Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Social Justice- The Last Post of the Day

I am a regular at Today, I spent a great deal of time at that site, as well as working on this blog, because I am off of school due to a hurricane that never arrived, and I don't have a whole lot of work to do before Labor Day Weekend. Anyway, during what has become a rather lengthy debate on that site regarding Walmart, health insurance, government oversight, and walk in clinics, I was accused of not leaving room for social justice in a capitalist system. This got me wondering, what is socal justice?

I think that I will break social justice down into two categories, though I am not necessarily a big believer in the concept. These are two definitions that are used: 1. Social Justice is an obligation given to society to provide the greatest good to the most people within the society. 2. Social Justice is defined as a right or deserved stake or interest in something given to a person or group through some sort of ethereal decree or concensus of the members of that group. As I believe that definition two is nothing but the political ravings of special interests, I will focus on definition one.

In order to provide the greatest good, one must first define good. Is there an objective or a subjective definition of this? Is good defined by an amount of money or security, or rather by a subjective definition of happiness. Anyone who hasn't been living in a box knows that most people today (even the poor) in most of the developed world have more than just the basic necessities of life. The residents of even the poorest areas in the United States have electricity, food, and shelter (This being with the exception of those that choose not to take advantage of the shelters provided to homeless people in almost every metropolitan areas by both public and private groups). Some may argue about the food, but I haven't seen any massive death by starvation in the U.S. Nobody is living in mud huts, worrying about hunting food, and urinating in the bushes in the US (except for those that do this by choice and find it fun). What amount of money or security would then be correct? In 100 years, as technology advances, will we then be unjust for having people living in the same conditions they do now, or is social justice some abstract concept of everyone having access to every innovation?

So this brings us back to social justice. Good could probaby be defined by most moral (non type-2) proponents of social justice as providing the highest possible quality of life for the most people in society, with quality being defined as a mixture of subjective happiness and objective material security and comfort. At the root of American Social Justice, Thomas Jefferson wrote into the Declaration of Independence the idea of "Life, Liberty, and the PURSUIT of Happiness," an idea that he took from Lockean political thought, "Life, Liberty, and Property." We created a Constitution, outlining what the roles of the government were in the provision of "social justice."

So one might ask how social justice can be brought about, and more importantly, what does any of this have to do with healthcare? The socialists will cry, the communists will curse, and the fascists will scream, but consistently, the highest quality of life has been given to the most people by Capitalism. This is highly visible both in the U.S. and abroad.

I live in Miami. Here, there is a large population of Cuban exiles who fled the Communist Castro regime. I often hear people quoting statistics out of Cuba regarding their healthcare system, putting it up as a beacon of socialist efficiency. I get a far different story from the Cubans I talk to, who tell me stories of hospitals with no sheets and a far different system that is available for the average worker than the toursits or government officials. The healthcare shortages, coupled with statistical falsehoods, are the norm in all areas of communist life, in stark contrast to most goods and services in more capitalist markets.

In the US, we constantly scream about education and healthcare. They are falling apart. They are inefficient. They are expensive. These happen to be the SAME two services that are most regulated by the government. As they fail more, we give the government more power to regulate them. Nobody ever seems to think that the government intervention in the market may be causing the problem (I will expand on this charge in later posts). The system is full of shortages, regulation, and inefficiency. Even the history of American Health Insurance, the private side of healthcare in the US, goes back to government wage regulations during the great depression.

So by the above definitions, capitalism provides the greatest social justice. As I alluded to in my previous post about Coke, capitalism seems to bring a service to the most people for the cheapest price. Therefore, the greatest good is supplied by Capitalism (Capitalism doesn't necessarily=conservativism, so I don't want rants about corporate welfare. That is not capitalism). The greatest good is supplied to society by the providing the greatest good to individuals. Capitalism is the ONLY economic system that doesn't put the power of regulation in a small number of beauracrats. Because the market regulates the system, every individual is a consumer, and everyone is a regulator. Thus, the greatest good is done for the most people as everyone has a say in the market. Any intervention by the government distorts the market in favor of one group over another, creating false market incentives. This creates LESS quality of life for everyone in favor of a minority.

Thus, leaving definition #2 behind (Unless you happen to belong to a special interest), capitalism does the greatest good for the most people. Capitalism provides the most goods, the cheapest quality, the most security, and greatest access to necessities by all members of society. In our society, it is the most heavily regulated industries that are available only to the wealthy. So a vote for capitalism is a vote for social justice. For those that see healthcare as a social good, that should be only more of a reason to let the market provide it. That would be the quickest way to make progress towards "social justice."


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