how, not how much

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

[This is not about any solution, only a statement of the issue.]

In terms of justice and income, what matters is how people get their income, not how much income they receive. Differences in income do generate differences in wealth (assets: property). That in turn perpetuates and enlarges differences in income, in an ever-expanding spiral (absent some external — to that process — intercession, such as redistribution via government, or the utter collapse of the society, etc.). Yet, it is not unjust to make a lot of money. No matter how large differences in income might be, those differences are not in themselves an injustice.

It is unjust to exploit people, to use people for one’s own gain. To ‘use’ people in that way is to co-opt them or otherwise preempt their capacity to choose whether/how/to what extent they want to participate in a process that results in another person’s gain. In other words, their participation in that process must be sufficiently informed and wholly voluntary.

Businesses are such processes. Businesses are all about some people using other people to make money for themselves.

A business is a cooperative enterprise that has the intention of generating an income — revenue — based on the sales of some good(s) or service(s). It is a cooperative enterprise because it is a group of people working together to achieve a common goal. For every business that has ever existed, the one goal they have all had in common is to generate an income through sales.

It is nothing but pathetically specious sophistry to argue that in, say, the U.S. of today all people can choose to be employed in some business or not — especially should that argument come from anyone who says that government must be reduced to the smallest possible size. Anyone can choose alternative employment, but everyone cannot. So in the real world of today at least some people must seek employment in some business to receive an income. In reality, most people get their incomes from employment in a business.

An income is necessary to acquire material necessities as well as any further wants. To suggest that in the world as it exists today people can live without incomes is simple nonsense. In that world some people will have no choice but to seek employment in a business for an income.

In every business there are people who are employed in the business who determine what the distribution of remuneration in that business will be. Those people know that the less some get the more there will be for themselves. Given all that has been said to this point about employment in businesses, that is unjust.