One of the most challenging and important jobs for an economics professor is to teach students how little we know and can possibly know. My longtime friend and colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell says, "It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance." Nobel laureate Friedrich August von Hayek admonished, "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design."
I first read Thomas Sowell in college -- no thanks to my college. At the majority of America's institutions of "higher learning," reading Thomas Sowell was a subversive act in the early 1990s when I was a student. It remains so today. Why? Because the prolific libertarian economist's vast body of work is a clarion rejection of all the liberal intelligentsia hold dear.
Thomas Sowell has just published a revised and enlarged edition of his classic "Wealth, Poverty and Politics." At the very beginning, he quotes Alexander Hamilton, who said, "The wealth of nations depends upon an infinite variety of causes." The book's 16 chapters apply Hamilton's notion to domestic, as well as international, differences in wealth.
Thomas Sowell has done it again. The economist and syndicated columnist regularly produces thought-provoking work, but his column today on the media's role in stoking a mob mentality in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of Ferguson, Missouri, man Michael Brown is really worth reading.
"Race is the wild card in all this. The idea that you can tell who is innocent and who is guilty by the color of their skin is a notion that was tried out for generations, back in the days of the Jim Crow South," Sowell reminds his reader, adding, "I thought we had finally rejected that kind of legalized lynch law. Apparently, it has only been put under new management." Below the excerpt is an excerpt from "The media and the mob of Ferguson," which you can read in full at WashingtonTimes.com (emphasis mine):
There is a jobs crisis in the U.S. that is going virtually unnoticed by the broadcast networks. The unemployment rate for African Americans towers over the national average, upsetting conservatives and liberals.
In spite of bipartisan outrage, the three broadcast networks gave just 10 seconds combined to the black unemployment rate around the monthly jobs reports in the past year. Liberal Rev. Jesse Jackson was one of many frustrated people. He has complained that “the media [is] dismissing it as not important.”
To parents working to raise their children and teens in a world inundated with so much media - from video games to movies to music to the thousands of youth-oriented books published each year - a little help from experts is welcome.
So news that the American Library Association will announce its 2010 Youth Media Awards in just a couple of weeks should be good news for those who want to enrich their kids' cultural and intellectual lives, right? Just read what the ALA Web site has to say about the awards:
Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, the ALA Youth Media Awards guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by committees composed of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work in the field of children's and young adult literature and media.
But in the case of the Youth Media Awards, the ALA's "librarians and other literature and media experts" have a very different conception of the "best materials for youth" than most parents. The ALA has a public social and political agenda that endorses same-sex marriage, and who's agenda is glaringly reflected in the books it chooses to award and those it chooses to ignore, or even - yes - ban.
The media have lamented use of the word fascism when it has been used to describe moves by the Bush and Obama administrations and the private sector economy.
But when examined from a purely political and economic point-of-view, that is what's going on now according to Thomas Sowell, Stanford University's Hoover Institute Senior Fellow and author of "The Housing Boom and Bust." Sowell appeared on Glenn Beck's May 27 program and was asked if the United States was still a capitalist country.
"Oh, heavens, partially," Sowell replied. "We're not a socialist country, because the socialists believe in government ownership of the means of production. But, the fascists believe that the government should have private ownership and the politicians should tell people how to run the businesses. So that's the route we seem to be going."