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Social Justice According to Van Jones

Posted: February 2, 2011 at 12:11 pm   /   by

VanjonesadvisorforgreenjobsVan Jones, former White House Green Jobs Czar, was first introduced to many of us by Valerie Jarrett, a close friend and senior advisor to Barack Obama. Of Jones, she exulted: “We were so delighted to have recruited him into the White House … We were watching him … for as long as he’s been active out in Oakland … the creative ideas that he has … and so now we have captured that and we have all that energy and enthusiasm in the White House.”

Nancy Pelosi said of him: “Van Jones is one of the most innovative and strategic thinkers of our time. He is what I like to call a magnificent disrupter of the status quo.”

Van Jones resigned from the White House in September of 2009 amid controversy over his past statements and activism.  But his service did not end there.  In a January 19, 2011 visit to Guilford college, he gave perhaps the clearest definition of Social Justice ever offered by someone with such strong personal endorsements from the likes of Jarrett and Pelosi:

Here’s how you know if you live in a society where there’s Social Justice:  Would you be willing to take your life . . . write it on a card, throw it in a big pot with everybody else . . . reach in at random and pull out another life with total confidence that it would be a good life?  Well, then you got some work to do … if you don’t have that confidence, then you don’t live in a society with social justice … that’s a high standard … every generation has to figure out a way to [move us there]

There it is, then … the Great American Left’s goal for America, something toward which we should strive in every generation and for which, ostensibly, our Government should design our laws, taxation, and regulations.   Equality uber alles.  Not equality of opportunity but equality of results. 

Social Justice therefore is not merely a means to an end — it is the end itself.  How good would the Jones-envisioned  “good life” would be?  Who would set the uniform quality-of-life level, and who would enforce it?  Jones himself, maybe?  He gives no examples of countries that have achieved a form of Social Justice.  But perhaps life would be like that in Cuba or North Korea?  That is, equally miserable for everbody except for the enforcers of Social Justice?

Of course, as a vision for America, Social Justice is not new.  It’s actually 400 years old.  It was tested under real-life conditions in our own country near Plymouth Rock, found horribly wanting, and replaced abruptly with a free-enterprise, free-market, free-choice paradigm that served America well until Progressives began arriving on the scene about 100 years ago.   It is indeed a credit to that paradigm that over these 100 years it has worked as well as it has, considering that Progressives have gradually managed to siphon off nearly half of everything it produces.

That said, given the Progressive-driven acceleration in our public debt, most of us know that some sort of disruptive consequence will be coming our way soon, and rather abruptly at that.  We all owe a debt of gratitude to Jones for making it clearer what Progressives want that end to be like.  It’s called Social Justice, a phrase that sounds good and noble on first hearing.  But now, thanks to Jones’ graphic description, every time we hear the phrase Social Justice, we’ll know what it really means.

David Leeper

David Leeper

David Leeper is a retired engineer living in Scottsdale, AZ, with his wife of 45 years. He is currently a volunteer science teacher at In his 40-year career he held positions from lab technician to technical vice president at Bell Labs, Motorola, and Intel. He holds 16 patents in telecom technology and a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. During his career, he wrote mainly for technical journals including Scientific American. He began writing for in 2011.
David Leeper

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Social Justice According to Van Jones