Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Thomas Sowell is a Great Phrasemaker

If we look back at the conservative movement of the turn of the 21st century, two of the most worthy names must be Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams. They are, of course, black, and have paid the price for not getting with the program and bending the knee to the liberal orthodoxy.

Sowell and Williams are also men that made their bones before the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s and before African Americans became the little darlings of the ruling class. So they have the toughness and pride of the self-made man, and I like that.

This week Thomas Sowell, at 86, has announced that he will stop writing his weekly syndicated op-ed column. In response many in the conservative firmament, and some of us occupying a sub-lunar position, have written about what Thomas Sowell has meant to us.

I myself have ten of his books on my bookshelf, out of the 30-odd that he has published over a hard-working lifetimes. So that ain't bad.

But I think that the great contribution of Dr. Thomas Sowell has been his talent for the catchphrase, or apothegm.

Here is the Dark Lord Vox Day and his list of Sowellisms.

Here is Michell Malkin and her list; she started reading Sowell in college, "no thanks to my college."

Here is Steven Hayward, biographer of Reagan and Powerline guy with his list of Sowell aphorisms.

Here is Christine Rousselle, at

Here is WikiQuote's list of Sowell quotes.

And here is Thomas Sowell himself, with his favorite quotations from others.

I don't think that Thomas Sowell broke any new ground in economics or history, although he did yeoman work in diversity, showing that there is no such thing as the right proportion of workers in any field, and he showed that affirmation action and quotas are poison, whenever and wherever they are tried across the world.

My appreciation of Thomas Sowell is that his talent for the catchphrase is no small thing. For instance, I have tried to find pithy quotes in the work of Friedrich Hayek without much success. Hayek was a German writer, and wrote in paragraphs; it is very hard to find a catchphrase in his work. But the first thing that people think of in regard to Thomas Sowell is his talent for the pithy quote.

And for that we shall be eternally grateful to the mind and the pen of Thomas Sowell.

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