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Jewish World Review June 12, 2001 / 22 Sivan, 5761

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell
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Random thoughts -- RANDOM thoughts on the passing scene:

  • Ad for a ski resort: "If swimming is so healthful, why are whales so fat?"

  • Talk about cloning human beings recalls Winston Churchill's comment about the secrets of the atom, "hitherto mercifully withheld from man." Why create human beings by cloning, which has produced abnormalities in animals, instead of creating people in the old-fashioned way that has worked for thousands of years?

  • Directive from a female honcho in a big corporation: "Advancing women is the new business imperative. Within a supportive, flexible culture, women will be represented proportionately at all levels and hold significant leadership and client service roles." This quota does not sound very "flexible."

  • It used to be said that it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. Today, we admire those who curse the candle -- because it is not perfect, not free, not whatever the complainers want it to be.

  • When it comes to the future of this country, what is scarier than any bad policies or bad leaders is the sheep-like willingness of so many Americans to repeat slogans, follow demagogues and even allow their own children to be dosed with Ritalin or sent to serve food to bums in the name of "community service," without questioning the right of other people to do these things.

  • California Democrats talk as if the big problem with the state's electricity crisis is that some power companies are making too much profit. It is not known how widely shared that view is among people who have been trapped in elevators during blackouts or who have had their businesses ruined by power failures.

  • Beware of people who discuss foreign policy in terms of "relieving international tensions." You can always relieve tensions by surrendering. We have done it on issue after issue.

  • The average black family has been in America longer than the average white family. Why then should blacks be hyphenated as African-Americans when they are more centuries removed from Africa than most Europeans are from Europe? Does anyone speak of European-Americans? How long should a hyphen persist?

  • Taxpayers have a right to complain about the runaway cost of the welfare state, but its worst damage has been done by promoting counterproductive lifestyles and creating a whole class of hustlers who know how to game the system, as well as an army of loudmouths who know how to intimidate politicians into giving them more of the same.

  • Why is it that people who are against the cigarette companies for selling a product with the potential to kill raise no similar objections to those who make equipment for sky-diving, white-water rafting, mountain climbing and other activities that also involve people risking their lives for the sake of the enjoyment they get?

  • If the Clinton pardon scandals make you want to know more about this corrupt couple, going all the way back to their days in Arkansas, you can get a six-volume collection of material about them from the Wall Street Journal on CD-ROM or in print.

  • Why is it that some people who are opposed to the government's giving money to faith-based organizations are also in favor of the government's providing money for "mental health," when much of what shrinks do is based on faith, rather than on empirical evidence?

  • There has been so much gushing about the supposed benefits of "diversity" that we have become conditioned to respond automatically to the word, much as Pavlov's dog was conditioned to respond to the ringing of a bell. But evidence is neither asked nor given.

  • When I am struggling with all the books, articles and statistical tabulations that are overflowing my bookcases and filing cabinets, I think of those angry readers who write to say, "You made that up!" after reading something in this column that they were ignorant of and don't want to believe.

  • Racial bean counters automatically attribute statistical differences between blacks and whites to racial discrimination. But they never attribute statistical differences between whites and Asian Americans to discrimination. When banks approve a higher percentage of loans to white applicants than to black applicants, that is automatically called discrimination, but when Asian Americans are approved at a higher rate than whites, it is not. Nor is it called discrimination when Asians do better than whites on SAT scores, unemployment rates or income.

    JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy.


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    © 2001, Creators Syndicate