Saturday, August 24, 2013

How Sowell converted from Marxism

Interview is here.  To me, this is the most fascinating question/answer:

Well, one last question prompted by your last answer. You said you used to be a Marxist and that changed. Talk a little bit about how you moved from Marxism to conservatism. 

It occurred during the summer of 1960 when I was an intern of economics in the U.S. Department of Labor. One of the things that concerned me was the question of the effective minimum wages on employment of low income workers. Of course, there are two theories. I was assigned, for example, to study Puerto Rico and so I discovered that after the minimum wage increases, in particular in industries in Puerto Rico, unemployment would increase. 
So I said well, how can I test this? Well, the people who were defending them said no, no, employment went down because a series of hurricanes struck Puerto Rico and in those years destroying the sugar cane. So I said what we needed to do then is find out how much sugar cane was standing in the field before the hurricane struck — and I could see the people in the room were dumbfounded. 
To me, it was just a question of finding out what the facts were. They obviously were not interested in the facts because the labor department was benefiting from administering the minimum wage law. ...
I realized then you can’t depend on the government because the government is not some brooding presence in the sky. The government is an organization with its own interest which it will serve over and above whatever interest it is supposedly being set up to serve.

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