Friday, March 25, 2011

Reason.tv Interview with Walter Williams



HT: Chris Coyne at the Coordination Problem blog

24 Comments:

At 3/25/2011 10:21 AM, Blogger Speedmaster said...

God Bless Walter Williams. The man is a national treasure and a wonderful human being.

 
At 3/25/2011 5:23 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

28 minutes of completely predictable positions. Gee, why not vouchers for military veterans, instead of the VA. Why never vouchers for them?

We could cut VA outlays in half, by wiping out the VA and giving veterans vouchers for that amount, and letting them choose what hospitals and services to go to.

Odd, despite the fact the the VA, and not local schools, are a national issue, so odd that the great thinkers of the right-wing and Tea Party never target the VA for radical improvement or alternative funding models. And we could sell all the VA land for profit--in Los Angeles aloe they have choice property worth hundred of millions of dollars.

Gee, why is that? The huge, federal VA is a wonderful paragon of efficiency and virtue?

 
At 3/25/2011 7:21 PM, Blogger misterjosh said...

Benjamin, I don't even remember veterans issues being mentioned in the interview. Or even vouchers. It would be nice to be able to discuss something on the post RELEVANT TO THE CONTENT.

You're becoming very one-note and boring.

I think VA Vouchers is a great idea by the way. Though I think you need to be a little bit more proactive regarding medically and psychologically re-integrating citizens that you've trained to kill.

I disagree generally with you in that I think that you ABSOLUTELY have to have different processes and procedures regarding the benefits of people who put themselves at risk of death for the nation we live in.

I think we need to do a much better job in not sending them out on fool's errands though.

 
At 3/25/2011 9:28 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Mister Josh-

I never mentioned the excellent idea of wiping out the VA and giving medical vouchers to veterans before. How can this be a one-note idea?

Yes, Williams does not mention VA vouchers--that's my point. Why not? If you like vouchers for school (I do), then same logic applies to medical vouchers.

But the VA is part of the sacrosanct foreign policy-military-Congressional-VA-veterans benefits archipelago. That's why Williams, posing as a detached intellectual, will never offer such a solutions to skyrocketing VA costs.

As for modern-day veterans--they are not volunteers or draftees. They are employees. Sadly, that is the course we have taken. Our founding fathers desired militias, or volunteers. Obviously, we have gotten a long way from that. I prefer an all-volunteer military--plenty would volunteer for real threats. Employees are not volunteers. They are just shy of being mercenaries.

As employees, US military personnel agreed to risks. It seems to me they should buy private-sector disability insurance and medical coverage, and set up their own 401ks. If we insist on having an employee military, then we should pay enough in annual wages to attract soldiers, and not hide costs behind huge pension and extravagant lifetime medical coverage.

We are spending $100 billion annually--and sharply rising--on VA and military pensions. That's $333 per citizen, or $1300+ for an average family of four. Every year and rising.

We are going to be bankrupted by our military and social welfare spending programs.

Yes, one note--I want to eliminate the USDA, Labor, Commerce, HUD, Education, and cut military outlays by 75 percent. I would like a balanced budget .

One note--but a pretty good note.

 
At 3/26/2011 3:43 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Benji

"As for modern-day veterans--they are not volunteers or draftees. They are employees. Sadly, that is the course we have taken. Our founding fathers desired militias, or volunteers. Obviously, we have gotten a long way from that. I prefer an all-volunteer military--plenty would volunteer for real threats. Employees are not volunteers. They are just shy of being mercenaries."

This is pretty murky. You could clean it up some.

First, as applies to the military, the word "veteran" commonly refers to someone who has left active service, therefore they are no longer employees. I agree that's not a precisely accurate usage, but there it is.

It's not clear what difference you see between a paid volunteer, and an employee. That sounds to me like two names for the same thing. They are not "just shy of being", they are, in fact, mercenaries. What's wrong with that? The important distinction is that they are not in service against their will.

As you pointed out, they have taken employment voluntarily, and expect to take risks.

"If we insist on having an employee military, then we should pay enough in annual wages to attract soldiers, and not hide costs behind huge pension and extravagant lifetime medical coverage."

What difference does it make how employees are paid? The costs aren't hidden, they are right there for all to see. It seems they are paid enough, unless you think there's a need to attract more people to this type of federal employment.

Would you prefer they be paid as contractors? Would you prefer that all military be privatized & bid on by companies like Blackwater? What exactly IS your complaint? If you think less should be spent on military, why not just say so?

As for the Williams interview, you might have noticed that he responded to questions from Gillespie. If you didn't like the questions, you should probably address your concerns to him instead of Williams.

"Hey Nick, why didn't you ask Professor Williams about veterens benefits?"

"Well, Benji, in a 28 minute interview, I had to decide what I thought people would find most interesting, and that subject just didn't make the cut."

You could write to Dr. Williams and ask him yourself. He might just respond. I doubt he knows you, so he won't be aware that he's wasting his time.

 
At 3/26/2011 12:34 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Ron H,

Benji is just looking for any angle to discredit Williams because he identifies with the Right. Meanwhile, his boyfriend rejects the GOP budget cuts but Benji won't say a word about it.

 
At 3/26/2011 1:10 PM, Blogger Alan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3/26/2011 2:15 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Ron H-

By your argument, extensive medical and health benefits for all employees of the federal government are justified, as it is all part of the pay necessary to attract talent.

In fact, the public does not understand pensions and lifetime medical benefits.

If soldiers were aid like Blackwater personnel, at about $200k per year, then the public would understand how much we really pay our soldiers.

As I have stated many times, yes, I believe the USA wildly overspends on several agencies, including DoD, VA, USDA, Education, Commerce, HUD and Labor.

 
At 3/26/2011 4:10 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Benji

"In fact, the public does not understand pensions and lifetime medical benefits."

Give me a break. And give the "public" a little more credit. are you and I not "the public"? What do you imagine the Tea Party Movement is all about if not an ever louder call to reduce government spending on such things?

"By your argument, extensive medical and health benefits for all employees of the federal government are justified, as it is all part of the pay necessary to attract talent."

No, that's YOUR strawman. My meaning was that in general, it's necessary to pay enough in some combination of salary and benefits to attract people to accept the positions you have open in your organization.

As for the military specifically, my comment was that apparently they are paid enough, unless you believe there are not enough people in the military, in which case the compensation must be too low. If it is too high, you will have a long list of applicants, even though you have no openings. This is econ 101.

Here's your comment to which I was responding:

"If we insist on having an employee military, then we should pay enough in annual wages to attract soldiers, and not hide costs behind huge pension and extravagant lifetime medical coverage."

Have I cleared that up?

As to your complaint of "completely predictable positions", is there anything in particular you objected to?

W. Williams is widely respected for his keen insight on many issues.

 
At 3/26/2011 4:20 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Paul

"Benji is just looking for any angle to discredit Williams because he identifies with the Right. Meanwhile, his boyfriend rejects the GOP budget cuts but Benji won't say a word about it."

Yeah, Benji is a lot of fun. This blog would be a lot less amusing without him.

Imagining Benji trying to discredit Walter Williams brings to mind an image of an ant kicking at an elephant.

In my opinion, Williams and Sowell are two of the greats. They will leave very large empty spaces when they are gone.

 
At 3/26/2011 4:26 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3/26/2011 4:29 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

In fact, at the beginning of the interview, I thought I detected respect and admiration from Gillespie. Not something I've ever seen before. His usually style is much more confrontational.

 
At 3/26/2011 4:48 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

And Benji, I DO insist on having an employee military. Conscription is forbidden by the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution.

 
At 3/26/2011 6:19 PM, Blogger J. B. Loewen said...

Walter Williams is a powerhouse and how bold of him to share his thinking and life experiences. I guess the good Reverend Jackson does not invite him over for Sunday dinner.
I watch American TV - like The Apprentice - and find it strange how it is the black contestants who point out they are black. I like Walter William's view that he just sees what is behind the face.
Finally, Donahue is one easy on the eyes interviewer so is that sexist to say?

 
At 3/26/2011 9:46 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Ron H.--

Actually the reason to eliminate all federal employee (including military) pension and lifetime health benefits is the same one to why we should also eliminate the same for state and city employees: Such pension/health costs go off like time-bombs 20 years down the line.

Right now we are spending more than $100 billion annually on military employee pensions and retiree health benefits. I can assure you that figure will explode in years ahead, as military retirees get old, but live a long time. We will paying pensions and trying to keep the VA funded for an increasing roll of dole.

Okay, $100 billion doesn't sound like a lot? Try $133 per resident of the USA. Family of four kicks in $1300 and change. 10 years from now? Double that. And double again in 20 years.

It would be cheaper to hire guys to serve in uniform for 10 years, and a one-time $250k bonus on their way out. No pensions, no health benefits--no future time bombs.

But that is only if you are serious about cutting federal outlays and waste.

I assure you that the Tea Party has not a clue about how to cut federal outlays, and does not understand the time bomb of federal pensions, and you obviously do not.

But keep up your fantasy about the Tea Party.

BTW, it tells you something about that band of grifters, the Republican Party, that they are busily rebranding. That's how great they did from 2000-2008. So great they are changing the name of their party. "You see, we are not Republicans. We are Tea Partiers.

Like watching a drag queen show.

 
At 3/27/2011 1:14 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Benji

I'm not impressed with your math.

"Okay, $100 billion doesn't sound like a lot? Try $133 per resident of the USA. Family of four kicks in $1300 and change."

Did you mean $333 per person and $1332?

I understand that current levels of benefits cant be sustained. I have never argued that they can.

Our discussion was about paying soldiers and taxing the rich. would you like to talk about something else now?

Are you changing the subject? I would love nothing more than small government, but I would eliminate much more than you would. I would also fire the Bernanke, & eliminate the Fed. No me QE for you, Benji.

Where's your data for the taxing the rich? Aren't you going to respond?

 
At 3/27/2011 6:02 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Ron H,
"Where's your data for the taxing the rich? Aren't you going to respond?

That's Benji's usual M.O. He throws out nonsense then runs away like a little girl.

 
At 3/27/2011 6:04 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Loved this:

"I assure you that the Tea Party has not a clue about how to cut federal outlays, and does not understand the time bomb of federal pensions, and you obviously do not."

Benji knows as much about the Tea Party as he does most everything else he blathers on about here. That is to say, not much at all.

 
At 3/27/2011 3:31 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Taxing the rich?

Only if they do not volunteer for military service.

Perhaps we should only draft the rich. If we only drafted the rich, I wonder if our involvement in Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan would have happened at all. Probably not.

Except for progressive consumption taxes to finance the military, I am against any sort of favoritism in the tax code (no homeowner mortgage interest tax deduction either).

I favor PIGOU taxes, such as on pollution (for sure) and recreational drugs, including cigarettes. All drugs would be legal.

I am fine with a flat tax, kept below 15 percent of consumption. Perhaps a national sales tax of 10 percent and eliminate all other taxes, except for the military progressive consumption tax (favored by Milton Friedman) and PIGOU taxes.

I also favor every state in the Union getting back from the federal government as much as they pay in. No more cross-state subsidization, and an overall balanced budget, if not a surplus.

I can assure you that the Tea Party will adopt none of these positions. They are already deeply infused by federal lard. look at Alaska.

 
At 3/27/2011 6:14 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Perhaps we should only draft the rich. If we only drafted the rich, I wonder if our involvement in Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan would have happened at all. Probably not."

Ha Ha Ha. You are making funny joke, ya?

The rest of your comment is old & tired.

The "tax the rich" question is for another thread that you don't seem to be responding to anymore.

 
At 3/27/2011 6:23 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Actually, the Pigou comments aren't old & tired, just new & lame. Nice subject for academic discussion, but of little use in the real world. As all value is subjective, any tax on an externality is somebodies guess. Whose will you trust?

 
At 3/27/2011 7:04 PM, Blogger Paul said...

"I can assure you that the Tea Party will adopt none of these positions. They are already deeply infused by federal lard. look at Alaska."

It just boggles the mind that at a time when his boyfriend is bankrupting the country, Benji focuses his ire on....the Tea Party.

I keep asking this and Benji keeps running from it: Hey Benji, how come your boyfriend rejects the GOP budget cuts?

Now run away, little girl.

 
At 4/07/2011 2:24 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Benjamin, I don't even remember veterans issues being mentioned in the interview. Or even vouchers. It would be nice to be able to discuss something on the post RELEVANT TO THE CONTENT.

He is just looking for attention so he does not care about relevancy, content, or principle.

 
At 4/07/2011 2:30 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

Yes, Williams does not mention VA vouchers--that's my point. Why not? If you like vouchers for school (I do), then same logic applies to medical vouchers.

He does not mention prostitution. Why not?

He does not mention abortion. Why not?

He does not mention the NCAA stance on paying players. Why not?

You have no way to determine what Williams' VA stance really is so what is the point of speculating? And the last time I looked you were not well versed on veteran affairs because you overestimated pensions by 100%. Instead of looking for and speculating on issues that have not been covered it might make sense for you to learn a little about the subjects you want to discuss.

 

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