American Elephants


You Want Social Justice? Who Decides Who Gets What? by The Elephant's Child

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Funny how some things in common parlance become so common that we really don’t pay attention to them any more. The protesters in some  cities across the country claimed to be protesting for “justice” for Michael Brown. Justice is a matter of our nation’s laws and the Constitution, as determined  in this case by a Grand Jury investigation, which was conducted at length according to the law. The results of the labors of the jury are justice.

What the protesters were demanding was, instead,”social justice.” Social Justice is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “justice in the form of the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privilege within a society.” There’s the rub. We are not talking, as the Declaration of Independence states, of the equal opportunity to pursue Liberty and Happiness — but of an equal outcome.

The Urban Dictionary defines social justice as:

Promoting tolerance, freedom, and equality for all people regardless of race, sex, orientation, national origin, handicap, etc… except for white, straight, cisgendered males. Fuck those guys, they’re overprivileged no matter what. “In the name of social justice, check your privilege.”

Same source, second definition:

Mob violence, usually associated with a victim group.
1969 Stonewall riots.
1992 LA riots.

Mostly the term is undefined, but it sounds good doesn’t it? The academics who used to have to teach at least 15 hours a semester now have a lot more free time, and the faculty lounge is afloat with theory. The distribution of advantages and disadvantages in society. This supposes that there is some normal state to which everything must be distributed to make things fair and equal.

The word equal, in English, is derived from the word equitable, suggesting fairness, but what is fair doesn’t necessarily mean equal, but what is proportionate to the efforts of each.  In France, on the other hand, the word is Égalité which means the “equals sign.” What is on one side must be equal to that which is on the other side. This is very different from the English idea of “equitable.”

Social justice is often associated with the idea of the “common good.” Which brings up some questions. Who decides what is fair? Who determines what is equal? Who decides what must be distributed from who and to whom? If these questions are turned over to the government, as the idea of “the common good” would suggest — because who else is going to do it — then you’ve got trouble, or more accurately Socialism, Communism, Dictatorship, Tyranny in one form or another. Giving someone or some group the power to decide, and once decided, it must  be enforced, and there you go.

Free Market Capitalism does not promise equal outcomes, only the opportunity to do with your life what you choose to do, or what you can do with the opportunities you find. We have  plenty of  examples of those who have been born into poverty, and the ghetto and who rise through hard work and determination to the very highest levels of society. You can probably come up with a list easily. And we are a society with a lot of empathy and compassion and arrange to help those who are in need of help. Americans are the most generous people on Earth.

That said, I don’t get the envy part. Isn’t life a struggle with yourself to see what you can make of it? Is life suddenly made wonderful if you win the lottery? The stories of those who did suggest that it doesn’t work out so well. What makes life good is not the material things you are given, but what you accomplish with what you’ve got in your own determination and character.



What Is Social Justice Anyway? by The Elephant's Child

ObamaCare, said Nancy Pelosi, “is about life, a healthier life, liberty, the freedom to pursue our happiness. It’s s very, very exciting thing. And it’s about wellness and prevention. It’s about the health of America, not just the health care for Americans.” “It’s going to be a glorious thing.” Forgive me, but this is complete nonsense. ObamaCare is insurance, about paying for medical care. It is, on average 41% more expensive than the policies people had. It is about government dictating what care people may have and what care is too expensive, sorry.

ObamaCare is about redistribution of wealth and “social justice.” Redistribution of wealth is clear enough. You make those who have pay more to cover the have-nots. The left has been quite sure that millions of poor Americans have been deprived of the health care that meant the difference between health and sickness, and ObamaCare is going to fix that.

This ignores the fact that by law, no emergency room in America can turn away a patient — whether they can pay or not. Hospitals will try to get paid, but they write off a lot of care. And oddly enough, all those uninsured Americans have not been flocking to the Healthcare.gov website to sign up. A large percentage of the people who do not have insurance don’t have it because they don’t want it for whatever reason. Obamacare proponents are admitting that once the program is in full force, there will probably be just as many uninsured as there were in the first place.

The Left loves the term “Social Justice,” which means many different things to different people but it is obviously “nice.” Does the term have any concrete meaning, or is it just a buzz word? Certainly it suggests that there must be some social injustice. If we agree that there is some injustice, what makes it social? For its proponents.”social justice” is usually undefined. It has been manipulated by “progressive” thinkers to mean  uniform state distribution of society’s advantages and disadvantages. If people are to live free of state control, they must possess the virtue of cooperation and association.

Do we mean equal distribution of stuff? For most of us social justice implies, among other things, equality of the burdens, the advantages and the opportunities of citizenship. Social justice seems to be closely related to the concept of “equality”— fairness, equity or the equitable. From the American Sociological Review:

As I see it, social justice requires resource equity, fairness, and respect for diversity, as well as the eradication of existing forms of social oppression. Social justice entails a “redistribution” of resources from those who have “unjustly” gained them to those who justly deserve them, and it also means creating and “ensuring” the processes of truly democratic participation in decision-making…. It seems clear that only a “decisive” redistribution of resources and decision-making power can “ensure” social justice and authentic democracy.

So common good becomes the excuse for total state control. That’s how totalitarianism was built. So much for individual liberty.

Equality sounds good, but just what is meant by equality? It seems to be a catch-all justification for any number of programs that operate in a contradictory and not particularly coherent way. The Founders considered the matter and came up with a definition that has served us pretty well for 237 years:

WE hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness — that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of those Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…

Instead of trying to define the undefinable “Social Justice” or “Equality,” perhaps we should devote some effort to thinking about and defining “the Pursuit of Happiness.”

I don’t think Equality and Social Justice can be defined, nor were they meant to be defined. They are “good” words to be used on the campaign trail and to make people feel that they are the victims of injustice. But life isn’t about getting happiness — it is about the pursuit. You take the assets or lack of assets you were born with and see what you can make of them with your own efforts. That’s where happiness lies, not in what a government can give you from other people’s money.

Food for thought:

From the Library of Law and Liberty: “What is Social Justice?“by Samuel Gregg
From the Heritage Foundation: “Social Justice; Not What You Think it Is” by Michael Novak
From Thomas Sowell: “The Quest for Cosmic Justice



The Virtual Inaugural 2013 by The Elephant's Child

Bill Whittle has a marvelous way of getting right to the heart of things. His Virtual Inaugural is meant to be dissent. He doesn’t agree with the direction of this administration, and he presents an alternative Inaugural address to explain the difference. I’m with Bill Whittle. If all Republicans could speak as clearly as he does, we’d be a lot better off.

Here is a transcript of the speech to download. it’s worth reading over several times and thinking about. It’s easy to dissent, to disapprove of policies and actions of this government, but not so easy to spell out what we would do instead. This is truly food for thought, to be pondered, not just scanned and passed over. Enjoy.



The Freedom To Succeed! by The Elephant's Child

Thomas Peterffy grew up in socialist Hungary.  When he immigrated to the United States in 1956, he could not speak English.  With hard work, dedication and discipline he fulfilled the American dream.  He started a business that today employs thousands of people.

In the 1970’s he bought a seat on the American Stock Exchange. He played a key role in developing the electronic trading of securities, and is the founder of Interactive Brokers, an online discount brokerage firm with offices all over the world.

He remembers what life in Hungary was like. To share his story, he made this video with his own money, to explain.  Very nice.



Becoming an American Citizen, the Legal Way! by The Elephant's Child

Veronique de Rugy is an economist at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.  A native of France, educated at the Sorbonne, she is now beginning the process of becoming an American citizen.  She posted this delightful video to take note of the occasion.  Ms de Rugy writes at National Review, at Reason magazine and at The American.  If you go here, you can see her plea to President Obama not to turn America into another France.

(h/t: Veronique de Rugy)




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