This is where issues on ethical boundaries come about. Economic discourses on labor, land, other raw materials, time, technology, and information cross the paths of respect, prudence, honesty, and justice. The issues that revolve around labor includes when and how to employ children, if ever it is ethical to employ children. There are the issues of gender in terms of hiring and firing. Reproductive rights struggle for wages that are sensitive to women’s natural child bearing roles.
Decent wage for labor varies from country to country, from position to position, from credential to credential. Should economists suffer just labor laws of a few employees in the interest of the bigger population? A global dilemma is at the table of each trying to stay afloat multi-global organization. Should they opt to outsource jobs abroad to stay afloat and profitable while labor at home suffers recessions? Global leaders are in hot pursuit of the environmental footprints and effect of first world lifestyle and third world population on the planet.
While the fact that fuel from oil is non-renewable and fuel from the sun, wind and water is very renewable, funding studies, writing legislation and implementation of environmental laws have been a heavy struggle ever since man discovered technology and the many conveniences it enabled man to have, at the expense of nature. For example, anti-meat activists believe that cattle grazing grounds can be cultivated with grains to feed starving Africa. Thousands of acres of prime forests in Brazil are being converted to lands for agriculture to feed growing populations in China.
Ice bergs are being harvested by big ships to deliver crystal clean pure drinking water to Japan. All these economic activities pose effects that ripple to both first world and third world countries. Justifications of the clearing of mountain tops for human shelter or cultivation traverse a wide array of ethical considerations. Economists cannot justify urgency over sustainability. There is a natural order of living things and processes in the planet that protect diversity and that protect life. A small miscalculation in the economies of scale spells dangerous levels of global warming, extinction of wild life and land unproductiveness.
Economic justice in the realm of reproductive rights treads on thin grounds. As women struggle towards equality and equity, their natural reproductive role in society is seen as an economic expense than a profit for humanity. Specifically, women had to fight hard to be employed for the right reasons. Once employed, women had to fight for proper wages, then maternity benefits, and child rearing options in the workplace which poses nightmare on the financial computations of strict by the book economists. Ethics in reproductive rights traverse the not only the health issue of the females but also the male workers.
One simple example would be, up till when shall a pregnant woman work before she can file for a leave? While advances in science continually realize that child nurturing and development happens in the womb, work environments do not at the least, put this topic on the HR agenda meetings. Ethical dilemmas that hurt profit for both company and worker are very hard agendas but decisions are still urgently needed. But before such a decision is made, ethicists should look further into what is proposed and into its probable effects.
Currently many countries try to ensure that foreign investment work with local capital in ways that help to build up the economy of the country. Many have regulations that assist the enterprises of their own citizens, especially in the service sector (banks, and insurance companies, for example), to compete with multinational corporations. The new proposals forbid all of these practices, thus insuring that service sectors of Third World economies, like the industrial sector, will be owned and managed by foreigners whose only professional interest is corporate profit.
In all parts of the world, and in all eras of history, economic policies based on greed have failed to generate prosperity. While public policy should not compel individual moral beliefs or practices, and economic policy should not be used to enforce personal ethics, such policy perhaps should at least be consistent with values such as compassion which, like the justifications for public policy themselves, are based on the manner in which we interact with others.
For economists and the people who study economy, there is no escaping ethical issues that will continually hound activities of the economy. People need to be aware of such a social construct as economic justice. Being compassionate and having a mindset that adheres to planetary stewardship would be a safe path towards economic justice that will not be afraid to face the ethical decisions along the way.
Fleurbaey, Marc. 2006. Economics and Economic Justice. Retrieved April 28, 2006 < http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/economic-justice/>