Sent in by a reader. A bit heated.
I would humbly point out: There does need to be shared sacrifice and there are moral obligations that people have to other people, but defined and led by whom? What is the social contract?
As Ferguson points out…it’s fair for individuals to be skeptical when they are obliged to enter into a contract with an entity that doesn’t necessarily look out for their interests (a wealth transfer from themselves to others in the name of greater justice). As Sachs argues, the primary goal for all citizens (led by the State) ought to be providing some people food, shelter, a fair shot at learning, job opportunities, job-retraining at the moment in our post-industrial, globalizing, more and more technology-driven society (can we bring industry back, or will they be cottage industries?). Perhaps the government has a role to help us get more competitive and maintain some social mobility in the long run. There’s substance there.
Yet, we are currently promised programs that work for the public good that are often delivered inefficiently, fail regularly to meet the needs they address, fail fiscally to deliver returns, and can become ends for political and ideological gain in themselves. There sure is a lot of entrenched self-interest involved and reason to be skeptical.
This does not excuse Wall Street of course, nor its obligations to Main Street, but it doesn’t seem to necessarily follow that more redistribution, more regulation and more State are necessarily the answers.
A fair summary?
This blog has been a place to remain skeptical of distributive and redistributive definitions of justice (for as many have pointed out, such definitions freeze in place an impossibly high standard of human behavior given how people and groups actually behave, thus limiting the effectiveness of our institutions in addressing the problems they are created and maintained to address…quite possibly making less justice and less freedom in the long run).
The blog has also been a place to remain skeptical of positive definitions of liberty. Liberty and individual liberties are one of the hallmarks and triumphs of Western, post-Enlightenment thought, but liberty can clearly come with dangers of its own: excessive freedom and no responsibility, Rousseauian radical freedom, totalitarian impulses, group-think, scientism, Statism, fascism, theories of how the individual ought to fit into the whole etc.
I think we’re more likely to be led down the garden path toward more regulated markets, higher-unemployment, less social mobillity, more class-riven, bureaucratic/technocratic Europe (old monarchic Europe?) by such ideas over time. Of course we’ll be promised the great art, good food, fine literature, justice/social justice, the more fair and equal society…
…but frankly it seems like a total-European package.
Related On This Site: Fareed Zakaria BBC Interview: America In Decline?…Richard Lieber’s not necessarily convinced: Richard Lieber In The World Affairs Journal–Falling Upwards: Declinism, The Box Set..
The State causes all poverty? I’m not sure about that. Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’…A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”
Samuel Huntington responded to liberalism and influenced generations from Fukuyama to Fareed Zakaria: From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work
Statism and art/popular art and NPR?: From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’