If you can’t get equality among people born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, why in the world would you think you’re going to get it among people who’ve had such different histories and cultures around the world?
Kamala Harris Campaign Video snippet: So, there’s a big difference between equality and equity. Equality suggests, everyone should get the same amount. The problem with that is not everybody is starting out from the same place. So, if we are all getting the same amount but you started out back there and I started out over here, we could get the same amount but you’re still going to be that far back behind me.
Thomas Sowell: Well, this is one of any number of one factor explanations as to why everyone doesn’t have the same outcome. A hundred years ago it was genetics. In other times and places it was exploitation. But again these are ideas that sound plausible. But when you do research, you discover that everywhere you turn there are a thousand reasons why people don’t turn out the same. It goes right down to the family. In the first chapter of this book I point out that the first born has higher IQs than his siblings and later life earned has more achievements. Among astronauts, for example, of the 29 astronauts in the Apollo program, that put a man on the moon, 22 were either the firstborn or an only child. Now, if you can’t get equality among people born to the same parents and raised under the same roof, why in the world would you think you’re going to get it among people who’ve had such different histories and cultures around the world. Almost nowhere. Anywhere in the world or any period of history, do you find any society in which groups that compete openly, end up with the same results?
Interviewer: You continue to hear politicians using statistics, sort of cherry-picking statistics, in order to form economic policies where the government gets directly involved. They always do it under the guise of social justice. It seems like anything that is led by the phrase ‘social justice’ can be accepted by these people.
Thomas Sowell: Yes. And I guess one of the crucial assumptions of the social justice literature is that in the absence of bias, people would be similar. But they’re not similar. They are not demographically similar. I mean, for example, the median age of Jewish-Americans Mormons and Japanese Americans around 50. There is no way they are going to be equally represented in proportion of their society in the National Football League. I mean, 50 year olds that are not going to be able to compete with people in their 20s. I can come up with umpteen different examples of this disparities in various situations including situations where it is not possible for it to be either discrimination or genetics. People on the other side cannot give you one example. You can read reams of paper by advocates of social justice and not find one example anywhere in the world. There are people who have done international studies. Braudel, I quote, “the french historian”. He said, “In no society has all parts of the population had the same outcomes.”
Kamala Harris Video snippet: It is about giving people the resources and the support they need, so that everyone can be on equal footing and then compete on equal footing. Equitable treatment means we all end up at the same place.
Interviewer: Our goals, like economic equality or economic opportunity, racial equality, are those good goals for a nation?
Thomas Sowell: If you mean by equality ‘equality of opportunity’, yes. If you mean any belief that you’re going to get the same end results, the answer is no. What those kinds of goals do is simply tear a society apart. Often making all the groups in it worse off than they would have been otherwise. It is said affirmative action in academia, for example, takes minority students and mismatches them with institutions. For example, when I was at Cornell, the average black student enrolled at Cornell at that time scored at the 75th percentile on the SATs. The average white student in liberal arts at Cornell at that time scored at the 99th percentile. Half the black students were on academic probation in other words. Yet, kids who would have been on the dean’s list at most of the colleges in this country. But they were sent to colleges where they were virtually guaranteed not to make it.
Interviewer: When you talk about cosmic justice in intellectuals and race, what do you mean by that?
Thomas Sowell: I guess, I mean what some people mean by social justice, which is a justice for groups an initial opportunity to have the same life chances. But, I call it cosmic justice because no society is able to do that or has ever done that in any country. And, so, what you are asking for is for the whole life chances to be the same when you think of all the differences. It is virtually impossible. Some kids are maybe raised in families that are the same economic level but one family will have one set of attitudes toward education and the other will not. And the one who’s in the family that does not have that same attitude, he may be a fine fellow he may be bright all of that, he doesn’t have the same chance. There’s almost no way he could have the same chance.
Interviewer: Why is this misused? Is it because so often these statistics, in order to force these economic policies that don’t work? Is it because politicians extend their term in office? Is it because of the the poverty industry, if you will, that exists? What do you think motivates people to do these things that clearly are not benefiting our society or our economy?
Thomas Sowell : Well, these are things that are benefiting them – politicians – stay in office by saying things that people want to hear and by not accepting evidence that shows that they’ve gone wrong.