Social Justice

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    I’m a nursing student at the University of Washington. While the science aspect of the schooling is great, as the curriculum transitions to more policy, it seems to be endorsing more and more socialism. Being in Seattle, not a huge surprise. I have stood up on multiple occasions to try and explain to classmates, and teachers, that the free market is the solution. And that their concept of social justice is antithetical to what I consider the more classical forms of justice that protect individual rights, not equalizing resources. Except for a few, it seems to fall on deaf ears. The push is always for reducing the income gap, progressive taxation, universal healthcare, etc. This week we were assigned this to read:
    I was actually shocked to see that this kind of stuff was published on our school website. To get to the point, are their any ways to strengthen my arguments? It seems that the professors are so used to students accepting these beliefs that they don’t even know how to respond when I refute their underlying principles that the rest of their theory is based off. The indoctrination is strong, and I want to offer young students another option. Are their some good sources I could pointed towards? Mostly on the concepts of welfare, universal healthcare, redistribution of wealth, and especially comparing our health care and outcomes to other countries. Any help would be appreciated. I’m enjoying the courses so far on this site. Thanks.


    Their intellectual imperialism invades every field and pervades everything and, as their forebearers (such as Walter Rauchenbush, author of “Christianizing the Social Order,”) they would create the most comprehensive theocracy ever. And yet they think their dogma is nothing but the product of pure reason and disinterested social science.

    Understanding the underlaying premises that lead many of these to assert & believe that “social justice” is arrived at through sound “social science” will be a good step for boulstering your own arguments. I.E. Rawls (which not all of these people cite explicitly as an underlaying source, but almost all of them are influenced by it) based his “Theory of Justice” essentially on Welfare Economics as derived from Neoclassical assumptions.

    So reading or listening to Austrian Critiques & explainations of the differences and what is wrong with this approach is helpful (here is a great video by Bob Murphy doing that).

    Also knowing the roots & origins of social justice and the uplift generally and how, rather than being an “optimistic view of human nature,” it is one that believes in manipulation of people by a cadre of experts will be helpful. While many social scientists, deep in their heart, want to be manipulators (that’s what The [Social] Uplift is all about), not many of their targets (which include their student-audiences) want to be the manipulated.

    Understanding that all of this implies not egalitarian equality in the least, but rather a permanent caste structure between the technocratic manipulators and the mass which is molded will help as well.

    Mostly, knowing and showing just how much all the things they advocate ruin rather than help lives, kill rather than save lives, produce rather than reduce inequality, and the like will be very helpful. For better or worse, you do also have to appeal to people’s emotions and the fact that if you want to help people, you certainly don’t ruin their lives for them. (Much of Progressivism is based on people wanting to feel better about themselves and then displacing blame for the bads their policies produce).

    Also, and a lot of free-marketeers get this wrong when they speak only of incentives and perverse incentives, and fail to explicitly connect why people react the way they do when incentives are distorted: because of the injustice that is being done. Progressive egalitarian “social justice” schemes fail (in part) because they inflict injustice in the name of justice.

    Hitting people with the Mises arguments about calculation problems and the dynamics of interventionism is important, but to that really does need to be added one’s sense of justice, and how these schemes are peverse not simply because they won’t produce what the activists want, but they are unjust in-and-of-themselves.

    Also I’ll add something: don’t expect to win over everyone and certainly you won’t have the amount of time professors have. Sometimes the best thing to do is an incisive polite-but-puncturing comment, correctly time, that doesn’t attempt to rebut an entire lecture but will cause students – at least ones who want to think more – to realize that there is more to things than they are being presented with, and indeed what they are being presented with are caracatures and tendentiously mendacious distortions. Until you’re outside of class (whether talking to these very same fellow students at the student union or whether discussing things with random other people by some other means), you’re up against a machine too strong.

    But the more knowlegable you are yourself across as wide a variety of subjects as possible and thus can speak intelligently and from a position of superior information, the easier it will be to plant these seeds of doubt. Which is about all you can do as a student in a class; plant seeds of doubt in the mind of fellow students, and show that the opposition to The Narrative is not the side that is misinformed or ignorant; rather, it is “The Cathedral” (the social-justice-progressive-education-media-statist-complex) that is a font of ignorant misinformation.

    Read all their stuff, and all the stuff by the professors here and the scholars at the Mises Institute that you can, watch all the videos, follow as many footnotes as you can. Intellectually arm yourself.

    Basically there is no shortcut: one has to be an autodidact and a polymath.


    Thank you very much for such a long detailed response. It’s true that I don’t get a lot of debate time, but every time I get a chance to refute their claims, it allows me the chance to plant little ideas of liberty in people’s mind. And the more I learn, the better I can appeal on the emotional level. So thank you again.
    On another note, there’s a Tom Woods speech on youtube that I’ve watched before in which he talks about everything that capitalism has done for mankind, such as equalizing the life expectancy and height between the rich and the poor worldwide. I haven’t been able to find it recently. Does anyone know the name of this video, or have a link? Thanks.


    Was it this one?

    Though it might have been this one. (In fact I think this really might be the one you’re thinking of).

    If either of them aren’t the one you’re looking for, please let me know (I didn’t re-listen to them, I simply popped the links in because I think I remembered him talking about that in these, but it’s been awhile since I listened to them. I know, I know; if I was really “hardcore” I’d have all the Tom Woods videos on a playlist running an endless loop as I sleep, but I’m not that “pro”).

    It’s also possible in his “Libertarian Speech I Would Give to the Whole Country.”

    [Edit: Oh, wait, it is quite possibly Applying Economics to American History, which punctures a series of “myths.”]


    Here a few articles I found when we our science classes started shifting into policy classes in pharmacy school a couple years ago. One thing I have noticed among some of my classmates is that they think our current healthcare system is the picture of a free-market. They think that private ownership of the means of production = unhampered capitalism. A lot of these articles dismantle that misconception. Also, they outline the history of government intervention in healthcare that has brought us to where we are today. I point out to my friends that if we are to learn anything from the past 50-100 years it should be that government intervention drives up costs and drives down quality.

    What’s Really Wrong with the Healthcare Industry by Vijay Boyapati

    The Real Right to Medical Care vs. Socialized Medicine” by George Reisman

    Lowering the Cost of Health Care” by Ron Paul

    Healthcare Reform Passes” by Ron Paul

    Diagnosing Our Health Care Woes”</a" by Ron Paul

    Abolish the FDA!</a" by Jim Grichar

    100 Years of US Medical Fascism by Dale Steinreich



    Sort of off-topic here, but whenever anyone hits me with “private ownership of the means of production” I always feel compelled to demand they answer: Can you really be said to “own” something when some external force that you have virtually no influence on can dictate to you all of the following:

    Who you may hire (and who you can’t)
    What products and services you may provide (and what you can’t)
    What facilities you must have on site, and how they must be constructed
    Who your customers may be (and who they can’t)

    And of course, the same external force reserves the right to keep as much of your profit for themselves as it decides to in any particular year.

    If you violate any of their dictates, they will shut you down and forbid you from engaging in trade, and maybe even imprison you.

    The word “ownership” has little to no meaning in modern society. For my money, no private individuals own anything anymore. The state owns it all, and allows us to keep some of it. We have socialism in everything but the name.


    Great reading list (I’d also suggest this wonderful Higgs video, again).

    And it is interesting how very successful Progressivism has been in 1) constantly trumpeting their accomplishments and progress as a (statist) but 2) still managing to largely succeed, whenever anything goes wrong, in asserting that we still have a laissez-faire free market and thus that’s what caused the problem, and the solution is more of the same (which they always portray as new and a break with the past when the only overall theme is continuity with past policy prescriptions).

    Here we keep seeing Progressivism as a failure. But it’s probably the most successful political movement in American history. I mean, to be able to constantly ascribe its failures to a boogyman, and always claim market successes (such as rising living standards) are due to it alone, and get so many people to believe, that’s really amazing.

    Plus, these people claim to be moderate, empirically-oriented, and fact-based, but the regulatory code (including financial regulation) grows and grows, the number of regulators – including financial regulators – and the extent of their authority grew and grew under Bush, and yet they claim the problem was deregulation and laissez-faire – and they have so many educated people believing that.

    Of course one of the things that pushes this charade along is that it is in the interests of both major parties to pretend that one of them supports free markets.


    Thanks for all the replies. All great info and links. This was also published the other day, right in line with this topic


    Okay, I found the Tom Woods speech I was looking for,

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