Walter E. Williams

The Racism of Diversity - Posted 7/28/09
What to call Blacks - 5/16/09
Family secrets - 11/20/02
Taxation 101 - 12/4/02

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 The Racism of Diversity

The U.S. Naval Academy's PowerPoint display explains diversity by saying, "Diversity is all the different characteristics and attributes of individual sailors and civilians which enhance the mission readiness of the Navy," adding that: "Diversity is more than equal opportunity, race, gender or religion. Diversity is the understanding of how each of us brings different skills, talents and experiences to the fight and valuing those differences. Leveraging diversity creates an environment of excellence and continuous improvement to remove artificial achievement barriers and value the contribution of all participants." Admiral Gary Roughead, chief of Naval Operations, says that "diversity is the No. 1 priority" at the academy.

Diversity at the Naval Academy, as at most academic institutions, is not about equal opportunity but a race and sex spoils system to achieve what the Navy brass see as a pleasing race and sex mix. They accomplish that vision by the removal of "artificial achievement barriers." Let's go over what the Naval Academy sees as an artificial achievement barrier. A black candidate with B and C grades, with no particular leadership qualities, and 500 on both portions of the SAT, is virtually guaranteed admittance. A white student, who's not an athlete, with such scores is deemed not qualified.

Many black students are admitted to the Naval Academy through remedial training at the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) in Newport, R.I., which is a one-year post-secondary school. Finishing the year with a 2.0 GPA, a C average, almost guarantees admission to the academy. A C average for remedial work is nothing to write home about. Occasionally, when students don't make the 2.0 GPA target, the target is renegotiated downward. Minority applicants with SAT scores down to the 300s and with Cs and Ds grades (and no particular leadership or athletics) are also admitted after a remedial year at the Naval Academy Preparatory School.

Bruce Fleming, an English professor at the academy for 22 years, teaches a remedial English class and finds that in his spring 2009 class, most of NAPS's students earn Cs and Ds and many are on probation.

About seven years ago Professor Fleming was on the admissions board, where the standing instruction is not to write anything down because "everything is 'FOI'able" meaning it can be demanded under the Freedom of Information Act. Such an instruction highlights the dishonesty of race preferences. The dishonesty doesn't stop there. The academy will go to great lengths to retain black students. When Professor Fleming charged a black student with plagiarism, he was not properly informed of the hearing and subsequently the student's peer group found him not guilty. Honor violations by black students are usually "remediated."

I suspected that the Naval Academy's diversity agenda would give rise to resentments so I asked Professor Fleming about it. He said there are two levels of resentment. Some black students, who were admitted to the academy meritoriously on the same basis as white students, resent the idea of being seen as having the same academic qualities as blacks who were given preferential treatment, in other words being dumb. Another level of resentment comes from white students who see blacks as being admitted and retained at lower levels of academic performance and being treated with kid gloves. If these whites openly complained about the unequal treatment, they would run the risk of being labeled as racists. This is one of the unappreciated aspects of preferential treatment. It runs the risk of creating racist attitudes, and possibly feelings of racial superiority, among whites and others who were formerly racially neutral.

Colleges and universities with racially preferential admittance policies are doing a great disservice to blacks in another, mostly ignored, way. By admitting poorly prepared blacks, they are helping to conceal the grossly fraudulent education the blacks receive at the K through 12 grades.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



    What to call Blacks

What to call black people has to be confusing to white people. Having been around for 73 years, I have been through a number of names. Among the polite ones are: colored, Negro, Afro-American, black, and now African-American. Among those names, African-American is probably the most unintelligent. You say, "What do you mean, Williams?" Suppose I told you that I had a European-American friend or a South-America-American friend, or a North-America-American friend. You'd probably say, "Williams, that's stupid. Europe, South America and North America are continents consisting of many peoples." You might insist that I call my friend from Germany a German-American instead of European-American and my friend from Brazil a Brazilian-American rather than a South-America-American and my friend from Canada a Canadian-American instead of a North-American. So would not the same apply to people whose heritage lies on the African continent? For example, instead of claiming that President Barack Obama is the first African-American president, it should be that he's the first Kenyan-American president. In that sense, Obama is lucky. Unlike most American blacks, he knows his national heritage; the closest to a national heritage the rest of us can identify is some country along Africa's gold coast.

Another problem with the African-American label is not all people of African ancestry are dark. Whites are roughly 10 percent of Africa's population and include not only European settlers but Arabs and Berbers as well. So is an Afrikaner who becomes a U.S. citizen a part of United States' African-American population? Should census takers and affirmative action/diversity bean counters count Arabs, Berbers and Afrikaners who are U.S. citizens as African-Americans and should they be eligible for racial quotas in college admittance and employment?

Are black Americans a minority group? When one uses the term minority, there is an inference that somewhere out there is a majority but in the United States we are a nation of minorities.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau 2000 census, where people self-identify, the ancestry of our largest ethnic groups are people of German ancestry (15.2 percent), followed by Irish (10.8 percent), African (8.8), and English (8.7) ancestry. Of the 92 ethnic groups listed, in the census, 75 of them are less than 1 percent of our population.

Race talk often portrays black Americans as downtrodden and deserving of white people's help and sympathy. That vision is an insult of major proportions. As a group, black Americans have made some of the greatest gains, over the highest hurdles, in the shortest span of time than any other racial group in mankind's history. This unprecedented progress can be seen through several measures. If one were to total black earnings, and consider black Americans a separate nation, he would find that in 2005 black Americans earned $644 billion, making them the world's 16th richest nation that is just behind Australia but ahead of Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. Black Americans are, and have been, chief executives of some of the world's largest and richest cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. It was a black American, Gen. Colin Powell, appointed Joint Chief of Staff in October 1989, who headed the world's mightiest military and later became U.S. Secretary of State, and was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice, another black American. Black Americans are among the world's most famous personalities and a few are among the richest. Most blacks are not poor but middle class.

On the eve of the Civil War, neither a slave nor a slave owner would have believed these gains possible in less than a mere century and a half, if ever. That progress speaks well not only of the sacrifices and intestinal fortitude of a people; it also speaks well of a nation in which these gains were possible. These gains would not have been possible anywhere else.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Taxation 101

Posted: December 4, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Walter Williams

 2002 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

We need government, and that means taxes. But when we think about government spending, and the taxes needed to finance its spending, we should also think of the effects of taxation.

Suppose I hire you to repair my computer. The job is worth $200 to me and doing the job is worth $200 to you. The transaction will occur because we have a meeting of the mind. Now suppose there's the imposition of a 30 percent income tax on you. That means you won't receive $200 but instead $140. You might say the heck with working for me spending the day with your family is worth more than $140.

You might then offer that you'll do the job if I pay you $285. That way your after-tax earnings will be $200 what the job was worth to you. There's a problem. The repair job was worth $200 to me, not $285. So it's my turn to say the heck with it.

This simple example demonstrates that one effect of taxes is that of eliminating transactions, and hence jobs. But politicians have what we economists call a zero elasticity vision of the world. They think people will behave after taxes just as they behaved before taxes and the only effect of a tax is to bring in more revenue. Here's a question for you: Would we and society be better off if you and I agreed to the repair job but did not tell anybody? I'd say yes, but we'd be criminals.

Here's another tax question: Which worker receives the higher pay on a road construction project: a worker moving dirt with a shovel or a worker moving dirt atop a giant earthmover? If you said the guy on the earthmover, go to the head of the class.

But why? It's not because he's unionized or that employers just love earthmover operators. It's because he's more productive and the reason is that he has more capital (tools) with which to work. In general, the more capital workers have to work with, the higher their pay.

So what's a good policy for higher wages? One is to keep the cost of capital formation low so companies will do more of it. Policies that raise the cost of capital formation and lower risk-taking are high corporate income taxes, low allowances for depreciation and capital-gains taxes. Those who want to see higher productivity gains and higher wages, of which I'm one, should champion tax reductions.

How in the world can tobacco companies survive and remain profitable in the wake of punitive taxes, penalties and court settlements? If the government and the courts imposed these multibillion dollar sanctions on the beef industry, it would have been long gone. The answer's easy: Corporations do not pay taxes, penalties and settlements.

A subject area in economics, called the incidence of taxation, says that the party upon whom a tax is levied does not necessarily pay the tax. They might shift it onto some other party. That's precisely what corporations do. They are merely tax collectors.

In the case of tobacco, the punitive taxes, penalties and settlements are shifted forward to consumers in the form of higher prices thus, government has punished smokers much more than tobacco companies.

If the government made a similar attack on the beef industry, it would be out of business. Why? There are many substitutes for beef that consumers would turn to, whereas there're few substitutes for tobacco. Imposition of oppressive taxes on goods having few substitutes is standard fare for government. King George III did it with what our ancestors called the Intolerable Acts (Stamp Tax, Tea Tax and others). But not for long. Americans of that day hadn't learned the lessons of submissiveness and compliance they rebelled.

Walter Williams is the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Family secrets

Posted: November 20, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern

By Walter Williams

 2002 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Airing the "family's" dirty laundry in public can qualify one for less-than-flattering descriptions. That's particularly applicable to a black person, and even more so when he questions the civil-rights gospel that the problems black people encounter are rooted in racial discrimination and a legacy of slavery.

To argue that most of the problems black people confront today have little or nothing to do with racial discrimination risks being labeled everything but a child of God, not to mention accusations of having "sold out" and "letting white people off the hook." One need not deny the existence of racial discrimination to ask the policy-relevant question: How much of what we see can be explained by discrimination?

The black illegitimacy rate is close to 70 percent. Less than 40 percent of black children live in two-parent families. This produces devastating socioeconomic consequences, but is it caused by racial discrimination? Or, might it be a legacy of slavery? In the early 1900s, black illegitimacy was a tiny fraction of today's rate. Roughly 75 percent, and in New York City 85 percent, of black children lived in two-parent households. The fact of lower illegitimacy and more intact families, at a time when blacks were much closer to slavery and faced greater discrimination, suggests that today's unprecedented illegitimacy and weak family structure have nothing to do with discrimination and slavery. It's explained better by promiscuity and irresponsibility, and as such it's not a civil-rights problem.

To point out that black people are the primary victims of violent crimes is OK. Some of the statistics are staggering. FBI reports on arrest data show that blacks committed half of all homicides, nearly half of rapes, 59 percent of robberies and 38 percent of aggravated assaults. Suggestions about causes and solutions can get you into trouble.

It's clear sailing if you argue that the high crime rate is caused by poverty and discrimination, and the way to get rid of crime is to eliminate these root causes. But there's a problem with that theory. It doesn't explain why black communities were far safer in earlier times, such as in the '20s, '30s and '40s, at a time of far greater poverty and discrimination, and fewer opportunities. Crime imposes devastating economic and personal costs on many black neighborhoods, but it's not a civil-rights problem. The high crime rate represents political choices made by black politicians, civil-rights organizations and many black citizens to tolerate criminals.

Another family secret is that black academic achievement is a national disgrace. Many youngsters who manage to complete high school do so not being able to perform at the eighth- and ninth-grade levels. Standards that others have to meet for employment or college admittance which many blacks cannot meet are labeled racist. Demands are made to lower standards using face-saving euphemisms such as affirmative action, diversity and multiculturalism.

The standard civil-rights vision of the solution to these problems for blacks is to vote more Democrats into federal, state and local offices, and to elect more blacks to city mayorships and city councils. That theory suggests that cities run by Democrats and black politicians must be the very cities where illegitimacy and violent crimes are the lowest and black academic achievement is the highest cities such as Washington, D.C., Detroit, Philadelphia, Newark and East St. Louis. In these cities, blacks hold mayorships and have representation on city councils. That's a nice theory, but the result is the exact opposite.

In medicine, misdiagnosis leading to mistreatment and further injury can lead to malpractice suits. Unfortunately, in politics, misdiagnosis, mistreatment and further injury lead to re-election.

WorldNetDaily contributor Walter E. Williams is the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.