Thursday, December 3, 2020

Tributes to Walter E. Williams, 1936-2020

Via Forbes:

The world lost an intellectual giant this week when the economist Walter E. Williams passed away. Williams was the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, an economist’s economist, a scholar’s scholar, and an unparalleled communicator of economic wisdom and ideas. He loved liberty, defended it eloquently, and went to great lengths to show how good intentions don’t readily translate into good outcomes.

Thomas Sowell, as quoted by his Twitter tribute account:

There was a time when the black conservative community would have consisted of me and Walter Williams. I know Walter used to say the two of us should never fly on the same plane otherwise the whole movement will disappear if the plane goes down. 

But see:

Here are some prominent Conservative Black Intellectuals who have written extensively on race/ethnic relations. Many have argued, with evidence, that affirmative action does not largely help its intended beneficiaries, and that statistical disparities do not imply discrimination[: Thomas Sowell, Walter E. Williams, Shelby Steele, Jason Riley, Candace Owens, Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, John McWhorter, Larry Elder, Star Parker.] Will any of their books and articles be included in the enhanced efforts to study and reduce "racial injustice?" Probably not.

Dominic Pino:

Williams was an Army veteran, a Ph.D. economist published in numerous peer-reviewed journals, an author of 11 books, a syndicated columnist whose work appeared in newspapers across the country, a substitute radio host whose voice was heard by millions, a subject of two documentaries, a former chair of the Mason Economics department and a professor at Mason since 1980....

As Williams persisted well beyond retirement age, his passion for economics undimmed, he was the kind of man that made you say, “He’s going to teach until the day he dies.” On Dec. 1, he taught his last class of ECON 811 to complete the semester, ending the 7:20-10:00 p.m. block around 30 minutes early, as was typical. Fewer than 12 hours later, he died, aged 84. R.I.P.

Walter Williams’s last syndicated weekly newspaper column:

Several years ago, Project Baltimore began an investigation of Baltimore's school system. What they found was an utter disgrace. In 19 of Baltimore's 39 high schools, out of 3,804 students, only 14 of them, or less than 1%, were proficient in math. In 13 of Baltimore's high schools, not a single student scored proficient in math. In five Baltimore City high schools, not a single student scored proficient in math or reading. Despite these academic deficiencies, about 70% of the students graduate and are conferred a high school diploma -- a fraudulent high school diploma.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District scored the lowest in the nation compared to 26 other urban districts for reading and mathematics at the fourth- and eighth-grade levels. A recent video captures some of this miseducation in Milwaukee high schools: In two city high schools, only one student tested proficient in math and none are proficient in English. Yet, the schools spent a full week learning about "systemic racism" and "Black Lives Matter activism." ....

Should we blame this education tragedy on racial discrimination or claim that it is a legacy of slavery? Dr. Thomas Sowell's research in "Education: Assumptions Versus History" documents academic excellence at Baltimore's Frederick Douglass High School and others.


Some say that educational expenditures explain the gap, but is that true? Look at educational per pupil expenditures: Baltimore city ranks fifth in the U.S. for per pupil spending at $15,793. The Detroit Public Schools Community District spends more per student than all but eight of the nation's 100 largest school districts, or $14,259.... There appears to be little relationship between educational expenditures and academic achievement.

Stefan J. Padfield | Permalink


Dr. Williams influenced my philosophy a great deal. I discovered him while in graduate school in the early 1980's and continued to follow him. The loss of his voice will diminish those of us libertarian leaning.

Posted by: Tom N. | Dec 6, 2020 4:47:38 PM

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