Were I required to pick an intellectual hero, it would be the economist, author, and columnist Thomas Sowell. One of his periodic features was ’Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene.” Here are some of mine, as an homage. Or a ripoff. I’ll let you be the judge.

Speaking of Sowell, here’s his most recent appearance on the Hoover Institution’s ’Uncommon Knowledge” in which he discusses the new edition of his book Discrimination and Disparities. Would that we were all so productive and insightful at 89 years old.

And while I’m thinking about economists with a powerful and under-appreciated presence in the media and while I’m thinking about discrimination and disparities, I recommend that you check out The Glenn Show on Bloggingheads.tv. Glenn Loury, an economist at Brown University, hosts a series of insightful conversations with scholars and commentators. His most interesting conversations happen when he hosts his recurring guest John McWhorter.

Last summer, I suggested that, per cartoonist Zach Weinersmith’s suggestion, we could get a lot of Voltron cosplay for the $12 billion spent to bail out farmers hurt by the Trump tariffs. The administration is now spending $16 billion in new aid for farmers hurt by the tariffs. It’s as if consumers paying over $800,000 per job, per year for the new jobs created by the tariffs wasn’t enough. If this is ’winning,” I’d hate to see what it looks like to lose.

My AIER colleague Phil Magness explains some of the problems and pitfalls with inequality data. It’s important that discussions and debates be data-driven, but getting the facts right is a lot harder than it at first appears.

The American Economic Association has launched a new journal for shorter papers called American Economic Review: Insights. In the first article of the very first issue, we learn from the economists Francesco Caselli and Alan Manning that it’s pretty unlikely that automation will take our jobs and lower our wages.

Email is a scourge, but there are few better announcements you can see in your inbox than ’leftovers from [event] are in the kitchen.”

For all the world’s problems, it’s amazing how much we can trust strangers. When you go to a coffee shop, you can ask a total stranger to watch your stuff for a few minutes while you run to the restroom or whatever and be virtually certain that it will be there when you get back.

The electronic age brings this into high relief: go to virtually any park or other public place and you will see people tapping away on electronic devices worth a few hundred dollars without any serious fear that they’ll get robbed. The late economist Douglass C. North (I eulogized him here) emphasized the importance of institutions making impersonal exchange possible, and a considerable body of scholarship emphasizes the importance of social trust.

Along these lines, ne of the latest-but-unread additions to my Kindle library is David C. Rose’s Why Culture Matters Most. Rose, an economist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, is also the author of the excellent The Moral Foundation of Economic Behavior. Here, he discusses Why Culture Matters Most at the University of Colorado-Boulder. My recent experience with the benefits of generalized social trust makes me realize I need to read the book ASAP.