Thomas Sowell

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.

My New Year's resolution is to stop trying to reason with unreasonable people. This should reduce my correspondence considerably.

Benedict Arnold was a war hero, wounded in battle -- before he turned against his country. Hitler was likewise a decorated and wounded veteran of the First World War. Being a war hero is not a lifetime "get out of jail free" card, exempting you from responsibility for what you do thereafter.

E-mail from the mother of a late-talking child: "We didn't know Ryan could read letters and numbers until one day when he was two-and-a-half years old and I held up a number 9 and asked him what it was. He turned his back to me, bent over, looked between his legs and said, '6.' Then he stood up, faced me and said, '9'!"

Activism is a way for useless people to feel important, even if the consequences of their activism are counterproductive for those they claim to be helping and damaging to the fabric of society as a whole.

It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer "universal health care."

When the president suggested sending a man to Mars, do you suppose he had Paul O'Neill in mind?

Let me seize a rare opportunity to recommend a book written by New York Times reporters: "Thunder from the East" by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It is a very readable, enlightening and insightful account of life in various Asian countries, blending the factual, the personal, the historical and the cultural.

People who defended a draft dodger running for president a dozen years ago are now trying to make an issue out of President Bush's National Guard service. People who have been saying that everyone is "innocent until proven guilty" are now saying that whatever information is released about Mr. Bush's service "still leaves questions unanswered." The Encyclopedia Britannica leaves questions unanswered!

Whenever I am struggling to find space to put more research material into my 10 filing cabinets or to put more books into my 20 bookcases, I think of those irate readers who write in to say that I just make things up when I write something that conflicts with their beliefs. Wouldn't life be easier if that were true?

There are few talents more richly rewarded with both wealth and power, in countries around the world, than the ability to convince backward people that their problems are caused by other people who are more advanced.

Heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis' retirement is as welcome as it is rare. In other sports, playing too long risks only embarrassment. But in boxing it risks damage to the brain.

No matter how much people on the left talk about compassion, they have no compassion for the taxpayers.

I have a terrible feeling that mush-headed judges are going to let so many people get away with so much for so long that we may eventually see the return of vigilante justice. Fortunately, I am old enough that I will probably be spared seeing it happen.

Intellectuals may like to think of themselves as people who "speak truth to power" but too often they are people who speak lies to gain power.

Conservatives who despair should read an article titled "We're Not Losing the Culture Wars Anymore" in the Autumn 2003 issue of City Journal.

Here is a verse titled "Talk Show Host": "When he speaks, it is not shyly. His words just seem to billow wryly."

To liberals, "compassion" means giving less productive people the fruits of the efforts of more productive people. But real compassion means enabling less productive people to become more productive themselves. That way, the poor have not only more material things but also more self-respect, as well as more respect from others, and the society as a whole has a higher standard of living and less internal strife.


Thomas Sowell

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

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