Conservatives lost a hero of the intellectual and social worldview with the passing of Walter Williams Dec. 2. Hopefully, his ideas will never be forgotten. He was 84.
A black man, Williams rose from poverty in Philadelphia during the depression to earn a Ph.D. in economics at UCLA to fill the John M. Olin distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University. Williams contributed Williams more than “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, and Policy Review.
He also wrote 10 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.
But most of us knew him as a nationally syndicated columnist. He often focused on promoting free markets as the system best able to deliver economic justice and fairness and fighting for liberty.
“Overregulation by the government, including laws like occupational and business licensing, zoning regulations and the minimum wage, Williams argued, ‘systematically discriminate against the employment and advancement of people who are outsiders, latecomers and poor in resources.’ ” The Orange County Register said in an obituary.
“As he spent his life championing, the solution to these systematic barriers was to repeal such ‘antipeople’ laws and unleash the power of the market to maximize opportunities for all people.
“While it is fashionable among younger generations to condemn capitalism, Williams understood that capitalism is the greatest means for liberating people from poverty known to man.”
Thomas Sowell tweeted on Dec. 2. “There was a time when the black conservative community would have consisted of me and Walter Williams. I know Walter used to say the two of us should never fly on the same plane otherwise the whole movement will disappear if the plane goes down.”