Thomas Sowell - Quotes

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It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.

It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.

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.

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.

The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.

The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.

People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.

People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.

The black family survived centuries of slavery and generations of Jim Crow, but it has disintegrated in the wake of the liberals' expansion of the welfare state. ---->>>

Balanced budget requirements seem more likely to produce accounting ingenuity than genuinely balanced budgets. ---->>>

If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.

If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.

The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings. ---->>>

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 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.

Do countries with strong gun control laws have lower murder rates? Only if you cherry-pick the data. ---->>>

Capitalism knows only one color: that color is green; all else is necessarily subservient to it, hence, race, gender and ethnicity cannot be considered within it. ---->>>

Stopping illegal immigration would mean that wages would have to rise to a level where Americans would want the jobs currently taken by illegal aliens. ---->>>

What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don't like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don't expect freedom to survive very long.

What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don't like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don't expect freedom to survive very long.

The time is long overdue to stop looking for progress through racial or ethnic leaders. Such leaders have too many incentives to promote polarizing attitudes and actions that are counterproductive for minorities and disastrous for the country. ---->>>

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? ---->>>

The biggest and most deadly 'tax' rate on the poor comes from a loss of various welfare state benefits - food stamps, housing subsidies and the like - if their income goes up.

The biggest and most deadly 'tax' rate on the poor comes from a loss of various welfare state benefits - food stamps, housing subsidies and the like - if their income goes up.

Actually lowering the cost of insurance would be accomplished by such things as making it harder for lawyers to win frivolous lawsuits against insurance companies. ---->>>

The big divide in this country is not between Democrats and Republicans, or women and men, but between talkers and doers. ---->>>

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

The old adage about giving a man a fish versus teaching him how to fish has been updated by a reader: Give a man a fish and he will ask for tartar sauce and French fries! Moreover, some politician who wants his vote will declare all these things to be among his 'basic rights.' ---->>>

Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late. ---->>>

The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department. ---->>>

Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.

Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.

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.

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.

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. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

Although the big word on the left is 'compassion,' the big agenda on the left is dependency. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

Talkers are usually more articulate than doers, since talk is their specialty. ---->>>

The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best.

The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best.

All too often when liberals cite statistics, they forget the statisticians' warning that correlation is not causation. ---->>>

President Obama seems completely unaware of how many of the policies he is trying to impose have been tried before, in many times and places around the world, and have failed time and again. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric. ---->>>

Helping those who have been struck by unforeseeable misfortunes is fundamentally different from making dependency a way of life. ---->>>

Too much of what is called 'education' is little more than an expensive isolation from reality. ---->>>

The march of science and technology does not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often means the opposite.

The march of science and technology does not imply growing intellectual complexity in the lives of most people. It often means the opposite.

Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them. ---->>>

There are few things more dishonorable than misleading the young. ---->>>

The people made worse off by slavery were those who were enslaved. Their descendants would have been worse off today if born in Africa instead of America. Put differently, the terrible fate of their ancestors benefitted them. ---->>>

Groups that rose from poverty to prosperity seldom did so by having their own racial or ethnic leaders to follow. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

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

In liberal logic, if life is unfair then the answer is to turn more tax money over to politicians, to spend in ways that will increase their chances of getting reelected.

In liberal logic, if life is unfair then the answer is to turn more tax money over to politicians, to spend in ways that will increase their chances of getting reelected.

Education is not merely neglected in many of our schools today, but is replaced to a great extent by ideological indoctrination. ---->>>

Mistakes can be corrected by those who pay attention to facts but dogmatism will not be corrected by those who are wedded to a vision. ---->>>

The real minimum wage is zero. ---->>>

The more people who are dependent on government handouts, the more votes the left can depend on for an ever-expanding welfare state. ---->>>

It is a way to take people's wealth from them without having to openly raise taxes. Inflation is the most universal tax of all. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

Wishful thinking is not idealism. It is self-indulgence at best and self-exaltation at worst. In either case, it is usually at the expense of others. In other words, it is the opposite of idealism. ---->>>

Without a moral framework, there is nothing left but immediate self-indulgence by some and the path of least resistance by others. Neither can sustain a free society. ---->>>

Even the Soviet Union, with its huge nuclear arsenal, was a threat that could be deterred by the prospect of retaliation. But suicide bombers cannot be deterred. They can only be annihilated - preemptively and unilaterally, if necessary. ---->>>

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? ---->>>

Elections should be held on April 16th- the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders. ---->>>

Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good. ---->>>

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

The word 'racism' is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything - and demanding evidence makes you a 'racist.' ---->>>

Life in general has never been even close to fair, so the pretense that the government can make it fair is a valuable and inexhaustible asset to politicians who want to expand government.

Life in general has never been even close to fair, so the pretense that the government can make it fair is a valuable and inexhaustible asset to politicians who want to expand government.

Liberals seem to assume that, if you don't believe in their particular political solutions, then you don't really care about the people that they claim to want to help. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

As for gun control advocates, I have no hope whatever that any facts whatever will make the slightest dent in their thinking - or lack of thinking. ---->>>

The welfare state is not really about the welfare of the masses. It is about the egos of the elites. ---->>>

Liberalism is totalitarianism with a human face. ---->>>

People who have time on their hands will inevitably waste the time of people who have work to do. ---->>>

One of the most pervasive political visions of our time is the vision of liberals as compassionate and conservatives as less caring. ---->>>

If the battle for civilization comes down to the wimps versus the barbarians, the barbarians are going to win. ---->>>

Being willing to donate the taxpayers' money is not the same as being willing to put your own money where your mouth is. ---->>>

All of us should be on guard against beliefs that flatter ourselves. At the very least, we should check such beliefs against facts. ---->>>

Facts are not liberals' strong suit. Rhetoric is. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

Few professors would dare to publish research or teach a course debunking the claims made in various ethnic, gender, or other 'studies' courses. ---->>>

Our schools and colleges are turning out people who cannot feel fulfilled unless they are telling other people what to do. ---->>>

Over the generations, black leaders have ranged from noble souls to shameless charlatans. ---->>>

Hyperinflation can take virtually your entire life's savings, without the government having to bother raising the official tax rate at all. ---->>>

A moral monopoly is the antithesis of a marketplace of ideas. ---->>>

A shortage is a sign that somebody is keeping the price artificially lower than it would be if supply and demand were allowed to operate freely. ---->>>

Just what is it that academics have to fear if they stand up for common decency, instead of letting campus barbarians run amok? ---->>>

Facts do not speak for themselves. They speak for or against competing theories. Facts divorced from theories or visions are mere isolated curiosities. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

Sometimes it seems as if there are more solutions than problems. On closer scrutiny, it turns out that many of today's problems are a result of yesterday's solutions. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

Mystical references to society and its programs to help may warm the hearts of the gullible but what it really means is putting more power in the hands of bureaucrats. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

All the political angst and moral melodrama about getting 'the rich' to pay 'their fair share' is part of a big charade. This is not about economics, it is about politics.

All the political angst and moral melodrama about getting 'the rich' to pay 'their fair share' is part of a big charade. This is not about economics, it is about politics.

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. ---->>>

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 simplest and most psychologically satisfying explanation of any observed phenomenon is that it happened that way because someone wanted it to happen that way. ---->>>

The Congressional Budget Office has been embarrassed repeatedly by making projections based on the assumption that tax revenues and tax rates move in the same direction. ---->>>

There is no question that liberals do an impressive job of expressing concern for blacks. But do the intentions expressed in their words match the actual consequences of their deeds? ---->>>

Brainy folks were also present in Lyndon Johnson's administration, especially in the Pentagon, where Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's brilliant 'whiz kids' tried to micro-manage the Vietnam war, with disastrous results. ---->>>

You don't send people to prison on the basis of what other people imagine, or on the basis of media sound bites like 'shooting an unarmed child,' when that 'child' was beating him bloody. ---->>>

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.

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.

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.

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.

Many people, including some conservatives, have been very impressed with how brainy the president and his advisers are. But that is not quite as reassuring as it might seem. ---->>>

There are only two ways of telling the complete truth - anonymously and posthumously. ---->>>

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. ---->>>

It is hard to read a newspaper or watch a television newscast without encountering someone who has come up with a new 'solution' to society's 'problems.' ---->>>

If you want to get each individual's honest opinion, you don't want that opinion to be influenced by others who are present, much less allow a group to coordinate what they are going to say. ---->>>

Biography

Nationality: American
Born: 06-30, 1930
Birthplace: Gastonia, North Carolina, U.S.
Die:
Occupation: Economist
Website:

Thomas Sowell (; born June 30, 1930) is an American economist, turned social theorist, political philosopher, and author. He is currently Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Sowell was born in North Carolina, but grew up in Harlem, New York. He dropped out of high school and served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War (wikipedia)