Side Area


Even the best things come to an end. After enjoying a quarter of a century of writing this column for Creators Syndicate, I have decided to stop. Age 86 is well past the usual retirement age, so the question is not why I am quitting, but why I kept at it so long.

It was very fulfilling to be able to share my thoughts on the events unfolding around us, and to receive feedback from readers across the country — even if it was impossible to answer them all.

Being old-fashioned, I liked to know what the facts were before writing. That required not only a lot of research, it also required keeping up with what was being said in the media.

During a stay in Yosemite National Park last May, taking photos with a couple of my buddies, there were four consecutive days without seeing a newspaper or a television news program — and it felt wonderful. With the political news being so awful this year, it felt especially wonderful.

This made me decide to spend less time following politics and more time on my photography, adding more pictures to my website (

Looking back over the years, as old-timers are apt to do, I see huge changes, both for the better and for the worse.

In material things, there has been almost unbelievable progress. Most Americans did not have refrigerators back in 1930, when I was born. Television was little more than an experiment, and such things as air-conditioning or air travel were only for the very rich.

My own family did not have electricity or hot running water, in my early childhood, which was not unusual for blacks in the South in those days.

It is hard to convey to today’s generation the fear that the paralyzing disease of polio inspired, until vaccines put an abrupt end to its long reign of terror in the 1950s.

Most people living in officially defined poverty in the 21st century have things like cable television, microwave ovens and air-conditioning. Most Americans did not have such things, as late as the 1980s. People whom the intelligentsia continue to call the “have-nots” today have things that the “haves” did not have, just a generation ago.

In some other ways, however, there have been some serious retrogressions over the years. Politics, and especially citizens’ trust in their government, has gone way downhill.

Back in 1962, President John F. Kennedy, a man narrowly elected just two years earlier, came on television to tell the nation that he was taking us to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, because the Soviets had secretly built bases for nuclear missiles in Cuba, just 90 miles from America.

Most of us did not question what he did. He was President of the United States, and he knew things that the rest of us couldn’t know — and that was good enough for us. Fortunately, the Soviets backed down. But could any President today do anything like that and have the American people behind him?

Years of lying Presidents — Democrat Lyndon Johnson and Republican Richard Nixon, especially — destroyed not only their own credibility, but the credibility which the office itself once conferred. The loss of that credibility was a loss to the country, not just to the people holding that office in later years.

With all the advances of blacks over the years, nothing so brought home to me the social degeneration in black ghettoes like a visit to a Harlem high school some years ago.

When I looked out the window at the park across the street, I mentioned that, as a child, I used to walk my dog in that park. Looks of horror came over the students’ faces, at the thought of a kid going into the hell hole which that park had become in their time.

When I have mentioned sleeping out on a fire escape in Harlem during hot summer nights, before most people could afford air-conditioning, young people have looked at me like I was a man from Mars. But blacks and whites alike had been sleeping out on fire escapes in New York since the 19th century. They did not have to contend with gunshots flying around during the night.

We cannot return to the past, even if we wanted to, but let us hope that we can learn something from the past to make for a better present and future.

Goodbye and good luck to all.


Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author, whose books include Basic Economics. He is currently Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
  • catisout

    Dr. Sowell you are an intellectual and moral rock. Thank you for your columns and God bless all future endeavors..

  • CochiseRez

    I will miss your wisdom and insights! Many blessings and thank you.

  • samnigromd

    Many many THANKS!!! You are proof that God is here. May JOY be yours. Relax and have a good day whenever you wake up breathing!!!

  • tillamooktim

    I wish you much joy in this your late retirement.

  • nokabosh

    May he find peace and tranquility.

  • Mydogrules

    God Bless You, Dr. Sowell. I wish you a long and happy retirement!

  • julie


  • Jack

    Thank you, Dr. Sowell, for all your patriotism and for articulating so well, so concisely and so logically your wisdom for us all these years. God bless!

  • jdbixii

    If there is hope in transition it is dependent on the quality of change, whether negative or positive. The changes and policies of the 1960s continue to negatively affect the country, especially, the effects of the drug culture which are the cause of much of the violence, dysfunction, disease and pre-mature death that plague our society. We have a perverted perception of the importance of individual freedom, especially, the right to abuse it and the right to be morally and ethically wrong, and the left has perpetuated the tragic myth of the supremacy of “freedom of choice” over the moral obligation to be responsible. When diversity is promoted, despite the frequent elements of criminality which are associated, and policies to increase it, despite the effects of irreconcilable, historical differences, it is difficult to see hope in change.

  • GaryTrz

    You have been one of my all-time favorite columnists. Thank you for using your gifts to help so many. May God bless your future.

  • WBC

    Thank you, Dr. Sowell. I’m going to miss your wisdom and your insight. Like, you, I’m also in the twilight of my years, just a couple or so behind you, and I also have fond memories of days past. Your column brought back many fond memories of growing up in small town rural America. I also remember the lack of many of those conveniences you mentioned in you column, but we did quite well without them. I don’t know what the future holds for those we leave behind. Politically, I’m afraid it looks pretty bleak. Even technologically it could also be bleak. I remember a speech Thomas Edison made during his twilight years, where he warned about science. It could get out of hand if not carefully watched.

  • A race well run. Great joy in your retirement, and how wonderful to have such a hobby to fill it with.

  • nnisey

    I will miss your columns. God bless you.

  • David Patterson

    Dr. Sowell- thank you. That phrase fails to convey my true appreciation for your insights, wisdom and opinions. While wishing you the best you will be missed from our national discussions.

  • bandhriot

    Please know and believe that your perspective shall be missed. Hopefully another voice will take over the task but will have to stand under the image.

  • Roger Ball

    Dr. Sowell, Many thanks for sharing your observations and wisdom over the years.

  • Neal from PA

    Dr. Sowell is indeed a very wise and thoughtful man. I will also say I’m old fashion and believe in right and wrong.

    I was born in the hills of NW Alabama in the 40’s and grew up in the 50’s & 60’s. I was born in a 3 room cabin with the bedroom the only floor that wasn’t dirt. There was no running hot or cold water, no bathroom just an outhouse, walked to where we needed to go. The mailman delivered twice a week. The closest hospital was 30 miles away; as was the police. We had no phone, TV, AC/heat or electricity.

    Thankfully my Dad got a job with a defense contractor and we move away from all that. But remember going back for visits and seeing “whites only” signs and remember walking with my grandfather and uncles in town and blacks would cross to the other side of the street. When I asked why the signs and blacks would cross to the other side of the street. My grandfather and uncles would only say, “Bigotry was the reason”. That’s when I found out the meaning of bigotry. I disliked it then and hate it today.

    I served my country as did past and future generations of my family. We never wanted anything from government, except to be left alone and for it to protect this country from enemies foreign and domestic.

    Dr. Sowell I will truly miss your wise and truthful articles and books. I hope you would consider maybe one article a year; exposing the falsehoods and explaining some major events of the previous year.

    May God bless and keep you safe.

    • William Millsaps

      Thank you.

  • NCBuzz24

    I have enjoyed your column and will sincerely miss reading your logic. May God continue to richly bless you in the coming years. Enjoy! Hope you will have the opportunity to share your views occasionally.

  • Mary G Smillie

    The SILENCE will de deafening Dr Sowell. Your careful research and skilled writing will be a great loss to our editorial pages. Know that your efforts have been an inspiration to so many of us seeking to understand the SOCIETAL CHANGES that have been thrust upon us. That we no longer seem to be a UNITED nation IS happening in spite of your efforts to define and warn about the dangers we face. Godspeed dear man ! YOU will be missed ! And God Bless America !

  • Patty Butler

    Dr.Sowell I have always respected you and admired the way you stand up for your beliefs It’s been an honor enjoying your sit in for Rush and reading your column. Good luck and enjoy retirement let us hear from you

  • Tim Kern

    Your wisdom will always be a solid reference point. Thank you for your work, Dr. Sowell.

  • LEO Wolverine

    Americans owe you a debt of gratitude beyond our ability pay. May your retirement bring you as much joy as your discourse has brought enlightenment to the people of this nation.

  • William Hoyt

    Thank you for being a part of my life…with you, there was always hope…God Bless you, Sir!

  • Red Scholefield

    Another candle flickers out. Not many left to light the way for us.

  • Susan

    Wonderful Man. Clear headed with an adherence to vanishing morality. If doing so labels one as a conservative, please count me in. Enjoy your new-found freedom!

  • Graywolf12

    God speed GOOD man. I will miss your intelligent take on so many things. May your future days be all sunshine and happy thoughts. Get a big dog and grow old together in love no human can give. Miss you !!!

  • donk

    Even though I have read your retirement statement, I believe that I will often look for your columns to appear. May you find great joy and blessing in your retirement. Thank you for your insights, your wisdom and your kind demeanor. God bless you.

  • Lynnrx52

    I hope you **ENJOY** retirement! Don’t let the days news get you tied up in knots… just interject your thoughts and share them with us when the inspiration hits. We still hold out hope we will hear from you in the future! Congratulations for all you have accomplished so far!

  • JoinOly

    Thank you, Dr. Sowell, for your clearheaded conservatism and for your courage to stand up to the decades of “Uncle Tom” attacks from the Left. Your analyses and commentary will be sorely missed in these troubled times. God Bless and good luck.

  • Max

    Thank you very much, Dr. Sowell, for your many years of service to academia and this republic.

  • Charie

    God bless and thank you for your years of common sense writing. I have profited by reading your columns and believe many others have, as well.

  • k9usafret

    May you have a long and prosperous vacation. Please continue to participate in life with the love and thoughtfulness you participated in conservatism

  • Todd Lowe

    Ever since we lost Milton Friedman, you have been the greatest living economist. I wish you well in your retirement. However, when you have an need to write, please publish. Your insights will be missed.

    Good luck and God speed.

  • Truth Gun
    • Firewagon

      One of the Doc’s absolute truths. Just ask the Pilgrims!!

  • justinwachin

    Thank you Dr. Sowell for your years of insightful commentary. I wish you the very best in the years ahead. As you point out our world has changed. It is our challenge to make sure those changes are improvements. May God bless you!

  • MA in MO

    Dr. Sowell: In the nineties — that sounds so long ago now — I worked for the CFO of a large mid-western teaching hospital. One of the trade magazines that crossed my desk published your column. I started reading them and have been hooked on your writings ever since. I went to the library and checked out your beginning economic books. Read them from cover to cover, at least twice. I have a degree in Business Administration, but your books allowed me to finally understand economics. It should not be that complicated. Wishing you the best of luck in your retirement.

  • MA in MO

    PS: I grew up on a farm. My parents did not have running water or an indoor bathroom until the early eighties. I told a Black colleague that one day and she looked at me like I was the biggest liar on earth and totally did not believe me. I was white, I had everything right???? That is what is being preached today as white privilege.

  • Lucia826

    You have been a steady and calming voice amid the din of hysterics and MSM silliness. I, too, born on the west side of Chicago, recall sleeping on the fire escapes on hot summer nights–without fear. And now the park where I enjoyed so many wonderful times as a child are part of the scenario of great numbers of homicides and shootings. The west side AND mostly the south side…but NO ONE mentions the neighborhoods, but we who are from there know very well that this human-violence that manifests itself with guns and knives is black on black, black on brown, or brown on brown. And so it goes. I will surely miss you but I send you my most sincere wishes for a joyful and enriching retirement and look forward to your photos. Please don’t be a stranger to us and have someone keep us “in the loop” for photos and general “stuff” from your incredible brain. May God bless you and keep you safe!

    • William Millsaps

      Thank you for putting into words the thoughts of so many people who admire and have benefited from the writings of Thomas Sowell.

  • Ron Lyster

    Dr. Sowell, we will greatly miss your articles – but wish you all the best in a well-deserved retirement. I, for one, would read every one of your articles as soon as I saw them. All were excellent. I can’t tell you how often I shared these with others by email or on Facebook.


    The people of America owe you a great debt, Dr. Sowell. Your clear eloquent writing skills combined with your outstanding intellect and rational analyses of difficult, sometimes painful, issues have been unparalleled and precious. I wish you great joy, health and peace in your well earned retirement!

  • A. P. Bushey

    Dr. Sowell , We wish you well in your well earned retirement. So many times in so many ways , you have been a beacon of light in a troubled world. Your wisdom will be greatly missed.
    God bless,

  • Alex Tary

    I am saddened by not having your words of wisdom in the local paper or online. One voice of freedom which may be replaced by some liberal tripe. How fortunate we were in having you, but then your retirement is more than well deserved. God bless.

  • lilolady

    It is my hope that one day, a compendium of all your works ( My faves are his Random Thoughts ) will be put into book form. With this, his last, every word can now be included in it. Love you, Professor Sowell. Enjoy your retirement.

  • Johnps

    Dr. Sowell, your wisdom has helped many of us to become smarter and better people. It is too bad that you were not the first black president. How different things would have been.

  • Samuel Ulsaker

    Dr. Sowell,
    Thanks YOU for your intelligent insights and inspiration. Your uncommon “common sense” in dealing with issues made you a “sage for our age”. Be GOOD to YOU and GOD BLESS!!!

  • Moki

    Thank you for your wisdom, insight and the courage to share it. Bless you in all your future endeavors.

  • MJB

    I have always respected what you had to say. You are a true gentleman and patriot. Thanks for your years of service.

  • Veteran

    God bless you. You will be sorely missed!

  • Firewagon

    Say it aint so Doc! Did not realize, until recently, that you are a decade ahead of me in seniority. As in your remembrances, I recall my own grandparents having an old hand pump, like those you see adorning horse troughs in western style movies, as their “running water” installed in their kitchen sink, no indoor plumbing, cook stove was wood and coal fired (wood you chopped and provided, nobody sold the stuff for fireplace decoration). Heat was provided by a potbellied wood/coal stove in their bedroom that was ‘banked’ at night, or, if an especially frigid time, was refilled throughout by staging wood in the room, so as not to have to venture outside.That all changed when their four children had running water and indoor plumbing installed in 1955! Air Conditioning, in the summer, was “all windows raised, doors open,” hotter nights you ran a floor fan aimed at your bed. For a kid, as I was at the time, those were “the good ole days!” For many adults, in the state of KY and other states, trying to make a living with a roof over head and food on the table, I’m sure they were not considered so “good!” Hard to see you leave Doc, I have so enjoyed your commentary and, more, your wit! God Speed In Any and All Your Remaining Endeavors!!

  • jimdandi

    You will be greatly missed. Thank you for all that you have done and God bless you.

  • Val E. Forge

    Best of luck, Dr. Sowell! We’ll miss you!

    • William Millsaps

      Thomas Sowell is surely one of the leading intellectuals of our time. Our whole family has benefited from his wisdom. I tell people that they should try to read his books, as well as his columns. In my travels, I would find whatever paper published his columns. Every column encouraged me because I realized a sane voice was being heard by whoever would listen.

  • Nancy G. West

    Dr. Sowell, thank you for your courage, wisdom and insight. Keep sharing it somehow, maybe in a less structured way. Our nation is grateful to you.

    • William Millsaps

      Thank you.

  • Mary Lee

    Dr. Sowell, you made economics understandable to me and even interesting. I loved all your columns and anything you chose to write about interested me intensely. Thank you so much and God bless you.

  • BLH557

    Dr. Sowell, you will be sorely missed. I have more than enjoyed your thoughts and insights. I grew up in the south, a poor white kid, during the 1960’s. Your remembrances remind me that the only differences we truly have are the ones we produce, ourselves. I’ll continue to pray for your peace and rest in your “retirement”, but knowing the generation you come from… well, let’s just say I don’t believe we’ve heard the last from you.

    May your words and influence never fade from the common vernacular.

    Barry L. Hughes

  • Pro-American

    Words cannot express my disappointment at the retirement of Dr. Thomas Sowell. While I do not, and would not, begrudge him peace, and the enjoyment of his golden years, we, most certainly, lose a significant piece of our national moral fabric, and compass, at his withdrawal from public life.

    The human race owes him a, monumental, debt of gratitude, which it cannot ever repay. All we can hope for, is that another voice, perhaps directly inspired by him, will pick up his torch, and continue to speak the truth, to, and for, all Americans. I say “pick up his torch”, because no one could ever “replace” him.

    SO, thank you, Dr. Sowell, from the bottom of my heart, and the top of my intellect. I’ve been reading your columns for as long as I can remember. You will, certainly, be missed.

    God bless you, and yours, and your future endeavors, whatever they be, and wherever they take you.

  • neal of the jarhead clan

    Dr. Sowell, have a long and much deserved retirement, your intellect will be sorely missed. May the Lord keep you, and bless you in your retirement, you are much loved! 😉

  • Flathatter45

    God speed on your “Second Half.”

  • Sue

    Thank you for sharing your insights & wisdom with all of us through the years, Dr. Sowell! It’s been very much appreciated & you will always be missed. God bless you!

  • Doug Harned

    I want to express my sincere gratitude to you for all your intelligent work and expression that was unbiased and straight to all people in the U.S. I do regret that so many white and black folks don’t read the editorial section in newspapers and are leaving themselves out of learning from a man of your caliber . A lot of brains could have used your deep incite into problems and solutions that our country faces and maybe their thinking would have been changed to positive thinking and corrected different narrow minded views that they have held . I hope and pray that there is somebody out there that will help fill the void you will now leave ! God bless you for your great and honest career.

  • peter

    Dr. Sowell was a giant among conservatives and he reasoning on issues was superb.

  • Conway Redding

    Dr. Sowell, I will miss your comments, which always seemed to me clear-headed, trenchant, and devoid of any tendency to bow to notions of what you, as a descendant of slaves, should be thinking/feeling. Here’s wishing you many years in which to enjoy your well-deserved retirement.

  • Paul

    Dr. Sowell:
    Your intellect, commentary and wisdom will surely be missed. You are a giant amongst mortal men. May you enjoy your well earned rest…God speed and thank you for the intellectual commentary that you so generously shared with us. I am blessed to have been on this planet with you…. Paul050

  • RyansDad

    As an 80 year old, I understand and respect your decision to relax and enjoy your remaining years. I will miss your insight and common sense commentary. Your contribution to my knowledge and understanding is very much appreciated. Best of luck in your retirement!

  • Rap Scallion

    Thank You Dr Sowell!

  • william ball

    Thank you for your many contributions. We will miss them.

  • Korean_Vet

    Dr. Sowell–You were about my same age–& I enjoyed reading your observations-! I’m not “Amazed at your
    Common-Sense”–And I’ve often repeated–“Nothing Does You Less Good Than the Brain You Didn’t Use In
    The First Place”-! This was the “Last Rule of the Cardinal-Rules of Flying” & the “10th Rule Which Was So
    Really Important”-! (But these 10 Rules “Even Applied to Driving A Car”-! If “You Break One–You’re Dead”-!)

  • Leonard Vinci

    Dr Sowell, This is Leonard Vinci from California. I am 76 years of age. I have been reading your articles for many years. Believe I don’t miss any of them. I sincerely wish you all the best now and for many, many years to come. I still say to myself, “I want to grow up and be like Dr.Stowell”. Thank you for all your great down to Earth input. Take my friend. Enjoy your retirement to the fullest.

  • Ted Kennedy

    As all the others have said, I will greatly miss your columns. In my daily barrage of email, I always had one rule: If Dr. Sowell had a column to read, everything else was put on hold until it was finished. God bless you and thank you for your service over so many years.

  • Greta Allen

    Good luck to you and many blessings. You will be missed. Maybe occasionally you could slip in a thought or two. God Bless you.