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.
When President Obama keeps talking about "violent extremists" in the abstract, you might wonder whether Presbyterians are running amok.
There may be some poetic justice in the recent revelation that Hillary Clinton, who has made big noises about a "pay gap" between women and men, paid the women on her Senate staff just 72 percent of what she paid the men. The Obama White House staff likewise has a pay gap between women and men, as of course does the economy as a whole.
The firestorm of denunciation of former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, for having said that he did not think Barack Obama loved America, is in one sense out of all proportion to that remark -- especially at a time when there are much bigger issues, including wars raging, terrorist atrocities and a nuclear Iran on the horizon.
When Alfred E. Neuman said "What me worry?" on the cover of Mad magazine, it was funny. But this message was not nearly as funny coming from President Barack Obama and his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice.
Opponents of charter schools have claimed that these schools are "cherry-picking" the students they admit, and that this explains why many charter schools get better educational results with less money than public schools do.
The current controversy over whether parents should be forced to have their children vaccinated for measles is one of the painful signs of our times. Measles was virtually wiped out in the United States, years ago. Why the resurgence of this disease now?
In his recent trip to India, President Obama repeated a long-standing pattern of his -- denigrating the United States to foreign audiences. He said that he had been discriminated against because of his skin color in America, a country in which there is, even now, "terrible poverty."
It was refreshing to see meteorologists apologize for their dire -- and wrong -- predictions of an unprecedented snow storm that they had said would devastate the northeast. It was a big storm, but the northeast has seen lots of big snow storms before and will probably see lots of big snow storms again. That's called winter.
Who says President Obama doesn't promote bipartisanship?
With 2015 just getting under way, the buzz of political activity makes it seem almost as if we are already in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Islamic terrorist attacks in Europe, and European governments' counter-attacks are more than just a passing news story.
President Barack Obama's absence from the great gathering in Paris of national leaders from other countries, to show their solidarity with France in its opposition to Islamic terrorists, was another sign of the Obama administration's continuing irresolution in the face of terror.
Some time ago, burglars in England scrawled a message on the wall of a home they had looted: "RICH BASTARDS."
2014 has been a year of anniversaries. It was the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War -- a war which many at the time saw as madness, and predicted that it would be the harbinger of a Second World War a generation later.
Now that Barack Obama is ruling by decree, he seems more like a king than a president. Maybe it is time we change the way we address him. "Your Majesty" may be a little too much, but perhaps "Your Royal Glibness" might be appropriate.
Some of us, who are old enough to remember the old television police series "Dragnet," may remember Sgt. Joe Friday saying, "Just the facts, ma'am." But that would be completely out of place today. Facts are becoming obsolete, as recent events have demonstrated.
The cold-blooded murder of two New York City policemen as they sat in their car is not only an outrage but also a wake-up call. It shows, in the most painful way, the high cost of having demagogues, politicians, mobs and the media constantly taking cheap shots at the police.
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.
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