.… is from page 363 of my late, great colleague Walter Williams’s 2015 book, American Contempt for Liberty, which is a collection of many of Walter’s columns and essays; this quotation specifically is from Walter’s April 18th, 2012, syndicated column, “Good Economists”:
How many times have we heard that “if it will save just one human life, it’s worth it” or that “human life is priceless”? Both are nonsense statements. If either statement were true, we’d see lower speed limits, bans on auto racing and fewer airplanes in the sky. We can always be safer than we are. For example, cars could be produced such that occupants could survive unscathed in a 50-mph head-on collision, but how many of us could buy such a car?
DBx: Far too many intellectuals – including too many economists – value displays of cleverness and novelty over the ability to reveal under-appreciated truths plainly, in ways that non-intellectuals can easily understand. Walter Williams was no such self-indulgent or unwise intellectual. Although he did pioneering research, he devoted most of his career to the task of conveying basic economic truths – principles and empirical realities – that remain widely ignored. Walter knew that for ordinary people to be prosperous and to have opportunities for meaningful lives they had to be free.
No one has been more courageous and talented than Walter at making the case for liberal individualism.