Walter E. Williams

From our founding in 1787 to 1965, our nation went from a Third World status to building the world's mightiest first-class cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit and Philadelphia without the benefit of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After HUD was created in 1965, many of our formerly great cities are in decline. No one is saying that HUD is responsible for the decline, but neither was HUD responsible for their rise.

There is a distinct group of Americans who bear a large burden for today's runaway government. You ask, "Who are they?" It's the so-called "greatest generation." When those Americans were born, federal spending as a percentage of GDP was about 3 percent, as it was from 1787 to 1920 except during war. No one denies the sacrifices made and the true greatness of a generation of Americans who suffered through our worse depression, conquered the meanest tyrants during World War II and later managed to produce a level of wealth and prosperity heretofore unknown to mankind.

But this generation of Americans also laid the political foundation for the greatest betrayal of our nation's core founding principle: limited federal government exercising only constitutionally enumerated powers. It was on their watch that the foundation was laid for today's massive federal spending that tops 25 percent of GDP.

A good part of that generation is still alive. Before they depart, they might do their share to help us have a federal government exercising only constitutionally enumerated powers.


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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