tv After Words A Biography of Thomas Sowell CSPAN July 2, 2021 5:01am-5:59am EDT
in the wall street journal you are pretty ubiquitous in my line of practice. >> it's good to be here. >> you have done a service to the into a - - intellectual life of america and how do you explain, i think i already answer but nevertheless, how do you explain that one of the finest minds of the last half century is unknown to have america? [laughter] >> but he was canceled long time ago. he is a conservative in a black conservative. and with the racial controversy and in the media
and never has really shook that in terms of notoriety that a lot of people like cornell west that notwithstanding the fact that building circles around those folks. not only the breath of the work and match by those folks. it is eight. >> it is a truly important book. was anything surprising in your research?
>> and then to try to get them to cooperate and the number of times over the years. and not too much surprising one thing that might surprise a lot of people in his professional life is to graduate from college from being a high school dropout. and then in terms of the career. >> one of the greatest thinkers.
>> he was born in 1930 with almost the first decade of his life there and his father died before he was born and then his mother died. and then taken in by his great aunt and her two adult daughters and so the four of them moved up to harlem and i mentioned he was a high school dropout and very smart and then left home at the age of 17. but then during the korean war and spent two years in the marines. and then to get his act together there.
and with the g.i. bill. and then with washington dc. and then from there went on to columbia with a masters. and then spent most of the sixties and the seventies. with brandeis and ucla and cornell. and then to join the hoover institution and that is where he has been ever since so with the mainstream university have hired him? >> he could ever do any college that he wanted to.
and the university of wisconsin. and then to get tenure and to work and was quite talented. and then talking about racial controversies then to surpass most people in the field. then with the faculty around and those who want to interfere with the teaching style that this was the 19 sixties and then to have women's rights movement and all these things were coming together through this sort of thing in time was of a different generation intended
to teach that way. and that is very difficult to do. and then to be much more indulgent so he just would not bend. so then at cornell in the late sixties and was on faculty at the time and he stuck it out through the seventies and to be put in the think tank world already but then decided to leave teaching altogether. but not even research he wanted to be a teacher. >> by the way i was thinking talking about childhood.
>> it's interesting. yes the great aunt that raised him had two daughters. but when tom talks about bad experience that essentially was an only child and he talks about how important it was with child development and we know the firstborn child to say i was lucky enough to be raised and that had more impact on how i turned out. >> i'm just thinking that
relatively ignored field talk about the influences and i wonder if the fact that kids today spend more time with kids rather than adults then perhaps in recorded history does not have the immature impact on thought and personality? i am just freely associating based on what you said. >> it might. i am not too familiar with that literature that we do have these gaps that we are still dealing with that begins even before the children enter school. with the studies that have been done with children on welfare and working-class
parents. not only in the number of words but negative words and that can be quite different with that socioeconomic background that in times case at this time the black family was in much better shape than it is today. intact families were the norm in the black community in the 1920s and thirties black marriage rates were higher a lot of what we see today from the 19 sixties. >> try and set out on a college campus today. [laughter]
and what saw was government was not always a benevolent force or a benevolent force. so when it comes to lower income minorities with the study of minimum wage in terms of the effects on employment. >> you studied under milton friedman did he haven't big impact on him? >> yes. in several ways. milton friedman one of the bigger impacts he had was on public intellectualism. and what i mean by that after he won the prize and left the university of chicago he said about writing popular books
that were to general interest readers. he did a lot of speaking to groups on campuses and elsewhere and he felt the role of the scholar was not something to talk to your peers but to display your discipline to those who were not in the discipline so he has written book after book and claim english plane spoken pros for everyday people. it's one of the reasons people were disappointed a few years back. even after tom left he was still teaching through that column and he was the best professor people had so i think that public intellectualism to a certain
extent that friedman was a mentor. >> he studied under a persuasive left-wing economist you thank you would've turned out differently? >> no. probably not. he was very much his own man george stigler was another economist that he studied under in chicago he studied under jerry becker working on his masters. but no. he is his own man. even after studying under friedman someone has to figure this stuff out i don't think a professor would've changed his mind he has been very independent-minded for a very
long time. >> what was his first big hit? >> i would probably say ethnic america coming out 1981 that was a big hit it got a tremendous amount of coverage. it is a book about different ethnic groups that come to the us and he traces their history and he also talks about culture and its upward mobility and how if you have the right human capital and the skills and habits and the behaviors that are conducive that you will be okay even if larger society discriminates
so to see examples of this not only in the us that you can see that and other countries in southeast asia so if you have that human capital even if you are banned from certain schools are occupations this allows you to rise nevertheless. >> and my understanding as soon as you say values determine behavior you are no longer on the left. [laughter] >> yes. i think that is a fair statement. >> i know that book. i didn't realize that was his first big one when did economics come out quick. >> the first edition a basic economic? i to say around 2000.
>> that late? twenty years later. >> that is like the fifth edition now. >> i was just curious so with basic economics because of the title i thought that was one of the first. >> the first. he ever wrote was it was a tradition all economic textbook that the beauty is that has these graphs in it that he could write for the first point. >> you will love this. when i had him which i think could be the dullest title of any book. [laughter] actually said to him on the radio show, you really should have consulted on your title like that segment, the
constables guide to bikinis would have done much better. he laughed so hard that i knew i was with a real person. >> it is his best-selling book. >> maybe i'm wrong. [laughter] >> it is been translated into seven or eight different languages. >> ethnic bikinis. [laughter] but i loved joking around with him and he laughs so easily i don't know if people know that i'm sure you have encountered that. >> yes. >> and he is so proud of his photography. he is good. >> he is very good. >> so to the extent you are free to speak about it
married, children? what is his story quick. >> this is mostly an intellectual biography i talk about some aspects of his personal life and his columns over the years he wrote a semi biographical book back in the early seventies and he rode mmr which came out in the late 19 nineties. he is married with a couple of kids. he has written more extensively about one of his children, his son and after his son graduated from college he wrote a column about how worried his parents were at the time and this produced a
flood of letters from other parents who found something similar and it was so great that tom decided to write a book and he couldn't find allied of books out there they tend to be musically oriented and good memories but there wasn't a lot else but they just start talking much later than most kids do but the phenomenon he actually wrote two books about the topic so he has written about his son. >> to be personal on my and i did not speak until past three my grandfather was sure i was retarded he told my parents that in those days you could
use that term. [laughter] and my argument has always been why would i talk when i could charge for it? there was no beginning. >> but i did not know he wrote that book he was very worried he is almost to i'm sure i can get it even if it's not in print but to do something on an issue that has nothing to do with economics so as you pointed out that there are no boundaries also you have the sense that he loves life. >> i hope he's enjoying a set
a very long life. >> i hope he has many more. so if there is such a thing , if you could recommend one book to start people off what would you recommend? >> he put out a book back in the 2000's may be a little later and it was a sampling of chapters from books he has written and columns to raise culture and economics. that might be a good way to start so it's called a conflict of visions from 1987 really it's a book about
political philosophy and to trace the origins of our ideas about justice and human nature and goes through hundreds of years and what he is really describing is the constrained vision and the tragic vision and the utopian vision and then there is the sense there are problems we want to solve and are unlikely to solve war, m and because we cannot solve these problems we want to process these that help us
deal but if we want world peace we probably would not get it and then to and racism and crime it probably won't happen so you are forced to adjudicate so you have one view and then the other utopian vision essentially says that if we do this and we ration our way or have the willpower then there will be no trade-offs and he says these two visions of human nature would be driving those various disputes. the reason i think that's in his head because the matter what he is writing about whether racial or cultural or
economic issue the utopian communism the nazis did not have as long of a time to do it but with that constrained vision of what is possible and we see that happened today with a country free of racism what does that mean? you expect a country free of anti-semitism? the idea is preposterous so the question is if your society is anti- somatic that if you are the anti-semite.
they are children. one could say it's almost the adult vision versus the child vision. isn't that a fair way to put it? >> it is in the sense that constrained view is of someone that i interviewed. it is a preference from any reality so can you do this? is it possible? so with this utopian view that everybody can have everything. so there is a of you that human capital is distributed evenly and therefore we should see equal outcomes like
education and all types of facets of our lives. and those that are down through history never have the sameness of outcomes. the norm is the disparate outcomes. not proportionate outcomes. even in countries that are racially homogenous don't have equal outcomes so the idea in america where people come from so many different places and so many different histories in terms of things they focus on, prioritize that yet in the outcome that is off the mark to begin with so today people
are out there of their proportionate outcomes as the norm and then we assume something nefarious. again it is the progresses as thomas pointed out they have been doing this for 100 years and the progressives tell us that genetics determine outcomes and for those disparities of outcomes and the eugenics is through that thinking and now it is discrimination and that is for the disparate outcomes. so once again they seized one cause and made it the cause but with that type of thinking as thomas pointed out that
there is a long history. >> there is one area that at least not yet have a infected the idea of equitable outcomes and that is sports. it doesn't seem to bother them at this point the disproportionate number of blacks in the eight on - - nba or whites in hockey. >> i think they are very good at compartmentalizing particularly is something disrupts that narrative. so today again using the sole factor of disparate outcomes whenever you clued asians in the equation so talk about the whites are approved more than blacks so then talk about school discipline where black
boys are suspended higher rates than whites but whites are suspended higher rates than asians. but they don't talk about that. they read the data to the point they can make whatever point they try to make then they stop and ignore and anything that interferes with that narrative. >> there seems to be one arena and that is the role of the church those that are on the
conservative side and will emphasize that it doesn't help that it hurts and how much government policy has but that out of wedlock birth rate of whites has gone up tremendously. and with that religious identification as that has gone down the birth rates have gone up. do you see a role for this for black life generally? >> i do. is not something that i have come across other than when he writes about the decisions and
those institutions in society that groups count on. but berlin in the church that that has a negative impact. so with those other ethnic made - - minority groups who came here from the rural country and very very slow to rise economically in america and they have a big role to turn that around with the irish immigrants and schools setting up hospitals and the
role that the church can play. so those black churches today are playing a similar role. and a keep functioning in these institutions and they have their work cut out. i have talked to some ministers about this in the past and one of the problems is the women who show up in and that's part of the challenge. >> i thought that was worth noting. so a very difficult subject. you listed the names of black thinkers that are extremely popular so wherever i have read them and then to be
perfectly honest they are just outburst. and then with no basics had you account for that? is it the establishment media and that is the whole issue quick. >> it's a large part. and then to have that media on their side. and he was an academic not just ideologically but who controls who hands out those prizes they were all left liberal groups all
intellectuals to accommodate those intellectuals we want to and the ones that they don't. so it does play a large role. and so to be asked during those interviews and research from the book how does it feel to be so out of step with other blacks? you don't think i'm out of step with other blacks but other black elites but those are no more representative but those are of the white people so if you talk about an issue like voter id laws or defunding the police, these
so this is a very old phenomenon. >> mentioning school choice that is huge. so if this is true i devotes on - - blacks keep voting democrat? [laughter] >> this is not an need to blacks but in 2020 there is a referendum prop 16 in california to reinstate racial preferences and college omissions and they had rejected that. so this was an effort. they were part of the group. >> at the same time they voted
overwhelmingly. and you can look at the districts in california that are heavily asian and prop 16 there are other issues. >> am part of the problem is the republican outreach and there are some exceptions but they remain that this is a vote that republicans largely concede to the democratic party that are going to the community centers or churches they are not advertising on black radio or social media sites what that enables the
democrats to do is to be painted as a monster and then there is no pushback so they want more support than they have to go ask for it. >> that is extremely significant everywhere remember when i heard about republican nominee for president and was invented - - invited to the naacp convention you have it chance to get exposure in the black community and you reject that? >> i wouldn't go to the civil rights establishment the black folks at the naacp. >> but black radio?
>> i would go to the black colleges i would not do the traditional civil rights. >> i agree with you that my thought was at the very least sentences of your talk will be played on black radio i agree not to rely on the naacp which is a lost group i think idealistically that it doesn't matter. we agree it would be great if they showed up to donald trump show this by saying what you have to lose? >> we consider that effective. [laughter] >> and to think more effective.
>> all there was truth to that. will that happen again in 2022 with a violent crime overly directed toward blacks will they still though democrats in the cities with the defendant police crowd quick. >> it depends on if the republican nominee that is what it will come down to. to go into this community and to think of how well these are going and in terms of income and wage growth. blacks were doing tremendous
with the economy under donald trump so there is a fear that many policies that he supported where policies from this country. and that republican nominee should remind black people of that in the communities and then to show up. >> how is a black republican and regarded? >> and then despite the fact and that's why black americans whole of white conservative views. so yes. very much so. >> that has been effective.
wonderful to talk with you but with the white progressive and leftist the country is racist whites are fragile generally it is argued that this comes from pathological guilt. and the like the communist and the soviet union's they did not care about workers that they use them and i love your reaction. think the progressive left has given up on black people and in particular black kids with this movement against testing
and standards of any kind that they don't believe black people in the standard can be in emanated on - - and the needed. all the testing is showing is where the kid is. if you want to help someone they need to know where they are. and if you eliminate that task that is not how you help someone. if you want to help someone and that analysis is right to help themselves they decided