Thomas Sowell, economist

“much of the recent history of the western world, over the past three decades, has been replacing what worked with what sounded good”

Thomas Sowell grew up in stereotypical poor, black Harlem and became one of America’s great economists. After dropping out of high school, Sowell was educated in the Universities of Harvard, Columbia and Chicago. He was a Marxist. Even after studying economics under Milton Friedman, Sowell remained a Marxist. After working for the government, he realized the difference between good intentions and the realities of the world. Thomas Sowell is now one of the most well spoken advocates for free markets.

Sowell has written many books, mostly on economics. A few are listed below. Although his work focuses on governance, it is helpful in understanding the criticism of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). CSR is a policy that only sounds good, and is largely meant to sound good.


Thomas Sowell Quotes:

  • Talkers are usually more articulate than doers, since talk is their specialty.
  • 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 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.’
  • The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans [Conservatives] there are in their sociology department.
  • 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.
  • 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.’
  • 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.
  • Economics is concerned with what emerges, not what anyone intended.

Thomas Sowell Books

Sowell’s books and essays range from 1972 to today. They give a rare perspective from someone with many years of experience and knowledge. His Basic Economics is a classic. It focuses on people, not equations and graphs. It is perfect for those without interest or experience in economics.

A common theme in Sowell’s works is the fallacies of good intentions and grand schemes to help people, save the world, etc. He cuts through the fancy talk of politics with the clear basic realities of economics. Here are a few recent books:

  • Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy (5th ed.). 2014. First published 2000.
  • Intellectuals and Race. 2013.
  • Intellectuals and Society. 2010.
  • The Housing Boom and Bust. 2009.
  • Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One (2nd ed.). 2008.
  • Economic Facts and Fallacies. 2007.
  • Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study. 2004.
  • The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation As a Basis for Social Policy. 1996.

Here is an interview:

 

thomas sowell

Thomas Sowell’s Afro

Sowell’s books on Amazon.

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