What Is social justice? Economist Walter Williams has an answer.
“I keep what I earn, and you keep what you earn. If you believe that you deserve some of what I earn, please explain why.”
Dr. Williams is skeptical about the motives of those people and special-interest groups who demand that politicians and tenured bureaucrats be empowered by law to threaten violence against those who benefit from voluntary exchange, all in the name of collective justice. He is also skeptical about the results promised by the defenders of such intervention.
We live in an era in which voters have elected politicians who vote for programs of state intervention. People with badges and guns threaten those who prosper through exchange. Yet, lo and behold, economic inequality is still with us. But what we find is this: those who get very rich seem to be able to avoid the long arm of the law. In fact, they seem to be the beneficiaries of it. A century after the Progressive movement gained its greatest triumphs — the Federal Reserve System, the federal income tax, and the direct election of U.S. Senators — there is still economic inequality. The spiritual heirs of the Progressive offer a solution: more of the same.
Those of us who remain skeptical of the Progressives and their heirs propose a rollback of the power of the state.
If you get individual justice, there will be greater social justice. That is our position. We are beginning to get a hearing. Meanwhile, the West’s economy is in the hands of unelected central bankers and the few dozen major banks, which central banks represent. We are told that we need central banks in order to insure the independence of banking from politics. The defenders of social justice actually believe this — all in the name of mass democracy. What we have are the most powerful cartels in history: commercial banking cartels.
Consistency is not one of the strengths of those who defend social justice.
To understand the rival positions better, imagine a debate between a political liberal and a skeptic.
Liberal: I come in the name of The People.
Skeptic: Which people?
L: The Downtrodden, The Dispossessed, The Exploited, The Victims of Malevolent Forces Beyond Their Control.
S: You mean swing voters on welfare.
L: I would not put it that way.
S: I didn’t think you would.
L: You are an apologist for the unregulated free market.
S: I am an apologist for private ownership.
L: You mean “Every man for himself.”
S: I mean “Every man with his own.”
L. Some people have more than they need.
S: I have a solution for that.
L: What’s your solution?
S: Sufficient economic growth, so that everyone has more than he needs.
L: But some people will still have more than others.
S: You are shifting the argument from “more than he needs” to “more than others.”
L: They are the same thing.
S: No, they aren’t.
(For the rest of this dialogue, click the link.)