There is no question that black Americans have suffered gross violations of basic human rights in the forms of slavery, discrimination, and personal violence. But, says Walter Williams, an acknowledgment of these injustices, and of current residual discrimination, does not help to evaluate what is, or is not in the best interest of blacks today.
In Race and Economics,Williams applies an economic analysis to the problems black Americans have faced in the past and 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 political arena, minorities cannot realize a particular preference unless they win the will of the majority. In the market, he shows, there is a sort of parity (nonexistent in the political arena) in which one person#x19;s dollar has the same power as the next person#x19;s. Looking at the effects of political decision making in areas such as minimum-wage laws, occupational and business licensure, and industry regulation versus deregulation, Williams offers evidence that government attempts to help minorities actually reduce economic opportunities for people, especially those who might be described as discriminated against and having little political clout. Ultimately, he says, people can offset some of their handicaps by offering a higher price for what they buy or a lower price for what they sell-what economists call compen#xAD;sating differences.
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