Discovering Thomas Sowell


Having received a liberal education, lived in liberal New York City, and worked in liberal social work, it was a jolt in the 80s to run across the ideas of this noted black conservative. They are profound, but surprising in that we rarely hear such views:

  1. The U.S. is being hindered by the growth of the two classes that brought about the decline of China in the l6th century – intellects and bureaucrats.
  2. Intellects are anti-military, anti-business, and anti-establishment.  They seek ‘social justice’ with no concern for cost effectiveness.  They feel years of book learning make ‘experts’ whose modern, sophisticated methods are paramount.  The layman’s simple, traditional methods are portrayed as archaic and irrelevant.
  3. The methods intellects have supported for handling children since the mid-60s have brought unprecedented rises in delinquency, teen suicide, teen pregnancy, and a drastic drop in school performance.  Parents have been blamed for delin­quent youth, when it was the intellects who, through the law and schools, took more and more decisions away from the parents.
  4. We have been told poverty causes crime, but during the depres­sion we never had the crime we have now.
  5. Minority problems have been described as matters of color, ignoring the element of ‘class.’  When new working class immigrants move into a neighborhood, the older middle class moves out.  This happened when the old Anglo-Saxons fled the new Irish, the old Germans fled the new Jews, and the old Blacks fled the new Poles and new Italians.
  6. I.Q. tests have been described as ‘racially biased’.  Not so.  Test scores correlate with advancement.  As of l930, any number of Europeans ethnic groups in the U.S. had low I.Q. scores.  As those groups rose economically and socially, their scores rose.
  7. We’ve been told the condition of blacks is due to racism.  We’re not told West Indian blacks in the U.S. have an average income 44% higher than American blacks, twice as many professionals, and rates of unemploy­ment and fertility below the national average.
  8. Slavery has been credited with causing the disintegration of black families.  However, these families throughout slavery and afterward were male-headed and two-parented.  It has been welfare that has ravaged families by subsidizing male desertion.
  9. It is said the high rate of black teenage unemployment is due to racism and discrimination.  Not so.  Their unemployment rate was 1/5th in the 50s what it was in the 70s.  Its increase was due to the rise in the minimum wage.
  10. We’ve been told busing is a way to promote integration, yet it is opposed by every segment of the population.
  11. We are told quotas in hiring and college admissions is a way of improving the status of minorities, yet this is opposed by the Voting Rights Act and by every regional, educational, and income group studied by the Gallup Poll.
  12. We are told discrimination holds back minorities, yet the Japanese and Jews advanced most when most discriminated against.
  13. Previous to the mid-60s, not one prison warden had a college degree.  By the mid-70s most had advanced degrees.  Murders in prison tripled, gangs in prison gained more control of daily life and of the more frequent riots, and attacks on guards rose, as did their turnover.
  14. Trying to eliminate poverty has led to more dependency on welfare, while jobs have gone begging.
  15. Price supports have brought surpluses and price controls have brought scarcities.
  16. In education the cost per student went up while performance went down.  The number of students went down; the number of administrators went up.  Sex education was started to combat venereal disease and teen age pregnancy, yet both went up.

At the college level, learning was sacrificed in the rush to fill classrooms (to get federal money).  Ill-prepared minority students were recruited and eventually half flunked out.  (One, recruited for his athletic ability, couldn’t read a menu).

We need to hear more such views.