Thomas Sowell Quotes

By | 22.05.2022
thomas-sowell-quotes

What the welfare system and other kinds of governmental programs are doing is paying people to fail. In so far as they fail, they receive the money; in so far as they succeed, even to a moderate extent, the money is taken away. Thomas Sowell

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, Barbarians inside the Gates and Other Controversial Essays. Thomas Sowell quotes

In the summer of 1959, I worked as a clerk-typist in the headquarters of the U.S. Public Health Service in Washington. The people I worked for were very nice and I grew to like them. One day, a man had a heart attack at around 5 PM, on the sidewalk outside the Public Health Service. He was taken inside to the nurse’s room, where he was asked if he was a government employee. If he were, he would have been eligible to be taken to a medical facility there. Unfortunately, he was not, so a phone call was made to a local hospital to send an ambulance. By the time this ambulance made its way through miles of Washington rush-hour traffic, the man was dead. He died waiting for a doctor, in a building full of doctors. Nothing so dramatized for me the nature of a bureaucracy and its emphasis on procedures, rather than results. Thomas Sowell

Any politician who can be elected only by turning Americans against other Americans is too dangerous to be elected. Thomas Sowell

Rhetoric is no substitute for reality. Thomas Sowell

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

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

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. Thomas Sowell

Time was when people used to brag about how old they were — and I am old enough to remember it. Thomas Sowell

If you don’t control the borders, it doesn’t matter what immigration laws you have. Thomas Sowell

Too many Republicans treat English as a second language, with Beltway lingo being their native tongue. Thomas Sowell

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

It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites. Thomas Sowell

If you don’t believe in the innate unreasonableness of human beings, just try raising children. Thomas Sowell

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

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

People who pride themselves on their “complexity” and deride others for being “simplistic” should realize that the truth is often not very complicated. What gets complex is evading the truth. Thomas Sowell, Barbarians inside the Gates and Other Controversial Essays

Some of the people on death row today might not be there if the courts had not been so lenient on them when they were first offenders. Thomas Sowell

You need to be empathetic in your own personal life and we help our neighbors and our friends out who are struggling in our neighborhoods. But we don’t make bad decisions based on empathy. Thomas Sowell

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 50 years ago, a liberal 25 years ago and a racist today. Thomas Sowell

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. Thomas Sowell

Letters from teachers continue to confirm the incompetence which they deny. A teacher in Montana says that my criticisms of teachers are “nieve.” No, that wasn’t a typographical error. He spelled it that way twice. Thomas Sowell

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind. Thomas Sowell

Ideas are everywhere, but knowledge is rare. Thomas Sowell

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

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

One of the most ridiculous defenses of foreign aid is that it is a very small part of our national income. If the average American set fire to a five-dollar bill, it would be an even smaller percentage of his annual income. But everyone would consider him foolish for doing it. Thomas Sowell

Many people believe in eliminating gaps and eliminating poverty. They don’t realize that in some sense those two things are antithetical. If you were to double everyone’s income, or if everyone’s income were doubled naturally over the course of time, then you would reduce poverty significantly but you would have also increased the gap. Thomas Sowell

Ideas, as the raw material from which knowledge is produced, exist in superabundance, but that makes the production of knowledge more difficult rather than easier. Thomas Sowell

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

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. Thomas Sowell

Maturity is not a matter of age. You have matured when you are no longer concerned with showing how clever you are, and give your full attention to getting the job done right. Many never reach that stage, no matter how old they get. Thomas Sowell quotes

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. Thomas Sowell

Knowledge may be enjoyed as a speculative diversion, but it is needed for decision making. Thomas Sowell

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, Is Reality Optional?: And Other Essays

Intellect is not wisdom. Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society

Child poverty in the United States declined after the work requirement was put in there. People realized that they had to work and people went out and worked and they got off welfare. Thomas Sowell

It is unnecessary to attempt any general rule as to where the overall balance lies in comparing the respective costs of knowledge in larger and smaller decision-making units. What is important is to understand that (1) the respective cost advantages of the large and small units differ according to the kind of knowledge involved (general versus specific), that (2) most decisions involve mixtures of the two kinds of knowledge, so that the net advantages of the larger and smaller units vary with the kind of decision, and (3) the effectiveness of hierarchical subordination varies with the extent to which the subordinate unit has knowledge advantages over the higher unit. Thomas Sowell

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. Thomas Sowell

Some of the biggest cases of mistaken identity are among intellectuals who have trouble remembering that they are not God. Thomas Sowell

Most problems do not get solved. They get superseded by other concerns. Thomas Sowell

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, Knowledge And Decisions

While decisions are constrained by the kinds of organizations and the kinds of knowledge involved, the Impetus for decisions comes from the internal preferences and external incentives facing those who actually make the decisions. Thomas Sowell

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. Thomas Sowell

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

Many of the dangerous things that drivers do are not likely to save them even 10 seconds. When you bet your life against 10 seconds, that is giving bigger odds than you are ever likely to get in Las Vegas. Thomas Sowell

One of many problems with survey research in general is that you can only survey the survivors. In other words, if you were to do a survey of people who were known to have played Russian Roulette and you sent out the questions before the time they were going to play and then you come back six months after they played Russian Roulette, you would probably discover that among the people who did come back there was no harm done. Thomas Sowell

Key indicators require some specified time span during which they are to be tabulated for purposes of reward or penalty. The time span can vary enormously according to the process and the indicator. Thomas Sowell

Those who believe that “basic necessities” should belong to people as a matter of right ignore the implication — that people are to work only for amenities, frivolities, and ego. Will that mean more work or less work? And if less, where are all those “basic necessities” coming from that the government is supposed to hand out? Thomas Sowell

What exactly is your ‘fair share’ of what ‘someone else’ has worked for? Thomas Sowell

Before attempting to determine the effect of institutions, it is necessary to consider the inherent circumstances, constraints, and impelling forces at work in the environment within which the institutional mechanisms function. Thomas Sowell

There are only two ways of telling the complete truth–anonymously and posthumously. Thomas Sowell

People who pride themselves on their “complexity” and deride others for being “simplistic” should realize that the truth is often not very complicated. What gets complex is evading the truth. Thomas Sowell

People have a vested interest in promoting one set of polices rather than finding out what the truth is. Thomas Sowell

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

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. Thomas Sowell

Socialism is a wonderful idea. It is only as a reality that it has been disastrous. Among people of every race, color, and creed, all around the world, socialism has led to hunger in countries that used to have surplus food to export…. Nevertheless, for many of those who deal primarily in ideas, socialism remains an attractive idea — in fact, seductive. Its every failure is explained away as due to the inadequacies of particular leaders. Thomas Sowell

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

The key fallacy of so called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available. Thomas Sowell

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

The word ‘racism’ is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything – and demanding evidence makes you a ‘racist.’ Thomas Sowell

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

People in the political world have every incentive to say things that lead voters away from a clear economic understanding of issues. What has happened more and more is that organized groups have more and more reasons to say things that don’t make any economic sense. Thomas Sowell

Competition does a much more effective job than government at protecting consumers. Thomas Sowell, Compassion Versus Guilt, and Other Essays: And Other Essays

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

One of the grand fallacies of our time is that something beneficial should be subsidized. Thomas Sowell

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. Thomas Sowell

There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs. Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles

Too often what are called “educated” people are simply people who have been sheltered from reality for years in ivy-covered buildings. Those whose whole careers have been spent in ivy-covered buildings, insulated by tenure, can remain adolescents on into their golden retirement years. Thomas Sowell

The whole idea of equal justice under law is completely incompatible with the idea of judges deciding cases according to “empathy”. Thomas Sowell

The case for the political left looks more plausible on the surface but is harder to keep believing in as you become more experienced. Thomas Sowell

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

Since this is an era when many people are concerned about ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice,’ what is your ‘fair share’ of what someone else has worked for? Thomas Sowell

Love is a four-letter word, but you don’t hear in nearly as often as you hear some other four-letter words. It may be a sign of our times that everyone talks openly about sex, but we seem to be embarrassed to talk about love. Thomas Sowell

Understanding the limitations of human beings is the beginning of wisdom. Thomas Sowell

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

When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination. Thomas Sowell

Intellectuals may like to think of themselves as people who “speak truth to power” but too often they are people who speak lies to gain power. Thomas Sowell

I hate to make predictions, but I think the economy is going to be permanently changed for the worse. I think our foreign policy is going to lead to changes that will be definitely for the worse, particularly if we drift into a nuclear Iran, which I gather that’s what the administration is doing. Thomas Sowell

The key feature of Communist propaganda has been the depiction of people who are more productive as mere exploiters of others. Thomas Sowell

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

Nothing could be more jolting and discordant with the vision of today’s intellectuals than the fact that it was businessmen, devout religious leaders and Western imperialists who together destroyed slavery around the world. And if it doesn’t fit their vision, it is the same to them as if it never happened. Thomas Sowell
One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain. Thomas Sowell

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

Can you cite one speck of hard evidence of the benefits of “diversity” that we have heard gushed about for years? Evidence of its harm can be seen — written in blood — from Iraq to India, from Serbia to Sudan, from Fiji to the Philippines. It is scary how easily so many people can be brainwashed by sheer repetition of a word. Thomas Sowell

We’re not a socialist country, because the socialists believe in government ownership in the means of production, but the fascists believe that the government should have private ownership and the politicians should tell people how to run the businesses. So that’s the route we seem to be going. Thomas Sowell

There are few things more dishonorable than misleading the young. Thomas Sowell

Unfortunately, the real minimum wage is always zero, regardless of the laws, and that is the wage that many workers receive in the wake of the creation or escalation of a government-mandated minimum wage, because they lose their jobs or fail to find jobs when they enter the labor force. Making it illegal to pay less than a given amount does not make a worker’s productivity worth that amount—and, if it is not, that worker is unlikely to be employed. Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy

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”? Thomas Sowell

If you don’t believe in the innate unreasonableness of human beings, just try raising children. Thomas Sowell

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

There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs. Thomas Sowell

People who talk incessantly about “change” are often dogmatically set in their ways. They want to change other people. Thomas Sowell

History shows that degeneracy can be turned around because it has been done in the past. But the real question today is: Will we turn it around-or is what we are doing likely to make matters worse? Thomas Sowell

The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy. Thomas Sowell

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? Thomas Sowell

If we become a people who are willing to give up our money and our freedom in exchange for rhetoric and promises, then nothing can save us. Thomas Sowell

Just as any moron can destroy a priceless Ming vase, so the shallow and ill-educated people who run our schools can undermine and destroy from within a great civilization that took centuries of dedicated effort to create and maintain. Thomas Sowell

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. Thomas Sowell

One of the consequences of such notions as ‘entitlements’ is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence. Thomas Sowell

For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before. Thomas Sowell

Asking liberals where wages and prices come from is like asking six-year-olds where babies come from. Thomas Sowell

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. Thomas Sowell

We seem to be moving steadily in the direction of a society where no one is responsible for what he himself did, but we are all responsible for what somebody else did, either in the present or in the past. Best Thomas Sowell quotes

There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs. Thomas Sowell

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. Thomas Sowell

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

Life has many good things. The problem is that most of these good things can be gotten only by sacrificing other good things. We all recognize this in our daily lives. It is only in politics that this simple, common sense fact is routinely ignored. Thomas Sowell

There is nothing so bad that politics cannot make it worse. Thomas Sowell

Those who believe that “basic necessities” should belong to people as a matter of right ignore the implication — that people are to work only for amenities, frivolities, and ego. Will that mean more work or less work? And if less, where are all those “basic necessities” coming from that the government is supposed to hand out? Thomas Sowell

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