Walter E. Williams

My rule is by no means absolute. There are instances where I put up with zero-priced smoke-free air, and there are other instances where I don't. It all depends on the cost to me. I think other smokers ought to adopt the same agenda. Say you're asked to do some volunteer work. You might answer, "Yes, if I'm allowed to smoke." This strategy might also be a nice way to get out of doing something without saying no. Just ask whether smoking is permitted.

The economic lesson to extract from all of this is that zero prices lead to sub-optimal outcomes, and it doesn't just apply to the smoking issue. How would you like zero prices at the supermarket or clothing store? If there were, what do you think you'd see on the shelves when you arrived? If you said, "Nothing, because people would take too much," go to the head of the class.


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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