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The Truth About Discrimination – Walter E. Williams

If people are free to discriminate in favor of, or against, a university or wine, what argument can be made against their having that same right with respect to choosing based on the race or sex characteristics of their mates, employees, tenants, or club members? If one shares the value of freedom of association, why should some associations be permitted and others denied? If a man is not permitted to bring a court action against a woman who refuses to deal with him, in form of a dating or marital relationship or for any arbitrary reason she chooses, what is the case for bringing court action for other refusals to “deal,” such as in employment, renting or selling a house, or club memberships?…

…Refusal to deal can apply to any setting, including activities like marriage, friendship, invitations to social gatherings and golf games, all of which might affect one’s “life chances.”…

…These visions of prejudice expose analysts to the pitfalls of making ambiguous statements and advancing faulty arguments. A useful operational definition of prejudice can be found by examining its Latin root- praejudicium, meaning “to judge before the facts are known.” Thus, we might define prejudicial acts as decision-making on the basis of incomplete information.

That kind of decision-making, before facts are known, is necessary and to be expected in a world of scarcity, uncertainty, complexity, costly information-and often erroneous interpretation of that information. Furthermore, different individuals might arrive at different interpretations even if confronted with the same information. Also, different people reach different decisions on just what constitutes the optimal quantity of information to gather prior to making decisions…

Information is not costless. To acquire an additional unit of it requires a sacrifice of time, effort, or other resources. People therefore seek to economize on information cost. In doing so, they tend to substitute less expensive forms of information for more expensive forms. Physical attributes are “cheap” to observe.

– Walter E. Williams, Race and Economics

 

Black Youth Unemployment Before Democrats Started “Helping”

Although most people are familiar with more recent statistics on black youth unemployment, not many are aware of the black/white statistics for earlier periods. Table 3.2 (below) shows that in 1948, the two were roughly equal. For that year, blacks aged sixteen to seventeen had an unemployment rate that was less than whites of the same age-9.4 percent compared to a 10.2 percent. During the same period (until the mid-1960s), Table 3.3 shows that black youths generally were either just as active as whites in the labor force or more so. Since the ’60s, both the labor-force participation rate and the employment rate of black youths has fallen to what it is today. For those sixteen to seventeen years of age, the participation rate is less than 60 percent of that of white youths. During earlier periods, as shown in Table 3.2, the rate was equal to or higher than that of white youths.

– Walter E. Williams, Race and Economics

 

Political Discrimination vs. Market Discrimination – Walter E. Williams

Gross racial discrimination alone has never been sufficient to prevent blacks from earning a living and bettering themselves by working as skilled or unskilled craftsmen and as business owners, accumulating considerable wealth. The fact that whites sought out blacks as artisans and workers, while patronizing black businesses, can hardly be said to be a result of white enlightenment. A far better explanation: market forces at work.

 

The relative color blindness of the market accounts for much of the hostility towards it. Markets have a notorious lack of respect for privilege, race, and class structures. White customers patronized black-owned businesses because their prices were lower or their product quality or service better. Whites hired black skilled and unskilled labor because their wages were lower or they made superior employees.

 

People have always sought to use laws to accomplish what they cannot accomplish through voluntary, peaceable exchange. As will be argued in subsequent chapters, restrictive laws harm blacks equally, whether they were written with the explicit intent-as in the past-to eliminate black competition or written-as in our time-with such benign goals as protecting public health, safety and welfare, and preventing exploitation of workers.

– Walter E. Williams, Ph.D., Race and Economics

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