Dr. Thomas Sowell Quotations

Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, and senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. Imagine how different the next generation of young people might be if they were exposed to and educated about the ideas Dr. Sowell discusses…

As long as human beings are imperfect, there will always be arguments for extending the power of government to deal with these imperfections. The only logical stopping place is totalitarianism — unless we realize that tolerating imperfections is the price of freedom.

Considering how often throughout history even intelligent people have been proved to be wrong, it is amazing that there are still people who are convinced that the only reason anyone could possibly say something different from what they believe is stupidity or dishonesty.

Dave Rubin: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
Dr. Sowell: It’s a super highway.

Equality of rights does not mean equality of results. I can have all the equal treatment in the world on a golf course and I will not finish within shouting distance of Tiger Woods.

If politicians stopped meddling with things they don’t understand, there would be a more drastic reduction in the size of government than anyone in either party advocates.

If we start operating on the principle that people alive today are responsible for what their ancestors did in centuries past, we will be adopting a principle that can tear any society apart.

If you cannot achieve equality of performance among people born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, how realistic is it to expect to achieve it across broader and deeper social divisions?

I have never understood why it is “greed” to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.

In short, killing the goose that lays the golden egg is a viable political strategy, so long as the goose does not die before the next election and no one traces the politicians’ fingerprints on the murder weapon.

Intellect is not wisdom.

It is amazing how many people think that the government’s role is to give them what they want by overriding what other people want.

It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.

It would be hard to think of a more ridiculous way to make decisions than to transfer those decisions to third parties who pay no price for being wrong. Yet that is what at least half of the bright ideas of the political left amount to.

Many of the words and phrases used in the media and among academics suggest that things simply happen to people, rather than being caused by their own choices or behavior.

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

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.

One of the many disservices done to young people by our schools and colleges is giving them the puffed up notion that they are in a position to pass sweeping judgments on a world that they have barely begun to experience.

One of the scariest things about our times is how easy it is to scare people and start a political stampede. There are people who could be upset if they were told that half of all Americans earn less than the median income—though of course that is the way median income is defined.

People can’t be knowledgeable about everything but they can be knowledgeable about the extent of their own ignorance.

Racism is not dead, but it is on life support — kept alive by politicians, race hustlers and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as “racists.”

Socialism is a wonderful idea. It is only as a reality that it has been disastrous. Among people of every race, color, and creed, all around the world, socialism has led to hunger in countries that used to have surplus food to export.

Some people seem to think that the answer to all of life’s imperfections is to create a government agency to correct them. If that is your approach, then go straight to totalitarianism. Do not pass “Go.” Do not collect $200.

The biggest myth about labor unions is that unions are for the workers. Unions are for unions, just as corporations are for corporations and politicians are for politicians.

The fundamental difference between equal treatment and equal performance is repeatedly confused. In performance terms, virtually no one is equal to anyone. The same individual is not even equal to himself on different days.

The left’s obsession with the high incomes of corporate executives never seems to extend to equally high – or higher – incomes of professional athletes, entertainers, or best-selling authors like Danielle Steel.

The income tax has spawned an intrusive bureaucracy, creating so much complexity and red tape that millions of ordinary citizens have to go get some accountant to fill out the forms for them – and then sign under penalty of perjury that it was done right. If you knew how to do it right, you wouldn’t have to go to somebody else to have it done, would you?

The minimum wage law is very cleverly misnamed. The real minimum wage is zero—and that is what many inexperienced and low-skilled people receive as a result of legislation that makes it illegal to pay them what they are currently worth to an employer.

There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs.

Those who disdain wealth as a worthy goal for an individual or a society seem not to realize that wealth is the only thing that can prevent poverty.

The problem with trying to equalize is that you can usually only equalize downward. Most activities do not exist for the sake of equality. They exist to serve their own purposes — and those purposes are undermined, sometimes fatally, when equality becomes the goal.

The strongest argument for socialism is that it sounds good. The strongest argument against socialism is that it doesn’t work. But those who live by words will always have a soft spot in their hearts for socialism because it sounds so good.

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.

What do you call it when someone takes someone else’s money openly by force? Robbery. What do you call it when a politician takes someone else’s money in taxes and gives it to someone who is more likely to vote for him? Social Justice.

What can we be certain of from history? That human beings have been wrong innumerable times, by vast amounts, and with catastrophic results. Yet today there are still people who think that anyone who disagrees with them must be either bad or not know what he is talking about.

When I was growing up, we were taught the stories of people whose inventions and scientific discoveries had expanded the lives of millions of other people. Today, students are being taught to admire those who complain, denounce and demand.

You can see the agenda behind the rhetoric when profits are called “unconscionable” but taxes never are, even when taxes take more than half of what someone has earned, or add much more to the prices we have to pay than profits do.

Links to more about Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell – Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow on Public Policy
Thomas Sowell Website
Dave Rubin Interviews Thomas Sowell

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