To Be Fair

All day every day somebody calls somebody unfair.  What is fair?  Who decides?

Some say that every person is entitled to health care including prescription drugs, education including college, and a home in a safe neighborhood.  Entitled!  In order to provide all of it to people who can’t afford all of it, would it be fair to compel only the super-rich to pay the providers, to compel the super-rich and the middle-class to pay the providers, or to compel the providers to provide their goods and services for free?

Some say that climate change is an existential threat.  Existential!  In order to preserve our planet for our children and grandchildren, would it be fair to require everybody to replace their home HVAC systems with more efficient systems and their gasoline autos with electric autos, without also banning private jets, private yachts, ownership of more than one house, disposable diapers, plastic, oil-based paint for artists, and the use of oil and gas and coal to manufacture windmills and solar cells and electric car batteries?

Some say it’s racist to permit inequality of ownership and management of institutions.  Racist!  In order to defend against racism, would it be fair to require every sports franchise, university, hedge fund, law firm, hospital, labor union, media outlet, advertising agency, charitable foundation, and other institution to be owned and managed by an equal distribution of races, religions, and genders?

Some say Free Speech and Freedom Of The Press are fundamental to democracy.  Fundamental!  In order to preserve democracy, would it be fair to guarantee equal access to public television airwaves and public radio airwaves for every citizen, without regard to the citizen’s ability to pay for access, the only requirement for access being that the citizen must broadcast only accurate facts without opinion or bias?

Some say it’s unconstitutional double-taxation to impose income tax on unearned income, because unearned income results from after-tax accumulated wealth.  Unconstitutional!  In order to preserve constitutionality, would it be fair to allow trust-fund babies (Rockefeller, Walton, Koch, Kennedy, …) to pay income taxes on their unearned income at a lower tax rate than teachers, nurses, police, and firefighters pay on their earned income?

Some say Social Security and Medicare are unsustainable.  Unsustainable!  In order to preserve those contracts with We The People, would it be fair to replace every government employee’s pension plan and health insurance policy with Social Security and Medicare?

To paraphrase Plato, fair lies in the eyes of the beholder.

Stephen B. Benisch, September 15, 2019

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