Walter E Williams, RIP.

Walter E. Williams insisted that the E in his name stood for excellent. He was excellent. He suffered no fools. He passed away today. About him, the wiki says:

Walter Edward Williams (March 31, 1936 – December 2, 2020) was an American economist, commentator, and academic. He was the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, as well as a syndicated columnist and author known for his classical liberal and libertarian views.

 

A few quotes:

  • What human motivation is responsible for getting the most wonderful things done? I would say greed. When I use the term greed, I do not mean cheating, stealing, fraud and other acts of dishonesty, I mean people seeking to get the most for themselves. One might be tempted to use “enlightened self interest” but I like greed better. Unfortunately, many people are naive enough to believe that it is compassion, concern, and “feeling another’s pain” that’s the superior human motivation. As such we fall easy prey to charlatans, quacks and hustlers.
  • Since it’s not considered polite, and surely not politically-correct to come out and actually say that greed gets wonderful things done, let me go through a few of the millions of examples of the benefits of people trying to get more for themselves. There’s probably widespread agreement that it’s a wonderful thing that most of us own cars. Is there anyone who believes that the reason we have cars is because Detroit assembly line workers care about us? It’s also wonderful that Texas cattle ranchers make the sacrifices of time and effort caring for steer so that New Yorkers can have beef on their supermarket shelves. It is also wonderful that Idaho potato growers arise early to do back-breaking work in the hot sun to ensure that New Yorkers also have potatoes on their supermarket shelves. Again, is there anyone who believes that ranchers and potato growers, who make these sacrifices, do so because they care about New Yorkers? They might hate New Yorkers. New Yorkers have beef and potatoes because Texas cattle ranchers and Idaho potato growers care about themselves and they want more for themselves. How much steak and potatoes would New Yorkers have if it all depended on human love and kindness? I would feel sorry for New Yorkers. Thinking this way bothers some people because they are more concerned with the motives behind a set of actions rather than the results. This is what Adam Smith, the father of economics, meant in The Wealth of Nations when he said, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interests.”
  • Market capitalism is the best thing that ever happened to the common man. The rich have always had access to entertainment, often in the comfort of their palaces and mansions. The rich have never had to experience the drudgery of having to beat out carpets, iron their clothing or slave over a hot stove all day in order to have a decent dinner. They could afford to hire people. Capitalism’s mass production and marketing have made radios and televisions, vacuum cleaners, wash-and-wear clothing and microwave ovens available and well within the means of the common man; thus, sparing him of the boredom and drudgery of the past. Today, the common man has the power to enjoy much (and more) of what only the rich could afford yesteryear.
  • Most people agree that slavery is immoral. But what makes it so? Slavery denies a person the right to use his property (body) and the fruits of his labor the way he sees fit. Slavery forcibly uses one person to serve the purposes of another. Tragically, most Americans, including blacks, whose ancestors have suffered from gross property right violations, think it quite proper that one person be forcibly used to serve the purposes of another.

Goodbye, Prof Williams. 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Walter E Williams, RIP.

  1. Admin Friday December 4, 2020 / 2:17 am

    His ability to argue from basic principles was very very remarkable. In that sense despite being pretty much on the same page he differed from Tom Sowell or Milton Friedman in the articulation of his views.

    He helped me change my mind on :

    ‘What is prejudice’. It is incomplete information. It is not a bad thing as such and many times we are better off exercising prejudice.

    Like

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