For those of you not familiar with Dr.Sowell, let me give a brief introduction. He was born in North Carolina on June 30th, 1930. His family moved to Harlem, New York early in his life, taking part in the "Great Migration," whereby, many black southerners moved to the North for better opportunities. He dropped out of High School to serve in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War. Upon returning, attended Harvard University, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 1958, received his masters from Columbia in 1959 and Doctorate in Economics from the University of Chicago in 1968. Dr. Sowell has taught economics at Cornell, UCLA, Howard, Rutgers, Amherst and currently holds The Rose and Milton Senior Fellowship Position at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University (1980-current day). As an author, he has written over 30 books and hundreds of articles as a syndicated columnist. Dr. Sowell is often referred to as a "black conservative" but rejects such a divisive label, preferring to describe himself as a libertarian/classical liberal and advocate of free market economic policy. He is best known for his stances against liberalism, affirmative action, minimum wage, judicial activism, partial-birth abortion, and multiculturalism.
It's hard to believe that Dr. Sowell was once an avid proponent of Marxism during his 20's, especially in light of his career accomplishments. He admits allegiance to Marxist theory even after attending Professor Milton Friedman's (a legend of Free Market Theory) economics course at University of Chicago. What does it take to change the intellectual landscape of a mind set on Marxist theory and the sympathetic struggle of the Proletariat?
Intern/Labor Economist at Department of Labor (1961-1962)
During his tenure at the Labor Department, legislation was passed which increased the minimum wage requirements of employers. Dr. Sowell conducted extensive research on the effects of minimum wage increase and the correlation between the increases and unemployment. After coming to the conclusion, based on empirical evidence and exhaustive analysis that mandated minimum wage increases hurt economic growth, he decided to present his findings to his colleagues in the Labor Department. His excitement was not reciprocated by his peers. As a matter of fact, his peers repudiated his findings without even giving his work a second glance. This is the moment Dr. Sowell realized that the government only looks out for its own preservation and does not exist for the good of the people. You see, 1/3 of the Labor Departments budget for that year was set aside specifically to administer the minimum wage increase. If they revealed that minimum wage increases actually hurt the economy, resulting in higher unemployment, then essentially they were arguing against 1/3 of their own budget. Ultimately, Dr. Sowell concluded that government was an impediment to growth. Its existence is an interdependent hierarchy of intellectual elites and administers of policy by unelected bureaucrats.
This singular experience in government set Dr. Sowell upon the path of free market capitalist theory. Much like his peers reaction when he revealed contrary data against the minimum wage, he remains mostly ignored by liberal elites in media and government today. Furthermore, Dr. Sowell warns against appeals to emotion by our elected leaders. That vague claims of equality, fairness and "it's just the right thing to do" should be ignored by the American public. Instead, when presented with economic or social policy changes by intellectual elites/elected officials, he encourages that we ask the following 3 questions:
1). Compared to what?
2). At what cost?
3). Can you show me the empirical data to support your claim?