THE Global Justice Movement Website

THE Global Justice Movement Website
This is the "Global Justice Movement" (dot org) we refer to in the title of this blog.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

More on Economic Justice

As we saw in the previous posting on this subject, in any properly designed social system, the three principles of economic justice work together to support the system as a whole as well as fill particular functions.  No system designed by human beings can be perfect, but the Kelso-Adler principles provide a framework that, within the constraints of natural law, optimize the possibility for a just and stable economic order.

Mortimer J. Adler
If even one of the principles is missing, violated, or applied partially or incorrectly, the system either fails to operate properly or does not work at all.  As refined and clarified by CESJ, then, the principles of economic justice are:
·      Participative Justice,
·      Distributive Justice, and
·      Social Justice.
Taking these principles in the order given, participative justice is the principle or virtue that defines how people make input to the economic process in order to make a living.  Participative justice is an application of the first principle of reason (the law of identity), recognizing that every human being is as fully human, and is human in the same way as every other human.  Every child, woman, and man therefore has the same natural rights to life, liberty, and private property as every other human being — and thus the right to participate in all the institutions of the common good for which he or she otherwise qualifies.
It is necessary to add the stipulation “for which he or she otherwise qualifies,” for no one has the legitimate right or ability to exercise even an absolute natural right absolutely or in a manner contrary to the common good.  A child who has not reached the age of majority does not have the right to vote, to work outside the home in most occupations, or live in a manner contrary to the wishes of parents or guardians.  An adult does not have the right to live in a manner that endangers him- or herself or others, to exercise liberty in a way that takes away that of others, or use what is owned to cause harm.
Louis O. Kelso
By the same token, of course, others do not have the right to object to the exercise of life, liberty, or private property by those with whom they disagree simply because they happen to disagree.  In a rational society, people are innocent until proven guilty.  Suspicion or gossip — regardless how credible the source — is insufficient justification for limiting someone’s legitimate rights or destroying another’s good name.
Thus, participative justice requires equal opportunity to acquire and possess private property in capital (control over, and enjoyment of the income from productive assets) as well as equality of opportunity to engage in productive work.  It does not guarantee equal results but does require that every person be guaranteed equal rights to make productive contributions to economic life, both by labor as a worker, and by productive capital as an owner.
Participative justice rejects monopolies, special privileges, and other social and institutional barriers to economic self-reliance and personal freedom.
Thomas Aquinas
Distributive justice is the out-take principle.  It is based on “[t]he most classical form” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, § 201) of the particular virtue defined by Aristotle and Aquinas and relates to the exchange or market value of each person’s economic contributions.
This is the principle that children, women, and men as participants in the market (different rules govern what happens in the family) have the right to receive a proportionate, market-determined share of the value of the marketable goods and services they produce with their labor contributions, their capital contributions, or both.  This respects human dignity by making every producer’s and every consumer’s economic vote count.
Social justice is the feedback and corrective principle that governs participative and distributive justice, enabling both to operate properly.  Within an economic system, social justice restores Say’s Law of Markets (somewhat misleadingly summarized as “Production equals income, therefore supply generates its own demand and demand its own supply”) by putting aggregate production and aggregate consumption back in balance.  It realigns participative justice and distributive justice when the system functions in a way that violates either essential principle.  Social justice includes a concept of limitation that discourages personal greed and prevents monopolies and other barriers to participation.
In social justice, every person has a moral responsibility to organize with others in solidarity to restructure the institutions of the social order.  Consistent with the principle of subsidiarity, this applies to every level of the common good whenever the principles of participative or distributive justice are violated or are not operating properly.  Applying social justice to the common good of specific economic institutions brings those institutions into conformity with the demands of the common good of all society.