Walter Williams On The 2012 Election And Sound Money

Tyler Durden's picture

From by Casey Research

Guest Post: Walter Williams On The 2012 Election And Sound Money

Walter Williams has been a professor of economics at George Mason University in Virginia since 1980. He is the author of many books, hundreds of articles and a weekly syndicated column. You may have caught some of his many radio and television appearances – a champion of free-market economics speaking out against socialism and intrusive government. He has described laissez-faire capitalism as “the most moral and most productive system man has ever devised.”

Casey Research: Good morning, Dr. Williams. I was immensely relieved to learn that you were not the author of the recent article No Matter What, purporting to explain why, no matter how bad things get, President Obama would win a second term. The article was widely circulated, however, and I have some concern that a lot of people were misled but never learned that you had not written it.

Walter Williams: Of course the article was a hoax. When it first came out and people started sending it to me, I sent it to the Creators Syndicate that handles my column. They contacted the website that ran the article, and that website ran an apology.

Casey Research: I am happy to have the opportunity to help set the record straight and to share your views with our readers. Can President Obama be defeated in 2012?

Walter Williams: Oh yes. According to a recent poll, if the election were held today, Mitt Romney would beat him. It’s hard for a president to win reelection with a high unemployment rate. It looks like there is no way in the world, between now and the election, that unemployment will drop substantially. That does not bode well for Obama’s reelection.

CR: I believe official unemployment now stands at about 9% and that it’s actually even higher because of how unemployment statistics are reported.

Walter Williams: That’s right.

CR: The midterm election and the Tea Party movement sent a strong message to Congress and the president. Voters want less spending on less government, but Congress and the president still seem to think voters will accept business as usual. Are they right?

Walter Williams: They could be. We can blame politicians a little bit, but the bulk of the blame lies with the American people. That was kind of an epiphany for me. During the 1980s, I would occasionally have lunch with Senator Jesse Helms from North Carolina. He knew that I was highly critical of agricultural subsidies, handouts to farmers.

Something Jesse Helms told me at one of our luncheons made me realize some things I had not realized until then. He said, “Walter, I agree with you 100% that these farm subsidies ought to be eliminated.” But then he asked, “Can you tell me how I can remain the senator from North Carolina and vote against them? If I do what you say, I would be voted out of office.”

Applying his observation today, we can note that the biggest expenditures by the federal government are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and prescription drugs. Along with other entitlements, these expenditures amount to almost 60% of the federal budget. The beneficiaries of these programs vote in large numbers. Politicians who talk about cutting these programs are going to run into trouble. We have to get the American people, as much as politicians, to respect the Constitution.

CR: It seems that we must overcome some significant misconceptions before we reach that point. For example, some smart people have asked why we can’t just live on credit, why can’t the Fed just continue to print money? You’ve been an economics professor for over 30 years. Do you have a sense of what it would take to teach the average American that living on credit does not work for the federal government any more than it would for individuals or families?

Walter Williams: We have to ask ourselves, “Are the American people any different than the Romans, the British, the French? Are they different from Spain or Portugal?” These were all once great empires that went down the tubes for bread and circuses, for huge spending. There is every indication that Americans will go the same way. They want politicians to enable them to live at the expense of other Americans.

CR: That seems to be a recurring message during elections: “I will give you what you want and make someone else pay for it.”

Walter Williams: That is absolutely right. In my opinion, it is nothing more than legalized theft. If there is slight hope on the horizon, it’s that the Obama administration and Congress have been so brazen that Americans, like never before in our lives, are arguing about the Constitution.

States’ attorneys general are suing the federal government over Obamacare. State legislatures are passing Tenth Amendment resolutions [“state sovereignty resolutions” affirming that the US Constitution gives the federal government only specific enumerated powers and that all other powers remain with the state and the people]. Texas is telling the TSA to “keep your hands off our people.” North Dakota has nullified the health care bill. So the point is, if there is hope on the horizon, it may be this slight groundswell of rebellion. The question is, is it too little, too late?

CR: The US dollar was once redeemable in gold or silver but now it just says, “In God We Trust.” The US monetary system is based on trust, but that trust has been breached and the dollar is in decline. Americans will be wondering whom to hold responsible as we lose the privileges we have enjoyed as custodians of the world’s reserve currency.

Walter Williams: Very seldom are people willing to blame themselves for the problems they create. They always want to blame someone else: the Chinese, Republicans, Democrats. It’s a natural, normal human response, but blaming someone else does not solve the problem.

CR: I mentioned those who have asked why we can’t just live on credit. What about those who really should know better, like Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and members of the Joint Economic Committee in Congress – do they truly believe in Keynesian economics? For example, does the Fed chairman believe that one more round of quantitative easing will actually get the economy back on track?

Walter Williams: Keep in mind something that Richard Nixon said to John Ehrlichman, who warned that Milton Friedman, an economist and Nobel laureate, advised against the policy Nixon was pursuing. Nixon’s response was, “Milton Friedman is not running for reelection.” These people in Washington have commitments and responsibilities that I don’t have. I don’t owe anybody anything, so I can be perfectly honest. When you are trying to get reelected, or appointed to a high-level position, or hoping to have a high-paying job when you leave government, you just can’t say the sort of things I am free to say.

CR: Will we ever return to fiscal responsibility when there is no constraint on how many dollars can be produced?

Walter Williams: The gold standard is a discipline for the monetary authorities. It restricts their ability to print money. Without a gold standard, the only restriction is the political arena’s restraint that has been shown around the world to be insufficient. Our founders feared fiat money.

CR: Americans seem to have forgotten that.

Walter Williams: Not so much forgotten as just observed that such a restraint on government limits my ability to live off my fellow Americans. At the Democratic National Convention in 1896, William Jennings Bryan, one of the first so-called “progressives,” gave a speech – the “Cross of Gold” speech – condemning the high rate of silver-to-gold convertibility. [Bryan called for the inflationary free coinage of silver at a ratio of 16:1 to gold. His answer to the demand for a gold standard: “You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold.”] At that time, we had presidents like Grover Cleveland, who fought against the weakening of the dollar and against moving away from the gold standard.

CR: That’s certainly not a cause championed by Barack Obama.

Walter Williams: No, it’s not. As to that article on Obama’s reelection, I don’t think any of it makes a lot of sense. I appreciate your efforts to get the word out that it was not written by me.

CR: My pleasure. Thank you very much, Dr. Williams. I appreciate you taking the time to talk with me.

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Buckaroo Banzai's picture

How quaint! Both the interviewer and interviewee seem to be laboring under the old-fashioned misconception that voters actually choose who becomes President!

zenbones's picture

We do get to choose.  We can choose between the ticket of Rockefeller/Rothschild or the ticket of Rothschild/Rockefeller.  Either way, they win, you lose.

Ratscam's picture

any blue pills left? I'm in dire need of one!

FreedomGuy's picture

Actually, that's not the point. The point is that we'd choose someone who promises us the impossible rather than someone who tells the truth and refuses to let us live off other men. We, as a people will more likely choose the leaders who offer bread and circuses even though it results in our destruction. You don't need any conspiracies.

topcallingtroll's picture

The sheeple choose who does not become president.  anyone who truly wants individual liberty and personal responsibility cannot become president because that would mean the end of welfare (social security, medicare, etc). And for all of you who don't believe those programs are welfare then you are financially naive.  Recipients on average get a huge amount more than they put into the system, all of this increasing the debt on our children.

Kat's picture

Last November we tried to choose in CT, but then a bunch of trash bags of "votes" arrived at the Bridgeport polling station and then the choice of the people of CT was sort of trumped by these bags of trash. 

Also, Bridgeport "ran out of ballots" and a couple of unsupervised poll workers were sent to photocopy more (really slowly) as the Democrats sent busses to the ghettos and paid people to come vote Democrat. 

On the bright side, no dead people voted.  Why bother when the non-existent and never existed can vote?  Via black trash bags?

Shell Game's picture

We have to get the American people, as much as politicians, to respect the Constitution.

The American people as a whole will come to respect collapse before they come to respect the Constitution..

i-dog's picture


And as for the interviewee's comment:

"We can blame politicians a little bit, but the bulk of the blame lies with the American people."

That is a stinking load of "pass the buck where it doesn't belong, and maybe nobody will notice"!

While it is true that an educated "people" MIGHT be able to make an informed choice---if they were presented with ALL the facts---the politicians have full access to all the facts and all the think tanks that analyse all the facts. The people are fed nothing but propaganda and pablum ... and are then expected to make an informed choice?! Give me a break!!

Williams is a failed apologist for the globalists.

jakethesnake76's picture

Alright nice to hear from the Dr. always tells it as he sees it .

New_Meat's picture

"Black by Popular Demand." - Walter E. Williams

Tyler, please add the E. to the headline to disambiguate from the other "Walter Williams" who is, well, not of this view.

- Ned

{and junkstaz, if u haven't heard him, well, he'd make most thinking folk piss their pants.  Not so much fun since his wife died.}

chet's picture

Meh.  Anyone can talk about politics.

LawsofPhysics's picture

Exactly.  How about talking about those other "entitlements".  You know, the "I drove my company into the ground but I am still entitled to a massive bailout and huge bonus because I am too big to fail."

Never hear people complaining about those entitlment motherfuckers.

Kat's picture

Where do you hang out?  I hear about it all the time.

So far (at least), the bailout pale in comparison to the entitlements.  I'm sure now that we've increased the Moral Hazard, that'll change.  But, until it does, it's Medicare and Social Security that are driving us over a cliff.

Bob's picture

Social security is driving no one over any cliff.  The program is still self-sustaining.  Net cost of SS is zero.  The only issue that has any meaning from an accounting standpoint is cash flow. 

Pointing to SS payments as a government expense is absurd . . . but it works as long as you conveniently ignore the fact that the gov has to pay off on SS Trust Fund assets that have been bought and paid for. 

The SSTF is literally an investor that bought Treasury securities.  When other Treasury Debt write-offs are seriously on the table--with meantingful haircuts for well-heeled investors--then perhaps this analysis will make some sense. 

Of course, military entitlements--not self-funded by any definition--continue to escape the attention of these deep "anti-entitlement" thinkers.

This stuff is Accounting 101.  It is not beyond the business community's capacity to understand it. 

The "misunderstanding" is deliberate.  It's nothing but a transparent attempt to frame the issue in terms that will justify writing off the SSTF debt as some kind of twisted virtue. 

Just more attempted theft by the finance community and its useful idiots.  Gotta love "highly principled" sociopaths who just want the lower strata to be "responsible."

anony's picture

Social Security was robbed by Tip O'neill, Lyndon Johnson, Ted Kennedy and spineless republicans sucking at the defense tit, and 40 years of democratic control of Congress. 

Leave it out of the equation until all the money that those paid into it and earned in interest is returned.

Otherwise you prove that you don't know what in hell you are talking about.

DCFusor's picture

Way back, one of the true conservatives, Robert Heinlein stated:

When the plebes discover they can vote bread and circuses for themselves, it's the end of your empire, it's only a matter of time. 

His solution:

Don't let people on the dole vote.

The "progressive defense":

Make sure everyone is on the dole somewhat so the above rule can never pass.

The bad guys won, it would seem, and they's us (well, not me, of course!).

And having once worked fairly high up in the republican party, yeah, only a few people get to decide who you get to vote for, and their mission isn't representing the people at all, no way, not even a little unless it's totally an accident.  I'm sure the dems are no better, and probably worse.  But either set of clowns, are well, clowns.  No choice there except for which squeaky nose or the color of the clown shoes you like best.  Poll workers discard ballots from independents regularly.

topcallingtroll's picture

I think I read everything ever written by Robert Heinlein as a teenager.   He is the God of science fiction or at least the right hand of God, Isaac Asimov.

Manthong's picture

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.”

Whether it was Heinlein, DeTocqueville, Tytler or whoever that  first  opined some form of the above, it is a concept worthy of  being grokked.

JohnG's picture

I'll go one better:  Only tax PAYERS vote.

Row Well Number 41's picture

I consider a few Sci Fi books must reads.


The Foundation trilogy

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

And while not technically Sci Fi the Conan books are also good reads.



Rodent Freikorps's picture

Honor Harrington series by David Weber.

You are welcome.

Burgess Shale's picture

Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams was a good read.

Manthong's picture

"Out of the Silent Planet"


"That Hideous Strength"

-C. S. Lewis trilogy


piceridu's picture

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." 

Upton Sinclair

Barbar's picture

the bitchez post bitchez!

notadouche's picture

How did Jessie Helms know he wouldn't get reelected?  He had been in for a billion years for plenty of stupid votes.  He still got voted in.  Maybe he should have stated that he was afraid he couldn't raise money from his ag lobbyist if he voted in any way to take money out of ag mouth.  Maybe this is the excuse politicians give in order to shift blame from themselves.   Of course ideally people are voted in to lead, not to be led by the threat of losing elections.   Using your logic, then politicians are finding it easy to shift the blame as well, blaming the people for their deeds, or lack thereof than looking in the mirror and asking what they have or have not done to uphold the integrity of their office.  What have they done or not done to better or worsen the lot of America in the name of "being afraid of not getting elected"  What a total canard.  If you don't have the balls to do the right thing than get the hell out of office and do something else.

XitSam's picture

If you don't have the balls to do the right thing than get the hell out of office and do something else.

This is the problem, nearly all of the good people have gotten out or not campaigned in the first place.  That vacuum has been filled with the sycophants.

jakethesnake76's picture

Yea how many times has Ron Paul been elected President uhh none times , that is Walters point , the guy is much less diplomatic when on the radio he tells it like it is. And what it is is everybody votes their own Stupid Interest even when it hurts them because people don't think clearly anymore..When People are Angry they think stupid thoughts. Or when they are short sighted as most of us are now today, Start a new utopia some where it ends the Same, it's our fault how many of us really worked and demanded our neiubours and friends worked to keep this country safe and on debt free???

notadouche's picture

Jessie Helms was a Senator as is Ron Paul.  Ron Paul keeps getting elected.  I didn't read this article to mean winning presidential election but equated it more properly to congressional votes which run most of the dollar show.  My point is to take Walters idea, change american people and replace it with american politician.  I think the argument he uses works much better with that substitute.  Case in point, majority of voters according to most polls  did not want Obamacare, yet POLITICIANS lied, and stole to vote it in.  You can't blame the people for the votes of the political elite.  Now if they start holding referendums on healthcare and the people vote it in then the blame can be shifted to the people.  Remember how all the politicians voted yes for TARP, yet held their nose.  The people didn't want it and the politicians knew but did it anyway and their only cover was they "held their noses".  WTF. 

CrimsonAvenger's picture

Ron Paul is a congressperson, not a senator. Just FYI.

LeBalance's picture

WW: "We can blame politicians a little bit, but the bulk of the blame lies with the American people."

For the FED?  For the IRS? For 911? For HFT? For houses you can't own?  For the word "register?"

For "re-presentation" by the Articles of Incorporation?  The Red Amendment?  The Patriot Act?

The TSA?  The derivative?  MERS?  The Nuclear Pile?


Please WW, tell me exactly how!

/thought not./

Get serious, or get out.

"What this town needs is a better class of research rag criminal."

LMAO's picture

I concur, spoken like a true politician.

But then again I think he is trying to tell us: "the bulk of the blame lies with the American people for letting us proceed with the destruction of this country and as long as we are permitted to do so, we are just keeping up the good work.

Btw, some comedy Gold from the same article after blaming the American people for the shitpile

Walter Williams: Very seldom are people willing to blame themselves for the problems they create.

He's a cunning linguist

A Nanny Moose's picture

"...a Republic, if we can keep it."

anony's picture

The american people can shoulder some blame for the current state of affairs due to their motives in voting, and for those that don't vote, they too can shoulder some the blame for not expressing themselves at the ballot box.

That being said, the american people -----as the writer above quickly illustrates -----has nothing to do with the hijacking of their vote by lobbyists who have managed at every turn to thwart the voter.

I can accept no blame personally other than this: I don't possess the resources required to put a stop to the ongoing rape of the people by our representatives in D.C.

The inhabitants of D.C. live in a country separate from the United States. They don't pay social security, but steal from our fund to pay for thousands of programs that have turned our nation's spine into  jello.  They are able to trade on information that a private citizen, who possesses the same information would be prosecuted and jailed for using to make a profit.  They do not lgive themselves cuts in pay for failure nor can they be fired as citizens of the other 51 states are routinely.

We are governed by a foreign nation and to blame us for the inept, corrupt, and entirely criminal enterprise that is the US CONgress is naive, jejune, at best.

You are not excused, Mr. Walter Willams, for your groundless attack on the people.  


jakethesnake76's picture

i agree that the whole point was decentralized Government that's why here in Oklahoma no country was bigger than a days horse ride se people could get redress , and we have lost that since Washington Took that after the Civil War.. But the people do get the leaders they put in there and very few of us can say we did everything we could for ourselves and our country to keep it free and debt free.

nmewn's picture

I excuse him because its true.

When we get to the point that some if us are no longer asking the government to, feed us, clothe us, house us, protect us, give a cell phone to us, school us, doctor bribe us for the damned vote...then and only then will I agree.

Some ask too much and always bitch that its never enough even as they walk away with arm loads...(from Keynesians to welfare sows) from some of the most lecherous incompetents among us...he's exactly right.

They strip you of your dignity and you shrug it off and ask for more abuse (not you personally, generally).

So, junk it bitchez...but you know I'm right ;-)

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

+ 1 nmewn

It actually IS partly our fault.  Yes, there is an Elite there fighting for every scrap.  What is NOT pointed out often here at ZH is that that The Elite is not one monolithic group.  Various rich and powerful families HATE each other.  There are lobbyists and researchers who do NOTHING but dig up dirt on their political opponents (a friend of a friend of mine DOES JUST THAT).

It is up to us as individuals to take our country back.  The best shot we have, IMO, is the Tea Party and that kind of thinking.  Lower taxes.  Less regulation.  More transparency.  Smaller government.

Since that looks unlikely to happen, we then, as individuals, have to prepare against the likely BAD TIMES ahead as the Evil Empire starts to crumble and fight to the death.  By buying gold, etc.

But, politics at the grass-roots level DOES matter.  If we do not elect decent people, we get more of the same.  And it looks like (barring a President Ron Paul), that we WILL get more of the same.

Those of you who say "they are all the same" are not correct.  There is at least 14 cents worth of difference between the Ds and the Rs.

So, junk this too, bitchez, but you know WE are right.   :)

steelhead23's picture

Very good post.  While I suspect most voters would have no idea what I mean, I find the Fed's purchase of dodgy CDOs to be a violation of the Fed's charter and any losses incurred by Maiden Lane 2 and 3 should be born by the true owners of the Fed (e.g. J.P. Morgan, et al.).

I agree with the author that self-interested beneficiaries of the social safety net are more likely to vote for increasing taxes than those who actually pay those taxes - but a bigger problem is getting the public to understand the issues they face when the MSM is busily trying to hide those problems. 

Cow's picture

Because the American people keep electing douchbags like Barney Frank, Steny Hoyer and Sheila Jackson Lee.  'Splain that and you'll have your answer.

Here's the Citizen's Against Governement Waste Analysis of Agriculture, btw:




drink or die's picture

Politicians created those things, but the American people did nothing about it.  If the people don't keep the politicians in check, the people have failed.

faustian bargain's picture

Well, it's like he said. If Congress ended the Fed's charter, revoked legal tender laws, removed the mark-to-myth restrictions on interest rates, ended pointless foreign wars and entanglements, stopped subsidizing real estate and every other industry, then the vast majority of Congressmen would not get reelected. People in this country - most of them - simply don't want freedom. They want to be taken care of, and told what to do. And so, they have gotten what they deserved, because nobody cared enough to think about unintended consequences.

AngelsMom's picture

You've gotta be kidding....obviously it's because we voted for the assholes who made all those things possible, oh master of the disingenuous.  What do you do, go into a voting booth, close your eyes, and do an eenie meenie miney moe? If not, and if you've ever voted, at some point, congratufuckinlations, you made a shit decision, just like the rest of us. Christ, grow a pair and take some goddam responsibility!

dick cheneys ghost's picture

Get the Fiat out of politics..........

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

That will never happen.  You know better than that.  But, if you get junked later, it was not me.

Bam_Man's picture

I was wondering what had become of old "No Neck" after he left the Yankees in 1975.

Yamaha's picture

Reminds me of Nixon's second term slogan.

"Nixon now More Than Ever!"

Watch Obama -use the same thing........

IQ 145's picture

"I am not a crook" famous anouncement by Ricard M. Nixon, after it became clear to everyone that he was, in fact, a crook. Any country that has a president that gets on national TV and says, "I am not a crook"; has big problem.

OrestesPenthilusQuintard's picture

Actually the guy wasn't a crook - they got tired of blowing people's heads off so they politically 'assassinated' him.  Russ Baker's Family of Secrets will give you the straight poop.

DeweyLeon's picture

"We have to get the American people, as much as politicians, to respect the Constitution."

"The American people" don't think in those terms, it's too abstract. What they see from MC, SS etc. is their rights and anyone reducing their "rights" will be struck down with great vengeance and furious anger.

This shit ain't ending until the money runs out.