December 28, 2005

Thomas Sowell: In the Right Direction, interview notes

by @ 11:59 am. Filed under Business, Education, The Truth Shall Set you Free!, Unions Destroying America

Thomas SowellFred Barnes was able to get Conservative Thinker Thomas Sowell to do a one on one interview on FoxNews recently. Like Mr. Barnes and other Conservatives, I really enjoy Mr. Sowell’s work. So I’ve made notes from the interview. In my notes I attempt to cover the major topics covered during the interview and Mr. Sowell’s general view on them. There was so much covered that it would be difficult to capture every word. Mr. Sowell brings up so many facts, figures and perfect analogies on the fly that it’s hard to keep up if you’re actually trying to document everything. So I’m hoping I’ve just captured the general points and my notes are in no way a fully detailed report of every single thing covered. But I’ve captured enough that I feel satisfied with sharing my notes here on the blog.

Thomas Sowell: In the Right Direction will re-air on FoxNews New Year’s Day at 3:00PM.

The show opens with accolades from Fred Barnes and Rush Limbaugh. Rush calls Thomas Sowell one of his earliest teachers, among many other accolades.

Personal things about Mr. Sowell:

Mr. Sowell is 75 Years Old. He was born into poverty in North Carolina and raised in depression era Harlem. He was raised by 2 people he thought were his birth parents (in a home of 4 adults total), but they were not and he never knew his birth parents.

Despite the circumstances, he received a lot of attention from the 4 people he lived with. For example, when he asked when he first learned to walk, they said they did not know because someone was always holding him. He feels this level of attention from parents to children is better than a kid getting video games. He feels government can’t create good parents.

(not quotes, just a synopsis of statements)
Barnes: What drove you to do so well academically?

Sowell: What was the alternative? I didn’t have any inherited wealth. I was interested in ideas early on that spurred my interest.

Mr. Sowell served in the Marines and did photography. He attended college via the GI Bill. In college he was a Marxist, but one summer of working for the government (at the US Department of Labor) taught him that government can’t do all the things people would like the government to do. He also found that the people there were not interested in his desire to see if the programs were working.

He has been offered 3 cabinet level positions. Secretary of Education (did not accept), Secretary of Labor (did not accept) and accepted a nomination to be on the Federal Trade Commission, then withdrew his name. Mr. Sowell feels he is not the political type that would get things done in DC, because of the tension he would create.

He has been writing for over 20 years and is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Thomas Sowell is an Independent Conservative. He is not a member of any political party and nothing in either major party makes him feel confident. He was last a member of a party in 1972 as a Democrat and felt so bad about the candidates then that he did not vote for anyone. (1972 was the year George McGovern ran against then incumbent Richard Nixon. Nixon won every Electoral College vote except DC and Massachusetts and over 60% of the popular vote.)

Mr. Sowell’s thoughts on Education in America:

Feels it is in terrible shape across the board. Feels anybody can graduate from an Ivy League school without taking a single course in things like Math, Economics, History or any Hard Science. He feels anyone can graduate to claim they got a degree from such a school, but what they really learn is up to them in their course selection.

On the Grade School and High School level, he feels one major problem is that the people who go into teaching are at the bottom of college students. They have lower test scores than people in most other majors.

Mr. Sowell suggest that getting rid of the teachers Union would be a great start to fixing education issues. He also feels all education schools should be abolished, because they are showing people who want to be teachers some terrible concepts.

Mr. Sowell’s thoughts on Disaster Relief:

The Federal Government should not give bail out money. People should get private insurance. Because the government causes people to live in dangerous areas. If the market could decide without government intervention, people would be less likely to live in disaster prone areas.

He lives in an earthquake prone area and feels if his house is destroyed, that he does not have a right to have taxpayers in other parts of the country paying to rebuild his house.

(a synopsis of statements)
Barnes: Should people who were not evacuated because of hurricane Katrina be angry?

Sowell: They were told to get out! As someone mentioned, look at all the cars that were under water. Each one could have been used. Fred Barnes mentioned that buses were under water too.

Barnes: Is it fair to call Bush a racist for not moving fast enough?

Sowell: Bush must get local permission and he was not getting it. FEMA is an ?equal opportunity bungler?. They always bungle a disaster.

Barnes: Is there any racism ?there?? (in the Katrina relief effort)

Sowell: I’d like to see evidence if there is, but they (government) have bungled with both White and Black people.

Barnes: What about the New Orleans Mayor and Louisiana Governor?

Sowell: They are the ones with the initiative and they were the ones that should have allowed things like the Red Cross to come in and hand out things in the stadium. The local authorities did not give the needed permission. They held Bush’s hands.

Mr. Sowell’s thoughts on Oil and Gas Prices:

(just a synopsis of statements)
Barnes: Is it a crisis?

Sowell: Prices are symptoms. You don’t solve problems by covering them up with things like price controls. That only reduces supply and makes things worse.

Mr. Sowell would drill for more oil and build more refineries. Feels the price problem can only be fixed by increasing supply! The high price tells you there is not enough gasoline to meet market demand. Nothing will work in the short run, but people will adjust their lives as needed in the short term, if more supply were made available later.

Said: ?Democrats are the only reason to vote for Republicans?

Mr. Sowell’s thoughts on The Patriot Act:

Not an intrusion. ?No such thing as benefits without cost?. Feels that precautions against terrorism should not be loosened up. Because if we loosen up, then terrorism will increase. We can’t assume things have been better ?on their own?, with no attacks after 9/11.

(just a synopsis of statements)
Barnes: Is it OK to question Librarians?

Sowell: It is not ideal, but it’s not some great horror. Not sure if it’s justified and does not want to find out. Basically is OK with the Patriot Act. Realizes that stopping terrorism comes at some cost.

Mr. Sowell’s thoughts on Iraq:

Does not feel that Iraq is like Vietnam.

Feels there is a lack of media proclaimed heroes. What he hears from soldiers is different from what the media says. Media portrays soldiers as victims and never honors the soldiers’ sacrifice.

Exit Strategy: Can’t think of a war that had one. And feels that is not a reason to give up.

Mr. Sowell’s thoughts about Liberals:

Calls them ?self anointed? because they feel they know how to make government make things better. Instead of allowing people to do for themselves.

Like with New Orleans and the ?young hoodlums? on the street. The government gives them money, so they had time on their hands to get into trouble. It is a recipe for disaster in any society.

Liberals care about their vision, but not real life human beings. Like school busing of Blacks, the evidence shows it really did not help anyone.

The Social Justice that Liberals want requires too much power in too few hands and is more dangerous than what Liberals want social justice to fight.

Labor and equal wage laws for women: How can you value a female nurse’s work in comparison with a man working on an oil rig?

Regarding Wal Mart salaries that Liberals complain about. If the workers felt they were not fairly compensated they would leave.

Liberals want to help the disadvantaged, while Conservatives want to stop people from being disadvantaged in the first place.

Liberals feel the institutions are bad and if they were better the world would be better. Conservatives feel man in flawed and for every fix implemented there is a trade-off and we must work to make the best of those trade-offs. That’s all we can hope for.

3 questions that destroy most Liberal arguments:

1. Compared to What?

2. At What Cost?

3. What hard evidence do you have?

Most Liberal ideas can’t pass those questions, while Conservative ideas can.

Liberals want to stamp out the ?last vestige of segregation? he ask ?at what price??

Mr. Sowell’s thoughts about matters of Race:

His “Black Rednecks and White Liberals” write-up best sums up how this part of the interview started. Because Mr. Barnes asked about the book. Read that linked write-up before reading any more of this section.

Says Black Intellectuals don’t say much about his work. As if they try to ignore him.

People don’t ?dispute? him much. They just verbally attack him or ignore him.

Feels the Black ?Redneck? culture should not be maintained. To get rid of it, stop making it ?sacred?. When kids don’t speak proper English, correct them and don’t worry about their ?self esteem? in regards to being corrected.

Better his self esteem should be wounded, than he should go through 50 years of life permanently behind and with no hope of getting anywhere.

(a synopsis of statements)
Barnes: Why do people like so-called Civil Rights and Black Leaders dislike you?

Sowell: ?Why does the Mafia dislike policemen? They’re making their racket harder.?

Emphasizing Civil Rights is a distraction. Blacks were rising faster before the Civil Rights Movement then after.

Affirmative Action: Gives benefits to minorities that were already well off. Allows Black millionaires to buy things like a radio station cheaper.

(a synopsis of statements, with some exact quotes)
Barnes: Did you ever benefit from Affirmative Action?

Sowell: I was into academics before Affirmative Action and the Civil Rights laws of today.

Barnes: What should the Civil Rights Movement be for now?


Dissolution! They’ve won, declare victory, go home and start putting your efforts into something else like education, entrepeneurialship, all kinds of other things that have a much bigger payoff.

Barnes: Why don’t they do that?

Sowell: ?Because they are specialized…? They can’t do anything else. They (Jesse Jackson and others) don’t have the skills.

Other (at the end they covered a variety of issues):

Businesses reduce more poverty than intellectuals. The only thing that reduces poverty is wealth, while intellectuals create confusion. Mr. Sowell tries to cut through the confusion instead of creating it.

(a synopsis of statements, with some exact quotes)
Barnes: What policies irritate you the most?


In Tom Sowell’s America:

He is pessimistic about America’s future. Mostly about the decline of values, since that is what is inside of people and if we don’t have that everything else is lost.

Against the entitlement mentality and people feeling that someone should give them something, that they did not earn for themselves.

My personal thoughts about this interview:

Thank God it happened. Because at his age who knows when there might be an opportunity for another. He and Star Parker are probably the 2 people I most agree with.

Regarding education, as I’ve mentioned here before, I personally feel that bad parents are the problem and agree with Mr. Sowell’s view that government can’t make good parents. I feel the issue with parents is far more the major issue than the learning abilities of teachers. Bad parents have far reaching affects and education is one of them. Not all teachers are good, but I think they are over-blamed. I agree with his idea of getting rid of the teacher’s union. As you know I’m for the dissolution of all Unions. Their time has past and they belong in a museum!

I totally agree with him on everything else.

This is an interview that you really must see. FoxNews should re-air it weekly throughout 2006 🙂 !

4 Responses to “Thomas Sowell: In the Right Direction, interview notes”

  1. Independent Conservative Says:

    Bush takes the crony route for immigration enforcement

    I’m thinking that we can forget all that talk from Bush, when he was saying that he was going to show a stronger hand in border enforcement. Because he’s just made a big time crony pick with his recess appointment of Julie L. Myers to run…

  2. cmeisenzahl Says:

    Thanks for this post, very disappointed that I missed it. ;-(

    Any chance a full transcript si available? Or better yet, the video available? I wish they would air it again.


  3. IndependentConservative Says:

    I wish that the full transcript was available. Would have saved me the time making this post 🙂 .

    If you do find one let me know and I’ll link it.

    Maybe if enough people keep bugging FoxNews they will air it again or post a transcript.

  4. Independent Conservative Says:

    I’ve Got Issues With the President’s State of the Union Address

    As if there has not already been enough analysis of this speech, now here I come with my 2 cents . You can get the full transcript and video of the 2006 State of the Union Address here.
    There were a number of good things that the President said la…

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