Geocentric Politics in a Heliocentric World

The normative content of my moral theory boils down to this:  we have to minimize the losses (deaths or significant injuries) suffered by other members of the moral community, but we do not have to do so by ourselves suffering death or significant injury, and we must not act as though we are worth more than any other member of the moral community.

The equality provision entails that free riders are wrongdoers.

I will now speculate.  I suspect that people on the left emphasize the importance of minimizing losses in the community while people on the right emphasize minimizing the number of free riders.  I suspect that people on the right think that people on the left are abetting the free riders out of a misplaced sympathy for them.  If so, the more people on the left attack people on the right, the more the latter will be disposed to resist and reject the positions advanced by people on the left.

One question that now arises is whether, if there are free riders, people on the right have correctly identified them.

In the old days, when we were hunter-gatherers or subsistence farmers, it was fairly easy.  Free-riders were individuals who could support themselves but who did not.  They were people who did not hunt, gather, or farm.  They were people who did not work.

In the contemporary world, however, employable people who do not work are not necessarily free riders.  The government maintains what is called the natural rate of unemployment in order to keep the system functioning.  If too many people get jobs, the government raises interest rates to throw some of them out of work again.  The interaction of government policy and employer preferences results in people literally becoming unemployable.  Such unemployables are not exploiters but the exploited.  They deserve compensation because they have been sacrificed to keep the system running.

I will now speculate a bit more.  The problem with the contemporary right is not their principle but their overemphasis on it and their application of it.  The problem is that they think that it is possible to identify free riders using a criterion that is inappropriate in the contemporary collectivist world of the market economy, whose institutions and operations they do not understand.

Misguided righteous indignation is a potent political weapon.

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