Race and Economics

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Walter Williams fans are in for a treat— and people who are not Walter Williams fans are in for a shock— when they read his latest book, “Race and Economics.”

It is a demolition derby on paper, as Professor Williams destroys one after another of the popular fallacies about the role of race in the American economy.

I can still vividly recall the response to one of Walter’s earliest writings, back in the 1970s, when he and I were working on the same research project in Washington. Walter wrote a brief article that destroyed the central theme of one of the fashionable books of the time, “The Poor Pay More.”

It was true, he agreed, that prices were higher in low-income minority neighborhoods. But he rejected the book’s claim that this was due to “exploitation,” “racism” and the like.

Having written a doctoral dissertation on this subject, Walter then proceeded to show why there were higher costs of doing business in many low-income neighborhoods, and that these costs were simply passed on to the consumers there.

What I remember especially vividly is that, in reply, someone called Walter “a white racist.” Not many people had seen Walter at that time. But it was also a sad sign of how name-calling had replaced thought when it came to race.

The same issue is explored in Chapter 6 of “Race and Economics.” The clinching argument is that, despite higher markups in prices in low-income neighborhoods, there is a lower than average rate of return for businesses there— one of the reasons why businesses tend to avoid such neighborhoods.

My own favorite chapter in “Race and Economics” is Chapter 3, which I think is the most revealing chapter in the book.

That chapter begins, “Some might find it puzzling that during times of gross racial discrimination, black unemployment was lower and blacks were more active in the labor force than they are today.” Moreover, the duration of unemployment among blacks was shorter than among whites between 1890 and 1900, whereas unemployment has become both higher and longer-lasting among blacks than among whites in more recent times.

None of this is explainable by what most people believe or say in the media or in academia.

But it is perfectly consistent with the economics of the marketplace and the consequences of political interventions in the marketplace.

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  • Ageofreason

    Help! Wasn't "Race and Economics" published in 1975? Is this a re-publishing of that book, or is it a new book entirely?

  • Fred Dawes

    Its a re-publishing under the new rules by the chinese/black/brown/communist and let us not forget our white rats who love to knee in front of the despots of race ideals of BS Culture and who want total power to murder Americans by taking money and human rights out of the picture.
    Name me just one black or brown or yellow counties that will allow any rights to live without fear?
    But this country will know what it is like to live under evil soon and yes under the foot of the rats who run this place called the USA; We will all understand fear real soon UNDER OBAMA AND HIS BOYS.

    • Earl

      By white rats are you referring to the cute little albino ones? They are pretty rare. There is an albino squirrel who lives in my neighborhood though. I am sorry you feel so afraid Fred. To live a life constantly in fear is not okay in my book.

      • WhiteCrayon

        I tend to agree with Fred. Those albino critters with the blood red eyes are pretty scary. Not to mention, squirrels and other varmints carry all sorts of diseases, bacteria and germs–keep them away from me!