Thomas Sowell has decided to call it quits at the age of 86. He wrote a farewell column, stating that he will no longer be writing his regular articles.
I have been quite harsh on Sowell in the past. You could say that it is similar in how I have been critical towards Rand Paul. I could easily write an article being critical of Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden, but it is too obvious.
I point out the many flaws in Sowell (and Rand Paul) because many libertarians mistake them for being libertarians. Sometimes I am not even sure how friendly they are towards liberty in general. Overall, I think Sowell is a statist.
For the record, given a choice, I much prefer Rand Paul over Thomas Sowell, and that is with the full acknowledgement that Paul has been very inconsistent and unprincipled on many issues. But at least Rand Paul shows signs of recognizing the morality (or immorality) involved in politics, and he also takes some stances that oppose the state.
Sowell is a lot like Milton Friedman was. He is a good economist on a limited number of issues. He is good at explaining the harm that certain taxes bring. He is good at explaining why price controls don’t work.
Sowell grew up in a relatively poor household. In his farewell column, he describes it: “My own family did not have electricity or hot running water, in my early childhood, which was not unusual for blacks in the South in those days.”
While Sowell is a good writer (ignoring his statist views), there is nothing special about him beyond that. He is a typical conservative. Maybe he is considered an anomaly because of his race. You could say he beat the odds by staying out of trouble and having a successful career. Of course, there are many black males who escape poverty and find success in the United States.
Sowell is only different because he is black and he tends to side with conservatives/ Republicans.
Incredibly, Sowell shows his statist views with just a few lines in his farewell column. This is why I don’t understand why so many advocates for liberty are fooled by him. He does not hide his statist views, even if he doesn’t call them as such.
Sowell states, “It is hard to convey to today’s generation the fear that the paralyzing disease of polio inspired, until vaccines put an abrupt end to its long reign of terror in the 1950s.”
Interestingly, this is one of the topics in which I have most harshly criticized Sowell. I don’t take it easy on someone who wants to use the force of the state to stick needles into my children without my consent.
It is questionable on whether the conventional wisdom is even correct that vaccines ended polio. It might have gone away without the polio vaccine. There are other factors including vitamins and overall sanitation which impact the spread of viruses. Indoor plumbing and hand washing has done far more for disease prevention than any vaccines.
Then we get to the heart of the matter, which is Sowell’s world view. After talking about the improvements in our society, Sowell writes, “In some other ways, however, there have been some serious retrogressions over the years. Politics, and especially citizens’ trust in their government, has gone way downhill.”
Sowell continues: “Back in 1962, President John F. Kennedy, a man narrowly elected just two years earlier, came on television to tell the nation that he was taking us to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, because the Soviets had secretly built bases for nuclear missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles from America.”
He goes on: “Most of us did not question what he did. He was President of the United States, and he knew things that the rest of us couldn’t know – and that was good enough for us. Fortunately, the Soviets backed down. But could any President today do anything like that and have the American people behind him?”
So this is what bothers Sowell. The American people have lost trust in their politicians. I suppose we should just trust what the government tells us and go along. At least that explains why Sowell is an apologist for war and the spying state.
If the government tells us there are weapons of mass destruction, trust those public officials. If the CIA tells us the Russians hacked the election, just trust them without proof. If the NSA needs the power to spy on us to prevent terrorism, just trust that they are doing the right thing and keeping us safe.
There you have it. At the age of 86, with his farewell column, Sowell has proved that he is a statist and an apologist for the regime. That is why he never liked Ron Paul. And we can be sure that Sowell’s opposition to Trump has more to do with Trump’s anti-establishment views than Trump’s economics. Sowell had no trouble being an apologist for the Bush administration for 8 years, with only light criticism of a few of his economic policies.
Just because someone says they are in favor of free markets doesn’t necessarily make it so. The truth is in the details. And it certainly doesn’t mean they are a friend of liberty. Sowell has shown over and over again that he is a statist who just happens to understand that price controls don’t work.