Walter E. WilliamsWalter E. Williams, (1936-2020) Columnist, Professor of Economics at George Mason University

Walter E. Williams Quote

“Try this thought experiment. Pretend you're a tyrant. Among your many liberty-destroying objectives are extermination of blacks, Jews and Catholics. Which would you prefer, a United States with political power centralized in Washington, powerful government agencies with detailed information on Americans and compliant states or power widely dispersed over 50 states, thousands of local jurisdictions and a limited federal government?”

Walter E. WilliamsWalter E. Williams
~ Walter E. Williams

Ratings and Comments


We perish for lack of such truths. Truth is for sale, too rarely free, too rarely available everywhere. Williams to the World!

Joel, Rochester, MI

Without government agencies, the 535+ representatives in Washington D.C. could not control the people.

D.M., Bozeman, MT

GREAT quote!

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

While it is clear that such overly strong centralized government is prone to such evils, it is not clear that the ills outlined are prevented by strong decentralization. It would however be interesting to know when & where (context) this quote originated.

  • Reply
Anonymous    1/31/05

This may be a prophetic quote.

John G, Westbury, NY

Brilliant example of the need for limited government, in plain English as usual, by Mr. Williams

Tom Cox, Reston

Pose the problem in a different way and see what you think: "Try this thought experiment. Pretend you are a reasonable, compassionate and justice-loving President of the United States. Among your many liberty-creting objectives are the elimination of discrimination in employment and education, and the establishment of voting rights for all citizens, regardless of race or sex or economic status. Which would you prefer, a United States with with a strong federal government, or a nation with power widely dispersed over 50 states, thousands of local jurisdictions and a limited federal government?"

Kat Meyers, North Stonington

While I agree that the quote could be turned around, the sad thing is that "a reasonable, compassionate and justice-loving President" would be harder to find than the tyrant.

Ben, Orem, UT

Good point

Mike, Norwalk


Waffler, Smith

Dumbest quote ever! This guy has never read history or he would know of state and local governments whose officers and executives were all members of the KKK you know those Black, Jew and Catholic loving folks with their Exalted Imperial Wizards and stuff. How can a guy like Williams be so damn ignorant of facts? Good thinking Tom Cox! The Feds go out of their way to hire minorities and protect and provide for exercise of religous freedom on the job. They bend over backwards for diversity, not so much I think in the backwaters of our society. The Feds our in the vanguard of tolerance, and freedom.

Justin, Elkland

I found it easier to visualize by replacing "a tyrant" with Barack Obama, replacing "extermination of blacks" with enslavement of blacks and replacing "Jews and Catholics" with whites and everyone else.

Justin, Elkland

To Tom Cox I'll take power spread over the 50 states for the protection of liberty (it cannot be created since it is the absence of restriction) too.

Justin, Elkland

To Anonymous in Reston, you make a great point. Decentralization absolutely does not prevent the ills outlined. It allows for choice. If a state or local government is oppressive you can move to a place that is less oppressive. This provides competition to provide more liberty or become depopulated. Where power is centralized and absolute there is no escape and no competition.

Justin, Elkland, Missouri

To Waffler Companies that don't hire more qualified people because they belong to a minority group are destined to fail. A federal government that hires less qualified people because they belong to a minority group is also destined to fail. Discrimination cuts both ways.

J Carlton, Calgary

An "administration" of well paid professional and accountable managers as opposed to a government of self serving and lying politicians would be a good start as well. Central Government is a strictly Communist idea to begin with.

nilesmc, one of the thousands of towns in The Peoples Republic of the UNITED STATES

Things are broken in America on purpose. Watch John Taylor Gatto's interviews on youtube if you think I'm wrong. Thanks.

jim k, austin

Waffler, Walter Williams is a brilliant man and I assure you that he has read and knows his history. You should follow this edict, namely , to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than open it and remove all doubt.

Waffler, Smith

Justin we are not talking about hiring less qualifeid people. We are talking about giving every one equal opportunity regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or disability. It is really sad that you miss the difference here. Jim your statement shows you to be a sycophant of Mr. Williams. We don't comment on these pages in order to give the person quoted a big head or kiss his butt, however, apparently you do.

Waffler, Smith

Again Justin it is about giving equally qualifed people the same treatment regardeless of race, sex, ethnicity etc. Get it! How can this be so difficult?

CDS, Philadelphia

The Anti-Federalist people are in the house, and can't understand that Walter E. Williams is a genius.

jim k, Austin

Too bad that Walter Williams isn't the president, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in.

David, Mannington

It would be advantageous for all of us to read "this guy". We would then know that he considers history when forming his opinions.

E Archer, NYC

Going out of the way to hire minorities is not equality at all, it is preferential treatment by statute. If the players of a football team had to be selected by racial quotas rather than abilities, you can bet that team would not make the playoffs.

I worked for a guy in DC running a non-profit. He hired an American indian (she hated working there), several Blacks from the projects, women of all colors, one man with a stutter as communications director, and a few token males as long as they were gay. It was so obvious that he was hiring for 'equality' -- long story short, with all this staff, they could hardly put out their product. It was all about the liberal dream -- of course, this business could not survive without large donations from other associations and corporations. 'Progress' was slow there -- it was all just about having a job, not really caring what the organization did or not. A bust of Woodrow Wilson adorned the hallway...

Ronw13, Oregon

Return to the original intent, as is echoed in the quote. State and Individual sovereignty respected.

"When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated. Election and separation of power would not suffice IF the government could judge its own case regarding constitutionality." ~ Thomas Jefferson. "

"It will be the solem duty of the State Governments to protect their own authority over their own militia, and to interpose between their own citizens and arbitrary power. These are among the objects for which the State Governments Exist; and their highest obligations bind them to the preservation of their own rights and the liberties of their people." ~ Daniel Webster

"Only when individuals are given full economic freedom will it be possible to secure political and moral freedom." ~ Ludwig Von Mises


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