Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Books for Congress

My fantasy of having great wealth is to start a foundation that would give a book a week to every member of Congress, every state legislator, every government policymaker, every opinion columnist and every candidate. "Economic Facts and Fallacies" by Dr. Thomas Sowell would be the second book we’d give out. First would be Sowell’s “Basic Economics.” Yes, it might not do any good. I recently cited to a newspaper columnist Sowell’s history of what happens to government revenues when you increase the Capital Gains Tax (hint: the opposite of what’s expected). The columnist told me those were “right wing facts” and he wasn’t interested in any facts that supported business. Really. Too many people want to discard any facts that don’t support their cherished illusions, preferring comfortable lies, which is why politicians of both parties get elected promising to do things that sound good, but hurt the majority of people they claim to be helping.

Reading Thomas Sowell would at least make it harder for them to do it with a straight face. And if every voter read Sowell, it would be much harder for politicians to pander to their uninformed prejudice. I think the books above should be required reading to hold public office, or to get a college degree.

Update: After posting this, I read Sowell's "The Quest for Cosmic Justice," published in 1999. There is no better discussion of the conservative world view, and how the outcome evidence demonstrates that liberal policies have greatly harmed, perhaps irreparably, both the larger society and the people they were intended to benefit, minorities and the "poor." They made the liberals feel wonderful, though, which Sowell (and I) believe was their main purpose. "Quest" is now number one on my "must read" list.

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