Thomas Sowell has a knack

It occurred to me that Sowell is somewhat Victorian in his ability to come up with pithy summations of large ideas.  In a pre-typewriter age, brevity was virtuous.  These are some of his thoughts for today, but I urge you to click on the link and read them all:

President Obama really has a way with words, such as calling the problems that millions of people have had trying to sign up for ObamaCare “glitches.” When the Titanic sank, was that a “glitch”?

[snip]

No one seems as certain that they know what the Republicans need to do to win presidential elections as those Republicans who have lost presidential elections, such as Mitt Romney, John McCain and Bob Dole. Moreover, people take them seriously, and seem not to notice that what the losers advocate is the opposite of what won Ronald Reagan two landslide election victories.

If you believe in equal rights, then what do “women’s rights,” “gay rights,” etc., mean? Either they are redundant or they are violations of the principle of equal rights for all.

[snip]

Those who want to “spread the wealth” almost invariably seek to concentrate the power. It happens too often, and in too many different countries around the world, to be a coincidence. Which is more dangerous, inequalities of wealth or concentrations of power?  [Emphasis mine.]

Really, I’m not just saying it to be polite:  Go read all of Sowell’s thoughts for today.

Thomas Sowell on the fallacy of liberal ideas

“Who’s Thomas Sowell?” my daughter asked.

“He’s a genius,” I replied.

“Why?”

“Because he has the rare gift of simplifying very complex ideas without dumbing them down.”

See for yourself:

After listening to Sowell, my blog’s motto seems appropriate:  “Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts.”

Hat tip: American Thinker

A Harvard psychology professor might want to rethink his claim that conservatives are more fearful

Sometimes, timing is everything.  Steven Pinker, who is a Harvard psychology professor just published a long opinion piece in the New York Times explaining why there is a Red State/Blue State divide.  As a predicate to his discussion, he began by dividing the mindsets that characterize conservatives and their Progressive counterparts:

Conservative thinkers like the economist Thomas Sowell and the Times columnist David Brooks have noted that the political right has a Tragic Vision of human nature, in which people are permanently limited in morality, knowledge and reason. Human beings are perennially tempted by aggression, which can be prevented only by the deterrence of a strong military, of citizens resolved to defend themselves and of the prospect of harsh criminal punishment. No central planner is wise or knowledgeable enough to manage an entire economy, which is better left to the invisible hand of the market, in which intelligence is distributed across a network of hundreds of millions of individuals implicitly transmitting information about scarcity and abundance through the prices they negotiate. Humanity is always in danger of backsliding into barbarism, so we should respect customs in sexuality, religion and public propriety, even if no one can articulate their rationale, because they are time-tested workarounds for our innate shortcomings. The left, in contrast, has a Utopian Vision, which emphasizes the malleability of human nature, puts customs under the microscope, articulates rational plans for a better society and seeks to implement them through public institutions.

(First, a quibble:  David Brooks is not a conservative.  He is, instead, a lukewarm liberal who has a good sinecure at the New York Times by pretending to be conservative.  Aside from that, he’s not very bright.  He can talk the talk, but anyone who is overwhelmed by the crease in a presidential candidate’s pants is not a serious thinker, or even a very serious human being. Quibble over. )

Pinker is correct that Sowell, who is a God amongst conservative thinkers, does talk about the conservative “tragic vision.”  I’m not sure I agree with Sowell’s terminology, though.  He’s not describing tragedy, so much as he is describing a realistic understanding of humankind, unpolluted by Utopianism.

In the tragic vision, individual sufferings and social evils are inherent in the innate deficiencies of all human beings, whether these deficiencies are in knowledge, wisdom, morality, or courage. Moreover, the available resources are always inadequate to fulfill all the desires of all the people. Thus there are no “solutions” in the tragic vision, but only trade-offs that still leave many unfulfilled and much unhappiness in the world.

Here’s where the timing bit comes in:  In the above quoted paragraph, Pinker contends that the Left has a Utopian vision.  While it’s true that the Left believes that the State can coerce people into a utilitarian conformism, the Utopianism seems to have leaked away recently.  How else to explain the latest Obama campaign effort (h/t Newsbusters)?

Imagine an America
Where strip mines are fun and free
Where gays can be fixed
And sick people just die
And oil fills the sea

We don’t have to pay for freeways!
Our schools are good enough
Give us endless wars
On foreign shores
And lots of Chinese stuff

We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And we’re kinda blaming you

We haven’t killed all the polar bears
But it’s not for lack of trying
Big Bird is sacked
The Earth is cracked
And the atmosphere is frying

Congress went home early
They did their best we know
You can’t cut spending
With elections pending
Unless it’s welfare dough

We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And we’re kinda blaming you

Find a park that is still open
And take a breath of poison air
They foreclosed your place
To build a weapon in space
But you can write off your au pair

It’s a little awkward to tell you
But you left us holding the bag
When we look around
The place is all dumbed down
And the long term’s kind of a drag

We’re the children of the future
American through and through
But something happened to our country
And yeah, we’re blaming you

You did your best
You failed the test

Mom and Dad
We’re blaming you!

If that isn’t dystopianism, I honestly don’t know what is.  The Obama campaign has no faith whatsoever in human kind.  If it had faith, it wouldn’t believe that the only answer is Big Government.  The campaign would believe in the people and ease off of the constant coercion that is modern Progressivism.

I cannot think of a more repugnant, off-putting advertisement than this dark, twisted vision of the future, one that insults at least half of the American people and that is, quite frankly, stupid and hysterical.  I really thought the campaign had plumbed the depths with its Lena Dunham ad (voting for Obama is like sex) but it’s never wise to underestimate the ugliness behind the Obama campaign.  One can only wonder what the coming week’s ad cycle will bring from a campaign that must work with a pathetic executive record and an increasingly unlikable candidate.

(By the way, to the extent that this video is only one in a series of disturbing Obama campaign videos, you can vote for the one you think is worst here, at the Gay Patriot.)

Why redistribution fails

Trust Thomas Sowell to explain why government-forced redistribution always fails, and to do so in language so clear even a child educated in public schools can understand:

You can confiscate only the wealth that exists at a given moment. You cannot confiscate future wealth — and that future wealth is less likely to be produced when people see that it is going to be confiscated. Farmers in the Soviet Union cut back on how much time and effort they invested in growing their crops when they realized that the government was going to take a big part of the harvest. They slaughtered and ate young farm animals that they would normally have kept tending and feeding while raising them to maturity.

People in industry are not inert objects either. Moreover, unlike farmers, industrialists are not tied to the land in a particular country.

Russian aviation pioneer Igor Sikorsky could take his expertise to America and produce his planes and helicopters thousands of miles away from his native land. Financiers are even less tied down, especially today, when vast sums of money can be dispatched electronically to any part of the world.

That’s it.

Romney’s problem as a candidate is that he does not know how to state this simple proposition and, instead, falls back on Hallmark-esque platitudes.

The case for John McCain

Conservatives definitely aren’t a monolithic bloc, but I’m willing to bet that there isn’t a single conservative who doesn’t respect Thomas Sowell’s thinking. That’s why, when Sowell makes the case for John McCain, we should sit up and take notice — especially since Sowell doesn’t particularly like McCain very much:

Now that the two parties have finally selected their presidential candidates, it is time for a sober– if not grim– assessment of where we are.

Not since 1972 have we been presented with two such painfully inadequate candidates. When election day came that year, I could not bring myself to vote for either George McGovern or Richard Nixon. I stayed home.

Nevertheless, this year, 2008, Sowell is not staying home and his active participation in this election boils down to one thing — Iran:

The point when they get that bomb will be the point of no return. Iran’s nuclear bomb will be the terrorists’ nuclear bomb– and they can make 9/11 look like child’s play.

All the options that are on the table right now will be swept off the table forever. Our choices will be to give in to whatever the terrorists demand– however outrageous those demands might be– or to risk seeing American cities start disappearing in radioactive mushroom clouds.

All the things we are preoccupied with today, from the price of gasoline to health care to global warming, will suddenly no longer matter.

Just as the Nazis did not find it enough to simply kill people in their concentration camps, but had to humiliate and dehumanize them first, so we can expect terrorists with nuclear weapons to both humiliate us and force us to humiliate ourselves, before they finally start killing us.

With regard to that very real, and constantly growing, threat, Sowell’s sees very clear differences between the candidates, and he feels that only McCain has the chops for this battle:

One of these candidates will determine what we are going to do to stop Iran from going nuclear– or whether we are going to do anything other than talk, as Western leaders talked in the 1930s.

There is one big difference between now and the 1930s. Although the West’s lack of military preparedness and its political irresolution led to three solid years of devastating losses to Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, nevertheless when all the West’s industrial and military forces were finally mobilized, the democracies were able to turn the tide and win decisively.

But you cannot lose a nuclear war for three years and then come back. You cannot even sustain the will to resist for three years when you are first broken down morally by threats and then devastated by nuclear bombs.

Our one window of opportunity to prevent this will occur within the term of whoever becomes President of the United States next January.

At a time like this, we do not have the luxury of waiting for our ideal candidate or of indulging our emotions by voting for some third party candidate to show our displeasure– at the cost of putting someone in the White House who is not up to the job.

Senator John McCain has been criticized in this column many times. But, when all is said and done, Senator McCain has not spent decades aiding and abetting people who hate America.

On the contrary, he has paid a huge price for resisting our enemies, even when they held him prisoner and tortured him. The choice between him and Barack Obama should be a no-brainer.

By the way, I’ve said precisely the same thing about the two candidates, plus throwing in the Supreme Court for good measure.  My agreeing with Sowell doesn’t make Sowell seem smarter — it makes me seem smarter.