118 Best Thomas Sowell Quotes from the Famous American Economist

Thomas Sowell, born 1930 in Gastonia, North Carolina, is an influential African American economist known for his controversial views on race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

Despite an early academic inclination, he left school, served in the U.S. Marines and earned his high school degree through an evening program.

Sowell then attended Howard University and later transferred to Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude.


He also holds Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University and the University of Chicago. Sowell, mentored by Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, has had a significant teaching career at several universities and held roles within government and private institutions.

A prolific scholar, Sowell has written over 25 books, contributing significantly to economics and advocating for laissez-faire “free market” policies.

Related: Milton Friedman Quotes from the American Economist and Klaus Schwab Quotes from Founder of World Economic Forum

He believes cultural differences, not racial discrimination, primarily cause inequality.

Below are some of the best quotes from Thomas Sowell.

Best Thomas Sowell Quotes


Ideas are everywhere, but knowledge is rare. ~ Thomas Sowell.

There is no bigger waste of time than doing 90% of what is necessary. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The most basic question is not what is best, but who shall decide what is best. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Politics is the art of making your selfish desires seem like the national interest. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Deception is one of the quickest ways to gain little things and lose big things. ~ Thomas Sowell.

A moral monopoly is the antithesis of a marketplace of ideas. ~ Thomas Sowell.

People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Relevance is not something you can predict. It is something you discover after the fact. ~ Thomas Sowell.

History is the memory of a nation. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Time was when people used to brag about how old they were – and I am old enough to remember it. ~ Thomas Sowell.

A shortage is a sign that somebody is keeping the price artificially lower than it would be if supply and demand were allowed to operate freely. ~ Thomas Sowell.

In liberal logic, if life is unfair then the answer is to turn more tax money over to politicians, to spend in ways that will increase their chances of getting reelected. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Although the big word on the left is ‘compassion,’ the big agenda on the left is dependency. ~ Thomas Sowell.

People who talk incessantly about “change” are often dogmatically set in their ways. They want to change other people. ~ Thomas Sowell.

One of the common failings among honorable people is a failure to appreciate how thoroughly dishonorable some other people can be, and how dangerous it is to trust them. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The desire of businessmen for profits is what drives prices down unless forcibly prevented from engaging in price competition, usually by governmental activity. ~ Thomas Sowell.

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Famous Thomas Sowell Quotes

Social Engineering – The art of replacing what works with what sounds good. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Lunches don’t get free just because you don’t see the prices on the menu. And economists don’t get popular by reminding people of that. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Freedom is unlikely to be lost all at once and openly. It is far more likely to be eroded away, bit by bit, amid glittering promises and expressions of noble ideals. ~ Thomas Sowell.

We enjoy freedom and the rule of law on which it depends, not because we deserve it, but because others before us put their lives on the line to defend it. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The word ‘racism’ is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything – and demanding evidence makes you a ‘racist.’ ~ Thomas Sowell.

People who have time on their hands will inevitably waste the time of people who have work to do. ~ Thomas Sowell.


Doing the right thing is fun. If nothing else, it surprises people. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Wishful thinking is not idealism. It is self-indulgence at best and self-exaltation at worst. In either case, it is usually at the expense of others. In other words, it is the opposite of idealism. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Both free speech rights and property rights belong legally to individuals, but their real function is social, to benefit vast numbers of people who do not themselves exercise these rights. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Not since the days of slavery have there been so many people who feel entitled to what other people have produced as there are in the modern welfare state, whether in Western Europe or on this side of the Atlantic. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The welfare state is not really about the welfare of the masses. It is about the egos of the elites. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Wise Thomas Sowell Quotes

The big problem in the long process of dumbing down the schools is that you can reach a point of no return. How are parents who never received a decent education themselves to recognize that their children are not getting a decent education? ~ Thomas Sowell.

Envy is always referred to by its political alias, ’social justice. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Inflation is a way to take people’s wealth from them without having to openly raise taxes. Inflation is the most universal tax of all. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling. ~ Thomas Sowell.

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are No. 1 and No. 2. Whatever is No. 3 is far behind. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The great escape of our times is escape from personal responsibility for the consequences of one’s own behavior. ~ Thomas Sowell.

It is so easy to be wrong-and to persist in being wrong-when the costs of being wrong are paid by others. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Liberalism is totalitarianism with a human face. ~ Thomas Sowell.

For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert, but for every fact there is not necessarily an equal and opposite fact. ~ Thomas Sowell.

One of the most important reasons for studying history is that virtually every stupid idea that is in vogue today has been tried before and proved disastrous before, time and again. ~ Thomas Sowell.

If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Eternal vigilance is only part of the price of freedom. The maturity to live with imperfections is another crucial part of the price of freedom. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Ultimate Thomas Sowell Quotes

If the battle for civilization comes down to the wimps versus the barbarians, the barbarians are going to win. ~ Thomas Sowell.

It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Competition does a much more effective job than government at protecting consumers. ~ Thomas Sowell.

People who refuse to accept unpleasant truths have no right to complain about politicians who lie to them. What other kind of candidates would such people elect? ~ Thomas Sowell.

Rhetoric is no substitute for reality. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Like a baseball game, wars are not over till they are over. Wars don’t run on a clock like football. No previous generation was so hopelessly unrealistic that this had to be explained to them. ~ Thomas Sowell.

To say that being non-judgmental is better than being judgmental is itself a judgment, and therefore a violation of principle. ~ Thomas Sowell.

In politics, the truth is strictly optional and that also seems to be true in parts of the media. ~ Thomas Sowell.

What ‘multiculturalism’ boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture – and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture. ~ Thomas Sowell.

When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Capitalism knows only one color: that color is green; all else is necessarily subservient to it, hence, race, gender and ethnicity cannot be considered within it. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Life does not ask what we want. It presents us with options. ~ Thomas Sowell.

If we become a people who are willing to give up our money and our freedom in exchange for rhetoric and promises, then nothing can save us. ~ Thomas Sowell.

In the long run, the greatest weapon of mass destruction is stupidity. ~ Thomas Sowell.

No society ever thrived because it had a large and growing class of parasites living off those who produce. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Some of the biggest cases of mistaken identity are among intellectuals who have trouble remembering that they are not God. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Sometimes it seems as if there are more solutions than problems. On closer scrutiny, it turns out that many of today’s problems are a result of yesterday’s solutions. ~ Thomas Sowell.

There are only two ways of telling the complete truth – anonymously and posthumously. ~ Thomas Sowell.


Intellect is not wisdom. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Thomas Sowell Quote: The welfare state is not really about the welfare of the masses. It is about the egos of the elites. ~ Thomas Sowell.

What exactly is your ‘fair share’ of what ‘someone else’ has worked for? ~ Thomas Sowell.

Of all ignorance, the ignorance of the educated is the most dangerous. Not only are educated people likely to have more influence, they are the last people to suspect that they don’t know what they are talking about when they go outside their narrow fields. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Intellectuals may like to think of themselves as people who “speak truth to power” but too often they are people who speak lies to gain power. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Freedom has cost too much blood and agony to be relinquished at the cheap price of rhetoric. ~ Thomas Sowell.

If we spend our time with regrets over yesterday, and worries over what might happen tomorrow, we have no today in which to live. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Tariffs that save jobs in the steel industry mean higher steel prices, which in turn means fewer sales of American steel products around the world and losses of far more jobs than are saved. ~ Thomas Sowell.

If you don’t believe in the innate unreasonableness of human beings, just try raising children. ~ Thomas Sowell.

People who pride themselves on their “complexity” and deride others for being “simplistic” should realize that the truth is often not very complicated. What gets complex is evading the truth. ~ Thomas Sowell.

You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Top Thomas Sowell Quotes

The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Life has many good things. The problem is that most of these good things can be gotten only by sacrificing other good things. We all recognize this in our daily lives. It is only in politics that this simple, common sense fact is routinely ignored. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The welfare state is the oldest con game in the world. First you take people’s money away quietly, and then you give some of it back to them flamboyantly. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The only thing better than “hands-on” experience is hands-off experience – enough experience to understand that some things will turn out better if left alone. ~ Thomas Sowell.

What the political left, even in democratic countries, share is the notion that knowledgeable and virtuous people like themselves have both a right and a duty to use the power of government to impose their superior knowledge and virtue on others. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Neither the depth of despondency nor the height of euphoria tells you how long either will last. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Nobody is equal to anybody. Even the same man is not equal to himself on different days. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Most problems do not get solved. They get superseded by other concerns. ~ Thomas Sowell.

What is history but the story of how politicians have squandered the blood and treasure of the human race? ~ Thomas Sowell.

Racism is not dead, but it is on life support – kept alive by politicians, race hustlers and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as ‘racists’ ~ Thomas Sowell.

It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance. ~ Thomas Sowell.

In this era of political correctness, some people seem unaware that being squeamish about words can mean being blind to realities. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Inspiring Thomas Sowell Quotes

Immigration laws are the only laws that are discussed in terms of how to help people who break them. ~ Thomas Sowell.

If sanity ever returns to our society and we stop taking pretentious elites seriously, one of the signs will be that the public will force the removal of those ugly pieces of twisted metal that are called ‘art’ in front of government buildings. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Few of the great tragedies of history were created by the village idiot, and many by the village genius. ~ Thomas Sowell.

There are no solutions; there are only trade-offs. ~ Thomas Sowell.

It is hard to read a newspaper or watch a television newscast without encountering someone who has come up with a new ‘solution’ to society’s ‘problems.’ ~ Thomas Sowell.

American prosperity and American free enterprise are both highly unusual in the world, and we should not overlook the possibility that the two are connected. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Prices are important not because money is considered paramount but because prices are a fast and effective conveyor of information through a vast society in which fragmented knowledge must be coordinated. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Too much of what is called ‘education’ is little more than an expensive isolation from reality. ~ Thomas Sowell.

We seem to be getting closer and closer to a situation where nobody is responsible for what they did but we are all responsible for what somebody else did. ~ Thomas Sowell.

It doesn’t matter how smart you are unless you stop and think. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The freedom of America is the freedom to live your own life and take your own chances. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The biggest myth about labor unions is that unions are for the workers. Unions are for unions, just as corporations are for corporations and politicians are for politicians. ~ Thomas Sowell.

If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Memorable Thomas Sowell Quotes

One of the many disservices done to young people by our schools and colleges is giving them the puffed up notion that they are in a position to pass sweeping judgments on a world that they have barely begun to experience. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The difference between a policy and a crusade is that a policy is judged by its results, while a crusade is judged by how good it makes its crusaders feel. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Groups that rose from poverty to prosperity seldom did so by having their own racial or ethnic leaders to follow. ~ Thomas Sowell.

When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Even if the government spends itself into bankruptcy and the economy still does not recover, Keynesians can always say that it would have worked if only the government had spent more. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Talkers are usually more articulate than doers, since talk is their specialty. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Subsidies are a shell game, not a net addition to national wealth. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Ours may become the first civilization destroyed, not by the power of our enemies, but by the ignorance of our teachers and the dangerous nonsense they are teaching our children. In an age of artificial intelligence, they are creating artificial stupidity. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Activism is a way for useless people to feel important, even if the consequences of their activism are counterproductive for those they claim to be helping and damaging to the fabric of society as a whole. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Some of the most vocal critics of the way things are being done are people who have done nothing themselves, and whose only contributions to society are their complaints and moral exhibitionism. ~ Thomas Sowell.

It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance. ~ Thomas Sowell.

There is nothing so bad that politics cannot make it worse. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The strongest argument for socialism is that it sounds good. The strongest argument against socialism is that it doesn’t work. But those who live by words will always have a soft spot in their hearts for socialism because it sounds so good. ~ Thomas Sowell.


The Constitution cannot protect us unless we protect the Constitution. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Some of the people on death row today might not be there if the courts had not been so lenient on them when they were first offenders. ~ Thomas Sowell.

Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it. ~ Thomas Sowell.

The same set of statistics can produce opposite conclusions at different levels of aggregation. ~ Thomas Sowell.

So these were the 118 top Thomas Sowell quotes on education, intellectual capacity, wages, jobs, class, poverty, racism and greed.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Stonewall Jackson quotes and Virgil Abloh quotes.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar