Thomas Sowell’s “The Quest for Cosmic Justice”
Sowell begins by carefully distinguishing social justice and cosmic justice.
Social justice results largely from behavior of people towards others—behavior that is largely determined by social customs and laws—our culture.
Cosmic justice is the result of genetic endowments, circumstances of birth, and plain being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I quote Sowell quoting Friedman:
With people across virtually the entire ideological spectrum being offended by inequalities and their consequences, why do these inequalities persist?
Why are we not all united in determination to put an end to them?
Perhaps the most cogent explanation was offered by Milton Friedman:
This text by Friedman from “Free to Choose” is often quoted.
Sowell’s context situates it well.
I have a notion even more cynical than Sowell’s:
People rail against such inequality because it expiates their guilt.
A society that puts equality—in the sense of equality of outcome—ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom.
The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it for their own ends.
Whatever the validity of this argument—and one need only think of the horrors of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot to realize that painful possibilities are not mere fantasies—it rejects direct political equalization of economic results because the costs are judged to be too high.
Still it finds no positive virtue in inequality.
But what of those who do not reject the cost as too high?
Do they simply have a different assessment of those costs and risks?
Or do they proceed with little or no attention to that question?