In what is surely the richest state in the richest country in the world, Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing to freeze school budgets, eliminate welfare, cut back worker’s compensation, eliminate child care payments, eliminate 60 percent of the funds for mental health, and on and on. All in order to avoid a tax increase on the wealthy. This is Rawls turned upside down: a minimax principle of arranging society to no one’s benefit, but ensuring that the best off are not asked to pay their fair share.
Fifty years ago, John Kenneth Galbraith pointed out that the new industrial state tends to under-produce social goods. The post-industrial state, it seems, is heading towards an anarchist dystopia of an ugliness not seen since the depths of laissez-faire. Is there no decency?