Social Justice is a Proven Failure... and So Is Obama

There is a reason that Obama's ideological policy efforts have failed America. It is because they, like his ideology, are not American.

No, I am not suggesting that he wasn't born here or that he's not an American citizen. I am stating with absolute certainty that his core ideology is predicated upon anything but liberty. And since liberty is at the very core of American ideology, he is thoroughly un-American.

Obama's vision for America is based upon equality, not liberty. And despite the apparent confusion that many Americans seem to have, these two principles do not represent the same thing. But don't take my word for it. Milton Friedman, the brilliant economist and advisor to Ronald Reagan, has clarified the distinction between equality and liberty in the clearest of terms, and it doesn't take a political mind to grasp it. It just takes a mind willing to accept reality.

While fielding questions before an audience at Stanford University on February 9th, 1978, Friedman was challenged by a young man in the audience about America's responsibility to the poor.

The young man began:

You say that many people in America agree with your kind of freedom, a freedom from coercion, and I might agree with you. But I also believe that many people in America believe in a different kind of freedom, and that is freedom to well-being. A certain level of standards for housing at a good price, education, et cetera. Also, I want to say that the state has built into it a system, uh, ah, that the poor remain poor and the rich remain rich. And that is an externality of the system.

Another way of putting this is to say that he believes that income inequality is a serious problem that is only getting worse because of systemic flaws that cause the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer, which is precisely how Obama frames the issue. So Friedman's response to this suggestion applies equally:

It is not built into the system at all. It has never been true. It is simply false. If you look at the evidence, there's an enormous amount of mobility from one class to the other. In fact there used to be a saying "Three generations from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves," which reflected exactly the opposite effect. It is not built into the system. On the contrary, there is a great deal of mobility within generations and between generations. So we shouldn't argue on the basis of false factual premises.

Oh, if only we didn't have to argue on the basis of false premises, we could be free of this myth once and for all. The plain and simple fact is that the vast majority of Americans generally do not remain in either the "poor" income class or the "rich." As Friedman's contemporary Thomas Sowell points out, "Comparing the top income bracket to the bottom income bracket for a period of years tells you nothing about what is happening to the actual flesh and blood human beings who are moving between brackets during those years."

Fluidity between income classes is not only possible but distinctly likely for most Americans, who at one time or another file taxes as singles while making minimum wage, and are therefore considered "poor." Later in life, of course, those same Americans increase their skill set and marketability to the point that they can earn more money, and thus, they are no longer "poor."

This is an interesting prospect, isn't it? At one point in your life, you were probably a number that contributed to a statistic that a leftist social engineer pointed to as evidence of "economic inequality." Many Americans have moved beyond their role as evidence of "poverty," but other young, unskilled earners have taken their place, and thus, poverty is still the epidemic that it was when you shared the burden of this systematically applied "poverty."

Data, ascertained and interpreted in this manner, becomes political fodder, not a reflection of facts, and not reflective of American society.

Nonetheless, the young man was unmoved by Friedman's explanation, and suggested:

Because it is not immediately easy to become in the wealthy class, there are certain parts of the system that make that virtually impossible for the real person.

This exposes a magnificent fallacy. There is a wide chasm between incredible success and incredible failure. We Americans call it the "middle class," to which most of us belong. It seems silly, but it's necessary to note that moderate success and moderate failure exist in that broad area between. Here, this young man is arguing for the state's responsibility to create "ladders of opportunity" out of poverty. Again, this is a position that our president has taken on many occasions.

The young man went on, and surprisingly, with a very substantial question:

I believe that this freedom, too, represents the freedom to equality, as opposed to liberty. And I wonder, is it possible to build a system based on this equality that I think most people agree in, and would not be willing to sacrifice to the liberty of freedom from?

After a disclosure that his response was a simple matter of "thought" and "reason," Friedman offered the profound response:

In my opinion, a society that aims for equality before liberty, will end up with neither equality nor liberty. And a society that aims first for liberty, will not end up with equality, but with it will end up with a closer approach to equality than any other kind of system that has ever been developed. Now that conclusion is based both on evidence from history -- across history -- and also, I believe, on reasoning, which, if you try to follow through the implications of aiming first at equality, will become clear to you.You can only aim at equality, by giving some people the right to take things from others. And what ultimately happens when you aim at equality is that A and B decide what C shall do for D. Except that they take a little bit of a commission off on the way. [Emphasis added]

That kind of says it all. The truth is that Barack Obama's vision for America entails a scenario where he can provide his promised equality, or "social justice," by giving a select few people in Washington the right to "take things from others." Nothing about that amounts to liberty; it's all about establishing equality. It is a vision that has been exposed for decades as a simplistic idea that cannot attain reality without the aid of tyranny. It has been tried many times in history. And it has failed in every application, just as it has obviously failed during Obama's tenure as president.

We cannot afford Americans being ignorant of this reality any longer.

William Sullivan blogs at: can be followed on Twitter