Tag: Thomas Sowell

Winning by Losing

 

We’re in a period of political upheaval, and it’s been brewing for decades. That much is obvious to Americans. It is also a growing global phenomenon.

There are scores of examples that the mainstream media largely ignores. The recent uprising in Sri Lanka was spurred by harsh “green energy” policies that toppled a government. The farmer uprising in The Netherlands, Europe’s largest exporter of food, over similar green energy policies. In all, dozens of protests from Spain to Canada over various Covid-related and “climate change” diktats continue to fester.

12-Step Totalitarian Program: Step 1

 

It is a testament to the power of the human mind to create blind spots to the Truth that so many conservatives and classical liberals who deeply admire and respect Thomas Sowell can still fail to see what he sees. This is understandable, especially for those with public reputations. The mind is designed to protect our self-image and our view of reality. It screens out threats, especially ones that would upend all that we know.

I have no illusions that this essay will persuade the staunchly certain. The mind responds to such certainty by creating blind spots to anything contradicting those certainties. I can only hope this essay chips away at the certainties of many who believe that in America we still have Politics as Usual. That the good fight can still be waged by our elected representatives.

Quote of the Day: Golden Eggs

 

“In short, killing the goose that lays the golden egg is a viable political strategy, so long as the goose does not die before the next election and no one traces the politicians’ fingerprints on the murder weapon.” – Thomas Sowell

Sowell wrote this many years ago — in the 1990s as I recall.  The goose was still alive. Now? If not dead, it is dying. If it is not dead by November, it will be soon afterward. The ordered, safe life we have enjoyed since the fall of the Soviet Union is coming to a close.

Quote of the Day: Thomas Sowell on Ending Slavery

 

“What was peculiar about the West was not that it participated in the worldwide evil of slavery, but that it later abolished that evil, not only in Western societies but also in other societies subject to Western control or influence. This was possible only because the anti-slavery movement coincided with an era in which Western power and hegemony were at their zenith, so that it was essentially European imperialism which ended slavery. This idea might seem shocking, not because it does not fit the facts, but because it does not fit the prevailing vision of our time.”
― Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals

The Iron Law of “Quote of the Day” Posts: when in doubt, go with Sowell. A few months back I read his 2005 book, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, and it was even more brilliant than the high level we’ve all come to expect. With seeming ease, Sowell dismantles the divisive racial narrative our media and political culture have peddled for decades. “Seeming ease,” because everything he writes is backed by years of research.

In 1833, the British Empire radically reconsidered the morality of slavery, an institution present throughout every previous era of human history. Once the Crown and Parliament deemed it an intolerable evil, they converted most of the world to their newly held view — often at the point of a bayonet. Only three decades later, the United States fully adopted this new morality, fighting its bloodiest war to remove slavery’s Southern holdouts.

Quote of the Day: Confusing Thinking With Feeling

 

“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.” – Thomas Sowell

This bit of Sowell food really hits the problem we are facing today: confusing thinking with feeling. That is what is behind so many of the outrage storms today. Don’t like a bill banning the sexual grooming of kindergarteners through second-grade students? Frame it as “Don’t Say Gay” and get everyone feeling badly about it. Mad at Putin? Ban Russian breeds at cat shows. (That surely deserves a prize for peak feelz.) Upset at inflation? Blame greedy corporations. Go for the emotional appeal.

Quote of the Day: Being Wrong

 

“Considering how often throughout history even intelligent people have been proved to be wrong, it is amazing that there are still people who are convinced that the only reason anyone could possibly say something different from what they believe is stupidity or dishonesty.” – Thomas Sowell

We have been seeing a lot of this over the last few weeks. Even here on Ricochet. Ironically, some of those most willing to call out others as dishonest and stupid seem to be wrong themselves. (We heard plenty of that at the State of the Union, didn’t we? But I can name other examples.)

“Who Decides What Is Best?”

 

Thomas Sowell’s ideas have taken root in the soil of the next generation. Sowell has written over thirty books over forty years of weekly writings. Hundreds of Sowell’s interviews can be found everywhere on YouTube. Jason Riley, himself a prolific writer, has done the world a service by reviewing the lifetime impact of Thomas Sowell in Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell.

Maverick should be read by everyone everywhere. Everyone in the sciences or the humanities needs exposure to the intellectual history and ideas that Maverick provides. Not only does Riley give an exceptional review of Sowell’s life and thought, but he also shows how the Hoover Institution fellow establishes the basis for how to think. Every person on the planet asks enduring questions about philosophy, knowledge, interpretation, and justice. Sowell always approaches his subjects with our views of human nature in mind. Summarizing Sowell, you either believe in the tension between human depravity and human dignity or you believe that you can make humans perfectible by human rules.

As a matter of full disclosure, I have been reading Thomas Sowell’s books and columns and watching his videos for decades. Sowell’s thinking has been influential to my own intellectual processing for most of my teaching life. As Hebraic-Christian thinkers know, it is important to weave biblical, doctrinal thinking through an explanation of Sowell’s visions. Essential to biblical understanding is the origin of ideas, acknowledging that The Personal Eternal Triune Creator of all things has set the stage for human understanding of everything.

Quote of the Day: Solutions

 

There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs. – Thomas Sowell

There is no better illustration of this piece of Sowell food than the events of August. Joe Biden claimed he has solved the problem of America’s endless war in Afghanistan, through a precipitous pullout. This is only sort-of, kind-of true. The US’s war in Afghanistan is over. We are not there. However, war in Afghanistan continues, albeit between different groups of Afghans.  And it certainly continues for the thousands of US citizens stuck in Afghanistan.

Holding Up a Mirror to my Students, And Myself

 

My practice at the end of my first class of the semester is to see if students want to ask me any questions. A young woman asked me, after my answering the question about alma maters and degrees, including my ThM in Old Testament, “So, did you ever think about becoming a pastor?” It was refreshing to hear such a forthright question, to which I answered, “Yes, I did consider becoming a pastor but discovered that I loved teaching.”

Other questions followed but she and a friend stayed behind after class ended to thank me for my answer, then added, “I am not religious, but I am a spiritual person.” Listening to my culture, I was not surprised by her admission. I had heard it before. What struck me about the conversation was her honest declaration. It was good to hear a student so well articulate her belief, and I thanked her for it

The brief conversation made me think again about how everyone believes something. Claims are staked on those beliefs. My job, as a professor, is to hold a mirror up to myself and my students, asking each one of us to be honest about those beliefs. We may not agree with each other. In the pluralistic public sphere, the freedom of belief is imperative in America. To appreciate others’ points of view without necessarily capitulating ours is important. My responsibility in the public university is not to change students. My job is to make sure they have had an opportunity to consider all sides of an issue before taking upon themselves the responsibility to own their belief. And today, I introduce my students to Thomas Sowell.

The Life and Work of Thomas Sowell

 

Thomas Sowell is one of the greatest living economists. His scholarship over the past half-century has clarified our understanding of economic and social disparities between racial and ethnic groups in the United States and around the world. He is also a major social theorist and intellectual historian. It was, therefore, a great privilege to sit down with Sowell biographer Jason Riley for a discussion of the great man’s life and work. I was joined in this discussion by my frequent conversation partner at The Glenn Show, John McWhorter of Columbia University.

Jason Riley talks with Brian Anderson about his new book, Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell. They discuss Sowell’s upbringing, his work as an academic economist and a public intellectual, his research on disparities between groups, and more.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

Member Post

 

One of the consequences of such notions as ‘entitlements’ is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence. – Thomas Sowell As usual Dr. Thomas Sowell offers us excellent Sowell food for thought. What makes this quote […]

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Covid Debacle Should Spur Education Reform

 

The Arizona legislature failed this year to pass a bill that would have required third-grade students to be held back if they failed to learn to read adequately. The unsuccessful bill uncovered some unhappy truths about the state of education.

Third grade is recognized as a critical progression point for reading proficiency. Students through third grade are taught to read, after which they are expected to read to learn. Those unable to do so suffer a lifelong handicap in today’s knowledge economy with enormous economic and social consequences.

In 2019, 60 percent of Arizona’s third-graders failed to meet our own reading standards. Unfortunately, nothing really new here.

On this episode of “The Federalist Radio Hour,” the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley joins Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to discuss his new documentary and book highlighting the life of economist, social theorist, and acclaimed intellectual Thomas Sowell and how his work affects American culture today.

Quote of the Day: Communists and Anti-Communists

 

“How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.” – Ronald Wilson Reagan

Communism only works on the household level. The traditional family is run as a communist society: from each according to his abilities and to each according to his needs. In a functional family, it succeeds and succeeds powerfully. Dad and Mom provide the resources and distribute them as needed. The children grow up to be productive adults.

Quote of the Day: On Modest Talents

 

“There are few modest talents so richly rewarded — especially in politics and the media — as the ability to portray parasites as victims, and portray demands for preferential treatment as struggles for equal rights.” – Thomas Sowell

More Sowell food for the brain. This quote seems appropriate today. We can expect four years (or more appropriately four more years) of Democrat operatives (in both politics and media) portraying parasites as victims, and demands for preferential treatment as struggles for equal rights. We saw it all last year with BLM critical race theory and Antifa. Over the next four years we shall see this trend no longer constrained at any level by the Federal government, but rather with the Federal government cheerleading those attempts.