Social Justice, Liberty

What is the Point of BHL?

After Matt’s recent on-line interviews where he discussed BHL (for example, here–well worth listening to, as is another on Kosmos), I saw numerous comments circulating about the view. Some of these–comments from libertarians that fail to see why they should be concerned about social justice–took me by surprise. I realize they should not have. After all, many seem to think libertarianism is simply not concerned with social justice at all. Notable libertarians have claimed as much. Unfortunately, in my view.

The point pushed by non-BHL libertarians against BHL, I think, goes something like this: if justice requires everyone getting their due, libertarian justice is the view that what people are due is what they voluntarily acquire and nothing more need be discussed. Of course, what people acquire, they acquire in society so this could be called social justice. But other libertarians seem to think that “social justice” concerns some supposedly fictional category of things society owes to individuals even if those individuals did nothing to acquire them. That category, though, is not fictional–and no one really thinks it is. Libertarians that are not of the BHL variety believe that society owes individuals protection from harm (or aggression), for example. So the only difference can be what is included in the category. I don’t think, though, that BHLs are significantly more likely to suggest that welfare checks or minimum basic incomes or such are in the category. Indeed, I don’t think we differ at all about what is in the category. Perhaps some of us do.

So where do we differ? I would suggest that the difference is far more in the empirical details we recognize then in the theories we espouse. (Confession: I did not believe this before and I am still not sure I fully do.)

Here’s one of my key assumptions: suffering is bad. We all agree about that, I assume.

Now, a society that is set up in such a way that suffering is likely to occur is to that extent a bad society. Now it may well be that no society could avoid all suffering, but surely some are set up in such a way that suffering is more encouraged there then in other societies. Attempts at socialism, for example, seem to create more suffering then attempts at free markets. This much all libertarians are likely to agree to.

Here’s an important empirical assumption: there are no genuinely free markets currently in existence.
To clarify. Its not merely that all markets have legal systems of coercion that allow them to operate. That’s true of course: free markets require prohibitions on theft and fraud and coercive legal structures (whether state run or not) help prevent them. But free markets are markets where the only legitimate use of coercion or force is the prevention of harm or the punishment of those causing harm. Existing markets all go far beyond that, though. In existing markets, the legal systems are state legal systems and they all use coercion in ways that have nothing to do with preventing harm or punishing harm-doers. In particular, they use coercion to benefit some subset of the population. Perhaps socialists want to use coercion to benefit the poor, but real-world capitalists (not theoreticians) use coercion to benefit the rich or socially/politically connected.

To tie this all together: in the real world, coercion is used to benefit the rich or socially/politically connected. The coercion causes some to have their interests set back. In some cases, some are made to suffer–which is bad. It seems to me that BHLs are libertarians who recognize these empirical facts. We see the tremendous suffering and look to see why it exists. We don’t blame libertarianism or free markets, we blame bastardized markets where real world political powers intervene. Other libertarians likely agree with that assessment if they consider it, but seem to think only that we need only to come closer to the ideal of genuine free markets and not to worry about the existing suffering. BHLs go further. How to go further and how much further to go are difficult questions I can’t address here.

  • Andrew, you miss an (to me anyway) obvious reason for libertarians to be skeptical about “social justice”: they think justice is a matter, first last and always, of how individuals treat one another. They do not think there are features of society that make societies just or unjust that do not reduce to the justice of interactions of individuals. That, in any event, is why I have no use for “social justice.” It is not the first virtue of social institutions, because it is not a property of institutions at all, except insofar as it is a property of the individuals and their treatment of other individuals.

    • Aren’t “social institutions” just shorthand for complicated ways of individuals treating each other in certain ways?

      • Anonymous

        I don’t think that covers the concept. For instance. I think most people would consider money a social institution. Or even democracy — is that fully described by saying it’s about how people treat each other?

    • Andrew Cohen

      Mark-I agree that “justice is a matter, first last and always, of how individuals treat one another” and that it is a “virtue of social institutions … insofar as it is a property of the individuals and their treatment of other individuals.”  I might qualify that by saying institutions are the individuals and the the interactions of those, which take place with a system of rules (largely conventional).  So social justice, I would think, would be (something like) having those individuals, interactions, and rules be such that people get their due–and, of course, I think their due is basically what they voluntarily acquire.

  • John Kindley

    Power will inevitably be used to benefit the powerful. Justice, and Liberty, therefore requires that power be distributed and balanced. The State, by contrast, and by its nature, aims to concentrate and consolidate power, for the benefit of the powerful. Much of the economic and social inequality we see is the fault of the State. Recognizing this, the BHL, or at least the left-libertarian, will focus his opposition to and denunciation of the State on those actions of the State which are most responsible for inequality. He will prioritize and presume in favor of equality, which goes hand in hand with and is a necessary precondition for liberty. He will, for example, denounce taxing below-median income before he’ll denounce taxing the estates of wealthy decedents. He’ll denounce military spending before he’ll denounce the band-aids issued by the State to alleviate the poverty the State itself has caused.     

    • Andrew Cohen

      Without agreeing or disagreeing with much of what you say, I will say that (a) I take liberty to be of far more importance than equality, (b) I do not think equality of income or wealth is at all necessary for liberty, (c) I agree that extreme inequalities *might* and *often* do lead to limits on liberty that are unacceptable.  Also, I think there are some big differences between those that call themselves “left libertarians” and BHLs, though I think we also have much in common.  I think every political philosopher should read some of the work by Hillel Steiner, Peter Vallentyne, and Michael Otsuka, but there approach often differs from that of BHLs, sometimes by treating property differently then we would.

      • John Kindley

        I also take liberty to be of far more importance than equality. All other things being equal, however, “equality” of wealth and power is a value, and is conducive to liberty. The checks inherent in power balances is conducive to liberty. I’ve put it this way before: I don’t want the State to steal from the rich to give to the poor, but so long as it insists on stealing, I’d rather it steal from the rich instead of the poor. This is largely a vain hope, however, because it is the very nature of the State to steal from the poor to give to the rich. The deleterious effects of its long history of doing so is why we should have a “preferential option for the poor.” We can even recognize that if the State against its nature started stealing from the rich instead of the poor this might go some distance towards repairing some of the inequalities the State itself has created. (I’d suggest, though, that if the State persisted long in thus acting against its nature this would likely eventually spell its happy demise.) I happen to subscribe to the Georgism of Steiner et al., but I think the term “left libertarianism” encompasses not only them but others who are biased towards equality. Indeed, I take a righteous bias in favor of equality to be the very essence of the “left,” as defined, for example, by Karl Hess. And aren’t BHLs also defined by that bias? Who is your heart bleeding for? The poor, and the suffering which typically attends poverty? That strikes me as a bias in favor of equality. Granted, BHLs can define themselves any way they want, and I’m not completely clear on the definition yet. Note that a bias in favor of equality doesn’t equate to a belief that actual equality of wealth and power is a practical or desirable goal. Part of the attraction of Georgism is that it approximates an actual equality in the use of natural resources, to which every person born into the world has an equal right. Such a recognition of the natural and equal right to natural resources would tend towards equality of wealth and power, while still leaving individuals free to earn and accumulate wealth unequally according to their disparate and unequal talents and drives.      

        • Andrew Cohen

          I agree with much of what you say here John.  Still, I would not describe myself as having a bias toward equality (of income or wealth).  I’d describe myself as having a bias for liberty and end to suffering.  If the latter requires more equality then we have, I’m fine with it.

        • Damien S.

          I associate left-libertarianism more with the likes of Proudhon and Bakunin; this is also the original libertarianism.  But it’s a fluid, easily re-coined term; some people probably mean left-libertarian for libertarians who sympathize more with Democrats than the GOP, or who would rate ending the drug war higher than cutting taxes.

          As for what BHL is defined by, this will sound harsh, but to me it seems like wanting credit for thinking somehow about the poor without having to compromise standard right-libertarianism at all. It’s not like arguing that the poor would be better off under libertarianism due to trickle-down prosperity is at all new.

          • Damien, theres a pretty wide range of views represented among the
            contributors to this blog, and I think what you say here is accurate regarding
            at least some of them. But I’m curious, if what you say here meant to apply to
            my own view  in particular? I’ve tried to be fairly clear in rejecting
            some important and standard right libertarian views, but perhaps not clear
            enough?

          • Damien S.

            My memory’s not that good, though I don’t recall you as one of the egregious ones.  But hey, I can look at posts by author.  *checks for a couple pages*  Ah, right.  Yeah, you do at least question anarchist orthodoxies and talk a bit about classical liberalism vs. hard-core libertarianism, and don’t assume liberals are in bad faith.  OTOH, I’m still not sure what you would *do*, if made dictator. And you’ve got stuff defending sweatshops, and questioning democratic vs. medical consent.  I guess that’s the philosopher in you, a la your replies to me in http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2011/07/a-bleeding-heart-libertarian-manifesto-of-sorts/
            But still, if you say you reject some important standard views, what do you replace those with?

            *looks further*  Whoops, not universal health care apparently, you’re willing to grant that’s “morally wrong”.  That’s a big policy gap with modern liberals.

  • J Storrs Hall

    The main reason that libertarians (of any stripe) should disapprove of “social justice” is that it is a fraud — the term itself.  It’s an intentional conflation of justice, which involves each person getting his deserts as determined by his actions, and charity, which by definition involves treating people in a different way — so much that “social justice” as used today very often means rewarding irresponsible behavior and punishing productive and valuable behavior.
    Whether  charity should be pursued in a libertarian society as a function of the state, is perhaps debatable. But conflating it with justice is simply a lie.

    • Damien S.

      ” justice, which involves each person getting his deserts as determined by his actions,”

      So no inheritance, right?
      Also, no cancer.
      But!  The real world does have inheritance, and gifts, and cancer.  The real world doesn’t care about your “deserts”.

      • Andrew Cohen

        Damien-I actually tend to think inheritance and gifts are part of a difficult issue.  I may say more about this eventually on the blog.  Cancer is different.  When we say “justice is getting one’s due,” we might mean this in a qualified way: “justice is not being stopped by another moral agent from getting one’s due” or something like that.  Alternatively, we could say that getting cancer is unjust, though not socially unjust.

      • J Storrs Hall

        This is a complete non-sequitur.  Inheritance, gifts, and cancer are certainly not justice. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of whether they should be encouraged or discouraged, to the extent possible, in a libertarian society. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the question of whether they are a legitimate function of a minimalist state.
        My own take is that inheritance and gifts are legitimate as part of the rights of the giver with respect to his property.  In a free society, a reasonable proportion of resources would go to fight cancer — I give to the ACS myself.  So that’s not one I’m greatly worried about in a libertarian world.
        In the real world, ask the average man on the street whether justice has more to do with punishing thieves and murderers, or paying unwed mothers to have more babies.  Go ahead, ask.

        • John Kindley

          I thought we were philosophers here, above asking the kind of loaded question you propose, which has only one answer. Let me propose this philosophical definition, one that might be arrived at by “men on the street” who are engaged in a Socratic dialogue: Justice is the absence of crime.

          And by the way, taxation is theft, i.e. a crime. Who gets taxed and how much, and what is done with the ill-gotten gains, are questions of justice. Henry George said that the enclosure and monopoly of land was also theft, and the cause of poverty in the midst of progress. This too is a question of justice.  

          • Andrew Cohen

            See http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2011/05/taxation-and-slaverytheft/

        • Andrew Cohen

          I care alot more about stopping the far more expensive corporate welfare then about stopping welfare to poor mothers.  The stats for welfare recipients are better then you probably think: if I recall correctly, a large majority of those who take welfare, take it for less then 6 months (admittedly, the last stats I saw were pre-recession).  Corporations take it forever.

          • Damien S.

            Yeah, that’s what I’ve heard too.  For the majority of recipients at any time, welfare actually is working as a safety net.  For those who are (or were[1]) on it long-term, a lot of them have trouble getting or holding a job.  Physical or mental disability, profound educational deficits… it’s not like the people complaining about such “welfare leeches” would be willing to hire them.

            [1] Don’t know what happened to them post Clinton’s “reform”.  “You get five years of welfare, get a job by then” seems to let people starve if they can’t in fact get a job.

          • J Storrs Hall

            I agree with that, but we have wandered far from the point, which is whether the use of the term “social justice” is a fraudulent conflation of justice, as understood by native speakers of the English language, and charity.
            It is as if you were to sell switchblade knives, calling them “social scalpels”, and when I objected to the phrase, you defended it by claiming that switchblades were useful for self-defense.

          • Andrew Cohen

            What would you do in the latter case?  I would suggest you try to correct my misunderstanding of the term.  That is what I think BHLs should do with others misuse of the term “social justice.” 

        • Damien S.

          Ask the average person on the street whether justice has more to do with cutting taxes for billionaires or with feeding and educating hungry children.  Go ahead, ask.

    • Andrew Cohen

      I agree that the term has been used in ways rightly called fraudulent.  But so have “democracy,” “republican,” “justice,” etc etc etc.  I prefer to push for better usage of the term then to sacrifice it.

  • Anonymous

    The idea of Justice is simply a veil to conceal what Nietzsche would call “the will to power.” Mr. Cohen, you cannot say that  the statement “some are made to suffer–which is bad” is an empirical fact any more than you can say that “I cannot as a human fly, but I should be able to” is an empirical fact. The first part of your statement is a fact, the second is your metaphysical response to that fact.

    Because many people lack the outright strength (or a will to exert such strength) against their oppressors (who do exist, I don’t disagree with you there), they use ideas like Justice to corral everyone into the same mediocre position so that we are all prisoners on the infamous “even playing field.”

    The differences libertarians is negligible. In the end, Bleeding Heart Libertarians are just like any other libertarian: whether they are concerned with social justice or not, they are all moralists who wish to impose their view of the “proper functioning of society” on others. Never mind that bringing such conditions about and sustaining them is impossible without a willingness to use force, a notion libertarians shudder at and rightly so because it shows the movement to be self-defeating. After all, libertarianism’s central tenet is the non-aggression  principle.

    Max Stirner said: “The great are great only because we are on our knees.” If libertarians really want to smash the plutocracy that controls this country, they will not hide behind ghostly, ethereal terms like justice and equality, morality and ethics: they will step up in larger numbers than their oppressors and defeat them so that each individual is able to create and sustain what she wants for her own life. 

    http://www.thearchist.wordpress.com

    • Andrew Cohen

      My statement was a bit unclear.  There are 2 possibilities I think I can endorse (and I would be willing to endorse either):
      1. Its not that “some are made to suffer–which is bad” is an empirical fact, but that “some are made to suffer” is an empirical fact and as a normative matter, its bad.  But the latter is obvious too.
      2. “some are made to suffer–which is bad” is an empirical fact.  Going some particularist route, one might simply claim the normative fact of badness is empirical.  Some, of course, claim that this is mistakenly going from an “is” to an “ought”, but I tend to think that a mistake.  Of course, if it is empirical “suffering is bad,” has to be different from “I ought to be able to fly.”  I think it is.

      So, are libertarians moralists?  Well, I think that we have the morally correct view of political society and do wish society were set up that way.  If that makes me a moralist, OK.  Importantly, though, my view of political society includes a recognition that a great number of immoralities (by my own reckoning, as well as others’) must be tolerated.  Whether my ideal society can be instituted in a morally acceptable way (whether it is “morally feasible”) is, I think, an open question.  You assert that it is not, but you don’t say why.

      • Anonymous

        I am NOT asserting that your libertarian vision of society is immoral because I do not believe in morality. The fact that libertarians are moralists means they believe in a certain correct way of living and your society would force (through custom or law) this way of living upon me. My argument is that this would be INEXPEDIENT for me, not immoral.

        In this way, any and every society will forever be a thing to resist–although, at times it can work to your advantage and bring you what you desire. In fact, I happen to think that the anarchist libertarian society is best suited to my individual desires. But I will always want more freedom than any society can provide. This is the desire of every anarchist: to live without rulers.

        And, make no mistake, the list of rulers one must resist includes not only society, but the ideologies that a society supports. You use words/ideas like justice because you think it in itself can save you and the rest of society from your plight. But those who are in power, those you want to dethrone, will never be treated justly: they write the justice. And if an anarchist society were to exist, as I said before, it would have to use force to ensure its survival against differing opinions too: one of the ways to ensure its longevity would surely be a popular belief in sacred words like equality and justice.

        As to the importance of social justice…

        1) If you want justice in your own life, go and get it. Don’t dream up a society that will allow you to have it. In this way, libertarians are no different from Christians eating hay today, but praying for a pie in the sky tomorrow. Life is a battlefield of powerful and more powerful forces.

        2) If you truly want justice (a noble goal), you cannot believe that holding fast to abstractions like justice, equality, and liberty (concepts for which there are no real world operational tests and concepts that mean vastly different things to different people) makes you free. Because at some point you will want to do something unjust or constrictive– and then what is your freedom and justice made of? If you must follow a societal dictate instead of your own desires?

        • Andrew Cohen

          I believe in morality.  I believe in justice.  What I mean by those claims is simply that I believe there are objective facts about what is and what is not just or moral.  That said, the only thing I think the state should do is prevent harm/aggression and punish those that engage in it (where the prevention failed).  If I am a moralist on those grounds, so be it.  My ideal state would allow people to do things I think are immoral.  Only harm to others is disallowed.

          In the meantime, I have a pretty good life.  I have justice for myself (that is, I don’t think I’ve been treated unjustly that often).  I also have much of the freedom I want.  Not all–by a long shot–but much.  I’m not waiting for tomorrow.  I know of people treated unjustly and when I think I can, I try to help.  Again, not waiting.

          Why you think I’ll want something unjust, I don’t know.  I have no desires to harm others.

          • Anonymous

            And your perfect state wouldn’t punish and aggress against its citizens? Show me a government that does not operate on violence, that doesn’t deal in corruption and I’ll give up on anarchy. Taxation is nothing more than forced robbery, for example. And even if your government did not tax its people (& I would think it would have to in order to survive) it would still–through customs and laws–dictate behavior.

            I apologize if it seemed like I was attacking you personally. I don’t know you (although you seem like a nice guy; thanks for replying to my comments) and it isn’t fair for me to paint you in one way or another without firsthand knowledge. I was speaking to the libertarian movement as a whole. I was speaking to any movement that puts ideology above personal will.

            If your conception of the perfect state were to appear tomorrow, the government’s officials and its citizens would have to be willing to fight to keep it in place. This is aggression, this is violence and this is where the non-aggression principle collapses. Would you uphold the ideal of justice if it meant giving up your own life to the cause? Or the life of one of your friends or family members? When does your will, your desire become more important than a word/idea?

            My point, in short, is that when libertarians fight for justice, they are really only fighting for their own personal interests; what appeals to them. It would therefore behoove them to look at the reality of the situation here, and admit that the world operates on physical action, not ideas and wishes, hopes and dreams. This would clear away the fog in their line of sight from where they stand now to where they want to go and it would help them arrive there faster.

            Life is for the archists: the people who step up and take what they want by force or voluntary exchange (either action being an extension of individual interest).

          • Andrew Cohen

            At the end of the day, I am OK with the state punishing those that commit real crimes (i.e., where they have harmed/aggressed other individuals).  I might prefer a system where such criminals were simply not protected, but I wouldn’t give up my life to get that.  Would I give up my life if it meant the world would suddenly be my ideal state?  Yes.  Do I think that is about to happen?  No, of course not.  But I think it would be worth it.  And I admit that in such a state, the state would be worth protecting.  What that means, in a nutshell, is that I think its worth fighting to maintain my ideal, should it be instantiated.  On the one hand, that shouldn’t be a surprise.  On the other hand, I should be clear that this would mean fighting for a state that only used coercion to (a) prevent harm or punish harm-doers and *maybe* (b) to collect taxation.  I say *maybe* for the latter because there are conceivable ways of obtaining the income the state’s needs without coercion.  In any case, as I’ve said on the blog before I do not think we should equate taxation with theft (see http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2011/05/taxation-and-slaverytheft/).

            Oh: some libertarians are as you describe.  Of course, I also think some welfare liberals, some socialists, and some anarchists are like that.  Also: Thanks for the nice comments here.

          • Damien S.

            Is there an unforced robbery?
            Taxation can be land and environmental rent, club dues, dividend on public capital, premiums for the insurer of last resort…

  • William Schudlich

    I think this comes down to what people really mean when they say the words “social justice.”   As Mark commented, libertarians see justice as how individuals treat each other.  This comes down to community – how we work with and treat those who live around us.  From the progressives, I think the tone is more about collectivist action to correct what they perceive as social ills, and as Andrew points out, libertarians see that empirically, collective action does not work very well, and mere mention of the term ‘social justice’ grates on them.

    So, maybe it’s not so much about the reality of the concept of social justice, but rather, it is about our perception of the bundle of issues that are called social justice.  Libertarians see that these should be handled through our relationships in our communities;  progressive see that it is fair for these to be handled through coercive collective action.

    • Andrew Cohen

      Basic agreement here.  Part of my view, though, is that libertarians should recognize this so that we can work to convince others of the right view of social justice.

    • Anonymous

      William,

      You wrote: “libertarians see that empirically, collective action does not work very well”.

      I respectfully disagree. Voluntary collective action is what most libertarians invoke when answering questions about welfare. Empirically we have seen that collective action has produces a huge amount of charity.
      Let’s not forget that most libertarians invoke collective action with civil disobedience as a remedy for achieving political goals (as opposed to force).

  • Here here! Great post, and Matt’s interviews were excellent as well. This site has been one of my favorite reads since the day it launched (hat tip: Will Wilkinson). Keep it up…

    • Andrew Cohen

      Thanks for reading!

  • Anonymous

    Prof. Cohen,
    Thanks for the useful summary of the BHL perspective, and how it may differ from the non-bleeding libertarian alternative. I offer a quibble and perhaps a more substantive comment.

    I don’t think we all agree that “suffering is bad.” I think we might all agree that “undeserved suffering” is bad. At the minimum, I think most people feel that suffering brought about by one’s own poor decisions or irresponsbility has substantially less moral weight than suffering experienced by completely innocent persons.

    Assuming that all state-produced inequality and suffering is eliminated, there would still, I believe, be huge disparities in holdings and social respect enjoyed by individuals throughout society. Without a well-articulated moral theory that would justify the use of force and coercion to “correct” such inequalities you are begging the question against those who deny that (i) any such correction is required or (ii) that coercion, even for a cause that would be noble if done voluntarily, is justified. I am not asserting that such arguments are unavailable, but I wish the BHLs would focus more on this aspect of their doctrine.

    • Andrew Cohen

      Mark-
      You may be right about the proper use of the “suffering”/”underserved” suffering distinction, but I tend to doubt it.  We might agree that when a murderer suffers, its not as bad as when you or I suffer, but surely its not a good thing that he suffer.  Wouldn’t it be better if he were not a murderer and so did not have to suffer?  I think so.
      As for your second point: I don’t have a problem with their being big disparities in holdings except if those disparities lead to (a) those with alot abusing the others or (b) those with little suffering.  Hence, I don’t think I need anymore of a theory about the use of coercion, because I would not argue for any correction.  People suffering is bad, and people abusing others is bad.  The latter is a violation of the non-aggression principle (or the harm principle); the former is not, but its still bad and something I think we should all be concerned about.  If I need further theory, its to say what to do in the case of suffering when no one is at fault.

      • Anonymous

        Agreed. If you forswear coercion even to ameliorate the suffering of the innocent, you clearly don’t need a theory justifying it. But, perhaps mistakenly, I thought most of you BHLs did favor forced re-distribution under those circumstances. Indeed, I thought that what was supposed to disqualify “hard core” libertarians such as Nozick and Rand from the bleeding heart label was their uncompromising opposition to coercion.

        • Andrew Cohen

          Those of us on this blog agree about much in our political philosophy, but we do have some disagreements, so I can’t speak for all of us.  For my part, I would be OK with coercive redistribution in order to rectify past injustices, given the presence of clear present-day victims and perpetrators (maybe even just beneficiaries).  I think there is actually much room for that in our society.  I think Nozick would be OK with that (actually, I can’t see how he could not be OK with that). 

          • Anonymous

            You are certainly correct about Nozick. However, I think the more interesting question relates to the situation after complete rectification. Assuming that innocent people are still suffering, I assume that you and the other BHLs would favor some sort of coercive action if required to address this. The interesting part is on what moral theory will you rely to justify such redistribution, and whether you can contain its application in some principled way so that it falls substantially short of implying an egalitarian pattern of holdings. I understand that you can only speak for yourself here, but I raise the point for the other BHLs to consider as well. 

          • Andrew Cohen

            Fair enough.  For my part, I suspect (maybe I am being too optimistic) that once rectification for past injustices has been handled, there would be little suffering that was not either (a) self-inflicted or (b) the suffering of children.  I would not support any coercive actions to stop the former.  I would for the latter–and I think I can support that with the harm principle or something similar.

  • Pingback: The Archist()

  • Aeon Skoble

    The other reason libertarians might have a default setting of  “unconcerned” about social justice is that the expression “social justice” is, present company excepted, almost universally used to refer to coercive redistributivist programs, often with an implicit assumption that only greedy plutocrats talk about property rights.  I get what Matt is talking about, but it’s not hard to see why there’s a PR problem.

    • Andrew Cohen

      Agreed.  I think we need to work to convince others of the right view of social justice.

      • Anonymous

        I think the misconception “social justice = coercive redistribution” is not the only problem.
        Some believe that society is/should be merely a collection of individuals. Therefore they cannot accept that “society” can/should have abstract attributes such as being just.
        So what exactly do you mean by social justice? Is it more that just the existence of justice for each individual in their relationship to other individuals?

        • Andrew Cohen

          Society IS merely a collection of individuals in my view, so yes, social justice is each member of the society being justly treated by all of the others (which, for most people will involve no actions).

          • Anonymous

             Ok, thanks. I hate to be a negative nancy, but most people from the left would never accept this idea of society, or at least I have had minimal success on this front. To them there is something more than just a bunch of individuals and some focus on groups rather than individuals. Do you have any ideas about how to argue this with them?

          • Andrew Cohen

            I began to write a real answer here and it got complicated and I realized it would not convince your interlocutor.  So I saved it elsewhere for now.  I hope to develop it better and post it on the blog at a later date.  Sorry!

          • Anonymous

             No problem! Thanks for taking the time anyhow. I’m looking forward to reading it later.

    • Aeon, when you say “almost universally used to refer to coercive redistributivist programs,” would you agree that who we select as the target of the coercion is important?  If so, why might it be better to target the employER rather than the employEE?

  • Anonymous

    “…many seem to think libertarianism is simply not concerned with social justice at all.”

    This might have something to do with the attraction libertarianism holds for individuals who are simply not concerned for social justice, sort of the way evangelicalism attracts the vengeful. 

    That opportunists are drawn to a philosophy is no reflection on the philosophy itself.  Libertarianism is of course completely compatible with social justice (as is evangelicalism, though you’d never know it to hear some of them speak.)  For instance whereas one might deplore the use of state power to right a social injustice (such as, for instance, to correct long-term effects of bias against, say, ethnic or religious minorities) one would need to be extraordinarily callous to oppose private action to correct such effects, and somewhere between sociopathic and autism-spectrum to imagine such biases either can’t exist or can’t be socially transmitted, and that they can’t be socially mitigated either (as opposed to mitigated by government fiat.)

    figleaf

  • Though presently obscured, the BHL position has already been legally represented by post-Civil War Supreme Court decisions, which sought to provide former slaves with ways to integrate into mainstream society.  For example, after the Civil War, the federal gov’t wanted to tax former plantation owners (now landlords) and slaveholders (now employers), but “hard core libertarians” (HCL) objected, saying that any tax on landlords or employers was a direct tax that must follow special rules under the Direct Tax Clauses (which would have essentially made the taxes ineffective). 

    The Supreme Court agreed with the HCL view in the 1895 Pollock case, but the BHL position reversed this in 1913 by getting the 16th Amendment through, which, contrary to popular opinion, did not create the income tax, but merely removed doubt about whether income taxes were direct.  In other words, all the 16th Amendment really did was to assure that taxes on landlords and employers were indirect taxes under the Indirect Tax (or Uniformity) Clause.  

    Then, by logical extension, during the New Deal era, in addition to employers being legitimate targets of taxation, the BHL side gained more ground  when it also became Constitutional to regulate employers under the Commerce Clause. 

    Not to be outdone, the HCL position retaliated by sneaking in an illegitimate income tax on the backs of working “natural persons,” which incidentally, is why I’m interested in BHL, i.e., this tax does not belong on the backs of the working poor & middle class (because our wages and salaries are supposed to be our personal property under the Direct Tax Clauses, not income under the Indirect Tax Clause). In other words, in addition to providing a basic safety net, the best thing we can do for the down-trodden, or even just young people just entering the economy, is to legally regard their wages and salaries as their property.

    • Andrew Cohen

      Interesting stuff.  Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    I have been assuming that the main difference between BHL
    and, for example, natural rights libertarians is that while both agree that as things are it
    is morally for the best that the state be anti-paternalistic and that it impose
    minimal coercion against people who are not threatening another person’s
    rights, they disagree about why this is so. Natural rights libertarians think
    that we have basic rights to not have these sorts of things done to us and so
    even if respecting such rights made the world a less good place and led to more
    suffering, still justice would require such policies. Alternatively, I have
    been supposing, BHL think the main reason such policies are morally recommended
    is because they tend to make the world a better place and reduce suffering. So,
    for example, the two sorts of libertarians disagree about what would be morally
    recommended in otherwise similar worlds where, counter-factually,
    anti-paternalistic and minimally coercive policies did not make the world a
    better place. BHL think that in such worlds such policies are not recommended
    whereas the natural rights libertarian thinks such policies still morally
    recommended.

    • Andrew Cohen

      I’m not really a “rights guy” let alone a “natural rights guy.”  In any case, I suspect you are right that I would disagree with the natural rights libertarian (NRL) about the reasons that support the policies we agree about.  I also suspect that we will disagree about some policies, but I imagine that will depend on the particular natural rights theory that the NRL defends.  
      Certainly, some BHLs would defend their libertarian policies primarily on consequentialist grounds (make the world better with less suffering).  Others would defend the policies primarily on deontological grounds (not permitted to cause suffering) or even eudaimonist grounds (needed so that people can lead good lives, where that is understood teleologically rather then consequentialistly).  

      • Anonymous

        Starting to lose my grip on what binds such views together in that case. 

        • Andrew Cohen

          I would say its a family of views within the family of views that make up the libertarian camp which  I’d day is a family of views within the family of views that make up the liberal camp, etc. 

          • Anonymous

            I guess I was wondering what the family of BHL views have in common. I had tried out the view that such views non-contingently think morality favors options that work out decently well for the worst off or the overall good, or some such. But that didn’t seem to be embraced.

          • Andrew Cohen

            I actually think something like that is right, though I’d phrase it a bit differently.  I’m thinking of a new post to try to lay out the “family tree” as it were of the view and may say something about this there.

          • Yes, something like that should probably be done – and better you than me! (But let me know if you want to chat about it first)

  • Anonymous

    Andrew, you say that non BHLs believe that society owes individuals protection from harm or aggression. I can’t speak for anyone except myself, but I reject the idea that society owes me protection from harm. I believe that other individuals owe it to me to refrain from harming me (as I owe them the same), but they don’t owe me anything else unless we have voluntarily bargained for it. If you, for example, are committing aggression against me, it doesn’t follow that Damien owes me protection, unless Damien and I have an agreement for him to provide me with protection.

    • Andrew Cohen

      Fair enough.  I take it you lean toward some form of anarchic libertarianism?  In my own view the main reason people form societies is mutual protection and benefit.  If that is right, it seems like they should help one of their number if that one is attacked.

      • Anonymous

        I wonder if Coase’s argument about why we have firms in the midst of a market doesn’t have some relationship to the point shemshy asks about. Perhaps it’s just more efficient to have a central contracting party (institutional structure) within which individuals can bargain for such terms. The complex of bilateral contracts across a large group of people in close geographic proximity becomes difficult quickly with size.

        • Andrew Cohen

          Can you say more about this?  

          • Anonymous

            I suppose one could write a paper or two or even a book — not me though.

            Coase put his idea down in the article “The nature of the Firm” (not sure if you’re familiar or not). Basically he ask, if the market really is so efficient why don’t people  just get together to pool resources and make things. One reason is that transaction costs associated with bilateral contracting within the market overwhelms the gains from trade within the market. 

            If people do really seek to create society for mutual protection and benefit they face the same problem with bilateral contract as they would attempting to produce for a market using a bilateral contacting approach.

            It seems like an obvious application of the original idea but I’d not actually thought about it in a political context before.

            Not sure if that helps or not.

          • Andrew Cohen

            Yes, that is helpful, thanks.  I was stuck thinking about the Coase Theorem and not seeing the connection, but I think I understand your point now.  I take it you are suggesting that in reply to shemsky, someone might indicate the cost advantage to having a single protection agency (in the form of government).  If that is right, I can see the point of the argument, but I’m not sure I want to endorse it as a response.  I’ll have to think about it, but I worry that it opens the door to too much.

          • Anonymous

            When I was very young it was said that the only way communism would work is if God were in charge. That idea seems to me to be applicable here as well, given the nature of human beings.

          • Anonymous

            I suppose it might also scale a bit so not everyone need to seek out the same “society”.  The main challenge is the complexity of bilateral contract. I think the idea even applies to anarchy, in which case the central party is no more powerful than any of the societies member. I had even thought about an old Babalon 5 episode where one of the alien races was picking colored scarfs — how much power does a colored scarf have?  The requirement here would be that anyone taking up the scarf knows what the expectations — contractual terms – are. (And yes, I realize that the story line in the show, with regard to this, is 180 degrees different than what I’m talking about.)

            Your certainly right, more thought about the implications is needed. However, I’m thinking of it as an empirical proposition so if it opens too many doors or some door too far, so what — that might be what we have to deal with. That just means, as someone here pointed out, our focus really needs to be one institutional forms because the institutions we choose or establish will have to deal with the abuses I assume you work about.

    • Damien S.

      And where might we find such an agreement?

      “We the People of
      the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish
      Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence,
      promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to
      ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution
      for the United States of America.”

      • Anonymous

        I never had an opportunity to accept or reject that agreement, Damien. And neither did you. You might accept it for yourself, but you have no right to accept it for anyone else. Those men who drew up that agreement never had any right to substitute their consent for anyone else’s consent.

        • Damien S.

          Being born means having to deal with a social order you didn’t agree to.  I never got to accept or reject the paradigm and distribution of private property, either.  If we go this route, I might owe someone the integrity of their body and personal freedom[1], but not respect for their ‘owning’ beach real estate because of inheritance.

          [1] Some like Epicurus or Hobbes would say even that’s contingent, a matter of social contract.

          • Anonymous

            So, are you saying that being born into a social order rightfully obligates one to be bound by that social order? What if you were born a slave? Would that make slavery just?

            Otherwise, I don’t understand the point you were trying to make.

          • Anonymous

            People are born every day into “social orders” throughout the world, including N. Korea, Zimbabwe, Iran, Cuba, and other authoritarian or totalitarian states. Do you really think that simply being born someplace imposes any sort of moral obligation to obey the rules of such horrible communities? If being born in N. Korea doesn’t impose a moral obligation to obey the whims of that crazy dictator, why does being born here impose a requirement to obey our laws. Don’t say “because we are a democracy,” because a majority vote cannot sanitize an immoral law, which is exactly what libertarians think the current social order largely consists of.

            You need an argument for your position. Most political philosophers, in part as a result of A. John Simmons’ influencial 1979 essay “The Principle of Fair Play,” reject the idea that being born into even a relatively decent society imposes a moral obligation to abide by the rules, although there may be prudential reasons to do so.

          • Andrew Cohen

            Two quick points about this chain of reasoning:
            1. About my comment that “In my own view the main reason people form societies is mutual protection and benefit.  If that is right, it seems like they should help one of their number if that one is attacked.”  I didn’t mean that to say anything about an obligation to the state.  I meant it to mean something about obligations to each other.
            2. Its clear enough that we didn’t actually make an agreement.  Notice my statement didn’t say there was such.  Nonetheless, if we want to continue to live with others–with all of the benefits it offers–we should (a) not attack them and, less obviously but still plausibly, we should (b) aid them if they are attacked.  I take (a) to be in need of no real defense, though I can offer one.  I agree (b) is in need of defense.  I suspect one can be mounted.  Admittedly, even the argument I would offer in favor of (a) could be contested.

          • Anonymous

            Andrew,
            I agree with what you say. My comments were directed solely to the idea that simply by being born into a society you incur general obligations to adhere to its rules. In my book I atempt to establish, against Simmons’ arguments, what I call the “libertarian principle of fairness.” Very roughly, this principle holds that with respect to minimally just societies we do incur an oblgation, simply by virtue of living in them, to support those aspects of the state that are essential for the preservation of our rational agency (in the Kantian sense). This would include national defense and law enforcement. 

          • Andrew Cohen

            I’ve read many an attempt to show an obligation to obey the state.  None thus far have succeeded to get past Simmons’ arguments, so far as I can tell.  I’ll try to read yours soon, but I can’t be sure when.

          • Mark, related to a prior post where I comment on the difference between taxing employers vs. employees, I don’t believe we have a right tax people (DIRECTLY at least) “simply by virtue of living,” and especially simply for “selling” labor to an employer, but I’m all for indirect taxation to support the state (indirect meaning the gov’t is not pitted directly against the lone citizen by an unavoidable tax).

            I once heard Judge Napolitano and Lew Rockwell discussing “libido domini” or the “urge to dominate” as the bain of human existence, and as I posted before, I think the Supreme Court has already dealt with this issue in the two-part Social Security tax of Helvering v. Davis (1937), but you’ll be hard pressed to find any lawyers who really understand this tax.

            Yes, we want employers to create jobs, but we also have a right to tax and regulate their activity, an attitude which, again, is unique to U.S. law because of our roots in slavery. 

            Conversely, we should not have the right to directly tax a natural person’s labor (unless the tax follows the strict rules of apportionment and proportionality contained in the Direct Tax Clauses).

          • Anonymous

            Rick,
            Putting aside legal niceities and focusing only on the moral aspect of your comments, you seem to attack a great, almost mystical, significance to the distinction between direct and indirect taxation. Maybe I am a little slow here, but I just don’t see it.

            First, many businesses are either dba status or subschapter S, which means when you tax the “business” you really are just taxing the mom/pop who owns the business. Second, when you tax large corporations, the tax is simply a cost of doing business, like any other, so that they will simply pass it through to the consumer. So, there is little to no economic difference between direct/indirect taxation on the common man.

            Of course, businesses that are only marginally profitable may not be able to pass on the tax, so they will BK, thus whiping out the employees you are trying to help.

          • Mark, I suppose it’s “mystical” in the sense that I believe our Constitution support the Lockean idea that all property begins when a natural person “mixes” his/her labor with natural resources. So, in other words, I don’t consider the needs and wants of the employer first (although, admittedly they are important for non-self-employed people looking for work). Also, if businesses are in trouble today, it’s because they’re overtaxed and gov’t needs to feel the increased loss of revenue for every increase in tax on employers.

            Regarding the distinction between direct and indirect taxation, it’s vital to human existence (the existence natural persons, that is, not necessarily corporations or other “artificial” or “legal persons”).  Taxes that fall directly on us, are not avoidable, and subject us to an incomprehensible tax code, can actually destroy our civilization.

            In his essay “Of Taxes,” David Hume said that direct taxes are dangerous “because it is so easy for the sovereign to add a little more, and a little more, to the sum demanded, that these taxes are apt to become altogether oppressive and intolerable. On the other hand, a duty upon commodities checks itself; and a prince will soon find, that an encrease of the impost is no encrease of his revenue. It is not easy, therefore, for a people to be altogether ruined by such taxes.”

          • Anonymous

            But Rick, I believe that our dishonest politicians love the corporate income tax because (i) they hope that the average citizen will not realize that he/she is actually paying it and (ii) it enables them to then reward their cronies by granting them deductions, credits, etc. from the nominally high rates.

          • Mark, your view is common and there’s lots of pro-corporation propaganda out there, but these entities, not natural persons, are the “persons” who are really supposed to be bearing the brunt of taxation and regulation.  Here’s Wikipedia link to the Flint v. Stone Tracy (1911) case that summarizes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_v._Stone_Tracy_Co.   Note that this kind of income tax was authorized before the 16th Amd was ratified in 1913.  

          • Damien S.

            Businesses are in trouble today because they don’t have customers, because the customers don’t have jobs and/or are buried in debt.  Income and capital-gains taxes are at multi-decade lows.  Corporate taxes paid are a tiny fraction of the nominal rates, and certainly haven’t gone up recently.

          • Damien, in my view corporations are like state-licensed mini-governmental entities.  Their real value lies not in how much corporate income tax revenue they return to the state, but that they provide the state with a means to collect taxes on employees in a way that prevents (an otherwise unconstitutional) direct tax on human labor (which is, potentially at least, the employee’s “property”).  In other words, any tax on a corporation’s paid-out wages is not a direct tax on the employee’s labor (but the same “buffering function” is provided by unincorporated employers, too … and it is the tax on the unincorporated employer that necessitated ratification of the 16th Amd).

          • Damien S.

            On the flip side, do you really think that simply being born someplace imposes any sort of moral obligation to obey the rules and respect the claims of private landlords?  Why does the Constitution have to prove itself, but an exclusive claim to part of Cape Cod does not?

            If we’re going to be this critical about things then I’d agree, simply being born somewhere doesn’t mean a moral obligation to obey the status quo, but I’d keep going past where right-libertarians balk.  There’s no moral obligation to not insist “I exist, I deserve a fair share of the Earth to make my way with”.  Which is anathema to libertarians.

          • Anonymous

            Damien,
            The thing is that libertarians, whether of the anarcho-capitalist or minimal state variety, DO recognize that they need arguments for their particular understanding of rights, including property. Thus, Rothbard attempted to derive libertarian rights from self-ownership, Rand from Objectivism, and Nozick–who in my judgment made the most convincing case–from Kantian notions of respect for persons.

          • Anonymous

            Two comments.
            1) The constitution was less about the terms of the citizens relating to one another and much more about the role of the central government and its relationship with both the States and the people.

            2) I do agree that the “I never got a voice because I was not alive” gripe doesn’t really ring true to me and I’m pretty much in the anarchist camp — though of a market and private property type. So, if one accepts the idea of inheritance in property then that should apply to formal social rules and informal social rules. 

            It is true some reject all the came before and insist than nothing others agree with, think about or have done, binds the new person at all. Such an approach seems to be one that will lead directly to conflict with most of the people the new person will interact with.

  • Pingback: Lazy Sunday Links « Spatial Orientation()

  • Anonymous

    Correct me if I’m wrong. You are trying to justify libertarianism on the basis of some sort of empirical utilitarianism.
    “Now it may well be that no society could avoid all suffering, but surely
    some are set up in such a way that suffering is more encouraged there
    then in other societies. Attempts at socialism, for example, seem to
    create more suffering then attempts at free markets. This much all
    libertarians are likely to agree to.”

    Unless all we care about is some abstract idea of suffering, we should not argue along these lines. The problem is that even if free markets are better today, they will not necessarily be better tomorrow. We cannot predict innovations in political institutions or science or the evolution of people.

    Even if all we care about is some abstract idea of suffering, obviously the main issue is that someone is going to have to quantify the suffering before we can judge what is right and wrong. Is the suffering of one individual less than that of 10? What if we are not measuring properly and there is some hidden suffering that arises with free markets that we cannot perceive. Obviously you are aware of these issues. Any ideas about this? How do we get around the problem that to each individual his/her own suffering seems more important than that of others? Is the suffering principle too naive?

    • Damien S.

      If free markets caused more measurable suffering than socialism, would you still support them?

      • Anonymous

        Supposing we could objective establish this, my original interpretation was that Mr. Cohen will have to prefer socialism.

        In my arguments with various other ideologies, I have met some frustration with the suffering principle. I can illustrate it with the following.
        With regard to life and abortion. Suppose a fetus has the right to life. If we can establish that the fetus is not suffering from the abortion, we will accept that it is ok to abort it, since the mother will feel some suffering from giving birth.
        Regardless where you stand on abortion, this raises some very uncomfortable questions.

        If we accept suffering as a maxim we would also be able to kill people that nobody knows or cares about, such as orphans or homeless in their sleep, because no suffering will be felt to them and society/others will suffer because they will all be unhappy to see orphans or poor people living along side them.
        We will have denied them the ability to enjoy life, but we will not have made them suffer, so I assert there is no harm done.

        If you think this is far-fetched, I have met many people that argue that legalizing abortions in NY was a good thing due to the decline in crime that this caused 18 years later.

        • Damien S.

          This is old hat in utilitarian circles.  Easy counters are the suffering created by the fear of being snuffed out in one’s sleep.  Or the fact that they care about themselves.  Plus, it’s not the case that no one else cares about the orphans or homeless; often someone does.  And even if they don’t in specific, enough do in general, so your condition doesn’t apply.

          The Freakonomics abortion and crime is a totally different issue, don’t know why you’re bringing it up here.

          If one cares only about probably suffering, one can become a strong animal rights advocate, like Peter Singer.  This still might not apply to fetuses, based on their neural condition.  More commonly, the suffering of developed humans counts for more than animals, let alone fetuses or embryos.

          • Anonymous

            Ok, I understand that this is going into a hypothetical pit, but I’ll make just a few points.

            You argue that for each person there will always be people that care about them, “often someone does”. Surely our moral philosophy cannot hinge on that, since even if true this is only accidental to our current circumstance.

            If a few ruthless people killed a whole bunch of people that nobody knows about in their sleep, this will never create “fear of being snuffed out in one’s sleep”. In any case you argue about utilitarian notions of future utility. But if the situation arises that killing that individual will reduce some greater suffering now and later, you will have to procede with the killing. Or you can assure people this is a one-time event. In any case babies cannot have a fear of being snuffed out, before they have any concept of the world around them. I can elaborate if you are not satisfied, but I think it’s pointless.

            I brought up abortion because it illustrates a point about the suffering maxim. I.e. even if you accept the right to life of the perceived individual, he will not feel suffering by the process of abortion, and you justly can prevent them from living out their life.
            The other point implies that people are already using a utilitarian argument to justify preventing someone from living out their life because of a benefit to others.

    • Andrew Cohen

      I don’t think I’ve yet fully explained how I justify libertarianism on the blog.  I don’t do so on utilitarian grounds, though I think that can be done.

      I suppose I do care some about the  abstract idea of suffering, but I care alot more–indeed, I care ALOT about actual suffering.  Any suffering is bad.  While I am not sure that quantification is necessary, if it turns out that policy X leads to 10 people suffering and policy Y leads to 100 people suffering, the quantification would be necessary–and I am OK with saying “more people suffering is worse then fewer people suffering” at least where the suffering of each person is to the same degree (and I think we can recognize objective degrees of suffering; I realize this is controversial).  I’m honestly not sure what else can be said about governmental policy.  Importantly, fully self-imposed suffering does not count at all.

      If it could be shown that free markets (where the only coercion is that needed to prevent harm/aggression, or punish those that engage in such) actually led to suffering (or more suffering then some alternative) I would count that as a pretty clear negative.  I’d have to know more about those details before I could say whether that would cause me to give up libertarianism.

      • Anonymous

        I am aware of similar arguments that arise with this, but I feel if we accept that government has some business dealing with suffering, we accept that suffering can/should be centrally planned.
        I think you see what my concern is.
        It seems you are trying to catch some sort of negative utility function. An example of this is your argument about policy X vs. policy Y and relative suffering. So really what we are all after is utility, and suffering is just a subset of that. So really we are dealing with utilitarianism.

        If we maximize utility somehow and not just negative values of it (suffering), we wouldn’t be able to kill people that nobody cares about since you can say that their life has an infinite utility to them. (This is with regard to my comment above in response to Damien).

        • Andrew Cohen

          We might be working with different ideas of what utilitarianism is.  Consider that there are 2 stages of work:
          1. Justifying a particular type of government.
          2. Justifying a particular government’s acts.
          I think–but am not certain–that you are using “utilitarianism” to talk about an approach used in #2.  This would likely be done with a cost/benefit analysis.  I tend to think this is the only real way a government could justify its acts. Gov’t after all, is supposed to serve all citizens equally–which means all must be considered.
          But at the level of #1, its a different story.  There we have to do serious moral theorizing.  A classical moral theory might be used or some other moral method of justifying the government might be used.  But this is not about the business of government.  At this level, I am not a utilitarian.

          Also note: that the sort of government that I think is justified (stage 1) would have severe constraints on it as to what acts it could ever take.  This means that when it is engaging in any dealings, many things are “off the table”, not subject to the sort of justification that would be offered at stage 2.

  • Joshua Kaye

    I know this is a simplistic comment, and late to the table to boot.  Bundling ‘the rich and socially/politically connected’ together runs the risk of having us think primarily of the rich and powerful advancing their interests at the expense of others.

    But in a democracy, even one with some checks and balances such as ours, majorities and mobilized constituencies are not only quite capable of, but also much less shy about doing so.  This is the very language of collectivism, or of populist movements which proclaim ‘let us use our political power to gain economic power’.

    Although much is often made of the natural tendency for wealth to concentrate, we too easily forget the much more powerful tendency for it to be dissipated. 

    I’m not writing to suggest ‘pity the rich’.  But in my experience those who most self-identify as being concerned with ‘social justice’ (as opposed to just ‘justice’) are inclined to see that platform as justification for collectivism and government distribution of wealth.  To point out that the use of political power by ‘the 99%’ to gain economic power perforce, rather than by trade, is counter to real social justice, might be philosophically consistent, but I just don’t see it gaining much traction with adherents who really care very little about justice, and quite a bit about socialism.

    • Joshua, I agree that not all rich people should be taxed or treated as being parasitic, and to do so would cause unemployment to rise and economic growth to be constrained.

      So, how do we determine who are the real producers of wealth, prosperity and jobs? 

      This question is not easy to answer because since the New Deal era money has primarily been entering the economy via distorted central bank regulation and discretion, rather than through human labor, the real source of all property under our Lockean Constitutional system.

      I believe the answer lies in distinguishing between taxes on “income derived from property sources” (IDPS) vs. “income derived from non-property sources” (IDNPS), which I attempt to explain in the following short essay: http://wp.me/p1iV4G-R

      My view is that the real creators of wealth and jobs are primarily earning their income from property sources (land, labor and capital) and would continue to do so if income recipients of the central bank’s regulated currency were to be taxed higher.

  • Pingback: sattamatka()

  • Pingback: angara fahise()

  • Pingback: Question Papers()

  • Pingback: angara fahise()