...And Economic Justice for All: Welfare Reform for the 21st Century

By Michael L. Murray | Go to book overview
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emphasis as a society should be on reducing the importance of material goods. I am trusting the reader to remember that I continue to insist upon some adequate level of material well-being for everyone. It is only the redistribution, above this level, which I argue against. Food for everyone, yes. Jewelry for everyone, no.


It is necessary, and may even be desirable, to allow disparities in wealth. It is neither necessary nor desirable to require that some go without an adequate income. My conclusion is that, in the economic sphere, a just society is one in which all citizens are accorded the economic resources necessary to provide them opportunities--opportunity to enjoy liberty, opportunity to improve their economic well-being, opportunity to live free of the fear of starvation.

The New York State Constitution has a provision requiring aid, care, and support of the needy. This is not, however, necessarily based on a right.
Since this is the reference in the document, I repeat it here. I am not, however, among those who feel that "men" means "men and women." Gender-neutral language is not just "politically correct," it is socially considerate and grammatically accurate.
As cited by Gilbert Cranberg in "Should Economic Rights Be Guaranteed by Law?," Des Moines Register, October 30, 1977, p. 2B.
To the extent our concept of rights is based on a Judeo-Christian heritage, we can take note of Biblical admonitions. For example, "Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy," Psalm 82:3. In Jeremiah 5, where the sins of Judah are described, the civil leaders are criticized for, among other things, "the right of the needy do they not judge." Jeremiah 5:28, King James Version.
The whole area of what constitutes a right is itself very complex. David Miller discusses these complexities in Social Justice, especially the distinction between legal and moral rights and positive and ideal rights.


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