Walter E. Williams

In a free society, government has the responsibility of protecting us from others, but not from ourselves. Before government got into the business of protecting us from ourselves, we did have a greater measure of protection from others. Yesteryear's children rode their bikes or walked to a friend's house, knocked on the door and let themselves in. Many families didn't lock doors until the last family member was home for the evening, and they did that in poor neighborhoods like the one I grew up in.

Yesteryear, when we went off to school, parents might have worried about our crossing streets safely. Today's parents have a different set of worries, such as whether their child will be shot, stabbed, robbed, raped or given drugs in school. During the pre-1960 years, neighborhoods -- including poor neighborhoods -- were safe enough for women to walk the streets after dark. In fact, in places like Harlem, N.Y., hot, humid nights saw children and adults sleeping on fire escapes and rooftops. Doing the same today might lead to arrest for attempted suicide.

Speaking of crime, if children did have a scrape with the law, our parents sided with the police.

Don't you wonder how so many Americans made it without today's oppressive, caring, nanny government?


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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