What is social justice?

Joel Kotkin:

Perhaps no issue more motivates progressive activists than social justice. Good intentions may motivate the social justice warriors, albeit sometimes sprinkled with a dollop of self-hatred. But good intentions do not necessarily produce good results. Indeed, often the policies favored by progressive idealists hinder the economic and social progress of the very people they seek to rescue.

They do this in many ways, emphasizing subsidies and preferences based on race while undermining the economic growth that most poor people, of any race, according to a recent You Gov poll, believe would be more effective than entitlement spending in reducing poverty.

In the real world — where most people live — intentions do not necessarily produce results. Opposition to charter schools may please progressives’ allies in the teachers’ unions but removes from poor and minority communities one proven way to achieve better results. Lowering standards might allow some of these students to emerge from under-performing public schools and enter elite colleges, but the evidence is that such students do poorly in these environments, often dropping out and, if they stay, segregating into departments, like ethnic or women’s studies, devoted to, you guessed it, social justice.

Indeed the emphasis on social justice, which is now filtering into the younger grades, seems destined to lower the actual achievement of those who so indoctrinated. The emphasis on race, gender and — horror of horrors, white privilege — is no substitute for the proficiency in math, science or literacy, things actually valued in the real world.

Social class in the wokest places

In California and other progressive states, woke policies are clearly not helping the poor. Indeed despite all the progressive rhetoric, African Americans and Latinos suffer considerably higher rates of poverty in California than in the rest of the nation; the Golden State already suffers the highest percentage of poor people among the states. The twin pillars of woke politics, California and New York, also suffer both the highest rates of inequality in the nation.

Many policies embraced by progressives also hamper minority aspirations to enter the middle class. California policies that restrict peripheral development, for example, have made home ownership all but impossible, and rents unsustainably high, for most minorities and working class families. In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, for example, 37% of Latinos and 33% of African Americans own their own home; in much dissed and less rigorously progressive places like Houston (51% & 42%) or Atlanta (44% & 45%), the percentages are much higher.