Thomas Sowell

“If you believe in equal rights, then what do ‘women’s rights,’ ‘gay rights,’ etc., mean? Either they are redundant or they are violations of the principle of equal rights for all.”


“Economics and politics must both deal with a basic fact of life: What everybody wants adds up to more than what is possible. Economics deals with this by rationing through prices. Politics deals with it by lying and promising more than it can possibly deliver.”


“The anti-capitalist policies in Venezuela have worked so well that the number of companies in Venezuela is now a fraction of what it once was. That should certainly reduce capitalist ‘exploitation,’ shouldn’t it?”


“What do you call it when someone steals money secretly? Theft. What do you call it when someone takes money by force? Robbery. What do you call it when a politician takes someone else’s money and gives it to someone likely to vote for him? Social Justice.”


“The real goal should be reduced government spending, rather than balanced budgets achieved by ever rising tax rates to cover ever rising spending.”


“I suspect that even most conservatives would prefer to live in the kind of world conjured up in the liberals’ imagination rather than in the kind of world we are in fact stuck with.”


“The agenda of the left is to take the decision out of the hands of those directly involved and transfer that decision to third parties, who pay no price for making decisions that turn out to be counterproductive.”


“Politics has turned the lofty ideal of equality into the ugly reality of resentments of other people’s achievements-and a feeling that the world owes you something, while you owe nobody anything, not even common decency.”


“It is hard to see how people who are opposed to faith-based organizations can support the dogmas of the schools of education or the multiculturalists.”


“What is most frightening about the political left is that they seem to have no sense of the tragedy of the human condition. All problems seem to them to be due to other people not being as wise or as noble as they are.”


“You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.”


“One of the most fashionable notions of our times is that social problems like poverty and oppression breed wars. Most wars, however, are started by well-fed people with time on their hands to dream up half-baked ideologies or grandiose ambitions, and to nurse real or imagined grievances.”


“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.”


“With all the talk about people paying their ‘fair share’ of income taxes, why do nearly half the people in this country pay no income taxes at all? Is that their ‘fair share’?”


“Demographic ‘diversity’ is a notion often defended with fervor but seldom with facts.”


“It is amazing how many people think they are doing blacks a favor by exempting them from standards that others are expected to meet.”


“Like so many people, in so many countries, who started out to ‘spread the wealth,’ Barack Obama has ended up spreading poverty.”


“As American incomes have risen over the years, liberals have kept changing the definition of ‘poverty.’ Otherwise, the dwindling numbers of people who could be called ‘poor’ would take away the liberals’ main claim to influence and power.”


“The great promise of socialism is something for nothing. It is one of the signs of today’s dumbed-down education that so many college students seem to think that the cost of their education should-and will-be paid by raising taxes on ‘the rich.'”


“The endlessly repeated argument that most Americans are the descendants of immigrants ignores the fact that most Americans are NOT the descendants of ILLEGAL immigrants.”


“One of the ways in which people are similar is in the lengths to which they will go in order to show that they are different.”


“Who says that there is no difference between the political parties? When Democrats are criticized, they counter-attack. When Republicans are criticized, they whine that they are innocent.”


“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.”


“The great ideological divide is between those who believe that theories should be adjusted to reality and those who believe that reality must be adjusted to fit their theories.”


“Facts are seldom allowed to contaminate the beautiful vision of the left. What matters to the true believers are the ringing slogans, endlessly repeated.”


“Those parts of history that would undermine the vision of the Left-which prevails in our education system from elementary school to postgraduate study-are not likely to get much attention.”


“There are words that were once common, but which are seldom heard any more. The phrase ‘none of your business’ is one of these.”


“At one time, it was said ‘The truth will make you free.’ Today, there seem to be those who think that rhetoric and hype will make you free. It might even be called the audacity of hype.”


“Doing 90 percent of what is required is one of the biggest wastes because you have nothing to show for all your efforts. But doing 110 percent of what is expected is one of the smartest investments because it can pay off with a big reputation for just a little more effort.”


“Too many intellectuals act as if they are press agents for blacks-who do not need press agents but who do need the truth.”


“One of the great non sequiturs of the left is that, if the free market doesn’t work perfectly, then it doesn’t work at all-and the government should step in.”


“There are too many people, especially among the intelligentsia, who will never appreciate the things that have made this country great until after those things have been destroyed-with their help. Then, of course, it will be too late.”


“It is hard to understand politics if you are hung up on reality. Politicians leave reality to others. What matters in politics is what you can get the voters to believe, whether it bears any resemblance to reality or not.”


“The political left in general has been able to claim that they have more compassion for the less fortunate, and to depict their opponents as lacking in compassion for others. For none of these assertions have they felt a need to offer hard evidence.”


“People who think that they don’t owe anything to anybody should read David McCullough’s outstanding new book ‘1776,’ to see what hell other people went through to create the freedom that we enjoy and abuse today.”


“No matter how much people on the left talk about compassion, they have no compassion for the taxpayers.”


“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.”


“People who think that they are being ‘exploited’ should ask themselves whether they would be missed if they left, or whether people would say: ‘Good riddance’?”


“One of the most important skills for political success is the ability to make confident assertions of absurdities or lies.”


“If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism.”


“It is amazing what complicated lies some people will believe, even when the truth is simple and obvious. Indeed, the truth is often rejected as ‘simplistic’ by those who are dedicated to some complicated lie.”


“The vision of the left, full of envy and resentment, takes its worst toll on those at the bottom — whether black or white — who find in that paranoid vision an excuse for counterproductive and ultimately self-destructive attitudes and behavior.”


“Those who say that all cultures are equal never explain why the results of those cultures are so grossly unequal.”


“It is so easy to be wrong—and to persist in being wrong—when the costs of being wrong are paid by others.”


“We should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.”


“Whether the issue is abortion, gun control, affirmative action or a whole range of other controversies, too many in the media seem less concerned with letting their readers and viewers know what the arguments are on both sides than with promoting the liberals’ views.”


“One of the bittersweet things about growing old is realizing how mistaken you were when you were young. As a young political leftist, I saw the left as the voice of the common man. Nothing could be further from the truth.”


“Group solidarity often means letting the lowest common denominator shape the culture and life within the group and determine the direction of its future.”


“The story of how human beings treat other human beings when they have unbridled power over them is seldom a pretty story or even a decent story, regardless of the color of the people involved.”


“Liberals seem to think that they are doing lagging groups a favor by making excuses for counterproductive and self-destructive behavior. The poor do not need press agents. They need the truth. No one ever said, ‘Press agents shall make you free.'”


“Taking sides too easily degenerates into being morally one-up and imagining that we would have handled the problems of the past so much better than those who were there. Nothing is easier than creating higher standards for judging other people.”


“Why is there so much effort being put into trying to find intelligent life on other planets, when there is a serious question about how much intelligent life there is here?”


“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. People with careers as ethnic leaders usually tell their followers what they want to hear.”


“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.”


“You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing. If you have been living in a world where outcomes are everything, you may have a very hard time understanding bureaucratic thinking or practices.”


“Many colleges claim that they develop ‘leaders.’ All too often, that means turning out graduates who cannot feel fulfilled unless they are telling other people what to do. There are already too many people like that, and they are a menace to everyone else’s freedom.”


“The political left has never understood that, if you give the government enough power to create ‘social justice,’ you have given it enough power to create despotism. Millions of people around the world have paid with their lives for overlooking that simple fact.”


“Stepping beyond your competence can be like stepping off a cliff. Too many people with brilliance and talent within some field do not realize how ignorant — or, worse yet, misinformed — they are when talking like philosopher-kings about other things.”


“Why has evil been such a hard concept for many on the left to accept? The basic agenda of the left is to change external conditions. But what if the problem is internal? What if the real problem is the cussedness of human beings?”


“One of the most remarkable feats of those with the vision of the anointed has been the maintenance of their reputations in the face of repeated predictions that proved to be wrong by miles.”


“People don’t usually grow up when there are other people who make excuses for their immaturity.”


“It used to be said that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. Today, we admire those who curse the candle—because it is not perfect, not free, not whatever the complainers want it to be.”


“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.”


“One of the grand fallacies of our time is that something beneficial should be subsidized.”


There are all sorts of financial, ideological, and psychic rewards for undermining American society and its values. Unless some of us realize the existence of this culture war, and the high stakes in it, we can lose what cost those Americans before us so much to win and preserve.


“Of all ignorance, the ignorance of the educated is the most dangerous. Not only are educated people likely to have more influence, they are the last people to suspect that they don’t know what they are talking about when they go outside their narrow fields.”


“When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.”


“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?”


“Considering that we all enter the world the same way and leave in the same condition, we spend an awful lot of time in between trying to show that we are so different from other people.”


“What ‘multiculturalism’ boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture—and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.”


“Politics has turned the lofty ideal of equality into the ugly reality of resentments of other people’s achievements — and a feeling that the world owes you something, while you owe nobody anything, not even common decency.”


“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.”


“When people are presented with the alternatives of hating themselves for their failures or hating others for their success, they seldom choose to hate themselves.”


“Would you bet your paycheck on a weather forecast for tomorrow? If not, then why should this country bet billions on ‘global warming’ predictions that have even less foundation?”


“Name three things that the government does cheaper and better than private individuals and organizations. It would be no trick at all to name dozens of things that the government does worse and at higher costs.”


“The older I get, the more I realize that arguing on the basis of facts and logic only gets you labeled as someone who is out of step with the times, if not lacking in compassion.”


“The very same people who say that government has no right to interfere with sexual activity between consenting adults believe that the government has every right to interfere with economic activity between consenting adults.”


“Darwinian adaptation to environment applies not only to nature but also to society. Just as you don’t find eagles living in the ocean or fish living on mountain tops, so you don’t find leftists concentrated where their ideas have to stand the test of performance.”


“One of the reasons people don’t bother to stop and think is that symbolism lets them feel good about themselves. They can go through life leaving havoc in their wake, while enjoying a warm glow of self-approval. “


“There was a time when we honored those who created the prosperity and the freedom that we enjoy. Today we honor the complainers and sue the creators. Perhaps that is inevitable in an era when we no longer count our blessings, but instead count all our unfulfilled wishes.”


“The people I feel sorry for are those who insist on continuing to do what they have always done but want the results to be different from what they have always been.”

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