One of my wife's friends works at an afterschool program in our area. Talking with her briefly about what she does, it came up that their staff spends an extremely large fraction of their energies and time taking care of a very small fraction of their students---in this case, the 'special needs' kids. So perhaps 2/3 of the resources here are being used on perhaps 5% of the kids. It struck me just how precious little actual debate there is over this---the 5% in this case has its resource allocation absolutely mandated by statute, and the 95% has to be content with whatever is left over. In the present climate for governmental swag at the state and lower levels, most groups face declining budgets---read, a lower share of the smaller amount of spoils collected from the taxpayers. So why is this, and do we actually want this?
It seems to me that there are lots of different schemes that could be used to allocate said loot, with lots of purported justifications and advocate groups. It also seems to me that none of these schemes has any particular mandate from Heaven. Accordingly, they all ought to be fought in a slugfest of self-interest, but instead, because of the scourge of universalism, we must endure the sophistry of sanctimonious scolds.
For your consideration, here is a reasonable subset of those schemes
We should allocate the loot in roughly equal proportion to all of the customers (i.e., the kids)---an attempt at an appeal to fairness in the equality of opportunity sense
We should allocate the loot in rough proportion to what is paid in by the guardians of said wards---hardly anyone makes this argument because of the scourge of universalism, but it's really a simple argument of giving each group what is due it in a contractual/corporate sense
We should allocate the loot according to the ratios most likely to give us prosperity in the future---essentially a utilitarian idea in the oldest sense, you rarely see this sort of argument anymore but it wasn't uncommon before the 80s, typically advanced for spending more on the most talented or advantaged students
We should allocate the loot so as to close the gaps between the most talented and the least (i.e. the opposite of the previous scheme---typically a semi-Rawlsian sentiment)
We should allocate the loot so as to favor my group or to hurt the groups that my group competes against most for status (IMO, by far the most common scheme when you pierce the veil surrounding it)
As I've mentioned, God doesn't give a damn which of these schemes one adopts. Pretty much everyone in a modern Western society is rich beyond the dreams of anyone in Jesus' day, so whatever scheme we adopt is just the squabbles of the insanely wealthy. So let's leave the moral language out---it doesn't belong and using such language for inappropriate purposes greatly diminishes its efficacy when you actually need it.
So how SHOULD we divvy up the spoils? In my opinion, it should be a straightforward slugfest of group and self interest, with no group immune to the scheming, alliance-trading, and tawdry quid pro quo.
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