Thomas Sowell

It is hard to read a newspaper, or watch a television newscast, without encountering someone who has come up with a new "solution" to society's "problems." Sometimes it seems as if there are more solutions than there are problems. On closer scrutiny, it turns out that many of today's problems are a result of yesterday's solutions.

San Francisco and New York are both plagued with large "homeless" populations today, largely as a result of previous housing "reforms" that made housing more expensive and severely limited how much housing, and of what kind, could be built.

The solution? Spend more of the taxpayers' money making homelessness a viable lifestyle for more people.

Education is a field with endless reforms, creating endless problems, requiring endless solutions. One of the invincible fallacies among educators is that all sorts of children can be educated in the same classroom. Not just children of different races, but children of different abilities, languages, and values.

Isn't it nice to think so? I suspect that even most conservatives would prefer to live in the kind of world conjured up in the liberals' imagination, rather than in the kind of world we are in fact stuck with.

The result is that many very bright children are bored to the point of becoming behavior problems, when the school work is slowed to a pace within the range of students who are slower learners.

By federal law, even children with severe mental or emotional problems must be "mainstreamed" into classes for other students -- often in disregard of how much this disrupts these classes and sacrifices the education of the other children.

Parents who complain about the effect of these "solutions" on their own children's education are made to feel guilty for not being more "understanding" about the problems of handicapped students.

Nothing is easier for third party busybodies than being "understanding" and "compassionate" at someone else's expense -- especially if the busybodies have their own children in private schools, as so many public school educators do.

Whether in housing, education or innumerable other aspects of life, the key to busybody politics, and its endlessly imposed "solutions," is that third parties pay no price for being wrong.

This not only presents opportunities for the busybodies to engage in moral preening, but also to flatter themselves that they know better what is good for other people than these other people know for themselves.


Thomas Sowell

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

Creators Syndicate