Thomas Sowell

Material prosperity is just one of the many things in which America leads the world. We have been a democratic republic longer than any other country. We win more Nobel Prizes than any other country. Despite attempts to paint Americans as selfishly materialistic, we give more money to more philanthropic causes, at home and abroad, than any other nation. Nowhere else are so many colleges and universities established and sustained by private individuals donating their own money, rather than by government spending the taxpayers' money.

You might think that there would be some interest in why we have been so fortunate in so many ways. But there has instead been far more interest in complaining about the country's remaining human imperfections -- even when these are far less than among other nations.

The things that safeguard our freedom and prosperity, as well as our moral standards and sense of decency, are always in danger because any society always has people who want power over other people -- and our mass media allow such people to play on the public's fears and take advantage of the general lack of understanding of how and why we are so fortunate among the nations of the world.

A free market economy can operate without the public's understanding how it operates. But it will not be permitted to operate if demagogues play on that ignorance to gain the power to impose massive political controls, as some are always trying to do. Shared moral principles enable people with a variety of backgrounds and interests to interact with one another within a commonly understood framework, but busybodies who Balkanize our morality, our language and our political life are destroying that framework.

Patriotism is more than a sentiment. It is a necessity. To keep what history has presented to us, American must either love it or lose it. Balkanize America and you risk becoming the Balkans.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate