A free market is vital for our future prosperity and social stability. I'll make this claim knowing that statism is gaining ground with public acceptance. As I said, though, in the previous post, I believe Rawls' theory regarding political liberalism is systemically flawed. My argument is simplified because I believe people accept political ideas at a much simpler level than the academic back and forth between intellectuals like Rawls, Nozick and Habermas, to name a few, and in order to make sense of these ideas it helps to bring the ideas down to the level of ordinary people who particpate in the political realm only periodically, and then not at much depth.
The idea that representatives will regulate and manage the government of our country by liberal procedures to institute a system of fairness so that everyone is approximately equal is the main reason the public supports statism to the extent it's supported. The public doesn't look at it as "statism", they merely embrace the idea that government will remedy inequalities enough so that the least well-off will be given enough support so that the very well-off will not have free reign to control society through their wealth, power and connections. People who feel oppressed by industry and wealth see government as the helping hand which will always adjust inequalities to institute some form of fairness and support for the provision of basics in life. Others who believe that the free market system is rigged in favor of rich white men, believe government regulation will level the playing field and provide opportunities for advancement and power sharing. Not many people argue against this directly because it seems immoral to fight fairness and equality in a country which values these principles.
The economic argument that free markets function better than central control is accepted to a point. Most people accept that the market has to have a certain amount of freedom to operate well enough to generate enough revenue for the government to provide assistance to those least advantaged. It's my belief that most citizens see the market as a powerful wealth generator that needs to be governed unless it becomes out of control and too powerful, which causes a division of the real wealthy and the real poor, harm to the environment and oppression of labor. People worry about being disenfranchised by a powerful economic machine if it's not regulated by a government that "has their back".
Rawls's argument states that representatives will act rationally to do what is best for the least well-off by regulating the free market according to the public's reasonable ideas of justice as fairness. We accept on Rawls' word that the representatives will act rationally and the people will be reasonable, and all unreasonableness will be excluded from the over-lapping consensus. Why this is not another doctrine of Truth, Rawls' answers that it's because he has defined reasonableness in a way that doesn't elevate reasonableness to Truth. In other words, political liberalism is open to all ideas as long as they are reasonable, politically free-standing and shared by reasonable people. Reason is not like "God's word" just a means used to search for the correct ends that conform with justice as fairness. Justice as fairness is determined by the reasonable consensus and regulated rationally by the representatives to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged members of society.
I suppose why this is different than "from those according to their ability to those according to their needs" is in the details. Rawls accepts economic inequalities as necessary for economic functioning -- efficiency and productivity, but believes that redistribution is necessary to create as much equality as possible, or appropriate to a free, democratic nation. Rawls isn't proposing that we simply divide everything equally, so he throws a bone to free enterprise and capitalism. It's merely a matter of justice to overcome unfair advantages that may have been created through the years which favor those who hold economic power and oppress those who don't.
If it's argued that redistribution and other schemes have been tried through government regulation and have come up short, and sometimes tragically damaging to society, the argument is seen as a justification for the capitalistic status quo and lacking in a resolution to injustice and inequality -- and it's said that a better, fairer system of procedures can be implemented to correct the past flaws in socialistic schemes, one that is compatible with the culture and history of the US. I call it American-Style Statism.
Yet, we have to depend on representatives who are supposed to act differently than they have in the past. We really have no assurance from Rawls that representatives won't grab power and incompetently regulate according to political motives and favoritism. This is where, I'm assuming, that the regulation of private property comes in, so that government can control the means of production and resources in such a way that it resolves corporate/government enmeshment and corruption.
In a way, this looks a lot like a mixture of socialism, democracy and fascism. It makes me wonder why we can't establish rational self-representation in a free market, limit government to protection and settling disputes in court and end once and for all corporate/government enmeshment by preventing government involvement in the free market. If we can get citizens to agree, voluntarily, to come up with a reasonable over-lapping consensus regarding justice as fairness, why not have them self-regulate the implementation of justice? Surely Rawls was expecting citizens to develop the over-lapping consensus and merely have representatives in government implement the principles of justice -- so why not have representatives in the private realm implement the principles of justice within the free market?
Why is it necessary to give this responsibility to government when the free market can competitively develop the efficient means and methods of implementation? The reason is that government has the power of coercion while the free market would require cooperation. The enlightened citizens which Rawls portrays as reasonable aren't trusted to cooperate? Then, why do we trust the representatives? By what magic does government transform the whole scheme as workable. If there is no magic, then allow the free market, allow society, to deal with society and all matters of justice. If it's public service that makes the difference, why would private service be different -- surely, the operative word is "service" not "public" or "private".