Thomas Sowell

 The big divide in this country is not between Democrats and Republicans, or women and men, but between talkers and doers.
 
Think about the things that have improved our lives the most over the past century -- medical advances, the transportation revolution, huge increases in consumer goods, dramatic improvements in housing, the computer revolution. The people who created these things -- the doers -- are not popular heroes. Our heroes are the talkers who complain about the doers.

 Those who have created nothing have maintained a constant barrage of criticism of those who created something, because that something was considered to be not good enough or the benefits turned out to have costs.

 Every time I get on my bicycle and go pedalling down the road, I remember from my childhood that old geezers in their 70s didn't go biking in those days. They sat around on the porch in their rocking chairs.

 Partly that was the style of the times but partly it was because old people did not have the energy and vigor that they have today. Much of that has been due to medical advances that not only added years to our lives but life to our years.

 Doctors and hospitals have helped but much of the improvement in our health has been due to pharmaceutical drugs that keep us from having to go to hospitals, and have enabled doctors to head off many serious medical problems with prescriptions.

 Yet the people who produce pharmaceutical drugs have been under heated political attack for years -- attacks which often do not let the facts get in their way.

 During the anthrax scare of 2001, for example, the maker of the leading antidote for anthrax was accused of making "obscene profits" even though (1) the total cost of treatment with their drug was just $50 and (2) the company actually operated at a loss while they were being denounced for obscene profits.

 People who know nothing about advertising, nothing about pharmaceuticals, and nothing about economics have been loudly proclaiming that the drug companies spend too much on advertising -- and demanding that the government pass laws based on their ignorance.

 Today, we take the automobile so much for granted that it is hard to realize what an expansion of the life of ordinary people it represented. There was a time when most people lived and died within a 50-mile radius of where they were born.

 The automobile opened a whole new world to these people. It also enabled those living in overcrowded cities to spread out into suburbs and get some elbow room. Trucks got goods to people more cheaply and ambulances got people to hospitals to save their lives.


Thomas Sowell

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

Creators Syndicate