What does a ‘fair and just’ society look like?
Perhaps it would be good to outline what a fair and just society should not look like, before we proclaim what it should be. A fair and just society should not exalt sexual freedom and expression over the right to life of millions of children that are alive and well in their mothers’ wombs, before they are brutally killed through abortion. This same society should not exalt individual autonomy, especially with respect to gender identity and homosexuality, over the rights of millions of Americans to respectfully disagree with these lifestyle choices. It should not infringe on any freedom of speech in the religious, political or any other realm, allowing both non-violent disagreement and persuasion to occur, without censure or fear of physical or financial retribution. It should not infringe on freedom of conscience, allowing any American who provides a creative service to refuse these same creative services to those who would insist that the provider violate his or her personal beliefs (e.g., Masterpiece Cake Shop vs. The State of Colorado). A fair and just society should not practice identity politics, such as carving up the American people into various subgroups, in order to intensify feelings of mistrust, victimization and envy.
Lastly, it should not try to force equality of outcomes in the workplace or in economics. We are an “equal opportunity” nation, not an “equality of outcomes” nation. It follows that any “affirmative action,” while initially well intended, should be seen by all for what it is, a racist policy that increases racial tensions and does not serve to elevate the very subgroup it aims to help. Similarly, trying to force quotas in the workplace, based on gender, skin shade or national heritage doesn’t necessarily lead to excellence in that particular field. Merit-based promotion is what the market demands and is what makes America, or any other nation, great.
So what does a fair and just society look like? Briefly I answer: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom of the press, and freedom to redress the government for grievances, all enshrined in the First Amendment. I would also add: the right to life, the right to persuade without violence, and the right to protect one’s family and community from tyrannical government (all certainly implied by the U.S. Constitution).
As for economics, worldview matters. The conservative/classical liberal position, which I believe to be the only rational position to take regarding economics, holds firmly to the idea that “men are created equal.” Milton Friedman proffers three categories for human equality: equality before God, equality of opportunity and equality of outcomes.
The founders, of course, did not consider equality before God literally. They did not regard “men” (or, as we say today, “persons”) as equal in physical characteristics, emotional reactions, mechanical and intellectual abilities. I, for example, could not, even with years of intense training and practice, play soccer like Lionel Messi, or even stay with our local high school players. Rather, the founders’ ideas of equality before God have us all created by God, who created us with intrinsic value, which we speak of in the terms of “rights” language. There are, therefore, given “unalienable rights” with which we are all “endowed by our Creator,” in Thomas Jefferson’s own words.
Equality of opportunity simply describes equality before the law and is “an essential component of liberty,” to use Friedman’s words. That is, someone cannot be denied a job (for which he or she is qualified) based on ethnic background, skin color or religion.
Equality of outcomes is the equality among “persons” — that is the most problematic view.
The desire for so-called equity bleeds over into Big Business and many other fields, where quotas are forced or at least desired. In my own field of surgery, there are actually ridiculous conversations regarding the lack of women trauma surgeons. It is funny that the same fake moral outrage is never over a lack of male nurses, where females represent 97%.
Conservative/classic liberals agree wholeheartedly with equality before God and equality of opportunity. They have, in David Marrota’s words, “a tragic view of the world.” They understand the fact that man is not basically good, has innate selfishness and needs incentives. Today’s “liberals “or “progressives” have a utopian view of the world and believe that government can be used to coerce equality of outcomes in economics by ever increasing taxation.