The term Social Justice usually sparks a vigorous debate amongst the American people. Many see unfairness inherit in the “free enterprise” system and want to take immediate action to remedy the problem. Others see the unfairness as an unfortunate by-product of liberty and that can only be controlled or contained. Regardless of where one stands on the issue, anyone can look out across America and see people who are less fortunate and struggling from paycheck to paycheck just to keep food on the table. This conflict comes from the disagreement of who’s responsible for the less fortunate among us. Is it the corporations? Is it the government? Is it the poor themselves?
In today’s climate, the natural bent seems to veer towards government responsibility and citizens who agree with this idea are inclined to vote for politicians with those same beliefs. The term Social Justice always gets bandied about feverishly during election years and the politicians that brand themselves the best champion of the poor are the ones that your neighbors try to guilt trip you into voting.
To define Social Justice as solely a government responsibility is a dangerous thing to do because it injects the noble act of taking care of one’s fellow man into the political arena. Social Justice now becomes a matter of debate and choice, when it should be a personal conviction and responsibility.
Take for example one-percenter Zach Braff. Back in 2011, he Tweeted, “I don’t mind paying higher taxes. I was blessed with some dough. I think I should share it. (But that’s just me…).” Not allowing time to change his mind, recently he played a Twitter game #SaySomethingLiberalIn4Words in which he Tweeted, “Willing to share wealth.”
There is this distorted equivocation in the minds of some that higher taxes are akin to wealth sharing. If we are going to be technical about it, sending your check to the IRS and having them distribute it to various government entities is one form of wealth sharing in the same way that herpes is truly the gift that keeps on giving. See, I’m not from around here, but I have this crazy idea that sharing the wealth means that I have wealth, and “I” share it. If someone is in need, I give them something to help them.
An acquaintance of mine once told me about a family that every month, they buy a certain number of frozen meals and stock them in a separate freezer. Hoarders you say? Possibly. But hoarders with a heart. This family has a stockpile of food to help family or friends when the need arises. If anyone they know can’t supply food for their families, this family is right there to help. And the government didn’t coerce this family to do this because, as we will see later, people have responsibilities to their fellow man, not entities like the government.
Take Tyler Perry for example. Word got to him of a single mother who was struggling to make ends meet and while taking care of her child who suffers from a costly, debilitating disease. You might be thinking, since this is an election year, Tyler Perry could vote for a politician that will enact laws to assist this mother and her child, or he could take it upon himself to help this woman. Perry responded by paying her rent for an entire year.
Or take the story of Leonard Abess as told by President Obama:
“I think of Leonard Abess, a bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn’t tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, ““I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn’t feel right getting the money myself.”
The fatal flaw in President Obama’s logic is that he is trying to equate a Mr. Abbess’ personal decision to share wealth with government enforced wealth redistribution. Obama essentially turned an act of true charity into a feel good story about how the rich should pay more taxes when, the point was, Mr. Abess used his personal liberty to bless others.
Not to belabor the obvious, but the $60 million bonus that Mr. Abess got was his bonus to give away. Legally it did not belong to anyone else. Out of conviction and gratitude (Not coercion) he choose to share it with those who he felt helped him earn that bonus.
What President Obama is trying to do is convert personal liberty into public coercion. What he and the Zach Braff’s of the world have done is to put helping the less fortunate to a vote instead of leaving it as a conviction.
Capitalist pig, Milton Friedman said it best,
“The government does not have any responsibility… people have responsibility… you and I have responsibility. The question is how can we, as a people, exercise our responsibility to our fellow man most effectively.”
What Lenorad Abess and Tyler Perry did was to take on the personal responsibility of helping their fellow man and shared the wealth they earned.
Zach Braff does not see “sharing the wealth” in this fashion. Braff wants to look like Leonard Abess but he wants to use other people’s money. Braff’s attitude on sharing the wealth is like the 16 year old bragging about having a Porsche while conveniently leaving out the fact that his daddy bought him the car. He thinks that paying higher taxes is the most effective way of exercising his responsibility to his fellow man. His Tweet, “I don’t mind paying higher taxes. I was blessed with some dough. I think I should share it. (But that’s just me…)” is disingenuous because it isn’t just his opinion- He wants government to modify the laws based on his point of view.
If Zach doesn’t think he is paying enough in taxes, then he nothing is stopping him from sharing his wealth however he sees fit. He can choose to help fund the local non-profit health clinic in Los Angeles. He can claim this as a write off on his tax returns and then pass on the savings to the very same non-profit health clinic. Or maybe he can pay the rent of one the random valet parkers he comes across on a regular basis.
Someone might want to inform Zach that, historically, when taxes are low, there is increase revenue to the treasury.
The point is to emancipate ourselves from the notion that Social Justice equals higher taxes. If you don’t do that, then Social Justice lives or dies on the whims of the electorate.
Do you know what real Social Justice is? Make enough money to take care of yourself and family. Then, when you and your family are taken care of, take care of your extended family if anyone is in need. When your extended family is taken care of, take care of your friends and acquaintances if anyone is in need. When your friends and acquaintances are taken care of, take care of your anyone in your neighborhood if anyone is in need. When your neighborhood is taken care of, take care of your community if anyone is in need. When your community is taken care of, take care of your city if anyone is in need.
Social Justice, however it may be defined, should fueled by your personal conviction and your deeds to ensure justice is done. You can’t claim the moral high ground by voting in politicians who use the tax code to fund your idea of social justice.