Re: “America needs a third party that espouses true liberalism” [March 21, Opinion]:
Bret Stephens’ account of liberalism is mostly reasonable, but he vitiates his argument by characterizing liberalism as “deference to personal autonomy.” Such deference is libertarianism, not liberalism.
“Deference” sounds gentle, but it grants individual liberty priority over any and all social values. It is the attitude that reconciles us to the unrestrained pursuit of vast wealth for the few at the expense of the many — fortunes built on the backs of underpaid workers and unhealthy or dangerous workplaces. “Underpaid” describes the relation of wages paid relative to the income needed to lead a life of dignity in the United States, the only relationship that matters.
Richard E. Baldwin, Seattle