Is social justice a conservative cause? Yes, absolutely.
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, explained why it’s not just a cause, but a moral imperative, last night at a Sutherland Institute dinner in Salt Lake City.
Brooks told the group gathered at La Jolla Groves that conservatives who want to improve social justice cannot be elitist about the type of work considered “worthy.”
“All work is blessed.”
If you believe in fighting to improve life for poor and middle-class families, you cannot believe that trimming a hedge is less valuable than managing a hedge fund, he said.
Sen. Lee said that because nearly every strategy in the “war on poverty” has failed to achieve true societal change, conservatives need to summon the courage to lead this fight with new strategies.
“Defenders of today’s status quo say that any critique of our welfare system is really just a thinly-veiled attempt to destroy the social safety net. But what we all should want – and what I certainly do want – is not to destroy the safety net, but to make it work.”
America’s complicated tax code, health care and justice system hurt working families, Sen. Lee said. “Our justice system tears apart communities and fractures families among our most marginalized communities.” Sen. Lee is a co-sponsor of the Smarter Sentencing Act, along with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
Lee urged supporters of conservatism to help “make poverty temporary, not merely tolerable.”
“We usually refer to the free market and civil society as ‘institutions,’” he said. “But really, they are networks – networks of people and information and opportunity. …
“Networks of opportunity formed within the free market and civil society are not threats that poor families need more protection from. They are blessings that poor families need more access to.”
Derek Monson, policy director at Sutherland Institute, pointed out that family strength and culture are intertwined with economic issues – issues that are at the heart of Sutherland’s Center for Utah’s Economy. Continue reading