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The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy Paperback – 28 Jun 1996

4.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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About the Author

Thomas Sowell has taught economics at a number of colleges and universities, including Cornell, University of California Los Angeles, and Amherst. He has published both scholarly and popular articles and books on economics, and is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.


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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
This is an outstanding book. It provides an explanation for a great many anomalies that have puzzled or frustrated me over the years. The world is changing fast an unless we can improve on our current lamentable economic and sociological performance the future looks grim. Sowell does not provide a blueprints for how this might be done but he does have some powerful insights that should help to guide the way.

If you have studied systems - engineering, ecological, social and to some extent economic - as I have, you will understand why some actions that appear to be obviously correct have a much reduced or opposite effect to that intended. A brilliant, readable account of one case is given in `Risk' by John Adams. He describes, amongst many other things, why seat belts do not save lives or reduce accidents. (Read it - the argument is compelling.) Social and economic systems are much more complicated than seat belts and understanding them is much more difficult. (Hayek, in `The Fatal Conceit' takes the view that many are effectively beyond understanding.) The result is that governments intervene, guided by a dogma that is regarded as self-evidently correct and is rarely questioned. This is what Sowell calls the `Vision'. Because the vision is so deeply ingrained, the anointed find excuses for each failure and repeat the process. They learn nothing from history.

The writing style is serious of course, but the book is very readable and includes many interesting cases. These examples are American but most people will identify many similar cases in the UK. The vision, and problems it causes, are international.

This is a political message of course; and the response of many people will simply be to turn off. A little silent abuse will be, for many, enough to dismiss the unpleasant thought that they may be wrong. However, for anyone interested in our political systems, who is objective enough to consider the whole spectrum of views, this book is a must.
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Format: Paperback
I can add nothing to what the other positive reviewers of this book have said. Read this book. Learn it. Quote it like you do the Bible. The truth will set you free. This book will give you a lengthy outline, crammed with specific examples, of what we're up against in dealing with the Dudley Do-Goods that have already come perilously close to ruining this nation. Liberals are trapped in their mindset because they DON'T THINK: they "feel," and they use buzzwords to bypass thought, argument, and evidence. Thank God the elections of Clinton have spelled the doom of liberalism in America. See you at the polls in November: let's get veto-proof majorities in both houses and run these creeps out of town on a rail! (Hint: To get a shorthand recap of the content of this book-- say, if you're hanging around the bookstore on your lunch hour-- read the last chapter, which sums it all up.)
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Format: Paperback
As a negative reviewer below pointed out (accurately, but unfairly and dishonestly in degree), Sowell neglects an important point--there may also be conservatives among the anointed. That the anointed are 80% liberal and only 20% conservative is no excuse; Sowell could have easily spent as much time on the failure of the War on Drugs as on the lost War on Poverty. Recently on television, when an interviewer referred to him as being conservative, Sowell corrected him, describing himself as a libertarian. This book actually bears that out, but he could have made it more clear and boosted his credibility with a few token conservative-anointed examples.
That said, this is an important book, an excellent catalog of fallacies relied on by those who prefer force to persuasion in the furthering of their beliefs.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Empirical evidence suggests that despite many good intentions Socialism fails. When crime, welfare dependency, family break up, rates of teenage pregnancy, unemployment and income inequality increase rapidly under a Socialist Government, despite massive improvements in technology and wealth, many people wonder why. Professor Thomas Sowell examines and exposes the deceptions of Socialists and explains why state intervention usually makes the situation worse.

Everybody with a social conscience should read and understand the message in this book. Literacy and numeracy aren't enough, you must understand how Political systems work too. Sowell provides answers that educated people should know, understand and act upon.
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Format: Paperback
Sowell does a wonderful job of describing how and why the liberal minority of the population have set the social policy agenda in the developed world, with such disastrous results. Most interesting of all is the description of the tactics employed to discredit opponents, message statistics and flatly ignore evidence that has become standard operating procedure for this phenomenally intolerant group of people the author labels 'the anointed'.

The book is very well written, crisp and coherent without itself becoming dogmatic - this is no rant from the Daily Mail. On my shelf next to `The March of Unreason' and `Life at the Bottom' which are also excellent.

Buy, read and share with others.
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Format: Paperback
I have read three of Sowells books, The Vision of the Anointed, A Conflict of Visions and The quest for cosmic justice. This is the best of the three. His themes in many of these books is that the liberal elite, anointed, call them what you will has successfully advanced its agenda for many years.
This is hardly news in itself, but what Sowell does to great effect is explain what the underlying cause of their beliefs is, ie that mankind can be perfected at no cost if we were to just give the right people power over us. He highlights the media and its complicitness in not examining the facts that the anointed put forwards, even when a fairly simple look at the figures would reveal the truth to be the exact opposite.
His chapter on judicial activism, the use of courts to create legislation in direct contravention of the written law of the land, is illuminating. Often Judges clearly overstep the limits of their power and invent completely new laws. Despite the fact that most of the examples are American one does not have to look too far to see parallels in Britain, (ie. the Bulger case and the European courts pro IRA verdicts)
Paul Johnson the Historian who writes for the Daily Mail and Spectator in the U.K. has said he considers Thomas Sowell to be the greatest living Philosopher/Commentator in America and the rest of the world yet aside from that his work gets very little exposure in this country.
Sowells biggest strength is observing the common patterns of deception that the left uses time and time again without being picked up on it. His book conveys often conveys complex information yet never alienates itself from a lay reader. A Superb book.
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