Walter Williams: Good Intentions

Walter Williams makes a good case that the war on poverty was making things worse in 1985. This was a PBS documentary now available to all of us through the wonders of the Internet and Youtube. I recommend watching all 28 minutes.

Part I:


Part II:


Part III:


Here’s Walter Williams home page to see more of his work. I recommend adding his weekly column to your normal reading rotation. You will learn a lot.

Thanks to Wally & Mike for — as usual — a good and productive discussion in the comments.


4 thoughts on “Walter Williams: Good Intentions

  1. Williams has been featured on my blog for as long as it has existed. I have had the pleasure, (honor actually) of having email exchanges with him several times over the past 15 years or so. He is, along with his friend Thomas Sowell, a national treasure.

  2. Wouldn’t a negative income tax or a basic income guarantee reduce work incentives in the same way that Williams says the welfare system of 1985 did?

    • A basic income guarantee, I think would. A negative income tax at the time was considered to be better because it encouraged working to earn income, but since then we have tried it. I think advocates of it would say that the proposal was for replacing welfare with a negative income tax, not just layering it on top of welfare. Since it was just layered in, we still have all the bad incentives of welfare and can’t peel apart the good effects of the negative income tax.

      But, even then, I think there are some unintended consequences of it. Some people stall out (or don’t report all) on their income purposefully so they don’t lose the credit, for example.


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