The format suits my attention deficits well. Each column/chapter is about 3 pages long, all the way through the book. It is easy to absorb a few chapters at a time and put the book down. There are a hundred or so chapters grouped into the topics of Government Policies, Political Issues, Economic Issues, Cultural Issues, and Legal Issues. It makes for a great bedside reader or one anywhere you want bite-size morsels of intelligent insight.
I like his solution on political corruption:
“The stakes are too high for us to be penny-wise and pound-foolish by putting trillions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money in the hands of elected officials who are paid less than the beginning salary of a top student from a top law school.
If we paid every member of congress $10 million a year, that would not increase the federal budget by one percent.
Chances are that it would reduce the federal budget considerably, when members of the Senate or the House of Representatives no longer needed campaign contributions or the personal favors of special interest groups and their lobbyists.” (p. 113-114)
Hmm. OK, that insight is a bit out there, but a novel idea! How do you implement that?!
In The Great Escape he notes: “The great escape of our times is escape from personal responsibility for the consequences of one’s own behavior.” (p. 208)
Personal responsibility, one of my favorite themes. Especially since I took up reading Ayn Rand (rational self interest, taking care of oneself, but NOT at someone else’s expense) and listening to Rush Limbaugh (individual rights, self responsibility, pursuit of happiness). It seems like politicians these days want everything at some else’s expense.
In Too Many Apologies he follows up with: “Aimless apologies are just one of the incidental symptoms of an increasing loss of a sense of personal responsibility — without which a whole society is in jeopardy.”…
…”Yet increasing numbers of educators and the intelligentsia seem to have devoted themselves to undermining or destroying a sense of personal responsibility and making “society” responsible instead. Aimless apologies are just one small symptom of this larger and more dangerous attitude.” (p. 339)
His final chapter, Random Thoughts (8 pages! the exception to the rule), has numerous zingers and aphorisms:
“Ronald Reagan had a vision of America. Barack Obama has a vision of Barack Obama.” (p. 334) (Did I mention that Sowell is Conservative?)
“Some people are so busy being clever that they don’t have time enough to be wise.” (p. 335)
“We can only hope that the rumor that Israel is going to take out Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities is true. If they do, Israel will be widely condemned by governments that are breathing a sigh of relief that they did.” (p. 338) (As they will sigh with Gaddafi’s demise.)
“We have now reached the truly dangerous point where we cannot even be warned about the lethal, fanatical and suicidal hatred of our society by Islamic extremists, because to do so would be politically incorrect and, in some European countries, would be a violation of the law against inciting hostility to groups.” (p. 338)
“Socialists believe in government ownership of the means of production. Fascists believed in government control of privately owned businesses, which is much more the style of this government. That way, politicians can intervene whenever they feel like it and then, when their interventions turn out badly, summon executives from the private sector before Congress and denounce them on nationwide television.” (p. 338-339) (Reminds me of this article I saw in the news the other day:
Fed Won’t Let Bank of America Raise Dividend) (Please Mr. Government, may I mind my own business?)
I’m not one to discourage book sales, but in addition to obtaining this book at your local county library you can read nearly all the essays, and many, many more, at http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell1.asp. (The internet exploratorialy astute will look up the table of contents at Amazon.com and then look for the same essay at Jewish World Review, but I digress.)
As I thought a majority of Jewish people voted Democratic, I was pleased and amazed to find this bastion of conservative thought. Quite a few of my favorite conservative writers can be found listed in the margins of most any page
(Update: Great essay from Sowell today, IMO: