Thomas Sowell

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

Have you ever heard a single hard fact to back up all the sweeping claims for the benefits of "diversity"?

Some people were upset, not by Dusty Baker's off-hand remark that races differ in their responses to hot weather, but by the fact that the media would have gone ballistic if some white person had said the same thing. Maybe the way to avoid a "double standard" is to stop going ballistic at anyone's off-hand remarks.

Gun control laws are like OSHA for criminals. When criminals have guns and their victims don't, crime becomes a safer occupation. In some countries with strict gun-control laws, burglars enter houses while people are still at home several times as often as that happens in the United States.

Ask ten people what "fairness" means and you can get eleven different definitions. Expecting government to promote "fairness" is just giving politicians more arbitrary power.

On my 73rd birthday, I received the latest issue of my favorite magazine, The Economist -- which was celebrating its 160th birthday. It made me feel like a kid.

A reader expressed a sense of futility in writing to public officials and getting back obvious form letters. But the real purpose of writing is not to get a reply but to affect policy. When most of the mail favors one policy over another, politicians pay attention, whether or not they answer everyone individually.

We seem to be getting closer and closer to a situation where nobody is responsible for what they did but we are all responsible for what somebody else did.

Nothing will protect an illogical idea from criticism like calling it "practical."

As long as human beings are imperfect, there will always be arguments for extending the power of government to deal with these imperfections. The only logical stopping place is totalitarianism -- unless we realize that tolerating imperfections is the price of freedom.

A look at the mediocre academic backgrounds of most of those who become public school teachers should make it obvious why they bend over backwards to protect today's mediocre students from stress or embarrassment, while being bitterly opposed to letting gifted students have their own classes or schools.

Why is the welfare state so successful politically? (1) It is always easy to rob Peter to pay Paul -- and later rob Paul to pay Peter, in order to win both votes; (2) it is easy to hide costs and call that "reducing" costs; and (3) the easiest place to hide costs is in the future, which is invisible.

A reader writes: "National tests aren't going to correct any of the defects in our educational system and here's why: the assessments do not test students' knowledge of academic content. Rather, they do what they are intended to do: evaluate the degree of compliance with authorized values, attitudes and beliefs, and pry into children's personal background."

The people I feel sorry for are those who insist on continuing to do what they have always done but want the results to be different from what they have always been.

For decades, American governments have tried to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli problem as if it were a labor dispute, with negotiations and concessions. The difference is that employers and employees know that, in the end, they cannot get along without each other, but nothing would please the Palestinians more than getting along without Israel.

Liberals' attempts to create a left-wing Rush Limbaugh demonstrate their basic misconception of the world. The Rush Limbaugh program was not created by big government, big business, or big media. It was one of those spontaneous things that happens in the real world of individual initiative that liberals are so out of touch with -- and so hostile to.

People who complain about a "Eurocentric" view of the world have the most Eurocentric view of human evils. Do they know -- or care -- that freed blacks had begun to serve in the Congress of the United States while white slaves were still being bought and sold in the Ottoman Empire?


Thomas Sowell

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

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