Don Stratton: If we could just bring back Thomas Sowell

As you may have seen, The Lima News is currently conducting a survey about columnists and requesting your opinions about which writers, both currently and in the future, should be published by your newspaper. As I look online at the list of possible future columnists at, many of whom I never heard of, I keep thinking of one name that is not there.

Dr. Thomas Sowell is one of my all-time favorites, but unfortunately, he is currently 92 years old, and he quit writing his syndicated column several years ago.

If you’re not familiar with Thomas Sowell, he is Harvard educated with a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago. He is a college professor, economist and political commentator who holds the position of Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an author who has written extensively, including countless columns and about 50 books, on the subjects of politics, economics, education, and race.

Sowell has a personal history that gives him the unique viewpoint of one who is extensively educated, is a Black man born to a poor family in the South and grew up in New York’s Harlem. He embraced Marxism in his youth and then became a Democrat, only to change in 1972 to unspecified political beliefs. His economic views are heavily influenced by Adam Smith and Milton Friedman.

Sowell does not classify himself as a conservative, but his columns frequently warm the heart of political conservatives because so many of his opinions are like a mirrored reflection of conservative beliefs. His explanation of why he walked away from being a Marxist and then a Democrat is a classic. He says, “I, of course, started out on the left and believed a lot of this stuff. The one thing that saved me was that I always felt that facts mattered.”

Sowell’s comments on other subjects can be equally blunt and to the point. On the current increasingly socialistic leanings of our government-run programs, he asks, “What is your ‘Fair Share’ of what someone else has worked for?”

His feelings about one portion of the government’s gun control efforts are stated simply, “The guns politicians choose to define as ‘assault weapons’ typically are no more dangerous than others that are not so specified.”

On the subject of poverty, he says, “Intellectuals give people who have the handicap of poverty, the further handicap of a sense of victimhood.”

Writing on the subject of hatred, one of his statements, apparently referring to reparations for slavery, he says, “Have we reached the ultimate stage of absurdity where some people are held responsible for things that happened before they were born, while other people are not held responsible for what they themselves are doing today?”

His comments on the deterioration of the Black family are not quite as succinct, but he makes his point a little more eloquently when he says, “The Black family, which had survived centuries of slavery and discrimination, began rapidly deteriorating in the liberal welfare state that subsidized unwed pregnancy and changed welfare from an emergency reserve to a way of life. What the welfare system and other kinds of government programs are doing is paying people to fail. Insofar as they fail, they receive the money. Insofar as they succeed, even to a moderate extent, the money is taken away.”

Lastly, in a damning commentary on the way our government operates, he says, “If you want to help people, you tell them the truth. If you want to help yourself, you lie to them.”

I have no idea what columnists will be chosen by The Lima News, but since Thomas Sowell obviously won’t be back, I would hope for someone with just a fraction of his insight into the problems facing us today.

Don Stratton is a retired inspector for the Lima Police Department. His column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.