[ExI] Social right to have a living

Damien Sullivan phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu
Wed Jun 1 06:49:46 UTC 2011

On Tue, May 31, 2011 at 10:42:08AM -0600, Kelly Anderson wrote:

> >> - Hiring huge amounts of labor at market prices (some call this
> >> exploiting the masses)
> >
> > Note "market price" depends on the alternative opportunities available
> > to the masses, which may in turn be constrained by previous unethical
> > behavior. ?Hiring landless workers at market prices, workers who are
> > landless because they were kicked off their land by others, seems like a
> > problematic grey area. ?You may not be doing anything directly wrong
> > yourself, but the whole system is messed-up and you're profiting from
> > injustices. ?Like, hrm, buying stolen goods. ?You didn't steal them,
> > but...
> I refuse to be responsible for the actions of others, including my
> ancestors. This is the slave reparations argument, and I don't buy
> that either. Life is not fair, get over it and move on! The only thing

A common argument from those who aren't being screwed over by the

> that CAN and SHOULD be made fair is that there should be liberty to
> live one's life according to your own choice. You can't pick the
> circumstances of your birth, but everything after that should be a
> choice. Being landless is a minor issue in today's economy in any

Being landless, yes.  Being malnourished, uneducated, or otherwise
deprived in childhood, OTOH, are rather huge issues.

> case. Not having an education is a bigger problem, and I struggle with
> whether public education should be provided, only insofar as it is an

I'm glad for that much.

> > How about profiting from benefits and networking derived from racial
> > prejudice?
> You can't legislate your way out of that one. It has to be wrong

Well, we've legislatively banned hiring and firing based on race.  We
could go further, e.g. by setting up resume bureaus that presented name
and gender scrubbed resumes to hiring companies, which would help people
at least get one step further in the process than "this name sound
black, let's not respond to them".

> > Networking can seem innocent on the surface, but the counterpart is the
> > reduced ability of those not in the old boys' (say) network to have the
> > same opportunities. ?"With hard work and your parents knowing the right
> > people anyone can get ahead!" ?The solutions aren't obvious to me but
> > dismissing the concern doesn't seem right either.
> Again, I don't like the old boy's network, but it can't be fixed by a
> political solution. It must be wrong according to the zeitgeist.

I'm not sure it can't be improved by political solutions.  On the stick
side, requiring/encouraging more documentation and transparency in
various processes.  On the carrot side, providing more opportunities.
Stuff like helping minorities into Ivy League schools is part of that.

And such legal changes can also change the zeitgeist.  A lot of the
decline of racism in the US is probably from the federal government
cracking down and enforcing civil rights over "states' rights".  Chicken
and egg: there had to be some core of interest in that, but having new
attitudes written into the law of the land probably helped extend it.

-xx- Damien X-) 

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