Walter E. Williams 1936-2020: Thomas Sowell

Walter E. Williams 1936-2020: Thomas Sowell
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Walter Williams loved teaching.

Unlike too many other teachers today, he made it a point never to impose his opinions on his students.

Those who read his syndicated newspaper columns know that he expressed his opinions boldly and unequivocally there

Walter once said he hoped that, on the day he died, he would have taught a class that day. And that is just the way it was, when he died on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020.

He was my best friend for half a century. There was no one I trusted more or whose integrity I respected more.

Since he was younger than me, I chose him to be my literary executor, to take control of my books after I was gone.

But his death is a reminder that no one really has anything to say about such things.

As an economist, Walter Williams never got the credit he deserved.

His book “Race and Economics” is a must-read introduction to the subject. Amazon has it ranked 5th in sales among civil rights books, nine years after it was published.

Another book of his, on the effects of economics under the white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa, was titled “South Africa’s War Against Capitalism.”

He went to South Africa to study the situation directly. Many of the things he brought out have implications for racial discrimination in other places around the world.

I have had many occasions to cite Walter Williams’ research in my own books.

Most of what others say about higher prices in low-income neighborhoods today has not yet caught up to what Walter said in his doctoral dissertation decades ago.

Despite his opposition to the welfare state, as something doing more harm than good, Walter was privately very generous with both his money and his time in helping others.

He figured he had a right to do whatever he wanted to with his own money, but that politicians had no right to take his money to give away, in order to get votes.

In a letter dated March 3, 1975, Walter wrote: “Sometimes it is a very lonely struggle trying to help our people, particularly the ones who do not realize that help is needed.”

In the same letter, he mentioned a certain hospital which “has an all but written policy of prohibiting the flunking of Black medical students.”

Not long after this, a professor at a prestigious medical school revealed that Black students there were given passing grades without having met the standards applied to other students. He warned that trusting patients would pay — some with their lives — for such irresponsible double standards. That has in fact happened.

As a person, Walter Williams was unique.

I have heard of no one else being described as being “like Walter Williams.”

Holding a black belt in karate, Walter was a tough customer. One night three men jumped him — and two of those men ended up in a hospital.

The other side of Walter came out in relation to his wife, Connie

 

 

 

 

 

Walter Williams: R.I.P. to a champion of freedom

Walter E. Williams wearing glasses© Provided by Washington Examiner

Conservative author and economist Walter Williams has died, ending the illustrious career of one of liberty’s fiercest yet most soft-spoken advocates.

He was 84.

Many conservatives know Williams from his years of subbing for talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. Others know Williams from his appearances on the 10-part 1980 PBS television series Free to Choose, featuring Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman.

Born in 1936, the John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University was known as a prolific author.

Williams “was the author of over 150 publications which have appeared in scholarly journals,” Economic Policy Journal recalls in its memoriam. His work appeared in Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review, Georgia Law Review, Journal of Labor Economics, Social Science Quarterly, and Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy and popular publications such as Newsweek, Ideas on Liberty, National Review, Reader’s Digest, Cato Journal, andPolicy Review.

The man also wrote ten books: America: A Minority Viewpoint, The State Against Blacks, All It Takes Is Guts, South Africa’s War Against Capitalism, Do the Right Thing: The People’s Economist Speaks, More Liberty Means Less Government, Liberty vs. the Tyranny of Socialism, Up From The Projects: An Autobiography, Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed On Discrimination?, and American Contempt for Liberty.

To his friends, Williams, who was born both poor and fatherless in Philadelphia and spent much of his childhood in public housing projects, was known as an uncompromising lover of liberty.

“Walter liked smoking and he also hated the TSA,” economist David Henderson recalled this week after learning of Williams’s death. “Some years ago, the combination of no-smoking [regulations] on planes and intrusive groping by the TSA caused him to vow never to fly by commercial airline again. When he received offers to give speeches that were far enough away that driving was infeasible, he negotiated for a private airplane to take him there.”

John J. Miller likewise recalls in National Review the time that Williams’s exerted his independence and fought racial prejudice after being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1959 to fight in Korea.

“Although the military had desegregated, he bristled at institutional prejudice — and demonstrated his willingness to challenge racial orthodoxy,” Miller wrote in 2011. “He complained constantly about discrimination, even writing a letter about it to his commander-in-chief, President Kennedy.”

“When he stepped off the plane for a posting in Korea,” Miller continues, “he was told to fill out a paper with personal information. In the box for his race, he claimed to be white. ‘No, you’re not,’ said a warrant officer who reviewed the form. ‘Yes, I am,’ replied Williams, who knew perfectly well that he couldn’t pass for a white guy. Williams explained his choice to the officer: ‘If I checked off ‘Negro,’ I’d get the worst job over here.”

Williams’s first assignment ended up being a relatively easy one, far away from the front lines.

But as he was known for his sharp mind, he was also known for his keen wit, his dry sense of humor, and his kindness.

Personally, however, Williams will be remembered best as the soft-spoken conservative economist who frequently clowned on his late wife, Connie, who died in 2007.

As Marymount University economics professor Brian Hollar recalled after her death, “Professor Williams used to make a lot of jokes in class about making his wife shovel snow, how much he spoiled her, used her bad behavior for illustrating downward-sloping demand curves, etc. You could always tell through his teasing that he loved her deeply.”

Indeed, the Connie anecdotes were indicative not only of Williams’s dry sense of humor, and they acted not only as excellent examples to explain complex economic theories, but they displayed well his humanity. The stories always revealed his clear and deep love for his wife of 47 years.

He will be missed. Rest in peace, Walter Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dr. Walter Williams Highlights from – Testing Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman PBS Free to Choose 1980 Vol 8 of 10 Who Protects the Worker

Walter E Williams – A Discussion About Fairness & Redistribution

Testing Milton Friedman: Equality of Opportunity – Full Video

Walter Williams, Freedom Fighter

I’ve been fortunate to know Walter Williams ever since I began my Ph.D. studies at George Mason University in the mid-1980s. He is a very good economist, but his real value is as a public intellectual.

He also has a remarkable personal story, which he tells in his new autobiography,Up from the Projects. I’ve read the book and urge you to do the same. It’s very interesting and, like his columns, crisply written.

To get a flavor for Walter’s strong principles and blunt opinions, watch this video from Reason TV. I won’t spoil things, but the last couple of minutes are quite sobering.

Walter Williams: Up From the Projects

I suppose a personal story might be appropriate at this point. My ex also was at George Mason University, and she was Walter’s research assistant. Walter would give multiple-choice tests to students taking his entry-level classes and she was responsible for grading them by sending them through a machine that would “click” for every wrong answer. For almost every student, it sounded like a machine gun was going off. Suffice to say, Walter’s classes were not easy.

So while I’m glad to say he’s my friend, I’m also happy I never took one of his classes.

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