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It’s Not Fair! (Revised)

May 19, 2012

Fairness in Webster’s Dictionary is defined as follows: “free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge.” Now this is only the first definition, but since anybody’s definition of “fair” is subjective (an important point in this essay), we have to establish some basis to counter the nuance in President Obama’s claim that “everyone deserves a fair shake.” That shake, I assume, means “chance in life,” right? So, we should, as citizens of the U.S. of A., have a chance in life free from bias, dishonesty & injustice.  Sounds pretty good.  Who would argue that we should be subject to bias, dishonesty and injustice in our “chance at live?”  I see nothing, zip, nada, to support the argument that an American’s “chance in life” is free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice, well, except when they wake up in the morning, of course!

Everything we do is subject to bias, dishonesty and injustice!  We do our best to live our lives without becoming victims of bias, dishonesty and injustice (BDI), and our court system can provide some relief from BDI based on laws already in effect.  But our President is not suggesting that we find BDI in a courtroom with current law.  No, he is suggesting that the federal government step into your life and change it, for the better, of course.  So, with the flourish of a pen (or printers grinding out thousands of pages of new laws, regulations, and mark-ups…did I mention regulations?), our government is now ready make your life better!   There are good arguments to be made that regulations in sectors of our economy are good for society.  To defend regulatory mayhem and thousands of pages of rules by claiming that it will enhance “fairness,” is not a good argument.

BDI are generally civil matters and are addressed in our courts with tort law. Does it seem sometimes that the tighter the laws, the harder it is to ensure fairness by convicting and punishing those who are dishonest? Our judicial system is pretty mucked up and President Obama has done literally nothing to look at tort reform and other legal reforms that would support “fairness” in our courts.  Being a lawyer himself, one could expect that he would support the interests of lawyers, in this case represented by the Trial Lawyers Association. The TLA has always donated heavily to the Democrat party and they have successfully prevented tort reforms that would help us to ensure “fairness.”  Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

An interesting example of how tort reform might help to ensure a “fair shake” came up yesterday when a long-time customer came into my shop and told me she was being sued. She has a pub, so naturally I assumed it was due to a drunk driving complaint, but she said, “Oh no, that’s what you would think, but it’s far more benign than that.” She went on to explain that last winter an older gal had accidentally pressed the gas pedal instead of the brake and rammed through the front of her building where the hair salon is located. It was a terrible accident and did incredible damage to her salon, but no one was hurt, and the little old lady’s insurance paid for the repairs. At the time, no one went to the hospital, no injuries were reported, so after the repairs were done, she thought that was the end of it. Not so. A lady who had been in the salon tried to sue the lady who had driven through the front, but because the old gal had no money, the lady decided to sue my friend claiming that she did not provide a safety barrier between the parking lot and the salon. This gal is now claiming that she was injured and that she deserves $100,000 for her pain and suffering. My friend had to leave the lawyers office lest she be sick when the insurance company started negotiating a settlement. As much as she would like to have gone to court to fight the gal, who was not really injured, she will never get the chance. The economics of our system of law make it easier for the insurance company to settle with the uninjured injured party. These types of frivolous lawsuits are reflected in the insurance rates we all pay, but she will get her money, precedent will be set, and others will sue in similar circumstances.  Is this what President Obama is talking about when he talks about “fairness?” I doubt it, because frivolous lawsuits are, in fact, patently unfair to us all!

We tie “justice” to “fairness” closely because in the case of both civil and criminal life, fairness is adjudicated in the courts, in the mediation sessions, and in arbitration cases across this land. Because “fairness” is subjective, we ask a jury of our peers to weigh the arguments.  My question is how, with our cumbersome system of law with all its inadequacies, President Obama’s current solution to the “unfairness of it all” is going to bring justice to our citizenry?  I think, first, that there should be an injustice before we start trying to correct one.  Is it unjust when a CEO is payed 10 Million dollars and a Janitor in his building is paid $20 an hour?  Sorry, I don’t see how those two things are related.  If you would please bring your arguments to this blog site and tell me how you think this is a source of injustice in our society, I am ready to listen.  I have no idea if the CEO’s salary is equitable, I don’t know anything about the circumstances, and, frankly, neither do you.  CEO salaries are dependent upon the demand for proven CEO’s in a very small market that has strict criterion and for whom the market makes its own judgments, not taking into consideration, I am sure, that a Janitor in the building is making $20/hour.  What does that have to do with anything!  What does what I get paid have to do with what you get paid?!  I am fairly certain that I could find an injustice here if I yelled loud enough!!  In fact, what I feel like yelling about the most is the issuance of exceptions to the Affordable Care Act!!  How are exceptions to a law “fair?!”

So, when you hear the word, “fairness,” beware!  Fairness is subjective.  My Economics professor at Purdue once asked us to define fairness.  What a jumble of mucked up answers we gave!  That’s because “fair” is not easily wrangled into a standard box and applied to our general population.  I think what the President should be saying is that we all need “opportunity,” which is a whole different idea.  If you substitute “opportunity” for “fairness,” you get a better argument and one that does not support raising taxes on the rich and calling for class warfare in order to support our safety net.  In fact, it does exactly the opposite.

The “rich” create opportunity when they invest in their own ventures instead of sending money to our least efficient institution, the federal government.  Taxing the rich necessarily “taxes” the poor.  When the rich don’t spend money, the poor suffer.  Therefore, the argument that opportunity is squashed by high taxation on higher income brackets is valid.  President Kennedy knew it, so did Ronald Reagan.  But President Obama is not interested in “fairness,” (please explain how exemptions from Obamacare are “fair”), he is interested in increasing the size of government and thereby consolidating power in the hands of those he agrees with.  He believes without a doubt the social democrat thesis that the workers are depressed by the system and should be shouldered by the government.  I don’t give a darn about his political leanings and people like him never have an “end” in mind (ask them, they don’t), but I do care about our economy because it’s killing us.

So get a grip on Economics 101 and QUESTION what your vaunted leaders are selling you.  It’s not about “fairness,” it’s about opportunity and creating and environment in which businesses will continue to employ people and bring new ideas to market.  The former is one of my pet peeves regarding this administration.  Obama sounded so good on the campaign trail when it came to entrepreneurial ventures and small business.  He was “hip!”  He was into the entrepreneurial thing!  His record in the entrepreneurial environment has been dismal and many small businesses are left feeling angry and resentful about the lies he told during the campaign.  And to now bring up “fairness?”  Really?  I guess I’m done with this whole philosophy touting fairness at its base, and I can’t wait to see the back end of this guy.


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