Uncle Sam

Take Your Fair Share and Shove It

April 16, 2012

“Fairness” is a poisonously subjective notion, a cheap emotional appeal. Fairness is in the eye of who feels they’re getting screwed. At any given time, that’s pretty much everybody.

People seem to have a hard time distinguishing between nature’s elemental unfairness and what’s fair in human interactions. No, it’s not fair that some people are born smarter or wealthier or better-looking than others, and if you wind up on the short end of any of these pointed sticks, you’ll likely feel that life has been unfair to you. But basing the idea of “fairness” on personal envy seems like a crass political ploy to garner votes by promising to assuage inferiority complexes from coast to coast.

Just as millions—perhaps hundreds of millions—of Americans probably feel as if they suffer unfairly from unequal wealth distribution, there’s probably an element of the well-heeled who feel as if it’s unfair to burden them with the cost of feeding, housing, clothing, and wiping endless masses of unskilled, ineducable, dysgenic Cro-Magnons. In many cases they probably feel as if anyone who contributes nothing to tax revenues should receive zero benefits from the system.

From every angle, the main problem is that it’s all being approached as a moral dilemma—the subjective notion of “fairness”—rather than as a mathematical problem. Our culture has become so soft, fat, and sensitive, people are far more afraid of appearing heartless than they are of appearing illogical.

The sad mathematical truth—which is possibly why they’re avoiding it—is that nothing that either the Republicans or Democrats are proposing will leave more than a scratch on the deficit. And that’s a monster that will eat us all alive. All the partisan moral angling seems like crass maneuvering to figure out the most “compassionate” way to stick us with a bill that they ran up at our expense.

The question shouldn’t be, “Who should pay the bill?” but rather, “How the hell did this bill get so big?” And since you insist on talking about fairness, what’s fair about forcing people to pay for things that they never chose to buy? Good luck answering that one. The deficit is currently so huge, one gets the sense that someone’s trying to force a financial collapse. But that would be paranoid, wouldn’t it?

Our trusted public servants are not handling their spending very well. And I’m not the one who raised the issue of fairness, but since they won’t shut up about it, I don’t see what’s fair about the fact that every living American somehow “owes” the government $50,000 and probably far more when you consider unfunded Medicare, pension, and Social Security liabilities.

As I see it, the fairest thing would be to indenture all living members of Congress and the Federal Reserve, past and present, to lifelong hard labor on agricultural plantations to start paying off this massive bill they’ve incurred at our expense and without our consent. I would also insist that their suffering be broadcast on C-SPAN 24 hours a day under blinding Klieg lights so they never really get to sleep. Like the Buffett Rule, this would be a symbolic gesture that has little effect on the deficit. But it would have the incalculably positive result of frightening all wannabe future financial vampires seeking to gorge themselves on the public jugular vein from ever spending another dollar beyond their means.

It’s only fair.


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