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    Global Economic Inequalities: A moral issue?

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    Assistance & Guidance needed on the following academic problem:

    The world GNP keeps rising with the world population. This is as it should be. However, the distribution of this wealth is also transforming, so that a minority are becoming very rich indeed, while both the numbers and the proportion living in relative (some say absolute) poverty keep increasing. These problems are typically left to governments, NGOs and religious institutions to deal with. Does any further obligation devolve to ordinary lives?

    I propose that self-interest and 'altruism', utilitarianism and a priori ethics, at least in this case, are indistinguishable.

    Is economic inequity a moral issue?

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    Solution Preview

    Canadians uneasy with the not-so-gradual drift of western economies into the hands of super-corporations and neo-conservative governments need to think harder about the origin of these developments. Every government inherits the contractual commitments and momentums of its predecessors, along with increasingly momentous global constraints. What is less obvious is that all governments struggle against - or avail themselves of - backdrop proceedings that are not often publicly debated. These tend to be conservative in tone and regressive in practice. As a consequence, right and centrist governments enjoy covert support, while left-leaning governments often find their agendas stymied by factors that may not even be on their radar screen.
    An instructive example comes from the annals of Ontario's NDP government in the 1990's that, some say, paved the way for the Common Sense Revolution. Bill 154 - the NDP's Employment Equity Act - proposed to redress inequities between male and female wages, using the principle of equal pay for equal work.
    Few realized how regressive this legislation was below the surface. Certainly NDP Labour Minister Bob Mackenzie harboured no suspicion. "Wage discrimination against women will continue to be fought until it is eliminated. The historic and systemic undervaluation of women's work shall not continue." Bill 154 was portrayed as a potent weapon in the struggle against discriminatory hiring, promotion and pay practices.
    To the government's consternation, Bill 154 was roundly condemned - even by those it proposed to assist. However, critics missed the legislation's most important shortcoming: Bill 154 unwittingly recycled the problem it hoped to repair. First of all - since the Employment Equity Act was provincial legislation - the competitive status quo was retained and employers simply passed its costs along to customers, clients and ratepayers. In short, Bill 154 transferred the burden of redressing inequities to victims - including the hundreds of thousands working for exempt small employers who were not covered by the legislation.
    This was not the conclusion implied by Labour Minister Mackenzie. Bill 154 was supposed to redress grievances from oppressors' wallets. Even so, it would have been nice if the legislation had only been flawed in terms of execution. Unfortunately, even if things had gone as promised, the legislation left an important source of inequity unrepaired.
    The relevant sections include:
    Part 1, Section 7(1): ...

    Solution Summary

    The solution provides guidance to the student in tackling an Ethics problem in relation to economic inequity and morality (see original problem). The solution takes on the chosen position of the student and provides advise on how to approach the problem by giving detailed examples.