Random thoughts

Thomas Sowell
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Posted: Jun 13, 2006 12:05 AM

Random thoughts on the passing scene:

When you have 90 percent of what you want, think twice before insisting on the other 10 percent.

I have never understood stuttering. Once I heard a well-known economist who stuttered spend 45 minutes singing humorous, tongue-twister songs without a slip. Yet, after he finished -- to rousing applause -- he could barely get out the words "Thank you."

The beauty of doing nothing is that you can do it perfectly. Only when you do something is it almost impossible to do it without mistakes. Therefore people who are contributing nothing to society except their constant criticisms can feel both intellectually and morally superior.

Do you ever feel like you must be invisible when you are in one of those restaurants where waiters and waitresses walk past you repeatedly without taking your order?

"We are a nation of immigrants," we are constantly reminded. We are also a nation of people with ten fingers and ten toes. Does that mean that anyone who has ten fingers and ten toes should be welcomed and given American citizenship?

Equal treatment of individuals does not mean equal treatment of behavior. That is why a polygamist is on the FBI's "most wanted" list. He is not allowed to redefine marriage to suit himself any more than the advocates of "gay marriage" are.

It is fascinating to see politicians who express outrage that the government is intercepting phone calls to and from terrorists express no outrage that all kinds of organizations on the Internet are getting all kinds of information from our personal computers all the time without our knowledge.

An e-mail from a reader says that he is going to try to pass as Mexican, adding "I don't want to pay taxes either" and "I can speak a little Spanish."

If politics were like baseball, the Republicans would be smart to trade Senator John McCain to the Democrats for Senator Joseph Lieberman, even if they had to throw in a future draft choice.

There is no substitute for love, not even sex.

At least half of the popular fallacies about economics come from assuming that economic activity is a zero-sum game, in which what is gained by someone is lost by someone else. But transactions would not continue unless both sides gained, whether in international trade, employment, or renting an apartment.

Neither your money nor your complexion makes you automatically guilty of anything. This seems so obvious that it is painful to see how many people believe otherwise, as some of the responses to the rape charges against Duke University lacrosse players make all too clear.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, "If you wait till you see the whites of their eyes, you will never know what hit you." Similarly if you wait until you get "world opinion" on your side at the United Nations before preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

If you read all the fine print in all the documents you have to sign, you would have no time left to live a life.

A headline in the San Francisco Chronicle offered this prescription for California's problems: "The Golden State needs big, bold ideas to solve the puzzle its future presents." But big bold ideas have been behind many -- if not most -- of California's problems, as well as disasters in countries around the world.

The idea that other people don't have the same rights that you do was once the mark of the ignorant. But today it is the mark of too many of our elite universities, where those who disagree with the prevailing political correctness are either silenced by speech codes or shouted down if they are speakers invited on campus to present a different viewpoint.

It is amazing how many people mistake a certain hip snideness for sophistication.

More than half of all people filing income tax forms use someone else to prepare the forms for them. Then they have to sign under penalty of perjury that these forms are correct. But if they were competent to determine that, why would they have to pay someone else to do their taxes for them in the first place?