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Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination? (Hoover Institution Press Publication) [Kindle Edition]

Walter E. Williams
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Walter E. Williams applies an economic analysis to the problems black Americans have faced in the past and still face in the present to show that that free-market resource allocation, as opposed to political allocation, is in the best interests of minorities. He debunks many common labor market myths and reveals how excessive government regulation and the minimum-wage law have imposed incalculable harm on the most disadvantaged members of our society.


Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The black experience in America naturally gives rise to thinking of today’s black experience in terms of racism and oppression. But the most difficult problems black Americans face, particularly those who are poor, cannot adequately be explained by current racial discrimination. In Race and Economics, Walter Williams argues that many problems are a result of policies, regulations, and restrictions emanat­ing from federal, state, and local govern­ments. It is not free markets and the profit motive that have reduced opportunities, the author asserts; instead, it is the power of vested interest groups, as a means to greater wealth, to use the coercive powers of government to stifle market competition.

Williams debunks many common labor market myths and reveals how the minimum- wage law has imposed incalculable harm on the most disadvantaged members of our society. He explains that the real problem is people are not so much underpaid as underskilled and that the real task is to help unskilled people become skilled. The author also reveals how licensing and regulation reduce economic opportunities for people, especially those who might be described as discriminated against and having little political clout. Using the example of the trucking industry before and after deregulation, he illustrates how government regulation closes entry and reinforces economic handicaps, whereas deregulation not only has helped minorities enter an industry in greater numbers, but also has benefited consumers.

People will not engage in activities, including racial discrimination, says Williams, if the cost is too high. In markets, because transactions are mostly an individual affair, it is unnecessary to win the approval or permission of others; the costs and benefits are a private matter. But in the political arena, each citizen has only one vote, meaning that, unlike the free market, a minority cannot register the intensity of his preference. Further, increased concentration of political power at the national level handicaps minorities in the sense that their votes become diluted. The author ultimately shows that free-market allocation, not political allocation, is what is truly in the best interests of minorities in America.

From the Back Cover

There is no question that black Americans have suffered gross violations of basic human rights in the forms of slavery, discrimination, and personal violence. But, says Walter Williams, an acknowledgment of these injustices, and of current residual discrimination, does not help to evaluate what is, or is not in the best interest of blacks today. In Race and Economics, Williams applies an economic analysis to the problems black Americans have faced in the past and present to show that that free-market resource allocation, as opposed to political allocation, is in the best interests of minorities.

Contrasting the features of market resource allocation with those of the political arena, he explains how, in the political arena, minorities cannot realize a particular preference unless they win the will of the majority. In the market, he shows, there is a sort of parity (nonexistent in the political arena) in which one person’s dollar has the same power as the next person’s. Looking at the effects of political decision making in areas such as minimum-wage laws, occupational and business licensure, and industry regulation versus deregulation, Williams offers evidence that government attempts to help minorities actually reduce economic opportunities for people, especially those who might be described as discriminated against and having little political clout. Ultimately, he says, people can offset some of their handicaps by offering a higher price for what they buy or a lower price for what they sell—what economists call compen­sating differences.


Product Details

  • File Size: 1629 KB
  • Print Length: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Hoover Institution Press; 1st edition (April 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LH2CLW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,903 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
92 of 98 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cost and Racism May 2, 2011
Format:Paperback
Many people see racism as a problem that exists in the private sector, that can be solved by officials in the public sector. Walter Williams turns this popular view of racism on its head. Public policies often put minorities at a disadvantage. Racists often find it easier to discriminate through public policy than through private enterprise. Williams is extending the cost-driven theoretical arguments of Gary Becker on the economics of discrimination. He uses many interesting examples to support the idea that government intervention serves as the primary means of discrimination: minimum wage laws, licensing, and other restrictions on otherwise free markets. These are controversial propositions that will offend some readers. Hopefully most people will read it critically and in so doing benefit from its well reasoned and supported arguments.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read from Williams June 10, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A home-run by Williams. This is another book I wish I could afford to buy for every member of Congress. It explains, clearly enough for a statist to understand, how government policiy has disadvantaged black people in the last 60 years. We are going to pay a terrible price for these bone-headed policies. Get a copy for your legislators as well.

Robert A. Hall
Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
(All royalties go to a charity to help wounded veterans)
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars moving forward by looking backward May 31, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book clearly shows that the government, read democrat, aid for minorities, read black, have harmed rather than helped black economic advancement. Contrary to other fantasies, economic reality would help all minorities advance. Easy reading.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book all college students should read July 11, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a college student who was forced to read Piven & Cloward's work last semester. I remember questioning their theories and wondering why they continued to use blame and resentment as a form to support their assertion that more gov't central planning benefits blacks and minorities. This book proves that all gov't intervention has proven to infact harm blacks and minorities, instead of helping them climb out of poverty. I think this is a great book that would help Blacks to understand that the so called glorious New Deal programs ended up resulting in more unemployment for their race. Don't just listen to the liberal crap universities want to push down your throat. READ, READ AND READ, and then come to your own conclusions.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for all! June 11, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book should be read by all old and young. It should be used as an instructional manual in High Schools. But I'll bet it will never be permitted by school boards. Love Walter Williams work and throughly enjoy reading his books. It is very easy to read and an extremely interesting account of US History, US policies/Laws and how they relate to economics. If you care to know the truth of what makes this country tick this is a great starting point.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book June 16, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a brilliant, brilliant book, filled with sharp, original, compelling ideas on every page. Soundly argued and authoritatively supported. Deep scholarship matched with downright common sense. It would be impossible, I should think, for anyone to read this book and not learn something new. One of the best books I have read in years (and I read a lot).
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unintended Consequences of Anti-Discrimination Laws August 8, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a thoughtful, well-researched look at how the government's attempts to solve perceived 'racial discrimination' problems have created the opposite of intended results. The author exposes not only the fallacy of much of this thinking, but also how the government solutions have worsened the plight of minorities. To anyone interested in actually helping their fellow American, this is a very valuable work.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic and Insightful Book! June 19, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A must-read for anyone who thinks free markets don't work. This should be required reading for anyone planning to hold a public office.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Walter Williams is a fantastic writer. Coming out of the Libertarian economics tradition, he does a beautiful job of showing how minimum wage laws, state mandated licensing, state... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Charles H. Rosa
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading
I'm a big Walt Williams and Thomas Sowell fan so no surprise that I find this book great reading as well. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Thad L McMullen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
It came brand new. Great book, excellent author. Dealing with America's current state is tricky as a voter so perhaps this can serve some guidance.
Published 2 months ago by Liz J Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Walter E Williams is awesome!
This lays out a great argument for every American that believes in the American Dream. We all need to be accountable for our actions and not to blame others for our... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Rich
4.0 out of 5 stars read it!
Well written book!. Gave a lot of detailed information and stats. Only downfall is i didn't feel there was a good enough explanation how to fix the problems he laid out.
Published 4 months ago by downeyrf
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent transaction
This was an excellent transaction and I fully expect to do more business with this seller sometime in the future!
Published 7 months ago by Gene Bowser
4.0 out of 5 stars No emotion just facts
I discovered Walter E Williams through other authors and like his evidenced based approach to topics of this type. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Racer X
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a very insightful book!
As much as I believed the contrary about the plight of African Americans (specifically) in terms of restricted opportunities, this book (along with worthy citations that you really... Read more
Published 12 months ago by -Derrick0572
5.0 out of 5 stars Free market blunders by our meddling government.
What a great piece of economic information. Not a real easy read do to all the economic facts Mr. Williams throws at you, but what a informative book. I wish he was our President.
Published 13 months ago by Mark
5.0 out of 5 stars Tell it like it is
Thats what you get from Dr. Williams! He is a brilliant, insightful and interesting man. This is one of his best books.
Published 13 months ago by buster
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