Random thoughts on the passing scene

Thomas Sowell

5/5/2004 12:00:00 AM - Thomas Sowell

 Random thoughts on the passing scene:
 
Australian economist Wolfgang Kasper has figured out the day on which the average citizen has earned money enough to pay his taxes, so that he can then begin earning money for himself instead of for the government. For Singapore, that date is March 31st, for the United States April 21st, for Germany July 1st and for Sweden August 5th.

 Jay Leno says that, if John Kerry is elected, he will become the first President who can deliver both the State of the Union address and the rebuttal.

 The next time you hear an alarming speech about "global warming" on Earth Day, just remember that the first Earth Day featured alarms about the danger of a new ice age.

 Too often what are called "educated" people are simply people who have been sheltered from reality for years in ivy-covered buildings. Those whose whole careers have been spent in ivy-covered buildings, insulated by tenure, can remain adolescents on into their golden retirement years.

 Just as members of American teachers' unions often send their own children to private schools, so unionized workers at government-run hospitals in Britain have insurance that allows them to go to private hospitals. In both cases, those on the inside realize how bad these institutions are, regardless of what they say to those on the outside.

 California is where people go ballistic over having to spend a few dollars to use ATM machines, but have no problem with having to pay inflated home prices that are more than ten times what it costs to build a home, because of innumerable government restrictions that cause land prices to skyrocket.

 Some ideas sound so plausible that they can fail nine times in a row and still be believed the tenth time. Other ideas sound so implausible that they can succeed nine times in a row and still not be believed the tenth time. Government controls in the economy are among the first kinds of ideas and the operation of a free market is among the second kind.

 People who oppose the death penalty like to flatter themselves that they are taking a moral stance. But, since empirical studies show that executions do deter murders, contrary to liberal dogma, there is nothing moral about sacrificing the lives of more murder victims because of your own squeamishness.

 It is a little much when people who are doing nothing for the poor, either here or in the Third World, complain loudly that others are not doing enough -- especially when those others are providing the poor with jobs and their communities with taxes.

 During a phone conversation, I mentioned to my brother in Ohio that all the posters in my neighborhood during the Democratic Party primaries were for Dennis Kucinich. He burst out laughing and said that there were no Kucinich posters where he lived. Kucinich used to be mayor of Cleveland, where he was a disaster.

 It is amazing how many people seem to think that the government exists to turn their prejudices into laws.

 One of the sad signs of our times are the twisted metal "sculptures" put in front of public buildings at the taxpayers' expense -- obviously never intended to please the public, and in fact constituting a thumbing of the artist's nose at the public.

 Recently I learned of yet another boy whose parents had once been urged to put him into a class for retarded children, and who now -- years later -- has done so well in school that he is being assigned to a class for very bright children.

 "Tell all" autobiographies sometimes tell more than all.

 The easiest way to get people to accept nonsense -- and even to sacrifice themselves for it -- is to flatter their egos. Hitler called Germans a "master race" and made them virtually his slaves. Race hustlers today likewise salve the egos of those blacks who follow them and sacrifice their interests just as ruthlessly.

 Under the terrible stresses of war, there are some in every country who commit atrocities. The difference is that Americans are upset, ashamed, or angry when their troops do it, while people in some Middle Eastern countries danced in the streets on 9/11 and when the bodies of dead American civilians were dragged through the streets in Iraq.