You can never have too much Sowell

Thomas Sowell, that is, Fans of his columns who would like to read one of his more recent books could start with tracts on basic or applied economics, intellectuals, facts and fallacies, the housing boom and bust, or any number of compilations of his newspaper work.

Or you could start with the recent Thomas Sowell Reader, which offers 400 pages of his thoughts on a variety of topics, including ongoing efforts to demonize the rich.

Liberals have never ceased denouncing Ronald Reagan’s “tax cuts for the rich” in the early 1980s, despite the actual results, including a record-breaking period of economic expansion.

After the tax rate was cut on the highest income brackets (and on others), not only did the tax receipts rise but the percentage of those receipts paid by “the rich” also rose. Why then were the liberals unhappy? Because those in the upper brackets paid those vastly greater taxes out of rising incomes, while retaining a higher percentage of those incomes for themselves.

The dog-in-the-manger principle requires that the rich be made worse off. Any policy that fails to do that has failed politically, regardless of what economic benefits it may bring to the society as a whole.

While such attitudes are sufficiently widespread around the world that they cannot be attributed to a particular culture, neither are they inevitable. Very often, the key ingredient in the rise of explosive resentments is the rise of an intelligentsia preoccupied with invidious comparisons rather than general well-being.

Ironically, all too often the rich themselves have been the patrons of such intellectuals, whether at the universities, the foundations, or other institutions supported by their donations.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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