Answers to the World's Smallest Morality Quiz
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Answers to the World's Smallest Morality Quiz
In case you came here by some other means, the purpose of this page is to give "Answers" to "The World's Smallest Morality Quiz" which is at:
Comments on Answers to the QuizPoll results to date:
- ARMING WORKERS: This is Marxism, the theory that unjust dealing with workers forfeits your right to own the means of production.
- TAX or REGULATION: This is the typical Liberal Democratic response. Government is the solution to the problem. I'm all to willing to admit the flaws in this approach.
- SUASION, yet UNEASINESS WITH REGULATION: This is what I would call the Left Libertarian response. It believes that wilful harm and injustice can be done by means of non-fradulent, mutually voluntary actions of the marketplace, such as making abortions a condition of employment. This view, however, does not believe in regulation as the answer to the problem. I have great respect for this viewpoint. It acknowledges the fallenness of human governments, the fallenness of human business owners, and the scarcity of resources in the real world.
- GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM. I would call this the Right Libertarian, Materialistic Libertarian, Blind Libertarian, Economic Libertine, or Gingrichian response. I have about as much esteem for this view as I do the Marxist view. This view holds that the only thing wrong one can do in the marketplace is commit fraud. This view rejects centuries of church teaching from Martin Luther to Pope Leo to Martin Luther King, Jr., to Pope John Paul II. The believers in Economic Libertinism often refer to Left Libertarian as Marxists or Socialists because of their criticism of the practices of certain businesses.
- MARKET IS GOOD, BUT HELP THE WORKERS. This might be called a Fatalistic Libertarian.
- SHOP SHOP SHOP. This is the Noble Savage view. Leave me alone. Let me look after my own interests. I say, get behind me.
The LP quiz
Libertarians have developed a quiz on one's views on economic and personal freedom. It is called "World's Smallest Political Quiz." The answers to the quiz are then plotted on two axes, one for personal freedom, and another for economic freedom. It explains how Democrats, Libertarians, and Republicans differ on flag burning and income taxes: the first issue is one of personal freedom, the latter one of economic freedom.
There are a lot of issues, however, for which this table never made any sense to me.
I have seen two views in the libertarian movement based on discussions with friends. On the one hand were the truly evil libertarian think-tanks, distorting science on hog farm sewage runoff and CFC depletion, on the other hand there were libertarians with a personal agenda exactly like those of Greenpeace activists, except that they eschewed any government force.
- Captial Research Associates publishes a Philanthropy Watch, which rates the left/right views of various charities. One charity regularly earning a "Left" designation is OXFAM AMERICA. Oxfam takes no government funding. Their most widely circulated publication, "In a World of Abundance, Why Hunger?" lists the five causes of world hunger: 3/5 of them are actions of governments! How is this advocacy of more government? CRA's evidence for Oxfam's leftedness has to to with criticism of private sector businesses. CRA's views do not make sense based on this table.
- New York State Republicans favored using state coercision to prevent a dairy farmer from informing the customer whether the dairy cows were treated with rBGH growth hormone. It's easy to imagine pro-petrochemical-business Republicans doing this, and pro-environment Democrats opposing it. But how does this fit into the table?
- Ira Glasser of the ACLU debated with Gloria Steiem of NOW the reaction of American liberals to the movie about LARRY FLYNT. While both strongly opposed condemned government censorship, they were in sharp disagreement over how citizens should respond. Gloria condemned the movie, while Ira condemned the boycott campaign by feminists against the movie!
- Many members of the Libertarian Party view the whole environmental movement, explicitly including DOLPHIN-SAFE TUNA buycotts by private citizens, as a threat, even when the issue at hand has nothing to do with regulation. "Your freedom is worth more than all the dolphins in the world," remarked one LP activist, as he gorged himself on dolphin-unfriendly tuna during his one-man protest on the campus lawn. How is this man's action explained by the table?
- Republicans took pride in their opposition to the Soviet Union, in their pursuing of brinkmanship against this evil empire. Yet the name "LIBERAL" somehow got applied to both the victims of these Cold Warriors and the opposition parties in the Soviet Union.
- During the CIVIL RIGHTS CRISIS, proponents of desegregation used a variety of tools, from government regulation (Civil Rights Act) to private sector boycotts of buses and lunchcounters. Opponents of desegregation used a vareity of tools, from government regulation (Jim Crow Laws), to private sector voluntary actions (private university and country club membership restrictions, boycotss of black-owned businesses, Lester Maddox's baseball bat). Everyone knows that the good guys (desegregationists) were "the Left" and the bad guys (segregationists) were "the Right." Yet the argument was not over the role or size of government. A more important question was being argued: man's inhumanity to man!
A better set of axesIt matters not your opinion on regulating sweatshops as much as whether you were struggling to change the ways of sweatshop owners. Thus, I came up with the following new table which stresses a new set of axes:
- GREATER SOCIAL CHANGE
Greater social change is an increase in your neighbor or religious leader poking in your business with the powers of persuasion and selective purchasing. It is generally what "The Left" wants. Social change is what Martin Luther King's Center for Nonviolent Social Change wants. This axis moves away from what the Popes have called "unbridled capitalism." This axis goes from being a "hardliner" to being a "liberal." Using Noam Chomsky's terminology, this axis goes from "Capitalism" to "Socialism". This axis measures the urgency of using NON-GOVERNMENTAL MEANS to fight social ills
- GREATER GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION
Greater government intervention is the government poking in your business with powers of coercision, taxation, and threat of imprisonment. This axis is measures a decrease in individual economic and personal liberty due to government intrusion. This axis moves toward "big government," and toward what American political conservatives have decried in their rhetoric. Using Noam Chomsky's terminology, this axis goes from "Libertarianism" to "Statism." This axis has nothing to do with governments enforcing contracts or lawsuits for real damage to private property. This axis measures the urgency of using GOVERNMENTAL MEANS to fight social ills .
The new table sets up some relationships that may seem suprising: libertarians divided and 60's Republicans next to their Stalinist adversaries. The most partisan patriots on the American side of the Cold War were more like their Stalinist adversaries than they cared to admit: Hoover's government investigation of Dr. King and anti-flag burning legislation being but too examples. Both the entrenched Stalinist bureaucrat and the Cold Warrior wanted minimum social change, no matter how much regulation of personal or economic freedom it took. On the other hand, the Marxist guerilla living in the woods of a developing country probably had a very different outlook than a Stalinist sitting in an office in Moscow. The only self-avowed Marxist I have ever met thought the crumbling of the Berlin Wall was a good thing. This table also explains why Liberal Democrats thought it was so silly to point to East Germany as the logical conclusion of their agenda. The opposition parties in both the Soviet Union and the US in the early 1980's were called "liberals." Likewise, some Ideal Libertarians stress how much polluting corporations would suffer under a truly libertarian economy, due to lawsuits for personal damages; other Pro-business Libertarians distort their own principles on issues like corporate charters when it may benefit the unethical corporation of the hour. These libertarians defend, for example, hog farms which pollute other people's private property. Splitting the libertarians into two camps explains why half of them view requests to buy Turtle-Safe shrimp or recycled toilet paper as an assault on their freedom.
Other critiques of the "World's Smallest Political Quiz" may be found here.
"But your'e separating MEANS and ENDS."Yes, I agree with the peace movement that means ARE ends.
Religious justification of Left libertarianismEveryone agrees that fraud, being a lazy worker, and theft are serious sins. There are, however, at least two possible views within libertarianism. One holds that all transactions which are nonfraudulent and mutually voluntary are thereby moral; another view holds that you can oppress your neighbor in the free marketplace. The first view celebrates the sweatshop owner for employing people; the second view says that neglect of your neighbor's need is a sin. Do the classic writings of the Christian church support this second view? Read the following statements below, paying careful attention to what it says about mutualy voluntary transactions, and the moral right of people to charge what they choose. Listen carefully: are there practices in the market in addition to fraud they condemn?
Pope John Paul IIWriting in Centissimus Annus, the Pope John Paul II strongly condemns the notion that if a contract is mutually agreed upon, it is moral--a tenet of Economic Libertinism. JPII uses the words "the pope" when quoting his predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: "8. The pope immediately adds another right which the worker has as a person. This is the right to a "just wage," which cannot be left to the 'free consent of the parties, so that the employer, having paid what was agreed upon, has done his part and seemingly is not called upon to do anything beyond.' It was said at the time that the state does not have the power to intervene in the terms of these contracts except to ensure the fulfillment of what had been explicitly agreed upon. This concept of relations between employers and employees, purely pragmatic and inspired by a thoroughgoing individualism, is severely censured in the encyclical as contrary to the twofold nature of work as a personal and necessary reality. For if work as something personal belongs to the sphere of the individual's free use of his own abilities and energy, as something necessary it is governed by the grave obligation of every individual to ensure "the preservation of life.' 'It necessarily follows,' the pope concludes, 'that every individual has a natural right to procure what is required to live; and the poor can procure that in no other way than by what they can earn through their work.'
"A workman's wages should be sufficient to enable him to support himself, his wife and his children. 'If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accepts harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice.'
"Would that these words, written at a time when what has been called 'unbridled capitalism' was pressing forward, should not have to be repeated today with the same severity. Unfortunately, even today one finds instances of contracts between employers and employees which lack reference to the most elementary justice regarding the employment of children or women, working hours, the hygienic condition of the workplace and fair pay; and this is the case despite the international declarations and conventions on the subject and the internal laws of states. The pope attributed to the 'public authority' the 'strict duty' of providing properly for the welfare of the workers, because a failure to do so violates justice; indeed, he did not hesitate to speak of 'distributive justice.'
The pope also approved of the 1984 Vatican document, "Instruction on Certain Aspects of Theology of Liberation." (Ironically, this document has been criticized by liberals for being anti-liberation theology.) But couched in all its theologically conservative warnings come many messages of a need for a radical social ethic:
"The lack of equity and of a sense of solidarity in international transactions works to the advantage of the industrialized nations so that the gulf between rich and poor is ever widening. Hence derives the feeling of frustration among third world countries, and the accusations of exploitation and economic colonialism brought against the industrialized nations."If a mutually volutary, fraud-free transaction is all that God calls us to, why is the Pope ranting about a lack of solidarity in transactions?
LutherIn his pamplet "Trade and Usury," Luther claims that belief in the right to charge for one's goods as dearly as one pleases is a means by which"every door and window to Hell is opened."
In Luther's Large Catechism, Martin Luther explains the Seventh Commandment, Thou Shalt not Steal:
". . .As I have just said, A person steals not only when he robs a man's strongbox or his pocket, but also when he takes advantage of his neighbor in the market, in a grocery shop , butcher stall, wine- and beer-cellar, work-shop, and, in short, wherever business is transacted and money is exchanged for good and labor. . .
"One person openly cheats another with defective merchandise, false measures, dishonest weights, and bad coins, and takes advantage of him by underhanded tricks and sharp practices and crafty dealing. Or again, one swindles another in a trade and deliberately fleeces, skins, and torments him. . .
"Let everyone know, then, that it is his duty, at the risk of God's displeasure, not to harm his neighbor, take advantage of him, or defraud him by any faithless or underhanded business transaction. More than that, he is under obligation faithfully to protect his neighbor's property and further his interests, especially when he takes renumeration for such services. . . "
[Lazy workers will see God's wrath; similarly] "it will be with artisans and day-laborers, from whom we are obliged to suffer such intolerable insolence. They act as if they were lords over others' possessions and entitled to whatever they demand. Just let them keep on boldly fleecing people as long as they can. God will not forget his commandment. He will pay them what they deserve. He will hand them not on a green gallows but a dry one...
"The same fate will overtake those who turn the free public market into a carrion-pit and a robber's den. Daily the poor are defrauded. New burdens and high prices are imposed. Everyone misuses the market in his own willful, conceited, arrogant way, as if it were his right and privilege to sell his goods as dearly as he pleases without a word of criticism. We shall stand by and let such persons fleece, grab, and hoard. But we shall trust God, who takes matters into his own hands. . ."
"But beware of how you deal with the poor, of whom there are many now. If, when you meet a poor man who must live from hand to mouth, you act as if everyone must live by your favor, you skin and scrape him right down to the bone, and you arrogantly turn him away whom you ought to give aid, he will go away wretched and dejected, and because he can complain to no one else, he will cry to heaven. Beware of this, I repeat, as of the devil himself. . .
"Our responsibility is only to instruct and repove by means of God's Word. To restrain open lawlessness is the responsibility of princes and magistrates. They should be alert and resolute enough to establish and maintain order in all areas of trade and commerce in order that the poor may not be burdened and oppressed and in order that they may not themselves be charged with other men's sins. . ."
"To sum up, as we have done in the previous commandments: One one hand, we are forbidden to do our neighbor any injury or wrong in any way imaginable, whether by damaging, withholding, or interfering with his possessions and property. We are not to consent to or permit such a thing, but rather to avert is and prevent it. One the other hand, we are commanded to promote and further our neighbor's interests, and when he suffers want, we are to help, share, and lend to both friends and foes. . ."
"We shall be richly rewarded for all the help and kindness we show to our neighbor, as King Solomon teaches in Prov. 19:17, 'He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.' Here you have a rich Lord."
Examples of the four viewpoints
Economic libertinism, "Right Libertarianism"The Acton Institute has at times favored Ideal Libertarianism, Economic Libertinism, or Fatalistic Libertarianism. Here is an example of Economic Libertinism: From the article, Economic Personalism: A New Paradigm for a Humane Economy , by Gregory M.A. Gronbacher says,
"Many, especially Christians, in their good intentions either to help the poor or to create a just society believe that they can best achieve their goals by restricting economic liberty. This implies an underlying belief that people, freely exchanging goods and services to meet their physical needs, somehow leads to poverty, marginalization, and exploitation."
Here, the Acton Institute holds that if you believe that SOME businesses can get away with acting reprehensibly within the confines of a free market, then you must believe that ALL activity the free market itself leads to "poverty, marginalization, and exploitation." As I have said before, among those who eschew governmnet restrictions of economic liberty, there are those who celebrate sweatshops and those who seek non-governmental means to fight these houses of iniquity.
In the article, "Scholastic Economics: Thomistic Value Theory", the Acton Institute explicitly endorses the Economic Libertine ideal that the market price is the just price. Gloria Zuniga writes:
"Thomistic economic thought, in particular, is grounded on private property and voluntary exchange as the principle for determining licit contracts. With few exceptions (such as the nominalists Jean de Gerson and Henry of Langenstein) the medieval Doctors agreed that the just price is discovered in the common estimation by market participants."
Just think of the comfort that these words bring with them! If a corporation shuts down a plant in one third world country where the market starts to support a living wage and sets up operations in a cheaper-labor-pool country, the managers will be truly comforted by Ms. Zuniga's words.
Ideal LibertinismHere again we have words from the Acton Institute. Notice how just a small clarification turns an abomination of a theory into a unquestionably insightful observation! Rev. James V. Schall, S. J., writes in the article, "Natural Law and Economics"
"At its best, the market price of a thing is the just price of a thing. This conclusion does not mean that there is no such thing as gouging or cheating or any of the other distortions we might find in an actual exchange."
Economic PersonalismI have not yet made up my mind about what this is. It may simply be Ideal Libertarianism, or is it Pro-Business Libertarianism where one simply says, "I REALLY REALLY hate welfare"? I'm still searching.
The Catholic Worker movement uses the term occasionally and I take it to mean a struggle for justice on behalf of the poor which involves private charity and challenging of unjust structures. The Catholic Worker movement does all this and is very skeptical of the welfare state.
Here is a link for something called a "Center for Economic Personalism."
Some libertarians use this term and by their track record seem to confuse unjust structures with "the free market". One's response to the boycott of Disney may help differentiate between a noble Personalism and a Scroogish one. The Ideal Libertarian would say that Disney's treatment of sweatshop workers is as serious if not a more serious reason to boycott than the family values issues. The Pro-Business Libertarian would say with great sarcasm, "I'll boycott Disney, but not for economic reasons." The attitude expresed by Fr. Sirrocco of the Acton Institute towards Disney makes me skeptical of the overall worth of his organization.
Similar tables of economic views
Noam Chomsky, in his 1986 essay, "The Soviet Union versus Socialism," came up with similar camps but very different labels thirteen years before I did. Chomsky, an unabashed anti-Leninist, points out how the Soviet system betrays the ideals of what he calls "socialism," which I call "maximum social change." Chomsky also favors a "libertarian" system, where people are free to exchange goods, free from repression from "capitalists." Thus, Chomsky calls "libertarian socialsm" that which I call "ideal libertarianism." [I condemn Chomsky's celebration of the Khmer Rouge's atrocities in Cambodia, if he in fact ever did so. I doubt that he actually did so. There is strong evidence that claims of Chomsky's "celebration" is a misrepresentation of his views, involving a "quote" which pulls words from two different chapters into the same sentence!]
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