Thomas Sowell: The “Fairness” Fraud

The “Fairness” Fraud

During a recent Fox News Channel debate about the Obama administration’s tax policies, Democrat Bob Beckel raised the issue of “fairness.”

He pointed out that a child born to a poor woman in the Bronx enters the world with far worse prospects than a child born to an affluent couple in Connecticut.

No one can deny that. The relevant question, however, is: How does allowing politicians to take more money in taxes from successful people, to squander in ways that will improve their own reelection prospects, make anything more “fair” for others?

Even if additional tax revenue all went to poor single mothers — which it will not — the multiple problems of children raised by poor single mothers would not be cured by throwing money at them. Indeed, the skyrocketing of unwed motherhood began when government welfare programs began throwing money at teenage girls who got pregnant.

Children born and raised without fathers are a major problem to society and to themselves. There is nothing “fair” about increasing the number of such children.

High tax rates in the upper income brackets allow politicians to win votes with class warfare rhetoric, painting their opponents as defenders of the rich. Meanwhile, the same politicians can win donations from the rich by creating tax loopholes that can keep the rich from actually paying those higher tax rates — or perhaps any taxes at all.

What is worse than class warfare is phony class warfare. Slippery talk about “fairness” is at the heart of this fraud by politicians seeking to squander more of the nation’s resources.

Winners win.
Losers lose.
The mediocre muddle through.

Ability is not distributed evenly. Character is not a universal constant. Different cultures, far from being equal, are anything but. The story of each person’s life is the account of how their character, ability, and cultural/personal values empowered them to succeed, prevented them from doing so, or allowed them to squeak by.

Winners tend to understand this, even if they do not articulate it. Losers, unable to come to terms with their own inadequacies – and perhaps improve them in the process, look for ways to rationalize their failures away as being the fault of someone else. Often this means blaming circumstances beyond their control – bad luck. In other cases they will try to blame other individuals, typically those who have done well in life, as being the “cause” of their failure.

Entire political ideologies have evolved from this, with many examples through history. In America today it is the Democratic Party that promotes this destructive world-view of blaming winners for the shortcomings of losers. Terms like “fairness” and “equality” get misappropriated, their meanings twisted, and used to justify the punishment of those who can in order to appease the feelings of those who can’t. Worst of all, some among those who can are fooled into thinking that they should apologize for their successes. They feel guilty because they do well in life, and look for ways to assuage their conscience by commiserating with those they mistakenly believe have been victimized. They seek to raise taxes (on other people) in order to fund government programs that literally reward losers for failing, thereby perpetuating and promoting the behaviors that lead to failure in the first place, making them into cultural institutions in many cases.

There is nothing that can be done about losers, except to refuse to subsidize their stupidity. The people who can be reached are those who have been mislead into blaming themselves for the shortcomings of others. They need to be reminded that each of us is more of less on our own, and that external advantages or disadvantages are trivial compared to character and ability. It is these that ultimately determine the outcome of a person’s life, not whether they have a rich uncle or grew up in a tarpaper shack.

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