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Liberal Arguments for Equality are Not Persuasive; Egalitarian Arguments Are

by John Spritzler

April 4, 2018

Liberals argue for equality in ways that are guaranteed to be unpersuasive to large segments of the population who would support egalitarian equality. I will illustrate this in the case of health care, reparations, and solutions to address past racial discrimination in jobs and school admissions. I hope that you will see from these examples that the way to gain massive support for making our society more equal--in all respects--is not the liberal approach but rather the egalitarian one.

Health Care

Liberal Health Care Equality

Liberals say that health care is the right of all. This is the basis for the liberal argument that society should provide universal health care for all, regardless of whether a person can afford to pay for it.

To say that something is "the right of all" is to say that it is the right even of freeloaders, i.e., of people who are able to contribute beneficially to society but who flatly refuse to do so and yet take wealth from those who do contribute to society. In the section below, titled "Why Liberals Lose the Argument with Conservatives about Freeloaders," I provide two posts on this subject I made on Facebook.

Libertarians, such as Senator Rand Paul, argue (see here and here) that the liberal argument (that health care is the right of all) implies that health care providers (doctors, nurses, hospital orderlies, etc.) must be slaves. Why? Because it means that any person who wants health care can demand, as his or her right, that health care providers labor to provide that health care whether they want to or not; and that's the very definition of slavery: being forced work for somebody against one's will.

When liberals encounter this argument, it drives them crazy mad! What actually infuriates them, however, is that they have no persuasive principled rebuttal, and they know it.

Egalitarian Health Care Equality

The egalitarian argument, in contrast to the liberal one, demolishes the libertarian defense of inequality in health care (i.e., the libertarian notion that only people rich enough to afford it should receive quality health care.) The egalitarian argument for equality in health care goes like this:

Society should be based on mutual agreements (among everyone, including health care providers and others) to share socially produced wealth (i.e., products and services created by the economy, including health care) on the morally just basis of, "From each according to reasonable ability, to each according to need or reasonable desire with scarce things equitably rationed according to need." [FAQ: Why & How to have NO RICH AND NO POOR is a good place to learn more about egalitarianism.]

Note that the egalitarian argument is NOT that health care is a right of all; the egalitarian argument is that health care providers should agree to provide health care to those who have contributed reasonably according to ability in society, and in return health care providers should be able to take from the economy what they need or reasonably desire. (The word "reasonably" means just that: the reasonable contribution for some people, such as children or people physically or mentally incapable of contributing, or retired people, etc., is zero; and doing things like going to school or caring for a child, etc., count as a reasonable contribution.)

How could a libertarian respond to this egalitarian argument? The libertarian could--if he/she were a decent person--agree with it. Otherwise the libertarian would have to say that he/she did not like the idea of society being based on this kind of mutual agreement among people; in making this argument he/she would look like a jerk, not a morally just person. One thing is for sure, the libertarian "That's slavery" argument would be seen by everybody as totally irrelevant because mutual agreements have nothing to do with slavery. (I discuss this more here.)

To the many people who are trying to make up their mind about which side makes the most sense, the libertarians come across as the ones with a solid principled moral position. If liberals, however, advocated egalitarianism instead of their confused liberalism, then they would be far MORE persuasive than their libertarian opponents.

Reparations

Liberals in the United States argue that there should be material (money, typically) reparations given to Native Americans and the descendants of people who were slaves. The liberal argument is that these people suffer in many various ways today from the injustices inflicted on their ancestors in the past, and only material reparations can at least partially compensate for this. So far, so good; this is a sound argument. But when the liberals advocate any kind of specific reparations policy they run into the problem that many people (including libertarians) make a persuasive case that the specific reparations policy is morally unjust.

Liberal Reparations

The problem for the liberals is this. The only kind of reparations they can conceive of is some version of taking wealth from one group of Americans and giving it to the Americans deemed deserving of reparations. Every single detail in such a policy is open to the accusation that it is morally unjust.

First of all, there is the question of who should receive the repartions. What if one person has a larger percentage of his/her ancestors who were slaves or Native Americans than another person; should the amount of reparations be based on some kind of "blood" calculation, and if so, what is the "just" formula? What if a person cannot prove his/her ancestry? Oh boy! This is recipe for bitter fighting among people all of whom think they're morally right and anybody who disagrees with them is morally wrong.

Next there is the question of who should pay the reparations (be taxed for it, I suppose). Should everybody who isn't deemed deserving of receiving the reparations pay them? Can you imagine the self-righteous arguments against this idea coming from people who immigrated to the United States long after the injustices were committed for which reparations are designed to compensate? For that matter, think about how unfair it would seem to Americans--especially poor working class Americans--who are the descendants of poor whites who never owned slaves, if they were taxed to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves. Likewise, how would Americans whose ancestors had nothing to do with the genocide of Native Americans feel about the morality of making them pay reparations to Native Americans?

Next there is the question about whether a poor person should be taxed to pay reparations to rich person. Certainly there are individuals who are Native American or who are the descendant of slaves (or a slave) who are much wealthier today than plenty of the Americans who would be taxed to pay for reparations. It's not hard to imagine the fairly persuasive moral arguments that would be raised against what would be in effect a reverse Robin Hood tax!

Of course some liberals might try to avoid the above dilemmas by saying that only the rich should be taxed to pay for reparations. There are two versions of this plan that are logically conceivable. 1) Tax the rich enough to make the reparations truly meaningful in magnitude or 2) tax the rich so little that the amount of reparations would be meaningless--symbolic only.

The first version would--realistically--require a revolution because the rich won't give up THAT much of their wealth otherwise; but liberals never advocate revolution. Furthermore, if the liberals did advocate a revolution to "take money from the rich to give to Native Americans and descendants of slaves" it would fail to succeed because it would fail to have sufficient support from the hundreds of millions of Americans that is required to make a revolution; it would be a revolution whose purpose did not address the pressing grievances of most ordinary Americans at all.

The second version would be--rightfully!--condemned as morally unjust to the people deserving reparations.

This is why, when liberals advocate reparations, they meet with so much resistance.

Egalitarian Reparations

Egalitarian revolution aims to make society have no rich and no poor. At the risk of repeating myself, it aims to make society be one that is

based on mutual agreements (among everyone, including health care providers and others) to share socially produced wealth (i.e., products and services created by the economy, including health care) on the morally just basis of, "From each according to reasonable ability, to each according to need or reasonable desire with scarce things equitably rationed according to need." [FAQ: Why & How to have NO RICH AND NO POOR is a good place to learn more about egalitarianism.]

Unlike any reparations plan that liberals ever advance, egalitarian revolution accomplishes true reparations on a huge scale! Those individuals who are poor because of the lingering effects of past injustices would gain enormously--more than with any reparations plan that the liberals could ever dream of advocating, never mind winning. And yet poor people benefiting from egalitarian reparations would not have to prove anything at all about their ancestry.

At the same time, everybody who contributed reasonably to the economy would be able to take for free from the economy what they needed or reasonably desired or have equal status with others to receive scarce things equibably rationed according to need. The only people who would feel that this is morally unjust are the small number of people who think they deserve to be richer than others.

Nobody's ancestors--be they slaves or slave owners or neither, nor Native Americans or not--would be cited as the reason for why they were, or were not, taxed; so all the bitter arguments related to such liberal notions about who should be taxed would become irrelevant. (There are no taxes at all in an egalitarian society, and no money either.)

Yes, this requires a revolution, but it is a revolution for a goal that has (already!) the support of more than 80% of ordinary Americans, which is why it can indeed succeed. (Here's a video showing that most ordinary Americans want an egalitarian revolution. When I asked people at a pro-Trump rally they felt the same way the people in this video do.)

Affirmative Action & "White Privilege"

Liberals want racial equality. Fine. But the way liberals argue for racial equality actually helps the ruling class maintain racial inequality as well as class inequality with its divide-and-rule strategy of fomenting mistrust and resentment between working class whites and black/Hispanic/Native American minorities. Here's how.

An Egalitarian Solution to Inequality

As I describe in my article, "We Need THIS, Not Affirmative Action," (it's a short article and you need to read it to understand what follows) there was an egalitarian way that the harmful effects of past racial discrimination in hiring could have been eliminated that would have been widely, even enthusiastically, supported by not only racial minorities but by white working class people as well. It would have produced increased solidarity between white and non-white working class people. It would have been in the spirit of egalitarianism--of equality.

The Liberal Solution to Inequality

But instead, liberals supported the ruling class's Affirmative Action plan that, while purporting to be about ending racial discrimination, was actually DESIGNED to foment mistrust and resentment between the races, by making many white working class people believe that now whites were being discriminated against and that anti-racism was really just code for anti-white. Liberals played a vital role in helping the ruling class use Affirmative Action for this divide-and-rule strategy. Liberals did this by accusing any white person of being a racist if he/she expressed the idea that hiring and school admission criteria should the SAME for people regardless of their race--the very same idea that the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for!

Liberals could have avoided being used this way if they had adopted the egalitarian approach spelled out in my (previously mentioned) article "We Need THIS, Not Affirmative Action". Liberals thought the ruling class was working to end racial discrimination with Affirmative Action, but they should have opened their eyes and seen that the ruling class was actually simply replacing the old Jim Crow with the New Jim Crow of racist prison incarceration.

Liberals Don't Understand Why the Phrase "White Privilege" has Replaced the phrase "Racial Discrimination"

Similarly, liberals have jumped on the ruling class's new bandwagon that has replaced the very good phrase, "racial discrimination [against minorities]" with the deliberately misleading and dangerously divisive phrase of "white privilege." I discuss in detail why the phrase "white privilege" is misleading and dangerous (it is designed to destroy solidarity between white and minority working class people) in my article, "Is It a 'Privilege' Not to be Discriminated Against?" (Again, this is a short article that you need to read or else you won't understand what follows.) And I show here (in detail again) that the reason the phrase "white privilege" has replaced the phrase "racial discrimination" is because the ruling class (Big Money, including the Ford and Rockefeller foundations) PAID to make it happen, big time.

Why do liberals get so easily USED by the ruling class to help implement its divide-and-rule strategies? The answer is that libeals don't know how to advocate for equality in a way that is persuasive, in a way that creates solidarity instead of undermining it. The problem stems from the fact that liberals don't grasp that among ordinary people An Injury to One is an Injury to All. (If you don't understand why this is so, please read my article about it here.)

Egalitarians envision a world with no rich and no poor, a world that is MUCH BETTER for all races of ordinary people than the world is presently--a world that we can have only if we create solidarity among all races of working class people, solidarity that policies such as Affirmative Action and phrases such as "white privilege" are designed to undermine. Liberals, in contrast, have no such vision. Liberals accept our present class inequality--which oppresses ALL races of ordinary people--as a permanent fact of nature. Liberals never question that some billionaires will always have the real power in society because they never question that our society will always be one in which money is power, in which the economy is based on buying and selling instead of "From each according to reasonable ability, to each according to need or reasonable desire," and in which everybody will compete (ideally on a "level playing field") to see who will be a rich winner and who will be a poor loser.

Because liberals never question that society should be based on this competition--each individual person against the other, each race against the other, each gender against the other, each town or city against the other, each nation against the other (with our schools needing therefore, according to the liberals, to "prepare our children to compete in the global economy")--liberals perceive any policy that benefits one race of working class people as necessarily being at the expense of--harming--the other race(s) of working class people. This is why liberals really do believe that anti-racism means being anti-white.

This is why some liberals a few years ago decided it would be a good idea to physically attack white working class people--just because they were white--in the name of anti-racism: they did this by blocking the mainly white commuters (including an ambulance with a patient inside) on I-93 driving to work in Boston. (See newpaper reports of this here and here.) To the great pleasure, no doubt, of the ruling class, these liberal activists sent a message to white working class people that is exactly the same Big Lie that the ruling class has always, since the days of chattel slavery, told white working class people, namely that ordinary whites BENEFIT from racial discrimination against racial minorities. What would the ruling class do without such liberals?

Why Liberals Lose the Argument with Conservatives about Freeloaders (two Facebook posts)

Post #1

WHY YOU SHOULD MONITOR YOUR LOCAL CONSERVATIVE TALK RADIO (WHICH HAS ABOUT AS MANY LISTENERS AS NPR)

If you monitor your local conservative talk radio (as I do) you will learn how these conservative talk show hosts persuade many ordinary people in their audience that the liberals are their enemy and the conservatives are their friend and champion.

THE CONSERVATIE PITCH

Today, for example, Jeff Kuhner at WRKO AM in Boston spent his allotted time on air informing (truthfully? who knows? it matters not) his listeners about some new study about how people on welfare are using their EBT cards ("Electronic Benefit Transfer": like a debit card, it's how welfare payments are made now). The study supposedly showed that lots of people are using their EBT cards to withdraw cash from ATM machines on cruise ships and in expensive vacation resorts and Las Vegas casinos and strip clubs, etc.

Jeff Kuhner drove home the point that he, personally, goes many years before he can afford such expensive vacations. His point was that the people with EBT cards are freeloaders sponging off the people who actually work, living off the taxes paid by hardworking Americans who seldom get to take an expensive vacation or have enough money to gamble it away and stuff it in the whatever of a pole-dancing woman.

Jeff Kuhner's additional point was that the strategy of the Democratic Party is to tax hardworking Americans to give the money to these freeloaders in exchange for the votes of the freeloaders; and of course the freeloaders are happy to vote for the Democrats in exchange for their EBT cards.

Jeff Kuhner works with exactly the same script as all of the conservative talk show hosts and conservative media generally.

The script appeals to a core value that most people (including myself!!) share: that freeloading (taking from others while refusing to contribute anything back according to ability) is morally wrong.

WHAT MAKES THE CONSERVATIVE PITCH PERSUASIVE?

The reason this script is so persuasive in turning many people against liberals (and the Democratic Party in particular) is this. Liberals don't express disapproval of freeloading. The liberal response to somebody such as Jeff Kuhner is merely to argue about how many people are truly freeloading, but not to express moral outrage freeloading.

In fact, liberals argue that people have a right to be freeloaders. This is what it means to say, as liberals do, that everybody including freeloaders has a right to health care (paid by taxes taken from the people who work, or that there should be a Universal Basic Income that would use money taken as taxes from people who work to pay a "basic income" monthly check even to people who could work but who just refuse to work.

Liberals defend these proposals by arguing that there wouldn't be many freeloaders taking advantage of them, and they remain silent about the immorality of freeloading.

Liberals act as if the people who agree with the likes of Jeff Kuhner are mean selfish people who don't think a person who truly cannot work (as opposed to a freeloader who can work) deserves to have a basic income or health care. But this is not what most listeners of conservative talk radio believe. Jeff Kuhner often explicitly expresses his belief, as a devout Catholic, that people who truly cannot work (for whatever reason) DO deserve to be provided with things like health care and a basic income.

WHAT DO LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES REALLY DISAGREE ABOUT?

Most listeners of conservative talk radio believe that the moral principle is this: "From each according to reasonable ability, to each according to need or reasonable desire." A minority think it is fine for some people to be much wealthier than others. But most think there should be no rich and no poor. I know this because when I asked 50 random people at a pro-Trump rally, 86% loved the idea of no rich and no poor, and only 8% defended the right of some to be much richer than others.

What liberals and conservatives differ on is whether or not social policies should be freeloader-friendly.

The Democratic Party leaders are in the business of keeping the plutocracy in power by making sure that ordinary people are divided-and-ruled. THIS is why the liberal leaders refuse to advocate the moral principle ("From each according...") that would UNITE the vast majority of Americans. THIS is why they advocate policies that are DESIGNED to make it easy for the Jeff Kuhners of the world to castigate them as freeloader-friendly policies.

The plutocracy's divide-and-rule strategy is to get the half of the population that listens to NPR to support "health care is the right of all" and "everybody should get a monthly basic income check from the government" and to view those who disagree as mean selfish deplorables, and to get the other half of the population that listens to conservative talk radio to believe that they are being forced by liberals to work hard only to be taxed to pay for freeloaders. The Democratic Party is most assuredly NOT in the business of helping the have-nots, not to mention abolishing class inequality and the dictatorship of the rich.

For more on this theme (how conservative and liberal leaders are really working as a divide-and-rule team) read my articles linked below:

"What about Rush Limbaugh?" at http://newdemocracyworld.org/culture/rush.html

"What I Learned from Republican Propaganda" at http://newdemocracyworld.org/culture/republican%20propaganda.html

"Be a Good Republican and Support Occupy Wall Street" (written in 2011) at http://spritzlerj.blogspot.com/2011/12/be-good-republican-and-support-occupy.html

"How Leftist Criticism of America's Rulers Plays Right Into the Hands of Rush Limbaugh" at http://newdemocracyworld.org/education/how.html


Before you decide I'm a mean jerk for being critical of liberal proposals you may love, please read my articles:

"Is Health Care a _Right_ for Freeloaders?"


and

"Beware of the Universal Basic Income"

Post #2

#1) "[FILL IN THE BLANK] IS THE RIGHT OF ALL" IS A RECIPE FOR DIVIDE-AND-RULE.

#2) "FROM EACH ACCORDING TO REASONABLE ABILITY, TO EACH ACCORDING TO NEED OR REASONABLE DESIRE" IS A RECIPE FOR THE UNITY WE NEED TO REMOVE THE RICH FROM POWER.

The #1 principle, which is unfortunately embraced by naive liberals who don't realize it is designed by the ruling class to lure them into a trap so they will be easily portrayed by conservatives as pro-freeloading, advocates a freeloader-friendly policy (and this is true regardless of how many people actually are, or inclined to be, freeloaders). (Note: a freeloader is a person who is perfectly able to contribute beneficially to society but who flatly refuses to do so but still takes from society wealth produced by others.)

The #2 principle is what the vast majority of people--including conservatives!--think is morally right. This principle would mean that the billionaires (who are essentially freeloaders!) would be, economically, no wealthier or more privileged than anybody else. This is why the billionaire class never allows this principle to be uttered in the mass media, not on NPR or Democracy Now! or conservative media or anywhere.

(Not even Marxists advocate the "From each according...." principle. Why not? Because Karl Marx declared that only in a "higher phase of communist society" after economic scarcity is eliminated could "society inscribe on its banners 'From each according...'." This is why Marxists do not talk about the "From each according..." principle, neither for the present nor even the near future.)

If we are ever to build a massively large movement to remove the rich from power we must advocate "From each according..." and use THAT principle as the basis on which to criticize the status quo. If we use the "[fill in the blank] is the right of all (including freeloaders)" principle then we will be EASILY isolated from the majority of Americans who rightly detest freeloading on moral grounds.

Some liberals/progressives wrongly think the only reason conservatives object to the liberal principle (the #1 principle above) is because they believe lies that overstate the number of people who are welfare cheat freeloaders or overstate the number of people who would be freeloaders if there were, say, a Universal Basic Income. What these liberals/progressives fail to grasp is that most ordinary Americans, like most ordinary people generally, care more about what is morally right or wrong than they do about their self-interest. The reason conservatives object to liberal freeloader-friendly policies is MAINLY because they think such policies are morally wrong, not because they think there are more freeloaders than there actually are.

When these liberals/progressives respond to the conservative criticism ONLY by refuting the exaggerated numbers of freeloaders, they completely fail to address the primary--and very legitimate!--moral concern of the conservatives. By treating conservatives as people who only "think with their belly" instead of as people with very legitimate moral concerns, such liberals/progressives exhibit a profoundly elitist contempt for good and decent people, and then they wonder why they are not persuasive!

Please share this.

 

Other Issues

If one thinks carefully about other similar issues relating to making our society more equal, one will find that the egalitarian approach is persuasive and the other (liberal) approaches are not. Give it some thought, and you will see.

 

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READ THE BOOKS IN THE "NO RICH AND NO POOR" SERIES

 

Articles by Dave Stratman

Articles by John Spritzler

Turn the World Upside Down (John Spritzler's blog #1)

End Class Inequality (John Spritzler's blog #2)

 

Books

We Can Change the World: The Real Meaning of Everyday Life by Dave Stratman

The People as Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda in World War II by John Spritzler

NO RICH AND NOPOOR: The Populist Goal We CAN and Must Win

DIVIDE AND RULE: The "Left vs. Right" Trap