Politics & Policy

The Highway to Serfdom

Random thoughts on the passing scene

It is amazing how many people still fall for the argument that if life is unfair the answer is to turn more money and power over to politicians. Since life has always been unfair for thousands of years and in countries around the world, where does that lead us?

I am so old that I can remember when sex was private. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” applied to everybody.

However fascinated the U.S. Supreme Court may be with the concept of “diversity,” every one of the nine justices has a degree from one of the eight Ivy League institutions, out of the thousands of institutions of higher learning in this country. How diverse is that?#ad#

Despite the rhetoric, the goals, or the intentions of the political Left, the world they seek to create is a world where decisions are taken out of the hands of ordinary citizens and transferred to third parties. Obamacare is the latest example of this trend and can now join the long list of the “compassionate” catastrophes of the Left.

It is fascinating to see academics full of indignation over the “exploitation” of low-wage workers by multinational corporations in Third World countries, when it is common on their own academic campuses to have young men get paid nothing at all for risking their health, and sometimes their lives, playing football, which brings in millions of dollars to the college and often gets coaches paid higher salaries than the president of the college or university.

I don’t happen to like the idea of “stop and frisk.” However, I like even less the idea of armed hoodlums going around shooting people. Those who refuse to see that everything has a cost should be confronted with the question “How many more young blacks are you willing to see shot dead, because you don’t like ’stop and frisk’”?

If you think human beings are always rational, it becomes impossible to explain at least half of history.

The ancient Greeks understood that carrying any principle to extremes was dangerous. Yet, thousands of years later, some Western nations take tolerance to the extreme of tolerating intolerance among immigrants to their own societies. Some even make it illegal — a “hate crime” — to warn against intolerant foreigners who would like nothing better than to slit the throats of their hosts, but who will settle for planting a few bombs here and there.

How do the clever Beltway Republicans and their consultants explain how Ronald Reagan won two consecutive landslide election victories doing the opposite of what they say is the only way for Republicans to win elections?

I don’t know why it bothers me when I see a good-looking woman who could be truly beautiful if she only took the trouble. But I can recall a woman like that who was educated at Berkeley, and who apparently thought attention to her appearance was not hip. Unfortunately, her husband met another woman, who had not gone to Berkeley, and who did not have this inhibition — or many other inhibitions.

With his decision declaring Obamacare constitutional, Chief Justice John Roberts turned what F. A. Hayek called “the road to serfdom” into a super highway. The government all but owns us now and can order us to do pretty much whatever it wants us to do.

Anyone who wants to read one book that will help explain the international crises of our time should read The Gathering Storm by Winston Churchill. It is not about the Middle East or even about today. It is about the fatuous and irresponsible foreign policies of the 1930s that led to the most catastrophic war in human history. But you can recognize the same fecklessness today.

In a time of widespread disillusionment with both political parties, someone has noted that the only thing these parties say that is believed by the public are their accusations against each other.

Once, when I was teaching at an institution that bent over backward for foreign students, I was asked in class one day, “What is your policy toward foreign students?” My reply was: “To me, all students are the same. I treat them all the same and hold them all to the same standards.” The next semester there was an organized boycott of my classes by foreign students. When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. © 2014 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Thomas Sowell — Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author, whose books include Basic Economics. He is currently senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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