Curmudgeonalia
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January 3, 2008

Ever Wonder Why?

And Other Controversial Essays
Thomas Sowell – ISBN – 9780817947521

As one would suspect, this compendium of essays is luminous, insightful and damaging to those who do not consider the effects (often predictable) of societal policies regarding legal, social, racial, educational and economic issues reflected in the culture war now in progress in the U.S. It is a Philippic, of sorts, but Sowell does have the soul of Demosthenes.

For those unfamiliar with this scholar I encourage you to introduce yourself; for those already initiated you will have read some of these observations before. Both groups, however, will find this a brisk and challenging read. Thinking is required! I thought I’d found my new “bathroom read,” but I was mistaken. I read it thru from beginning to end with regret: at 460 I ran out of pages.

As before, I believe the best way to represent this kind of anthology is listing the better quotes within:

• The welfare state is not really about the welfare of the masses. It’s about the egos of the elites.
• California has long had more than its share of busybodies with a vision of the world in which it is necessary for them to force other people to do Good Things . . . a very flattering vision which they are unlikely to give up for anything so mundane as facts or logic.
• Good Things have costs, often costs all out of proportion to whatever good they might do. But notions like trade-offs and diminishing returns seldom deter zealots, whose own egos are served by their zealotry in imposing their vision, however costly or counterproductive it may be for others.
• The vision of zealots is not just a vision of the world. It is a vision of themselves as special people in that world. (You’ll see the term zealot used frequently . . . and justifiably!)
• Someone once defined a social problem as a situation in which the real world differs from the theories of intellectuals. . . . the real world is wrong and needs to change.
• The U.S. has always been diverse [but] . . . it has always been understood by all that they came here to become Americans—not to remain foreign. . . . Today our “citizen of the world types” [so] all they can to keep foreigners foreign and domestic minorities riled up over grievances, past and present, real and imaginary.
• The free market is a daily assault on the vision of the anointed. Just think of all those millions of people out there buying whatever they want, whether or not the anointed think it is good for them. . . . People who decry the fact that businesses are in business “just to make money” [ignore the fact that] you make money by doing what other people want, not what you want.
• [Just imagine] people earning whatever incomes they get from producing goods or services for other people, with the anointed cut out of the loop, standing on the sidelines in helpless frustration, unable to impose their particular vision of “social justice.”
• Instead of trying to propagandize children to hug trees and recycle garbage, our schools would be put to better use teaching them how to analyze and test what is said by people who advocate tree hugging and recycling.
• Guns are completely inappropriate for the kind of sheep like people the anointed envision, or the orderly, prepackaged world in which they are to live. When you are in mortal danger you are supposed to dial 911, so that the police can arrive on the scene sometime later, identify your body and file reports in triplicate.
• In much of the liberal media, large-scale confrontations between police and people who are breaking the law are usually reported in one of two ways. Either the police “used excessive force” or they “let the situation get out of hand.” Any enforcement sufficient to prevent the situation from getting out of hand will be called “excessive,” and if the police arrive in large enough numbers to squelch disorder without having to use any force at all, then sending in so many cops will be called “over reacting.”
• Whether the one sided reporting of the war in Vietnam was a factor in defeat, there used to be a controversy, but in recent years high officials in the Communist government have themselves admitted they lost the war on the battlefields but won it in the U.S. media and on the streets of America, where political pressures from the anti-war movement threw away the victory for which thousands of American lives had been sacrificed.
• The realities of life force most of us to grow up, whether we want to or not. But for people unprotected from realities by being born rich, or by having lifetime tenure as academics or federal judges, maturity is optional. (One wishes he had added movie and pop stars who rake in zillions for little effort and simultaneously harbor both guilt and a sense of superiority; and do so within the free-market environment which permits this while they fail to understand, and visit it with limitless vitriol.)
• They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But maybe the old dog already knows about tricks that only seem new to the young—and doesn’t think much of those tricks.

Give or take a couple of quotes you are up to about page 50 !!

Posted by respeto at January 3, 2008 1:46 PM