Now in his 90s, Thomas Sowell is a stand-out intellectual. He is an economist by training, a philosopher by instinct, a writer by hard work, and a researcher without parallel. He has published more than 20 books and wrote regular syndicated columns for years.
People find his approach to be either profound or nonsense. There are few in the middle of the range. I don’t understand how some find nonsense, but then neither do I get people who don’t like dogs.
He is a thinker who uses data to guide his thoughts. He doesn’t let preconceived ideas direct his efforts. He goes wherever the facts take him.
He was a Marxist as a young man. He was still a Marxist after getting his PhD from the University of Chicago. Even Milton Friedman couldn’t change his mind. When asked what changed his mind, he has a simple answer, “Facts!” He worked for the federal government for a summer and decided the government could not possibly be the answer.
While an intellectual himself, he claims few intellectuals should be allowed to make decisions that affect society. Why?
“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong”
Facts provide clear guidance. One that is very apparent is the fact that raising income tax rates too high reduces the government’s revenue.
He shows how the Black people, like him, were doing very well thank you until the 1960’s war on poverty. It has been downhill ever since. In 1960 the percentage of single parent Black families was lower than white.
He has studied minimum wage since his first job. He sees the costs to be greater than the advantages.
All of his work relies on three factors:
Once he has a deep understanding of a subject, he doesn’t change his mind without evidence. He is uninterested in fashionable ideas and has no interest in having people agree with him.
We, and especially our leaders, would be well-advised to follow his lead.
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