Recently I’ve been re-reading a few of Thomas Sowell’s social commentaries, and in his 2010 essay The Money of Fools, the words he wrote more than a decade ago still reverberate. In that piece, Sowell illustrated how certain words and phrases lend themselves to misuse; Artic instead of Arctic, pacifically instead of specifically and “I could care less” when what was meant was, “I couldn’t care less.”
Misusing a particular phrase or mispronouncing a word is usually a simple grammatical mistake. However, there are times when its misuse is premeditated. And when discussing public policy, liberals have taken the misuse of words and phrases and made it into an art form. Take the phrase “rent control ” as an example. If you accept Merriam-Webster’s definition of those words you will get a distortion of reality. New York City has the oldest and strongest rent control laws in the nation. San Francisco is second. But if you look at cities with the highest average rents, New York is first, and San Francisco is second. Meanwhile, almost anywhere one looks where rent controls are in place, you’ll find one overriding consistency, the more stringent the control, the higher the rents. Obviously, “rent control” laws do not control rents.
Now, allow me to ask, do “gun control” laws really control guns? And do government “stimuluses’” really stimulate the economy or is it a means to fill a piece of legislation with pork? Liberal politics are replete with warm, fuzzy words and misleading phrases all designed to resonate with voters (“Hope & Change” – “Saving the planet.” – “A threat to our democracy”– “The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.”)
The left in America has become masters of obfuscation, and routinely misinform and mislead using phrases designed to rile our emotions or tug our heart strings. And few phrases have had such a long run of political success as has the phrase, “social justice.” But what is social justice and what does it actually mean? I’ve asked liberal friends and while each has told me they believe in the concept; none has ever defined it. Wikipedia tells us, “Social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society. In Western and Asian cultures, the concept of social justice has often referred to the process of ensuring that individuals fulfill their societal roles and receive their due from society.”
I wasn’t surprised at the “soft” ideological definition from Wikipedia, but I still hoped to find something a bit more concrete, so I continued my search Online, and found the following. “There are five main principles of social justice that are paramount to understanding the concept—they are…
- Access to resources,
- Diversity, and
- Human rights”
What is obvious in the foregoing is that even though the term “social justice” has no defined meaning, it nevertheless has emotionally powerful connotations, because no one can argue against “access to resources, equity, diversity, participation, and human rights” regardless of how ill-defined those terms are.
It’s also understandable that when some people are so much better off socially or economically than others it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that something must be out of kilter, or that the situation must be unjust. But even supposing that were the case, what is the standard the Left thinks incomes and other benefits should be aligned? And who do they feel is qualified to ‘align’ them?
During my college days life revolved around my fraternity. And many brothers’ experiences weren’t dissimilar from that of Brother Bluto and the Otter in the movie Animal House. Meanwhile, others worked diligently to further their respective educations. Begging the question—‘Should the incomes of those brothers who spent their college years at toga parties and the like, be aligned with the brothers who applied themselves, studied and did the work necessary to get into medical or law school?’
Advocates of “social justice” will sometimes argue that it is ‘fundamentally unjust’ that one person is born into circumstances that make his or her chances in life radically different from the chances of others through no fault or merit of anyone. And perhaps life for the young man who was raised in the projects in a fatherless home, then dropped out of high school and developed self-destructive behavior would have been different if he had been born into a two-parent household or into a well-to-do community such as Scarsdale, N.Y. Yes, that would be more just, but such situations cannot be made “equal;” and if such things are injustices, they cannot be “social injustice” because they are beyond the power of society to redress.
And therein lies the biggest problem with the concept of “social justice.” As Thomas Sowell told us, “The political left has never understood that, if you give the government enough power to create ‘social justice,’ you have given it enough power to create despotism. Millions of people around the world have paid with their lives for overlooking that simple
Quote of the day: “In seeking truth, you have to get both sides of a story”—Walter Cronkite