Thomas Sowell

Thomas SowellHere is an inaugural QQ page that wasn’t part of the old site. A FB friend often posts quotes from Thomas Sowell, which I almost invariably like/agree with.  I haven’t read any of his works, but they are on my ToRead List.  These particular quotes came from GoodReads, of which I am a member as well as a, well, thief I guess.  Naw, I’m attributing it.  That’s legal, isn’t it?  🙂


“I have never understood why it is “greed” to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”
― Barbarians inside the Gates and Other Controversial Essays

“When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”

“It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites.”

“People who pride themselves on their “complexity” and deride others for being “simplistic” should realize that the truth is often not very complicated. What gets complex is evading the truth.”
― Barbarians inside the Gates and Other Controversial Essays

“Some of the biggest cases of mistaken identity are among intellectuals who have trouble remembering that they are not God.”

“Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.”
― Knowledge And Decisions

“The fact that the market is not doing what we wish it would do is no reason to automatically assume that the government would do better.”

“Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.”

“Bailing out people who made ill-advised mortgages makes no more sense that bailing out people who lost their life savings in Las Vegas casinos.”

“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.”

“Intellect is not wisdom.”
― Intellectuals and Society

“Despite a voluminous and often fervent literature on “income distribution,” the cold fact is that most income is not distributed: It is earned.”

“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.”

“Socialism is a wonderful idea. It is only as a reality that it has been disastrous. Among people of every race, color, and creed, all around the world, socialism has led to hunger in countries that used to have surplus food to export…. Nevertheless, for many of those who deal primarily in ideas, socialism remains an attractive idea — in fact, seductive. Its every failure is explained away as due to the inadequacies of particular leaders. ”

“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.”

“It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.”

“What sense would it make to classify a man as handicapped because he is in a wheelchair today, if he is expected to be walking again in a month, and competing in track meets before the year is out? Yet Americans are generally given ‘class’ labels on the basis of their transient location in the income stream. If most Americans do not stay in the same broad income bracket for even a decade, their repeatedly changing ‘class’ makes class itself a nebulous concept. Yet the intelligentsia are habituated, if not addicted, to seeing the world in class terms.”

“There are only two ways of telling the complete truth–anonymously and posthumously.”

“Can you cite one speck of hard evidence of the benefits of “diversity” that we have heard gushed about for years? Evidence of its harm can be seen — written in blood — from Iraq to India, from Serbia to Sudan, from Fiji to the Philippines. It is scary how easily so many people can be brainwashed by sheer repetition of a word.”

“What is history but the story of how politicians have squandered the blood and treasure of the human race?”

“If politicians stopped meddling with things they don’t understand, there would be a more drastic reduction in the size of government than anyone in either party advocates.”

“Rhetoric is no substitute for reality.”

“Competition does a much more effective job than government at protecting consumers.”
― Compassion Versus Guilt, and Other Essays: And Other Essays

“Whenever someone refers to me as someone “who happens to be black,” I wonder if they realize that both my parents are black. If I had turned out to be Scandinavian or Chinese, people would have wondered what was going on.”

“The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best.”

“Clearly, only very unequal intellectual and moral standing could justify having equality imposed, whether the people want it or not, as Dworkin suggests, and only very unequal power would make it possible.”
― A Conflict Of Visions

“Virtually no idea is too ridiculous to be accepted, even by very intelligent and highly educated people, if it provides a way for them to feel special and important. Some confuse that feeling with idealism.”

“Economics is a study of cause-and-effect relationships in an economy. It’s purpose is to discern the consequences of various ways of allocating resources which have alternative uses. It has nothing to say about philosophy or values, anymore than it has to say about music or literature.”
― Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy

“What all these lofty and vague phrases boil down to is that the court can impose things that the voters don’t want and the Constitution does not require, but which are in vogue in circles to which the court responds.”
― Knowledge And Decisions

“Everyone may be called “comrade,” but some comrades have the power of life and death over other comrades.”
― Knowledge And Decisions

“Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it”
― The Thomas Sowell Reader

“Extrapolations are the last refuge of a groundless argument.”
― The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy

“The staunchest conservatives advocate a range of changes which differ in specifics, rather than in number or magnitude, from the changes advocated by those considered liberal…change, as such, is simply not a controversial issue. Yet a common practice among the anointed is to declare themselves emphatically, piously, and defiantly in favor of ‘change.’ Thus those who oppose their particular changes are depicted as being against change in general. It is as if opponents of the equation 2+2=7 were depicted as being against mathematics. Such a tactic might, however, be more politically effective than trying to defend the equation on its own merits. ”
― The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy

“Whatever we wish to achieve in the future, it must begin by knowing where we are in the present- not where we wish we were, or where we wish others to think we are, but where we are in fact.”
― Economic Facts and Fallacies

“Don’t you get tired of seeing so many ‘non-conformists’ with the same non-conformist look?”
― Ever Wonder Why? and Other Controversial Essays

“What then is the intellectual advantage of civilization over primitive savagery? It is not necessarily that each civilized man has more knowledge but that he requires far less.”
― Knowledge And Decisions

“A mere enumeration of government activity is evidence — often the sole evidence offered — of ‘inadequate’ nongovernment institutions, whose ‘inability’ to cope with problems ‘obviously’ required state intervention. Government is depicted as acting not in response to its own political incentives and constraints but because it is compelled to do so by concern for the public interest: it ‘cannot keep its hands off’ when so ‘much is at stake,’ when emergency ‘compels’ it to supersede other decision making processes. Such a tableau simple ignores the possibility that there are political incentives for the production and distribution of ’emergencies’ to justify expansions of power as well as to use episodic emergencies as a reason for creating enduring government institutions.”
― Knowledge And Decisions

“The government is indeed an institution, but ‘the market’ is nothing more than an option for each individual to chose among numerous existing institutions, or to fashion new arrangements suited to his own situation and taste.”
― Knowledge And Decisions

“Where recycling 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.”
― Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One

“If facts, logic, and scientific procedures are all just arbitrarily ‘socially constructed’ notions, then all that is left is consensus–more specifically peer consensus, the kind of consensus that matters to adolescents or to many among the intelligentsia.”
― Intellectuals and Society

“However much history may be invoked in support of these policies (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.”
― Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality

“Mystical references to ‘society’ and its programs to ‘help’ may warm the hearts of the gullible but what it really means is putting more power in the hands of bureaucrats.”

“Age gives you an excuse for not being very good at things that you were not very good at when you were young.”
― The Thomas Sowell Reader

“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?”

“The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

“For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before.”

“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.”

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