News has come this morning that economist and political thinker Thomas Sowell has decided to retire at the age of eighty-six.
Back in my high school days ( a very long time ago, now), my father would occasionally have to pick me up from school and take me with him back to his place of business. When we got to his basement office, the day’s Wall Street Journal would be on his desk, often carrying a sports-related item on its front page, which was my dad’s way of getting me to read the paper. Just as often, however, it was the latest column by Thomas Sowell that would catch my eye.
The most consistently-remarkable trait of Sowell’s writing is the clarity of his prose. In contrast to nearly every other classical or modern economist–and I’ve read most of them–Sowell actually wants his readers to know what he thinks. One can always quarrel with what he writes, but obscurity in his writing won’t be a source of irritation. Sowell’s commitment to clarity may be seen in his interviews (snippets from which are embedded in the Twitter feed announcing his retirement), his newspaper columns, and his books, the most fundamental of which is Basic Economics, now in its fifth edition.