September 17, 2004
Vision of the Anointed

Over the summer, I belatedly read P.J. O'Rourke's Parliament of Whores and Thomas Sowell's The Vision of the Anointed. O'Rourke was funny as usual, though government follies present lots of easy targets. The Sowell book, in contrast to his both sloppily-written and anecdotally stale Basic Economics (for a review click here), was one of his better efforts.

A couple of news items in the past week brought to mind Sowell's arguments. In his book, Sowell documents a tendency among the anointed (read leftist busybodies) to seek "solutions" to social problems (as opposed to trade-offs or choices necessitated by finite resources). True to form, news headlines announced that Howard Dean's new book offers solutions.

In the book, Sowell also remarks on the anointed's habit of focusing on intentions and motives rather than results. The teeth-gnashing over the expiration of the entirely symbolic assault weapons ban reads like a case study right out of Sowell.

UPDATE: Yale law prof John Donohue, writing in The Economists' Voice, gives us another fabulous example of the anointed opining on the expiring assault weapons ban:

For these [loopholes], I would be surprised if the assault weapons ban had a
particularly large impact on crime, although it likely provided some modest
benefits. At a minimum, though, the law sent a message that there are limits to
how much firepower private citizens can be allowed to possess.

For a more general discussion of The Economists' Voice, Russ Roberts of Cafe Hayek has a nice post.

Posted by E. Frank Stephenson at 04:21 PM  ·  TrackBack (173)

The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it. -Adam Smith

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