The Corner

Politics & Policy

A Talk with Tom

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is an economist, writer, and all-around great guy. He is one of the great public teachers of our age. By “public” I mean that he teaches through his books and articles, not in the classroom, although he has done plenty of that, too. I have recorded a podcast with him, a Q&A, here.

The latest of Sowell’s many books is Discrimination and Disparities, in a revised and enlarged edition.

“You really don’t think much of retirement for yourself,” I observe to him in this podcast. “It seems to me that retirement is not for you.” He chuckles and says, “Well, there are so many things that need to be said. Sometimes I write a book because I’m inspired by something, and sometimes I write them because there are some things that need to be said and no one else is saying them.”

In the case of D&D — not Dungeons & Dragons but Discrimination and Disparities — both of those things apply.

Sowell gave up his syndicated column at the end of 2016. It’s not so much that he was sick of writing it. Rather, he dreaded keeping up with the news, as you have to do when you write a column.

He is very glad to be free of his column: “especially in this political age,” he says. “We’re now in a time where, if you’re sane, that puts you outside the political mainstream.”

Where Sowell is — in the mainstream or out — a lot of us are happy to be.

In our podcast, I ask him about equality, diversity, free enterprise, and a host of other things — things about which there tends to be widespread misunderstanding. It is Sowell’s purpose to correct this misunderstanding. He does not want to tell people what to think; he wants to help them think better, whatever conclusions they draw.

What are the next books? Does Sowell have a little list of books he wants or needs to write? “Oh, my gosh,” he says. “I think, for an 88-year-old man to do, that would be somewhat presumptuous. But I expect to die with my boots on.” What boots.

Again, our (latest) podcast is here.

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