Seeking the Spotlight, We Can Be Too Far Out

Fairness is like a trapeze at a circus – how much swing does it have, or should it have? If it goes too far, the artists may miss their targets, their intentions. Everyone wants to be fair, but some swing too far out. Who’s to say how far that is? Maybe a community like those of us at  SimplyFair.

These thoughts occurred on reading four brief letters to the editor of The Wall Street Journal this past week. They were displayed under the headline, “What’s ‘Fair’ Is in the Eye of the Beholder.” Being it was The Journal they were corresponding with, the writers had an economic perspective, but a single one, however.

“We cannot expect to have any reasonable chance for sustained growth,” said a reader in Billings, Montana, “with increases in the minimum wage, continuing burdensome regulation and excessively progressive income-tax rates.” 

If you spend much time fussing with the concept, however, maybe recipients of the minimum wage think income tax rates aren’t progressive enough. Just possibly.

“The first hurdle in implementing a fairness agenda,” wrote a reader from Naples, Fla., “is determining who gets to decide what is fair.” Aha, I thought, now we’re getting closer to the point. But, no, “A political and economic system that lets a majority – 51 percent or 99 percent – strip income and assets from the minority apparently passes the Democratic litmus test for fairness and promotes freedom from envy.”

Heard of any millionaires being stripped unfairly of their assets in your neighborhood recently? I haven’t, but then I’m not privy to such gossip anyway. 

None of the four letter writers had a truly objective word to say about fairness. It appeared that the concept was something they felt was being used against themselves or their friends. 

Where does that leave us? Well, sorting out our terms with examples from actual experience (how we, or someone we’ve encountered, are being treated fairly, or not) is a good place to start. That’s the lofty aim of SimplyFair. If you think the score on understanding fairness should be something better than 4-0 against, or, indeed, if such a one-sided score seems fair to you, join us in talking the situation through. That’s SimplyFair’s reason for being. 

When does a society swing too far from being fair to all its members? That’s a pretty important question these days, as much as ever, in fact.