plsc-118: The Moral Foundations of Politics
Lecture 15 - Compensation versus Redistribution [March 1, 2010]
Chapter 1. Introduction: Components of Nozickian Justice [00:00:00]
Professor Ian Shapiro: So today we're going to finish up talking about Nozick, and that will give you time to spend your spring break reading Rawls, which is, I know, what you will all do. But I want to come back to something I mentioned briefly about Nozick, and just reiterate that he thinks that in order to have a convincing account of justice it really has to have three components. One, what he calls justice in acquisition. Two, what he calls justice in transfer. And three, what he refers to as the rectification of past injustices. You need accounts of all of those things. How people got to have what they have, what should govern transactions among them, and then what should you do about past injustices.
And actually in what we've done already you've got the main components of his account in front of you, or in your notes from last week because his theory of justice in acquisition is a theory that's intended to respond to the left critique of markets that I'm going to talk about shortly. His theory of justice in transfer is the Pareto system, and his theory of the rectification of past injustices is a discussion of compensation that we had last time.
Chapter 2. Justice in Acquisition and Justice in Transfer [00:01:42]
So let's think first about this idea of justice in acquisition. What he has in mind here is the left critique of markets. What he has in mind is the garbage-in/garbage-out phenomenon that the Pareto principle is a purely procedural principle that takes for granted some status quo. We worked through this with the bag lady, and Trump and all of that when we did the Pareto system. And he has actually an ingenious answer to this critique, and he uses as his way into it the Wilt Chamberlain example. Anybody remember what Nozick says about Wilt Chamberlain? Who was Wilt Chamberlain? Who was Wilt Chamberlain? Yeah?
Student: Basketball player.
Professor Ian Shapiro: He was the best basketball player in the world until Michael Jordan came along, right?
Student: Until Larry Bird came along.
Professor Ian Shapiro: Until Larry Bird came along. Well, fortunately Nozick didn't have to adjudicate that one. And so Nozick said, "Chamberlain is making a contract with the owner of a team just like professional players do, but this contract has a side agreement to it. Anyone remember what the side agreement was? What was the side agreement, anybody? Yeah, over there?
Student: Wasn't it that Wilt Chamberlain gets a quarter of every dollar that the team gets in ticket sales?
Professor Ian Shapiro: Exactly right. So on nights when Wilt Chamberlain is playing in a home game, the ticket price goes up by a quarter, and that quarter literally gets dropped into a box and gets given to Wilt. And apart from that, his agreement is like any other contract. So obviously his agreement with the team owner is a typical player's agreement, and it's a Pareto superior transaction, and there's no question about that. But the reason Wilt Chamberlin gets this quarter is because he's a charismatic figure and everybody wants to see him. What is Nozick doing here? What is the point of this? What's he trying to show us? Anyone want to — it's not immediately obvious, but it's quite brilliant.
So here's the point. The point is, over time Wilt is going to get a lot of money from these quarters because he's the best basketball player in the world and people want to see him. So he's going to get richer, and richer, and richer. And so maybe, let's say, after five seasons of this, he has millions of dollars in these quarters that have accumulated. These people have been putting this quarter in the little box that goes to Wilt, millions. Why is this a good example for Nozick? Yeah? Give her — yeah, over there, yeah.
Student: Well, perhaps he's showing that even though this isn't an egalitarian distribution of wealth, it's mutually agreed-upon by all parties involved so it's okay.
Professor Ian Shapiro: So that Pareto superior transaction every time you put that quarter in that slot, you make a voluntary choice, and he makes a voluntary choice to come out and play and maybe smile at you or something, and both your utility goes up. So it's in that sense just like any other Pareto superior transaction, so why the whole rigmarole? What else follows from this example?
Think back. Think back to what is his real target here. His real target is the left critique of markets which says, "If you start out with unjust initial conditions, if your system of justice in acquisition isn't met, then it doesn't matter whether your transfers are voluntary." So what's he doing here? What the point of this example? Think. Anyone want to have a go at it? Yeah?
Student: That what we'd consider an unjust distribution of goods or wealth may actually result from what was originally a just distribution.
Professor Ian Shapiro: Correct. His bumper sticker is, "Liberty upsets patterns." Liberty upsets patterns, this is his point. He's saying, "Everybody gets so excited about the unjust initial conditions problem. I'll tell you what. I don't know what just initial conditions are. I have no idea, I Robert Nozick. You pick. You're an egalitarian, fine, start with pure equality. You believe in meritocracy, fine, start with a meritocratic distribution. You pick. I really don't care." So let's, for the sake of argument, just say you're an egalitarian. So you pick equality, strict equality. Everybody starts off with the same amount. Now we're going to allow voluntary transactions. You know what's going to happen? You're going to get inequality because some people are going to put a quarter in the slot to see Wilt Chamberlain.
So this stuff about the big problem with markets, the problem of starting points, the problem of initial conditions, it's just a red herring. It's a sideshow. It's bunk. Because, in fact, even if you pick — so you're the egalitarian, just for the sake of argument, and you pick the starting point that you are convinced is just, and we allow markets to run, it's going to be undone just by the voluntary choices of individuals. "So, I, Robert Nozick, say to you, we'll have a little syllogism. If we have just initial conditions and voluntary transfers then the outcome must be considered just." That's Nozick's little syllogism. You have just initial conditions and voluntary transfers then the outcome must be just.
It's just a shell game to get all hung up on the initial conditions, however, because you can pick them and we're still going to undo what you like. So you, the egalitarian pick them. People go to basketball games, and what do you know? Five years later you have a lot of inequality, and then the only way you can fix it is coercion. The only way you can fix it is taking some of that away from Chamberlain in the form of taxes and giving it back to those people in the form of some sort of transfer payment, and that violates his freedom, uses him to benefit them, nothing else.
So liberty upsets patterns. When he talks about a pattern conception of justice it's one where you specify some distribution whether it's strict equality, whether it's Bentham's practical equality, whether it's some other distributive system, whether you specify in advance what the outcome is, he's saying that's a pattern conception, and the problem with it is you could only maintain it over time with coercion. Whereas, if you value freedom of the individual, liberty, remember Nozick is another one of our Enlightenment theorists so individual freedom, individual rights is the highest good, then you have to accept whatever voluntary transactions generate starting from a system which you have conceded is just.
So in a way he turns the table on the left critic of markets by calling their bluff, and it's a brilliant argument. Now you could say, "Well, this is a philosopher's example. After all, we never start from a system that is universally accepted to be just." But I think he would make two points in response to that. One is, "I'm showing you that even if you did you would still have this problem that over time it would get undone by the voluntary transactions of individuals."
And secondly, Nozick wrote this in 1974, but I think if he had lived — well, he did live long enough. He died about three years ago, but if he had been writing this book after the early 1990s, he'd have had some very good real world examples of what he was talking about following the collapse of the Soviet Union, because in a lot of East European countries, such as Czechoslovakia and East Germany they had these huge state enterprises that they had decided to privatize. And what did they do? Well, they basically privatized them on an egalitarian basis. That seemed fair. So there would be these giant factories that had been previously state owned and everybody would get their little chit. Everybody would get their share of that factory. It was very widespread in Czechoslovakia and Poland in particular, but also in some of the other ex-communist countries.
And what happened? Well, some people didn't know what they were, probably rolled cigarettes with them, some people put them under the bed, some people threw them away, some people put them in shoeboxes, some people started buying them up, started going around and buying up pieces of this factory that had been given out as a result of the privatization. And what do you know? Five years later, ten years later, some of the people who had figured out this might be a good thing to do were millionaires, and other people basically didn't have anything.
So it's not a completely fanciful example, right? And Nozick would say, "There you go. What was decided as a fair distribution of the state assets at the moment of privatization was accomplished, but then markets were allowed to run, and some people took risks, and some people were creative. Maybe some people spent all of their savings buying these things up so they internalized some risk, they might have turned out not to have any value, and they got the benefit. And so there you go, five years later you have inequality. Liberty upsets patterns.
Now are we going to go and take the millions from the people who bought up those chits and give it back to the people who rolled them and smoked as cigarettes, or gave them away, or lost them, in order to recreate the pattern? Nozick says no, right? And this is what he means by comparing what he calls historical principles or procedural principles, on the one hand, with pattern principles or end-state principles on the other hand. An end-state principle specifies some result, some end-state, some condition, some teleological outcome, to use the jargon from last time, whereas a historical or a procedural principle specifies no pattern at all and says whatever is generated by market transactions is just.
And this long two hundred-year-old critique of them based on the status quo, we now see from the Wilt Chamberlain example, is just smoke. What about that? It's a powerful argument. Anyone not like it? You all like it? What's wrong with it? What makes you uncomfortable? Can you give her the microphone? Can you right next — can you just give her — yeah, okay, thanks.
Student: I'd say that the thing that's being distributed doesn't necessarily have to be money. If you change the thing being distributed to, I don't know, education, for example, that having equality there might be something that would affect outcomes more than starting from a concrete equality.
Professor Ian Shapiro: And why should we care about that?
Student: Well, I guess it's kind of a way of changing the process as opposed to...
Professor Ian Shapiro: Okay, so that's fair enough, so that's one thing somebody might like about it. Anything else anyone doesn't like about it?
Student: Well, Wilt Chamberlain is kind of like a self-made...
Professor Ian Shapiro: You've got to talk a bit louder.
Student: Wilt Chamberlain is kind of like a self-made person. He gets there because of his basketball talents, but it kind of ignores the problem of people who are born into incredible wealth or born into incredible opportunity.
Professor Ian Shapiro: How does it ignore it?
Student: Well, I feel like in the situation with Wilt Chamberlain he realizes that he deserves what he gets and you shouldn't take it away from him, but I don't know if you can argue that having being born into a family that has a lot of money, or being born somewhere where you can barely put food on the table is necessarily someone's more deserving of having one or the other.
Professor Ian Shapiro: Okay, so, but that's what he thinks he's answering, right? Because he's saying, "Okay, so you're worried that some people are born with a lot of resources and some are born with nothing." He's saying, "Fix it however you want. So we'll start off by redistributing and we'll start off with pure equality. If you allow markets to run, it's still going to become unequal over time," right? That's his point. So what don't you like about that?
Student: Well, I feel like there's a problem in the way that — maybe it's that he believes that the markets are truly free in some way and that there are really free transactions, but I feel like there's not necessarily going to be, ever.
Professor Ian Shapiro: But isn't that why he uses the Wilt Chamberlin and it's only a quarter? It's only a quarter for crying out loud, and you didn't have to give it. It's a trivial amount, but there it is five years later, he's the millionaire and you're still working in a factory. You're not comfortable with it?
Professor Ian Shapiro: But you're not sure why. Anybody else want to say what? It's a very clever example. It's an example of where the philosopher's example really cuts to something important. Yeah, what's wrong with it?
Student: Well, it seems like Wilt Chamberlain is an exception.
Professor Ian Shapiro: Wilt Chamberlain's an exception, why?
Student: Because the poor will tend to stay poor and the rich will tend to stay rich, and just because there's occasional disruption of the pattern doesn't mean the pattern will be fluctuating all over the place.
Professor Ian Shapiro: Okay, so he's unusual, but what about the — okay, lets grant your point, but what about the example I just gave of Poland after 1989? Everybody starts out equal and it's just that some people see an opportunity here and they get rich, and other people don't and they lose out.
Student: Well, Nozick is relegating the principles to the very beginning. He's saying you can only apply your principles at the beginning and he doesn't let you do that as a continuous thing.
Professor Ian Shapiro: Well, I don't think he'd back down that quickly. He'd say, "Look, the point of this example is I'm letting you define the beginning." So after 1989, the Polish government defines the new beginning. Everybody gets an equal share of state assets. We're creating private property for the first time. Everybody's getting an equal share, but five years later we have inequality. Yes ma'am?
Student: To use, in particular, the example with the shares of factories in the Soviet Union, I think that Nozick is perhaps making the false assumption that everyone is going to have equal ability to make use of that fair distribution at the beginning, when in fact people who are poor are not going to be able to buy up the other shares of the factories, and it's going to exacerbate inequality that was already there.
Professor Ian Shapiro: Well, your point is well-taken, but notice I said Czechoslovakia and Poland because in Soviet Union what tended to happen was bureaucrats from the old system used their special position in the bureaucracy and their intimate knowledge of what was going on to enrich themselves and grab a lot of these assets. So I didn't want to go with that example, but in the East European countries there was a lot less of that, and it was more of a sort of genuine new beginning. But you still, you look at a country like Poland and it rapidly became massively unequal.
Student: Well, that makes sense, but I would assume that those small inequalities that existed in Poland at the beginning of that redistribution ended up creating those massive inequalities.
Professor Ian Shapiro: That's right. It's just like one quarter at a time.
Professor Ian Shapiro: Okay, but that's Nozick's point. You don't need some massive injustice to be done at the beginning in order to get huge inequalities over time. Let's modify the Wilt Chamberlain example a little bit. Well, before I do that, how many people think that the outcome in the Wilt Chamberlain is just fine, so he gets rich, but people want him to get rich? So okay, how many think it's not fine? Okay, a few, so now let's play with it a little bit and see if your opinion changes.
Let's just imagine it's a single company town, okay? It's a single company town. All these people who go to these games basically work in the only factory in town. And let's just imagine that after five or eight years of this when he's getting close to retirement, and he's not playing such good basketball anymore anyway, Wilt says to himself, "You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to buy the only factory in town," and he buys the factory in which they all work. And so he now owns the factory, Pareto superior transaction, voluntary transaction. He uses these millions he's accumulated from all of their quarters to buy the factory.
But times are tough. There's globalization coming along. The factory's losing money, and his manager says to him, "You've got to massively cut your wages here." And so he gets into a confrontation with the workers, and they won't back down, and his company he thinks is not making as much money as it should, and so he says, "Well, unless you take a seventy percent pay cut, I'm moving this company to Mexico." So they are, in effect, forced to take a seventy percent pay cut as a result of this transaction. Now what about that? What would Nozick say? What would Nozick say about that?
Nozick would be fine with it, wouldn't he? Yeah, that's the way the cookie crumbles, right? "Losses must lie where they fall" is a famous line from an American judge called Learned Hand. That's what happened. They chose to give him all of this money. Maybe they didn't anticipate what he was going to do with it, but that was then and this is now, and he's entitled to do whatever he wants with his money.
How many people think that changes this thing? If we doctor Nozick's example in this way does anybody think it changes anything, somebody who previously thought it was okay but now is less sure? There's nobody? Yeah? Why? Let's get the mic there yeah, over here, yeah? Yeah.
Student: I don't have a real explanation. I just think it's morally wrong because it's kind of coercing the people to go by his money and everything, while before he was just kind of earning money for his own happiness, and his own utility, I guess. In this case he's using his money and it seems to have bad moral implications, so that's why I'm slightly more uneasy with this outcome.
Professor Ian Shapiro: So it's what he's doing with it. He's taking advantage of the situation in some way?
Student: I guess so, yeah.
Professor Ian Shapiro: Well, anyone want to disagree with that? Yeah?
Student: Well, I think it changes the situation in a different way in that now we're have coercion of a group of people to keep the pattern of Wilt Chamberlain being in charge intact. So even though it does seem at first glance like a mutually beneficial arrangement it seems as though people are being coerced into doing something in order to maintain a...
Professor Ian Shapiro: But where's the coercion?
Student: Well, they're being coerced into taking this pay cut even though it seems as though a really bad move for them, so... I mean, they have no choices, so I guess they've been back into this corner, but...
Professor Ian Shapiro: Well, they have the choice of not being employed by Wilt, right?
Student: I guess so. I don't know.
Professor Ian Shapiro: We have this essay question which some of you are probably working on. Joan Robinson's line, "The one thing worse than being exploited is not being exploited," but he's saying, "I'm choosing to close down my factory and move it to Mexico. I'm not coercing you. I just don't want to run a factory at a loss."
Most people wouldn't allow the market to run indefinitely. So for instance, we have laws if you have a hurricane and there's no water in a part of the country that's been hit by the hurricane, and the local hardware store with bottled water suddenly ramps up the price a thousand percent. We call it price gouging. It's an evil thing. But he would say, "Look, the demand for water just went way up. I have water. Why should it be price gouging?" So that's the point of the outsourcing example, right? The point is, at some point most people are going to say, "No, we can't just allow the market. We have to pay attention to the context in which people are buying water right after a hurricane. Through no fault of their own, the price of water has skyrocketed, and so we're going to have laws to punish people who engage in price gouging."
Who thinks that we should have laws against price gouging? Yeah? Now, if we should have laws against price gouging shouldn't we have laws against the sort of thing that Wilt Chamberlain is, in my modification of Nozick's example, is proposing to do? Anyone think we should have laws against price gouging, but we shouldn't have laws limiting what — no? Is that right? What he's threatening to do is like price gouging, or anybody think it's not like price gouging? So what's the difference? Yeah?
Student: No, I was thinking it's like Mill's harm principle a little bit, so maybe you could actually find for price gouging and for Wilt Chamberlain a reason to allow a government to say that you're not allowed to do it even though it seems perfectly fine as a market transaction.
Professor Ian Shapiro: But what is the difference exactly?
Student: I'm saying they're similar because they both involve harming people.
Professor Ian Shapiro: They both involve harming people, but the price gouging is worse somehow than what Wilt is proposing to do?
Student: I'm not saying that it's necessarily worse. It could be, but I don't have a definite reason to say so.
Professor Ian Shapiro: So I think Nozick's point is going to be, "Well, anytime you're going to step in, anytime the government is going to step in and say this crosses some line where even though it's voluntary transactions, they're not voluntary in any meaningful sense because people are such extremists." The price-gouging situation is an example, but you're still going to have to say, "Well, how do we know where to draw that line? When is it going to be the case that the position we're putting people in and saying "choose" is so bad that the government steps in? Is it when they're about to die, or is it not quite that far? Where are we going to decide? What is the point at which we step in and start making interpersonal judgments of utility?"
That's what we're really saying, right? We're saying, "At some point we're going to step in, the state's going to step in, but we don't have a very good account of at what point." Because if you say, "At no point is the state going to step in," then you're really back to saying in the example we talked about way back with the Edgeworth Box that the bag lady should die because she has nothing that Trump wants, and so that's the Pareto efficient result. But if you want to say, "Well, at some point before that point, the state should step in," you need some account of what it is. And given that things happen and circumstances change, just saying if the initial conditions were just and the transactions were voluntary the outcome must be just, isn't going to be satisfying in every instance because the status quo changes. There can be drift, if you like, utility drift, in the status quo.
And different people will think the state should get involved at different points, but there are very people, I think, who are going to go all the way and say, "Well, the bag lady should just die," or "All these people should lose their jobs." Maybe that'll be a more difficult case for some of you than for others, but it doesn't seem very credible to say you're not going to have any point at which we're going to say the state should step in.
But now Nozick would want to say, "Well, even if I conceded that, we really want to keep it to a minimum because the problem is we don't agree. The problem about having any pattern or end-state conception of what's allowable in society is we don't agree. We have deep pluralism of values in this society. What some people think is right other people don't think is right, and why should the people who are in the majority get to impose their view on everybody else, or indeed, why should people who are in a minority get to impose their view on anybody else? Why should anybody get to impose their view on anybody else?"
That's his claim, and we saw in the last lecture that he made a distinction between redistribution and compensation, remember? He said that we would only get the minimal state as a result of forcible inclusion of independents if they could, in principle, be compensated making it legitimate. We wouldn't get anything more because people don't agree. So some people would say it's terrible for people to lose their jobs. Others would say, "Oh well, they should have thought about that when they were putting all those quarters in the box, that they're giving him power."
Chapter 3. Compensation: Rectification of Past Injustices [00:35:45]
So if you cast your mind back to last week's lecture on Wednesday, we ended up saying, "Well, Nozick's argument isn't as powerful as it looks because we could do more in the name of compensation than he wants to do," right? We could allow the creation of unemployment insurance. Remember there's the fear of being unemployed in all of that. So he might agree about that but say, "It's still better to think in a compensatory idiom."
For one thing, yes, you might get unemployment insurance that way, but think of all the things the welfare state does. It gives protection to the disabled, it gives civil rights guarantees. These are all sorts of things that wouldn't come about because not enough people would want them. The disabled are a minority. The African Americans before the Civil Rights Act were a minority, so they wouldn't be able to force everybody to accept what they wanted so it wouldn't get done as a result of the kind of mechanism that creates the minimal state. There'd be a lot of things government currently does that wouldn't happen.
And it's better to have compensation rather than redistribution, because compensation doesn't require us to agree about a pattern. It doesn't require us to agree on what kind of outcome is actually just. The whole idea of compensation is making somebody whole. If one of you walks up to the street and punches me in the face, and I go to court and sue you, the question is what damage did that angry student do to Ian Shapiro, and how much should Shapiro be compensated to put him on at least as high an indifference curve as he was before that, right? That's the only question. We don't have to ask the question, should he have been where he was before? Is the distribution of wealth in society that existed before Shapiro was punched by the angry student, was that just? We don't have to ask that question. If we're going to do compensation we just say, "How do we make Shapiro whole? How does the person who harmed him make him whole? How much money does he have to give him to make him whole?" That's the only question we have to answer.
And Nozick wants to say that it's a much easier thing to deal with precisely because in a society where there's deep pluralism of values, where we don't agree on what's just, it's a much more limited inquiry into how do we compensate some particular individual to undo the particular harm that was done to them and make them whole. We don't have to agree on what the just distribution of wealth and income in this society is in order to answer that question, right?
Is that a good argument that compensation is much less demanding metaphysically than redistribution, because compensation doesn't require us to agree on what is just. It just requires us to figure out how much is owed to Shapiro to make him whole after this harm has been done to him. Yeah? Is it a good argument?
Student: Just because it's easy doesn't mean it's the right argument.
Professor Ian Shapiro: Just because it's easy doesn't mean it's the right argument, but is it easy?
Student: Well, you said it was, just metaphysically.
Professor Ian Shapiro: It's easy in one sense. I mean it might be hard because I'm going to say, "Pain and suffering, and I was humiliated, and I've got to get extra money for that, and my girlfriend won't look at me because I've got a black eye, I should get extra money for that." We'll argue about this in court, so it might be hard in that sense, but it's easier in the sense that we don't need to agree on what my salary should be versus a banker's salary, versus — you know, we don't have to answer questions like that. We just want to know the number — we have to arrive at the number to undo the harm, to make me whole. Is that a bad argument? Yeah?
Student: Well, it completely forgets the Enlightenment idea that there might be a right answer to anything, and just by saying that you're just dealing in compensation and not actually redistribution and figuring out...
Professor Ian Shapiro: I mean, yeah, that's a good point, but I think Nozick would say, "I'm not saying there isn't a right answer. I'm saying we don't agree on what the right answer is, but I, Nozick, am saying one right answer's not to coerce people, so given that we have different values the answer is liberty. Let everybody have their own value and not impose one person's value on others." So I don't think he'd back down that quickly. Is there any other reason anyone might think this is — I think you're in the right direction, but you haven't quite nailed it. Yeah?
Student: So, I mean, in terms of money, maybe it's easier to think about compensation, but when you're compensating people with goods or services you're really having to take those from somewhere else. They don't just appear out of nowhere. So, on some level you're already redistributing things when you're compensating. So it is really just another form of redistribution, but in another word.
Professor Ian Shapiro: I think that's a good argument, but I think there's another one that I just want to leave you with, and this partly reflects when Nozick was writing. He wrote this in 1974, and in 1974, there was a lot more political stability in the world in some ways than there came to be subsequently. Of course it was unstable in the sense that we were in the middle of the Cold War, but the Cold War provided a lot of stability within countries that would subsequently become very unstable after the end of the Cold War.
And so this idea that, well, fixing one injustice is something we can get our minds around, particularly if it means making people as well-off as they were before, whereas deciding what's just for the society as a whole isn't. It's a much bigger problem, and it is potentially much more politically explosive, because we're going to be, as Nozick says, "Liberty upsets patterns." We're going to be taking wealth from some people and giving it to other people, and the people we're taking it from are not going to like it. Whereas this compensatory idiom is backward-looking, it's focused and it's specific.
But I think what he didn't take account of is that the backward-looking idiom runs into the problem of where do we stop. Where do we stop? After 1991, there were people in Russia who said, "All that property should be given back to the czar's children." After the transition in South Africa King Goodwill Zwelithini, the Zulu King, he said, "Well, all that land that was seized first by the British from my ancestors, and then under apartheid was seized again for the forced removals and all that, it should be given to me. I'm the descendant." And you only have to think about the Middle East to see that this idea that a backward-looking compensatory idiom is less politically explosive than a redistributive idiom as a political matter isn't true, because it all depends how far you go back. The Palestinians say we go back to 1967, or then there's the debate about going back to 1948, and there are many people who are there that say, "We should go back to the Old Testament as to where we should undo all the injustices that are piled up upon one another over time."
So this idea that the compensatory idiom is less demanding than the redistributive idiom I think is politically naïve and ultimately philosophically not tenable because you're going to have to make a decision about how far back to go before you decide that you have the benchmark for compensation. You only have to look at the vexed history of affirmative action which was, you know, read Randall Robinson's book, The Debt, the vexed history of affirmative action, to see how difficult a backward-looking compensatory idiom turns out to be in practice. Enjoy the midterm and we'll see you three weeks from today.
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