Friday, July 09, 2010

Unequal not Unjust

Ludwig von Mises wrote:
If we reach the conclusion that only private ownership of the means of production [capitalism] makes possible the prosperous development of human society, it is clear that this is tantamount to saying that private property is not a privilege of the property owner, but a social institution for the good and benefit of all, even though it may at the same time be especially agreeable and advantageous to some (Liberalism: The Classical Tradition; p. 11).

This is the point I want to pull from the above quote: life is unfair, but that doesn’t make life unjust.  In Matthew 20:1-16 we read a parable Jesus told about a vineyard owner.  This man was wealthy with a large vineyard, so he hired workers to bring in the harvest.  Now who do you think worked the hardest to bring in the harvest? It would seem to me that the hired hands would have worked the hardest, yet it was the vineyard owner who received the biggest benefit.  This discrepancy didn’t make things unjust even though it seems to be unfair.  Though the reality is that the vineyard owner, by putting his land into production, brought about a benefit to the workers and the surrounding  community, a benefit they would not have had otherwise.

It is too easy to label the unfairness or inequality of the world as injustice, when the truth is it is nothing more than the reality of life.  True injustice is the result of unequal treatment  from the law.  It is what happens when government favors one segment of society over another.  For instance, injustice happens when government doesn’t enforce accurate weights and measures so the merchants are able to steal from the consumers.  It is this favoritism in government that God hates and that we should fight against, and not merely the unequal distribution of wealth.

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