Over on their blogs, Noah Smith and David Henderson have some compelling observations about respect. I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that treating others with respect, regardless of economic or social class, is crucial to a well-functioning civil society. It is also simply good manners. As a personal code of conduct, I have long aimed to treat the guy pumping my gas with the same respect as the President of Harvard (or the United States).
I will take exception with Noah's idea that we should "redistribute respect." Respect is not rival. We can increase the respect for some without diminishing the respect for others.
I will also add that we should also do more to respect those with whom we have political and philosophical disagreements. Sadly, some bloggers like to castigate their ideological opposites with the kind of rude name-calling that they would never do face-to-face. While the blogosphere in general is a good thing in many ways, I am afraid that it has often acted to diminish respect for others, reducing the overall level of civility in society.