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Government FairnessHow many times have you heard the words "this is fair" or "it is only fair" or any other variation of these words. In general terms these words do not bother us. However, there's one occasion when these words become deeply insulting. This is when people, most people, use them to refer to something that the government did to somebody. Typically, these words are used in reference to taxes, or welfare, or police action, or public schools, or any other so-called "public institutions" or money grab that the government does "for the greater good". And this deserves to be scrutinized. Why is this? Because these paragraphs or sayings are based on the idea that fairness can somehow be defined, measured, and applied objectively. This issue is at the very core of the problem. So, how do we define fairness?

FAIRNESS

What is fairness? If we look at the dictionary we can find several definitions:

  • the state, condition, or quality of being fair, or free from bias or injustice
  • evenhandedness the quality of making judgments that are free from discrimination

These are the standard definitions that we would expect to find in any literary work. However, when we turn to the political arena, this seems not to be the case, at all. Typically, we hear the word fairness coming from the mouth of politicians. As such, fairness is typically bound to the concept of equality. This is so because it is highly convenient for politicians to insist on equality because, surprise, surprise, they are the administrators of the equality! In other words, they are the ones who get to decide what is "equal" for all of us.

But there is a problem. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to use the word equality within the political context without having negative connotations. Can you imagine a politician stating that "we will tax you more so that all people can be equal to you"? Or "we want people to have equal amounts of money than you have thus, we will take what we consider to be and excess money from you". Or "we want everybody to have equal amounts of education of equal quality". Or "we want everybody to have equal amounts of food or equal amounts of vacation and therefore we will regulate you".

Do you see what we mean? The word "equality" does not lend itself to flashy and self aggrandizing statements. It reeks of dictatorship and despotism. However, if we replace the word "equality" with the word "fairness" then things suddenly and magically become not only palatable but actually desirable. Don't believe us. Let's try.

  • We will tax you more because it's only fair for other people.
  • It is only fair that most people have money therefore we will tax more those who have more.
  • It is only fair that all people have access to public education.
  • It is only fair that people have sufficient food to put on the table.
  • It is only fair that employers provide their employees with a fair amount of vocation time.

See what we mean? The concept of equality does not lend itself to be sold as a moral or ethical concept that is desirable. However, fairness on the other hand, does. Therefore, the concept of "fairness" has been drilled into us for over 200+ years, ostensibly because it is "for the greater good".

THE SUBJECTIVITY OF FAIRNESS

One of the key concepts on which so-called "fairness" is based, is on the idea that somehow it could be made objective. Think about it. Laws and regulations are ostensibly written so that they are "fair". In legal terms what this means is that every person is entitled to the same legal or regulatory process and from this perspective this is correct. In general terms, people are governed by the same rules and regulations. The problem is that those rules and regulations in themselves are not and can never be "fair". There is a difference between making the process standard, uniform and somewhat objective, and making the ideas on which those processes are based standard, uniform and somewhat objective. Enforcement is not the issue, the issue is what is being enforced.

The problem with laws and regulations is not that the application is unfair, insomuch as any law and regulation may have only one objective interpretation. This is not the case, but for argument's sake let's assume it is. The entire judicial system is based on this idea and we would accept it at face value for now. The problem with laws and regulations is that they attempt to define behaviors which are imposed onto us all. Although the imposition itself may be evenhandedly applied, the rule is not. This is so because what each of us finds acceptable and unacceptable differs. Consequently, there cannot be such a thing as "fairness" when it comes to government action. For government action to be "fair" it would require the voluntary agreement of every single person that will be bound by it. This is so because every single person would have to decide subjectively, whether or not they agree with it. Yet, governments do not operate in this fashion. Governments operate under the assumption that there are social contracts and social contracts enable them to impose contractual terms and conditions onto everybody. But we know that this is not the case at all (see for example Social Contracts Are A Scam).

The inescapable conclusion is that fairness as it is taught and use by politicians is a nonsensical concept. It makes no sense and it never has.

THE ASYMMETRY OF FAIRNESS

Now that we understand what political fairness is all about, or to be precise what the concept of political fairness is used for, we can move forward and take a look at how fairness is actually managed. This is important because if politicians are right the application of fairness in itself must be fair. Sound strange but it is not. If any political process cannot be applied in a fair manner then by the very political definition of fairness it's not a fair process and democracy itself is not fair and thus it does not work.

The political idea of fairness is that we are all treated equally. However, within democracy, there are groups that are more equal than others. Actually, there are several such groups. The most noticeable group are the politicians. But, the bureaucrats are not so far from it. Then we have "law enforcement", "the judiciary", "the Armed Forces" and lastly, "government contractors"; to name a few.

If we take a look at all the "rights" that these groups "enjoy" above and beyond the rights that regular people are allowed to have we begin to see a biased application of fairness. Think about it. Politicians get to write laws. They are actually not accountable to anyone. Yes, eventually, perhaps, maybe, we can remove them from power through an election a few years down the road. However, the laws, rules and regulations that they put in place cannot be easily removed. They stay. We actually have no saying and have no power whatsoever in the process politicians use to create those rules and laws. This means that politicians have all the powers that we, regular people, do not have. Thus, according to their very own definition of fairness we are not equal and they are not fair.

Let's consider bureaucrats now. There is a general popular belief that bureaucrats are nothing but drones who objectively and mechanically execute laws and regulations. By this point of view this process would be "fair". But is it? Do bureaucrats behave exactly as required by regulations? The answer is obviously no. They can't do this for two reasons; the first one is that laws and regulations are not that specific and require interpretations all the time. These interpretations are left to the understanding of bureaucrats! These interpretations often change from person to person to person. The second reason why they cannot operate mechanically is because they are human. They make mistakes, they are biased, they are subjective, and, let's face it often times they are vindictive. Yes, there are supposed to be processes to protect us from such inconsistent behavior but those processes are themselves managed and administered by… Bureaucrats! Is this "fair" as defined by politicians? Of course not!

Now let's consider "law enforcement". They are the people that the law empowers to use force on us. They are so-called "licensed" to do harm onto us ("licensing" being understood as somebody being allowed to do something that is prohibited by law). This by definition is not fair. We, the regular people, do not have the right to exercise violence and harm onto other people unless in self-defense. In other words, the police it's not equal to us and therefore any police related process is not fair!

Let's consider now the so-called "Armed Forces". They have the right, the means, and the obligation to exercise violence with extreme prejudice against other people in the event that these other people may attempt to harm us in an organized fashion. In other words the Armed Forces are supposed to be used only in the event of national insecurity. Yet, we don't have that option. Which sounds a little bit strange. We, the people, the ones that in ultimate analysis want to defend ourselves are not allowed to do so! There are other people, the Armed Forces, who are the only ones allowed to defend us. In other words they have more rights, far more rights, than we have. We ask again is this fair? Of course it isn't because by the very political definition of fairness this process is not applied equally to us and then. It is simply not fair!

Lastly (and for lack of time) let's talk about government contractors. Government contractors are just contractors just like you and us but with the difference that they work for the government. As such these contracts enable them to do things that we, normal, regular people, cannot do. Think about it. Government contractors are allowed to build weapons, they can exploit natural resources, they have access to secrets, they participate in political decisions, and in ultimate analysis their power extends in the realm of politicians. We ask again, is this fair? Of course not. This is not fair because they have rights that we do not have.

All of these issues lead to the very same conclusion; that governments have rights and apply such rights in a manner in which we, mere mortals, cannot. What this means is that by their own definition these processes are not fair because they have more. More of what? More rights!

It is not only that they have more rights but that the application of said rights is the exclusive domain of a few people. Again, by definition, this means that we are not equal to them. And what this means is that these processes and these rights are not fair to us. In other words fairness, when it comes to a political system it's a-symmetric. They always have more.

THIS IS UNFAIR!

Of course this isn't fair! Where have you been for the last 200+ years? Oh sorry, you were not born this early. Our fault. However, we do believe that you have a brain. And, you have interacted to some degree or another with your government. Or bureaucrats. The police forces. On the judiciary. Or the military. Or government contractors. You know what you felt. Did you feel that you were talking to equals? Of course not. Did you felt that they wielded the power to crush you? Or at least to inflict significant damage to either your body, mental health, or property? Of course you did! This is not a coincidence. They can do and do all of that. Routinely. This is patently not fair according to their own definition. Yet, somehow, this is almost never brought up in political discussions. Somehow the concept of "fairness" is never placed into doubt. The underlying assumption is always that politicians will make decisions that are "fair" for us.

Even assuming or believing that democracies are not "unlimited political systems" whereby the government can legislate anything and everything as they see fit, it is clear that those decisions, those laws, are subjective and thus unfair.

Any political system whereby a group of people self-assign the right to make decisions for other people without their knowledge or consent will be, by their own definition, unfair. And, we would like to point out, this is not an issue that can be corrected because it is the very core of said political system. Think! Does a democracy without elections make any sense? Does the democracy without representatives means anything? Of course not. It is meaningless. If we remove the Democratic process, the representative process from democracy, there is no more democracy. But if the very representative process is faulty then the entirety of democracy is faulty. There is no escaping from this logic. A fair political system -according to the political definition- cannot be built on top of unfair processes. Yet, this is exactly what we have.

CONCLUSION

The concept of "fairness" is actually poison to the mind. It is so because it has been taken out of context and redefined in terms of socialistic and communistic principles. We don't understand any longer what fairness means other than what we are told that fairness means by those who define and redefine the very concept of "fairness". In order not to get lost in this process we need to go back to first principles and think what does fair means to us. To each one of us. Because fairness in ultimate analysis, deals with relationships between people. And these relationships happen to have a different name. And this name is contracts. Fairness is nothing more and nothing less than the arbitrary application of contractual rules on us. Are you happy with this? Are you happy with the government, your government, deciding for you without your knowledge or consent, what it is that you are buying or selling and in which conditions? You shouldn't be. You shouldn't be because our democratic political system is in actuality a limitless power system. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that people in the government cannot do to you, your body, your mind, or your property. This is not theory, this is reality. This is been done in the past in the name of national security (think World War I and World War II) or in the name of social progress (think USSR) or in the name of law and order (think "special powers" or "intelligence communities"). The power of governments is based on the flawed concept of fairness which is asymmetrical giving all the power to them and nothing to you. This is the very opposite of their very own definition of fairness.

But then again, perhaps you enjoy being told what to do and how to do and when to do it by governments and apparatchiks that control your life and the life of everybody else that you know. That's okay. It shall all pass. One thing though, you should hope it should pass before you die because otherwise what are you living for? You don't require a brain; all you need to do is to follow their rules mechanically and you will be okay. Mind you, you won't have a life but this is a small price to pay for equality. Hope you are happy now. Oh, that's right… You won't be able to… Happiness is not fair…

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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