At age 86, Thomas Sowell is retiring from writing his weekly syndicated column. In 2011, NRO’s Jay Nordlinger interviewed Dr. Sowell at Stanford University.
The coming of Barack Obama means that we are in a Sowell moment — a moment ripe for what he has to offer. He (Sowell) is a conservative who specializes in reminding people of the fundamental (as suggested by the title of that book, “Basic Economics”). What is a free economy, and what is an unfree one? What does the Constitution say, and why is this document important? In a recent conversation, Sowell said that we are seeing “the slow but systematic dismantling of the Constitution.” And “the idea that ‘We the People’ are self-governing is being eroded at every opportunity.” Society-changing bills are rushed and rammed through Congress, before the public knows what’s in them — before even those voting on the bills know what’s in them. “Czars” dot the executive branch, issuing edicts. These power-wielders are barely known to us, and barely accountable.
Thomas Sowell, who got his third Ph.D (economics) from the University of Chicago, explains, “I was a Marxist when I went to the University of Chicago, and I was still a Marxist after I took Milton Friedman’s course. … “But just one summer as an economics intern in Washington got rid of all of that.” Jay Nordlinger continues:
Sowell worked in the Labor Department, in the Wage and Hour Division. He was interested in whether minimum wages helped the poor by raising their pay or hurt them by denying them jobs. He found that the personnel around him were interested in other things: namely, the preservation of their own jobs, and the perpetuation of government programs. “Government has its own incentives,” he says. He was on his way as a conservative and free-marketeer.