Focus on Individual Personal Growth
American political scientist John Rawls proposed his thought experiment entitled, “the veil of ignorance,” where he suggests the most impartial way with establishing the principles of justice. In this experiment, we place ourselves in the original position where we are incognizant of how and where we’ll end up in society. The rationale is that if we are not in control of whether we will be black, white, disabled, rich, or poor, we will opt to choose laws that benefit everyone. Rawls understood that this experiment was unrealistic in the real world since people look out for themselves. So what exactly constitutes an ideal society? An ideal society transcends far beyond equal rights and freedom. If I were to create an ideal society I would focus on an imperative principle of justice—equity and distribution.
I would first begin by stating that an ideal society relies on a limited government. The argument against this would be that of Thomas Hobbes, who he claims man is inherently evil and selfish and therefore, needs to be controlled by a larger entity which he refers to as a leviathan; however, I disagree. Controlling people autocratically does not lead to an ideal society. The world control itself does not result in a free society. People themselves would need to learn to coexist. This means no political parties or political correctness. People must learn to come together and decide what is best for everyone as a whole and not their individual benefits. This, however, doesn’t mean that the government plays no role. Every government has a leader who enforces the law and keeps order. The government’s main role in an ideal society would be to make sure the apportionment of resources is fair.
Justice as distribution can be referred to as economic justice where goods are dispersed amongst the citizens of a state. The problem that arises stems from quantity. With scarcity, a state has limited resources, therefore, must assess who must get what. I argue that the most effective way to do this would be to start with every individual being given the same amount of resources as another. For instance, if the government is giving out a “basket” of resources, that includes 6 loaves of bread, 5 bottles of water, a car, $500, etc. every individual living in the state would be given these same things. The main argument against my proposition would be that some might value one resource over another. A solution might be that citizens can then trade amongst themselves to solve this personal value issue.
The government would then not be responsible for personal choices people make with their resources. Realistically, as time goes on some citizens will be better off than others and will acquire more wealth. They would then be considered ineligible for aid and their portion of aid would be redistributed amongst those who need it. This would keep the poor afloat until they can provide for themselves. Additionally, I think it’s important for a country’s citizens to focus on one collective goal. The human race can only thrive if we all are using our labor to strengthen infrastructure, healthcare, technology, etc. This places heavy emphasis on the individual’s contribution to society. This is why I would rather run on a system that values energy, effort, and time rather than money. Focusing on money leads to corruption and exploitation of resources and humans. Our labor is what causes progression. It would be more fitting if the government rewards those who work hard. This could be based off how much product you produce doing the work that you do. What you produce is yours since you put your hard work into it.
John Locke, according to his Second Treatise states, “the labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the state that nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labor with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property” (Locke 2016 p.9). In other words, what you have exuded your labor in becomes your property. The excess—which will be traded—would enrich the rest of society who could benefit from your production. This results in an efficient economy and a better off society. In the end, whoever works and pushes out products, will be rewarded. We need productive human beings in society to advance and take full advantage of our being. By rewarding those who put in labor, we push for a more efficient society.
To give a broad example would be the small Asian country known as Bhutan. Bhutan measures its economic success through GNH—Gross National Happiness. It is a holistic approach that focuses more on individual personal growth, the environment and culture. Bhutan labeled as one of the happiest countries in the world has maintained a high GDP. If we can all agree to a social contract that keeps everyone better off we can flourish as a whole. Education—also a part of distributive justice—is a vital part when it comes to efficient production. Education is the foundation where one develops who they are, what they want to be, and what they believe in. Free education should be mandatory ensuring every child gets a proper education.
Private schools leave out kids who cannot afford because of price disparities. If everyone goes to public school, everyone has a roughly equal chance of obtaining the same education. To have an ideal society the literacy rate needs to be 100%. Brighter minds will lead to more ideas and more progression. Additionally, the more educated on is, the more intellectually open minded they are. Political scientists Inglehart and Welzel argue that with an economically developing country, “rising educational level move the working force into occupations that require independent thinking and making people more articulate and better equipped to intervene in politics”.
Lots of people tend to believe that there is a small group people that control politics—the elites. Gilens and Page for instance, assert that their findings “suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts” (Gilens, Page 2014, p. 576). This is mainly because people are uniformed. But, by investing in education, people have a greater chance thwarting this preconceived notion. People will be educated enough to decide what is best for everyone. This will push us to a more ideal society.
I would assume that my propositions would work well globally. Countries are constantly trying to be hegemonic regionally. In order to reach that status, a country must be economically developed, advanced and modernized to some extent. If countries place significance on work ethic and churn out product, they be more economically stable and superior. This superiority would result in hegemony which countries aim for.
Realistically, we can’t reach a perfect rawlsian society but, we can definitely try to get as close as possible by addressing one of the most important principles of justice—equity and distribution. In contemporary America we are seeing a disappearing middle class because of the unfair allocation of resources. This class imbalance will only continue to grow unless we figure out ways to give everyone an equal chance at personal growth. This begins at education. If all countries work together, we can produce robust and efficient workforce, resulting in global economic stability.