Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Role of Justice in Society and Our Economy

Trust is one of the most important glues that holds our society together and when that glue dissipates it loosens that glue that in turn impacts our society in different ways. We think justice is about putting criminals behind bars but it is much more to do with concepts of safety and fair play in our society. The justice system is a reflection of our values and in turn holds basic rules that each person in society should adhere. When those rules are violated and justice is not able to uphold those values the impact can be devastating for crime rates, the economy, and a country's long-term prospects.

Rules and laws are important when they represent the needs of society. No society can exist long without some mechanism of holding people accountable for bad behavior. When a society is "just" through a wise justice system it encourages values that bond people together and ensure that business and commerce continues forward for the benefit of everyone. Poor systems will damage society and strong systems will encourage our society. It makes little difference if we are talking about non-crisis situations or one in which COVID is causing economic hardship.

Lets consider how justice impacts our lives.....

1. Values: Laws create values. People believe that these laws have merit they become a way of viewing the world.

2. Safety: To have a strong economy and a positive environment people want to know that criminals and bad apples will be held accountable.

3. Commercial Activity: People don't start businesses if someone can steal it, threaten others, extort money, and harm them.

4. Investment: Institutions have a responsibility to protect their stakeholder money. Investing in countries with a fair justice system reduces risks.

5. Togetherness: Our institutions create a sense of shared identity as they are relied on in everyday life. Where justice is different there are different perceptions of the nation (That is any institution).

6. Justice as Help and Punishment: Justice systems can help people who are victims and punish wrongdoing. They can also help those who are struggling and improve the lives as the system is often the first place are formally contacted.

7. It Limits Economic Engagement of Large Swaths of Society: If a group of people based on race, religion or any other "in" and "out" dynamic are not receiving equal justice you reduce the motivations and benefits of engaging fully in the economic system and thereby damage the long-term viability of the nation.

There are likely many other possible ways to look at our justice system. I can only say that I have seen our justice system do great things and am a support in general for the need of having a strong justice system. Yet I'm also a philosopher of types and a business doctor who feels that many times our system falls short because the people involved don't always have the foresight, moral aptitude, resources or knowledge to do what is most "just".  While not all solutions need criminal punishments  there is a need to still hold bad apples accountable for their behavior. We should not shirk from that responsibility as it has a long-term impact on our economy and on the lives many people. When you see wrong doing and want your society to improve but such individuals are not held accountable you have to start rethinking the nature of justice and the system that tries to offer it. If the people who have the ability to do justice but do not feel it is part of their duty to do so we might consider changing how and why attorneys become judges for a more complete understanding. Doing justice isn't about what is convenient for the system it is to do what is morally just and right in any situation above and beyond the limitations of competing ideologies. That requires leadership, confidence and some type moral backbone. Alas, we come to the nature of decision making and the age old understand of right versus wrong and who are the people who pick one over the other. There was a reason Socrates drank the hemlock when all he needed to do was make a supportive statement.

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