Thomas Sowell

Someone summarized Barack Obama in three words -- "educated," "smart" and "ignorant." Unfortunately, those same three words would describe all too many of the people who come out of our most prestigious colleges and universities today.

President Obama seems completely unaware of how many of the policies he is trying to impose have been tried before, in many times and places around the world, and have failed time and again. Economic equality? That was tried in the 19th century, in communities set up by Robert Owen, the man who coined the term "socialism." Those communities all collapsed.

It was tried even earlier, in 18th century Georgia, when that was a British colony. People in Georgia ended up fleeing to other colonies, as many other people would vote with their feet in the 20th century, by fleeing many other societies around the world that were established in the name of economic equality.

But who reads history these days? Moreover, those parts of history that would undermine the vision of the left -- which prevails in our education system from elementary school to postgraduate study -- are not likely to get much attention.

The net results are bright people, with impressive degrees, who have been told for years how brilliant they are, but who are often ignorant of facts that might cause them to question what they have been indoctrinated with in schools and colleges.

Recently Kirsten Powers repeated on Fox News Channel the discredited claim that women are paid only about three-quarters of what a man is paid for doing the same work.

But there have been empirical studies, going back for decades, showing that there is no such gap when the women and men are in the same occupation, with the same skills, experience, education, hours of work and continuous years of full-time work.

Income differences between the sexes reflect the fact that women and men differ in all these things -- and more. Young male doctors earn much more than young female doctors. But young male doctors work over 500 hours a year more than young female doctors.

Then there is the current hysteria which claims that people in the famous "top one percent" have incomes that are rising sharply and absorbing a wholly disproportionate share of all the income in the country.

But check out a Treasury Department study titled "Income Mobility in the U.S. from 1996 to 2005." It uses income tax data, showing that people who were in the top one percent in 1996 had their incomes fall -- repeat, fall -- by 26 percent by 2005.


Thomas Sowell

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

Creators Syndicate