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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Thomas Sowell turns 75

Here's a happy 75th birthday to one of the great thinkers of our time - Thomas Sowell. He's had an amazing life, and written some of the most informative and provocative material out there.

I've been reading Sowell's columns for years (take some time and check out the archives when you have time - they're extremely readable, and worth the time). I sent him an email a year or so back telling him how I've used his columns over the years in my classes. In the email, I described him as "making hamburger out of the sacred cows of our time". A few days later, I received a package from the Hoover Institute containing two signed copies of his books on economics - Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide To The Economy and Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One, along with a very gracious letter thanking me for my comments. They've become two of my favorite books, and I'd recommend them to anyone wanting to gain a solid grasp of basic economic principles without having to wade through all the math.

I recently heard him interviewed by his good friend Walter Williams on the Limbaugh show. If he's this sharp, witty, and insightful at 75, I can only imagine what he was like in his earlier years.

Here's a sample of his writing to leave you with (from his "birthday" column at Townhall) :
Three-quarters of a century!

It is hard to believe that I am that old but arithmetic is uncompromising. This means that I have lived through nearly one-third of the entire history of the United States.

The changes in my life -- and still more so in the life of the country around me and in the world at large -- have been almost unbelievable.

Most Americans did not own a telephone or a refrigerator when I was born on June 30, 1930.

...All the dark and ominous times that this country and the world have passed through and overcome in the past 75 years make it hard to despair, even in the face of growing signs of internal degeneracy today. Pessimism, yes. Despair, not yet.

In my personal life, I can remember a time when our family had no such frills as electricity, central heating, or hot running water.

Even after we left the poverty-stricken Jim Crow South and moved to a new life in Harlem, I can remember at the age of nine seeing a public library for the first time and having to have a young friend explain to me patiently what a public library was.

There is much to complain about today and to fear for the future of our children and our country. But despair? Not yet.

We have all come through too much for that.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Sowell. Long may your flag wave.

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