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Sowell Bids Farewell

Renowned economist, author and syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell filed his final column last week at the tender age of 86. In honor of the conservative/libertarian political philosopher’s incisive observations, cutting wit and concise elucidation of arguments and principles covering a wide variety of economic, public policy, social and many other issues, which we have been honored to feature on our pages for many years, here we pay tribute to Dr. Sowell’s achievements and insights, using many of his own words.

Sowell’s views on government bureaucracy were crystallized by a personal encounter he had while working as a “public servant,” as he described in his autobiography, “A Personal Odyssey.” While working as a clerk-typist at the U.S. Public Health Services headquarters in Washington, D.C., during the summer of 1959, a man had a heart attack just outside the building and was brought into the nurse’s room. Unfortunately, since the man was not a government employee, the staff refused to treat him at the medical facility there. By the time an ambulance arrived, the man had died. “He died waiting for a doctor, in a building full of doctors,” Sowell wrote. “Nothing so dramatized for me the nature of bureaucracy and its emphasis on procedures, rather than results.”

In the spirit of the “Random Thoughts” Sowell offered from time to time in his writings, here are a few of our favorites:

“The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”

“I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”

“I’m always embarrassed when people say that I’m courageous. Soldiers are courageous. Policemen are courageous. Firemen are courageous. I just have a thick hide and disregard what silly people say.”

Sowell’s irreplaceable writing will be sorely missed. We wish him well in his richly-deserved retirement.


The Editors
Freedom’s Back aims to foster intelligent, troll-free conversations about the hypocrisy of the self-loathing Left, the current state of U.S. conservatism, and the inside-the-beltway cabal of good ol’ boy bureaucrats who have ruined the Republican party and laid waste to the American dream.
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