What is ‘Fairness’ and ‘Social Justice’ &
What Does it have to do with the USA?
We’ve heard a lot of talk in the last several months about “fairness.” The problem is – we seem to have different ideas of what “fairness” means. Ironically, both sides of the discussion base their differing understandings on the Biblical ideas of “fairness” and “compassion.”
Below is the one of the Bible passages used by the Obama administration to justify the “tax the rich and give to the poor” policies. Let me suggest the message is NOT addressed to the government of the United States. It is addressed to the PEOPLE – to individuals. It is my responsibility and joy to help in some small way those who are in genuine need. It is your responsibility, too, if you accept it, but either way, it is NOT the government’s responsibility. It is the government’s obligation to provide an atmosphere where you and I can pursue our idea of happiness, can pursue our dreams as we are able by our own talents and abilities. That is all! THAT we can still afford!
34Then the King will say to those on His right hand,
‘Come, you blessed of My Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world:
35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food;
I was thirsty and you gave Me drink;
I was a stranger and you took Me in;
36 I was naked and you clothed Me;
I was sick and you visited Me;
I was in prison and you came to Me.’
Matthew 25: 34 – 36
When my children were small, it seemed every time one of them did something unacceptable and the price for that behavior loomed nigh, they argued about the “fairness” of the prescribed discipline. See, I posted the price required for every imaginable mis-behavior of young children and discussed the “rules” with them every night. If one child lied, there was a specific price each could expect to pay. If one stole from anyone (took anything without permission from anyone), there was a specific price required for that behavior. I taught them about “choices” and “consequences.” They learned the same rules applied to all three of them. That was “fair!”
The same rules and consequences applied to each person the same,
and that is fair!
It didn’t take them long to learn that life, though, was not fair. As desirable as fairness is, the reality is that while we attempt to apply the same rules to each person, inevitably unfairness occurs sometimes. More often than not, when unfairness occurs, it is not because the rules or the price changed, but because the individual is different. This is the case when a wealthy person is able to “buy” his way out of the price, thus changing the cost for mis-behavior. It also applies when the individual’s skin color becomes the issue, or their religion.
WE ARE NOT ALL THE SAME!
There was a day not too long ago when children looked forward to growing up. Childhood was great, but every child admired and anticipated adulthood. As adults in the 50’s or 60’s, everyone understood their responsibilities and assumed them honestly and with a measure of integrity. Adults, with some measure of pride, assumed the position of leader in their home, their community, and their nation. Parents only a few short decades ago accepted responsibility for their own behavior as a role models to their children. Today, they choose to remain like Peter Pan – in Never Never Land and never grow up and be accountable to no one! Herein lies the root of several issues.
With fewer adults accepting the role of adult and the maturity that manifests solid values and morals based on a stable belief system – unshakable – our children have fewer healthy role models to guide them in their life choices. At this point, we almost take pride in our growing number of dysfunctional families and individuals today, and many (not all) of these dysfunctions are voluntary! They are simply a matter of a loss of structure in our culture.
Fairness, then, requires both the same rules and consequences for every individual AND a willingness on the part of each individual to be held accountable to the same rules. Aha! There’s the rub!
Adults understand that life is not fair, individuals have equal rights, but we are not equal. We are not all Mozart or Bach, or the Beatles, or Michael Jordan or Hines Ward. We are al not Bill Gates, not just because he worked his way from nothing to among the most wealthy humans on the planet, but because … he DID it! Lots of us have ideas buzzing around in our heads, but few of us dare to go for it! Bill Gates did! Many others have, too. I know many writers personally. Some have been published, and some haven’t. Some still hold their first novel in their heart and mind.
Is it fair that I am not Shakespeare,
In the 60’s the mantra was “Down with authority!” It didn’t happen overnight, but it has happened. Now we are reaping the results … the consequences of our poor choices. Unfortunately, it is the entire culture that suffers for the rebellion and distrust we in the 60’s and 70’s sowed.
or should the Government treat me as though
I write with the same skill?
We have a whole generation out there, the OWS groupies and those floundering in the midst of our nation. They have no clue about fairness, other than what liberal academia has taught them. Let me assure those of you who hold to a Bible-based faith system - The Obama speech proclaiming “Fairness” as a “Jesus Principle” is NOT TRUE!
10 “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you
in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.
12 Now those who are such we command and exhort
through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness
and eat their own bread.”
FAIRNESS is not everyone possessing the same stuff. It is everyone being held accountable to the same rules and paying the same consequences when those rules are broken. FAIRNESS cannot be legislated, and taxed.
Economic fairness ought not be confused with economic freedom. By economic fairness, the President means using the instrumentalities of the federal government — through coercion– to redistribute resources and wealth, pick winners and losers, and settle political scores. Such a construct is hostile to private property rights and the rule of law. It seeks not equality but radical egalitarianism. On this point the GOP has an opportunity to favorably contrast its candidate with the incumbent while educating Americans about the blessings of economic freedom, what F.A. Hayek called the “freedom of our economic activity” and the “prerequisite of any other freedom.”
The late, great Milton Friedman once said, “I’m not in favor of fairness. I’m in favor of freedom, and freedom is not fairness. Fairness means somebody has to decide what’s fair and that means [insert government agency name here] has to decide for me what’s fair.” He expounded on this point further in 1992 when he wrote:
“…scrutinize word for word the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and you will not find the word “fair.”…
The modern tendency to substitute “fair” for “free” reveals how far we have moved from the initial conception of the Founding Fathers. They viewed government as policeman and umpire. They sought to establish a framework within which individuals could pursue their own objectives in their own way, separately or through voluntary cooperation, provided only that they did not interfere with the freedom of others to do likewise.
The modern conception is very different…Government is not simply an umpire but an active participant, entering into every nook and cranny of social and economic activity. All this, in order to promote the high-minded goals of “fairness,” “justice,” “equality.”
Does this not constitute progress? A move toward a more humane society? Quite the contrary. When “fairness” replaces “freedom,” all our liberties are in danger…
There is no objective standard of “fairness.” “Fairness” is strictly in the eye of the beholder… READ MORE