Walter E. Williams bio photo

Walter E. Williams

Bradley Prize Winner 2017

Professor of Economics.
(703) 993-1148
D158 Buchanan Hall
Department of Economics
George Mason University

Related Sites:
The homepage of George Mason University.
Homepage of the Department of Economics at GMU.

 Politicians have a field day misleading Americans who, as a result of having been dumbed down by our education system, can’t think, reason or analyze. How many times have we heard the political lament “There are 43 million Americans without health insurance”? While that observation might very well be true, what are we to make of it? Does it mean that there are Americans dying on the streets for want of medical treatment? Were that the case, you can bet the rent money that the major TV networks would feature nightly stories of medically indigent Americans in various stages of pain, suffering and death.

 I’ve seen no such stories. So what does the absence of health insurance mean? Among the things that it might mean is that you don’t receive medical treatment on the same terms as a person with health insurance. You might spend a day waiting for treatment at a clinic instead of having an appointment at a chosen time at a physician’s office. It might also mean that you’ll receive a smaller quantity and lower quality of medical care such as hospitalization in a ward instead of a private room, interns rather than specialists, and treatment at voluntary clinics and free hospitals such as Shriners.

 Let’s face it: People who can buy insurance get benefits that those who cannot afford it don’t. Those with lots of money get things that those with little money don’t. Whether we like it or not, these are facts of life. By the way, a healthy young person might opt for self-insurance and not purchase health insurance because he believes that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

 According to some of the electoral rhetoric, President Bush has been responsible for shipping the best American jobs overseas, thus turning us into a nation of hamburger flippers. But according to a study by Bruce Bartlett, a senior fellow at the Dallas-based National Center for Policy Analysis, “How Outsourcing Creates Jobs for Americans,” over the past 15 years, foreign corporations have moved jobs to the United States at a faster rate than jobs have left. “Jobs insourced to the United States increased from 4.9 million in 1991 to 6.4 million in 2001,” reports Bartlett. There’s been an 82 percent increase in insourced jobs compared to a 23 percent increase in outsourced jobs.

 Moreover, because of the higher and increasing productivity of American workers, the jobs that move here pay more than the ones that leave. Insourced jobs pay roughly 16.5 percent more than the average domestic job, and one-third of them are in the manufacturing sector, says Bartlett. Americans who lose their jobs due to outsourcing might have to make painful adjustments. But should we listen to political proposals to ease their pain by erecting trade barriers that will make the nation as a whole worse off?

 Speaking of jobs, let’s look at the numbers. Our unemployment rate, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics put at 5.4 percent in September, is one of the lowest in the world and in our history. France’s unemployment rate is 9.4 percent, Germany’s 9.9 percent and Italy’s 8.6 percent. Our Canadian neighbor’s is 6.6 percent. The only reason for today’s hysteria over jobs is because it is an election year, and one of the ways politicians gain power is to create fear among the electorate. The next time you hear a politician whining about our “awful” job climate, ask him which European country we should look to for guidance in job creation. The fact of business is that our country is the world’s leader not only in job creation but in terms of where the world wants to invest its money.