Thomas Sowell Biography
Thomas Sowell is an American economist and social theorist who is currently a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has also served on the faculties of several universities, including Cornell University and the University of California, Los Angeles. He has also worked for think tanks such as the Urban Institute.
Since 1980, he worked at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He writes from a libertarian conservative perspective, advocating supply-side economics. Sowell has written more than thirty books (a number of which have been reprinted in revised editions), and his work has been widely anthologized. He is a National Humanities Medal recipient for an innovative scholarship which incorporated history, economics and political science.
Thomas Sowell Age
Thomas Sowell was born on June 30, 1930, in Gastonia, North Carolina, United States. Sowell was born in North Carolina but grew up in Harlem, New York. He is 89 years old as of 2019.
Thomas Sowell Net worth
Thomas Sowell earns his income from his businesses and from other related organizations. He also earns his income from his work as an economist and social theorist. He has an estimated net worth of $ 40 million dollars.
Thomas Sowell Wife
Thomas Sowell first married Alma Jean Parr from 1964 to 1975. He later married another wife Mary Ash 1980.
Thomas Sowell Education
Thomas Sowell attended night classes at Howard University, which is a historically black college. He had high scores on the College Board exams where he had recommendations by two professors who helped him gain admission to Harvard University, where he graduated on magna cum laude in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics.
He also earned his Master’s degree from Columbia University. In 1968, he earned his doctorate Master’s degree in economics from the University of Chicago. He dropped out of high school and served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War.
Thomas Sowell Family
Thomas Sowell father died shortly before he was born, and his mother, worked as a housemaid, with four children.
His family moved from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Harlem, New York City, as part of the Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the North for greater opportunities.
He qualified for Stuyvesant High School, a prestigious academic high school in New York City; he was the first in his family to study beyond the sixth grade. However,
Thomas Sowell Economist and social theorist
Thomas Sowell worked in a civil service job in Washington, DC, he attended night classes at Howard University, a historically black college. Sowell said that he was a Marxist “during the decade of my 20s”; one of his earliest professional publications was a sympathetic examination of Marxist thought vs. Marxist–Leninist practice.
Thomas Sowell had experience work as a federal government intern during the summer of 1960 caused him to reject Marxian economics in favor of the free-market economic theory. During his work, Sowell discovered an association between the rise of mandated minimum wages for workers in the sugar industry of Puerto Rico and the rise of unemployment in that industry.
Studying the patterns led Sowell to theorize that the government employees who administered the minimum wage law cared more about their own jobs than the plight of the poor. He received a Doctor of Philosophy degree in economics from the University of Chicago in 1968. His dissertation was titled Say’s Law and the General Glut Controversy.
He had initially chosen Columbia University to study under George Stigler (who would later receive the Nobel Prize in Economics). When he learned that Stigler had moved to the University of Chicago, he followed him there. From 1965 to 1969, Sowell was an assistant professor of economics at Cornell University.
Writing thirty years later about the 1969 “violent” takeover by black Cornell students of Willard Straight Hall, Sowell characterized the students as “hoodlums” with “serious academic problems [and] admitted under lower academic standards” and noted “it so happens that the pervasive racism that black students supposedly encountered at every turn on campus and in town was not apparent to me during the four years that I taught at Cornell and lived in Ithaca.
Sowell has taught economics at Howard University, Rutgers, Cornell, Brandeis University, Amherst College, and the University of California, Los Angeles. Since 1980, he has been a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, where he holds a fellowship named after Rose and Milton Friedman, his mentor.
In addition, Sowell appeared several times on William F. Buckley Jr.’s show Firing Line, during which he discussed the economics of race and privatization. In 1987, Sowell testified in favor of federal appeals court judge Robert Bork during the hearings for Bork’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. In his testimony,
Sowell said that Bork was “the most highly qualified nominee of this generation” and that what he viewed as judicial activism, a concept that Bork opposed as a self-described originalist and textualist, “has not been beneficial to minorities.” In a review of a 1987 book, Larry D. Nachman in Commentary magazine described Sowell as a leading representative of the Chicago school of economics.
Thomas Sowell Writings
Sowell is both a syndicated columnist and an academic economist, whose column was distributed by Creators Syndicate. Themes of Sowell’s writing range from the social policy on race, ethnic groups, education, and decision-making, to classical and Marxian economics, to the problems of children perceived as having disabilities.
While often described as a black conservative, he prefers not to be labeled, having stated, “I prefer not to have labels, but I suspect that ‘libertarian’ would suit me better than many others, although I disagree with the libertarian movement on a number of things”.
He primarily writes on economic subjects, generally advocating a free market approach to capitalism. He opposes the Federal Reserve, arguing that it has been unsuccessful in preventing economic depressions and limiting inflation. He also writes on racial topics and is a critic of affirmative action and race-based quotas.
On the topic of affirmative action, Sowell has stated: One of the few policies that can be said to harm virtually every group in a different way… Obviously, whites and Asians lose out when you have preferential admission for black students or
Hispanic students but blacks and Hispanics lose out because what typically happens is the students who have all the credentials to succeed in college are admitted to colleges where the standards are so much higher than they fail. He takes strong issue with the notion of government as a helper or savior of minorities, arguing that the historical record shows quite the opposite.
He occasionally writes on the subject of gun control, “One can cherry-pick the factual studies, or cite some studies that have subsequently been discredited, but the great bulk of the studies show that gun control laws do not in fact control guns. On net balance, they do not save lives, but cost lives.”
Thomas Sowell Books on economics
Sowell has also written a trilogy of books on ideologies and political positions, including A Conflict of Visions, where he speaks about the origins of political strife; The Vision of the Anointed, where he compares the conservative/libertarian and liberal/progressive worldviews; and The Quest for Cosmic Justice, where, as in many of his other writings, he outlines his thesis of the need for intellectuals, politicians and leaders to fix and perfect the world in utopian, and ultimately he posits, disastrous fashions.
Separate from the trilogy, but also in discussion of the subject, he wrote Intellectuals and Society, where, building on his earlier work, he discusses what he argues to be the blind hubris and follies of intellectuals in a variety of areas.
His book Knowledge and Decisions, a winner of the 1980 Law and Economics Center Prize, was heralded as a “landmark work” and selected for this prize “because of its cogent contribution to our understanding of the differences between the market process and the process of government.”
In announcing the award, the center acclaimed Sowell, whose “contribution to our understanding of the process of regulation alone would make the book important, but in reemphasizing the diversity and efficiency that the market makes possible, [his] work goes deeper and becomes even more significant.”
F.A. Hayek wrote: “In a wholly original manner [Sowell] succeeds in translating an abstract and theoretical argument into a highly concrete and realistic discussion of the central problems of contemporary economic policy.”
He challenges the notion that black progress is due to progressive government programs or policies, in The Economics and Politics of Race (1983), Ethnic America (1981), Affirmative Action Around the World (2004), and other books.
He claims that many problems identified with blacks in modern society are not unique, either in terms of American ethnic groups or in terms of a rural proletariat struggling with disruption as it became urbanized, as discussed in his book Black Rednecks and White Liberals (2005).
In Affirmative Action Around the World, he holds that affirmative action covers most of the American population, particularly women, and has long since ceased to favor blacks. He described his serious study of Karl Marx in his autobiography.
He opposes Marxism, providing a critique in his book Marxism: Philosophy and Economics (1985). Sowell also favors decriminalization of all drugs.
Thomas Sowell Books on other subjects
In Intellectuals and Race (2013), Sowell argues that intelligence quotient (IQ) gaps are hardly startling or unusual between, or within, ethnic groups. He notes that the roughly 15-point gap in contemporary black-white IQ scores is similar to that between the national average and the scores of certain ethnic white groups in years past, in periods when the nation was absorbing new immigrants.
Sowell wrote The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late, a follow-up to his Late-Talking Children, discussing a condition he termed Einstein syndrome. This book investigates the phenomenon of late-talking children, frequently misdiagnosed with autism or pervasive developmental disorder.
He includes the research of Stephen Camarata and Steven Pinker, among others, in this overview of a poorly understood developmental trait. It is a trait which he says affected many historical figures.
He discusses late-talkers who developed prominent careers, such as physicists Albert Einstein (but it is doubtful that Einstein was a late talker), Edward Teller and Richard Feynman; mathematician Julia Robinson; and musicians Arthur Rubinstein and Clara Schumann.
He makes the case for the theory that some children develop unevenly (asynchronous development) for a period in childhood due to rapid and extraordinary development in the analytical functions of the brain.
This may temporarily “rob resources” from neighboring functions such as language development. Sowell disagrees with Simon Baron-Cohen’s speculation that Einstein may have had Asperger syndrome.
Thomas Sowell Columns
Sowell had a nationally syndicated column distributed by Creators Syndicate that was published in Forbes magazine, National Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The New York Post and other major newspapers, as well as online on websites such as RealClearPolitics, Townhall, WorldNetDaily, and the Jewish World Review.
Sowell comments on current issues, which include liberal media bias; judicial activism (while defending originalism); intact dilation and extraction (commonly known as, and described in U.S. federal law as, partial-birth abortion); the minimum wage;
universal health care; the tension between government policies, programs, and protections and familial autonomy; affirmative action; government bureaucracy; gun control; militancy in U.S. foreign policy; the U.S. war on drugs, and multiculturalism.
In a Townhall editorial, “The Bush Legacy”, Sowell assessed President George W. Bush as “a mixed bag”, but “an honorable man. He was strongly critical of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and officially endorsed Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries in a February article.
However, he indicated that he would vote against the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, in the general election, due to fears about the appointments Clinton would possibly make to the Supreme Court.
He announced the end of syndicated column on December 27, 2016. He wrote that, at age 86, “the question is not why I am quitting, but why I kept at it so long”, and cited a desire to focus on his photography hobby.
Thomas Sowell Reception
Classical liberals have libertarians and conservatives of different disciplines which work positively. Among these, he has been noted for originality, great depth and breadth, clarity of expression, and thoroughness of research.
Sowell’s publications have been received positively by economists Steven Plaut and Abigail Thernstrom; political scientist Charles Murray; Josef Joffe, publisher and editor of Die Zeit; Jay Nordlinger,
Senior Editor of National Review; theater critic and political commentator Kevin D. Williamson; Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University; publishing executive Steve Forbes; and R. Bastiat, Economics Editor of the now-defunct web publication, Iconoclast.ca. Their remarks include,
[Sowell’s work is] thoroughly, almost dauntingly, researched, yet it is as readable as a novel clearing away cant and illuminating the world as it is. A Conflict of Visions gives us an intellectual framework that must shape an attentive reader’s way of looking at the political world forever after.
Thomas Sowell’s work takes place on a breathtaking intellectual level that ought to command the respect even of those who violently disagree with him. [Sowell is] a delight: terse, well argued and utterly convincing.
I can think of no better way for a conscientious U.S. voter to start out this election year than by reading [Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy and Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One. [Thomas Sowell] has written about 30 [books] and brilliant ones, or at least excellent ones. You won’t find a dud in the bunch.
Thomas Sowell is that rarest of things among serious academics: plainspoken. [His work is] that of a man who knows a whole lot more about things that you do and is intent on setting you straight, at length if necessary, if you’d only listen [emphasis in original].
For those who want a short introduction to Sowell-think, Intellectuals, and Race … is a perfect place to start. His main message amply illustrated is that, on the subject of race, intellectuals are useless. Indeed, they don’t even ask the right questions.
His book is a primer on rigorous thinking about social and economic issues in general, here and abroad. I didn’t think I would learn much from Sowell’s wonderful little book, having slogged through the literature on race since I was born—or at least it feels like it’s been that long. But I did … Intellectuals and Race is a feast of hard thinking about America’s ongoing racial agony.
[Sowell’s] latest is another triumph of crackling observations that underscore the ignorance of our economists and policymakers. Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective is a true gem in terms of exposing the demagoguery and sheer ignorance of politicians and intellectuals in their claims about wealth and poverty.
Thomas Sowell Negative
Critics such as author and journalist Colin Campbell, Hampton University economist Bernadette Chachere, Harvard University sociologist William Julius Wilson, social scientist Richard Coughlin, Stanford law professor Richard Thompson Ford, and Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Pearlstein include in their remarks,
[Sowell’s works] have been published, to much praise … and a lot of criticism, some of it bitter. To cite one article published in 1973, after controlling for age, region of residence, parents’ income, father’s occupation and education, place where raised, number of siblings, health, local labor, market conditions, geographic mobility, and seasonal employment, there still remained a 70% difference in the earnings of whites and nonwhites.
Sowell’s Markets and Minorities leaves [this] unexplained, There is not one footnote to this chapter. A plausible alternative to Mr. Sowell’s hypothesis on women’s pay differentials and occupational segregation is that women are virtually excluded from many desirable positions and therefore crowd into obtainable occupations
[However, his work] is a brutally frank, perceptive and important contribution to the national debate over the means to achieve equality and social justice for minorities and women. [Sowell’s] absence of a coherent (much less, rigorous) comparative methodology renders the analysis less compelling than it might otherwise be … the book’s lack of methodological rigor will, I suspect, make it easy for readers holding opposing viewpoints to discount Sowell’s conclusions.
Too much of Intellectuals and Race reads with overly tendentious and snide attacks on caricatured liberal theories … Sowell insists … that differences in productive capabilities explain the differences in outcomes [He] downplays the toll that American racism has taken, not only on black fortunes but on American civic culture and politics.
Thomas Sowell Legacy and honors
In 1990, Thomas Sowell won the Francis Boyer Award, presented by the American Enterprise Institute. In 1998, he received the Sydney Hook Award from the National Association of Scholars.
In 2002, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal for prolific scholarship melding history, economics, and political science. In 2003, he was awarded the Bradley Prize for intellectual achievement.
In 2004, he was given Laissez Faire Books’ Lysander Spooner Award for his book Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One. In 2008, getAbstract awarded his book Economic Facts and Fallacies its International Book Award.
Thomas Sowell Career highlights
- Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, September 1980–present
- Professor of Economics, UCLA, July 1974 – June 1980
- Visiting Professor of Economics, Amherst College, September–December 1977
- Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, April–August 1977
- Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, July 1976 – March 1977
- Project Director, The Urban Institute, August 1972 – July 1974
- Associate Professor of Economics, UCLA, September 1970 – June 1972
- Associate Professor of Economics, Brandeis University, September 1969 – June 1970
- Assistant Professor of Economics, Cornell University, September 1965 – August 1969
- Economic Analyst, American Telephone & Telegraph Co., June 1964 – August 1965
- Lecturer in Economics, Howard University, September 1963 – June 1964
- Instructor in Economics, Douglass College, Rutgers University, September 1962 – June 1963
- Labor Economist, U.S. Department of Labor, June 1961 – August 1962
Thomas Sowell Books
- 1987. A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles. William Morrow, ISBN 0-688-06912-6
- 1990. Preferential Policies: An International Perspective, ISBN 0-688-08599-7
- 1993. Inside American Education, ISBN 0-7432-5408-2
- 1993. Is Reality Optional?, Hoover, ISBN 978-0-8179-9262-0
- 1995. Race and Culture: A World View. Description & chapter previews. ISBN 0-465-06796-4
- 1995. The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation As a Basis for Social Policy. Basic Books, ISBN 0-465-08995-X
- 1996. Migrations and Cultures: A World View, ISBN 0-465-04589-8 OCLC 41748039
- 1998. Conquests and Cultures: An International History, ISBN 0-465-01400-3
- 1998. Late-Talking Children, ISBN 0465038352
- 1999. Barbarians Inside the Gates and Other Controversial Essays, ISBN 0-8179-9582-X
- 1999. The Quest for Cosmic Justice, ISBN 0-684-86463-0
- 2000. A Personal Odyssey, ISBN 0-684-86465-7
- 2002. Controversial Essays, Hoover, ISBN 0-8179-2992-4
- 2002. The Einstein Syndrome: Bright Children Who Talk Late, ISBN 0-465-08141-X
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