George Mason University professor and leading libertarian economist Dr. Walter E. Williams has a new book out in which he makes the case that Americans — often times unbeknownst to themselves — harbor hostility towards their own freedoms.
During an in-depth interview with Dr. Williams, we had the chance to discuss a variety of issues addressed in his must-read “American Contempt for Liberty,” including his defense of the position that Americans have contempt for their own liberty. Here’s what he said:
Americans have contempt for the founding principles. Now what I mean by that is that I think almost everybody will believe — everybody recognizes that James Madison is the acknowledged father of the United States Constitution. And so James Madison ought to know what’s in it.
And in 1794, Congress appropriated $15,000 to help some French refugees, and James Madison stood on the floor of the House irate, and he said, and I’m quoting him: “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution, which granted a right to Congress of expending, on the [sic] objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” James Madison also said “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”
Now, where the contempt comes in is that imagine that a presidential candidate … is running today, and he makes the same statements that James Madison made. The American people would run him out of town on the rail, because they have contempt for that particular idea.
And when you talk about Madison saying “Congress can’t spend money on the objects of benevolence,” if you look at the federal budget, two-thirds to three-quarters of it are for the “objects of benevolence.” That is, you can describe two-thirds to three-quarters of the federal government as follows: That is, where Congress takes the earnings of one American, and gives them to some other American.
Now I think that people should recognize I’m not making an argument against taxes because everybody ought to pay their share of the Constitutionally mandated functions of government. But no person has an obligation to be forced to give money to some other person.
During the interview, which you can listen to in full below, we had the chance to touch on a number of other topics including:
- How Williams became a libertarian having grown up in inner city Philadelphia while his peers did not
- How democracy provides an air of legitimacy to tyranny
- How America survived and thrived without a welfare state
- The immorality of government plunder
- What supermarkets tell us about the failures of central planning
- And much much more
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