The Best Quotes From Walter Williams — August 26 Of 2004 — August 25 Of 2005


“Let’s look at who doesn’t pay taxes. According to a study done by Scott Hodge, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation, and his colleagues, 41 percent of whites, 56 percent of blacks, 59 percent of American Indians and Aleut Eskimos, and 40 percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders will have no 2004 federal income tax liability. The Tax Foundation study concludes, “When all of the dependents of these income-producing households are counted, there are roughly 122 million Americans — 44 percent of the U.S. population — outside of the federal income tax system.” Who does pay federal income taxes? The top 20 percent of income earners pay 80 percent, and the top 50 percent pay 96.5 percent of total federal income taxes.”

“The Fifth Amendment is very clear about takings. It says, in part, “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The key phrase is public use. Public use means uses such as roads, bridges, military installations and public buildings. The Connecticut Supreme Court held that the only requirement for the taking of private property is that there be some public benefit. With that kind of reasoning, no one’s private property is safe because what’s a public benefit is subject to wide interpretation.”

“Today’s school violence occurs because it’s tolerated. I’m betting that a punishment like caning or six months’ incarceration at hard labor would bring it to a screeching halt. You say, “Williams, that’s cruel and unreasonable!” I say it’s cruel and unreasonable to permit school thugs to make schools unsafe and education impossible for everyone else. Short of measures to immediately end school violence, parents at the minimum should be able to transfer their children out of unsafe failing public schools. Or, do you believe, as the education establishment does, that parents and children should be held hostage until they come up with a solution?”

“Numerous studies show that children raised in stable two-parent households do far better than those raised in single-parent households. They are less likely to have out-of-wedlock births, less likely to engage in criminal behavior and more likely to complete high school.”

“Bastiat wrote a parable about this that has become known as the “Broken Window Fallacy.” A shopkeeper’s window is broken by a vandal. A crowd forms, sympathizing with the man, but pretty soon, the people start to suggest the boy wasn’t guilty of vandalism; instead, he was a public benefactor, creating economic benefits for everyone in town. After all, fixing the broken window creates employment for the glazier, who will then buy bread and benefit the baker, who will then buy shoes and benefit the cobbler, and so forth.Those are the seen effects of the broken window. What’s unseen is what the shopkeeper would have done with the money had the vandal not broken his window. He might have employed the tailor by purchasing a suit. The broken window produced at least two unseen effects. First, it shifted unemployment from the glazier, who now has a job, to the tailor, who doesn’t. Second, it reduced the shopkeeper’s wealth. Explicitly, had it not been for the vandalism, the shopkeeper would have had a window and a suit; now, he has just a window.”

“In a study to be published in Academic Questions, sociologist Charlotta Stern and economist Daniel Klein found in a random national sample of 1,678 university professors that Democratic professors outnumber Republican professors 3 to 1 in economics, 28 to 1 in sociology, and 30 to 1 in anthropology. As George Will said in his Washington Post column, “Academia, Stuck to the Left” (Nov. 28, 2004): “Many campuses are intellectual versions of one-party nations.”

“Recently released findings of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranked U.S. high school students 24th out of 29 countries. American 15-year-olds demonstrate less math proficiency than their counterparts in Hungary and the Slovak Republic. With those findings, we shouldn’t be surprised by a recent U.S. Department of Education study finding that nearly half of all college students must take remedial courses in math and reading. According to National Center for Education Statistics, in 2000 close to 80 percent of colleges offered remedial services.”

“My personal preference is a constitutional amendment limiting federal spending to a fixed percentage, say 10 percent, of the GDP. You say, “Williams, why 10 percent?” My answer is that if 10 percent is good enough for the Baptist Church, it ought to be good enough for the U.S. Congress.”

“Myth: Skyrocketing prescription drugs are driving health-care spending up. Fact: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as a whole, Americans spend about 1 percent of their income on drugs. Seniors spend about 3 percent on drugs, less than the amount they spend on entertainment. Spending on drugs, as a percent of total health-care spending, was 10 percent in 1960. It’s roughly the same today.”

“The last election campaign featured great angst over the loss of manufacturing jobs. The number of U.S. manufacturing jobs has fallen, but it has little to do with outsourcing and a lot to do with technological innovation — and it’s a worldwide phenomenon. During the seven years from 1995 through 2002, Drezner notes, U.S. manufacturing employment fell by 11 percent. Globally, manufacturing jobs fell by 11 percent. China lost 15 percent of its manufacturing jobs, and Brazil lost 20 percent. But guess what. Globally, manufacturing output rose by 30 percent during the same period. Technological progress is the primary cause for the decrease in manufacturing jobs.”

“Virtually all academic literature on sex, IQ and aptitude reach the conclusion that there are differences between men and women. While the mean intelligence between men and women is similar, the variance differs significantly. Women cluster more about the mean while men are more spread out. That means fewer women, relative to men, are at both the low end and the high end of the intelligence and aptitude spectrum. That might partially explain why so many men are in jail compared to women, and why more geniuses like Mozart and Einstein are men. On last year’s SAT math test, more than twice as many boys as girls scored in the top range (750-800).”

“The idea that minimum wage legislation is an anti-poverty tool is simply sheer nonsense. Were it an anti-poverty weapon, we might save loads of foreign aid expenditures simply by advising legislators in the world’s poorest countries, such as Haiti, Bangladesh and Ethiopia, to legislate higher minimum wages. Even applied to the United States, there’s little evidence suggesting that increases in the minimum wage help the poor. Plus, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 2.2 percent of working adults earn the minimum wage.”

“Many law professors, and others who hold contempt for our Constitution, preach that the Constitution is a living document. Saying that the Constitution is a living document is the same as saying we don’t have a Constitution. For rules to mean anything, they must be fixed. How many people would like to play me poker and have the rules be “living”? Depending on “evolving standards,” maybe my two pair could beat your flush.”

“80 percent of today’s American millionaires are first-generation rich. Drs. Stanley and Danko listed other characteristics of these 8.2 million millionaire households. Fewer than 20 percent inherited 10 percent or more of their wealth. More than half never received as much as a dollar in inheritance. Fewer than 25 percent received “an act of kindness” from a relative greater than $10,000, and 91 percent never received, as a gift, as much as $1 from the ownership of a family business.”

“Rotten education is a severe handicap to upward mobility, but is it a civil rights problem? Let’s look at it. Washington, D.C. public schools, as well as many other big city schools, are little more than educational cesspools. Per student spending in Washington, D.C., is just about the highest in the nation. D.C.’s mayors have been black, and so have a large percentage of the city council, school principals, teachers and superintendents. Suggesting that racial discrimination plays any part in Washington, D.C.’s educational calamity is near madness and diverts attention away from possible solutions.”

“The civil rights struggle is over, and it has been won. At one time, black Americans did not have the same constitutional protections as whites. Now, we do, because the civil rights struggle is over and won is not the same as saying that there are not major problems for a large segment of the black community. What it does say is that they’re not civil rights problems, and to act as if they are leads to a serious misallocation of resources.”

“I buy more from my grocer than he buys from me, and I bet it’s the same with you and your grocer. That means we have a trade deficit with our grocers. Does our perpetual grocer trade deficit portend doom? If we heeded some pundits and politicians who are talking about our national trade deficit, we might think so.”

“What about the decline of the black family? In 1960, only 28 percent of black females between the ages of 15 and 44 were never married. Today, it’s 56 percent. In 1940, the illegitimacy rate among blacks was 19 percent, in 1960, 22 percent, and today, it’s 70 percent. Some argue that the state of the black family is the result of the legacy of slavery, discrimination and poverty. That has to be nonsense. A study of 1880 family structure in Philadelphia shows that three-quarters of black families were nuclear families, comprised of two parents and children. In New York City in 1925, 85 percent of kin-related black households had two parents. In fact, according to Herbert Gutman in The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom: 1750-1925, “Five in six children under the age of 6 lived with both parents.” Therefore, if one argues that what we see today is a result of a legacy of slavery, discrimination and poverty, what’s the explanation for stronger black families at a time much closer to slavery — a time of much greater discrimination and of much greater poverty? I think that a good part of the answer is there were no welfare and Great Society programs.”

“Across the U.S., black males represent up to 70 percent of prison populations. Are they in prison for crimes against whites? To the contrary, their victims are primarily other blacks. Department of Justice statistics for 2001 show that in nearly 80 percent of violent crimes against blacks, both the victim and the perpetrator were the same race. In other words, it’s not Reaganites, Bush supporters, right-wing ideologues or the Klan causing blacks to live in fear of their lives and property and making their neighborhoods economic wastelands.”

“The Vancouver, British Columbia-based Fraser Institute keeps track of Canadian waiting times for various medical procedures. According to the Fraser Institute’s 14th annual edition of “Waiting Your Turn: Hospital Waiting Lists in Canada (2004),” total waiting time between referral from a general practitioner and treatment, averaged across all 12 specialties and 10 provinces surveyed, rose from 17.7 weeks in 2003 to 17.9 weeks in 2004. For example, depending on which Canadian province, an MRI requires a wait between 7 and 33 weeks. Orthopaedic surgery might require a wait of 14 weeks for a referral from a general practitioner to the specialist and then another 24 weeks from the specialist to treatment.”

“The framers of our Constitution gave us the Fifth Amendment in order to protect us from government property confiscation. The Amendment reads in part: “[N]or shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Which one of those 12 words is difficult to understand? The framers recognized there might be a need for government to acquire private property to build a road, bridge, dam or fort. That is a clear public use that requires just compensation, but is taking one person’s private property to make it available for another’s private use a public purpose?”

“The worst thing that can be done is to give more foreign aid to African nations. Foreign aid goes from government to government. Foreign aid allows Africa’s corrupt regimes to buy military equipment, pay off cronies and continue to oppress their people. It also provides resources for its leaders to set up “retirement” accounts in Swiss banks. What Africa needs, foreign aid cannot deliver, and that’s elimination of dictators and socialist regimes, establishment of political and economic freedom, rule of law and respect for individual rights. Until that happens, despite billions of dollars of foreign aid, Africa will remain a basket case.”

” I think a better message for avoiding long-term poverty and high incarceration rates is: Graduate from high school. Get married before you have children and stay married. Work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. Finally, do not engage in criminal behavior.”

“Regardless of how we feel now about the treatment of terrorists, and suspected terrorists, I can envision a day when Americans will care less about interrogation techniques used in the quest to get intelligence about terrorists. That day will be when there’s a chemical or biological attack in one of our cities that kills and injures tens of thousands of Americans. If that day ever comes, you can bet the rent money that the Dick Durbins, the Nancy Pelosis and others who’ve undermined and attacked our interrogation efforts, complaining about our not treating international cutthroats humanely, will blame the attack on President Bush. The last thing they’ll do is blame themselves for sabotaging our efforts to get intelligence that might stymie terrorist plans.”

“Erring on the side of over-caution is another matter. A classic example was beta-blockers, which an American Heart Association study said will “lengthen the lives of people at risk of sudden death due to irregular heartbeats.” The beta-blockers in question were available in Europe in 1967, yet the FDA didn’t approve them for use in the U.S. until 1976. In 1979, Dr. William Wardell, a professor of pharmacology, toxicology and medicine at the University of Rochester, estimated that a single beta-blocker, alprenolol, which had already been sold for three years in Europe, but not approved for use in the U.S., could have saved more than 10,000 lives a year. The type I error, erring on the side of over-caution, has little or no cost to FDA officials. Grieving survivors of those 10,000 people who unnecessarily died each year don’t know why their loved one died, and surely they don’t connect the death to FDA over-caution. For FDA officials, these are the best kind of victims — invisible ones. When an FDA official holds a press conference to announce its approval of a new life-saving drug, I’d like to see just one reporter ask: How many lives would have been saved had the FDA not delayed the drug’s approval?”

“Like the March of Dimes’ victory against polio in the U.S., civil rights organizations can claim victory as well. At one time, black Americans did not enjoy the same constitutional guarantees as other Americans. Now we do. Because the civil rights struggle is over and won doesn’t mean that all problems have vanished within the black community. A 70 percent illegitimacy rate, 65 percent of black children raised in female-headed households, high crime rates and fraudulent education are devastating problems, but they’re not civil rights problems. Furthermore, their solutions do not lie in civil rights strategies.”

“During last week’s commemoration of V-J day, I thought about American responses to loss of life in Iraq compared to yesteryear’s American response to loss of life in the Pacific. Taking Iwo Jima cost 7,000 American lives and thousands wounded. Okinawa cost the lives of 5,000 sailors, 7,600 soldiers and thousands more wounded. There were no calls to cut and run and no political attacks on Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. Instead, those losses stiffened the backbone and resolve of the American people. But of course, back then, common sense prevailed. We hadn’t become feminized and turned into a nation of wimps and nervous Nellies.”

You can see the previous year’s worth of Walter Williams quotes by clicking: here.

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