Timothy Taylor, one of the nation’s most influential teachers of economics (e.g., through his Teaching Company lectures), offered an interesting high-level perspective (in an interview) on how Americans currently think about economics:
“… when people talk about growth, the first thing they talk about is not the role of the private sector or firms. They talk about how the government can give us growth, through tax cuts or spending increases or the Federal Reserve. When they talk about fairness and justice, they don’t talk about the government doing that. They talk about how companies ought to provide fairness and justice in wages and health care and benefits and all sorts of things.”
Readers: Is he basically right?
Evidence for: here in Massachusetts, the state government preaches to businesses about how they should provide better benefits but meanwhile tries to hire as many as possible of its new workers as consultants so as to avoid having to pay for health insurance, pension, etc., and so as to avoid providing a lifetime employment guarantee. Instead of the government building houses to allocate to people whom the government selects, commercial property developers are required to give away a percentage of what they build (though the actual identification and selection of the recipients of the newly built apartments, etc., is done by a government worker). “The Eviction Epidemic” (New Yorker):
When tenants have legal representation, their chances of keeping their homes increase dramatically. A program that ran in the South Bronx from 2005 to 2008, for example, provided legal assistance to more than thirteen hundred families and prevented eviction in more than eighty-five per cent of the cases, saving New York City hundreds of thousands of dollars in estimated shelter costs.
Having a greater percentage of the GDP devoted to lawyers representing people who aren’t paying commercial landlords is considered by the writer as a way to “save” costs and there is no discussion of the fact that costs for providing free housing have to some extent simply been shifted from the government to commercial landlords (it might be true that a commercial landlord can provide a free house at a lower cost than a government-run “shelter”).
Evidence against: people who say that they’re interested in “social justice” spend a lot of time advocating for more taxpayer-funded government hand-outs, either by making benefits more generous or available to a broader group of residents.