Campus Sustainability Office

Social Justice

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"Social justice" refers to the fair and equitable access to, and distribution of essential resources and power, fairly applied laws and regulations, and the guaranteed opportunity for all individuals and communities to contribute to the pursuit of meeting basic human needs, improving the human condition, fully realizing human potentials for everyone in safe and clean environments today and into the distant future, and to receive an adequate and fair return on their investments of capital, creativity, labor, and time.

Today, it is clear to see the aforementioned criteria are not being met. The elite class in this country, usually referred to as the politically well-connected, Wall Street and multi-national bankers, investment organizations,Senate_Responsiveness.png hedge-funds, fortune 500's, there are 6 telecommunication company's are estimated (as that information is held in secret) to own and disseminate over 95% of our radio, t.v., and film, the same with the insurance, agricultural, health, and pharmaceutical industries, as well as the billionaire investors classes. This tiny group, recently coined in the public lexicon as the one percent by the occupy wall street movement, eschews addressing by its very nature, the notion of social justice and income inequality.

(CC Image (right) from a report by Larry Bartels'stitled Economic Inequality and Political Representation, by CartoonDiablo [own work], released under Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.)

This broad critique looks at a two-tiered justice system, whereby the rule of law applies differently to different social and economic classes. A punitive justice system that is today mostly run by for profit prisons whereby the expenses of housing the prisoners are socialized, and the profits of the publicly traded for profit institutions are privatized. Leading to our current state of leading the world in incarceration, where the United States accounts for roughly 5% of the world's population, but houses 25% of the world's prisoners.

Furthermore, in our society, the basic human needs and human potential has been been seen as a pathology. Social_Justice.jpgThat is, human characteristics are thought to account for criminal behavior, joblessness, homelessness, and other anti-social modes of behavior, rather than looking at the greater social structures that limit individual's sense of agency.

(CC Image (left) of Occupy Wall Street protest by David Shankbone (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

If we are to seek a more sustainable life, we must include all people and address the root causes of these behaviors and overall social issues. They stem from unequal access, unequal opportunities, and unequal treatment with regards to the social discourse, the rule of law, basic resources, food, shelter, water, credit, etc.

Furthermore, 1/4th of the country of eligible age is not eligible for a bank loan. Those that do get loans from the bank are normally paying very high interest rates. The private for profit banks which loan this money to us are getting the money for free, or nearly free, and then lending it to us at interest. This practice is called usury.US_incarceration_timeline.gif

(CC Image (right) of United States exploding prison population by November Coalition.( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Until we free up the imposition of usury, by creating public not-for-profit banks, such as the Bank of North Dakota, and put an end to predatory lending and unjust interest rates on the citizenry by the elite class, we are likely to remain down the path of un-sustainability. This is because the access to money, and the ability to pay it back without being subjected to predatory interest rates is a limiting factor in our ability to recognize greater issues. That is to say, when we are in a constant state of seeking profits to pay back loans that are amassing compounding interest rates, that often end up costing the individual five to seven times the original principal, we struggle to fight against other social issues that we face. This is due to the simple lack of time and personal agency that arises when we are in a constant state of stress whereby most people are just struggling to survive.

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