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I earlier said The Great Society and its descendants today like college-aid programs for single mothers are manifestly unjust in their “actual workings on the individual level.” I qualified it because all such programs are couched in terms of “social justice.” Their proponents would argue that their programs correct prevous manifest injustice: the socio-economic conditions that put people in poverty, the harmful cultural influences that prompt young woman to be promiscuous, whatever. I don’t accept such arguments, but they could be argued and reasonable people can disagree.

But even if the proponents are correct, here’s the thing: the programs ignore justice at the individual level, where justice matters the most. Individuals matter, not the collective group of unwed mothers and poverty-stricken urbanites. This type of program lumps together all people that fall within a particular description, then treats them all the same without regard to justice. The result are innumerable instances of injustice. There may be a “just” treatment now and then, but the programs aren’t designed to flush it out. They’re indifferent to justice, and therefore they cannot lay claim to any type of justice, including “social justice.”