Quote of the day—Thomas Sowell

Fallacies abound in economic policies affecting everything from housing to international trade. Where the unintended consequences of these policies take years to unfold, the effects may not be traced back to their causes by many people. Even when the bad consequences follow closely after a given policy, many people may not connect the dots, and advocates of policies that backfire often attribute these bad consequences to something else. Sometimes they claim that the bad situation would have been even worse if it had not been for the wonderful policies they advocated.


There are many reasons why fallacies have staying power, even in the face of hard evidence against them. Elected officials, for example, cannot readily admit that some policy or program that they advocated, perhaps with great fanfare, has turned out badly, without risking their whole careers. Similarly for leaders of various causes and movements. Even intellectuals or academics with tenure stand to lose prestige and suffer embarrassment when their notions turn out to be counterproductive. Others who think of themselves as supporters of things that will help the less fortunate would find it painful to confront evidence that they have in fact made the less fortunate worse off than before. In other words, evidence is too dangerous— politically, financially and psychologically— for some people to allow it to become a threat to their interests or to their own sense of themselves.


Thomas Sowell
Economic Facts and Fallacies: Second Edition Economic Facts and Fallacies: Second Edition page 2.
[See also When Prophecy Fails or my website by the same name for a quick overview.


I expect that most of those that read my blog will see the applicability of the above to our current political situation.—Joe]

3 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Thomas Sowell

  1. So Polonius’ remark to his son, “To thine own self be true,” is now debased to, “To thine own self esteem be true.”

  2. Or; “For the sake of thine own ego, deceive.” I figure that if it ends with “be true” you still have to be true, not lie.

    Words mean things, but you wouldn’t think so listening to the left. They’ve taken that phrase to mean “Be self-serving” or “Satisfy your urges and to hell with anyone else” when it simply means “Don’t fool yourself”.

  3. This is what disturbs me about health care. We started the debacle by capping salaries, so employers started to provide benefits to compete for people; when everyone got health insurance from their employers, and couldn’t switch, States started passing laws telling us what kind of insurance we could have, which pushed insurance companies to do even more absurd things, ad nauseum.

    The pattern is simple: Concoct a crisis; pass a law to “fix” things; discover that things only get worse…and then blame the Free Market. This pattern spirals to authoritarianism.

    I strongly suspect that many politicians consider this a feature, rather than a bug, though–even if they aren’t aware of this Spiral of Authoritarianism.

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