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The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy Paperback – June 28, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I've recently picked up the book again after 2 or so years and have read through some - not all - of the chapters again and...it really hit me. The most important thing about this book is not simply the 'expose of the left'; rather, the predominant message seems to be about how the left (and I would argue, the right) ignore why 'tradeoffs' have to be made.
To put it more philosophically, the politicians dream is the policy that has no downsides. Sowell realizes that in a nation of many millions, every policy has negatives and that politicians should, instead of being focused on perfection, should be focused on taking the most gain for the least loss. This, Sowell says, is capitalism and markets. Yes, there are some losers. But there will be more winners and less losers through markets than there will through a regulatory state.
Now, let's put Sowells argument into modern context (the issue that made me pick the book up again). Lately, companies have been moving overseas and this, says the dems (and to a lesser degree the reps) is a problem. The solution being proposed? Let's pass laws to keep them here. The problem with that is that it ignores the real problem (by refusing to look at tradeoffs).Read more ›
Modern political discourse has degenerated into name-calling ("mean-spirited," "reactionary," "racist") without reference to actual merits of a proposed course of action. Until I read Dr. Sowell's discussion of "mascots" and the "benighted," I never understood why organizations like the ACLU display the most passion of the behalf on those who exhibit the most anti-social behavor (Nazis marching in Skokie, drunks yelling obscenities at ballball games): Now I do.
Dr. Sowell's description of the genesis of government "solutions" (a phony crisis, a proposed program whose critics are shouted down and a retroactive redefinition of the program's goals when the critics prove correct) was also a revelation. Read this section and then turn to any N.Y. Times article discussing either global warming or the gender "wage gap" to see this cycle in action today.
If you read the book (and I highly recommend it), look at the Kirkus Review of it for an example of what Dr. Sowell is talking about. Isn't funny how articulate liberal writers are "passionate" and articulate conservative writers are "venomous?"
Sowell's fundamental argument is:
1. Social policy is often built based on a perceived, "crisis."
2. That a "crisis," even exists, usually goes unchallenged, or ignored.
3. When said social policy fails to accomplish its stated objective, attempts are made to change the initial objective, or simply ignore the outcome.
"The Anointed," as Sowell calls them, are those who identify the crisis, put forth the policies, and then, if they fail, obfuscate the results. They live in a self justifying world, where what they "envision" is correct and moral *a priori.* Those who disagree are demonized as simpleminded and mean-spirited.
Sowell offers a lot of examples that support his theory at varying degrees of success. From Sex Ed programs, Low Income Housing, to environment policy. It is certainly a fascinating read.
Whether you agree with him or not (I mostly agree with him), what this book accomplishes is that it forces you to refocus on facts and data to make decisions, as opposed to your own moral vision.
If the motives of liberals were truly what they say they are, then these positions would never gather the support that they now enjoy from the liberal community. Liberals are not uninformed; they read the same books, newspapers and academic journals as conservatives or libertarians. So why do they so consistently advocate policies whose results are demonstrably contrary to the results they claim to want?
Sowell explains the answer in this wonderful book. The reason, he says, is that the real motives of liberals have nothing to do with the welfare of other people. Instead, they have two related goals: first, to establish themselves as morally and intellectually superior to the rather distasteful population of common people, and second, to gather as much power as possible to tell those distasteful common people how they must live their lives. If a policy moves them closer to those two goals, they will find a reason to advocate it, regardless of how harmful the consequences of that policy may be.
Once you read this book, the dishonest posturing of liberals becomes far more understandable. They engage in a preposterous circular argument: They are wiser and more moral than others because they "understand" the need for the policies they advocate.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Words will not do it justice. Read this book. It is the MOST influential book I have ever read for me personally. It blew me away.Published 11 days ago by Texan
What can I say. Dr. Sowell is again an exceptional writer. Complex ideas in his hands become easy to understand and he helps you start your thinking process in ways other writers... Read morePublished 1 month ago by VCL
This book provides exceptional insight into something that irks many people ... the "so called experts" always know more than we do ... Read morePublished 2 months ago by bhs67
There is no better explanation of the modern left than this book. More timely than ever with the rise of the self-anointed "social justice" warriors.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
almost half way thru and the evidence and references presented by the author are challenging my
way of thinking. Read more
Read this book and just watch the news........ It's a shame our public officials cannot formulate policy based upon empirical evidence but on empty rhetoric which is geared... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ken
Economist and social/political theorist Thomas Sowell is able to clearly and dispassionately articulate just who and what the ones who hold themselves above us "common... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Steven D Ludwig