Random Thoughts

Thomas Sowell

8/1/2005 12:00:00 AM - Thomas Sowell

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

 Sometimes I have so much to do that I don't do anything.

 As a result of "evolving standards" and "nuanced" judicial decisions, we no longer have clear-cut rights. We have a ticket to a crapshoot in a courtroom. That ticket is worth a lot more to those with slick lawyers than to ordinary citizens.

 What is more frightening than any particular policy or ideology is the widespread habit of disregarding facts. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey put it this way: "Demagoguery beats data."

 If anyone ever doubts that Babe Ruth was the greatest baseball player of all time, ask him: How many shutouts did Ty Cobb or Barry Bonds ever pitch? Ruth still holds the American League record for shutouts in a season by a left-handed pitcher.

 It is hard to see how people who are opposed to faith-based organizations can support the dogmas of the schools of education or the multiculturalists.

 The government forces those who sell pharmaceutical drugs to list the possible side effects, even if only a few people will suffer those side effects. Unfortunately, the government itself never tells us about the bad side effects of the things it prescribes.

 I can understand poor people who have to struggle to make ends meet. What I cannot understand are people who have plenty of money but who live so high on the hog that they have to struggle to make ends meet, just as if they were poor.

 Everybody is for "fairness" -- because we all use the same word to mean very different things. Some of the most confused and counterproductive policies -- "fair trade" laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act, for example -- have been built upon the shifting sands of fairness.

 People used to say, "Ignorance is no excuse." Today, ignorance is no problem. After all, you have "a right to your own opinion" -- and self-esteem to boot.

 One of the maddening things about computer programs and computerized products is their making you fight your way through a maze of complications to do simple things.

 I never cease to be amazed at how often people throw around the lofty phrase "social justice" without the slightest effort to define it. It cannot be defined because it is an attitude masquerading as a principle.

 Someone once said that a fool can put on his coat better than a wise man can put it on for him. The implications of that undermine most of the agenda of the political left.

 People who say that the war in Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror are unaffected by the fact that the terrorists themselves obviously think otherwise, as they converge on Iraq from other countries.

 Horses are supposed to be dumb animals. But they are smart enough not to bet on people.

 One of the few encouraging signs to come out of France has been the ban on head scarves in schools there, despite protests that these are traditional among Islamic girls. No one has a right to come into someone else's society and insist on playing by the rules of some other society. We in America need to understand that as regards language, among other things.

 Some ideas seem so plausible that they can fail nine times in a row and still be believed the tenth time. Other ideas seem 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 kinds of ideas.

 For reasons unknown, people on the left seem to take inordinate pride in being able to make verbal parallels -- whether or not there is any parallel in substance.

 With vastly more money available around the world as private investment than there is as foreign aid, why do Third World countries want or need foreign aid? Because private investors will seldom put their own money into projects that have no realistic chance of working or into countries too corrupt and unreliable to expect the money to be used responsibly, much less repaid.