Skip to comments.Making Life Fair
Posted on 05/16/2012 3:40:19 AM PDT by Kaslin
When my wife was a liberal, she complained that libertarian reasoning is coldhearted. Since markets produce winners and losers -- and many losers did nothing wrong -- market competition is cruel. It must seem so. President Obama used the word "fair" in his last State of the Union address nine times.
We are imprinted to prefer a world that is "fair." Our close relatives the chimpanzees freak out when one chimp gets more than his fair share, so zookeepers are careful about food portions. Chimps are hardwired to get angry when they think they've been cheated -- and so are we.
Filmmaker Michael Moore took this notion about fairness to its intuitive conclusion during an interview with Laura Flanders of GRITtv, saying of rich people's fortunes: "That's not theirs! That's a national resource! That's ours!" As is typical, Moore was confused or disingenuous. In our corporatist economy, some fortunes are indeed made illegitimately though political means. The privileges that produce those fortunes should be abolished. But contrary to Moore, incomes are not "national resources." If he's concerned with illegitimate fortunes, he should favor freeing markets.
Fairness is related to justice, the recognition of people's rights to their own lives.
A free market will create big differences in wealth. That wealth disparity is simply a byproduct of freedom -- vastly diverse individuals competing to serve consumers will arrive at vastly diverse outcomes.
That disparity is not unfair -- if it results from free exchange.
The free market (which, sadly, America doesn't have) is fair. It also produces better outcomes. Even "losers" do pretty well.
A more astute observer than Moore might show how unfair government intervention is. Licenses, taxes, regulations and corporate subsidies make it harder for the average worker to start his own business, to go from being a "little guy" to being an independent owner of means of production. Most new businesses fail, but running your own business is the best route to prosperity and -- surveys suggest -- happiness, too.
I once opened a dinky business called "The Stossel Store" in Delaware, hawking hats, books and other goodies on the street. It was hard to open this store. I chose Delaware because it's supposedly the state that makes that easiest -- but "easiest" didn't mean "easy." I still required help from Fox's lawyers to get the permits, and the process took more than a week. In my hometown, New York City, it would have taken much longer.
By contrast, in Hong Kong, I started a business in one day. Hong Kong's limited government makes it easy for people to try things, and that has allowed poor people to prosper. Regular people benefit most from economic freedom.
What makes it hard for people to embrace markets is that anti-market zealots, with their talk of Americans pulling together to take care of one another, remind us of the coziness of village life. Instinct tells us that's where we'll find trust -- and fairness.
But our intuition fools us when it leads us to think that government models that institutionalize what resembles village life must be good. Assuming that government can foster togetherness better than our own voluntary associations, businesses and private charities leads to coziness of the bad kind: back-room dealings between the well-connected and government.
If we're going to have a large-scale, modern society, we need relatively simple rules that respect individual rights and that can be applied to all sorts of new situations without having to put global commerce on hold until the hypothetical village elders come up with a plan.
Since most human beings still lived as farmers two centuries ago, the idea of stranger-filled cosmopolitan life outside the small, close-knit village is still novel. It was only around the 18th and 19th centuries that the ideas we now think of as classical liberalism, libertarianism, anarchism and laissez faire began to be articulated. As Westerners became accustomed to living without the rule of kings, aristocrats and village elders, they began, for the first time since the dawn of writing, to imagine living ungoverned lives.
Sure, it's scary, but surrendering your fate to politicians and bureaucrats is a lot scarier.
There is a reason the mere mention of this primate species incites so much ire. I’ve personally taken to calling them Burger King Hissy Fits.
My 14-year old daughter was arguing this in class awhile ago during a class project on “redistribution”. Most kids thought that it wasn’t fair that some kids found more pennies scattered around the room than others. (Lots of kids just hung out and didn’t even look).
My daughter argued the point that “Well, it isn’t fair that those that didn’t look get some of the other’s pennies. just like it isn’t fair that a kid at 7&11 should get paid the same as a medical doctor that went to college and is doing hard and critical work”.
She was voted down by the majority, and anyone that found more than 3 pennies had to give anything over 3 pennies to someone with less than 3 pennies.
Coming to a country near us.
This is very sad
Oh - I also pointed out to her as she was telling the story that the liberals view the economy as some finite amount of “100 pennies” , or a certain size pie that everyone needs to get a piece of. But in reality wealth is not some finite number to be portioned out - but can be grown. It isn’t so much as “getting a piece of the pie”; it is “bake your own pie!”
An old Russian joke:
Two Russian farmers with farms next-door to one another, hate one another, a hatred that goes back decades. Whenever one of the farmers has any good fortune, the other one is consumed with envy.
One day one of the farmers is walking in his field and he finds an old bottle, which he picks up, causing a genie to emerge.
The genie says: “I will grant you one wish. It can be whatever you want. If you want a new house, I will give you the house of your dreams. If you want a herd of cows, I will give you a herd of the healthiest cows in all the land. If you want a pile of gold, it will be a big pile of shiny gold coins.”
“What great luck!” says the farmer.
“But,” says the genie, “there is a catch. Whatever I give you, I will give your neighbor double. If you get a new house, your neighbor will get two new houses. If you get cows, I will give your neighbor double the number. If you get a pile of gold, I will give your neighbor two piles of gold. So. What will it be?”
The farmer thought and thought... and at last he came up with his wish:
“Pluck out one of my eyes!”
” liberals view the economy as some finite amount of 100 pennies [....] But in reality wealth is not some finite number to be portioned out - but can be grown. “
Liberals are working their butts off to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy - by stifling, if not outright outlawing, as many means of wealth creation as they can, they ensure that their vision of ‘limited finite pool’ becomes reality...
I’ve heard that with a man, where his wife gets double; for his third wish he asks the genie to beat him half to death...
That would be ex-wife!
After everyone flunks the second exam, it may sink in.
Ugly men get left out -- so all the beautiful women should start having sex with the ugly men, to make it fair.
As an object lesson, only, of course.
I presume your daughter is deliberately chaste.
Liberals have perverted the word “fairness” to equality of outcome.
To conservatives, “fairness” connotes equality of opportunity.
Very well said
I really thought that “Making Life Fair” was going to be the official Obama campaign slogan for 2012.
Most kids that age haven’t had to earn anything yet. Even grades in school are ‘curved’. Just wait. Reality sometimes doesn’t hit until they see that first paycheck. Often that’s after college.
“Liberals have perverted the word fairness to equality of outcome.
To conservatives, fairness connotes equality of opportunity.”
Absolutely True. Down the street from me there lives a young man (just turned 14) who comes from a long line of lazy dopers and alcohol abusers that spend their time working the system. He is smarter than most but has zero work ethic expecting every to be given to him. I have been trying to get the idea across to him that he doesn’t learn at least the basics of education he is going to spend the rest of his life leaning out of a McD’s window and probably not even that. Its an utter waste of breath.
I heard the same thing in a song once, but rather than poking out one eye or getting beaten half to death, the person wished for one of his testicles to be removed. LOL
That is better. The next time I tell that I’m using testicles, not eyes.
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