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Race, Culture, and Equality

by Thomas Sowellvia Analysis
Friday, July 17, 1998

In his remarks at the Commonwealth Club of California on June 18, 1998, Thomas Sowell discussed the conclusions he reached after spending fifteen years researching the economic and social impacts of cultural differences among peoples and nations around the world. This essay, Race, Culture, and Equality, distills the results found in the trilogy that was published during these years---Race and Culture (1994), Migrations and Cultures (1996), and Conquests and Cultures (1998).

The most obvious and inescapable finding from these years of research is that huge disparities in income and wealth have been the rule, not the exception, in countries around the world and over centuries of human history. Real income consists of outputs and these outputs have been radically different because the inputs have been radically different from peoples with different cultures.

Geography alone creates profound differences among peoples. It is not simply that such natural wealth as oil and gold are very unequally distributed around the world. More fundamentally, people themselves are different because of different levels of access to other peoples and cultures. Isolated peoples have always lagged behind those with greater access to a wider world, whether isolation has been the result of mountains, jungles, widely scattered islands or other geographic barriers.

Cities have been in the vanguard of cultural, technological and economic progress in virtually every civilization. But the geographic settings in which cities flourish are by no means equally distributed around the globe. Urbanization has been correspondingly unequally developed in different geographic regions--most prevalent among the networks of navigable waterways in Western Europe and least prevalent where such waterways are most lacking in tropical Africa.

If geography is not egalitarian, neither is demography. When the median age of Jews in the United States is 20 years older than the median age of Puerto Ricans, then there is no way that these two groups could be equally represented in jobs requiring long years of experience, in retirement homes or in sports. Even if they were identical in every other way, radically different age distributions would prevent their being equal in incomes or occupations.

Discrimination is also one of the many factors operating against equality. But even if all human beings behaved like saints toward one another, the other factors would still make equality of income and wealth virtually impossible to achieve.

Neither geography nor history can be undone but we can at least avoid artificially creating cultural isolation under glittering names like "multiculturalism."

On Self-Government

by Michael S. Joycevia Policy Review
Wednesday, July 1, 1998

Families, congregations, and civic associations are America’s "schools of liberty." Progressivism threatens them all

Hong Kong Under Chinese Rule: The First Year

by Alvin Rabushkavia Analysis
Wednesday, July 1, 1998

July 1, 1998, marks the first anniversary of Hong Kong under Chinese rule. How has Hong Kong fared during its first year as the newly created Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region of China (HKSAR)? The one positive story was the HKSAR's successful defense of the fixed link between the Hong Kong dollar and the U.S. dollar, which serves as backing for Hong Kong currency. In almost every other respect, the people of Hong Kong are worse off than they were during the last years of British colonial rule. The greatest setback was in the political arena. Nearly two million Hong Kong residents lost the right to vote in the May 24, 1998, elections for thirty of the sixty representatives of the HKSAR's legislature, who were chosen from functional constituencies. In general, the principle of one man, one vote was violated in favor of extremely complicated, three-tiered, rigged electoral arrangements to ensure that pro-China candidates would constitute a legislative majority. Several civil liberties were eliminated or reduced. Mainland Chinese cronyism was reflected in the purchase of substantial stakes in Hong Kong firms by Hong Kong branches of mainland firms at a substantial discount to market prices, until the Asian financial crisis transformed connections with mainland business and political organizations from an asset into a liability. The stock and property markets lost up to half their peak August 1997 value. English-language education was curtailed over the objections of parents and students as numerous schools that formerly taught in English were converted into Chinese-language schools.

Liberalism’s Mean Streets

by Dan Coats, Spencer Abrahamvia Policy Review
Wednesday, July 1, 1998

How conservatives can reverse urban decline

Blocking the Exits

by Clint Bolickvia Policy Review
Friday, May 1, 1998

Libertarian opposition to school vouchers is an attack on freedom

Evita Calendar

The Man Who Made Evita Famous

by William Ratliffvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, April 30, 1998

While his wife sang "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" (well, at least she sang it in the movie), Juan Perón ran the country, becoming one of the most important figures in the history of Latin America. Where is the best collection of materials on Perón? (Hint: It's not Buenos Aires.) Hoover fellow William Ratliff, the curator of the Americas Collection, provides a tour of one of Hoover's most fascinating holdings.

Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku

Planning Pearl Harbor

by David C. Evansvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, April 30, 1998

Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku opposed war with the United States, but once the decision was made, he did his duty, laying meticulous plans for the attack on Pearl Harbor. Hoover fellow Mark R. Peattie joins David C. Evans in describing how Yamamoto achieved a brilliant tactical success—only to set in train the events that would lead to Japanese defeat.

Soviet premier Vyacheslav Molotov and Uzbek party leaders

Inside Stalin's Darkroom

by Robert Conquestvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, April 30, 1998

Hoover fellow Robert Conquest reviews a new book, The Commissar Vanishes, that documents Soviet doctoring of photographs, paintings, and even sculpture. How the Communists cropped history.

The Problem of Chinese Nationalism

by Ramon H. Myers, Thomas A. Metzgervia Hoover Digest
Thursday, April 30, 1998

Its economy thriving, its military growing, will China embark on an expansionist foreign policy? Hoover fellows Thomas A. Metzger and Ramon H. Myers argue that the Chinese are far too realistic for that—and have been for more than a thousand years.

Il Papa and El Jefe

by William Ratliffvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, April 30, 1998

In one of the more astonishing encounters of the post–Cold War era, the unrepentantly communist Fidel Castro invited the immovably anticommunist John Paul II to Cuba. Did the pope's visit have any effect? Hoover fellow William Ratliff offers an assessment.

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Military History Working Group


The Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict examines how knowledge of past military operations can influence contemporary public policy decisions concerning current conflicts.