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Drip, Drip, Drip . . . The Sound of Freedom Slowly Being Lost — and It’s Our Own Fault

5 Mar

From a Dr. Thomas Sowell column titled “Freedom Is Not Free”, warning us against a government that continually pushes the Constitution aside to achieve ideological goals.  The full column can be found at

http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/freedom-is-not-free.html

Excerpt: [bracketed material is mine]

It doesn’t matter what rights you have under the Constitution of the United States, if the government can punish you for exercising those rights [through IRS, FCC, and NSA targeting, indoctrination through Common Core, through nitpicking prosecutions of opposition, etc].

And it doesn’t matter what limits the Constitution puts on government officials’ power, if they can exceed those limits without any adverse consequences [as in effectively making and changing laws within the Executive Branch].

In other words, the Constitution cannot protect you, if you don’t protect the Constitution with your votes against anyone who violates it. Those government officials who want more power are not going to stop unless they get stopped.

As long as millions of Americans vote on the basis of who gives them free stuff, look for their freedom — and all our freedom — to be eroded away, bit by bit. Our children and grandchildren may yet come to see the Constitution as just some quaint words from the past that people once took seriously.

[End of excerpt]

On Mixing War and Politics

19 Feb

From the pen of Dr. Thomas Sowell, my favorite writer – an excerpt from a recent column of his titled “Another Galling Betrayal”.  The entire column can be found at

http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/another-galling-betrayal.html

Excerpt:

. . . .

If we learn nothing else from the bitter tragedy of the war in Afghanistan, it should be that we should put an end forever to the self-indulgence of thinking that we can engage in “nation-building” and creating “democracy” in countries where nothing resembling democracy has ever existed. . . .

F.A. Hayek said, “We shall not grow wiser until we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.” Nothing is more foolish — and immoral — than sending men into battle to risk their lives winning victories that are later lost by politicians for political reasons.

That started long before the war in Afghanistan. Vietnam was a classic example. Years after that war was over, the Communist victors themselves admitted that they lost militarily in Vietnam, as they knew they would. But they won politically in America, with the help of Americans, including the media — as they also knew they would.

The war in Iraq was more of the same. American troops won that war but our politicians lost the peace. Terrorists have now taken over, and raised Al Qaeda flags, in some Iraqi towns that American troops liberated at the cost of many lives.

How did this happen? It happened much the same way it happened in Afghanistan. We insisted on trying to create a “democracy” in the Middle East — a place with a history going back thousands of years, without a single democracy.

[End of excerpt]

Questions on Immigration Reform — Sowell

4 Feb

Thomas Sowell, senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover institution, offers a perspective in immigration reform in a recent column titled “Republicans to the Rescue?”  I have included an excerpt below – the full piece can be read at http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/republicans-to-the-rescue.html

Excerpt:

Listening to discussions of immigration laws and proposals to reform them is like listening to something out of “Alice in Wonderland.”

Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them. One of the big problems that those who are pushing “comprehensive immigration reform” want solved is how to help people who came here illegally and are now “living in the shadows” as a result.

What about embezzlers or burglars who are “living in the shadows” in fear that someone will discover their crimes? Why not “reform” the laws against embezzlement or burglary, so that such people can also come out of the shadows?

Almost everyone seems to think that we need to solve the problem of the children of illegal immigrants, because these children are here “through no fault of their own.” Do people who say that have any idea how many millions of children are living in dire poverty in India, Africa or other places “through no fault of their own,” and would be better off living in the United States?

Do all children have some inherent right to live in America if they have done nothing wrong? If not, then why should the children of illegal immigrants have such a right?

More fundamentally, why do the American people not have a right to the protection that immigration laws provide people in other countries around the world — including Mexico, where illegal immigrants from other countries get no such special treatment as Mexico and its American supporters are demanding for illegal immigrants in the United States?

[End of excerpt]

Personally, although Dr. Sowell may seem a little over the top on this issue, he raises some interesting questions that Americans ought to consider before accepting comprehensive immigration reform that includes broad acceptance of those who broke laws to get into this country.

“The Inequality Bogeyman”

2 Feb

Thomas Sowell, the well-known black conservative economist at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, had the words below to say about economic inequality.  The full column can be found at http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/the-inequality-bogeyman.html

Excerpt:   [Bracketed material is mine – so is the bolding]

. . . . [D]ifferences in capabilities are inescapable, and they make a big difference in what and how much we can contribute to each other’s economic and other well-being. If we all had the same capabilities and the same limitations, one individual’s limitations would be the same as the limitations of the entire human species.

We are lucky that we are so different, so that the capabilities of many other people can cover our limitations.

One of the problems with so many discussions of income and wealth is that the intelligentsia are so obsessed with the money that people receive that they give little or no attention to what causes money to be paid to them, in the first place.

. . . . From the standpoint of a society as a whole, money is just an artificial device to give us incentives to produce real things — goods and services.

Those goods and services are the real “wealth of nations,” as Adam Smith titled his treatise on economics in the 18th century.

[A few paragraphs follow about John D. Rockefeller, his contributions to U.S. economic growth and his resultant fortune, with shout-out to Edison, the Wright brothers, and Henry Ford.]

Too many discussions of large fortunes attribute them to “greed” — as if wanting a lot of money is enough to cause other people to hand it over to you. It is a childish idea, when you stop and think about it — but who stops and thinks these days?

Edison, Ford, the Wright brothers, and innumerable others also created unprecedented expansions of the lives of ordinary people. The individual fortunes represented a fraction of the wealth created. . . .

Intellectuals’ obsession with income statistics — calling envy “social justice” — ignores vast differences in productivity that are far more fundamental to everyone’s well-being. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg has ruined many economies.

[End of excerpt]

Insight from Thomas Sowell — on the Poor

8 Jul

I had written a blog entry about how the definitions of “poor” and “poverty” have become very gray as a result of all the “welfare” benefits being given out to people who qualify by some arbitrary definition.  However, Dr. Sowell came along and stated my case so much better than I was about to do.

Republished on “PA Pundits” blog from Dr. Thomas Sowell’s recent original column.

“Leaders of the left in many countries have promoted policies that enable the poor to be more comfortable in their poverty. But that raises a fundamental question: Just who are ‘the poor’? … ‘Poverty’ once had some concrete meaning — not enough food to eat or not enough clothing or shelter to protect you from the elements, for example. Today it means whatever the government bureaucrats, who set up the statistical criteria, choose to make it mean. … Most Americans with incomes below the official poverty level have air-conditioning, television, own a motor vehicle and, far from being hungry, are more likely than other Americans to be overweight. But an arbitrary definition of words and numbers gives them access to the taxpayers’ money. This kind of ‘poverty’ can easily become a way of life, not only for today’s ‘poor,’ but for their children and grandchildren. Even when they have the potential to become productive members of society, the loss of welfare state benefits if they try to do so is an implicit ‘tax’ on what they would earn that often exceeds the explicit tax on a millionaire. If increasing your income by $10,000 would cause you to lose $15,000 in government benefits, would you do it? In short, the political left’s welfare state makes poverty more comfortable, while penalizing attempts to rise out of poverty.” –economist Thomas Sowell

A Gem from Dr. Sowell

19 Mar

From the book, “Intellectuals and Race”, by Thomas Sowell, 2013

Excerpt:  [Bolding is mine; content in brackets [ ] is mine]

“Although economic and social inequalities among racial and ethnic groups have attracted much attention from intellectuals, seldom today has this attention been directed primarily toward how the less economically successful and less socially prestigious groups might improve themselves by availing themselves of the culture of others around them, so as to become more productive and compete more effectively with other groups in the economy. When David Hume urged his fellow eighteenth-century Scots to master the English language, as they did, both he and they were following a pattern very different from the pattern of most minority intellectuals and their respective groups in other countries around the world. The spectacular rise of the Scots in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – eventually surpassing the English in engineering and medicine, for example – was also an exception, rather than the rule. A much more common pattern has been one in which the intelligentsia have demanded an equality of economic outcomes and of social recognition, irrespective of the skills, behavior or performance of the group to which they belong or on whose behalf they spoke. In some countries today, any claim that intergroup differences in outcomes [result from differences in behavior or performance] are dismissed by the intelligentsia as false “perceptions,” “prejudices,” or “stereotypes,” or else are condemned as “blaming the victim.” Seldom are any of these assertions backed up by empirical evidence or logical analysis that would make them anything more than arbitrary assertions that happen to be in vogue among contemporary intellectual elites.”

[End of excerpt]

Most of you know that Thomas Sowell is a black conservative economist (a rare combination) who is unrelenting in his attempt to expose errors in the thinking of liberals when it comes to race relations.

Thomas Sowell’s Random Thoughts

12 Feb

Just a few gems from Thomas Sowell’s latest “Random Thoughts” column.  I’m really glad he takes the time to collect his notes on various sub-topics and feed them out to us.  The entire column can be read at http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/random-thoughts-13-02-12.html

Excerpts:

— I can’t get excited by the question of whether Senator Robert Menendez had sex with a prostitute in Central America. It is her word against his — and when it comes to a prostitute’s word against a politician’s word, that is too close to call.

— If an American citizen went off to join Hitler’s army during World War II, would there have been any question that this alone would make it legal to kill him? Why then is there an uproar about killing an American citizen who has joined terrorist organizations that are at war against the United States today?

— One of the talking points in favor of confirming Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense is that he was a wounded combat veteran. How does that qualify anyone to run the whole military establishment? Benedict Arnold was a wounded combat veteran!

— People who are forever ready to charge others with “greed” never apply that word to the government. But, if you think the government is never greedy, check out what the government does under the escheat laws and eminent domain.

End of excerpts.

He certainly has a way of getting thoughts down to simple comparisons.