Last Updated:November 28 @ 07:44 am

Sowell: Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene

By Thomas Sowell

Even squirrels know enough to store nuts, so that they will have something to eat when food gets scarce. But the welfare state has spawned a whole class of people who spend everything they get when times are good, and look to others to provide for their food and other basic needs when times turn bad.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution prescribes "equal protection of the laws" to all Americans. But what does that mean, if the President of the United States can arbitrarily grant waivers, so that A, B and C have to obey the laws but X, Y and Z do not -- as with both ObamaCare and the immigration laws?

Two reports came out in the same week. One was from the Pentagon, saying that, in just a few years, Iran will be able to produce not only a nuclear bomb but a missile capable of carrying it to the United States. The other report said that the American Olympic team has uniforms made in China. This latter report received far more attention, both in Congress and in the media.

People who lament gridlock in Washington, and express the pious hope that Democrats and Republicans would put aside their partisan conflicts, and cooperate to help the economy recover, implicitly assume that what the economy needs is more meddling by politicians, which is what brought on economic disaster in the first place. (Skeptics can read "The Housing Boom and Bust.")

Racism is not dead, but it is on life support -- kept alive by politicians, race hustlers and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as "racists."

One of the arguments for Medicare is that the elderly don't want to be a burden to their children. Apparently it is all right to be a burden to other people's children, who are paying taxes.

Those who talk as if more people going to college is automatically a Good Thing seldom show much interest in what actually goes on at college -- including far less time spent by students studying than in the past, and a proliferation of courses promoting a sense of grievance, entitlement or advanced navel-gazing and breast-beating.

One of the most dangerous trends of our times is making the truth socially unacceptable, or even illegal, with "hate speech" laws. It is supposed to be terrible, for example, to call an illegal alien an "illegal alien" or to call an Islamic terrorist an "Islamic terrorist." When the media refer to "undocumented" workers or to violence committed by "militants," who is kidding whom -- and why?

After the charismatic -- and disastrous -- Woodrow Wilson presidency, the voters did not elect another president in the next decade who could be considered the least bit charismatic. Let us hope that history repeats itself.

For more than two centuries, the U.S. military never had a public celebration of anybody's sex life -- until the recent "gay pride" event under the Obama administration. Here, as elsewhere, the gay political agenda is not equality but privilege.

Franklin D. Roosevelt famously said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Then he proceeded to generate fear among businesses for years on end, with both his anti-business rhetoric and his anti-business policies. Barack Obama is repeating the same approach and getting the same results -- namely, an agonizingly slow economic recovery, as investors hang on to their money, instead of risking it in a hostile political environment.

If we wake up some morning and find some American cities in radioactive ruins, courtesy of a nuclear Iran, nobody is going to care whether the president who lets this happen is the first black president or the last WASP president. But, in the meantime, many people will keep on voting for symbolism, as if an election is a popularity contest, like choosing a college's Homecoming Queen or Parade Marshal.

There seems to be something "liberating" about ignorance -- especially when you don't even know enough to realize how little you know. Thus an administration loaded with people who have never run any business is gung-ho to tell businesses what to do, as well as gung-ho to tell the medical profession what to do, lenders whom to lend to, and the military how to fight wars.


Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is


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  1. GeorgeComment by George
    July 25, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

    I have been reading Thomas Sowell’s commentary for quite some time without commenting on his insight and depth of understanding. I have not read one article that wasn’t focused and filled with pertinent facts and proper conclusions.
    Please accept my thanks for your excellent work. I look forward to reading your future offerings.

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  2. middlegroundComment by middleground
    July 25, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

    Wasn’t the Revolutionary War statement that “we’d better all hang together or we will be hanged separately” a similar statement of reality.

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    • cxComment by genesal
      July 25, 2012 @ 5:54 pm

      “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
      Ben Franklin

      -In the Continental Congress just before signing
      the Declaration of Independence, 1776.

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  3. middlegroundComment by middleground
    July 25, 2012 @ 7:19 pm

    Reply to genesal

    Isn’t amazing how perceptive those who framed our constitutional republic actually were, but then this group were tremendously divers in their backgrounds and experience from Hamilton who had run the accounts for an import business at 14 to the multifaceted scientist, publisher and philosopher Franklin. Contrast that with the narrow spectrum of experience those in our executive, legislative and judicial branches actually have in their law profession and the president’s experience as a community organizer for the Chicago political machine has to be even narrower. I know he gives a great motivational speech, but a 40% increase in the nation’s debt sets a dangerous path toward inflation. If we could bring back Alexander Hamilton from the grave, he’d probably say that is why after the disaster of the “Continental” the Coinage Act of 1792 decreed death as the penalty for debasing the nation’s coinage.

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  4. Son Of ThunderComment by mcrank
    July 25, 2012 @ 8:11 pm

    This administration recklessly and thoughtlessly racks up a crippling national debt, then turns and berates the rich and vows to tax them more and implores every successful individual that they owe their success to everyone else who isn’t.

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