Thursday, February 14, 2013

Quotes of the Day - Thomas Sowell

In honor of Black History Month, I'm featuring QsOTD by Black conservatives and since it's Valentine's Day, I've saved today for one of my all-time favorites: Thomas Sowell. Sadly, no blog post is sufficient for great quotes from Mr. Sowell, because there are just way too many.

Sowell is an economist and has served as Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University since 1980. He has written numerous books, is a regular columnist at and even served for a time as a labor economist in the U.S. Department of Labor.

He has a remarkable ability to take complex economic theories and explain them in terms anyone can understand - usually with examples pertinent to the people who most need to understand them. He also has an uncanny ability to make economic theory seem like the most common sense approach ever thought up. After reading his works, you end up scratching your head and wondering how anyone could possibly think otherwise. Had I come across this great mind earlier in my education, I might have been inspired to be an economist.

If you'd like a general example of Sowell's thinking, read his Random Thoughts columns (his most recent one is here), where he provides commentary on everything from Senators and prostitutes in Central America to gun control to the Justice Department's interference in Budweiser's purchase of Corona - including this, which is a point (in bold) I make regularly:

People who are forever ready to charge others with "greed" never apply that word to the government. But, if you think the government is never greedy, check out what the government does under the escheat laws and eminent domain.

His website includes some of his favorite quotes - clearly an indication of issues and principles that are important to Sowell. And we share a favorite one:

"Civilization is not inherited; it has to be learned and earned by each generation anew; if the transmission should be interrupted for one century, civilization would die, and we should be savages again." ~ Will and Ariel Durant

Sowell, through his teaching, writing and opining, has certainly taken this to heart.

Here are some great quotes from a great man:

Some people seem to think that, if life is not fair, then the answer is to turn more of the nation's resources over to politicians -- who will, of course, then spend these resources in ways that increase the politicians' chances of getting re-elected.

If you don't want to have a gun in your home or in your school, that's your choice. But don't be such a damn fool as to advertise to the whole world that you are in "a gun-free environment" where you are a helpless target for any homicidal fiend who is armed. Is it worth a human life to be a politically correct moral exhibitionist?

The more I study the history of intellectuals, the more they seem like a wrecking crew, dismantling civilization bit by bit -- replacing what works with what sounds good.

The black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it has disintegrated in the wake of the liberals' expansion of the welfare state. Most black children grew up in homes with two parents during all that time but most grow up with only one parent today.

Liberals try to show their concern for the poor by raising the level of minimum wage laws. Yet they show no interest in hard evidence that minimum wage laws create disastrous levels of unemployment among young blacks in this country, as such laws created high unemployment rates among young people in general in European countries.

In recent times, Christmas has brought not only holiday cheer but also attacks on the very word "Christmas," chasing it from the vocabulary of institutions and even from most "holiday cards." Like many other social crusades, this one is based on a lie -- namely that the Constitution puts a wall of separation between church and state. It also shows how easily intimidated we are by strident zealots.

What do you call it when someone steals someone else's money secretly? Theft. What do you call it when someone takes someone else's money openly by force? Robbery. What do you call it when a politician takes someone else's money in taxes and gives it to someone who is more likely to vote for him? Social Justice.

Anyone who studies the history of ideas should notice how much more often people on the political left, more so than others, denigrate and demonize those who disagree with them -- instead of answering their arguments.

It is hard to understand politics if you are hung up on reality. Politicians leave reality to others. What matters in politics is what you can get the voters to believe, whether it bears any resemblance to reality or not.

I hate getting bills that show a zero balance. If I don't owe anything, why bother me with a bill? There is too much junk mail already.

Whether the particular issue is housing, medical care or anything in between, the agenda of the left is to take the decision out of the hands of those directly involved and transfer that decision to third parties, who pay no price for making decisions that turn out to be counterproductive.

It is truly the era of the New Math when a couple making $125,000 a year each are taxed at rates that are said to apply to "millionaires and billionaires."

People who live within their means are increasingly being forced to pay for people who didn't live within their means -- whether individual home buyers here or whole nations in Europe.

Do people who advocate special government programs for blacks realize that the federal government has had special programs for American Indians, including affirmative action, since the early 19th century -- and that American Indians remain one of the few groups worse off than blacks?

Politicians can solve almost any problem -- usually by creating a bigger problem. But, so long as the voters are aware of the problem that the politicians have solved, and unaware of the bigger problems they have created, political "solutions" are a political success.

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