Morality and Justice guided by the Veil of Ignorance
There is an interesting system of morality (and justice) that was put forth by John Rawls, the basic idea was that if you are put in a situation of ignorance where you have no idea where you place in society will be you will always choose the most just system because you will choose the system that benefits the greatest number of people with the least negatives that are also evenly distributed. This naturally progresses into Utilitarianism, but I’m going to just say that I find that philosophy completely silly. However the base idea is sound.
When we are deciding whether or not something is just we should ask ourselves if we had no idea where on the totem pole we’d be, would we still support the law? It’s easy for people to support laws drug testing welfare recipients, but what if the law could potentially drug test people to get their paychecks or retirement pay? Would people be for it then? The vast majority would not and by this they would be implicitly stating that the law is unjust.
Tax code should be written in much the same way, the problem here is that rich people already know they are rich and conversely poor people know that they are poor. However when we are designing the law we need to ask ourselves would we be happy with the tax code no matter where on the totem poll we lined up? If the answer is (with complete earnest) yes then we have designed a fair tax code.
Obviously people can lie, so lets assume that we are using strict lie detection systems to get the data or that we are dealing with people incapable of lying because of brain problems or (if they are like me) people who would rather not keep track of their lies.
Any law that receives a sudden shift in support because of the Veil of Ignorance model, is a law that should be changed or removed. These laws are obviously flawed and designed with something besides justice in mind.
Thing about the war on drugs, most of the US is using drugs of some kind, Tylenol, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, etc, when examining drug law what if we did not know which drugs would be covered? This is stepping outside the box of the VoI model, but the idea still applies. Would people be so accepting of violence against supply and use of drugs if their own drug became grouped in with other substances? In the past we have seen that this is not the case, when Alcohol was banned it caused an extreme rise in violence, crime, and the nation was awash in destructive events. It was one of a long list of great errors by the US and its government, something that we have apparently never learned from.
How about a Draft? Imagine if there were no exclusions to the draft, if a president, a congressmen, a rich person, a CEO, etc, if all these people could just as likely be drafted as the next person. What if their children were in danger? Do you think they would support a war? Much less a draft to support that war? I would be utterly shocked if the answer was not a resounding no from all those named. The last US president and Vice President were both draft dodgers, they obviously did not support going to war if it meant they could be harmed. This is an example of a flawed policy and an unjust system.
Regulations are much the same, if a corporation could not be guaranteed that the regulation they are lobbying for would be used against everyone but them, would they push hard to get it passed? Modern regulations against family farms and non-industrial food producers are almost unilaterally passed with millions of dollars in lobbying by major corporations like Tyson Chicken, it seems very strange that the wording in these bills almost always does not apply to the people pushing for them.
Whenever a law is passed and it does not match the Veil of Ignorance support, it causes a schism in society. These schisms lead to dissonance and dissonance inevitably leads to increases in crime, helpless feelings, and general negativity. It is imperative that we look at every law or societal change and ask ourselves, if we had no idea whether or not this change would impact us, would we support it?
If we had no greater guarantee of being in the US or in Mexico, would we be accepting of the absolutely horrendous drug war going on in that country? If we are not willing to put ourselves in the shoes of those impacted by our decisions, our decisions are not noble, nor just. What is done in these situations, often, is vile.