Young America’s Foundation wishes Dr. Thomas Sowell a very happy 90th birthday!

A steadfast defender of free enterprise, Dr. Sowell’s clear, concise reasoning has made his books and other writings popular reading for students of all ages. His work on economic and other cultural topics provides key insights that lay out a worldview that promotes individual autonomy and liberty as essential to human flourishing, and is one of the reasons that YAF is proud to have sponsored Dr. Sowell at our student programs.

In honor of Dr. Sowell’s 90th birthday, here are 11 of his quotes that are particularly pertinent for conservative students on campus:


1) “As a young Marxist in college during the 1950s heyday of the anti-Communist crusade led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy, I had more freedom to express my views in class, without fear of retaliation, than conservative students have on many campuses today.”


2) “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”


3) “The concept of “microaggression” is just one of many tactics used to stifle differences of opinion by declaring some opinions to be “hate speech,” instead of debating those differences in a marketplace of ideas.”


4) “Imagine a political system so radical as to promise to move more of the poorest 20% of the population into the richest 20% than remain in the poorest bracket within the decade? You don’t need to imagine it. It’s called the United States of America.”


5) “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.”


6) “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”


7) “Racism does not have a good track record. It’s been tried out for a long time and you’d think by now we’d want to put an end to it instead of putting it under new management.”


8) “Without a moral framework, there is nothing left but immediate self-indulgence by some and the path of least resistance by others. Neither can sustain a free society.”


9) “Being willing to donate the taxpayers’ money is not the same as being willing to put your own money where your mouth is.”


10) “No government of the left has done as much for the poor as capitalism has. Even when it comes to the redistribution of income, the left talks the talk but the free market walks the walk. What do the poor most need? They need to stop being poor. And how can that be done, on a mass scale, except by an economy that creates vastly more wealth? Yet the political left has long had a remarkable lack of interest in how wealth is created. As far as they are concerned, wealth exists somehow and the only interesting question is how to redistribute it.”


11) “I am so old that I can remember when other people’s achievements were considered to be an inspiration, rather than a grievance.”

In fact, Dr. Sowell’s newest book, Charter Schools and Their Enemies, has just been released today. Additionally, if you’re looking for more of Dr. Sowell’s, three of his other books that YAF would recommend are Basic Economics, A Conflict of Visions, and Wealth, Poverty, and Politics.

Karl Stahlfeld is the associate director of YAF’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise.