The Best Quotes From Walter Williams — July 17, 2002 — July 18, 2003


“It was not until the Abraham Lincoln administration that an income tax was imposed on Americans. Its stated purpose was to finance the war, but it took until 1872 for it to be repealed. During the Grover Cleveland administration, Congress enacted the Income Tax Act of 1894. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1895. It took the Sixteenth Amendment (1913) to make permanent what the Framers feared — today’s income tax.” — Walter Williams

“Black politicians and civil rights organizations’ loyalty to the education establishment means academic doom to black youngsters. Washington, D.C,. politics and its schools, among the worse in the nation, are a case in point. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, along with most members of the Congressional Black Caucus, use private schools to educate their children. But, when D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams broke ranks with most black elected-officials and endorsed recently proposed education vouchers, Norton blasted him as being “a sell-out.Whom do you think Frederick Douglass would deem the sell-out: those who seek an alternative to rotten schools that cost taxpayers $13,000 a year per student or those who support the status quo?” — Walter Williams

“Students who are alien and hostile to the education process ought to be removed. You say, “What will we do with them?” I say that’s a secondary issue. The first priority is to stop thugs from making education impossible for everyone else.” — Walter Williams

“One Temple University colleague took me to lunch and confided to me that he was having numerous academic problems with his poorly prepared black students. I asked him what his response to their poor preparation was. He replied that he tried to take into consideration racial discrimination and the poor education they received. I asked him how he assigned grades, to which he responded: If they come every day and look as if they’re taking notes, I give them a “C”. After I recovered, I told him that’s very much like having a dog in an English class and one day the dog sits on his hind legs and says, “You not po da do dat.” You’d give the dog an “A”. Why? You don’t expect the dog to speak at all, and no matter what he says you’d deem it laudable.” — Walter Williams

“Once one accepts the principle of self-ownership, what’s moral and immoral becomes self-evident. Murder is immoral because it violates private property. Rape and theft are also immoral — they also violate private property. Here’s an important question: Would rape become morally acceptable if Congress passed a law legalizing it? You say: “What’s wrong with you, Williams? Rape is immoral plain and simple, no matter what Congress says or does!” If you take that position, isn’t it just as immoral when Congress legalizes the taking of one person’s earnings to give to another? Surely if a private person took money from one person and gave it to another, we’d deem it theft and, as such, immoral. Does the same act become moral when Congress takes people’s money to give to farmers, airline companies or an impoverished family? No, it’s still theft, but with an important difference: It’s legal, and participants aren’t jailed.” — Walter Williams

“Tariff policy beneficiaries are always visible, but its victims are mostly invisible. Politicians love this. The reason is simple: The beneficiaries know for whom to cast their ballots, and the victims don’t know whom to blame for their calamity.” — Walter Williams

“Why is it that Michael Jordan earns $33 million a year and I don’t even earn one-half of one percent of that? I can play basketball, but my problem is with my fellow man, who’d plunk down $200 to see Jordan play and wouldn’t pay a dollar to see me play. I’m also willing to sell my name as endorsements for sneakers and sport clothing, but no one has approached me. The bottom line explanation of Michael Jordan’s income relative to mine lies in his capacity to please his fellow man. The person who takes exception to Jordan’s salary or sees him, as my letter-writer does, as making “little contribution to society” is really disagreeing with decisions made by millions upon millions of independent decision-makers who decided to fork over their money to see Jordan play. The suggestion that Congress ought to take part of Jordan’s earnings and give it to someone else is the same as arrogantly saying, “I know better who ought to receive those dollars.” — Walter Williams

“We might think of dollars as being “certificates of performance.” The better I serve my fellow man, and the higher the value he places on that service, the more certificates of performance he gives me. The more certificates I earn, the greater my claim on the goods my fellow man produces. That’s the morality of the market. In order for one to have a claim on what his fellow man produces, he must first serve him. Contrast that moral standard to Congress’ standing offer, “Vote for me and I’ll take what your fellow man produces and give it to you.” — Walter Williams

“If I see a person in need of food, what if I walk up to another person and, through threats, intimidation and coercion, take his money and give it to the needy person? I believe and hope that most Americans would see such an act as theft. Would the conclusion differ if we collectively agreed to take one person’s money to feed the needy person? It’d still be theft. Immoral acts such as theft, rape and murder don’t become moral when done collectively through a majority decision.” — Walter Williams

“Say that Congress legislates gasoline price controls that sets a maximum price of $1 a gallon. As sure as night follows day, there’d be long lines and gasoline shortages, just as there were in the 1970s. For the average consumer, a $1.60 a gallon selling price and no waiting lines is a darn sight cheaper than a controlled $1 a gallon price plus searching for a gasoline station that has gas and then waiting in line. If your average purchase is 10 gallons, and if an hour or so of your time is worth more that $6, the $1.60 a gallon free market price is cheaper.” — Walter Williams

“The greatest percentage of poverty is found in female-headed households. Over 70 percent of female-headed households are poor. A large percentage of poor people are children (17 percent); fully 85 percent of black children living in poverty reside in a female-headed household.” — Walter Williams

“Having children is not an act of God. It’s not like you’re walking down the street and pregnancy strikes you; children are a result of a conscious decision. For the most part, female-headed households are the result of short-sighted, self-destructive behavior of one or two people.” — Walter Williams

“For black politicians, civil rights organizations and white liberals to support the racist practices of the University of Michigan amounts to no less than a gross betrayal of the civil rights principles of our historic struggle from slavery to the final guarantee of constitutional rights to all Americans. Indeed, it was practices like those of the University of Michigan, but against blacks, that were the focal point of much of the civil rights movement.” — Walter Williams

“According to the Institute for International Economics, trade barriers cost American consumers $80 billion a year or more than $1,200 per family.” — Walter Williams

“Diversity worship and multiculturalism are currency and cause for celebration at just about any college. If one is black, brown, yellow or white, the prevailing thought is that he should take pride and celebrate that fact even though, just as in the case of my eye color, he had nothing to do with it. The multiculturist and diversity crowd see race as an achievement. In my book, race might be an achievement, worthy of considerable celebration, only if a person was born white and through his effort and diligence became black.” — Walter Williams

“For the multiculturist/diversity crowd, culture, ideas, customs, arts and skills are a matter of racial membership where one has no more control over his culture than his race. That’s a racist idea, but it’s politically correct racism. It says that one’s convictions, character and values are not determined by personal judgment and choices but genetically determined. In other words, as yesteryear’s racists held: race determines identity.” — Walter Williams

“…(I)f money were the answer, Washington public schools would be the best in the nation — if not the world. Per student expenditures are $10,500 a year, second highest in the nation. With a student-teacher ration of 15.8, they have smaller-than-average class sizes. What is the result? In only one of the city’s 19 high schools do as many as 50 percent of its students test as proficient in reading, and at no school are 50 percent of the students proficient in math. At nine high schools, only 5 percent or fewer of its students test proficient in reading; and in 11 high schools, only 5 percent or less are proficient in math.” — Walter Williams

“(I)f one didn’t know better, one would think that Washington’s predominantly black public school system was being run by the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, hell-bent on a mission to sabotage black academic excellence. Instead, it’s a system being run by blacks for blacks. As such, it means generation after generation of blacks will not be able to academically measure up. Calls for racial quotas and preferences will exist in perpetuity. And, in a world of increasing technology, many blacks are condemned to near uselessness in the job market.” — Walter Williams

“Suppose I hire you to repair my computer. The job is worth $200 to me and doing the job is worth $200 to you. The transaction will occur because we have a meeting of the mind. Now suppose there’s the imposition of a 30 percent income tax on you. That means you won’t receive $200 but instead $140. You might say the heck with working for me — spending the day with your family is worth more than $140. You might then offer that you’ll do the job if I pay you $285. That way your after-tax earnings will be $200 — what the job was worth to you. There’s a problem. The repair job was worth $200 to me, not $285. So it’s my turn to say the heck with it. This simple example demonstrates that one effect of taxes is that of eliminating transactions, and hence jobs.” — Walter Williams

“The black illegitimacy rate is close to 70 percent. Less than 40 percent of black children live in two-parent families. This produces devastating socioeconomic consequences, but is it caused by racial discrimination? Or, might it be a legacy of slavery? In the early 1900s, black illegitimacy was a tiny fraction of today’s rate. Roughly 75 percent, and in New York City 85 percent, of black children lived in two-parent households. The fact of lower illegitimacy and more intact families, at a time when blacks were much closer to slavery and faced greater discrimination, suggests that today’s unprecedented illegitimacy and weak family structure has nothing to do with discrimination and slavery. It’s explained better by promiscuity and irresponsibility, and as such it’s not a civil rights problem.” — Walter Williams

“I don’t blame only politicians. For the most part, they’re only the instruments of a people who have growing contempt for our Constitution. You say, “Hold it, Williams. Now you’ve gone too far!” Check it out. How many votes do you think a James Madison-type senatorial candidate would get if his campaign theme was something like this: “Elect me to office. I will protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. Because there’s no constitutional authority for Congress spending on the objects of benevolence, don’t expect for me to vote for prescription drugs for the elderly, handouts to farmers and food stamps for the poor. Instead, I’ll fight these and other unconstitutional congressional expenditures”? I’ll tell you how many votes he’ll get: It will be Williams’ vote, and that’s it.” — Walter Williams

“For argument’s sake, suppose without the presence of a multinational corporation the best job a poor, uneducated Ugandan can land pays $2 a day. A multinational corporation builds a factory and hires that Ugandan for $4 a day, a wage well below what it pays workers in the United States. Plain common sense says that the Ugandan has been made better off by the presence of the multinational corporation and would be made worse off if the multinational corporation were politically pressured to leave. How much sense does it make to characterize an action that makes that Ugandan better off as exploitation?” — Walter Williams

“In general, presidents and congressmen have very limited power to do good for the economy and awesome power to do bad. 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.” — Walter Williams

“The bottom line is that the true test of one’s commitment to freedom of association doesn’t come when he allows people to associate in ways he approves. The true test of that commitment comes when he allows people to be free to voluntarily associate in ways he deems despicable. Forced association is not freedom of association.” — Walter Williams

“When it came to the 2000 election, 84 percent of Ivy League faculty voted for Al Gore, 6 percent for Ralph Nader and 9 percent for George Bush. In the general electorate, the vote was split at 48 percent for Gore and Bush, and 3 percent for Nader.” — Walter Williams

“Should the fact that if I become injured by not wearing a seatbelt or sick from eating and smoking too much, and become a burden on taxpayers, determine whether I’m free to not wear a seatbelt or puff cigarettes and gorge myself? Is there a problem with freedom? I say no, it’s a problem of socialism. There is absolutely no moral case for government’s taking another American’s earnings, through taxes, to care for me for any reason whatsoever. Doing so is simply a slightly less offensive form of slavery. Keep in mind that the essence of slavery is the forceful use of one person to serve the purposes or benefit of another.” — Walter Williams

“No matter how much of our liberty Washington takes away in the name of security, there are no guarantees that there won’t be another terrorist attack. Instead of attacking American liberties, the government ought to go after terrorists in their countries of origin. It should be like what our military attempted during WWII. Don’t wait to defend ships against the kamikaze — bomb the fields where they take off.” — Walter Williams

“You say, “Williams, you sound like a warmonger!” No, I’m not. But neither am I willing to wait until a chemical or bacteriological attack kills millions of Americans or a “dirty bomb” makes one of our cities uninhabitable for 100 years before there’s an effective response to nations who harbor terrorists. I detest the initiation of force, but if I see someone building a cannon aimed at my house, I’m not going to wait for him to fire it. I would eliminate him and anyone else in his house before he gets a chance to fire it.” — Walter Williams

“What we call the market is really a democratic process involving millions, and in some markets billions, of people making personal decisions that express their preferences. When you hear someone say that he doesn’t trust the market, and wants to replace it with government edicts, he’s really calling for a switch from a democratic process to a totalitarian one.” — Walter Williams

“Take Washington, D.C., which spends over $10,000 per student for education whose student achievement would be dead last if Mississippi chose to secede from the Union. Suppose Washington gave each parent even a $5,000 voucher — that wouldn’t mean less money available per student. To the contrary, holding total education expenditures constant, it’d mean more money per student remaining in public schools.” — Walter Williams

“School choice opponents are also dishonest when they speak of saving public schools. A Heritage Foundation survey found that 47 percent of House members and 51 percent of senators with school-age children enrolled them in private schools in 2001. Public school teachers enroll their children in private schools to a much greater extent than the general public, in some cities close to 50 percent.” — Walter Williams

“If FDA officials err on the side of under-caution in approving an unsafe drug, they are attacked by the media and patient groups, and investigated by Congress. Their victims, sick and dead people, are highly visible. If FDA officials err on the side of over-caution, keeping a safe and effective drug off the market, who’s to know? The victims are invisible. For example, neither the Americans who get sick or die from meningitis C this year, nor their loved ones, will know that their illness or death could have been prevented had it not been for errors by FDA officials. It’s a no-brainer to figure out which error FDA officials prefer to make.” — Walter Williams

Also see...

Related Articles

31

Wednesday Awesome: A Round-Up Of Liberal Bloggers Eviscerating Robert Gibbs For Taking A Shot At Them

“A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.” — Michael Kinsley In a rare moment of candor, Robert Gibbs

3

The Right Side Of The Blogosphere’s Reaction To Obama’s SOTU Speech

After reviewing the comments around the right side of the blogosphere, unsurprisingly I generally found the reaction to Obama’s speech

30

Liberal “Patriotism” In Quotes (20 Quotes)

It has been heartwarming to see a few liberals actually thumping their chests about America in the wake of Osama