Tag: Thomas Sowell

“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.

Quote of the Day: Activism

 

“Activism is a way for useless people to feel important, even if the consequences of their activism are counterproductive for those they claim to be helping and damaging to the fabric of society as a whole.” – Thomas Sowell

More Sowell food for the mind. Need more be said? In one sentence he explains the BLM and Antifa movements.

Quote of the Day: Responsibility

 

“Have we reached the ultimate stage of absurdity where some people are held responsible for things that happened before they were born, while other people are not held responsible for what they themselves are doing today?” – Thomas Sowell

We sure have. After all, San Fran Nan didn’t do anything wrong by violating California’s COVID lockdown rules. She was set up. That excuses everything. Meanwhile, I am supposed to feel guilty about black slavery that ended decades before my grandparents arrived in the United States from Greece.

The Young Inconsequentials

 

I haven’t posted in…like…forever. But all the recent Thomas Sowell posts got me thinking (as Sowell tends to do for all of us). His concept of “consequential knowledge” versus “inconsequential knowledge,” introduced in Intellectuals and Society, has always stuck with me because, you see, I have no consequential knowledge. Zero. Zilch.

I am fully aware that in the coming Zombie Apocalypse I will be one of the first to be pushed outside the safety of the compound, provided only a gun with a single bullet, while the useful humans attempt to make their escape. You see, I write music for a living. And there is nothing terribly consequential about that when the world is coming apart at the seams.

Quote of the Day: Costs and Benefits

 

“Weighing benefits against costs is the way most people make decisions – and the way most businesses make decisions, if they want to stay in business. Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any cost, however large.” – Thomas Sowell

As a nod towards Dr. Bastiat (@drbastiat) and his post “A Brief Excursion into Hero Worship,” I thought it fitting to provide some Sowell food with today’s quote of the day. Rummaging through my collection of unused Thomas Sowell quotes, I decided this one best fits the events of 2020, since so many are driven by the government’s pursuit of benefits at whatever cost, however large.

Facts Over Slogans, Solutions Over Anarchy

 

If we do not truthfully diagnose the problem in America, systemic and otherwise, we will never make things right. Unfortunately for everyone, if we continue to ignore the body count that rises daily in the African-American community, and continue to focus on the exception to the exclusion of the rule, we’re toast.

What follows is not necessarily pleasant to read, and if I were in the NFL, academia, or a major media outlet, I suppose the wrath of God-knows-who would descend on me. But you know what? I didn’t spend 20 years on active duty and do three tours of duty in the Mideast and a year in Korea so that others can dictate my thoughts and words, and negate the rights I fought to preserve.

Let me start by placing a few facts on the table because ignoring them only makes the situation worse.

Quote of the Day: Sowell on Benefits vs. Costs

 

“Weighing benefits against costs is the way most people make decisions — and the way most businesses make decisions, if they want to stay in business. Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any cost, however large.”– Thomas Sowell

In recent days, I have been wishing to hear from Thomas Sowell on our current pandemic predicament. Fortunately, he has already produced enough quotable wisdom to last for millennia. And he saw this moment coming. Whether politicians, or anyone else, will ever truly take heed of the lessons he has taught is another matter. There is so much that no one knows at this point, especially about the true benefits of current stay-at-home policies. We are seeing the costs adding up quickly, and it seems to me that they will only get worse.

Quote of the Day: Replacing What Works

 

“Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.” – Thomas Sowell

Sowell made this statement over a decade ago, so it should be updated to four decades, maybe five. And now the fruit of replacing what worked with what sounded good is ripe for harvest.