Born in Philadelphia in 1936, Walter E. Williams holds a bachelor's degree in economics from California State University (1965) and a master's degree (1967) and doctorate (1972) in economics from the University of California at Los Angeles.
In 1980, he joined the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and is currently the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics. He has also served on the faculties of Los Angeles City College (1967-69), California State University (1967-1971) and Temple University (1973-1980). From 1963 to 1967, he was a group supervisor of juvenile delinquents for the Los Angeles County Probation Department.
More than 50 of his publications have appeared in scholarly journals such as Economic Inquiry, American Economic Review and Social Science Quarterly and popular publications such as Reader's Digest, The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. He has made many TV and radio appearances on such programs as Milton Friedman's "Free to Choose," William F. Buckley's "Firing Line," "Face The Nation," "Nightline" and "Crossfire."
He is also the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
In 1981, he began writing his weekly column called "A Minority View" for Heritage Features Syndicate. And in 1991, he joined Creators Syndicate as part of its friendly takeover of Heritage Features.
Williams sits on many advisory boards, including the Review Board of Economics Studies for the National Science Foundation, the Research Foundation, the National Tax Limitation Committee, the Taxpayer's Foundation and the Hoover Institution.
The awards and honors Williams have received are many. These include the National Fellow at the Hoover Institute of War, Revolution, and Peace; the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship; the National Service Award from the Institute for Socioeconomic Studies; and the George Washington Medal of Honor from the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation. In 1984-1985, he received the Faculty Member of the Year Award from the George Mason University Alumni. He is also a member of the American Economic Association, the Mont Pelerin Society and is a Distinguished Scholar of the Heritage Foundation.
Williams participates in many debates and conferences, is a frequent public speaker and often gives testimony before both houses of Congress.
So as to give some perspective, I'm going to ask readers for their guesses about human behavior before explaining my embarrassment by some of my fellow economists.
The Food and Drug Administration can make two types of errors. It can approve a drug that has dangerous unanticipated side effects, or it can reject or delay approval of a drug that is safe and effective. Let's look at these errors, because to err on the side of under- or over-caution is costly.
This kind of anti-American teaching might help explain why some Americans have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), sometimes called ISIS or IS, is a Sunni extremist group that follows al-Qaida's anti-West ideology and sees a holy war against the West as a religious duty.
How many times have we heard laments such as "women are 50 percent of the population but only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs" and, as the Justice Department recently found, "blacks are 54 percent of the population in Newark, New Jersey, but 85 percent of pedestrian stops and 79 percent of arrests"?
German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that in Germany, multiculturalism has "utterly failed."
At a July fundraising event in Chicago, Mrs. Michelle Obama remarked, "So, yeah, there's too much money in politics. There's (sic) special interests that have too much influence." Sen. John McCain has been complaining for years that "there is too much money washing around political campaigns today." According to a 2012 Reuters poll, "Seventy-five percent of Americans feel there is too much money in politics." Let's think about money in politics, but first a few facts.
There are things that really puzzle me. Some life insurance companies charge lower premiums if you haven't made a life-shortening lifestyle choice. Being a nonsmoker is one of them. Actuarially, that makes sense because the life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers.
Though racial discrimination exists, it is nowhere near the barrier it once was. The relevant question is: How much of what we see today can be explained by racial discrimination?
According to College Board, average tuition and fees for the 2013-14 school year totaled $30,094 at private colleges, $8,893 for in-state residents at public colleges and $22,203 for out-of-state residents.
Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera accused Matt Drudge's website of "the worst kind of jingoistic rhetoric ever" for carrying news stories about the dangers of illegal immigration. He said Drudge "is doing his best to stir up a civil war. I mean, shame on Matt Drudge."
Gen. William T. Sherman told the 1879 graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy, "War is hell." There's no nice war, and that's why war should be a last alternative.
Riley points out that there has been significant achievement among the black middle class but that wide black-white gaps remain with respect to income, educational achievement, unemployment, labor force participation, incarceration rates and other measures.
There are some areas of black life in which excellence can be found without the slightest hint of racial preferences. Young blacks dominate basketball, football and some track-and-field events despite the fact that there has been a history of gross racial discrimination in those activities. Blacks are also prominent in several areas of the entertainment industry. Those observations mean that racial discrimination alone is not an insurmountable barrier to success.
The U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 2012 losses because of personal identity theft totaled ?$24.7 billion.
During last year's budget negotiation meetings, President Barack Obama told House Speaker John Boehner, "We don't have a spending problem." When Boehner responded with "But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem," Obama replied, "I'm getting tired of hearing you say that."
There has never been a purely free market economic system, just as there has never been a purely communist system. However, we can rank economies and see whether ones that are closer to the free market end of the economic spectrum are better or worse than ones that are closer to the communist end. Let's try it.
Many view America's education as a failure, but in at least one important way, it's been a success -- a success in dumbing down the nation so that we fall easy prey to charlatans, hustlers and quacks.
Calls for slavery reparations have returned with the publication of Ta-Nehisi Coates' "The Case for Reparations" in The Atlantic magazine (May 21, 2014). In making his argument, Coates goes through the horrors of slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow and gross racial discrimination.
Darcy Olsen, president of the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, and Richard Garr, president of Neuralstem, a biotech company, wrote "Right to Try experimental drugs" in USA Today (5/28/2014).