Monday, November 5, 2012

Good composition (1) – Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell (pictured) is an American economist, social theorist and political philosopher. Unlike most economists, social theorists and political philosophers, he is a good writer. One thing I especially like about his writing is his straightforward composition.

A good example is Mr. Sowell’s October 30, 2012 article, “ ‘Cooling Out’ the Voters.” He starts with an interesting fact about confidence men:
Confidence men know that their victim – “the mark” as he has been called – is eventually going to realize that he has been cheated. But it makes a big difference whether he realizes it immediately, and goes to the police, or realizes it after the confidence man is long gone.

So part of the confidence racket is creating a period of uncertainty, during which the victim is not yet sure of what is happening. This delaying process has been called “cooling out the mark.”
Then he makes a clear transition:
The same principle applies in politics.
Then he introduces his first example from politics: how Bill Clinton, who was U.S. President from 1993 to 2001, used the “cooling out” process on the voters. The example begins:
When the accusations that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton first surfaced, he flatly denied them all. Then, as the months passed, the truth came out – but slowly, bit by bit.
After he completes this political example, Mr. Sowell introduces his second political example, which features incumbent U.S President Barack Obama.
We are currently seeing another “cooling out” process, growing out of the terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi on September 11th this year.
Mr. Sowell explains why Mr. Obama is using the “cooling out” process:
The White House had to know that it was only a matter of time before the truth would come out. But time was what mattered, with an election close at hand. The longer they could stretch out the period of distraction and uncertainty – “cooling out” the voters – the better. Once the confidence man in the White House was reelected, it would be politically irrelevant what facts came out.
Then he completes the Barack Obama example with additional detail.

The Takeaway: I’m sure you have noticed that some articles are especially easy to read – almost effortless. Whenever you notice that you have quickly and easily finished reading an article, take a few minutes to look it over again. You will observe that it features not only good diction but also good composition. It flows smoothly from beginning to end. If you keep looking over well-composed articles, your own composition skills will steadily improve, via unconscious imitation. This is an easy way to improve your writing.

See disclaimer.

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