Monday, July 11, 2011

Of Ferry Boats and Cosmic Justice

Today is a day of waiting. My team of engineering students arrived in Honduras yesterday, all but one. Because of his military obligations, Billy had to come a day late.  So today, the team is hanging out at the beach-side hotel we know as Jack's Place while I return to Roatan to retrieve Billy.  This means I ride the ferry to Roatan, then a taxi to the airport. After I get Billy, we return by the same route. This means most of my day is spent waiting around.  I'm glad I brought my book.

This morning I had to do something I have not done before. I had to figure out a way to park my car for the day at the ferry.  It took a lot of questions, the answers to which I only understood about 10% of.  A half an hour later I had my parking permit and a little less respect from kind folks with whom I conversed.  When I am out and about without a translator I feel a little vulnerable. But it makes me sympathetic to non-English speakers back in the US.

I mentioned that I brought a book. I'm excited about it. It's called "The Quest for Cosmic Justice" by Thomas Sowell. He is a conservative economist from Stanford (I didn't know anything conservative came out of Stanford). It's a critique of social justice programs that fail to take into account the larger costs of their activity to society as a whole.  Here's a quote:

"Cosmic justice is not about the rules of the game. It's about putting particular segments of society in the position that they would have been in but for some undeserved misfortune. This conception of fairnes requires that third parties must weild the power to control outcomes, overriding rules, standards, or the preferences of other people."

and later he says

"Implicit in much discussion of a need to rectify social inequities is the notion that some segments of society, through no fault of their own, lack things which others receive as windfall gains, through no virture of their own."

I am looking forward to spending some time reading more today.


Anonymous said...

I hope for your sake that Billy is a little less prone to seasickness than me!
- Lisa T.

Greg said...

I like Lisa's comment!

Laurie Matherne said...

I admire your book list. My summer list has been a bit lighter. Try, Jesus, the Cia, My Father and Me by Ian Crohn. Good read.

Eduardo said...

Sounds like a good book. I might just have to pick up a copy sometime soon.