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Walter Williams Quotes

Walter Williams (born 1936) is an American academic, commentator and economics professor at George Mason University.

Williams is the author of hundreds of articles and eight books. His latest book “Race and Economics” was published in 2011.

Williams is well known for his column, published weekly in nearly 140 newspapers.

Walter Williams Quotes

The true test of one’s commitment to liberty and private property rights doesn’t come when we permit people to be free to do those voluntary things with which we agree. The true test comes when we permit people to be free to do those voluntary things with which we disagree.

— Walter Williams

Today’s liberals wish to disarm us so they can run their evil and oppressive agenda on us. The fight against crime is just a convenient excuse to further their agenda. I don’t know about you, but if you hear that Williams’ guns have been taken, you’ll know Williams is dead.

— Walter Williams

Powerful government tends to draw into it people with bloated egos, people who think they know more than everyone else and have little hesitance in coercing their fellow man.

— Walter Williams

If our country is to survive and prosper, we must summon the courage to condemn and reject the liberal agenda, and we had better do it soon.

— Walter Williams, The Gathering Racial Tragedy

What we call the market is really a democratic process involving millions, and in some markets billions, of people making personal decisions that express their preferences. When you hear someone say that he doesn’t trust the market, and wants to replace it with government edicts, he’s really calling for a switch from a democratic process to a totalitarian one.

— Walter Williams

Once one accepts the principle of self-ownership, what’s moral and immoral becomes self-evident. Murder is immoral because it violates private property. Rape and theft are also immoral — they also violate private property.

— Walter Williams

Poverty in Egypt, or anywhere else, is not very difficult to explain. There are three basic causes: People are poor because they cannot produce anything highly valued by others. They can produce things highly valued by others but are hampered or prevented from doing so. Or, they volunteer to be poor.

— Walter Williams

One of the wonderful things about free markets is that the path to greater wealth comes not from looting, plundering and enslaving one’s fellow man, as it has throughout most of human history, but by serving and pleasing him.

— Walter Williams

There are many farm handouts; but let’s call them what they really are: a form of legalized theft. Essentially, a congressman tells his farm constituency, ‘Vote for me. I’ll use my office to take another American’s money and give it to you.

— Walter Williams

A caged canary is safe but not free.

— Walter Williams

A right, such as a right to free speech, imposes no obligation on another, except that of non-interference. The so-called right to health care, food or housing, whether a person can afford it or not, is something entirely different; it does impose an obligation on another. If one person has a right to something he didn’t produce, simultaneously and of necessity it means that some other person does not have right to something he did produce. That’s because, since there’s no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy, in order for government to give one American a dollar, it must, through intimidation, threats and coercion, confiscate that dollar from some other American.

— Walter Williams

Government is necessary, but the only rights we can delegate to government are the ones we possess. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Since we possess that right, we can delegate authority to government to defend us. By contrast, we don’t have a natural right to take the property of one person to give to another; therefore, we cannot legitimately delegate such authority to government.

— Walter Williams

Two vital marketplace signals are the profits that come with success and the losses that come with failure. When these two signals are not allowed to freely function, markets operate less efficiently.

— Walter Williams

The framers gave us the Second Amendment not so we could go deer or duck hunting but to give us a modicum of protection against congressional tyranny.

— Walter Williams

No matter how worthy the cause, it is robbery, theft, and injustice to confiscate the property of one person and give it to another to whom it does not belong.

— Walter Williams

It was not until the Abraham Lincoln administration that an income tax was imposed on Americans. Its stated purpose was to finance the war, but it took until 1872 for it to be repealed. During the Grover Cleveland administration, Congress enacted the Income Tax Act of 1894. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in 1895. It took the Sixteenth Amendment (1913) to make permanent what the Framers feared — today’s income tax.

— Walter Williams

Democracy and liberty are not the same. Democracy is little more than mob rule, while liberty refers to the sovereignty of the individual.

— Walter Williams

Students who are alien and hostile to the education process ought to be removed. You say, “What will we do with them?” I say that’s a secondary issue. The first priority is to stop thugs from making education impossible for everyone else.

— Walter Williams
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Quotes on History

The history of the world is but the biography of heroes.

— Thomas Carlyle

If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past.

— Baruch Spinoza

You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence.

— Charles Austin Beard, The Blue Press

The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.

— Charles-Louis De Secondat

The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.

— Winston Churchill

If we’re ignorant of the historical sacrifices that made our liberties possible, we will be less likely to make the sacrifices again so that those liberties are preserved for future generations. And, if we’re ignorant, we won’t even know when government infringes on our liberties. Moreover, we’ll happily cast our votes for those who’d destroy our liberties.

— Walter E. Williams

Wise men say, and not without reason, that whosoever wished to foresee the future might consult the past.

— Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince

A generation which ignores history has no past and no future.

— Robert Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

History teaches us many things; we learn very few of them.

— Will Spencer

On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

— Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p322.

The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.

— Stephen Ambrose
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Quotes on the Militia

We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles . The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.

— Thomas Jefferson

The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age…

— Title 10, Section 311 of the U.S. Code

For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well organized and armed militia is their best security.

— Thomas Jefferson

An armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics — that without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe…

— James Madison

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.

— Noah Webster

The right of the people to keep and bear arms has been recognized by the General Government; but the best security of that right after all is, the military spirit, that taste for martial exercises, which has always distinguished the free citizens of these States… Such men form the best barrier to the liberties of America.

— Gazette of the United States Source; October 14, 1789

What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty …. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins.

— Representative Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts

The power of the sword, say the minority of Pennsylvania, is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for the powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from sixteen to sixty. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American…[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it ever will remain, in the hands of the people.

— Tench Coxe

I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.

— George Mason

A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves…and include all men capable of bearing arms.

— Richard Henry Lee

The militia is the natural defense of a free country against foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. The right of citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of liberties of the republic, since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers, and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.

— U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph

The right of the people to keep and bear…arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country…

— James Madison,

Have we the means of resisting disciplined armies, when our only defense, the militia, is put in the hands of Congress? Of what service would militia be to you when, most probably, you will not have a single musket in the state? For, as arms are to be provided by Congress, they may or may not provide them.

— Patrick Henry

An instance within the memory of some of this house will show us how our militia may be destroyed. Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliment was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia.

— George Mason

No free government was ever founded, or ever preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of the citizen and soldier in those destined for the defense of the state…Such are a well regulated militia, composed of the freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen.

— Richard Henry

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.

— Patrick Henry

The militia is a voluntary force not associated or under the control of the States except when called out.

— Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers #28

The President, and government, will only control the militia when a part of them is in the actual service of the federal government, else, they are independent and not under the command of the president or the government. The states would control the militia, only when called out into the service of the state, and then the governor would be commander in chief where enumerated in the respective state constitution.

— Alexander Hamilton

Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.

— John F. Kennedy

The militia is a voluntary force not associated or under the control of the States except when called out; [ when called into actual service] a permanent or long standing force would be entirely different in make-up and call.

— Alexander Hamilton

Whereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it.

— Richard Henry Lee
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The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his.

— General George S. Patton