Hoover Institution fellow Thomas Sowell is a remarkable man who has produced a distinguished body of work over a long career. I tumbled to Sowell through a hilariously derisive book review he had written for Commentary in 1975 on one of John Kenneth Galbraith’s books. Since then I have discovered that many friends and acquaintances have found Sowell’s books and columns to be a source of inspiration.
His achievements should be recognized in some appropriate way, perhaps with a Medal of Freedom to go with that awarded last year to former Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz, who was responsible for bringing Sowell to the attention of many readers like me. Today Sowell turns 75. He celebrates the occasion with a characteristically thoughtful column: “75 years old.” Here is his conclusion:
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.
Sowell’s December 1975 review of the Galbraith book — his first of several important pieces for Commentary — is accessible via Commentary’s digital archives here.
UPDATE: Reader Gregory Olds writes:
Thomas Sowell is one of my favorite authors and columnists. One thing you might want to give a shout out for is his brilliant book called Basic economics: A citizen’s guide to the economy. I don’t know if you read it but in it he brilliant deconstructs the liberal, socialist and communist myths regarding price controls, rent controls, minimum wage, unions etc. It’s written in laymans terms and should be required reading for essentially anyone.