Monday, November 17, 2014

Wealth disparity is not unjust in and of itself

When people talk about gaps between the super-rich and everyone else, it's usually followed by the suggestion that it's somehow not right that one person has twenty billion dollars to their name, and the other person has fifty thousand.

What's odd to me is that the disparity itself is taken to be unjust, with no further details needed. No need to talk about the work, effort, capability, sacrifices or lack thereof of either party. The disparity is enough for many people to say 'the wealthy guy should split his share 50-50 with the less wealthy guy!'

If there's anything truth in the writings of that jackass Rand, it's in regarding attitudes like the above as not just immoral, but literally subhuman. There's no intellectual content there - just base and simple envy.

30 comments:

B. Prokop said...

And the multitudes asked [John], "What then shall we do?" And he answered them, "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."

Crude said...

Except my example doesn't include someone who has none.

40k versus several billion.

The disparity is not enough.

GoldRush Apple said...

This complaint is usually towards business owners or corporate moguls. Entertainers who are in the same bracket? Well it's perfectly okay because they're talented and make art! At least that's the common justification I come across.

Crude said...

I admit, on my more cynical days, I can get behind taxing Hollywood into the dirt.

Crude said...

But to address your point more...

Yeah. Damn those billionaire businessmen, often who employ thousands of people, investing in technology, actually doing something pragmatically meaningful.

But the entertainers? Less said about it. I think Seth Macfarlane once talked about how he earned way too much money, but I can't recall him deciding to dump his money into charitable works and living a *gasp* middle class lifestyle.

Either way, as I said - the disparity itself means nothing. A man with 40k, another with several billion - it's not 'justice' which demands addressing that. It's envy.

grodrigues said...

@B. Prokop:

"And the multitudes asked [John], "What then shall we do?" And he answered them, "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.""

From the fact that Christians have a duty of *charity* towards his fellow man, it does not follow that any excess of wealth in comparison to him is in itself *unjust*, which is what Crude specifically targeted.

The Fez said...

To be fair, I think people can also be possessed of the sense that 20 Billion dollars is an almost incomprehensible amount of money. There's a point where the numerical figure becomes so large that a person can't help but be disgusted by the overt largeness of it. They might argue that being that rich is in bad taste, if anything.

As far as envy is concerned, I also think the common man can stomach certain discrepancies in wealth. It is fine for the Mr. Johnson down the street to own a nicer car, but some are twisted to incredulity if they discover that Mr. Johnson owns 50 cars, all of considerably nicer quality.

Many Americans are rendered subconsciously competitive when certain material possessions are within an income bracket of where they are currently. "I can own Mr. Johnson's car, too, and I just have to work a little harder and wait a little longer". When Mr. Johnson owns 50 cars, however, it shatters any illusion of catching up. Many people despise what they find to be utterly unobtainable for themselves, as it makes the sort of micro-competition amongst their neighbors appear trivial by comparison. It's not Envy, not strictly speaking, but it's very close.

Keeping up with the Johnson's might have been a healthy phenomena at one point, but it sours when many Americans begin to fixate on super-wealth. And how could they not when they are bombarded constantly with advertisements and glamorous depictions of luxurious lifestyles and unreal living conditions?

In any case, I'm arguing that there is a deeply ingrained (and probably uniquely American) sensibility about wealth that cannot necessarily be reduced to envy. One could say that envy could actually be a healthier alternative to what I'm describing, as it seems to me that some would rather prefer to see the rich suffer for their bank-accounts than to take it by proxy.

B. Prokop said...

Entertainers? Don't get me started... As a class, they are (almost) the lowest of the low. About the only people that keep them from the bottom spot are sports figures and sex trafficers.

B. Prokop said...

Caveat to my last comment:

I do not include amongst the category "entertainers" true musicians, such as members of an orchestra, opera company, choral ensemble, or live music performers such as bluegrass bands and similar people that you might hear at various events in parks or eating establishments. Nor do I include live theater performers. I was referring strictly to the "entertainment industry".

Mr. Green said...

Crude: What's odd to me is that the disparity itself is taken to be unjust, with no further details needed. No need to talk about the work, effort, capability, sacrifices or lack thereof of either party.

Well, there is full array of factors feeding into this. At one extreme, you have pure envy with no regard to the possible basis for it, but I can’t imagine many people fall into this camp. At the other extreme you have a pure disinterested sense of justice… most people of course will fall somewhere in between, with a mixture of motivations.

I don’t think the problem is that no further details are needed. With differences like 50,000 vs. 20,000,000,000 the justification is so obvious it doesn't need stating. It is blatantly self-evident that the filthy-rich guy did not “work” 400,000 times harder than the other person. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’s envious of his neighbour for working 10% harder and making $55,000. Or even working the same amount and making $55,000. It’s when the proportions are so outrageous that a sense of injustice kicks in — which admittedly opens the door to envy, but the injustice is nevertheless real.

Of course, what to do about it is another question. That gets into all sorts of tricky issues. If everyone else is a mere billionaire while Don Simmons is a multi-gazillionaire, that’s clearly unjust, but what is really gained by giving billionaires more money? (Although come to think of it, if everyone’s purchasing power is effectively unlimited, then Simmons is not really “richer” than anyone else in any meaningful way, no matter how many zeroes there are in his bank balance….)

Crude said...

Green,

With differences like 50,000 vs. 20,000,000,000 the justification is so obvious it doesn't need stating. It is blatantly self-evident that the filthy-rich guy did not “work” 400,000 times harder than the other person.

But it's likewise not obvious that the guy with 50k did any work at all.

That's before getting into the issues of how to determine how much money someone 'deserves' to have. Again, this example has just two raw facts, with everything else left undetermined.

If everyone else is a mere billionaire while Don Simmons is a multi-gazillionaire, that’s clearly unjust,

Why? Where did the injustice come in?

Now, with added factors, I can easily see it. But those factors were left out.

God is vastly more powerful than any of us. Sole creator and, I suppose, owner of the world.

Is that unjust too?

Crude said...

Fez,

There's a point where the numerical figure becomes so large that a person can't help but be disgusted by the overt largeness of it. They might argue that being that rich is in bad taste, if anything.

I disagree entirely - I see nothing disgusting about it whatsoever. Maybe you're imagining disgust at what someone would do with that money - solid gold toilets or the like. Very tacky.

But use of the money is another question from having it.

Mr. Green said...

Crude: But it's likewise not obvious that the guy with 50k did any work at all.

Sure, no reason both cases can't be unjust.

Again, this example has just two raw facts, with everything else left undetermined.

Fair enough, I guess because you mentioned work, effort, capability, etc. I took it for granted that that was the context. If everything else is left undetermined, then we don’t even know whether Simmons is a human being or living in the same century or anything else. Of course, nobody really gets envious of an entirely hypothetical philosophical example. But you did specify the “usual” suggestion, and usually people are talking about real men in the real world with real high-paying jobs and (implicitly) comparing the amount of toil performed in proportion to the amount of money earned.

God is vastly more powerful than any of us. Sole creator and, I suppose, owner of the world.

That example determines the only factor we need to know: God is infinitely superior to any other being, so God can be as rich as He likes with no injustice.

Crude said...

Green,

That example determines the only factor we need to know: God is infinitely superior to any other being, so God can be as rich as He likes with no injustice.

What does superiority have to do with it? Do the demonstrably superior simply deserve more wealth, period?

Sure, no reason both cases can't be unjust.

I'm looking for a reason either is unjust.

And I ask this without sarcasm: or is this just the sort of thing where it's not arrived at by argument, but is just taken as obvious from the start? Someone having 20 billion dollars and the other person having 40 thousand is simply unjust - period, end of story, before any other consideration even has to enter the picture?

But you did specify the “usual” suggestion, and usually people are talking about real men in the real world with real high-paying jobs and (implicitly) comparing the amount of toil performed in proportion to the amount of money earned.

I also mentioned minimizing the other factors until we're left with the bare fact of the inequality. Nothing else is determined.

Is having an unequal amount of money, assets, whatever - even vastly unequal - unjust, in and of itself?

And if so, why? How is that being arrived at? Or is it just fundamental, a starting point to begin reasoning at all?

Because I'll give my view: I don't think it's unjust at all. I think it's a state of affairs some people may not like, for any of a number of reasons - maybe even by reflex, they dislike it. But when time comes to explain just what's unjust about the situation, it starts to get pretty hard to explain why.

I'm open to being proven wrong here.

Mr. Green said...

Crude: What does superiority have to do with it? Do the demonstrably superior simply deserve more wealth, period?

Depends how they’re superior, eh? But flip it around: two people who are exactly the same (and in the same circumstances, etc.) “deserve” the same amount of wealth (whatever that may be) — justice is about what one deserves, so to deserve a different amount, something about the two people would have to be different. That’s why, in general, people will accept that someone who works harder can justifiably earn more money than someone who works less.

Someone having 20 billion dollars and the other person having 40 thousand is simply unjust - period, end of story, before any other consideration even has to enter the picture?

I think there are considerations, they are simply taken for granted. Now I don’t mind admitting that people are good at glossing over details and being pretty sloppy in thinking about these sorts of questions, so maybe they will turn out to be wrong in their (unquestioned?) assumptions in many cases. Maybe even in most cases. But not because they have no reasons, just because their reasons may not be well thought out. It’s not sheer envy most of the time, because they really do have an issue of justice in mind, even if it may turn out that when we examine the details it turns out not to be unjust after all.

But when time comes to explain just what's unjust about the situation, it starts to get pretty hard to explain why.

Money doesn’t mean anything by itself; it’s supposed to be a proxy for something valuable — in this case, for the skill and labour that somebody provides in exchange for financial compensation. So to be just, a difference in income should be proportional to a difference in the work done. For you to “earn” twenty billion to my forty thousand, you would have to be working non-stop 24/7 while I work less than 1½ seconds per week. Or be 400,000 times faster than I am, or 400,000 times smarter. There is just no realistic way to make those numbers work. It doesn’t follow that we need to do something about it — maybe we should, maybe we shouldn’t — but one of us is not being paid justly in comparison to the other, because there’s no way for the relative proportions of our work to match that of our incomes.

Crude said...

Green,

Depends how they’re superior, eh?

Actually, I admit, I'm lost here. I don't see what superiority has to do with it whatsoever, and I think saying as much is going to be awkward to argue. Of course I argue awkward things all the time so hey.

That’s why, in general, people will accept that someone who works harder can justifiably earn more money than someone who works less.

I'm far more skeptical of why people accept one judgment or another on this front. What I more often see is totally nonsensical from-the-hip judgments of the value of work. IE, 'Fry cook? Hot and sweaty job. CEO? He sits down most of the day. Fry cook should earn more.'

It’s not sheer envy most of the time, because they really do have an issue of justice in mind, even if it may turn out that when we examine the details it turns out not to be unjust after all.

Could be. I'm going after what I think is a pillar of their thought, stripped bare and made less complicated.

Money doesn’t mean anything by itself; it’s supposed to be a proxy for something valuable — in this case, for the skill and labour that somebody provides in exchange for financial compensation.

How? Why? Since when?

Sometimes people are born with money. Other times they luck out in a big way. I don't see the justice issue, in and of itself, that comes from considerations of unequal sums.

To make something clear here - I'm willing to go all in on the idea that a wealthy person has a moral duty to help some less fortunate people in dire situations. But in that case it's not the inequality, much less major inequality, driving that conclusion. Inequality in and of itself means nothing.

The Fez said...

Crude,

You say:
"I disagree entirely - I see nothing disgusting about it whatsoever. Maybe you're imagining disgust at what someone would do with that money - solid gold toilets or the like. Very tacky."

I find nothing particularly disgusting about it either, but there is another question in there. If a single individual possessing 20 billion dollars is not excessive, can there ever be such a thing as excessive wealth?

Crude said...

If a single individual possessing 20 billion dollars is not excessive, can there ever be such a thing as excessive wealth?

I don't think so, at least in the terms of 'so excessive they are, on that bare fact alone, required to give some up to someone else'. I'm sure there's operationally excessive wealth.

One thing I'm trying to get at here, and which may be missed, is that I do think there are a number of cases where a person has a moral imperative to give up some of their wealth. But simple and basic inequality of wealth isn't driving that imperative.

malcolmthecynic said...

If a single individual possessing 20 billion dollars is not excessive, can there ever be such a thing as excessive wealth?

Yes. If you have so much wealth that there literally isn't enough left over for people to live in decent circumstances you have excessive wealth.

Otherwise, no.

Mr. Green said...

Crude: I don't see what superiority has to do with it whatsoever, and I think saying as much is going to be awkward to argue.

I don’t mean anything strange. If you and I work as widget-makers, and you can make them more quickly and reliably than I can, then that’s a justification for your getting paid more. Of course, in real life there are numerous other factors, so it might not work out that simply, but in principle your superiority at widget-making is a good reason why it would be just for you to be paid a higher rate than me. That’s all.

And that’s what people get at when they say the fry-cook should earn more than the CEO: they are supposing that the cook is actually putting in more effort, and thus deserves more income. Now that’s a pretty naive view of the positions involved (maybe it’s because it’s easy to envisage what a fry-cook does, whereas our ideas of CEOs tend to come from movies where all they do is fly around in private jets and eat business dinners at swanky restaurants)… but the principle is fine, the problem is being clueless about what a CEO actually does. And I’d be surprised if it’s not easy to get folks in general to acknowledge that such a claim is exaggerated — if you can give them a believable description of responsibilities and stress that a typical executive faces, I bet they’d accept that a CEO can justly be paid more, even significantly more… (though probably not hundreds of times more!).

Sometimes people are born with money. Other times they luck out in a big way.

Of course, and that’s obviously unjust too. Nobody deserves to win the lottery. Nobody earns rich parents. The money you win or inherit is in no way related to anything you did to merit it; there’s never a situation in which you can claim you didn’t win or inherit “enough”, because it’s not a matter of being justly compensated for anything in the first place.

But in that case it's not the inequality, much less major inequality, driving that conclusion. Inequality in and of itself means nothing.

OK, I think we have two different things here. Obviously the injustice is a necessary condition, since it doesn’t make sense for destitute people to have an obligation to share their goods with the poor; but it may not be a sufficient condition — it’s not obvious that a billionaire has a moral duty to share his wealth with mere millionaires. But the inequality is definitely sufficient to establish injustice: the billionaire cannot realistically have worked thousands of times harder than the millionaires. But since the millionaires are not in need of basic necessities (or presumably, basic luxuries either!), what would the argument be for the billionaire to have to help them?

Crude said...

If you and I work as widget-makers, and you can make them more quickly and reliably than I can, then that’s a justification for your getting paid more.

You're talking about wages, but I'm talking about ownership of assets apart from that.

Of course, and that’s obviously unjust too.

I don't see why it is. It's obviously unequal, but unequal doesn't mean unjust. You're framing this in terms of 'you didn't earn your wealth', but people generally don't earn their good looks, their height, a good portion of their speed or their innate intelligence. Wealth's just one more thing you can be lucky with, or just plain have.

You can say that you can take away someone's wealth, but you'll find you can take away everything else as well if you like.

But since the millionaires are not in need of basic necessities (or presumably, basic luxuries either!), what would the argument be for the billionaire to have to help them?

"It's unjust, because that guy has more, and he doesn't deserve it, and you have to deserve everything you have to rightfully have it."

Which I think is silly, and I can't even begin to see where the argument would be for the mere existence of inequality in and of itself to be unjust. I don't think talk of 'deserving' works with the bare fact of wealth. I can think of many reasons a wealthy person should give up some of their wealth, or in some cases even be forced to yield some. But mere inequality is not one of them.

Mr. Green said...

Crude: You're talking about wages, but I'm talking about ownership of assets apart from that.

Does it really make much difference in this context? Why?

people generally don't earn their good looks, their height, a good portion of their speed or their innate intelligence.

Yes, exactly! That’s not just either. You don’t deserve to be particularly tall or good-looking or whatever. Or to be shot and ugly. I don’t know why you think this wouldn’t be unjust. Justice is a matter of due proportion, of what you deserve to have, what you are owed. (Aquinas: “Now each man’s own is that which is due to him according to equality of proportion. Therefore the proper act of justice is nothing else than to render to each one his own.”)
Nobody is owed particular looks or strength or intelligence. That’s why it’s particularly galling when someone brags about some ability that he was born with. We can at least appreciate that the man who developed a skill by hard work has something to brag about, but if you happened to be born smart or talented, that’s sheer luck — it’s not due to anything you actually did.

"It's unjust, because that guy has more, and he doesn't deserve it, and you have to deserve everything you have to rightfully have it.”

No. If you deserve something, you can rightfully have it, but the reverse does not follow. I think you are confusing two different things. “Justice” is not defined as “what you can rightfully have”, so it’s possible to have something rightfully that you are not owed as a matter of due proportion. I think the problem is assuming that an injustice is by definition something that needs to be rectified. Some injustices we are obliged to correct; some aren’t. (They’re simply, as you say, a matter of luck, and that’s that.)

I can think of many reasons a wealthy person should give up some of their wealth, or in some cases even be forced to yield some. But mere inequality is not one of them.

1) “Any inequality is an injustice”
No: you have $5 and I have $10, but I live somewhere where the cost of living is twice what it is for you. So there’s an absolute inequality in number of dollars, but a relative equality in purchasing power. Or you worked one hour and I worked two, so I earned twice as much as you. That’s why justice is defined in terms of “due proportion” and not “due amount”. In practice, this can be a big problem because figuring out what’s “relatively” proportional can depend on a huge number of factors. But assuming we can figure out what the relative standards are to measure, then a relevant relative inequality is an injustice.

2) “Justice must always be satisfied in all circumstances.”
No: if I buy you a Christmas present, that’s not something you deserve, by definition. I don’t owe you a present. It would be fine for you to buy me a present in return, but you are clearly not morally obliged to do so.

So (1) and (2) are not universally true; we have to distinguish cases where they apply from those where they don’t. We also have to distinguish (1) and (2) from each other, because they are not the same thing.


Malcolm: If you have so much wealth that there literally isn't enough left over for people to live in decent circumstances you have excessive wealth. Otherwise, no.

“Excessive: more than is necessary, normal, or desirable; immoderate.”

So assuming everyone in the world is comfortably well off while you have billions, you might argue it’s desirable, but how is it necessary, normal, or moderate?

Crude said...

Does it really make much difference in this context? Why?

Sure it does, and because it complicates matters by introducing exchanges fundamentally into the conversation.

Yes, exactly! That’s not just either.

But it's not injust. It's 'not just' the way the sky being blue is 'not just'.

If you want to bring in Aquinas, I think he'd respond to the idea that it's unjust that (say) men have penises and women do not as "does not compute".

I think the problem is assuming that an injustice is by definition something that needs to be rectified.

I'm starting to see where you're coming from, but I don't think you're using a very common definition of 'just' here.

No: if I buy you a Christmas present, that’s not something you deserve, by definition. I don’t owe you a present.

Yeah, I don't think most people would describe Christmastime as a holiday celebrating rampant and unrepentant injustice. Except, you know, the stupider atheists.

Acatus Bensley said...

It's jealousy plain and simple. Mr. Green your Democratic party bullshit can basically be summed up with I don't think people should have more money than I want them to. Scumbags like you are the bane of existence. Wealth inequality doesn't matter. You can't name a CEO that wasn't voluntarily given his wealth by the very idiots who want his salary taken from him.

Crude said...

Acatus, that's not fair at all. Green's being civil (or at least, no more animated than I'm being, and possibly less so) - he's just disagreeing. He's not giving any Democratic Party bullshit, and he's no scumbag. I think he's legitimately concerned with injustice, and so am I.

Hell, look at my most recent post. I agree in principle that someone with more wealth should give some of it up (the particular circumstances are another issue.) What I am arguing is that the mere and isolated fact of inequality is not unjust. But in the real world, facts are never isolated.

So please, don't attack or insult him. This is someone having a civil conversation, and if there's snark, it's pretty meager stuff. I'd rather engage, understand and possibly convince people who have a disagreement with me, and who have shown they're worthy of civil conversation. Green meets that standard brilliantly, and he's given me the benefit of the doubt in the past besides.

Mr. Green said...

Crude: Sure it does, and because it complicates matters by introducing exchanges fundamentally into the conversation.

Yes, the more realistic the example, the more complex it will be to figure out exactly where the golden mean lies. But even if you, say, inherit your wealth, your parents (or their parents, etc.) must have earned it at some point. It had to come from somewhere.

But it's not injust. It's 'not just' the way the sky being blue is 'not just’.

That’s not just because it is just for the sky to be blue — it’s supposed to be blue. Likewise, men and women are supposed to be born with the organs due to each one’s sex (and are supposed not to have the opposite). If you were born without the right organs and somebody said you had “suffered an injustice of nature”, we’d understand what he meant.

I'm starting to see where you're coming from, but I don't think you're using a very common definition of 'just' here.

Well, I think we normally use the term “unjust” when we’re referring to something bad, that is, getting less than is deserved — we like getting more than we deserve, so we don’t call it injustice, but if we want to get technical, surely it is? Maybe not in the case of the sky; that’s not a moral issue, so strictly speaking it’s perhaps only figuratively “just” or not (“fitting” might be a literally correct term)… but when it comes to money, some person had to make a free choice about paying for something, so I think it is correct. Otherwise I think that’s why people go off the rails on one side or the other: getting more money isn’t bad, so it can’t be unjust, so there can be no such thing as excessive wealth; or else having lots of money is unjust so it must be immoral regardless of the circumstances. But neither extreme is self-evident, or even plausible (to most people). If we acknowledge that there is such a thing as positive injustice — i.e. mercy or generosity or even luck — then we can start sorting out what should or shouldn’t be done about it.

Yeah, I don't think most people would describe Christmastime as a holiday celebrating rampant and unrepentant injustice.

Well, the just thing would have been for God to leave us in the mess we made, so I guess Christmas actually celebrates repentant injustice!

Mr. Green said...

Crude: This is someone having a civil conversation, and if there's snark, it's pretty meager stuff.

Thanks, Crude. I don’t think the conversation has really been snarky on either side, and anyway, a little sarcasm or hyperbole makes discussions less dry and boring. (I guess that means there’s a just amount of sharpness that is fitting: too much is simply rude, too little is insipid!)


Acatus Bensley: It's jealousy plain and simple.

Actually, it’s envy plain and simple. Definitions are important, that’s why I often get pedantic; sloppy definitions lead to sloppy thinking. Anyway, as to why the envy isn’t “plain and simple”, I gave an actual argument, as opposed to name-calling.

You can't name a CEO that wasn't voluntarily given his wealth by the very idiots who want his salary taken from him.

That’s even more ridiculously naive than the idea that CEOs do nothing but sit around in their air-conditioned offices all day while fry-cooks do the real work. But let’s put that aside: if it were true, the idea that it’s morally acceptable to take advantage of somebody because he’s mentally deficient is downright appalling. And when faced with that sort of “justification”, normal people say to themselves, nobody would offer up such a poor defence of wealth if there were any good reasons, therefore there must not be any good reasons, so being that rich really is a bad thing.

Crude said...

Yes, the more realistic the example, the more complex it will be to figure out exactly where the golden mean lies.

And that's why there's value in removing the complexity for analysis.

If you were born without the right organs and somebody said you had “suffered an injustice of nature”, we’d understand what he meant.

We'd not only understand what he meant, we'd also be able to disagree with him if he was wrong, and we'd likewise be able to question his sense of justice. Say, if he said he should have wings, and that God was in his debt for not granting that.

Well, I think we normally use the term “unjust” when we’re referring to something bad, that is, getting less than is deserved — we like getting more than we deserve, so we don’t call it injustice, but if we want to get technical, surely it is?

I agree that we tend to call what we like just and what we don't like unjust. I think that's a failing of ours, many times, especially where we locate the injustice. Or even the badness.

Acatus Bensley said...

I didn't justify anything. I simply said that you can't name a CEO that wasn't voluntarily given his wealth. Obviously you can't. I never said anything about taking advantage of people. Also the idea that being wealthy is bad because someone else is poor is ludicrous. What is done with the wealth may be the injustice, but merely possessing the wealth isn't the injustice.

Mr. Green said...

Acatus Bensley: I simply said that you can't name a CEO that wasn't voluntarily given his wealth.

I guess that’s like saying you can’t name a mugger who was’t “voluntarily” given his wealth: it’s true in a way, but that way is not relevant to the point I’m making. (And when I say “it’s true”, I’m allowing you the hyperbole of ignoring the CEOs who actually are crooks and cheaters, whether they happen to get caught by the law or not.)

Also the idea that being wealthy is bad because someone else is poor is ludicrous. What is done with the wealth may be the injustice, but merely possessing the wealth isn't the injustice.

You may not like the idea, but that doesn’t make it ludicrous. It’s not merely what is done with wealth that may be unjust, but also what is not done; and beyond that, having wealth beyond some level can indeed be unjust by itself, as I’ve argued in the post next-door (dunno if you’ve seen any of those comments).