Thomas Sowel Quotes

The normal weighing of costs against benefits, which causes more urgent things to be done ahead of less important things when prices ration scarce resources, is less effective when costs are paid by someone other than the actual decision-makers. -- P. 74

As a young man, John Stuart Mill brooded over the fact that there was an ultimate limit to the amount of music that could be produced by using the eight notes of the music scale. But, at that time, Brahms and Tchaikovsky had not yet been born nor jazz yet conceived, and rock music was more than a century away. Ultimate limits alone tell us virtually nothing useful about whether there is or is not a practical problem. -- P. 216

The side effects of slavery were not negligible, especially in the United States, where the staggering economic and human costs of the Civil War seemed to fit Abraham Lincoln‘s premonition that all the treasure built up from unpaid labor might be sunk in the ensuing war and every drop of blood drawn by the lash might be paid in blood shed with the sword. -- P. 65

morality, or courage...This there are no 'solutions' in the tragic vision, but only trade- offs that still leave many desires unfulfilled and much unhappiness in the world. -- P. 113

-specialists are not solipsists. They are simply aware of the limitations of the human mind, and of the implications of those limitations, as the anointed so often are not. -- P. 205

-over the centuries, somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 million people were shipped across the Atlantic as slaves, and another 14 million African slaves were sent to the Islamic nations of the Middle East and North Africa. On both routes, many died in transit. Moreover, these 25 million people were not the only African victims of slavery, for Africa itself used large numbers of slaves in many agricultural, domestic, military, and even commercial and governmental enterprises. -- P. 111

The most important reason why women earn less than men is not that they are paid less for doing the very same work but that they are distributed differently among jobs and have fewer hours and less continuity in the labor force. Among college-educated, never married individuals with no children who worked full time and were from 40 to 64 years old- that is, beyond the child bearing years- men averaged $40,000 a year in income, while women averaged $47,000. -- P. 70

The thuggish gutter words and brutal hoodlum lifestyle of 'gangsta rap' musicians are not merely condoned but glorified by many white intellectuals- and 'understood' by others lacking the courage to take responsibility for siding with savagery....Even such a modern ghetto creation as gangsta rap echoes the violence, arrogance, loose sexuality, and self dramatization common for centuries in white redneck culture and speaks in exaggerated cadences common in the oratory of rednecks in both the antebellum South and those parts of Britain from which their ancestors came. -- P. 55 / 59

What is called 'capitalism' might more accurately be called consumerism. It is the consumers who call the tune, and those capitalists who want to remain capitalists have to learn to dance to it. -- P. 122

What can any society hope to gain by having some babies in that society born into the world with a priori grievances against other babies born into that same society on the same day? -- P. 251

Centuries before the first African was carried in bondage to the Western Hemisphere, Slavs were being enslaved on a massive scale-...Slaves were so widely sold into bondage that the very word for slave was derived from the word for Slave in a number of Western European languages, as well as in Arabic. -- P. 190 - 191

To say that prices are due to greed is to imply that sellers can set prices by an act of will. If so, no company would go bankrupt, since it could simply raise its prices to cover whatever costs happened to be. -- P. 40

The charge is often made against the intelligentsia and other members of the anointed that their theories and the policies based on them lack common sense. But 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? — P. 248

“Another way of verbally masking elite preemption of other people’s decisions is to use the word ‘ask’–as in ‘We are just asking everyone to pay their fair share.’ But of course governments do not ask, they tell. The Internal Revenue Service does not ‘ask’ for contributions. It takes.” — P. 197

In Britain, as elsewhere in medieval Europe, a 'market' meant a specifically authorized gathering place for selling on days specified by the authorities, in places specified by the authorities, and at prices specified by authorities...As large scheduled markets and fairs gave way to innumerable, smaller, scattered, and continuously-operating shops and stores, official control of prices and conditions became much more tenuous as a practical matter...It was in the wake of these erosions of economic controls that intellectual challenges were then made to the role of government in the economy, first by the Physiocrats in France, who coined the term 'laissez-faire,' and then by Adam Smith in Britain, who became its leading champion. By the mid-nineteenth century, widespread support of 'free trade' internationally, and of freeing the domestic economy from many political controls, were on the ascendancy in Britain. -- P. 33 - 34

To apply the same rules to everyone requires no prior knowledge of anyone‘s childhood, cultural heritage, philosophical (or sexual) orientation, or the innumerable historical influences to which he or his forebears may have subjected. -- P. 16

If crime is a product of poverty and discrimination as they say endlessly, why was there so much less of it when poverty and discrimination were much worse than today? -- P. 85

Most of the white population of the American South as a whole came from not only what has been loosely called the 'Celtic fringe,' but also from that fringe at a particular time and a particular time and a particular stage of its cultural evolution...The fringe of British civilization from which they came was notable not only for its poverty and backwardness, but also for its lawlessness and violence...In short, the pattern of ruthless violence directed by Southern whites against blacks originated long before there were any racial differences involved and in fact before the people of the Southern backcountry had boarded the ships in Britain which took them to their new homes in the American South. -- P. 76 - 77

The average American‘s annual income could buy everything the average Japanese annual income buys and still have thousands of dollars left over. Therefore the average American has a higher standard of living than the average Japanese. Yet statistics based on official exchange rates show the average Japanese earning thousands of dollars more than the average American, leaving the false impression that the Japanese are more prosperous than Americans. -- P. 221

When the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 1954 that separate schools were inherently inferior, within walking distance of the Court was an all-black public school whose performance had equaled or surpassed that of white schools in the District of Columbia for more than 80 years. -- P. 83