Adjusting Entries Essay

1111 WordsDec 13, 20135 Pages
Occupy Wall Street and Islamic Finance: Economic Justice Is Enticing — But Elusive By:Usman Hayat, CFA Economic justice has been a central theme of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. It is often found written on placards and in the tweets of OWS protesters. The term is well known: A search for it on Google will yield millions of results. But what exactly does economic justice mean? In common usage, economic injustice tends to refer to economic outcomes and opportunities, such as a high degree of concentration of income and wealth and limited access to financing. Much of the debate concerns whose interests drive a government’s economic decisions in shaping these outcomes and opportunities — for example, how taxes are levied and spent. Academic writings show the complexity of the topic. In his book Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, Michael Sandel of Harvard University explains that an individual’s definition of economic justice depends on his beliefs. For instance, some may believe that any distribution of income and wealth produced by a free market is just. But there is no such thing as a free market, according to Ha-Joon Chang of Cambridge University. Chang argues that regulations restrict the freedom to contract in all markets — from restrictions on child labor to requiring banks to hold capital. If there is no free market, how can the distribution of income and wealth produced by it be just? Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has offered some clarity to this complex debate. In his bookThe Idea of Justice, he explained that we do not need a theory of the ideal state of justice in order to pursue justice. In addition, public reasoning and discussion can help reduce injustice. “When people across the world agitate to get more global justice . . . they are not clamouring for some kind of ‘minimal humanitarianism,’” Sen wrote. “Nor are they clamouring for a

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