Distributive Justice

Distributive Justice :

Should the strong be required to support the weak? How does society distribute wealth among its members? These are the questions. There are three basic sides to this issue. The permissive system entitles individuals to a subsistence income supply for existing as a human. The puritan system requires that people at least be willing to contribute to society in order to receive a subsistence income. Finally, the Individual view holds the property rights of the individual to be sacred…no one may forcibly deprive him of his goods. I will argue for the last alternative. Individualism is an extension of Locke's idea of property rights. An Individualist believes each person owns his own life, the fruits of his labor and his property. No one may deprive him of these property rights.

He is free to act as long as his actions do not interfere with the property rights of others. At this point it is important to define what money is. Money is an exchange of value. Money has value because it represents labor or value. One has created but not yet used. Money in my pocket is what I have created but not yet consumed. Money is not a natural resource. It does not grow on trees. Men can make money by their physical or mental labor.

Do I not, then, have full claim to my earnings? If A discovers a cure for AIDS, It surely was not solely a product of A. Society's framework made the discovery possible…A had to build on previous knowledge; she had to use a laboratory she probably did not own. All of these factors make society a partner in the discovery. Therefore, she does not have the right to all of the benefits of her discovery. She must give up some of her benefits to society at large.

It is true that A did not personally create every piece of equipment she used to make the discovery. However, the point missed by in this situation is that property is held by individuals and A had to exchange value in the form of money to buy or rent the equipment she used. The owners have already been paid for the use of their equipment. Business agreements occur between individuals. There is no entity society that handed her a gift. If A were to have to pay more to society then she would, in effect, be paying twice.

If a permissivist responds with "but she will get rich selling the cure for a high price while thousands are dying," there are basically two responses. The first is that this phenomenon displays the actual value of her product - the price paid in a free market. The second is that any attempt to take her money simply because "she has a lot of it" is robbery.

In a state of nature, I cannot get something for nothing. I cannot reap what I do not sow…if I do not invest efforts planting and caring for my crops, there will be nothing at harvest time. Fish are not going to jump into my boat; I have to catch them! Others who argue for Permissivism or Puritanism seem to forget that the wealth they want to redistribute must have a source, because money represents value already created. Thus they cannot deal out wealth as if there were an inexhaustible supply of it sometimes called manna from heaven. The only solution they have to this problem is to rob those who have money and are unwilling to pay! If a portion of the population is very poor, the Permissivist would argue that there could be violence. One of the roles of government, according to Locke, is to enforce property rights, so one solution is that the government would have to deal with the violence. It is more likely, however, because people have compassion that private organizations would be set up to help the poor back on their feet.

There is one major issue that we have not yet addressed: What about those who are willing to work, but cannot because of their disability? Are they entitled to a subsistence income? My reply would be this…No…they are not entitled to anyone's labor, because no man may force another's wealth from him. If the disabled truly cannot produce anything of value, they are at the mercy of those who can. This may sound harsh, but if the Permissivists really value human life as much as they say, they will be more than willing to support these unproductive individuals. They still cannot spend more than they create.

You have no duty to take care of me, it is a choice. Since I value myself, I choose to care for myself. Am I responsible for your welfare? Unless I choose to be, you have no claim on my life or property. I am not hurting you by making money because there is not a static amount of money. It can be created at will simply with labor.

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