Walter E. Williams
An American economist, commentator, and author of Liberty Versus the Tyranny of Socialism
Latest from Walter E. Williams
Too many people believe that slavery is a "peculiar institution." That's what Kenneth Stampp called slavery in his book, "Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South." But slavery is by no means peculiar, odd or unusual. It was common among ancient peoples such as the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites, Greeks, Persians, Armenians and many others. Large numbers of Christians were enslaved during the Ottoman wars in Europe.
There are political movements to push the federal minimum hourly wage to $15. Raising the minimum wage has popular support among Americans. Their reasons include fighting poverty, preventing worker exploitation and providing a living wage. For the most part, the intentions behind the support for raising the minimum wage are decent.
Is there no limit to the level of disgusting behavior on college campuses that parents, taxpayers, donors and legislators will accept? Colleges have become islands of intolerance, and as with fish, the rot begins at the head. Let's examine some recent episodes representative of a general trend and ask ourselves why we should tolerate it plus pay for it.
My "Rewriting American History" column of a fortnight ago, about the dismantling of Confederate monuments, generated considerable mail. Some argued there should not be statues honoring traitors such as Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis, who fought against the Union. Victors of wars get to write the history, and the history they write often does not reflect the facts. Let's look at some of the facts and ask: Did the South have a right to secede from the Union? If it did, we can't label Confederate generals as traitors.
Greg Caskey is a 27-year-old Abington, Pennsylvania, native who is a social sciences teacher at Delaware Military Academy. The academy is a thriving charter high school in Wilmington, Delaware, that was founded in 2003 by two retired military officers, Charles Baldwin and Jack Wintermantel.
Ask any black person which political party has been black people's political ally. With near unanimity, blacks would answer the Democratic Party. Ask which political party has been hostile to blacks, they'd say the Republican Party with similar unanimity. For better answers, check out Prager University's five-minute clip "The Inconvenient Truth About the Democratic Party," by Carol Swain, professor of political science at Vanderbilt University.
In 1798, Thomas Malthus wrote "An Essay on the Principle of Population." He predicted that mankind's birthrate would outstrip our ability to grow food and would lead to mass starvation. Malthus' wrong predictions did not deter Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich from making a similar prediction.
Millions of people love Apple computers and wouldn't be caught using a PC. By contrast, there are many millions of PC users who feel the same way about Apple computers. Many men like double-breasted suits, but I wouldn't be caught dead in one. Some people swear by Cadillac cars, but my favorite is Mercedes-Benz.
Parents, taxpayers and donors have little idea of the levels of lunacy, evil and lawlessness that have become features of many of today's institutions of higher learning. Parents, taxpayers and donors who ignore or are too lazy to find out what goes on in the name of higher education are nearly as complicit as the professors and administrators who promote or sanction the lunacy, evil and lawlessness.
May Day celebrations were held all across the fruited plain, with leftist radicals and unionists worshipping the ideals of communism. Communism is an ideology calling for government control over our lives. It was created by Karl Marx, who -- along with his collaborator, Friedrich Engels -- wrote a pamphlet called "Manifesto of the Communist Party."
When we discuss international trade and balance of payments, there are two types of accounts. There is the current account, which includes goods and services imported and exported and receives the most political attention. In 2016, the American people imported $479 billion worth of goods and services from Chinese producers, and we sold $170 billion worth of goods and services to Chinese customers.
Each year, Earth Day is accompanied by predictions of doom. Let's take a look at past predictions to determine just how much confidence we can have in today's environmentalists' predictions. In 1970, when Earth Day was conceived, the late George Wald, a Nobel laureate biology professor at Harvard University, predicted, "Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind."
As a group, black Americans have made the greatest gains -- over some of the highest hurdles and in a very short span of time -- of any racial group in mankind's history. What's the evidence? If one totaled up the earnings of black Americans and considered us as a separate nation with our own gross domestic product, we would rank among the 20 richest nations.
The average American has little knowledge of the extent to which our institutions of higher learning have been infected with a spreading cancer. One aspect of that cancer is akin to the loyalty oaths of the 1940s and '50s. Professors were often required to sign statements that affirmed their loyalty to the United States government plus swear they were not members of any organizations, including the Communist Party USA, that sought the overthrow of the United States government.
Profiling is needlessly a misunderstood concept. What's called profiling is part of the optimal stock of human behavior and something we all do. Let's begin by describing behavior that might come under the heading of profiling. Prior to making decisions, people seek to gain information. To obtain information is costly, requiring the expenditure of time and/or money. Therefore, people seek to find ways to economize on information costs.
Nationally, black junior high and high school students are suspended at a rate more than three times as often as their white peers, twice as often as their Latino peers and more than 10 times as often as their Asian peers. According to former Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the "huge disparity is not caused by differences in children; it's caused by differences in training, professional development, and discipline policies. It is adult behavior that needs to change."
Determining one's own sex or that of another used to be a simple matter. First, there was the matter of appearance, whether a person looked like a male or looked like a female. If appearance produced some uncertainties, one could determine sex by examining a person's birth certificate. If appearance and a birth certificate produced uncertainties, the ultimate, absolute proof of sex was a person's chromosomes; XX marked a female, and XY marked a male. Case closed.
Most Americans, whether liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican, do not show much understanding or respect for the principles of personal liberty. We criticize our political leaders, but we must recognize that their behavior simply reflects the values of people who elected them to office. That means we are all to blame for greater governmental control over our lives and a decline in personal liberty. Let me outline some fundamental principles of liberty.
While college administrators and professors accept disgraceful behavior, we as taxpayers, donors and parents should not foot the bill. Let's look at some of that behavior. A University of Washington Tacoma Writing Center press release told students that expecting Americans to use proper grammar perpetuates racism. The University of Nebraska Omaha will host a workshop for "anti-racist allies" to develop "action plans" that confront America's "foundation of systemic oppression" in the context of "the current political climate."
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement, "The president's decision to ask Betsy DeVos to run the Department of Education should offend every single American man, woman, and child who has benefitted from the public education system in this country." Expressing similar sentiments, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond said, "I expect that Mrs. DeVos will have an incredibly harmful impact on public education and on black communities nationwide." Those