Thomas Sowell has decideed that 86 is old enough to stop writing his weekly column. Though I respect and understand his decision, but I mourn it. In my mind he is finest current conservative mind on the planet. He would be the first to tell you that there are no irreplaceable men -- I yeild to his wisdom, but he feels irreplaceable to me just the same.
Over at National Review, they are having a retrospective that is well deserved. If only Sowell had been our first Black President rather than BO, the world would be much brighter today! The following is from the excellent column linked above and I think makes a giant point that is easy to miss. Even a brilliant mind like Sowells, studying under one of the leading lights of economic freedom, Milton Friedman, was still a Marxist after studying under Friedman! It was EXPERIENCE that showed Sowell the way the world really was. Had he remained an academic, he would likely be a Marxist still.
"The young man from Harlem earned degrees at three elite institutions: Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago. It was at the third of these that he got his Ph.D. in economics. “I was a Marxist when I went to the University of Chicago, and I was still a Marxist after I took Milton Friedman’s course.” Incidentally, he holds the Rose and Milton Friedman chair at the Hoover Institution. “But just one summer as an economics intern in Washington got rid of all of that.” Sowell worked in the Labor Department, in the Wage and Hour Division. He was interested in whether minimum wages helped the poor by raising their pay or hurt them by denying them jobs. He found that the personnel around him were interested in other things: namely, the preservation of their own jobs, and the perpetuation of government programs. “Government has its own incentives,” he says. He was on his way as a conservative and free-marketeer."Collectivism often sounds good in theory, but to date it has always failed miserably in practice. Some watered down versions like FICA and Medicare in the US have seemed to last a good long while, but they come with the "feature" of an ever increasing unpaid liability hanging over our heads -- currently something on the order of $130 TRILLION dollars and rising. Europe and Japan have similar programs and all three have been saddled with poor grouth for 16 (Europe and the US), and 26 years (Japan). While academics and government bureaucrats would be loath to admit it, it is just barely possible that a $130 trillion (US alone) ecomonim sword haning over your head just might slow growth a bit!
Sowell understood that good advice was good advice -- even if it came from a white guy. I loved this paragraph.
And Sowell thinks back on a “crucial point” in his own student career. He was in his very first semester at Harvard. And his roommate said, “Tom, when are you going to stop goofing off and get some work done?” Sowell thought, Goofing off? But I’m going full-bore! When the midterm grades came out, he had two D’s and two F’s. Then he knuckled down. Today, he says the following about his roommate (who became a math professor): “His lighting a fire under me is probably the only reason I graduated” — which he did magna cum laude. He adds a comment about our present America: “How many white students are going to tell a black student, ‘Why don’t you stop goofing off and get some work done?’ Oh, heavens.” These students would be hauled up before deans, “at the very least.”
Can anyone deny that in a unniversity today, Sowell is correct? Why the ONLY reason that a white student could be doing better than a black today is "white privilege". A short time reading Sowell will convince any white person that "white privilege" doesn't allow many white people's names to be uttered in the same sentence as Sowell's relative to intellectual capacity and wisdom!
I definitely realize it HAS been my distinct privilege to read the words of Thomas Sowell. I thank our creator and the tireless efforts of Dr Sowell for allowing me that opportunity!
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