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Yes, I'm afraid it has come to that.

We, as a nation, believe in fairness. We want a fair chance, fair laws, a fair playing field, and fair elections. But what is "fair"? The Mirriam-Webster on-line dictionary lists at least 11 ways to define this word. Meanings listed range from ADEQUATE to SPECIOUS. So how can we possibly keep using this word, without additional qualifiers, in a national discourse regarding fair pay? Fair compensation? We can't.

I'm sure you have seen what happens when you try to use that word when "discussing" matters of pay, compensation, benefits, living conditions and even access to food and medicine with many regressive conservatives. It just doesn't work.

When I was a kid I remember a piece of cake I had to split with my sister. I was told to split if fairly (being older, I held the knife). So I of course cut off a sliver on one side and gave it to her and took the rest. My Dad, looking on, was of course not going to let this fly. The thing is I already knew that and was smirking and laughing, having fun with watching my little sister have a canniption fit, knowing my attempt would fail miserably but not caring because I already knew it was NOT fair. (In the end we split the cake evenly so please no hate mail for my decades old attempt at unfairness - you'll get more than enough chances to send me hate mail based upon stuff I write now anyway.)

I knew what was fair as a child. I knew what was unfair. Conservatives know what is fair when it comes to pay and benefits to employees and act just like I did as a kid when it comes to slicing them off of the company's "cake". If they get to decide what is "fair", don't bet on getting any more than a sliver or the most undesirable part of the cake. They can smirk all they want and no one will make them cut that cake in even slices. In fact they know no one can make them and  can be as caustic as they like (witness Papa John's pizza). If you cry and tell them to be fair,  they'll claim they are being fair and you are being greedy, you want something you didn't "earn".

Conservatives won't change. They will do this every time (5% exception rate to everything, remember). The only one that can make them is the federal or state government and regulatory bodies. The minimum wage is one such attempt at forcing them to play fair, as inadequate as it is.

It's gotten so bad you can't even mention the word "fair" around conservatives, in regard to pay or benefits, without them pouncing like Allen West on a wounded POW. They will then attempt to dominate the conversation, using the word fair as a club, extrapolating to ridiculous levels. The irony of course is that conservatives will go to great lengths to defend business' ability to amass huge profits, telling us how unFAIR it is to tell cash-hoarders how much money they can amass, while in the same breath tell us exactly how little they believe wage earners should be taking home. Hey, it's "fair" to tell a guy working for you how much money he should expect to take home, but "unfair" for that person (or anyone) to tell a corporation they earn too much or try to set some kind of limit to the cash they hoard.

Conservatives love telling the powerless what they can "earn". This is wrong and smacks of subjugation and has even spawned the term "wage slave".

So I propose taking the word FAIR off the table completely OR re-defining it within a specific context when discussing wages, salaries and benefits. Maybe this will take a congressional committee. Whatever it takes.

Until then I won't use the word "fair" when discussing this topic with Republicans, GOP, Tea Party "members" and the like. I will instead say things like "Do you think it's RIGHT that you can tell one American how much it takes for them to be successful in America while being terrified of saying the same thing to another American? I personally don't think it's RIGHT to have a society where children sicken and die from lack of being able to afford medical insurance and treatment while others can't remember how many homes they own. That's not RIGHT."

And it's not FAIR either.

Originally posted to filthyLiberalDOTcom on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 10:25 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (9+ / 0-)

    Send conservatives to for re-education.

    by filthyLiberalDOTcom on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 10:25:38 AM PST

  •  I've watched enough FOX "News" to know that (3+ / 0-)

    "fair" means untrue.

    Your dictionary is outdated.

    Notice: This Comment © 2012 ROGNM

    by ROGNM on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 10:40:48 AM PST

  •  The sensible way to divide a slice of cake: (7+ / 0-)

    One child cuts the cake, the other child picks who gets which slice.  Used in my family for generations, this technique guarantees that whoever does the cutting will micromeasure the division so that it comes out as evenly as possible, for fear of getting less than an equal share.

    Mind you, this isn't a good model for economic fairness at all (for a whole host of reasons, starting with the fact that the children are both dependents and neither of them is involved in producing the cake), but it's worth considering whether there is any way the solution could be applicable.

  •  Back in the day when I was a parent to two (8+ / 0-)

    Toddlers, one of the most fascinating things to me was how "spontaneously" and passionately the boys latched on to the concept of FAIR.  I suppose the learned it at day care, but in any event, it became the bane of my existence as every possible action was parsed and disputed on the basis of a solipsistic 'fairness.'

    From that time on, I've distrusted the whole notion of fairness.   I things in inherently rooted in selfishness and self- interest.   With my children I balanced 'fairness' with the countervailing concept of 'responsibility.'  

    The tax code doesn't need to be fair to me.
    The tax code should insure that I meet my social responsibilities as I am able to contribute.

    Damn.  Sounds communistic.  We're all in this TOGETHER?
    That's not fair!

    "Let's see what fresh fuckwittery these dolts can contrive to torment themselves with this time." -- Iain Banks, The Hydrogen Sonata

    by Rikon Snow on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 02:09:58 PM PST

  •  Rawls and the difference principle. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    filthyLiberalDOTcom, Arenosa

    As someone who has a philosophy degree that had a focus in political philosophy, and especially social justice type stuff I should probably have written a diary about this quite a while ago, but in lieu of that I'll do a nice comment here.

    The difference principle, roughly explained, is that the best possible distribution of good, for the broadest possible definition of good, is that in which those who have the least compared to everyone have the most possible.  To use the cake example: In real life the difference principle would say that you both get an equal slice.

    In most real world cases it isn't that straight forward.  In the cases of companies and employee pay high CEO salaries would be justified if and only if that high pay was necessary for the employees wages to rise.  Which in most cases means that the CEO wouldn't be making much more than the regular employees.

    It can be hard to apply this to real life, and it can also conflict with our natural sense of fairness.

    This isn't really the best explanation, but I think it gets the idea across.  the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a more in depth explanation

    The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

    by AoT on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 02:33:28 PM PST

    •  Indeed, it is NOT as simple as my (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Arenosa, SpawnOfJerry

      cake example. Which is why we need to first define what POOR is then set a baseline for what the minimum American should be able to expect from the "greatest country in the world". Once POOR is defined then we have a target for improving incomes and we can begin setting wages that will allow people in the POOR bracket to ESCAPE it, not by handouts but by giving them a chance to save money and invest in themselves in order to change their lives.

      Indeed, NOT simple by any stretch of the imagination. But without doing it I see no progress and just continuation of circular BS that is the specialty of the wingnut clan.

      In my experience MOST people don't like being poor, and MOST people don't mind working to get ahead. We have to make WORKING "work" for the lowest brackets of income or we DO end up with lifestyles on welfare.

      Send conservatives to for re-education.

      by filthyLiberalDOTcom on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 07:51:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In this context I highly recommend (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    filthyLiberalDOTcom, Arenosa

    the recent diary Taxing the rich: It's not about "fairness" by RobLewis. He starts from the idea that getting agreement on what's fair is darn near impossible and goes on to lay out several arguments for taxing the rich that don't rely on fairness and are much stronger than any appeal to fairness.

    I'd venture to say that the same principle could be applied to any discussion where framing in terms of fairness leads to disagreement and frustration. Reframe the issue in terms of specific benefits and leave aside the fuzzy, elusive notion of fairness.

  •  they DEFAULT to the word 'fair' (0+ / 0-)



    by theChild on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 04:01:47 PM PST

  •  It's not such a bad idea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA

    Germany includes a "fairness principle" in the section of its constitution that deals with taxation:

  •  Here's one part of fair: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When a person or business enjoys any form of government granted monopoly or privilege, let's require them to pay the full annual value off the privilege, independent of 'income'.  It is through these privileges and monopolies that the truly wealthy become rich, and stay rich.  

    Note that their monopoly advantages come at everyone else's expense and are enforced by government.  Has there been anything more begging to be taxed fully than monopoly privilege?

    Want to pollute?  Pay the rest of us for the damage in taxes.
    What exclusive mineral rights?  No one created the earth so pay us for our equal right.
    Want a zillion frivolous patents?  Pay an annual tax.
    Want to hold valuable urban land?  Pay the city for all of that socially created value.
    Want to jam the roads in our cities?  Pay for the real estate you are monopolizing.  

    As we raise more money from monopoly privileges we can peel people off the income and wage taxes from the bottom up.  The ones really mooching off of government power are the 1%.  Actually it more like the 0.01% and listen to them howl if we had a tax system that actually hit their source of enduring power.

    The Long War is not on Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran. It is on the American people.

    by Geonomist on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 05:59:57 PM PST

  •  "we as a nation believe in fairness" (0+ / 0-)

    that's your mistake right there.

    we as a nation do not believe in fairness.

    Republicons do not believe in fairness, and they are a large chunk of the population.

    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
    Four More Years! How sweet it is!!!

    by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 06:08:03 AM PST

  •  Fair is an endpoint on the line of how we are (0+ / 0-)

    doing. Midddling is the other endpoint. So now all we have to define is "doing".

    Slow thinkers - keep right

    by Dave the Wave on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 06:16:46 AM PST

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