By Marsha Familaro Enright
Free to Choose Media has a new documentary out about the thought and life of the extraordinary Thomas Sowell, 90-year-old economist, social commentator, and still controversial author. Take a look at his “Favorite Quotes” page to get an idea of his breadth of thinking.
I first became aware of Sowell in one of Free to Choose’s earliest productions, the “Free to Choose” television series hosted by Milton Friedman in 1980–on PBS no less! The series ranged all over the world to demonstrate what features produced the societies with the most freedom and wealth.
Patrick Peterson, who became a lifelong friend, invited me to his house for a viewing party of this program on TV. No streaming, no recordings, nothing but a broadcast. Imagine, we had to all assemble together at the correct time not to miss it!
In one of the episodes, I saw Sowell, this incisive firebrand, debating the failures of Great Society welfare policies against the usual justifications for them by a typically condescending proponent.
He was having none of it and his command of the facts and reasoning was astounding. That hooked me and everything I’ve read or heard from him afterwards has only strengthened that connection. The mission of The Great Connections includes radically increasing student reasoning power and Sowell is nothing if not a great example for that. Moreover, his emphasis on reasoning, self-responsibility, and freedom and against collectivism and control aligns closely with ours on reason, individualism, and freedom.
His writing is often included in our programs. In his many books, such as Basic Economics, Ethnic America, Knowledge and Decisions, Black Rednecks and White Liberals, he demonstrates a vast range of research and knowledge combined with a superb command of the facts and how to reason from them.
Watch the documentary about him, “Common Sense in a Senseless World,” hosted by Jason Riley here. If you haven’t heard of Sowell before, be prepared to be challenged.