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Dismantling America: and other controversial essays Hardcover – August 10, 2010
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Praise for the works of Thomas Sowell:
For anyone looking for a straightforward and honest discussion of the origins of our current crisis, informed by a deep understanding of both economics and politics. . . --Washington Times
I've read all his books and never been even faintly disappointed. --Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard
Thomas Sowell is, in my opinion, the most original and interesting philosopher at work in America. --Paul Johnson, author of Modern Times
[T]hese vigorously argued essays present a stimulating challenge to the conventional wisdom. --Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
From the Back Cover
That Barack Obama in office has often done the exact opposite of what Barack Obama said as a candidate, on issue after issue, should not cause half the surprise and disappointment that it has produced in many people who pinned high hopes on him. The really painful surprise is that so many people based their hopes on his words, rather than on his deeds. However, our concern is not with one man but with a country. When we look back at the decades-long erosions and distortions of our educational system, our legal system and our political system, we must acknowledge the chilling fact that the kinds of dangers we face now were always inherent in these degenerating trends. These essays deal with these trends individually, but it may help to keep in mind that they were all going on at the same time. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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Bottom-Line: I share Sowell's concerns, but regret that he has become too attached to the past. It used to be that 40-acres and a mule allowed a man to be successful in the U.S.; obviously, this is not true anymore. Similarly with some of our values and institutions. Take a lesson from the Chinese - beginning their spectacular economic turnaround first required that they declare much of Mao, Marx, and Engels as being out of date. I'm going to go with Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Jeffrey Immelt on the need for greater government involvement - especially in encouraging high-technology, clean energy and industrial policy.
Sowell is very good in explaining the mistakes that politicians make. He is very perceptive, for instance, in talking about the complicity of Congress in the recent financial crisis. He is not so good, however, in the criminal actions of the banks in bundling and selling off loans that they know will default.
Because of his undisguised contempt for government and the President, he is unable to evaluate the really successful big government programs, such as Social Security, public education, Head Start, national highways, food stamps, school lunches, federal training programs, and the like. He is the only one I know of who condemns Rooseveldt's Civilian Conservation Corps, which not only kept unemployed young men off the streets, but improved and created the infrastructure of our county, including soil conservation and parks. It also did much in preparing citizens for the cooperation and hard work required in fighting WWII.
The problem is not government but with those who influence government. What is most evident is his avoidance of the problems that beset the working class, such as the growing gap between the most wealthy and workers. Since the Reagan era, there has been a huge transfer of funds from the working, middle class to the wealthy. Not able to question how our system and how it contributes to social problems, he blames poor people for their poverty, just as once people blamed slaves for their slavery.
Sowell has no remedy for the 15 million workers out of work. He avoids completely the problems facing women, especially black women, schools, health care. Some of his information is wrong, such as his belief in the greater efficiency of corporations in distributing health care, food, education, and crime prevention. He says, for example that the excessive compensation of CEOs is nobody else's business. When it comes to reducing health care costs, he seems oblivious to the profits that insurance companies subtract from health care. While he fears the government in determining what health care we receive, he seems to believe that corporations really have the interests of citizens at heart.
Since the Reagan era, there has been a massive transfer of funds from the working class to the very wealthy. Wages have stagnated and are not reflective of workers' productivity.
Sowell is always asserting that progressives violate "American values." The only values he seems concerned with is the ability of corporations exploit the labor of workers. Americans don't believe that free-market capitalism will solve all problems. They believe that government should be honest and energetic in addressing human problems. Politicians make many mistakes and we must watch them to keep them honest. But they must work hard, and not do nothing. Government deserves credit for the good things that benefit all of us on a daily basis, e.g. sanitation, good roads, schools, libraries, support for businesses--in other words, many good programs besides public safety and the military.
Smaller government is always a good idea. Waste and inefficiency must be addressed. But Sowell does not realize that the greatest stimulant to large government programs is war. It seems like capitalism cannot exist without the profits that come with arms sale and military contracts.
Sowell's is basically a passive and submissive message: don't question the system. He is a good spokesperson for his corporate masters.