Walter E. Williams

I've had students argue that discrimination by race and sex in marriage is trivial and of little consequence but that there should be equal opportunity in employment. But what is equal opportunity, and how could you tell whether it existed? I've asked students whether upon college completion they will give every employer an equal opportunity to hire them. Most often, with a puzzled look on their faces, they answer no. Then I ask, "If you are not going to give every employer an equal opportunity to hire you, why should employers be forced to give you an equal opportunity to be hired?"

When the class discussion turns to the law of demand, sometimes the term "need" arises. A student might say a car, a cellphone and running water are essential needs. My response is that cars, cellphones and running water can't be essential needs, because people have managed to do without those items for a longer period than they've done with them. There's nothing that people cannot do without, but the consequences might not be very pleasant.

Some might say, "Williams, this thinking of yours is not very compassionate!" That's right. I believe that being compassionate toward one's fellow man requires dispassionate thinking and analysis. In other words, we need to think with our brains, not with our hearts.

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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