Fairness and Resentment

Much of the angst in the nation and the world concerns fairness, or alternatively, JUSTICE.  This

Justice - from Wikipedia

can be a complicated subject in philosophy and much has been written about it in every conceivable context.  I here list some of the numerous current issues that have fairness at their core:

  • Immigration, both legal and illegal.
  • The location of mosques in the U.S.
  • The Palestinian issue.
  • Destruction of Afghan’s primary money crop, poppy fields.
  • Compensation of people and businesses harmed by the BP oil disaster in the Gulf.
  • The U.S. financial-crisis bailouts.
  • Delay or reduction of Social Security benefits for current and future retirees.
  • Affirmative-action labor issues.
  • Tax cheats.
  • The Estate Tax.
  • CEO compensation.

I could go on, but there’s no end to it of course.  Fairness or justice is at the heart of virtually every political problem there is, and the point is this:  Government efforts to achieve fairness have, in my opinion, become counter-productive. People have become unhappier and government has gotten larger and more inefficient.  The two parties
now oppose each other out of pure ideology and the common good goes begging.  Government spending, as we all know, has gotten completely out of control.  (Compensation of government workers has now far outgrown that of the private sector, a symptom of bloated government.)  We have institutionalized the concept of poverty, for example.  Poverty is defined numerous ways and ranges from about $365 a year in the Third World to about $18,000 a year in the U.S., but its definition is largely subjective.

A principal problem with defining and compensating for poverty is that money is fungible.  Fungible is a word that should be part of the active vocabulary of every person who wants to discuss money.  It means mutually interchangeable, as in, “money that is raised for one purpose can easily be used for another”.  If government supplies welfare aid to help a poor person and that person manages their meager resources poorly, is that fair to taxpayers?  If they waste money on cigarettes, is that fair to taxpayers?  Is a cell phone a necessity?  If you give someone food stamps, how does government track the fungible money that is thereby freed-up?

Thomas Sowell had a very good editorial in today’s (8/15/10) Joplin Globe.  I found it online HERE.   It is about a lot of the silliness that

from Wiki-Commons

happens in the never-ending search for fairness in matters of race.  Yes, there has been lots of unfairness, but the adjustments never end.  Blacks have affirmative action, Native Americans have casinos and tax-free cigarettes (and, apparently, their own “nations” – I’ve never understood that one.)    (Strangely, Asian-Americans don’t seem to need much help.)  When will Martin Luther King’s dream come true, a time when we will each be judged by the quality of our character?

I have no doubt that, no matter how big government gets, we will never achieve fairness.  It is a mirage, at least in the popular sense.  The best we can hope for are those rights specified in the Constitution, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  It is important to note that there is no guarantee of success in the Constitution, nor of equality of wealth, only equality of opportunity.  And, since we are all born unequal in every other way, including abilities, intelligence, inheritance, health, and looks (one of the prime factors in American culture), we should really be, not necessarily happy, but resigned to settle for just opportunity.  Equality by government in material matters has already been tried.  That is called Communism and it looks like Cuba.

We must limit the size of government.  If we do not, it will grow until it smothers all of us in its vain attempt to achieve perfect fairness.  The battle is worthy, but success would bankrupt us.

I say, vote for the person who stands for a smaller government and a balanced budget, and then hold them to it.  It is our best hope.

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About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Independent, tending progressive as the GOP recedes from its Eisenhower roots.
This entry was posted in Economics, Ethics / Morality, Government size, Government waste, Justice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Fairness and Resentment

  1. Duane Graham says:

    Forgive me for the length of this response, but given you are a thoughtful writer, I couldn’t stop after I got started. And forgive the Thomistic structure of the response, that’s just the way it came out.
    1. “People have become unhappier and government has gotten larger and more inefficient.”
    Objection 1: What evidence is there that people have become “unhappier”?
    Objection 2: Government has gotten larger and more inefficient than what? Naturally, the government will get larger as our population grows, and just as naturally there are some inefficiencies in any large bureaucracy. But I confront inefficiencies in private industry constantly, mostly due to, but not limited to, a lack of sufficient employees to do the job. I wait in lines at doctor’s offices, grocery stores, amusement parks; I wait too long for service in restaurants and bars or for help in finding something at J.C. Penney’s or Macy’s or other large department stores. I’m put on hold for long stretches just to get a question answered about my DSL service or my cell phone bill or any number of things. Inefficiency is inefficiency, whether in government or private industry; it is part of any large social entity.
    2. “(Compensation of government workers has now far outgrown that of the private sector, a symptom of bloated government.)”
    Objection: Just because public sector compensation has outgrown that in the private sector, doesn’t prove that government is “bloated” or even that government workers are overpaid. It simply could be that the private sector’s widespread lack of a collective bargaining agency tends to keep wages unfairly low, which would naturally rise if private sector workers had the clout to demand fairer compensation. It’s just as logical to assume private sector wages are too low than to assume that public sector wages are too high.
    3. “Poverty is defined numerous ways…but its definition is largely subjective.”
    Objection: Granted, determining poverty levels is subjective, just like determining the “value” of anything. Measuring poverty is an exercise in measuring the value of certain goods, like having affordable access to nutritious food, clothing, and decent housing. And certainly there is a difference in the definition of poverty in America as opposed to, say, Bangladesh, but the difference is mainly quantitative. Even in Bangladesh, access to nutritious food, clothing, and decent housing is a basic good that all should have, even though the cost of those goods is much less there than here. Your suggestion seems to be that since there is a wide disparity in the “definition” of poverty, that those definitions are not valuable or meaningful.
    3. “A principal problem with defining and compensating for poverty is that money is fungible.”
    Objection: Okay. Money is fungible and folks might “waste” it on any number of things. So what? The point of poverty programs is to give those who can’t otherwise afford it, access to basic goods. In our free society, forcing them to partake of those—and only those—goods is impossible, though actions can be taken to assure their children receive the basics.
    A certain amount of waste is built into any process, yet to focus on the waste rather than the finished product—a better and more just society—is what divides most of us politically on this issue. Environmentalist extremists tend to focus on the “waste” of the combustion engine—pollution—and tend not to focus on the societal good of having relatively efficient and inexpensive cars and trucks to take us to and fro. Focusing on the waste and not the good is also a problem for many conservatives relative to our collective efforts to mitigate poverty. I like mobility, despite the pollution, and hope we can find ways to completely eliminate the waste. I like poverty programs, despite the waste, and hope we can find ways to completely eliminate it without compromising our liberty.
    4. “When will Martin Luther King’s dream come true, a time when we will each be judged by the quality of our character?”
    Objection: Implicit in your statement here is that enough time has elapsed to right all the wrongs and correct all the injustices of the past. It’s as if you began a race and your opponent had a piano tied to his waste because the rules favored your tribe. You, of course, gained a large advantage and had a big lead. Then, someone arguing for fairness convinces your tribe to untie the piano and let your opponent run free.
    Feeling morally satisfied, you and your tribe bid your opponent good luck as you continue to enjoy the large lead you had as a result of his cultural handicap. When another fairness (justice) advocate urges you to understand that your opponent needs a boost to really make the race fair, you might say, “How much and for how long?” To which an advocate for justice might say, “As long as it takes and as much as it takes to make it fair.” Naturally, your patience will run thin, since you have always enjoyed an advantage and just can’t understand why the folks in that other tribe can’t seem to catch up. But that doesn’t make it right.
    5. “I have no doubt that, no matter how big government gets, we will never achieve fairness… It is important to note that there is no guarantee of success in the Constitution, nor of equality of wealth, only equality of opportunity.. we should really be, not necessarily happy, but resigned to settle for just opportunity.”
    Objection 1: On the one hand, you rightly say, “we will never achieve fairness” as a society. Okay. Then you say that the Constitution guarantees “equality of opportunity.” No, it doesn’t, based on your previous statement about the elusiveness of “fairness.” You said, “It’s a mirage, at least in the popular sense.” Certainly, any concept of “equality of opportunity” involves the element of fairness or justice, no? What the Constitution guarantees—after some post-ratification tweaking—is a theoretical equality of opportunity for all, the realization of which can be augmented by law, ultimately by the Constitution itself, but not “guaranteed.”
    We all want to believe that as time goes on, more and more structural barriers to the elusive “equality of opportunity” are removed so that one day all will have the same opportunity to pursue their own happiness. But it’s folly to think that someone born to wealth and privilege has no structural advantage over someone born to, say, poverty and other disadvantages. And since you admit as much, I go on to,
    Objection 2: After admitting that “we are all born unequal in every other way,” it is illogical to then say that we should be “resigned to settle for just opportunity” in terms of equality. As I just explained, equality of opportunity is just as elusive as “fairness” and assuming that it exists for everyone in the same way and the same place is wishful thinking. We can’t merely “settle” for equal opportunity; we must fight for it. If you admit that there are natural inequalities, including, “intelligence, inheritance, health, and looks,” and if you admit that such things create barriers to “success,” then it’s hard to understand how you can claim that they don’t also provide barriers to “opportunity.” As I said, I think you are engaging in wishful thinking.
    6. “We must limit the size of government. If we do not, it will grow until it smothers all of us in its vain attempt to achieve perfect fairness.”
    Objection 1: You have not made the case that “smaller government” is better government. In fact, a strong historically based case can be made that a smaller federal government footprint would lead to greater inequalities in society—like the Jim Crow South.
    Objection 2: There is exactly zero evidence that government will “grow until it smothers all of us in its vain attempt to achieve perfect fairness.” Comparing the evolution of our government to, say, despotic Communism in Cuba is wildly misplaced. Our own preamble to the Constitution says,

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility…do ordain and establish this Constitution.

    Just exactly what could the Founders have meant by “in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice“? Surely, striving for such things are what sets us apart from all the despotic regimes who have ever ruled, because the preamble begins with, “We the People.”
    And just as surely, our Constitution will always be a restraint on any “smothering” despotism, even in the name of “perfect fairness.”
    Duane

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  2. Jim Wheeler says:

    Duane,
    1. People unhappier and government larger and more inefficient. Objection 1 reply: That people are unhappier is admittedly a subjective opinion on my part, based on my reading of media and blogosphere opinion. Certainly I have been doing more of that since I began blogging. But, is it not true that the politics is more bereft of civility and reason, and more full of emotional taunts than at most times in the past? Seems so to me, and others seem to agree as well. Objection 2 reply: Government larger and more inefficient? Here are two examples, of which we have recently blogged. The Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence, both needless and wasteful layers of bureaucracy. There are likely more.
    2. Compensation of government workers. At one time their compensation was more in line with the private sector than it is now. How much is enough? I think it is subjective, just as the definition of “poverty” is subjective. When wages are determined by “the hidden hand of the market”, the principle of fairness is subordinate to survival of the fittest. When they are determined by labor-contract negotiations, “justice”, with all its philosophical and subjective implications is at issue. Of course, we both know that there is no perfectly fair market and no perfectly fair union. The both have their place and are ever in dynamic tension, and that is probably as it should be.
    3. Definition of “poverty”. No, I am not saying that the definition isn’t meaningful, I am saying that it is subjective. The context of “poverty” means something different here than in Bangladesh, as you say. I think it is important to note that a Bangladeshi family doesn’t feel “poor” because they don’t have a cell phone. If you supply them with enough aid, I predict you will eventually arrive at the point where they will indeed feel deprived without a Blackberry. At what criterion do you draw the line? Where is the limit? I am not anti-welfare. I am simply bemoaning the fact that there is no objective criterion and am suggesting, because the United States of America does not have a meaningful budget at the present time, that basing welfare on feelings of fairness might not be a sensible criterion for what we can afford. I also suggest that there is a correlation between the size of a bureaucracy and waste, or inefficiency. I don’t have statistics at hand immediately but I do have a long memory of things like expensive toilet seats for government aircraft and the like. Who was the guy who used to give out the Golden Fleece (as in, fleece the taxpayers) Awards. I think it was Proxmire. ??
    4. Fairness. If you tie a piano around my waist, that isn’t fair. If you tied it around my father’s waist, that isn’t fair either, but did it hold me back? Maybe, but not as much. How about my grandfather? This is about where you draw the line. I come from a long line of Irishmen on my mother’s side. The Irish were treated very badly a century or so ago, but I never got ANY special treatment or social adjustment because of that. There are no Irish casinos or Irish “nations” in this country that I am aware of. Again, it is a matter of scale. Limited help in the wake of injustice is appropriate. Unlimited help in the absence of a meaningful budget is not. Incidentally, I oppose the elimination of the Estate Tax. I think kids need to start from a more level playing field. How’s that for striking a blow for fairness?
    5. Your objection 1: you are right. I don’t know how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
    Your objection 2: “Success” is different for different people. If you are born ugly or stupid, I would like to see government help you, but as a taxpayer I don’t want to afford trying to give everybody the same size house or car. Life IS unfair. How much to moderate that unfairness is a matter of conscience and affordability. I think that’s one reason we have elections. I respectfully suggest that it is you who are engaging in wishful thinking.
    6. Size of Government. Objection 1 – I would grant your point if it is that there is an optimum size for government in the context of affordability. In the absence of a meaningful budget I feel the need to fall back on my subjective concerns. See the references to the Dept. of Homeland Security and the Directorate of National Intelligence above. Objection 2 – Again, no budget. And, you seem to be suggesting that achieving fairness correlates with government size. No doubt there is an optimum, but as argued above there is a point of inefficiency. Case in point – the utter failure of the SEC to police its own bureaucrats who spent their time surfing the net for x-rated web sites. Sorry, bigger is not necessarily better. I believe what the founders meant by “establish justice” is to establish a judicial system that is as fair as possible, but I do NOT believe that they meant that perfection was achievable. They were pragmatists. Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” presented one view of a world of “perfect” fairness, as I recall. It was a dull place.

    Thanks for your detailed comments, Duane. I am flattered that you took the time, and as always I respect the deep thought you put into all your work.

    Jim

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  3. Jim Wheeler says:

    And, this PS:

    This web site is about the growing cost of government. While I reiterate that steps had to be taken because of the GR, the indebtedness incurred can not be ignored and should temper further expansion, IMO.

    http://www.fiscalaccountability.org/taxpayers-finally-celebrate-cost-government-a1420

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  4. Duane Graham says:

    Jim,

    I will keep this (relatively) short and I don’t expect a lengthy (or any) reply.

    I tend to think that despite the increase in relative political incivility (though with likely historical analogs), most of the perceived angst and unhappiness is due to the sluggish economy and not directly related to people’s contemplation of the size of government.

    Homeland Security and DNI may be wasteful, but whether they are “needless” I can’t say for sure. I know many think so, but perhaps if the waste was reduced and they were streamlined, their value would be better appreciated.

    How much is enough? Only a man drifting my way would even ask that question…
    Blackberry deprivation? Now, come on, Jim. I don’t know anyone who would feel “poor” for not having a cell phone, except maybe my teenage son. Certainly there are silly thoughts that pass through folks’ heads, like, “Why can’t I have a house on Snob Hill?” But I don’t believe any poor person believes that they are entitled to everything everyone else has.

    And I understand your bemoaning the fact that there aren’t objective criteria for determining who gets what and how much. But the distribution isn’t based on mere feelings of fairness. There are folks who try to quantify such things and make the distribution as equitable as possible. Sometimes that all we can expect for such a large scale undertaking.

    Expensive toilet seats? I remember those, too. But in the end, wasn’t it private industry that snookered the government out of that extra dough? As I said, corruption and greed and inefficiency follow human beings wherever they go, whether in a government bureaucracy or a private one.

    You hit a soft spot with the Irish thing. For some inexplicable reason I love the Irish and Ireland. One of my all-time favorite movies is Angela’s Ashes. Frank McCourt was extraordinary. But as much as I want to defend the Irish, they weren’t the victims of hundreds of years of forced slavery in America, with all the things that go with it, including keeping generations and generations of families illiterate and ignorant.

    Where do we draw the line, is a good question. Accepting your grandfather limitation, it’s been only 45 years since the Civil Rights Act was passed. Both of my grandfathers were born in the 19th century, so maybe we’re not there yet.

    Life is unfair, no doubt. “How much to moderate that unfairness is a matter of conscience and affordability” is the central question. But the “affordability” is not just subject to the cost of moderating the unfairness, but to other things, like, say, engaging in foreign wars. Now, those things, too, are reasons we have elections. But if one side or the other spends the kitty on such things, and then argues that mitigating unfairness is just too expensive because of our indebtedness, we are talking about more than just having elections to rectify things.

    We had an election that brought Obama to the White House, but because of prior malfeasance, there is little he can do without running into the issue of affordability. I wish I knew how to change the life is unfair reality, without changing the nature of our constitutional system, but since I don’t I guess I’ll have to live with it.

    I don’t know what “meaningful” budgets are.

    “Sorry, bigger is not necessarily better,” you said. Speak for yourself! But seriously, smaller is not necessarily better, either. In such cases, size appears to be irrelevant to value.

    Of course, the Founders knew perfection was out of reach. But justice is not. We see it realized every day in courtrooms across America: individuals get what they deserve or they are acquitted. Now, “justice for everyone” is still elusive, but worth striving for, and I happen to think it’s possible to improve not only our judicial system, but the always-evolving system of economic activity.

    And, of course, our indebtedness cannot be ignored.

    Wishfully thinking,
    Duane

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  5. Jim Wheeler says:

    Well, Duane, I was ready to let it go, and then another news story popped up that I simply can’t ignore. It is about federal flood insurance. The article’s lead paragraphs state it well:

    “Extraordinary as the damage may be, even more extraordinary is that an insurer has paid claims every time, required no flood proofing, never raised premiums after a claim and vowed to continue insuring the house. Forever. The home’s value is $69,900. Yet the total insurance payments are nearly 10 times that: $663,000.

    “It’s no surprise that the insurer faces huge financial problems. The insurer? The federal government.”

    The rest of the article is here if you want it: http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20100826/1aflood26_cv.art.htm

    I will admit that my problem with government size is principally visceral, due no doubt to the instincts I absorbed from my depression-era parents. (You may recall my previous post on the IMMORALITY of debt.) What scares me is my inability to reconcile the irrefutable need for government intervention in the GR with the glaring lack of any budgetary restraint.

    The federal flood insurance program epitomizes to me the problem of bloated government, because no commercial insurance company would act that way. Note, if you will, that this particular problem greatly pre-dates the GR. I see it as part of the cancer that weakened the national foundation and made it even more susceptible to the GR.

    As the article mentions further on, the program fits Einstein’s definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.

    And the principal beneficiaries are not the poor in this case, they are people with seaside vacation homes. If that doesn’t give you a pain in your progressive posterior, I don’t know what will.

    Yours in gloom,
    Jim

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  6. Jim Wheeler says:

    P.S.,

    And, Duane, further rationale by Sowell in this Saturday morning’s paper regarding the meme in my head that “The more you subsidize something, the more of it you get.” Link:

    http://townhall.com/columnists/ThomasSowell/2010/08/27/moral_hazard_in_politics/page/full/

    touches on the insurance story, but goes further. Surely you will admit that Sowell reasons clearly here. I think he makes the point well that however painful it is to see people in need, and however much this violates liberal dogma, we have likely already passed the optimum limit of government-subsidized safety net operations, and in cases like flood insurance, trim the suet.

    Jim

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  7. ansonburlingame says:

    To both,

    Not a bad “read” and ensuing debate as I return to matters political. It seems to be the eternal debate over “fairness”, “justice” “equality” and other terms of similar meaning. I put the three words in quotes as I am not sure any of us have an exact definition of any of them. Plato and Socrates started the discussion and it has continued in varying forms for now millenia. Even before those two other tribes and men have so engaged before the Greeks wrote it down so we could begin to understand their logic even to this day.

    As we continue the debate I am ever mindful of de Toucville’s observation that the end of the “American Dream” might well be over the quest for “equality”, or words to that effect.

    Perhaps a sports analogy is pertinent. Every team in the NFL strives to win the ultimate goal each year, a Super Bowl victory. Some boundaries are established by the league to keep the playing field somewhat level. But then the leaque steps back and lets the best team win. After all is not that the “American Way” ?

    Our socialital arguments try mightily to level the playing field and to some it seems they seek tie games. No one wins decisively, no one loses to the point of no longer being able to compete, the important word there is compete.

    It seems so simple in concept. In America all should have the opportunity to compete. None should be guarenteed a win. Life is a “right” enunciated in our Constitution. Government according to that principle should deprieve no one of “life” (death penalty arguments aside for the moment). The quality of such life is not a government responsibility. Neither is happiness, only its pursuit, not attainment.

    Anectodes aside is there not some fundamental American principle at stake in such debate?

    Anson

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Anson,

      I agree with your summation of the issue. There will never be a clean resolution of fairness or justice because it is “fundamental”, not just to Americans but to human nature. This is one reason why I have these lines on my blog page:

      “Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.”
      — Wiliam Blake, The Argument

      Jim

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  8. For what its worth, we shouldn’t pursue equality of outcomes, and the American way is equality of opportunity.

    However, I don’t think that implies that as a nation we should be totally unconcerned about the equality or inequality of results.

    Statistics would suggest that the results are becoming steadily more inequitable in this country. If you don’t buy the statistics or find them to abstract to believe, how about this.

    Being in my fifties, it seems to me that brands who sold to the “middle” class have suffered over the last 40 years. Stores like JC Penny in my mind were aimed at the middle, those not rich but not poor. Today middle class brands are being left in the dust by high end and low end products like Nordstroms and Walmart.

    Given this I think we should focus on keeping this a middle class country. A part of this is in fact failure of government in the form of a failing education system, so conservative policy can and should address this issue. In case though with rising inequality, I’d argue we should not be indifferent to “fairness”. Doing so doesn’t make us socialist (I don’t think that term has been brougth up here, but it has other places).

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  9. Jim Wheeler says:

    Bruce,
    Noting the “class” of surviving store chains is an interesting way to look at social trends. I have noted myself that the clothing of the world is much more homogenized than it used to be. Rioters in the Middle East and quake victims in Peru are increasingly dressed just like us! Maybe it’s Wal-Mart.

    And, speaking of Wal-Mart, I have noticed over recent years that they have experimented with higher-end goods in areas such as linens and kitchen utensils, and they have always seemed to carry all but the highest quality electronics. It’s the market at play.

    The last thing I would want, however, is a socialist government. I think you are right to blame education. That of course is a Gordian knot of a problem. Personally I think it can not be solved without addressing our permissive American culture, and I sure don’t want government trying to mess with that. At least, directly. Anybody got a sword?

    Thanks for your comments, Bruce.

    Jim

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  10. Duane Graham says:

    Jim, Anson, Bruce,
    I’ve tried, but I can’t seem to give up convincing anyone who will listen that pursuing justice (fairness) and equality (of course, of “opportunity,” but that includes an expectation that all have a REAL, as opposed to an illusionary, chance of winning, thus it includes pursuing a real opportunity of equal outcomes).
    I like Anson’s NFL analogy. And the reason I like it is because, although it’s not a perfect analogy, it goes a long way in proving my point about American society and what should be our perennial quest to pursue, but not guarantee, equality of outcomes. Get that? I said we should pursue—and not guarantee—equality of outcomes, JUST LIKE THE NFL DOES, albeit with some difficulty.
    In the NFL, each team functions as a separate entity—a business—but operates under a quasi-socialist distribution of revenue, which is generated through merchandizing, licensing of its products, and mostly the enormous broadcasting fees the NFL negotiates with broadcasters. The NFL also closely guards the integrity of its product—the players and the game.
    All this is done to ensure that the LEAGUE, the NFL, will remain the game of choice for American consumers by ensuring to the maximum extent possible that all teams can win, in effect hoping that each team in the league will win from year to year, instead year after year. In terms of making profits, parity is a win-win strategy.
    If the league were to be run like, say, Major League Baseball—which doesn’t have revenue sharing—then only a handful of franchises would have a realistic chance of winning a championship each year. And unlike baseball, which has long been a part of the American fabric and has a long season—162 chances to see your team play—professional football needs more than anything else to make sure its fans believe each year its team has a chance to win or at least is building toward a realistic chance to win. These days no one wakes up in April of each year and believes the Royals have a chance of winning the World Series.
    Another interesting thing about professional sports is that the worst performers from the previous year are given priority in choosing the best players available on the market—those new college players eligible for to be drafted. In other words, the Chiefs get high draft picks when they don’t do well the previous year. Why? Because the interest of each team is ultimately tied to the overall success of the league, and the league won’t be successful if only a few have a realistic chance of winning. Getting to pick from the crème de la crème of amateur talent helps ensure, but doesn’t guarantee, parity in the leagues—see the Chiefs. But despite the Chiefs in the league, the NFL keeps trying to help them win by giving them some drafting advantages.
    It’s like what is now woven into Obama’s carpet in the Oval Office, Teddy Roosevelt’s famous utterance:

    “The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us.”

    And it’s important to note here that where and when the goal of parity fails, particularly in the NFL who is unashamed of admitting that parity is one of its goals (besides hefty profits), no team can complain about not being given the economic tools and the chance to get good players necessary to win. Period. If teams fail to perform, it’s an internal management problem—or bad luck sometimes—but not the fault of the league.
    As Bruce alluded to, we simply can’t have a well-functioning society if there isn’t much of a middle class. The middle class’ wages have been shrinking, its buying power declining, and its prominence in post WWII culture waning because the of the increasingly lopsided distribution of prosperity in our society. In other words, our culture is fast becoming like Major League baseball—there are the Yankees—who have won all but three of the American League East titles since 1995 and there are the Royals—no titles at all since 1985.
    The trick is to get people like you three to see that for the good of America, it is vital that we find ways to give the Royals of our society a realistic chance to win year to year and prevent the Yankees of our society from winning year after year.
    So, I won’t give up trying to convince you all. Our republic may be at stake.
    Duane

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  11. At least if you are saying policy shouldn’t stop with equal opportunity, I think agree with you Duane. I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

    I think we should be very concerned bout the hollowing out of middle, that we see in middle brands like Sears losing out to high end (Nordstroms) and low end (Walmart).

    I favor policy doing something about. We can do this without wiping out all difference in income and wealth or being socialists.

    I think I agree with your direction Duane, but we might not agree on degree or methods.

    Am I missing something?

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  12. Also I think that rising inequality played a role in our severe recession.

    Here are links on the subject from decided non-socialists:

    http://brucetheeconomist.wordpress.com/2010/08/27/income-inequality-how-inequality-fueled-the-crisis-the-economist/

    http://forums.chicagobooth.edu/faultlines?entry=8

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