Monday, August 23, 2010
Walter E. Williams-- His PBS Show "Good Intentions" from the 1980's
Walter Williams' PBS documentary Good Intentions based on his book, The State Against Blacks (1982). The documentary was very controversial at the time it was released and led to many animosities and even threats of murder.
In Good Intentions, Dr. Williams examines the failure of the war on poverty and the devastating effect of well meaning government policies on blacks asserting that the state harms people in the U.S. more than it helps them. He shows how government anti-poverty programs have often locked people into poverty making the points that:
- being forced to attend 3rd rate public schools leave students unprepared for working life
- minimum wages prevent young people from obtaining jobs at an early age
- licensing and labor laws have had the effect of restricting entrance of blacks into the skilled trades and unions
- the welfare system creates perverse incentives for the poor to make bad choices they otherwise would not
Dr. Williams presents the following solutions to these problems:
Failing Public Schools - Give parents greater control over their children's education by setting up a tuition tax credit or voucher system to broaden competition in turn revitalizing both public and non-public schools
Minimum Wages - Remove the minimum wage from youngsters to give more young people the chance to learn the world of work at an early age instead spending their free time idle an possibly falling into the habits of the street
Restrictive Labor Laws, Jobs Programs - Eliminate government roadblocks that prevent new entrepreneurs from starting their own business
Welfare Programs - Enact a compassionate welfare system such as a negative income tax which would remove dependency and dis-incentives for the poor to get themselves out of poverty
Scholars interviewed in the documentary include Donald Eberle, Charles Murray, and George Gilder.
Grouch: I'm a great admirer of Dr. Williams. Even though this documentary was put together in the early 1980's, I'm not sure the problems are much different today. Actually, if anything the problems have gotten worse. Some might think Williams' solutions are simplistic because they don't embrace an expensive government based solution, but they sound like a dose of common sense to me.