What is social justice? Social Justice can mean something different depending on who you are talking to. The most common definition of social justice is a policy-making theory that tries to ensure that all members of society are treated fairly and that all have the same opportunities to partake of and share in the benefits of society. This could mean the end of discrimination based on sex, race, creed, ethnicity, or income. Another form of social justice could be equality through fair taxation and the distribution of wealth, resources, and property. It could also mean equal access to education and job placement for everybody. I believe that social justice is all of these things. In this paper I will explore the idea of social justice as it pertains to people not only in the United States, but on a global scale and whether or not true “social justice” is an attainable goal. The concept of Social Justice did not arise from utopian views of the world as it should be, but rather from people who see the disparities in a world that has a global economy divided into the haves and have-nots. Examples of this are various pro-environment, pro- equality political organizations that band together under the name the Green Party who base their thoughts on a credo called the four pillars. One of the pillars is social justice. The American Green Party states, "We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and homophobia, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law," while the Irish Green Party avers that it is against "control of industry by large national and multinational companies" as well as "the exploitation of the third world." (Green Party)Both of these groups view social justice as a policy that is needed if there is to be equity in the world today. Social Justice relies on the assumption that the disparity between rich and poor, the advantaged and disadvantaged, needs to be rectified or overcome if a truly just society (whether global, national, or local) is to emerge. Supporters of social justice look to the unequal distribution of wealth when arguing their case. According to research done in 2007 by New York University economist Edward N. Wolff, the richest 1 percent of the U.S. population owned 34.3 percent of the nation's privately held wealth (stocks, bonds, property, and other marketable assets), while the top 10 percent held 71 percent. At the other end of the spectrum, the poorest 40 percent owned only 1 percent of the nation's wealth, according to Wolff. In comparison, a study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research concluded that the top 10 percent of the world's population held 85 percent of global wealth (including all assets). University of California psychology and sociology professor G. William Domhoff explains that the gap between the richest and poorest has been growing over time—chiefly due to tax breaks and the decline of organized labor. Domhoff also contends that with wealth comes power, power to maintain the status quo so that the concentration of wealth will remain in the hands of the few. Social justice advocates also insist that a global disparity exists between those who do and do not have access to natural resources as well as those who do and do not share the benefits of education and technological innovation. The Environmental News Service claims that 880 million people worldwide do not have access to clean drinking water, and in March 2009, the agency reported that twenty countries banded together to protest the World Water Forum's classification of water as a human need not a human right. United Nations General Assembly president Miguel D'Escoto said, "Water is a public trust, a common heritage of people and nature, and a fundamental human right.... We must challenge the notion that water is a...
Cited: Karl Marx. Friedrich Engels. Communist Manifesto
"Social Justice." Social Justice. Ed. William Dudley. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2010.
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