Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Economics Legend Walter E. Williams Dies at 84

 By Matt Palumbo  | Posted: December 2, 2020

George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux posted to his blog this morning that at some point last night or this morning, his colleague and fellow economist Walter Williams had passed away. Williams was 84.

Williams was known for his conservative and libertarian views, with his columns appearing in Creators, Townhall, World Net Daily, and Jewish World Review, among many others. In his columns Williams railed against liberal economics, gun control, Marxism, teachers unions, race hustlers, and any other threats to human liberty he saw in the world.

Williams’ final column was published yesterday, titled “Black Education Tragedy Is New.” In it he examines the dismal test scores in inner cities today, and offers rebuttals to the claim that they’re the result of “systemic” racism.

In addition to his columns, Williams had authored eleven books, the most known being “The State Against Blacks” (1982), “Liberty Versus the Tyranny of Socialism” (2008), “Up From the Projects” (2010) and “Race & Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?” (2011).

Williams has often been compared to Thomas Sowell in terms of their scope of writing. The two first met on the campus of UCLA in 1969 and became friends for decades to come. An entire book called “A Man of Letters” has been published containing letters between the two.

Williams has made numerous media appearances over the years, including on Milton Friedman’s docuseries “Free to Choose,” Stossel, ReasonTV, Life, Libery, & Levin, and countless others.

A documentary about his life and accomplishments called “Suffer No Fools” was released in 2014.

May Mr. Williams rest in peace.



Walter Williams, RIP

By Steven Hayward  | POWERLINE 

Photo: Me and Walter Williams at Adam Smith’s gravesite, along with some other guy (Karl Rove)

Another sad passing to report today—the economist Walter Williams, at age 84. Where to begin describing this wonderful man and teacher? I first came across his early book The State Against the Blacks when it came out in the early 1980s. This and many other works over the years made the compelling case that, as William himself put it, “The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do.”

Wikipedia records this about him:

Williams began in the 1970s to offer colleagues a “certificate of amnesty and pardon” to all white people for Western Civilization’s sins against blacks – and “thus obliged them not to act like damn fools in their relationships with Americans of African ancestry.”

We could certainly use a good deal of this right now.

Among the many great pieces about Walter I could point out, see this Jason Riley WSJ column about him from 2011. And you can find lots and lots of wonderful material by and about him on YouTube. (This 8-minute video from the 1980s is a good place to start.)

I didn’t know him well, but we did once share billing as speakers on a British Isles cruise with the Young Americas Foundation, culminating with a leisurely walking tour of Edinburgh that ended up at the gravesite of Adam Smith, which is where the photo below was taken. (Yes, he was quite tall. In fact, he was a cousin of NBA great Julius Erving. I was tempted at times to call him “Dr. W.”)

If Walter had any flaw, it was that his strong libertarianism led him to have too much sympathy with the cause of secession (James Buchanan had the same flaw), and by extension to southern secession in 1860, which in turn led to a dislike of Lincoln. This view is not unique among certain kinds of libertarians. We argued vigorously over the issue; he neither gave ground, nor was he anything less than cheerful and patient throughout, making him a delight to argue with. No wonder students and colleagues loved him.


Black Education Tragedy Is New

By Walter E. Williams | | Posted: Dec 02, 2020 12:01 AM

Walter E. Williams was a professor of economics at George Mason University.

Several years ago, Project Baltimore began an investigation of Baltimore's school system. What they found was an utter disgrace. In 19 of Baltimore's 39 high schools, out of 3,804 students, only 14 of them, or less than 1%, were proficient in math. In 13 of Baltimore's high schools, not a single student scored proficient in math. In five Baltimore City high schools, not a single student scored proficient in math or reading. Despite these academic deficiencies, about 70% of the students graduate and are conferred a high school diploma -- a fraudulent high school diploma.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District scored the lowest in the nation compared to 26 other urban districts for reading and mathematics at the fourth- and eighth-grade levels. A recent video captures some of this miseducation in Milwaukee high schools: In two city high schools, only one student tested proficient in math and none are proficient in English. Yet, the schools spent a full week learning about "systemic racism" and "Black Lives Matter activism." By the way, a Nov. 19, 2020, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article asks: "How many Black teachers did you have? I've only had two." The article concludes, "For future Black students, that number needs to go up." New York City is one of many school systems in the United States set to roll out Black Lives Matter-themed lesson plans. According to the NYC Department of Education, teachers will delve into "systemic racism," police brutality and white privilege in their classrooms.

Should we blame this education tragedy on racial discrimination or claim that it is a legacy of slavery? Dr. Thomas Sowell's research in "Education: Assumptions Versus History" documents academic excellence at Baltimore's Frederick Douglass High School and others. This academic excellence occurred during the late 1800s to mid-1900s, an era when blacks were much poorer than today and faced gross racial discrimination. Frederick Douglass High School of yesteryear produced many distinguished alumni, such as Thurgood Marshall and Cab Calloway, and several judges, congressmen and civil rights leaders. Frederick Douglass High School was second in the nation in black Ph.Ds. among its alumni.

Also, in Sowell's "Education: Assumptions Versus History" is the story of Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, a black public school in Washington, D.C. As early as 1899, its students scored higher on citywide tests than any of the city's white schools. From its founding in 1870 to 1955, most of its graduates went off to college. Dunbar's distinguished alumni include U.S. Sen. Edward Brooke, physician Charles Drew and, during World War II, nearly a score of majors, nine colonels and lieutenant colonels, and a brigadier general. Today's Paul Laurence Dunbar and Frederick Douglass high schools have material resources that would have been unimaginable to their predecessors. However, having those resources have meant absolutely nothing in terms of academic achievement.

If we accept the notion that rotten education is not preordained, then I wonder when the black community will demand an end to an educational environment that condemns so many youngsters to mediocrity. You can bet the rent money that white liberals and high-income blacks would not begin to accept the kind of education for their children that most blacks receive.

The school climate, seldom discussed, plays a very important role in education. During the 2017-18 school year, there were an estimated 962,300 violent incidents and 476,100 nonviolent incidents in U.S. public schools nationwide. Schools with 1,000 or more students had at least one sworn law enforcement officer. About 90% of those law enforcement officers carry firearms. Aside from violence, there are many instances of outright disrespect for teachers. First- and second-graders telling teachers to "Shut the f--- up" and calling teachers "b---h."

Years ago, much of the behavior of young people that we see today would have never been tolerated. There was the vice principal's office where corporal punishment would be administered for gross infractions. If the kid was unwise enough to tell his parents what happened, he might get more punishment at home. Today, unfortunately, we have replaced practices that worked with practices that sound good and caring. And we are witnessing the results.