Social Justice III: The Libertarian Criticism of Social Justice

It is a bit misleading to describe this post as “The Libertarian Criticism of Social Justice,” as the libertarian argument itself actually makes no case for or against social justice per se, only the use of governmental power to promote social justice. The libertarian criticism posits that individual freedom is the highest priority in this as well as all other social issues, and that government activity in social justice amounts to coercion regarding the individual’s private property. As a matter of public ideology, it ignores virtually all other moral concerns.

Frankly, the argument is compelling. Much of the animus behind the Revolutionary War was the desire among the revolutionaries for the freedom to make economic and moral decisions. That urge for freedom has remained a huge part of the national character. Moreover, the most fundamental principle of the Gospel is similarly that of free will (2 Nephi 2:27). It is that free will (or “free agency” in the parlance of Mormon culture) for which we battled in Heaven, according to LDS theology, and which we expect from our governments (D&C 134:1-5).

But the libertarian argument is not the sole word on governance. There are other concerns to balance. While we respect the freedom of individuals regarding their private property, we also recognize that we have entered into a social contract in choosing to unite as a nation, a compact in which we have surrendered some of that freedom for the greater good. We all provide from our private property for the defense of the entire nation, whether or not our individual communities or homes may or may not threatened. We provide for public infrastructure at all levels of government, regardless of whether we ourselves will personally be accessing those particular roads, rails, public transit, water systems, trash collection, etc, because it benefits the community and nation as a whole. We provide for emergency services whether or not we ourselves expect to need them. Again and again, we seem to have found it acceptable to surrender a portion of our private property for, as referred to in the Preamble and Section 8 of Article 1 of the Constitution, the “general welfare.”

Does social justice promote the general welfare? History shows that disease ferments within the homeless and impoverished community, eventually breaking out to ravage the mainstream society. The greater the disparity of wealth within a society, the more likely crime and civil unrest will rise. The general welfare is threatened when large segments of the population are underserved. Not only do we have a moral imperative to promote social compassion, but it is just as much a part of the public interest and within the scope of government, at whatever level, to promote social justice as it is to promote the defense or functional infrastructure.

The libertarian perspective insists that private efforts are inherently more efficient and effective than government efforts in virtually all areas. For them, social justice is no exception—indeed, for them it may be the most brazen example of this maxim. One acquaintance of mine once suggested, in denouncing the principle of government social spending, that the people instead needed to again stretch their charity muscles if they want to help the poor, because government shouldn’t be involved and couldn’t perform as well as we as private citizens could, were we to again take up the cause.

Theoretically, it may be so. But I prefer to look at practical reality than the theory. And in reality, there is no evidence that “the people” the U.S. have never advanced social justice as well as the government welfare system which had its birth in the New Deal and was further developed during the liberal programs in following decades. I do not suggest that there was no charitable work prior to the liberal welfare programs of the prior century. At the turn of the last century and in the years leading up to and opening the Great Depression, there were various religious charities, mutual aid societies, and individuals attempting to alleviate the problems of rampant poverty. Those efforts were valiant and noble. But for every person they fed, many hundreds went hungry. For every one educated or housed, scores were left illiterate and homeless. People by the thousands died of disease brought on by their living conditions in the slums, even disease treatable by the medicinal practices of the day, despite the best efforts of conscientious doctors and organizations striving to provide care for those who could not pay.

Government welfare programs have hardly been perfect either. There are far too many who slip through the cracks. But government welfare has provided for the basic necessities to a far greater proportion of the population than the combined efforts, however heroic, of the various private entities ever did. Even the LDS church welfare program, as vast and impressive as it is, could not step into the breach were government social programs to be eradicated.

Opponents of social programs, including several people commenting on this blog, have accused liberals of shifting their responsibility for personal action in social justice causes onto government essentially shirking their obligations. Of course, they have no evidence for this specious charge. Liberals across the country are contributing time and money to help solve the social ills that plague our nation. We believe strongly in grassroots mobilization and personal participation. To claim that liberals do not engage in charitable activities is as ignorant and disingenuous as for us to claim that conservatives do not participate in charitable work. We simply recognize that government action is also valid and apparently crucial (judging from historical observation) to maintaining a minimum standard of social justice when government works alongside private social efforts.

Though their argument itself has merit, I am troubled by the fact that the public ideology of those who uphold the libertarian position is so limited in scope. ideology is more than just politics; it is how a person views life. While their stand on government social justice actions is ethical, their public ideology ignores the needs of social justice. For example, I respect many of the positions of libertarian Ron Paul, and while I certainly do not agree with all of them, I do believe he is a highly principled man and politician—something of which neither major party has enough. I greatly admire that in his private profession, he has been willing to make a number of sacrifices to help serve the less fortunate. But his private deeds are not enough; the advocacy of public figures among the libertarian cause is necessary for their public ideology to be complete. Those who object to government solutions must then advocate private actions, or their ideology is hollow. To my knowledge, neither he nor other libertarian enthusiasts like the late Harry Browne, nor the Cato institute, nor the Libertarian party, nor the Republican “small government” pretender, nor any other prominent libertarian voice makes private mobilization against social ills a primary part of their ideological agenda. I do not see them imploring their listeners to make social compassion and charity a high priority in life. I hear none among those who use the libertarian criticism of (government) social justice saying “Government is not the best solution for lifting up the downtrodden. How sad that we failed to address those concerns through private action, so that those concerned about the poor felt they had no recourse but to seek government action to solve the problem! We can do better. Here is a plan by which we can through private means better provide adequate health-care / housing / education / nutrition /etc. If we all work together, if everyone sacrifices and makes this a priority, we will be able to see the blight of poverty reduced further than ever before, and no longer need those government efforts! ”

No, at best I hear those bearing the libertarian criticism mention as a footnote to their denunciations of government that we should be charitable as individuals (important but insufficient); and at worst, they display an idolatry of the market, promoting the free-market fundamentalist falsehood that an unhindered market will somehow magically eradicate poverty.

Because I recognize the inherent logic and virtue of the libertarian criticism, I agree with the need to try minimize the involvement of government as much as possible while ensuring social justice is sufficiently addressed. And, as I have said before, I acknowledge the need to minimize the abuse of the programs—while insisting that if we should err, we must err on the side of mercy. I will avidly lend my personal effort to helping the poor and promote private efforts to attack the causes and results of poverty. I don’t believe many liberals would disagree with those propositions. But until the naysayers provide practical solutions by which the private sector can better tend to any given social justice issue than the government, I will stridently defend government redress of social justice.


24 Responses to “Social Justice III: The Libertarian Criticism of Social Justice”

  1. Aaron Orgill Says:

    Wow, Derek. This is probably the best you’ve ever written. I am 100 percent with you. I’m glad to have government involved… AS A LAST RESORT ONLY. But surely you must concede that that’s not how it’s going. People don’t seem to care for their own dignity any more. I spent time working for DWS, and it’s almost like they want everyone to be on public assistance. They even have these ridiculous radio ads telling everyone they should apply for food stamps. It’s things like this that lead me to the libertarian point of view, that the government really doesn’t give a shit about being accountable to anyone. “Hey, are you marginally poor? You might qualify for public assistance”. There is poverty, and then there’s POVERTY. A little discomfort while you’re working through school or going through a tight time is okay. Not having food for your children or heat for your living quarters is what I want to stamp out.

    Consider that perhaps the reason this is not more on the libertarian agenda is that it’s already being crammed down our throats by the left, and people are sick of hearing it under the phony title of “social justice”. I’m not saying it’s right, but I believe that’s probably what’s behind it.

    I appreciate your acknowledgment of the virtues and basic truth of libertarianism. It’s things like this that make me doubt you are really all that far to the left. This is much more thought out and common-sense than what many lefties say (and again, I’m taking it straight from the horses’ mouths, not from some talk radio demagogue). You are unique among left-leaners, and I appreciate your fairness.

  2. Jeremy Says:

    You have my full agreement and support for everything you said in the last paragraph. The pragmatic argument for government provided welfare works. We will likely disagree about the extent to which pragmatism dictates use of government to obtain social justice but that is a policy issue…not a moral one.

    Any time you or anyone else claim that you have a right to my life and labor and their fruits derived from the fact that you have the guns and I don’t you are making an argument in favor of thuggery. All advocacy for government redistribution of wealth adopts this claim. There is nothing moral about this position.

    Unfortunately government and its inherently violent promotion of citizens’ “general welfare” is a necessary evil and I agree that a generous publicly provided safety net makes for good pragmatic public policy. It is immorality I’m willing to live with because the benefits outweigh the moral costs for now.

    Pragmatism on the topic of government enforced social justice must continue in our country as long as we desire to be governed by the form of government we have now. As imperfect as that government is I know enough about history to fear the alternatives.

    I’ve really looked forward to this post 🙂 You did it justice. I think you’ve failed to rebut the only real moral criticism of publicly enforced social justice but that is to be expected since there isn’t an adequate rebuttal of the false axiom that might makes right. The best we can do in this case is to argue that might should attempt to make things as right as possible while the immorality of free men causes malignant inequality.

    I look forward to the day when our church begins again to enforce “the law” as described in D&C 42 and 104 and moral men band together to voluntarily end inequality. Until that day I think we’ll continue to live in a society where an immoral government or mob rule (there isn’t a huge difference between these) reign supreme.

  3. Daniel Says:

    I find your concluding sentence interesting. You write, “But until the naysayers provide practical solutions by which the private sector can better tend to any given social justice issue than the government, I will stridently defend government redress of social justice.” It seems like there is a very practical solution to private charity–churches and social organizations. For example, I have no doubt that in Utah the Church has the ability to care for every single person who needs helps. But the problem is the the Church demands more accountability than government and most accountability than most people prefer.

    Along the same lines you write, “And in reality, there is no evidence that “the people” the U.S. have never advanced social justice as well as the government welfare system which had its birth in the New Deal and was further developed during the liberal programs in following decades.” What is your citation for arguing that government advances social welfare better than the Church? (The Church and its members are obvious a subset of “the people.”) I’m very interested to see sources that would make that argument.

    Also, one practical question is this, if churches and social organizations cannot change people, if they don’t do a good enough good, why do we expect government to do a better job? In other words, you argument seems to be that people who feel a moral obligation to correct social ills will not be as successful at remedying social ills as government employees.

    As to Jeremy’s point, I also don’t see how governmental efforts to “address” social justice are moral. We all have an individual moral obligation to help the poor, but I don’t see how that individual moral obligation means that we have the moral authority to force others to help the poor through taxation and other forms of coercion.

  4. Jeremy Says:


    Did you even bother to read my comment?

  5. Jesse Harris Says:

    Part of this problem is that political ideologies have become more than just a set of solutions or a way to solve problems. They’re now pre-packaged with the problems themselves, the philosophical equivalent of one of those beef stew kits you grab out of the freezer section of your grocery store. Sadly, this pre-packaging ends up universally lumping “social justice” together with “government assistance”, something that almost immediately turns off libertarians and fiscal conservatives from participating in something under that banner.

    A sure-fire way to get us more involved in these causes is to unbundle the problem and the solution. There’s a lot of great organizations out there seeking to make a better life for the poor and disadvantaged, but taking a single-solution approach (i.e. additional government involvement) shuns the participation of the otherwise willing.

  6. Daniel Says:

    Of course I read you comment. In what ways do you think that I didn’t read your comment?

    You raise a very important point–that governmental might does not make right. You argue that it is a necessary evil for government to provide “social justice” and that “It is immorality I’m willing to live with because the benefits outweigh the moral costs for now.”

    I disagree. I think it is immoral and selfish to use government to enforce my vision of social justice on others. And I don’t think the benefits outweigh the costs. The benefits are questionable, but the costs are many.
    First, there are the moral costs, as you noted. Second, there is the crowding-out costs. Government provision of welfare crowds out the private provision of welfare. This is a problem because government workers, even though many are well intentioned, do not have the the same incentives to help people succeed that a Bishop, helping a young family down on their luck, for example. Third, the dollars and cents financial costs are enormous.

    Personally I think it is immoral for government to ask for more of my money than the Lord asks for, but that’s just me. Utah alone asks for 10.7% of people’s income, and that doesn’t include federal tax obligations. Including federal tax obligations, we are taxed 33% of our income. I think that’s an immoral amount. I think this well describes the immorality of the current tax situation. “Americans will work longer to pay for government (120 days) than they will for food, clothing and housing combined (105 days),” said Hodge. “Since 1986 taxes have cost more than these basic necessities. In fact, Americans will work longer to afford federal taxes alone (79 days) than they will to afford housing (62 days).”

    We have a individual moral obligation to help others. But it is an individual moral obligation. I find nothing in the scriptures that say that we should should force others to share in what we consider a moral obligation.

  7. Daniel Says:

    Well said Jesse. I’m not sure that my conception of social justice is the same as Derek’s, Aaron’s, Jeremy’s, or yours. As a result, we may be arguing past each other.

  8. AnonyMo Says:

    Daniel hits on an important point: the term “social justice” belongs in ironic quotes because it is an abstraction, and everyone has a different concept of what it means.

    In Against Leviathan, Robert Higgs wrote the following at the end of his critique of “social justice”:

    Just as only individuals are moral agents, capable of purposive goal-seeking behavior, so only individuals are moral agents, whose actions we may properly describe as ethical or unethical.

  9. Aaron Orgill Says:

    AnonyMo, that is a great point, and one that Derek and I discussed at length on a recent post. To his credit, he admitted without hesitation that “social justice” is not an accurate term at all, and that “social compassion” would be more correct. The left uses that term because it’s commonly accepted. I believe people would be more inclined to listen if they changed the language to “social compassion,” rather than making it sound like we’ve stolen from the poor. And I could say the same thing about a dozen other topics. I find it to be particularly true of, but not excluded to, the left. We use language like “pro-life” and “pro-choice” and “anti-American,” that are completely misleading, and it only makes our disagreements bigger. Then we act like martyrs and accuse the other side of misrepresenting us, when in reality, little to none of the language ANYONE is using is telling the complete truth. That is honestly my only complaint about Derek. So far since joining this blog I have heard him blame conservative pundits for telling lies and half-truths about the left, without taking a look at the language that is stirring these emotional reactions, rather than saying, “let’s change the language here”. And of course he’s right about the accusations, and so are Republicans. If you doubt it, think of Dick Cheney. If you’re on the left, he’s almost certainly a complete caricature to you. He’s not a real human being. It accomplishes nothing if we aren’t willing to admit our own self-deceptions. Anyway, that’s enough of my soapbox. God knows I’m guilty enough of it too when I see Barbara Streisand or Al Sharpton.

  10. scott thompson Says:

    I’m extremely disturbed by Congressman Rob Bishop’s work ethic and views.

    Last week I attended a Town Hall Meeting hosted by the Congressman in N. Ogden. A very good question was asked by a gentleman there about our health care crises here in America. What is his plan to deal with the out of control costs by insurance companies and doctors? And was asked if he seen the popular documentary that shows the lack of government response for our veterans, elderly, disabled and the disenfranchised that can’t get access to medical care and can’t afford it?

    His answer was that he won’t see it the documentary. He then went on to compare this (companionate award winning documentary) to “porn.” And that the government shouldn’t do anything. This was a very disturbing comment, because there were two young fathers with their two pre-teen aged sons with them there. (These dads were obviously there to educate their sons about government in action).

    When one of these fathers spoke up and let him know that comment was “inappropriate.” He didn’t apologize and hurried and changed the subject to illegal immigration. He then was asked many questions of how he was going to help solve this problem. Almost every answer was “I don’t know.”

    I’m publically asking Steve Olsen who ran against Congressman Rob Bishop last year. Please run for Congress again. We need an ethical humble man like you that looks at all sides of issues to resolve the problems facing us Americans today.

    Obviously Congressman Rob Bishop doesn’t care about these problems.

  11. Aaron Orgill Says:

    I don’t know how that post ended up under this blog, but I am with you. I grew up with Rob Bishop’s kids in Brigham City, and while they are a nice family, this is exactly his kind of politics. I assume the documentary you’re talking about is Michael Moore’s “Sicko”. Everything Moore does is exaggerated and misleading, but to compare it to porn is just unbelievable for a public servant to say, and I think you’re right, he’s lazy and unwilling to keep himself informed of other points of view and just calls it “evil”. I am sick of him and would love to see him replaced, although it will take a miracle for an entrenched Republican to get knocked out of office in Northern Utah.

  12. Jesse Harris Says:

    Whoever this Scott Thompson person is, he needs to stop spamming the same comment on every blog he can find. This is the third place today I’ve seen this copy/paste work.

  13. John Says:

    My name is John and I work on the wiki – a non-partisan wiki reporting project on Congress. I saw that you have been covering Utah politics and stories on members of Congress from Utah (among other things) and we’d like to put you on our blogroll for that state. Can you email me at SunlightUser2 [at]


  14. Cstanford Says:

    I’ve been enjoying this trilogy – particularly this last installment, since most of my political self-searching for the past 2 years has centered on these kinds of questions (such as my blog post about the book of Jacob). I consider myself a libertarian leftist, but a leftist first.

    On a somewhat related note, you may be interested in mutualist Kevin Carson’s words about “vulgar libertarians”:

  15. One-Solution Issues and Political Bundling » CoolestFamilyEver Says:

    […] the discussion recently had on A Liberal Mormon concerning Social Justice, I've been thinking a lot about what I call "political bundling". "Political […]

  16. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Thanks for the comments. Maybe nobody will bother seeing, but I’ll respond now.

    Thank-you for the compliment, Aaron. I didn’t say I believe government should be the last resort. I believe it should be as much a partner in the process as necessary to get the job done. I would be fine if private entities were taking the major or entire responsibility. And you are right, it hasn’t been the last resort. Because of the lack of any concerted effort by outside entities, government has had to take the role of only resort.

    No doubt, as I’ve repeatedly said, there can and should be better accountability regarding the resources involved in government programs. That does not invalidate the underlying point.

    I did not say that “Social Justice” isn’t at all an accurate term.

    How sad that you would choose to consider the left’s advocacy of the disadvantaged—an advocacy which I’ve demonstrated is supposed to be a central role of the Gospel—to be “cramming it down people’s throats.”

    And no, this isn’t really all that different from a great many “lefties” think.

    Thanks for accolades, Jeremy. Regarding the libertarian moral argument against “wealth redistribution” (not an entirely accurate term, but acceptable), I believe your line—slightly modified—is really the only argument: “might, backed by the consent of the governed, should attempt to make things as right as possible while the immorality of free men causes malignant inequality.”

    Daniel, if private charities could do a better job, why is hunger still a problem in the U.S? Why the homeless? Why so many with untreated mental illness? The excuse that public programs “crowd out” private efforts is simply a cop-out.

    Perhaps the Church could indeed take care of the welfare needs of Utah. That only leaves forty-nine other states to take care of—many of which are far more populous. And note that our Church isn’t “The Church of Utah.” It is an international church. Should it exclude the needs of the rest of the world so that it can alleviate the government of its welfare role here in Utah? I doubt it could maintain its worldwide welfare efforts were it to do so.

    My opinion regarding poverty and other social problems prior to widespread government welfare is based on my synthesis of a number of different sources I’ve read. But I’ll admit, I’m no specialist in turn of the century social history. I haven’t written a thesis on the topic. I could be wrong. If you have evidence to the contrary, please do share it.

    You have terribly misinterpreted my stand. I have nowhere said that government can do a better job of “changing” people. That is and can only be the realm of religion, moral philosophy, and psychology. But government can provide the resources to feed, house, cloth, and provide health services. In that, they can be just as effective as any other institution.

    It would be impossible for the government to ask more than the Lord does. If you’ve been through the temple, you should realize that he requires far more than the 10% you’re alluding too. The tithing is just a start, a bare minimum to even begin to be acceptable to the Lord.

    Jesse, I’d suggest that it was the traditional lack of support from conservatives and libertarians (usually rationalized with the argument I addressed in Social Justice II for Social Justice which caused progressives to turn to the government to supplement and bolster their private efforts. I suspect many would be very willing to “unbundle” the two, were they to see evidence that their libertarian and conservative friends were committed to putting together some comprehensive and concerted efforts to handle the issue. But because we’re talking about what boils down to a life and death issue, the concerted effort must come before the “unbundling.”

    Anonymo, to claim that only an individual can be a moral agent is to rationalize the immorality of all sorts of institutions. We can and should expect ethical and even some level of moral behavior from churches, governments, corporations, etc. After all, they are all composed of individuals.

    , I am familiar with Kevin Carson’s writing. I have found Mutualism to be very attractive. I do very much appreciate Carson’s take on “vulgar libertarianism.” Thanks for bringing it up.

    Several people have made a point about the subjective nature of Social Justice. And yes, as with any abstract concept, there is some level of personal interpretation and perspective in the concept (what is “love?” “liberty?” etc). Social Justice is a fairly expansive subject with quite a bit of intellectual history behind it. As the phrase has raised some discussion, I’ll post on the concept in more detail another time.

    For now, I’ll say this. There have been several specific topics I’ve referred to again and again in this discussion of social justice.

    Feeding the hungry.

    Clothing the naked.

    Housing the homeless.

    Treating (“succoring”) the ill.

    As I said in the first of this series, about those aspects of Social Justice there can be no dispute among any who would call themselves Christian.

  17. Aaron Orgill Says:

    I have a cold and cough, which has brought with it some down time, so I did see your post, and feel like I need to address it. First, sorry for misquoting you. I’m not interested in splitting hairs, I think I understand your position and you understand mine, and I think we’re reasonably close to agreement given our differing political persuasions. I stick with my assertion that if you would consider using the words social compassion instead of “justice,” people would be more apt to listen.

    I don’t find someone asking me to help my neighbor to be cramming it down my throat. I do find it offensive that we have turned so much to government to solve everything, and the entire tax system I find an incredible waste, and excuse me if I’d rather have the government eliminate those areas and take care of the poor by finding some fat in their existing budget instead of asking me to dig deeper. Something like that should be among their top two or three priorities, and yet we have departments for all sorts of crap and somehow still have those among us who are suffering. Talking about it from a gospel perspective, you rightfully pointed out that 10 percent is just the beginning, and we’d better continually be testing ourselves as to our willingness to live the law of consecration, and not be so addicted to things. Ironically, the poor are some of the biggest offenders in that area, and I’m speaking of my own experience being poor. I suspect that is because those who are well off know that money really doesn’t do a whole lot to make one happy.

    Sorry dude, as much as you want to try to say you are, I don’t believe you’re a conventional liberal. I could buy that you’re left-leaning, or that you’re trying to be like Jesus, but your thoughts have way too much accountability and common sense to be liberal as most people know it. (That’s a compliment; just say thank you). And as much as you want to say that it’s all because liberals are misunderstood and slandered by the right, I don’t use Sean Hannity or Fox News to get my information. I’ve heard from their own lips what is on their minds on blogs like this one, seen them represent themselves on nationally televised debates, and generally paid strong attention to what is going on in the country, and to a large extent, the reputation of liberalism is earned by the words and actions of a significant number of liberals: hostile to religion, accepting of and even infatuated with homosexuality, against executing convicted murderers under any circumstance but in favor of the right to kill unborn children, often strong in their sympathies towards socialism, if not outright communism, intense reverence for murderous icons like Che Guevara, hateful towards any opposing view (even though the word “liberal” implies an open mind towards even unappealing philosophies), and so on, and so on, and so on. I’m sure you’ll be all over this, and eager to defend those you consider your friends because you think you have the spirit of “true” liberalism, but what I don’t get is how your brand is any more the real thing than Jesse Jackson’s, George Clooney’s, or Fidel Castro’s.

  18. L1b3r7y Says:

    Government welfare programs rob people of their responsibility to be charitable. If the purpose of life was to make sure the maximum number of people were as equally comfortable and well of, then I might be able to agree with this kind of opinion. However we know that the purpose of life is to be TESTED. It was Lucifer’s intention to take away free agency and force people to be righteous and that is exactly what government welfare programs do. I ADMIT that most conservatives and libertarians are NOT very charitable, but I believe the reason is because a welfare system, which they indeed disagree with, is still doing the work for them. The very fact that the command to take care of the poor is reiterated as much as it is shows how important it is for INDIVIDUALS to develop charitable hearts and behavior. Is it charitable to set up a system that forces us to behave charitably? The Hymn “a poor wayfaring man of grief” is not about the importance of making sure that no one ever goes hungry or thirsty, its about the transformation that happens to the giver, because he cares and loves. The coercive elements in the liberal welfare system poisons the heart against charity of those who believe the system to be wrong towards hating all forms of charity, and it allows those in favor to call themselves charitable without any proactive desire to behave that way. I call it charity without love.

  19. David Says:


    It’s funny that you have to admit that “most conservatives and libertarians are NOT very charitable” considering that studies show that conservatives are more generous in their charitable giving than liberals are.

  20. Forest Simmons Says:

    According to LDS scriptures (section 104) the Lord claims everything as his, though he may parcel some of it out as a stewardship. But note well that the fact of possession is not proof that you are his appointed steward.

    In fact most people have not received their possessions by divine appointment.

    But even though everything already belonged to the Lord, Brother Joseph was instructed to buy up land from the government and non-member speculators using consecrated funds, rather than just confiscate it in the name of the Lord.

    “Private property” didn’t mean your stewardship, it meant your tooth brush, your comb, your personal effects, etc. Not vast tracts of land, factories, or portfolios of stocks, bonds, etc.

    If we wanted to mimic the Lord’s system in a secular setting, then the Lord probably wouldn’t mind if we assumed land and other resources to be community controlled for parceling out appropriate community stewardships through democratic community councils.

    Libertarians take private ownership of vast empires as a given. But it never seemed so axiomatic to native Americans or other traditional societies where a decent person would want to live.

  21. Brooks W. Wilson Says:

    Very well stated and thought provoking. As someone who was very poor in my youth, I have always advocated New Deal programs. I hadn’t thought so much about the importance, both for the donor and recipient, of private efforts.

  22. fathers rights custody Says:

    child support…

    Social Justice III: The Libertarian Criticism of Social Justice « A Liberal Mormon…

  23. loan Says:


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  24. Anna Lyon Says:

    I entered no compact, I was just (lucky to be) born here. The “compact” under which we live rejected the founding principle of popular sovereignty and was imposed by military force in 1865.

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