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In the United States, there are many laws and regulations that seek to level the playing field for those considered to be less fortunate. When using a term such as “less fortunate,” one is most often referring to those who are “poor,” or discriminated against based on social or racial determinations. In order for the previous statement to be meaningful in any way, it must also be qualified. To accomplish this, it must first be determined who will decide the definition of “poor” and who will decide exactly which behaviors are “discriminatory.” Once an “arbiter” has been determined, then the business of deciding what constitutes “poor” or “discrimination” can be concluded. The problem is that these criteria must be determined by a human being, and as such are relative and in the end discriminatory in and of themselves.
Discrimination is a fundamental component of freedom by which Individuals within each society determine with whom they will do business with, and associate with. The only type of true equality that will ever be obtained is the equality of freedom, which requires the ability to discriminate. In order for a society to have maximal freedom, the right to discriminate must be left in the hands of the individual and not transferred to the state. If one prefers freedom, then discrimination is not only good–but it is also necessary.
Ironically, the harder we reach for economic and social equality through government intervention, the further we remove ourselves from liberty–truly the only kind of equality that is obtainable. “Economic Justice” and “Social Justice” are doublespeak; and as George Orwell defined it, “Language used to deceive usually through concealment or misrepresentation of truth” (“Doublespeak,” def. 1A). The true intention of such “justice” is to redistribute wealth and opportunity through its own form of discrimination backed by government force. Ostensibly, the claim is that it will more evenly distribute freedom; however, what is not discussed is the coercive discrimination required to obtain this result. Discrimination has not been eliminated, but instead placed into the hand of a central group of individuals who, by using “right think,” will determine who should be discriminated against. This ensures that the “right group” of individuals are discriminated against and that a monopoly on discrimination has been given to government. Discrimination has in no way been reduced or eliminated, but instead legitimized as a coercive tool of the state. It is because of this that a society that practices “economic justice” is in no way more just.
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Morals are important to this argument, as well as ethics. As a society, it was decided a long time ago that breaking into your neighbor’s house and making off with the valuables would be wrong, and that mugging people under the threat of violence was immoral. If so, then is it more ethical if two people mug you? What about three people? How about sixty people? It could be surmised that most individuals would feel that it would be wrong no matter how many people were involved. The removal of one’s property at gunpoint is considered wrong, regardless of how many people were to do this. Most civilized human beings determined some time ago that property must be protected, and that due process was required to remove it. In short, not even a group calling themselves “government” has the right to confiscate wealth from individuals, even if every citizen but the one with the property supported it. When a government begins telling individuals how they must manage their wealth, and with whom they must do business, it is reasonable to assume that these individuals are being treated as if they do not actually own their property. Government laws that allow an external entity to dictate how a property owner interacts with employees or customers should rightly be considered fascistic, regardless of their purpose. This does not include acts of non-defensive violent force committed by the property owner against others, of course.
Considering that economic justice in the United States often requires government agencies that hire to make discriminatory decisions based on race, social, and economic criteria, economic justice ironically becomes unjust. In order to even the “playing field,” an injustice must be done to one person in order to make it more “just” for another. The very term “Economic Justice” implies that somewhere, an economic injustice must have been done. If government is allowed to determine for property owners that a person must be hired for a job or given a loan solely based on race, and another person is denied these things based on race, one could argue that no economic or social injustice has been avoided. The determining factor against either party is race, which is outside of either’s control. Either side would truly be justified in feeling wronged. If the determination is made that there are more poor people of one racial group than another, and therefore the poorer of the two groups must have economic justice, then a moral injustice is done to the individuals of one group to help the other. Can you really have justice through injustice? The injustice committed against one to create justice for another is no justice at all, but also results in no economic progress at all.
The second problem with economic justice resides in the fact that as human beings, all value perceptions are relative’ and determinations of concepts like poverty and fairness change from one individual to another. It is because of this that one might find it is very easy to approve of taking from others and giving to themselves; and this is a primary failing of democratic representative government, especially when attempting to implement “social” or “economic justice.” Those in the majority are typically fond of voting themselves portions of other people’s property. This is always grounded on relative justifications of fairness. Economic Justice is a prime example of what Frederic Bastiat was referring to when he said that “Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” It is one group of citizens and their supporters obtaining portions of the property of others through government intervention. This expropriation is often in the form of outright property confiscation through imminent domain, arbitrary business regulations, and graduated taxation, which is a tool first advocated within socialist circles and fascistic economic policies which limit one’s ability to discriminate or make fundamental free choices on the desired ends resulting from property usage.
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For instance, under fascism, it did not matter who owned the means of production so long as they were bent to the will of the state. To this end, government regulations were a powerful tool used under the guise of stopping the excesses of capitalism. However, its real use was to control the outcomes of market transactions and thereby use the market for political purposes.
It was Mussolini who said that “The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporative, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organized in their respective associations, circulate within the State” (Doctrine of Fascism, par. 45). The representation of the state’s social agenda and its monopoly on discrimination in its economic policies is the beginning of totalitarian government, in regard to economics and the means of production.
A society cannot practice pluralistic values in regard to egalitarian ideas or liberty. A distinctive choice must be made. If the end desired is liberty, then one will either choose equality of liberty, which will mean equal freedom for all to do as each individual wishes, or economic and social equality, which must place materialism and political power above ethics and morality. There can be no in-between because true liberty dictates that one must not aggress against one’s neighbor so long as that person has no direct negative impact upon another’s property or liberty. It is not a requirement of freedom that each individual must impact their neighbors positively, but instead, only that they do not impact them negatively. In this regard, one individual possessing wealth which another individual does not already possess cannot be seen as an injustice; and therefore, the confiscation and redistribution of wealth simply to enrich every person more equally is an injustice by itself because harm is done where there was ethically none to start with.
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Success is neither unethical nor mutually exclusive. In this light, it is not unethical to make choices which are in one’s own favor–and this must be defined on a person-by-person basis. Liberty then should also be defined as the right to discriminate against others on any basis in regard to one’s association, services, and property. Discrimination is not only a necessary thing, but it is also desirable in a free society.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.