Thomas Sowell - Personal Responsibility



personal responsibility many of the words and phrases used in the media and among academics suggest that things simply happen to people rather than being caused by their own choices or behavior thus there is said to be an epidemic of teenage pregnancy or of drug usage as if these things were like the flu that people catch just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time in a similar vein Chief Judge David Bazelon spoke of forces that drive people to commit crimes in the economy as well both parents are often said to be forced to work in order to make ends meet even if the family owns luxury cars a vacation home designer clothes and a swimming pool parents of course have every right to make whatever choices they wish but suggesting that people had no choice is precisely what the vocabulary of the anointed does repeatedly on the most disparate issues which it reduces to non issues with deterministic assertions people are often said to lack access to various jobs educational institutions or credit when in fact they may not have behaved or performed in a way that would enable them to meet the same standards that others meet access is just one of a number of ex ante expressions opportunity bias and glass ceiling for example used to describe ex post results in such a way as to preempt the whole question as to why those results turned out the way they did if a job ceiling is glass for example that says that it is invisible that the assertion must be accepted without evidence implicit in much of this verbiage is the notion that the rules were rigged for or against some individual or group but whether or to what extent this is true is precisely the issue that should be argued not circumvented by verbal sleight of hand people who do not choose to spend their money on health insurance but on other things are not denied access to health care by society on the contrary they are often given medical treatment at other peoples expense whether under specific social programs or in various other ways such as using hospital emergency rooms for things that are not emergencies at all or which had become emergencies only because nothing was done until a medical problem grew too large to ignore how often people have chosen to spend their money on things other than health insurance especially when they are young and healthy and how often they lack health insurance due to circumstances beyond their control is the crucial question that is sidestep verbally by speaking of access millions of individuals from families with incomes of $50,000 and up lack health insurance clearly not because they lack access but because they have chosen to spend their money on other things choice like behavior and performance is often circumvented but the vocabulary of The Anointed performance standards are often depicted as mere subjective barriers reflecting the biases of those who create them thus Professor Stanley fish of Duke University charges in sincerity to opponents of affirmative action who want everyone to compete by the same rules by saying that the playing field is already tilted in favor of the majority because the skills that make for success are nurtured by institutions and cultural practices from which the disadvantaged minority has been systematically excluded with the word excluded being used in very elastic senses today it is hard to know how this statement differs from saying that people from different cultural backgrounds have the prerequisites for various activities to varying extents in a similar vein former Harvard president Derrick Bach said that to apply the same admission standards to minority students as to everyone else would be to exclude them from the university among other things this ignores the fact that blacks were receiving both college and postgraduate degrees from Harvard in the 19th century when it was very unlikely that they were being admitted under lower standards the more fundamental fallacy however is in using ex-anti words like exclude to describe ex-post results widespread personification of society is another verbal tactic that evades issues of individual responsibility such use of the term society is a more sophisticated version of the notion that the devil made me do it like much of the rest of the special vocabulary of the anointed it is used as a magic word to make choice behavior and performance vanish into thin air with these three inconvenient complications out of the picture results after the fact can then be equated with condition existing before the fact success thus becomes privilege and failure disadvantage by definition even inanimate things like classics of literature are called privileged writings rather than writings which have achieved appreciation from many successive generations such concepts as achievement are precisely with the new vocabulary seeks to displace by all-or-nothing reasoning it is of course possible to show that not every individual or group has had the same favorable or unfavorable conditions indeed it is hard to imagine how anything short of omniscience and omnipotence could have made such blanket equality possible but that is still radically different from saying that outcomes ex-post are simply results of circumstances ex-ante for example voluminous evidence from countries around the world repeatedly shows particular immigrant groups beginning their lives destitute in a new country taking low-level jobs disdained by the native population and yet ultimately rising above the economic level of those around them the overseas Chinese have done this throughout Southeast Asia and in several Western Hemisphere nations Jews have done the same in numerous countries the history of the United States has seen this achievement repeated by a number of European immigrant groups and by the Japanese in the Cubans among others such evidence is suggestive rather than decisive there is room for debate but substantive debate is wholly different from verbal preemption the weapon of choice among the anointed in the vision of the anointed not only must other people be either intellectually or morally incapable of making the right decisions for themselves individually the traditions they use to supplement their own thinking and the systemic processes which coordinate their competing desires and complementary inputs the marketplace for example must also be depicted as inadequate to the task without the benign intervention of the anointed surrogate decision-making is the common thread in the highly disparate Crusades which have captured the imagination and sparked the fervor of the anointed at various times whether this moral surrogacy was in the form of the eugenics movement Keynesian economics or environmentalism all urgently require the superior wisdom of the anointed to be imposed on the B'nai to Mesa's in order to avert disaster merit versus performance underlying much social criticism is the notion that individual merit cannot explain all differences in individual or group results professor Stanley fish of Duke University for example condemns the scholastic aptitude test because it does not measure merit others condemn the incomes earned in the marketplace for the same reason whatever weight such considerations as merit might have if we were God on Judgment Day making a retrospective assessment the situation is radically different when we are attempting to establish prospective rules or policies in a society of human beings with necessarily limited knowledge and limited ability to monitor what is in anyone else's heart of hearts the requirements for judging merit vastly exceed the requirements for judging behavior or performance we do not know how much innate ability anyone has and therefore cannot assess how much of the observed performance was simply a windfall gain from nature rather than being a result of exhausting disciplined or otherwise meritorious efforts moreover individual behavior and performance depend on factors reaching well beyond the individual including the surrounding general culture or a special subculture the particular family and the complementary performances of others had Einstein been born into a family of illiterate peasants in a third world country neither he nor the world would have gained the benefits of his potential but that is still light years away from saying that observers can look at third world peasants and decide which ones would have been in Stein's in a wholly different setting or that anyone knows how to transform the cultural universe of the third world or any other world still less can anyone grandly wave aside as irrelevant the inherent prerequisites for civilization and progress even at a more mundane level nothing seems to be more of a purely individual feat than a baseball player hitting a home run and yet the number of home runs hit depends on factors that reach beyond the individual player Ted Williams for example hit home runs with greater frequency in proportion to his times at bat than either Roger Maris or Hank Aaron and yet Williams never came close to Babe Ruth's home run records that Maris and Aaron broke the difference is that Williams was walked far more often than either Maris or Aaron in fact about as often as the two of them put together and that in turn was due to who was batting after each of these players to walk Ted Williams was to drastically reduce the danger of a home run but to walk Maris or Aaron was only to bring to bat Mickey Mantle or Eddie Matthews each of them top-ranked homerun hitters in his own right leading the league in that department for years each individual batters must of course hit their own home runs but the man on deck has a lot to do with how the man in the batter's box will be pitched to or whether he will be pitched to at all in short performance cannot be due solely to individual merit with the influence of other individuals and circumstances is at work the case for rewarding performance is that we can do it not that it is the same as rewarding merit likewise holding individuals personally responsible for the consequences of their own actions is a social expedient for prospective control not a cosmic retrospective moral judgment the hubris of imagining that one can judge merit as distinguished from judging behavior and performance can be seen in attempts of educators to grade students according to how well they use their own ability rather than how well they performed relative to some fixed standard or to other students this hubris is consonant with a vision of the anointed and with the vocabulary in which that vision is expressed conversely the inability of ordinary people to make valid assessments even of observable behavior and performance is likewise part of the vision of the anointed and finds expressions in such words as stereotypes bias and Prejudice are widely used without any corroborating evidence being asked or given one of the uses of the concept of merit is to claim that various rewards produced by the economic forces of the marketplace are unmerited again this implicitly assumes that it is possible for a human being to determine merit otherwise all conceivable economic systems and policies will produce rewards whose merit is unsubstantiated moreover applying the impossible standard of merit forfeits benefits attainable under the feasible standard of performance and satisfying consumer desires more fully if for example a new product is introduced by five different producers each in a somewhat different version then it is possible that none of the five fully understands just exactly what the consumer wants nor need any of the five be any wiser or more prescient than the others yet if one of these products happens to be far closer to the consumers desires than the others its producer may become wealthy as his sales skyrocket while some of his less fortunate competitors cannot sell enough to avoid bankruptcy the unmerited gain of the lucky producer however serves the larger social purpose of enabling the consumers to receive the product nearest to their desires and stops the economy's resources from being wasted on the production of other versions that are less satisfactory often it is precisely the lure of a chance to hit the jackpot which causes all the producers to gamble on untried ventures out of which some proved to be beneficial to the public to insist on a closer approximation to merit would reduce the incentives and the benefits to society that flow from these incentives and is it not equally an injustice to deprive innocent consumers of benefits they could have had for the sake of an abstract notion important only to a relative handful of the intelligentsia and little analyzed even by them the vision of the anointed is one in which such ills as poverty irresponsible sex and crime derived primarily from society rather than from individual choices and behavior to believe in personal responsibility would be to destroy the whole special role of the anointed whose vision casts them in the role of rescuers that people treated unfairly by society since no society has ever treated everyone fairly there will always be real examples of what the anointed envisioned the fatal step is to make those examples Universal explanations of social ills and to remain oblivious to evidence to the contrary




Comments
  1. Oh yeah, personal responsibility. There's the meme in this video with the 3 men with the question of what are the chances that one guy didn't have a father? Would that be something that would not fit neatly with the "vision of the anointed" in the context of contradicting personal responsibility? The lack of father's? Never even considering or at least talking out loud about those with screwed up father's or how the focus seems to be on one parent instead of a sort balance with both parents…for a reason.

  2. Thomas Sowell is just a worthless sellout! He never addresses the fact of modern day employment race discrimination!

  3. This entire video id basically crackpot nonsense! The issue of white supremacy race discrimination simply cannot be ignored when white racist decision makers have the power to control things like hiring and promotions in employment! No amount of personal responsibility on the part of a Black person can solve the wrongful conduct of a white racist in a position of authority!

  4. I had this same conversation with my son when he was about 5 years old….. I used different vocabulary of course, but he understood it perfectly.

  5. Oh my, just how colored folks really do hate hearing the truth about how their failures are their own fault and not the white man's fault.

  6. That good I agree that the Republicans should take personal responsibility and stop blaming liberals. I am not a Democrat I take both are full of crap.

  7. Those who hate Thomas Sowell are only the manipulation magicians who are annoyed he’s revealing their tricks to everyone else

  8. that nra commercial is really good. also, where is this audio from? i need the buy the book asap the shit he says is exactly what i've been thinking but could never put it into words

  9. Not that simple. But I can see participants getting caught up in the hopeless narrative and playing it out in their own lives. ( I have seen it.) You will have problems if you lose a parent or sibling to violence early in life, before the age of 10. Learning will be difficult, especially if the violence continues all around you. The "anointed" and the beknighted is brilliant though… paints the damaging dynamic I've observed my whole life. It is essentially unequal, insulting and has no pre-planned exit strategy and never, as Churchill stated, "planned for the peace" when they would no longer would be necessary.

  10. It is a fact that textbooks, Anthropology and Archaeology books are purposely priced out of the reach of the poor to keep the ignorant unwashed masses ignorant and unwashed, so I go on used book websites and buy a $50 textbook for 10 bucks no matter how the bourgeoisie tries to keep you down there is always a way around! Failure is not an Inevitability it's a choice!

  11. 6/4/18…..Outstanding video + well spoken TRUE thoughts/facts.
    I hope enough people watch/listen to this YT video b/c it is a great lesson for everybody.

  12. Thomas Sowell's discussion of "Personal Responsibility" might make sense if it was directed specifically toward Black prison convicts awaiting release or Black criminal youths in a reform school setting! But it's quite ridiculous for hard working Blacks with no criminal record, yet suffer from plain, old white racism! Perhaps Sowell was just trying to be funny! Not very funny!

  13. In McDonnell Douglas vs Green, the U.S. Supreme Court set up FOUR numbered basic requirements for job discrimination complaints under Title VII law as follows (quote):

    (i) he belongs to a racial minority;
    (ii) he applied and was qualified for a job the employer was trying to fill;
    (iii) though qualified, he was rejected; and
    (iv) thereafter the employer continued to seek applicants with complainant's qualifications.

    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/411/792.html

    A vast number of employment race discrimination cases filed each year meet the four above referenced requirements issued by the U.S. Supreme Court! In such cases of actual violations of the anti-discrimination laws, the matter of "Personal Responsibility" is quite irrelevant! It is unfortunate that a Black race discrimination victim cannot fix white racism through any amount of "Personal Responsibility"! Perhaps Thomas Sowell some how FORGOT that!

  14. I must say I've spent too much time reading everyone's comment below. However, I cant help but comment. I'm sure I'll be stereotyped or worse? I'm a father of 2 beautiful girls, a small business owner, raised in a racist environment, a vet, have a mixed family… forgot to say I'm a White Male from the South and have friends of all races and gender. I've never seen anything like this in my life, like I've read below. I treat everyone the same. I'll put them in their place when needed, but give them love. A simple answer to a complicated issue is start with yourself and your family. It starts with all of us. This is a generational issue. Build a foundation. Sometimes we have to look in the mirror to see the problem. I've found many answers in my life from doing that. Just a simple thought??????????

  15. The ones that has it harder seem to be most conservative. Abandoned at the age of 7, then from care homes to care homes. Abused and beaten, but made it on my own. Now mater-degree and successful in business. I agree with "you make your choices and never be a victim". (My race does not help but you need to work that a little bit harder)

  16. Lol. Great pic. In front you have the guy the NFL players are kneeling for. In the back is the guy whom NFL players are kneeling against, and in the middle you have the guy who doesn't want you kneeling for him, because he is a man and can take care of himself, and doesn't need a bunch of people treating him like a shelter dog in need of adoption.

  17. White privilege does not exist, but Black privilege is alive and well.

    1. I can refer to caucasians as "whiteboy/whitegirl", "cracker", and "honkey" and expect not to be accused of racism, but demand everyone to walk on eggshells around me. In fact, I can be openly racist and act genuinely surprised when someone takes issue with it. I can also demand that a particular word is never used in my direction by a member of another race, but will constantly say that same word.

    2. If I get in trouble with an authority figure, I can simply accuse them of being racist, and likely get the issue dropped due to political correctness-inspired fear.

    3. A member of my race can achieve the highest position in the federal government, and I still get to claim that my race is being held back.

    4. I can claim that my race is not adequately represented in the media, even though my race's cultural output is literally blasted across every form of media on a daily basis. I can then use this claim as a false justification for the concept that my race is being held back.

    5. A prominent celebrity of my race can blatantly get away with the murder of two people of another race, and be celebrated for it by me and the fellow members of my race, while we also claim that murders committed against my race by members of another race are ALWAYS racially motivated.

    6. If I fail, I don't have to take responsibility for that failure, even if it's completely my fault. Instead, I can just say I failed because of some form of racism.

    7. If I achieve success in a field outside of entertainment or sports, people assume I got there by working hard and overcoming adversity…that it wasn't handed to me as some form of privilege due to the color of my skin…and no matter how much success I do achieve, I can still claim that my race is being held back due to racism.

    8. If I commit a crime and am arrested for it, it's not because I committed the crime that I was arrested. It's because police like to arrest members of my race.

    9. I can ignore all instances of slavery with regard to races that are not my own, but want constant attention and sympathy for the slavery that my race endured. I can even ignore the fact that members of my own race owned slaves as well, and frame the history as though all members of my race were being kidnapped and forced into slavery.

    10. If I go into a store and am treated with suspicion, I get to blame it on my race. It couldn't possibly be anything else other than race. Not my clothing, demeanor, volume of voice, nothing but race. If other races get treated with suspicion in a store, it's because they deserve it, but if it's my race, it'sonly due to race. Nope, can't be anything but race. This is a huge privilege because it means I can act as much like a scumbag or thug as I want, because I'm not being judged by those factors, only by the color of my skin.

    11. If I don't get a job, I get to blame my race, even if I was not qualified to get the job.

    12. Really, if anything at all negative happens to me, I get to blame it on being a member of my race, as opposed to taking personal responsibility for my actions, state of life, financial position, or anything else. I get to claim that it's all about race, and that there are no other factors. This allows me to continue making poor decisions, and never change anything I do that might be negatively impacting these areas of my life.

    13. I can be as loud and boisterous as I like, and if someone complains, it's because they're racist. This allows me to basically do anything I want, regardless of how it affects those around me, because any opposition will just be met with a racism accusation. Others are expected to be considerateof those around them, but that's not a requirement for me.

    14. I can take public pride in being a member of my race, without it being confused as racism. I can use terms of pride with regard to my race, but when members of another race do the same, it's considered racist.

    15. I can qualify for a wide-variety of benefits from the government that are not available to others. In fact, the modern welfare system that is in use today, was re-framed specifically to keep my race in mind.

    16. I feel perfectly justified in asking for financial reparations for something that did not directly affect me, and want that money to come from people who did not commit the acts for which the reparations are claimed to be for.

    17. I can use fear and intimidation to get what I want, but when someone more powerful than me stands up to me and defeats me, I get to claim it's due to them being racist…not due to my actions. Even if the person is racist, but their actions were justified, I get to capitalize on their mindset in order to distract from my negative actions that initiated the situation. It's ONLY because of racism, my actions are not responsible for the outcomes I experience.

    18. I can write a list of assertion-based stereotypes that I consider to be "white privilege" and expect not to be called racist, and can then call people racist for writing a list of things called "black privilege".

  18. This man Sowell has great wisdom! This is one of the best videos I have ever seen. Straight truth. He is correct….What happened to personal responsibility?

  19. I'll bet if you check the iq of all three, it would all make sense, taboo but can tell the future in a lot of cases

  20. Personal responsibility,the choices we make and the consequences that are derived from them should be the core of education.

  21. I disagree that there is no way to change the cultural universe of a third world country. Literacy and literature are two way to really change the way a person thinks.

  22. I wonder why the blacks in the 1850's didn't make the right "choice" to stop being slaves?  Their color didn't define their choices, so I wonder why they made such dumb decisions to be treated that way.  T. Sowell.

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