As I’m neither a lawyer nor an economist, feel free to chime in. Epstein is intense.
Once you convince yourself that the business of government is to ‘worry about the elimination of wealth differentials,” as he states, then you will almost always end up shrinking the pie. Epstein advocates keeping the pie growing, and removing barriers for people to enter into voluntary exchanges where both parties can benefit.
The income inequality folks often end up making more inequality through good intentions, cinching off the economy at its top through crony capitalism (favoring a few business winners and creating barriers to market entry along with enormous, inefficient bureaucracies). They can also increase the politicians’ control over the money supply, eroding capital and tying outcomes to short-term political cycles. Aiming for more equality often leads to less equality, much as the equality of outcome folks want more one-man, one-vote democracy, which is pretty much impossible in practice.
The whole thing slows down and/or stalls as people fight more over less.
***Say you’re more conservative, or religious, a Burkean, a la Kirk, or very interested in what keeps families together and the restraints necessary upon individuals and their own passions, helping to pursue life, liberty and some happiness. As a libertarian law/economics thinker, Epstein makes the case that conservatism is great for genetic relations and family units, but not always scalable beyond these smaller circles necessary to maintain greater freedoms in civil society: our families, churches and civic organizations. He advocates a broader system of voluntarily entered into agreements and contracts, through Chicago School economic theory, which keeps the pie growing below in a large republic like ours.
***One concern from the conservative perspective is that libertarian theory can introduce an individualism into people’s lives that is destructive as much as constructive, one that can flirt with anarchy, anti-traditional, anti-authority. Maybe that individualism is already here, as a friend points out, and if so, perhaps it’s better than filling the postmodern hole with rights-based secular humanism, collectivism, or tying postmodernism and leftist solidarity to liberalism proper. There is both a classically liberal and a deeply anarchic libertarianism
Is health care a right? From If-Then Knots: Health Care Is Not A Right…But Then Neither Is Property? Martha Nussbaum worked with Sen in India…Martha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal
Also: Robert Nozick anticipates arguments for distributive justice in his libertarian response to similar arguments: A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”
As an aside: Is it necessary to pursue power and justice when the extension of the ‘negative rights’ of life, liberty and happiness reach you…and thus make it unnecessary to base the rights and obligations of the state in virtue? What if they don’t reach you?
Also On This Site: In India: Martha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal and India and America, surely Amartya Sen is deeper than that?: From Outlook India Via A & L Daily: An Interview With Amartya Sen