Thomas SowellThomas Sowell, (1930- ) Writer and economist

Thomas Sowell Quote

“One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce, subsidized those who refuse to produce, and canonized those who complain.”

Thomas SowellThomas Sowell
~ Thomas Sowell

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

Amen. Volumes could be here written.

Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

Don't know what times he is referring to but I heard on the news several days ago that the French and Japanese subsidize their farmers to the tune of 50% and 30%. We only subsidize ours to about 23%. Also heard that a big part of the current oil problem is that China and India subsidize the price so that their people can buy it cheaper and thus they are moving from bicycles and scooters into autos. If they had to pay our prices their demand would go down, supply would go up and price would come down. The Chinesse and Indian governments get the money to subsidize from the junk they sell to us. So we are moving from cars into scooters. I don't know aout incentives or subsidies but isn't it interesting that the Fench, Japanesse, Chineese and Indian subsidies are helping them and ruining us.

jim, austin
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  • Reply
jim, austin    6/9/08

I wish Mr. Sowell was running for president, he'd get my vote. This quote is exactly right. As to "only subsidizing our farmers 23%", why should they get any federal money at all ? Farming is a business and subsidizing it is wrong.

Ken, Allyn, WA

I think Waffler gets it! Subsidies are evil because they cause harm to your neighbors. They are just like affirmative action that takes a level playing field, tilts it, then calls it level.

Gary, WR, GA

Mr. Sowell is right on target. Although politically incorrect speech such as this is now also demonized.

Me Again
  • Reply
    Me Again    6/9/08

    I don't quite understand this quote.

    E Archer, NYC

    The US government pays farmers billions every year to keep arable land fallow -- that is, to keep farmers from growing anything on it. This is above and beyond what the government subsidizes. It is a well known fact that a plan to grow 'veggie fuels' like corn, soy beans, hemp, and other oil-seeds would require the use of the fallow land else food production would suffer and prices rise. Ethanol production using fallow land would have killed two birds with one stone, introducing a new product that is high in demand and getting farmers off the government dole, most of whom would rather be farming than taking a hand-out anyway. America used to be one of the biggest producers in the world -- now, however, we have given it all to the Chinese and the 3rd world. When will we stop buying goods manufactured by slave labor?! If all we care about is 'cheap' goods no matter what the hidden cost, then our own slavery is not far away.

    Dave Wilbur, St. Louis

    Our Marxist misleaders subsidize milk, sugar, tobacco and wars, ALL killers. Why? Our "absolute masters" (quoting President James Garfield), The Fed said their system "works only with credit" that would keep its value "if there were fewer people bidding against each other" and their former Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, said "there are many ways to make the death rate increase." Sources: What the wars in Asia do for Bush is to distract millions from the biological, chemical, economic, psychological and spiritual warfare.

    warren, olathe

    So why only one star when you proved his point, Waffler?

    Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

    I am not sure I proved his point Warren. Government influence into national economies is as old as the Prime Minister of Egypt Joseph who got the job because he saved the Egyptians from starvation. Governments intervene in ag markets all over the world. Agriculture is complex and way beyond me. From the news about France, Japan, China and India are foreign friends are beating the hell out of us by using the tool of Government Subsidies. So I only gave one star because I think the quote is overly simplistic. (By the way Warren, I meant to congratulate you for your daughters college graduation.)

    Ken, Allyn, WA

    Just because immorality has carried on for thousands of years and everybody does it, doesn't make it less immoral. Egyptian dynasties were not particularly known as freedom loving regimes, after all. Neither are France, Japan, China, or India for that matter.

    E Archer, NYC

    For goodness sake, Waffler, any chance you could provide 'real' statistics and examples to support your argument, not just 'I heard on TV the other day' or referring to Biblical stories as fact. (I suppose it is OK, then, to rob Peter to pay Paul...) This is just blatant hearsay and pure opinion to back up your belief in socialist policies. So, just because a socialist country does something, we need to copy it? Do you stand for anything except being compassionate with other people's money? Does it make good financial sense to borrow from your neighbor's credit card to support another neighbor's business just because YOU think it is fair? Let the market determine fairness and prices. Dave Wilbur's comment above is right on.

    Chitty, Long Beach, CA

    WOW! Everybody else who posted here seems to understand EXACTLY what Thomas Sowell meant by this quote, but I'm not quite sure that I do. First, Sowell says: "One of the sad signs of our times is that we have demonized those who produce..." TO WHOM, EXACTLY, IS HE REFERRING? I don't know WHAT PEOPLE who "produce" are being "demonized"--or HOW they are being "demonized," and Sowell certainly doesn't tell us. I suppose it's left up to the readers of this quote to fill-in-the-blank. That makes the reader take OWNERSHIP of SOWELL's statement, almost as if WE wrote the entire quote, ourselves--even though we may not know exactly what group(s) he is really referring to. But, for the sake of argument, let's just logically assume that by "producers," he means those who make or create or grow something, and that he says these people are being "demonized". Then he continues: We "...subsidized those who refuse to produce..." Here, again, I don't know WHOM he's talking about--and I'm not certain who "REFUSES" to produce, although many who have posted here seem to think he's talking about farmers who are paid to keep their land fallow and NOT PRODUCE crops--but technically, if farmers really are the ones Sowell is referring to, then he should refer to them as 'those who AGREED NOT TO PRODUCE FOR PAY,' instead of as people who "REFUSE" to produce. Anyway, just for the sake of argument, let's assume that he is referring to farmers who are paid NOT TO PLANT as "...those who refuse to produce..." Finally, he says, we "...canonized those who complain." Once again, I don't really know WHOM he regards as "...those who complain". Is he referring to those who PRODUCE as the ones who complain? I think NOT, because that would be a contradiction, since he already said that they are being "demonized". Since Sowell is not talking about "...those who produce..." being canonized (and "demonized" simultaneously), maybe he's referring to "...those who refuse to produce..." as the ones who complain and are being canonized--but that doesn't make sense, since they are getting paid, essentially, to do nothing. Why would THEY complain? And if they really ARE complaining, why would they be "canonized" (treated as saints or respected and held in very high regard)? I just don't get it. Since it is NOT logical that either the producers or those being subsidized are the complainers (and they are the ONLY groups mentioned in the quote), there must be ANOTHER GROUP that is NOT mentioned in the quote whom Sowell regards as the 'complainers'. Who, then, are they? (Is it US, the common people?) Sowell gives us no clue; he only gives us another fill-in-the-blank statement. But here again, once we fill in the blank, we are assuming OWNERSHIP of HIS statement although we aren't certain what or whom he is talking about. This is the trademark of the idealogue and the demagogue. Sowell is an Republican fanatic and idealogue; he has never seen a Republican idea he doesn't like--EVEN IF IT WILL BANKRUPT OR OTHERWISE RUIN THE COUNTRY--and THAT'S JUST ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I WILL CAST MY VOTE FOR SENATOR BARACK OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

    Chitty, Long Beach, CA

    Thumbs down on the Sowell quote!

    Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

    Wow!Wow!Wow! Chitty. Hip hip hooray for your great intelligent answer. The answer to all of your questions can be handled by Archer, he knows everything. And what he dosen't know he refuses to research. Like I mean how hard is it to Google information about national subsidies. The only thing Archer knows is that he is an individual and is against the group. He even says that the individuals opionion and rights are just as valid as the groups. How would you like to go to a dinner party with him and nine others when nine people want to go one way and he wants to go the other and insists that his opinion is just as valid as the others. His basic phiolosopy is government by the spoiled brat approach. But alas his delemmna is not new. People through history and for that matter people from the time of their birth until matured struggle with the me (individual) versus the us (group) delemna. At maturity however those who still do not have a strong enough sense of self or individuality are incapable of joining with others in groups. The fully developed healthy and balanced personaltiy has no such problem. Some examples of the former are first Kierkegaard the Danish writer and philosopher. He was so disoriented about who he was that he had the word INDIVIDUAL engraved on his headstone. We all have bouts of this confuse like Thoreau who had to escape from the great mass of men. People like Archer are prone to stand on a street corner and yell to the passing hordes and traffic at the top of his voice, "I AM AN INDIVIDUAL'" all the time being too ignorant and/or conceited to recognize that the hordes are all individuals also. It is a shallow person that sees others as groups and not as individuals just like themselves. This psychological dementia is what enables mad men like Hitler to do the things they did. Ken subsidies are not immoral. Cities and states throughout this Union will give incentives and tax breaks etcetera to companies to build plants etcetera. I stand for a lot of things Archer but mostly for The Truth. From the time I first met you on this site you stated your desire to be different just for the sake of being different. Your lack of a sense of self and individuality drives yout to try to stand for something in order to give you a sense of identity that you do not have. I am truly sorry for you! Unlike you Chitty these guys will fall for any "red meat" they see on this site and use it for their deranged diatribes. The other day there was a cute quote about "being either complaisant towards the earth and doing nothing or going with your inclinations". I commented on how a person could have inclinations to serve and protect the earth. Archer attacked me as having a collectivist sentiment.

    Waffler, Smith, Arkansas

    PS: Chitty be aware that you are not dealing with many sincere commentators on this site. In the quote just above they praise the quote and concept of studying "great men". I mention Joseph of the Bible and they laugh at him. But their ignorance of economics is complete if they don't understand that societies and cultures, tribes and groups from time immemorial unto this present day plan and horde and subsidise and incentivize and use any method possible to store up foods against starvation. Morality is not part of this equation.

    J Carlton, Calgary

    Right On. The man knows of what he speaks. And "Basic Economics" by Thomas Sowell should be required High School reading.

    E Archer, NYC

    What, Waffler, someone new comes on board that shares your Social Democrat vision and you have to 'warn' them about the other guys on the site? ;-) You are a classic, man. Obviously, Chitty, Waffler is in desperate need of someone that agrees with him here -- looks like his comment is mostly 'tattling' on everyone that takes exception to his rhetoric. However, I trust that you can hold your own and form your own opinions without his help. Welcome!

    Steve, Mpls

    This pretty much hits the nail on head. I'm sure that Tom Sowell will is high on the 'hit list' that thug Obama and his cronies Pelosi and Reid will be targeting with their 'Fairness Doctrine'. Get ready for some serious Orwellian nightmares ahead if this hack corrupt Chicago politician steals this election with his lapdog accomplices in the media.

    Liecatcher, Mississippi

    Steve, Mpls: Am compelled to respond to your HATEFUL statement -- which, of course, is also a carpet of lies intended to incite and confuse. Let's review what you wrote. First, you say that Uncle Tom Sewerl is high on the president's 'hit list'. Why? I'm willing to bet that Sewer's not even a microscopic speck of sand on the president's beaches of thought. You say that President Obama is a "thug," and that "pelosi and Reid" are his "cronies" and will be targeting Sewell with "their 'fairness Doctrine'". Next you invoke "Orwellian nightmares" and refer to the president as a "hack corrupt Chicago politician" who might somehow "steal" the election "with his lapdog accomplices in the media". All you do in your diatribe is call people names and shout BE AFRAID!. Why don't you SPECIFICALLY reveal exactly what the president has done that you disapprove of? Please spell out exactly what makes him a "thug" in your mind. What specific act of thuggery has he committed. What EVIDENCE points to him 'stealing' the election? Who are "his lapdog accomplices in the media"? Fox News? CNN? ABC Radio? KFI? Bloomberg? Limbaugh? Savage? Stop spewing garbage and say something specific for a change, you racist, lying, hatemonger.

    Chitty, Anytown, Earth

    Gee, sounds like something I wrote (wink).

    Mike, Pleasant Hill

    Like usual Thomas hits the nail on the head for those that have eyes to see in ears to hear.
    If you favor a socialist society then move to one and leave the rest of us alone! But no, you won't do that because socialist countries are poor because that's what socialism produces. When you punish the producers ( take away the incentive to work hard) and engage in wealth redistribution to those who do not produce as a way to buy votes from the nonproducers to acquire or maintain power it is only a matter of time before those who produce will stop playing ball and that will be the end of the gravy train. It's plain common sense and basic human nature.

    E Archer, NYC

    Examples of producers demonized:
    Energy production
    Family farms, indigenous farming
    Non-unionized labor

    Examples of those subsidized to not produce:
    Farmers paid to keep their land unused
    Employers forced to raise minimum wage
    Millions of unemployed living on government welfare
    A myriad of laws designed to protect industries from competition or reformation in the fields of law, medicine, energy, communications, manufacturing

    Examples of canonizing the complainers:
    Just pick any one of thousands of establishment politicians and MM talking heads constantly stirring up trouble between the masses
    From race-baiters like Obama to war-mongers like GWB

    America has been transformed into a consumerist nation on borrowed money that can never be paid back. The work of the central bankers is to maneuver the hot potato to a target economy to bear the brunt of the inevitable squeeze, then blame that country for their lack of economic discipline.

    What goes ignored is the SYSTEM of hegemony that perpetuates this massive transfer of wealth and energy. It does not matter who is in office, if the system of money/power creation is not taken out of the hands of central banks and put back in the hands of the people, eventually the banks end up owning everything and renting it back to us -- like our money, and that is the status today! We rent money!! And we have to pay a premium on it, which also has to be rented. To actually use lawful money like gold or silver is impossible because merchants are prohibited to accept them as money.

    The entire economy is controlled as to keep the rivers of power flowing to the top of the pyramid, and to keep the people in a constant state of bondage to the unpayable debt that is in fact the entire money supply AND MORE.

    Subsidies are the props used to keep the masses from revolution. This money system guarantees sucking the life blood from the people -- and it is designed to keep its fangs off the holders of power. Subsidies are to keep the racket going until the people are left so powerless that they willingly indenture themselves to the state for their mere survival.

    The return to honest money is the revolutionary idea of the 21st century, and when enough of the world learns of the global hegemony that holds the power of the world in their hands, there will be a change like the end of slavery. We have become slaves again, only our chains are not so visible.

    Bob, Charlotte, VT

    Mike, Norwalk. Agree with your reaction, which opened the floodgates, as if you'd turned on a switch. VOLUMES, INDEED ! I'll return to check the excess (?) verbiage later today.

    Rita, WA
    • Reply
    Rita, WA    2/11/15

    Mr. Sowell nailed this, as usual.

    E Archer, NYC

    Hey, Chitty, how'd that vote for Obama turn out for you? Are you in a better financial position now than before Obama and the Gang? How's America's production going? Why are millions out of work? All that labor just sitting, consuming, some even living off of borrowed government debt. All part of the 'culling' of the herd. The best working form of socialism was under Hitler, other than that, the failures of socialist ideology are too many to mention and are invariably connected with large die-offs and ethnic cleansing in the millions. Socialists are as abhorrent as religionists -- they both worship centralized power and narcissistic leadership.

    Mary - MI
    • Reply
    Mary - MI    2/16/15

    Beautifully and succinctily stated!


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