Parents may be upset because of differences of opinion with their grown children on current events. They may differ on, say, global warming. Their offspring may have seen Al Gore’s move, “An Inconvenient Truth,” perhaps in school or college. They can’t ask them if they have read anything on the other side, but have they seen the British Channel 4 television special, “The Great Global Warming Swindle”? How can they know what’s right till they have heard the other side, says Sowell.
If they were a member of a jury, would they be content to learn the defendant’s case presented solely by the prosecution? Wouldn’t they insist on hearing the defendant’s side from the defendant itself? If so, why should they be content with hearing only one side of global warming?
This is only one of the many issues which students hear about in school or college. Are they being educated or indoctrinated? Thomas Sowell’s new book is Dismantling America, perhaps the 20th by this economist, scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, a black, and an orphan. His Basic Economics textbook has been translated into six languages. Dismantling America is a collection of his newspaper columns on issues on which the public has received chiefly one side, the politically correct party line. Yet that is the jury that will ultimately decide the nation’s fate, says Sowell.
NOT ALWAYS RICH OR POOR. Should tax cuts for the top 1% be terminated? Should the half of the population that does not pay an income tax, pay something? In the bottom fifth of the income-distribution, total income increased by 91% between1996 and 2005. Most of the people in the bottom fifth rise out of it over time. In the top fifth, some do not remain there more than one decade. “More people from the bottom fifth end up in the top fifth than remain at the bottom,” says Sowell.
Tens of millions in China and India have moved out of poverty, but we never hear about them. The ideologues’ “behavior shows their interest in the poor to be greatest when the poor can be used as a focus of the left’s denunciations of society,” says Sowell.
MINIMUM WAGE. The politicians talk about increasing jobs, but the government cannot create jobs except by taking money away from others, or selling bonds, or imposing mandates. That is transferring wealth, not creating it, says Sowell. Mandating a minimum wage is a way of reducing the number of jobs. Politicians mandate things that employers must provide, which the public thinks is getting something for nothing. Raising the minimum wage makes workers more expensive to employers, so they hire fewer. It is cheaper to pay overtime than hire new workers. As the minimum wage rises, unemployment does not disappear.
RACE. For the left, blacks are trophies or mascots that must be seen on campus. A mascot is a symbol of somebody else’s success. In college, there are lower admissions standards for blacks, who, when they do not make it, are replaced by more blacks. “The point is to have black faces on campus, as mascots symbolizing what great people there are running the college,” says Sowell.
Leftists have destroyed black neighborhoods by urban renewal and replaced them with “upscale homes or pricey businesses—neither of which the former residents can afford.” Another common practice is “leaping to the defense of black criminals” by liberals who need black mascots. They do not hesitate “to throw blacks to the wolves for the benefit of the teachers’ unions, the green zealots, . . . or people who keep low-priced stores like Wal-Mart out of their cities.” Using blacks as mascots is “ugly,” says Sowell.
POLITICIANS. How can government insure you for less than a private insurance company? They make a third party pay. If anything bothers us, we go to a politician. For the politicians, nothing is impossible. They don’t pay. They don’t make you pay. They make third parties pay.
FAIRNESS. First-born have higher IQs than their younger siblings. Twins have lower IQs than if born singly. Between Western and Eastern Europe, there is a bigger gap than between blacks and whites, because the highly advanced Roman legions, who had the language, more easily invaded Western than Eastern Europe, so language had a longer time to develop in Western than Eastern Europe, says Sowell.
The University of California at Berkeley dropped four science teachers in order to spend their salaries on low-income achievers. This fairer distribution of funds means everybody will get what the low-income achievers get, to wit “lessons in note-taking.” Says Sowell, this is equalizing downward by lowering those at the top.
In Toronto, the Japanese have higher incomes than others, so they are considered “privileged.” In politically correct societies, achievement is a privilege.
Philosopher John Rawls wants a fair society that “arranges end-results.” (Is this where OBE, Outcome-Based Education, comes from?) Rawls’s “fair” conception ignores natural endowment and social circumstances like families and cultures “with different priorities, attitudes and behavior,” says Sowell.
The Germans can make beer. No other nationality can make beer as the Germans can. Other nationalities are unfairly underrepresented in the beer-making industry.
Edmund Burke, 19th century British philosopher, warned of “new power in new persons.” Sowell, quoting Burke’s observation that “eloquence may exist without wisdom,” says that President Obama never ran anything but fired the head of GM and is telling bankers how to run their business.
By Natalie Sirkin