Thomas Sowell

It is no great secret to those who follow these things that the "services" of social workers and shrinks have no track record that would inspire such confidence. But these services are a great way for officials to cop out by going through the motions of "doing something" about tragic situations.

Having prescribed these magic services, courts and social agencies can always claim good intentions when the coroners' reports come out. But it has been known for centuries that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

It would of course be wonderful to have some way to get criminals, drug addicts, abusive parents and others to change their ways and become better people. It would be great to be able to prevent crimes or drug addiction before they start. But setting up programs with such goals in their titles is dangerous make-believe and self-indulgence, when there is no evidence that these things can be relied on to do what they say they do.

The law, especially, should not be based on pretenses to knowledge. If little Angelo Marinda had simply been removed from his home permanently and put up for adoption, he would probably be alive today. That should carry a lot more weight than fashionable phrases about "family reunification."

Intellectuals and academics are part of this problem too. Years ago, I encountered the Stanford professor who was pushing this "family reunification" fad and told him, more or less politely, what a crock I thought it was. But I doubt if he has lost a moment's sleep over little Angelo.

Thomas Sowell

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

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