Economics
2075 Logic
and
Limits
of
Economic
Justice Barnard
College Spring
2012 Mr.


Andrews Notes
on
Economic
Justice
and
Affirmative
Action These 
notes 
summarize 
the 
economic 
analysis 
of 
affirmative 
action 
thereby 
setting 
the stage
for
your
next
exercise.

 I
want
make
sure
that
you
good
folks
understand
something
that
is
frequently
‐‐
no,
habitu‐ ally
‐‐
misunderstood
by
the
vast
majority
of
people
who
talk
about
affirmative
action: support
for
or
opposition
to
affirmative
action
cannot
be
separated
from
deeper
questions of
economic
justice,
including
the
proper
range
of
markets,
the
role
of
the
birth
lottery
in the
allocation
of
economic
opportunity,
the
long
reach
of
state
managed
or
state
supported foundational
social
crimes
‐‐
slavery,
apartheid,
genocide,
forced
migration
and
population removal,
military
quarantine
of
populations,
gender
feudalism
‐‐
or
the
destructive
conse‐ quences
of
social
customs
that
undermine
the
capacity
of
human
beings
to
make
good
lives for 
themselves 
(the 
destructive 
effects 
of 
gender 
feudalism 
and 
the 
culturally 
and 
reli‐ giously
sanctioned
abuse
of
women
falls
into
this
latter
category).

I
say
“deeper”
questions of
economic
justice
because
analytical
economics
suggests
that
most
debate
about
affirma‐ tive
action
is
the
circulation
of
nonsense
dressed
up
in
outrage. The
debate
about
affirmative
action
shields
all
involved
from
the
truly
hard
problem
of structural
inequalities
that
grant
some
people
access
to
wonderful
lives
while
locking
oth‐ ers
into
permanent,
soul
destroying
misery
because
of
the
way
Nature,
nurture
and
market systems
allocate
opportunity
and
pain.

None
of
this
would
be
a
problem
if
children
did
not come
into
the
world
helpless
and
requiring
years
of
loving
care
as
well
as
the
intelligent and
long
term
investment
of
developmental
resources
to
turn
them
into
morally
and
eco‐ nomic
competent
adults.

The
opponents
of
affirmative
action
are
liars
‐‐
or
much
worse
‐‐ if
they
pretend
that
this
question
of
just
forms
of
human
development
can
be
dodged.

The proponents
of
affirmative
action
are
liars
‐‐
or
worse
‐‐
if
they
pretend
that
the
demands
of justice
are
even
faintly
addressed
by
the
government
managed
identity
based
allocation
of opportunity
without
also
facing
up
the
stubborn
facts
of
human
development. For
example,
a
proper
understanding
of
economics
combined
with
classical
liberal
princi‐ ples
of
justice
argues
against
affirmative
action
because
there
are
larger
principles
of
jus‐ tice
at
stake:
states
are
forbidden
to
use
public
power
to
redistribute
income,
wealth
or opportunity
on
the
basis
of
identity
because
of
the
principle
that
all
persons
are
to
be treated
equally
before
the
law.

This
strong
and
absolutely
vital
principle
of
justice
‐‐
one shared
by
all
species
of
liberals
‐‐
runs
smack
into
itself
if
education
is
either
funded
by taxes
or
provided
via
public
education
systems
because
equal
treatment
before
the
law

justice
are
even
faintly
addressed
by
the
government
managed
identity
based
allocation
of opportunity
without
also
facing
up
the
stubborn
facts
of
human
development.
2

For
example,
a
proper
understanding
of
economics
combined
with
classical
liberal
princi‐ ples
of
justice
argues
against
affirmative
action
because
there
are
larger
principles
of
jus‐ tice
at
stake:
states
are
forbidden
to
use
public
power
to
redistribute
income,
wealth
or opportunity
on
the
basis
of
identity
because
of
the
principle
that
all
persons
are
to
be treated
equally
before
the
law.

This
strong
and
absolutely
vital
principle
of
justice
‐‐
one shared
by
all
species
of
liberals
‐‐
runs
smack
into
itself
if
education
is
either
funded
by taxes
or
provided
via
public
education
systems
because
equal
treatment
before
the
law must 
then 
require 
genuine 
equal 
opportunity 
to 
achieve 
success. 
 
The 
meaning 
of 
the phrase
“equal
opportunity”
is
incredibly
difficult
precisely
because
the
real
issue
is
“equal opportunity
to
do
what”?

Do
we
mean
equal
levels
of
spending
on
all
children
over
the entire
course
of
the
pre‐collegiate
careers?

That
requires
quite
radical
redistributive
taxa‐ tion
and
expenditure
policies
so
long
as
we
insist
on
another
basic
justice
principle,
namely that
the
birth
lottery
is
morally
illegitimate.

Do
we
mean
the
children
should
have
a
real equal
chance
of
success
in
academic
competition?

If
so,
then
we
must
engage
in
not
just radical
redistribution
but
a
pattern
of
educational
spending
and
provision
that
favors
the young
from
the
poorest
performing
social
groups,
deliberately
discriminating
against
the young
from
higher
performing
groups
on
the
basis
of
identity.

Intellectually
honest
classi‐ cal
and
egalitarian
liberals
acknowledge
the
tricky
nature
of
“equal
opportunity”
as
well
as the
fact
that
any
chosen
definition
will
either
ignore
or
actively
limit
the
chances
of
better off
or
more
capable
populations
for
the
benefit
of
struggling
populations,
thereby
treating some
people
unfairly
to
promote
aggregate
fairness
because
economic
resources
are
scarce and
any
form
of
justice
aside
from
libertarian
justice
requires
some
form
of
material
equal‐ ity.

Rawlsian
justice
insists
that
we
face
up
to
the
issue
of
“equal
opportunity”
by
choosing the
approach
that
maximizes
the
well‐being
of
the
least
well
off
children
in
society
while most
classical
liberals
favor
less
radical
forms
of
equal
opportunity,
when
they
don’t
just run
away
from
the
issue. A
libertarian
gets
around
this
problem
by
simply
saying
“no”
to
any
form
of
redistribution in
excess
of
that
required
for
bare
social
order,
thereby
leaving
the
development
prospects of
children
completely
to
the
vagaries
of
the
birth
lottery
at
the
cost
of
any
possibility
that the
poor
and
struggling
members
of
society
can
ever
see
the
social
contract
as
legitimate. The 
liberatrian 
must 
therefore 
rely 
on 
violence 
‐‐ 
police, 
prisons, 
economic, 
racial 
and ethnic
profiling
of
suspect
populations,
and
other
forms
of
state
power
‐‐
to
control
the predictable 
consequences 
of 
persistent 
economic 
and 
social 
inequality, 
thereby 
using 
a virtual
police
state
to
control
the
social
consequences
of
a
free
market
system.

Intellectu‐ ally
honest
libertarians
‐‐
unlike
most
collegiate
libertarians
‐‐
understand
that
their
vision of
a
“free
society”
is
supported
by
a
brutal
police
state
that
supervises
and
intimidates
the losers
in
economic
and
academic
competition.

This
irony
is
not
lost
on
non‐college
libertari‐ ans,
and
it
is
not
something
they
are
remotely
proud
of
but
instead
claim,
with
incredible sadness,
that
“freedom”
requires
massive
suffering
at
the
bottom
of
society. Economics
tells
us
that
the
debate
about
affirmative
action
is
not
about
affirmative
action at
all,
but
is
instead
really
a
sideshow
that
invariably
leads
to
a
much
more
brutal
fight
over what 
a 
society 
does 
about 
structural 
economic 
inequality. 
 
There 
are 
really 
only 
two options:
define
some
form
of
equal
opportunity
and
then
face
up
to
the
need
for
either substantial
or
radical
forms
of
redistribution
‐‐
which
still
leaves
questions
of
how
to
redis‐

Affirmative Action and Justice.nb

of
a
“free
society”
is
supported
by
a
brutal
police
state
that
supervises
and
intimidates
the losers
in
economic
and
academic
competition.

This
irony
is
not
lost
on
non‐college
libertari‐ ans,
and
it
is
not
something
they
are
remotely
proud
of
but
instead
claim,
with
incredible3 Affirmative Action and Justice.nb sadness,
that
“freedom”
requires
massive
suffering
at
the
bottom
of
society. Economics
tells
us
that
the
debate
about
affirmative
action
is
not
about
affirmative
action at
all,
but
is
instead
really
a
sideshow
that
invariably
leads
to
a
much
more
brutal
fight
over what 
a 
society 
does 
about 
structural 
economic 
inequality. 
 
There 
are 
really 
only 
two options:
define
some
form
of
equal
opportunity
and
then
face
up
to
the
need
for
either substantial
or
radical
forms
of
redistribution
‐‐
which
still
leaves
questions
of
how
to
redis‐ tribute
in
ways
that
minimize
the
economic
efficiency
losses
that
come
with
attempts
to promote
justice
‐‐
or
rely
on
economic
segregation
and
state
sponsored
violence
to
protect the 
well‐off 
from 
the 
badly 
off 
as 
well 
as 
to 
control 
violence 
among 
the 
badly 
off 
(the inevitable
and
horrifying
side
effect
of
structural
inequality
‐‐
all
too
often,
very
poor
young men
attack
their
own
out
of
frustration
or
nihilism,
thereby
becoming
the
inadvertent
but very
effective
oppressors
of
poor
folks).

These
are
the
only
choices
available.

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