Tag Archives: Thomas Sowell

Inequality – In freed markets, people get rich by producing what others want

Thomas Sowell writes:

One of the problems with so many discussions of income and wealth is that the intelligentsia are so obsessed with the money that people receive that they give little or no attention to what causes money to be paid to them in the first place. …

Yet when the intelligentsia discuss such things as the historic fortunes of people like John D. Rockefeller, they usually pay little — if any — attention to what it was that caused so many millions of people to voluntarily turn their individually modest sums of money over to Rockefeller, adding up to his vast fortune.

What Rockefeller did first to earn their money was find ways to bring down the cost of producing and distributing kerosene to a fraction of what it had been before his innovations. This profoundly changed the lives of millions of working people.

More: The Inequality Bogeyman | National Review Online.

More by Sowell on income & wealth inequality.

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Thomas Sowell: Obama lies about Supreme Court & health care

Thomas Sowell writes:

[T]he Supreme Court can declare acts of Congress null and void if these acts violate the Constitution.

They have been doing so for more than two centuries. It is the foundation of American constitutional law. There is no way that Barack Obama has never heard of it or really believes it to be “unprecedented” after two centuries of countless precedents.

In short, he is simply lying.

Now there are different kinds of liars. If we must have lying Presidents of the United States, I prefer that they be like Richard Nixon. You could just look at him and tell that he was lying.

On accusations of judicial activism, Sowell writes:

Second, the “judicial activism” that conservatives have complained about was judges making rulings based on how they felt personally about the issue at hand, rather than about what the Constitution of the United States said.

In recent years, great efforts have been made to redefine “judicial activism” in terms of judges declaring laws unconstitutional, instead of “deferring” to Congress or other government institutions. …

As for Supreme Court justices being unelected, that has been true since the Constitution was created. That was done deliberately, so that they could render their judgments without fear of political repercussions.

Read the whole article: RealClearPolitics – Political Word Games.

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Amendment 63 vs. the elitist vision of the anointed

Thank you to Steve Schow of Lakewood for writing this excellent letter in response to commentary against Amendment 63 by Bob Semro of the Bell Policy Center. The Denver Post published it on October 10:

Bob Semro is worried that Amendment 63 will not foster new and innovative ideas in health care. He states that “real and meaningful innovation arises from a deliberate process that involves many stakeholders who then reach broad consensus.” This is demonstrably false, and represents what Thomas Sowell has called “the conceit of the anointed.”

Intelligent men and women in power believe that nothing good can come from sometimes-chaotic market processes. Did a government panel commission Bill Gates to revolutionize personal computing? Did the creators of MySpace and Facebook sit down to discuss whose idea was better and then only implement the winner? More on topic, which politician decided that we should be able to purchase 30-day supplies of generic prescriptions for only $4? Rather than reach consensus before implementing the idea, one retailer took the lead. Only after the risk proved to be a wild success did others follow.

Small, incremental changes have done more for innovation than any blue-ribbon commission ever has.

With the “conceit of the anointed,” I think Steve is referring to the ideas in Thomas Sowell’s excellent book, The Vision of the Anointed. Here’s a review of the book published in the Independent Review.  He might also be referring to what F.A. Hayek calls the fatal conceit, which is the title of one of his books.

My response to Bob Semro’s piece is at the Huffington Post: Colorado Amendment 63: Freedom Is Too “Haphazard” for Bell Policy Center.

Christine Dice’s letter published in the same day is also good.

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“Health care” differs from “medical care”

Thomas Sowell makes an excellent point:

… Even in matters of life and death, too many people accept words instead of thinking, leaving themselves wide open to people who are clever at spinning words. The whole controversy about “health care reform” is a classic example.

“Health care” and medical care are not the same thing. The confusion between the two spreads more confusion, when advocates of government-run medical care point to longer life expectancies in some other countries where government runs the medical system.

Health care affects longevity, but health care includes far more than medical care. Health care includes such things as diet, exercise and avoiding things that can shorten your life, such as drug addiction, reckless driving and homicide.

If you stop and think– which catchwords can deflect us from doing– it is clear that homicide and car crashes are not things that doctors can prevent. Moreover, if you compare longevity among countries, leaving out homicide and car crashes, Americans have the longest lifespan in the western world.

Why then are people talking about gross statistics on longevity, as a reason to change our medical care system? Since this is a life and death issue, we need to think about the realities of the world, not the clever words of spinmeisters trying to justify a government takeover of medical care.

American medical care leads the world in things like cancer survival rates, which medical care affects far more than it affects people’s behavior that leads to obesity and narcotics addiction, as well as such other things as homicide and reckless driving.

Read the whole article:  The Money of Fools: Part II.

Sowell has a good point. But maybe a more benign explanation is that “health” has one syllable while “medical” has three, so it’s close enough to refer to “health care” instead of “medical care.”

For details on life expectancy and medical care, see Accidents, Murders, Preemies, Fat, and U.S. Life Expectancy, by Ronald Bailey and Reason.

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The “Hurry up and wait” strategy for ramming through “crisis” legislation

Thomas Sowell explains:

One plain fact should outweigh all the words of Barack Obama and all the impressive trappings of the setting in which he says them: He tried to rush Congress into passing a massive government takeover of the nation’s medical care before the August recess– for a program that would not take effect until 2013!

Whatever President Obama is, he is not stupid. If the urgency to pass the medical care legislation was to deal with a problem immediately, then why postpone the date when the legislation goes into effect for years– more specifically, until the year after the next Presidential election?

If this is such an urgently needed program, why wait for years to put it into effect? And if the public is going to benefit from this, why not let them experience those benefits before the next Presidential election?

If it is not urgent that the legislation goes into effect immediately, then why don’t we have time to go through the normal process of holding Congressional hearings on the pros and cons, accompanied by public discussions of its innumerable provisions? What sense does it make to “hurry up and wait” on something that is literally a matter of life and death?

If we do not believe that the President is stupid, then what do we believe? The only reasonable alternative seems to be that he wanted to get this massive government takeover of medical care passed into law before the public understood what was in it.

Moreover, he wanted to get re-elected in 2012 before the public experienced what its actual consequences would be.

The same held for the stimulus bill.  Read Sowell’s whole article on crisis and Obama Care.

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Response to Moe Keller on health insurance

mok.jpg In April the Denver Post published a letter by Gina Liggett against Senate Bill 217, which ties Colorado citizens to the tracks of the compulsory insurance locomotive. Gina contacted Senator Moe Keller (Senate District 20) concerning this issue. The Senator’s response is below, and my comments follow.

Dear Gina,

Thank you for your email. How do we keep people in the private sector? What do we do with the costs of the uninsured, those who choose to be without health care insurance and those who are priced out?

In my mind, the immorality is the CEO who makes millions of dollars in personal salary by denying health care claims.

Sincerely, Sen. Keller

I’ll address her questions one at a time.

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Hagedorn: My bill isn’t like Massachusetts, honest!

Since all things are the same, except for the differences, and different except for the similarities, it is always possible to make things look similar verbally, however different they are in the real world.
— Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed (p. 93 , 102 )

Sowell has recently pointed this out in reference to Barack Obama. In this case, it’s another Democrat, Bob Hagedorn. He’s trying to make his Senate Bill 217 sound different from government-controlled health care in Massachusetts health plan, however similar they are in the real world.

Senator Bob Hagedorn claims that his proposed Senate Bill 217 is “the antithesis of what Massachusetts has done.” (Hat tip, Ari Armstrong ) Sounds a bit defensive, no?

As the Grand Junction Sentinel reports , “ Senate Bill 217 would have carriers submit plans to the state rather than have the state dictate the kinds of plans it would require carriers to offer, Hagedorn said.”

So in Massachusetts, politicians tell insurance companies what policies they must sell, and then makes it a crime for citizens not to buy them. Senate Bill 217 proposes that insurance companies submit plans that comply with a dozen politician-defined criteria, and then (in the original bill) would make it a crime for some citizens not to buy them.

Both the Colorado and Massachusetts plans involve confiscating wealth earned by one group of people for the purpose of buying politician-defined insurance for others.

Ooh, big difference!

The antithesis of the Massachusetts plan would be for state government to stop dictating how patients, doctors, and insurance companies may or may not voluntarily trade for goods and services. It would also realize that there’s no compassion in forced giving, that monopolistic charities are not effective, and reform Medicaid in accordance with these facts.

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Filed under Colorado health care, mandatory insurance