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According to Rawles' Difference Principle, all tenets of justice are either redistributive or retributive. This ignores non-economic activities and human inherent variance. Moreover, conflict and inequality are engines of growth and innovation - which mostly benefit least advantaged in long run. Experience shows that unmitigated equality results in atrophy, corruption and stagnation. Thermodynamics teaches us that life and motion are engendered by an irregular distribution of energy. Entropy - an even distribution of energy - equals death and stasis.
What about disadvantaged and challenged - mentally retarded, mentally insane, paralyzed, chronically ill? For that matter, what about less talented, less skilled, less daring? Dworkin (1981) proposed a compensation scheme. He suggested a model of fair distribution in which every person is given same purchasing power and uses it to bid, in a fair auction, for resources that best fit that person's life plan, goals and preferences.
Having thus acquired these resources, we are then permitted to use them as we see fit. Obviously, we end up with disparate economic results. But we cannot complain - we were given same purchasing power and freedom to bid for a bundle of our choice.
Dworkin assumes that prior to hypothetical auction, people are unaware of their own natural endowments but are willing and able to insure against being naturally disadvantaged. Their payments create an insurance pool to compensate less fortunate for their misfortune.
This, of course, is highly unrealistic. We are usually very much aware of natural endowments and liabilities - both ours and others'. Therefore, demand for such insurance is not universal, nor uniform. Some of us badly need and want it - others not at all. It is morally acceptable to let willing buyers and sellers to trade in such coverage (e.g., by offering charity or alms) - but may be immoral to make it compulsory.
Most of modern welfare programs are involuntary Dworkin schemes. Worse yet, they often measure differences in natural endowments arbitrarily, compensate for lack of acquired skills, and discriminate between types of endowments in accordance with cultural biases and fads.
Libertarians limit themselves to ensuring a level playing field of just exchanges, where just actions always result in just outcomes. Justice is not dependent on a particular distribution pattern, whether as a starting point, or as an outcome. Robert Nozick "Entitlement Theory" proposed in 1974 is based on this approach.
That market is wiser than any of its participants is a pillar of philosophy of capitalism. In its pure form, theory claims that markets yield patterns of merited distribution - i.e., reward and punish justly. Capitalism generate just deserts. Market failures - for instance, in provision of public goods - should be tackled by governments. But a just distribution of income and wealth does not constitute a market failure and, therefore, should not be tampered with.
Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Suite101 and searcheurope.com.
Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com