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09/01/2012

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Trevor Hedberg

I took it. Apparently, I side 95% with Obama and 92% with Jill Stein. I sided 61% with Gary Johnson, which is interesting because I apparently only sided 13% with the libertarian party. So perhaps this says something about Gary Johnson (i.e., that he is not an orthodox libertarian), and this fact about him is the main reason for your findings, Marcus.

om

Hi, just found out about this nice blog through APPS. Interesting post, Marcus, though I'm not sure I see how support for a Rawlsian property-owning democracy would align someone with Libertarians... Which quiz answers might have caused this strange alignment? (For the record, my answers sided 95% with Jill Stein,89% with Obama.)

Marcus Arvan

Om: good question! Here's an illuminating quote from Rawls' "Justice as Fairness: A Restatement":

Property-owning democracy...[involves] ensuring the widespread ownership of assets and human capital (that is, education and trained skills) at the beginning of each period, all this against a background of fair equality of opportunity. The intent is not simply to assist those who lose out through accident or misfortune (although that must be done), but rather to put all citizens in a position to manage their own affairs on a footing of a suitable degree of social and economic equality. (139)

Notice that Rawls does put pride of place on citizens managing their *own* affairs. The modern welfare state involves a great deal of centralized power and planning (all of which is deeply corrupted by wide disparities of wealth). A property-owning democracy, as I understand it, enables people to manage their *own* affairs against fair background conditions. Thus, although I don't think *any* of the following areas of agreement between me and Johnson would be a good idea under prevailing conditions, I gave them as answers because I *do* think they would be good things under better, fairer background conditions:

(1) Privatize social security (which I think is a terrible idea here-and-now, but which would empower citizens in a fairer society with widespread distribution of capital).
(2) End federal farm subsidies (I think a good property-owning democracy would make these kinds of decisions more on a local rather than federal level).

Anyway, I think this is what explains my results. A property-owning democracy of the sort Rawls had in mind is in some ways *closer* to certain libertarian ideas than the modern welfare state.

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