- 4 february 2013 -

Sowell. Enough Said.


"Politicians with the power to determine each citizen's income are no longer public servants. They are public masters.

Are we really so eaten up with envy, or so mesmerized by rhetoric, that we are willing to sacrifice our own freedom by giving politicians the power to decide how much money anybody can make or keep? Of course, that will start only with "the rich," but surely history tells us that it will not end there.

The French Revolution began arbitrary executions among the hereditary aristocracy, but ended up arbitrarily executing all sorts of other people, including eventually even leaders of the Revolution itself, such as Robespierre.

Very similar patterns appeared in the Bolshevik Revolution, in the rise of the Nazis and in numerous other times and places, where expanded and arbitrary powers were put into the hands of politicians -- and were used against the population as a whole.

Once you buy the argument that some segment of the citizenry should lose their rights, just because they are envied or resented, you are putting your own rights in jeopardy -- quite aside from undermining any moral basis for respecting anybody's rights. You are opening the floodgates to arbitrary power. And once you open the floodgates, you can't tell the water where to go."

- Thomas Sowell -
source: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell051810.php3

"Every year about this time, big-government liberals stand up in front of college commencement crowds across the country and urge the graduates to do the noblest thing possible -- become big-government liberals.

That isn't how they phrase it, of course. Commencement speakers express great reverence for "public service," as distinguished from narrow private "greed." There is usually not the slightest sign of embarrassment at this self-serving celebration of the kinds of careers they have chosen -- over and above the careers of others who merely provide us with the food we eat, the homes we live in, the clothes we wear and the medical care that saves our health and our lives.

What I would like to see is someone with the guts to tell those students: Do you want to be of some use and service to your fellow human beings? Then let your fellow human beings tell you what they want -- not with words, but by putting their money where their mouth is.

You want to see more people have better housing? Build it! Become a builder or developer -- if you can stand the sneers and disdain of your classmates and professors who regard the very words as repulsive.

Would you like to see more things become more affordable to more people? Then figure out more efficient ways of producing things or more efficient ways of getting those things from the producers to the consumers at a lower cost.

That's what a man named Sam Walton did when he created Wal-Mart, a boon to people with modest incomes and a bane to the elite intelligentsia. In the process, Sam Walton became rich. Was that the "greed" that you have heard your classmates and professors denounce so smugly? If so, it has been such "greed" that has repeatedly brought prices down and thereby brought the American standard of living up.

Back at the beginning of the 20th century, only 15 percent of American families had a flush toilet. Not quite one-fourth had running water. Only three percent had electricity and one percent had central heating. Only one American family in a hundred owned an automobile.

By 1970, the vast majority of those American families who were living in poverty had flush toilets, running water and electricity. By the end of the twentieth century, more Americans were connected to the Internet than were connected to a water pipe or a sewage line at the beginning of the century.

More families have air-conditioning today than had electricity then. Today, more than half of all families with incomes below the official poverty line own a car or truck and have a microwave.

This didn't come about because of the politicians, bureaucrats, activists or others in "public service" that you are supposed to admire. No nation ever protested its way from poverty to prosperity or got there through rhetoric or bureaucracies.

It was Thomas Edison who brought us electricity, not the Sierra Club. It was the Wright brothers who got us off the ground, not the Federal Aviation Administration. It was Henry Ford who ended the isolation of millions of Americans by making the automobile affordable, not Ralph Nader.

Those who have helped the poor the most have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing "compassion" for the poor, but those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about.

The wonderful places where you are supposed to go to do "public service" are as sheltered from the brutal test of reality as you have been on this campus for the last four -- or is it six? -- years. In these little cocoons, all that matters is how well you talk the talk. People who go into the marketplace have to walk the walk.

Colleges can teach many valuable skills, but they can also nourish many dangerous illusions. If you really want to be of service to others, then let them decide what is a service by whether they choose to spend their hard-earned money for it."

- Thomas Sowell -
source: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell060110.php3

"The big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is bad enough in itself. But politics can make anything worse.

Let's stop and think. Either the government knows how to stop the oil spill or they don't. If they know how to stop it, then why have they let thousands of barrels of oil per day keep gushing out, for weeks on end? All they have to do is tell BP to step aside, while the government comes in to do it right.

If they don't know, then what is all this political grandstanding about keeping their boot on the neck of BP, the Attorney General of the United States going down to the Gulf to threaten lawsuits— on what charges was unspecified— and President Obama showing up in his shirt sleeves?

Just what is Obama going to do in his shirt sleeves, except impress the gullible? He might as well have shown up in a tuxedo with white tie, for all the difference it makes.

This government is not about governing. It is about creating an impression. That worked on the campaign trail in 2008, but it is a disaster in the White House, where rhetoric is no substitute for reality.

If the Obama administration was for real, and trying to help get the oil spill contained as soon as possible, the last thing its Attorney General would be doing is threatening a lawsuit. A lawsuit is not going to stop the oil, and creating a distraction can only make people at BP start directing their attention toward covering themselves, instead of covering the oil well.

If and when the Attorney General finds that BP did something illegal, that will be time enough to start a lawsuit. But making a public announcement at this time accomplishes absolutely nothing substantive. It is just more political grandstanding."

- Thomas Sowell -
source: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell061510.php3

"When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics. Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler's rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

"Useful idiots" was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive. In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it."

- Thomas Sowell -
source: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell062210.php3

"What do we do when we want a better car, a better home or a better bottle of wine? We pay more for it. We definitely need a lot better crop of public officials. Yet we insist on paying flea market prices for people who will be spending trillions of tax dollars, not to mention making foreign policy that can either safeguard or jeopardize the lives of millions of Americans.

Any successful engineer, surgeon, or financier would have to take a big pay cut to serve in Congress. A top student from a top law school can get a starting salary that is more than we pay a Supreme Court justice.
...

Can we afford to pay members of Congress, the President of the United States, and federal judges the kinds of money that would enable us to tap a far wider pool of far more knowledgeable people with successful real world experience? We can't afford not to. Cheap politicians are expensive in their reckless spending of tax money. It is the ultimate in being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

To get some idea of the cost, ask yourself: How much would it cost to pay every member of Congress, the president, and every federal judge a million dollars a year?

There are 535 members of Congress, so a salary of a million dollars a year would cost $535 million, or just over half a billion dollars. There are 188 federal appellate judges and one President of the United States. That's 189 more people, bringing the total number of people to 724, and the total cost to $724 million, at a time when people in Washington are talking trillions.

That is less than one percent of the annual cost of the Department of Agriculture. Put differently, we could pay all of these 724 officials a million dollars a year each — for an entire century — for less than it costs to run the Department of Agriculture for one year."

- Thomas Sowell -
source: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell100312.php3

"The events unfolding in Benghazi on the tragic night of September 11th were being relayed to the State Department as the attacks were going on, "in real time," as they say. So the idea that the Obama administration now has to carry out a time-consuming "investigation" to find out what those events were, when the information was immediately available at the time, is a little much."

- Thomas Sowell -
source: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell102312.php3

"Confidence men know that their victim — "the mark" as he has been called — is eventually going to realize that he has been cheated. But it makes a big difference whether he realizes it immediately, and goes to the police, or realizes it after the confidence man is long gone.

So part of the confidence racket is creating a period of uncertainty, during which the victim is not yet sure of what is happening. This delaying process has been called "cooling out the mark."
...

We are currently seeing another "cooling out" process, growing out of the terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi on September 11th this year.

The belated release of State Department e-mails shows that the Obama administration knew, while the attack on the American consulate was still underway, that it was a coordinated, armed terrorist attack. They were getting reports from those inside the consulate who were under attack, as well as surveillance pictures from a camera on an American drone overhead.

About an hour before the attack, the scene outside was calm enough for the American ambassador to accompany a Turkish official to the gates of the consulate to say goodbye. This could hardly have happened if there were protesting mobs there.
...

The White House had to know that it was only a matter of time before the truth would come out. But time was what mattered, with an election close at hand. The longer they could stretch out the period of distraction and uncertainty — "cooling out" the voters — the better. Once the confidence man in the White House was reelected, it would be politically irrelevant what facts came out.

The White House had to know that it was only a matter of time before the truth would come out. But time was what mattered, with an election close at hand. The longer they could stretch out the period of distraction and uncertainty — "cooling out" the voters — the better. Once the confidence man in the White House was reelected, it would be politically irrelevant what facts came out.

As the Obama administration's video story began to slowly unravel, their earlier misstatements were blamed on "the fog of war" that initially obscures many events. But there was no such "fog of war" in this case. The Obama administration knew what was happening while it was happening.
...

The killing of Osama bin Laden fed the pretense that the terrorism threat had been beaten. But the terrorists' attack in Libya exposed that fraud — and required another fraud to try to "cool out" the voters until after election day."

- Thomas Sowell -
source: http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell103012.php3

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