Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Is "Distributive Justice" yet another idea that progressives imported from Germany?

In his book "Distributive Justice" John A. Ryan writes the following: (page 252)

The Canon of Human Welfare

We say "human" welfare rather than "social" welfare, in order to make clear the fact that this canon considers the well being of men not only as a social group, but also as individuals. It includes and summarises all that is ethically and socially feasible in the five canons already reviewed. It takes account of equality, inasmuch as it regards all men as persons, as subjects of rights; and of needs, inasmuch as it awards to all the necessary participants in the industrial system at least that amount of remuneration which will meet the elementary demands of decent living and self development. It is governed by efforts and sacrifices, at least in so far as they are reflected in productivity and scarcity; and by productivity and scarcity to whatever extent is necessary in order to produce the maximum net results. It would give to every producer sufficient remuneration to evoke his greatest net contribution to the productive process. Greatest "net" contribution; for a man's absolute maximum product may not always be worth the required price. For example: a man who for a salary of 2500 dollars turns out a product valued at 3000 dollars, should not be given 3000 dollars in order to induce him to bring forth a product worth 3300 dollars. In this case a salary of 2500 dollars evokes the maximum net product, and represents the reward which would be assigned by the canon of human welfare. Once the vital needs of the individual have been safeguarded, the supreme guide of the canon of human welfare is the principle of maximum net results, or the greatest product at the lowest cost.

It is not contended here that this canon ought never to undergo modification or exception. Owing to the exceptional hazards and sacrifices of their occupation, a combination of producers might be justified in exacting larger compensation than would be accorded them by the canon of human welfare on the basis of net results in the present conditions of supply and scarcity. Unusual needs and capacities might also justify a strong group in pursuing the same course. All that is asserted at present is that in conditions of average competition the canon of human welfare is not unjust. And this is all that is necessary as a preliminary to the discussion of just profits.1

1 A very suggestive discussion of the psychology, the general principles, and the practical limitations of distributive justice, will be found in an article by Gustav Schmoller, entitled, " The Idea of Justice in Political Economy." It is No. 113 in the Publications of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

The footnote is what's important here. First, who was John A. Ryan? He was the Jim Wallis of his day. A corrupt social justice/gospel peddler. John Ryan was called by many in his day "The Right Reverend New Dealer" (second link) for his support of the New Deal. Jonah Goldberg has an entry on NRO about him here, which will give you a bit of an idea and help me get to the next item.

As you can see from his own book, he's referencing Gustav von Schmoller. Who was Schmoller? He was what they called a "Kathedersozialist", which means "Socialist of the chair".(As you can see from that last link, Emily Greene Balch was also influenced by Schmoller) In other words, an armchair revolutionary. I find this kind of ironic, that even this is a term imported from Germany. A modified and updated version of this could be "armchair quarterback". That just goes to show you how infected our society is with Germanic socialist ideals. But after a century of this sort of propaganda in our colleges and even schools, what else would anybody expect?

Here's a bit of what this socialist theoretician wrote:

The decisive ideal conceptions will be influenced not exclusively but essentially by distributive justice. Institutions which govern whole groups of human beings and the entire distribution of wealth and incomes necessarily call forth a judgment upon their total effects. Inasmuch, indeed, as single institutions concern only single men and single phases of life, the justice required will only be a partial one. Naturally this is always easy to attain. A just assessment of taxes, a just distribution of the burdens for the improvement of highways, of the duty of military service, a just gradation of wages are much easier to attain than a just distribution of the total incomes and wealth. But an endeavor towards these ends will never cease; all partially just regulations have significance only in a system of the just distribution of the total. And with this we finally come to the question what can be and what should the State do in this matter?

In our view it will obviously not be a body confined to the extension of justice in criminal law, in the jurisdiction upon contracts and further, perhaps, in the assessment of taxes, but ignoring the just distribution of goods. What sense is there in warming up in the legislatures over the hundredth part of a cent, which a quart of beer or a yard of cloth is raised in price for the poor man, when one takes the standpoint on principle, that his wages are to be regarded as something indifferent and remote from all human intervention. Our modern civilized commonwealth indeed cannot remove every injustice, because primarily it operates and has to operate by means of law. But it should not therefore be indifferent to the moral sentiments of men who ask for justice in distributing wealth and incomes for the grand total of human society. The State is the centre and the heart in which all institutions empty and unite. It also has a strong direct influence on the distribution of incomes and wealth as the greatest employer of labor, the greatest property holder, or the administrator of the greatest undertakings. Above all it exercises as legislator and administrator the greatest indirect influence on law and custom, on all social institutions; and this is the decisive point.

This is what we're dealing with, this is how the elites think. They view the state as the center of our lives, and do not think it tyranny to be this insertive into daily activity. They have openly written: "No, planning is not by itself tyrannical".

What do those of us out here who are being "planned" have to say? Yes, you are tyrants. You are dictating to our lives about things you have no business dictating about.

As to Ryan, John A. Ryan's most widely known book was not "Distributive Justice"(read it here), but rather his prior book "A Living Wage"(read it here). But according to Ryan himself, in his autobiography:

Distributive Justice is unquestionably the most important book I have written

He had his own reasons for its importance, unfortunately his autobiography is locked down under copyright and we cannot see what those are. But I know why I think it's important. From what I can tell Ryan's book is the first time "Distributive Justice" enters the English Language in a major way; that is, here's a popular writer at the time, using this term as a book title that would be sold at book stores and likely used as a college text by some of his peers. Sure, when Gustav Schmoller's work on this matter is originally translated from German into English(Translation date unknown, but the publication was 1894, so it's safe to say that the translation was done around that same time) would be the first time it enters into the language in a small way.(Outside of offhand classroom references by various professors of the late 1800's. But those are impossible to track)


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