Thursday, June 15, 2017

Political Action and “Social Justice”

In brief, America’s experience to date demonstrates that pursuing social justice through political action generates at least six serious problems:

1. It tends to play into the hands of interest groups seeking beneficial legislation and the politicians who service them, thus becoming about self-interest rather than social good. (In other words, social justice becomes a fig leaf for self-interest!)

2. It tends to overlook the negative effects of high levels of government expenditure (including transfer payments) on the private sector. As a result, larger expenditures on programs that actually combat poverty deter private sector growth and thus become counter-productive at some point. The increase in the welfare of the poor as a result of the transfer of payments is more than offset by a decline in the number of jobs available to entry-level personnel, and so on. (Surely killing the goose that lays the golden eggs can’t be justice issue!)

3. It tends to involve the creation of very large government programs and bureaucracies, which in turn tend to generate bad unintended consequences.

4. It tends to reinforce self-righteousness and intolerance. (Anyone who opposes social justice is, by definition, unjust - a bad person!)

5. It tends to coercion. (Bad people who oppose social justice need to be coerced and it is a good thing to do so!)

6. Too much social justice leads to increasing levels of social discord, as supporters and opponents become much more polarized in their beliefs, and angry at those on the other side of the political debate.

Michael DeBow, “Social Justice: Reasons for Skepticism,” Areopagus Journal, Summer 2010, pg.21

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