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Walter E. Williams

is an American economist, commentator, and academic. He is the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, as well as a syndicated columnist and author known for his libertarian views.

Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination? by Walter E. Williams (March 2011)
Up from the Projects: An Autobiography by Walter E. Williams (2010)

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http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/

Immorality and contempt take their toll
A
merican immorality and contempt for liberty lie at the root of most of the political economic problems our nation faces. They explain the fiscal problems we face, such as growing national debt and budget deficits at the federal, state and local levels of government.

Our immorality and contempt for liberty are reflected most in our widespread belief that government ought to forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another American. Let’s examine it.

Suppose there is an elderly widow in your neighborhood. She does not have the strength to mow her lawn, clean her windows and perform other household tasks. Plus, she does not have the financial means to hire someone to perform them. Here is my question: Would you support a government mandate that forces one of your neighbors to mow the widow’s lawn, clean her windows and perform other household tasks?

Moreover, if the person so ordered failed to obey the government mandate, would you approve of some sort of sanction, such as a fine, property confiscation or imprisonment?

I believe and hope that most of my fellow Americans would find such a mandate repulsive. They would rightfully condemn it as a form of slavery, which can also be described as the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another.

Would there be the same condemnation if, instead of forcing one of your neighbors to actually perform the household tasks, your neighbor were forced to fork over $50 of his weekly earnings to the widow? That way, she could hire someone to perform the tasks that she is unable to do.

Would that mandate differ from one under which your neighbor is forced to actually perform the household tasks? I’d answer no. Just the mechanism differs for forcibly using one person to serve the purposes of another.

Most Americans would want to help this widow, but they would find anything that openly smacks of servitude or slavery deeply offensive.

— Walter Williams is distributed by Creators Syndicate. Reach him at .