Steve Soderlind:  Justice and Prosperity

Expanded Description: Classes will involve brief lectures and guided discussions focused on readings. All readings will be available at no cost via the web or Email attachments. Web addresses are included in the schedule below.  (TBD means to be distributed)

Meeting I. Set-up:  America’s Enlightenment Roots

The Declaration of Independence and Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees (1714). TBD

The Founding: Preamble, Government, Naturalization Act (1790), and Bill of Rights

Gregory Clark, “Introduction: The Sixteen-Page Economic History of the World,” from A Farewell to Alms (Princeton University Press, 2007). 

On web at

Howard Zinn, “The Intimately Oppressed” (Ch. 6 of A People’s History of the United States (New York: Harper Collins, 1980). On web at   

Meeting II. Liberty and Justice

Adam Smith, excerpts Moral Sentiments (1759) and Wealth of Nations (1776). TBD

 “Justice as a Virtue” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), updated in 2020.


 In law: truth, scales, and enforcement

 John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), pp. 3-4, 11-12, and 66-70 on “original position” and “difference principle.” TBD

  Kenneth Arrow, excerpt from “Some Ordinalist-Utilitarian Notes on Rawls’s “Theory of Justice,” Journal of Philosophy, May, 1973. TBD

Meeting III. Since the Second Founding

Second Founding: 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments

19th Amendment, civil rights legislation, voting rights legislation, women’s rights legislation, rights for consumers and the disabled.

John Stuart Mill, excerpts from Principles of Political Economy (1848), On Liberty (1859), and The Subjection of Women (1869). TBD

 Isabel Wilkerson, Caste (New York: Random House, 2020). Brief excerpt TBD

Meeting IV. Frontiers of Justice today

Distributional, Environmental, Regional, Intergenerational

Meeting V. Goals and Means

Rights, taxes, subsidies, reparations, arts, education, enforcement, information

Stiglitz, Sen, and Fitousi, Measureing our Lives: Why GDP Doesn’t Add U (New Press, 2010). TBD

Pope Francis, “Evangelii Gaudium,” pp. 44-52 (paragraphs 52-61) (Rome:  Vatican Press, 2013). TBD

Nicolas Stern, The Economics of Climate Change (Cambridge,2007). TBD

Meeting VI. Barriers

Misconceptions on capitalism and constitutional liberty, Arthur Okun, Equality and Efficiency (Washington DC: Brookings, 1975).

We will read a 16-page summary approved by Brookings. TBD.     

Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), “Chapter One.” TBD

Mankiw, N. Gregory (2013). “Defending the One Percent,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 27, No 3, pp. 21-24. TBD

Solow/Mankiw exchange (2014) in Journal of Economic Perspectives (Correspondence), Vol. 28, No 1., pp. 243-244. TBD

Meeting VII.  The Power of Fabrications, Lies, and Polemics

Failed Prophesies, the Wall, the Big Lie, QAnon, CRT, …

Mises, Lange, Hayek, and the Middle Way

Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), “Introduction” and Ch. VII. “Capitalism and Discrimination.” Available as pdf on web, excerpts TBD

Meeting VIII.  Welfare capitalism?

Is America capitalist?

Welfare issues: membership, benefits and responsibilities, openness

The American Rescue Plan, US Budget, FY 2022, on web at links to the FY2022 President’s Budget; read only pages 1-7 as grist for discussion on notion of welfare capitalism Scandinavian pattern states