Thomas Sowell was born in North Carolina and grew up in Harlem. As with many others in his neighborhood, Thomas Sowell left home early and did not finish high school. The next few years were difficult ones, but eventually he joined the Marine Corps and became a photographer in the Korean War. After leaving the service, Thomas Sowell entered Harvard University, worked a part-time job as a photographer and studied the science that would become his passion and profession: economics.
After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard University (1958), Thomas Sowell went on to receive his master's in economics from Columbia University (1959) and a doctorate in economics from the University of Chicago (1968).
In the early '60s, Sowell held jobs as an economist with the Department of Labor and AT&T. But his real interest was in teaching and scholarship. In 1965, at Cornell University, Sowell began the first of many professorships. Thomas Sowell's other teaching assignments include Rutgers University, Amherst College, Brandeis University and the University of California at Los Angeles, where he taught in the early '70s and also from 1984 to 1989.
Thomas Sowell has published a large volume of writing. His dozen books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college. Moreover, much of his writing is considered ground-breaking -- work that will outlive the great majority of scholarship done today.
Though Thomas Sowell had been a regular contributor to newspapers in the late '70s and early '80s, he did not begin his career as a newspaper columnist until 1984. George F. Will's writing, says Sowell, proved to him that someone could say something of substance in so short a space (750 words). And besides, writing for the general public enables him to address the heart of issues without the smoke and mirrors that so often accompany academic writing.
In 1990, he won the prestigious Francis Boyer Award, presented by The American Enterprise Institute.
Currently Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute in Stanford, Calif.
Critics and defenders of the harsh interrogation methods applied to captured terrorists can argue forever over whether those methods were "torture." But any serious discussion of a serious issue -- and surely terrorism qualifies as serious -- has to move beyond semantics and confront the ultimate question: "Compared to what alternative?"
The fiasco of "Rolling Stone" magazine's apology for an unsubstantiated claim of gang rape at a University of Virginia fraternity house -- and the instant rush to judgment of the university administration in shutting down all fraternities, when those charges were made -- should warn us about the dangers of having serious legal issues dealt with by institutions with no qualifications for that role.
This year, Christmas shopping may be an especially welcome respite from the ugly events going on across the country, as mobs take to the streets because grand juries that examined evidence reached different conclusions from those reached by mobs who made up their minds without examining that evidence.
Everyone seems to have an opinion about the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri. But, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say, "You're entitled to your own opinion but you're not entitled to your own facts."
Jonathan Gruber's several videotaped remarks about the gross deceptions that got ObamaCare passed in Congress should tell us a lot about the Obama administration. And the way that the mainstream media hesitated for days to even mention what Professor Gruber said, while they obsessed over unsubstantiated charges against Bill Cosby, should tell us a lot about the media.
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said there were "phrases that serve as an excuse for not thinking." One of these phrases that substitute for thought today is one that depicts the current problems of blacks in America as "a legacy of slavery."
If anyone still has any doubt about the utter cynicism of the Obama administration, a recent agreement between the federal government and the Minneapolis Public Schools should open their eyes.
Just what happened last week on election day? And what is going to happen in the years ahead?
One of the biggest voter frauds may be the idea promoted by Attorney General Eric Holder and others that there is no voter fraud, that laws requiring voters to have a photo identification are just attempts to suppress black voting.
In the Congressional elections this year, many Democrats are running away from Barack Obama, but they can't hide their record of voting for Obama's agenda more than 90 percent of the time.
Just what is predatory lending? It is lending that charges a higher interest rate than people like those at the New York Times approve of. According to such thinking -- or lack of thinking -- the answer is to have the government set an interest rate ceiling at a level that will be acceptable to third parties like the New York Times.
Goddard College's recent decision to have its students addressed from prison by a convicted cop killer is just one of many unbelievably irresponsible self-indulgences by "educators" in our schools and colleges.
Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill once said, "All politics is local." That may have been true in Tip O'Neill's day, but some elections are decisively on national issues -- and the Congressional elections this year are overwhelmingly national, just as the elections of 1860 were dominated by one national issue, namely slavery.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is both a danger in itself and a wake-up call for Americans -- about President Obama, about the institutions of this country and, most important, about ourselves.
What a non-judgmental society amounts to is that common decency is optional -- which means that decency is likely to become less common.
Some pundits are saying that President Obama has been floundering in his response to the ISIS crisis because public opinion polls show most Americans don't want another war.
Anyone who knows what anxiety, and sometimes anguish, parents go through when they have a child who is still not talking at age two, three or even four, can appreciate what a blessing it can be to have someone who can tell them what to do -- and what not to do.
While we talk about democracy and equal rights, we seem increasingly to let both private and government decisions be determined by mob rule. There is nothing democratic about mob rule. It means that some people's votes are to be overruled by other people's disruptions, harassments and threats.
Those people who say that President Obama has no clear vision and no clear strategy for dealing with the ISIS terrorists in the Middle East may be mistaken. It seems to me that he has a very clear and very consistent strategy. And a vision behind that strategy.
The recent bribery convictions of former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell and his wife are only the latest in a seemingly never-ending series of convictions of government officials.
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