Walter E. Williams

Philosopher Bertrand Russell suggested that "Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education." And, it was Albert Einstein who explained, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." So which is it -- stupidity, ignorance or insanity -- that explains the behavior of my fellow Americans who call for greater government involvement in our lives?

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According to latest Rasmussen Reports, 30 percent of Americans believe congressmen are corrupt. Last year, Congress' approval rating fell to 9 percent, its lowest in history. If the average American were asked his opinion of congressmen, among the more polite terms you'll hear are thieves and crooks, liars and manipulators, hustlers and quacks. But what do the same people say when our nation faces a major problem? "Government ought to do something!" When people call for government to do something, it is as if they've been befallen by amnesia and forgotten just who is running government. It's the very people whom they have labeled as thieves and crooks, liars and manipulators, hustlers and quacks.

Aside from the general level of disgust that Americans have for congressmen, there's the question of whether there is anything that Congress does well. What about Social Security and Medicare? Congress has allowed Social Security and Medicare to accumulate an unfunded liability of $101 trillion. That means in order to pay promised elderly entitlement benefits, Congress would have to put trillions in the bank today earning interest. Congressional efforts to create "affordable housing" have created today's financial calamity. Congress props up failed enterprises such as Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service with huge cash subsidies, and subsidies in the forms of special tax treatment and monopoly rights. I can't think of anything that Congress does well yet we Americans call for them to take greater control over important areas of our lives.

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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