The purpose of economic activity is to increase the well-being of each individual. Social Justice expands on this purpose with the idea that all members of society deserve an equal opportunity in terms of employment and the distribution of wealth so that they can lead fulfilling lives to the benefit of the community as a whole.
While social justice is a guiding principle of both philosophy and religion, it runs into problems when confronted by the unbending dictates of free-market capitalism. Though politicians of every stripe pay homage to it, the policies they support are far too often antithetical to its goals. Labor Unions, which previously protected workers from exploitation and unfair labor practices, have also lost their power to defend its principles in the marketplace. So much so that today, rather than a foundation of economic policy, social justice is continually ridiculed with its adherents accused of being naive, self-serving and disingenuous.
Rather than social justice, today’s policy makers prefer to speak in terms of inputs and outputs, as if labor was just another commodity, no different than steel or plastic. But labor is different and dramatically so because unlike a commodity, labor has a human component.
For a large portion of the population employment is important, not simply in terms of financial remuneration but also their psychological and emotional well-being. For individuals who lose their jobs, it is not just the loss of income that matters, but also their sense of self. Unemployment generates a variety of problems, from higher divorce and suicide rates to increases in both alcoholism and opioid addiction.
So, what happens when machines present themselves as being more efficient than humans. Who will stand for the workers? Who define and defend their rights?
Social Justice is the fair and just relation between the individual and society. This is measured by the distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity and social privileges.
IS SOCIAL JUSTICE RELEVANT?