Friday, October 3, 2008

With Liberty and Justice For All

From the sound of that phrase, "with liberty and justice for all," one might almost think the two go hand in hand. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Liberty, or more simply freedom, appears to be about not being a slave, not being subject to a tyrannical government, or not being constrained by a rigid, conformist society. In conservative parlance, though, liberty is also a code word for freedom from taxes and government involvement.

Likewise, justice is not just about being counted innocent until proven guilty, or not having to face cruel and unusual punishments. Justice is also about having an opportunity to strive for the rewards society has to offer. It's about succeeding based on accomplishments, rather than on family background, hereditary wealth or social connections.

Unfortunately, nature is inherently unjust. People, through no fault or virtue of their own, may be born with incredible advantages or horrible disadvantages. We can't correct this. But we can make life a little more equitable but creating a society in which those who are disadvantaged get a little help at the expense of those who have more than their share. It's only fair.

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