Distributive justice can be defined as the fair distribution of society’s benefits and burdens. The notion of ‘fair’ is ambiguous and subject to debate. Some people would describe this through the idea of equality, where everybody is treated the same and given the same no matter their economic background or desert. However, others would argue, including Marx, that the benefits and burdens of society should be distributed according to desert or need. For example, those who have a limited earning potential should not be taxed as much as those who have a high disposable income.
Such a case would be the debate as to whether Wayne Rooney deserves to earn more money than a care worker. From an economist’s perspective, Rooney provides a service that provides entertainment and also contributes to a huge amount of money throughout the economy. As a result, he deserves to be paid more as he is one of a limited few who is able to provided such a service at such a high performance. A care worker requires considerably less skill and therefore there is a much larger supply to fill the demand for care workers, and so it comes at a much lower price. Based solely on desert, it can be argued that the care worker provides a more substantial benefit to society in that they care for the ill, and therefore deserve a larger amount of money for their contribution. It could also be argued, however, that Rooney works longer hours than a care worker and must follow a strict regime in order to be a footballer. He should therefore be rewarded for such hard work.