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The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  901 ratings  ·  70 reviews
The nationally bestselling author of Race and Culture and Inside America presents a devastating examination of the mindset behind the failed social policies of the past thirty years, whose defects have led to crises on education, crime, and family dynamics.
Audio CD, 9 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1995)
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Cassandra Kay Silva
Ok I admit it I am a liberal and I read one of Sowells books, so sue me. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about and to be honest I was fairly pleasantly surprised. I am generally one of these that believes in the "root cause" of social problems as he puts it, perhaps I even have some of this anointed mindset "gasp". I like to think we can change people by changing behavior and circumstances, but I think he made a good number of points about when we should say enough is enough, does tha ...more
Paul
A must read. As apropos for today as when it was written in the 90's. If you tire of the lightweight stuff from the talking heads like a Hannity, a Rush, or an O'Reilly, then read Sowell's Vision of the Anointed. Watch Sowell fillet mostly leftist-type thought chapter after chapter, page after page, even paragraph after paragraph. Sowell brings to bear so many of his skills as a sociologist and economist that the reader cannot possibly master all of Sowell's arguments after just one read. So, no ...more
David Robins
So very true; enumerates so many of the distractions I have run up against talking with liberals. They close their eyes to reality and logic and argue with blind emotion, trying to frame rational people as unfeeling even as they rob them to fund their wasteful and destructive programs.

"The perennial desire to make particular things 'affordable' through public policy or to have government provide an ever-expanding list of 'basic needs' suggests that the economic realities conveyed by prices are s
...more
E.W.
There is much that one could like here. The basic framework that Sowell lays down about the way many policies are drafted is clear and accurate. The problem, however, is that he seems to believe that only "The Anointed" (i.e. liberals) use this method to create policy. As I was listening, I kept thinking, "Wow, this seems like a playbook for George W. Bush's administration," but Sowell repeatedly lionizes Reagan and believes that the "Benighted" (i.e. conservatives) can do no wrong.

This might h
...more
Skylar Burris
This is a superb book if you want to know precisely how statistics are manipulated, ignored, or misinterpreted in order to support social/political visions that are impervious to empirical evidence. It's wonderful for debunking a plethora of doomsday economic and social myths, and it provides a thorough outline of the type of specious arguments used to avoid addressing specific objections to specific policies and programs. Any student of economics, politics, or sociology should read this book an ...more
Adam Graham

In his book Vision of the Anointed, Thomas Sowell offers key insights into how and why the American left has run wild in it’s attempts to change America.

As the subtitle suggests, “Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy,” Sowell posits that the American left’s policies are egocentric exercises meant to establish themselves as saviors and their opponents as villains. Sowell shows that historically the left has been far more willing to condemn their opponents as evil even though the peopl
...more
Jeremy
A truly devastating critique of the liberal mindset.

Quotes:

In reality, the entire population of the world today could be housed in the state of Texas, in single-story, single-family houses - four people to a house - and with a typical yard around each home.

Everyone is a “progressive” by his own lights. That the anointed believe that this label differentiates themselves from other people is one of a number of symptoms of their naive narcissism.

Rights from government interference - “Congress shall
...more
Jarrod Jenkins
A typical liberal flaw is explored here. Social policy must be based on actual results instead of merely good intentions. Soaring rhetoric without substance backing it often does more harm than good. The main reason, Sowell argues, that Liberals get away with their bad ideas is because the people who impose those ideas rarely pay for the costs associated with their failures. If a fashionable Liberal idea such as sex education or bilingual education programs creates more pregnant children or more ...more
Brian
Aug 24, 2007 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Self-Appointed "Wise-Owls" on the Left. And all others too.
I am really not sure what else Thomas Sowell has written. I know he has other books, but after reading this one almost 11 years ago I don't feel I need to read any others. Not that I don't think they will be any good. It's mostly because this one is so damn good that I don't think he can top it.

Even 11 years later I still remember much. He touches on the very essence of why liberalism and Liberals are so dangerous. The very title insinuates it: "The Annointed."

There is an "annointed" class and
...more
Ryan
For some of the Libertarian opinions I have come to hold, I have been called “at least partially evil” on one occasion and told to “have a heart” on too many occasions to count – and both of these comments from some of the people who know me best. And that is to say nothing of the times my arguments have been called "simplistic" and yet no reason is ever given for why they are actually wrong. This form of attack is one which Sowell writes about to some length and in that, and numerous other resp ...more
Dale
Good, but needed more detail

Thomas Sowell, a noted conservative thinker and a genuinely interesting person (I've heard him as a guest on a local radio station several times) writes an effective book against the actions of those whom he calls 'The Annointed.' The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy is effective, but not a great work.

Who are The Annointed?

He uses the term in a sarcastic way here to illuminate those 'Teflon prophets' (he uses that term because s
...more
Sandy
I have read Sowell before- his book Race and Culture and some of his editorials. If the book hadn't been copyrighted in 1995, I would have thought he was targeting the 2012 liberals. But I read this leading up to the election, so that might explain a lot of my response to the book. I want to believe we can correct our flaws in society and help our fellow man by pulling together, especially in the United States where we have solved so many problems of mankind. But his explanation of trade offs an ...more
Fred
This is the clearest, sanest expression of liberal political thought you will ever read. If you are a Beckbot, a Rush clone, a Hanniday zombie it will be too deep and clear to impress you, though, as there isn't any lying, ranting, or flag waving. Sowell is extremely understandable and deep on the subject. I've read this book and re-read it over the months, checked out sources, and tried to think through his arguments. This is essential if you want to understand today's politics and how Democrat ...more
Bob Matter
Apr 11, 2011 Bob Matter is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at a thrift store the other day on the reputation of the author's name. As I often do, I thought I would read just a few pages at the beginning, put it on my TBR shelf, and come back to it later. But alas, it is so engaging I am compelled to continue reading it.
Bill
Thomas Sowell is quickly becoming my conservative intellectual father-figure. In this outstanding book, he exposes liberals for what they believe themselves to be - "the annointed". A very intellectual book - not casual reading, but worth the time to read carefully.
A B
A good but repetitive read. Sowell is one of the best at articulating right-wing political ideals in a common sense way. But the whole book is essentially a couple hundred pages of Sowell finding new ways to say 'the anointed think they know better but they actually don't', with some examples thrown in.

His lambasting of leftists' tactics is spot-on - but I found his use of statistics to be a bit misleading. He rightly slams 'the other side' for their dodgy use of figures, and the way they often
...more
Douglas Wilson
I love people who think in straight lines.
Wesley Fox
The Vision of the Anointed is a classic social commentary from 1995 by economist Thomas Sowell. He presents a long list of social policies adopted in the 60s and 70s that were based on false premises or outright lies. Supported with data and the benefit of hindsight, Sowell dismantles the arguments made in support of these policies. Not only that, he argues that they weren't isolated mistakes but part of a flawed worldview of a self-appointed intellectual elite who believes that their superior i ...more
Donna
Sowell's complex writing style in Vision required that I take significant time and thought in reading it, but it was well worth the time and effort. I would advise anyone planning to read this book to be ready to think while you read (novel idea, these days.) Sowell presents logically his case for both the history and status of the "anointed" and "benighted" in America (or in any western civilization, I'd argue.)

This book may change your way of thinking. It will certainly make you think, and co
...more
Jim Gallen
When considering public policy issues, we often think only of the elements of that specific problem. In “the Vision of the Anointed” economist Thomas Sowell guides us to look at the visions behind the specific solutions advanced. Sowell examines the difference between the vision of the anointed, those who feel that they know better than others and must provide solutions to save the common people from themselves, and the tragic vision of the benighted public that recognizes that there are no solu ...more
Keith
I have always wondered why so many social policies, all of which seem like good and even noble ideas at the time, turn out so badly. Sowell presents one view and a caustic one it is. Essentially, his thesis is that policy makers have far too often replaced rational analysis of outcomes with wishful and willful assertions that run counter to the facts of the case. The anointed live in a rarefied world in which reality plays little role and the opinions of the non-anointed even less:

"The presumed
...more
JP
Are we completely unaware of the initiative a select few have claimed to push policies based not on logic or evidence, but their own assumptions and desires for what is best for others? Sowell tackles this question, showing how elitists have overrun individual decision making and trampled basic rights. Once a stance is successfully positioned as the moral high ground, it becomes accepted such that even "thinking people" take the underlying assumptions as a given, without testing validity, even i ...more
Justin Lonas
Sowell at his prescient and ascerbic finest. He fires a volley of logic and research across the bow of the ship of self-righteous elitism in effort to warn them of the approaching icebergs. He synthesizes and builds on some of the ideas developed in his other works (notably A Conflict of Visions), and the result is an elegant and digestible summary of Sowell's thought.

He picks apart the insulated, echo-chamber ideas of the social/political elites--the anointed (since they have named themselves t
...more
Nicholas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff Raymond
At its root, this book is about how there are some beliefs that are simply accepted and repeated without question, and how policies are derived from them, regardless as to whether they're necessary or work.

While political discourse has really soured as of late and bad faith runs abound, I still hold onto this idea that people who can disagree can still converse and disagree and understand each other. Even with the disaster that was Political Season 2008, I still believe it. I still believe it b
...more
Anthony
My only real criticism of this book is that it is very similar to other things Sowell has written. Although written over ten years ago many of his arguments are similar to the ones in Intellectuals and Society (I would say that if you read one you may not necessarily need to read the other, however if you're like me and like hearing how the self-righteous get it wrong time and again it's a fun read).
That being said I was reading this I was thinking to myself, wow, what would happen if one of the
...more
TheF7Pawn
I had lots of time and little money in the summer of 2001. This was on my shelf and I read it quickly. Wonderful book chock full of statistical information presented in a way that is enlightening and cogent. Sowell demonstrates the flawed visions of today's elites who, despite their seductive rhetoric, are merely into controlling what other people do and how they think. Highly recommended.
Jay
In this follow up to his near (realized?) masterpiece, A Conflict of Visions, Sowell launches a no-hold's-barred attack on "the anointed". In A Conflict of Visions, Sowell introduced us to the constrained vision of humanity and the unconstrained vision of humanity. In this book, the two visions are renamed the 'tragic' vision and 'the vision of the anointed'. Chapter after chapter relentlessly attacks the vision (and individuals by name) of those who would assume that surrogate (third party) dec ...more
Dave
I really liked this book. It takes a critical look at social policies that all too often are considered to be undeniably true even in light of their past failures. The talking heads do their best to convince society that their opinion and "vision" of the world is the only correct one. They push their agenda by treating all of those with differing opinions as though they are the un-washed and un-educated. Whereas those who buy into their vision are among the anointed and the chosen.

These talking
...more
Mary Catelli
An analysis of certain processes in modern day thought.

The logic by which crusaders demand certain laws or institutions or changes to effect X -- their critics say it will instead produce Z -- it is implemented, and Z results, and the crusaders without losing a beat claim that their reforms mean that it's not worse than it appears.

The problems of assuming that the causal effects have much, if anything, to do with the intentions of those who implement a program

The tendency to declare some things
...more
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Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social commentator, and author of dozens of books. He often writes from an economically laissez-faire perspective. He is currently a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. In 1990, he won the Francis Boyer Award, presented by the American Enterprise Institute. In 2002 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal for prolific scholars ...more
More about Thomas Sowell...
Basic Economics: A Citizen's Guide to the Economy Economic Facts and Fallacies Black Rednecks & White Liberals Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One A Conflict Of Visions

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“What sense would it make to classify a man as handicapped because he is in a wheelchair today, if he is expected to be walking again in a month, and competing in track meets before the year is out? Yet Americans are generally given 'class' labels on the basis of their transient location in the income stream. If most Americans do not stay in the same broad income bracket for even a decade, their repeatedly changing 'class' makes class itself a nebulous concept. Yet the intelligentsia are habituated, if not addicted, to seeing the world in class terms.” 28 likes
“The staunchest conservatives advocate a range of changes which differ in specifics, rather than in number or magnitude, from the changes advocated by those considered liberal…change, as such, is simply not a controversial issue. Yet a common practice among the anointed is to declare themselves emphatically, piously, and defiantly in favor of 'change.' Thus those who oppose their particular changes are depicted as being against change in general. It is as if opponents of the equation 2+2=7 were depicted as being against mathematics. Such a tactic might, however, be more politically effective than trying to defend the equation on its own merits. ” 12 likes
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