Random thoughts on the passing scene

Thomas Sowell
Posted: Apr 15, 2004 12:00 AM

A reader has suggested that elections be held on April 16th -- the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders.

 Just before France surrendered to the invading Nazi armies in 1940, French Premier Paul Reynaud broadcast an appeal to America -- which was not in the war at that time -- to send planes and tanks to enable France to fight on. He didn't ask that we consult other countries or go to the League of Nations. He wanted unilateral American help.

 The latest Census data (P60-221, for you skeptics) shows that in 2002 the average white household had an income of just under $47,000, while the average Asian American household had an income of just over $52,600. Does that prove discrimination against whites?

 Florida is one of the few states in which felons are banned from voting for life. However, felons in that state are appealing to be allowed to vote -- and Florida Democrats are supporting their appeal. If enough felons are allowed to vote and enough military absentee ballots are prevented from being counted, the Democrats might carry Florida this time.

 Although it has long been dogma on the political left that the death penalty does not deter, statistical studies have shown the opposite. One of the most recent studies appeared in the October 2003 issue of the Journal of Law & Economics, indicating that there are several murders deterred for every execution.

 The older I get, the more I realize that arguing on the basis of facts and logic only gets you labeled as someone who is out of step with the times, if not lacking in compassion.

 People who have no idea that Africans enslaved Europeans, just as Europeans enslaved Africans, should read "Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters" by Professor Robert C. Davis of Ohio State University. For personal accounts of white Americans enslaved by pirates in North Africa, read "White Slaves, African Masters," edited by Paul Baepler of the University of Minnesota. The Marine anthem says "to the shores of Tripoli" because Marines were in a naval force sent to rescue Americans from bondage.

 Judges should ask themselves: Are we turning the law into a trap for honest people and a bonanza for charlatans?

 As someone who gets a headache from being around people who are smoking, I still do not see the banning of smoking on California beaches as anything more than the totalitarian mindset of the left.

 Adolescence is a relatively recent thing in human history -- a period of years between the constraints of childhood and the responsibilities of adulthood. This irresponsible period of adolescence is artificially extended by long years of education, much of it wasted on frivolities. Tenure extends adolescence even further for teachers and professors.

 Many disastrous mistakes, in both public and private life, are not due to people thinking stupidly but to their not bothering to think at all. If you don't stop and think, then it doesn't matter whether you are a genius or a moron.

 I am still trying to figure out how I am any worse off if Rush Limbaugh takes painkillers or Martha Stewart gets an inside tip.

 It is truly a triumph of rhetoric over reality when people can believe that going into politics is "public service," but that producing food, shelter, transportation, or medical care is not. In California, producing shelter gets you condemned as a "developer" -- especially by those in "public service."

 There is a difference between the "Baseball Encyclopedia" and the "Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball." One difference is that the former lists Grover Cleveland Alexander as number one in lifetime shutouts with 90, while the latter -- accurately -- lists Walter Johnson as number one with 110.

 It is painful to watch Serena Williams dressing like a street walker. The Williams sisters are going to go down in tennis history and you don't want to be remembered looking cheap. You certainly wouldn't want your grandchildren seeing you looking that way.