Thomas Sowel Quotes

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

It is not visions that are dangerous. What is dangerous are insulated visions. -- P. 141

In short, (for politicians) 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. — P.8

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. -- P. 64

States that spend more per pupil in the public schools do not generally have any better educational performance to show for it. -- P. 11

Politics offers attractive solutions but economics can offer only trade-offs. For example, when laws are proposed to restrict the height of apartment buildings in a community, politics presents the issue in terms of whether we prefer tall buildings or buildings of a more modest height in our town. Economics asks what you are prepared to trade off in order to keep the height of buildings below some specified level. In places where land costs may equal or even exceed the cost of the apartment buildings themselves, the difference between allowing ten-story buildings to be built and allowing a maximum of five stories may be that rents will be twice as high in the shorter buildings. The question then is not simply whether you prefer shorter buildings but how much do you prefer shorter buildings and what price are you prepared to pay to mandate height restrictions in your community. A doubling of rents and three additional highway fatalities per yet? A tripling of rents and six additional highway fatalities per year? Economics cannot answer such questions. It can only make you aware of a need to ask them. — P.127

To help some hard pressed individual or group whose case is before them, judges may bend the law to arrive at a more benign verdict in that particular case-but at the cost of damaging the whole consistency and predictability of the law, on which millions of other people depend, an on which ultimately the freedom and safety of a whole society depend. -- P. 130

In Chicago, as late as 1910, more than two-thirds of the black population liven in neighborhoods where most residents were white but, after the mass migrations of blacks from the South, attempts by blacks to move into white neighborhoods in Chicago were met with violence, including bombings. -- P. 48

A segment of today‘s black and white intelligentsia excuses contemporary blacks who distain education as 'acting white' or who abandon their families-both patterns being represented as being a legacy of slavery,' though blacks born under slavery or living immediately after emancipation did not exhibit this pattern to the extent seen today. -- P. 21

-some professors at various colleges and universities have openly admitted to selecting textbooks on the basis of bonuses paid to them by the publishers of particular books. -- P. 90

Each group trails the long shadow of its own history and culture, which influences its habits, priorities, and social patterns, which in turn affect its fate...Lamenting the vagaries of fate may leave us with a galling sense of helpless frustration, which many escape by transforming the tragedy of the human condition into the specific sins of specific societies. This turns the insoluble problem of cosmic justice into an apparently more manageable issue of social justice. -- P. 264

By ingredients they mean physical ingredients, which are usually inexpensive, rather than the knowledge ingredient which is usually astronomically expensive because of years of research, including much trial and error. -- P. 82

Wishing to see a poor but meritorious man win a lottery is radically different from insisting government redistributive policies...we reward productivity rather than merit, for the perfectly valid reason that we know how to do it. -- P. 23

Only a few years after seizing power- years marked by numerous economic setbacks and catastrophes- the Communists too turned to the West for management, engineering, and technical personnel, as well as for equipment and capital... Much of Stalin‘s 'building of socialism' in the early Five Year Plans was in fact done by capitalists from Europe and America. -- P. 214

The most dangerous kind of ignorance is the ignorance of the educated. -- P. 102

Freedom, wherever it exists in the world today, owes much to developments in Britain. These include not only the historic evolution of a free society in the United Kingdom itself, providing political models and legal precedents for other free societies around the world, but also Britain‘s key role in destroying the international slave trade in the nineteenth century, and its crucial role when the survival of freedom in the world was threatened in the early and dark days of World War II. -- P. 87

A slave in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century cost thirty times what he cost on the coast of Africa. American slave-owners were very reluctant to lose this kind of investment- so much so that they often hired Irish immigrants to do work considered too dangerous for slaves. -- P. 160

Others who share a similarly secular view are often driven to personify 'society' in order to re-introduce concepts of moral responsibility and justice into the cosmos, seeking to rectify the tragic misfortunes of individuals and groups through collective action in the name of 'social justice.' -- P. 5

In 2001, for example, cash and in-kind transfers together accounted for 77.8 percent of the economic resources of people in the bottom 20 percent. In other words, the alarming statistics on their incomes so often cited in the media and by politicians count only 22 percent of the actual economic resources at their disposal. -- P. 128

In its pursuit of justice for a segment of society, in disregard of the consequences for society as a whole, what is called 'social justice' might more accurately be called anti- social justice, since what consistently gets ignored or dismissed are precisely the costs to society. -- P. 10