At December 1st, 2020 Walter E. Williams - American economist and an academic, significant Professor of Economics at George Mason University died in his car shortly after his lecture at the age of 84 years.
Professor Williams was the author of 10 books and his first two books - "The State Against Blacks" and "America: A Minority Viewpoint" were builds on research he conducted in the 70s regarding the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 on the effects of minimum wages to the employment of minorities.
His research led him to conclude that minimum wage laws are racist laws and state intervention harms minorities. Williams was critic of positive discrimination, argued that state intervention harmed the African-American minority in the United States more than the racist attitudes of some Americans. The fight against state interventions, for the freedom and rights of minorities, against the expanding state has become his hallmark.
He often referred to F. A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ludwig Mises and Frédéric Bastiat as his inspirers; Greg Ransom, author of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, described Williams as one of The 3 most important "Hayek" intellectuals of contemporary America.
However, this was not always the case - as he describe himself as follows:
""I was more than anything a radical. I was more sympathetic to Malcolm X than Martin Luther King because Malcolm X was more of a radical who was willing to confront discrimination in ways that I thought it should be confronted, including perhaps the use of violence. But I really just wanted to be left alone. I thought some laws, like minimum-wage laws, helped poor people and poor black people and protected workers from exploitation. I thought they were a good thing until I was pressed by professors to look at the evidence."Walter E. Williams
His views, professional work and efforts to explain the negative impact of perpetrators of good on minorities, together with the fact that he belonged directly to one minority, provided him with a unique place in the public economic-socio-political debate.
Will be missed. Greatly. However, his work will remain with us - let's be inspired by Garry M. Galles and let us remember Professor Williams with great quotes:
- Has My definition of social justice: I keep what I earn and you keep what you earn. Do you disagree?...how much of what I earn belongs to you - and why?
- If one person has a right to something he did not earn, of necessity it requires that another person not have a right to something that he did earn.
- There is no moral argument that justifies using the coercive powers of government to force one person to bear the expense of taking care of another.
- Government has no resources of its own…government spending is no less than the confiscation of one person’s property to give it to another to whom it does not belong.
- We don’t have a natural right to take the property of one person to give to another; therefore, we cannot legitimately delegate such authority to government.
- No matter how worthy the cause, it is robbery, theft, and injustice to confiscate the property of one person and give it to another to whom it does not belong.
- The better I serve my fellow man…the greater my claim on the goods my fellow man produces. That’s the morality of the market.
- The act of reaching into one’s own pockets to help a fellow man in need is praiseworthy and a laudable. Reaching into someone else’s pocket is despicable.
- Democracy is little more than mob rule, while liberty refers to the sovereignty of the individual.
- The true test of one’s commitment to liberty and private property rights…comes when we permit people to be free to do those voluntary things with which we disagree.
- In a free society, government has the responsibility of protecting us from others, but not from ourselves.
- Economic planning is nothing more than the forcible superseding of other people’s plans by the powerful elite backed up by the brute force of government.
- Substituting democratic decision making for what should be private decision-making is nothing less than tyranny dressed up.
- It’s government people, not rich people, who have the power to coerce and make our lives miserable.
- People who denounce the free market and voluntary exchange … are for control and coercion.
- Politicians have immense power to do harm to the economy. But they have very little power to do good.
- The best good thing that politicians can do for the economy is to stop doing bad. In part, this can be achieved through reducing taxes and economic regulation, and staying out of our lives.
- What our nation needs is a separation of “business and state” … That would mean crony capitalism and crony socialism could not survive.
- If we’re ignorant, we won’t even know when government infringes on our liberties. Moreover, we’ll happily cast our votes for those who’d destroy our liberties..
Walter E. Williams was more than just a pro-market thinker and professor of economics. He was advocate of freedom, defender of minorities before immeasurable power of governments. He was a thinker who left 50 years of work behind.
He was a libertarian thinker who raised the subject of minorities and ensured that the ideas of freedom became relevant even in this often very exclusive socialist category.
Walter Edward Williams also served in the military - in the Korean War. Here, he wrote "Caucasian" in his personal documents as a race, arguing that if he wrote "Black", he would only get the worst possible job. From Korea, Williams wrote a letter to President Kennedy condemning the ubiquitous racism in the US military and government and questioning the current state of affairs and the current view of the black minority in the US military:
"Should Negroes be relieved of their service obligation or continue defending and dying for empty promises of freedom and equality? Or should we demand human rights as our Founding Fathers did at the risk of being called extremists ... I contend that we relieve ourselves of oppression in a manner that is in keeping with the great heritage of our nation."Walter E. Williams in a letter to President Kennedy