Hoover Institution fellow Thomas Sowell is a remarkable man who has produced a distinguished body of work over a long career. 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).
When he turned 75 a few years ago, Sowell observed his birthday with a characteristically thoughtful column that remains timely today:
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.
I have discovered that many friends and acquaintances have found Sowell’s columns and books to be a source of inspiration and enlightenment. Indeed, Sowell’s work has had a big impact on a lot of people. A Conflict of Visions, for example, figures prominently in Andrew Ferguson’s Weekly Standard article on David Mamet’s turn to conservatism.
Sowell’s most recent book is the revised and expanded second edition of Economic Facts and Fallacies. Sowell sat down with Peter Robinson last month for an interview occasioned by the publication of the book. At the age of 80, Sowell’s outlook has darkened slightly, although his sense of humor remains keen. His wit and wisdom are 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.