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.
As Christmas approaches, the shopping mall can become a shopping maul. One of the ways of buying gifts for family and friends, without becoming part of a mob scene in the stores, is to shop on the Internet.
Depressing news about black students scoring far below white students on various mental tests has become so familiar that people in different parts of the ideological spectrum have long ago developed their different explanations for why this is so. But both may have to do some rethinking, in light of radically different news from England.
Many people take pride in defying the conventions of society. Those conventions of society are also known as civilization. Defying them wholesale means going back to barbarism. Barbarians with electronic devices are still barbarians.
New York City police authorities are investigating a series of unprovoked physical attacks in public places on people who are Jewish, in the form of what is called "the knockout game."
A friend recently sent me a link to an inspiring video about an upbeat young black man who was born without arms. It showed him going to work -- unlike the record number of people living on government payments for "disabilities" that are far less serious, if not fictitious.
In opposing ObamaCare, the Tea Party took a position that increasing numbers of Americans agree with, now that ObamaCare's potential for disaster is becoming clearer by the day. But in trying to defund ObamaCare without the Congressional votes to do so, the Tea Party made a major tactical mistake.
Third parties have had an unbroken record of failure in American presidential politics. So it was refreshing to see in the Tea Party an insurgent movement, mainly of people who were not professional politicians, but who nevertheless had the good sense to see that their only chance of getting their ideals enacted into public policies was within one of the two major parties.
Like so many things that seem new, ObamaCare is in many ways old wine in new bottles. For example, when confronted with the fact that millions of Americans stand to lose their existing medical insurance, as a result of ObamaCare, defenders of ObamaCare say that this is true only when those people have "substandard" insurance.
The public's opinion of politicians of both parties seems to have reached a new low. But no matter how much the voters detest Congress -- or how justifiably -- that does not mean that there will be radical changes at the next election.
Polls indicate that the public is so disgusted with Washington politicians of both parties that a surprisingly large proportion of the people would like to get rid of the whole lot of them.
One of the reasons for being glad to be as old as I am is that I may be spared living to see a race war in America. Race wars are often wars in which nobody wins and everybody ends up much worse off than they were before.
Bob Costas is one of the premier sportscasters and a very smart guy, so it was somewhat surprising to see him join the chorus of those decrying the fact that the owner of the Washington Redskins is resisting the pressures to change the name of his football team.
Years ago, someone said that, according to the laws of aerodynamics, bumblebees cannot fly. But the bumblebees, not knowing the laws of aerodynamics, go ahead and fly anyway.
The nomination of Janet Yellen to become head of the Federal Reserve System has set off a flurry of media stories. Since she will be the first woman to occupy that position, we can only hope that this will not mean that any criticism of what she does will be attributed to sex bias or to a "war on women."
If the continued existence of mathematics depended on the ability of the Republicans to defend the proposition that two plus two equals four, that would probably mean the end of mathematics and of all the things that require mathematics.
Even when it comes to something as basic, and apparently as simple and straightforward, as the question of who shut down the federal government, there are diametrically opposite answers, depending on whether you talk to Democrats or to Republicans.
Despite evidence from around the world that minimum wage laws can price low-skilled workers out of jobs, the U.S. Department of Labor is planning to extend minimum wage coverage to domestic workers, such as maids or those who drop in from time to time to do a few household chores for the sick and the elderly.
This has been the worst time, politically, for President Barack Obama since he took office. Recent polls reveal that public confidence in both his domestic and foreign policies has been falling, amid revelations about their defects and dangers.
Political crusades for raising the minimum wage are back again. Advocates of minimum wage laws often give themselves credit for being more "compassionate" towards "the poor." But they seldom bother to check what are the actual consequences of such laws.
A survey of American economists found that 90 percent of them regarded minimum wage laws as increasing the rate of unemployment among low-skilled workers. Inexperience is often the problem. Only about 2 percent of Americans over the age of 24 earned the minimum wage.
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