Presentation on theme: "William Sumner, The Forgotten Man (1883). Main problem What is the true meaning of civil liberty? Should the poor and the destitute receive help? Should."— Presentation transcript:
William Sumner, The Forgotten Man (1883)
Main problem What is the true meaning of civil liberty? Should the poor and the destitute receive help? Should some categories of workers be protected?
Solution New definition of liberty:  Civil Liberty is the status of the man who is guaranteed by law and civil institutions the exclusive employment of all their powers for their own welfare. The paupers and the physically disabled should receive benefits, and women and children should receive some protection because of their inferior status
Purpose of liberty Return to an older understanding:  that each man and woman might live out his or her life according to his or her own notions of happiness and up to the measure of his or her own virtue and wisdom.  development of independence, self-reliance individual energy, and enterprise Such social virtues come at the expense of old sentimental ties – replaced by contract, mutual advantage (market)
Reasons Popular sovereignty is a fallacy Too much attention is given to disasters, the victims of extraordinary circumstances Too much social theorizing leads to unrealistic plans for reform – society will always remain ridden by vice and struggle for power The poor and the weak (and criminals) are victims of their own incompetence and vice  Productive people must pay –  the Forgotten Man (simple, honest laborer…)
Examples Improving the condition of the working classes – accepting assistance leads to inferiority; help to some workers comes at the expense of others (trade unions) Taxes – helping bad people is counterproductive State regulation – able-bodied adult men dont need protection Jobbery – redistribution of income (including protective tariffs)
Assumptions Human nature: egotistical; vice is an inescapable part of it Struggle for power (Social Darwinism)
Implications No regulation and redistribution – productive people should keep their earnings Such policies favor the capitalist class – and all productive people
Problems? Can society be based on pure self-interest and mutual advantage? Public goods? Public infrastructure and services? Progressive taxation? Need for collective social insurance (welfare state)? Structural advantages of the capitalists? The Incredibles? Libertarians true heirs of classical liberalism (Mill)?