More Wisdom from Thomas Sowell
The symposium on Thomas Sowell’s work went very well. A great group of people from whom I learned a lot.
Here are more of my favorite quotes from Sowell. The first three are from his 2009 book Intellectuals and Society.
Why the transfer of decisions from those with personal experience and a stake in the outcome to those with neither can be expected to lead to better decisions is a question seldom asked, much less answered.
On payday loans:
As for the low-income borrower, supposedly the reason for the concern of the moral elites, denying the borrower the $100 needed to meet some exigency must be weighed against the $15 paid to meet that exigency. Why that trade-off decision should be forcibly removed by law from the person most knowledgeable about the situation, as well as most affected by it, and transferred to third-parties [sic] far removed in specific knowledge and general circumstances, is a question that is seldom answered or even asked.
The difference between decision makers in the market and in government:
The fundamental difference between decision makers in the market and decision makers in government is that the former are subject to continuous and consequential feedback which can force them to adjust to what others prefer and are willing to pay for, while those who make decisions in the political arena face no such inescapable feedback to force them to adjust to other people’s desires and preferences.
By the way, I reviewed Sowell’s book here. You’ll see that I had a fair number of criticisms but the parts I was most critical of were not in the readings.
From The Economics and Politics of Race: An International Perspective. I like this because of its simplicity, clarity, and implicit passion:
The most ghastly example of racial fanaticism in history was the Nazi extermination of millions of defenseless, men, women, and children who were so similar to themselves in appearance that insignia, tattoos, or documents had to be used to tell the victims from their murderers.