the loss of liberty does not bring about more safety. It does not. Rather, it gives folks the impression that the government is doing something—anything—to keep us safe. Because that impression is a false sense of security, it is dangerous; people tend to think they are secure when they are not. In fact, the government’s reading everyone’s emails and listening to everyone’s telephone calls is making us less safe because a government intent on monitoring our every move suffers from data overload.

Because government is buried in too much data about too many folks, it loses sight of the moves of the bad guys. Add to this the historical phenomenon that liberty lost is rarely returned—as a new generation accustomed to surveillance attains majority, surveillance seems the norm—and you have a dangerous stew of tyranny. Just look at the Patriot Act, which permits federal agents to bypass the courts and write their own search warrants. It has had three sunsets since 2001, only to be re-enacted just prior to the onset of each—and re-enacted for a longer period of time each time.

Since the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris in January, the police in France have been able legally to monitor anyone’s communications or movements without a warrant and without even any suspicion. Today they can break down any door and arrest whomever they please, and this past weekend, the French Cabinet declared that authorities can confiscate all firearms in Paris. All that gives law enforcement a false sense of omnipotence over the monsters.

Only good old-fashioned undercover work—face to face with evil, what the professionals call human intelligence on the ground—can focus law enforcement on the bad guys. And an armed citizenry strikes terror into the hearts of would-be killers and even stops them before they complete their horrific tasks. But don’t try telling that to the French government.

COPYRIGHT 2015 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO || DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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2018-10-24 04:01:00

Will you be able to retire? Maybe not.

Will your state pay what its politicians promised? Almost certainly not.

Politicians in Connecticut, New Jersey, and Illinois are especially irresponsible when it comes to not funding pension plans, but most every municipality has promised more than it will have.

“The money hasn’t been set aside for years and years,” says City Journal editor Daniel DiSalvo in my new internet video. “Nobody was paying attention.”

His colleague Steve Malanga complains that the media rarely report on the coming crisis.

“To a certain extent, I have sympathy with the media, because the media’s looking for what happens next,” says Malanga. “This is not something that’s going to happen next week.”

But the collapse is coming. Current retirees may find their pension check is cut by 10 percent or 50 percent.

“We just don’t have enough money, and the amount of money that we have to put into this is just mountainous,” says Malanga.

Neither party wants to make the tough choices involved. “Both Democrats and Republicans have incentives to short the pension fund,” says DiSalvo. “For Democrats, if we can not put as much in, we can free up more money for greater public spending on public programs that we think are good. If we’re Republicans, we probably want to cut taxes.”

“Ten years from now, they’re gonna have a problem,” says Malanga. “But 10 years from now somebody else is in office!”

Some pension plans are promises that should never have been made, but few politicians will say that. At most, they talk about making small changes to “keep our promises.”

Small changes won’t be enough.

Detroit and several California cities already ran out of money and declared bankruptcy.

“At some point, your debts are so great that you can’t afford to provide basic services to people,” says Malanga.

“Police force, fire protection—all will be on the chopping block,” added DiSalvo.

Instead of making cuts now to avoid crisis later, some politicians increase retirement benefits.

New Jersey passed 13 separate benefit enhancements between 1999 and 2003.

I assume politicians make these unsustainable promises because powerful municipal unions demand them.

“Public employee unions regularly lobby and seek to elect politicians who offer them better compensation packages. They’ve been intimately involved in the whole system from the beginning,” says DiSalvo.

But Steven Kreisberg of AFSCME, the biggest government workers’ union, tells me that unions didn’t create this problem.

“There’s plenty of money to pay our people.”

What about the $5 trillion in unfunded liabilities?

That’s “a figure that’s used by some anti-pension zealots,” replied Kreisberg. “It’s fake news.”

But it’s the number (actually, now $6 trillion) you get if you use accounting standards that the federal government demands from private pension plans.

Unions fight to keep every penny that politicians promised. But Detroit’s bankruptcy changed the rules on that.

“The federal bankruptcy judge created a precedent that said pensions could actually be cut,” says DiSalvo. “That was a shock to the unions. (It) called into question these strong legal protections that public pensions have so long enjoyed. They can’t just sit back and say, well, we’re going to get paid no matter what.”

Some politicians hoped that a rising stock market would fund their promises. Many assumed their investments would grow by more than 7 percent per year. Do you make that much on your savings? I don’t. Seven percent seems like wishful thinking.

Malanga says it was “more than wishful thinking. It borders on criminality, frankly. If after nine years of a bull market we haven’t begun to fix this, when are we gonna fix it?”

Malanga and DiSalvo argue that the only honest way to fix it is to reduce benefit levels and switch to individual retirement accounts like private sector 401(k)s.

That way, instead of a promise backed by nothing more than political hot air, there’s an actual account with money in it, and people can track how well their retirement investments do.

The politicians and union bosses, by contrast, would like to ignore the problem—until one day, no matter what promises they’ve made, they simply won’t be able to keep them.

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In an effort to draw attention away from the intelligence failures that permitted the attacks of 9/11 and create the impression that it was doing something—anything—to avoid a repeat, the federal government tampered seriously with freedoms expressly guaranteed in the Constitution. Its principal target was the right to privacy, which is protected in the Fourth Amendment.

At President George W. Bush’s urging, Congress passed the Patriot Act in October 2001. This 315-page statute passed the House of Representatives with no debate, and there was very limited debate in the Senate. I have asked many members of Congress over the years whether they read this bill before they voted upon it, and I have yet to find a member who did. In the House, that would have been impossible; the bill was made available to representatives only 15 minutes prior to their vote.

This law permits FBI agents to write their own search warrants for business records, and it has been used to induce the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to issue warrants on a made-up basis to read emails and listen to telephone calls in real time. The members of Congress who voted for it were largely unaware of the liberties they were sacrificing.

The personal liberties that Congress surrendered have been a necessary bulwark against tyranny—the constitutional requirement of warrants as a precondition to searching homes and records, with warrants based on probable cause and specifically describing the place to be searched and the person or thing to be seized.

When Edward Snowden revealed the nature and extent of the domestic spying that the government unleashed upon us post-9/11 and made us all aware of its use of the Patriot Act to do so, the authors of the Patriot Act expressed outrage and anger.

What was the government doing?

The government was secretly gathering data on all of us and using warrants that were not based on probable cause and that did not specifically describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized. When members of Congress realized that they, too, were being spied upon, the outrage grew. That outrage and anger metastasized into a new law enacted earlier this year, called the USA Freedom Act, which took effect this week. That law, its supporters have argued, will tame the National Security Agency (NSA) into constitutional compliance and keep its 60,000 agents and contractors out of our private affairs. In fact, it is now worse.

The new law permitted the expiration of Section 215 of the Patriot Act—the section used by the NSA to justify its collection of undifferentiated bulk data about everyone. But it also requires the telecoms and Internet service providers to retain their records for five years, and it gives the NSA instant access to those records whenever it needs them. 

How can the NSA get instant access to your emails and phone calls?

Quite easily. Both the Patriot Act and the USA Freedom Act unconstitutionally do away with the probable cause requirement for warrants. Those two laws permit the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to issue warrants based on the standard of “governmental needs” rather than probable cause. This is a profoundly unconstitutional standard, and one that has resulted in spying on all people all the time.

In reality, “governmental needs” is no standard whatsoever, as the government will always claim that it needs what it wants. “Governmental needs” is the hateful standard that was used by the British government when it secretly obtained warrants to enter the homes of the colonists. This provoked the Revolution and produced the Fourth Amendment.

Though Section 215 of the Patriot Act has expired, the NSA’s other authorities to spy have not. The propaganda that NSA computers have been shut down is false. Its computers are still in the telecom and Internet service providers’ facilities and are operated by NSA agents remotely.

Nevertheless, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and an October 2001 executive order by President Bush are still valid, and both bypass the Constitution and continue to permit mass collection of bulk data. Section 702 permits warrantless surveillance on Americans who speak with foreigners, and the NSA has persuaded the FISA court to issue warrants to intercept the calls of the folks to whom those Americans speak, to the sixth degree. That alone encompasses everyone in the United States.

The Bush executive order was given to all military intelligence agencies—of which the NSA is but one. It instructed the military to intercept the telephone calls of anyone in America it wishes, without seeking any warrants.

Does all this unconstitutional spying—whether pursuant to the Patriot Act, the USA Freedom Act or an old presidential executive order—keep us safe? It certainly does not keep our liberties safe. It produces too much material for the government to evaluate. The recent Paris killers communicated with one another using ordinary cellphones and emails. Yet the French government, whose legal authority to spy is broader than our government’s, missed them. And the NSA, which spies on the French government, missed them.

The Fourth Amendment has numerous virtues, but foremost among them is a double-sided coin. One side is the requirement of individualized probable cause. When followed, that prevents the government from using general warrants (search wherever you want, and seize whatever you find), the hallmark of totalitarian governments. By confining the government’s authority to search only to those cases about which it has suspicion, the other side of that coin forces the government to focus on the bad guys. When it does that, the government will be far likelier to stop them than when it gathers all it can about everyone.

COPYRIGHT 2015 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO || DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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2018-10-31 04:01:00

“Libertarians believe that you should be as conservative or as liberal as you want to be as long as you don’t want to force yourself on others,” says Larry Sharpe, Libertarian candidate for governor of New York.

Sharpe is an unusual Libertarian candidate because he’s doing well in some polls.

One found Sharpe getting 13 percent, and after people heard his campaign pitch, 25 percent. That would put him in second place, ahead of the Republican.

So of course the establishment shuts him out—he and other third-party candidates weren’t allowed in the one gubernatorial debate.

Sharpe wins fans by arguing that it would be good if individuals make their own decisions without government spending constantly getting in the way.

“What we understand as libertarians is at the end of every single law is a guy or gal with a gun who’s going to put you in a cage; if you don’t want to go in that cage, they’re going to shoot you. What that means is you should only use the law when there is loss of life, health, limb, property, or liberty… Not because I don’t like what you’re doing.”

That’s refreshing to hear from a politician.

No new government programs under a Sharpe administration, then?

“No, no, no, no, no, no,” he assures me.

At least one candidate doesn’t want to make government bigger.

New York faces a $4.4 billion deficit. Current New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed raising taxes.

Sharpe has other ideas.

“Lease naming rights on our infrastructure,” he says in my latest internet video. “The Triborough Bridge could be called the Staples Bridge, or the Apple Bridge.”

My staff asked some New Yorkers what they thought about leasing naming rights to bridges and tunnels. “Bad idea!” said one woman. “It’s commercializing!” Most people were opposed.

I said that to Sharpe.

“You know what she should do?” he responded. “Start a nonprofit, raise $30 million, she can name it whatever she wants.”

One man said he didn’t “want to rename something after some sort of corporation!”

“Shake your fist and say, ‘This doesn’t sound good,'” replied Sharpe. “You’re going to wind up in a place where the tax burden is insanely high.”

Under our current system, many bridges and other public structures advertise anyway—but they promote politicians. Gov. Cuomo just named a bridge after his father.

“An imperial bridge named after our royal family!” said Sharpe with a laugh. “I’m embarrassed.”

We libertarians don’t think politicians deserve monuments just because they got elected.

“Tell you what I’ll do,” said Sharpe. “(Governor Cuomo’s) got $30 million a year? He can keep his name on that bridge and take care of the maintenance.”

Sharpe applies similar thinking to New York’s decrepit subway system.

“We have lines on the MTA right now not being used at night. Home Depot or Google or Amazon or whomever—they can use these lines…move their freight…. They’ll pay. Win-win.”

Sharpe’s campaign is attracting new people. His rallies draw bigger crowds than minor party candidates normally get.

“If you’re unhappy with the system, you’ve got to change it,” he said on Joe Rogan’s podcast.

For a libertarian, Sharpe surprised me by saying he wouldn’t dream of proposing cuts to existing welfare programs. “Pull the rug out from somebody, somebody’s going to be afraid,” he explains. If voters fear you, they don’t vote for you.

I assume he’d shrink those programs eventually, maybe after other parts of government were reduced and the economy improves as a result.

He also sounds friendlier to labor unions than most libertarians. “Collective bargaining is fine. My issue with the unions has always been: Are you forcing me?… I have a problem with (union shop laws). But you’re voluntarily doing it? I don’t have a problem at all.”

Listening to Sharpe is very different from hearing most Republicans and Democrats.

“Because no one has any new ideas,” he says. “No ideas how to fix anything or do anything right…. I’m a third party. I have to have ideas or no one will listen to me.”

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If you were looking for a needle in a haystack, simple logic would tell you that the smaller the haystack the likelier you are to find the needle. Except for the government.

Since Edward Snowden revealed the federal government’s unlawful and unconstitutional use of federal statutes to justify spying on all in America all the time, including the members of Congress who unwittingly wrote and passed the statutes, I have been arguing that the Fourth Amendment prohibits all domestic spying, except that which has been authorized by a search warrant issued by a judge. The same amendment also requires that warrants be issued only based on a serious level of individualized suspicion backed up by evidence—called probable cause—and the warrants must specifically identify the place and person to be spied upon.

Because these requirements are in the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, Congress and the president and the courts are bound by them. There is no emergency or public safety or wartime exception to them. These requirements cannot be changed by legislation; only a constitutional amendment, ratified by the legislatures of 37 states, can do so.

All of this is what lawyers and judges call black letter law—meaning it is well-understood, has not been seriously challenged and is nearly universally accepted. Except by the government.

The government—which thinks it can right any wrong, tax any event, regulate any behavior, and interfere with any right—also thinks it can keep us safe from the terrorists among us by cutting constitutional corners, which it has done many times since 9/11. Among the constitutional corners it has cut is unleashing its 60,000 domestic spies upon us with orders to disregard the constitutional requirements for spying on Americans and gather all the data about us that they can by listening to phone calls and reading emails, as well as gathering the banking information, credit card information, utility bills, postal mail, and medical records of everyone in America, without regard to individualized suspicion.

The government’s behavior is premised upon the false belief that it can morally and constitutionally interfere with our natural right to privacy without due process and upon the absurd belief that surrendering personal liberty somehow keeps us safe.

As we know from the tragedy last week in San Bernardino, California, the government’s strategy and practices failed to keep us safe. The governmental failure at San Bernardino was the confluence of a state government with antipathy and animosity toward the natural right of self-defense and a federal government attempting to devour far more data than it can handle.

The San Bernardino killings—like those in Newtown, Connecticut; at Virginia Tech; in Roseburg, Oregon; and in Paris—occurred on or near government property where lawful guns were banned. These no-gun zones are the most dangerous places on the planet when a person armed to the teeth and determined to kill enters upon them.

In the no-gun zone in San Bernardino where the killings occurred, even off-duty or retired law enforcement personnel, trained and continually qualified in the use of firearms, and private people lawfully authorized to carry handguns are required to check their guns at the door.

Can the civilian use of guns keep us safe? Of course it can. The police simply cannot be everywhere. Anything that diminishes the shooting-fish-in-a-barrel environment of no-gun zones is an improvement over the carnage we have witnessed in them. Think about it. In every mass killing—every one of them—when someone with a gun arrives determined to stop the killing, it stops; the killer flees or is disabled or is killed or dies by suicide.

No-gun zones are not only unconstitutional legislative limitations on the natural right of people to use modern-day means for self-defense but also an invitation to disaster. And they are established by local municipalities with the consent of state governments.

The federal failure is born of an antipathy to constitutional norms and a reluctance to engage in meaningful human intelligence on the ground. Instead of gathering all they can about everyone, the feds should concentrate on those about whom there is some reasonable belief to warrant some investigation. The feds should know the neighborhoods where the suspicious live and work as well as they know their own computer screens.

Even the National Security Agency (NSA) itself has admitted to data overload. In 2013, the director of the NSA at the time, Gen. Keith Alexander, was asked how many plots his spies had unearthed in their then-seven years of spying on everyone in the U.S., and he replied under oath, “About 54.” Then he corrected himself and amended his answer to one or two. When asked to identify them, he declined.

Why weren’t a recently married couple with Middle Eastern backgrounds—one of whom had been born here, the other of whom had immigrated here and achieved permanent legal residence only through marriage; both of whom recently had been stockpiling huge amounts of military-style weaponry and ammunition; both of whom had just received more than half their combined annual income in a single wire transfer to their joint bank account; both of whom had been practicing the use of their hardware at a gun range; one of whom had been known to hate Jewish people and had suddenly left his local mosque—generally known to the all-seeing and all-hearing NSA?

Because the NSA has abandoned traditional techniques of on-the-ground, in-your-face human intelligence in favor of sitting in front of computer screens. And that has produced a haystack of data so gigantic in size that by the time the needle of terror plotting has been found, it is often too late.

COPYRIGHT 2015 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO | DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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2018-11-07 07:01:00

Republicans held the Senate! Democrats took the House but by a narrower margin!

Did I just embarrass myself?

I write this Election Day morning, before most polling places even opened. I don’t know the actual results, of course.

But I’ll pretend I do because I trust the betting odds.

As of Tuesday morning, ElectionBettingOdds.com, a site I co-founded, says Republicans have an 84 percent chance to hold the Senate and Democrats a 71 percent chance to retake the House.

Why trust a bunch of gamblers? Because they have the best track record!

Polls have flaws. Some people lie to pollsters or just give them what they think is the “proper” answer. Others won’t even talk to them.

Pundits are worse. They often let their personal preferences skew their predictions.

Bettors are more accurate because of something called the “wisdom of crowds.” It turns out that an average of many people’s estimates is usually more accurate than any one person’s views.

Researchers noticed that while watching the TV series Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Stumped contestants could poll the audience or call a friend.

The friends, often experts of some kind, got answers right 65 percent of the time. The studio audience included few experts, but the crowd got the answer right 91 percent of the time.

The crowd that bets on elections online (political betting is legal in Europe and at a small American futures market called PredictIt.com) works hard to get the answers right.

They look at more than polls. They factor in the latest news, try to sense the mood on the ground, and research candidates’ campaign tactics.

They try harder than pundits because their own money is on the line. You’ve met blowhards who confidently predict things until someone says, “Want to bet?” Then they shut up. People who put their money where their mouths are become more careful.

Prediction markets, or futures markets, are not new. Stock markets are prediction markets where people bet on companies’ future earnings. A hundred years ago, “More money was traded in election markets than in stock markets,” says economist Robin Hanson.

Then, unfortunately, governments in America banned most betting. That deprived Americans of one of the best predictors of future events.

There were a few exceptions. Fifteen years ago, U.S. officials asked Hanson to create a betting market that might predict future problems.

“The Department of Defense heard prediction markets were interesting, doing powerful things,” says Hanson. “They said, ‘Show us it works for stuff we do… (P)redict events in the Middle East.'”

As usual, some elected officials were horrified by the idea of people betting on things like possible terrorism. Sen. Ron Wyden stood up on the Senate floor to declare such betting “ridiculous and grotesque.” The next day, the secretary of Defense declared the project dead.

So the Pentagon is deprived of predictions that might save lives. It’s too bad, because bettors are just, well, better.

But not perfect. While the betting odds are almost always the best predictors, in the last presidential election they (along with polls and pundits) were wrong about Donald Trump. Bettors gave him only a 20 percent chance.

I shouldn’t say “wrong.” Twenty percent just means Trump had a 1 in 5 chance. That’s not nothing.

The betting markets also got Brexit wrong. They gave it a 25 percent chance.

But in both cases, as election results came in, the betting odds shifted much faster than the TV coverage. It was fun watching anchors try to catch up to what ElectionBettingOdds.com already predicted on my phone.

As I write, the website says this about specific states:

Republicans will narrowly win Arizona (51 percent chance) and Missouri (57), and easily win North Dakota (80), Tennessee (80), and Texas (79).

By the time you read this, say bettors, Democrats will have flipped Nevada (60 percent chance) and held West Virginia (75), Montana (65), and New Jersey (81).

Republicans will win the Georgia governor’s race (64 percent chance), but Scott Walker will lose in Wisconsin (59), and Florida now probably has a new far-left governor (64).

Were the bettors right?

I assume some were not. After all, a 60 percent chance of winning means winning only 6 out of 10 times.

Whatever way it turns out, we’ll add the results to the “track record” section at ElectionBettingOdds.com.

We’ll also keep tracking the 2020 presidential race.

Odds update every five minutes, but Tuesday morning the odds for 2020 were:

Donald Trump: 36.1 percent

Kamala Harris: 10.9 percent

Elizabeth Warren: 5.9 percent

Tulsi Gabbard: 5.7 percent

Bernie Sanders: 4.2 percent

Joe Biden: 4.1 percent

Unfortunately, I don’t see many advocates of restrained government on that list.

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While the country has been fixated on Donald Trump’s tormenting his Republican primary opponents and deeply concerned about the government’s efforts to identify any confederates in the San Bernardino, California, killings, a team of federal prosecutors and FBI agents continues to examine Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state in order to determine whether she committed any crimes and, if so, whether there is sufficient evidence to prove her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

What began as an innocent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by Judicial Watch, a D.C.-based public advocacy group promoting transparency in the executive branch, has now become a full criminal investigation, with Clinton as the likely target.

The basic facts are well-known, but the revealed nuances are important, as well. When the State Department responded to the Judicial Watch FOIA request by telling Judicial Watch that it had no emails from Clinton, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit. When the State Department made the same representation to the court—as incredible as it seemed at the time—the judge accepted that representation, and the case was dismissed.

Then The New York Times revealed that Clinton used a private email server instead of the government’s server for all of her work-related and personal emails during her four years as secretary of state. After that, the Judicial Watch FOIA case was reinstated, and then the judge in the case demanded of State that it produce Clinton’s emails.

When Judicial Watch expressed frustration to the judge about the pace at which it was getting emails, the judge ordered Clinton, “under penalty of perjury,” to certify that she had surrendered all her governmental emails to the State Department.

Eventually, Clinton did certify to the court that she did surrender all of her governmental emails to the State Department. She did so by sending paper copies of selected emails, because she had wiped clean her server. She acknowledged that she decided which emails were personal and which were selected as governmental and returned the governmental ones to the State Department. She has denied steadfastly and consistently that she ever sent or received any materials marked “classified” while secretary of state using her private server.

All of her behavior has triggered the FBI investigation because she may have committed serious federal crimes. For example, it is a crime to steal federal property. What did she steal? By diverting to her own venue the digital metadata that accompany all emails—metadata that, when attached to the work-related emails of a government employee, belong to the government—she stole that data. The metadata do not appear on her paper copies—hence the argument that she stole and destroyed the government-owned metadata.

This is particularly troublesome for her present political ambitions because of a federal statute that disqualifies from public office all who have stolen federal property. (She is probably already barred from public office—though this was not prominently raised when she entered the U.S. Senate or the Department of State—because of the china, silverware, and furniture that she and her husband took from the White House in January 2001.)

Clinton may also have committed espionage by failing to secure the government secrets entrusted to her. She did that by diverting those secrets to an unprotected, nongovernmental venue—her own server—and again by emailing those secrets to other unprotected and nongovernmental venues. The reason she can deny sending or receiving anything marked “classified” is that protected government secrets are not marked “classified.”

So her statement, though technically true, is highly misleading. The governmental designations of protected secrets are “confidential,” “secret,” and “top secret”—not “classified.” State Department investigators have found 999 emails sent or received by Clinton in at least one of those three categories of protected secrets.

Back when Clinton became secretary of state, on her first day in office, she had an hour-long FBI briefing on the proper and lawfully required care of government secrets. She signed a statement, under penalty of perjury, acknowledging that she knew the law and that it is the content of emails, not any stamped markings, that makes them secret.

Earlier this week, my Fox News colleagues confirmed the certain presence of top-secret materials among the 999 emails. Intelligence from foreign sources or about foreign governments is always top-secret, whether designated as such or not. And she knows that.

As well, she may have committed perjury in the FOIA case. When the House Select Committee on Benghazi, in its investigation of her role in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, gathered emails, it found emails she did not surrender to the State Department.

Last week, the State Department released emails that give the FBI more areas to investigate. These emails may show a pattern of official behavior by Clinton designed to benefit the financial interests of her family’s foundation, her husband, and her son-in-law. Moreover, the FBI knows of a treasure-trove of documents that may demonstrate that the Clinton Foundation skirted the law and illegally raised and spent contributions.

Two months ago, a group of FBI agents sat around a conference table and reviewed the evidence gathered thus far. Each agent was given the opportunity to make or detract from the case for moving forward. At the end of the meeting, it was the consensus of the group to pursue a criminal investigation. And Clinton is the likely target.

COPYRIGHT 2015 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO | DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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2018-11-13 15:40:00

Sen. Bernie Sanders recently came up with a new business to attack: Amazon. Sanders said Amazon didn’t pay its workers enough and because of that, many qualified for government assistance.

At first, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos defended his company.

That was the right thing to do, says John Stossel. He notes: “It’s not companies’ fault that some workers qualify for handouts. More people would collect them if Amazon were not hiring. By creating jobs, Bezos gives workers better choices.”

But the media rarely mention that. Instead, they bombarded Amazon with negative coverage.

So Bezos caved. He declared that all Amazon workers would now all be paid $15 an hour or more. That higher wage sounds good to most people, but Stossel point out that while the higher minimum is good for workers who have jobs now, it can shut out beginners.

Kelsey Holder (now Kelsey Turner) started working at age 13, for minimum wage, at Mossman’s Coffee Shops and Catering Company in Bakersfield, California.

By the time Stossel interviewed her in 2010, she was making $20 an hour. She told him: “For being only 13…minimum wage was fine. If you work hard, you can make more, it’s just you have to prove yourself.”

The skills she learned through work—even at minimum wage—served her well. Kelsie is now the restaurant’s manager. Had the minimum wage been higher when she started, she may never have gotten that opportunity.

When Amazon sets a high minimum wage at its own company, unskilled workers can still find jobs at other companies.

But Amazon did not stop there. It has also begun lobbying for the government to force all its competitors to pay a higher minimum wage too.

That could help Amazon, Stossel says: “Amazon’s already replacing workers with robots. Bezos knows a higher minimum wage will hurt his competitors more than it hurts him.”

Amazon often tries to get favors from government. It didn’t just announce a second headquarters. It started a competition to see which politicians would give it the largest tax incentives.

“Give me a break,” Stossel says. “Politicians shouldn’t pander to companies, and companies shouldn’t pander to politicians. I wish Bezos would stick to innovating, not scheming with politicians to get special breaks. Some of the worst enemies of capitalism are capitalists.”

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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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As if to promise a Christmas present, Congress has just finished approving the finances of the federal government for the next few months. Santa Claus would have done a better job. During early 2016, Congress will pay the government’s bills by borrowing money from individual and institutional lenders. Those folks will lend the feds all the money the feds need because the law requires the feds to pay them back.

The “pay them back” ideology is a very curious one. It is true that the full faith and credit of the federal government guarantees the payment of the government’s debts. Without that lawfully binding guarantee, who would lend money to an institution that carries a debt of $18.8 trillion? So the investors who have lent money to the feds know that their debts will be repaid in a timely manner.

Because the federal government spends $1.5 trillion more annually than it collects in taxes and other revenue and because its payments of interest alone on the money it has borrowed will soon be about $1 trillion a year, it can only repay its debts by borrowing more money. Since 1911, the federal government has not repaid a debt from tax revenue. It has always borrowed more money to pay its lenders. This is known to economists as rolling over the debt.

President Woodrow Wilson—who gave us a racially segregated military and federal civilian workforce, brought us into the horrific and useless World War I, arrested Americans for singing German beer hall songs in public, campaigned for the federal income tax by promising it would never exceed 3 percent of income, helped to create the cash-printing Federal Reserve, laid the groundwork for Prohibition, and kept Jim Crow going—borrowed $30 billion to pay for World War I. That money was borrowed from investors and from the Federal Reserve, which in those days literally printed the cash that it lent.

The $30 billion that Wilson borrowed was repaid by the feds with borrowed dollars. And the folks who lent the feds those dollars were in turn repaid with borrowed dollars. That inflationary cycle has been repeated countless times since all this borrowing from Peter to pay Paul became the financing method of choice for the feds.

As a result of this, the federal government still owes the $30 billion that Wilson borrowed, but it owes it— obviously—to different lenders from those who originally financed the Great War. It has paid more than $15 billion in interest payments on that $30 billion.

Who could run a household or a business the way the feds have run the government in the past 100 years?

As we approach a presidential election year, the federal financing-by-borrowing scheme is seen as a standard operating procedure by all the Democratic candidates and by all the Republicans, as well, except for Sen. Rand Paul. He and he alone among the major candidates would have the feds live within their means and stop the vicious circle that Wilson began.

He understands that government has limits. Those limits are written down in the Constitution. He recognizes, as his competitors do not, that the government simply cannot morally or constitutionally right any wrong, regulate any behavior, borrow any amount, or tax any event as long as it can politically get away with it. When it does, we end up with war and debt.

Whenever you hear a presidential candidate proclaiming that the first job of the president is to keep America safe, challenge that absurdity. Invite that candidate to read the Constitution, which lays out the jobs of the president—the principal of which is to keep us free and safe. If a president keeps us safe but unfree, he is simply not doing his job. Only Sen. Paul has made that argument.

The world today is a sad place, and those who love freedom sometimes feel we are shoveling against the tide. But for just a moment, at this time of year, we should pause and remember an event that occurred about 2,000 years ago in the Middle East.

The world then was a far worse place, yet a light seared through the darkness. A baby was born in a cave. The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. The baby came into the world so that we might have life and live it abundantly. The baby came into the world so that we would be set free from our own sins, free from the temptations of the world, and free from the governments that seek to control us.

The baby was the Son of God and the Prince of Peace and the savior of the world. This week we celebrate His birthday.

Merry Christmas.

COPYRIGHT 2015 ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO || DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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