In Honor of Thomas Sowell’s 91st Birthday, Here Are His 25 Best Quotes

In Honor of Thomas Sowell’s 91st Birthday, Here Are His 25 Best Quotes

Thomas Sowell is a genius who is phenomenal at explaining economics in a way the average person can understand and has brilliant insights into our culture and into the way liberals think. If you enjoy the timeless wisdom in these quotes, you may enjoy reading his books as well. Although you probably will never run across a bad one, Basic Economics and The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy are particularly insightful. Since Thomas Sowell is officially retired, we don’t hear from him as often as we have in past years. So, with that in mind, it seems appropriate to trot out some of his greatest hits in honor of his 91st birthday.

25) “There are three questions that would destroy most of the arguments on the left: 1. Compared to what? 2. At what cost? 3. What hard evidence do you have? There are very few ideas on the left that can pass all three of those kinds of things.”

24) “There are few modest talents so richly rewarded — especially in politics and the media — as the ability to portray parasites as victims, and portray demands for preferential treatment as struggles for equal rights.”

23) “The feeling that the government should ‘do something’ has seldom been based on a comparison of what actually happens when government does and when it does not ‘do something.’”

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22) “Anyone who wants reparations based on history will have to gerrymander history very carefully. Otherwise, practically everybody would owe reparations to practically everybody else.”

21) “It is self-destructive for any society to create a situation where a baby who is born into the world today automatically has pre-existing grievances against another baby born at the same time, because of what their ancestors did centuries ago. It is hard enough to solve our own problems, without trying to solve our ancestors’ problems.”

20) “Virtually no idea is too ridiculous to be accepted, even by very intelligent and highly educated people, if it provides a way for them to feel special and important. Some confuse that feeling with idealism.”

19) “It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.”

18) “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.”

17) “The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First, you take people’s money away quietly and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly.

16) “The only reward for putting up with craziness is more craziness.”

15) “If there is not equality of outcomes among people born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, why should equality of outcomes be expected—or assumed—when conditions are not nearly so comparable?”

14) “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.”

13) “Weighing benefits against costs is the way most people make decisions – and the way most businesses make decisions if they want to stay in business. Only in government is any benefit, however small, considered to be worth any cost, however large.”

12) “Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.”

11) “Civilization has been aptly called a ‘thin crust over a volcano.’ (Liberals) are constantly picking at that crust.”

10) “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.”

9) “The charge is often made against the intelligentsia and other (liberals) 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?”

8) “In short, 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.”

7) “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.”

6) “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.”

5) “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.”

4) “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.”

3) “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?”

2) “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.”

1) “There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs.”

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