Friday, Dec. 9, 2016    Login | Register        

Fact-free liberalism

Thomas Sowell's picture

Someone summarized Barack Obama in three words — “educated,” “smart” and “ignorant.” Unfortunately, those same three words would describe all too many of the people who come out of our most prestigious colleges and universities today.

President Obama seems completely unaware of how many of the policies he is trying to impose have been tried before, in many times and places around the world, and have failed time and again.

Economic equality? That was tried in the 19th century, in communities set up by Robert Owen, the man who coined the term “socialism.” Those communities all collapsed.

It was tried even earlier, in 18th century Georgia, when that was a British colony. People in Georgia ended up fleeing to other colonies, as many other people would vote with their feet in the 20th century, by fleeing many other societies around the world that were established in the name of economic equality.

But who reads history these days? Moreover, those parts of history that would undermine the vision of the left — which prevails in our education system from elementary school to postgraduate study — are not likely to get much attention.

The net results are bright people, with impressive degrees, who have been told for years how brilliant they are, but who are often ignorant of facts that might cause them to question what they have been indoctrinated with in schools and colleges.

Recently Kirsten Powers repeated on Fox News Channel the discredited claim that women are paid only about three-quarters of what a man is paid for doing the same work.

But there have been empirical studies, going back for decades, showing that there is no such gap when the women and men are in the same occupation, with the same skills, experience, education, hours of work and continuous years of full-time work.

Income differences between the sexes reflect the fact that women and men differ in all these things — and more. Young male doctors earn much more than young female doctors. But young male doctors work over 500 hours a year more than young female doctors.

Then there is the current hysteria which claims that people in the famous “top one percent” have incomes that are rising sharply and absorbing a wholly disproportionate share of all the income in the country.

But check out a Treasury Department study titled “Income Mobility in the U.S. from 1996 to 2005.” It uses income tax data, showing that people who were in the top one percent in 1996 had their incomes fall — repeat, fall — by 26 percent by 2005.

What about the other studies that seem to say the opposite? Those are studies of income brackets, not studies of the flesh-and-blood human beings who are moving from one bracket to another over time. More than half the people who were in the top one percent in 1996 were no longer there in 2005.

This is hardly surprising when you consider that their incomes were going down while there was widespread hysteria over the belief that their incomes were going up.

Empirical studies that follow income brackets over time repeatedly reach opposite conclusions from studies that follow individuals. But people in the media, in politics and even in academia, cite statistics about income brackets as if they are discussing what happens to actual human beings over time.

All too often when liberals cite statistics, they forget the statisticians’ warning that correlation is not causation. For example the New York Times crusaded for government-provided prenatal care, citing the fact that black mothers had prenatal care less often than white mothers — and that there were higher rates of infant mortality among blacks.

But was correlation causation? American women of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino ancestry also had less prenatal care than whites — and lower rates of infant mortality than either blacks or whites.

When statistics showed that black applicants for conventional mortgage loans were turned down at twice the rate for white applicants, the media went ballistic crying racial discrimination. But whites were turned down almost twice as often as Asian Americans — and no one thinks that is racial discrimination.

Facts are not liberals’ strong suit. Rhetoric is.

[Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is] COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM


Mr. Sowell describes graduates of America’s most prestigious universities as “educated, smart, and ignorant,” and then he enlightens us with his own superior understanding of American wealth distribution. He claims that suggestions of income inequality are thwarted by statistics from IRS records showing that highest earning 1% in 1996 saw their incomes fall by 26% ten years later. Why should this surprise anyone? People normally top out their incomes in the latter years of their employment. When they retire, their incomes are reduced substantially, but their wealth does not follow suit. Sowell’s damning statistics merely reflect a well-known phenomenon.

Sowell ignores the inconvenient, but more telling, data demonstrating that the bottom half of the wealth distribution remains virtually unchanged throughout their lifetimes. This may be a function of under-education, indolence, family training (or lack thereof), etc. However, it speaks more to the practical issue of wealth stagnation than anything to which he directs attention.

His discussion of the gender income gap was lifted (with few modifications) from PolitiFact. And his warning that correlation does not necessarily prove causation is a staple of the first lecture in virtually every statistics class.

Perhaps the adjectives “educated and ignorant” fairly fit Mr. Sowell, unless he is merely being deliberately disingenuous. Either way, it’s not very “smart.”

From Youtube:

This is what some see as the reality in our country. Is there a study that contradicts this?

No comment to the video regarding the reality of wealth in our country? Surely you have your expert references that would help the rest of us to understand our erroneous thinking. We need your input so that we can become as learned as you!

PTC Observer's picture

Pay close attention to this DM, I don't disagree with the video. The question is why is there an apparent distortion with wealth in America?

Have you ever considered why things have changed over the last 30 to 40 years in wealth distribution? Do you see any correlation at all with the growth of government? Do you understand that when you attempt to "redistribute" it cause economic distortion?

Now consider this DM, crony capitalism, do you know what this term means? Neo-capitalism is not free market DM, it is an outgrowth of political favor and protection of vested interests.

Corporations learned a long time ago, that is much easier to gain control over the government apparatus for protection of markets, than it is to compete in a free market. Corporations, line not only politicians pockets but the owners and CEO's as well. They could never survive in a free market. History is replete with examples DM.

That DM, is the reason for the wealth distortion. Give me an example of any large corporation that isn't in bed with the government. There are only a few exceptions.

Now, who pays for this? Well it's the middle class, and as you inflate prices for everyday products, you suppress the middle class and it gets smaller. You may rail against corporations and the unfair nature of wealth distribution DM, but unless you free markets to operate without government interference, the middle class is doomed. Oh yes, Obamacare is a great example of how the middle class will pay for every new government "invention".

What is your solution? Citizens of our great country look forward to your answer!

PTC Observer's picture

Here are my solutions that I have posted here before on numerous occasions. I am sure you disagree with most if not all. Now where's yours? Don't give us your kumbaya speech, it's dull.

So, what can we do? Well there are a number of things that can be done but it takes an educated and informed citizenry to demand them. Unfortunately, government run schools have destroyed the ability for most people to think independently. Believe me even the teachers believe the stuff they are teaching because they too were educated in government schools. Sadly most are simply unable to see beyond this propaganda. So here are things that can be done, no matter how unrealistic they may seem at the moment, there will come a time when people will be looking for different answers.

1. Above all else, restrict the vote to those that create wealth. If you work for the government, or derive your income in any way from the government, you can't vote. It is a conflict of interest.

2. Limit the terms of government officials, six years for Senators and two terms for Representatives. Define a limit for all others. Eliminate the professional political class.

3. Dramatically reduce central government spending; at a minimum significantly reduce the rate of spending increase.

4. Reduce taxes just above the rate of reduction in spending – net result is to reduce spending more than taxes thus reducing the national debt.

5. Recognize and reward risk taking, savings and capital formation –
a. Incent innovation by giving tax credits on R&D expenditures, possibly 110% of expenditures.
b. Reduce capital gains taxes to zero
c. Eliminate inheritance taxes
d. Overhaul patent laws that are outmoded.
e. Eliminate taxes on savings interest

5. Attack the problems related to Trial Lawyers – Tort reform in every sector of the economy – key provision is to make the loser pay the bill.

6. Minimize government regulation and thus unleash the full intellectual capacity of the country. Remember that regulation does two things to make the country less competitive; a. it drains resources away from productive effort, and b. it comparatively puts the US at competitive disadvantage to those countries that have no such regulations. Pass legislation to toughen penalties on defective products, and negligence by unprincipled businessmen. Throw the book at them when they are guilty no matter how wealthy they are.

7. Drive government decision making to the local level and give local authorities more say on how they use the people’s money. It makes no sense to send money to the central government and have them give it back to local government. It is not efficient from a economic standpoint.

8. Reduce military spending as a percentage of GDP – we don’t need to be the world’s police. Protect our boarders and our people at home. Build the wall on the southern border or whatever it takes to protect our national sovereignty

9. Eliminate corporate welfare – we need to stop protecting unproductive neo-capitalists.

10. Get out of Banking & “private” business – initial efforts to inflate the money supply following the collapse of weaker institutions was the right thing to do to avert a panic and the FED may need to do this again, but government needs to let weaker banks and other companies fail no matter how big they are. If they can’t compete they can’t compete, just that simple.

11. Incent legal immigration of scientists, physicians, nurses, mathematicians, and wealthy individuals to the United States.

12. Slowly dismantle the Federal Reserve Bank (a private bank that controls the money supply). Bitcoin may be a good option.

13. Return to a gold standard or something like it. For those that don’t understand this notion, the reason we have major cycles in our economy is due primarily to the FED trying to manipulate the money supply. Tie the currency to a precious metal and currency can’t inflate because you can increase the supply of the metal quickly.

14. Require the Senate to confirm judicial appointments within a session or the appointee gets a pass into the court system without a Senate vote. If the appointee is appointed late in a session they have until the end of the next session.

If we do these things at a minimum, we will ignite the mighty engine once again. Fail to do these things and we will fall into the dark abyss of financial collapse.

You're right! I disagree when one limits citizen responsibility to participate in governance by not following/ignoring key elements in the United States Constitution. (Sorry - a little over 20 words-but I'm sure you get the point)

PTC Observer's picture

please refer me to the section that gives us the "right" to vote?

The vote, in a Republic is limited. I am suggesting a way to limit it and thereby eliminate the raiding of the treasury by those that directly benefit from government largess.

One chooses to be employed by the government DM, no one forces you.

Your solutions?

There are others in our country who are aware of the tactics of those who would try to limit the right to vote in this country. You and your kind are identified and will be fought in every state in this country. Hopefully, this will not be tied to the Republican Party - for if it is, there goes the minority and women's vote. Citizens will vote in 2014 if the right to vote is threatened. I have the RIGHT to work where I am deemed qualified - without losing my right as a US Citizen to vote.

We're not asleep!

Other solutions that you mentioned - some have merit - but when you tackle the right of a citizen to vote because of where they work - there are families in this country that have lost relatives and friends to assure that all citizens in this country had the right to vote in every state - regardless of their politicall affiliation or where they 'work'..

PTC Observer's picture

Are you not paying attention on purpose?

1. It has nothing to do with race, gender or political affiliation.
2. You have the option to apply anywhere you choose to apply for work. If you are offered a job, you are free to work anywhere.
3. You have no right to vote simply because you are a citizen.
4. You do not have to apply for work for the government.

"wakina a big giant"? Yes, I suppose there are a lot of people that rely on the government for work. That's the problem. You know what? They'll just keep voting themselves more plunder from the middle class. You know those people that you harp about caring about?

[quote]1. It has nothing to do with race, gender or political affiliation.[/quote]

Really? Check the demographics of government workers. You look at what you consider your common sense solution. Others look at the consequences of your common sense solutions. WAKE UP PTCO! You are being used!

But please keep posting. People/voters are carefully listening as they did in the last election. Huckleby and Rand are setting the stage. Interesting.

PTC Observer's picture

mean DM?

Are you saying that government workers are biased by race, gender and political affiliation? Government should be blind DM, so it shouldn't matter. Government workers should look like the typical cross section of the American population based on age, gender and race. After all that's what the government preaches on a daily basis..... equal unbiased opportunity.


The consequences of my common sense solutions will result in a stronger more vibrant economy, plenty of jobs and most importantly a much smaller government. Those things will engender personal responsibility and stronger family ties. Thanks for calling it "common sense" because it is indeed common sense.

“Common sense ain't common.” ― Will Rogers

[quote]The consequences of my common sense solutions will result in a stronger more vibrant economy, plenty of jobs and most importantly a much smaller government. Those things will engender personal responsibility and stronger family ties. Thanks for calling it "common sense" because it is indeed common sense.[/quote]

If the libertarians/republicans use this as their platform, the democrats have national elections sewed up for generations! Not allowing citizens to vote if they work for government! Job discrimination in the US! Common sense? The elected leaders, who are paid by 'government' couldn't vote. .?????? LOL

To arrive at ideal 'should be's', we first have to be honest about 'what is'.

PTC Observer's picture

Politicians, having the character and motivation that they have, you have nothing to worry about DM, nothing will change. What "is", is what you seem to complain about, what "is" will not change as long as we have vested interests in the pockets of the country's citizens.

If you really want change for the better, you had best change your philosophy. I am sure that franchise "entitlement" doesn't allow for this however.

BTW, elected leaders especially couldn't vote as well as their staffs. There is no job discrimination in my proposal, anyone can freely decide to apply for a job with the government, they would have the foreknowledge that they couldn't vote before they did so.

[quote]you have nothing to worry about DM, nothing will change.[/quote]

For over 50 years, I have seen great change in this country. I worry when change stagnates because of ideas of those who are afraid of 'change'.

The attraction of our governance has been the opportunity of the 'unwashed' to advance through education, hard work, and belief in the human spirit regardless of color, station of birth, gender, religion, etc. if you want to see a revolution in this country- try to take away the privilege of the vote. Maybe that is your purpose, and the not so hidden purpose of the racists who are jumping on the bandwagon.

Denigrate progress in relations in this country - and that denigration has the power to divide this country beyond repair. Celebrate the diversity and inclusion that this country professes-and worldwide respect for Americans will continue. IMO.

PTC Observer's picture

what exactly does all that mean DM? You want to keep things status quo. For over 50 years I have seen great change too. Some very good changes, many not so good. Those things you complain about, erosion of the middle class for example, are caused by the rise of the political elite and their minions

You defend the very thing that cause the things you complain about, so be it. No one is "denigrating" anyone with this proposition, unless you consider that it may degrade your ability to vote to take property from others.

As to my purpose, I have made that clear on numerous occasions. It is a revolution of sorts, it's a revolution of ideas DM. An effort to entice people to think. Something that you not surprisingly reject given your egalitarian ideals. You know, it's important to think from time to time. You should open you mind and try it. If you're able.

[quote]You know, it's important to think from time to time[/quote]

No, we must think all the time! <cite>DM wants to maintain the status quo? </cite>Really? Progress is achieved through change, building on the success of the past, learning from past mistakes. Denying a citizen the 'privilege' of voting has proven to be a mistake in government. There are countries where some form of your idea is in operation. How are they doing?

PTC Observer's picture

prove it.

Where's your solutions?

Better start it at the top of this string because we're going single column again.

G35 Dude's picture

I didn't understand the meaning of DM's new word "wakina" so I Googled it!!! WOW

PTC Observer's picture

by poster

Gort's picture

G35, thanks, I just pulled a muscle in my back!

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.

That is too funny!!!

Sorry but no where does it state that we have the Right to Vote. Its a Privilege.

Trying to base the privilege on skin color or gender will not be acceptable in the 21st century. Sorry (some) fellas!

PTC Observer's picture

It is interesting that nearly everyone in the country believes they have the "Right" to vote. The fact that the Constitution was amended to prohibit discrimination based on gender and race was an indication that voting should not be prohibited based on the nature of birth. This is consistent with the aims of the foundation philosophy of liberty. If voting was a primary Right, then this "Right" would have been enshrined in the Bill of Rights, which it was not. Clearly, the founders did not want slaves or women to have this right and in fact most states limited voting further to those who owned tangible property. The idea was those people with property were less likely to want to give it up to the general citizenry.

The issue of "one man one vote" does not restrict a state's ability to limit the vote, The Supreme Court most notably in the Wesberry v. Sanders case merely ruled that in elections for the US House and for state legislative districts the populations had to contain roughly the same number of people. The issue here is that state legislatures also elect the electors for the Electoral College. There were no limitations on who could vote other than those prohibited by the Constitution.

Thus, my proposal has as it's central intention to limit the power of the political class by reducing the redistribution of wealth from one class to another. It is the vested interest of the political class that citizen should fear most. It has nothing to do with DM's assertion that it restricts voting based on color or gender. That would be unconstitutional and just wrong based on individual Rights.

The problem is as the political class becomes larger in numbers, it comes less likely that this can be turned back. The political class by its nature has greater incentive to vote than the non-political class. Small concentrated groups that are highly energized by plundering the middle class, will always vote in higher numbers. Unless those that are actually creating wealth stand up for their property Rights, I am afraid that it will end poorly for everyone.

Who do you want running your affairs, you or the mob?

"Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers." - Aristotle

Some of these suggestions are wonderful, but I'd like the line-item veto. It would be great to implement 2, 5, 8, 9, 11, and 14 today!

PTC Observer's picture

At least there's some support, but it's best implemented and most effective as a package deal.

I would suppose DM is happy I am not king! ;-)

[quote] DM, but unless you free markets to operate without government interference, the middle class is doomed. Oh yes, Obamacare is a great example of how the middle class will pay for every new government "invention".[/quote]

Tell us what you see as the consequence of freeing the market to operate without government interference.

There are those in the new class of the 'working poor' who are grateful for the government invention of Social Security; Medicare; and Medicaid. Interesting and challenging dilemma.

PTC Observer's picture

Doctor Sowell.

Just reference your extensive work in this area, then perhaps we may allow you the diagnosis of "not very smart" based on your work in economics.

That's the problem with the bedwetting liberal left. They try to make people believe that wealth is "distributed" and not earned.

Wealth is earned by those willing to work for it. Those that choose to live off of others through government programs are destined for a life of poverty, as are their children who learn from their parents. It's an epidemic and a vicious cycle in some cultures, yet they choose this lifestyle instead of hard work and earning a decent wage.

Wealth is not distributed, but this is the current cry from the bedwetters.

Gort's picture

What do you consider an inheritance, earned or distributed?

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.

Do you think the family should be in control of them?

What are you implying with your query?

[QUOTE]What do you think a Family should do with assets?[/QUOTE]

According to the study that I shared - for Middle Class families in 2014 - what assets? The answer years ago would be to 'invest'/ 'save'/etc.. What are you assuming in your query ? And please correct my misinformation. Thanks.

Gort's picture

Spyglass, when I die, I will leave what I have to my heirs. My point was the wealth they gained through my death was not earned. It was distributed.

This was in response to Fred Garvin's assertion that wealth can only be earned through hard work. I say it can, and is, distributed all the time. That kind of makes it a fact of life don’t it?

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.

But it wasn't distributed at the point of a gun.

But I readily admit I do not want people starving in the streets, some welfare ie wealth distribution is necessary in my opinion.

PTC Observer's picture

you think the government is the best way to get this done? They can't even run a spy agency right.

Why don't we ask Bill Gates? Maybe he'll just turn all of his money over to the government.

Gort's picture

Spy, distributions are never handed out at the point of a gun,… the collections, well sometimes! ; - )

Personally, I think the term ‘wealth distribution’ and the mental image it portrays is partly to blame for the divisiveness of the issue. The term was created for just that purpose.

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

and her ilk. What a terrible waste of tax dollars - meaning Ms. Lerner and her pension and health care.

Anyhoo, taxing the money your father or grandfather left to you is unconstitutional, illegal and immoral. The kids that have to sell the family farm to pay taxes should get pitchforks and torches and go to Washington and get rid of theses silly and stupid people.

Earned money or property that stays in the family should not be taxable. A person running a family farm that produces food for the nation should not be penalized and have his or her income be redirected to some welfare queen who sits on her butt and produces babies for federal dollars.

In fact, sometimes the farm gets shut down because of the taxes and no food is produced. Sometimes no taxes either. Might need to get Obama's replacement to think this one through,

Live free or die!

PTC Observer's picture

Why do you work? Why do you accumulate wealth? To spend it all in your lifetime or to leave it to your family?

You can choose to give your inheritance to you family or government, which would you freely choose to do? It's a personal decision, in that decision you are distributing it.

When the government decides that it should be the primary beneficiary of your wealth accumulation (after tax mind you), and enforces it with law. What is that? Robbery?

If you accumulate wealth for the future benefit of your family or friends then in the latter case, the government deprives you of your property and that of your progeny.

If you have life insurance Gort, why is it not taxed following your death? You pick your family as beneficiary but the proceeds aren't taxed, why is that? Could it be that it helps insurance companies sell insurance?

Gort's picture

PTC_0, actually, I don’t work any more. I just retired and ‘…layin’ around the shack, 'till that mail train gets back,..’ bring me my first social security check! (Direct deposit actually.)

When I did work, I did it to satisfy my needs.

How about you, why do you work?

I used to have life insurance but starting this year I let it go. The kids are grown and have families of their own. If I die before my wife, she says she is going to become a ‘cougar,’ whatever that means. If my wife dies before me I told here I would never remarry. I would rent instead. Good plan if the plumbing holds up, eh? ; - )

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.

PTC Observer's picture

Nothing like being "self actualized"

I work to accumulate wealth and whether or not you admit it, so did you.

Forced work for the collective, is enslavement.

Keep you pipes clean. ;-)

Gort's picture

PTC_0, it could be you feel ‘self actualized’ when you’re accumulating wealth. If that is so, than you’re living your dreams, I congratulate you, and as always, wish you well.

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.

PTC Observer's picture

You too, I am certain that we could have many delightful conversations together, perhaps even a beer or two.

Accumulating "enough" wealth is always an individual decision but it also is balanced with the most important other things in our lives. It appears like you have that in your wife. I congratulate you and wish you well too.

Get a good financial advisor. Our current IRS laws almost make it a necessity to 'give away' some of our earnings to charity in order to keep funds for ourselves and our families. The more given to charities of your choice, the less percentage the 'government' gets.

[quote]If you have life insurance Gort, why is it not taxed following your death? You pick your family as beneficiary but the proceeds aren't taxed, why is that? Could it be that it helps insurance companies sell insurance?[/quote]

Could be - but at least the family has the funds to clear up bills, pay funeral expenses, etc. The Middle Class and poor seldom have the necessary funds to pay for current burial fees, etc. The cost of 'final arrangements' makes adequate Life Insurance a wise expenditure for most. There are those who have budgeted and saved for final expenses - most have not. Believe me, I for one am glad that those funds are not taxed - every penny was needed.

PTC Observer's picture

I am my own good financial adviser.

You are only sheltering the tax you would have paid on the funds donated. So, the government is subsidizing charity. That's why Mr. Obama wants to eliminate the deduction for charity. That and the fact that he believes that the government is better at "distribution" than private charities. Improves politicians' chances of re-election too when they can use your money for these purposes.

BTW, the IRS is a political tool that targets people, so don't "give away" too much.

Maybe. Intersting from the Wall Street Journal:

[quote]As we noted last year in the Journal, the Obamas gave $172,130, or roughly 21.8% of their adjusted gross income, to charity in 2011, and about 14.2% in 2010. That was up from 5.9% in 2009. The Obamas gave between 4.7% and 6.5% of their income to charity between 2005 and 2008, when their income was typically more than $1 million. From 2000 to 2004, with their income hovering around $250,000 a year, their rates of charitable giving averaged 0.9%.

The average charitable contribution for all households with itemized deductions — about 45.7 million households in all — was 3.8% in 2009[/quote]

You said:.

[quote]I am my own good financial adviser.[/quote]

Of cpurse you are!!!!

PTC Observer's picture


Just seeing if you have anything to add to your narratives. Obviously there are those who disagree with both of us on certain issues - what would be interesting is a discussion on possible solutions that would help the American people.

I have noticed the paradoxical nature of the vituperation of people who offer any opinion other than radical right-wing ideology on this blog as “bedwetters.” Assuming that a bedwetter is a disparaging designation for an immature person (one too young to control his bladder throughout the night), the invective is amusing. Fundamentalists on either end of the political, religious, ideological, etc. spectrum cannot tolerate the cognitive dissonance that arises from consideration of the complexity that attends a thorough examination of modern culture and thought. Aspersion of critical thinkers with a term indicating immaturity renders the denunciation laughable to all but the fundamentalists who, unknowingly, are ridiculing no one other than themselves.

Gort's picture

STF, thanks for taking the time to clue me in on the ‘Bed Wetter Paradox.’ Stupid me, I thought the term “Bed Wetter” was about all the Republican’s crying into their pillow at night after the last two Presidential elections. ; - )


Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.


Ad space area 4 internal