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.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE, BUT MORE FOR SOME--
JUSTICE AND REALITY RECONCILED
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. 2
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
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.