Who on Earth is Thomas Sowell?

Thomas Sowell is an African-American economist and social theorist.

Books by Thomas Sowell

Quotes by Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell The Quest for Cosmic Justice

“Age gives you an excuse for not being very good at things that you were not very good at when you were young.”

Thomas Sowell

“Among the many other questions raised by the nebulous concept of “greed” is why it is a term applied almost exclusively to those who want to earn more money or to keep what they have already earned—never to those wanting to take other people’s money in taxes or to those wishing to live on the largesse dispensed from such taxation. No amount of taxation is ever described as “greed” on the part of government or the clientele of government.”

Thomas Sowell The Vision of the Anointed

“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.”

Thomas Sowell

“Competition does a much more effective job than government at protecting consumers.”

Thomas Sowell Compassion Versus Guilt

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

Thomas Sowell

“Don't you get tired of seeing so many 'non-conformists' with the same 'non-conformist' look?”

Thomas Sowell Ever Wonder Why?

“Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.”

Thomas Sowell A Conflict of Visions

“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.”

Thomas Sowell Basic Economics

“Extrapolations are the last refuge of a groundless argument.”

Thomas Sowell The Vision of the Anointed

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

Thomas Sowell Knowledge And Decisions

“I am so old that I can remember when other people’s achievements were considered to be an inspiration, rather than a grievance.”

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell Barbarians Inside the Gate

“I think we're raising whole generations who regard facts as more or less optional.
We have kids in elementary school who are being urged to take stands on political issues, to write letters to congressmen and presidents about nuclear energy.
They're not a decade old, and they're being thrown these kinds of questions that can absorb the lifetime of a very brilliant and learned man. And they're being taught that it's important to have views, and they're not being taught that it's important to know what you're talking about.
It's important to hear the opposite viewpoint, and more important to learn how to distinguish why viewpoint A and viewpoint B are different, and which one has the most evidence or logic behind it. They disregard that. They hear something, they hear some rhetoric, and they run with it.”

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell Intellectuals and Society

“If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.”

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell

“If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism.”

Thomas Sowell Knowledge And Decisions

“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.”

Thomas Sowell

“If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else's expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves.”

Thomas Sowell

“Indians have learned from painful experience that the state does not work on behalf of the people. More often than not, it works on behalf of itself.”

Thomas Sowell Basic Economics

“Intellect is not wisdom.”

Thomas Sowell Intellectuals and Society

“It doesn't matter how smart you are unless you stop and think.”

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell Knowledge And Decisions

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

Thomas Sowell

“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.”

Thomas Sowell

“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 have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing 'compassion' for the poor, but 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.”

Thomas Sowell

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

Thomas Sowell

“Liberals seem to assume that, if you don’t believe in their particular political solutions, then you don’t really care about the people that they claim to want to help.”

Thomas Sowell

“Life does not ask what we want. It presents us with options.”

Thomas Sowell

“Most officially “poor” Americans today have things that middle-class Americans of an earlier time could only dream about—including color TV, videocassette recorders, microwave ovens, and their own cars. Moreover, half of all poor households have air-conditioning.
Leftist redistribution of income could never accomplish that, because there are simply not enough rich people for their wealth to have such a dramatic effect on the living standards of the poor, even if it was all confiscated and redistributed. Moreover, many attempts at redistributing wealth in various countries around the world have ended up redistributing poverty.
After all, rich people can see the political handwriting on the wall, and can often take their money and leave the country, long before a government program can get started to confiscate it. They are also likely to take with them skills and entrepreneurial experience that are even harder to replace than the money.”

Thomas Sowell Controversial Essays

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

Thomas Sowell

“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.
What do the poor most need? They need to stop being poor. And how can that be done, on a mass scale, except by an economy that creates vastly more wealth? Yet the political left has long had a remarkable lack of interest in how wealth is created. As far as they are concerned, wealth exists somehow and the only interesting question is how to redistribute it.”

Thomas Sowell Controversial Essays

“No matter how much people on the left talk about compassion, they have no compassion for the taxpayers.”

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell Dismantling America

“No society ever thrived because it had a large and growing class of parasites living off those who produce.”

Thomas Sowell

“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

“One of the first things taught in introductory statistics textbooks is that correlation is not causation. It is also one of the first things forgotten.”

Thomas Sowell The Vision of the Anointed

“One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain.”

Thomas Sowell The Vision of the Anointed

“People are all born ignorant but they are not born stupid. Much of the stupidity we see today is induced by our educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities. In a high-tech age that has seen the creation of artificial intelligence by computers, we are also seeing the creation of artificial stupidity by people who call themselves educators.”

Thomas Sowell Dismantling America

“People sometimes ask if I have tried to convince black ‘leaders’ to take a different view on racial issues. Of course not. I wouldn't spend my time trying to persuade the mafia to give up crime. Why should I spend time trying to convince race hustlers to give up victimhood?”

Thomas Sowell

“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.”

Thomas Sowell Ever Wonder Why?

“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.”

Thomas Sowell Barbarians Inside the Gate

“Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back.”

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell

“Rhetoric is no substitute for reality.”

Thomas Sowell

“Ronald Reagan had a vision of America. Barack Obama has a vision of Barack Obama.”

Thomas Sowell Dismantling America

“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?”

Thomas Sowell

“Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

Thomas Sowell

“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. ”

Thomas Sowell

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

Thomas Sowell

“The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy.”

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell

“The fatal attraction of government is that it allows busybodies to impose decisions on others without paying any price themselves. That enables them to act as if there were no price, even when there are ruinous prices - paid by others.”

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell Is Reality Optional?

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

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell Dismantling America

“The only people I truly envy are those who can play a musical instrument and those who can eat anything they want without gaining weight.”

Thomas Sowell

“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

“The question is not what anybody deserves. The question is who is to take on the God-like role of deciding what everybody else deserves. You can talk about “social justice” all you want. But what death taxes boil down to is letting politicians take money from widows and orphans to pay for goodies that they will hand out to others, in order to buy votes to get reelected. That is not social justice or any other kind of justice.”

Thomas Sowell Controversial Essays

“The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First you take people's money away quietly and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly.”

Thomas Sowell

“There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”

Thomas Sowell A Conflict of Visions

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

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell Basic Economics

“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.”

Thomas Sowell

“We seem to be getting closer and closer to a situation where nobody is responsible for what they did but we are all responsible for what somebody else did.”

Thomas Sowell

“We’re living in a time where no one expects hard evidence. You just repeat some familiar words and people will react pretty much the way Pavlov’s dog was conditioned to react to certain sounds.”

Thomas Sowell

“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

“What is called an educated person is often someone who has had a dangerously superficial exposure to a wide spectrum of subjects.”

Thomas Sowell Ever Wonder Why?

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

Thomas Sowell

“What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don't like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don't expect freedom to survive very long.”

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell The Vision of the Anointed

“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.”

Thomas Sowell Economic Facts and Fallacies

“When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.”

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell

“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.”

Thomas Sowell Applied Economics