Steve Soderlind: Justice and Prosperity

Expanded Description: Classes will involve lectures and guided discussions focused on readings. The main text will be Better Prosperity by Steve Soderlind, available through Amazon and other outlets (as low as $12.68 new). All other readings will be available at no cost via the web or Email attachments. Web addresses are included in the schedule below. (TBD = to be distributed.)

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

Better Prosperity, Chapter 1.  Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees (1714); Smith, Moral Sentiments (1759) and Wealth of Nations (1776), excerpts TBD; The Declaration of Independence; Preamble, 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  The first few pages will be sufficient to frame the question: Why? Howard Zinn, “The Intimately Oppressed” (Ch. 6 of A People’s History of the United States (1980). 

Meeting II. Liberty and Justice

Better Prosperity, Chapter 2.  In law: truth, scales, and enforcement – Justitia

Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant; “Justice as a Virtue” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy), updated in 2020. Find at; 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

Meeting III. History, Especially Since the Second Founding

Better Prosperity, Chapters 3-5.  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, Title IX.     

Meeting IV. Social Economics

Better Prosperity, Chapters 6-9.  John Stuart Mill, excerpts from Principles of Political Economy (1848). TBD; Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, excerpts, TBD;  Charles Schultz, The Public Use of Private Interest, Brookings. TBD

Meeting V. Frontiers of Justice today

Better Prosperity, Chapters 10-15.  Distributional, environmental, regional, race and gender, and intergenerational; UN Climate Panel Report. Excerpts TBD; Arthur Okun, Equality and Efficiency (Washington DC: Brookings, 1975). We will read a 16-page summary approved by Brookings. TBD.       

Meeting VI. Goals and Means

Better Prosperity, Chapters 16 and 22.  Rights, taxes, subsidies, reparations, arts, education, enforcement, information; The example of consumer protection – my history; 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 VII. Barriers

Better Prosperity, Chapters 17-19.  Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society (1932), “Chapter One.” TBD; Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), “Introduction” and Ch. VII. “Capitalism and Discrimination.” Available as pdf on web, excerpts 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; Failed Prophesies, the Big Lie, QAnon, CRT, … Mises, Lange, and Middle Ways

Meeting VIII.  A Better capitalism? Last class, lots of possibilities

Better Prosperity, Chapters 20-24.  Welfare issues: membership, benefits and responsibilities, openness; Social Capital; US Budget, FY 2023, on web at links to the FY2023 President’s Budget; read only pages 3-10 as grist for discussion on the notion of better capitalism.