Most of us are Average Specimens
August 4, 2016
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Right around this time of year I am reminded of one of my favorite insults ever: “He was an average specimen of humanity whose main weakness was to imagine himself greater than he was.”
Most of us are more or less average and are differentiated by economic endowments and more or less good families. We need to remember that we are born into our circumstances. This to my mind is why economic justice, administered through the provision of public goods, is so essential to democratic life. Health, education, and social safety nets helps the sea of the unlucky, many of whom whose ancestors have been disadvantaged for generations due not only to the normal inequality associated with market economies, but systematic exploitation rooted in institutionalized racism. Remembering that we are average specimens will help us to think more compassionately about the poor, about public policy and what it can do for the unlucky to help them raise themselves up and contribute to our great democracy. We need to do so more than ever because our low skilled workers have been suffering for decades now because we have failed to provide income supports for those who never had a chance due to the pressures of free trade and technological advances.