Book Recommendation: Discrimination and Disparities by Thomas Sowell
Another must-read book from Thomas Sowell. This short (126 page) volume should be required reading to run for office, any office, and for government policy makers. Alas, those who need it most probably won’t read it. And, as Sowell points out, humans have a great ability to ignore facts to preserve their preferred visions. Sowell grew up in a poor black family in NC, was supporting himself by the age of 17, and worked his way to a PhD in economics. Thus, he is unafraid to research and write about racial issues that would get a white academics drummed off campus and is unafraid to discuss uncomfortable facts. He has dozens of books in print. His “Basic Economics” is used as a text book around the world, having been translated into several languages. In this book, he destroys both the hard left’s view that disparities in outcomes are always caused by discrimination and the alt-right’s view that they are caused by a lack of capability in minority populations. He reports, for example, that the same black students who are failing in regular public schools are excelling in many charter schools. His discussion of the “income gap” between the top 20% and the lowest 20% is particularly interesting. The media acts as if people stayed in the same quintile all their lives. He reports that 95% of the people who were at one time in the bottom group rise out of it, while a great many people are in the top 20% only a few years. I started out in the bottom, making $38 a week when I was elected to the Massachusetts Senate, and $12k there the first year. For the last ten years of my 31-year career as an association executive, I was in the top 20%. But when I retired due to pulmonary fibrosis to have a lung transplant, we fell out of it. I now make $24,000 a year working PT. If you read only one book this year, this should be it.