Thomas Sowell is an economist, author, intellectual, and political theorist from the United States. He is among the most influential proponents of supply-side economics globally. Thomas halted his school education to join the US Marine Corps during the Korean war.
Upon returning, Sowell went back to school and joined Harvard University and later earned his post-graduate degree from Columbia University. He furthered his education and attained a doctoral degree in economics from The University of Chicago In 1968.
Thomas has taught in the leading universities in the U.S. and has been the leading think tanks. As an African-American, Thomas has written broadly on racial politics in the U.S. with different views from the rest. The phrase “Black conservative” has been used to describe him, but he has never acknowledged the label. He has had some amazing analysis and his insights have stood the test of time.
Let’s explore some of his most compelling quotes.
Thomas Sowell Quotes
1. “Do all children have some inherent right to live in America if they have done nothing wrong? If not, then why should the children of illegal immigrants have such a right?”– Thomas Sowell
2. “Imagine a political system so radical as to promise to move more of the poorest 20% of the population into the richest 20% than remain in the poorest bracket within the decade? You don’t need to imagine it. It’s called the United States of America.”– Thomas Sowell
3. “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.”– Thomas Sowell
4. “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.”– Thomas Sowell
5. “Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.”– Thomas Sowell
6. “Despite a voluminous and often fervent literature on “income distribution,” the cold fact is that most income is not distributed: It is earned.”– Thomas Sowell
7. “Even if the government spends itself into bankruptcy and the economy still does not recover, Keynesians can always say that it would have worked if only the government had spent more.”– Thomas Sowell.
8. “People who identify themselves as conservatives donate money to charity more often than people who identify themselves as liberals. They donate more money and a higher percentage of their incomes.”– Thomas Sowell
9. “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.”– Thomas Sowell
10. “One of the common failings among honorable people is a failure to appreciate how thoroughly dishonorable some other people can be, and how dangerous it is to trust them.”– Thomas Sowell
11. “Prices are important not because money is considered paramount but because prices are a fast and effective conveyor of information through a vast society in which fragmented knowledge must be coordinated.”– Thomas Sowell
12. “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.”– Thomas Sowell
13. “Both free speech rights and property rights belong legally to individuals, but their real function is social, to benefit vast numbers of people who do not themselves exercise these rights.”– Thomas Sowell
14. “Like a baseball game, wars are not over till they are over. Wars don’t run on a clock like football. No previous generation was so hopelessly unrealistic that this had to be explained to them.”– Thomas Sowell
15. “Tariffs that save jobs in the steel industry mean higher steel prices, which in turn means fewer sales of American steel products around the world and losses of far more jobs than are saved.”– Thomas Sowell
16. “The concept of “microaggression” is just one of many tactics used to stifle differences of opinion by declaring some opinions to be “hate speech,” instead of debating those differences in a marketplace of ideas.”– Thomas Sowell
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17. “Racism does not have a good track record. It’s been tried out for a long time and you’d think by now we’d want to put an end to it instead of putting it under new management.”– Thomas Sowell
18. “No government of the left has done as much for the poor as capitalism has. Even when it comes to the redistribution of income, the left talks the talk but the free market walks the walk. What do the poor most need? They need to stop being poor. And how can that be done, on a mass scale, except by an economy that creates vastly more wealth? Yet the political left has long had a remarkable lack of interest in how wealth is created. As far as they are concerned, wealth exists somehow and the only interesting question is how to redistribute it.”– Thomas Sowell
19. “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.”– Thomas Sowell
20. “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.”– Thomas Sowell
21. “You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.”– Thomas Sowell
22. “Bailing out people who made ill-advised mortgages makes no more sense that bailing out people who lost their life savings in Las Vegas casinos.”– Thomas Sowell
23. “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.”– Thomas Sowell
24. “We seem to be getting closer and closer to a situation where nobody is responsible for what they did but we are all responsible for what somebody else did.”– Thomas Sowell
25. “With various people complaining about “price gouging… economist Walter Williams has coined a new term: “Tax gouging.” But government is never accused of either “greed” or “gouging” not even when they bulldoze people’s homes in order to turn the land over to businesses that will pay more taxes.”– Thomas Sowell
26. “Creating whole departments of ethnic, gender, and other ‘studies’ was part of the price of academic peace. All too often, these ‘studies’ are about propaganda rather than serious education.”– Thomas Sowell
27. “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.”– Thomas Sowell
28. “Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.”– Thomas Sowell
29. “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?”– Thomas Sowell
30. “As a young Marxist in college during the 1950s heyday of the anti-Communist crusade led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy, I had more freedom to express my views in class, without fear of retaliation, than conservative students have on many campuses today.”–Thomas Sowell
31. “In various countries and times, leaders of groups that lagged behind, economically and educationally, have taught their followers to blame all their problems on other people – and to hate those other people.”– Thomas Sowell
32. “The march of science and technology does not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often means the opposite.”– Thomas Sowell
33. “Facts do not speak for themselves. They speak for or against competing theories. Facts divorced from theories or visions are mere isolated curiosities.”– Thomas Sowell
34.” …the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else?”– Thomas Sowell
35. “Have you gone crazy, Lefty?” “No. On the contrary, I have become educated.” “Sometimes that’s worse, these days.”– Thomas Sowell
36. “All of us should be on guard against beliefs that flatter ourselves. At the very least, we should check such beliefs against facts.”– Thomas Sowell
37. “Most of the founders of this country had day jobs for years. They were not career politicians. … We need leaders with experience in the real world, not experience in the phony world of politics.”– Thomas Sowell
38. ” The Massachusetts Institute of Technology accepts blacks in the top ten percent of students, but at MIT this puts them in the bottom ten percent of the class.”– Thomas Sowell
39. “One of the most pervasive political visions of our time is the vision of liberals as compassionate and conservatives as less caring.”– Thomas Sowell
40. “The real goal should be reduced government spending, rather than balanced budgets achieved by ever rising tax rates to cover ever rising spending.”– Thomas Sowell
41. “Isolation is a recurring factor in poverty and backwardness around the world, whether that is physical isolation or cultural isolation, for any number of particular reasons”– Thomas Sowell
42. “Africans have about 90 percent as many languages as Asians, who outnumber them nearly four to one. Linguistic diversity is not only a sign of cultural isolation and fragmentation, it contributes to the barriers separating African peoples from each other, as well as from the outside world.”— Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell Video
If you have a chance, its very much worth your time to watch some Thomas Sowell lectures or interviews. Thomas Sowell has taught economics, social policy and intellectual history at a variety of institutions including UCLA, Amherst College and Cornell University. Most recently he has been a senior fellow at the However institution which is based at Stanford University.
This interview is an interview about his revised and updated classic book, Basic Economics.
Also see: Quotes about Black Love
In conclusion, Thomas Sowell has a reputation for some deep insights from a more conservative perspective on race in the United States. Thomas’ background is firmly rooted in economics with a strong understanding of how history, economics and race have intersected.
Mr. Sowell’s books have endured the test of time with tremendous insights, although most people outside of conservative circles have never heard of him.
We hope you enjoyed his quotes and perspective today.
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