Fly Throttled

Yesterday I claimed that Social Security reform was more than just making debits equal credits:

Setting aside for the moment this important argument, it needs to be pointed out that SS privatization (at least for those of us who actually believe in liberty - not the guys currently contolling all branches of the government) is about more than just accounting. It’s about the deadweight of wealth transfers. It’s about growth. But most importantly, it about property rights - and the fact that when it comes to social security, you have none.

Today, Will Wilkinson says the same thing:

The case for social security reform by no means depends on the existence of a crisis. Social Security as it exists is extremely bad public policy. A reform package like Cato's is both a practical and moral improvement. It eliminates the budgetary burden of social security over the long haul. It places retirement largely outside the fickle, unstable and risky context of politics. It meets a demand of justice in expanding and strengthening property rights over the fruits of one's labor. It meets a demand of justice by creating a system where people internalize responsibility for their own long-term welfare. It meets a demand of justice by broadening the class of stakeholders in a healthy, stable, high-growth market liberal order.

Who says it better? You're free to your opinions, but I'm going with the Fly Bottle!

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Justice demands the

Justice demands the abolition of Social Security and the state, doesn't it?

Pragmatism sometimes demands

Pragmatism sometimes demands second-best solutions as interim measures.

Note: I'm no longer certain if Cato's plan is that much better than the status quo. I'm beginning to favor means testing benefits and funding them entirely with general revenues as a way of turning Social Security into just another form of welfare. I'd like to do the same with public schools.

I'm referring to Wilkinson's

I'm referring to Wilkinson's assertion that reform meets the demands of justice. It doesn't. Not that justice can be a concern of yours.

Micha, Isn't abolition of

Micha,

Isn't abolition of Social Security preferable to the status quo, Cato's plan and your plan?

I’m referring to

I’m referring to Wilkinson’s assertion that reform meets the demands of justice. It doesn’t.

One can charitably read Will's statement as praising a movement towards a goal rather than a description of the final goal itself. Will is talking about steps that meet certain demands of justice, not necessarily a program that meets all of the demands of justice broadly conceived.

Not that justice can be a concern of yours.

Sure it can. Subjective notions of justice are as much forms of justice as objective notions of justice. Consequentialist notions of justice are as much forms of justice as deontological notions of justice. You know this and your willingness to continue to pretend that you don't is just as disrespectful as my continued use of references to Ayn Rand on your blog.

Isn’t abolition of Social Security preferable to the status quo, Cato’s plan and your plan?

Yes. That is why I said "Pragmatism sometimes demands second-best solutions as interim measures." Note the term "second-best."

Having reduced morality to

Having reduced morality to your personal preferences you can only reduce justice to those same preferences. You've assigned a meaning to the word but you're not talking about the justice that has been discussed throughout the history of moral thought.

Oh, but I am indeed talking

Oh, but I am indeed talking about the justice that has been discussed throughout the history of moral thought. As I'm sure you are no doubt aware, since I've pointed it out so many times already, both you and I share almost precisely the exact same concept of justice in terms of content, albeit not in terms of epistemological justification. We both agree that murder, rape, and theft are wrong, wrong, wrong. These are acts which are not in accordance with either of our conceptions of justice. But while you define the term "wrong" to mean something along the lines of a factual truth, I define it to mean both something that I personally despise, but more importantly, something that I consider incompatible with a stable, peaceful, and prosperous social order.

Your unwillingness to recognize this basic point, despite my many attempts to explain it, leads me to use not-so-subtle references to Rand and her personality cult, as Objectivists are one of the few groups of people consistently unable to grasp such an elementary concept while at the same time familiar with enough philosophical discourse to know better.

John and Micha, I find your

John and Micha,
I find your argument about justice interesting, although I confess I need to do a lot more reading before I fully understand everything you are discussing. I have a question, however, for both of you. I find that the biggest stumbling block in debating with people about Social Security is that they sincerely believe that it prevents the elderly from living in abject poverty, and their personal notions of "justice", as they conceive it, requires that the prevent that from happening. If you hold that justice demands abolishing the system (and I agree, it does), have you ever sucessfully convinced someone that abolishing the system would be just? If so, how? This may seem elementary and silly, but I found myself somewhat at a loss when a friend told me, emphatically, that we need forcibly funded social security because "People simply WILL NOT take responsibility for the elderly. They just aren't like that." How can someone like this be convinced that not having social security fits with her notions of "justice" (not letting elderly people live in poverty?), other than rebuilding her notion of justice from the ground up (not something I'm really capable of anyway?).

Lisa, I liked your question

Lisa,

I liked your question so much that I responded in a new post.