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 Thomas Sowell Quotes
101 Famous Quotes by Thomas Sowell
6/30/1930 - (Present)
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About Thomas Sowell

One of the peculiarities of the American Revolution was that its leaders pinned their hopes on the organization of decision-making units, the structuring of their incentives, and the counterbalancing of the units against one another, rather than on the more usual (and more exciting) principle of substituting "the good guys" for "the bad guys.".

Politics / government Quotes, by Thomas Sowell

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While rationalism at the individual level is a plea for more personal autonomy from cultural norms, at the social level it is often a claim- or arrogation- of power to stifle the autonomy of others.

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Mystical references to "society" and its programs to "help" may warm the hearts of the gullible but what it really means is putting more power in the hands of bureaucrats.

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What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don't like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don't expect freedom to survive very long.

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To those who feel that their values are the values, the less controlled systems necessarily present a spectacle of "chaos," simply because such systems respond to a diversity of values. The more successfully such systems respond to diversity, the more "chaos" there will be, by definition, according to the standards of any specific set of values- other than diversity or freedom as values. Looked at another way, the more self-righteous observers there are, the more chaos (and "waste") will be seen.

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"What freedom does a starving man have?" The answer is that starvation is a tragic human condition- perhaps more tragic than loss of freedom. That does not prevent these from being two different things.

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Both free speech rights and property rights belong legally to individuals, but their real function is social, to benefit vast numbers of people who do not themselves exercise these rights.

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If you have ever seen a four-year-old trying to lord it over a two-year-old, then you know what the basic problem of human nature is -- and why government keeps growing larger and ever more intrusive.

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The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.

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Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what has worked with what sounded good. In area after area- crime, education, housing, race relations- the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation. The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them.

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What is politically defined as economic "planning" is the forcible superseding of other people's plans by government officials.

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It is precisely those things which belong to "the people" which have historically been despoiled- wild creatures, the air, and waterways being notable examples. This goes to the heart of why property rights are socially important in the first place. Property rights mean self-interested monitors. No owned creatures are in danger of extinction. No owned forests are in danger of being leveled. No one kills the goose that lays the golden egg when it is his goose.

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To say that a farm boy knows how to milk a cow is to say that we can send him out to the barn with an empty pail and expect him to return with milk. To say that a criminologist understands crime is not to say that we can send him out with a grant or a law and expect him to return with a lower crime rate. He is more likely to return with a report on why he has not succeeded yet, and including the inevitable need for more money, a larger staff, more sweeping powers, etc.

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To include freedom in the very definition of democracy is to define a process not by its actual characteristics as a process but by its hoped for results. This is not only intellectually invalid, it is, in practical terms, blinding oneself in advance to some of the unwanted consequences of the process.

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Nobody is equal to anybody. Even the same man is not equal to himself on different days.

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Given that some social processes must convey inherent constraints, the choice is among various mixtures of persuasion, force, and cultural inducement. The less of one, the more of the others. The degree of freedom that is possible is therefore tied to the extent to which people respond to persuasion or inducement.

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The celebration of unbounded individualism means, beyond some point, the acceptance of force- either private (crime, riot, vigilanteism) or public (authoritarianism).

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Freedom...refer[s] to a social relationship among people- namely, the absence of force as a prospective instrument of decision making. Freedom is reduced whenever a decision is made under threat of force, whether or not force actually materializes or is evident in retrospect.

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Force is the antithesis of freedom, but force must be used, if only to defend against other force.

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Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.

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Envy plus rhetoric equals "social justice.".

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No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: "But what would you replace it with?" When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with?

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The assumption that spending more of the taxpayer's money will make things better has survived all kinds of evidence that it has made things worse. The black family- which survived slavery, discrimination, poverty, wars and depressions- began to come apart as the federal government moved in with its well-financed programs to "help.".

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One of the most fashionable notions of our times is that social problems like poverty and oppression breed wars. Most wars, however, are started by well-fed people with time on their hands to dream up half-baked ideologies or grandiose ambitions, and to nurse real or imagined grievances.

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Many bad policies are simply good policies taken too far.

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