Last week we posted Peter Robinson’s interview with Thomas Sowell. Given our format, the interview rotated off the site after a few days. We’ll have another installment of Uncommon Knowledge next week. In the meantime, here is the interview with Thomas Sowell, once more once, after a brief introduction.
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 and enlightenment.
Two of the many such books he has written are Affirmative Action Around the World and A Conflict of Visions. Last week a reader from Waukesha, Wisconsin, wrote to note: “[Dr. Sowell's] book about his son’s disability and fighting through the special education establishment was a frequent source of hope to my wife and me as we fought similar issues arising from our son’s disability.” His achievements should be recognized in some appropriate way, perhaps with a Medal of Freedom to go with the National Humanities Medal that President Bush awarded him in 2002 (his friend Clarence Thomas picked it up for him).
Sowell turned 80 last year. When he turned 75, he observed his birthday with a column that remains timely:
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 is celebrating his eightieth year in a characteristically productive fashion, with the publication of Dismantling America, a collection drawn from his columns of the past several years, and the fourth edition of Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy. He sat down with Peter Robinson last month for a wide-ranging interview occasioned by the publication of the latter of the two books.
He remains a national resource, needed now more than ever. Through our arrangement with the Hoover Institution, we are pleased to present the interview in its entirety below. Please check it out.