You Think Fair?  No Way
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You Think Fair? No Way • Posted: Feb 19, 2014 15:10:00Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

The idea of social justice has been discussed since Socrates. There is no clear definition or way to measure it. It exists as a set of ideas relating individuals to their social environment. It implies fairness, choice, opportunity, and reciprocal responsibility. It suggests that if I do something for you, you will do something equally painful for me, not just something you believe of equal value.

But, can one actually look into the eyes of another and take measure of the pain they are enduring? Yes, we can. We do it all the time. Where ideas of fairness and justice come in is either during an economic exchange or during the execution of a contract. As soon as one party begins experiencing pain the other does not, the scales of social justice have been tipped. Fairness comes into question. Mechanisms of redress are sought, yet seldom found. Any organization or society, or even marriage, that does not equally distribute the pain of carrying out its business is an organization, society, or marriage at risk of fracturing on the splintered crags of social justice.

Charity does little to redress the reality of disproportionate pain. It merely seeks to appease or numb. It does not redistribute the burden of pain. Terrorism, war, and revenge seek to rebalance the burden of pain by adding to the totality of pain. They do not lessen or redistribute the current burden of pain. Protests, strikes, and boycotts seek to interrupt the process by which pain is unequally doled. They do not, in and of themselves, reorganize the allocation of pain going forward, though subsequent renegotiations might. Education seeks to reduce future pain by giving pupils the intellectual tools to foresee and mitigate pain. Education's consequence is to lessen overall pain. Its hope is to seed a world with less pain for everyone. It does not and cannot redistribute the current burden of pain felt by stepped-upon pushed-around individuals like the one pictured above.

In recent years, economists have attempted to account for costs hidden and previously ignored, such as risk and damage to the environment. Some have even attempted to include measurements of happiness and satisfaction. None so far, to my knowledge, have attempted an accounting of pain endured by those included, nor by those left out of fortune making activity.

Next time you make a deal with someone, try to gauge the amount of pain you will endure verses the amount of pain the other will endure and see if you think the deal will turn out to be truly fair.

Monday, February 10th, 2014
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