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Controversial Essays (Hoover Institution…
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Controversial Essays (Hoover Institution Press Publication) (edição 2002)

por Thomas Sowell (Autor)

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One of conservatism's most articulate voices dissects today's most important economic, racial, political, education, legal, and social issues, sharing his entertaining and thought-provoking insights on a wide range of contentious subjects.
Membro:GGH
Título:Controversial Essays (Hoover Institution Press Publication)
Autores:Thomas Sowell (Autor)
Informação:Hoover Institution Press (2002), 321 pages
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Controversial Essays (Hoover Institution Press Publication) por Thomas Sowell

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This is a great collection of a selection of insightful essays written by Sowell. They were originally published in his syndicated newspaper column and were designed to convey and summarize his opinion on a wide range of economic and political topics.
One learns, or refreshes his learning, by slowly reading these essays over time, in a similar cadence of the way they were published, once weekly or biweekly.
These essays present the main insights and findings of Sowell’s extensive research and thinking on those issues. Reading tshese essays leads, or should lead one, to read his detailed reports substantiating his claims published in “serious” journals and books. He has published in prestigious journals such as The American Economic Review, Journal of Political Exonomic, Oxford Economic Papers, and others, he has also published more than 30 books. ( )
  xieouyang | Aug 12, 2022 |
Comments on Sowell as I read:

On reading Thomas Sowell on economics, I'm left underwhelmed by his essays. They attack the liberal leaning floozies without really going into why they're wrong. Only that they are because, duh, economics dude. He may go into more detail in one of his long books on the matter, but these essays are not a good indicator that the longer form will be any better.

His essays on race are laughably, cringe worthy, and terrible to behold. "Hey, did you know that a black dude in 1920, during the resurgence of the KKK somehow became an architect despite all the hurdles? Therefore, racism isn't so bad. Just grin and bear it, pay your dues, and you might become win the lottery and become the real McCoy." He argues the public school system is at fault because this is where the blacks are lagging - they don't have as many opportunities because the school system failed and an employer doesn't want them when they can get a white person from a good school system. This is ignoring the fact that the same resume with a black sounding name and a white sounding name usually ends in the white person getting hired. That's not racism. Not at all. He claims vouchers are the key: the destruction of the public schools system for a private one. Alas, evidence is quickly showing that nonpublic schools do no better than public schools when the same population is present. Increasingly (in Indiana for example) vouchers are no longer even helping the poor - an increasing percentage of the money is going to families who already pay to send their children to private/charter schools, subsidizing the middle to upper class rather than providing an escape for a child caught in the ghetto. He fails to consider property tax caps and the way schools are funded as reasons: how is it schools in wealthy neighborhoods have the money to pay the teachers more, have shinier computers, more access to upper level courses etc the inner neighborhood schools? It's in the spending. An inner city school spends millions on social services that wealthier neighborhoods do not need to do. A hungry child isn't a learning child. It has to be mentioned, he also has an undercurrent of stating blacks today just don't have the drive or ambition to be good at school, but I'll just leave that alone. It's just stupid.
His political essays are mostly throw away conservative rants lamenting those darn liberals. He wonders why liberal speakers get more speaking engagements than conservatives and he doesn't get the irony of his reasons (it's not that people don't want to hear them, it's because liberal elites somehow prevent them from speaking). I'm not really sure how true this is anyway: I think data would show conservative speakers do just fine. His global warming essay is bad and full of misinformation. For example, he quotes the oft quoted Science article about how in 1970 there was a global cooling. He doesn't mention this one article was thoroughly debunked shortly thereafter by a majority of scientists. This is not true for global warming, which is supported by over 95% of published scientific papers and backed by an ever increasing amount of data.

I'm actually with Sowell on a piece talking about the serious repercussions for eliminating the use of DDT which may have been done on faulty science (much like the fear of GMOS today). He loses me when he blames the price of skyrocketing gas on the limits to new oil sources. That's a bogus argument proven just recently: we were producing so much oil due to fracking, the price of oil plummeted. American oil companies were trying to steal a percentage of the market by forcing price down so much in hopes the Saudis would cut their own output to stabilize prices. Instead, OPEC buckled down, continued producing at the same levels and the American fracking companies who forced the cost of oil below their price point gave up the game. The oil is there. There are enough wells tapped and ready for drilling. Oil companies keep prices high by falsely limiting the supply. There isn't any profit in supplying cheap gas. Now we're left with barren, stripped land and dirty water until the companies feel like once again challenging the might of OPEC or humans wisen up and stop depending on oil to make our world turn. Oil prices have nothing to do with government interference.
Sowell argues vouchers will allow schooling to be provided cheaper. Alas, this is not how it's playing out in Indiana. On a small scale, charter schools were able to provide their services for cheaper (they also didn't demonstrate any statistically relevant change in the quality of the education either). However, as the voucher program has expanded, Indiana is now spending more on the voucher program per student than the public school system is. Sadly, the last report on this matter has been published and Indiana won't be publishing it in the near future. Such evidence isn't good for vouchers and charter schools in general. Let's not even mention the various exemptions charter schools are given for reporting how well their students are doing.
Sowell say a lot on education. Most of it negative. He likes to claim our education system is somehow worse than it was when he went. His evidence is all of the relative nature: we’re falling down in the ranks when compared to other first world countries. Somehow, our curriculum is weaker than it used to be according to Sowell. I’m not really sure where he gets this – he likes to go on rants about the social indoctrination in school about socialism and gays. Yes, relatively we’re bottoming out but the idea its due to a slippage in absolute education is ridiculous – just to take one simple example, more kids graduate high school knowing calculus than they ever did before, it just so happens that others have started teaching math better. Which leads to: there is irony in his education arguments. Sowell constantly fails to point out that all the countries doing better than us, use socialized schooling with huge public investment, very few private/charter schools, all with curriculum dictated by the State not local governments. They also tend to offer higher education either free or at a heavily discounted rate. They tend not to have the extreme disparity in poverty across school districts. Go figure.

One of his hilarious praises is made to the University of Phoenix. He praises it for their ability to be a for-profit against a world of non-profits and can’t help but conclude it will increase competition and education. He, of course, wipes his hands of researching whether Phoenix is actually effective in providing good education. The double standard he applies is entirely expected: he doesn’t want to point out that the university uses mostly loans backed by the federal government, that its graduation rates are terrible, that the quality doesn’t meet any great standard, and that the majority of those federally backed loans are never paid off and without those federally backed loans the University of Phoenix could not possibly exist. Sowell loses again.

In his argument against homosexual marriages (which is entirely terrible), Sowell has a doozy I’ll need to quote verbatim: “…time has very different effects on men and women. As the years pass and women lose their physical attraction, men are typically rising in income and occupational status. It is usually easier for a middle-aged man to abandon his wife and make a second marriage with a younger ‘trophy wife’ than for a woman to remarry equally advantageously. Since a woman has often invested years of her life in creating a home and family, the marriage contract is one way of trying to assure her that this investment will not be in vain.” There’s so much wrong it’s unbelievable he could even get it published. Begin with the idea a woman’s lot in life is to grow old and haggy, becoming completely dependent on her husband bringing home the check and crossing her finger its not love that keeps bringing him home but a contract. Then, the idea the marriage contract historically protected women is laughable. Alimony is only a recent enactment in marriage contract law, and if I was to guess, Sowell probably isn’t much for it.

It’s interesting to see him complain in this series of essays that the left is crying that criticism by others is silencing their speech since this is now the common cry of conservatives. Both sides seem to have difficulty understanding this whole free speech thing.

I would be remiss to include the one thread in his many essays I find myself agreeing with: California and its inability to build adequate housing. I’m not sure I agree with all his reasons, but there is no argument to the idea California’s housing situation is tragically inept. ( )
  illmunkeys | Apr 22, 2021 |
Great read if you like clear thinking. ( )
  Renzomalo | Dec 15, 2020 |
A surprisingly easy read in which Dr. Sowell sheds light on topics ranging from Economics to Racism to general social issues, and ending, appropriately, with some "Random Thoughts:"

Bumper sticker: Gun control: Use both hands.

And then "Our national problems usually do not cause nearly as much harm as the solutions."

One more: "When the history of grossness is written, ar times may well be called its golden age."

A easy read, all things considered, as each segment was originally one of Dr. Sowell's nationally syndicated columns. It is also a joy watch his great intellect laying down his logic so simply and clearly. It was once said that it takes genius to make the complex understandable, and I agree. Einstein for instance clarified the relationship with energy and matter with his simple expression, E=Mc2 ( )
  Renzomalo | Oct 30, 2018 |
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One of conservatism's most articulate voices dissects today's most important economic, racial, political, education, legal, and social issues, sharing his entertaining and thought-provoking insights on a wide range of contentious subjects.

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