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Walter Williams: ‘We’re Moving Towards Totalitarianism Tiny Steps at a Time’

By Jeannette Richard | July 22, 2016 | 9:26am EDT
George Mason University Professor Walter Williams. (Young America's Foundation)

“We’re moving towards totalitarianism tiny steps at a time,” economist Walter Williams told an audience of young conservatives at a conference at the Young America’s Foundation last weekend.

“Now, we’re moving towards totalitarianism tiny steps at a time. The truth of the matter is that if you head towards any goal tiny steps at a time, at a time, sooner or later you’re going to reach it,” warned Williams, a professor of economics at George Mason University and a nationally syndicated columnist.

Here is a transcript of Williams' remarks:

“Free enterprise is threatened in our nation, somewhat ironically, not because of its failures; it’s threatened because of its success. That is, capitalism has been so successful in eliminating the traditional problems of mankind such as disease, pestilence, hunger, and gross poverty, that all other human problems appear to us to be at once inexcusable and unbearable,” said Williams.

“The desire by many Americans to eliminate these so-called unbearable and inexcusable problems has led us away from the basic ideals and principles upon which our prosperous nation was built.

“In the name of other ideals such as equality of income, sex and race battles, affordable housing, medical care, orderly markets, consumer protection, energy conservation - just to name a few - we have abandoned many personal freedoms.

“As a result of widespread control by government, by our government, in an effort to achieve these so-called higher objectives, we are increasingly being subordinated to the point where considerations of personal freedom are but secondary and tertiary matters. They’re increasingly being treated as dirt.

“Now, you might say, ‘Well, isn’t this guy exaggerating a little bit?’

"Well, imagine that I write the United States Congress. I tell them, ‘My name is Walter Williams. I am an emancipated adult fully capable of taking care of my own retirement needs, and if I fail to do so, let me die on the streets or beg. But stop taking money out of my paycheck for Social Security.’

“How do you think that would be greeted? It’d be greeted with contempt. Here are some people telling me how much I should set aside out of each week’s pay for Social Security. What if they told me, or what if they told you and me, how much we should set aside for housing, for food, for our children’s education, and if you didn’t do it, you’d go to jail?

“We’d surely see that as tyranny. But they can, or we’ve allowed them to do this with respect to Social Security and other issues.

“Now, the ultimate end, ladies and gentlemen, to this process is totalitarianism, which is nothing more than a reduced form of servitude."

“Now, I am not saying that we are a totalitarian nation yet. But if you ask the question, 'Which way are we headed tiny steps at a time? Are we headed towards more liberty or are we headed towards more government control over our lives?' it’d have to unambiguously be the latter. The ultimate end to this, as I said, is totalitarianism.

“Now, we’re moving towards totalitarianism tiny steps at a time. The truth of the matter is that if you head towards any goal tiny steps at a time, at a time, sooner or later you’re going to reach it.

“For, as the great philosopher David Hume said, it is seldom that liberty, that any kind of liberty is lost all at once. It’s always lost bit by bit.”

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