The usa has shed a single of its finest economists and community intellectuals.
died Wednesday early morning after educating his ultimate course at George Mason University on Tuesday. He was 84.
For 40 years Walter was the coronary heart and soul of George Mason’s one of a kind Office of Economics. Our division unapologetically resists the development of instructing economics as if it’s a information for social engineers. This resistance displays Walter’s determination to liberal individualism and his perception that normal adult males and women have earned, as his friend
places it, “elbow place for by themselves and a refuge from the rampaging presumptions of their ‘betters.’ ”
A onetime cabdriver who grew up poor in Philadelphia, Walter understood injustice—and comprehended the way to battle it was not by emoting but by probing and understanding. In 1972 he gained a doctorate in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles, where by he figured out to seem beneath surface phenomena for further brings about and consequences.
His pioneering 1982 book, “The Condition Versus Blacks,” is an eloquent, info-prosperous broadside towards occupational licensing, taxicab polices, labor-union privileges and other fantastic-sounding govt actions that inflict disproportionate hurt on blacks by restricting the work selections and by driving up the charges of goods and services.
The economics job boasts a lot of exceptional minds, but it has important several with the means and desire to do demanding exploration and to have interaction the public with its benefits.
was this sort of a scholar, as is Thomas Sowell. Walter was in their league. From his appearance on Friedman’s PBS application “Free To Choose” (1980) by means of his stints as visitor host of
radio software to his syndicated column, Walter introduced economic classes to everyday living in a way couple some others could.
Behold his excellent rationalization of how minimal wages endorse employment discrimination: “What minimal wage rules do is decrease the cost of, and hence subsidize, racial desire indulgence. Immediately after all, if an employer should spend the very same wage no matter whom he hires, the cost of discriminating in favor of the people today he prefers is cheaper. This is a common basic principle. If filet mignon bought for $9 a pound and chuck steak $4, the charge of discriminating in favor of filet mignon is $5 a pound, the selling price variation. But if a law mandating a least price for chuck steak were on the guides at, say, $7 a pound, it would lessen the charge of discrimination versus chuck steak.”
Observing dilapidated and abandoned housing in New York and other cities, Walter blamed rent control, which dampens landlords’ incentive to maintain their homes and even results in an incentive to demolish them and accumulate insurance coverage proceeds. “Short of aerial saturation bombing,” Walter observed, “rent command could possibly be a person of the most effective means of destroying a city.”
The creator of 13 textbooks, dozens of academic papers and many popular essays, Walter was a scholar’s scholar. He was one particular of America’s most courageous defenders of totally free markets, constitutionally constrained governing administration and individual responsibility. I will overlook him as a good friend. The globe will miss out on him as a tireless winner of American values.
Mr. Boudreaux is a professor of economics at George Mason University.
An earlier model misstated the days of Williams’s last class and death.
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Appeared in the December 3, 2020, print edition.