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The principle of harmony's job is to take corrective actions when needed in order to create the balance of economic justice between the principles. For example, when the other two principles are violated by such things as unjust social barriers to either participation or distribution, the principle of harmony works to eradicate these barriers and thus restore economic harmony, or justice.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, economic harmonies is defined as "laws of social adjustment under which the self-interest of one man or group of men, if given free play, will produce results offering the maximum advantage to other men and the community as a whole." In other words, whereas the other two principles are controlled by the free market, the principle of economic harmony is controlled by the government through laws and regulations aimed at controlling the negative effects of the free market. Examples of such controls are anti-monopoly legislation, checks and balances, and re-synchronizing distribution so that it remains in line with overall participation, or input. This principle is needed because it is human nature, in a capitalist system, to work not for the benefit of the community but for one's on personal financial benefit, which often leads to the exploitation of others. In order to help minimize this result of capitalism, such socialist measures the aforementioned legislation is needed in order to help ensure economic justice.
The Baptist Approach
Although the stereotype of such evangelical Christian congregations is that they are generally conservative and more likely not to support measures to ensure economic justice. However, according to a recent survey, this is not the truth. As evangelical Christians, many follow the teaching of Jesus Christ in order to develop their own personal moral methodologies for handling such complex problems and questions as those that surround the issue of economic justice. According to the teachings of Jesus Christ, part of being Christian is to work to ensure equality, including economic equality, among all people.
Therefore it should not be surprising to find that, according to a recent survey conducted by Baylor University, such Christian religions as the Baptist Church are in favor of economic justice principles. For example, according to the study, seventy-four percent of evangelicals believe "it is very important to seek social and economic justice." More so, over half of the nation's evangelicals think the government "should do more to evenly distribute wealth in this country." Further, forty percent of evangelicals who support President George W. Bush actually emerged as liberal on economic issues, "specifically in beliefs about wealth distribution and economic justice."
According to this scientific information, it would seem that, according to Baptist doctrine, economic justice is approached in the same or similar manner as the theological method advocated by Corran. This makes sense because the three principled approach to economic justice discussed by Corran gets its basic foundation from fundamental Christian beliefs. Thus, to summarize, the general Christian moral methodology for dealing with questions related to economic justice is that the ultimate goal is to create a situation where everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in the economic system and to take away an equal amount as to what they contribute. When this situation occurs, then artificial controls need to be implemented in order to restore the equality, or balance, of the economic system.
Analysis and Discussion
The concept of economic justice is a question of how to create equality in society. However, economic justice is not charity because charity is not just. Justice essentially involves creating equal opportunity and fairness whereas charity involves helping others out by giving and thus creating artificial justice. Naturally, the question of what is just involves an analysis of moral issues, meaning that ones personal morals will determine how they answer the questions involving economic justice.
Although every individual has their own personal set of morals and therefore it is impossible to pinpoint a single answer to economic justice, all morals are based on some foundations. Often times this moral foundation comes from ones religious beliefs. For this reason, Christianity provides a helpful moral methodology that can be utilized in analyzing the issues of economic justice.
At the heart of the Bible is not a message of charity but a message of "treat others as you want to be treated yourself." This golden rule is the foundation of the cardinal virtue of justice. Within this rule exists charity as when one is in need of economic help, one hopes to get help from others and thus, according to the virtue of justice, must help others out during their time of need. However, this cannot be seen as just but a part of justice. Instead, the Golden Rule of justice requires treating others as you want to be treated yourself, which is equally.
Thus, the Bible provides the foundation from which the concept of economic justice is based. The basic Christian moral foundation of the Golden Rule creates a moral methodology of equality. This in turn is implemented into the theory of economic justice through the principles of participation and distribution, which, in the perfect world, would lead to economic harmony, or equality. In other words, an individual gives everyone an equal opportunity to participate in the economy because every individual wants an equal opportunity to participate themselves. Likewise, everyone is given an equal share of the results, based on what they contribute, because every individual wants this themselves. Finally, if someone takes more than they deserve or disallows others access to participation, every individual wants economic harmony to create rules and regulations to prevent this because they do not ever want to have their participation or distribution blocked by others. The result is that the system of economic justice is based on the moral principle of equality and fairness established as the foundation of Christianity (and every other major religion). Using this approach, it can be said that economic justice is a moral in and of itself.
Being a moral in and of itself, the natural outcome of economic justice will be a more morally just society where there is not necessarily economic equality but economic fairness, or justice through a system of equality in both participation and distribution. Under such a moral system, the role of charity becomes part of the principle of harmony, or a way of helping bring the other two principles into line. At the same time, the principle of freedom becomes essential as economic justice inherently requires the freedom to participate in a free market. For this reason, an argument can be made that only democratic societies will have system of economic justice as economic justice is a form of economic freedom, which is most often found in a capitalist system, which are most often associated with democratic forms of government.
The question of what are the moral issues raised by economic justice and financial responsibility is, as has been seen through the course of this paper, a complex question. In order to reach a sound conclusion, one needs to examine the moral methodologies, scope and impact of the question. To do this, one needs to remove themselves from the initial question and go back to the question of what are one's personal morals. As has been seen, this requires an examination of one's religious beliefs as this more often than not forms the basis for ones' moral background and methodology.
From a religious standpoint, one needs to examine the fundamental beliefs of their religion that the rest of the beliefs are built from. In most religions, including Christianity, this foundational, guiding moral belief is what has come to be known as the Golden Rule. According to the Golden Rule, in order to live a moral life, or one that is more god-like, one needs to treat others as they hope to be treated by others. In essence, this is a rule of fairness or equality, stating that a moral life is one that works to create equality because one themselves wants to be treated fairly and equally.
The next step is to take this foundational moral belief and apply it to the world of economics, asking themselves how can one lead a moral life in today's economy. The answer lies within the concept of justice, which is another term for fairness. Therefore, in order to live a moral life one must live an economically just life. To live an economically just life, one must treat others the way they want to be treated in a financial sense. To do this, one must work to keep both the functions of participation and distribution equal for everyone or else risk loosing this equality themselves. The result, in a perfectly moral economic system, is economic harmony, or economic justice.
Bretzke, James T. A Morally Complex World: Engaging Contemporary Theology.
Curran, Charles. The Catholic Church, Morality and Politics. www.networklobby.org/resources/index.html.
Curran, Charles. The Catholic Moral…[continue]
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