If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 50 years ago, a liberal 25 years ago, and a racist today.” Thomas Sowell, who combines a Mark Twain-level gift for apothegms with the rigor of a data scientist, said that back in 1998, but like many of his sparkling one-liners, it’s more strikingly true now than ever.
In a film written and produced by Tom Jennings, Riley takes us through how Sowell, who lost his dad before he was born and his mother when he was a small child, rose from poverty. His early years he spent in a house with no electricity in North Carolina, then an apartment in Harlem, where a family friend guided him to a love of the Harlem branch of the New York Public Library when he was eight years old. At the University of Chicago, one of his professors was Milton Friedman, who proved unable to talk him out of being a Marxist. What did the trick was a government job. In the Department of Labor, Sowell found that increased minimum wages reduce employment, but this fact interested no one. “People in the government didn’t give a rip whether it worked or not. They were simply implementing the policy,” notes another black intellectual, columnist Larry Elder.