Thinking 'Beyond Stage One' With Thomas Sowell

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Thomas Sowell is one of the greatest thinkers of the last half century. His research and writings have influenced countless numbers with insightful, clear, and powerful lessons on subjects as diverse as economics, judicial activism, social policy, ethnicity, civil rights, ideological visions and education.

Up to this point, even a partial grasp of his 40 books and hundreds of Op-eds would be an educationally rewarding yet daunting exercise. Here are a few excerpts that reveal the depth and breadth of Sowell's amazing mind:

"If crime is a product of poverty and discrimination...why was there so much less of it when poverty and discrimination were much worse than today?"

"Some people consider it a valid criticism of corporations that they are "just in the business to make profits." By this kind of reasoning, workers are just working to earn their pay."

"The rate of violence among lesbians living together -about the same as in heterosexual relationships- is of no interest to those seeking to depict male-female relationships as violence prone."

"When people ask emotionally, "How can we stop these things?" [Shooting sprees] the most straightforward answer is to ask: How was it in fact stopped? It was stopped, like most shooting sprees, by the arrival on the scene of other people with guns."

"Sweeping dismissals of the past are more than just a passing fashion or a personal vanity. They are a dangerous destruction of the hard-earned experience of millions of human beings, living through centuries of struggle with the tragedy of the human condition, and the replacement of this rich legacy with unsubstantiated and self-flattering fancies."

"People who believe in evolution in biology often believe in creationism in government. In other words, they believe that the universe and all the creatures in it could have evolved spontaneously, but that the economy is too complicated to operate without being directed by politicians."

"The vision of the anointed is one in which such ills as poverty, irresponsible sex, and crime derive primarily from "society," rather than from individual choices and behavior. To believe in personal responsibility would be to destroy the whole special role of the anointed, whose vision casts them in the role of rescuers of people treated unfairly by "society."

"It was the Africans who enslaved their fellow Africans, selling some of these slaves to Europeans or to Arabs and keeping others for themselves. Even at the peak of the Atlantic slave trade, Africans retained more slaves for themselves than they sent to the Western Hemisphere."

"In this era of non-judgmental mush, too many Americans have become incapable of facing the brutal reality of unprovoked hatred, based on envy, resentment and ultimately on a vicious urge to lash out against others for the pain of one's own insignificance. That has been a common thread in things as disparate as ghetto riots, two world wars, and now Islamic terrorism."

"The culture of this nation is being dismantled, brick by brick, but so gradually that many will not notice until the walls start to sag -- just before they cave in."


Dean Kalahar recently retired from teaching economics and pyschology.  He has authored three books, including The Best of Thomas Sowell, a user-friendly guide to Sowell's insightful thinking on a wide range of social and political issues. 

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