Human Rights and Living Wages

Milton Fisk, in Guantanamo Bay and the Judicial-Moral Treatment of the Other, edited by C. Butler (W. Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2007), 146-160.

One has to dig deeply into current United Nations declarations and reports on human rights before coming across any mention of wages. To be sure, the right to a living wage features prominently along with other labor rights in earlier UN declarations. However, the UN’s Millennium Development Goals of 2000 calls for cutting in half by 2015 the number of those eking out an existence on less than $1without mention of the issue of wages. The focus instead is on economic aid and growth. Yet in reality, wages are a major issue as corporations scour the world for labor that will work for poverty wages. Even the UN’s International Labor Organization in its 1998 declaration on rights at work focuses on issues other than wages.

One can regard this downplaying of wages as but another sign of our neoliberal times. Still, the wage issue has not completely disappeared from consideration within UN human rights bodies. For example, in a 2004 report on five countries, the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights notes its concern that Azerbaijan and Chile have minimum wages that are insufficient to ensure a decent living for workers and their families. This committee monitors implementation of the 1974 covenant that, among many other things, sets a standard for minimum wages in countries ratifying it.

In a world beset with terrorism, violence against women and minorities, state torture, and inter-state belligerence, it is important to enforce human rights against such violence. This may tempt us to treat the economic human rights as secondary and to suspend their enforcement at least until the agents of violence are under control. President Lula of Brazil inadvertently responded to the failure to give poverty wages an important place among human rights abuses by claiming that poverty is the world’s most powerful weapon of mass destruction. He was saying that poverty destroys lives by shortening them, by creating vulnerabilities to disease, by closing off opportunities, and by itself breeding aggression.

Multiplying these effects of poverty by your best estimate of the number of the world’s poor will give you some idea of the magnitude of the violence done by poverty. In many poor families, someone has employment. Usually their jobs do not retain them for more than a short time or pay wages that provide an escape from poverty. One cannot then justify downgrading the importance of poverty wages as a human right’s violation on the grounds that, regrettable as it may be, a poverty wage is not an act of overt violence against humans. There is no firewall between rights against violence and rights against poverty wages and other economic abuses.

1 Agreement and dissent over human rights

Nor can one cannot set aside the problem of low wages by saying low wages occur only outside the mainstream of capitalism. Far from being a symptom of backwardness, the problem is at the heart of the most advanced corporations of our global economy.

The largest corporation in the world, Wal-Mart, employs millions of workers in merchandising, in the United States and elsewhere, who fail to make anything we might reasonably call a “living wage” – one that covers basic requirements for a working family of shelter, food, clothing, childcare, education, health care, and transportation. Moreover, Wal-Mart’s relations with the corporations who make the products it sells maintain millions of production workers at below the living wages appropriate to their countries. Given Wal-Mart’s economic prowess, its suppliers have little choice but to accept the low prices it dictates for the products they sell it. These low prices encourage the rock-bottom wages those suppliers pay.

General Electric is far from a backwater of capitalism. It is a transnational production and financial corporation. In the US, it pays wages for a good living thanks to the efforts of its organized workforce, efforts spearheaded for many years by United Electrical Workers with the support of other unions. GE has been moving production from jobs that pay for a good living in the US to jobs elsewhere that fail to pay a living wage. In 2000, 1,400 jobs went from GE in Bloomington, Indiana, to jobs paying $8 a day at GE subsidiary Mabe in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. Far from being the lowest wage in Mexico, this is still not enough for a living wage. The transnationals are then setting global standards for wages that are below what workers and their families need to live on.

In setting the global standards for wages so low, these corporations are in violation of some of the human rights listed in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. It says, “Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity and if necessary supplemented by other means of social protection” (Article 23, Section 3). To make clear that earning a living does not mean taking on multiple jobs and long hours, the Universal Declaration says, “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.” The same points were expressed in the 1974 International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights” (Part III, Articles 7 and 11), which was signed by President Carter in 1978 but has not been ratified by the US Congress.[1]

The US and other wealthy countries show, by their failure to ratify this covenant, their unease at recognizing certain economic requirements as genuine human rights. What in fact does it mean to say that something is a human right? Formally, it means that the right in question is one every human has. Its scope is then universal. This though leaves open the question as to where a human right gets its authority. The authority behind such a right is never just an institution – a legislative body, a religious body, the market economy, or a covenant among nations. Ultimately, this authority comes from humans recognizing that the right is a needed protection for the way they want to live together. Thus, in addition to having universal scope, a human right has authority coming from a common recognition of the basic requirements for a form of social existence.

A third aspect of human rights, as of other rights, is struggle. Many groups fight back against arbitrary and burdensome exclusions from benefits by others who enjoy a dominant position. Think here of the general strikes in the US against employers’ privileges in the early 1930s, of India’s struggle against colonialism in the 1940s, and of the struggles of women against domination in the 1970s. The language of such struggles becomes the language of rights. Victories in those struggles tend to embed those rights in a people’s spirit as a common recognition that a requirement of their living together is to avoid those exclusions. The tendency to struggle against exclusions perceived as arbitrary and burdensome becomes an attitudinal and behavioral feature of those who adopt rights.

I need to put a cautionary note alongside my talk of common recognition. There are always dissenters from human rights, and hence there is never a truly common recognition of the basic requirements of living together. The dissent is even broader as regards economic human rights, as shown partly by the refusal of some nations to ratify covenants of both the UN and the International Labor Organization, founded as an adjunct to the League of Nations in 1919 but now a specialized agency of the UN. What this means is that human rights are inevitably political rather than articles of dogma. Those who wish to enjoy the benefits of excluding others do not change their minds just because there is victorious struggle against them. What is striking though is that, since the UN Universal Declaration, the struggles against exclusion have spread the culture of human rights so widely. We need then to settle for this majoritarian culture as a basis for the authority of human rights. We cannot go beyond it by appealing, as some philosophers do, to the dubious prospect of universal agreement at some indefinite point in the future.[2] What we have is a widespread, but contested, recognition of these rights. Hence, some will contest the kind of life together we want these rights to protect.
It is instructive to note the source of the criticism of economic human rights and in particular of the right to a living wage. When those rights appeared in the Universal Declaration, most of the major countries were advancing strongly social democratic policies. The 1944 Bretton Woods accords on international finance protected strong welfare states from the vagaries of capital flows between nations.[3] Such capital flows could lead, as they did in the 1980s and 1990s, to the underfunding of welfare measures. In the 1944-1948 context social protection for the unemployed, joining trade unions, equal pay for equal work, a living wage, and leisure from work seemed like the appropriate ones to demand.

However, from the perspective of the neoliberal elite of today’s world, rights like these are seen as corrupting the market, leading this elite to attack these rights, whether by stealth or frontal assault. In its view, the market takes precedence over any such alleged rights. In its view, any legitimate benefits these rights guarantee workers, the market can deliver more efficiently. From this neoliberal perspective, the Universal Declaration betrays its out-of-date nature by appealing in Article 1 to humans to act in a spirit of concern for one another.[4]

In reality though, respect for rights can only exist in a context of concern for others. At the end of World War II people understood where the lack of economic regulation had led. They were asking how their leaders could have allowed the Great Depression with its global misery and then the brutishness in Stalingrad, the Holocaust, and Hiroshima-Nagasaki. They were open to the call to rebuild their world within a context of a concern for others strong enough to defend a wide range of rights for them.

2 Reciprocity requires the living wage

I want to turn to consider the right to a living wage, which is what the Universal Declaration is talking about in the phrase “a just and favorable remuneration insuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity.” My purpose is to show that it is as strong a right as other human rights. In fact, the structure of reasoning one would use to defend other human rights applies perfectly well in the case of the right to a living wage.

I shall begin by showing how things would appear in a pure market system. The focus will be on labor power, which is what an employer buys by paying a wage and what an employee sells in taking a job for a given wage. In a pure market system, labor power is a mere “commodity” in the sense that it is determined as to its price by the supply of it and the demand for it. Starting by considering labor power as a commodity, there will be nothing objectionable about a wage that cannot support the life of an employee. This would simply reflect the fact that the labor supply is so ample that employers can recruit labor at a very low wage. This pure market perspective, it turns out, has become the main basis for denying that employed people have a right to a wage they can live on. Keep in mind though that such a denial is a consequence of our treating humans as no more than board pieces in a game of supply and demand.

To proceed critically in examining this denial of the right to a living wage, we must ask whether we are prepared to treat labor power as a commodity and the employee as a mere seller of it.[5] To treat labor power in this way is to treat it as no more than something potentially useful to a buyer. In the case of any commodity, there is a seller who hopes to get at least the market price for it. The difference in the case of labor power is only that the employee who sells it also embodies it. Still, the employee gets no consideration of his or her needs, and it is only by chance that the market place meets the needs vital to the employee. Without such consideration for the employee, other important human relations are absent as well. There is no respect for labor power or its bearer as something with legitimate needs. Finally, there is no recognition of equality since the employer can degrade the employee as much as the market will allow without a corresponding sacrifice. To be sure, even the market system accords some rights to sellers of commodities. For example, there is the right to sell labor power on a competitive market rather than to an employer who has monopolized it. However, these are only the institutional, rather than human, rights deriving from the rules of the market.

In sum, to treat the wages for which humans sell their labor power as no different from the prices for which other humans sell vegetables and computers is to treat labor power as a commodity. From the perspective of an employer as he or she would be in a pure market, labor power and the humans embodying it appear simply as means to running a business. What the ends of those humans are who the employer is using becomes irrelevant to the employer. Specifically, it becomes irrelevant that job seekers have one interest in common, which is to make a living through taking a job.

The employer then needs – in order to avoid treating employees as mere means – to drop the abstraction of the pure market by considering the ends of employees.[6] What is in question is not an intellectual consideration of employees’ ends but a consideration that amounts to a commitment to do something about them. Similarly, it is not respect in the sense of admiration that is in question, but respect that will not allow the object of respect – the employee – to fall into misery by frustrating his or her basic ends. Of course, there will be ends that are tangential to the employer’s focus on employment. Though employees may want to be taken more seriously in the political system, the employer cannot be held directly responsible for improving the voice of employees in politics. It is in the area of work and its conditions, including wages, that the employer’s consideration of employees’ goals and needs must kick in. Employers will try to address the work-related interests of employees. There will of course be many such concerns. Settling even some of them will free the employer from the charge of using the employee solely as a means. What then is the reason that a living wage in particular is a concern that an employer has an obligation to deal with?

To answer this question, it is important to consider the idea of reciprocity. It takes us beyond the indefinite point to which we have come so far. For so far we know only two things. We know first that we need to show some concern for other humans to avoid treating them simply as means for our benefit. We know second that people whose position puts them in a special relation to others must show concern for those others in a way that addresses some of the interests those others have due to standing in that relation. In particular, one who is in the position of an employer needs to show concern for his or her employees in a way that addresses some of their work-related interests. This is still quite indefinite since employees will have many such interests and perhaps only some in particular have to engage the concern of the employer. The idea of reciprocity comes in to help determine which interests must be of concern.

In looking for specific interests that employers must try to satisfy, we need to consider the economic system in which wage work plays a key part. Are there employee interests that arise from the existence of this system, a system that features employers who want to hire labor? There are many such employee interests, but one in particular is important here. As this system spread, it displaced many other sources of making a living. It then forced a majority of people to look to it in order to make a living. For them this system created an interest in making a living wage. There are of course jobs people do not rely on to make a living, such as a job a wealthy person takes for prestige or a second job that a person of moderate means takes to afford the purchase of a luxury. The basic situation, though, is that employers want to hire people but the system of employment itself creates a dependency in those they hire. For, people who come into the system for a job typically cannot make a living outside it. They depend on it for making a living. Of course, they may exit the system at anytime they think they can make a success of self-employment or can retire on savings.

This gives us all the elements needed for requiring reciprocity. Employers have refined and spread the system of wage labor as something that benefits them. A person who enters this system as an employee will typically not have another avenue of making a living and will then depend on wages in the system to make a living. Reciprocity requires that employers make the benefit they derive from turning people into employees correspond to the benefit of a living wages for employees. For their own advantage, employers have put employees in the situation of having to take wage work to make a living. Employers need to reciprocate for this advantage given them by employees through paying employees the living wage they seek in entering the wage system.

Behind this reciprocity lies concern. Reciprocity functions here only to tell us which among a variety of work-related interests an employer should satisfy. The assumption is, though, that the employer has concern for the fulfillment of at least some among these employee interests. Reciprocity as an abstract principle of balancing benefits cannot have moral force without the backing of concern for others. The element of concern came in above as an alternative to the instrumental view of persons. Without it, one could simply ignore the dependency of employees on their job for making a living.

3 The rejection of reciprocity

There are sure to be objections to reciprocity as a basis for a living wage. It is time to consider a few of them before going on to uncover a basis for reciprocity itself.

The first objection is that there need be no such reciprocity since employees enter voluntarily into the wage contract thereby accepting a given wage rate and absolving the employer of any responsibility to pay more.

This objection ignores the fact that, given its spread, the system of employment itself makes many people dependent on it for making a living. The responsibility of the employer to reciprocate with a living wage comes from the fact that he or she is perpetuating a system which many people cannot avoid entering if they hope to make a living. Since the employer is getting a benefit out of this system, he or she needs to reciprocate with a living wage. A voluntary agreement on a poverty wage cannot void the requirement of reciprocity; instead, reciprocity is the background within which any voluntary agreement should fit.

Second, an objection, that is a favorite of libertarians, claims that only those who are unwilling to take several jobs can fail to make a living from low wages. In commenting on it, one needs to appeal to the interrelatedness of human rights. In the Vienna Declaration from the 1993 World Congress on Human Rights and Program of Action, one finds the statement that “All human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated. The international community must treat human rights globally in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing, and with the same emphasis.” This is relevant since Article 24 of the Universal Declaration says, “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.” As a means to a living wage, multiple jobs that together last longer than a normal working day conflict with the requirement of rest and leisure.

Here, the right to rest and leisure and the right to a living wage support one another. For, the right to rest and leisure would be unenforceable without a right to a living wage for a reasonable workday, and the right to a living wage for a reasonable workday would be unenforceable when employers deny employees the right to rest and leisure through mandatory long workdays.

Moreover, the two rights have parallel structures of justification. The right to rest and leisure from wage-paid activity depends on a context of concern for interests others have when employed. Since employees have many interests, one needs a specific reason why concern centers on rest and leisure. Reciprocity becomes the key here as it did with the living wage itself. Once drawn into the system of employment, employees must depend on it for allowing freedom in the form of rest and leisure. If the system does not deliver this freedom, then employers, who nonetheless benefit from their employees, have broken reciprocity with those employees.

Third, we hear some employers protesting that they would have to close down if they paid a living wage. The assumption is that making a living from their businesses is a higher obligation than paying a living wage to their employees. It is difficult to justify this assumption, since it is incompatible with the reciprocity between the two sets of actors. In effect, the assumption refuses to acknowledge any reciprocity here.

The response is usually that the working poor are better off than those who are rotting in pools of unemployment. There is though a broader picture to consider. Employers who cannot pay a living wage put downward pressure on the wages of employers who can. Thus, what appeared to be a hand helping a few workers up out of unemployment becomes a market force creating the misery of working poverty for many.

4 Social goals as the basis for reciprocity

After this discussion of objections, I now return to the notion of reciprocity. It is a notion that John Rawls made the basis for his principles of justice. Rawls pointed to an interesting link between reciprocity and his idea that a society was a cooperative venture.[7] Cooperation, he agreed, was necessary for everyone’s well-being. However, the failure of reciprocity would be a deterrent to cooperation. Imagine that you cooperate with me in setting up a medical clinic for our remote community, but that once it is set up, I manage to get control of the clinic. As a result, I am able to determine fees for users that will make profits for me while excluding the poor, like you, from using the clinic. You will feel that I took advantage of your cooperation since in the end I denied you any benefits from it. If this kind of thing happens regularly, many in the community will withhold their cooperation from projects ostensibly benefiting the community.

This I think deepens our understanding of the principle of reciprocity. One need not view it as a stand-alone principle, but one can view it as a requirement of social goals, which are a vital ingredient in any society. The kind of society people make for themselves depends, in part at least, on their social goals. They will perhaps want to make it an educated society, a healthy one, one in which the courts are fair, one at peace within the global community, one that is democratic, and one with a high degree of equality. In making for themselves a certain kind of society, people organize cooperative efforts to pursue social goals. After all, in pursuing the same goals, they have every reason to work together.

Reaching goals for the society as a whole leads to benefits that accrue to individual members of the society. The struggle to realize a social goal is a struggle to change the society and this is not the same as the struggle of an individual to get the benefits for him- or herself of living in the changed society. We can make our society, but not an individual in it, into one with a court system that is fair. Ultimately, we want to realize social goals only because a society that has realized such goals can benefit its individual members in corresponding ways. With a fair court system, individuals can benefit by having their grievances heard and handled with fairness. There is no way to guarantee these benefits for individuals directly without structuring the society with the potential for doing so.

Goals such as these have then two distinctive features. One is that they are literally the same, and not just similar, for all who pursue them; the other is that people pursue them, not on their own through competition with others, but through cooperation.[8]

A failure of reciprocity would undermine both of these features. It would mean that, despite the cooperative effort to realize a social goal, some of the cooperators would benefit considerably from this cooperative effort whereas others would gain little or nothing. It denies some people the benefits they have hoped to get from cooperating with others in an effort to realize a social goal. They lose their benefits so the others can reap larger benefits.

The effect of this lack of reciprocity is that, instead of realizing the social goal of the cooperative undertaking, the process realizes the goal of gain only for some. This goal fails the first requirement of a social goal, for the goal of gain only for some ceases to be the same goal for all. Moreover, lack of reciprocity leads to a lack of cooperation, and thus fails to satisfy the second requirement of a social goal. For, those who end up pursuing their own interest rather than the social goal cease to cooperate with those genuinely interested in the social goal and end up manipulating them for their private interest. If lack of reciprocity becomes a pattern, people will hesitate to accept proposals to cooperate in realizing social goals, suspecting that intentions to manipulate them lay behind such proposals. Such suspicion undermines the identity of a society by leaving it without institutions benefiting all.

The point to which this leads is that the reciprocity, on which the human right to a living wage as well as other human rights depend, makes the foundation of human rights the social goals that define the kind of society in which we hope to live. Reciprocity is not a stand-alone principle but one we accept because violations of it undermine the cooperative efforts needed in the pursuit of our social ideals.

How specifically does this apply to the case of the right to a living wage? The relevant social goal that is widely accepted in the US and in much of the rest of the world is that of a prosperous society within which there is a widespread market that includes a labor market. Broad acceptance of this goal depends on the understanding that a prosperous society is one in which all enjoy prosperity even if in different degrees. There is, then, room for inequality provided it is not so great as to destroy cooperation in seeking to realize this goal. However, prosperity is universal leaving no room for poverty that flows from requirements of the economy. Since the labor market is the means through which employees are to gain their prosperity, their cooperation in realizing and maintaining this ideal will depend on employment that earns them at least a living wage.[9]

Even when one considers a non-economic right such as the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, which is called for in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration, one finds a similar pattern connecting the right to one or more social goals. Here the goal is a society that does not hide diversity and that treats it as an asset. In the cooperative effort to reach this goal, reciprocity is essential. Otherwise, some will take advantage of the willingness of the rest to cooperate in order to make their own thought or belief hegemonic. This leaves the rest without recognition for their views; cooperation will evaporate and then only dissenters will champion the social goal of a tolerant society.

We find then enough similarity between the basis for economic and non-economic human rights to make implausible the view that the economic ones are weaker, less binding, or secondary. For example, one cannot appeal to the differences between the two kinds of rights to give priority to democratic reforms while leaving labor reforms to the very end. There are various stages in the process of making a society more democratic; democracy does not show up all at once.[10] Without implementing labor rights along the way, one blocks the advance of democracy. For, then employees are subject to important decisions about the labor market and the economy generally that they have had no part in making.

5 Conflict and consensus over social goals

In times past, an active role for social agreement and historical trends played no part in the common good. One was to find the common good, as opposed to the goods of individuals and groups, in human nature by the light of reason. It did not matter if half of humanity, through a supposed distortion of temperament, failed to find the common good or misidentified an individual good as a common good. The contemporary replacement for this metaphysical notion of the common good is a consensual notion of the common good, which in the terms I have been using is a set of social goals. Under this replacement, people agree upon what their social goals are, and this agreement becomes the basis for a cooperative effort to try to realize them. People enter into the cooperative effort freely because of having agreed, and human rights protect their unobstructed access to the benefits resulting from their cooperative efforts. In contrast, the metaphysical notion does not require widespread agreement. Instead, it requires authoritative institutions, which can tell people that if they were to use reason properly they would all come to agreement on the common good those institutions advocate.

Although the consensual character of social goals and through them of human rights seems to fit nicely with our contemporary democratic ethos, it does cause trouble that the metaphysical view of the common good seems to avoid. We have already discussed the disagreement that exists over all the social goals as well as over the human rights based on them. There are those who defend intolerance, who defend economic growth even when it denies prosperity to large numbers, and those who defend limiting the leisure of others in order to insure their own gain. Were we to take a metaphysical view, we could pronounce these dissidents mistaken, and prohibit further advocacy and pursuit of their goals. On the consensual view, there will be competing goals for society and hence competing views of human rights. Each side in the competition will try to win over the other so a consensus can emerge, but neither side can simply declare that it is right and dismiss the other side. That would fly in the face of the consensual approach and lead back to the reliance on authority associated with the metaphysical approach.

One might try to resolve differences over what should be social goals by appeal to dignity and respect. Which goals are the ones we should pursue if we are interested in “a life that meets the necessary conditions of dignity and respect”?[11] However, dignity and respect turn out to be variable themselves. Do we deny people their dignity and the respect of others for them when we do not pay them a living wage? Those of us who pursue the goal of a society of widespread prosperity would say that without a living wage people lose their dignity and the respect of others for them. After all, those without a living wage fail to achieve their basic aim in taking a job, which was to make a living. Those with the different goal of an economically growing society will point to employment itself as sufficient to provide dignity and win respect. They would argue that being a part of the grand effort to make the economy grow should add dignity to and earn respect for even the most miserably paid employee. Hence, we cannot resolve conflicts over social goals and human rights by using dignity and respect as criteria. They do not serve as stand-alone principles since they change their sense with changes in social goals.

However, lack of widespread agreement should not discourage us. The consensual view of social goals and rights does not deny us our convictions. Those who have suffered from exclusions due to lack of reciprocity along with those in solidarity with them will still seek agreement on a type of society in which those exclusions no longer exist. They will have to compromise with those who benefit from those exclusions and who are convinced that any other type of society would be hell on earth. Making such compromises is, after all, part of respecting the right of others to disagree. However, their initial compromises need not be permanent; continuing to struggle can win back most of what was important about the type of society they wanted.

Consider, for example, the way the UN and other bodies have tried to broaden acceptance of the human rights in the Universal Declaration. The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights coordinates numerous investigations around the world into alleged human rights abuses. In addition, the ILO, as a specialist agency of the UN, investigates alleged abuses of the labor rights of the Universal Declaration as well as additional labor rights. Beyond the efforts of these bodies, numerous voluntary organizations expose and try to stop human rights abuses. The living wage movement active during the last decade in the US has made gains toward its modest aim of getting a living wage for employees hired directly or indirectly with municipal funds.

If those of us involved in any of these human rights’ efforts have done our work well, we shall have recruited others to our vision. Strengthened in this way, we are able to replace the major compromises we made when we were weaker with less significant ones. This will eventually reduce the burdensome exclusions from which many suffer without eliminating them altogether. Furthermore, it will bring a sizeable majority to share our social goals and accept the human rights based on them.


[1] One can find the United Nations documents referred to in this article at www.un.org/rights.

[2] Both John Rawls and Jurgen Habermas share the prospect of such agreement in their exchange in The Journal of Philosophy 92, 3 (March 1995): 109-180.

[3] Eric Helleiner, States and the Reemergence of Global Finance: From Bretton Woods to the 1990s (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994), chapter 1.

[4] James Syfers, “Human Rights versus Classical Liberalism,” in Not for Sale: In Defense of Public Goods, edited by A. Anton, M. Fisk, and N. Holmstrom (Boulder CO: Westview Press, 2000): 145-170.

[5] On this topic, see Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time (Boston: Beacon Press, 1957), chapter 6.

[6] Immanuel Kant makes not treating humans merely as a means his second “categorical imperative.” See his Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals (1785), chapter 2.

[7] John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1971), 15, 102; see also his Political Liberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993). 16-17, 50.

[8] For a fuller discussion of social goals and their relation to rights and justice, see Milton Fisk, Toward a Healthy Society: The Morality and Politics of American Health Care Reform (Lawrence KS: University Press of Kansas, 2000), chapter 4.

[9] The claim that this ideal of prosperity is widely accepted does not deny the importance of an alternative to it that has no place for a labor market. See, for example, David Schweikart, Against Capitalism (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 60-77.

[10] International Labor Organization, “Global Report on Organizing for Social Justice,” www.ilo.org (2004), part 1, sections 31-33.

[11] Axel Honneth, “Is Universalism a Moral Trap? The Presuppositions and Limits of a Politics of Human Rights,” in Perpetual Peace: Essays on Kant’s Cosmopolitan Ideal, edited by J. Bohman and M. Lutz-Bachmann (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1997), 168.