Podcast about Thomas Sowell

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Thomas Sowell

Who is Thomas Sowell?

Thomas Sowell is considered by many to the greatest Economist and Intellectual Historian alive today. He turned ninety-one in 2021 and is still active writing books and articles and appearing live on shows.

Why have I never heard of him?

Most people have never heard of Thomas Sowell despite him having written over 45 books on a wide range of topics from economics, history, social policy, race and ethnicity, philosophy, education and decision making.

The reason he is not a household name is that many of his ideas run counter to the current intellectual trends and he is therefore ignored by most intellectuals in our culture.

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Economics Books

Political Theory Books

Education Books

Race & Ethnicity Books

Essays, Autobiography

Biography of Thomas Sowell

Jason L. Riley of the Wall Street Journal recently published a fascinating

biography of Thomas Sowell. Highly recommended:

Good Introductory Videos

Click on image for link to Youtube videos

1981 Interview with William F. Buckley Jr.

2020 Interview with Dave Rubin

Great Quotes

“One of the most foolish, and most dangerous, things one can do is to take love for granted, instead of nurturing it and safeguarding it as the prize jewel of one’s life.”

"The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best."

“Such are the ways of politics, where the crusade of the hour often blocks out everything else, at least until another crusade comes along and takes over the same monopoly of our minds.”

“The biggest secret is that there are no secrets, unless work is a secret. Work seems to be the only four letter word that cannot be used in public today.”

“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.”

“When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”

“The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

“Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.”

“Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

More Great Quotes

“Envy was once considered to be one of the seven deadly sins, before it became one of the most admired virtues under its new name “social justice.”

“The sins of others are always fascinating to human beings, but they are not always the best way to self-development or self-advancement. The moral regeneration of white people might be an interesting project, but I am not sure we have quite that much time to spare. Those who have fought on this front are very much like the generals who like to refight the last war instead of preparing for the next struggle.”

“Civil rights used to be about treating everyone the same. But today some people are so used to special treatment that equal treatment is considered to be discrimination."

"The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy."

”If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.”

”The real minimum wage is zero.”

Even More Great Quotes

“A diamond may be worth much more than a penny but enough pennies will be worth more than any diamond."

”Sometimes it seems as if there are more solutions than problems. On closer scrutiny, it turns out that many of today's problems are a result of yesterday's solutions.”

”Life in general has never been even close to fair, so the pretense that the government can make it fair is a valuable and inexhaustible asset to politicians who want to expand government.”

”The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.”

”Those who cry out that the government should 'do something' never even ask for data on what has actually happened when the government did something, compared to what actually happened when the government did nothing.”

”Mystical references to society and its programs to help may warm the hearts of the gullible but what it really means is putting more power in the hands of bureaucrats.”

More Info

Podcast Episode 3: 11 Characteristics of Moral Crusades

1) Crusades always frame issues as a battle between the forces of good and the forces of evil

2) Crusades always pinpoint some easily identifiable villain to oppose, and never find the source of the problem in human nature itself.

3) Crusades are emotionally satisfying and exciting to those who embrace them

4) Crusades convey a sense of moral superiority and heroism to those who promote them

5) Crusades provide meaning and a sense of identity to people who otherwise lack deep meaning and purpose in their lives.

6) Crusades, when supported by the government, are used by those in power to distract us from their real goal, which is the continued advances of government overreach.

7) Crusaders rarely if ever perform a cost benefit analysis on the results they seek to achieve.

8) Crusaders ignore the unintended consequences brought about by the realization of their wished for policies

9) Crusaders ignore discordant facts which might undermine belief in their mission.

10) Crusaders presume the public to be stupid or irrational and prefer decisions be made by intellectual elites.

11) Crusaders are a certain type of person, who, once a particular crusade has either fizzled out or achieved its original goal, they find another crusade to attach themselves to in order to keep the excitement of crusading going.

Podcast Episode 3: Thomas Sowell Quotes 1/2

On the subject of good vs. evil, Sowell wrote: “Many issues are misconstrued, not because they are too complex for most people to understand, but because a mundane explanation is far less emotionally satisfying than an explanation which produces villains to hate and heroes to exalt.”

On the subject of the type of villains which crusades focus on, Sowell said: “Evils and failings common to human beings around the world may not provide as promising a target for ideological crusades as evils attributable to an identifiable, localized source of evil that can be removed and replaced.” He also said ““A successful political crusade is incomplete without a villain. To play St. George, you need a dragon.”

Sowell quotes Eric Hoffer in this context, who once said “Mass movements can arise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a Devil.” That was Eric Hoffer as quoted by Tom Sowell.

On the subject of the emotional satisfaction and sense of moral superiority one gets from pursuing a crusade, Sowell wrote: “Dry empirical questions are seldom as exciting as political crusades or ringing moral pronouncements. But empirical questions are questions that must be asked, if we are truly interested in the wellbeing of others, rather than in excitement or a sense of moral superiority for ourselves.”

On the subject of how pursuing moral crusades gives people a sense of purpose and meaning, Sowell said: “People’s lives lack meaning, which must be brought to them by the anointed via various political crusades or social activism.”

On the subject of how government creates crusades to distract us, Sowell writes: “Dire alarms and heady crusades are among the many distractions of our attention from the ever increasing ways that government finds to take away more of our money and more of our freedom.”

Podcast Episode 3: Thomas Sowell Quotes 2/2

On the subject of how moral crusaders rarely if ever perform any cost benefit analysis on their goals, Sowell said: “It is especially important to weigh costs against benefits when there is crusading zeal and heady rhetoric in favor of something that virtually everyone regards as desirable, because crusaders seldom pause to do cost-benefit analysis.”

When it comes to the unintended consequences of moral crusades, Sowell says: “If the real purpose of social crusades is to make the less fortunate better off, then the actual consequences of such policies as wage control become central and require investigation, in order to avoid “unintended consequences” which have already been widely recognized in the context of many other policies.

But if the real purpose of social crusades is to proclaim oneself to be on the side of the angels, then such investigations have a low priority, if any priority at all,

since the goal of being on the side of the angels is accomplished when the policies have been advocated and then instituted, after which the social crusaders can move on to other issues.”

On the topic of moral crusaders ignoring discordant facts which challenge their vision, Sowell says: “When you are in a hot political crusade, and full of moral indignation, you often don’t have time to check the facts.”

On the topic of whether or not the general public is smart enough to understand the true meaning of their crusade, Sowell says: “The presumed irrationality of the public is a pattern running through many, if not most or all, of the great crusades of the anointed in the twentieth century.” “Surrogate decision making is the common thread in the highly disparate crusades which have captured the imagination and sparked the fervor of the anointed at various times.”

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