Be Wary of the Intellectuals

What are the intellectuals of society saying today? Whatever it is, and I’ll let everyone think about that for themselves, be skeptical of their conclusions and what they want YOU to do.

I’m reading Thomas Sowell’s book Intellectuals & Race. Technically, on audio book. As usual, Sowell has crafted a treatise so rich in research and analysis, that’s it’s impossible to grasp it all on just one read or listen. But I wanted to write out a few salient points already coming to the forefront.

A quick perusal of history can show that the intellectuals of any certain era – though often well-meaning – can be wrong, so wrong, so incredibly wrong that their sophisticated language and eruditely argued theses can end up sounding like a steaming pile of balderdash to the generations which follow.

Sowell goes deep into the progressives of the early 20th century to see how the intellectual class latched on to the eugenics movement with prominent individuals such as Madison Grant, Margaret Sanger, and others providing the intellectual arguments for eliminating the inferior races. Madison Grant’s book The Passing of the Great Race went on to be the book Hitler referred to as his bible. Grant was not a fringe nut. No, he is described as one of the leading thinkers of the progressive era. He was very much mainstream, greatly admired by many politicians and leading thinkers of the day. As Sowell points out, Grant died in 1937 and never got to see what his ideas about race led to the Holocaust just a few short years later.

So goes the intellect. The soft sciences have created a myriad of highly educated individuals who have crafted many, well-meaning schemes to radically change societies, from Czechoslovakia, to Yugoslavia, to Pol Pot and his Killing Fields in Cambodia, and many more. The list of long and the destruction left in their wake is vast.

It got me thinking about today. What are the intellectuals of 2022 thinking, writing, and speaking out about? Where is social theory, in the hands of today’s intellectual class, leading us? What are the burning questions? The issues constantly being debated, pushed, rationalized, and upheld as the only logical way forward? (CRT, anyone?) What will the future generations say about the intellectual class that erupted on the new millennium? My fear is that they will not be kind.

It makes one pause and wonder about one’s own limitations to see the way forward. If someone claims to know the way to utopia, well, I’ll probably head in the other direction, especially if my common sense alarm keeps going off.

I still have a ways to go in Sowell’s book, but it’s a good one, and I recommend it.

Imagine What’s Ahead for You. It Might Be Beyond Belief.

I’m listening to the audio book “A Personal Odyssey” about the life of economist Thomas Sowell. It’s fabulous, by the way, and I highly recommend it. (On Amazon)

I’ve long been an admirer of Mr. Sowell, and it is absolutely fascinating to hear his story of growing up in the south, moving to New York, struggling with issues of family, schooling, societal racism and the constant struggles of a teenager and young black man trying to make a living by juggling various stints of employment trying to make ends meet. It’s a gripping and vivid story already, and I’ve only made it up to 1952 when he was a photographer in the Marine corps.

What struck me this morning, as I was listening during my walk, is the young marine, in his early twenties, has no idea whom he will one day become – one of the most respected researchers, writers, and economists in American history. All of the accolades that he has achieved in his breath-taking career were not even remotely on the radar in the young life of Thomas Sowell.

By 1952, he had not even finished high school. How would he have ever guessed the academic career which was to come?  graduate of Harvard,  Doctorate at the University of Chicago, professor at Cornell and many other institutions, a Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford, syndicated columnist and author, etc…

How could have a high school dropout ever had hoped as much? It’s remarkable, really, and the truth that comes out it is this: We cannot, ever, foresee the future. This fact is both a great encouragement, but it is also a warning.

This is encouragement for those stuck in the life they don’t want to be in. You never know what’s right around the bend. You never know what how much that extra little effort will pay off. Grit may have its reward far beyond what you could have imagined.

On the flip side, this is also a warning shot for those who are riding high in life: don’t take the good times for granted. Enjoy them for what they are. And be thankful. You never know when the good times will end.

(Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Sowell. Now back to listening. I can’t wait to find out how you repudiated your communist leanings.)

 

 

Minimum Wage Robots

Does mandated federal and state minimum wage increases help those struggling on low paying jobs?  Or does it simply give more jobs to robots?

In this opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal, The Minimum Wage Should be Called the Robot Employment Act, Mr. Pudzer makes the case that the increasing minimum wage will do nothing to help low wage earners and will, most likely, force more workers out of the market place as employers, restaurants especially, automate.

It’s already  happening. McDonald’s kiosks are rolling out all over the country. Wendy’s is doing the same thing, and as Mr. Pudzer explains, a California burger joint is going a step further by hiring robots to grill, flip burgers, and put the patties on the buns.

There is no mystery here. Many places simply can’t make a profit where, especially in some areas, the minimum wage is going to hit $15 an hour in the next couple of years. Who will this hurt? Mostly inexperienced youth and it will disproportionately affect minorities. Liberal governance is once again going to be hurting the very population which they say they want to help. But government can’t control capitalism to the degree it needs to in order to for minimum wage laws to work. In order for that to happen, you need to shift everything into a highly controlled mixed if not bordering on command economy. Oh, and with that, you’ll get a loss of freedom and more widespread poverty as everyone becomes the same: unproductive and poor.

I defer to the experts on things like this. One such expert I respect and quote a lot is Thomas Sowell. Do yourself a favor and spend some time on Youtube marveling at his logical and concrete examples. He’ll tell you what minimum wage actually does, it robes the poor and the youth of valuable work experience. The only way a youngster is going to get experience – learn how to show up to work  on time, learn skills, learn to function as a subordinate, etc… – the only way someone is going to get that experience is to get an entry level job. The unemployment rate for under 25 is already high. A higher minimum wage is not going to help that. In fact, it’s going to do the opposite because jobs will be scarcer as companies “hire” robots to fill positions rather than pay an unskilled 18 year old $15 an hour.

I wish the government would  let the market work. Of course, it should look out for abuses and step in when someone is clearly being taken advantage of, but it should stay out of private agreements between individuals. If I agree to work for $8 an hour, I should be allowed to do so, and it is a death to freedom and individuality when I’m told I’m not allowed to work for $8 an hour. But I am allowed to stay at home and gain no experience and no income.

If we don’t let the market work, then we are only giving way to a robotic takeover. I’m afraid there’s no stopping it now.