It was Thomas Edison who brought us electricity, not the Sierra Club. It was the Wright brothers who got us off the ground, not the Federal Aviation Administration. It was Henry Ford who ended the isolation of millions of Americans by making the automobile affordable, not Ralph Nader. Those who have helped the poor the most [were] … those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about.
The New York Times’ long-standing motto, “All the News That’s Fit to Print” should be changed to reflect today’s reality: “Manufacturing News to Fit an Ideology.
Born a black in poverty during the early Great Depression. A Marxist at Harvard University and beyond. But with a brilliant, open mind, he changed his perspective. “Have you gone crazy, Lefty?” he would be asked. “No. On the contrary, I have become educated,” adding: “Sometimes that’s worse, these days.”
The Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution (Stanford University) recently celebrated his 90th birthday. One of the most distinguished intellectuals of his generation, Sowell’s politically incorrect, economically correct pronouncements are timeless.
The bountiful wisdom in the five decades of Thomas Sowell make it hard to know where to begin. Given the current fiscal free-for-all, here is one quotation to start.
The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.
No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems—of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.
Turning to the ideas behind free-for-all politics:
Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.
And the intellectuals behind the ideas behind the political free-for-all:
Some of the biggest cases of mistaken identity are among intellectuals who have trouble remembering that they are not God.
Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.
The rise of a British iron and steel industry was intertwined with the development of coal mining.
The cavemen had the same natural resources at their disposal as we have today, and the difference between their standard of living and ours is a difference between the knowledge they could bring to bear on those resources and the knowledge used today.
Alaska is much larger than France and Germany—combined. Yet its population is less than one-tenth that of New York City. Keep that in mind the next time you hear some environmentalist hysteria about the danger of “spoiling” Alaska by drilling for oil in an area smaller than Dulles Airport.
Where recyling takes place only in response to political pressures and exhortations, it need not meet the test of being incrementally worth its incremental costs. Accordingly, studies of government-imposed recycling programs in the United States have shown that what they salvage is usually worth less than the cost of salvaging it.
Engineers and mechanics were as much products of the industrialization process as the material goods and the machinery by which those goods were produced.
People who want special taxes or subsidies for particular things seem not to understand that what they are really asking for is for the prices to misstate the relative scarcities of things and the relative values that the users of these things put on them.
Price controls almost invariably produce black markets, where prices are not only higher than the legally permitted prices, but also higher than they would be in a free market, since the legal risks must also be compensated. While small-scale black markets may function in secrecy, large-scale black markets usually require bribes to officials to look the other way.
The Population Bomb [by Paul Ehrlich] is a textbook example of a scare book
In 1914, the coal mines in Wales employed more than a quarter of a million people and supplied approximately one third of the world’s coal exports.
Racism does not have a good track record. It’s been tried out for a long time and you’d think by now we’d want to put an end to it instead of putting it under new management.
If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 50 years ago, a liberal 25 years ago and a racist today.
However much history may be invoked in support of [affirmative action], no policy can apply to history but can only apply to the present or the future. The past may be many things, but it is clearly irrevocable. Its sins can no more be purged than its achievements can be expunged. Those who suffered in centuries past are as much beyond our help as those who sinned are beyond our retribution.
Since this is an era when many people are concerned about ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice,’ what is your ‘fair share’ of what someone else has worked for?
No government of the left has done as much for the poor as capitalism has. Even when it comes to the redistribution of income, the left talks the talk but the free market walks the walk.
The concept of “microaggression” is just one of many tactics used to stifle differences of opinion by declaring some opinions to be “hate speech,” instead of debating those differences in a marketplace of ideas. To accuse people of aggression for not marching in lockstep with political correctness is to set the stage for justifying real aggression against them.
A society that puts equality—in the sense of equality of outcome—ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.
I am so old that I can remember when other people’s achievements were considered to be an inspiration, rather than a grievance.
Unfortunately, the real minimum wage is always zero, regardless of the laws, and that is the wage that many workers receive in the wake of the creation or escalation of a government-mandated minimum wage, because they lose their jobs or fail to find jobs when they enter the labor force. Making it illegal to pay less than a given amount does not make a worker’s productivity worth that amount—and, if it is not, that worker is unlikely to be employed.
It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance.
It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.
Happy MLK Day, and may the wisdom of Thomas Sowell enter the mainstream never to be forgotten.