Panda Bear is great writer. A great, deceptive writer, but aren’t we writers always trying to use our words to influence and convince, anyway?
Panda Bear uses great analogy and examples (usually stereotyped) to make his point. The fallacy is perhaps not his fault–we often see the best and the worst of and in people in the Emergency Department, which may explain his selection bias. Here’s the fundamental difference between us, Panda Bear, with clichés in full force: you seem to believe that one bad apple spoils the barrel, whereas I don’t believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
But that’s the problem with Social Justice, especially as it is used to justify giving everyone free health care. It makes the assumption that everyone is a victim and doesn’t allow for the possibility of the freeloader who not only exists in droves but is aggressively selected for in every nanny-state ever created. People may be lazy but they aren’t stupid and, as most people do not love their jobs, if the conditions are set to obviate the need for work many people will tend to do as little work as they possibly can.
Social justice, as I understand, it about equality. Distributing shared, scarce public resources as equitably as possible. Nothing in it speaks of victimhood. The poor (because that’s who I think we’re really talking about here) are certainly in a terrible position, and some might think of them as victims, but I wouldn’t blanket the term on like that.
Look, our society is based on equality, equal opportunity, and justice for all. While I’m certainly not
idealistic naive enough to believe that this will ever be attained, I fundamentally believe it’s something we should strive for. Will there be free-loaders? Always! It’s our unfortunate human nature. I agree that “many people will tend to do as little work as they possibly can.” But I believe that for the most part, the poor and working poor do the best they can based on their circumstances. These people are not the ones that freeload in the ED. You may never see them (until their appendix bursts). Because they’re doing whatever they can to make ends meet. I believe that these people–the large majority, in my mind–should not be punished because of the inevitable freeloaders that happen to be grouped in the same income bracket. We should do our best to create policies that discourage freeloading, but not at the cost of hurting those who already have the least. (And ahem, health care is certainly not free. I know what you mean, but if liberal wackos are going to get rightly called to task for the term, I’m an equal-opportunity call-to-tasker.)
Later in Panda’s piece he sets up the anonymous straw-man “the usual suspects” who are apparently “deeply conflicted.” I’m not sure who the usual suspects are, unless they’re tree-hugging, Communist free-spirited liberals from San Francisco. (Note: Having been in the Bay Area for 5 years, one of the tree-hugging strongholds in the US, I have yet to find a serious-about-policy, educated, truly informed “usual suspect” as Panda describes. Please report them to both Panda and I immediately.)
As if we don’t have enough trouble administering real justice we now have to gear up to dispense social justice, a highly nebulous concept the implementation of which requires that grievance, race, age, social status, intelligence, and other things that Americans should ignore be worked into an arbitrary and impossible behavioral calculus to give to each according to his need and to take from each according to his abilty.
Equality, Panda, is the word you’re looking for. Highly nebulous concept that it is, I’m all for it.
I certainly by any stretch of the imagination do not believe that highly-over-educated, job-pretty-darn-secure, world-is-my-oyster physicians (including myself) can understand what it’s like to poor in today’s society. Crappy education, dangerous neighborhoods, the convenience store and fast food for your dinner options. The medblogosphere’s tune would certainly be different if most people’s parents were poor and working poor.