Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell (2000, Basic Books)
About once a year I return to Thomas Sowell’s books. I continue to promote them, despite the fact that Sowell has defended Trump. This is because Sowell’s books are correct… and Sowell himself seems to have skirted the gap between maintaining old friendships and not abandoning his principles far better than most.
His praise of Trump has been so faint as to have been damning. He admitted two years ago that he preferred Trump to Obama and would not say much more than that; this was before the Mueller report and various other blatant refutations of Constitutionalism. In March of last year he admitted during an appearance on Fox that he had seen no hard evidence that Trump was a racist; that is a point I’d made often before, usually tied to the fact that even if Trump isn’t one, his willingness to promote racism and racists renders him equally culpable.
So, Sowell hasn’t fully retired… but he may as well have. That is why the Twitter account “Thomas Sowell” annoys me to no end. The person running it admits that he is not Sowell nor does he have any direct connection to Sowell, but he has a picture of Sowell for his image and all of his posts are quotes from old Sowell columns and books. The Twitter user attacks Democrats and liberals and uses valid defenses of people like Reagan and W. to invalidly defend Trump. He maintains a constant presence on the platform and is often mistaken for Sowell himself, even by reporters.
What does Sowell himself really think of Trump? I believe this book provides many of the answers.
Keep in mind: this is BASIC economics. It’s a book that every person who is not already an economist should own and read, as it explains fundamental concepts in free market operation using language which should be immediately comprehensible for the average high school student.
As a test, I randomly opened the book ten times. Each time, within a ten page span (five pages before, five pages after) of the place it was opened, I found a direct repudiation of a policy or stated philosophy of Trump. Whereas I think Sowell is trying to keep alive friendships he spent half a century building, I also believe he retired just before Trump’s inauguration for a reason.
I don’t have many living heroes left on the conservative side of the aisle. With Sowell approaching 90, I don’t know how much longer he’ll be around. I’m very pleased that he’s not polluting his life’s work by praising Trump at every opportunity, no matter what his Twitter counterpart may do. I recommend that anyone who wants a crash course in economic theory pick this up, for themselves or their loved ones. We have to moor ourselves to reality at some point, and this is as good a place as any to begin.
The Deception by Barry Reed (1997, Crown)
I set out to read this one because I had a signed copy and it’d been a long time since I reviewed a legal thriller. I was left appreciating the author’s knowledge of the law.
See, just like Thomas Sowell, I can damn with faint praise. That said, I’m being unfair because this book is serviceable, completely unlike Donald Trump. The writing is neither lyrical nor gripping, the plot is mildly interesting and the ending is predictable. If one is looking for a legal thriller and is unfamiliar with the genre, it’ll be a good introduction. If, on the other hand, a person knows the common story elements, they’ll be left with a comfortable read that will pass the time during quarantine.
The author seems to be trying to throw a little something in for everyone – there’s a medical aspect, a religious element, a big business factor – but in the end it comes down to the characters and the plot twists. It’s as if he was instructed by the publisher to check a number of required boxes for the novel rather than allowed to have his own head. The result is a muted work by someone who had previously been on the NYT bestseller list. A pleasant enough read, but not something worth seeking out.