Thomas Sowell is a renowned economist, theorist and writer hailing from the United States of America. He is known for his old-fashioned assessments of economic theory, often drawing criticism from his liberal counterparts, but still attracting appreciation from fellow conservatives for encouraging hard work and self-sufficiency.
Sowell is an African American born in North Carolina on 30 June, 1930. He spent a lot of his early childhood migrating between cities due to family issues which required him to drop out of his high school. His family’s financial predicament forced him to work different jobs at a very young age; his endeavors saw him work at a machine shop and as a delivery boy for Western Union. He was soon inducted in to the Marine Corps as an aspiring photographer, where he also learned how to operate pistols. He managed this job whilst simultaneously continuing his education, attending night classes at his high school.
After enrolling in Howard University, Sowell soon obtained a transfer to Harvard University on the back of impressive results in College Board examinations and positive recommendations from professors. Sowell graduated with a degree in economics in 1958, and then moved to Columbia University for his Masters program, after which he completed is Ph.D. studies from the University of Chicago in 1968.
Thomas Sowell occupied a number of teaching positions at various universities after completing his education. After teaching at Rutgers and Howard universities in the early 60’s, he held the title of assistant professor of economics at Cornell and the University of California, Los Angeles where he was given full professor status in 1974. Sowell has also been part of the faculty at Brandeis University and Amherst College. In 1980, he moved to Stanford University which granted him the title of Senior Fellow at its Hoover Institution. He has held this position there ever since.
Sowell initially subscribed to the Marxist school of thought in economics theory, an approach he renounced after his experience working as an intern for the U.S. Department of Labor in 1960, instead opting for free market principles. His research in his time there also made him critical of minimum wage laws, which he felt not only perpetuated unemployment, but were introduced by bureaucrats only to secure their status in the government. He orchestrated the Black Alternatives Conference in San Francisco during the Reegan regime to oppose minimum wages and call for more black representation in the government. In 1969 however, Sowell defended Cornell University against allegations of racism after observing the rebellion by black students.
Sowell also boasts remarkable credentials in the field or journalism and writing, expressing opinion on a multitude of topics such as state policies on social and racial groups, Marxist economic theory and education. He has published a number of works since 1971, with some of his best-selling books being ‘Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy‘, ‘Black Rednecks and White Liberals‘, and ‘Intellectuals and Society‘. Besides publishing books Sowell has written for prominent magazines and academic journals. These include the New York Times, Forbes and the Spectator. He also managed a column for the Scripps-Howard news service in the years 1984-1990.
During is elaborate career, Thomas Sowell was no stranger to controversy. His claims that inequality which persists across ethnic groups bears no connection with discrimination, but is to do with the characteristics and attitudes intrinsic to these groups was not received well by some sects. His resistance towards government assistance of economically and socially challenged groups, which he believes discourages self-sufficiency and dependence, has also been criticized. But he still remains one of the great African American thinkers of his generation given his contributions not only towards the economics, but political philosophy and social theory as well.