Category Archives: Social Justice

No Matter What Happens, There Will Be A 1%

Well, the Title is not totally true. If everyone had exactly the same thing, then all there would be is the 100%. But let’s face it. That ain’t ever gonna happen, so even if everyone was dirt poor, 1% of the dirt poor will be above 99% of the dirt poor. But, we can dream anyways, can’t we? Below, excerpted from this paper, is someone who imagines such a world, and its problems. Still, there are those who would rather not have any cool stuff at all for themselves than to be faced with the possibility that someone might end up with more than their fair share of cool stuff.

Imagine a society with perfect economic equality. …[N]o one worries about the gap between the rich and poor, and no one debates to what extent public policy should make income redistribution a priority. Because people earn the value of their product, everyone is fully incentivized to provide the efficient amount of effort. The government is still needed [and are funded] with a lump-sum tax. […]The society enjoys not only perfect equality but also perfect efficiency.

Then, one day, this egalitarian utopia is disturbed by an entrepreneur with an idea for a new product. Think of the entrepreneur as Steve Jobs as he develops the iPod, When the entrepreneurs product is introduced, everyone in society wants to buy it. They each part with, say, $100. The transaction is a voluntary exchange, so it must make both the buyer and the seller better off. But because there are many buyers and only one seller, the distribution
of economic well-being is now vastly unequal. The new product makes the entrepreneur much richer than everyone else.

The society now faces a new set of questions: How should the entrepreneurial disturbance in this formerly egalitarian outcome alter public policy? Should public policy remain the same, because the situation was initially acceptable and the entrepreneur improved it for everyone? Or should government policymakers deplore the resulting inequality and use their powers to tax and transfer to spread the gains more equally?

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Filed under Economics, Equality, Government, Social Justice

“Words Are Wise Men’s Counters… But They Are The Money Of Fools”

In the post before last I excerpted a passage from “The Road To Serfdom” concerning the redefining of “words”. Below is a short video that builds on that idea.  It also explains how the words “social justice” are “money of fools”.

H/T Right From Yaad.

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Also check out this series on social justice:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

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Filed under Economics, Equality, Harsh Reality, Morality, Politics, Social Justice, Words, Worldview

True Equality, Social Justice part 6

The previous post concerned equal outcomes, which is often confused with equal opportunity. Many times discernment is needed to distinguish between the two “equalities”.

At issue is the wealth disparity that naturally arises in a free society.  This disparity introduces a highly emotional component, with feelings of unfairness.  The fact is however that populations are made up of diverse individuals.  Some will try with varying success, some will try and fail, and some will just go surfing.

Another problem with the notion of “equal opportunity”, some complain, is that all are not born into equal circumstances. The actual circumstances enjoyed by a person, or perhaps overcome, are wwide-ranging and mostly  are out of a given person’s control.  Still,  in recent American history most of these circumstances, mixed with hard work, ethics, motivations and wisdom, (which are free to all) would have landed a person somewhere in what we call today, the middle class.  

But the goal of equal opportunity only seeks to provide equality to whatever circumstances a person brings to the table.  While it grasps that not all begin on equal footing, it also grasps the limitations of mortal man.  In 1961, the satirist Kurt Vonnegut illustrated this dilemma in a short story about a man named  Harrison Bergeron.  Bergeron, so the story goes, had an unfair advantage because he was highly intelligent.  This was unfair so he was forced to wear an earpiece that randomly emitted loud noises to interrupt his thought processes.  

The arts provide another poignant  illustration of outcomes vs. opportunity.  The rock group, Rush, produced a song1 called The Trees 2 in which the maples were upset with the oaks because the oaks hogged all the sunlight. In the end, equal outcome was finally enforced by “hatchet, ax, and saw”.

In the final analysis, this discussion on outcomes vs.opportunity raises an important question for those who judge equality by outcome:  If what one does doesn’t ultimately matter, what does it ultimately matter what one does?

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Note 1. “The Trees”

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas
The trouble with the maples
(And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade
There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream ‘Oppression!’
And the oaks just shake their heads
So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
‘The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light’
Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw
Note 2

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Filed under Equality, Social Justice

The Egalitarian Pipe Dream, Social Justice part 5

Two conflicting economic goals involving “equality” are often confused.  One is of equal outcome (which I will discuss today) and the other is equal opportunity.

The vague ideas upon which “Social Justice” are constructed all involve, in one form or another, the goal of equal outcome.  The dreams of such “justice” envision a world that functions much like a global commune in which the outcome for every inhabitant’s effort is the same in terms of resources.  In this global commune, rich and poor would be blights of the past.

But entertaining such visions is just one of the luxuries enjoyed by affluent societies.  Prosperity allows the affluent to dream of their Utopia without having to actually engage the harsh realities of man’s existence such as the true condition of man himself.  But the harshest reality is the means by which a diverse group of people, with diverse ideas of happiness, goals, strengths and weaknesses must be oppressed to effect equal outcome. It necessarily requires the loss of freedom, and of the concept of private property; two things which the advocates for social justice unfortunately take for granted.  It also requires a heavy handed and totalitarian government in order to ensure and enforce the “fair” allocation of resources; a government, by the way, which historically has always exempted itself.

In reality the equitable distribution of resources is not much more than a feel-good idea that is a source of meaning and purpose for those who advocate for it.    Bright people sit in their comfy homes and faculty lounges discussing it as an abstract thing that will not touch them.  But the reality of it is by no means abstract, for history is replete with ruinous and nightmarish examples of real attempts of “social justice”.

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Filed under Harsh Reality, Human Nature, Social Justice

Social Justice part 4, Justice Or Corruption?

Justice is justice, right? Well maybe not. The concept of justice must be attached to a universal standard of right and wrong, for something cannot be right for one person and wrong for another. I cannot, for example, be excused from stealing Bob’s apples simply because stealing apples is not wrong… for me.

Of course, we know that stealing is wrong, if for no other reason than we don’t like returning to our car to find a hole where our stereo once was. So rather than violate our own conscience, we legalize the raid of Bob’s orchard by hiring the government to steal Bob’s apple for us under the guise of social justice. But is that really any more just than stealing them ourselves? If it is, then there is no ultimate justice, social or otherwise, and the same majority that can be persuaded to violate Bob can be persuaded to violate you. This is called “corruption”.

As it turns out, you see, Bob is no fool. While he knows that  he can’t fight City Hall, he also knows that a City Hall elected by a corrupt society can be enlisted to fight for him; and all for the low price of just a few apples. So Bob develops a plan of his own:

  1. He claims to be for the social justice of free apples and campaigns for the one who promises to steal his.
  2. Not only does he sell more apples because the people like to buy from Bob because he’s for social justice, he gains favor with the new magistrate too. That favor comes in handy.
  3. With his influence from helping his man get elected, he has his apples exempted from confiscation, and,
  4. he promotes burdensome regulations on his competition’s orchards to make it almost impossible for them to enter the marketplace, which,
  5. allows him to charge more for his apples than he otherwise could’ve.

And he knows that a corrupt society will never discern the corruption behind their “free” apples.

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” The two enemies of the people are criminals and Government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second doesn’t become the legalized version of the first”.   Thomas Jefferson

See also:

This great article by Urbansaving, and:

“Don’t Tread On My Private Property”

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Filed under Social Justice, Worldview

Hey! Politicians Are People Too

There seems to be a foundational premise that undergirds the notion of social-justice that there are people out there somewhere who have somehow risen above the human condition.  But this is not true.  One need only peek behind the veil of pious, social-justice rhetoric to see the blatant hypocrisy of its loudest champions.  This raises a question, or it should.  If this “justice” were truly their passion, should they not be leading by example?  How can someone like, say, the millionaire Michael Moore, be for social justice while living such a socially unjust life? The truth be realized, these millionaires want to impose on others a morality that they themselves have failed to achieve.

Of all that the American founders understood when they set this grand experiment in motion, their keen grasp of man’s propensity for evil might have been their greatest asset.  And this asset led them to limit the power, not only of the government, but of the majority also.  While they realized that government must exist, * they did not envision government as a benevolent god-like entity.  No, they saw government as people who suffer from the same afflictions of arrogance and selfishness that plagues the rest of mankind; especially those who seek, and then are lent, the reins of power.  

Some see government as naturally benevolent because politicians are freed from the motivation of profit.  Such  is a naive and gullible view.  Politicians have plenty to profit politically by making popular promises today while strapping future generations with the bill.   Meanwhile, for the “benevolent” politician, power is a great source of wealth, luxury and ease.  One need only observe politicians, both the ones they love and hate, to see this.

Sadly, and much to even my own dismay, government is not a god-like entity that can usher in social justice, and this is especially true when it is elected by a constituency that rejects the very existence of moral absolutes.  No, the government is a collection of flawed politicians with their own aspirations and venal motivations, because, in the end, politicians are people too.

Notes:____________________

* James Madison:   “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

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Filed under Social Justice

Don’t Confuse Economics With Pizzas

One of the flawed premises of “Social Justice” is that it approaches economics like a pizza.  Think of a pizza equally sliced 6 ways and set before 6 children. We would rightly expect that each child would get one slice.  That would be fair.

This is simple, at least as it pertains to pizza equality.  There is nothing abstract about it.  In this idea, “fair” is definable.  If any one child gets more than his “fair” share,  someone else will have to do with less, and we all know that that just wouldn’t be fair.

These children then grow up and the same ideas of “equality” remain intact and are then applied to complex economic systems.  We look around and see all kinds of unfairness because it would appear that life has given a few people very large slices and the rest only slivers.

But the world’s economy is not a pizza magically set before us by some cosmic, parental hand.  And any person we select to play the cosmic paternal role is not only incapable of baking up the world’s economy in his kitchen, he doesn’t have the omniscience to cut it into “fair” slices either.  That’s because “fair”  means different things to different people at different times.  Even in the example of the  six children above we must make assumptions like, they all like pizza, there are no alternatives, they are all hungry, and so on.

It is easy to critique what is by comparing it to what is not based on an ambiguous and undefinable standard like “social justice”.  But it is much more difficult to clearly define what ought to be.  Wisdom would suggest that if we set out to abandon what is, on the basis of what is not, we ought also to clearly understand what ought to be in universally accepted and understood terms… don’t you think?

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Filed under Social Justice