Walter Williams on the Tyranny of the Majority, the US Federal Budget and Free-Market Thinking
The Daily Bell is pleased to present an exclusive interview with Walter Williams.
Introduction: Dr. Walter E. Williams is the author of over 150 articles on social topics. Some have appeared in scholarly journals, such as Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review, Georgia Law Review, Journal of Labor Economics, Social Science Quarterly and Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. Others have appeared in general circulation publications, such as Newsweek, Ideas on Liberty, National Review, Reader's Digest, Cato Journal and Policy Review. Dr. Williams is the author of six books: America: A Minority Viewpoint, The State Against Blacks (the basis for the PBS production "Good Intentions"), All It Takes Is Guts, South Africa's War Against Capitalism, Do the Right Thing: The People's Economist Speaks and More Liberty Means Less Government. Dr. Williams has been named a Hoover Institution National Fellow and a Ford Foundation Fellow. He has received the Foundation for Economic Education Adam Smith Award, the Valley Forge Freedoms Foundation George Washington Medal of Honor, the Veterans of Foreign Wars U.S. News Media Award, the Adam Smith Award, the California State University Distinguished Alumnus Award and the George Mason University Faculty Member of the Year and Alpha Kappa Psi Award.
Daily Bell: Dr. Williams, how were you attracted to free-market thinking?
Walter Williams: Free-market thinking grows out of a respect for the basic principles of individual liberty. If I am free, then I can negotiate, I can trade with anybody I wish to whether that person is American or whether he came from Europe, Mexico, Africa or anywhere else. If any third party interferes, then I am that much less free.
Daily Bell: Can you give us some background? Can you identify any influences early in life that pointed you toward classical liberalism? Were you influenced by the American exponents of the Austrian school, such as Murray Rothbard?
Walter Williams: No, I was not. And if I can identify anybody, it was Thomas Payne, who wrote Common Sense, which I have read a number of times. It was a pamphlet that Thomas Payne wrote to rally the American Colonies to rebel against the Crown.
Daily Bell: Tell us how your professional career has developed.
Walter Williams: I got married in 1960, but I had been drafted into the Army the year before. I was in Korea in 1961 and had a lot of time on my hands. I saw that if I didn't get started on something, I had no future. I told my wife that as soon as I got out of the Army and we had saved $700, we were going to move from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, where I could go to college. I got out of the army July 3, returned to my old job with Yellow Cab, and by December 1 we were on the road to California, where I enrolled at Los Angeles State College. I got a bachelor's degree in three years. Then I transferred to UCLA to study for a Masters degree, but I received so much encouragement that I continued for a Ph.D., which I completed in 1972.
Daily Bell: Some of your writing reveals a righteous anger. Where does that come from?
Walter Williams: Again, it goes back to my ideas on liberty and my respect for individual rights. I try to write so that economics is understandable to the ordinary person. I have had a lot of encouragement to do so and I had a tenacious mentor at UCLA, Armen Alchian, who used to pick on me. We were in the hallway one day and he said, "You know, Williams, the true test of whether somebody understands his subject comes when he can explain it to someone who doesn't know a darn thing about it." I take pride in doing that kind of explaining. At the same time I try to convince readers of the moral value of individual liberty.
Daily Bell: Has racism ever interfered with your career?
Walter Williams: My first encounter with open racial discrimination was in the Army, on my way to an assignment at Fort Stewart, Georgia. I woke up on the bus in the middle of the night at a rest station, where I saw a sign saying, "Colored Waiting Room" and another saying "White Waiting Room". At Fort Stewart, I encountered gross racial discrimination. I just made life hard for those who were discriminating against black soldiers, hard in the sense of being a troublemaker. I have a book coming out this fall, an autobiography. I go into detail about my life in the military and the racial discrimination I encountered. But the best thing one can do to resist discrimination of any type is to be the best that you can possibly be, as opposed to getting on a soap box and preaching.
Daily Bell: Do matters of race in America concern you?
Walter Williams: I think that black Americans have advanced more swiftly than any other racial group. In 1865 neither slave nor slave-owner would have believed that black people could make the progress that in fact we have made. Today black Americans are among the world's most famous people and the world's wealthiest people. If black America were a country, its GDP would be the 16th or the 17th largest in the world. And now we have a black President. And this kind of progress speaks well of the intestinal fortitude of a people and of America itself. Nothing like it could happen anywhere else in the world.
Daily Bell: Does the black community still support Barack Obama?
Walter Williams: Oh, yes, I think they support Barack Obama because today black Americans are a one-party people. They just support whoever is the Democrat. They supported Bill Clinton, they supported Jimmy Carter. It' unfortunate, in a two-party system, because it means that one party, namely the Democrats, will take the black vote for granted and the Republicans won't even try to compete for it.
Daily Bell: How have you seen economic thinking change during your career?
Walter Williams: The principles of economics don't not change any more than the working of gravity changes. Gravity is the same as when Newton wrote about it. So, economic theory is one thing, but economic systems are another. The most tragic economic change is that the world has come to accept the notion that one person has the right to live at the expense of another person, which I think is despicable. People all around the world – and in the U.S. – believe it's OK for the government to take the property of one citizen and give it to another. If a person did that identical thing privately, we would call it theft. But it's what people routinely ask the government to do.
Daily Bell: Would you characterize yourself as conservative, a libertarian or something else?
Walter Williams: If pushed to choose between the two, I would say libertarian. But I call myself a Jeffersonian liberal. Today the people who call themselves liberals are for the most part fascists. I think libertarians need to take back the meaning of "liberal," because liberal means free. For today's so-called liberals, personal freedom is the last thing on their mind.
Daily Bell: What do you think of anarcho-libertarianism as championed by Rothbard?
Walter Williams: Well, I think his ideas are very good. I met him a number of times and had nothing but respect for him.
Daily Bell: What do you think of Dr. Ron Paul and his impact on the sociopolitical conversation?
Walter Williams: Ron Paul and I are friends and longtime associates. I agree with Ron Paul on most matters, but we part company on issues of foreign policy. I believe in a strong defense, and I believe there are circumstances that call for pre-emptive attack on people who would do us harm.
Daily Bell: What is the difference between a conservative and neo-conservative, if any?
Walter Williams: (Laughing) I don't know. But conservatives, neo or otherwise, and liberals all believe it's all right for government to take the property of one person and give it to another. They prove H.L. Mencken's definition of an election as "...an advance auction on the sale of stolen property." Liberals believe in taking your money and giving it to poor people and poor cities. Conservatives believe in taking your money and giving it to farmers, banks and airlines. They both agree on taking our money, but they disagree on who should get it.
Daily Bell: Was George Bush a good president? Was he conservative? Are there any good presidents?
Walter Williams: Well my hero of all presidents, at least modern day presidents, is Grover Cleveland. He was the "Veto King." He vetoed more legislation than all presidents before him combined. His veto message to Congress often was that "this is not authorized by the United States Constitution." We don't hear presidents today vetoing acts of Congress because they are not authorized by the Constitution.
Few people appreciate how serious our Founding Fathers were about the Constitution. For example, James Madison is considered the Father of the Constitution. In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for the relief of French refugees who fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison stood on the floor of the House to object, saying "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."
Now if you look at the federal budget, two-thirds to three-quarters of it is for benevolence, and it's been the same under all recent Presidents. Whether you are talking about foreign subsidies, bank bailouts, welfare programs, food stamps, Medicare or prescription drugs. There is no tooth fairy or Santa Claus giving the government the money; the only way the government can give one American citizen one dollar is to first take it from some another American. I think it's despicable. It's legalized theft.
Daily Bell: What is your opinion on America's present condition? Is it like Rome in the empire days?
Walter Williams: Yes. Rome? Spain? Portugal? France? They all went down the tubes for precisely the same reason. Bread and circuses! In 1892, if someone had suggested during Queen Victoria's Jubilee that England would become a 3rd-world power and be challenged on the high seas by a 6th-rate power such as Argentina, he would have been put into an insane asylum. But the British Empire went down the tubes for precisely what we are doing in our country now – what we have been doing for the past 50 years. Bread and circuses and big-government spending.
Daily Bell: Are we headed toward an international world government?
Walter Williams: I don't believe that's the case.
Daily Bell: How do you see the European Union. Will the EU survive?
Walter Williams: Milton Friedman predicted the EU would survive until one or two countries get into trouble. It looks like Greece and the PIGS are having some problems now. There is a real question as to whether the Portuguese and the Greeks will allow their domestic policy to be dictated by Germany.
Daily Bell: Is the Chinese miracle real, or is it built in a sense on state planning and, like the USSR, doomed to fail?
Walter Williams: The Chinese are a true success story, and the country is moving toward freer markets and toward a more open system of capitalism. It is not a true capitalist country yet, but you do find that 300 million people, 400 or 500 hundred million people perhaps, have been lifted out of poverty without any government subsidies. It's just the free market helping them out of poverty, and I hope the people in China continue in the same direction.
Daily Bell: What do you think will come of the current economic crisis depression, hyperinflation or both? Or something else?
Walter Williams: If I had an answer to that, I would take a position in the market and become very rich. However, I am not in the crystal ball business.
Daily Bell: Do you think the bailouts in the West help at all?
Walter Williams: No. Read what happened during the Great Depression and the New Deal. in 1938 Roosevelt's Treasury Secretary said, "Mr. President we have spent more money than we have ever spent in the past and it's not doing any good. Unemployment is just as bad as it was and all we've accomplished is we've gotten into more debt and spent more money." That is the same thing Treasurer Secretary Geithner can say today to President Obama, "We have spent more money, but unemployment is the same; in fact it's higher than when he took over."
Daily Bell: Where are gold and silver headed?
Walter Williams: They've been headed up, but where they're going is another question. As conditions become more uncertain, people have always sought safety in precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum.
Daily Bell: Do you oppose central banking? Would you like to see America return to the free-banking recommended by George Selgin, George White and Antal Fekete?
Walter Williams: Yes, I would. I believe that the monopoly over money maintained by the Federal Reserve and the legal tender laws have not been good for our country. A central bank allows the government to steal from its citizens with impunity. I have often suggested that anyone who finds himself in court on a charge of counterfeiting should tell the judge he was engaging in monetary policy.
Daily Bell: Are you disappointed that the Fed is not going to receive a more thorough audit?
Walter Williams: Ron Paul has been pushing for it for a number of years, and I agree.
Daily Bell: Would you like to see the Fed abolished? Would you like to return to a gold or a gold and silver standard?
Walter Williams: I am not sure we can go back. The fact that we prospered for a long time without a central bank, from the time of Andrew Jackson and the Second National Bank until the Federal Reserve, shows that the Fed is not absolutely necessary. But getting to a world without the Federal Reserve would be a difficult transition.
Daily Bell: Has the growth of the Internet affected the tone and context of the conversation in America and the world regarding freedom and free markets?
Walter Williams: Yes, definitely. I think the Internet has enhanced freedom all around the world. Now anyone can reach a worldwide audience. This is one of the reasons you hear increasing noise by governments about controlling the Internet.
Daily Bell: How do you se the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Walter Williams: Our "intelligence" said that Suddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That turned out to be false. But the question we have to ask is which kind of mistake is more costly? We assumed he had weapons WMDs when in fact he did not. But we might have assumed he lacked WMDs when in fact he did. I think the latter kind oferror is more costly. Keep in mind that intelligence is fraught with error. This is one of the reasons the Allies spent so much time and effort trying to defeat Hitler before defeating Japan. Our intelligence said that the Germans were close to having nuclear weapons. But after the war, we found that they were nowhere nearly as close as we had thought.
In terms of the war and what is going on now, if I were President, I would have toppled the Iraq regime and left. I wouldn't be involved in nation building. As far as Iran is concerned, and my libertarian friends get upset with me about this, I think that if Iran gets any nuclear weapons it would be very dangerous for the world. But I would not send a single troop there. I would call Ahmadinejad and say, "We know where your facilities are; we have a Trident submarine off your coast; tell your people to get out, because at 10:00 pm two days from now we are going to start destroying your facilities."
Daily Bell: Generally, would you like to see the troops come back home?
Walter Williams: Yes, I would. I would not give them a date. I am not a military person, but I would like an orderly withdrawal.
Daily Bell: What is the most important problem facing America right now?
Walter Williams: I think the growth of government. The amount of money we spend on Medicare, Social Security, Prescription Drugs, etc., eats up the entire federal revenues, and the rest of government lives on borrowed money. We are spending too much. From 1787 until 1920, the federal government spent just 3% of the GDP except during wartime. Today it's close to 30% of GDP. We are in serious trouble because of the spending.
Daily Bell: You mentioned Thomas Paine's Common Sense. Are there other seminal articles or books that you encourage people to read? Where can they be found?
Walter Williams: An important book and certainly one that was a great influence on me was Federic Bastiat's The Law. The book also influenced a number of great thinkers, including Hayek and Friedman. It's available at FEE.org.
Daily Bell: Anything else you wish to mention; any upcoming books or lectures?
Walter Williams: I have two books coming out this year – the autobiography that people have been trying to get me to do for a number of years and a second work called Race and Economics. Both will be published by the Hoover Institution.
Daily Bell: Dr.Williams, it's been an honor to speak with you.
Dr. Walter Williams has been a bright light in the US free-market firmament for decades now. Way back in the 1980s and 1990s, even in the 1970s, his was one of only a few "mainstream" voices regularly raised to support freedom and free-markets. We always laughed when we heard his great, booming voice on the radio and the affectionate way he made fun of "Mrs. Williams" – always Mrs. Williams because he was always very respectful of her even when teasing her. It was generally his sense of humor that was so surprising to us, especially once we discovered that he was a black person. This was the anti-Jesse-Jackson, we decided.
Where Jesse Jackson was truculent and always blaming the white race and imputing racism to ever-newer generations, we didn't sense any of this emanating from Dr. Williams. Jesse Jackson was always in the news whenever there was a "racial" incident, explaining how such problems confirmed that America was still a racist society. Implicit in Jackson's perspective (and others like him) was the idea that it was black leaders alone that were "perfected" by the crucible of race-in-America and that he therefore (and a few others) were alone granted the historical moral authority to comment on the United States.
We never got this feeling when hearing Dr. Williams speak. Dr. Williams was not obsessed with race or with being a black man in America (or we couldn't detect it, anyway). He seemed to speak first as a human being, and one who was concerned about HUMAN freedom, rather than black-versus-white freedom. Of course, being a black person in America (and being Dr. Williams) we never got the feeling he hid from the issue either, or was reluctant to mention it. It was just that he kept it in perspective.
He was a human being first and a black person in America second (or maybe third or fourth). He was Mrs. William's husband, a successful educator and also a freedom fighter in no particular order. (He also supported the second amendment, and we knew that because when he expounded on threats to freedom, he would sometimes mention "reaching for my gun" in a tone that was as meaningful as it was humorous.)
He was certainly no "race hustler" in an era where so many other prominent black men were milking money from the federal government especially (and large corporations as well) by institutionalizing black victimization and white guilt. In fact, with his usual sense of humor, he went about making sure that white people were comfortable in his presence by issuing his own proclamation that absolved white people. It reads as follows and can be found on his website:
Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon Granted to ... All Persons of European Descent
Whereas, Europeans kept my forebears in bondage some three centuries toiling without pay,
Whereas, Europeans ignored the human rights pledges of the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution,
Whereas, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments meant little more than empty words,
Therefore, Americans of European ancestry are guilty of great crimes against my ancestors and their progeny.
But, in the recognition Europeans themselves have been victims of various and sundry human rights violations to wit: the Norman Conquest, the Irish Potato Famine, Decline of the Hapsburg Dynasty, Napoleonic and Czarist adventurism, and gratuitous insults and speculations about the intelligence of Europeans of Polish descent, I, Walter E. Williams, do declare full and general amnesty and pardon to all persons of European ancestry, for both their own grievances, and those of their forebears, against my people.
Therefore, from this day forward Americans of European ancestry can stand straight and proud knowing they are without guilt and thus obliged not to act like damn fools in their relationships with Americans of African ancestry.
Walter E. Williams, Gracious and Generous Grantor
This is vintage Walter Williams. He is well aware of the difficulties of race in America but unlike others in his position he never chose to exploit racial divisiveness to make a living. Instead, being a scholar and a gentleman, he acknowledges that the human condition itself is full of exploitation and misery and that white Europeans have experienced their share as well. This is the difference between an educated man who has spent his life raising up civil society and others who spend their lives tearing down civil society brick by brick to make a living.
We could comment on the above interview in many other ways as well, but we really have no wish to. Others are welcome to do so – and we know they can focus on his comments regarding military first strikes, etc. and a lack of pronounced perspective on monetarism. But people should realize when they are doing so that Dr. Williams was making a courageous stand for freedom at a time when few voices were raised on its behalf in the United States. Sure, there were pro-forma celebrations, flag-waving, etc., but Dr. Williams went beyond that, attempting to explain the virtues of free-markets in a substantive way.
Yes, throughout his career Dr. Williams has been a courageous, even lonely, voice, standing against black victimization and for freedom at a time when there were very few voices to be heard sounding his sentiments. He has spent his life attempting to explain "real" economics; he did so at a time when such discussions had all-but-flickered-out. He provided a bridge between that barren age and the incredibly substantive and energetic conversation going on today in the Western world and especially in America. He is a pioneer; we look forward to his autobiography; we are certainly glad we had a chance to interview him.
Posted by The Editor on 01/25/11 03:51 AM
Incredible, reading this was so light filled, I just have to share
Posted by Mike on 12/04/10 08:29 PM
"I can't be free if I am forced to live under a totalitarian religious government. "
This is laughable. No amount of suicide bombers are going to create a theocracy. Besides the purpose of these suicide attacks are not because "they hate us for our freedoms" or some other stupidity but because they are retaliating for the almost non-stop murder the US government has been engaged in for half a century in the Middle East.
Posted by LINDA ROOT on 10/10/10 06:52 PM
DEAR WALTER, I JUST WANT TO LET YOU KNOW HOW MUCH IHAVE LEARNEDFROM LEARNED FROMYOU.I FIRST YOU ON RUSH'S SHOW . I FINALLY GOT A COMPUTER SO NOW ICAN READ ALL ARTICALS. YOU ARESUCH A SMART MAN. I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED TO LISTEN AND TO READ ALL ICAN THAT THEY, AND YOU WRITE. I LOVE IT WHEN YOU AND THOMAS ARE ON THAT SHOW TOGETHER. YOU REALLY MAKE MY DAY. IWOULD LOVE TO READ ALL YOUR BOOKS BUT JUST NEVER HAVE ENOUGH MONEY. I AM GOING TO PUT ON YOU ON MY PRAY LIST. IPRAY THE LORD WILL RICHLY BLESS YOU.
ONE OF YOUR BIGGEST FANS LINDA
Reply from The Daily Bell
Thank you Linda. You didn't learn to write in lower case though.
Posted by Roberto on 09/09/10 11:58 PM
I enjoyed the interview. I'm also a libertarian who believes in strong defense against those who are irrational/fanatical enough to suicidally attack us. I can't be free if I am forced to live under a totalitarian religious government.
Dr. Williams did say to warn Iran two days before so that they can ensure that there are no people in their nuclear facilities, then destroy those facilities. Sounds like destroying the cannon pointed at my home by a person who declares his intention to destroy my home and family before he has a chance to carry out his plan.
As for the poor being taken advantage of by the rich, what exactly can the rich get from them. They're poor, so they don't have much money to take. BTW, I am far from being rich, but I don't envy them to the point that I want the gov't to take their money and give it to me. I'd rather earn my own money. That's due to a little thing called PRIDE!
Posted by Terry Johnson on 08/24/10 10:05 PM
Concerning "Pres96ton" and Daily Bell's response on 8-01-10 concerning the value of gold, here's another angle;
The book of Ecclesiates in the Bible suggest that the ratio of gold to silver should be 10:1. Modern economists suggests that the ratio should be between 15 or 20:1. The current price of gold vs silver is over 50:1.
Soooo. Either gold is way over priced or silver is way under priced. I'll put my money (literally) on silver as a protection of wealth.
And it has some other unique advantages;
1. It's cheaper to buy for the non-wealthy
2. It's value to gold, as stated above, is strong
3. It's more easily traded in cases of bartering if society collapses
4. It has more industrial uses than gold and hence will be sought after by collectors as well as industrialists
5. Unlike gold, it is being "used up" and will grow in value as it becomes more rare.
6. And for people like me who constantly lose things, it hurts less when I misplace a siver coin than a gold one.
Posted by Chiefbuffalo on 08/24/10 07:02 PM
I think Walter Williams is fantastic. I would really enjoy the opportunity to sit in on his lectures. His presentation on economics takes the dullness out of the topic and he can keep your attention with sound , solid, common sense remarks. I guess his background gives him the true understanding of economics from the ground up rather than from the elites style of down talk.
Posted by Don Gleichmann on 08/06/10 12:45 PM
An interesting and profound man with personality albeit with some typical political tactics, to wit; "Daily Bell: Was George Bush a good president? Was he conservative? Are there any good presidents?". he never answered the question.
GWB a good President who had the courage to take action! I.e., invade Iraq. The Clintons,Powell, and our UN Rep. all agreed Saddam had the bad stuff. Of course yellow cake didn't count.
Reply from The Daily Bell
We have written about Bush and do not think he was a good president.
Posted by Mark on 08/06/10 01:23 AM
Free trade is not free when one trader can "negotiate" from an extreme position of power and advantage, while the other trader has no bargaining power, other than the value of a single person's labor or a single person's skills.
The free trade that you talk of does not exist. Perhaps it would be nice if it did, but your pure, free trade ideal will never exist in a world where one person (or country) holds more power over another.
One vital role of government is to ensure that those with excessive power are held in check by others with power. Government is not perfect, and so it must be carefully guarded and proactively protected from corruption and greed.
Reply from The Daily Bell
"One vital role of government is to ensure that those with excessive power are held in check by others with power."
Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi et. al. are, then, judicious arbitrators seeking to hold in check those with "excessive power?" Are you sure?
Posted by Realtimehistory on 08/06/10 01:11 AM
Just where SHOULD the government be spending our money?
Most of our spending now goes for the military and unfunded wars. Why should my tax dollars go for that?
Why do you see no obligation for the government to prevent, or mitigate, when the wealthy so blatantly take advantage of the poor, as they always seem to do?
Why does the government support the power of the wealthy minority, who have ample means of taking care of themselves, over the needs of the poor, who are unable to obtain the means of taking care of themselves because everything of value is controlled by this minority of the wealthy?
What do the words "...promote the general welfare" mean to you?
Posted by Walter E. Williams on 08/05/10 02:40 PM
Many readers have taken a libertarian stance against military preemption. Any strict stance against preemption is suicidal to wit: Suppose I have sworn to destroy you. You see me building a cannon aimed at your house. Are you going to wait for me to complete the construction and fire it before you take action?
My point is not to make ANY analogy to what's going on in the world today. My objective is that of making a case that preemption can be an integral part of self-protection.
Reply from The Daily Bell
Many if not most libertarians (even anarcho-libertarians) might accept that physical human action of a defensive nature is warranted in cases where one clearly has to defend oneself or one's family. We have made that case here at the Bell, within the larger context of non-violence as a preferred option in terms of societal change (education - along with non-violent protest - being the only answer as we see it).
We are also aware that some readers and feedbackers may immediately claim that the analogy presented is overly simplistic. We, however, wish to note that we thank Dr. Williams for generously providing this clarification - just as he generously provided his time to provide us an enlightening and provocative interview. We remain aware, as some others perhaps are not, that he was a seminal influence in support of aspects of free-market thinking in the dark, pre-Internet days of the 20th century - and an important advocate.
Posted by Capt. A. on 08/03/10 03:36 PM
With all due "earned respect to Dr. Walter E. Williams..."
Walter Williams states: "I believe in a strong defense and I believe that on occasions people need to make pre-emptive attacks on people " on countries who would do us great damage."
Let's get something clear:
Dr. Williams is NOT a libertarian from the get-go... (Non-aggression axiom! Self-defense, period!) If you note carefully throughout this interview it will become patently clear the good doctor supports the "collective, the state limited," noted in the use of "us," in his comment above).
And ... where does Dr. Williams think the lawfully earned product of one's labor and talent is going to come from to "make pre-emptive attacks on people ... who would do us great damage." (?) He does NOT condone, "taking peoples money," and through redistribution, allocating to various statist"collective uses"like welfare, government programs etc.
Yet, it's OK to use the state to plunder citizens through exaction to generate funds in order to "make pre-emptive attacks on people..." What absolute shear balderdash! Implicit hypocrisy! It's OK to use "force" to plunder citizens (taxes) so that the "elite" can play chess games (war) with the lives of others! More poppycock!
On the positive side, Dr. Williams does an outstanding job on simplifying, observing Ockams' razor, especially in economics. (Mises knew exactly what war was all about and the hideous consequences ... and that there are truly no "real winners" in war.
Even the finest thinkers still cannot reconcile"instigating war in the belief that something beneficial of waste comes to result.)
Dr. Williams does clarify well and is to be applauded for his life-long effort in making economics lucid and understandable to those interested individuals that have been bamboozled by academia in a great many worldwide economic institutions. This noted, there are few peers that can match him. I do trust that with further introspection with regard to "pre-emptive attacks on people," that this would not become the predominate lasting legacy of such a noted and very fine gentleman, as is Dr. Walter E. Williams. We'll see....
Principaute de Monaco
GMT 2:00 CET
Posted by Bob Hand on 08/03/10 08:30 AM
I agree with Sam C. My libertarian education began years ago with reading columns by Dr. Williams and Dr. Sowell. I have followed their lessons ever since. They clearly are respected highly by Libertarian and even Conservative writers. Their points of view are always well reasoned and logically explained.
Thanks for this interview.
Posted by Sam C. Wiggins on 08/03/10 02:52 AM
If I were asked to name 10 of the most distinguished men in academe in America today, I would certainly name Walter Williams,Ward Connerly and Thomas Sowell among them.
Posted by The Gimlet Eye on 08/03/10 01:13 AM
A pretty softball interview.
NOBODY deserves a pass like this. NOBODY. He gave some pretty evasive answers. As far as Bush the Younger, he completely evaded the question. I wonder why? Other answers were quite short and left the door open to all sorts of speculation. If transitioning to a world without the Federal Reserve would be "difficult," then what should we do? The question was, should it be abolished or shouldn't it?
Why didn't you challenge him on his views on a "preemptive strike" in Iraq and Afghanistan? This is a big, big issue! Sounds to me as if he had swallowed the official line about the "War on Terror," in spite of the lies about WMD's and other things. His comparison of Iraq to Germany and Japan is not a good one. Surely he must not consider Iraq to have been as great a threat to our security as those countries were! Why would he have "toppled" the Iraq regime? To what end? We need SPECIFIC answers to this question!
Since we know that this "War on Terror" is a complete, trumped up, phony war, it is incumbant on us all that we challenge all thinkers who would have us think about it otherwise. By this time, I have read way too much about this "war" to fall for this simplistic propaganda which he offers us. Try Chalmers Johnson's book, The Sorrows of Empire, and you'll see what I mean. Why don't you interview Chalmers Johnson and allow him to rebut Williams on this point?
Williams does say a lot of good things, but there's always that 1% which worries me and leaves me puzzled. In this, he is a lot like Rush Limbaugh, a master propagandist and water carrier for the elite. One notices that Williams has been a frequent guest host for Limbaugh, and Limbaugh is no friend of Libertarians or Independents.
Just because Williams strongly opposes the growth of government, it does not necessarily follow that he is the champion of liberty that he claims to be. There may very well be members of the "power elite" who feel exactly the same way. If it is true that many among the elite consider most of us "useless eaters" who deserve to have our welfare state freebies taken away from us, Williams could just as easily be an apologist for that same group.
As you say, Williams is not stupid. He knows as well as anyone that the welfare state gravy train cannot last forever. It will crash at some point, and then there will be no more freebies to feed the "useless eaters." The power elite won't need most of us anymore. What is usually done with somebody who isn't needed anymore?
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Reply from The Daily Bell
See our previous comments on this issue, above.
Posted by Jimi BigBear on 08/03/10 01:08 AM
Very interesting interview, especially that the Bell delved so far into racism when the ostensible title is "Tyranny of the Majority, the Federal Budget and Free Market Thinking."
Dare I be so bold to suggest, especially given Dr. Williams' complete lack of affinity for the Alabama Austrians, that were it not for his race, the Bell would have no interest in interviewing him at all?
Furthermore, his Friedman leanings and NEO-Libertarian (preemptive war OK) stance, if not for his skin color, would have made him a target of ridicule by the Bell if he were White.
Isn't Dr. Williams, as the "anti-Jesse", just playing the race card in reverse? i.e., isn't the most interesting thing about him " that he is an anomaly/curiosity/novelty " a Black conservative/Libertarian who subs for Rush Limbagh " the basis for his popularity? Seriously?
I saw/heard Dr. Williams on Faux News interviewed by Judge Napolitano on the subject of the US Census a few months ago and really enjoyed his no nonsense approach to census workers, "Read me my Miranda Rights." So I like the guy personally, but if any White man had endorsed the Bush Doctrine of "preventive war" and given the Neocons a pass on their "bad intelligence" lies for destroying a sovereign nation, he would be crucified in the Feedback " if indeed the Bell bothered to interview him in the first place.
Since I will doubtless be attacked as racist for stating the obvious, I might as well get a few "Anti-Semite" grenades hurled at me as well.
Why is it that whenever anyone joins in the John McCain/AIPAC chorus to sing (to Beach Boys' Barbara Ann melody), "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran" NO MEDIA " INCLUDING THE DAILY BELL " has the testicular fortitude to ask, "What about Israel?" It's a rhetorical question, obviously, because I'm answering it myself.
If Dr. Williams even hinted at applying the same remedy to the terrorist regime that controls Israel " i.e. ordering a Trident sub missile launch on Dimona and other nuclear facilities in Israel " his career if not his life would soon be over.
One of the justifications for invading Iraq the second time was that it was in violation of UN Resolutions. Israel has been in violation of UN Resolutions since shortly after its creation.
Click to view link
Israel possesses biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction AND has offered to sell them:
Click to view link
Israel refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that Iran HAS signed:
Click to view link
Israel is a brutal occupier and apartheid nation:
Click to view link
Israel spies against the US:
Click to view link
and most importantly at the present hour " Ehud Barrack visits the Pentagon every few weeks to egg on OUR military to attack Iran (and God knows what other nations):
Click to view link
Putting US, according to this blog's author, at the threshold of World War III:
Click to view link
Lastly I have to comment about Fort Knox gold. The fact is that if Nixon had NOT closed the gold window, Ft. Knox would be entirely empty, not just mostly so. The amount of gold in Ft. Knox is as moot a point as gold backed money, however, as Thoren and Warner in their seminal "The Truth in Money Book" cited the 1982 Congressional Gold Commission Report which states that all the gold in Ft. Knox is MORTGAGED to the PRIVATE Federal Reserve Banks. How much gold does America own? NONE, ZIP, NADA, ZERO.
Posted by SP on 08/02/10 10:49 PM
I find it refreshing to see a black man not using the race card try to affect politics, I applaud men like Mr. Williams and Thomas Sowell for acting like men and not raciest black men with is so often the case. There is a black man in the white house, case closed.
Posted by Kenn on 08/02/10 10:16 PM
Mr Williams is a neo conservative. He replaces Rush Limbaugh, a neo con bishop, at the mic when Rush is away.
Neo Cons express limited Jeffersonian constitutional government as their doctrine. All good except they also desire an Empire size military and have an aggressiveness that gives that military plenty things to do.
Any sane person understands you cannot have small constitutional government with a Empire size military. They simply do not mix.
Pre-emptive strikes is exactly what Germany and Japan did during WWII.
Back then we called it sneak attacks.
I always felt the Bell was adamantly against this sort of thing and was astonished when you never questioned him once about it. I am of the thought you gave him a pass because of the color of his skin. If not then I totally misjudged you and your intentions.
Mr Williams is about as much a libertarian as my pet Airedale. The word Libertarians and Neo Conservative are incompatible. True neo cons are corporatist, fascists if you will. They believe in command and control and will kill anything they think is a threat to them or gets in their way. Proof is Iraq, Afghanistan and soon to be Iran.
I am writing this late as it doesn't matter if it gets posted. Your reply earlier stating you didn't understand what I meant or why was in my opinion untrue. I believe you clearly understood but avoided the subject again due to political correctness. On the small chance you were telling the truth hopefully this post helps.
In closing, Silence is approval. Your response to pre-emptive strikes (not even a whimper) was very revealing. Keep in mind, we are not talking economics,,,, we are talking killing. When anyone advocates killing someone somewhere needs to take them to task.
Reply from The Daily Bell
No, we did not understand your previous post.
And this one we find ridiculous. The Bell has published dozens of anti-war articles in the past months and more in the past years. We have consistently made strong points about the unfathomable obscenity of both the Afghan and Iraq wars.
That we did not take Dr. Williams to task (and we did mention the issue in our AfterThoughts) is in part because that is not our interview style and also because our record is on these issues is crystal clear. We don't feel the need to repeat it each and every article - and there is much to celebrate in Dr. William's life other than his views on war, some of which we generally find repugnant.
We have always assumed, perhaps futilely, that those who stop by the Bell will bother to read more than just one article.
War is an obscenity.
War is the health of the state.
The Bell is proudly anti-war and pro-free-market.
Pre-emptive war has no place in a civil society.
Anyone who reads the Bell regularly, or even irregularly, knows that we hold these views.
Posted by John David on 08/02/10 08:27 PM
Remember that according to Walter Williams unions are bad because they stop you from firing people. On a totally no related not isn't Walter Williams a tenured professor who can not be fired?
Reply from The Daily Bell
Posted by Victor Barney on 08/02/10 03:17 PM
Dr. Walter E. Williams, "the devil is in the details;" and it's called the anti-messiah of Israel "by the seed of Joseph," not Judah(Gen. 48: 14-16) during the end times! Watch! I'm looking for 8/28/10 because I don't believe that Obama's arrogance can allow himself to be upstaged again by Glenn Beck. Hope I'm wrong, but I can't see that possibility at this time due to all his arrogance! And, please don't forget, maybe you don't(?), but he "knows" that he is the "forbidden foreigner"(Deuteronomy 17:15) put over the real Israel in the end days by it's women!
Posted by Lucy on 08/02/10 02:25 PM
Great interview with Dr. Williams. Truly a bright light! not quite sure on constitutionality/Jeffersonian-ality of a pre-empt, however.
interesting mitigating quote perhaps:
"Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing." " Dwight D. Eisenhower