Poverty as a Matter of Justice

Below is an excellent, succinct argument for addressing poverty as a human rights issue that requires government intervention. Jeffery Reiman of the American University argues that leaving the issue of poverty to charitable organisations alone reflects the idea that disadvantaged groups are somehow lesser citizens.

He notes that this is not a critique of charities or the people who receive benefits, but instead he argues that the opposite ideal should prevail. He sees that poor people should be seen as being entitled to government support.

“If inequality is a matter of justice then it shouldn’t be rectified by charity. Charity means, ‘I give freely what I have out of my generosity.’ Justice means, ‘I give what I owe – what people have a right to… The idea that you do it by law, that these people have a right, treats them with dignity. And of course you should follow through on that.” 

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