Sowell on Envy

quotes economics envy

05 Jan 2014

Thomas Sowell, The Quest for Cosmic Justice writes:

For the currently less fortunate members of society, the costs of envy can be especially high when it misdirects their conceptions and energies. Where poorer people are lacking in human capital – skills, education, discipline, foresight – one of the sources from which they can acquire these things are more prosperous people who have more of these various forms of human capital. This may happen directly through apprenticeship, advice, or formal tutelage, or it may happen indirectly through observation, reflection, and imitation. However, all these ways of advancing out of poverty can be short-circuited by an ideology of envy that attributes the greater prosperity of others to “exploitation” of people like themselves, to oppression, to bias, or unworthy motives such as “greed,” racism, and the like. Acquisition of human capital in general seems futile under this conception and acquisition of human capital from exploiters, the greedy, and racists especially distasteful.

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