What’s Fair and Who Decides?

What is the most common sentence you hear from a child? I would vote for, “It’s not fair.” One thing a child learns as they grow is that fair is a position, a preference. It is not so often a fact.

It has to do with objectivity. Fairness has little to do with what a particular person wants or feels entitled to have. Think about things that are fair for everyone. Not so many.

If you expect the world to be fair with you because you are fair, you’re fooling yourself. That’s like expecting the lion not to eat you because you didn’t eat him” Joseph Land

The lion’s idea of fair and your idea of fair are viewing points. That they are not the same is how life works. One of the reason’s it’s hard.

Things you should notice 

Some things are easy to see how they are fair.

  1. If I buy something for a price and I am happy to have bought it and the person selling it is happy to have sold it, that’s fair.
  2. If I did not do all the course requirements and I got a bad mark, that’s fair.
  3. If I drive too fast and get a ticket, that’s fair.
  4. If a couple decides to look after each other and do, that’s fair. I have noticed when that happens they don’t keep track of who did what.
  5. If I eat poorly, don’t exercise, and gain weight. That’s fair

The problem with childish “‘fair,” is it means I didn’t get what I wanted, or not soon enough, or not the right model. That is not how it works in life.

Who decides what’s fair?

Until recently, fair just happened. It was nature’s version of fair though and to a large extent it is ruthlessly fair. Objective. It doesn’t care if I like it. As Ben Shapiro says, “Facts don’t care about my feelings.’  Your personal fair is often not fact based.

More recently, the government has tried to even things out. Fair. Some of that is worthwhile and even good. Disabled people get treatment and they get a reasonable standard of living. Imperfect and not luxurious, but not awful either. Education costs individuals a fraction of the real price.

Some government activities have addressed the childish idea of fair, and have failed.  It has become fashionable for people to claim victimhood in order to force government action on some topic. No one can have everything they might want. It is unreasonable to expect it. Fair is objective.

So, those in charge decide fair. Governments for many things, parents for some, employers for others. Perhaps it is fair to allow the people who supply the resources to decide what’s fair. So, it is about who decides, not what is objectively fair.

The way it works

Families are socialist. The parents work for the good of all. The parents make the decisions about what’s fair. The children, if they are treated well get what is age appropriate and affordable. Parents can be twisted to give up too much just like governments. Be careful.

It’s not all about money either. Parents sometimes spend wildly and horde time. What if parents said, I am not going to try to give you everything I wished I had when I was young, I am going to teach you how to do things I wish someone had taught me. Boys like to cook. Girls like to change the oil in the car. Everyone likes to build things or learn tennis or golf.

Employers can be tyrants where only their idea of fair prevails. Others are more like families. If you employer is a tyrant, you can go elsewhere if your skills are good enough. Everyone with good skills is in demand. Your are self-employed even if you are working for someone else. Employees should have one set of conditions for working anywhere. They are paid what they are worth and the people they work with are competent. If either fails by much go somewhere else. Fair to yourself is giving yourself the tools to have the choice.

Governments are in a tough spot. People want things, maybe a new bike, or a bigger allowance. They can only provide those if they take resources from someone else. The government has no money of their own, just the ability to get money. Could be taxes that someone pays now, or it could be money they borrow and someone will pay in the future. They payer might be the one that got the benefit, but that’s a fluke.

People think the government things they get are free. Fair says nothing is free. Fair is a value exchange. Government free just means someone else paid and you don’t know who. As well as the free thing you get, there is a lot of overhead to be paid. Sometimes a dollar of free costs two dollars of somebody else paid.

The problem.

What if the folks who are paying for the free things decide they don’t want to pay as much? Then what?

We can see it happening in the United States. It might be happening here too but it isn’t so obvious. Why do people move from California or New York to Florida or to Texas or Tennessee. Because they pay less tax and get better government. Twenty-five years ago I knew of a very wealthy individual who moved from New York to Miami. Why? Because his taxes were $5 million a year less. Sure he probably missed his old friends, but $5 million a year will charter a lot of flights to go back for a dinner or the theatre.

Why does U-Haul have a problem with trucks from California building up in Texas? There are not so many return trips. I wonder if I went to Dallas and told them I wanted to take a truck to LA, would I pay full price?

So the problem. If one person gets something for nothing, someone else gets nothing for something. When it is not too costly their innate human charity will allow it. When it becomes too intrusive they will defend themselves. When governments or others demand it, they will shut down entirely.  AND, they can afford the price of the fix.

Cities, states, or countries that take too much from the producers eventually lose the producers.

There is a fair rule of life. Things you reward, you get more of. Things you punish, you get less of.

People and government should work on incentives instead of giveaways. Think about value added. Think about what the tradeoffs are. There is nothing free. Only who pays and why.

Life makes more sense when you take responsibility for your own outcomes. Tell your children too.


I help people have more retirement income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call in Canada 705-927-4770, or email don@moneyfyi.com

 

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