Radical Left

Calls for 'Social Justice' Won't Work Without Free Markets

Capitalism helps reduce racism and sexism.

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Protestors demand "social justice." I hate their chant. If I oppose their cause, then I'm for social "injustice"? Nonsense.

The protesters usually want to punish capitalism. "Spread those resources," says Hillary Clinton.

Even capitalists often make the mistake of talking about "social justice" as if it's the opposite of free markets or a reason to rein in markets with more regulations or redistribution of wealth. But there's nothing "just" about the leftist protesters' claimed solution: more big government. 

Oliver Stone, Sean Penn and Harry Belafonte praised Venezuela's Hugo Chavez for his socialist revolution. Chavez then proceeded to destroy much of his country. 

Even after his death, his portrait remains on walls everywhere and his policies live on. They haven't produced social justice, unless your idea of "justice" is privileges for government officials and shortages of basics like food and toilet paper for ordinary people. 

Only socialism could take an oil-rich nation and turn it into one where people wait in line for hours for survival rations. 

The left-wing Guardian newspaper quotes a Venezuelan farmer saying that Chavez's policies left Venezuela with "no one to explain why a rich country has no food." 

Not many people in Venezuela give such explanations—the government censors its critics—but free-market economists can explain. 

Goods don't get matched to consumer needs by anyone's burning desire for justice. The amazing coordination of the marketplace happens because sellers and buyers are free. Sellers can sell whatever they choose at prices they choose. Buyers decide whether to pay. That flexibility—and chance to make a profit—is what persuades people to create what customers want and risk their own money and safety to stock it in a store. 

Without the free market setting prices and allocating resources, all the cries of "justice" in the world don't help anyone. You can't eat justice. You can't use it as toilet paper. 

Intellectuals, activists and government alike love it when politicians take "tough," decisive action—usually meaning sudden interference in the marketplace. A year and a half ago, Venezuelan government used the military to seize control of Daka, one of the country's largest retailers, in order to force the chain to charge "fair" prices. Punish those rich, greedy store-owners!

Surprise! That didn't work. The chain is now collapsing as looters take what they want. 

Socialists say capitalists just want to make a quick buck, but it's government that can't plan for the long haul. 

Instead of thinking in terms of returns on investment and sustainable business models, socialists think only of today: They see people who need stuff and stores full of stuff. Take the stuff and give it to people, and then tomorrow—well, those capitalists will always bring in more stuff, I guess. 

Calling it "social justice" doesn't make it work. 

Sometimes activists admit they aren't very interested in economics. What they really want is a more "tolerant" world with less sexism and racism. They act as if capitalism is an obstacle to that.

But it isn't. Capitalist societies are less racist and less sexist than non-capitalist ones. 

In America, white people often take for granted the advantages that being white sometimes provides. But compare America to China, where one ethnic group, the Han, dominates politics and openly looks down on minorities—and where even scientists have tried to show that the Han are a distinctive race that does not trace its ancestry to Africa like the rest of us. 

The autocratic nation of Saudi Arabia doesn't let women drive cars or open their own bank accounts. 

Markets, in which individuals, not just rulers, have property rights, give people options. Businesses have an incentive to serve as many people as possible, regardless of gender or ethnic group. They also have an incentive to be nice—customers are more likely to trade with people who treat them fairly. Everyone gets to choose his own path. That's what I call justice.

Injustice is telling people that they must wait to see what their rulers decide is fair.

© Copyright 2015 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. I miss believing that it was my humanity that was the source of my collectivized guilt. Now I feel guilty for not knowing all of the various collectivized guilt I’m supposed to be hauling around. Here are my profits, take what you think would even us out.

  2. These people are just an extortion racket, fuck em.

  3. Have I mentioned I like Stossel?

    1. The first I read of this.

    2. You just have a thing for mustaches.

    3. Sounds like somebody wants a mustache ride.

      1. Does anyone not?

    4. FdA, I logged on just to remind people that you like Stossel. Truth.

    5. “Have I mentioned I like Stossel?”

      But are you “in like” with Stossel?

  4. Social Justice Isn’t because there is no such thing as collective justice

    1. As comments go, I like this one.

    2. Pre-empt social justice by declaring freedom of associations as the primary collective / social right of a free society ! It is an individual right too.

      Pre-empting the concept with one that makes sense will eliminate the political liberal garbage from the left-wing and replace it with an individual right that you can advertise as social justice !

    3. “[The notion of social justice] does not belong to the category of error but to that of nonsense, like the term ‘a moral stone.'”

      – Hayek

    4. It’s a social construct(a term they coopted from sociology), just like the things they say are “social constructs”; Race, biology, gender. The SJW will tell you they’re all constructs of a white male dominated society and need to be “deconstructed”(another word they coopted and twisted to suit their own purposes)

    5. Social Justice Isn’t because there is no such thing as collective justice

      A pre-WWII term for “collective justice” would have been “corporate justice”…

  5. “You can’t eat justice. You can’t use it as toilet paper.”

    Social Justice WARRIORS on the other hand…

    1. A sedentary lifestyle, a steady diet of avocado, kale and gluten-free smoothies, the meat should be pretty tender.

      1. But kuru is a bitch.

  6. Actually there is a collective/social “right” because it is also an individual right ! It is called freedom of association which IMHO is the basic social and collective right of a free society.

    All other claims of social justice or right must be compatible with this one ! 🙂

    1. It is still a just an individual right, just as a crowd is a collection of individuals.

      1. View it as you may, but you can use it for “propaganda” purposes to oppose left-wing fascists without getting bogged down into useles arguments over it

        1. It’s not a useless argument. Being vague and duplicitous in your terminology is useless.

  7. Social justice is institutionalized injustice.

    1. If you put the word “social” in front of a term, you basically change the meaning of the term to its opposite.

      1. “social” just means it’s for other people.

      2. And yet people still think ‘social conservatives’ are conservatives..

        They’re not. They’re religious prograssives.

  8. Preaching.
    Choir.

    Boring and without merit. Until and unless helpful guidelines on how to counter the ‘social justice’ chant, this is just whining.

    1. “Fuck Off, slavers!”

      Problem solved.

    2. Don’t other him….. Check your privilege.

    3. Shirl, there are more people in this world than just us libertarians. Stossel is uniquely positioned to reach a wider audience than Reason could reach on its own. I’m happy to have this message repeated ad infinitum if it brings more people into the fold, or at least educates them about actual libertarian thought and positions.

      So, Shirl, what have you done recently for the cause that’s even 1/100 as impactful as this?

    4. What’s without merit?

    5. Boring and without merit. Until and unless helpful guidelines on how to counter the ‘social justice’ chant, this is just whining.

      This applies quite appropriately to your comment.

      1. It had merit. The comment was a broken window. Look how many people rushed in to fix it!

    6. Until and unless helpful guidelines on how to counter the ‘social justice’ chant,

      What’s wrong with mockery and abuse?

  9. Goods don’t get matched to consumer needs by anyone’s burning desire for justice.

    Bullshit. Witness the Baltimore CVS episode.

    1. What you did there…

  10. OT: but relatedschadenfreude.

    1. I love it. It’s a piece decrying the very people who make up Vox’s readership and staff. Fuck ’em, hoisted by their own retards.

    2. What a strange piece. He seems to be arguing that liberal identity politics is the biggest problem but that it affects liberal academics more than conservatives and that liberal identity politics prevents him from teaching liberal ideas.

      1. I love how he writes 1500 words largely on the negative impact of identity politics but he just can’t quite manage to simply state “identity politics is bad.” There’s always a qualifier. Maybe because in some recess of his mind he realizes his preferred brand of politician can’t win without the club of identity politics in their bag.

    3. Pretty typical fare from a self-described liberal. Always the smartest person in the room and everything would be right with the world if people would just shut up and agree.

    4. I find it interesting that it has taken so long to get to the point of pushback.

      This started in 1995 (+/-) with the term “political correctness”. It was accepted that there were some things one couldn’t say because doing so would offend someone. At the time, one very smart man an average idiot, predicted that once you place limits upon speech based on offending someone, someone will be offended by absolutely anything.

      What you see now is the, completely predictable, end result of political correctness.

      1. The first time I ever heard the expression “politically correct” was in 1987 on an episode of Thirty-Something. It pretty much meant the same thing then that it does now, but the character used it as praise.

        1. Apparently, “politically correct” started amongst Marxists some time beforethe 1940s to describe whether or not something or someone adhered properly to the Communist party line.

    5. No wonder they (liberal professors) make for perfect useful idiots.

      1. Just accuse them of creating an “unsafe environment”, being insensitive or triggering, and start carrying around a mattress desk around to protest and they’ll fall into line.

    6. They’ve gotten the world they want, and it terrifies them.

  11. Only individuals feel pain or pleasure, are happy or sad, satiated or hungry. Justice is an abstract concept to begin with, but when detached from individuals, it loses all meaning.

    1. Ooh, another good comment.

    2. So, “The War on Injustice” is a no-go?

      1. That’s right. It’s the Duel with Injustice.

        1. At how many paces?

          1. That’s between the duelists.

  12. The sleazy little crook Steve Rattner was on Bloomberg, this morning. Maybe they finally got sick of him at MSNBC. He said, at one point, corporations need to pay “Their fair share”. What a disgusting little pustule.

    1. A good number of our socialists are worse than European socialists. Noodle on that for a while.

    2. What if a corporations take on what constitutes ‘fair share’ differs from pukes like Rattner? Which perspective prevails?

      Don’t answer. I think we all know.

      1. The answer involves bigger guns, doesn’t it?

        Oh wait, I wasn’t supposed to answer.

    3. I agree, as soon as they can find a corporation they can force it to pay it’s fair share

  13. Brave social justice warrior;

    http://www.washingtontimes.com…..m-cashed-/

    I am just sitting down here for the first time today. I can’t believe Reason didn’t cover this Today.

    1. There’s no way this woman can get elected, right? RIGHT?!

      1. Of course she can…#waronwomen.

        1. Run, Caitlyn, Run!

          1. Well, apparently, the committee promoting an Elizabeth Warren run has suspended itself.

          2. Can she fit a run for office in between accepting the Nobel Peace Prize and beatification?

      2. Hillary could stomp puppies to death on the steps of the Capitol and Team Blue would still vote for her.

    2. I know I’m a dreamer, but come election day 2016, she should be in a jail cell, right?

      1. She should be. She won’t be, though. Because the only people who have the power to put her there have no interest in doing so.

  14. I got your socialist social justice right here. From the WSJ today.

    “I think it’s clear that what we have primarily here is a gang and crew problem,” the mayor said last week. “You know, for those of us who were here in the bad old days?when we had 2,000 murders or more a year?a lot of everyday citizens were getting caught in those crossfires.” He added it’s “equally troubling when, you know, individual gang members shoot other gang members, but it’s a different reality.”

    Translation: If young, largely minority men are killing each other over gang turf, then the violent crime revival is no big deal. It won’t hit the trendier corners of Brooklyn.

    So whatever happened to Mr. de Blasio’s campaign that “black lives matter”?

    http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/208030/

    So black people murdering each other is just a bit of social flavor for the city as long as it doesn’t affect any of the good neighborhoods or the respectable white people who live in them. I know the word “racist” is thrown around way too much. I do not, however, see how you can read that and not conclude that DiBlasio is an absolute horrible racist. If being a mayor of a large city and only caring about the murder rate in so far as it effects white people and not caring about how many young black people are murdered isn’t racist, what exactly is?

    1. It was primarily a “gang and crew” problem back when murders were 2,000 a year, too, regardless of how many “everyday citizens were getting caught in those crossfires”.

    2. “I do not, however, see how you can read that and not conclude that DiBlasio is an absolute horrible racist”.
      I can help here! When you DeBlasio referenced in articles do you see a “D” or an “R” after his last name? If “D”, No Racist. If “R” Yes Racist.

  15. Social Justice = free shit.

    1. They would tax shit if they could.

      One day they will monitor all our toilet bowls.

      Mark my words.

      /narrows eyes.

      1. Maryland has a so-called “Flush Tax”. No shit.

        1. I reckon Marylandians must be very backed up, bitchy people.

          1. Marylanders can be quite crabby.

            1. They do seem to have soft shells.

      2. They are already monitoring septic tanks. A friend who lives in the country had his septic system pumped recently and the guy told him he had to collect a sample for the county – presumably to be tested for indications of meth cooking. At least the septic guy was upfront about that, but those county (state?) regulations are scary.

        Also, they do have toilets which monitor your waste for various diseases. The public health nannies and insurance companies would love to mandate the use of those.

        Welcome to modern times, Rufe.

        1. A friend who lives in the country had his septic system pumped recently and the guy told him he had to collect a sample for the county – presumably to be tested for indications of meth cooking.

          Where was this?

          1. Central Virginia. And it started several years ago.

        2. Wow. That’s a new one.

        3. Jesus Christ.

          With all do respect to Jesus Christ.

        4. The spetic tank belongs to the home owner? The poop within belongs to the homeowner? Then they need a fucking warrant.

      3. +1 Bethselamin

      4. +1 Beatle

    2. No Social Justice = everyone who disagrees with me shut the fuck up with your hate speech.

  16. “You can’t eat justice….”

    But can you drink it?

  17. A year and a half ago, Venezuelan government used the military to seize control of Daka, one of the country’s largest retailers, in order to force the chain to charge “fair” prices. Punish those rich, greedy store-owners!

    Surprise! That didn’t work. The chain is now collapsing as looters take what they want.

    How is “that didn’t work”? The “rich, greedy store-owners” were — very effectively, one can say — “punished”. And that was the goal, wasn’t it?

    1. And then they’ll blame the businesses for poor business management for not being able to provide goods and services at prices stipulated and set by others outside market forces.

      They never lose.

      1. And then they’ll blame the businesses for poor business management for not being able to provide goods and services at prices stipulated and set by others outside market forces.

        They said that in Seattle.

        But I’m assured socialism isn’t ascendant.

    2. The chain is just now collapsing? I figured everyone who worked for it would have fled the country a year and a half ago when Maduro looted them. I can’t believe they lasted this long.

  18. Even capitalists often make the mistake of talking about “social justice” as if it’s the opposite of free markets or a reason to rein in markets with more regulations or redistribution of wealth.

    The important thing to note, John, is the obvious self-contradiction of the term, since it alludes to justice (that is, what is fair) for a group. But what is fair is based on interpersonal preferences, which exist only for individuals. That is, only individuals know what is fair or just, not “groups”.

  19. The toilet paper shortage has improved somewhat. Venezuelans need only insure that, when they go to the toilet, they’re carrying their wallets. Besides, you don’t need toilet paper when you haven’t eaten anything.

  20. So Fallout 4 is going to be in Boston. That’s okay, though not as good as Episiarch’s Disney World proposal.

    Anyway, what should I blow up first with mininukes?

    1. That is an easy one.

      D.C.

      1. I’ve already got Fallout 3.

      1. What’s that, some sort of place where kids go to play kickball?

  21. In America, white people often take for granted the advantages that being white sometimes provides.

    I have checked my privilege and found it wanting. But you need to check your mustache privilege, John.

  22. Libertarian: One who supports freedom of association between consenting adults. 🙂

  23. In 2009, the subject of my student’s complaint was my supposed ideology. I was communistical, the student felt, and everyone knows that communisticism is wrong. That was, at best, a debatable assertion.

    Durr HURRR!

    1. In early 2009, I was an adjunct, teaching a freshman-level writing course at a community college. Discussing infographics and data visualization, we watched a flash animation describing how Wall Street’s recklessness had destroyed the economy.

      The video stopped, and I asked whether the students thought it was effective. An older student raised his hand.

      “What about Fannie and Freddie?” he asked. “Government kept giving homes to black people, to help out black people, white people didn’t get anything, and then they couldn’t pay for them. What about that?”

      I gave a quick response about how most experts would disagree with that assumption, that it was actually an oversimplification, and pretty dishonest, and isn’t it good that someone made the video we just watched to try to clear things up? And, hey, let’s talk about whether that was effective, okay? If you don’t think it was, how could it have been?

      So he — as a teacher — fully endorsed an one-sided narrative, and when a student brought up another aspect of the debacle, he labelled it an ‘assumption’, called it an oversimplification and ‘pretty dishonest’?

      He deserves everything he gets from his liberal students. Let them eat each other.

    2. everyone knows that communisticism is wrong. That was, at best, a debatable assertion.

      That communism is wrong shouldn’t be debatable at all, any more than the claim that Nazism is wrong.

      Now, the assertion that everyone know that communism is wrong is certainly debatable.

  24. Social Justice: what has occurred when an SJW gets punched in the face.

    1. Particularly if the SJW is a public sector employee.

  25. Isn’t it remarkable, that when someone prefaces words like justice, equity, responsibility with the modifier “social”, that THEIR definitions take precedence over everyone else’s?

    I’m beginning to hate that word.

    1. Hayek critiqued “social justice” starting well before I was born, and even used “the mirage of social justice” as a subtitle for the second volume of Law, Legislation and Liberty.

  26. Define “social justice”.

    1. You doing what you’re told by your betters.

  27. “Social justice, you say? I’m more interested in actual justice, myself.
    ‘Social’ justice seems to require collective punishment, which is not justice at all, but rather its opposite.”

  28. John Stossel, this would have been a good opportunity to bring up how Coca-Cola pushed Atlanta to desegregate.

    1. This is what I hate–

      Back in 1964, social conservatives in Atlanta refused to support an integrated dinner honoring Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King Jr. But then Coca-Cola put its giant corporate foot down, and changed Atlanta’s history.

      .

      Those were Democrats. Democrats marching in lockstep with their Party–just like today.

  29. The left-wing Guardian newspaper quotes a Venezuelan farmer saying that Chavez’s policies left Venezuela with “no one to explain why a rich country has no food.”

    Because the human capital in Venezuela, as the operational basis for all other capital, is deficient. A society of individuals who by and large respect free market principles are invaluable. You can’t simply blame Chavez and his policies. You have to blame the political culture that tolerates people like Chavez and their policies in the first place. A sizable proportion of the Venezuelans, if not most, are responsible for this.

  30. I’ve never seen a demand for “social justice” that didn’t boil down to totalitarianism.

    (And I am with Mindyourbusienss and neoteny, above – “Social ____” is just a demand for the speaker’s preferences to be respected as inarguable absolutes.

    My idea of “social justice” is that the term itself is incomprehensibly meaningless.)

  31. “Not many people in Venezuela give such explanations?the government censors its critics?but free-market economists can explain.”

    It’s not just “free-market” economists. Krugman and Stiglitz could both tell you why price controls don’t work, as could any attentive 18-year-old who’s sat in an econ 101 class for more than a couple of lectures. It takes a really brilliant “economist” to turn around and argue why some price controls are exceptions to the theory, all of those exceptions being conveniently keyed to their emotional and political beliefs. The end result being a confused mess where Nobel* winners defend minimum wage legislation and socialized water.

    1. Re: social justice, pretty sure Hayek said it best a few years back (as is usually the case): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnMd40dqBlQ

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