The free-market movement and American discourse in general suffered a great loss today with the death of economist and columnist Walter Williams. Williams was a brilliant economist, dedicated to good sense and respect for facts. A powerful advocate of free markets, Williams was unexcelled in his understanding of how extensively well-intentioned Progressive government policies have harmed minorities in the United States.
One of Williams’s greatest contributions to the nation was the equable, eminently reasonable, and peaceful way he wrote and spoke about the issues of the day. Williams’s acceptance of the wisdom of markets and his acknowledgment that the ambitions of government generally lead to failure and immiseration evoked intense opposition and, all too often, foul personal slurs from those who disagreed with his positions on the issues. Williams did not respond in kind, instead letting the facts be his defense.
Williams’s approach to public discourse has become increasingly rare in recent years. We are made much poorer by the loss of his continuing example.
Williams spoke at The Heartland Institute, which publishes Heartland Daily News, in 1994 when the organization awarded him with its prestigious Heartland Liberty Prize.
We will publish a full eulogy of Williams shortly. In the meantime, please enjoy this video of Williams’s remarks “On the Role of Government in a Free Society,” delivered upon receiving the Heartland Liberty Prize: