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Race & Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  300 ratings  ·  43 reviews
 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. Contrasting the features of market resource allocation with those of the political arena, he explains how, in the ...more
Hardcover, 184 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by Hoover Institution Press
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Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This short book focuses on economic barriers to wealth and success. While cultural and educational factors also matter, this book doesn’t get into those.

Williams spends a lot of time looking at early unions, which largely formed to discriminate against blacks, and minimum wage laws, which have the unintended side effect of putting minorities out of the workforce. Basically, government regulations hurt minorities and unskilled workers disproportionately compared to pure free-market capitalism. Wi
Mary Sisney
Oct 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
A former student sent me this book because she thought I would find it interesting. It's interesting like the books by Richard Rodriguez, Shelby Steele, and Dinesh D'Souza. Like them, Williams is a nonwhite academic/writer who gives bigots cover by arguing that our problems are not caused by racism. He uses statistics that raise more questions than they answer, false analogies, and logical fallacies to argue against the minimum wage, unions, and government regulations while arguing for racial pr ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics-econ
Here's powerful reasoning for how economic regulations, rather than racial discrimination, have often been the main cause for economic disadvantages faced by blacks and other minorities, and how such controls, often championed as helping the poor, have actually afforded racial discrimination more expression. (Also, it's a good book those wanting to understand basic economics better.) Williams covers subjects like wage regulations, licensing laws, and unions, and, through historical examples and ...more
Sep 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Following the footsteps of Dr. Thomas Sowell, Dr. Williams looked at the race and economics in a more economic terms rather than the historical analysis of Dr. Sowell. Does discrimination exist? Yes it does, but discrimination has a cost as Dr. Sowell has written in Basic Economics, it is those who enable the status quo of discrimination through the means of legislation that further propagate discrimination. From slavery, unions to politicians and academia, the more they try to fix the problem t ...more
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Williams, an economist, catalogues and explains numerous examples of what could properly be called systemic racism that continue to plague our country:

-Minumum wage laws that make it more difficult for low-skilled workers to find entry-level jobs to develop their skills and become more employable

-Barriers to entry, such as irrelevant licensing examinations and exorbitant fees that prevent new workers from entering fields as diverse as cosmetology, taxi driving, and plumbing, because current work
Dec 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: williams-walter
(kindle version)...not listed and i'm not fluent in listing...
(this is incredible! there are situations documented here that are nothing less than....grrrrrr! aggravating and angering!.....update...the scenario williams describes has a happy ending, or sorts. freedom cabs now, or at the time of the writing, exists and works for a living. 39% kindle.)

saw this title in a column from thomas of, or recommended. dunno about tom, but i figure to give it a look see:

1st sentence, preface:
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
So far I think this is an excellent book. Tom...are you reading this?
Brian Foltz
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
last book read for 2011, #74
Jacob O'connor
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I dusted this off in light of the current racial unrest. Critical Theory is carrying the day in the cultural discourse, but is it the best explanation? Williams makes a thoughtful case for why blacks have not fared as well. Biggest takeaways are well-meant policies that wound up doing catastrophic damage to the black community. The biggest offenders were minimum wage laws and barrier-to-entry regulations. Here's a summary of my understanding. African Americans have a history of oppression going ...more
Bruce D
Mar 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More insight on mechanisms behind unequal outcomes

Short answer, it’s not racism.
Author goes through history of U.S. focussing on the laws and economic outcomes for Blacks (who are called various things depending on time period). Shows that in lead up to civil rights era, blacks were doing better vis a vis whites, with main down turn coming in New Deal legislation in 1930’s, continuing to present day (not ameliorated by 1960’s Great Society programs).
Main culprit argued to be a variety of laws en
Robert Lloyd
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well researched and challenging book

I highly enjoyed this book, as it has caused me to explore race and how we “get ahead” or stay stuck. The author seemed to have done a good deal of historical research, and explained common ideas about race and prejudice and how the barriers faced today are more than just prejudice (though to be clear I believe strongly these exist).

My background is in clinical social work and I currently practice psychotherapy. Though I don’t work with African Americans ve
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Another well thought out and well written book by Walter E. Williams about the economics of race from the past, before and after slavery was abolished, until recent history. He makes a case for free-market resource allocation over political allocation being better for minorities. He also debunks common myths about the labor market and shows how minimum wage laws harm the most disadvantaged members of society. He states the the real problem is a lack of skills resulting in lower pay for minoritie ...more
Brian Golz
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Definitely recommend. Gave a lot of clarity on areas in which there is actual systematic oppression in the 21st century US.
Main takeaways, in brief:
-in its zeal to emphasize the evils in American slavery/racism, my public schooling failed to provide adequate coverage of the nuances of the antebellum and Reconstruction era southern economies, and in so doing, deprived recognition to tens to hundreds of thousands of hard-working, enterprising slaves and freed men and women for their accomplishment
Noah Nevils
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book that does what it sets out to do: explores the extent to which 'racial preferences' in society impact economics.

Among the great insights I gleaned here are these: the fact that wage or purchasing collusion for greater profits or lower prices tempts all races, and that such tokenary discrimination or selection as that based on skin color is sometimes an unavoidable shorthand engaged in by all persons, akin to picking the tall guy for your basketball team, if you are given no other inf
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dr. Williams, economist, has written an excellent book about the ever-volatile subjects of race and employment discrimination. From the historic record he details the racial and socioeconomic exclusionary intentions and effects of minimum wage laws, professional licensing and labor unions from their geneses. Includes loads of information about the anti-competitive objectives of many labor laws, acts, etc., the exclusion of blacks from practicing trades, prohibition of unskilled labor, prohibitio ...more
Jun 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, excellent book. Well researched, well written, engaging, and an "easy" read in terms of understanding... even while Dr Williams challenges many widely-held assumptions about "systemic racism."

In this relatively short book, Walter Williams sheds light (through simple facts) on the reality behind many many assumed cases of systemic racism. (NOTE: he is not in any way a racists, nor supportive of racism or racial discrimination.)

I won't include any spoilers. Just Read This Book. :-D
Giada  Innocenti
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Food for thoughts.

The book is easy to read and well written. It doesn’t deny the existence of race discrimination (or racism), it gives possible solutions to mitigate the racial preference from an economic stand-point. You may agree or disagree with the solutions suggested, but it is a book worth to be read with an open mindset because there are many counter-intuitive insights. I am still digesting part of the information since I am not an expert in economy.
Chris McCartney
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Unreal the vision sold in the world and the reality of the world. The world is so much better then what the news says it is and material such as this confirms that. This book is more about the policies in place and the net negative consequences they are having. You would figure people would tire of the same ol same ol but alas......
Until people can talk about hard truths things will not improve. Reading this book will help push constructive dialogue though.
Jeremy McJimson
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book that challenges the contemporary perspective that "race" is the central or largest contributing problem with the economic position of minorities, most notably blacks. The author raises the conversation out of the coffin of approaching social problems with emotional thinking to the experience of a truly vibrant society - logic and discussion based on facts. I've always enjoyed Walter William's discussions and commentary. This book did not disappoint. ...more
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More people need to read studies of economics like this. The bold and broad claims about the reasons things are the way they are and how our government should fix them just don’t hold up under detailed analysis. In fact, we find that it is the policies that have created the problem in the first place.
Josiah Edwards
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
A work of true critical thinking. In a world of extremes, it's always refreshing to hear from someone who has truly submerged themselves in the data, with a lifetime's worth of economic knowledge behind them. This one's definitely staying on my bookshelf. ...more
Aug 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting perspectives, old data

Some interesting stuff about how minimum wages and unions may have been either unintentionally or actually intentionally descriminatory, but it doesn't discuss much beyond the 1960's, and the world has changed a lot since then.
Mar 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"Recognizing that laws creating economic barriers are anti-people is important".

Lots of good history, both about discrimination (the NLRB... Wow) and achievement. Thought provoking, but may require some economics understanding to fully appreciate.
May 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Economics explained by Walter Williams

The government policy attempts to eliminate discrimination are sadly ineffective because they do not understand economic considerations which would be better served by free markets.
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The author does a spectacular job of exploring the degree at which racism can be blamed on the economic disparity between races.
Mark W Hansen
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Makes you think

Easy read, practical,good economics explained so a novice can follow.teaches you how to analyze topics in a more objective way.
Alex Whigham
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Strong argument for the case that racial discrimination is not an insurmountable obstacle to the socioeconomic progress of an ethnic group.
Jun 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Minimum wage is racist.
Jake Keyes
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A well researched and detailed account of where true systematic racism comes from. Williams explains how good intentions lead to many African Americans being left behind. This book explains how minimum wage laws, government regulation, and unions keep the African American community down. This book proves that Capitalism does not have time to discriminate, that the smartest/hardest working man can indeed get ahead in America. As long as government doesn't get in his way. ...more
Thaddeus Weber
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book! Very informative, professor Williams provides a lot of information in a short amount of pages. He really pushes home the point that intentions really mean little to the actual outcomes of policy.
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Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Walter E. Williams holds a B.A. in economics from California State University, Los Angeles, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics from UCLA. He also holds a Doctor of Humane Letters from Virginia Union University and Grove City College, Doctor of Laws from Washington and Jefferson College and Doctor Honoris Causa en Ciencias Sociales from Universidad Franc ...more

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40 likes · 6 comments
“Employer substitution of higher-skilled for lower-skilled workers is not the only effect of the minimum wage law. It also gives employers an economic incentive to make other changes: substitute machines for labor; change production techniques; relocate overseas; and eliminate certain jobs altogether. The substitution of automatic dishwashers for hand washing, and automatic tomato-picking machines for manual pickers, are examples of the substitution of machines for labor in response to higher wages.” 6 likes
“The law-abiding black citizen who is passed up by a taxi, refused pizza delivery, or stopped by the police can rightfully feel a sense of injustice and resentment. But the bulk of those feelings should be directed at those who have made race synonymous with higher rates of criminal activity rather than the taxi driver or pizza deliverer who is trying to earn a living and avoid being a crime victim.” 5 likes
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