All Time Famous Thomas Sowell Quotes

Thomas Sowell Quotes

Thomas Sowell, born on June 30, 1930, is an American economist and author known for his conservative views. He earned degrees from Harvard and Columbia University before completing a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. Throughout his career, Sowell held academic positions at institutions like Howard University and UCLA. He advocates for classical liberal and conservative economic principles, emphasizing limited government intervention and individual liberty. Sowell has written extensively on race and ethnicity, challenging conventional narratives and opposing affirmative action. Notable works include “Basic Economics” and “The Vision of the Anointed.”

Thomas Sowell Quotes

1. “It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”
— Thomas Sowell

2. “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”
— Thomas Sowell

3. “There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs.”
— Thomas Sowell

4. “It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.”
— Thomas Sowell

5. “Nobody is equal to anybody. Even the same man is not equal to himself on different days.”
— Thomas Sowell

6. “Politics is the art of making your selfish desires seem like the national interest.”
— Thomas Sowell

7. “What exactly is your ‘fair share’ of what ‘someone else’ has worked for?”
— Thomas Sowell

8. “Racism is not dead, but it is on life support – kept alive by politicians, race hustlers and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as ‘racists’”
— Thomas Sowell

9. “Social Engineering – The art of replacing what works with what sounds good.”
— Thomas Sowell

10. “Of all ignorance, the ignorance of the educated is the most dangerous. Not only are educated people likely to have more influence, they are the last people to suspect that they don’t know what they are talking about when they go outside their narrow fields.”
— Thomas Sowell

11. “One of the most important reasons for studying history is that virtually every stupid idea that is in vogue today has been tried before and proved disastrous before, time and again.”
— Thomas Sowell

12. “When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.”
— Thomas Sowell

13. “I have never understood why it is “greed” to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.”
— Thomas Sowell

14. “People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.”
— Thomas Sowell

15. “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”
— Thomas Sowell

16. “It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites.”
— Thomas Sowell

17. “Deception is one of the quickest ways to gain little things and lose big things.”
— Thomas Sowell

18. “Ideas are everywhere, but knowledge is rare.”
— Thomas Sowell

19. “In the long run, the greatest weapon of mass destruction is stupidity.”
— Thomas Sowell

20. “Intellect is not wisdom.”
— Thomas Sowell

21. “One of the common failings among honorable people is a failure to appreciate how thoroughly dishonorable some other people can be, and how dangerous it is to trust them.”
— Thomas Sowell

22. “It is so easy to be wrong and to persist in being wrong when the costs of being wrong are paid by others.”
— Thomas Sowell

23. “People who talk incessantly about “change” are often dogmatically set in their ways. They want to change other people.”
— Thomas Sowell

24. “If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism.”
— Thomas Sowell

25. “The word ‘racism’ is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything – and demanding evidence makes you a ‘racist.’”
— Thomas Sowell

26. “Ours may become the first civilization destroyed, not by the power of our enemies, but by the ignorance of our teachers and the dangerous nonsense they are teaching our children. In an age of artificial intelligence, they are creating artificial stupidity.”
— Thomas Sowell

27. “It doesn’t matter how smart you are unless you stop and think.”
— Thomas Sowell

28. “People who pride themselves on their “complexity” and deride others for being “simplistic” should realize that the truth is often not very complicated. What gets complex is evading the truth.”
— Thomas Sowell

29. “The welfare state is not really about the welfare of the masses. It is about the egos of the elites.”
— Thomas Sowell

30. “It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance.”
— Thomas Sowell

31. “ANYONE who studies the history of ideas should notice how much more often people on the political left, more so than others, denigrate and demonize those who disagree with them – instead of answering their arguments.”
— Thomas Sowell

32. “Talkers are usually more articulate than doers since talk is their specialty.”
— Thomas Sowell

33. “The Constitution cannot protect us unless we protect the Constitution.”
— Thomas Sowell

34. “The same set of statistics can produce opposite conclusions at different levels of aggregation.”
— Thomas Sowell

35. “The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.”
— Thomas Sowell

36. “Sometimes it seems as if there are more solutions than problems. On closer scrutiny, it turns out that many of today’s problems are a result of yesterday’s solutions.”
— Thomas Sowell

37. “Too much of what is called ‘education’ is little more than an expensive isolation from reality.”
— Thomas Sowell

38. “Economics is a study of cause-and-effect relationships in an economy. Its purpose is to discern the consequences of various ways of allocating resources that have alternative uses. It has nothing to say about philosophy or values, anymore than it has to say about music or literature.”
— Thomas Sowell

39. “The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department.”
— Thomas Sowell

40. “In this era of political correctness, some people seem unaware that being squeamish about words can mean being blind to realities.”
— Thomas Sowell

41. “Liberalism is totalitarianism with a human face.”
— Thomas Sowell

42. “Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.”
— Thomas Sowell

43. “Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back.”
— Thomas Sowell

44. “The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best.”
— Thomas Sowell

45. “There are 3 questions that would destroy most of the arguments of the Left. The first is – compared to what? The second is – at what cost? And the third is – what hard evidence do you have?”
— Thomas Sowell

46. “Some of the most vocal critics of the way things are being done are people who have done nothing themselves, and whose only contributions to society are their complaints and moral exhibitionism.”
— Thomas Sowell

47. “Intellectuals may like to think of themselves as people who “speak truth to power” but too often they are people who speak lies to gain power.”
— Thomas Sowell

48. “What ‘multiculturalism’ boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture – and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.”
— Thomas Sowell

49. “One of the consequences of such notions as ‘entitlements’ is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence.”
— Thomas Sowell

50. “The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.”
— Thomas Sowell

51. “The freedom of America is the freedom to live your own life and take your own chances.”
— Thomas Sowell

52. “The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.”
— Thomas Sowell

53. “The law of diminishing returns means that even the most beneficial prinicple will become harmful if carried far enough.”
— Thomas Sowell

54. “The strongest argument for socialism is that it sounds good. The strongest argument against socialism is that it doesn’t work. But those who live by words will always have a soft spot in their hearts for socialism because it sounds so good.”
— Thomas Sowell

55. “What the political left, even in democratic countries, share is the notion that knowledgeable and virtuous people like themselves have both a right and a duty to use the power of government to impose their superior knowledge and virtue on others.”
— Thomas Sowell

56. “People who have time on their hands will inevitably waste the time of people who have work to do.”
— Thomas Sowell

57. “What is history but the story of how politicians have squandered the blood and treasure of the human race?”
— Thomas Sowell

58. “In liberal logic, if life is unfair then the answer is to turn more tax money over to politicians, to spend in ways that will increase their chances of getting reelected.”
— Thomas Sowell

59. “No society ever thrived because it had a large and growing class of parasites living off those who produce.”
— Thomas Sowell

60. “You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.”
— Thomas Sowell

61. “The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First you take people’s money away quietly, and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly.”
— Thomas Sowell

62. “People who refuse to accept unpleasant truths have no right to complain about politicians who lie to them. What other kind of candidates would such people elect?”
— Thomas Sowell

63. “One of the many disservices done to young people by our schools and colleges is giving them the puffed up notion that they are in a position to pass sweeping judgments on a world that they have barely begun to experience.”
— Thomas Sowell

64. “If we spend our time with regrets over yesterday, and worries over what might happen tomorrow, we have no today in which to live.”
— Thomas Sowell

65. “There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs.”
— Thomas Sowell

66. “We seem to be getting closer and closer to a situation where nobody is responsible for what they did but we are all responsible for what somebody else did.”
— Thomas Sowell

67. “The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy.”
— Thomas Sowell

68. “One of the painful signs of years of dumbed-down education is how many people are unable to make a coherent argument. They can vent their emotions, question other people’s motives, make bold assertions, repeat slogans – anything except reason.”
— Thomas Sowell

69. “Life does not ask what we want. It presents us with options.”
— Thomas Sowell

70. “No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.”
— Thomas Sowell

71. “Freedom is unlikely to be lost all at once and openly. It is far more likely to be eroded away, bit by bit, amid glittering promises and expressions of noble ideals.”
— Thomas Sowell

72. “Civil rights used to be about treating everyone the same. But today some people are so used to special treatment that equal treatment is considered to be discrimination.”
— Thomas Sowell

73. “If a word means everything, then in means nothing.”
— Thomas Sowell

74. “Everyone may be called “comrade,” but some comrades have the power of life and death over other comrades.”
— Thomas Sowell

75. “The difference between a policy and a crusade is that a policy is judged by its results, while a crusade is judged by how good it makes its crusaders feel.”
— Thomas Sowell

76. “You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization – including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility, and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain – without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large.”
— Thomas Sowell

77. “The idealism of the left is a very selfish idealism. In their war against ‘the rich’ and big business, they don’t care how much collateral damage there is to workers who end up end up unemployed.”
— Thomas Sowell

78. “Few of the great tragedies of history were created by the village idiot, and many by the village genius.”
— Thomas Sowell

79. “There is no bigger waste of time than doing 90% of what is necessary.”
— Thomas Sowell

80. “The great escape of our times is escape from personal responsibility for the consequences of one’s own behavior.”
— Thomas Sowell

81. “Women can say anything they want to men, or blacks to whites, with impunity. But strong words in the other direction can bring down on students the wrath of the campus thought police – as well as punishments that can extend to suspension or expulsion.”
— Thomas Sowell

82. “Life has many good things. The problem is that most of these good things can be gotten only by sacrificing other good things. We all recognize this in our daily lives. It is only in politics that this simple, common sense fact is routinely ignored.”
— Thomas Sowell

83. “The big problem in the long process of dumbing down the schools is that you can reach a point of no return. How are parents who never received a decent education themselves to recognize that their children are not getting a decent education?”
— Thomas Sowell

84. “Relevance is not something you can predict. It is something you discover after the fact.”
— Thomas Sowell

85. “Too many people – some of them judges – seem to think that freedom of speech means freedom from consequences for what you have said. If you believe that, try insulting your boss when you go to work tomorrow. Better yet, try insulting your spouse before going to bed tonight.”
— Thomas Sowell

86. “Doing the right thing is fun. If nothing else, it surprises people.”
— Thomas Sowell

87. “Neither the depth of despondency nor the height of euphoria tells you how long either will last.”
— Thomas Sowell

88. “The only thing better than “hands-on” experience is hands-off experience – enough experience to understand that some things will turn out better if left alone.”
— Thomas Sowell

89. “It is amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them. Using this kind of reasoning, you can believe or not believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic.”
— Thomas Sowell

90. “The biggest myth about labor unions is that unions are for the workers. Unions are for unions, just as corporations are for corporations and politicians are for politicians.”
— Thomas Sowell

91. “Activism is a way for useless people to feel important, even if the consequences of their activism are counterproductive for those they claim to be helping and damaging to the fabric of society as a whole.”
— Thomas Sowell

92. “Eternal vigilance is only part of the price of freedom. The maturity to live with imperfections is another crucial part of the price of freedom.”
— Thomas Sowell

93. “It is amazing how many of the intelligentsia call it “greed” to want to keep what you have earned, but not greed to want to take away what somebody else has earned, and let politicians use it to buy votes.”
— Thomas Sowell

94. “If we become a people who are willing to give up our money and our freedom in exchange for rhetoric and promises, then nothing can save us.”
— Thomas Sowell

95. “Competition does a much more effective job than government at protecting consumers.”
— Thomas Sowell

96. “For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert, but for every fact there is not necessarily an equal and opposite fact.”
— Thomas Sowell

97. “If sanity ever returns to our society and we stop taking pretentious elites seriously, one of the signs will be that the public will force the removal of those ugly pieces of twisted metal that are called ‘art’ in front of government buildings.”
— Thomas Sowell

98. “It is hard to read a newspaper or watch a television newscast without encountering someone who has come up with a new ‘solution’ to society’s ‘problems.’”
— Thomas Sowell

99. “The people made worse off by slavery were those who were enslaved. Their descendants would have been worse off today if born in Africa instead of America. Put differently, the terrible fate of their ancestors benefitted them.”
— Thomas Sowell

100. “You cannot subsidize irresponsibility and expect people to become more responsible.”
— Thomas Sowell

101. “In politics, the truth is strictly optional and that also seems to be true in parts of the media.”
— Thomas Sowell

102. “Capitalism knows only one color: that color is green; all else is necessarily subservient to it, hence, race, gender and ethnicity cannot be considered within it.”
— Thomas Sowell

103. “When a highly successful leader retires after a long career, it is very unlikely that his successor will be of comparable caliber. Anyone of similar ability and drive would have gone somewhere else, instead of waiting in the wings for years for a chance to show his own leadership.”
— Thomas Sowell

104. “Before the Iraq war I was quite disturbed by some of the neoconservatives, who were saying things like, “What is the point of being a superpower if you can’t do such-and-such, take on these responsibilities?” The point of being a superpower is that people will leave you alone.”
— Thomas Sowell

105. “It is bad enough that so many people believe things without any evidence. What is worse is that some people have no conception of evidence and regard facts as just someone else’s opinion.”
— Thomas Sowell

106. “Some things are believed because they are demonstrably true, but many other things are believed simply because they have been asserted repeatedly and repetition has been accepted as a substitute for evidence.”
— Thomas Sowell

107. “A moral monopoly is the antithesis of a marketplace of ideas.”
— Thomas Sowell

108. “Not since the days of slavery have there been so many people who feel entitled to what other people have produced as there are in the modern welfare state, whether in Western Europe or on this side of the Atlantic.”
— Thomas Sowell

109. “Think about it: What the busybodies are saying is that third parties like themselves – who are paying nothing to anybody – should be determining how much somebody else should be paying those who work for them.”
— Thomas Sowell

110. “Lunches don’t get free just because you don’t see the prices on the menu. And economists don’t get popular by reminding people of that.”
— Thomas Sowell

111. “Stupid people can cause problems, but it usually takes brilliant people to create a real catastrophe.”
— Thomas Sowell

112. “To say that being non-judgmental is better than being judgmental is itself a judgment, and therefore a violation of principle.”
— Thomas Sowell

113. “If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.”
— Thomas Sowell

114. “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.”
— Thomas Sowell

115. “Do countries with strong gun control laws have lower murder rates? Only if you cherry-pick the data.”
— Thomas Sowell

116. “There are few things more dishonorable than misleading the young.”
— Thomas Sowell

117. “A friend from India told me that a countryman of his said: “I want to go to America. I want to see a country where poor people are fat.””
— Thomas Sowell

118. “Although the big word on the left is ‘compassion,’ the big agenda on the left is dependency.”
— Thomas Sowell

119. “American prosperity and American free enterprise are both highly unusual in the world, and we should not overlook the possibility that the two are connected.”
— Thomas Sowell

120. “Sometimes it seems as if I have spent the first half of my life refusing to let white people define me and the second half refusing to let black people define me.”
— Thomas Sowell

121. “One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain.”
— Thomas Sowell

122. “The grand delusion of contemporary liberals is that they have both the right and the ability to move their fellow creatures around like blocks of wood – and that the end results will be no different than if people had voluntarily chosen the same action.”
— Thomas Sowell

123. “In an age of artificial intelligence, too many of our schools and colleges are producing artificial stupidity.”
— Thomas Sowell

124. “Reality does not go away when it is ignored.”
— Thomas Sowell

125. “Brainy folks were also present in Lyndon Johnson’s administration, especially in the Pentagon, where Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s brilliant ‘whiz kids’ tried to micro-manage the Vietnam war, with disastrous results.”
— Thomas Sowell

126. “History is the memory of a nation.”
— Thomas Sowell

127. “It is amazing how many people act as if the right to free speech includes the right to be free of criticism for what you say – which means that other people should not have the same right to free speech that they claim for themselves.”
— Thomas Sowell

128. “When people are presented with the alternatives of hating themselves for their failure or hating others for their success, they seldom choose to hate themselves.”
— Thomas Sowell

129. “There is nothing so bad that politics cannot make it worse.”
— Thomas Sowell

130. “We enjoy freedom and the rule of law on which it depends, not because we deserve it, but because others before us put their lives on the line to defend it.”
— Thomas Sowell

131. “Reality is not optional.”
— Thomas Sowell

132. “The desire of businessmen for profits is what drives prices down unless forcibly prevented from engaging in price competition, usually by governmental activity.”
— Thomas Sowell

133. “The reason so many problems do not get solved in Washington is that solving those problems is not the No. 1 priority: Re-election is.”
— Thomas Sowell

134. “Envy was once considered to be one of the seven deadly sins before it became one of the most admired virtues under its new name, ‘social justice’.”
— Thomas Sowell

135. “There is no talent so ardently supported, nor generously rewarded, as the ability to convince parasites they are victims.”
— Thomas Sowell

136. “Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric.”
— Thomas Sowell

137. “Education is not merely neglected in many of our schools today, but is replaced to a great extent by ideological indoctrination.”
— Thomas Sowell

138. “Rhetoric is no substitute for reality.”
— Thomas Sowell

139. “What is called ‘capitalism’ might more accurately be called consumerism. It is the consumers who call the tune, and those capitalists who want to remain capitalists have to learn to dance to it.”
— Thomas Sowell

140. “Asking liberals where wages and prices come from is like asking six-year-olds where babies come from.”
— Thomas Sowell

141. “People who think that they are being exploited should ask themselves whether they would be missed if they left, or whether people would say: Good riddance?”
— Thomas Sowell

142. “Tariffs that save jobs in the steel industry mean higher steel prices, which in turn means fewer sales of American steel products around the world and losses of far more jobs than are saved.”
— Thomas Sowell

143. “If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else’s expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves.”
— Thomas Sowell

144. “Tolerating imperfections is the price of freedom.”
— Thomas Sowell

145. “Don’t you get tired of seeing so many “non-conformists” with the same non-conformist look?”
— Thomas Sowell

146. “The welfare state has always been judged by its good intentions, rather than its bad results.”
— Thomas Sowell

147. “In a democracy, we have always had to worry about the ignorance of the uneducated. Today we have to worry about the ignorance of people with college degrees.”
— Thomas Sowell

148. “Capitalism is not an ‘ism.’ It is closer to being the opposite of an ‘ism,’ because it is simply the freedom of ordinary people to make whatever economic transactions they can mutually agree to.”
— Thomas Sowell

149. “Envy is always referred to by its political alias, ’social justice.”
— Thomas Sowell

150. “A passionate commitment to social justice is no substitute for knowing what the hell you’re talking about.”
— Thomas Sowell

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