The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery could not have done, Jim Crow and the harshest racism could not have done – namely to destroy the black family. Many people believe that the route to economic power is to have political power, and there’s absolutely no evidence to support that. Government cannot create a special privilege for one American, without simultaneously creating a special disadvantage for some other American. The phrase, “takes no prisoners,” should have been invented to describe Walter Williams. I was a radical in terms of the civil rights movement. I was surely…I was not a supporter of Martin Luther King, but more a supporter of Malcolm X. You don’t have to scratch your head and say, “You know, I wonder what Walter’s really saying, what he really means?” I am very, very happy that I got virtually all of my education before it became fashionable for white people to like black people. Does the country need more people like Walter Williams? More people who are intellectually honest, intellectually rigorous, tell it like it is and don’t engage in group thinking? I don’t see how we could have too many, too many Walter Williams’. Major funding for Walter Williams Suffer No Fools was provided by Dunn’s Foundation, and Searle Freedom Trust. Additional funding was provided by Beach Foundation, Harvey Cody, Donors Trust, The Hickory Foundation, William Shepard, and The Woodford Foundation for Limited Government. Walter Williams begins his day early – before most are out of bed. His enthusiasm for life is based on sound advice he received as a young man…learn to come early and stay late- and always be ready when the opportunity train comes along. If there’s one great thing that can be said about the United States, just because you know where a person ends up in life, you can’t be sure about where he started. Black Americans have made the greatest gains over some of the highest hurdles, in the shortest period of time, than any racial group in the history of mankind. Now the question before us is: how can we make these gains available to a large percentage of the black community for whom they appear to be elusive? He is an author, educator and syndicated columnist. His provocative ideas and infectious humor have attracted leaders in business and government…and millions of Americans who have come to share his views on radio and television. He has been called “outrageous” and “impossible,” because he believes so deeply in the American constitution and in America. This morning, Walter Williams will make the drive from his suburban home in Philadelphia to the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, to do what he has done for more than 45 years- teach economics. When I go to my grocer and I buy a gallon of milk for three dollars I say, “Look, if you will give me title to that gallon of milk, I will give you title to this three dollars.” I will exchange these titles. So, the essence of exchange is the transfer of property rights. Teaching is a passion for Walter Williams. He continues to believe the young people in his classroom are America’s best hope for the future. I’ve learned a lot from Dr. Williams in that, you can tell that he approaches the ideas of liberty and private property and free markets from a moral perspective. And for me, that is incredibly important. The reason why slavery is immoral, or rape, or murder is immoral, because it violates private property. And so, if you start with the idea of self-ownership then you can say, “Well, what is moral and what is immoral?” The ideas that you hear me talk about- that people hear me discussing when I’m on the radio or in my column, those ideas- or those discussions never reach my classroom, because I think that it’s an academic dishonesty to use the classroom to proselytize students. From his home in Philadelphia, Walter Williams spends much of his time writing his nationally syndicated column, or another book on his favored topics- race and economics. Buenos tardes Los Angeles! Larry Elder here, the sage from South Central, the prince of Pico Union, the czar of… Walter has long enjoyed his participation on radio and television. This is one of the problems that black Americans face. That is many of us…we feel that we can achieve salvation through the political arena, that is by putting a black person in charge of our lives. And if you ask the question, “In what cities in our country do black people receive the worst education, are most insecure in their lives, live under rotten conditions?” They are the very cities where a black is the mayor, the chief of police, the superintendent of schools. And I’m not saying there is a causal relationship between that. But I’m saying that there’s not much salvation to be achieved through the political arena. My guest is Professor Walter Williams. He is an economics professor, teaches at George Mason University. If I say to the federal government, “I will pay my share of the constitutional, constitutionally mandated functions of the federal government, I will pay happily. But I will not have my earnings go to farmers, go to bail out big banks.” You’ll see all the intimidation, threats and oppression… But I think America, meets, any, any normal person’s definition of – we are living in a free society here. This is not Plato’s Republic. This is not the Soviet Union….. We’re not living in a free society. Always controversial and popular, Walter has inspired students and colleagues alike. I first was introduced to Walter Williams when I saw him on television. It was in, I believe, the spring of 1981. Professor Williams is saying, among other things, that perhaps the Great Society programs, and the whole idea of government as father or paternal, has not been in the best interests of – of all people… minorities. And then Walter said a statement that I will never forget. He said to Phil Donahue, he said, “Phil, who owns you? Who owns your life?” Said John Locke, asked this question centuries ago, and I ask you and everybody in this audience, “Who owns your life?” Right then and there I said, “Oh, I love this guy. Who is this guy?” I didn’t know who he was. I didn’t even know his name at the time. And they flashed Dr. Walter Williams, George Mason University under, under his picture on the TV. And that night I then called Walter. I called the department, and I said, “Can I speak to Walter Williams?” And he was there in his office. And I said, “I want to study economics under you.” So food stamps cause illegitimate babies then? No, no…no. Sexual intercourse does. AUDIENCE APPLAUSE…LAUGHTER MUSIC Walter E. Williams – claiming the “E” stands for excellence- was born in Philadelphia in 1936. He spent his early boyhood with his mother and his sister Catherine. In 1947, the family moved into the Richard Allen housing project in North Philadelphia, one of the city’s first federally funded housing projects for working-class families. My mother was very, very important. She was the one who made the sacrifices to make sure that we got a reasonably good education given our income, given our circumstances. Even though we were poor, my mother used to always tell us, “Look, we have a beer pocketbook, but we have champagne taste.” Walter’s father was largely absent and offered almost no financial support. With the little he did provide, and Catherine Williams’ part-time job as a domestic servant, the family got by. They were part of the welfare state, but they were never a part of the welfare ideology. She and her sisters were very determined people, and demanded a whole lot out of us as kids. At that time, blacks were very demanding of their children in terms of education and responsibility. I think part of the reason that my dad is who he is has a lot to do with her, and his upbringing with her. One of the reasons she’s kind of inspirational for him is because she did a lot with the little that she had. There were different values of hard work and sacrifice and respect. And, and, many of those values are absent today among Americans in general, and very often, and even more so among young Americans who are black. This is Parish Drive. Okay. Where at least one of the streets that went into the projects. And it was much different then. That is, there wasn’t the kind of the crime. There wasn’t the broken families. Matter of fact, my sister and I were the only kids in this whole neighborhood that only had one parent in the house. Yeah, I’m sure that’s not the case now. Walter’s grandmother was the daughter of slaves. His mother never graduated from high school. Still, Catherine Williams introduced her son and daughter to as much culture as her pocketbook would allow. On weekends, she would take her children to the Philadelphia Museum of Art…the Free Library…and the Franklin institute. I was the first in the family to graduate from high school, but I wasn’t always serious in school. I remember the counselor told my mother, “As soon as he gets this foolishness out of him, he’s really going to go somewhere.” One of the rather remarkable differences between I guess today, among many, many black Americans than of yesteryear, is that well, in yesteryear we could not dream of having all the material things that are available to poor people today. We’re no longer looking at problems of poverty defined in terms of money. We are looking at a kind of poverty, and I think it’s similar to what Walter refers to it as spiritual poverty, in which there has been a loss of a vision of what constitutes a good life. And what I mean by spiritual poverty is where people lack the ambition. They’ve developed the ideas of dependency, and they’re engaging in all kinds of pathological behaviors, such as the high illegitimacy rate where 70-some percent of black kids are born out of wedlock. And it was like, in 1940, it was only 13 percent. Once you’ve reached that stage, you’ve got to change the culture before you can solve the problem. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was United States assistant secretary of labor in 1965. His controversial Moynihan Report helped stimulate President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” There are health districts in New York City, where for every thousand children, 781 are living on welfare. The illegitimacy ratios in the city- in some of the slums is up now towards 50 percent. Half the children born are illegitimate, and we don’t understand that. The irony is, the people who do that are congratulating themselves to this day for having created the welfare state, with no thought about what were…what was the collateral damage? And were the small things that you were able to do for people worth that damage? What we find is the basic economic principle, and that is, if you tax something you’re going to get less of it, and if you subsidize it, you’re going to get more of it. And what we’ve been doing is subsidizing slovenly behavior. In the 1940s, almost any youngster, black or white, who wanted to work, found a job. At the age of ten, Walter was shining shoes. In high school, he delivered mail and packed shipping orders for the Sears Roebuck department store. If I wanted to go to the movies, or if I wanted to go to the amusement park, there was no money from my mother to give us to go to the amusement park, and so we had to work. One of Walter’s favorite jobs was at the Horn & Hardart Automat, in the heart of downtown Philadelphia. Once the world’s largest restaurant chain, the automat, with its iconic coin operated machines was America’s original fast food restaurant. I thought that Horn and Hardart’s was a wonderful job. Horn and Hardart was a very, very famous restaurant in Philadelphia, and the good thing about working at Horn and Hardart’s was here I am, 14 or 15 years old, you could eat all you want. And the way to an adolescent’s heart is by giving them lots of food. Walter’s first real job was at the U-Needa-Hat Company, where he taught himself to operate an electric sewing machine. When a seamstress found out he was on the payroll, she complained that the owner was in violation of child labor laws. There was a visit from the Department of Labor… and Walter was fired. During the time, I thought the Labor Department was on my side because they’re, I said they’re really trying to get more money for me. But after the fact, when I’d lost my job, I found that they’re not really on my side at all. Much later, in 1985, Walter protested labor laws like the minimum wage in his first public television documentary, Good Intentions. Today, in ghettos like I grew up in, 70 percent of black children who look for jobs, cannot find them. That’s a shame because a first job means much more than pocket change. It’s a chance for a start, maybe in a store like this. Most of the kids that you give jobs to, they hold them for a long period of time. And I wish I could give more kids jobs, because I have kids constantly coming up to me and asking me for jobs. They’re even more important for kids who grow up in broken homes, who’ve gone to rotten schools, because if they’re going to learn anything that will make them a more valuable worker in the future, they’re not going to learn it in their neighborhoods. They’re not going to learn in their schools. So they have to learn it on the job. And what the Minimum Wage Law does, it nixes that learning. Starting in 1961, congress began to push the minimum wage higher. In effect, the law forced teenagers to ask for more than they were worth. Most people are unaware, in 1948- black 16 and 17 year olds had an unemployment rate just under 10 percent. They were not to get down that low again, in even the most prosperous years in the 60s, 70s or any time, right up to the present moment. A lot of people say, “Well, the minimum wage is an anti-poverty device.” Well, that is utter nonsense. It doesn’t even pass the smell-test. Because if it were an anti-poverty device, well then, instead of spending all this money on foreign aid, we just have our experts at the State Department tell Bangladesh, “Well you could be rich like we are, just have a higher minimum wage.” In 1958, Walter’s mother remarried, and for Walter that was good news. She married her childhood sweetheart, and his name was Thomas Burchett. And we called him Pops. He became a father that I never had. And then he taught me responsibility. There are so many lessons that my dad continued through Pops, through me. It’s those lessons that his Pops taught him that made him a better man. Walter graduates from high school, and registers for two night classes at Temple University. To pay the bill he goes to work driving a taxi, and that changes his life. Through another driver, he meets an attractive young woman destined to become Mrs. Walter Williams. She was a wonderful person, and she was very, very good for me. She, as Walter, had a great sense of herself. She was a pleasure to be around, and she didn’t take any stuff from Walter. I loved the relationship between Connie and Walter because she really kept him under control, and he really enjoyed it. She was a very level-headed person. I suppose she would have to be…and very discerning. And not at all like so many people that you meet, who are trying to show off how smart they are. She was an older woman. She was three years older than I and a little more worldly than I. But she was very, very effective at giving me some of her skills for getting along with people, because I did not get along that well with people. We became instantaneous friends. She was smart, and like I said, she handles Walter beautifully. My mom taught my dad how to behave, really. And not so much that he didn’t know how to interact with people, he did. When you’re with a man with that intellect, sometimes wives tend to be a little reticent…not Connie. They would, you know, go to parties and he would be arrogant. And they would come home and he would get a scolding, saying “You know, you can’t talk to people like that.” is what my mom would say. “If you want to be friends with someone, you don’t have to prove you’re the smartest person in the room. People will know just by having conversation with you.” Conchetta Taylor was born the youngest of eleven children. She was three years old when her mother died, leaving her father to care for his large and very poor family. Sometimes they would go into an abandoned house, and he could jerry-rig the electricity so that they would have some electricity and some heat maybe, until they were discovered and they had to move. Their relationship developed quickly and Connie urged him to fashion a plan for his future. Walter decided they would move to California where he wanted to finish college. It is 1958, and America is still drafting able-bodied men in the armed forces. Even Elvis Presley had to put his career on hold, and by the next summer, Walter too, would be drafted into Uncle Sam’s army. Sometimes I don’t call it drafting- my labor services were confiscated by the United States government. And I just had to put off everything that I had planned on doing to spend two years in the army. Walter’s stepfather “Pops” was a tech sergeant during World War II. He had some sound advice for the young man. “Being in the army is a million dollar experience that you wouldn’t take a million dollars to do again.” He had no idea how right Pops was. Walter boarded a bus that would take him to boot camp in the Deep South. It was only the beginning of a long and difficult journey. My first experience with open discrimination and segregation was while I was on my way reporting to Fort Stewart, Georgia. And I looked up and saw a sign saying, “Colored Waiting Room.” There was discrimination in Philadelphia, but there weren’t the open signs saying, “Colored waiting room, colored bathroom, colored water fountain.” I was just in shock, because I’d never seen that being born and raised in Philadelphia. In 1948, President Harry Truman by-passed congress to end “official” segregation in the American armed forces with an executive order. But for Walter, the order was meaningless. Truman’s desegregation of the army was to eliminate separate divisions, like black companies and white companies. But nonetheless, discrimination and segregation remained. One obvious form of discrimination in the military was the assignment of menial jobs to blacks. Walter was sent to the motor pool to wash military vehicles. When he was ordered to paint a two-and-a-half-ton truck, he knew full well the officer meant only the flatbed. By the time he got to the tires- he was stopped. And so he says, “Soldier, what in the hell are you doing?” I said, “I’m painting the truck, sir.” He said, “You don’t do it that way.” I said, “You said the whole truck.” I was using my best Stepin Fetchit routine. …exactly nervous…I just generally falls to pieces around polices… Hi, once again this is Dick Clark, welcoming you back to American Bandstand. Walter’s troublemaking doesn’t end with the truck. He stirs up white soldiers, telling them he saw his white girlfriend dancing on TV’s American Bandstand, and organizes black soldiers to attend a segregated dance…on the wrong night. He becomes more and more unpopular, not only with the officers and his peers, but with some of the black soldiers. They used to say things like, “We had our own senators, we have our own churches, our own stores, and it’s people like you from the North that’s coming down here causing problems. And in fact, many of the white soldiers told me, “Don’t come off the base.” The targets of the Nashville students were the lunch counters of the city’s two largest department stores, and four variety stores. And for the first time, the community was confronted with Negroes in places where they had never been. It is 1960. America has entered a new phase of the civil rights movement. Black college students are staging “sit-ins” at segregated lunch counters, waiting rooms and government offices throughout the South. They come in, and they sit down and we’re not used to them sitting down beside us- because I wasn’t raised with them. I never have lived with them, and I’m not going to start now. Inspired by blatant displays of bigotry on television, Walter’s troublemaking continues. One of the menial jobs he is ordered to do is sweep out battalion headquarters and run errands. That is when he discovers the head clerk at battalion headquarters is up for a discharge. I asked the sergeant major could I have his job. And so the sergeant major laughed, and he had been briefed about me. And so he said, “You probably couldn’t figure out the job.” And so I said, “Well, give me a chance.” And so he said, “Well, okay type this.” I typed it, and I corrected some errors in it, and I handed it back to him, and so I convinced him that I could do the job. Being the court recorder I learned a whole lot about military law. And that helped me out very well when I was court-martialed. Private Walter Williams was served his summary court-martial on a trumped-up charge of failing to obey a direct command. The company commander told me to lay out a full field inspection, and so, I laid it out and the sergeant told me to put it away. And so the company commander called me to the office and asked me how come I didn’t lay out the full field inspection? And I told him, “I did, but the sergeant told me to put it away and go to work.” And so he called the sergeant in, and the sergeant said he hadn’t seen me that morning. They were really after me. He serves as his own defense council and is found “not guilty of all charges.” The army brass, knowing that Walter is considering legal action against his captain, orders him to finish his duty…in South Korea. Before shipping out, and not wanting to lose Connie, he proposes. They’re married by the Reverend John Logan, rector of St. Simon Episcopal Church. Unable to afford a church wedding, Walter accepts Reverend Logan’s offer to perform the ceremony across the street in the front room of his home. In Korea, Walter resumes his campaign against discrimination. He writes letters to his superiors, to politicians and to the editors of newspapers. The Philadelphia Independent prints his letter detailing racial discrimination and shabby military practices on its front page. I had officers that would question me and say, what’s my agenda? And I would say, “In all due respect to you, sir, I took an oath of office when I was drafted into the army to uphold and defend the United States Constitution against its enemies, both foreign and domestic. And you sir, are a domestic enemy of the Constitution. As a reservist, Walter continues to fight for his constitutional rights. He writes to President John Kennedy and asks, “…should Negroes be relieved of their service obligation, or continue defending and dying for empty promises of freedom and equality?” He receives a reply from the Assistant Secretary of Defense, and his assistant calls to suggest that he just might want to request a hardship release from active reserve duty. Walter followed that advice and two years later, in 1965, he received an honorable discharge. I was 24-years-old and I said, “If I don’t get started soon…I’m never going to be anything. And so, I wrote a letter to Connie and I said, “Well, as soon as we save $700, we’re going to go to Los Angeles, and I’m going to go to college.” Going to Los Angeles was probably the second wisest decision I made in my life. And the first one was to marry Connie. MUSIC In February 1962, Walter enrolls as a full-time student at California State College, Los Angeles. With Connie at his side, it seems anything is possible. He said, “You know, I have to do better. I don’t want to drive a cab until I’m 70.” And I think because she was willing to go with him- and willing to support him…go to California…and she worked full-time his entire time through grad school and under grad. I don’t think there is a way that he could have done it by himself. And we were together as a couple, inseparable for close to 50 years before she passed away. And I owe a good part of my life character to Connie, because Connie was a civilizing influence. He lost his soul mate and his partner, and the person that he shares everything with. His “beautiful girl,” is what he would say. He lost her. And I think that we’re both still recovering from that. Their relationship was a certainly loving one. She really, she taught him how to – to love. They lived a modest existence on Connie’s paycheck, and Walter was enjoying life as a college student. But the struggle for civil rights could not be ignored. I was a radical in terms of the civil rights movement. I was not a supporter of Martin Luther King, but more a supporter of Malcolm X. And I believe that…that the use of violence and confrontation was far more appropriate than “We shall overcome.” The goal of Dr. Martin Luther King is to get Negroes to forgive the people who have brutalized them for 400 years, by lulling them to sleep, and making them forgetting what whites have done to them. I was a sociology major at Cal State LA. I read W.E.B. DuBois’ Black Reconstruction. And he was saying that Negroes are not going to achieve any salvation in our country until they understand the economic system. And that convinced me that well- I think I should major in economics. I truly believe that Walter found out, too, is that if you understand economics, you can work your way in this world a lot better. You don’t get fooled by politicians or other people. I saw it as a struggle for liberty. The portrayal of blacks as helpless victims of slavery, discrimination and personal violence is a part of our American history. But for Walter, the facts of the matter do not square with that portrayal. Many blacks went to work to earn the money they would need to buy their freedom. One of the big mistakes that we make in terms of looking at black history in the United States is our failure to recognize that blacks did not accept slavery passively. There was a phenomenon called self-hiring, or sometimes they call it quasi-free blacks. One of the more famous quasi-free Negroes was Frederick Douglass. He did ship caulking. He did many other kinds of jobs, and he would go back and give his owner some money. Despite the rhetoric that people use, considering blacks as lower forms of human beings, economics tends to bring people to their senses. Whites were willing to hire blacks. Whites were willing to make purchases from blacks…why? Because either they worked for lower wages, or a higher quality product. And so again… economics tend to bring people to their senses. Over time, blacks struggled to enter the mainstream of American life. They acquired property and personal holdings to the point that DuBois commented: “…it is astonishing how the African has integrated himself into American civilization.” In 1853, Frederick Douglass warned his fellow blacks, “Learn trades or starve.” Black entrepreneurs began to exploit markets for fellow blacks as well as whites. By the mid-19th century, Thomy Lafon became a real estate dealer in New Orleans. His fortune totaled $8 million dollars in today’s money. William H. Brown founded the first black bank in Virginia. Junius G. Groves was born a slave in Kentucky, but when he went to Kansas he became the country’s largest individual grower of potatoes. And in Concord, North Carolina, Warren Clay Coleman received financial assistance from wealthy white businessmen to found his Coleman Textile Manufacturing Company. One of the best kept secrets of the 19th century is that blacks were making a lot of progress in the face of obstacles. When whites faced competition from blacks, either as workers or merchants, then they used the political system to rig the economic game. So what do you do? You pass a law that says that you restrict competition, so that all at once it’s much more difficult for blacks to have a competitive advantage by being willing to work for lower wages, which historically is how people get ahead. And this is why the people who are for discrimination are also against markets, because they know markets tend to be color blind. CHEERING High school basketball: an opening for a young person of color to take a shot at becoming a professional player. Not long ago…such opportunity did not exist. A long-time fan of basketball, Walter and former NBA referee Steve Javie both know how the free market creates opportunity, without any need for racial preferences. At one time, black Americans were not allowed in professional basketball and football. Well, how did black Americans go from not being in these sports… Right. … to being the top and dominating them- if it wasn’t due to any anti-discriminatory laws, or affirmative action at all? So you say, well, how do you explain it? I think that these guys can just do a 360 slam dunk in your face, and you can’t do anything about it. You mean you’re saying I can’t do it? No you can’t. (Laughter) I know you say there wasn’t affirmative action. I agree, probably wasn’t, it was the fact that they started becoming so good at what they were doing. Well, you couldn’t ignore them. Right, but you still had to get the public to accept that. Well, I don’t know…in the sense of like when Branch Rickey of the Dodgers, when he hired Jackie Robinson- that was a risk. But once he hired Jackie Robinson, there was this huge pool of black talent… Robinson is the first of his race to be honored with admission into the shrine of the national game. Branch Ricky was known for a long time as someone who had a keen appreciation for the dollar. For him, it would be a bonanza to bring Jackie Robinson into the major leagues. So much that Jackie Robinson was put through was due to the fact that other people understood that once he broke the color line, it was all over. What allowed the race thing to stay as long as it did was the absence of competition. Major League baseball had an exemption from the anti-trust laws. And so, the cartel was safe. They could do whatever they wanted. But once one member of that cartel broke that barrier, then the others would be at an enormous disadvantage within organized baseball, if they didn’t also get black players. And of course, they did. In sports, or in the music industry where you see black excellence, you don’t see any affirmative action. You don’t see any lawsuits. What you do see is excellence. The turmoil of the mid 60s while I was in California, I did not participate in it at all, and the reason why was- I was just too busy. I was working full-time and I was a full-time student at UCLA. And I just could not participate, and then after a while, I just thought it was nonsense. When Walter graduated from Cal State with a BA in economics, one of his professors encouraged him to pursue graduate school. He enrolled in UCLA’s program in economics- among the top dozen such programs in the country. Walter was a remarkable presence from the first moment I met him. There was the shark’s tooth necklace; the height; the evident energy, and the underlying strength. Plus the rumor that I think he may have helped propagate, that he’d been an enforcer for the Black Panthers. After receiving his master’s degree, he lands a part-time teaching job at Los Angeles City College. He would quickly realize he was both teacher…and student. It taught me economics…that is one of the best ways to learn economics is to teach it. And then it taught me that, heck, I really like teaching and I’m going to make this a career. With the help of tough-minded mentors like Armen Alchian and Larry Kimball at UCLA, and his exposure to the works of philosopher/economists like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, Walter went on to earn his Ph.D. At UCLA they gave me inspiration to think with my brain, instead of my heart. It was probably, maybe the beginning of my switching from one kind of radical to another. With a head full of new ideas, Walter accepts a full-time assistant professorship from Cal State’s Economics Department…a long way from the Philadelphia projects. I often tell people that I am very, very happy that I got virtually all of my education before it became fashionable for white people to like black people. So what that meant is that when I got a C, it was an honest-to-God C. When I got an A, it was an honest-to-God A. They weren’t practicing affirmative action, and they didn’t give a damn about my self-esteem. The violence in the streets over racial injustice, and the country’s impatience with the Vietnam War escalates, but Walter remains focused on his career. In the fall of 1973, Walter and Connie move back to Philadelphia, and a new job teaching economics at Temple University. Before long, he is once again embroiled in controversy. There was a move by black students to demand a black economics course. And so I asked my colleagues, imagine if Irish or Italian students demanded Irish or Italian economics, you would throw them out of your office. But because of your guilt, you will listen to black students saying the same thing. In time, Walter becomes aware that some of his fellow faculty are especially tolerant of their under-performing black students. He writes a memo to the administrators of Temple’s business school citing “fraudulent grades.” A reporter’s interview with Walter and his memo promptly appear in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Racial preferences or affirmative action is one of the most effective means, I believe, of reinforcing racial stereotypes. People don’t realize that if you go back, from 1950 to 1965, blacks were moving up on all sorts of important dimensions. And they stopped moving up in a lot of those precisely at the time when “equal outcomes” became the battle cry. Not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact, and equality as a result. And that set in motion a cascade of subsequent programs, affirmative action, all the things the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does. Every single one of them with the very best of intentions, and every single one of them producing feedback loops and unintended consequences, which have made it harder and harder to achieve the progress that was being achieved, before we got into the equal outcome mind set. America should have said to us at this time, we acknowledge what we did, and we are profoundly sorry. We will make every effort never to do this kind of thing again to anybody, any group. And now you’re on your own. Racial discrimination and racism in our country could have earned a well-deserved death, but it has been resurrected by race-hustlers, or poverty pimps I call them, such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and many others in the civil rights movement, who make a living on the grievances of blacks. In the summer of 1975, Walter accepts a one-year fellowship at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He and Connie and their new-born daughter Devon would move back to California. I went out there that summer, and I was commissioned to do a study for the Joint Economic Committee of Congress on the minimum wage, and the Davis-Bacon Act. That is, these are laws that regulate the wages that people may earn. And I came to the conclusion that the minimum wage law discriminated against teenagers, particularly minority teenagers. And the Davis-Bacon Act discriminated against blacks in construction work. It was Walter’s controversial minimum wage study that helped launch the more public side of his career. Requests for radio and television appearances increased. And our nation benefits to the extent that these people come here and work. …the study on youth and minority unemployment I got invitations to testify in congress on various aspects of labor economics and other topics as well; on taxation, on welfare, and I used to get in some very, very kind of nasty arguments with congressmen, because I don’t have the level of respect for congressmen that many people have. In 1978, Walter began a study on the negative effects of occupational and business licensing. It becomes a major part of his first book, The State against Blacks. If you take a poor, illiterate Italian in 1920s, and if he wanted to get into the taxi cab business, all he had to do was buy a used car and write the word “taxi” on it. And lo and behold, he was in business, making money. Today, it’s entirely different. Unlike the early 20th century, many cities today restrict the number of taxis by requiring each taxi to have a medallion. The cities keep the number of medallions strictly limited. A taxi medallion in Philadelphia currently costs $400,000, similar to what it costs in Boston or Chicago. In New York City, a medallion costs an individual over $700,000, with a corporate medallion topping in at one million dollars. In 1937, one could buy an original taxi medallion in New York City for $10. The price of a medallion, or the price of any license, it reflects the value that the owner of the license places on being in a government protected monopoly market. Because if the government said anybody could get into the cab business, allow anybody, well then the price of a license would be zero. It wouldn’t be worth anything. It leads to higher prices, and so the consumer is hurt. And it leads to outsiders not being able to get in. And that’s the whole point of the medallion system is to keep insiders in, and outsiders out. As an American, Walter’s beliefs spring from his deep love for the United States Constitution and his abiding respect for the rule of law. For him, the promise of the Founding Fathers to “promote the general welfare” and “secure the blessings of liberty” has been ignored. Americans have lost their love for the United States Constitution. And I believe that either they’re ignorant, or they have contempt for the United States Constitution. Ignorance is curable, but contempt is not. Walter speaks to the “just powers” of government with another champion of the Constitution, Senior Judge on the United States Court of Appeals, Douglas Ginsburg. I’ve said on many occasions that the Supreme Court does not uphold and defend the United States Constitution. Which is your complaint- that the Court isn’t upholding the Constitution, or that they shouldn’t have a role? In 1794, Congress appropriated $15,000 to help some French refugees, and James Madison stood on the floor of the House, irate, and he says, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article in the Constitution that authorizes congress to spend the money of their constituents for the purposes of benevolence. But if you look at the federal budget today, 2/3rds of it is for the purpose of benevolence, and any politician who would make a similar statement, he’d get run out of office today. On the surface it’s benevolence because it’s a benefit, a gift, but it’s also enchainment, enslavement, because it makes people dependent on the federal government. The Constitution, Article one, Section Eight, enumerates the powers of the federal government, and the federal government has gone, congress has gone far beyond those enumerated powers I think the root of that problem…I don’t know if you agree with this, is that the direct election of senators. When the senators were elected by the state legislatures, they represented the state as an entity in the federal government. No one does that any more. That’s right. Yeah. And so, the federal government has created more and more authority and the states aren’t there to object. Yeah. Yeah. And…and the states cannot do anything about it. It’s water over the dam. There’s no way to undo that one, unless people all of a sudden decide they weren’t interested in having power. (Laughs) Are Americans any way basically different from the Romans, from the French, from the Spanish, from Portuguese, from the British? And these are great empires of the past, but they went down the tubes, for almost what we’re doing today. And so, what is there about our country that’s going to make American people any different? Pete Seeger wrote a song- was actually a union song, but the refrain was, “liberty is a hard-won thing, and every generation got to win it over again.” And that’s true, otherwise it languishes and then it’s gone. Much of what Walter Williams has achieved in life has been the result of hard work and sacrifice. But luck and chance have also been on his side. What if he had never had a determined and disciplined mother, or tough-minded teachers who, as he says, didn’t give a damn about his self-esteem? Suppose he never got a job driving a taxi? It’s likely he would never have met Connie. Where would he be now? Where would any American of color be without freedom and opportunity? What then is Walter Williams’ legacy? They’re going to call him a controversial professor who offended a lot of black people. And they may mention his books, but they won’t talk about the profound effect he’s had on so many people, black and white, who have read his books and have been inspired by him. Walter is one of the few honest academics. And it’s harder to be honest in academia, than almost any other place, with the possible exception of politics. He will be remembered, as he should be remembered, as one of the great economists, a great human being, and one of the most incredible blacks to have come through America in the past 80 years. The mandate in a free society, as Walter understands, is not to give freedom to people who agree with you. The essence of liberty is to allow freedom for people who disagree with you. You can be principled and un-flexing, unbendable with your principles and still be successful. And sometimes you have to stand up, and it’s okay if you have to stand alone. And I think that that’s, I think that that’s an un-intentioned message that he sends. Sometimes you have to stand alone, but at least you’re standing up. When he was in high school, he had an English class, and he turned in a research paper. When the teacher passed back the papers, she got to Walter’s desk and she tore the paper into four pieces and dropped it on his desk. And she says, “Rewrite the whole paper.” And he always pointed out that was one of the most influential teachers of his life, because she didn’t make excuses for his failure. She demanded excellence because she believed in him…and that’s the key. One of Pops’ statements used to be that “Chance and opportunity don’t come by very often, but when they do come by, when the opportunity train does come by, don’t be in a position of saying, ‘Wait, let me go pack my bags.’ Always be ready for opportunity.” On his website, Walter offers anyone of European descent a proclamation of amnesty and pardon. I, Walter Williams, do declare full and general amnesty and pardon to all persons of European… …ancestry, for both their own grievances, and those of their forbearers against my people. Therefore, from this day forward, Americans of European ancestry … …can stand straight and proud, knowing they are without guilt and thus obliged… …not to act like damn fools in their relationships with Americans of African ancestry. (Laughs) That’s wonderful! As my dad says in this proclamation of amnesty and pardon, that’s over. Pick yourself up. And it’s time to do better, and time to want for better. Walter signs that proclamation on his website, Walter E. Williams, Gracious and Generous Grantor. MUSIC Major funding for Walter Williams, Suffer No Fools was provided by Dunn’s Foundation, and Searle Freedom Trust. Additional funding was provided by Beach Foundation, Harvey Cody, Donors Trust, The Hickory Foundation, William Shepard, and The Woodford Foundation for Limited Government.