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Archive for the ‘Thomas Sowell’ Category

Thomas Sowell.  The Quest for Cosmic Justice.  New York, NY: Free Press, February 5, 2002. 224 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

Have you notice a redefinition of “justice” today among those who are advocates of Social Justice?  Even if you think this doesn’t interests you it is definitely affecting you and costing you directly and indirectly today by the actions of its advocate.  These ideas though are nothing new and over the decades of ministry in college campuses I see these ideas discussed in Academia is now being yelled out aloud literally and the consequences being reaped on the streets of America in 2020.  This book was originally published in 1999 but reading this in 2020 I was blown away how relevant it is twenty one years later.  The observations that the author made and also his refutations is very powerful and I love how factual and data driven the author is.  This is probably the most important book I read in 2020 and I’m surprised why more people don’t know about this book.  Out of the six books I have read from author Thomas Sowell this to me is one of the best book I have read from him and it is not only compelling but reading this book is a training session of how to think soundly in the realm of social sciences, economics and discussions about what is justice.

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Economic Facts and Fallacies Sowell
Order on Amazon: Economic Facts and Fallacies, 2nd edition

Economist Thomas Sowell is the man. I first started reading his books back in January 2012 and this is the fourth book I read. I must say I enjoyed everyone of them! In this volume Sowell examines some of the economic myths and mantras by political pundits and debunks them with clear thinking, sound economic principles and actual statistics. In light of the sensitivity of some of the subject matter I appreciate Sowell’s tone of the book in which he bring to bear scholarship without inflammatory rhetoric. I think an economist that can write in a winsome manner (without being boring!) is a rare gift that few can pull off. Don’t expect the book to just knock on progressives—I found myself being challenged as well, especially with economic and political propositions that most people just assume is true. Especially insightful in this book is his discussion about government intervention in urban areas with affordable housing—and how ironically the more the government is involved the more it hurt the poor. There are many materials here that appear in Sowell’s The Housing Boom and Bust. I particularly enjoyed his chapter on the third world as well. Reading this book makes me realize how so little of economics must Americans grasp—and how that can be detrimental to one’s own interests and where one land in one’s opinion of government fiscal policies.

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The Housing Boom and Bust

 (Available on Amazon)

I learn tremendously every time I read the works of economist Thomas Sowell. This book is no exception. Here Sowell examines the recent housing boom and bust that happened in the late 2000s. Contrary to the opinions of liberal lawmakers and liberal pundits, the burst of the housing bubble is not a case of capitalism left unchecked; the book demonstrate that the boom and bust of the housing market is the result of government regulation and intervention. Sowell begins by documenting how zoning laws, open space laws and other host of regulations has the effect of rising costs of housing; the more ordinances a place has the more the cost goes up while places that has less arbitrary regulations tend to have lower costs of buying a home. The book also examine fiscal policies and government intrusion that forces financial institutions to make risky sub-prime loans; Sowell argues that this does no good to anyone, not to the ones who are borrowing (loses the house, ruining their credit, declaring bankruptcy), the lender (banks are not in the business of maintaining foreclosed homes), the market, other home buyers (the burden of costly risks of sub-prime borrowers end up being distributed to them) and tax payers. The book does a good job explaining the complexity of the market in clear to understand term. This book does a good job documenting how politicians doesn’t help and often the ones who are railing against business and banks for the housing bubble burst are themselves unknowingly the ones who are responsible for policies that led to the fiasco. Highly recommended!

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HC

Purchase: Amazon

An excellent work by economist Thomas Sowell.  This is the second book I’ve read by Sowell and he doesn’t disappoint.  This book is about intellectuals, which he define as those whose occupation is chiefly dealing with ideas as the product that they market.  Here Sowell makes a good distinction between intellect and wisdom; and just because intellectuals deal with ideas do not necessarily mean they are wise or correct.  Nor does that mean they are smarter than others (such as doctors, chess masters, etc).  In fact, as Sowell goes on to argue in the book, typically intellectuals are those with specialized knowledge (versus ‘mundane’ knowledge) who seeks the approval of peers which can immune them from the typical tests of removing good and bad ideas through the market such as other job sector.  This in turn allows intellectuals’ bad ideas to go on for a long time and often intellectuals get away from the responsibility of their bad ideas with little or no consequences.  The book has a wonderful chapter on specialized knowledge that has led some intellectuals to think they thus have authority to speak on other areas outside of their specialty (think of Bertrand Russell, Noam Chomsky, etc).  I enjoyed Sowell’s example of this in the case of how some liberal intellectuals criticize police officers’ for firing too much rounds in officer related shooting.  The criticism often is without the consideration of studies on gunfire under stress, where a NYPD study shows the low accuracy of shooting under pressure (such as shooting a target 16-25 yards away in life-risking scenario results in 14 percent hit, etc).  At times intellectuals can be down right misleading with their twisted worldview such as the uncritically accepted notion in history that president Herbert Hoover did nothing during the Great Depression or how Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is nothing more than a loner and a follower of Anthony Scalia, etc.  Readers will enjoy Sowell’s examination of the axioms intellectuals take for granted such as the “One day at a time mentality” of the elite versus long haul consequences of action.  I was surprise that the book devoted two chapters on intellectuals view on war.  I highly recommend this book and wish to read more like it.

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Civil Rights

 Available at AMAZON

In reviewing this book, I begin first with the last words in the closing chapter of this book, largely because the author Dr. Thomas Sowell has been misrepresented by those who are more politically liberal. This work is not a recommendation of minorities to lift themselves out of their own bootstrap, but rather a focus on political policies with government interference that affects the disadvantage. Thus, it’s not a complaint against individual minorities, nor is it a denial that there is no such thing as racism or other evil prejudices. With that said, this book is an evaluation of the axioms of the civil rights movement after 1965. Sowell evaluates the presupposition of whether or not political means bring about ethnic prosperity, noting that there is not a necessary correlation between political success and economic success: Irish American political success and activity did not correlate with economic prosperity while Chinese, Italians and Jews were affluent and successful economically but not necessarily enjoy political clout overseas (Indonesia, etc) while being politically apathetic in the United States at certain time in their history and was yet prosperous. The author also pointed out how entrance into politics is not necessarily a blessing if an ethnic group does so on the basis of ethnic group solidarity and may suffer backlash. The author also noted the change definition of civil rights and chapter 2 was good in demonstrating the danger of identifying racism on the basis of statistical aggregation. Here the economist side of the author comes out, in which he points out a lot of factors are also at work including cultural, etc. Chapter three even discuss about how segregated schools at times and according to race can do better than white. Chapter three’s main refutation is of the invokation of “modern authority” over legal precedence or the Constitution in Brown vs Board of Education with psychological studies that have now been discredited. Chapter four has a good study arguing that culture plays a stronger role than color when it comes to economic success though historically this was not always the case; his evaluation of West Indies in light of the American statistical average and blacks in general is a powerful argument. Noting that first generation West Indies are above the average than these two groups, he also pointed out that one must also study second generation West Indies who would be more like other African Americans (lack of accents, etc) and whether or not they do better or worst than the first generation. If they are the same as the rest of other African Americans, then color might be a stronger probable cause for predicting income but if they still do better than the national average and their parent’s average, culture (family, education, etc) has more of a role than color itself. The statistics reveal that second generation West Indies actually do better than all three groups (first generation West Indies, Blacks in general, and American average). Also a great chapter on closer analysis of the economics of Woman in the work place. Much more can be said, but this is a book worth reading.

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