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Thomas Sowell quote of the day

In 1960, he worked as an economist with the Labor Department. His task was to study the sugar industry in Puerto Rico, where the department enforced a minimum-wage law. Upon discovering that unemployment was rising with each increase in the minimum wage, Sowell wondered whether the law was causing the rise—as standard economic theory would predict. His coworkers had a different take: unemployment was rising because a hurricane had destroyed crops. Eventually, Sowell came up with a way to decide between the competing theories: “What we need,” he told his coworkers excitedly, “are statistics on the amount of sugarcane standing in the field before the hurricanes came through Puerto Rico.” He was met with a “stunned silence,” and his idea was dismissed out of hand. After all, administering the minimum-wage law “employed a significant fraction of all the people who worked there.”

This was not an isolated experience.

Coleman Hughes’ article on Sowell has much information that I knew and much that I didn’t. I’m unsurprised to learn that Sowell has even more admirers than I guessed …

[Stephen] Pinker, a Harvard psychologist and leading public intellectual, named Sowell the most underrated writer in history. [Kayne] West, for his part, tweeted out a handful of Sowell quotes to millions of followers in 2018.

… or that the woke whites who pretend they care about respect for blacks are the ones doing the underrating:

Like others with similar views on race, Sowell has encountered countless smears, though the usual avenues of attack—accusations of racism, privilege, and all the rest—have not been available. Someone should have told Aidan Byrne, who reviewed one of Sowell’s books for the London School of Economics blog. Doubtless convinced that he was delivering a devastating blow, Byrne quipped: “easy for a rich white man to say.”

Aidan’s review has been updated to remove that line (credit to ‘Blog Admin’ who properly notes its former presence at the end of the article).

11 comments to Thomas Sowell quote of the day

  • Thomas Sowell’s tears cure COVID-19.

    Too bad Thomas Sowell has never cried.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    I am relieved to see that the comments left by readers at the bottom of Aiden Byrne’s review attempted hatchet-job on Sowell’s book are uniformly dismissive and contemptuous of the ‘Senior Lecturer in English and Media/Cultural Studies at Wolverhampton University (who) specialises in masculinity in interwar Welsh and political fiction.’

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    I mean I can imagine writing one blog post about masculinity in interwar Welsh and political fiction…

  • bobby b

    There can’t be too many Junior Lecturers in the department, I’m sure.

  • Sean

    Aiden seems confused by five star generals and Ford company executives too. Who is the “MacNamara” he mentions in the ‘review’?

  • bobby b

    A Ford exec who went on to become a five-star general.

    First, he downsized the Lincoln Continental. Then, he brought that kind of insight to the Vietnam war.

  • Bobby:

    Sean is referring to the fact that Robert McNamara spelled his surname with a Mc, not a Mac.

  • FrankH

    I’ve been to Wolverhampton. I’m still trying to get my head around the idea of Wolverhampton having a university. 🙄

  • Paul Marks

    Thomas Sowell is not perfect (who is?) – for example his much praised book on Karl Marx contained serious errors (what Professor Sowell appears to have unintentionally done is to think back to what he, T.S. believed when he was a socialist, and unconsciously assumed that Karl Marx must thought the same – he did not, Karl Marx was a much cruder thinker than T.S. gives him credit for). However, Thomas Sowell is a good economist he understands the basic principles of economics – and that is high praise these days.

    Remember we live in age where many “Nobel Prize” winners in economics do not understand basic economics. They get the basics WRONG – which means that their economic theories and advice are based on quicksand.

    There is the great divide in the philosophy of economics between the logical Austrian School and the empirical Chicago School – but I will not get into to that today.

  • bobby b

    “Sean is referring to the fact that Robert McNamara spelled his surname with a Mc, not a Mac.”

    Ah. Flew right over my head.

  • Sean

    Bobby – also, Robert McNamara went on to become Secretary of Defence (Douglas MacArthur was the five star general).