Category Archives: Thomas Sowell

July 3, 2017

Graphic Quotes: Thomas Sowell on Ignorance

” In a democracy, we have always had to worry about the ignorance of the uneducated. Today we have to worry about the ignorance of people with college degrees.” Thomas Sowell

June 2, 2016

Socialism for the Uninformed by Thomas Sowell

In a globalized economy, high tax rates may just lead investors to invest in other countries with lower tax rates. That means that jobs created by those investments will be overseas.

Socialism sounds great. It has always sounded great. And it will probably always continue to sound great. It is only when you go beyond rhetoric, and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.

While throngs of young people are cheering loudly for avowed socialist Bernie Sanders, socialism has turned oil-rich Venezuela into a place where there are shortages of everything from toilet paper to beer, where electricity keeps shutting down, and where there are long lines of people hoping to get food, people complaining that they cannot feed their families.

With national income going down, and prices going up under triple-digit inflation in Venezuela, these complaints are by no means frivolous. But it is doubtful if the young people cheering for Bernie Sanders have even heard of such things, whether in Venezuela or in other countries around the world that have turned their economies over to politicians and bureaucrats to run.

The anti-capitalist policies in Venezuela have worked so well that the number of companies in Venezuela is now a fraction of what it once was. That should certainly reduce capitalist “exploitation,” shouldn’t it?

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May 10, 2016

Dry rot in academia by Thomas Sowell

The left continues to substitute groupthink for education.

Jason Riley has now joined the long and distinguished list of people invited – and then disinvited – to give a talk on a college campus, in this case Virginia Tech.

Mr. Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and, perhaps most relevantly, author of a very insightful book titled “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.”

In short, Jason Riley’s views on race are different from the views that prevail on most college campuses. At one time, 50 years ago or earlier, exposing students to a different viewpoint was considered to be a valuable part of their education. But that was before academia – and the education system in general – became virtually a monopoly of the political left.

Today one can literally go from kindergarten to becoming a graduate student seeking a Ph.D., without ever hearing a vision of the world that conflicts with the vision of the left.

Conservative critics who object on grounds that the views of the left are wrong miss the point. Regardless of whose views become a monopoly, education suffers. John Stuart Mill understood this back in the middle of the 19th century.

As a young Marxist in college during the 1950s heyday of the anti-Communist crusade led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy, I had more freedom to express my views in class, without fear of retaliation, than conservative students have on many campuses today.

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December 11, 2015

Wealth, Poverty, And Politics with Thomas Sowell (Video)

Hoover Institution fellow Thomas Sowell discusses poverty around the world and in the United States. Poverty in America, he says, compared to the rest of the world, is not severe. Many poor people in poverty in the United States have one or two cars, central heating, and cell phones. The real problem for the poor is the destruction of the family, which Sowell argues dramatically increased once welfare policies were introduced in the 1960s.

September 29, 2015

The ‘affordable housing’ fraud by Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell blames politicians, ‘open space’ cultists for California home prices.

Nowhere has there been so much hand-wringing over a lack of “affordable housing” as among politicians and others in coastal California. And nobody has done more to make housing unaffordable than those same politicians and their supporters.

A recent survey showed that the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was just over $3,500. Some people are paying $1,800 a month just to rent a bunk bed in a San Francisco apartment.

It is not just in San Francisco that putting a roof over your head can take a big chunk out of your paycheck. The whole Bay Area is like that. Thirty miles away, Palo Alto home prices are similarly unbelievable.

One house in Palo Alto, built more than 70 years ago and just over 1,000 square feet in size, was offered for sale at $1.5 million. And most asking prices are bid up further in such places.

Another city in the Bay Area with astronomical housing prices, San Mateo, recently held a public meeting and appointed a task force to look into the issue of “affordable housing.”

Public meetings, task forces and political hand-wringing about a need for “affordable housing” occur all up and down the San Francisco peninsula, because this is supposed to be such a “complex” issue.

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September 22, 2015

The left has its pope by Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell: Francis’ native Argentina thrived until ‘progressive’ ideology took hold.

Pope Francis has created political controversy, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, by blaming capitalism for many of the problems of the poor. We can no doubt expect more of the same during his visit to the United States.

Pope Francis is part of a larger trend of the rise of the political left among Catholic intellectuals. He is, in a sense, the culmination of that trend.

There has long been a political left among Catholics, as among other Americans. Often they were part of the pragmatic left, as in the many old Irish-run, big city political machines that dispensed benefits to the poor in exchange for their votes, as somewhat romantically depicted in the movie classic, “The Last Hurrah.”

But there has also been a more ideological left. Where the Communists had their official newspaper, “The Daily Worker,” there was also “The Catholic Worker” published by Dorothy Day.

A landmark in the evolution of the ideological left among Catholics was a publication in the 1980s, by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, titled “Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy.”

Although this publication was said to be based on Catholic teachings, one of its principal contributors, Archbishop Rembert Weakland, said: “I think we should be up front and say that really we took this from the Enlightenment era.”

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September 6, 2015

The March of Foolish Things

The conservative sage on the decline of intellectual debate, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and what the welfare state has done to black America.

Thomas Sowell turned 85 years old this summer, which means he has been teaching economics to Americans through his books and articles for some four decades. So it seems like a natural question: Have we learned anything? Has the level of economic thinking in political debate gone up at all?

“No—in fact, I’m tempted to think it’s gone down,” Mr. Sowell says, without much hesitation. “At one time you had a lot of people who hadn’t had any economics saying foolish things. Now you have well-known economists saying foolish things.”

The paradox is that serious economic discussion enjoys a wider platform than ever before. One of the great bounties of the Internet is the trove of archival news and debate footage that has been dumped onto YouTube and other websites. Anyone with a modem can now watch F.A. Hayek discussing, in a soft and dignified German accent, the rule of law with Robert Bork in 1978. Or Milton Friedman at Cornell the same year, arguing matter-of-factly about colonialism with a young man in a beard, sunglasses and floppy sideways hat.

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June 16, 2015

The left’s micro-totalitarianism

Thomas Sowell looks at colleges’ use of ‘micro-aggression’ charge to stifle speech.

The political left has come up with a new buzzword: “micro-aggression.”

Professors at the University of California at Berkeley have been officially warned against saying such things as “America is the land of opportunity.” Why? Because this is considered to be an act of “micro-aggression” against minorities and women. Supposedly, it shows that you don’t take their grievances seriously and are therefore guilty of being aggressive toward them, even if only on a micro scale.

You might think that this is just another crazy idea from Berkeley. But the same concept appears in a report from the flagship campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana. If you just sit in a room where all the people are white, you are considered to be guilty of “micro-aggression” against people who are not white, who will supposedly feel uncomfortable when they enter such a room.

At UCLA, a professor who changed the capitalization of the word “indigenous” to lower case in a student’s dissertation was accused of “micro-aggression,” apparently because he preferred to follow the University of Chicago Manual of Style, rather than the student’s attempt to enhance the importance of being indigenous.

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May 20, 2015

Just Asking by Thomas Sowell

And please don’t call the government’s pouring trillions of tax dollars down a bottomless pit “investment.” Remember the soaring words from Barack Obama, in his early days in the White House, about “investing in the industries of the future”? After Solyndra and other companies in which he “invested” the taxpayers’ money went bankrupt, we haven’t heard those soaring words so much.

In a recent panel discussion on poverty at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama gave another demonstration of his mastery of rhetoric — and disregard of reality.

One of the ways of fighting poverty, he proposed, was to “ask from society’s lottery winners” that they make a “modest investment” in government programs to help the poor.

Since free speech is guaranteed to everyone by the First Amendment to the Constitution, there is nothing to prevent anybody from asking anything from anybody else. But the federal government does not just “ask” for money. It takes the money it wants in taxes, usually before the people who have earned it see their paychecks.

Despite pious rhetoric on the left about “asking” the more fortunate for more money, the government does not “ask” anything. It seizes what it wants by force. If you don’t pay up, it can take not only your paycheck, it can seize your bank account, put a lien on your home and/or put you in federal prison.

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May 15, 2015

Race, Politics and Lies by Thomas Sowell

You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization — including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain — without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large.

Among the many painful ironies in the current racial turmoil is that communities scattered across the country were disrupted by riots and looting because of the demonstrable lie that Michael Brown was shot in the back by a white policeman in Missouri — but there was not nearly as much turmoil created by the demonstrable fact that a fleeing black man was shot dead by a white policeman in South Carolina.

Totally ignored was the fact that a black policeman in Alabama fatally shot an unarmed white teenager, and was cleared of any charges, at about the same time that a white policeman was cleared of charges in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

In a world where the truth means so little, and headstrong preconceptions seem to be all that matter, what hope is there for rational words or rational behavior, much less mutual understanding across racial lines?

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