Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Don't let Thomas Sowell know Thomas Sowell said that!

I am ceaselessly amazed by Ron Paul, as you all know. The guy acts like the antithesis of the Washington politician, and yet he personifies the Washington politician. And since he (1.) so regularly makes a big deal about the fact that he's the antithesis of the Washington politician, and (2.) so regulalry demonstrates what an adept politician he is, I am more often than not laughing at the cognitive dissonance of it all whenever I see Ron Paul saying something.

Similarly, I have a very high likelihood of finding amusement in the things that Thomas Sowell says. It's not what he says so much as the fact that he's saying it. Similar to Ron Paul, Thomas Sowell is very well known for his critique of intellectuals who make claims about society. That's all well and good - he even has some good points in the critique. But I just can't bring myself to take Sowell completely seriously when he puts on his public intellectual hat, precisely because he is so widely identified as an anti-public-intellectual. It would be like seeing Bryan Caplan at a voter registration drive.

So, on cue, I got a chuckle out of Sowell's firm pronouncements on the Fed (HT - Ryan Murphy).

Don't tell Thomas Sowell that Thomas Sowell said that! He'll have some stern words for him! I can picture it now:

- You're not really known as a monetary economist, so talking about this stuff is really outside of your area of expertise.

- You may not like the Fed, but you really aren't going to be held accountable for pronouncements like this - you don't have anything on the line.

- "Cancer", really? That's nice 'verbal virtuosity', which as Sowell points out can be appealing to people - but it's not really helpful analysis.

- Sowell, of course, is contributiing to the climate of mistrust around Bernanke and the Fed.

The only point in the (I'm assuming COMPLETELY authoritative) Wikipedia review of Intellectuals and Society that he didn't hit in this three minute fifty one second video was making it personal (although he seemed to have a personal attachment to Arthur Burns... so perhaps that one is worth exploring more).

A lot of this is just meant to be in fun - the point of Intellectuals and Society was a good point. Unfortunately, it's often people who complain the loudest about the misbehavior of others that are successful in taking the spotlight off themselves.


  1. What an excellent post.

    Actually, there are plenty of double standards used by Thomas Sowell.

    In one syndicated columns, he says that it's foolish to presume that a candidature for President is the same as candidature for sainthood - so personal moral life is irrelevant.

    But in other columns, he blasts Obama for his personal moral views and personal associations.

    1. I don't follow his column myself, I just know him really through people that link to him. But I have always thought and intellectual warning about intellectuals was kind of funny.

      Rather than completely discount "Intellectuals in Society" or completely discount Sowell speaking as an intellectual, we should probably give both the benefit of the doubt (which means not choosing and only moderately discounting each at the same time).

      I actually think Sowell would approve of that solution.

  2. Seems to me that the personification of the Washington politician would, at a minimum 1) avoid seriously challenging the status quo (think big budget items) 2) adjust his stated views and rhetoric in order to give himself the best chance of getting elected. Obviously Daniel has a much different defintion than I do.

    1. The personification of the Washington politician is dedicated to cultivating a following in the electorate that will guarantee him a career full of fame, campaign contributions, and votes.

      Note I'm not one that thinks politicians are by definition scum (many are, of course). You can like Ron Paul, the personification of the Washington politician - that's fine. But that is what he is.

    2. Oh - and one sure fire sign of a politician is that they rail against politicians.

    3. To put it bluntly, Ron Paul has never represented much of a threat to the status quo. His inability to compromise, and make bargains with others has rendered him an ineffective legislator, while leaving a "perfect record" lacking in contradictions or development over time.

    4. So ... every well-known politican is by definition a "Washington politican"? That's clever, Daniel. ;-)

    5. Probably comes with the territory, sure.

      I don't see why it's strictly necessary... if someone like Elizabeth Warren gets elected you could probably make a case that she's not a "typical politician". Maybe not Al Franken. And probably some prominent Tea Party candidates too.

      But it won't take long for them to be of the same breed. It comes with the territory.

  3. Yes, because Ron Paul campaigning on the same principles for some 30 odd years on and off has all been apart of his massive plan to secure fame and lasting campaign contributions...which started meekly in 2007. And in 2011-2012, NOW hes starting to pick up. Quite a large time horizon for that plan, eh? Especially because all those campaign contributions will matter so much when he retires in the next couple of years.

    1. I am sure there is a nice easy middle ground here.

      Many politicians really do believe in their personal causes. But since advancing their personal cause anywhere requires fame and contributions, their secondary long-term goal becomes their primary short-term goal.

    2. Right Prateek - nobody said he didn't believe in his cause. You guys can get way too touchy about this. The fact that Ron Paul is a quintessential politician should not be a controversial claim.

    3. re: "Yes, because Ron Paul campaigning on the same principles for some 30 odd years on and off has all been apart of his massive plan to secure fame and lasting campaign contributions...which started meekly in 2007."

      2007?!?!? The guy's had a lock on his place in the vaunted halls of Congress for decades Patch! Maybe you think a seat in the House of Representatives is chump change, and nothing really matters until you're a candidate for president, but I beg to differ. The guy is a career politician. This should not be a controversial observation. It's not like you have to stop liking him because of that. There are lots of politicians I don't have any shame in admitting I'm positively disposed towards.

  4. Bernanke and the Fed are the parties mostly adding to the mistrust.

    "The guy's had a lock on his place in the vaunted halls of Congress for decades..."

    That's not actually true. His first election that wasn't close came in 2000. Getting basic facts like this wrong goes a long way to undermining your overall argument.

    1. Anonymous -
      First, please don't comment here anonymously.

      Second, I didn't get any facts wrong at all. Did you read me say anywhere that he won in a landslide? This is pretty weak stuff, Anonymous.

  5. "I am ceaselessly amazed by Ron Paul, as you all know."

    The reason we have con men like Ron Paul is that there are people like you whom he can con, ending up in such a stupid sentence. As I have written before, you lack judgment.

    Your making mention of him adds to his legitimacy.

    Ron Paul is nothing but a sociopath who has never had to commit a crime. He is a cull, a con, and a fraud.

    He is concerned not one wit about anyone or anything, only about himself, and will say or do anything to promote himself. All he is is skilled, as is any con man, a finding messages that will manipulate people. Remember, because of man's psychological makeup, the most powerful weapon in the world is a metaphor. Paul just uses the boundaries of freedom of speech to lie, lie, lie.

    Thomas Sowell is just as much a con. Watch the video and his facial expressions as he talks. He shows he is working a con and doesn't believe a word of what he says.

    Look at the sheer stupidity of his arguments. We had the Federal Reserve but it didn't prevent the great depression so the federal reserve is of no value. At whom is that message directed. A fool. Anyone with a brain knows the argument is false: did the legistation creating the fed give it the powers to present the Great Depression, even if it same its causes and saw the events unfolding? No. Sowell is a principal advocate of why governments fail---limited government, limited power.

    All these people do, like Newt, is give the appearance to dumb people of what they believe a smart person sounds like.

    Your fascination with cons will only get you in trouble

  6. "Ron Paul is nothing but a sociopath"

    You might actually be the only person in the world who believes this.

    A fraud? Unlikely. Career politician? More likely. Sociopath? Impossible.

  7. I think annons post would be more accurate if you substituted Paul or Sowell's name with Obama. Or if you leave the politician stuff out, Paul Krugman's name could be used there too.

  8. Zack A

    You have no more judgment than does Daniel. I voted for Obama and will vote for him again but that doesn't mean that I am at all impressed with his administration. I can catalog many many mistakes of his administration and some successes. Because of the poor news coverage with so many news paper bureaus closed, it is hard to pinpoint responsibility. He has had many many weak advisers. Why, who knows. Often he does really stupid stuff. He turned Keystone from victory to defeat. On the other hand, with Clinton, he has been pretty effective overseas playing a very very bad hand.

    Now, my point is that I have judgment, altitude, and perspective. As written in my favorite book, even a dog knows the difference between being tripped over and being kicked.

    From reading your comment it is painfully clear that you, as I say, lack judgment. You are nothing but intellectually lazy combined with a lot of jealousy, envy, and the old "authoritarian personality." The hit on Krugman gives you away. Anyone who reads him with care knows that he is very angry with himself for letting events unwind as they did, not seeing such, and not doing much more to prevent all our problems.

    Next you will be telling us that what America needs is the Ryan plan---more tax cuts for the rich and less for infants and children.

  9. just a few items on the checklist

    Here is a list of ways to identify a sociopath. This list is from "Profile of a Sociopath." Is is a pretty good list of sociopathic indicators.
    Glibness/superficial charm
    Manipulative and conning
    Grandiose sense of self
    Pathological lying
    Lack of remorse, shame or guilt
    Shallow emotions
    Incapacity for love
    Need for stimulation
    Callousness/lack of empathy

  10. Ouch. I guess you told me. Nice one.

    You sound like some pompous blowhard left wing elitist talking down on people whom you disagree with. Sociopath? maybe you should look in the mirror.


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