Thomas Sowell

Utter ignorance of all these things has not been enough to discourage people from loudly demanding that the government "do something" about "Big Oil" and its profits.

The same reliance on ignorance applies at the other end of the economic scale. People who know nothing about retailing, nothing about labor markets and nothing about economics are loudly demanding that the local, state or federal government "do something" about the low pay of Wal-Mart's employees.

Those employees know what their alternative job opportunities are and other employers know what their productivity would be worth to them. If the workers themselves choose Wal-Mart as their best option, what qualifies us to say that either their choice or Wal-Mart's choice was wrong?

Most low-income people, whether at Wal-Mart or elsewhere, do not stay low-income forever -- or for more than a few years. Most Americans in the bottom 20 percent at a given time are later in the top half of the income distribution, after they have acquired some more job experience.

Are individual decisions made by people deciding what is best for themselves to be over-ruled by ignorant busybodies, obsessed by things they do not understand?

Is the whole economic system of supply and demand, on which the nation's prosperity is based, to be disrupted whenever moral exhibitionists have a need to feel puffed up about themselves?


Thomas Sowell

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

Creators Syndicate