Jewish World Review Nov. 28, 2003 / 3 Kislev, 5764

Thomas Sowell

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Random thoughts | Random thoughts on the passing scene:

Impractical men especially need to get married. The problem is that practical women may have better sense than to marry them.

I hate old has-been hotels, stuffy over their former glory and usually inefficient.

A careful definition of words would destroy half the agenda of the political left and scrutinizing evidence would destroy the other half.

When you see a four-year-old bossing a two-year-old, you are seeing the fundamental problem of the human race — and the reason so many idealistic political movements for a better world have ended in mass-murdering dictatorships. Giving leaders enough power to create "social justice" is giving them enough power to destroy all justice, all freedom, and all human dignity.

Cowards identify themselves by attacking those who cannot fight back. CBS struck a new low in cowardice by producing a dramatization of Ronald Reagan's career that puts hateful words in his mouth that he never said. Selling it to another channel was another sign of their gutlessness.

As I try to clear out the paper jungle in my office, my wife has suggested using dynamite. But I am saving that as Plan B.

Too many people do not distinguish the vagaries of fate from the sins of man. There are plenty of both but they are fundamentally different — and what can be done about them is very different.

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Has the travel channel become the gambling channel?

Do people who react negatively to the word "profits" have any speck of evidence or any hint of logic to support their reaction? Or are they prepared to admit that they have been conditioned to react to sounds, much like Pavlov's dog?

Recently, as I was driving home in my nine-year-old car, I saw someone in a new Lexus turn into my driveway ahead of me. It turned out to be my assistant, bringing some material from the office. Only in America.

Most people who read "The Communist Manifesto" probably have no idea that it was written by a couple of young men who had never worked a day in their lives, and who nevertheless spoke boldly in the name of "the workers." Similar offspring of inherited wealth have repeatedly provided the leadership of radical movements, with similar pretenses of speaking for "the people."

You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing. If you have been living in a world where outcomes are everything, you may have a very hard time understanding bureaucratic thinking or practices.

Can one person make a difference? I hate to think where we would be if James Q. Wilson had not written about crime or if Milton Friedman had not written about markets, much less where we would be if Winston Churchill had not been prime minister when Britain faced seemingly hopeless odds against the Nazis.

Some people believe in limited government as a principle. Others see limited government as simply a fact — that there are only a limited number of things that government can do more effectively than individuals or other organizations can do.

How anyone can argue in favor of being non-judgmental is beyond me. To say that being non-judgmental is better than being judgmental is itself a judgment, and therefore a violation of the principle.

The death penalty for the D.C. sniper was said to be because he "showed no remorse." When the law gives a price list for committing various crimes, why should there be a discount for acting ability?

One of the reasons psychology is so popular on the left may be that it enables them to do an end run around facts and logic, and attribute other people's disagreements with them to unworthy motives or irrational drives.

As a rule of thumb, Congressional legislation that is bipartisan is usually twice as bad as legislation that is partisan.

Whenever people talk glibly of a need to achieve educational "excellence," I think of what an improvement it would be if our public schools could just achieve mediocrity.

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JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, "Controversial Essays." (Sales help fund JWR.)


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