Van Til Tool

Using the Van Til Perspective as the tool to discover what life means and how it ought to be lived.

Friday, June 24, 2005

A Tribute To Dr. Thomas Sowell

A Tribute To Dr. Thomas Sowell

A Review of his Black Rednecks and White Liberals (San Francisco: Encounter, 2005)

By Forrest W. Schultz

It is long overdue that I finally commit to print the high esteem I have for the thought of Dr. Thomas Sowell. His greatness lies in his ability to find the answers to tough social problems by an unflinching examination of the data, both contemporary and historical. Unfortunately, there has been a great unwillingness to accept his conclusions because they contradict the widely held notions of our times. And they usually end up confirming what common sense and our ancestors had told us. For about the last twenty years or so Sowell has been doing in education, sociology, and economics what William Glasser did in psychology and psychotherapy 40 years ago with his Reality Therapy.

From clinical studies Glasser showed that the key to overcoming psychological maladies was the patient taking responsibility for his actions and doing what is right and refraining from doing what is wrong. For this reason there were those who joshingly stated that this was “psychotherapy according to Grandma”! What Sowell has shown from his examination of sociological, economic, and educational data is that the key to success in school and in business is due to what our ancestors called hard work or what today is called “the work ethic”. This work ethic or value system or culture (or whatever you wish to call it) embodies such virtues as discipline, work, thrift, and integrity; and it eschews laziness, irresponsibility, and improvidence. In other words, any individual or group can achieve success educationally and economically by following the ideals of the work ethic. Therefore, to use education as the example, race and other factors have nothing to do with academic achievement. What matters is the teachers teaching properly and the students studying hard, not the race of the teachers and students or whether the school is racially segregated or integrated or the amount of money spent on the school.

From his study of the “redneck” (or “cracker”) culture today and down thru history, Sowell shows how its values are opposed to the work ethic and how these same or similar values have strongly influenced both the Southern aristocracy and contemporary blacks. These blacks who have adopted these bad values are what Sowell refers to as the “black rednecks”. He therefore exhorts today’s blacks to repudiate these false values and adopt the work ethic values. So, as with Glasser 40 years ago, Sowell’s study is confirming what anyone with even a little bit of common sense should know and what is explicitly taught in Scripture. However, since 40 years have now passed we cannot call Sowell’s conclusions “sociology according to Grandma” because many of today’s grandmas were hippie rednecks. So, we, I guess, could call it “sociology according to great-great-grandma”.

June 23, 2005


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