Chance, Merit, and Economic Inequality: Rethinking Distributive Justice and the Principle of Desert

This book develops a novel approach to distributive justice by building a theory based on a concept of desert. As a work of applied political theory, it presents a simple but powerful theoretical argument and a detailed proposal to eliminate …

The radical moral implications of luck in human life

In July 2018 (when we first published this piece), there was a minor uproar when Kardashian scion Kylie Jenner, who is all of 21, appeared on the cover of Forbes’s 60 richest self-made women issue. As many people pointed out, Jenner’s success would have been impossible if she hadn’t been born white, healthy, rich, and famous. She built a successful cosmetics company—now valued at $900 million, according to Forbes—not just with hard work but on a towering foundation of good luck.

Justice and the Meritocratic State

Like American politics, the academic debate over justice is polarized, with almost all theories of justice falling within one of two traditions: egalitarianism and libertarianism. This book provides an alternative to the partisan standoff by focusing …


Egalitarianism is a trend of thought in political philosophy. An egalitarian favors equality of some sort: People should get the same, or be treated the same, or be treated as equals, in some respect. An alternative view expands on this …

What Do the Poor Deserve?

The photograph seemingly shows a poor black child with an expensive piece of faddish technology. Such incongruity was too much for a great number of people in New Orleans to accept, said Jarvis DeBerry, who noted as much Sunday in his Times-Picayune column. The idea that most people in public housing are living the lush life has persisted for at least as long as presidential candidate Ronald Reagan started using the offensive “welfare queen.

Saving the American Idea: Rejecting Fear, Envy, and the Politics of Division

The American commitment to equality of opportunity, economic liberty, and upward mobility is not tried in days of prosperity. It is tested when times are tough—when fear and envy are used to divide Americans and further the interests of politicians and their cronies. In this major address at The Heritage Foundation, Congressman Paul Ryan dissects the real class warfare—a class of governing elites, exploiting the politics of division to pick winners and losers in our economy and determine our destinies for us—and outlines a principled, pro-growth alternative to this path of debt, doubt and decline.

What the Poor Deserve

THE STARK WORD FROM WASHINGTON IS that America’s War on Poverty has been totally transformed. It is now a War on the Poor. Who’s to blame? In the view of Prof. Herbert J. Gans, a Columbia sociologist and perceptive critic of American life, almost all the nonpoor must share the blame. Despite the New Deal and what he calls the Great Society’s “Skirmish on Poverty,” Americans have for much of their history demonized the poor as undeserving shirkers and cheats.